Monday, May 25, 2015

Star Trek: The Gamesters of Triskelion

I've been amazingly busy and kind of putting this one off, but, finally, here is another Star Trek review for the blog. Today I bring you:
Yes, it's The Gamesters of Triskelion, or as I like to call it Romancing the Thrall. The episode begins with Kirk, Uhura and Chekov beaming down to Gamma II, an uninhabited planetoid, to check on the automated equipment there.
Except just prior to their beamdown they vanish from the transporter pad and find themselves on Triskelion, a planet nearly a dozen light years away. There they are to become Thralls--slaves who have no purpose other than to fight each other for the amusement of their owners, who gamble on the games.
Aboard the Enterprise, Spock eventually determines that the landing party is not on Gamma II & decides to take the ship away to find them. Naturally, McCoy is not happy about that: "You're going to leave here without them and run off on some wild goose chase halfway across the galaxy just because you found a discrepancy in a hydrogen cloud?" Yeah, that's the plan. Deal with it.
Back on Triskelion, Kirk has begun romancing Shahna, his drill Thrall. She doesn't know the meaning of the word "beautiful," so Kirk shows her her own reflection. She seems unimpressed.
To keep those new Thralls in line, Galt, the Master Thrall lets loose with the collars of obedience.  Eventually, after some fighting & training we hear the voices of the Providers who bid on the new Thralls--Kirk, Uhura and Chekov. Provider One wins the action, getting all three for the low, low price of just two thousand quatloos. The other Providers offer wagers that the newcomers are untrainable and will have to be destroyed. Hmmm...maybe they're on to something.
During a training session Kirk tells Shahna about the lights in the sky and love. "Love is the most important thing on Earth. Especially to a man and a woman."
Soon after, Kirk shows Shahna just how much he loves her as he uses the Kiss-Punch Maneuver to try to affect an escape. Alas, Galt puts an end to their breakout. 

Soon the Enterprise arrives and the Providers allow Spock and Kirk to communicate. Kirk explains the situation, telling Spock that "these Providers haven't the courage to show themselves."
With that, the Providers transport Kirk into their underground lair. The Providers are disembodied brains that have evolved beyond the need for physical bodies. By the way, that background should look familiar. It's the same matte painting that was used as the pergium mining/processing facility in The Devil in The Dark.

While talking to the Providers Kirk offers them a bet they can't refuse, "I wager that with weapons of your own choice, right here and now, my people can overcome an equal number of thralls set against us." When they take the bait, betting quatloos Kirk ups the stakes: "If we win, the Enterprise and its crew leaves here in safety. Further more, all the thralls on the planet must be freed." And if they lose? "We will remain here, the entire crew of the Enterprise. The most stubborn, determined competitors in the universe. We'll become Thralls, enter your games, obey your orders without rebellion. You'll be assured of generations of the most exciting wagering you've ever had."

The Providers accept the wager on the condition that Kirk alone fight three Thralls of their own choosing. The whole wager, with Kirk fighting for himself and the lives of his crew kind of feels like it was borrowed from The Squire of Gothos.
Thankfully, the crew of the Enterprise gets to watch the action, just like they did on Arena.
The final Thrall in the battle is Shahna. She's likely still pissed about that kiss-punch, but Kirk still manages to win. He spares her life--the other Thralls in the fight weren't as lucky. As promised, the Providers free the Thralls and say that they will train them.
"Goodbye, Jim Kirk. I will learn, and watch the lights in the sky, and remember."
With the collars of obedience off, Kirk, and the landing party make a hasty exit. I can't help feeling that life for the Thralls isn't likely to get any better. Maybe the Providers are going to train them to live on their own and maybe not. So, for me, the ending leaves me cold, much like the rest of the episode.

If Triskelion is on TV, I'd likely skip it. Next up is something I like much more - Obsession.

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