Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Star Trek--"Whom Gods Destroy"

All the elements are present for a run of the mill, recycled episode. The plot of two Starfleet officers held hostage in an insane asylum is lifted straight from the first season’s “Dagger of the Mind” right down to a device for psychiatric purposes being adapted as an implement of torture. There is another Federation official gone completely mad, as they are apparently prone to do, with delusions of conquest. Throw in yet another woman who is after Kirk and the formula should be complete.

But it is not. For whatever reason, it works here. Maybe it is because Garth acts so crazy, we know his plot to take over the galaxy is ridiculous. When you accept the plot is actually the survival of kirk and Spock rather than preventing Garth fro pulling off his plan, the episode becomes desperately claustrophobic and therefore more exciting.

“Whom Gods Destroy” still has flaws, mind you. Exiling a me mentally deranged would-be-conqueror on a planet called Elba II is way too clever for its own good. The plot relies unusually much on action rather than intelligence. How did Garth, who is obviously still human, manage to learn a shape shifting trick? If he can do it, why do other humans not learn? Seriously, in the last few episodes, we have learned humans can have artificial telekinetic powers and shape shifting abilities if they so desire. It is difficult to imagine more do not want them.

The biggest plot hole comes with the miracle cure for mental illness which the Enterprise delivers. It works on the inmates, including the very far gone Garth. But trek will encounter mentally ill people throughout the remainder of its forty plus year run. There will still be mentally ill villains in the remaining handful of TOS episodes. A casual line could have been thrown in somewhere over the yearsto explain the medication did not work as well as hoped, but we are left to speculate on that ourselves.

Regardless, it was washable episode. No new ground broken, but the literal over-the-top insanity was both amusing and disturbing to watch.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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