“A Piece of the Action” is the seventeenth episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek.
Written by David P. Harmon and Gene L. Coon, and directed by James Komack, it was first broadcast on 12 January 1968.
The Enterprise visits a planet with an Earth-like 1920s gangster culture, with Runyonesque dialog and costumes.
This was the last Star Trek script credited to Gene L. Coon. Its repeat on 30 August 1968, was the last episode to air in the 8:30 pm time slot on Friday nights on NBC.
The Federation starship USS Enterprise has been ordered to Sigma Iotia II, where the space vessel Horizon was reported missing 100 years earlier. The ship receives a message from Bela Okmyx, an Iotian, who promises information about the Horizon and invites the crew down to the planet. First Officer Spock notes that their interference in the planet’s development could violate the Prime Directive, but Captain Kirk points out that the Horizon’s arrival a century ago would have already contaminated the culture. Kirk, Spock, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy transport to the planet.
They find themselves in a city fashioned after an American city of the 1920’s, and some of the residents appear to be gangsters carrying Tommy guns. The landing party is escorted by Okmyx’s men to his offices, during which they observe a drive-by shooting that kills one of their escorts, but the other continues on as if nothing had happened. They arrive at Okmyx’s office, where Okmyx orders his men to make a retaliatory attack against a rival gang led by Jojo Krako. Spock discovers an Earth book, Chicago Mobs of the Twenties, published in 1992, and determines it was left by the crew of the Horizon. Okmyx explains they have modelled Iotian society on “The Book”. Okmyx demands the Enterprise crew supply his gang with phasers, and when Kirk refuses, threatens to kill them. The landing party is held while Okmyx uses a communicator to repeat the demand to Chief Engineer Scott.
Kirk distracts their guards by intruding on their poker game and teaching them the fictitious game of “Fizzbin”, allowing Spock and McCoy to overpower them. McCoy and Spock flee to a radio station to contact the Enterprise and transport back to the ship, while Krako’s men capture Kirk.
Krako demands phasers of Kirk as well, offering to cut him in for a third of “the action” in exchange. Kirk offers a peaceful solution, but Krako refuses and confines him, threatening to kill him by slow torture if he doesn’t cooperate. Okmyx contacts the ship, informs them of Kirk’s capture, and offers to help rescue Kirk if they will help him. Spock and McCoy return to the planet, but are quickly captured by Okmyx. However, Kirk has managed to engineer his own escape, and arrives in Okmyx’s office in time to rescue Spock and McCoy.
The three set a plan in motion. Taking suits and hats from Okmyx’s men, Kirk and Spock return to Krako’s office and gain entrance with the help of a local teenager. Quickly subduing Krako’s men, Kirk informs Krako that the Federation is taking over the entire planet, but if Krako helps to maintain order and be a willing agent of the Federation, they will give him a “piece of the action”. Krako agrees, but for safekeeping, Kirk transports him to the Enterprise. They then make the same offer to Okmyx, which he quickly accepts. As they prepare for the meeting of all the planet’s bosses, Krako’s men attack Okmyx’s headquarters, but the Enterprise uses the ship’s phasers to stun the men as they approach. Both Okmyx and Krako realise that they are at Kirk’s mercy, and agree to work for the Federation. Kirk installs Okmyx as the top boss with Krako as his lieutenant, and states that a Federation ship will come by once a year for their 40% cut of the planet’s “action.”
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy transport back to the Enterprise where Kirk proposes that the Federation’s “cut” be used in a planetary fund to guide the Iotians into a more ethical society. McCoy reveals that he left his communicator on the planet. Kirk and Spock note that the Iotians will analyse the technology. Kirk amusingly states that the Iotians may one day be in a position to demand “a piece of our action!”
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): James Komack.
- Writer(s): David P. Harmon and Gene L. Coon.
- 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: 12 January 1968.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.