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“The Empath” Review, Screenshots and FX Video July 30, 2008

by Jeff Bond , Filed under: Review,TOS-R Screenshots/Video , trackback


by Jeff Bond


“The Empath” is one of those classic Trek episodes that you appreciate more as an adult than as a kid or teen, when it’s likely to play as unbearably “mushy.” But it’s illustrative of how different Trek has always been from the other science fiction shows of the period—classic Trek was unashamedly “touchy feely,” focusing on humanity’s most noble impulses and feelings.

In “The Empath” Kirk, Spock and McCoy touch down on a planet threatened by an imminent supernova (see “All Our Yesterdays”), and find a Federation research station that’s seemingly abandoned. “Security cam” footage saved in the station’s computers shows the station’s crew mysteriously disappearing (this is one of several examples on the show of security cam footage employing arty zooms and pans) before the Enterprise officers themselves disappear and find themselves deep underground in an alien research facility. There they find an attractive female mime that McCoy dubs Gem (in a strange foreshadowing for an episode based on torture, the bed Gem is found lying on looks like a giant agonizer from “Mirror, Mirror”). Soon Gem’s captors also appear: the Vians, aliens who look a lot like the Talosians from “The Cage.” They eventually hang Kirk and McCoy from the rafters (given the show’s strange, minimal sets, just exactly what the rafters are in this case is an interesting question) and torture the bejeezus out of them as we discover that Gem is an “empath” who absorbs other’s emotions and physical pain into her own body. As in many Trek episodes, the superior Vians are running a test—but in this case the subjects aren’t the Enterprise crew and by turn humanity, but Gem and her race, with the Vians seeking to discover whether she is willing to sacrifice her life for her newfound friends Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

Like “Spectre of the Gun,” “The Empath” showcases an odd, stage bound theatricality, from Kathryn Hays’ pantomime performance as Gem to the strange minimalist sets, achieved by blacking out the stage floor, curtaining off the walls and lighting to create the effect of a pure black, featureless environment marked by “floating” set pieces including Gem’s bed and the Vians’ laboratory equipment. This was a technique often used on Lost in Space and Irwin Allen’s other sci fi TV shows of the period but rarely on Star Trek—in fact the sets, lab sound effects and even the Vians’ costumes seem much more like something out of Lost in Space than Trek. There are other stylistic touches that are out of character for Trek, notably the use of slow motion in an exterior scene involving the illusion that the landing party is about to be rescued by Scotty.

“The Empath” is all about caring, but there is some condescension in the way Gem is treated that echoes the “Mary Sue” approach of some later Trek episodes—McCoy especially seems instantly charmed by and concerned for Gem despite having little or no idea exactly who and what she is (although Spock does remind him that the sandbats of Maynart IV appear to be inanimate rock crystals before they attack…) and the doctor immediately raises the need to find a catchy name for her to Priority One. There’s a sense that this is more about her appearing to be a helpless, pretty “girl” rather than an alien and you have to wonder how Kirk, Spock and McCoy would treat Gem if she were male instead of female. On the other hand, while it’s unstated in the episode, women are often considered to be more “empathic” and nurturing then men so it’s somewhat of a natural choice to portray Gem this way.

Some of what appears to be clumsy plot development in the story winds up making perfect sense when we see what the Vians are trying to achieve—the fact that they tell the Enterprise officers how their force field works, giving them the key to their eventual escape, the fact that they label their experiments in English so Kirk and the others can read and divine what’s about to happen to them, and the fact that they allow the humans to obtain one of their “control units” all plays into their manipulation. And “The Empath” does pay off as an illustration of one of Trek’s key strengths, the unstated but effectively portrayed “love” between Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Probably the warmest moment between Spock and McCoy in the entire series occurs in the aftermath of McCoy’s torture as the camera holds on a shot of Spock’s deeply concerned expression as he holds his hand to McCoy’s head, with a touched McCoy weakly responding “You’ve got a good bedside manner, Spock.” Gem herself expresses the affection between the characters with a warm and silent smile as she watches them vie to be the first to sacrifice themselves for the others earlier in the story.

Another Trek staple that works better here than in some other episodes is the way Kirk manages to change the Vians’ behavior with an imploring speech—this one makes particular sense given what the aliens want out of Gem; for them to refuse to show mercy and compassion when they value it so highly in others is a critical contradiction.

All that said, “The Empath” still registers sometimes as overly sentimental and it gilds the lily with its talky final scene on the bridge in which Kirk and McCoy have to admit that they were “awed” by Gem and Scotty unloads his “story of the merchant”—Trek often presented the moral of the story verbally but after such an effective wrap-up this coda seems like more hand-holding than an intelligent viewer really needs.


With most of the episode set underground there are few spaceship shots in “The Empath,” but in addition to their usual additions of a new planet, CBS-D puts their efforts in other directions—there’s a more realistic view of the star system’s sun with visible solar flares and most importantly, the team has worked to smooth out the transitions in the makeup effects that are used to illustrate Gem’s empathic powers. When Star Trek was originally filmed this kind of effect hadn’t changed much from the thirties and forties when films like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Wolf Man showed transformations by fading between shots of different stages of theatrical makeup. While it worked for audiences of the time, the approach requires loads of suspension of disbelief. Because of the big changes in the look of the static makeups between shots, and even changes in the position of the subject and the sudden appearance or disappearance of hair, the technique has the aspect more of a magical quality than something organic. Here the impact of CBS-D’s digital “smoothing” of the effects is considerable as it actually adds quite a bit of emotional power to the growth of scars and bruises on Gem’s fragile facial features. It’s too bad this couldn’t have been employed for the healing scenes in “Miri” as well but the addition here is one of CBS-D’s more effective fixes.

by Matt Wright

[new features: Vid is now higher res + click the above to go to full screen]


by Matt Wright

Remastered vs. Original


That’s one dusty outpost…


Wrinkly-lipped distant cousins of the Talosians?


 Seasons One and Two discounted at Amazon US
The Season Two box set is now available at Amazon for pre-order, discounted to $63.99 (Amazon has a low price guarantee that if they drop the price before ship date of August 5th you will get that lower price). The Season One DVD / HD DVD combo disk is available now for $104.99 (retail is $194.99).

Amazon.com (USA)Seasons One and Two of TOS-R ($104.99 and $63.99 respectively)




1. Harry Ballz - July 30, 2008

Boy, this episode was always a tough one to swallow!

2. Jimr - July 30, 2008

Eh. This one always felt phoned-in.

3. vorta23492392932939230 - July 30, 2008

sound stage city

4. Paul B. - July 30, 2008

I guess I’m in the minority who liked this show, even as a kid in the 1970s. The stage-iness is part of the mood and the charm; Gem was oddly appealing in her muteness; and the Big Three had some great moments.

Sure, it’s no “Balance of Terror” or “City on the Edge…”, but it’s also far from the “Spock’s Brain” and “Children Shall Lead” end of the spectrum.

5. THX-1138 The Fandom Menace - July 30, 2008

Uh oh. I always liked this one as a kid. But I was a wierd kid.

6. Roger - July 30, 2008

Never liked this episode.
The merchant story that Scotty paraphrases is from the Gosples.
Jesus used it as a parable. I like how trek writers lift material from
scripture but given the show’s humanist bent would never properly give due credit. “Bread and Circuses” being a notable

7. Bobby Keeling - July 30, 2008

I love this episode. Reminds me of the last season of Batman.

8. MikeyPikey - July 30, 2008

so i guess its obvious that these guys are based on the talosians? i remember having an old copy of the cage i taped from BBC2, anyone remember the talosians voices changing from scene to scene> lol from high to loww and slowww

9. Spockanella - July 30, 2008

5. I still like this one, probably because it did feel theatric, more like a play than a television episode.

10. classictrek - July 30, 2008

ive got to be in the mood for this episode. it has some really good moments but its very surreal.

I think this episode was one of four of TOS banned by the BBC here in Great Britain for many years before it was finally shown to UK audiences.

many thanks

11. Michael - July 30, 2008

I loved some of the new music created for this episode.

12. Michael - July 30, 2008

Funny how Jeff nailed the fact that the platform looked like a giant agonizer. As many times as I’ve seen this episode over the years, I never picked up on that until I watched the remastered episode last weekend.

13. Andy Patterson - July 30, 2008

““The Empath” is one of those classic Trek episodes that you appreciate more as an adult than as a kid or teen,”


“Boy, this episode was always a tough one to swallow!”

Agreed Harry. I hated it as a kid and it really made for a lousy afternoon after school when I discovered, “Oh man!”, this was the one that was on. I just found it gory and sadistic. I couldn’t believe any race could be that way.

I do remember an ailing Deforest Kelly telling on those SciFi extras in between the commercials that this was one of his favorites because of the approach and art direction. Again, to quote Jeff Bond….I can appreciate them all on a different level these days.

14. John Gill - July 30, 2008

Always loved this episode, when I was a kid I was very curious as to how Gem survived the pain, it looked so gruesome to me back then!

The voices of The Talosians changed in pitch only during the “pieced together” version of “The Cage” that had both black and white and colour footage, this was before the “lost colour footage” was “found”. It’s been so long since I have seen the entire colour version of The Cage that i can’t remember if they kept the pitch correct throughout that one.
On the original “Managerie”, their voices were re-dubbed at a lower pitch (and re-voiced), there was a post here a while back about the guy who played Commodore Mendez being one of the re-dubbed voices), and the main Talosian voice in the original “Cage” was the late Meg Wyle herself.

15. The Underpants Monster - July 30, 2008

The story and dialog has some holes, but it’s heavy on the McCoy, so I still enjoy it. And like Paul, I liked the black box set. It manages to make me feel closed in, yet suspicious of what may be lurking in the darkness.

16. Ali - July 30, 2008

I think this was one of the ones the BBC dropped from showing because it was No Good

17. Melissa - July 30, 2008

Oh boy More Mars like Planets!

18. Xindi1985 - July 30, 2008

No Season 2 Box-Set in UK????
What’s wrong?
Season 2 only available in US-Stores next week?
Why is it impossible to tell us the european release-date????

19. richpit - July 30, 2008

I’ll try to not ever say this again, but boy am I tired of the “realistic” planets!!

20. Kraig Kliborn - July 30, 2008

I’ll give it to them that the makeup transitions look great. Makes the episode better, even. However, whats with CBS and their hatred of over exposing shots? The new sun looks far less menacing than the old. Like a planet.

21. TK - July 30, 2008

i am very impressed with the high def video clip shown above for this episode. if that’s what the remastered episodes looks like, I might change my mind and get the DVD.

I always liked this episode and still do. it made a whole lot of sense to me, even as a kid.

22. planettom - July 30, 2008

This may be the only original series episode that I’ve never seen all the way through. And, because I didn’t set my VCR correctly last weekend, I still only saw the last 15 minutes.

But as a kid, I’d read the James Blish adaptation, so I staged it in my head. I knew it was set in a pitch dark, nearly featureless underground cavern, so I pictured it as a dark place I knew — my grandmother’s spooky basement. Thereafter, when I’d go into that basement, I’d be expecting to see those tubes with the dead scientists in them. Yikes!

But last weekend, with the bit I did see… as Jeff ponders above, I wondered what the empath would have been like if it had been male instead of female. More to the point, I wondered, what if the Empath looked like the Vians(Talosians), and the captors torturing them were typican Trekian alien babes? Be an interesting change in the dynamic of the episode.

23. will - July 30, 2008

I miss the split-screen “comparison” videos!

24. jr - July 30, 2008

The aliens in Lost in Space’s “Invaders from the Fifth Dimension” appear to be related to the Vians.

25. CmdrR - July 30, 2008

“(this is one of several examples on the show of security cam footage employing arty zooms and pans)”
— I think it was mentioned in the review for “And the Children Shall Lead” that the reviewer didn’t see how the tricorder could take shots of the subject that contained the tricorder itself.
Neil Stephenson makes a very believable for nanotechnology employing camera obscurae (sp?) of only a few molecules in size. Essentially, there would be no need for a fixed camera; you would get an indefinite number of tiny low powered cameras flying around.

Point is — if Trek ’09 is to use the three basic tools — phaser, communicator, tricorder — then each has to show us something that doesn’t exist in 2008. There are opportunities to do that and blow us out of our socks. I think JJ will.

re: better transitions and “It’s too bad this couldn’t have been employed for the healing scenes in “Miri” as well ” — As I’ve repeatedly said, I doubt this is the last time we’ll see a revamp of TOS. CBS-D has broken some important ground, but another complete pass would be nice to finish the job. I mean really, Paramount is making a mint off this 40+ year old property. COME ON.

Anyway, thanks Jeff. I always thought this one had a nice creepy beginning, then got sloooooow through the middle. Yes, I agree that this one is the most Lost In Space-like ep. I like Scotty’s little Gaelic storytelling at the end, but maybe that’s just me.

26. CmdrR - July 30, 2008

believable case for…

27. Tony - July 30, 2008

This one was one of my favorites… to the contrary of the popular opinion on it..

28. Peter Lemonjello - July 30, 2008

Yeah this was one of the ‘banned’ episodes in the UK for years. Probably until the 90s. It was released on a rental VHS along with ‘Miri’ the other banned episode in the UK. Renting the video in the 80s was the only way to see these episodes.

29. CmdrR - July 30, 2008

Oh, and the Talosians were all played by chicks.
The Vians are dudes — with no dates. No wonder they’re grumpy.

30. Chris Pike - July 30, 2008

10 — yes Beeb did restrict it because it thought the Kirk hanging/torture too strong. I like it’s theatrical feel. I watched for the first time the last but one episode of the Prisoner with just Pat McGoohan and Leo McKern in a very play like surreal script and theatrical set which also worked brilliantly with strong allegories to modern life and the individual fitting in to society etc (exec prod, written and directed by McGoohan too), very Trek like.

13 I can also remember reading De’s comments about this being one of his favourites with its theatrical prod design somewhere in an Starlog article I think years ago.

A big part of Trek and its appeal was is theatrical/Shakespearean feel and connections, hope this is not forgotten in the new film.

31. Engon - July 30, 2008

The set doesn’t just SEEM to be out of “Lost in Space,” the tubes holding Ozaba and Linke ARE from “Lost in Space.” They are, in fact, the freezing tubes from the Jupiter II, which can be identified by their crowns and pedestals. Five of these tubes are seen simultaneously in “The Empath,” six would have been available as old props from LIS.

Apparently, one year after LIS left the air, Star Trek felt it was safe to rent some of its props from 20th Century Fox.

As for the giant “agonizer”-shaped bed, it is actually the Eymorg conference table from “Spock’s Brain.” The base of the table was either cut off, or, more likely, the carpeted pedestal was built around it.

32. Cyberghost - July 30, 2008

I think I have those stairs b4, which episode? Other than all the time Irwin Allen used them. The holding tubes for the crew, look like the freezing tubes from LIS.

This has to be one of the lowest budget episode of the whole series. Very few cast, no stage, and very little props. But not the worse episode by any means.

33. Commodore Z - July 30, 2008

I’m pretty sure that CBS-D did touch up the healing “morph” shots in “Miri.”

34. Engon - July 30, 2008


I believe that a similar spiral metal staircase shows up as the way into the underground portion of Yonada in “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky.”

35. Izbot - July 30, 2008

25. CmdrR
“I like Scotty’s little Gaelic storytelling at the end”

As #6 Roger points out, Scotty’s little story was actually one of Jesus’ parables.

13. Andy Patterson
“I do remember an ailing Deforest Kelly telling on those SciFi extras in between the commercials that this was one of his favorites because of the approach and art direction”

“Star Trek Special Edition”! I can’t believe I forgot all about that! Strange that CBS/Paramount hasn’t included any of those interviews as extras in the DVD box sets. Same with the Patrick Stewart-narrated documentary that accompanied the “All-Color” version of “The Cage” that debuted just before the 2nd season of TNG. I always felt that little doc was far better than the lame anniversary ‘celebration’ shows that came in the years following it (the 25th anniversary show, the lame show that accompanied the TNG finale, and especially that *awful* Star Trek Honors show with Kenny G and some opera diva singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” plus that painful-to-watch Trek skit with the cast of “Frasier”).

RE: The agonizer bed

Glad to see I’m not the only one whoever noticed this! Genius bit of self-referencing (whether intentional or not).

The new close up of the sun looked even more fake than the original. It looked like a static painting. I didn’t care for it.

36. montreal paul - July 30, 2008

I love the planets the guys at CBS-D are doing.. MUCH better than the ones that they originally had. I love the realism to them.

I was watching an old episode on SPACE here in Canada… wow… you can see the choma key shadows of the enterpise as it orbits… the planets look horrible and unbelievable. But then again.. AT THE TIME, it was advanced and spectacular.

I look forward to purchasing the remastered series and watching the full episodes. Everything looks great in them!

37. Gary - July 30, 2008

I never cared for this episode. Call me a Philistine.

Also, it’s “gild” the lily, not “guild” the lily.

38. Lord Garth, Formerly of Izar - July 30, 2008

Lod Garth’s FAAAAAVorite episode

If JJ and company watched this episode and used it as a basis on how to treat the big 3. Their humanity, courage, sacrifice and hetero brotherly love for one another they will do well

39. SPB - July 30, 2008


…helped make “The Empath” seem as if it was being written as it went along. I never thought it was as BAD as some make it out to be… just irritatingly unfocused.

40. pedro - July 30, 2008

cbs does a great job with planets but they have no talent for anything else

41. Blimpboy - July 30, 2008

This is not Lost In Space, it’s The Outer Limits “Nightmare”. Check the credits for both: directed by John Erman.

42. Redjac - July 30, 2008

#31, There was also a hexagonal viewscreen (with rounded corners) on the set that was either from Land of the Giants or Lost In Space…not sure which, but definitely from one or the other.

I recognized it being in The Empath when watching my Irwin Allen DVDs recently…

43. The Underpants Monster - July 30, 2008

#37 – I represent the Lily Pop Guild.

44. steve623 - July 30, 2008

I always liked this episode. The low-fi production design forces you to pay attention to the acting and the dialogue, and in that way “The Empath” always reminded me of an episode of The Twilight Zone. Serling could get enormous mileage out of two or three sets, some well written dialogue and a handful of quality performers.

45. steve623 - July 30, 2008

oh and the score is beautiful

46. Cervantes - July 30, 2008

STILL wish that they’d made the ‘remastered’ Enterprise a far LIGHTER shade overall, throughout the episodes…. The comparison shots here really show how much ‘whiter’ the original looked overall. And I don’t ever recall seeing ‘grey’ merchandise of the ‘E’ either….

47. Engon - July 30, 2008

I was just about to mention the similarity to “Nightmare,” which is quite a bit creepier than the “Empath.” Amazing that it’s the same director, though his style is certainly a big clue.

I also find Gem a bit like the Eloi in the 1960’s “The Time Machine.” Attractive, not very verbal, and really in need of developing an instinct for self sacrifice.

48. CanuckLou - July 30, 2008

I always loved this episode! Spock’s reaction to McCoy’s hypo shot is priceless.

…the adventure continues….

49. British Naval Dude - July 30, 2008

ahhhh… reminds me of me boyhood boarding school…

St. Lulubell’s Co-Ed School For Misfit Boys by tha’ Isle o’ Eel… vast dark open spaces, strange blokes in robes running aboot, tha’ only women thar’ havin’ taken a vow o’ silence, showin’ strong emotion gets ya’ confined ta’ quarters, indiscriminate torture of alien life forms to (offical story) make them feel human, and a Scotsman relatin’ Bible stories…

tha’ best o’ times… tha’ worst o’ times… These days, iffi I had any, I would just send me kids ta’ bandcamp…


50. Nobody know the tribbles I've seen - July 30, 2008

on a more pedestrian note did anyone think the way they treated Gem was truly outrageous?

51. OM - July 30, 2008

…What’s good about this episode is the musical score, which was one of better ones done for the third season. What’s bad is that this score was WAY overused, which dilutes it to the point that one becomes utterly sick of it when you’ve heard it for five episodes straight.

…At the same time, had See-BS Digital *really* wanted to remaster this episode, they could have matted in a virtual set for the Vions’ lab backgrounds, just so it removed the one common complaint about this episode: the budget required that they steal a set design from Irwin Allen!

52. diabolk - July 30, 2008

I started watching it the other night, and when they got to Gem and she started those phoney mime overacting movments, I felt ill and had to turn it off. Between that and the Lost in Space non-sets, it’s one best fogotten. When the public pulled in by the new ST comes to some of the original series eps like this and other season 3 stinkers, we are going to be apologising.

53. montreal paul - July 30, 2008

#40 – pedro…

I hav eto disagree with your comment. I think they did a fantastic job on the matte BGs as well as the Enterprise and the other ships. It seriously updates where they were much needed. Just watching the original on TV today makes me see how crappy it is just on regular cable.

54. Odkin - July 30, 2008

Why don’t they make the damn ship white like it’s supposed to be? I don’t care what color the original shooting model was. I care about the color they were trying to portray on TV, which was a soft white.

55. CmdrR - July 30, 2008

25. CmdrR
“I like Scotty’s little Gaelic storytelling at the end”

As #6 Roger points out, Scotty’s little story was actually one of Jesus’ parables.

SCOTTY: “Jesus was a Scottsman!”

56. Jeffrey S. Nelson - July 30, 2008

Happy birthday to Kathryn Hays, who just turned 75. She’s still on “As The World Turns” playing Kim Hughes. Twenty years ago, her love interest was played by Michael (Apollo) Forest. Would it have hurt to gather a few laurel leaves, I wonder?

57. CmdrR - July 30, 2008

Odkin — I totally agree. It’s pearlescent white. Like a dream. Like a swan. Like a desireable woman.

Enterprise’s brushed steel look looked positivley drab. And don’t get me started about the interiors.

and yes, I spelled Scotsman wrong. grr

58. dep1701 - July 30, 2008

I’ve gone through three distinct phases with this episode: As a wee lad of 4 0r 5 ( when it first aired on NBC – you do the math ) I liked it because I was mesmerized by the performance of Gem. As I grew to adolescence and beyond into adulthood, I didn’t like it as much, as I felt it was slow talky and the torture a bit much to watch. In fact, I did not watch it but maybe twice on my DVDs ( which is once more than “The Gamestars Of Triskelion”, or “A Private Little War” ). Although I could appreciate the depth and meaning of the story, it just wasn’t one I cared to watch.

But since this airing, it’s touched me more than it has in decades, and I have in fact played it again since then ( from my DVD set, the better to see it uncut ), and have found it just as touching, and Kathryn Hays performance to be very moving. That woman has the most expressive eyes.

So I say give the minimalist production a break and just enjoy the emotional depth of the story and performances.

59. Jeffrey S. Nelson - July 30, 2008


New music??

60. paustin - July 30, 2008

#24 the difference being the “invaders” didnt have mouths…maybe Gem “healed” the Vians

61. Jai1138 - July 30, 2008

I didn’t read all of the comments so I’m sorry if this was already discussed but I’m surprised that Mr. Bond didn’t mention the memorable (if beautifully overwrought) musical score which I believe was largely written for this installment.

I agree with the perception that this episode is kind of uncomfortable to watch as a pre- teen discovering Trek in the late 70s but at some point in my 20s, its creepiness and its bare emotions, as well as the laying bare of the Kirk-Spock-Bones trinity, make it (like the underrated Specter of the Gun — Trek fan Paulina Poirzkova’s favorite episode) a third season stand-out.

I’ve never read, by the way, a cogent analysis of the differences between the best episodes of each three seasons, not only in terms of story but cinematography and music — and there is a clear difference. Maybe I’ll write an essay in my spare time. How does one submit such a piece to this site?

62. Andrew - July 30, 2008

The original production team, normally master visual storytellers, botched the ending of the episode big-time, and the remastered clarity only makes it worse.

Let’s go through the climatic sequence…It begins with Gem, attempting to heal McCoy, but only going part of the way…However, based on what the viewer observes, Gem appears to dissipate the wounds she absorbs, as she had done without incurring any permanent damage earlier in the episode with Kirk…While McCoy appears, again based on what the viewer actually can see, to be much healthier after Gem’s intervention than prior – which Kirk had told us minutes before, was a good enough goal for the short term.From this point on, the only way that the viewer knows that McCoy is still in mortal danger and that Gem will likely die if she continues to help him is through exposition. Since the viewer can’t really make any sense of what he or she is seeing and is relegated to having to wait to have one of the characters explain what’s happening, the episode takes on the character of an avant-garde stage play, snapping the viewer out of the atmosphere created by the disturbing images presented earlier in the episode (I’ve always felt the discovery of Ozaba and Linke was the single most frightening image of the series) and severely blunting the impact of the ending.

Think of this way: would you even consider ending an episode like “Balance of Terror”, after its tense battle sequences, with a Romulan bridge officer telling the viewer that “our engines are destroyed and we are completely disabled”, instead of with a graphic view of the effect of the final phaser blast on the Romulan bridge?

Showing and not telling obviously needed to be done at the end of “The Empath” too, but wasn’t.

63. Will - July 30, 2008

6. Don’t forget Dr. Ozaba quoting (with attribution) Psalm 95.
Speaking of whom, I’ve never been able to come to terms with the deaths of the two scientists. The Vians say that their failures killed them, or words to that effect, but I can’t see what they’re talking about. Were they unwilling to sacrifice for each other? Did they not attract Gem’s attention? What?

I will say that there are some nice moments with the big 3, but generally this episode lands in the “skip it” list for me, alongside “Paradise Syndrome.”

64. DJT - July 30, 2008

This has always been one of my favorite episodes.

Friendship. Loyalty. Sacrifice.

65. Andy Patterson - July 30, 2008


…”Specter of the Gun — Trek fan Paulina Poirzkova’s favorite episode”

Hmmm. Who knew? Makes sense she’s a fan of the show. Ric Ocasek kind of looks like a Vulcan.

And in reference to the comparisons with the Vians and the Talosians….I always thought it was genius that the Talosians were played by women. A smaller bone structure, jaw line, shoulders. Made it look very alien. Genius! In fact I remember seeing the head Talosian as a little old lady thief on the Andy Griffith show.

66. Ampris - July 30, 2008

Okay, sorry for skipping all the comments and even the article (I prefer to see the new effects as they appear the show), but I’m stumped. When did this episode air? Assuming it wasn’t Tuesday night…

Usually where I live they air Saturdays at eight PM, with a repeat on Sunday morning in the early AM (used to be last week’s episode aired the following Sunday, but they changed it not long ago), but I’ve checked TV.com and TVGuide and neither of then had any info about when TOS-R comes on. This is driving me crazy, and I’m asking because The Empath is one of the episodes I was really looking forward to seeing, even though I don’t watch the remastered episodes nearly as much these days. I have no idea if I’ll be able to now, and that’s pretty disappointing. :(

(If it aired last Saturday or earlier, I’m screwed. Well, at least until they put it up on CBS.com. *eye roll*)

67. OR Coast Trekkie - July 30, 2008

Well, on to “Turnabout Intruder” and one of Trek’s biggest goofs: The changing of the General Order concerning the death penalty…

68. Max - July 30, 2008

I have always loved this episode. What I’m not crazy about are the edits that actually undermine the essence of the story.

When Gem heals Kirk, it’s after she hesitates and is urged to do so by McCoy “Don’t be afraid to help him!” In the edited episode she simply heals Kirk, which makes McCoy’s torture completely unnecessary.

When McCoy is tortured, the Vians prevent Kirk and Spock from urging Gem to sacrifice for McCoy, something that had marred the previous ‘experiment”. With the edit, McCoy’s torture is pointless sadism.

Another loathsome edit is when Gem reaches out to touch Spock. In the edited version this ends before her reaction. In the uncut episode, Gem smiles, sensing the inner compassion of Spock.

69. Tango - July 30, 2008

I thought that the Vians had a type of asperger syndrome. That’s why they went through all of that trouble. They were judging a species on a quality that they, themselves found difficult to fully understand.

70. trekboi - July 30, 2008

i cant believe they didnt use the same effects in “the man trap” “miri” “whom gods destroy” and other episodes with shots of transformation- all would have been done differently if they had had better technology in the 60’s which i thought was the point of the Remastered project.

71. Jeffrey S. Nelson - July 30, 2008

The other dead scientists were probably sacrificed when others of Gem’s race were unwilling to sacrificed themselves for the scientists.

72. Robert Bernardo - July 31, 2008

Another good episode from Season 3. I’m glad that they improved the dissolve shots.

73. Iowagirl - July 31, 2008

This is one of the episodes that shows us why TOS is such a fantastic series. No explosions, no mind-blowing special effects whatsoever, just an intimate play with a profound message of love, friendship, self-sacrifice, and that intellect is valueless without emotion. Moments like Spock and McCoy’s “bedside manners” scene grip our souls, and great delivery by everyone makes the message real.

“If death is all you understand, here are four lives for you. We will not leave our friend.”

74. SciFiMetalGirl - July 31, 2008

I just noticed on this episode that I like the remastered Enterprise effects much better when they retain the “standard” angles, such as in this episode (as few as there were) but yes, there have been a few notable exceptions along the way.

I guess that tells me that just because you have the ability to change something doesn’t always mean that you have to.

Nice work on the disolve shots too.

I like this episode now!

75. Bryan with Pointy Nacelles and a large Dish - July 31, 2008

I never understood why the third season got such a bad rap on it episodes. Sure it had some clunkers. So did the other seasons…come on, you can surely name some (The Apple, Catspaw, Friday’s Child, Obsession, Wolf in The Fold, The Gamesters of Triskelion, A Private Little War, By Any Other Name, The Omega Glory, Bread and Circuses, Assignment: Earth, A Taste of Armageddon, Court Martial, The Alternative Factor and Operation: Annihilate.)
Third season’s The Enterprise Incident, Paradise Syndrome, Spectre of the Gun, The Tholian Web, Plato’s Stepchildren, Elaan of Troyius, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, That Which Survives, Requiem for Methuselah, The Cloudminders and All Our Yesterdays were outstanding.
Sadly, these gems are buried deep inside a mass of bland mediocrity, which is such a shame as Season Three contains some of Star Trek’s greatest adventures (possibly as many as three of the all-time Top 10). Despite the obvious inadequacies, the final season is still in parts an enjoyable experience.
I look forward to the remastered broadcast of The Cage. Anyone know when it will run?

76. Captain Dunsel - July 31, 2008

Interesting to note that the FX reel doesn’t seem to include much of the force field effects. I may have been ahllucinating, but I noticed a much-different “distortion” effect in the remastered images of Kirk and Spock when seen through the colored field. In the original, it was basically just a colored filter. In the remastered, they looked sort of… “crinkly”.

Anyone else nortice that?

77. jimj - July 31, 2008

#75-I beg to differ about your choices of “poor episodes”: Obsession, Wolf in The Fold, A Private Little War, By Any Other Name, Bread and Circuses, Assignment: Earth, Court Martial, and Operation: Annihilate all had some very strong messages and were well executed, in my opinion.

Also, I find your choice of the word “outstanding” to describe: Plato’s Stepchildren, Elaan of Troyius, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, and The Cloudminders…to be fascinating (a word used for the unexpected). That’s the fun of Star Trek. One persons clunker is another person’s “outstanding” , I guess!

Anthony has mentioned numerous times on this site that “The Cage” will be on sometime this next season (they are rerunning the remasters for one more year and adding in “The Cage” as the only new one).

78. Bryan with Pointy Nacelles and a large Dish - July 31, 2008

I hope when they remaster The Cage they correct a few things like:
from Roddenberry’s all-black & white work print, the voice of the Keeper. All versions released by Paramount use the electronically altered version of Malachi Throne’s voice created for “The Menagerie” (although the hybrid version [the one with some black and white footage] did use four lines of the unaltered voice).

Next, there are two lines of dialog missing in all versions. When Vina first spills the beans about the Talosians she mentions how she’s tried blocking her thoughts. “… but you can’t keep it up for long. I’ve tried. They keep at you and at you, year after year …” At this point in the correct version of “The Cage” she says, “… probing and looking for a weakness …” before continuing with, “… and tricking and punishing all they want.” Later on the surface when Number One sets the laser to overload, the Keeper asks, “Is this a deception? Do you intend to destroy yourselves?” In the correct version of “The Cage” Pike responds, “Do you want to gamble we won’t?” before Vina’s question, “What is that?”

Additionally, there are several music cues throughout the show that have been poorly edited when transitioning from “The Cage” to “The Menagerie” or vice versa. One of the best examples of this is when the Keeper tries to take the laser out of the cage as the Enterprise landing party sleeps. The music starts from “The Cage” but poorly fades into the cue used in “The Menagerie”. Other music goofs occur. For example after Pike meets the Talosians for the first time, the Keeper’s final line is, “We can soon begin the experiment.” After this there is a music sting which belongs only in “The Menagerie”; in “The Cage” there was no music cue of any kind, just silence. On the DVD versions of “The Cage” Paramount starting ‘restoring’ the music score soundtrack with the original studio recording sessions elements, so they do have the separate audio tracks available to them, music and vocal.

CBS-Paramount could get it right having released so many subtly-different versions. Paramount has done BEAUTIFUL work restoring the visual elements of “The Cage”, mixing the negative of “The Menagerie” with the only positive color print of “The Cage”.

Plus with the Enterprise bridge zoom in shot correction, this would be feature-worthy.

79. e2 - July 31, 2008

anyone notice the Vians in addition to Talosian, also looked vaguely Cardassian…with a touch of Denobulan in the foreheads…almost like theyre Talosian/Cardassian/Denobulan hybrids?

80. Daoud - July 31, 2008

What?!? There was an “empath” before Troi? I feel your pain. (tongue-in-scarred-cheek)

It would have been interesting to have linked the Vians to the Talosians, or even the Thasians. All the missed opportunities due to the ‘old style’ approach of no episodes referring to the events of others.

81. star trackie - July 31, 2008

Aside from the horribly sappy music in this episode I always liked it. I love the lost in Space style blacked out set design and it’s very clear the Irwin Allen proproom was raided. The “holding” tubes for the alien’s specimans were the same freezing tubes from the flight deck of the Jupiter 2.

And another gold star goes to the make-up in this episode. The aliens were very well done and as someone mentioned earlier, are very VERY similar to the “invaders from the 5th dimension” of Lost in Space. I’d guess, in a money-saving move, the molds were borrowed from John Chambers for the aliens skulls.

All in all, cool episode with sappy music. And,as always, the new FX were great.

82. Holger - July 31, 2008

The remastered sun-shot is great! But what a lame rip-off of The Cage.

83. Brinn Clayton - July 31, 2008

I always thought that this episode was a view of the Gospel. The bed looks like a cross. (the bed seems to be a reuse of a table from an earlier episode.) Gem takes the pain from McCoy. Scotty tells the parable from the Bible to bring it all together.
I’m not saying that the writer was sharing the Gospel to bring people to Christ. It is obvious to me that the Star Trek worldview is against religion in general.
The Return of the Archons episode is trying to show us that religion is bad and controlling. It is sort of a “Death of God” story. The Apple Episode was the same. Bread and Circuses was a more positive episode dealing with religion.

84. lou - July 31, 2008

This episode helped me as a kid in Spanish class.

The Spansh word for “They go” is “Vayan”

what did the Vayans want to do? Evacuate a planet. Hence “They Go”

85. JJK - July 31, 2008

I agree with Jeff Bond that one’s appreciation for the episode changes dramatically with age. I couldn’t stand it as a child, but now it’s one of my favorites. Like “Spectre,” the minimalist staging leaves a lot to the imagination. One of the downsides to improved special effects is that it makes the viewing experience more passive. I’m still glad that my imagination can fill in the blanks. Spectre is another favorite of mine.

I really have been pleased with most of the remastering and cgi, though mostly as standalone work. The trouble I often have is reconciling the elaborate cgi shots with the primitive 60s interior sets. In “Requiem” the magnificent castle shots didn’t jibe with the interiors at all. Some of my favorite work has been integrating the two, thereby giving depth to the existing work rather than replacing it. Among my favorites are the animated planetscapes seen outside of the windows in Starbase 11 in The Menagerie or Court Martial. Otherwise, I’m sad to say that the cgi pulls me away from the material as often as it draws me in. It’s still neat to watch though!

86. Adam Bomb 1701 - July 31, 2008

#6 – The Gospel of Matthew. Specifically, Matthew 13, v. 45 and 46. I go to church, and coincidentally, that passage was read at Mass the weekend the re-mastered version ran.

This episode was DeForest Kelley’s personal favorite; I’ve heard that from several sources. But, I never knew why; I always thought it was because his part was larger than usual.
I’ve always liked this episode. The writer (Joyce Muskat) never wrote anything before or since, but she realy nailed the Kirk-Spock-Bones relationships. It also has one of the best music scores for the series. George Duning was the composer the producers went to when the episode was emotionally high-strung (like “Metamorphosis” and this one) and he always came through.
Here in New York City, by the way, the episodes now air Saturday/early Sunday at midnight.

87. cpelc - July 31, 2008


The Canada price is now $154.

88. focuspuller - July 31, 2008

I’ve actually never seen this episode until now.

89. CJ - July 31, 2008

This one is one of my guilty-pleasure faves, along with That Which Survives and Galileo Seven. The black, minimalist set was always strangely evocative to me.

90. The Underpants Monster - July 31, 2008

#43 – *coffee spittake*

91. Marshall McMellon (Inventor of the Marsh-Mellon) - July 31, 2008

#7 LOL! Yes, does almost expect the camera to pan over and show the skeletons of Batman and Robin in their garb (sans tights) and then the vibraphone version of the Batman theme music. Remember that episode?

It was not my favorite episode as a kid (though even then I thought Gem was very pretty in an elementary school teacher sort of way), but as an adult I can appreciate it more now (as the review says) even with it’s minimalist look.

92. Marshall McMellon (Inventor of the Marsh-Mellon) - July 31, 2008

Clarification on my # 91: “Remember that pisode?” referring to the Batman one I ref’ed.

“It was not my favorite episode….” my train of thought jumped to the Trek episode being discussed here.

Read my post AFTER I posted it and thought “Crap!”

Moving on now….

93. jon witchell - July 31, 2008

#78 is there a website with all the info, or have you got a copy of the original black and white version? i’m curious to see that wholeheartedly uncut version, in it’s entirety.

94. Andy Patterson - July 31, 2008

“…..I beg to differ about your choices of “poor episodes”: Obsession, Wolf in The Fold, A Private Little War, By Any Other Name, Bread and Circuses, Assignment: Earth, Court Martial, and Operation: Annihilate….”

As do I. But as I’ve said before….I think one thing this remastered project has shown week after week is that someone’s most hated episode is another person’s favorite. And vise versa. Always interesting choices and arguments made for each. The show is a very personal experience for all.

95. eagle219406 - July 31, 2008

#19 I’ll try to not ever say this again, but boy am I tired of the “realistic” planets!!

I hate to break it to you, but When they said, “Strang New Worlds,” I don’t think they were referring to what the planet looked like. You also have to have the look of the planet match that of the surface set.

96. Wolf Trek - July 31, 2008

As a kid, I didn’t like this episode. As an adult, I can appreciate the craft of the actors and why they appreciate being able to expand upon their characters, BUT. . . I still don’t like this episode.

For me, as a rule of thumb, whenever a show or movie decides to do a “character study” installment, it’s time to move on, because only serious actors will enjoy the “study”.

A few examples – “Nemisis” , any BSG episode that begins with the text ” X hours/days ago. . . ” and features Starbuck with a bottle, and “Die Another Day”.

97. JJK - July 31, 2008

I know this thread is about The Empath, but I’m very curious about the remastered CGI version of The Cage. Has anyone enountered any info on this, including why it was postponed, seemingly at the last minute? One might think (hope) that this is indicative of a more elaborate makeover. Given that the opening titles were different than in the rest of the series, I wonder if the audio will be redone. It would also be interesting to see if CBS/D updates the visuals from when the Talosians are scanning the Big E’s computers (perhaps including post-1964 world leaders, technology). BTW, the existing color version has a quick moment in the final transporter room scene that is obviously from The Menagerie, Part 2. The scene is wrapped with the briefing room screen used at Spock’s trial! Wonder if they will/did fix that…? Even if we don’t know anything, it’s fun to speculate. If this is off-topic, how do we start a new thread?

98. Izbot - July 31, 2008

59. Jeffrey S. Nelson
RE #11.
“New music??”

What #11 was refering to was the fact that this episode (like “Is There In Truth…”, “The Paradise Syndrome” and “Spectre of the Gun”) was one of a handful of third season episodes that had original scores commissioned for them rather than relying largely on reused cues from previous seasons. This soundtrack and the three others I mention had all been released on CD by Crescendo many years ago.

99. eagle219406 - July 31, 2008

#30 10 — yes Beeb did restrict it because it thought the Kirk hanging/torture too strong. I like it’s theatrical feel. I watched for the first time the last but one episode of the Prisoner with just Pat McGoohan and Leo McKern in a very play like surreal script and theatrical set which also worked brilliantly with strong allegories to modern life and the individual fitting in to society etc (exec prod, written and directed by McGoohan too), very Trek like.

Well I live in America and am wondering how that could be. I have seen a few English and other foreign TV programs, and I have seen stuff in those shows that they wouldn’t even dream of showing on American TV.

100. Izbot - July 31, 2008

74. SciFiMetalGirl –
“I guess that tells me that just because you have the ability to change something doesn’t always mean that you have to.”

An intentional parphrase of the Federation President in ST6’s “Simply because we can do a think doesn’t mean we neccessarily should do that thing”? And I think that paraphrased a quote from Adalai Stevenson, if I’m remembering correctly.

101. Jim Profit - July 31, 2008

Sorry, but the Vians don’t remind me to the Talosians at all.

102. Jeff Bond - July 31, 2008

The “Empath” score was released on Varese Sarabande in a rerecording done by Fred Steiner; it’s a long suite and doesn’t include all of the score; the original tracks remain unreleased.
George Duning was kind of a misunderstood talent, especially where his Star Trek scores were concerned–his style, which emphasized strings including violins, which Steiner deliberately excluded from his Trek music, can come off as “soapy” and overly sentimental to some listeners but he captured the emotional spirit of Star Trek beautifully, particularly in scores like this and “Metamorphosis”–and his “Risk is our business” music for Kirk’s speech in “Return to Tomorrow” encapsulates the appeal of the series about as well as any piece of music written for it does.

103. Will - July 31, 2008

101: they both have big heads and wear shower curtains.

104. Closettrekker - July 31, 2008

#75—-“Friday’s Child”…a clunker? I think not. I love that episode! In fact, I like alot of those episodes you mentioned as “clunkers”, particularly “Assignment: Earth”, “Wolf In The Fold”, “Bread And Circuses”, “A Private little War”, and “Court-Martial”.

Despite the third season having some “phoned-in” episodes, there is plenty, I think, to enjoy.

“The Enterprise Incident” and “The Tholian web” certainly stand out.

And for all its corniness, “The Savage Curtain” is exteremely important to general Treklore—with enormous insight into the history of the Klingons, Vulcans, and Earth’s Third World War.

105. Closettrekker - July 31, 2008

#101—“Sorry, but the Vians don’t remind me to the Talosians at all.”

There’s a passing resemblance, but as a kid, I always said that the Talosians wore their butts on their foreheads.

106. John Gill - July 31, 2008

#105 — LOL, the same from my childhood, my brother and I, and the neighborhood kids, all called the Talosians “THE BUTT HEADS”!!!!! (This was long, long before Beavis and his friend on MTV).

107. Matt Wright - July 31, 2008

“On the other hand, while it’s unstated in the episode, women are often considered to be more “empathic” and nurturing then men so it’s somewhat of a natural choice to portray Gem this way.”

I would sort of asterix this by saying that it seems a natural choice given the context in which the TV show was produced by products of 20th century United States socialization, but of course this gender assumption is not necessarily the case with other alien civilizations (if genders would even work in a typical dichotomy) or even alternative/past/future human cultures.

108. Matt Wright - July 31, 2008

#105 — Ditto, growing up I always colloquially refered to The Talosians as “butthead aliens”.

109. The Underpants Monster - July 31, 2008

#100 – My Mom used to say, “Just because you have the right to do it doesn’t make it the right thing to do.” Kind of the same thing.

110. star trackie - July 31, 2008

It may be just me, but in that picture above, Gem looks like a young Paul MaCartney dressed up as Ziggy Stardust.

Yeah, I’m bored.

111. Izbot - July 31, 2008

102. Jeff Bond
“The “Empath” score was released on Varese Sarabande in a rerecording done by Fred Steiner; it’s a long suite and doesn’t include all of the score; the original tracks remain unreleased.”

I knew you’d have more specific information on that than I did!

112. Engon - July 31, 2008

The Empath begins by quoting Psalm 95: “In his hand are the deep places of the earth.”

It ends by quoting Matthew 13:45-46 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”

In between, miraculous healings are performed and we get several examples of John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Ultimately, the Vians turn out to be the protagonists who, seeing the error of their ways, change. In so doing, another biblical theme is established (fairly late in the episode) …Matthew 16:26 “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

All in all, “The Empath” makes the end of “Bread and Circuses” seem downright secular.

113. Izbot - July 31, 2008

109. The Underpants Monster –
“#100 – My Mom used to say, “Just because you have the right to do it doesn’t make it the right thing to do.” Kind of the same thing.”

My Uncle Ben always said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” But I digress. ;)

114. richr - July 31, 2008

My random thoughts on The Empath:

1. The exterior slo-mo Kirk Shots always reminded me of similar shots from Space: 1999 of Commander Koenig running and being trapped by hostiles…possibly a foreshowdowing of future Fred Freiberger work?

2. In the remastered version, we at least needed a shot of the Enterprise leaving orbit with the [about to nova] sun visible in the background…and preferably, it would actually blow up on screen!

3. And this heavy McCoy ep would have been the perfect place for the doctor to say that Gem reminded him of his daughter.

4. And lastly, a comment on the new movie…does anyone else think that Gary Mitchell is an obvious missing character…considering all the backstory established in “Where No Man Has Gone Before”? In fact, didn’t they say that HE was Kirk’s closest friend, pre-Spock, including having saved his life once or twice?

115. richr - July 31, 2008

Regarding re-used Lost in Space (and other Irwin Allen) sets…anyone want to bet that the circular stairs in the research station (that Kirk fall from) were previously seen aboard the USS Seaview (in the bow compartment with the big viewing window)?

That random thought DID cross my mind the other night, but I thought I was just imagining things.

116. Closettrekker - July 31, 2008

#114—“does anyone else think that Gary Mitchell is an obvious missing character…considering all the backstory established in “Where No Man Has Gone Before”? In fact, didn’t they say that HE was Kirk’s closest friend, pre-Spock, including having saved his life once or twice?”

There are plenty of people who think that, and Mitchell may very well be the “mystery character” that Paul McGillion was cast to portray, but the “backstory” established is quite overblown by some fans, IMO.

I don’t recall Mitchell being described as specifically being Kirk’s closest friend, but only as a friend. Mitchell was a student of Kirk’s while Jim was a Lt. serving as an Academy instructor. He did save Kirk’s life once, in an incident involving poisonous darts. They were obviously friends, but I’m not sure that his involvement in this particular film is quite as essential as some might have asserted.

It all depends upon what exactly is depicted…Mitchell is not a classmate of Kirk’s, so his presence at the Academy would likely be a canon violation. There is no indication that Kirk’s time as an instructor is depicted at all, so there is no reason for him to interact at all with the much younger Kirk. And JJ Abrams style of storytelling makes it quite possible that the story will jump from Kirk’s Academy days and the KM, to his command of the Enterprise after the events on Delta Vega.

Harry Knowles report indicates that the first glimpse of Kirk in command of the Enterprise (at least to his knowledge) had Sulu manning the helm station. If Mitchell is aboard, that is not where Sulu is supposed to be. This points to the credence of that theory.

JJ Abrams, along with Lindelof, Orci, Burk, and Kurtzman, watched “WNMHGB” as specific research in preparation for this movie, so they are aware of him. If he isn’t in the film, it is probably because the time period depicted is before Kirk met Gary Mitchell, and then after his burial on Delta Vega.

With all of that said, wsomething tells me that Mitchell is indeed the “mystery character” referenced before.

117. Max - July 31, 2008

I don’t know if Linke and Ozaba were prior experiments with Gem. It’s mentioned that the Vians have the option of saving one of many races in the Minaran star system. Perhaps the dead scientists represented the failed experiment of another race they considered saving.

118. richr - July 31, 2008

A last note from me on Gary Mitchell…I always thought that the “glowing eyes” effect in WNMHGB, which were held on screen for a couple of seconds while fading to black and a commercial, were among the coolest…and creepiest…effects on TOS!

BTW…here are some deleted opening scenes from WNMHGB! Personally, I’ve never seen them before:


119. Rich - July 31, 2008

Hey Richr#115 – that may indeed be the Seaview’s staircase. I know for a fact that the head appliances for the Vians are the same used throughout “Lost in Space”‘s three year run. They were first seen in the pilot episode “No Place to Hide” at the tag end of the episode. Next they were most famously used in “Invaders from the Fifth Dimension”, a very creepy black and white 1st season ep.The headpieces showed up again in the 3rd season “Hunter’s Moon” and “A day at the Zoo”, which was the LIS episode that most famously used the “infinity” blacked out soundstage technique used in this episode.
re-watching the Irwin Allen series again today, with adult tastes and sensibilities, they all make me appreciate how superior the writing acting and, most especially direction was on “Trek”. The Allen shows, with a large exception to “Space” just were not interested in doing anything beyond passability, IMO. Wasted potential, especially “The Time Tunnel”.
Lost in Space occasionally rose above the mediocre, mostly due to the efforts of Jonathan Harris and Billy Mumy. I will say that “Lost in Space” had a few season one eps that hold up against anything in the genre done before or since.

120. The Underpants Monster - July 31, 2008

#113 izbot – my Uncle Ben didn’t talk much; his mouth was always full of rice.

121. Engon - July 31, 2008

Looks suspiciously like the Vians’ controllers would later be reworked into the Troglyte’s “morte.”

122. Engon - July 31, 2008

Yet more religious symbolism (intentional or not)…

When both Kirk and McCoy are tortured, they are hung with arms outstretched in a crucifixion position.

When Gem heals the wound on Kirk’s forehead, it transfers to her forehead and then vanishes in a cross-shaped flash of light.

When Gem goes to heal McCoy, the second Vian says, “Behold!”

When the Vians take Gem away, it looks like they are ascending to Heaven.

The major musical theme of this episode is arranged for organ, an instrument often associated with church services.

123. Engon - July 31, 2008


Although it is less obvious in the syndicated version (and not even all that clear in the uncut version), Gem does not merely learn self-sacrifice from the example of Kirk, Spock and McCoy; rather she actually absorbs the instinct via her empathic powers as a sort of side effect of her healing process – almost as though the instinct is an infection passed on to her. This is why the Vians torture Kirk and Co. – not merely because Gem can prove her worthiness by healing them, but because in healing them she gains their instinct for self-sacrifice. Each time she heals them, the instinct in her grows stronger. When she goes back to her planet she’s not going to tell everybody there about the virtues of self-sacrifice, she’s going to pass on “the infection” by her normal mode of empathic contact.

This would explain why Linke and Ozaba died. The Vians say “their own fears killed them.” What is meant is that Linke and Ozaba themselves did not posses them same instinct for self-sacrifice that Kirk, Spock and McCoy have. They were too fearful and thus could not transfer their own instinct for self-sacrifice, the one thing that could have saved them…if Gem had absorbed it.

124. Tango - July 31, 2008


So where does the Aspergers Syndrome come in?

125. Mike - July 31, 2008

At least on the DVD they did smooth the morphing effects on Miri.

126. Sean4000 - July 31, 2008

125, They did indeed and it looked good.

Unfortunately Miri is marred by that atrocious first CGI Enterprise model.

127. JJK - August 1, 2008

#118 – Those deleted scenes were from the original cut of WNMHGB, which was shown as the second pilot to (and approved by) the NBC brass. In addition to the opening sequences, closing credits included a rousing score that was never to be used in the series. Since no other episodes had been filmed, the credits include only those scenes from that episode. Also in in the credits, many of the characters are referred to generically as well, e.g., “Ship’s Doctor.” Another difference is that each act begins with a super that reads “Act I”, “Act II”, etc., much like the old Quinn-Martin productions of the era, which included The Fugitive and The FBI.

128. The Underpants Monster - August 1, 2008

#114 richer – “And this heavy McCoy ep would have been the perfect place for the doctor to say that Gem reminded him of his daughter.”

That would indeed have been awesome. It would have provided an explanation for why he was so immediately drawn to her, to the extent of coming up with an instant nickname. “Gem” could easily have been what he called Joanna as a child.

129. brady - August 1, 2008

Another of Fred Friebergers series killers. He did to the 3rd season what he did to the 2nd season of Space 1999.

130. cpelc - August 1, 2008

season 2 is now 59.99 on Amazon.com

131. richr - August 1, 2008

Regarding all the Lost in Space/Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea/Irwin Allen props…isn’t it amazing the new things you notice despite the fact you’ve seen each ep at least 10 times…

And I guess a forum like this helps quite a bit too…


And here’s some more WNMHGB deleted scenes…


Love the line about “space law regulation” being a primary mission…and “contacting alien life” was secondary…interesting how the series…and characters…developed.

And don’t get me started about that attempted grope of Sally Kellerman in the hall by Gary Lockwood…classic! And that never-to-be-heard-again closing theme…very jaunty.

132. Andy Patterson - August 1, 2008

Concerning Lost in Space which we’ve mentioned a lot here…..go back and listen to the incidental music within the episodes that John Williams did. Wall to wall treasures to listen to. Many little clues to things he developed later on.

133. Billy Bobby - August 1, 2008

Had appendix taken out, hard to write. 4th best episode of TOS

1 Space Seed
2 The City on the Edge of Forever
3 The Menagerie
4 The Empath

134. Engon - August 1, 2008


Yes! There are a few bars of incidental music from the third season that are nearly identical to the opening bars of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” i.e “Main Title: South America.”

135. Engon - August 1, 2008

More possible religious symbolism from “The Empath”…

The silver cloaks worn by the Vians are fairly suggestive of angelic garb. Are the Vians supposed to be metaphorical angels? It’s not as unlikely as it seems.

Consider the recurring Biblical motif in which a worthy race is chosen to be spared from a cosmic disaster such as the Great Flood or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In Genesis, two angles are sent to spare Lot and his family from the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Could this have been an inspiration for “The Empath?”

Gem’s star system is called Minara. For what it’s worth, Minara, or Al-Minara, is the Arabic word for “Lighthouse,” a common religious symbol of enlightenment.

One gets the feeling that Joyce Muskat may have been a theology student.

136. Tony2448 - August 2, 2008

This is a really good episode. It relies heavily on the acting skills of The Shat, Nimoy and De Kelley and comes out great. The music is awesome and creates a really great euphoric feel at times. The only downfall is I always felt it has somewhat of a “winding down” feel to it, as TOS production was nearing an end when it was filmed.

137. Crewman Darnell - August 2, 2008

Interesting mind melds going on in discussing this episode, considering it’s not an overwhelming favorite. Jeff nailed it for me: -“that you appreciate more as an adult than as a kid or teen, when it’s likely to play as unbearably “mushy.” I recall as a kid, I being disappointed each time this episode aired. I’m not fond of it now either but noting the production details is interesting – like the bed/agonizer and biblical resemblances.

24. Jr – 31 Engon
This episode also always reminded me of Lost in Space’s “Invaders from the Fifth Dimension,” which IMO was one of the best LIS stories, before it got campy. As other have mentioned, the Irwin Allen props are unmistakable. It’s easy to picture Doctor Smith tip-toeing out of the darkness, whimpering, hiding behind the robot.

57. CmdrR
Yup, the revised Enterprise color doesn’t seem right. I was also bummed out by this recently when buying the new Diamond Select model of the Enterprise and seeing that drab, battleship color, so unlike what we’re used to seeing on screen, or with the old AMT models. Since then, I’ve read in a DS (toy) forum, those designers assert the gray color is accurate, based on the original studio model, etc.. I just can’t seem to get used to it.

138. sharon fisher - August 3, 2008

I’ve probably seen this episode fewer than almost any of them, but I always hated it; the sets reminded me of either educational tv or 1950s filmed television plays. And the noble, noble Enterprise crew, teaching the universe about compassion and self sacrifice. Sheesh.

139. David - August 3, 2008

I was always confused by calling both the girl and Kirk “Jim”.

140. J.H. - August 3, 2008

>>I was always confused by calling both the girl and Kirk “Jim”.<,

I agree. “Ruby” would have been a better name.

141. Andy Patterson - August 3, 2008

If anyone’s still reading this I just figured out the Vyans are Skrulls, complete with wrinkled chins. Any Jack Kirby fans will know what I’m talking about.

142. Redjac - August 5, 2008

What Fried Burger did to Space 1999 was FAR WORSE than what he did to Trek. With Trek, he seemed somewhat constrained. With 1999 he just went stark raving mad — changing as much as Gerry Anderson would let him get away with.

I think the divorce and departure of Sylvia Anderson was a big blow to 1999.

143. Engon - August 6, 2008

The episode I could not bear as a teen was “Charlie X.” Evans was pretty much the only developed teen character to come aboard the Enterprise and he was pathetic, obnoxious, and dangerous all at once. Yet, as an adult, I regard “Charlie X” as one of Trek’s best episodes and see noww appreciate Charlie as an incredibly tragic character.

On the other hand, despite its apparent layers of symbolism, I find it hard to warm to “The Empath,” possibly because Gem, due to her nature, is not a very well-developed character. For me though, what’s admirable about “The Empath” is that you can tell everyone was trying very hard to pull off something special. The commissioning of the original score is just one indication of this.

144. smarty-pants of wisdom - August 6, 2008

I think the original clips of the enterprise was about equal to this awful stuff that CBS digital came up with. How hard is it to make a circle and color it? Are they interns?

145. john adama - August 7, 2008

I think they are interns. I don’t think they had real professionals on this. I doubt they would pay to upgrade such an old show. So it probably was a bunch of interns.

146. Billy Bobby - August 8, 2008

This episode is amazing. If you can’t see that, go back to watching The Doomsday Machine. I personally love The Doomsday Machine, but it is for the most part mindless. This episode should have a TV IQ 125 (similar to the TV Y7). I am tired of fans degrading awesome episodes. Fans just go along with the easy classics (The Doomsday Machine, Amok Time, Mirror, Mirror) and mindlessly say that the Third Season was crap. I have noticed that a lot of people hate episodes because they don’t pay attention to the dialog. And this is an episode where all of your attention has to be focused on the episode. Did any notice when Gem touched Spock on the shoulder, showing that he DOES have feelings?

147. Billy Bobby - May 11, 2009

Isn’t it ironic that the brainless Doomsday Machine was aired the same weekend the unintelligent Star Trek movie came out? Coincidence?

148. Paul Lee - October 14, 2009

Wonderful episode. Kathryn Hays’s performance is one of the most powerful that I’ve ever seen.

149. Susan - October 29, 2009

A flawed episode, but – as a Christian who values agape,* a fan of trio
buddiness, and a McCoy fan – I am very fond of the episode. I am
aware of another McCoy fan who ranks this as her favorite episode. I have a hunch women like it better (on average) than men.

McCoy really turns into the self-sacrificial lamb bigtime in Season 3, though – usually for Spock’s sake. In addition to The Empath, he risks his life in the embarrassing Spock’s Brain, and he tries to get Spock to leave him to freeze to death in All Our Yesterdays. Ya gotta death wish, Doc? (Spock said in The Immunity Syndrome McCoy had a martyr complex.) Oh, and he’s willing to be left among the Platonians, in Plato’s Stepchildren.

*Greek; love that is disinterested, an act of the will rather than a matter of emotion

150. John Sullivan - April 25, 2012

I’m coming to this discussion about 3-4 years later than everyone else, but I popped this episode on again late last night and was moved by both the beautiful and disturbing nature of this episode. I agree that the coda seemed a bit forced. Gem is not as condescended towards as women in other episodes (the ridiculous Lights of Zetar, for example); she stumbles during their escape, but so does McCoy. And she was in a weakened state. The nature of her species is a remarkable invention, more scapegoat than nurturer. It seems as if her species is more civilized but also more vulnerable. I also love the minimalist sets. Sci-fi is often about throwing as much sh*t at the screen as possible. Here they strip away to its essentials. I also love Gem’s theme (which was used on an earlier episode)—very 60s and very touching, appropriately enough.
All in all, another fine example of what made TOS so superior to all that came afterwards: the show was about ideas. It thought.

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