The Great Star Trek Rewatch: The Empath

Whilst on a mission to rescue a research team from a dying planet, Kirk, Spock and McCoy are beamed deep underground by a mysterious alien force. There, they encounter Gem, a mute woman who is able to transfer the wounds of others to herself -a so-called empath. Gem and the Enterprise crew have been taken by the Vians – powerful aliens conducting experiments on live subjects – but to what end?

This episode clearly wasn’t one that left a great impression on me, as I barely remembered the first time I saw it. It has some fairly standard Star Trek elements, interspersed with a number of pointless scenes that seem to only exist to stretch out a very short and simple story about self-sacrifice to the requisite 50 minutes. So, without further ado, let’s move on to-

Star Trek Bingo

  • The Enterprise arrives at a research station to find that everyone has disappeared. Science on the final frontier is dangerous business!
  • Powerful aliens act like dicks towards the Enterprise crew.
  • Spock is able to reverse-engineer an alien device to help the away team out of a difficult situation.
  • McCoy says “I’m a doctor, not a coal miner!”
  • Kirk is able to save the day and make the aliens see reason with one of his trademarked impassioned speeches.

Life in Space

  • The Vians have a device which is “tuned to the thought patterns of the individual user”, which is a little silly, but perhaps not so much in a world where telepathy exists.
  • Gem is able to absorb the wounds of others into herself, and then heal them at an accelerated rate – however absorbing life-threatening wounds would likely kill her. The Vians are using her as a representative of her species – if she can learn the capacity for self-sacrifice, then she will have proved her race worthy of being saved from their star’s imprending nova. If not, then one of the other, worthier planets of the solar system will be rescued.
  • After several episodes of sniping and generally having quite a sour relationship, Spock and McCoy’s friendship feels back on solid ground in this episode, as both are clearly unquestioningly willing to sacrifice their lives for each other.

Summary – The Empath: Kirk in chains and other scenes of overacting.

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