Star Trek S3 Ep. 14: Whom Gods Destroy

  • Written by Lee Erwin
  • Based on a story by Lee Erwin and Jerry Sohl
  • Directed by Herb Wallerstein
  • January 3, 1969
  • NBC

Episode Cast

  • Captain Kirk-William Shatner
  • Spock-Leonard Nimoy
  • McCoy-DeForest Kelley
  • Scott-James Doohan
  • Governor Donald Cory-Keye Luke
  • Garth of Izar-Steve Ihnat
  • Marta-Yvonne Craig
  • Tellarite-Gary Downey
  • Andorian-Richard Geary

A captain gone mad plots to escape from his confinement in a Federation facility to conquer the galaxy.

There are no significant deep themes in “Whom Gods Destroy”. At least none that I can see having watched it numerous times in my life. Rather this episode is a battle of wits between Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and the villain of the episode called Garth of Izar (Steve Ihnat). Garth is a legendary starship captain now with delusions of galactic conquest having gone insane after an accident.

Unbeknownst to the outside world Garth has the ability to change his appearance based on some skills taught to him via a grateful alien species after the fabled Battle of Axanar. After his crew justifiably mutinied he was sent to this facility for the handful of uneasily treatable insane in the Federation. It seems by the time of TOS that insanity is relatively easy to treat unless you are severely disturbed. These people are the worst of the worst.

Kirk for his part is confronting a hero of his whom he learned about in his time at Starfleet Academy. Kirk in this can be viewed as the positive version of Garth while Garth is, well, Kirk’s dark self. These are two are evenly matched foes with the only factor in Kirk’s favor being Spock (Leonard Nimoy).

Garth is a bit aloof. Steve Ihnat in my opinion makes him seem like he is about to trail off. Garth speaks as if he is giving a fine Shakespearean performance to a large crowd of admirers. He is deliberate and slow in his movements.

This episode isn’t heavy on space action but focuses more on the characters using their brains. Scotty and McCoy are stuck on the Enterprise trying to figure out how to help the Captain while Kirk and Spock are figuring a way to outwit Garth who has them out numbered and at a disadvantage based on his shape shifting ability and that he holds all the cards.

The character of Marta (Yvonne Craig) is a bit of an anomaly in not only early Star Trek but in television of the era. She was one of the patients there but also a truly dangerous character. Aside from being a pathological liar, she also appeared flighty and rather harmless. However she would use her looks and charms to kill just because as demonstrated in a moment alone with Kirk. It was something interesting that I wish had been used more here.

Before the spinoffs this was perhaps a rare instance of fans getting a glimpse not only of an Orion (Marta) but of a Tellarite (Gary Downey) and an Andorian (Richard Geary). That was a real treat for me as a fan. I still love it even though we have gotten so much more in the decades since.

The performances are great and the finale works because it is not a guns blazing ending but because it uses brains and has humor. Plus it allows for a better tomorrow for Garth who ultimately is not truly evil but rather just sick. They go out of their way to make that clear about the character.

In the end “Whom Gods Destroy” is an enjoyable Star Trek episode. It’s two equally matched characters facing off against one another. There isn’t too much below the surface, but it is character driven and well crafted. As with most anything from the original series I highly recommend it!

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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