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Arena - Recap

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The Enterprise is invited to the colony planet of Cestus III by its commander, Commodore Travers. He invites down Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the ship's three tactical officers for dinner. Upon entering orbit, they make audio contact with Travers who makes sure Kirk is bring his tactical aide with them. They beam down… and find themselves in the middle of a devastated colony.


I, for one, could use a good nonreconstituted meal.
Doctor, you are a sensualist.
You bet your pointed ears I am.


Assuming the message was faked, Kirk sends two of the tactical aides out while Spock locates a wounded man. They find the man unconscious and McCoy attempts to stabilize him. Spock picks up a reptilian life form on his tricorder and Kirk sends the remaining aide, O'Herlihy, to investigate. O'Herlihy sees something… and then is disintegrated by an energy attack. The enemy opens fire with rocket launches and the landing party takes cover. They're unable to beam up as the invaders' spaceship has opened fire on the Enterprise, forcing it to maintain shields. They take refuge in a building but are pinned down by enemy fire. Kirk dodges explosions and runs for the armory. Spock and the surviving aide, Kelowitz, join him. Spock attempts to scan the enemy but they overload his tricorder and he throws it away just before it explodes. Kirk uses a grenade launcher to fire at the enemy troops as they move to higher ground. They beam up to their ship, which departs at high speed. Kirk orders Sulu to beam them up and begin a pursuit.


Captain, I see something...


As the enemy ship stays ahead of them, Kirk interrogates the Cestus III survivor, who tells them that the enemy ship arrived and immediately opened fire without making contact or accepting offers of surrender. The captain assumes the enemy deliberately tried to lure the Enterprise, the only starship in the area, so that it could open a path to a full-scale invasion. Spock is reluctant to make that assumption without proof but Kirk stands by his theory and insists that they must destroy the enemy ship before it reaches its home base and makes its report. He orders the ship to maximum warp to intercept the enemy vessel as it passes through an uncharted sector of space.


The destruction of the alien vessel will not help that colony, Jim.
If the aliens go unpunished, they'll be back, attacking other Federation installations.
I merely suggested that a regard for sentient…
There's no time for that.


As they near the enemy ship, someone from a seemingly uninhabited solar system up ahead scans both ships. The enemy ships starts to decelerate and the Enterprise moves in, only to lose power as well. A glowing screen appears on the view screen and a voice identifies its race as the Metrons. They refuse to let the two races, the humans and the "Gorn," carry out their violence in their space so they announce they plan to pit the two captains against each other in hand-to-hand conflict on a planetoid designed to support both life forms. They note that there are sufficient elements present for both side to make effective weaponry, and that the winner can leave while the loser will be destroyed.


The winner of the contest will be permitted to go his way unharmed. The loser, along with his ship,
shall be destroyed in the interests of peace. The contest will be one of ingenuity against ingenuity,
brute strength against brute strength. The results will be final.


Kirk disappears… and finds himself on the planetoid, facing a Gorn: a humanoid lizard creature. Both captains have been equipped with a belt holding a translation/recording device. The Gorn captain comes after Kirk but is noticeably slower and more awkward. However, when Kirk closes to attack it manages to grab him in a bear hug and proceeds to crush him. Kirk hits its pinhole ears and forces it to release its grip. He grabs a rock and throws it at the Gorn, but it simply bounce off. The Gorn responds by picking up a massive boulder and throwing it, just missing.


Like most humans, I seem to have an instinctive revulsion to reptiles. I must fight to remember that
this is an intelligent, highly advanced individual, the captain of a starship, like myself,
undoubtedly a dangerously clever opponent.


Escaping, Kirk records his captain's log on the Metron device… unaware that his opponent can hear what he's saying. The Gorn then creates a deadfall with boulders and vines while Kirk scouts the surrounding area. He discovers diamond deposits but nothing that could be used as a weapon. Spotting the Gorn below, Kirk climbs a peak and rolls a huge boulder down on his opponent. He goes to confirm the kill, but the Gorn, seemingly unharmed, gets to its feet. Kirk runs off... directly into the deadfall. The Gorn moves in and prepares to kill Kirk with an improvised obsidian knife, but Kirk manages to slip free when the Gorn moves the boulder aside.


A large deposit of diamonds on the surface--perhaps the hardest substance known in the universe,
beautifully crystallized and pointed, but too small to be useful as a weapon. An incredible fortune in stones,
yet I would trade them all for a hand phaser, or a good solid club.


While Spock tries to contact the Metrons, Kirk limps away, his leg injured in the rock fall. He notes a deposit of a yellow sulfur-like substance and starts to remember something about sulfur. Meanwhile, the Metrons contact the Enterprise and note that they should make memorial arrangements as their representative appears to be losing. They show the crew the battle on the ship's view screen, and Spock notices Kirk pass a deposit of potassium nitrate. Kirk also notices it and starts to realize it is connected with the sulfur. The Gorn contacts Kirk over the translating device and suggests he surrender so it can make a quick painless kill. When Kirk notes it's been less than merciful so far, the Gorn claims that they believed the Federation colony was an invasion and destroyed it to protect themselves.


You were intruding!
You established an outpost in our space.
You butchered helpless human beings…
We destroyed invaders, as I shall destroy you!


Starting to put the pieces together, Kirk takes a tube of hardened bamboo and then collects the sulfur, potassium nitrate, and diamonds as well as coal. Spock, watching on the view screen, explains to the bridge crew that using the chemicals for gunpowder and the diamonds as shot, Kirk can create a makeshift cannon. Kirk assembles the chemicals in the correct proportions and loads the cannon, just as the Gorn finds him. It closes in on him, and Kirk fires the cannon bringing it down. Badly wounded, Kirk prepares to kill it with its own knife but then throws away the weapon and says he won't kill for the Metrons' amusement. The Gorn disappears and a youthful figure appears on the rock above. It introduces itself as a Metron and is surprised at the captain's mercy. It allows that the human race might be worthy of existence and offers to kill the Gorn, but Kirk turns down his offer and notes that humans and Gorn can try to make some form of truce. The Metron congratulates him on his civilized manner and says that in a thousand years or so, the Metron, might consider the human race advanced enough to meet with.


Very good, Captain. There is hope for you. Perhaps in several thousand years, your people and mine
shall meet to reach an agreement. You are still half savage, but there is hope.


The Metrons restore Kirk's injuries and send him back to the Enterprise, then teleport the ship 500 parsecs away. As they head back to Cestus III, Spock admits that their view was cut off after Kirk fired his cannon. Kirk notes that he has it on good authority that despite the fact humans are predators, they have a promising future.


We're a most promising species, Mr. Spock, as predators go. Did you know that?
I've frequently had my doubts.



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Warning: Star Trek season 1 episode 18 guide may contain spoilers
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