TOS: S2E16: “The Gamesters of Triskelion”

In which Kirk wears a collar, Kirk donkey-punches a girl, and an episode is wasted.

Sometimes, particularly with some of these TOS episodes, a title will just scream “I’m an adapted Analog story and will not fit at all well into a story universe that will go on to have approximately 550 hours of screen time. I was written independently and shoehorned into the Star Trek universe because someone needed filler and the franchise didn’t have the kind of inertia to turn down big industry names. This title feels like one of those. Since I refuse to look up the episode on Wikipedia until I at least start the episode, and since I do next to no editing, we’ll find out how right I am.

The triskelion is a symbol steeped in meaning, mysticism, and other things that begin with M.

The triskelion is a symbol steeped in meaning, mysticism, and other things that begin with M.

The Enterprise is in orbit around Gamma II, uninhabited with an automated facility. Kirk, Uhura, and Chekov get insta-beamed down to a planet that’s not Gamma II. We know this because the sky is a different color, and the fact that there’s a weird arena with a triskelion crest on a supposedly uninhabited planet has nothing to do with it.  Also, there’s apparently a trinary sun, which is, as far as I know, odd. Something about predicting gravitational interactions between three or more bodies in the long term.

The crew are all attacked by silent warriors with golden collars and huge, impractical weapons. Like someone put a boathook on the back end of a glaive. No, not the razor frisbee from Krull. The polearm. They do some fighting and then this Ming the Merciless-looking motherfucker bamfs in and starts talking about competitive spirit.

That outfit cannot possibly be practical.

That outfit cannot possibly be practical.

Galt, apparently, calls himself a master thrall and has a slightly more ornate collar than everyone else. There’s an Atlas Shrugged joke here somewhere, but I really can’t be bothered to comb through a sixty-page monologue for it. A dozen internets to someone who can come up with a good one. Moving on, Galt can apparently activate the shock collars with his eyes. So, obstacle showdown. The crew are wearing shock collars, locked in cages, and have no idea where they are. Assets: They know they’re in a trinary system so if they can manage to MacGyver a comms device that will reach the Enterprise they can narrow down the ship’s search grid. Cons: MacGyver won’t be around until the ’80s.

Also, the captured crew are getting rapey vibes from the thralls. Uhura has to fight off some big neanderthal dude, Kirk gets the green-haired woman in the metal bikini, and Chekov gets the comic relief. I’m not really sure what the point of this episode is other than Slavery = Bad and Kirk can seduce anyone as long has he can wear a leather bondage harness. Err, I mean training harness. That’s totally what I mean. Also, this is where the term ‘quatloos’ as a term for ridiculous money comes from.

Kirk teaching astrophysics.

Kirk teaching astrophysics.

I’m not actually certain whether Kirk is trying to foment rebellion against supertech energy beings or if he’s just flirting. Again, I don’t really see the point of this episode other than ‘hey look there’s boobies and Kirk isn’t wearing a shirt. Too bad that sends her on her way to getting tortured to death.

Really the only interesting thing happening is back on the Etnerprise, and that only barely. Spock is following the only likely trail from Gamma II, while McCoy and Scotty refuse to recognize the logic of the situation. Scotty has proved himself in military, tactical situations, but that the Great Bird of the Galaxy that Spock is the one in charge by default when Kirk is away. They make it to Triskelion, where the Providers explain that they’re called Providers because they take care of all the needs of their thralls.

The Glowing Brain's Burden.

The Glowing Brain’s Burden.

This sucks so much. The brains ‘evolved’ over thousands of years of devotion to mental pursuits. Hooray, hubris will lead to your downfall. Kirk is great at shaming raw ego! Slavery is terrible! This sucks sucks sucks. Science Fiction is supposed to be about useful social issues. Sure the ’60s were backward, but not this backwards, surely, that anyone needed to be told this.

 

Did we miss something awesome?