Director: Gene Nelson
Writer: Margaret Armen
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Joseph Ruskin, Angelique Pettyjohn, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Steve Sandor, Walter Koenig, Jane Ross, Victoria George, Dick Crockett, and Mickey Morton
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 1/5/1968
Production #: 60346
A landing party is teleported to the planet Triskelion, where brutal competitions are held by three disembodied beings known as Providers. After Galt (Joseph Ruskin), the master thrall of Triskelion, escorts the enslaved officers to a dungeon, Kirk manages to seduce his drill thrall, an attractive alien named Shahna (Angelique Pettyjohn). Back on the Enterprise, Spock sets a course for a nearby solar system after an unsuccessful search for the missing crew members.
“The Gamesters of Triskelion” benefits from many rousing action sequences, but lacks the penetrating insight that one might expect from a commentary on slavery. Star Trek enthusiasts who prefer style over substance will, however, enjoy this episode for its fascinating aesthetic components.
Though slowly paced at times, “The Gamesters of Triskelion” should captivate viewer interest with numerous gladiator matches involving the captain and his grotesque antagonists. Especially noteworthy is the climactic scene, which pits Kirk against three vicious warriors in addition to his own love interest.
A cringe-inducing exchange between Chekov and his drill thrall is present, with the latter character making a flirtatious gesture toward the visibly uncomfortable ensign. Not only does this interaction fail to produce the intended humorous effect, it also seems out of place in a narrative that tackles a topic as heavy as human (or alien, in this case) slavery.
William Shatner’s hammy acting also slips through occasionally, thus ruining the intense nature of several key moments. Notably, Kirk’s goofy reaction to punishment makes it difficult to empathize with the agony generated by his Collar of Obedience, which is supposedly a worse sensation than the sting of a practice target whip.
An intriguing but underdeveloped episode, “The Gamesters of Triskelion” contains many exciting battle sequences. For those who prefer Star Trek’s lighter efforts over more cerebral (no pun intended) offerings, this episode should provide a satisfying amount of entertainment.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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