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Star Trek #71: Whom Gods Destr

William Shatner , Leonard Nimoy , Herb Wallerstein    Unrated   VHS Tape
2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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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 from Star 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 the Enterprise crew 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

From the Back Cover

Garth, a criminally insane madman from planet Elba II, captures Kirk with the ultimate goal of taking over the Enterpriseand becoming master of the Universe.

TREK TRIVIA
Keye Luke (Governor Cory) is perhaps best known for playing Number One Son in the Charlie Chan films. He later starred as Master Po in the Kung Fuseries.
This episode establishes Spock as the first Vulcan to be admitted into Starfleet.


Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A lot of filler to complete an episode June 23 2004
By Charles Ashbacher TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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.
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The second of the insane asylum/ penal colony episodes is no better than the first (Dagger of the Mind). The episode has the cold, impersonal feel that was becoming a staple at this point in Trek's run (at least in part attributable to the actors having to act of character [witness the recondite Spock here], the executive producer's let's get this over with approach, and a growing sense that the run was over.) The episode does have some merit as a camp vehicle, and a caricature of Star Trek (over the top acting, silly performance antics, little effort to have the plotline or character motivations make sense). In a sense, the show was simply no longer taking itself seriously. This approach may (I don't know) have begun with Fred Frieberger (who took over as executive producer), but by this point in the third season it had spread to the rest of the team. As in sports, once you go on a losing streak there is a tendency to stop investing yourself in the product. That kind of demoralization and the resulting distance from the material, is a signature of the second half of season 3.
Much of the dialogue here is aimed at obfuscating plot inconsistencies and stretching out the thin storyline; first and second season episodes generally did not feel this way. Plot implausibilities were also reaching absurd proportions. The transporter / password subplot did not make sense on any level, so this ended up being nothing more than a Kirk in danger story. Spock's behavior during the fight scene between the two Kirks likewise was totally irrational (for lack of a better word).
A telling scene has Kirk and Spock seated, with Garth and his cohorts standing behind them.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good Acting Performance vs. Poor Story Line July 20 2003
By the third season, Star Trek had pretty much exhausted the main story lines associated with the basic premise of the show which is how mankind copes with the challenge of meeting the unknown in exploring the universe beyond. This problem manifested itself in poor scripts and a general demoralization among the actors, writers and producers of the show. This episode comes from this period of decline, but it noteworthy for the excellent performance by guest star Steven Ihnat who plays the mad Capt Garth of Isar who developes a megalomaniacal obsession with "conquering the galaxy". The associated story line is sometimes ludicrous, but Ihnat keeps the viewers attention with his constantly changing moods, going in moment from devious subtlety to explosive rage. Ihnat was one of the premier guest stars on action/adventure series of the 1960's in which he played both "good guys" and "bad guys" so he was well suited for playing a role like this one. In my opinion, even someone who is not a diehard fan of S T can enjoy this episode.
This episode also contains one of my favorite lines from the series which is said by Garth: "Don't beg Marta, it's degrading!"
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By A Customer
Elba II, a planet with a poisonous atmosphere, also has a facility beneath its surface for the incurably, criminally insane. The U.S.S. Enterprise is bringing a new medicine with which they hope to eliminate mental illness forever. When Kirk and Spock beam down to the facility of 15 inmates, they find that the asylum has been taken over by Garth, who was once a famous starship captain. He was driven insane by the terrible injuries he received while rescuing others. Garth convinces them that he is the head of the facility, in an attempt to gain control of the U.S.S. Enterprise and conquer the galaxy. He crowns himself, "Master of the Universe," and, when the officers won't be tricked into beaming him aboard the starship, he tortures Elba II's governor and then Kirk. He then sends his Orion mistress, Marta, out to the deadly surface above, only to "mercifully" spare her by blowing her to bits. Spock, who had become separated from Kirk, returns to help the captain but finds two James Kirks. Garth learned the power of shape-shifting from a gentle race of beings that were unaware of his madness. When one of the Kirks offers to sacrifice himself to stop Garth, Spock realizes that this is the real Captain Kirk and subdues Garth. Garth is given the healing medication brought by the Enterprise men and begins the long road to recovery.
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