The Rewatch 66: The Mark of Gideon

Series: Star Trek (The Original Series)
Episode: 3.16 The Mark of Gideon (01-17-1969)
Rating: 4/5
Redshirt Status: 0/3/49

Notable Guest Stars:
Sharon Acker – Odona.  She played on Parry Mason as his secretary in the 1970s remake.
David Hurst – Ambassador Hodin.  He appeared on several episodes of Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Review:

This is an interesting episode.  I didn’t remember it from my last viewing of the series.  Enterprise is sent to the planet Gideon, home of a notoriously isolationist people.  They have agreed to have one person beam down and act as a representative of the planet – James T. Kirk.  Oddly specific but the Federation was all to ready to become friends, so they agreed.

Kirk beams down to the planet, only finds himself instead on an empty Enterprise alone with one other supposed kidnapping victim, Odona. He notices that he has an injury on his arm that he doesn’t remember getting, suggesting he has lost time.

The two of them roam the ship, trying to figure out what is wrong.  Odona has no clue where she comes from (which Kirk finds suspicious) and Kirk just finds the whole situation off kilter.  He wants to know where his crew is.

As it turns out, the people of Gideon had use for Kirk.  This is all a strange method to gain access to Kirk’s blood, as they want to introduce ‘vegan choriomeningitius’ to the population.  The planet is so overpopulated that they are all unhappy.  They have no illness on the planet, and an out of control birth rate.  Kirk suggests sterilization and birth control which are both knocked down by Odona’s father Ambassador Hodon who claims the Gidieon’s health blocks those from working.  He needs Kirk’s blood to start infecting people and start reducing their population.

I find this odd. They seem capable of the technology to travel to other planets.  Surely inviting other people to the planet would have done the same thing with different pathogens coming from other planets.  Or they could colonize and ease their own population problems. 

I’m not sure the science works here, because since Kirk has been cured of the disease, he would have antibodies, rather then an active culture.  I know that antibodies can be used in research of a desease and creating vaccinations, but I’m not sure you can create something that will infect people in the way Hodeon wants it too.

 Also, how does Hodon plan on controlling the infection.  If they introduce it, it might cause a pandemic and they could go on to have quite the opposite problem.

Kirk refuses to let Odona, whose now infected, stay that way and cures her.  She decides to go with her father’s plan, only using her blood rather then Kirk’s.

This episode could have had a better premise and definitely has a lot of plot holes – such as why not just ask Kirk for a blood sample?  Why do they need a continuous supply.  IF they can recreate the enterprise shouldn’t they be advanced enough to synthesise the disease?

I’m giving myself more questions.

Interesting Notes:

  • Directed by Jud Taylor
  • Written by George F. Slavin and Stanley Adams (who acted on Star Trek as Cyrano Jones in season 2)
  •  

Pros:

  • Character backstory for Kirk
  • Interaction of the crew of Enterprise when Kirk is not leading the team
  • This episode is probably the first show pre-seventies that I have seen that has talked about birth control although they don’t actually say the exact words.  Kirk doesn’t understand why anyone with a population problem wouldn’t promote birth control methods.

Cons:

  •  Science fail on Gideon.
  • What on earth is Odona wearing?  Bathing suit?  Jumpsuit with strategically placed privacy fabric?

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