SCORE: (3/5 stars)
Kirk, Uhura, and Chekov step on the transporter pad and vanish. What the hell, that’s never happened before! But seriously folks, I’ll be here all night. Tip your waitresses. Anyway, the transporter was never engaged, and the trio find themselves not on the planet they expected. They are informed that they are on the planet Triskelion, and they are to become thralls to fight for the entertainment of the Protectors, beings who provide all the needs for the thralls in exchange for watching them fight to the death, wagering quatloos (AKA space bucks) on each outcome. Each thrall is fitted with a shock collar to prevent disobedience. Kirk is given a rather sexy green-haired space babe named Shahna for a trainer, and while she trains him how to fight, he teaches her his incredibly hammy acting techniques, and this Earth thing that you call love. After Kirk finishes proving to the producers that his contractual shirtless scenes are starting to become a thing to regret with his weight gain, he stages an unsuccessful breakout and the three get the shock collar for their efforts.
With no clues on the Enterprise end as to where the three crew went, Spock is forced to work on hunches as to what happened to the three crew. McCoy, normally the go-to person for emotional hunches, can’t really stand it when Spock does it, maybe because he cares more about fighting with Spock than about who’s actually right at any given point, but their banter is above par for the usual episode. Still, I will bet 200 quatloos on Spock every time. Eventually, Spock and Scotty find a clue in an ionization trail that leads them a dozen light years away, fortunately right to Triskelion. Just then, the Providers lock the Enterprise systems so the ship is stuck, unable to do anything about the situation. One of the Providers and Kirk explain the situation to Spock.
Kirk is taken deep underground to where the Providers actually are and learns that they are nothing more than hyperintelligent brains, their evolution having long since shed their humanoid bodies. Kirk, meeting another highly advanced species, does what he always does and argues their inferiority to humanity. His usual pleas about morality and ethics are ignored, so he tries another approach: gambling. He bets that any Starfleet officer can take on one of the Providers’ thralls and win. The stakes? If Starfleet wins, all the thralls get freed and are taught to live self-governing lives, and if the Providers win, they get the whole crew of the Enterprise. They agree to the wager with one modification: it will be Kirk against three thralls, and the fight will be to the death, so if a thrall is merely injured, another one will step in for him. Kirk is able to kill two and wounds the last one, and Shahna steps in to fight him. Unwilling to kill her without having porked her at least once, Kirk holds her in a lock and she yields the battle. The Providers free the Enterprise and the thralls and promise to teach them how to survive on their own. Shahna wants to come with Kirk, but he tells her she’s got a better destiny: doing porn in the eighties. (No joke, look up her actress Angelique Pettyjohn.)
- Spock’s never heard of a study being done of survivability in a transporter matter stream, and considering his vast intellect, if there was one he’d have heard of it. Except that in one of the worst episodes of Enterprise season 4, the inventor of the transporter hijacked Enterprise to attempt to reconstitute his son, who was beamed out some years before. They got his pattern back, but he died as soon as he materialized.
- Kirk is supposed to remain on the yellow in the final battle but quite frequently steps into the blue and is never called on it.
- Scotty: Mister Spock, the Captain, Lieutenant Uhura, and Chekov. they vanished. They got onto the transporter platform and they just vanished.
Spock: I presume you mean they vanished in a manner not consistent with the usual workings of the transporter, Mister Scott.
Scotty: Aye, of course I mean that. You think I’d call if they just beamed down?
- McCoy: A negative attitude is no good to us. We can’t just leave them out there, wherever they are.
Spock: We shall continue sensor scans, Doctor. At the moment, that is all we can do, except hope for a rational explanation.
McCoy: Hope? I always thought that was a human failing, Mister Spock.
Spock: True, Doctor. Constant exposure does result in a certain degree of contamination.
- McCoy: You’re going to leave here without them and run off on some wild goose chase halfway across the galaxy just because you found a discrepancy in a hydrogen cloud?
Spock: Doctor, I am chasing the Captain, Lieutenant Uhura, and Ensign Chekov, not some wild aquatic fowl.
- Galt: It is not allowed to refuse a training exercise.
Uhura: I don’t care whether it’s allowed or not. I will not do it.
Kirk: None of us will do it, Galt.
Galt: It is part of your training. The Providers wish it.
Kirk: The devil with the Providers.
- Shahna: How can one live on a flicker of light?
Kirk: From Earth, Triskelion’s three suns are just a flicker of light.
- Spock: Doctor, I do not respond to hunches. No transporter malfunction was responsible for the disappearance. They were not within the Gamma system. A focused beam of extremely high-intensity light was directed into the Gamma system from the trinary system we are now approaching. No known natural phenomena could have caused that beam. Does that clarify the situation?
McCoy: No, it doesn’t. It’s still a fancy way of saying that you’re playing a hunch.
- [Kirk opens Chekov’s cell. Tamoon is bound and gagged.]
Chekov: This is going to kill our romance.
- McCoy: Well, Mister Spock, if you’re going into the lion’s den, you’ll need a medical officer.
Spock: Daniel, as I recall, had only his faith. But I welcome your company, Doctor.
- Kirk: Your terms are unfair.
Provider: On the contrary, they’re extremely fair, since your alternative is death.
Kirk: Well, in that case, I’ll accept your terms.