(airdate: January 5, 1968)
Writer: Margaret Armen
Director: Gene Nelson
Galt: Joseph Ruskin
Lars: Steve Sandor
Shahna: Angelique Pettyjohn
Tamoon: Jane Ross
Captain's Log: Kirk, Chekov, and Uhura are preparing to beam down to Gamma II when they're plucked from the Enterprise and whisked away to the planet Triskelion. They have been chosen to become thralls, designed to fight in gladiator-style battles for the amusement of the Providers. When the Enterprise tracks them down, the Providers decide to destroy the ship in such a way that the Federation won't come looking. But Kirk makes a deal: if he can defeat three of the Providers' thralls, then the ship and the crew will be free to go, and the remaining thralls will be set free and taught to self-govern; if he loses, then the entire crew will become thralls under the Providers. Kirk wins, the thralls are set free, and the Enterprise continues on her way.
Whoops!: How exactly can a focused beam of high-intensity light transport people over twelve light years? [The light beam is the only measurable result of the Providers' transportation device.] It might be a bit unfair to ask what Kirk is recording his Captain's Log on during the fight with Kloog, or how it just so happens that an alien planet whose logo is a triskelion is named Triskelion.
The Providers are three colored brains: red, yellow, and green. The color of the collar determines which Provider a thrall is beholden to - so the red Provider has thralls with red collars. So then why do the green Provider's thralls have blue collars? Later, the Providers tell Kirk that, as part of the rules of the fight, "touching an opposing color deprives a contestant of one weapon." And so, when the fight begins, just about the first thing he does is...touch the opposing color, with seemingly no ill effects. Apparently the Providers need some better referees.
Cringe Lines: Provider: "Is that what you humans call compassion?"
Spock's response to McCoy's claim that they're on a "wild goose chase": "Doctor, I am chasing the captain, Lieutenant Uhura, and Ensign Chekov, not some wild aquatic fowl."
The script requires Shahna to be fairly naïve, and thus she gets lines - all delivered very hesitantly, mind you - such as "You will leave us now? ...To go back to those lights in the sky?"; "And... And this... is this... also helping?" when Kirk kisses her, followed up by "Please... help me once again"; and of course, our favorite: "What... is love?"
Alien Love: Kirk gets involved with his drill thrall Shahna, who wears silver and has green hair. She doesn't know what love is, so it's a good thing Kirk's there to teach her, eh?
Library Computer: Gamma II is an "uninhabited planetoid with an automatic communications and astrogation station".
Triskelion is a planet in the trinary star system M-24 Alpha. It's over twelve light years from Gamma II. [Spock states they're "11.630 light years" away from M-24 Alpha, but they've been traveling for some time when he says this.] It has a dark blue sky. There is sparse vegetation. The inhabitants live in the lower [southern] hemisphere. It was home to an advanced race, now known to their subjects simply as the "Providers", but they evolved beyond humanoid form and devoted themselves exclusively to intellectual pursuits, becoming "physically simple, mentally superior" creatures. They now find athletic competition to be the only challenge [having presumably figured out all things intellectual; their technology implies an extremely advanced race]. They kidnap lifeforms from other places and force them to become "thralls", fighting each other for the entertainment of the Providers, who are three colored glowing brains - red, yellow, and green. The Providers live a thousand meters below the surface and gamble with quatloos [presumably a form of money, but it's never explicitly stated as such] on the competitions for their amusement. The symbol of Triskelion appears to be a inverted triangle with the corners cut off, surrounding a stylized triskelion (which looks vaguely like a swastika with only three arms, if you don't know).
The Providers took the three officers using a "focused beam of extremely high-intensity light" which could not have occurred naturally. It created a power surge and left an ionization trail. They can also control the power on board an orbiting starship, and they can prevent phasers from working.
The master thrall is named Galt. He is a tall humanoid, bald with a goatee but no moustache. He wears a black robe with a high, red, sparkly collar, and he has powdery white skin. He can control the other thralls through "collars of obedience", which the thralls wear around their necks. These collars are only meant to warn and punish, as when a thrall is slow to respond to a command, and they appear to choke the wearer when activated. The color of the light on the collar determines which Provider the thrall is beholden to: red, yellow, or blue. An unassigned thrall wears a collar with a white light. When operating the collars, Galt's eyes become bright blue, looking not unlike twinkling stars.
The Providers attempt to breed thralls [either in an effort to create better fighters or just so they don't have to keep transporting new people]. This is called "selection", and it is not allowed to refuse.
Thralls seen include Shanha, a younger woman with green hair and a silver two-piece outfit with go-go boots and gloves; Lars, a brown-haired humanoid in a brown tunic and shorts and thigh-high shoes; Tamoon, a woman with yellow hair and skin and a red one-piece outfit; Kloog, a tall brutish-looking humanoid with large fangs and a weakness in his left eye, wearing furs; and an Andorian. Lars and Kloog are later killed in combat by Kirk.
Shahna is assigned to be Kirk's drill thrall. Her mother was killed in a freestyle match. [Shahna was presumably born on Triskelion.]
The remains of an atomized human would show up on the Enterprise's sensors. Spock hasn't heard of a study seeing how long people can live as disassembled atoms in a transporter beam, but states that "it would be a fascinating project."
The Federation has taught cultures throughout the galaxy to govern themselves [this seems rather at odds with the Non-Interference Directive mentioned in "A Piece of the Action" - perhaps that only applies to cultures who aren't aware of other worlds].
Kirk describes Chekov, Uhura, and himself as officers of "a United spaceship on Federation business."
Final Analysis: "What in the name of heaven is this?" "Heaven's got very little to do with this." A bizarre tale with no real message behind it (unless the message is "don't gamble on fights"...?). It's also structured and directed haphazardly, as evidenced by a chilling off-screen attempted rape of Uhura followed up two minutes later by a comedy scene with Chekov, complete with "funny" music. This lack of cohesion makes "The Gamesters of Triskelion" work against itself, as it's never quite sure what it wants to be and so it just ends up being a number of fight scenes interrupted by generally poor dialogue. And while in theory it's nice to see Uhura and Chekov getting something to do, in practice they don't actually do much of anything. All in all, a bit of a mess.
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Page originally created: February 24, 2007
Page last updated: August 2, 2016