18 – Arena

Grade: C

Arena (1967) on IMDb


Kirk and crew beam down to Cestus 3, to meet with a Commodore who is noted for his hospitality. After the beam-down process, they notice someone or something has destroyed the colony. After the aliens known as the Gorn destroy an Earth colony, Kirk and the Enterprise follow the ship until another powerful race of aliens beam Kirk and the Gorn captain on the surface of a planet for hand-to-hand combat. The winner will be set free, but the loser and their ship will be destroyed.


This is an average episode. I don’t like it much, mostly because there are so many of these “test” episodes where Kirk has to represent all of humanity in his actions. It gets a bit cliché, and this episode turns out to be much less than exceptional.

One cliché that I am really tired of seeing is McCoy’s treatment of Spock when Captain Kirk is not aboard. I know that’s just part of his character, but it gets really old really fast. But Leonard Nimoy plays the role of non-emotional Spock very well. DeForrest Kelley usually plays his role very well also, and maybe that’s why it so successfully annoys me when he publicly berates and questions every decision Spock makes. Still, it’s not fun to watch and as I said before, it gets really old.

One other issue I have with this episode is how it ends. Suddenly Kirk decides not to kill the Gorn captain because he figures out that he was just protecting himself and his fellow Gorn people. How did Kirk get this information? One reason this bothers me is because Kirk is often treated as a superhuman – able to out-fight beings twice his size, to out-think Vulcans, and talk computers into destroying themselves. He just seems impossibly smart and powerful, and after a while, that bothers me also.

Of Note

In the Deep Space Nine episode when Captain Sisko and Commander Dax go into the past to deal with Tribbles, Sisko admits to Dax that he wanted to ask Kirk about the fight with the Gorn captain. I thought that was pretty cool.