Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Original Series

"Whom Gods Destroy"


Air date: 1/3/1969
Teleplay by Lee Erwin
Story by Lee Erwin and Jerry Sohl
Directed by Herb Wallerstein

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Kirk and Spock beam down to the Elba II penal colony to deliver a new medicine that may cure the insane patients who are imprisoned there. Unfortunately, the megalomaniacal Garth (Steve Ihnat), one of the insane who was once a starship captain, has other plans and takes them prisoner. Garth subsequently uses his ability to change his physical form and masquerade as Kirk, planning to take Kirk's place as the Enterprise captain.

If you accept the magical plot concept of a human who has acquired the ability to shapeshift (complete with the proper clothes, etc.), you might find this episode somewhat entertaining. The Dual Kirk Plot is a cliche, but Garth nevertheless makes a good villain, torturing the colony administrator and launching into fury after his plan is halted via Kirk's "chess game" security.

Some of this is hopelessly corny and overplayed, especially Shatner's take on the Garth-as-Kirk tantrum. But I did at times enjoy Ihnat's character, as he pronounces himself "Lord of the Universe" and, in one particularly cruel scene, blows up Marta (Yvonne Craig), his own partner in crime. But, insane or not, Garth gets off too easy. It all bears very little scrutiny, but the lively glib entertainment level keeps the show afloat.

Previous episode: Elaan of Troyius
Next episode: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

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3 comments on this review

Alex - Thu, Apr 10, 2014 - 2:31am (USA Central)
This episode reminded me of the two episodes involving the quartet of mental health patients Dr. Bashir treated on DS9. Either way, I found this episode entertaining, in part because of the interesting makeup and costumes worn by some of the guest characters, as well as the redressed Enterprise set.
dgalvan - Wed, Jun 4, 2014 - 4:41pm (USA Central)
The maniacal Lord Garth was, in my opinion, a better and more memorable villain than was Khan in Space Seed. A shapeshifting nutcase bent on universal domination? That would be an interesting character to re-visit.
Paul - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 8:48am (USA Central)
This really could have been a great episode, because there are some good ideas -- and it's kind of cool to see Kirk and Spock SO totally out of control. Even the hammy performances by some of the guest stars can be explained by the fact that they're playing crazy people.

My main complaint has to do with how the Enterprise is completely incapable of rendering assistance. McCoy and Scotty have some dialog about what they could do -- but I find it hard to believe that the protective field would need to be so big to secure 15 people on a barren planet.

This is also an episode that doesn't quite fit with Star Trek history. Dialog from Kirk, Garth and Spock seems to indicate that a war within recent years -- where Kirk and Garth fought -- helped forge (or at least strengthen?) the Federation. This is in contrast to a lot of TOS history, not the least of which Carol Marcus's line from Star Trek II about how Starfleet had kept the peace for 100 years.

Finally, Kirk and Spock should have been able to find a way to foil Garth in the control room without needing a fight. Spock could have asked Kirk the first weapon used in "Amok Time," or countless details that are likely not kept in any official recording.

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