Star Trek: Arena   Rewatch 
November 22, 2014 9:00 AM - Season 1, Episode 19 - Subscribe

For bringing hostility into their solar system, a superior alien race pits Captain Kirk in single combat against the murderous reptilian captain of an alien ship he was pursuing.

"Arena" is episode, #18, production #19, first broadcast January 19, 1967 and repeated on July 6, 1967. It was written by Gene L. Coon, based on a short story of the same name by Fredric Brown, and directed by Joseph Pevney. The episode introduces the Gorn.

Memory Alpha Link

The episode can be viewed on Netflix and Hulu.
posted by Benway (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Lovingly resurrected as a promo for the 2013 Star Trek game. (GQ was still better, though.)

This was of course filmed at Vasquez Rocks (previously seen in Shore Leave where Kirk fought with a simulacrum of his Academy nemesis, Finnegan), and would be seen several times in various instances of the franchise. At the time it was private property but has since become a Los Angeles County Natural Area. The location has an incredible 300 location credits.

Mythbusters explored the plausibility of the cannon Kirk constructs, and found it wanting. [At 5:00 they go to something else and this upload never comes back to the cannon, though.] For a sense of how powerful black powder can be in the, uh, "right"conditions, see the infamous Black Tom explosion, which damaged the Statue of Liberty.
posted by dhartung at 5:31 PM on November 22, 2014

I wish giant space lizards featured more in the Star Trek shows.
posted by Zalzidrax at 3:59 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

This was of course filmed at Vasquez Rocks .

Mythbusters explored the plausibility of the cannon Kirk constructs, and found it wanting.

Nevertheless, the cannon in the canyon is canon.
posted by Herodios at 9:33 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm soooooo behind on these, but I'm resolved to catch up.

I finally finished the episode which was deftly divided into three acts: 1) the investigation and attack at the destroyed federation colony; 2) the chase of the Enterprise after the mysterious attacker; and 3) the fight on the planet's surface between Kirk and the Gorn.

I thought act 1 was interesting for its touch on ground combat, which generally doesn't happen very often against intelligent forces on the show. And, gosh dang, the federation mortar packs one heck of a blow to it! This lead shortly into the chase in which we have the captain in an obsessive state seeking vengeance on those who would kill the colonists, pushing the Enterprise to the precarious point of potentially blowing up or being depowered in the middle of no where. The chase leads into the corner of the galaxy overseen by the holier than thou aliens who strand the Gorn captain on the planet with Kirk and tell them to duke it out.

For as little sense the homemade cannon makes, I kind of enjoyed the fact that Kirk was given the opportunity to rely upon his wits to solve the problem. That in itself was kind of a sign of humanity's rise from savage, that rather than beat the enemy to death, they can adapt the surroundings into a multi-part tool. Kirk's final mercy, of course, sealed the deal for the overseeing aliens.

If I recall, the alien is presented much like a shiny glowing toga wearing Greek, which makes sense in that I suppose we're intended to associate the philosophies of Athens with their weighty position in the universe. At the same time, however, and this would have no affect on a first time watcher, it reminded me of the "Gods" in Plato's Step Children, who had similar powers, but not nearly the level of moral regard or respect. So...weird mix right there for the repeated viewer.

It's a classic episode with a classic alien from the show. I enjoyed it. It may not be my favorite, but it's fun.
posted by Atreides at 12:22 PM on January 21, 2015

I only remembered the Gorn; I didn't remember how long it took to get to the Gorn. In fact, this could have been a really short episode if Spock had been a little more forceful in expressing his doubts about destroying the other ship. It's interesting, watching these chronologically, how we've come to a point where we, the writers and the directors all have such a good grasp of Spock's character that when the camera stays on him a beat too long while he's looking thoughtful, we know something is up.

The Gorn, though. Despite being an episode we all love, the fight choreography is so terrible. I will never not love his shiny compound eyes, though.
posted by acrasis at 12:57 PM on November 15, 2020

I wish giant space lizards featured more in the Star Trek shows.

Good news
posted by EarBucket at 11:38 AM on June 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

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