Thursday, April 23, 2015

Trek Thursday: The Arena

#27: The Arena

In case you forgot: Tonight, on galactic home box office, it's captain James T. Kirk versus the captain of the Gorn ship!

This one is solid "classic" territory; it's probably the episode people think of when they think of TOS (that or "The Trouble With Tribbles"). But there's a lot more to the episode than Kirk fighting the Lizard King. There's a whole setup that's really grim and analogous to so many military conflicts: who attacked the peaceful Federation outpost? Why? What should we do when we find them? Tracking and pursuing the Gorn ship takes up quite a lot of the episode, and I mean that in a complimentary fashion, because it is expertly paced. It's kind of a shame, though not at all surprising, that this episode's claim to fame is Kirk wrestling a dude in a rubber suit.

Still, there's some bullshit. The Metrons say that they are above violence and destruction, but they're totally cool with destroying a ship full of (lizard)people? They don't even try to arrange for diplomacy between the Federation and the Gorn, they just straight off go for the gladitorial one-on-one method of problem solving. Even that wouldn't necessarily be hypocritical, if that meant saving the lives of everyone else aboard the respective ships, but the Metrons are totally cool with blowing the loser's ship into space dust. So much for saving lives. You can argue that it's "just a test," I suppose, but it really doesn't come off that way. Kirk sparing the Gorn captain doesn't seem like a possibility the Metrons were expecting or, more importantly, hoping for.

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