Star Trek 2.16: The Gamesters of Triskelion

The Gamesters of TriskelionThe Gamesters of Triskelion” is what I’d call a turn-key Star Trek episode. It recycles many of the plot elements that can be seen in other episodes, to produce something that certainly feels like Star Trek, but without introducing enough originality to make it memorable.

In a nutshell, Kirk and some others (Chekov and Uhura in this case) mysteriously vanish thanks to the nigh-omnipotent power of some aliens, who then make them fight for their amusement. Meanwhile the remaining crew (Spock, Scotty, and McCoy here) play detective, searching for them and arriving in time to be audience to Kirk fighting to the death against some aliens for the prize of setting himself and the Enterprise free. Anything sound familiar yet?

The hapless crew members are trying to beam down to the creatively named planet Gamma II, where there is an automated communication station. At least this gives Uhura a sensible reason to join a landing party. They never make it, vanishing abruptly from the transporter pad, which allows Spock and Scotty to play off one another when Spock asks if there was a malfunction and Scotty vehemently denies it. Kirk, Uhura, and Chekov appear in a tiny gladiatorial arena. They are immediately attacked by aliens with weapons, two male and two female. Kirk and Chekov take one male each, while Uhura ends up fighting the other two. The females are wearing bizarrely impractical (and shiny) clothing for combat (see the picture), exposing a lot of areas that really should be armoured.

Fight done, we meet the “master thrall” Galt, who assigns each of the crew a “drill thrall” to train them up for combat. Uhura gets the well-proportioned Lars, Kirk gets the severely underdressed Shahna, Chekov gets the homely Tamoon. (Actually Chekov is getting off lightly, since the first thing Lars does is try to force himself on to Uhura. Fortunately she’s had Starfleet combat training.) We learn in some exposition that the thralls are all brought to this planet, Triskelion, by the “Providers”. The thralls train new arrivals, then the Providers bid for and buy them to fight one another as a form of gambling. Discipline is enforced by Collars of Obedience, which can be activated to cause agony.

Kirk naturally resists by seducing Shahna and trying to teach her about love, which she is ignorant of. Meanwhile, Spock and Scotty have completed a scan of the entire Gamma II solar system, within 2 hours. This is an amazing feat, considering that in other episodes we’ve seen the crew racing against time in the impossible task of scanning a single planet with a time limit of several hours or days. They pick up a faint ionisation trail and follow it across 12 light years to Triskelion.

There, Kirk has argued his way into meeting the Providers, who turn out to be a trio of disembodied brains. They express ennui with their near-omnipotence, and their only entertainment is betting on combats between thralls. Kirk challenges them to a more interesting wager, him versus a thrall of their choice for his crew’s freedom. If Kirk loses, he will submit the entire Enterprise crew as thralls, whereas if he wins, the Providers must free all the thralls and then help them to build an enlightened society, which Kirk says will be a fulfilling challenge for them. The Providers agree, but specify Kirk must fight three thralls at once. He kills two, but the injured third is replaced with Shahna. Kirk refuses to kill her, but she surrenders, winning the bet for Kirk. Fortunately the Providers are honest enough to honour it.

Eh, well. It’s not a terrible episode. It’s just a “seen it all before” one.

Tropes: Sufficiently Advanced Alien, Involuntary Battle To The Death, Designated Girl Fight, Space Clothes, Stripperific, Russian Guy Suffers Most, Shock Collar, What Is This Thing You Call Love?, Gladiator Revolt, Brain In A Jar, The Gambling Addict, Duel To The Death, Forced Prize Fight.
Body count: The thralls Kloog and Lars.

2 Responses to “Star Trek 2.16: The Gamesters of Triskelion”

  1. Monica says:

    The “Enterprise encounters omnipotent higher beings” plot is the only one re-used more than the “crew must out-logic an all-powerful computer” plot.

  2. 100 quatloos that the newcomers are untrainable and must be destroyed. Que the fight music …

Leave a Reply