In "Whom Gods Destroy", phasering down the planetary shield around Elba II is thought certain to cause the death of everyone on the surface inside a dome that protects from the toxic atmosphere that is also impervious to all but starship weaponry, and while a shuttle might be able to get inside the shield at the weak point on the opposite side of the planet it wouldn't be able to fly.
What's the explanation for these oddities? Why would shield phasering equal death to those inside a dome?
Potential explanations I have seen or tried previously include, but are not limited to:
1. Bleedthrough damage 2. Shield generator explosion 3. Potentially explosive atmosphere 4. Garth did it.
#1 seems nice at first glance, other than the presumption of poor weapon control (which seems wrong given that they've stunned a city block before). However, as it takes basically the whole episode for them to decide to shoot at the opposite side of the planet and even then Scotty isn't sure they'll live, that can't be it. Also, it doesn't explain the shuttle problem.
#2 is odd because we never see shields "backfire" in this way. Surely if that was a problem they'd have put some distance between the occupied dome and the relevant shielding equipment. And, why couldn't a shuttle fly?
#3 explains the shuttle to some extent and the potential for death, but isn't specified in the episode. It also requires some specificity, a la the Parragan colony from Enterprise, so that activities can take place on the surface (including Garth blowing up Marta) without endangering the planet too much. But, of the options I can think of, this is the strongest.
#4 is also not specified, and there's no moment when the information could've clearly been learned. Besides which, it doesn't explain the shuttle problem.
For instance, if Garth hotwired the shields to destroy the dome, or if he simply noted that his super-explosive would go off (by accident or intent) if the Enterprise tried to take down the shield . . . well, when was this learned by Scotty? Unfortunately, there's no spot in the episode where this makes sense.
What are your thoughts or other options? Inquiring minds wanna know.
I think I'd vote for choice #5: it's a plot hole.
The closest in universe explanation I can think of is the breed through damage. If the Enterprise is firing full phasers to break through, it's harder to time things to cut off the phasers precisely once the shield fails.
There weren't any planetary shields for Piece of the Action, so they could easily and precisely predict what kind of shot was nessary to stun the area without side effects. It was uncontested and unhindered by a shield.
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