"Queen to Queen's level three."
I know, I know, I know. They had no money, everyone was tired and the series was limping to a close.
But it's still disappointing that instead of giving us something new, they recycled "Dagger of the Mind", added a touch of "Space Seed" and a bit of "Plato's Stepchildren", and finished it off with recycled costumes and props -- most notably, the sedation/torture chair. This wasn't even the first Federation starship captain gone loony, or the first time Kirk was duplicated and Spock had to figure it out. And it's too bad, because a story about a criminally insane shapeshifter with delusions of grandeur could have been fun.
As much as I appreciate the implied optimism about the future, it's hard to swallow that there are only fifteen criminally insane and (I would assume) extremely dangerous individuals in the known universe, and that the Federation would actually build an entire facility on an uninhabitable planet for them. And... criminality and mental illness is not the same thing. And... nearly all of the inmates were subservient and followed instructions instead of acting like inmates important enough and uncontainable enough to rate their own prison planet. Plus you'd think the Orions, Tellurites and Andorians would have their own medical facilities and/or prisons. Okay, one more -- how could one single medicine cure all of these different beings?
Enough complaining, already. I should focus on what I liked about this one.
Spock was fun. (He's almost always fun or in some way cool, which is why we love him, of course.) I have always enjoyed the "shoot us both, Spock" moment, although with a phaser set to stun, Spock really should have shot them both when he came into the room. It was very Spock-like for Spock to sit down and wait them out, though. I also enjoyed Spock standing pensively in his cell and testing the strength of the force field with the tip of his finger. And hey, double neck pinch!
And I liked Marta, played by sixties Batgirl Yvonne Craig. She rocked the Orion green woman look and the blue and green bathing suit thingy she was wearing, the fact that she was a professional dancer was obvious, and I enjoyed how she went from acting rational and telling the truth (she told Kirk that Cory wasn't Cory) to total dippiness (saying she wrote Shakespeare and Housman). If Marta killed all of her lovers, why didn't she kill Garth? Maybe she never fancied herself in love with him, which would have been perceptive of her. Garth wasn't very lovable and treated her badly. Well, and he killed her for no reason, of course.
Even though it came out of left field, the bit with the code phrase ("Queen to queen's level three") was also enjoyable. Wouldn't it have been cool if they'd always done that? They could have come up with a new and interesting sign and countersign for every episode, and all of us fans could have analyzed what the real meaning of the phrases were. What a missed opportunity, huh?
I have to say that the actors did their best, too. Steve Ihnat's Garth seemed quite sympathetic in that last scene when he had been treated and was a quiet shadow of his starship captain self. Shatner actually got to pound his fists on the floor in tantrum mode, and of course, he did double duty during the fight scene. And the other actors kept dragging Kirk around by the arms, so not an easy week for Shatner. Of course, he did get a love scene with Batgirl, though.
Ben P. Duck says...
"I find it, um, mildly interesting and somewhat nostalgic, if I understand the use of that word."
Well, "interesting" might be too strong a word. I have noticed, however, that in much of season three, Spock has a line which expresses the hopeless quality of so many episodes. (See: "The humiliation must have been most difficult for you to bear" back in "Plato's Stepchildren.") It's as if the writers were trapped somewhere and trying to reach us so we could rescue them. Sadly, we arrived too late in this case.
Anyway, this episode was something akin to an improv class in which the cast and guest stars had to take props, sets and elements from past shows and try to make up a show as they went along. The plot bore more than a passing resemblance to "Dagger of the Mind." It included one standard insane, formerly great, required-reading-at-the-academy Captain. Marta (the green Orion Dancing Bat Girl) does a great job, but I just couldn't shake the feeling I had seen it all before. The mad court of Emperor Garth was reminiscent of the mad court of Parmen and the Platonians, only a few episodes back. There are some more hench-aliens, one Andorian and one Tellarite, whose costumes and accessories seemed ill-fitting, as if the actors were sent to rummage through the trailers and just put on an alien get-up. This is still better than the rest of the lunatics who seemed to be dressed in the cast-off outfits of a half dozen episodes. Captain Garth is wearing two different-colored lame boots, for god's sake.
Seriously, I have to ask: were they even trying by this point?
Back to Billie for bits and pieces:
-- Star date 5718.3. The planet Elba II, with its obvious Napoleon reference.
-- Dr. Cory was played by Keye Luke, who had a long and varied acting career but was probably best known as Master Po on Kung Fu.
-- At certain points they must have put a green spot on Marta to make her look greener.
-- The "shoot us both, Spock" was mentioned in an evil twin episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "The Replacement." Although the situation in "The Replacement" was a lot more like "The Enemy Within."
-- The title of this episode was taken from an ancient Greek phrase, "Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad." For some reason, I always get the title of this one confused with "That Which Survives." Actually, the title really should have been "Garth and Marta Destroy the Universe".
Marta: "Why can't I blow off just one of his ears?"
Garth: "I may have you beaten to death."
Marta: "No, you won't. Because I am the most beautiful woman on this planet."
Garth: "You're the only woman on this planet, you stupid cow."
Garth: "You wrote that?"
Marta: "Yesterday, as a matter of fact."
Garth: "It was written by an Earth man named Shakespeare a long time ago."
Marta: "Which does not alter the fact that I wrote it again yesterday!"
Spock: (on Marta's dancing) "I find it, um, mildly interesting and somewhat nostalgic, if I understand the use of that word."
Spock: "Yes. It is somewhat reminiscent of the dances that Vulcan children do in nursery school. Of course, the children are not so... well-coordinated."
Kirk: "They were humanitarians and statesmen, and they had a dream. A dream that became a reality and spread throughout the stars, a dream that made Mister Spock and me brothers."
Garth: "Mister Spock, do you consider Captain Kirk and yourself brothers?"
Spock: "Captain Kirk speaks somewhat figuratively and with undue emotion. However, what he says is logical and I do, in fact, agree with it."
Spock: "She seems to have worked out an infallible method for ensuring permanent male fidelity."
Although it had its moments, the recycled plots and props pretty much deep sixed this one. Two out of four stars of other hit television shows,
Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.