When Kirk, Chekov and Uhura head down to Gamma II for a routine away mission, they are surprised to instead find themselves on a planet in a completely different star system. There, they learn they have been selected to participate in gladiatorial combat for the amusement of The Providers, mysterious aliens who have been breeding and abducting combatants for generations. Can Kirk and the others find a way out of these deadly games, and, just as importantly, can the Enterprise track them down and rescue them?
It’s been a little while, so it’s time for one of our favourite TOS tropes to rear its head – that of “powerful aliens toy with Kirk and crew for their own amusement”. This is actually one of the more respectable entries in that category, with the slightly unusual landing party combo of Kirk, Chekov and Uhura providing a change from the usual Kirk-Spock-McCoy dynamic.
On the planet Triskelion…
- Kirk of course gets the best of it – not only is he the best at combat, but he of course gets a beautiful female instructor whom he manages to seduce by teaching her all about the emotion of love. He even uses simple psychology to outwit The Providers.
- Uhura: as the woman on the landing party, she is of course the only one who is allowed to scream when pain is inflicted on the landing party. She also has to fight off her instructor, who seems to have been “selected” to mate with her.
- Chekov doesn’t actually get much screen time, but he does have to deal with the fact that his yellow-skinned alien instructor has a massive crush on him. Since she isn’t as attractive as Kirk’s instructor, naturally Chekov doesn’t reciprocate.
Of the other ‘thralls’ forced to fight on behalf of The Providers, some have been born and bred on the planet, and others have been abducted like Kirk and crew – we even see an Andorian. Although Kirk wins their freedom, the deal is that the other thralls remain on the planet and are taught by The Providers how to put together a functioning society. For those who were born on the planet, or have grown to consider it home, fair enough, but what about thralls who were only abducted in recent years – can’t the Enterprise arrange for them to get home?
Aboard the Enterprise
Spock of course has to deal with the fact that McCoy and Scott disagree with his logical decisions, and even resorts to pointing out that unless they plan to mutiny, he is in charge. Of course, Spock is correct in the end, but we do see that Scotty effectively has a stranglehold on thr ship’s engines. If Scotty doesn’t think you’re going to the right place, then you won’t get above Warp 6!
Also, McCoy claims that this episode is the first time that Spock has ever asked for anything, even though a mere few episodes ago in Obsession, Spock asked for McCoy’s assistance, or at the very least, an opinion.
Finally, it’s worthy of note that, with Chekov not at the helm, for once we get to see a female navigator of the week. Although of course Uhura has sometimes womanned the navigation station.
Final Thoughts – The Gamesters of Triskelion: I wager 400 quatloos on the newcomer.