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Lunch » Tags » Tv Shows » Reviews » Star Trek - The Original Series, Episode 71: Whom Gods Destroy » User review

A lot of filler to complete an episode

  • Jun 24, 2004
  • by
The storyline here is a very thin and old one, based on the premise of an insane, but supposedly brilliant man who has grandiose visions of achieving absolute power. In this case, the man (Garth) is a former starship captain who is locked in an insane asylum on a planet with a poisonous atmosphere. The Enterprise arrives at the asylum bearing a medication that supposedly will cure the inmates, a small group who are the only incurably insane people in Federation space. Given that the group also includes a Tellerite, Andorian and a green-skinned woman, that space is indeed large.
Garth has somehow been transformed into a shape-shifter (one of many far-fetched components of the plot), and takes the place of the governor, so when Kirk and Spock beam down, they are easily captured. After several extremely campy scenes, they of course escape and Garth is medicated, apparently on the road to recovery.
Nearly everything about the episode is an attempt to fill the allotted time. While the dance done by the green-skinned woman is very good, it is much longer than it had to be. Spock and Kirk's dialogue is much wordier than usual and the climactic scene where Spock is trying to decide which of the two "Captains" is the real Kirk, goes on much too long, and naturally involves Kirk fighting hand-to-hand. Spock is of course an expert in logic, so all he had to do is come up with a simple question that only the real Kirk would know. Even human students of logic could do that in a matter of seconds.
Garth has also invented an incredibly powerful explosive, so powerful that a single vial could destroy the planet. This would make it more powerful than anti-matter, making it an absurdity. When watching the episode, I wondered why this feature is even included. It is unnecessary, so my belief is that it was included just to fill the time.
Unlike some of the other stinkers of the original series, there is no underlying philosophical theme that makes it more palatable. At least "The Alternative Factor" dealt with the idea of noble acts leading to eternity in purgatory, "The Mark Of Gideon" dealt with overpopulation and "The Empath" had Kirk, Spock and McCoy each willing to die for the others. This one has nothing of that caliber, so it is very close to the worst episode in the original series.

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Charles Ashbacher ()
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Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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It's the supporting players who provide the most watchable performances in the 1969 "Whom Gods Destroy," one of the best episodes fromStar Trek's final season on NBC. Running an errand to the planet Elba II, an inhospitable place housing a remote hospital for the hopelessly insane, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) discover that a longtime patient and Starfleet icon, Captain Garth (Steve Ihnat), has overtaken the facility. Suffering delusions of absolute power, Garth declares himself master of the universe, though his mastery fails to lure the rest of theEnterprisecrew into a trap.

With Kirk and Spock subdued prisoners of the brutal Garth, the story opens to Ihnat's flamboyant yet sympathetic performance. You can see behind the character's crazy veneer to the bold starship commander whose exploits fired Kirk's imagination as a cadet. Equally good is Yvonne Craig as Garth's would-be queen, the very sexy Marta, a compulsive killer whose seductive dances, wayward intelligence, and exotic, green skin make her one of the most striking females from the original series. Newbie Trekkers will be happy to know that the story by Lee Erwin and Jerry Sohl clarifies a couple of biographical points about Kirk and Spock, including the captain's own reference to his Starfleet career track before becoming an explorer. --Tom Keogh

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Studio: CBS Paramount International Television

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