Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Empath

** (2 stars out of 5)

"The Empath" drags on and on. I admire it as a fan script that made it to TV, and DeForest Kelly said it was his favourite, but it's not otherwise laudable.

First, the show does away with set costs by having no set.

The sun of the Minaran system is about to nova. Federation scientists on Minara II are killed as lab subjects for the powerful Vians who are testing the empathy of a local woman.

When McCoy decides to name her "Gem" I thought for a moment he said "Jim". Flattering, I'm sure, but needlessly confusing.

Gem's from a race of natural mutes. She's not a telepath, either. She's an empath: possessing a nervous system so sensitive she feels what others feel. Not only that, but when she feels the pain of others, she takes their wounds upon herself and cures them both. I don't think anybody's pretending this is "science" today. Pull up a toadstool, the elf maiden has magic healing!

Gem does this for Kirk when he is tortured by the Vians. And she does it when McCoy selflessly knocks the others out so he will be the next one tormented to death. Didn't we just do "brutalized by telekinetics"?

Our heroes are suitably brave, our guest star is a maudlin mime. Our villains are Talosian knock-offs without a clear motive.

I understand most novas don't happen by surprise. Even a lowly society like ours can detect them coming. Why then have the Vians waited until the last minute? Why this demented experimentation to see which planet to evacuate? Why didn't they start earlier or recruit some star fleet or other to help move these poor devils? By what right do they evaluate relative worthiness? Why only one planet, anyway? JUST EVACUATE SOME OF EVERYBODY! Butt-heads.

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