3/11/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "Arena"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S01E18
Air Date: January 19, 1967
Written by: Gene L. Coon
Directed by: Joseph Pevney

Premise
Another meddling advanced race decides to pit Kirk against a Gorn commander to find out which of the warring races deserves to live. Because they love peace so much.

Review
It's worth noting that the Gorn are a very territorial race. If you set up a colony in their space, they'll assume you're attacking and retaliate. So, when the Enterprise went to check on a colony on Cestus III and found it demolished, they risked a few redshirts to figure out what happened and then beamed up to give chase to the Gorn ship. And that's when things get interesting.

Kirk feels an overwhelming need to punish the Gorn for what they did. Some might even say he's feeling a bit of a need for vengeance. This hatred builds up in him until they get a few parsecs out and both the Enterprise and the Gorn ship are stopped by the Metrons. As you can imagine, it takes a pretty advanced race for them to be able to stop two starships without appearing to have any machinations for such a thing.
And to show their advanced ways, they show up as a negative scratch.
Now, the Metrons are sick and tired of this uncivilized attack from one lower species to another, so they decide they're going to take charge. They take Kirk and the Gorn commander and, instead of letting them start a war, they sit them down to a diplomatic meeting over a nice cup of coffee pit them together in a death match.

They transport them magically to a desert planet that looks a lot like outer San Dimas, California. The Metrons tell Kirk that this planet has all the things he needs to defend himself and win the death match. So after pushing around the Gorn for a while, he stumbles around in the rocks to find some minerals, the usage of which seems quite familiar with him, but he can't quite place it.
These... diamonds... I could... marry the Gorn commander...?
Meanwhile, the Gorn goes around and makes a trap out of rocks and vines. So after Kirk tries dropping a boulder on the Gorn, he goes up to check on him and then runs right into the trap after the Gorn wakes back up. Kirk is down and the Gorn walks up to finish him, but Kirk is able to get up and limp away thanks to the Gorn's slow-moving lizard-like body.

It's around this time that the Metrons give the Enterprise a visual feed of what's happening with Kirk. Apparently driven now by a need to impress his crew, he finally understands what all these minerals could do. He gathers them all up, puts them in a bamboo stick and sufficiently impresses Spock by his ingenuity.

Meanwhile, the Gorn commander has become lazy and sluggish. He just wants Kirk to come over so he can be killed swiftly and easily. So while the Gorn is slogging around, Kirk points a bamboo cannon at him and fires the diamonds, knocking him out. He goes to finish off the Gorn, but then changes his mind. He's not going to kill the Gorn. Exactly what the Metrons want.
I AM THE METATRON.
So Mr. Metron tells Kirk that because he has shown compassion and not killed the Gorn, he's going to let the both of them go. He sends Kirk back to the Enterprise and then sends the Enterprise several lightyears away. And everyone lived happily ever after!

Overall Thoughts
This is basically the Star Trek episode that everyone knows. Maybe it's because of the awkward lizard people, maybe it's because of the questionable plot line, maybe it's the pretentious higher being or maybe it's because all of these elements are pretty much quintessential to The Original Series. In any case, there's no way you can miss this episode.