Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Original Series

"The Mark of Gideon"


Air date: 1/17/1969
Written by George F. Slavin and Stanley Adams
Directed by Jud Taylor

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Upon beaming down to the planet Gideon, Kirk finds himself on a duplicate of the Enterprise, where he meets a woman named Odona (Sharon Acker) who yearns for a chance to live far away from her vastly overpopulated world—a world where no one dies.

The subject of the story is overpopulation and the need for extreme measures to combat the problem, as the Gideons hope to introduce into the population a rare disease carried by Kirk, allowing their people to age and die as they once did centuries ago. Unfortunately, the plot tackles its message in such a roundabout way that it's hard to swallow a lot of it. For one, I find it highly unlikely that the Gideons would build an exact duplicate of the Enterprise just to fool Kirk into helping them—an approach they should know is destined to fail.

Then comes the idea of billions of people literally piled up together upon each other because of overpopulation, which strikes me as somehow implausible. (How does anything in society function given this sort of problem? The idea of urgent overpopulation is fine, but the absurdity of showing crowds of people unable to move is simply unnecessary.) There's also far too much time spent on the plots where Kirk ponders the nature of being on an empty Enterprise while Spock attempts to locate the captain ... although I somewhat enjoyed the contest of semantics between Spock and Gideon Prime Minister Hodin (David Hurst).

It's a watchable episode, but there are too many dubious ideas, and the moral questions are not presented in a way that allows any realistic debate or analysis. There's a much better story lurking beneath some of the concepts inefficiently jammed together here.

Previous episode: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield
Next episode: That Which Survives

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8 comments on this review

Sel - Thu, Aug 18, 2011 - 1:35am (USA Central)
Just finished watching the third season and I have to say it's not as bad as I previously imagined. The thing with Trek, at least TOS, is that it can be very very good, or very very bad. Both are entertaining. However, what it can't be, and what most of the third season was is boring. For me, the Mark of Gideon has to be the worst episode because it is incredibly boring. If I was flipping the channels and that came on, I would perhaps watch a little bit and then change the channel, and probably not give Star Trek a second chance.
Strider - Sat, Jun 30, 2012 - 11:00pm (USA Central)
It definitely moves a little slowly. And the plot points are extremely far-fetched, stretching credibility to the breaking point. Also, I want to know why Spock beams onto Fake Enterprise unarmed. He KNOWS there are hostile forces up to no good! Of course, I've always wondered why they walk around the Enterprise unarmed, when we know that hostile aliens can show up on the ship at any time.

But there are some good scenes. Spock dealing with the bureaucracy...you'd think that being Sarek's son he'd have picked up some tricks! And he did do pretty well, actually, until he had to deal with Starfleet. I liked seeing the crew get so upset about Starfleet and Federation red tape and the intransigence of the Gideons.

I also thought that Spock was pretty funny at several places, and imho, there's nothing better tan Spock's wry, don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it humor. Best line of the whole show: "Please do not try to interfere, Your Excellency. I already have one serious problems with the upper echelons."
Mel - Tue, Jul 24, 2012 - 10:49am (USA Central)
What troubles me is the fact that letting many people of Gideon die of a horrible disease is supposed to be the "good" ending... I mean really, it would be better to simply execute them - at least that would be a quick death.
How killing people is better than birth control also eludes me.
And why not simply start a new colony on a different planet, if overpopulation is such a huge problem?
The plot doesn't make any sense.
Paul - Mon, Jan 28, 2013 - 4:14pm (USA Central)
Sel nailed it. This episode is just epically boring. Other than 'And the Children Shall Lead', I think I'd rather watch any third-season episode that this one, even 'Spock's Brain' or 'The Way to Eden.'

It's also just really dumb. An exact duplicate of the Enterprise was clearly done as a way to save money and make this a bottle show.

Lorene - Fri, Sep 13, 2013 - 9:31am (USA Central)
"There's a much better story lurking beneath..." Perfect analysis. Only 2 stars is too high. 1 star at most for this episode. Maybe 0.5...
Adara - Fri, Nov 22, 2013 - 11:37am (USA Central)
Someone really needs to get these people a guillotine.
Moonie - Sat, May 10, 2014 - 2:02pm (USA Central)
Two stars?? This must be the TOS bonus.

Awful, boring, terrible.

Markus - Sun, Aug 17, 2014 - 8:00am (USA Central)
I seem to be the only one who really enjoyed this one. I remember that the first time it was a big mystery to me why there was this duplicate. And even now I find the idea to infect Kirk interesting. Sometimes an interesting story is worth at least some logical flaws, as this duplicate certainly was. The effect was nice.

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