Love him or hate him, William Shatner’s portrayal of Captain James Tiberius Kirk during the shows three season run is the stuff of legends. His performance as the impetuous rough and tumble Captain Kirk has been honored and parodied, (probably rightfully so in both regards) but I believe one of his best performances as Captain of the Enterprise is on full display during the episode “The Devil in The Dark.” But that is less because of what is going on on screen (while there are certainly fabulous moments with Kirk during the episode) and has much more to do with what was going on in the actor’s personal life that is less well-known.
During the filming of this episode, Shatner received a call from his mother on set, informing him of the death of his father. Upon learning of the phone call, the crew was prepaired to suspend production of the episode, but on Shatner’s insistence, filming continued.
Shatner’s performance of Captain Kirk over the years has certainly drawn the imitations of late-night comedians and fans alike, but in this particular episode, you see an actor absolutely throw himself into his role. Shatner sought comfort from his close friend, Nimoy, when the cameras were off, but once they were rolling, Shatner completely became and embodied Jim Kirk, making it one of his best performances as the character during the franchise.
The Devil in the Dark has a great story, one of the series most memorable alien races with the Horta, the fan favourite mind meld scenes with Spock, and a truly fantastic performance by William Shatner as Captain Kirk, making this episode worthy of a rewatch.