Arena (Star Trek: The Original Series)
"Arena" is the eighteenth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek. Written by Gene L. Coon (based on a short story of the same name by Fredric Brown) and directed by Joseph Pevney; it was first broadcast on January 19, 1967.
|Star Trek: The Original Series episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||Joseph Pevney|
|Story by||Fredric Brown|
|Teleplay by||Gene L. Coon|
|Featured music||Alexander Courage|
|Cinematography by||Jerry Finnerman|
|Original air date||January 19, 1967|
|Running time||50 minutes (runtime)|
In the episode, while pursuing a Gorn vessel for an apparently unprovoked attack, Captain Kirk is forced by powerful entities to battle the opposing captain.
The USS Enterprise arrives at the Cestus III Outpost by invitation of its commanding officer, but the crew find the outpost obliterated. Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), First Officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), and a security force beam down to find one survivor (Tom Troupe) who says the base came under heavy bombardment from an unknown enemy. The landing party find themselves under fire from nearby, with two of the security team killed in the initial volley. The Enterprise is also under attack from an unknown vessel, preventing the crew from beaming up the landing party. On the surface, Kirk finds a grenade launcher from the outpost's stores, and uses it to scatter the alien forces. The alien ship recovers its crew from the surface and begins to retreat. The landing party is beamed back aboard the Enterprise before they give chase.
Both ships enter an unexplored sector of space, and shortly thereafter, lose all propulsion power. The Enterprise is contacted by a species calling themselves the Metrons (voiced by Vic Perrin), who zealously guard their sector of space from intrusion. They announce that they will pit the respective captains against each other in "trial by combat", a one-to-one battle to the death, with the ship of the losing captain to be destroyed and the other ship free to leave. Captain Kirk is suddenly transported to the surface of a rocky, barren planet along with the captain of the other ship, who is of a reptilian species known as the Gorn (voiced by Ted Cassidy). The Metrons speak to Kirk, explaining that while neither captain has communication with his ship, each has been given a vocal recording device that will translate their words to the opposing captain as well as transmit them to their ships. Kirk is told that the planet has numerous resources either captain can use to defeat the other. Aboard the Enterprise, the crew are allowed to watch Kirk's actions.
Kirk attempts to communicate with the Gorn, but receives no response. The Gorn tracks down Kirk, and Kirk realizes he is outmatched physically and relies on his agility to outrun the Gorn. Kirk gets caught in a rope trap set by the Gorn that injures his leg and slows him down. The Gorn finally communicates with Kirk via the translation device and offers to put him out of his misery. Kirk accuses the Gorns of being butchers, but the alien defends their attack on Cestus III, stating the outpost had been built in what the Gorns considered to be their territory. They viewed the Federation's presence in this part of space as an intrusion and a possible prelude to full-scale invasion.
Trying to stay ahead of the Gorn, Kirk discovers numerous valuable minerals and resources on the planet, seemingly useless at this point. He is inspired upon finding stalks of bamboo and raw chemicals that can be mixed into a black powder formula. He constructs a makeshift weapon, using chunks of diamond as ammunition. Kirk lies in wait for the Gorn and fires on him, severely wounding the alien. Kirk prepares to strike the Gorn to kill him, but realizes the Gorn's attack on Cestus III was likely only in self-defense, and allows the Gorn to live. Suddenly, the Gorn disappears, and a Metron (Carole Shelyne) appears to Kirk, congratulating him on not only winning the battle but showing the advanced trait of mercy for one's enemies. Kirk refuses to have the Metrons destroy the Gorn ship, leading the Metron to comment that "you are still half savage, but there is hope", and that the Federation should seek out the Metrons again in several thousand years time. Suddenly Kirk finds himself aboard the Enterprise, his injuries healed, and the crew finds the ship on the other side of the galaxy, 500 parsecs from Metron space, the Gorn ship nowhere in range.
According to an account by Herbert Solow in the book Inside Star Trek, The Real Story, the relation to Brown's short story may have been an unconscious inspiration. After Coon had written what he thought was an original script, Desilu's research department, headed by Kellam de Forest, noted the similarity. It was therefore agreed that Desilu's Business Affairs office would call Brown and offer a fair price for the story, before it was shot and broadcast. Brown agreed without knowing that the script had already been written; he was granted screen credit for the story.
The Gorn captain's vocalizations were provided by actor Ted Cassidy, who also appeared in person in the Star Trek episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" and provided the menacing voice of Balok in the episode "The Corbomite Maneuver". The Gorn was portrayed by stuntmen Bobby Clark and Gary Combs and by extra Bill Blackburn in close-ups.
William Shatner recalls standing too close to a stage prop explosion during the filming of the episode, causing tinnitus, which became chronic. Leonard Nimoy was also afflicted. Shatner has it in his left ear and Nimoy had it in his right ear.
"Arena" was the first episode of Star Trek to be broadcast in color in the UK (BBC, November 1969).
In a ranking in 2017 of the "25 greatest episodes" of all 'Star Trek', including later series, "Arena" was ranked as the 6th best. At that time there were about 726 episodes of Star Trek television.
- ""Star Trek" Arena (1967) - Full cast and crew". IMDb. n.d. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
- Solow, Herbert; Justman, Robert (June 1997). Inside Star Trek The Real Story. Simon & Schuster. pp. 206–207. ISBN 0-671-00974-5.
- Anthony Pascale (November 24, 2007). "Famous Location To Appear in New Star Trek Movie". TrekMovie.com. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
- Cushman, Marc (2013). These are the Voyages — TOS: Season One. With Susan Osborn. San Diego, California: Jacobs/Brown Press. pp. 402–404. ISBN 9780989238113. LCCN 2013940946.
- "William Shatner speaks about his tinnitus".
- on YouTube
- Handlen, Zack (March 13, 2009). ""The Squire Of Gothos" / "Arena"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
- Cooley, Patrick (September 24, 2017). "Before 'Discovery:' the best 25 'Star Trek' episodes of all time". cleveland.com. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
- "How to Binge Watch 726 Star Trek Episodes (and 12 Movies)". Tom's Guide. May 17, 2016. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
- Newsweek Special Edition On 1/2/16 at 9:09 AM (January 2, 2016). "Newsweek's top 10 episodes from the original Star Trek series". Newsweek. Retrieved March 27, 2019.