“The Gamesters of Triskelion” is the sixteenth episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek.
Written by Margaret Armen and directed by Gene Nelson, it was first broadcast 05 January 1968.
In the episode, Captain Kirk and his companions are abducted into slavery and trained to fight as gladiators for the gambling entertainment of three disembodied beings.
The Federation starship Enterprise is on a routine inspection of an unmanned station at Gamma II. Captain Kirk, Communications Officer Lt. Uhura and navigator Ensign Chekov attempt to transport, but disappear before the system is activated. Observing no signs of life from the station, Commander Spock orders a system-wide search for their missing crew members. No trace of them is found, but Spock discovers a faint ion trail, and orders the ship to follow it despite the protests of Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy, and Chief Engineer Scott.
Meanwhile, Kirk, Uhura, and Chekov find themselves in a gladiator arena on a strange planet. They are attacked by four humanoids and defend themselves for a time but are finally subdued. A humanoid calling himself Galt, Master Thrall of Triskelion, informs the three they are to be trained to participate in games to entertain his masters, the Providers. Each is fitted with a “collar of obedience” that engages when they disobey the Master Thrall’s orders. Uhura, Chekov, and Kirk are assigned individual “drill thralls”: Lars, Tamoon, and Shahna, respectively; Uhura and Chekov do not get along comfortably with their instructors, but Kirk develops a rapport with Shahna. After a period of training, the Providers bid for the new thralls in their currency, “quatloos”.
During a run among ancient ruins outside the arena complex, Kirk tries to gain information about the Providers from Shahna, but her collar is activated when she begins to speak too freely. Kirk protests that he should have been the one punished, and when they are returned to their cells, Shahna expresses her appreciation for this. When she moves to embrace him, Kirk knocks her unconscious, and uses her key to free himself, Uhura, and Chekov, but they are stopped by Galt.
The Enterprise follows the ion trail where they find a planet with a humanoid settlement. As Spock and McCoy prepare to beam down, the voice of Provider One warns them not to make the attempt. Kirk’s voice is also heard, and he brings them up to date. Kirk then challenges the Providers to show themselves and finds himself in an underground chamber, where the Providers are revealed to be three disembodied brains. Kirk offers them a wager: he and his two officers will fight an equal number of thralls. If Kirk and his party win, the Providers will free them, give up their games, and teach the thralls to govern themselves. If they lose, the entire Enterprise crew will become thralls. The Providers agree, but stipulate that Kirk must battle three thralls alone.
The match is quickly arranged and, as the Enterprise crew watches from above, Kirk is able to kill two thralls and injure a third. Galt sends in Shahna. Kirk manages to subdue her, and she surrenders. The Providers declare that Kirk has won the wager and unlock the thralls’ collars. Shahna expresses a desire to follow Kirk to the stars, but he answers that she and the other thralls must first learn to live in their newfound freedom.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Gene Nelson.
- Writer(s): Margaret Armen.
- Production: Desilu Productions (1966-1967) and Paramount Television (1968-1969).
- Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures (1966-2006), CBS Paramount Television (2006-2007), and CBS Television Distribution (2007-Present).
- Original Network: NBC.
- Release Date: 05 January 1968.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.