Whom Gods Destroy (Star Trek: The Original Series)

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"Whom Gods Destroy"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no.Season 3
Episode 14
Directed byHerb Wallerstein
Story byLee Erwin
Jerry Sohl
Teleplay byLee Erwin
Featured musicFred Steiner
Cinematography byAl Francis
Production code071
Original air dateJanuary 3, 1969 (1969-01-03)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Elaan of Troyius"
Next →
"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"
Star Trek: The Original Series (season 3)
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Whom Gods Destroy" is the fourteenth episode of the third season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek. Written by Lee Erwin (based on a story by Lee Erwin and Jerry Sohl) and directed by Herb Wallerstein, it was first broadcast on January 3, 1969.

In the episode, Captain Kirk faces off with a deranged shape-shifting starship captain determined to control the universe.

The title is based on a phrase spoken by Prometheus in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, The Masque of Pandora (1875): "Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad."[1]

This episode was not aired by the BBC in the United Kingdom because of 'sadistic plot elements'. It finally aired there in 1994.


The Federation starship Enterprise arrives at the planet Elba II, home to a Federation facility for the criminally insane, carrying a shipment of new medication.

Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock beam down with the shipment and meet the facility director Donald Cory (Keye Luke). He gives them a brief tour, where one of the inmates, an Orion female named Marta (Yvonne Craig), warns the two that Cory is an imposter. The real Cory is then discovered in a cell, and their host introduces himself as Garth of Izar (Steve Ihnat). Garth is a former starship captain, mentally unstable as the result of an injury, and he has acquired the ability to shapeshift using a method taught to him to heal his own injuries.

Kirk and Spock are imprisoned, and Garth, in Kirk's form, orders Chief Engineer Scott to beam him back aboard. However, Scott refuses when Garth fails to give the correct response to a passphrase challenge. Scott and the Enterprise crew recognize something is wrong, but a force field around the facility prevents them from taking any action.

After a banquet with Kirk, Spock, and Marta, Garth inquires about the passphrase. Kirk refuses to reveal it, and Garth resorts to torturing both Doctor Cory and Kirk. Finally, Marta attempts to seduce Kirk, but Spock arrives and subdues her, and the two make contact with the ship. Kirk, sensing something amiss, instructs Spock to provide the passphrase, which he cannot do, forcing Garth to reveal he had taken Spock's form.

Once again a captive, Kirk witnesses Garth's "coronation" as "Master of the Universe". Garth further demonstrates his power by killing Marta with an explosive planted on her body. Still unable to get Kirk's cooperation, Garth sends for the real Spock, who overpowers his escorts. On entering a control room, Spock faces two Kirks, each of whom accuses the other of being Garth. A struggle begins, during which one Kirk orders Spock to stun them both; Spock stuns the other, who is revealed to be Garth of Izar. Once again in control of the facility, Doctor Cory begins the administration of the new drugs to Garth and the other inmates.

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