Star Trek

Season 3 Episode 14

Whom Gods Destroy

Aired Unknown Jan 03, 1969 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (7)

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out of 10
145 votes
  • Yet again, Kirk gets locked up in a mental hospital run by a sadistic madman.

    Probably the worst episode of the original Star Trek TV series, it is no surprise that NBC executives decided to pull the plug after viewing 'Whom Gods Destroy'. It is the second time that Kirk winds up trapped in a high-security mental institution (see 'Dagger of the Mind') and it is much less entertaining this time around. We see some of the worst acting of the series, for example:

    Sulu: (excited) There's been an explosion on the planet!

    Scotty: (not very incredulous) Point nine-five!

    Bones: (bored) Must have wiped out everything!

    It also features the thin third season incidental music and in general 'Whom Gods Destroy' is one of the few low points in the otherwise oustanding Star Trek television series. Don't waste an hour of your life on this one.

  • Kirk and Spock discover - too late - that inmates have taken over an asylum, including a former Starfleet captain.

    With a title derived from an ancient proverb ("Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad"), this literal case of "inmates running the asylum" is sort of a mashup of "Dagger of the Mind" and "The Squire of Gothos", but without the subtlety or charm of either.

    The planet-based episode features Kirk and Spock visiting a Federation funny farm, with Steve Ihnat guest starring as Garth the shapechanging inmate and the premise, plot, and whole story revolving around the guy trying to trick Kirk and Spock into giving away the code needed to beam up to the Enterprise. Cause, you know, no one ever beams up without some sort of code phrase... except in every other episode.

    As the plot goes in circles, there's dinner, dancing, torture and exploding, with Yvonne Craig (more famous as Batgirl), playing the only other inmate of note, a spunky Orion named Marta. For Craig, who was passed over for the part of Vina in the original pilot, it's an interesting consolation prize: four years after Susan Oliver was shot as a dancing Orion slave girl who tries to seduce Captain Pike, Craig donned the same make-up for scenes where Marta dances and attempts to seduce Captain Kirk. ("Gods" also includes a underappreciated performance from prolific Chinese actor Keye Luke as the governor of the asylum).

    In the end, however, it's Inhat's show, with the actor giving "Lord Garth" a Captain Picard-like Mid-Atlantic accent and a flamboyant charm that stands out. (Sadly, Ihnat, a native of Czechoslovakia, died just a few years after shooting "Whom Gods Destroy", succumbing to a heart attack in 1972 at only 37 years old). The script and direction, however, work against him; with the sloppy ideas undercutting the drama and making everyone look like an idiot. (Poor Spock has it the worst, being inexplicably unable to figure out who's Kirk and who's Garth in Kirk form).

    There's a kernel of a good idea buried here: that a great man in wartime might find his talents and ambitions out of place in peacetime; but TNG taps into much better in its fifth season episode "The Wounded". For TOS, "Whom God's Destroy" is just another disappointment as the show enters a dismal slide in the back half of its third season.

    Remastered Version:

    This is another easy one for CBS Digital, with just a few shots of the Enterprise and a planet needed. (The original version reuses the "Operation: Annihilate!" footage, but the remastered counterpart replaces this with a more lifeless looking world).

  • Batgirl goes green!

    This whole business has a mighty recycled feel to it. Still, we do get to see Shatner ham it up unmercifully during his first switcheroo, and the one with Spock has a nice twist (or two). And Batgirl is on hand throughout (though she's more like Catwoman in this one).
  • A lot to do about nothing

    The main problem is that this episode really isn't about anything significant. At worst, Garth is going to kill three people (where is the rest of the asylum staff?) and then get stunned when he tries to leave. Most of the episode takes place in bland interior sets.

    It's a credit to Steve Inhat (one of those 60s "Hey, I know that face!" guys) that he invests the role of Garth with dignity, despite the stereotypical insanity the character is saddled with. Even then, Inhat at least puts some enthusiasm and menace into otherwise inane dialogue.

    Yvonne Craig does a convincing job as a sexy insane woman.

    The idea of a sign/countersign is a good example of common sense, despite the fact that they forget it in "Turnabout Intruder." Whoops.

    Garth's shapeshifting ability seems conveniently stapled on for a show already burdened with twins and lookalikes. So he was taught cellular regeneration techniques and was smart enough to become a full-fledged shapeshifter as a result? Ummm, okay.

    The shapeshifting, like several other elements in the script, comes across as contrivance. A planetary-wide forcefield, for instance. Ummm, okay, first of all, why? Just force field the asylum. And what the heck powers it?

    Spock deciding to let the Kirks fight it out is another contrivance. Although his line about shapeshifting taking up energy neatly dovetails into Odo needing his rest periods in DS9.

    Otherwise the episode comes across as low-budget third season material. Everything here is recycled, from Andorian costumes to neutralizer chairs to Garth's costume.

    Overall there's some clever dialogue and Ihnat's performance (and Keye Luke manages not to embarrass himself). But definitely not a must-see.
  • Kirk can't figure out where to move his queen in three dimensional chess

    So we all know the secret beam up sequence was made just so Garth couldn't beam up, but please! I would have done something different to the script than have that obvious, blaring irregular change in beaming up procedures just to make the script work. Garth was fantastic, wasn't he? And on a side note, that really doesn't warrant being of note in a proper review, Marta was the sexiest thing I have ever seen! At least in those days. I must agree with another note or review about this episode that Spock did a poor job in identifying the correct Captain Kirk in the end of the show. It was almost as bad as his vehicle in figuring out Janice Lester was Jim Kirk in "Turnabout Intruder".
  • NA NA NA NAAAA Batgirl

    It's a typical story... Kirk gets stranded on a planet that is also an asylum an try to get him to turn over the Enterprise. The best thing about this episode is Yvonne Craig (Batgirl) whom plays Marta.
  • Kirk and Spock visit an asylum for the criminally insane and where a former Starfleet hero is being held, but soon find that the man has taken over the place and is planning to take control of the universe. A watchable but decidedly average episode…

    This review contains minor spoilers.

    This episode has 'average' written all over it. I would not say it is as bad as some others consider it, but even so, it is far from a standout example of the Original Series.

    The plot of the story in many ways feels like a first season episode, revolving around Kirk and Spock; McCoy takes a back seat for this one.
    At first, I thought it was going to be a simple retread of the first season's "Dagger of the Mind". Although there are some similarities (both set in insane asylums, and both featuring torture chairs – which was in fact the same prop used for both instances), thankfully there are enough differences between the two episodes to prevent it from feeling like a complete rehash.

    Steve Ihnat gives a reasonable performance as the insane Garth, but I felt that the writing of the character let him down somewhat. We are given vague ramblings of how he plans to become "master of the universe" (though to be fair, he is insane!), but I felt the writing for the character and his plans deserved to be sharper.

    Orion slave girl Marta is played by Yvonne Craig, who is probably best known for playing 'Batgirl' in the third season of 1960s 'Batman'. Craig plays the part very well, and makes Marta very sexy, even if she IS green!
    It is very unexpected that the character is killed off later in the story, especially in such a callous manner.

    As with some other reviewers, I questioned that Spock did not find a more 'logical' way to tell Captain Kirk and Garth, posing as Kirk, apart at the climax of the story.
    The editing, though, during the final fight between Kirk and fake-Kirk Garth, was quite good, making William Shatner's double not appear TOO obvious throughout.

    Here in the U.K., this episode was skipped in the BBC's run of the series (one of several episodes not to be shown by them for various reasons), until it was finally included in the 1990s. Apparently the reason was due to the torture chair sequences. I was quite surprised at this, as I personally didn't find them as graphic as some scenes in other episodes; and at the very least, they would have been easy to edit around the offending moments.

    All-in-all, to paraphrase myself from the start of this review, this episode is watchable, but decidedly average. Not terrible, but not outstanding either.