In this episode of Trekking Through Compliance, we consider the episode The Gamesters of Triskelionwhich aired on January 5, 1968, Star Date 3211.7.

Story Synopsis

Kirk, Uhura, and Chekov prepare to beam down to Gamma 2, an uninhabited planetoid with automated communication and astrogation station. Before Scotty can beam them down, however, they are whisked away from the transporter platform.

The landing party reappears on a different planet entirely and find themselves standing on a pad bearing a curious three-pronged triad logo. They are then accosted by four armed assailants from planets spread throughout the galaxy. Phasers and communicators no longer work, and for once they are defeated when they resort to hand-to-hand combat. They are then fitted with “collars of obedience” by Galt, master Thrall of the planet Triskelion, and taken to their cells. When they try to escape, the collars are activated, subjecting them to great pain and rendering them helpless.

Meanwhile, Spock scans the entire solar system, but is unable to find any trace of the lost landing party. Ensign Haines notices an ionization trail from a hydrogen cloud, and Spock follows it across the galaxy to N24 Alpha, 11.630 light years away.

Back on Triskelion, Uhura’s is introduced to her drill Thrall Lars. Kirk’s drill Thrall is the blue-haired Shahna, and Chekov’s is Tamu. When Uhura refuses to fight, Kirk is forced to fight the whip-equipped Kloog as punishment. Upon witnessing Kirk’s successful battle, the “Providers” controlling the Thralls bid for ownership of the newcomers.

While on a training run, Kirk tries to distract Shahna by telling her about love. When Kirk asks her about the Providers and she begins to answer, her collar is activated. When she recovers, Kirk seduces her. The Providers find this amusing and do not punish Kirk but make him stop. Back in his cell, Kirk knocks Shahna out and uses her key to free Uhura and Chekov.

Spock and McCoy attempt to beam down Triskelion but are prevented by the Providers. They are then put in audio communication with Kirk, who is still on the planet’s surface. The Providers then reveal themselves to Kirk as three glowing brains (yellow, green, and orange). They threaten to destroy Kirk and the Enterprise, but Kirk makes a bet with the gamesters about his ability to survive in combat. If he wins, the Providers must free Kirk and the Thralls. If he loses, he offers the entire crew of the Enterprise up as Thralls. However, the gamesters insist that Kirk fight three opponents simultaneously: Kloog, Lars, and an Andorian. They also grant the crew of the Enterprise the opportunity to observe the conflict.

Amazingly enough, Kirk wins, even after one of the opponents is replaced by Shahna. Kirk, Chekov, and Uhura are returned to the Enterprise, leaving behind a saddened Shahna, who ends the episode looking up into the sky and utters the classic line “Good-bye Jim Kirk.”

 Fun Fact

When asked why his character was never developed more, George Takei stated that “one episode of Star Trek would have helped to develop Sulu very much and that was The Gamesters of Triskelion.” The first draft of this episode did feature Sulu, however, Takei was away on location in Georgia for the filming of The Green Berets and despite his intentions to appear in the episode, he was unable to return to Los Angeles to make the appearance due to complications on that film set. Much to Takei’s disappointment, he did not appear in this episode, yet despite this, Takei said “things turned out well anyway, I got to do The Green Berets and they rewrote all of Sulu’s lines for Chekov, so Walter Koenig got a good break.”

Compliance Takeaways:

  1. What tools are available to you?
  2. What is inform risk?
  3. What is your risk management strategy?


Excruciatingly Detailed Plot Summary by Eric W. Weisstein for The Gamesters of Triskelion Gamesters of Triskelion