"The Gamesters of Triskelion" is a second season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, first broadcast January 5, 1968 and repeated May 3, 1968. It is episode #45, production #46, written by Margaret Armen, and directed by Gene Nelson.
On stardate 3211.7, the Enterprise is on a routine inspection of an unmanned station at Gamma II. Captain Kirk, Lt. Uhura and Mr. Chekov step into the ship's transporter to beam down, but they vanish before the transporter can be activated. The three appear 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 are useless.
The humanoid combatants attack the Enterprise crewmembers and pin them to the ground. Then a black-cloaked man appears, ends the battle and congratulates Kirk's party on their performance. The being identifies himself as Galt, Master Thrall of Triskelion, and 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 gladiators, having been chosen to fight for the Providers' entertainment. The crewmembers 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 crewmembers. Sensors show no sign of them and the crew begins a search of all habitable planets in the system.
Back on Triskelion, Kirk and his team make plans for escape, but find Galt's power unbreakable. Any attempt to disobey results in a painful punishment brought on by their collars, which cannot be removed. The three are then introduced to their drill thralls who will service them and prepare them for gladiatorial combat. Chekov is paired with Tamoon, an androgynous being with tiger-like features and a deep voice, who is immediately attracted to him. Uhura's assignment is Lars, a handsome and somewhat arrogant bronze-skinned man, and Kirk meets his own thrall, Shahna, a beautiful and shy woman with green hair who is exotically dressed in a silver outfit. Shahna is tough with Kirk at first but 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. 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 she is shocked 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 Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and Mr. Scott try to find their Captain and missing crew. 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 nearby M-24 Alpha system and resume their scans.
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," as one of the disembodied voices of the Providers tell them. "You Earth people are most stimulating."
The Enterprise enters orbit around Triskelion, and Spock locates the missing team on the surface. Spock and McCoy attempt to beam down, but the ship is taken over by a power beam activated by the Providers. 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 meters below the earth" 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 Shahna, who then surrenders. The Providers accept the outcome 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.
Production notes 
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This episode is notable for its absence of Sulu. Actor George Takei was away filming The Green Berets with actor John Wayne, and due to scheduling constraints Wayne was unable to temporarily release Takei for the three days it would have required to film his scenes for this episode. Takei has stated repeatedly in interviews and at conventions that this was the only regret he had about his participation in the film, as after reading the script for the episode he knew this would have been his moment in the spotlight. The scenes for Sulu were switched to Chekov.
40th Anniversary remastering 
This episode was remastered in 2006 and aired October 20, 2007 as part of the remastered Original Series. It was preceded a week earlier by the remastered version of "Dagger of the Mind" and followed two weeks later by the remastered version of "Metamorphosis". Aside from remastered video and audio, and the all-CGI animation of the USS Enterprise that is standard among the revisions, specific changes to this episode also include:
- The planets Gamma II and Triskelion have been given new appearances. Gamma II appears covered with craters and has been given rings, and Triskelion has been given a dark gray appearance with large lakes on the surface.
References in popular culture 
- ^ Get your Trek on, Seattle Times, September 7, 2006
- ^ US feds subpoena names of anonymous web commenters, The Register, 17th June 2009
External links 
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: The Gamesters of Triskelion
September 22, 2010
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