Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Arena (Star Trek)
"Arena" is an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. It is a first season episode, #19, first broadcast January 19 1967 and was written by Gene L. Coon, based on a story by Fredric Brown (but see below), and directed by Joseph Pevney .
Quick Overview: Captain Kirk fights in a bare-handed duel with an alien adversary.
On stardate 3045.6, the starship USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, arrives at the Cestus III Outpost, where Kirk is invited to a dinner engagement with Commodore Travers, a man renowned for his hospitality and friendship. Upon beaming down to the planet, the landing party, consisting of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and four crewmembers, finds the outpost nearly obliterated. A lone survivor, Commodore Travers himself, is located, and he tells them the outpost came under heavy attack, bombarded by an unknown enemy. Suddenly, the landing team comes under fire themselves, and one of Kirk's crewmen is killed.
Simultaneously in orbit, the Enterprise comes under attack by an alien warship of unknown origin. The Enterprise raises its shields which prevents the landing party from returning back. Kirk manages to locate the outpost's arsenal and retrieves a mortar which he uses to drive off the alien invaders.
The aliens also break off their orbital attack giving the Enterprise a moment to drops shields and beam Kirk and the survivors back to the ship. They soon give chase to the alien warship at Warp factor 8, leading them into an unexplored sector of space. Before Kirk is able to destroy the aliens, both the Enterprise and the alien craft are scanned and suddenly both ships are incapacitated.
The Enterprise is then contacted by forces who identify themselves as the Metrons, omnipotent beings who zealously guard themselves against the intrusion of "lesser" races. The Metrons force Kirk to a "trial by combat", a one-on-one duel with the captain of the alien vessel (identified as the reptilian Gorn). The purpose of the fight is to solve their dispute, and the loser of the match will be destroyed while the winner goes free.
Before he can even reply, Kirk and the Gorn captain are simultaneously teleported to an unknown desert planet somewhere nearby. The terrain of the planet is harsh and rugged, and the two are completely stranded without communication to their ships. The only thing Kirk and the Gorn are equipped with is a device which Kirk mistakenly believes is some kind of recorder. Kirk begins to chronicle his situation with the device, all along the device is sending the translated audio of Kirk's words to his Gorn adversary who learns not only where Kirk is, but what he's planning. The Gorn justifies his attack on the Federation outpost as a act of self defense against invaders.
The Gorn tracks Kirk down, makes hissing noises which alerts Kirk that his opponent is coming closer. Kirk manages to ambush the alien with a large boulder which he rolls down an embankment to crushing him. To Kirk's surprise, the alien pushes the heavy rock off himself and gets up unscathed. Kirk observes that the Gorn may be physically strong however it moves rather slowly. Kirk makes a run for it, but ends up caught in a rope trap set by the Gorn. He is able to make an escape, but he injures his leg in the process.
Meanwhile back on the Enterprise, Spock and the rest of the bridge crew get a camera view of the action via the bridge monitor. Unable to help their Captain, all they can do is watch and hope the Captain survives.
Kirk soon discovers that there are plenty of natural resources laying about to craft a weapon. He finds elements needed to make some gunpowder. Then he finds a bamboo-like plant and cuts a portion of the wood to form a makeshift gunbarrel. He also finds diamond-like shards of crystal to use for the projectile.
Kirk lies in wait for the Gorn and when he shows up, he points the weapon at him and fires, which quickly takes his menace down. Kirk decides against finishing off his enemy since the Gorn's claim of self defense could be legitimate.
With the duel over, the Gorn disappears and a white-robed Metron appears to "congratulate" Kirk not only for his victory, but also for displaying the advanced trait of mercy to his enemy. When Kirk turns down the offer to have the Gorn ship destroyed, the Metron is impressed enough to note, "You are still half savage, but there is hope".
Requesting that Kirk's people seek the Metrons out in a few thousand years, the entity returns the bewildered Captain back to the Enterprise which has been returned to a position near Cestus III.
Brown's story was actually not the basis for the episode. After Coon had written what he thought was an original script, Desilu's research department noted the similarity. A quick telephone call to Brown got him to agree to accept story credit.
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