"Whom Gods Destroy"
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
"The Mark of Gideon"
Every now and then, the meager budget for Star Trek was helped along by stories set almost entirely on the Enterprise, which required shooting within established sets. "The Mark of Gideon" was a clever way to mitigate the visual monotony of such episodes. Captain Kirk (William Shatner) beams himself down to the planet Gideon, but instead finds himself alone in a mock-up of his own starship. (Translation: it's Shatner on the Enterprise set without the rest of the cast.) Almost alone, that is: Kirk finds himself accompanied by the beautiful Odona (Sharon Acker), an inhabitant of Gideon selected for infection by an outsider, in hopes that a plague of some sort will help the planet's overpopulation problem. Despite, or even because of, the set-bound nature of the story, "The Mark of Gideon" is actually one of the boldest and freshest ideas in the series, and like "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," took on a hot topic of controversy (population control) in the issue-driven 1960s. The script, incidentally, was cowritten by Stanley Adams, who played Cyrano Jones in "The Trouble with Tribbles." --Tom Keogh
Whom Gods Destroy,
Ep. 71 - After Kirk and his crew deliver wonder drugs to a group of criminally insane beings on Elba II, they meet the colony's director, only to learn that he is one of the inmates, with the power to assume any form. The Mark of Gideon,
Ep. 72 - Kirk beams down to Gideon, only to find himself aboard a deserted U.S.S. Enterprise. The only being he encounters is a mysterious and beautiful woman named Odona, who claims to know nothing.