A Guest Blog by Mindless-Droid
This week’s classic Star Trek episode is The Mark of Gideon. The episode synopsis is here at the official site. The Enterprise is sent to the planet Gideon to open diplomatic relations. The Gideons are very private and reclusive not even allowing their planet to be scanned. They demand that only one federation representative beam down to the planet. And that captain Kirk is to be that representative.
Kirk is beamed down to the planet but materializes back on the transporter pad of the Enterprise. To his surprise the ship is empty the crew has disappeared but all is not as it seems. The Gideons have built an exact (yeah I know) replica of the Enterprise to bring Kirk and Odona the ambassadors daughter together. They plan to use Kirk to infect Odona with a rare virus and in turn to infect the population, a population that doesn’t know disease and whose lifespan is extremely long. This has led to the planet becoming an overpopulated mass of people and the Gideon government believes this is the only way to curb the population.
This episode makes Spock’s Brain look like a season one episode. I mean really at least you can have a little fun with the campiness of Spock’s Brain and some of it isn’t that bad but this one. Okay where to start this episode has plot holes you could fly a doomsday machine through. The first and most glaring is that the isolationist Gideons have somehow built an exact replica of the Enterprise. Where did they get the specs from Scotty at a seminar on Starship designs? This sort of ruins the whole episode how are we supposed to believe that Captain Kirk doesn’t know he is on a replica. The man lives and breathes his ship. You would think he would immediately sense that something was amiss. Even if we grant that Kirk doesn’t immediately sense that he’s on or in a replica how did the Gideons make exact copies of everyone’s personal items? Then there is the fact that the Enterprise has been in space at least three years since Kirk has been in command there would have to be some wear and tear some minor blemishes that only the crew would know like worn paint on a handrail or a small tear in a seam on a chair all the little things that come from every day operation. Really what is the purpose of building the whole thing anyway and if the planet is so overpopulated where did they build something as large as a starship granted they didn’t have to build the nacelles but the rest of the ship is huge.
This brings up the point of why even build it if they wanted Kirk’s blood because somehow in diplomatic negotiation they found out that this specific Starship captain had the one disease that would infect their immune system (man Starflleet must be fast and loose with their medical records) why not just beam him down knock him out take the sample and bam done. This is the only solution the Gideons can think of if they would be willing to die to be alone why not I don’t know ask the Federation to help them colonize some other planets maybe being away from their own world they would have shorter natural lifespans I mean it’s a big galaxy and if it’s that crowded I’m sure some of them would want to get away.
Which brings us to the overpopulation plot. The episode takes on this issue but in this instance unlike some of the other issues that remained relevant this issue faded into history. The fear of overpopulation was a big thing back in the late sixties. The book The Population Bomb by Paul R. Ehrlich had just been published and warned of mass starvation by the 70’s and 80’s. The predictions were that by now we would all be eating Soylent Green and the world would be an overcrowded mess. Obviously these predictions have been proven wrong but some including Ehrlich still stand by their gloomy predictions. Having just turned fifty I’ve seen so many of these end of the world scenarios Killer bees, Y2K, this disease, that disease global warming now, global cooling in the seventies and I’m still here but it does make for some good sci-fi although not in this case and not when it’s a Sy-Fy original movie. MST3K we need you but I digress onto some mindless thoughts.
First the only real good parts of the episode Spock’s quotes about diplomats and bureaucrats.
“We must acknowledge once and for all that the purpose of diplomacy is to prolong a crisis.”
“Diplomats and bureaucrats may function differently, but they achieve exactly the same results.”
This whole episode feels off Spock sounds slightly different and everybody on the bridge seems to not be quite right.
Why is Chekov just standing there with the note pad he looks comatose and this episode would do that.
How would kirk know every star field point of view that he wouldn’t recognize the one on the view screen?
Not only did the Gideons build the ship they made the buttons work the right things as well. Okay right.
They searched the whole planet in half an hour?
There is a lot of staring as Spock talks.
How logical is it to scan space for years?
Even William Ware Theiss wasn’t on his game this episode Odona’s costume is rather bland.
Brain brain what is brain? Gideon I don’t know any Gideon.
Even the re-mastered planet is dull.
Ambassador Hodin could use an eyebrow trim at least he doesn’t have one of those funny hats like on Eminiar VII.
He called Scotty a repairman ouch.
They don’t want to risk another officer of the Enterprise but they’ll risk their own assistant.
Why is Kirk navigating from the science station?
All of a sudden they hear sound from outside and he knows every sound the ship might make how did they replicate that?
How do they learn about Kirk’s medical records in a diplomatic negotiation?
If they know no pain why did the guards grunt when Kirk hit them?
Did they really think Kirk would stay and the Federation wouldn’t ask questions?
I know I’ve said this before but whenever I watch these classic episodes with Kirk and the girl of the week I always think of McCoy’s line in Star Trek VI “What is it with you anyway?”
The only good things about this episode are Spock’s quotes about diplomats and bureaucrats and that no red shirts were harmed in the making of this episode.