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 by Herb Wallerstein
Story by Lee Erwin
Jerry Sohl
Teleplay by Lee Erwin
Featured music Fred Steiner
Cinematography by Al Francis
Production code 071
Original air date January 3, 1969 (1969-01-03)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Whom Gods Destroy" is a third season episode of the American science fiction television series, Star Trek. It is episode #69, production #71, and was broadcast on January 3, 1969. It was written by Lee Erwin, based on a story by Lee Erwin and Jerry Sohl, and directed by Herb Wallerstein. 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." This episode was withdrawn by the BBC in the UK because of 'sadistic plot elements' during the initial run in 1971 and was not shown until a repeat run in January 1994.

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


On stardate 5718.3, the Federation starship USS Enterprise arrives at the planet Elba II, used by the Federation to house the criminally insane due to its poisonous surface conditions. They carry a shipment of medicine to be used to cure the patients.

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, warns the two that Cory is not who they think he is. Too late, they discover the real Cory imprisoned in a cell, and their host introduces himself as Garth of Izar (Steve Ihnat). Garth is a former starship captain who became injured and mentally unstable after a rescue mission; he physically recovered with help from the people of Antos that taught him the ability to shapeshift to heal his own injuries and take the form of others. When Garth threatened to attack Antos, his crew mutinied and stranded him. Kirk looked up to Garth as one of his personal heroes as a cadet at Starfleet Academy and still respects him despite his fall from grace.

Kirk and Spock are imprisoned, and Garth, taking on Kirk's form, tries to have Chief Engineer Scott beam him back aboard. However, Scott refuses when Garth fails to give the correct response to a chess-based passphrase challenge. Scott and the Enterprise crew recognize something is wrong, but a force field around the facility prevents them from rescuing the landing party. Any attempt to disable it could kill everyone in the medical facility.

Garth tries to learn the required passphrase, first by treating Kirk and Spock to an opulent dinner with himself and Marta. Despite bragging about his own infamy before his fall to the Captain, Kirk refuses to give him the code. Garth then turns to torturing both Doctor Cory and Kirk, but the latter remains steadfast. Finally, Garth has Marta attempt to seduce Kirk, but Spock arrives and subdues her. The two make contact with the ship, and again Scott challenges them with the passphrase. Kirk, sensing something amiss, instructs Spock to provide it, thus forcing Garth, disguised as Spock, to reveal his ploy.

Once again a captive, Kirk is forced to watch Garth crown himself "Master of the Universe" in front of the other inmates. Garth intends his rule to be more powerful than other villainous leaders in history. He demonstrates his power by killing Marta with an explosive he planted on her body. The explosion gives Spock enough time to disable his guard, acquire a phaser, and track down Garth and Kirk. On entering a control room, Spock finds two Kirks in front on him. Each accuses the other of being Garth, and attempts to use knowledge of Starfleet battle tactics to prove their identity. One Kirk finally orders Spock to stun them both; Spock realizes this is an order the real Kirk would give, and stuns the other, who is revealed to be Garth of Izar. Garth is put into custody, and Doctor Cory begins administration of the drugs to put Garth and the other inmates on track for recovery.

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