A trick, a fight and a choice. Originally broadcast on January 19, 1967 this is Arena.
Captain’s Log Stardate 3045.6
Kirk and his team beam down to Cestus III to meet with Commodore Travers only to discover that it is a trap and the colony has been destroyed. They are soon attacked by a reptilian lifeform that can not be identified. Soon Sulu, aboard the Enterprise, encounters an unknown alien craft who attack forcing Enterprise to leave orbit.
The away team soon discover that this appears to be the prelude to an invasion by an unknown race of reptilian creatures. Kirk and crew manage to return to the Enterprise and soon encounter another alien calling themselves The Metrons. The Metrons believe that a great injustice has occurred and remove Kirk and the reptilians Captain, now known as The Gorn, from their ships in order to battle it out to determine who is allowed to leave. Kirk and the Gorn Captain battle it out as their respective crews watch unable to assist in any way. In the end Kirk wins out but refuses to kill the Gorn Captain. The Metrons enquire as to why Kirk would spare the Gorn, and Kirk informs them that the Federation and the Gorn can work out their differences, so there was no need to kill a helpless opponent. In the end the Metrons free Enterprise and inform them that they will return to see how humanity is fairing in a thousand years time.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Yet another truly classic episode that has really stood the test of time. So far in the series most of the fights have been setup from the start, either a mysterious enemy is seen approaching or there is some kind of strange event leading up to the action. The thing that really sets this apart is that the crew literally walk into an ambush from the start with no warning or even idea of what is going on. It is truly a genius movie in story telling giving this episode a true sense of urgency that not many have had.
We are introduced to two new species in this episode, The Gorn, who will return, and one of which is never seen again in the franchise, namely, The Metrons. While the Gorn are a fascinating race on their own, being large rather warlike reptilians creatures, the Metrons appear to be yet another omnipotent species intent on judging humanity itself. For some reason it seems that this series has a keen interest on massively powerful beings who can wipe humanity out with a thought, but never do. While this is done to show just how progressive and determined humanity has become in the future, it is also a bit of a disappointment as, like that of Charlie X and Trelane, these omnipotent beings are never seen or heard from again. Due to this, we know next to nothing about the Metrons or their true purpose in the universe. Maybe we will get a followup in Discovery seeing that the Metrons did say they would be back in a thousand years.
Now, back to the Gorn, The Gorn, which are indeed seen again, are also an unfortunatly underused villain in the Star Trek universe. While STNG managed to bring back, and even enhance, many of the more iconic species, the Gorn are mostly left out and only vaguely mentioned until their re-appearance on Enterprise. I understyand that much of it had to do with their rather….silly initial design, but I would have loved to have seen an updated version like that of the Klingons face off against Picard and crew. Heck, even if they had appeared on Voyager tying them to the Dinosaur race as seen in that series. But, it was not to be.
Although the antagonists in this are sadly wasted in the future, the episode itself is a tremendous one. Giving Kirk a chance to show that, not only is he a formidable opponent, he also embodies the very essence of what The Federation stands for. This is a Captain who refuses to take advantage of a fallen foe even if it would mean his own death. He believes in a peaceful resolution at all costs and will only take up violence when absolutely necessary. Sure, we see him slip from time to time but…as Spock is always fond of pointing out, he is only human.
Overall, this is a tremendous episode that remains a classic to this day. It is iconic in every way and has been regularly referenced in pop culture through animation and more. If you want a truly classic and iconic episode, this is one to watch for sure.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- The United Federation of Planets is mentioned for the first time in this episode.
- We learn of the Gorn Hegemony and their claim to this specific section of space implying that the Federation outpost was intruding on their claim.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: The Alternative Factor
For more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.
As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!
Late To The Game 1/12/2022
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
“Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made production intended for recreational use. No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”