Star-trek tos-season1-18
Season 1, Episode 18
General Information
Series Star Trek
Air date January 19, 1967
Written by Gene L. Coon, Fredric Brown
Directed by Joseph Pevney
Episode guide
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Star Trek episodes


When the Enterprise is locked in combat with the aggressive Gorns in space, their battle trespasses into the territory of the advanced Metrons who decree a trial of combat between Captain Kirk and the Gorn Captain. A battle that only one may survive! Further, the winner will be permitted to depart with his ship while the loser and his vessel will be destroyed! Who will survive this deadly arena?

Plot Summary

Stardate: 3045.6 - 3046.2   First use of the photon torpedoes. The Enterprise pursues an alien ship after it destroys a Starfleet base on Cestus III. While in pursuit, both ships are halted by an advance race called the Metrons, who are displeased that the two ships are fighting inside the race's territory. The Metrons teleport Kirk and the alien captain, who they learn is called a Gorn, to the surface of an asteroid. They command Kirk and the Gorn captain to fight to the death. The winner is returned to their ship and allowed to leave safely while the loser's ship is destroyed. As Kirk battles the Gorn, he quickly learns that the Gorn is superior to him in strength and endurance, but lacks his agility and speed. As they battle, the Gorn captain explains that the Gorn had destroyed the Starfleet base because it was an intrusion on their space territory. Kirk continues to run away from the Gorn, but he knows that his stamina is running out. He soon figures out that he can use the minerals on the asteroid to form gunpowder. Kirk sparing the GornKirk makes gunpowder and uses the diamonds he finds to make a makeshift cannon. He fires the cannon at the Gorn captain and stands poised to give the finishing blow. However, he decides to spare the Gorn. A Metron appears and is pleased by what he sees. He tells Kirk that there may be hope in humanity yet. He transports both Kirk and the Gorn captain back to their ships and allows them both to leave safely.

Production Notes

The rubber costume was designed by Wah Chang who had designed many of Star Trek's props and costumes. Chang had designed many of Star Trek's iconic props such as the tricorder, communicator, and the first Romulan ship. In this episode, Chang was reportedly pressed for time and had lacked the funds to create a more detailed costume. What came from his efforts was the infamous Gorn costume. In the next appearance of the Gorn 38 years later; the alien would be created using computer CGI animation.

Trivia & Quotes

  • Arena was a landmark episode as it introduced several concepts that would become important components of Star Trek canon.  Dialogue introduced the concept that the Enterprise and her crew was part of an organization known as "Star Fleet" which was the exploratory and military arm of the "Federation".  It also was the first episode where photon torpedoes were used as the Enterprise had solely been armed with phasers up until this point.
  • The name of the planet, Cestus III is a foreshadowing of the events to come in this episode. Cestus is the name of an ancient Roman boxing glove fitted with metal spikes to inflict greater damage upon striking its target. It was a favored weapon of ancient Roman gladiators in the arena.
  • The Metrons were named after Metatron, one of the highest ranking archangels.
  • Although dropped from the episode, in the original script; the Metron would have revealed that they had no intention of destroying the loser and his ship in this duel but rather the winner instead. The Metron proclaimed that they reasoned that the winner would be more ruthless and dangerous and thus could evolve into a genuine threat to the universe. Kirk's demonstration of mercy instead inadvertently saved not only himself but the Enterprise as well.
  • In 2009, the show Mythbusters "Mini-Myth Mayhem" actually tried to replicate Captain Kirk's feat of improvising a hand cannon out of the same materials. They failed.

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