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Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Retro TV Round-Up: Star Trek
"Whom Gods Destroy"
Years ago, when I discovered that the commercially released episodes of Star Trek contained footage that was cut from the syndicated versions, I began to wonder if there were any episodes that might be enhanced or make more sense with the cuts restored.

One of the biggest candidates was "Whom Gods Destroy," where I assumed we were missing a section from the teaser or first act after Kirk and Spock beam down to the insane asylum on Elba II.

Kirk and Spock beam down with a supply of a new drug that will could help cure the last fifteen people to suffer from insanity in the known universe. One of them is Garth of Ixar, a famous captain from Kirk studied at the Academy, who later went mad and tried to destroy an entire planet. His crew mutinied and now Garth is being held at the asylum. However, his file failed to include that he's learned the art of shape-shifting in his travels and that he's used it to escape and take over the colony. The teaser ends with Kirk and Spock held at phaser point by Garth and then the first act picks up with Kirk in a cell and Spock knocked out.

Yeah, kind of a huge jump there, but it's not the worst affront this episode will present.

Garth has decided he'll take over the Enterprise, posing as Kirk. However, we can't get Scotty to beam him aboard because he can't give the proper counter-sign to signal things are OK. Garth is upset and becomes obsessed with getting this information from Kirk. Garth tries to sweet talk Kirk, threaten him, wine and dine him and even pose as Spock to be allowed access to the ship. Kirk manages to see through all of this and keep Garth at bay while Scotty and McCoy worry about how to get down and help Kirk and Spock. The colony and planet are protected by a forcefield that can only be raised or lowered from the surface.

"Whom Gods Destroy" has some interesting ideas, but it's too bad the story is such a mess, wasting just about all of them.

Leonard Nimoy was also famously unhappy about this episode--and it's easy to see why. Spock is not well served as a character here, most famously in the final battle between Kirk and Garth. Garth disguises himself as Kirk and the two try to have Spock figure out who the real Kirk is. Don't forget that Spock is holding a phaser here and that it's set to stun. The easiest thing to do is stun both of them and allow Garth to return to his natural state. Surely Kirk would understand. Instead, we see the two fight it out and Spock is only convinced when Kirk suggests the stunning them both to save the Enterprise.


It's easy to see why the scene wasn't a favorite for Nimoy since it makes Spock look pretty dense. Of course, this was during a time when the behind-the-scenes struggle as to who the real star of the show was going on, so that could explain a lot. Nimoy is off-stage for much of the action with Spock apparently locked up. He is, however, trotted out for the dinner party thrown by Garth to celebrate his succession as King Garth. It's almost as if Nimoy called in sick a few days and they decided to work around it and keep going forward. (By the way, the argument ended with Roddenberry told Shatner and Nimoy that Shatner was the star of the show....yeah, it was getting a bit dicey.)



But that's not it in terms of the episode really dropping the ball. I refer again to the opening that jumps from Kirk and Spock discovering the inmates are running the asylum to Spock knocked out and Kirk in a cell. OK, if the episode were packed full of plot developments, I could possibly understand why we skipped this scene. But later in act two, we get a full dance number by Yvonne DiCarlo (better known as TV's Batgirl) as Marta. It's nice but surely you can cut 30 seconds from it for the sake of the plot. Also, there's a lot of the Doctor Who standard of wandering down corridors and being locked up time and again on display here.

"Whom Gods Destroy" is a prime example of exactly where and how the third season dropped the ball so badly. It's recycling a lot of things from other seasons, its dumbing down the characters and its sloppily constructed. Not a solid outing for the series.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/06/2010 09:32:00 AM | |
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