Arena

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Arena
TOS, Episode 1x19
Production number: 6149-19
First aired: 19 January 1967
20th of 80 produced in TOS
18th of 80 released in TOS
18th of 726 released in all
Teleplay By
Gene L. Coon

Story By
Fredric Brown

Directed By
Joseph Pevney
3045.6 (2267)
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Kirk battles an alien captain who destroyed a Federation outpost.

Contents

[edit] Summary

Captain Kirk and a landing partySpock, Dr. McCoy, O'Herlihy, Kelowitz and Lang – beam down to the Earth observation outpost on Cestus III at the invitation of its commander, Commodore Travers. Arriving, they discover the invitation a ruse and the colony destroyed.

As Spock discovers other lifeforms, the landing party comes under attack. O'Herlihy dies almost immediately, disintegrated, and then the shelling begins.

At the same time, the Enterprise comes under attack in orbit by an unidentified starship. With her screens up, the Enterprise cannot beam up the landing party.

Kirk finally breaks the siege by returning fire with a grenade launcher (resembling a mortar) that fortuitously survived the initial bombardment. The aliens, perhaps afraid of stiffer resistance, decamp to their own ship. Kirk and the surviving members of the landing party are able to return to the Enterprise.

Kirk concludes that the ruse luring him to Cestus III was a trap – an attempt to destroy the Enterprise, the only protection in that part of the Federation. Such a move, a prelude to invasion, suggests the correct course: overtake and destroy the enemy, before he can return to his home base and report.

Kirk orders hot pursuit. Spock argues against destroying the enemy vessel, on the basis of respect for sentient life. Kirk disagrees; his opinion is that a crime has been committed, and the perpetrators must be punished.

Closing at warp 8, the Enterprise records a scanning beam from an uncharted solar system at 2466 PM. The alien is not approaching this system; it appears that a third party is "curious" about the Enterprise.

The alien abruptly begins to slow, going quickly to sublight speed. Kirk closes for the kill, and then... the Enterprise begins to slow, and is quickly stopped – just like the alien.

The architects of this reveal themselves: the Metrons, an advanced race who regard intrusion into their space for the purpose of conflict as unacceptable. They remove Kirk from the Enterprise, and the Gorn captain from his vessel, and deposit both of them on a suitably-prepared world. There, they will settle their differences, using strength and ingenuity.

The Gorn captain is reptilian, large, and very strong – but quite slow. Kirk is able to evade him initially, but knows he can't evade him indefinitely. He'll have to find a way to defeat an opponent who is far stronger and tougher.

The key may lie in a comment the Metron made, that the prepared environment contains elements suitable for fabricating weapons. Attack and evasion continue for some time, with Kirk narrowly evading death at the Gorn's claws.

The Gorn finally communicates: it proposes that Kirk cease trying to evade him, and promises in exchange to be merciful and quick. Kirk compares this offer to the "mercy" shown at Cestus III; this enrages the Gorn, who tells Kirk his people regard Cestus III as part of their space. From the Gorn perspective, they were repelling an invading force.

Kirk fires his makeshift cannon
Kirk fires his makeshift cannon

The conflict continues, with each individual attacking the other. Finally, Kirk remembers an old, old formula: gunpowder.

Using sulfur, coal, potassium nitrate, diamonds, and a bamboo-like plant, Kirk constructs a crude cannon. Moments from a fatal attack, Kirk touches off his crude device, incapacitating the Gorn.

Kirk has won the contest, but stops short of delivering the fatal stroke. He yells out loud to the unseen Metrons that he won't kill the Gorn.

The Metron appears, and expresses surprise: their analysis did not prepare them for Kirk's demonstration of mercy towards his helpless opponent.

Although Humanity is still half-savage, perhaps in several thousand years it will be civilized enough to be of interest to the Metrons. The Metron returns both participants to their ships, and the Enterprise is transported five hundred parsecs away from its previous location.

[edit] Log Entries

  • "Captain’s log, stardate 3045.6. The Enterprise has responded to a call from Earth observation outpost on Cestus III. On landing, we have discovered that the outpost has been destroyed."
  • "Captain’s log, supplement. We have beamed back to the Enterprise and immediately set out in pursuit of the alien vessel. It appears to be headed towards a largely unexplored section of the galaxy."
  • "Captain’s log, stardate 3046.2. We are in hot pursuit of the alien vessel which destroyed the Earth outpost on Cestus III."
  • "The Enterprise is dead in space, stopped cold during her pursuit of an alien raider by mysterious forces… and I have been somehow whisked off the bridge and placed on the surface of an asteroid, facing the captain of the alien ship. Weaponless, I face the creature the Metrons called a Gorn. Large, reptilian, 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."
  • "This is Captain James Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. Whoever finds this, please get it to Starfleet Command. I'm engaged in personal combat with a creature apparently called a Gorn. He's immensely strong. Already, he has withstood attacks from me that would have killed a Human being. Fortunately, though strong, he is not agile. The agility and I hope the cleverness, is mine."
  • "The Metrons, the creatures that sent us both here, said that the surface of the planet provides the raw material... to construct weapons. There's very little here – scrub brush, rocks, an abundance of mineral deposits, but no weapons in the conventional sense. Still, I need to find one, bare-handed against the Gorn, I have no chance."
  • "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. Yet, the Metrons said there would be weapons... if I could find them. Where? What kind?"
  • "This may be my last entry. I am almost exhausted. Unless I find the weapon the Metron mentioned, I have very little time left. Native sulfur, diamonds... This place is a mineralogist's dream! Yet... there is something about sulfur... something very old. Something... if only I could remember."

[edit] Memorable Quotes

"Perhaps... in several thousand years... your people, and mine, shall meet to reach an agreement. You are still half savage... but there is hope."

- Metron


(To the Gorn) "No... no, I won't kill you. Maybe you thought you were protecting yourself... when you attacked the outpost."
(To the Metrons) "No, I won't kill him – do you hear? You'll have to get your entertainment someplace else!"

- Kirk


"Yes... Good, good... He knows, Doctor – he has reasoned it out!"

- Spock, on Kirk's attempts to make a crude cannon


"Can he do it?"
"If he has the time, doctor. If he has the time."

- McCoy and Spock, discussing Kirk's chances of firing off the cannon.


"I weary of the chase. Wait for me. I shall be merciful, and quick."

- The Gorn, attempting to persuade Kirk to surrender


"Captain, let us be reasonable. You have lost! Admit it to yourself! Stop running."

- Gorn, his final appeal to Kirk


"We appeal to you in the name of civilization! Put a stop to this!"

- McCoy, in a desperate but futile attempt to end the personal combat


"We are the Metrons."

- The Metrons, their inimitable but perfunctory greeting


"Now, you're the one that's always talking about logic. What about some logic now? Where's the captain, Mr. Spock?"

- McCoy, accusing Spock of doing nothing to find Kirk

[edit] Behind the Scenes

  • This teleplay was credited to an original story by Fredric Brown, also titled "Arena", that was first published in 1944 in the pages of Astounding magazine, though insiders have said that Gene L. Coon wrote his script as an original, unaware of Brown's story, and only sought permission to "adapt" the story after the slight similarities were pointed out to him. The Outer Limits did a story similar to "Arena" that might have also had its genesis in Brown's story, an episode entitled "Fun and Games."
  • In his final speech, the Metron informs Kirk that, because he demonstrated mercy, he will not be destroyed. Initially, they said they planned to destroy the loser, "in the interests of peace". In Coon's script, in dialogue not aired, the Metron admits that they had, all along, planned to actually destroy the ship of the winner of the personal combat, because that race would represent the greater danger to them. James Blish preserves this disclosure in his novelization in Star Trek 2.
  • The name "Metron" is apparently a reference to an angel in Judaism named Metatron, which means "instrument of change" in Greek. The name of the planet, Cestus III, refers to gladiatorial combat. A cestus is a type of boxing glove, consisting of strips of iron wrapped in leather, which gladiators wore in the arena.
  • The scenes on the planet surface were filmed at Vasquez Rocks, California, the same location used for "Shore Leave", "Friday's Child" and several other Star Trek productions. The area of Kirk's fight with the Gorn, in front of a jagged rock face known to fans as "Gorn Rock", was also seen in the film Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. The two main characters in that film also visited Vasquez Rocks, California. Furthermore, the diner in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is called the "Arena Diner", named after this episode since that particular scene in the film was also filmed in Vasquez Rocks. In the 1998 movie Free Enterprise, two of the characters goof around there in Trek-style costumes.
  • The History Channel show, How William Shatner Changed the World saw Shatner return to Vasquez Rocks in a sports car and revisit some of the very rocks where he battled the Gorn.
  • The fort set (Cestus III), retouched here with science-fiction trappings and location signs, can be seen in several early episodes of The Wild, Wild West, most prominently in the episode "The Night of the Sudden Plague." It also is an important part of the coincidentally-titled "Mission: Impossible" episode, "Trek." This set was directly adjacent to Vasquez Rocks. Eddie Paskey's website attests that it was originally constructed for the film Beau Geste. According to Jerry L. Schneider's "Vasquez Rocks" web page on Movie Making Locations, the fort was built in the mid 1950s for the television show "Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers" from Screen Gems, a Columbia Pictures subsidiary, erected at a cost of US$117,843.17. The set was torn down several years after "Arena", but the large vacant footprint it left behind can still be seen at Vasquez Rocks State Park today.
  • A piece of crinkled "stone" wall from the prop department was matted in to hide a view of Vasquez Rocks that would have otherwise been seen in one very wide shot of the fort, since the Rocks were the setting for Kirk's coming battle on the asteroid.
  • An identical translating device is seen later in "Metamorphosis". It seems logical that the Federation used the Metron technology to design their own, or at least one based on it.
  • Wah Chang designed and built the Gorn suit; the costume it wore was designed by William Ware Theiss.
  • Kirk dumps all of the materials for his primitive "cannon", including powders of potassium nitrate and sulfur, into his bamboo tube, but is somehow able to separate them out into neat piles when he's assembling the weapon.
  • Cestus III was a globe of the Earth, printed backwards and tinted a hazy orange.
  • In what might have been a nod by casting director Joe D'Agosta and writer Gene L. Coon, Vic Perrin's dialogue as the Metron has a few phrases that are quite similar to his "Control Voice" narration on The Outer Limits.
  • The phaser control room reports that aft phasers are ready. This is the first time we are given evidence in dialogue that the Enterprise (and the Constitution-class ships in general) have aft weaponry.
  • Harold, the outpost's only survivor, wears the recycled uniform worn by Commander Hansen in "Balance of Terror".
  • The Enterprise's three double phaser bursts, which Sulu says constituted a full discharge of phaser banks, fire from an unusual location in this episode – not from near the glowing dome at the bottom of the saucer, but from much higher up, closer to where Matt Jefferies originally located the main phaser banks in his early diagrams of the ship, which appeared as display diagrams in other episodes and also on the sides of the early AMT Star Trek model kits.
  • Phasers prove ineffective against the Gorn ship, so Kirk gives the order to arm the photon torpedoes, marking the first naming of that weapon in the series. Sulu says they get off a full discharging of photon torpedo "banks" in this episode, which constitutes only two shots, and they are red globular discharges that fire from the glowing dome under the saucer.
  • In a few explosion scenes, strange shadows can be seen between the blasts and the camera. It is possible that there were shields placed in front of the camera to protect it from the explosives and these were pulled away immediately afterward by the crew.
  • A close examination of William Shatner's costume during the asteroid scenes in this episode reveals he is wearing flat-soled, laced boots rather than the regular leather versions worn by the cast. Possibly the change was made for safety reasons given the many scenes in which Shatner scrambles over rocky ground.
  • Shatner also wears previously unseen white undergarments during the location segments on the asteroid. The long-sleeved shirt can be viewed just under the cuff of Kirk's tunic when he's using the recorder-translator. The "long johns" can be seen above the boots when Kirk is crouched on a rock. Given that this segment was filmed in November, the undergarments could be thermal, or perhaps padding for the fight scenes.
  • Both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy currently suffer from tinnitus due to a special effects explosion on the set of this episode. DeForest Kelley reportedly suffered from tinnitus as well during the remainder of his life.
  • By 2371, Human colonists were once again living on Cestus III, suggesting that the Federation and the Gorn Hegemony had put aside their differences after the events of this episode. (DS9: "Family Business")
  • This is the first episode to establish the existence of a "Federation". The word was first used in "The Corbomite Maneuver" as First Federation, but this episode refers to the United Federation of Planets that was fully named later in "A Taste of Armageddon".
  • The closing credits use a different shot of Vina than was used for most of the first season episodes.
  • Bobby Clark, one of the performers who played the part of the Gorn Captain, visited a Star Trek soundstage 38 years later for the filming of Captain Archer's fight with the Gorn Slar in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II". That episode was the first appearance of the Gorn in live-action Trek since "Arena."
  • Filmation, who produced Star Trek: The Animated Series, went on to produce the hit cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983-85), which used many modified TAS character and set designs, a number of sound effects also utilized in both TOS and TAS, as well as having several Trek-similar story lines. The most notable of these is a second season episode called "The Arena", where a god-like entity forces He-Man and Skeletor to do battle, very similar to the Trek episode "Arena".
  • In the DS9 episode "Trials and Tribble-ations", Captain Sisko admits to Jadzia Dax that he would love to meet Kirk and ask him about "fighting the Gorn on Cestus III..."

[edit] Remastered Information

  • "Arena" was the seventh episode of the remastered version of The Original Series to air. It premiered in syndication on the weekend of 21 October 2006 and most notably featured new effects shots of Cestus III from space, the Enterprise battling the Gorn ship, and an expanded matte painting of the outpost, showing more battle damage and giving greater scope to the surrounding terrain. A small, but significant alteration also appeared in the form of the Gorn, which blinked several times throughout the remastered episode – achieved with computer-generated eyelids. Another small detail was finally inserted into the episode: the Gorn starship, barely visible (but present) on the Enterprise viewscreen.
The next remastered episode to air was "Catspaw".

[edit] Production timeline

[edit] Links and References

[edit] Starring

[edit] Featuring

[edit] Uncredited Cast

[edit] References

8th century; 2279 PL; 2466 PM; Archanis; asteroid; Canopus; Cestus III; charcoal; chef; chemistry; coal; deflector screen; diamond; diplomat; disruptor; Earth; Earthling; Federation; Gorn; Gorn starship; grenade launcher; gunpowderimpulse engine; Metron; mineralogist; parsec; phaser; photon grenade; photon torpedo; potassium nitrate; recording-translating device; screens; Sirius; space-normal speed; Starfleet Command; sulfur; tactical officer; transformer bank; transporter; warp drive

[edit] External Links


Previous episode produced:
"The Squire of Gothos"
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 1
Next episode produced:
"The Alternative Factor"
Previous episode aired:
"The Squire of Gothos"
Next episode aired:
"Tomorrow is Yesterday"
Previous remastered episode aired:
"I, Mudd"
TOS Remastered Next remastered episode aired:
"Catspaw"