We are going to take the Enterprise. Do you hear me? We are going to take her if I have to shatter every bone in Captain Kirk’s body.
Module BI-12T(c): Shapeshifters: Lord Garth
In this discussion, the shapeshifter was a criminally insane human, a lifeform so alien to our experience that we can barely imagine its existence. In this case, Garth of Izar. The only mad-hatter starship fleet captain loopy enough to get himself encapsulated in an insane asylum. Preposterous, the only one? Yes, the only one.
This human learned cellular metamorphosis from Antos IV’s peaceful inhabitants to heal his injuries. In gratitude, Garth generously offered to make them “masters of the universe” with the entire galaxy to rule. But they categorically rejected his offer. They were physically satisfied humanoids who could change their cellular structure to mimic anyone they desired. So, why would they want to do anything else?
This made Garth realize the magnitude of his own species’ limitations, and with the chatter of superior weaklings in his ears, Garth went completely insane. Hopelessly frustrated, he sought to end all contented life on their unmiserable planet. The inevitable result when humans realize the salacious benefits of benign shapeshifting. However, molecular morphing without the prospect of shapeshifting romantic others (i.e. the M-113 creature, Sylvia, jellyfish space station) makes a shifter feloniously lonely. And is the primary reason why the many shapeshifting species we’ve encountered prove to be murderous cretins.
Captain James T. Kirk met Garth when dispatched to cure his insanity on Elba II. A poisonous planet where the Federation kept all fifteen of its incurably deranged residents. Fifteen out of billions was pretty impressive but not impressive enough. Kirk and crew were there to deliver medication for this disastrous scourge. To finally rid the Federation of humiliating alien references to “those crazy humans”.
Garth, representing himself as Dr. Donald Cory, cordially greeted Kirk and Spock upon their arrival. But curiously, Marta, a resident, floated around mysteriously unrestrained. This thoroughly unrepresentative Orion female tried to warn Kirk and Spock that Dr. Cory was not himself. However, justifiably, they thought she was just another looney. That is, until Garth shed his Cory transformation, unwittingly torpedoing his diabolical plans in the Kirk-charged atmosphere.
Garth’s lofty ambitions encompassed no less than total domination and subjugation of the entire galaxy. (Again?) Pretty much the same plan he aspired to before being committed. And, despite the fact that his own crew rejected the plan, he expected better results from Enterprise’s personnel. His thinking was disordered. The Enterprise crew were only susceptible to everlasting beauty and immortality. “My crew mutinied,” Garth said, but he had a plan to prevent Kirk’s squad from doing the same. “The first use I will make of the Enterprise is to hunt them down and punish them for that.”
But, unbeknownst to him, Kirk had the wherewithal to take extra precautions before beaming down to a colony full of psychos. “Queen to queen’s level three,” was the response when Garth, as Kirk, tried to get good ole Scotty to beam him and his crazy minions to the Enterprise. But he didn’t have the countersign. Generations hence, throughout the galaxy, are still grateful for that one Kirk forethought. Frustrated, Garth sent Marta to entice the password out of Kirk but to no avail. Though Orion, and graced with the proper color for libidinous green-skinned seduction, Marta’s freakish lack of erotic abilities were incapable of pulling it off. Undoubtedly the source of her insanity.
After introducing Kirk to one of his many devious inventions, the exquisite pain chair, Garth was at a standstill. However, Marta convinced him the lust for green pigmentation would eventually make Kirk malleable. So, without an ounce of sensuality, she slithered her way onto his bed, professing love for him. This finally got the lonely captain’s attention, though. Maybe she wasn’t that far gone after all. She promised to help him escape, saying she’d amorously persuaded a guard to release Spock. Definitely, a red flag, since her complete incompetence in this area was well established.
But after hearing words of love, Kirk barely cared. These utterances were always a Kirk aphrodisiac. He spread multiple and gratuitous kisses upon her face and neck. But this was exactly the wrong behavior for her kind of neurosis. She stealthily pulled a knife from under his pillow (from under his pillow. Hmm.) and prepared to geld him with it, but Spock deactivated her with a well-deserved Vulcan nerve pinch instead.
Much relieved, Kirk followed Spock to the control room to get that blasted force field down so they could get the hell out of there. But Scott still parroted, “Queen to queen’s level three.” About to give the countersign, Kirk’s renowned intuition kicked in. “Why don’t you give it to him?” he told Spock. A deception that had barely begun was abruptly over. Spock transformed back into Garth, phaser in hand. But Kirk still wouldn’t give up the code. So, Garth having come to the conclusion that it wasn’t easy being green, decided to blow up his useless consort Marta.
In yet another devious invention (why are crazy people smart?) Garth managed to create the deadliest bomb currently in existence. A small handful of this substance could destroy the whole planet. He put just one tiny crystal of it in Marta’s necklace and when Kirk still wouldn’t give him the countersign (she tried to geld him!) he detonated her treacherous carcass on the poisonous planet’s surface. Then Lord Garth made his last mistake. He sent two guards to drag Spock outside the asylum’s dome to blow him up too. But, fortunately, knowing nothing of Vulcans, the guards were quickly incapacitated by Spock’s touch acupuncture.
Then the genuine Spock rushed to save his perennially beleaguered captain but found two Kirks when entering the control room. Which one was legit? They both skillfully answered a how-to-defeat-Romulans test question and stood in Kirk’s traditional nonchalance stance. So Spock decided to wait. “Gentlemen, whichever one of you is Captain Garth must at this moment be expending a great deal of energy to maintain the image of Captain Kirk. That energy level cannot be maintained indefinitely, and I have time.”
But before he could comfortably sit down Kirk/Garth rushed him, but he was no match for the both of them. With Garth finally vanquished, Spock lowered the force field and contacted the Enterprise. “Queen to queen’s level three,” said a peculiarly patient Mr. Scott. “Queen to King’s level one,” Spock replied. For Garth, one of the foremost geniuses of their time, this countersign was beyond him.
Shapeshifters, as you can see, come in all shapes and sizes (pun intended) and most are a particularly bloodthirsty lot. We will continue our examination of these all too prevalent fiends in the next installment until we conclude with the most formidable of them all. However, before we go forward, let’s take a step back a hundred years to introduce you to a genetically-altered group of particularly bothersome shapeshifters: The Suliban.
Erwin, Lee. Sohl, Jerry. “Whom Gods Destroy.” Star Trek. National Broadcasting Company. 3 January 1969. Television. Retrieved: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Whom_Gods_Destroy_(episode) , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whom_Gods_Destroy_(Star_Trek:_The_Original_Series)