Episode 67 – TOS 3×12: “The Empath”

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So really, this episode makes a lot more sense if you think of it as the first bad fic you ever wrote for your favourite TV show.

The Empath was based off of a fan-submitted script, and we’re not sure whether to blame house-writer interpretation or the original author, but we do know one thing for sure: this episode is, in our not-so-humble opinion, a gigantic steaming pile of crap.

Zooming in to collect a two-man research team from a moon orbiting a planet orbiting a star about to go nova, Kirk, Spock, and Bones are kidnapped by alien scientists, whose fave activity is torture porn and giving frustratingly incoherent answers to straightforward questions like “why are you doing this.” Our heroes proceed to spend the next 45 minutes running around the lab trying to figure out what’s going on, and spoiler: they never really do.

the crinkly-mouthed, sparkly-robed scientists
The less said about these assholes, the better.










Their only company is possible-fellow-test-subject (???) “Gem,” who guess what, is both a) an empath (though not by any definition that we’ve ever seen in sci-fi) and b) mute.

Gem, looking... insert emotion here?
We gather the giant doe-eyes are meant to be communicating something, but it’s super-unclear.












Coming on the heels of an episode with a great female guest star, this one’s mostly just a disappointment. But it’s a little worse than a disappointment because our villains’ motives are not adequately explained, making their actions seem capricious and pointless. And since the writers for this episode chose to make our female guest star a literal mute whose only contribution is to give comfort to men, we also get absolutely zero information about her character, backstory, or motivations.

Gem, following the away team, hand-in-hand with Kirk
There is, however, a weird amount of hand-holding with strangers.











Essentially this episode is torture porn and a lot of lines that never go anywhere, and in the end the Enterprise zooms off again without rescuing anyone, even their researchers, making this as wasted a trip for the crew as it was for us.

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