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Star Trek TOS - Season 2 - Episode 16

Star Trek TOS - 2x16 - The Gamesters of Triskelion

Originally Aired: 1968-1-5

Synopsis:
Three disembodied beings wager on fights staged by prisoners abducted from around the galaxy. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 3

Fan Rating Average - 3.67

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 32 22 50 18 9 14 25 23 5 8 8

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- Pretty lame episode with no significant long term continuity.

Problems
- At one point, Spock says that the landing party is "not within the confines of this solar system." This is a common error. The term they were looking for is planetary system. The planetary system we live in is called the Solar System because our star is named Sol. As such, the term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term.
- During the three against one fight, Kirk puts his entire foot on the opposing color several times with no penalty! I guess the slavers weren't quite as perceptive as they claimed.

Factoids
- The first draft of this episode featured Sulu instead of Chekov as part of the landing party. However, because George Takei was busy shooting his role in The Green Berets at the time this episode was being filmed, he could not return to the set of Star Trek to appear in this episode at all.

Remarkable Scenes
- McCoy badgering Spock during their search for the landing party.
- Kirk as target practice.
- The providers wagering on the newcomers.
- Shahna: "How can one live on a flicker of light?"
- Kirk: "A species that enslaves other beings is hardly superior, mentally or otherwise."
- Kirk's battle three against one.

My Review
A rehash of Arena. Once again the Enterprise's fate is decided by an unfair fight that Kirk must win for the crew to survive, complete with the plot once again contriving a way for the bridge crew to witness the fight on the viewscreen. The story is mildly entertaining, but the plot logic is deficient in a couple of ways. For starters, it's never quite explained why the glowing brain aliens chose to abduct the Enterprise's landing party in the first place. What was their selection process for procuring new fighting stock? Was the Enterprise in the wrong place at the wrong time or were they targeted?

Also, why were the slavers so willing to relinquish their slaves based on the results of a single, simple bet? They had all the power and were by no means obligated the honor their word. You'd think that this twisted trio of torturers would think nothing of adding a bit of dishonesty to their status quo of violent enslavement, but apparently to them breaking a promise is even more immoral than kidnapping people and forcing them to fight as gladiators.

Aside from that, I much enjoyed Kirk's slow, willful exploitation of Shahna's feelings as means to an end for his freedom. And while I could have done without Spock making yet another biblical reference (this time to Daniel in the lion's den), McCoy and Scotty bickering with Spock during their search for the landing party was perhaps the best material of the episode; a welcome reprieve from the awkwardness of the aliens of the week. A better episode would have given us better fleshed out antagonists instead of glowing brains in a box with zombie minions.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From rhea on 2008-04-27 at 3:40pm:
    The main plot was extremely horrible, I agree. I did like the subplot (Spock in command), though. Granted, McCoy (ad Scotty) with their tendencies to disregard Spock’s authority can be annoying, but here Spock solves the problem quite well without telling the two of them off too harshly in front of the bridge crew.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2010-05-25 at 12:11am:
    I just watched the Blu-Ray version, and was impressed by how the trinary system looks in the updated graphics. As for the story, I kind've don't like it when Kirk manipulates woman to get free of his circumstance. This episode is the best example of it; one minute he's praising her beauty, the next minute he's slapping her!

    On another note, why do the three talking brains need money? Do they get to spend it? Do they have a virtual Wal-Mart?
  • From Strider on 2012-06-06 at 9:59am:
    What I'm getting tired of are all these omnipotent alien races that only let the Enterprise go because they see something noble in Kirk et al, or because Kirk has accomplished something arbitrary. These dudes are still out there and could apparently take over the universe if they wanted to.

    And I don't mind McCoy and Scotty disagreeing with Spock, but I don't think they should be doing it in front of the bridge crew. It's just not good military discipline.
  • From warpfactor 10.1 on 2012-08-08 at 7:25pm:
    This may well be my favourite episode. If I were an alien being of superior intelligence this is exactly how I would behave. It's a shame that in later series the idea of abducting species from around the galaxy to pit them against one another seems to have gone out of fashion. I was confused a bit though as to why they had to stay on the Nat West sign when they were fighting. What would have happened if they hadn't? I assume that Nat West was a major sponsor of the events, hence their symbol being used, but having evidence of the behaviour of the banks in Earth's early twenty first century I'm surprised that the providers had anything to do with them.
    These are minor points however and could no doubt be explained logically enough. I do like to see alien species fighting and although it's true that Kirk treats Shahna shamefully, when did he ever do any different with women/female aliens?
  • From Harrison on 2012-09-04 at 7:47pm:
    Ok, the plot is filled with flaws, and it's a struggle to suspend disbelief. But Star Trek aesthetics owe a great deal to this episode. Some of the best martial choreography of any episode, and even today you'd be hard pressed to find a single 14-year old boy who doesn't respond in a very basic, visceral way to that green-haired babe in the shiny bikini wielding that heavy pike ...
  • From jd_juggler on 2015-03-24 at 5:34pm:
    I'm used to implausible plot lines by now; it is a given that in EVERY episode several things do not make sense. But this is not a "skippable" episode. Angelique Pettyjohn is among the most memorable of female guest stars; she couldn't act to save her life, but she is still quite watchable. Not understanding Kirk when he says he wants to help, followed by kissing her, she supposed that the kiss is a kind of "help". The she says "please, help me again" - that may well have been the sexiest thing ever said in the entire series!

    Some hilarious moments between checkov and his thrall, who I would have sworn was a female impersonator.

    Not that it makes the episode better, but in this episode,
    Uhura is apparently raped.
  • From Chris on 2018-01-20 at 8:53pm:
    I think that Uhura fought off her attacker, when he bitterly says, "It's not allowed to refuse selection!"

    Did anyone notice the re-use of the comical Jetsons plexiglass canopy from The Alternative Factor?

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