Recap: Star Trek S 3 E 14 Whom Gods Destroy

Marta (left) and Captain... sorry, Lord Garth (right).
Spock and Kirk beam down to Elba II to deliver a new miracle drug to a Penal Colony in hopes of curing the patients permanently. Governor Donald Corey greets them warmly, accepts the medicine, strongly insists on them staying for dinner and visiting the poor unfortunates that they have come to cure. An Orion female insists that she's perfectly sane and that Corey is an imposter. Corey tuts over the poor woman's delusions and shows them the cell of the infamous Garth of Izar...only to find a severely battered Donald Corey in the cell. Suddenly, the screen goes fuzzy and "Boing!" The person they thought was Donald Corey is really the mad captain Garth of Izar!

Garth was once a well respected Federation captain, but one day, he just got tired of being made to "grub away like some ants on some...somewhat larger than usual anthill." No! He was made for bigger things! He is not a mere captain but a God Emperor! He is the true Master of the Universe, so sit and spin, He-Man! His only mistake was overestimating the Federation's tolerance for mass genocide.

The inmates are running the asylum! The Big Bad is a shape shifter who makes Mystique look kind and reasonable in comparison! The planet's atmosphere is unbreathable! There's no escape! And Marta plagiarizes Shakespeare!

Tropes for this episode include:

  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Quite literal for Marta. She's often shown admiring shiny objects.
  • Authority in Name Only: Garth's title of "Lord" exists only in his own deluded mind.
  • Bad Boss: Garth tells Kirk that he's developed a bomb that could possibly destroy an entire planet. What does Garth do to demonstrate its power? He sends his minion Marta, who he just made his consort, outside the asylum, which has a poisonous atmosphere, and blows her up with a portion of the the explosive that he implanted in her necklace. The explosion is so violent, it shakes The Enterprise, which is in orbit. (The guy was clearly in an insane asylum for a reason...)
  • Bad Liar: Marta was a pathological liar (likely one reason she was in the asylum), going so far as to recite Shakespeare's Sonnet XVIII and claim it was her own work. Not even Garth believes a word she says.
  • Bedlam House: Played with. The colony on Elba II is presumably more advanced than even the best mental health facility in our modern age, yet they still practice a form of shock therapy. (Granted, this episode was written in The Sixties.) It is clear that the inmates are regarded as sick and in need of care. And things didn't really go to Hell until the inmates literally took over the asylum.
    • Actually, whatever the Torture Chair was originally meant to do, it was explicitly said to be completely painless until Garth made his "modifications".
  • Broken Pedestal: Seriously, Kirk, what is it with your heroes becoming insane megalomaniacs?
  • Can't Take Criticism: Garth. He becomes anything from mildly annoyed to hysterically angry if you point out anything he did wrong.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Garth isn't lying about the explosive he created.
  • Chess Motifs: The prompt for the password for Scotty to override the security shield and beam Kirk up is "Queen to Queen's level three". The password is "Queen to King's level one".
  • Coat Cape: Garth wears his green mink coat this way during the coronation.
  • Complete-the-Quote Title: The episode isn't about people being destroyed, by gods or otherwise. However if you know the entire quote "Whom gods destroy, they first drive mad", you'll see it's a perfect title for an episode about an insane asylum.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: "What took you so long?" Kirk says after Spock figures out which Kirk is the real one. He tells Kirk that he perceived it to take longer than it did.
  • Continuity Nod: The healthcare workers uniforms and transporter blocking force field return from the first season's "Dagger of the Mind", set on a similar institution.
  • Cuckoo Nest: Marta feigns being sane. She tells Kirk that Corey isn't who he seems. Just because she's right doesn't mean she isn't crazy!
  • Damned by Faint Praise: Garth calls Kirk the second best tactition in Starfleet. He considers himself to be the best.
  • Deadpan Snarker: At first, it seems Spock is just laying out another Vulcan zinger with "She seems to have worked out an infallible method for assuring permanent male fidelity." upon stopping her from stabbing Kirk. Surprise! It was Garth all along!
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Marta feels no need for them.
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: Name-dropped by Garth when he tries to convince Kirk and Spock that they should be friends (with the implication that the other option would be "or I kill you").
    Spock: On what, precisely, is our friendship to be based?
    Garth: Upon the firmest of foundations, Mister Spock. Enlightened self interest.
  • Evil Genius: Garth was apparently able to design and build a new doomsday weapon while locked up in an insane asylum on a deserted backwater planet.
  • Fallen Hero/The Paragon Always Rebels: Kirk describes Garth as his personal hero and the Federation's greatest warrior, and he was seemingly Starfleet's most legendary captain until his newly acquired abilities drove him mad with power.
  • Famous, Famous, Fictional: Garth: All the others before me have failed. Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, Lee Kuan, Krotus! All of them are dust! But I will triumph! I will make the ultimate conquest!
  • Femme Fatale: Marta fancies herself this. Kirk submits to some kisses, but the two women he just can't go for are the under-aged and the under-sane.
  • First Officer Obvious: Spock, when he responds to Kirk's claim that they are "brothers" by saying that Kirk is speaking "somewhat figuratively."
  • Forced to Watch: Garth uses Cold-Blooded Torture on Governor Corey to make Kirk reveal the password.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Marta, of course.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Garth declares Marta to be his consort. Her reign makes Jane Grey's reign look like an epoch.
  • Hair-Trigger Explosive: The madman Garth of Izar has developed an explosive so powerful that a single flask of it could vaporize a planet. It will go off if dropped to the floor.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Kirk vs Garth.
  • Have We Met?: Garth, having newly come out of treatment, says this to Kirk at the end of the episode.
  • Heroic RROD: Well, maybe not "heroic". Discussed. Spock concludes that Garth is expanding a lot of energy keeping Kirk's form, so he decides to wait it out. It seems Garth doesn't have near the patience of a Vulcan.
  • Human Sacrifice: Garth suggests doing this to Kirk at his coronation. Kirk is not enthused.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Kirk tries to get Garth to remember the great man he was before his insanity set in. It almost works, too.
  • Idiot Ball: Spock, while trying to determine which "Kirk" is really Garth, ask Kirk a question that Garth could also have known the answer to, and then gives up that line of reasoning altogether rather than asking a very specific question about their past that only the real Kirk could possibly know. Leonard Nimoy objected to this, but the director really wanted to do a fight scene.
  • Insane Captain: Garth of Izar, a former Starfleet Fleet Captain who develops megalomania and ends up in the asylum on Elba II.
  • Insistent Terminology: Captain—"LORD!"—Garth.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: Phasers work better when charged.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Garth uses this on Dr. Cory and Kirk in an attempt to learn the transporter code word.
  • Judgment of Solomon: Kirk lampshades the similarity of Spock's choice to this with the episode's final words.
    Mr. Spock, letting yourself be hit on the head—and I presume you let yourself be hit on the head—is not a method King Solomon would have approved.
  • Just Testing You: Garth's excuse to Scotty when he doesn't know the counter password 'Queen to King's level one'.
  • Kill Us Both: Spock is faced with both Kirk and Garth of Izar who was impersonating Kirk. Kirk ordered Spock to shoot them both to prevent Garth from taking over the Enterprise. Spock only shot one. Luckily it was the right one.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Garth demands that all kneel before him. Kneel, I say!
  • Large Ham: Kirk has certainly met his match with "LORD" Garth.
  • Love at First Sight: Marta claims to feel this way about Kirk. If she does love him, it's in an I want to wear your skin sort of way.
  • Mercy Kill: Garth kills Marta just to prove he can. But, since she's his consort, he'll blow her up instead of letting her suffocate.
  • Mood-Swinger: Garth can go from Affably Evil to Unstoppable Rage at the drop of a hat.
  • Moral Myopia: Garth alleges that he was treated terribly. As pointed out by Spock, not only was he treated fairly, but also he failed to treat any of his intended victims compassionately.
  • No, Captain Kirk, I Expect You To Dine: When Garth first invites Kirk and Spock to dinner, it seems friendly, since he's borrowed the guise of Donald Corey. Then he forces the invitation at gunpoint.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Marta declares that she is the most beautiful woman on the planet. Garth bluntly reminds her that she's the only woman on the planet.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Kirk is reluctant to recognize Garth's claim to be a king, however, he will play with his ego to make him let an innocent man go.
  • Playing Sick: Spock pretends to be passed out when Garth's two minions come to collect him. This gives him the opportunity to neck pinch both of them.
  • Pretty in Mink: Rare male example with Garth. Must've been one of those rare green minks from Aurora IV. A presumed insane Andorian wears a fluffy pink boa. WHAT ARE THEY INSINUATING?
  • Psychopathic Man Child: When Garth doesn't get what he wants, he kicks and pounds the floor like an angry child. The other inmates are somewhat more subdued versions, having a fondness for wheelbarrow races. (Cut from the remastered episode, unfortunately.)
  • Sanity Has Advantages: The fact that Garth was a madman and both Kirk and Spock were sane was clearly the two protagonist's biggest advantage here. The fact that the villain flew into a rage on more than one occasion when he was frustrated (such as when he realized he needed to know a countersign in order to board The Enterprise) showed that his madness was hindering him greatly. Garth's attempt to intimidate Kirk by murdering his lover with the super-powerful bomb he created does nothing more than prove to Kirk - and the viewers, most likely - that he's a lunatic, and when he thinks he'll have more luck with Spock due to Spock being a "very logical man", Spock's logical thinking is, in fact, what leads to Garth's final defeat.
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: Garth is a human being who learned the ability to shape change. His default shape is his original (humanoid) body.
  • Shapeshifting: Garth of Izar. After an accident left him badly maimed, the gentle beings of Antos IV nursed him in his darkest hour, and gifted him with their technique of cellular metamorphosis to repair his mangled body. With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.
  • Shell Game: Captain Garth "'''LORD''' Garth!" Lord Garth shape changes into the form of Captain Kirk and fights him, so neither the audience nor Spock know which one is which.
  • Spot the Imposter: Near the end, Spock has to determine which "Captain Kirk" is the real thing and which one is Garth. He decides that the one who orders his own sacrifice for the safety of the Enterprise must be his Captain.
  • Take Over The Universe: Garth's goal.
  • Teleport Interdiction: Kirk and Spock aren't getting out of this that easily! Security force fields must be deactivated to allow beaming up or down.
  • Underage Casting: Fleet Captain Garth of Izar, whose exploits've been studied by Kirk at the academy's played by a 34-year-old actor. Steve Ihnat was in fact younger than William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.