Star Trek’s Overpopulation Parable

Star Trek's Overpopulation Parable
Star Trek TOS: The Mark of Gideon

Star Trek: The Original Series

Season 3, Episode 16

The Mark of Gideon

Gideon, a planet not a member of the Federation of Planet, agreed to host Captain Kirk for a look around to kick off The Mark of Gideon. So, by himself, Kirk beamed down to Gideon. 

Upon arrival, his destination looked identical to Enterprise – or everyone on the real Enterprise vanished. Kirk was basically walking around an empty vessel. On the big screen near the bridge of the ship, Kirk could see Gideon, the planet, so mystery was plentiful. 

Spock spoke with the High Council about Kirk’s disappearance, but it was unhelpful, declining to allow Spock a look around Gideon. His diplomacy failed. McCoy was irked by the High Council’s hesitance to cooperate, urging Spock to buck their orders and find Kirk. 

Meanwhile, Kirk explored his surroundings, encountering an attractive woman named Odonna. What’s the over/under on the two falling in love? The blonde did not know who was accountable for summoning Kirk to the abandoned ship as she was just as clueless as to how she arrived. The two discussed their happenstance, glancing at the big screen again only to find Gideon was no longer in sight. More mystery, indeed.

Spock finagled a deal to beam aboard the High Council’s ship in an effort to force their hand in the situation. But the Council insisted one of their members transport to Enterprise as part of the deal. Then, the Council reneged, playing word games by claiming only Kirk could be inserted in the deal. However, Kirk was missing, so the Council screwed Spock. 

Odonna and Kirk contemplated next steps, and the woman truly could not remember her homeworld, recalling only that tons of people inhabited her planet. Unsurpsringly, the scene ended with a long passionate kiss between the two – Vintage Kirk. While the smooching was finishing up, a series of green faces appeared on the display screen of Fake Enterprise

Kirk and his new lover investigated the faces which became even more pronounced when they got closer to the ship’s window. There was also a foreboding thumping sound, leading Kirk to theorize it was a heart-pounding sound of sorts.

The High Council – the men who gave Spock a hard time – showed up on Fake Enterprise, seizing Odonna and taking her to a makeshift sickbay. Odonna was determined to have Vegan choriomeningitis, a disease that Kirk evidently contracted in the past. The High Council revealed their plan to coax Kirk into their custody, strategically to help get Odonna better. Kirk was unimpressed and resorted to fighting. 

Spock eventually made his way to Fake Enterprise, presumably to save the day for Kirk. The High Council and Kirk debated the merits of the Council’s plan – they were seeking to introduce illness onto Gideon, a previously germ-free planet. Odonna was the sacrificial lamb for it, naturally a factoid that Kirk disdained. To complicate matters, the leader of the High Council, Hodin, was the father of Odonna, so that was supposed to make his plot more righteous. 

Spock caught up to Kirk, Hodin, and an unconscious Odonna. He neutralized security with his patented nerve pinch, which was pretty awesome. Kirk, Spock, and Odonna beamed back up to the real Enterprise, curing the woman with McCoy’s assistance upon arrival. 

Odonna opted to return home on Giden where she felt needed. Kirk was heartbroken. Odonna invited Kirk to live romantically in harmony with her on Gideon as the two parted ways. Kirk was the chief of his ship, and abandoning his post for love wasn’t going to happen.

All in all, this was Star Trek’s parable on overpopulation. Systemic, willful murder as a solution was maniacal. And that should be understood through empathetic common sense by everyone. 

Themes: Overpopulation

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. His odyssey with Star Trek starts from beginning to finish, watching ‘The Original Series,’ all the way to the present day. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).