Whom Gods Destroy
Season 3, Episode 14
Written by Lee Erwin and Jerry Sohl
Transmitted January 3, 1969
The Enterprise makes a visit to a mental health facility in Elba II. Thinking that they are delivering medical aid, Kirk and Spock are surprised to find that the inmates are literally running the asylum. In particular, one of Kirk’s boyhood heroes, Star Fleet Captain Garth has taken control of the facility. Using a self-designed device that allows him to take the form of anyone he chooses, Garth has also designed an explosive so powerful that he can make any demand he pleases. Garth soon has Kirk and Spock incarcerated in the same cells that he and his fellow inmates used to occupy.
But it gets worse. Garth’s mind has snapped and he believes that he is Lord of the Universe. He wants all people everywhere to worship him. A once hopeful member of the Federation whose exploits inspired many a cadet (including Kirk), he has become a distorted caricature of himself. With a motley gang of deluded aliens, he proposes to take over the Enterprise and grow his following. By making himself appear ti be Kirk, Garth thinks he can easily obtain the Enterprise, but thanks to Captain Kirk’s forethought, that proves to be a tougher task that he had thought. Using tortue and coercion, Garth tries to break Kirk’s will…
Whom Gods Will Destroy is part of the infamous third season of Trek, the one that Gene Rodenberry had less involvement with than the previous two. This season is a mixed affair to be sure. The stories are oftentimes more bizarre and outlandish than typical fare. But there are some real gems in there such as Let that Be Your Last Battlefield and this one. Guest actor Steve Ihnat (of Kung Fu fame) as Lord Garth is a treasure. His fits of child-like anger need to be seen to be believed. At first I was happy to see Shatner playing his evil twin, freaking out and beating the floor with his fists, but it’s really Inhat who steals the show here.
I am a big fan of Dagger of the Mind as well, another story set in a mental health facility, so I am not sure what that says about me. The setting is key, a hospital on a deadly planet protected by an impenetrable force field. It gives a strong sense of helplessness to Kirk and Spock, despite their resourcefulness. Of course, this episode is also notable for Yvonne ‘Batgirl’ Craig as Marta the Orion dancing girl.
After coasting through a few episodes, it was real pleasure to see this one pop out at me. If you are unfamiliar with the third year of Star Trek or are looking for some suggestions on late night watching, this might be the perfect fit.