Whom Gods Destroy (the title is taken from a phrase mistakenly attributed to Euripides which goes: “Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad“) is a nice episode but it shows how the original ideas were becoming more and more rare in the third season of Star Trek. The episode is in fact almost a remake of first season’s Dagger of the Mind, with Kirk being held hostage by a prisoner of a penal colony with delusions of greatness who decides to torture the captain on a chair especially prepared for the occasion .
But why did I like it if it’s just a copy of an earlier episode? Probably because the antagonist, Garth of Izar (played by the unfortunate Steve Ihnat who died shortly after filming this episode for a heart attack when he was only 37 years old) is worth the ticket price alone! Lord Garth, as he prefers to be called, is theatrical, over the top, and steals every scene he’s in. He’s a show within a show!
It is also fun to explore the new sets of the penal colony of the planet Elba II (an obvious reference to the Elba island where Napoleon was confined between 1814 and 1815) and to follow the actions of the madmen imprisoned there, above all Garth and Marta (Yvonne Craig), a green-skinned Orion woman who discovered how to avoid male infidelity (that’s a great joke from Spock)!
But despite the fact that the episode is really entertaining, one cannot fail to notice a certain sensation of repetition. Kirk is once again at the mercy of someone, once again he kisses the weekly beautiful woman, once again he proves to be the smartest guy around (here with a password agreed with Scott left in command of the Enterprise).
Of course, there’s no shortage of surprising twists and turns, such as the cure of the madman instead of his death at the end, and, as said, the episode is an absolute joy to watch! Except that once it finished I wondered whether it was the right call to cancel the season before a fourth season… but who knows! I don’t want to be too cynical, though: cancelling Star Trek: Voyager before its fourth season would have been a bad call, for example!
To conclude, there’s even a a scene that somehow anticipates Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991): the one in which there are two Kirk, the original and a copycat alien creature. Here, however, it’s up to Spock to understand who’s the impostor and he does it without (too many) problems. Related to that there’s also Garth’s attempt to deceive Kirk by taking on the appearance of Spock to try to get the password from Scott, but Kirk is too clever to fall for that. Ciao!
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