A Piece of the Action (Star Trek: The Original Series)

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"A Piece of the Action"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 17
Directed by James Komack
Teleplay by David P. Harmon
Gene L. Coon
Story by David P. Harmon
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 049
Original air date January 12, 1968 (1968-01-12)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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"The Immunity Syndrome"
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"A Piece of the Action" is a second-season episode of the original science fiction television series Star Trek first broadcast on January 12, 1968; its repeat on August 30, 1968, was the last episode to air in the 8:30 pm time slot on Friday nights. It is episode #46, production #49, written by David P. Harmon and Gene L. Coon, and directed by James Komack.

In this comedic episode, the Enterprise visits a planet with an Earth-like 1920s gangster culture, with Runyonesque dialog and costumes.


The Federation starship USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, is exploring space near Sigma Iotia II, where the space vessel Horizon was reported missing nearly 100 years earlier. Upon reaching orbit, the ship receives a message from a man named Bela Oxmyx, who promises information about the missing ship and invites the command crew down for a welcoming party.

First Officer Spock and Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy are hesitant about interfering with the inhabitants, who are reported to be a pre-nuclear industrialized culture. Kirk points out that any cultural contamination would have started with the Horizon '​s visit, since the Prime Directive had not yet been established at that time.

The three beam down in the middle of a busy city street, in what appears to be the USA's 1920s era. Most of the people around them are visibly armed with Tommy guns. Two men hold the party at gunpoint and order them to remove their weapons and communicators. The men take them to Oxmyx, but as they walk, a car drives by and opens fire, killing one of their escort. The other thug, Kalo, fires back as the car drives off, and then orders the landing party to continue as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

When the group arrives at Oxmyx's office, Kalo informs him of the drive-by shooting. Oxmyx orders his men to make a retaliatory hit on the rival gangster, Jojo Krako. Spock finds an obviously Terran book, entitled Chicago Mobs of the Twenties, presumably left behind by the crew of the Horizon. This book is now viewed as a holy relic by the Iotians, who have built an entire culture around what they refer to as "The Book"—similar to the "cargo cults" of Earth's 20th century.

Oxmyx demands that Kirk supply him with their phasers, which he refers to as "heaters". Kirk refuses, so Oxmyx threatens to kill them in eight hours if Kirk does not "come clean with the goods". The landing team is led away and Oxmyx picks up a communicator and tells a confused Chief Engineer Scott (temporarily in command of the ship) what will happen to the captain if he does not comply.

Meanwhile, Kirk butts in on a game of poker that Oxmyx's guard-thugs are playing. He introduces them to a fictitious (and extremely confusing) card game, "Fizzbin", in order to distract the gangsters so he and Spock can overcome them and escape.

Kirk orders Spock and McCoy to go to the local radio station and try to contact the Enterprise while he goes after Oxmyx. Spock and McCoy succeed, and are beamed up to the Enterprise but Kirk is captured by Jojo Krako's men. Krako offers Kirk the same deal as Oxmyx: phasers in exchange for a "third of the action". Kirk tries to offer a peaceful solution; Krako rejects it out of hand, and has Kirk locked up under threat of imminent death hoping he'll change his mind.

Spock and McCoy, aboard the Enterprise, are trying to work out a solution to the problems caused by "The Book", when Oxmyx contacts them and informs them of Kirk's abduction. He offers to help rescue Kirk, and seeing no alternative, Spock agrees. He and McCoy return to the planet only to be captured again by Oxmyx. Kirk has managed to escape on his own and heads back to Oxmyx's office, where he surprises the guards and subdues them, obtaining their weapons and their clothes. Kirk and Spock then disguise themselves as gangsters and head back to Krako's in a 1930 Cadillac V12 (incorrectly called a "Flivver" by Spock) which Kirk attempts to drive, but can't get the hang of manual shifting of a 1930s automobile.

They ask a newspaper boy to arrange for them to enter Krako's headquarters bloodlessly, promising him "a piece of the action". They successfully enter, and hold the rival gangster and his men at gunpoint. Kirk announces that the Federation is taking over the whole planet. If Krako helps, they will cut him in on a percentage of the action. Kirk informs him that they want one man to lead the Iotian people, with the Federation "pulling the strings". Krako reluctantly agrees. They then "put the bag" on Krako by having Mr. Scott beam him up to the ship for safekeeping.

Kirk and Spock then make the same demands of Oxmyx. He agrees, even helping to round up all the gang bosses to his office by calling each one on the telephone. (The Enterprise uses the phone line to obtain transport coordinates and beam them to Oxmyx's office as they answer.) Kirk tells them all that they are going to combine in a single operation with the Federation taking a 40% cut.

Krako's men then attack the building and Krako (having been beamed back from the Enterprise, for the bosses meeting) uses the confusion to gain the upper hand on Kirk, planning to be the "top man" himself now. But Kirk orders the Enterprise to use the ship's phasers to stun the men outside. Witnessing this show of force, the mob bosses realize they are at Kirk's mercy. With their full attention, Kirk arranges for Oxmyx to be the "top boss" with Krako as his "lieutenant." He says that the Federation will stop by once every year to collect their cut.

After returning to the Enterprise, Spock is curious to know how Kirk plans to explain to Starfleet why a ship will need to be sent to Sigma Iotia II every year to collect the Federation's "cut". Kirk explains that the money, while nominally due to the Federation, will actually go into a trust fund to finance the necessary projects to reorient the planet's culture to a civil society. McCoy admits that he has forgotten his communicator down in Oxmyx's office. Kirk notes that many of the basic principles of the Federation's technology can be determined by analyzing a communicator. The Iotians have already demonstrated that they are highly skilled at imitation and innovation, and it may only be a matter of time until they use the communicator to figure out how to duplicate the Federation's technology on their own — and then they may want a "piece of our action".

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