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Star Trek: The Gamesters of Triskelion

Kirk: "I must say I've never seen a top sergeant that looked like you."

Harnesses, whips, nudity, disembodied brains. How can I possibly complain? (Well, I can. I'm a critic. It's my job. Or it would be if I were getting paid for this.)

The idea of technologically advanced humans being tossed into a Roman style arena to fight for their lives is compelling and they might have pulled it off if the writing had been better and they'd had a bigger budget to work with. This story desperately needed to be a lot bigger; one tiny arena and three or four fighters just wasn't convincing, and there should have been an audience other than three disembodied brains. Exotic armor. Lirpas and ahnwoons, perhaps. Tigers would have been good. Better costumes all round, perhaps. Galt the master thrall looked like he was Dracula going to a Halloween party.

Shatner fans who enjoyed Kirk's romantic exploits certainly got their money's worth, though. He spent most of the episode shirtless with artful whip scars all over his chest as he seduced a starlet wearing a silver harness and not much else. As far as zaftig alien babes go, Shahna was the bomb; I loved her huge mane of green hair that actually went with her eyes. Kirk may have started out manipulating her, but he ended up all protective and ready to take punishment for her. As he did for Uhura.

(Poor Uhura. Kirk gets a gorgeous drill thrall he can romantically manipulate, Chekov gets drill thrall comic relief, and what does Uhura get? Sexually assaulted. It doesn't seem quite fair.)

All that said, wagering the lives of his entire crew against his own personal fighting ability wasn't Kirk's finest moment. I wish they'd found a better plot resolution than that. And how did Kirk win the fight? Nearly all the participants broke the rules by leaving their colored area during battle, and Kirk won a battle to the death without actually killing Shahna. Maybe the Providers were just ready to throw in the towel and Kirk gave them an excuse. Yes, I'm reaching.

The B plot featured McCoy and Scott giving Spock an incredibly hard time as Spock insisted on following his wild theory of where the Captain went, and of course, Spock was right. It looked and felt like filler, probably because it was.

Ben says...

Okay, if you read some of my comments you may have suspected that I resort to, shall we say, hyperbole, but the following is absolutely true.

Labor day Weekend 1984, The Anaheim Convention Center.

I am standing in line to buy an 8x10 picture of Shahna, Kirk’s green-haired trainer. Angelique Pettyjohn, the statuesque beauty who played her, is patiently signing the photos for all the glassy-eyed fan-boys in the surprisingly long line. I finally reach the front of the line and blurt out how I was excited to get her autograph (no doubt in fluent Nerdling, my native tongue). She smiled and asked me which picture I wanted. I looked down and was faced with photos of her as Shahna posing with her training weapon in full costume, or similarly armed but wearing nothing at all.

It would be hard to fully explain just how stunning this was to me (a nerd so thin and gawky that only my coke bottle glasses kept me from being blown away by every stray breeze and with no prospects for ever knowing the touch of a woman) in that year (an era not yet overwhelmed with easily downloadable porn and an array of pop stars who could double as strippers). I was literally struck dumb, but it was at that precise moment that I became a man. I squeaked out a "that one," hardly daring to meet her gaze. She smiled, said some nice words about fans, and signed the picture (I won't say which one).

Miss Pettyjohn passed away as a young woman, and by all accounts her life had ups and downs, but to this day she occupies the same hallowed space in my imagination that Princess Leia in her brass bikini occupies for so many others.

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

— Stardate 3211.7... except later, Spock said it was 3259.2. Gamma 2 and Triskelion.

— The three-pronged symbol of Triskelion looked like a three-legged swastika. A troystika. Having nothing to do with Counselor Troi. Or with an evil menage a trois.

— I assume the disembodied brains were wagering for the sake of wagering, because what could quatloos possibly be worth to them? No expensive houses or Italian cars, and caviar, champagne and Godiva chocolate wouldn't mean anything to a brain. At least they moved on to a much better game. Sort of like live action Sims.

— Spock and McCoy talked about transportees not surviving if they were disassembled atoms for an hour. That was interesting.

— The final fight scene included an Andorian competitor.

— It sounded like Leonard Nimoy had a cold.

— I have to mention that silver harness again. Every time I watch this episode, I expect her to pop out of that outfit.


McCoy: "Hope? I always thought that was a human failing, Mister Spock."
Spock: "True, Doctor. Constant exposure does result in a certain degree of contamination."

Kirk: "What's happening to Lieutenant Yuheera?"
I swear he said "Yuheera." Seriously, why didn't they loop that line? Yuheera?

Spock: "Doctor, I am chasing Captain Kirk, Lieutenant Uhura and Ensign Chekov, not some wild aquatic fowl."

Cheesy fun, but semi-embarrassing. Two out of four quatloos,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. This one is big favourite from childhood. Shahna and those eyes!? The way she looked at the stars at the end with tears of grief and hope... Watching now, of course, she reminds me too much of Lady Gaga but, as you said, we Kirk fans definitely got our money's worth in this episode. He was strong and sexy, just the way we like him :)

    I was disturbed by the assault on Uhura, though. I don't remember that scene from previously; maybe they edited it down for after-school re-runs.

    I am loving both your reviews, by the way.

  2. tinkapuss wrote: "I am loving both your reviews, by the way." And we're enjoying your comments. :)

  3. I really wasn't impressed with the attempted rape scene, especially when the rest of the episode was generic Sci-fi fare. It was an all-too-real moment in an otherwise hokie episode.

    Scottie and McCoy arguing with Spock was so obviously written in as some kind of fake conflict that didn't seem within their normal characterizations. (McCoy might argue with Spock just for the sake of argument, but Scottie refusing to take the ship faster and being uncooperative just doesn't mesh with what we've seen of him so far. He's always been shown to perform technological miracles under great stress and never questioned Spock's command back when he was making much worse decisions back in "Galileo Seven". He doesn't seem the type to question authority even in cases like this, and his first priority has always been the ship itself rather than the captain.) Spock for his part doesn't seem to care (no back and forth bantering or snarky asides about humans (or if there was it fell so flat I didnt notice it), he just looks tired/indifferent) and finally shuts them up by telling them that their complaining isn't doing anything for him and the only way they're turning back now is if they overthrow him. He didn't do anything wrong this time when in charge and even asked them several times what course of action they'd rather he'd be taking so their ganging up on him despite not having a clear alternative defined seemed really odd. This didn't really play out as the "Spock's callousness is upsetting the crew" scenario it was probably meant to be so much as a "we still don't trust/like Spock and are voicing our general frustration with him by giving him a hard time during a crisis" moment (which doesn't seem to be in Scottie's nature, even if he did interact with Spock enough to feel that way about the situation, he's always been a professional up 'til this point).

    Scottie was probably chosen to be McCoy Mk. 2 because he's a secondary character and stubborn, but it would have made more sense to have someone else in the role, who hadn't already been shown to be unphased under duress and to have no problem with Spock even when his decisions were killing off redshirts left and right and causing the rest of the crew to consider mutiny

    I was watching this episode with other people and someone said the exact same thing about Nimoy, that he sounded like he had a cold. I probably wouldn't have really noticed if she hadn't pointed it out, I sometimes mistake his voice for the computer's ("I thought the computer was a woman's voice, when did they change it?" "That's Spock on the intercom" "Oh"), at least not beyond a "he sounds kind of weird". Maybe he did and that's why dialogue that could have been banter-y came off as pure statements (he normally has this "I'm trying not to smile/laugh" vibe going in a lot of episodes but here he kind of looked "bleh" about everything). Good catch a casual viewer like myself might not have noticed. The germaphobe in me would so not want to be part of the bridge cast that recording session lol.

  4. I'm never a fan of sexual assault, attempted or no, and I agree that Uhura should have gotten similar treatment to the others for balance!

    I do love Angelique Littlejohn here and the story about the signing Ben. She was not only awesome here (in more ways than one), but she was also in the Batman series and Get Smart! That's quite the TV pedigree! That poster looks awesome too, in either version, yes I went and looked it up!

    I do love how the 3 brains are gambling addicts, a serious subject in real life, and I'd hazard a guess that was part of the 'lesson' here, but I also agree that it could have been presented better, to give the story more weight and oomph. But the 3 brains wagering and counter-wagering is something I recall well over these years.


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