When combat is ship to ship with an unseen enemy, Captain Kirk is ready to kill. But would he make the same decision face to face? Find out as we put “Arena” in the Mission Log.

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  • Rebecca

    New to this podcast and love it (particularly your willingness to point out all the sexism in TOS, not super relevant to this one)! I really enjoyed your discussion about the “closeness of killing” and how stabbing someone feels different than the disconnectedness of, say, a drone. I sort of doubt in this case based on the flow of the episode that this was intended in the writing (it seemed to me that Kirk’s change of mind had more to do with him wanting to prove the Metrons wrong), but just because conscious intent is not there does not mean it’s not worthy to pull it out of the story. Where this concept is completely relevant, though, (and I know you try not to look forward too much) is in A Taste of Armageddon, one of my favorite episodes. I’ll look forward to seeing if it crops up again in your discussion when I finally get there.

    • Hi Rebecca – thank you for the comments! I also love “…Armageddon,” and I find it’s one of the episodes I quote most often. The “cleanliness” with which they carry out their war is disturbing and certainly harkens back to what we started to touch upon in “Arena.”

  • Jeff Johnson

    Love this podcast! I “grew up” watching these episodes and since I didn’t have any siblings who were around and watching these…I had no one to talk to about them! Plus, now…I’ve been in the Navy and done a few things which gives me a much different perspective than a 12-13 year old.
    This is a good episode aside from the “Barney” costumed alien. Regarding, Rebecca’s comments is that I agree with her that it wasn’t the hand’s on fighting that was as big a factor as him processing all of the facts and then having position of being able to grant mercy when he obviously could have followed through with the act easily.
    Finally, it occurred to me that this episode could actually have a movie sequel where the Gorn don’t necessarily buy into any peace talks and continue to attack. Perhaps like some of our own US current challenges, dealing with an adversary that continually breaks promises and considers nearly everything as “aggression”. You could really improve the lizard look and make way more modern. Do you think that the Predator was loosely based on this monster?

    • Thanks, Jeff!
      No evidence that the Predator was specifically influenced by the Gorn, but who knows – could have been something in the designer’s subconscious if he/she also grew up with Star Trek.
      We get a little more of the Gorn in Enterprise (many years to come for us), but it does seem like there is more of a story to fill in for them.

  • Lauralee von Husen Albert

    This seems to be one of those episodes that not only stands the test of time, but is even more relevant today than it was back then. Not only have we not learned the lessons of war from the past, but we are now “full-on” carrying out war acts via drones, exemplifying the whole disconnectedness that we see in this episode. I, of course, appreciate avoiding putting boots on the ground and putting Americans at risk, but isn’t it possible that the decision to kill is easier to make when you know that your side is not at the same level of risk as your opponent? Yeah, deep stuff….in any case, this episode sticks with you!

  • Low Mileage Pit Woofie

    Another fine episode recap and discussion, gentlemen (hope you didn’t get any hate mail like you joked in the broadcast!).
    Regarding the final speech from the Metron, they inform Kirk that, because he demonstrated mercy, he will not be destroyed. Initially, they said they planned to destroy the loser, “in the interests of peace”. In Gene Coon’s script, in dialogue not aired, the Metron admits that they had, all along, planned to actually destroy the ship of the winner of the personal combat, because that race would represent the greater danger to them (James Blish preserves this disclosure in his novelization).