(airdate: January 3, 1969)
Story: Lee Erwin and Jerry Sohl Teleplay: Lee Erwin
Director: Herb Wallerstein
Garth: Steve Ihnat
Marta: Yvonne Craig
Cory: Keye Luke
Captain's Log: Kirk and Spock beam down to the insane asylum on Elba II to deliver an experimental new medicine. However, they soon discover that the asylum has been taken over by the most recently admitted inmate, Garth of Izar - a former starship fleet captain who went insane and attempted to destroy an entire species. Garth is convinced that he will rule the universe, and he needs the Enterprise to help do so; however, Kirk has instituted a verbal code to prevent anyone unauthorized from beaming aboard. Garth tries several different ways to get Kirk to reveal what the countersign is, but he is unsuccessful. Finally, Garth attempts to fool Spock by taking on the appearance of Kirk, but Spock isn't fooled and stuns Garth, allowing the Enterprise to retake control of the asylum.
Whoops!: When Garth-as-Kirk throws a fit after being unable to beam up to the Enterprise, he knocks loose a knob on the console as he thumps it in frustration; then, when he transforms back into Garth, the ring on his right hand is sent flying away. Not only is the split-screen line visible sometimes when Spock is confronting the two Kirks, but during the fight we get some decent looks at Kirk's stunt double.
It's been remarked upon before, but why doesn't Spock simply stun both of the Kirks, rather than wait for one of them to emerge victorious from a fight? [Leonard Nimoy in particular was unhappy about this; the original script apparently had Spock asking a series of questions to deduce which Kirk was really Garth, but this was dispensed with in favor of more action, over Nimoy's objections.]
Classic Lines: Spock, upon hearing that Garth wants to be friends with them: "On what, precisely, is our friendship to be based?" Garth: "Upon the firmest of foundations, Mister Spock: enlightened self-interest."
Alien Love: Marta seems taken with Kirk and attempts to seduce him, although then she tries to kill him with a knife. Kirk doesn't seem to really reciprocate, though, on either the kissing or stabbing fronts.
Library Computer: Elba II is a blue-green planet with a poisonous atmosphere that is home to a Federation asylum for the "few remaining incorrigible, criminally insane of the galaxy." The planet is covered in thick greenish fog, and exposure to the atmosphere can kill someone within minutes. There is a very powerful forcefield around the entire planet that is controlled from the asylum; the Enterprise could blast through the field, but they would risk destroying all life on the planet. The forcefield is weakest on the far side of the planet, thousands of miles from the asylum. The asylum itself includes a control room, a series of cells (with individual forcefields to each cell, as well as the area itself, that can be switched on and off with a handheld device), living quarters, and a large dining hall. The governor of the colony is Dr. Donald Cory, a smaller man of Asian descent, wearing a loose blue robe with a logo on the left breast of a right hand holding a dove, with a yellow sun behind the fingers. [This is in fact the same logo seen in "Dagger of the Mind", which suggests this might be the generic logo for Federation asylums.] There are currently fifteen inmates living at the asylum, including former starship Fleet Captain Garth of Izar, an Orion woman named Marta (the only woman in the asylum), an Andorian, a Tellarite, and six human-looking men. The asylum has a chair that is designed for rehabilitation, with two swirling lights (the right-hand one orange, the left-hand one blue) that can be placed alongside the head.
Garth of Izar is a former Federation Fleet Captain whose exploits, including his victory at Axanar, were required reading at Starfleet Academy. He had charted more new worlds up to that point than anyone else in history [he claimed], and he was the Federation's greatest warrior, as well as the prototype for starship captains. However, an accident maimed him, so he was sent to Antos IV, a world whose race is renowned for their benevolence and peaceful pursuits, to be healed. The Antos natives taught him the process of cellular metamorphosis, allowing him to restore the destroyed parts of his body. However, during his stay, Garth contracted a disease that affected his mind, and so when he was healed he offered the Antosians the galaxy; when they refused, he decided to kill the entire race. However, when he attempted to follow through with his plan, his crew mutinied, and these actions caused him to be sent to the Elba II asylum. [At least, this is the best guess of what happened, based on the occasionally vague dialogue. Note that in "The Tholian Web" Spock tells Chekov there's no record of a mutiny on a Federation starship, so if we take that comment at face value then the events that led to Garth being committed must have been very recent.] At some point he learned to extend the cellular metamorphosis technique so that he could take the shape and voice of other people, to change himself into any form he wished, but that process expends a great deal of energy and he can't do it indefinitely. He wished to be called Lord Garth and to rule the universe. He may not be human. [At one point he remarks, "You Earth people are a stiff-necked lot," which may imply he's not human or simply that he's not from Earth.] Garth is also a genius, and was able to create an incredibly powerful explosive, one grain of which was enough to completely obliterate Marta and to cause the Enterprise to be concerned about the status of the asylum itself when it went off. He could also modify a rehabilitation chair to become a torture device, altering the chair's ultrasonics to create real pain that caused no physical damage. He may know the Vulcan nerve pinch. [Marta appears to be knocked out by Garth-as-Spock with the nerve pinch, but she may be faking it to help with Garth's ruse.] After being subdued by Spock, initial treatments combined with a new experimental medicine seemed to suggest that he was regaining his sanity. Garth was one of Kirk's heroes.
Axanar was a location where Garth won a great victory. Kirk's first visit there was as a cadet on a peaceful mission, helping to establish a "dream that became a reality and spread throughout the stars, a dream that made Mr. Spock and [Kirk] brothers." [It's not really clear what Kirk is referring to here; one possibility, given the "brothers" talk, is to the founding of the Federation, but that goes against so much else that's established elsewhere that that's not really likely, even if it may have been the intention of the script. Incidentally, in "Court Martial" it's stated that Kirk has been awarded the Palm Leaf of Axanar Peace Mission, which is almost certainly related to the events described here. The Axanar race themselves are first seen in the Enterprise episode "Fight or Flight".]
Garth of Izar includes people like Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, Lee Kuan, and Krotus as people who sought power and failed to hold on to it. [This is Lee Kuan's second mention; he's also brought up by Spock, in a similar context, in "Patterns of Force".]
The Federation has developed a new medicine designed to eliminate mental illness. Intravenous injection of the medicine is indicated unless circumstances make it impossible. It was designed to begin reversing arterial and brain damage almost immediately, and based on Garth's reaction it seemed to work. [Although it can't have actually cured mental illness (even setting aside the naïveté of such an idea), given the number of mentally ill people seen in Star Trek subsequently.]
The Enterprise used the Cochrane deceleration maneuver to defeat the Romulan vessel near Tau Ceti. It's a classic, well-known battle maneuver.
Marta's dancing is somewhat reminiscent of the dances that Vulcan children perform in nursery school.
Final Analysis: "Queen to queen's level three." A mashup of "Dagger of the Mind" and "The Squire of Gothos", "Whom Gods Destroy" on paper seems like a workable idea, and Shatner does a great job of playing Kirk as quietly wary, perfectly aware that if he doesn't humor this madman they could all end up dead. But Steve Ihnat chooses to play Garth largely as shouty and OTT, and unfortunately that makes Garth rather a one-note character and consequently far less interesting than he might have otherwise been, and the episode becomes a bit tiresome as a result. Some potential here, but it's largely wasted.
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Page originally created: March 25, 2016
Page last updated: September 8, 2018