The Gamesters of Triskelion

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"The Gamesters of Triskelion"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 16
Directed by Gene Nelson
Written by Margaret Armen
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 046
Original air date January 5, 1968 (1968-01-05)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"The Gamesters of Triskelion" is a second-season episode of the original science fiction television series Star Trek, produced after John Meredyth Lucas had taken over for Gene L. Coon as the program's operating producer at the latter's request, first broadcast January 5, 1968 and repeated May 3, 1968. Catalogued as episode #45, production #46, it was written by Margaret Armen and directed by Gene Nelson. Gerald Perry "Jerry" Finnerman was the director of photography for the installment, and his cinematography protege, Al Francis, was chief camera operator.

In this episode, Captain Kirk and his companions are abducted into slavery and trained to fight as gladiators for the gambling entertainment of three disembodied beings.


On stardate 3211.7, the Federation starship Enterprise is on a routine inspection of an unmanned station at Gamma II. Captain James T. Kirk, Communications Officer Lt. Uhura and navigator Ensign Pavel Chekov step into the ship's transporter to beam down, but they vanish before the transporter can be activated. When the three reappear, all are flat on their backs in a fenced-in arena on an unknown planet. When they come to their feet, they find they are surrounded by four humanoids of various species who attack them. The officers attempt to fight back, but their phasers do not operate.

The humanoid combatants attack the Enterprise crew-members and pin them to the ground. A black-cloaked humanoid appears, ends the battle, and congratulates Kirk's party on their performance. The being identifies himself as Galt, Master Thrall of Triskelion, and states that he works for the "Providers," unseen masters who wager among themselves on the arena games. Galt informs the party that they will spend the rest of their lives as "thralls"-–gladiator styled combatants who fight for the Providers's entertainment. The crew members are fitted with metal collars (which deliver severe pain if they disobey instructions) and are then led to their holding cells.

Meanwhile the Enterprise scans for the abducted crew members. Sensors show no sign of them, and Commander Spock, as Executive Officer and Science Officer, orders the crew to conduct a search of all habitable planets in the system.

Back on Triskelion, Kirk and his team make plans for escape, but they find Galt's evil power unbreakable. Any attempt to disobey results in a painful punishment brought on by their collars, which they cannot remove. The three are then introduced to their drill thralls who will service them and prepare them for combat. Uhura's assignment is Lars (Steve Sandor), a handsome and somewhat arrogant bronze-skinned man who informs Uhura that she has been "selected" for him and tries to rape her. She struggles with him and he leaves her cell, reprimanding Uhura that she is not allowed to refuse the selection. Chekov is paired with Tamoon (Jane Ross), a bulky woman with tiger-like features and a deep voice, who is immediately attracted to him but who, as it proves, repulses him. Kirk meets his own thrall, Shahna (Angelique Pettyjohn), a beautiful and shy woman with green hair who is exotically dressed in a silver outfit. Shahna is tough with Kirk at first, but she seems to have growing compassion for the Captain.

Shahna explains that the drill thralls will train them and once they are ready for competition they will be "vended" to one of the Providers. When they are so vended, Galt informs Kirk's group that they now belong to Provider One, and failure or disobedience will not be tolerated.

During training, Kirk finds time alone with Shahna. He questions her about the Providers, but she is unwilling to answer. Kirk tries to soften Shahna up by telling her about the other planets he has visited and about the concepts of freedom. It seems to work, but when she responds, the Providers shock her with pain from her collar. Galt appears and orders them back to their cells, while Kirk explains that he should have been punished, not her.

Back on the Enterprise, Spock, Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy, and Chief Engineer Scott try to find their captain and missing shipmates. Over protests, Spock decides to follow a strange ion trail he suggests might have been produced by the transport beam that abducted the party. They follow the trail to the second planet of the nearby M-24 Alpha system and resume their scans there.

Back in Kirk's cell, Shahna expresses that she feels warmly about Kirk's earlier attempt at saving her, taking the blame for her punishment. Kirk takes advantage of her passionate embrace, catches her off guard, and knocks her unconscious. He then bolts from the cell and frees Chekov and Uhura. The three make a run for it but are stopped when Galt appears and activates their pain collars. "Only a reminder," one of the disembodied voices of the Providers tells them. "You Earth people are most stimulating."

The Enterprise enters orbit around Triskelion, and Spock locates life signs on the surface. Spock and McCoy attempt to beam down, but the Providers activate a power beam and take over the ship. Realizing his ship and crew are at stake, and that the Providers are "all-hearing and all-seeing," Kirk announces that he will make a wager that the Providers can not refuse. He is suddenly transported below ground to a chamber "1000 of your meters below the surface" filled with odd machinery. He finds a domed table in the center of the room; inside are three disembodied brains that glow from within.

The brains speak, identifying themselves as the Providers, ancient beings of pure intellect that pass their time gambling between one another, wagering sums of "quatloos" over the outcomes of the contests. They demand to hear Kirk's own wager. He tells the brains that he and his team can defeat the drill thralls. If Kirk's crew are victorious, the brains must free the Enterprise and let the team, including all thralls, go. The Providers must in turn end their death games and use their knowledge to teach the thralls how to start a free society. If Kirk loses, he promises a lifetime of entertainment in further competitions with the entire ship's crew.

The Providers express their desire to see Kirk dead, since he has been so troublesome, and they delightedly accept the bet—but only if Kirk takes on the thralls, alone. With no choice, Kirk agrees, and the brains send him back to the arena. The combat begins, with the Enterprise crew watching the battle on the bridge viewscreen. Kirk manages to kill two of the thralls and injure a third, but the Providers replace the injured warrior with Shahna. Kirk is tired but manages to overpower her, and she then surrenders. The Providers reluctantly accept the outcome, revealing themselves to have morals after all, and allow Kirk and the others to go free.

Kirk lingers behind for a final kiss from Shahna and explains to her that there will be no more games, and the Providers will help them start a free civilization.

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