‘The Empath’ (TOS) (TV)

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Please feel free to comment on my review.

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This isn’t one of my favourite ‘Star Trek’ episodes from ‘The Original Series’. It’s not a terrible episode, but it didn’t excite me when I first saw it. I actually forgot what it was about when re-watching it!

‘The Empath’ has the Enterprise visit the planet Minara II where a research group is present there. The Enterprise has come to rescue the group from a star that’s about to explode and go supernova.

But when Kirk, Spock and Bones beam down to the planet, they eventually get abducted by two aliens called Vians. They also meet a beautiful lady who can’t speak since she happens to be a mute.

The concept of the story is interesting in that Kirk, Spock and Bones are being used as test subjects by the Vians for the mute woman to heal them. But it wasn’t as pacey and action-packed as I hoped.

It’s also one of these episodes that you have to really invest yourself in emotionally, since the mute woman happens to be an empath when she heals people. I can’t say I was that persuaded really.

Kathryn Hays guest stars as the mute lady who Bones names her as Gem. The Vians also name her Gem too. I wonder if that is really her name, as the Vians are who brought her for their experiments.

I liked Kathryn Hays’ performance as Gem, even though she doesn’t say much. She communicates with Kirk, Spock and Bones using her hands and facial expressions, much like a deaf person would do.

It was also intriguing and touching when Gem actually heals Kirk’s injuries by taking them away and placing them on herself before she heals too. This is all part of the Vians’ strategy with Gem’s future.

The Vians are interesting aliens. They remind me of the Talosian aliens featured in ‘The Menagerie’. I wonder if the Vians and the Talosians are related to each other, since they have similar characteristics.

The Vians include Alan Bergmann as Lal and Willard Sage as Thann. They put Kirk, Spock and Bones through some torturous experiments from placing them into force-fields and also seeing some mirages.

Kirk gets tortured by the Vians by being chained up in the air as well as bare-chested and getting shot with stun-guns. Kirk demands to know ‘what he’s dying for’, since the Vians are seemingly cruel.

There’s also a sequence where Bones is tortured by the Vians. Beforehand, Kirk has to choose between Spock and Bones on whether they’re to be tortured for the Vians’ very cruel experiments.

Bones however takes matters into his own hands, as he knocks out Kirk and Spock with a hypo-spray. I found the emotional tension between Kirk, Spock and Bones in those scenes very gripping to see.

Seeing Bones getting tortured and infected with a horrible disease was pretty disturbing. Kirk and Spock eventually find Bones and lay him down to rest. It seems that Bones’ condition is very serious.

The one person that can save Bones from his illness is Gem when she has to make a big self-sacrifice to save him. This is all part of the Vians’ experiments, but this isn’t something that goes to plan here.

I did find the conclusion of this episode rather weak. Whilst I’m pleased that Bones was saved by Gem, I don’t know exactly what happened when the Vians took Gem with them and off into the air.

‘The Empath’ is one of those average ‘Star Trek’ episodes that doesn’t work for me. It features some good performances from the cast, but I didn’t find it so inspiring even if the concept was interesting.

The DVD special features for this episode are as follows. On Disc 3 of both the original and re-mastered DVDs of ‘Star Trek: The Original Series – Season 3’, there is a preview trailer for this episode.

‘The Empath’ (TOS) rating – 4/10

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2 thoughts on “‘The Empath’ (TOS) (TV)

  1. Timelord 007

    Great review Tim, you summed up this episode perfectly mate, again the storyline has potential but lacked drama & the conclusion was sloppy in it’s execution.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Bradley Post author

    I’m glad you agree with me that the conclusion of ‘The Empath’ was ‘sloppy’, Simon. It was an interesting in concept, but the story lacked the drama and tension it needed, despite some disturbing scenes where Bones is tortured and diseased before he gets cured by Gem. Tim. 🙂



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