After arriving at Gamma II for a routine check of the planet's automated systems, Kirk, Uhura and Chekov are kidnapped straight off the transporter pad to a distant planet and forced to fight other aliens there for the gambling entertainment of the 'Providers'.
All of the aliens on the planet called Triskelion are basically slaves, with collars around their necks that induce pain if the wearer disobeys the wishes of the Providers.
Kirk befriends his mentor, a Lady Gaga lookalike named Shahna. Uhura and Chekov are also appointed mentors so they may learn to fight. Kirk takes the most punishment as he accepts the responsibility for the actions of his crew and so he is whipped in order to be made an example of when Uhura refuses to fight.
Finally, Kirk is able to meet the Providers, three brains claiming to be higher, superior beings who have seen it all and found that this entertainment is all they have left. Kirk challenges them to let the aliens go free and to watch them build up a free society, a proposal the Providers accept by pitting Kirk against three of the aliens. Should Kirk win, he gets to go and the Providers will free their captives from their collars.
Meanwhile the Enterprise is left with the mystery of what happened to their three crew members. After finding a high energy beam emanating from another star system, Spock orders the ship investigate while McCoy and Scotty disagree and believe the ship should never have left Gamma II. Fortunately, Spock's 'hunch' is correct and they locate Triskelion. However, the Providers take control of the ship's systems and force the crew to watch Kirk's final fight. On Kirk's victory, the Providers let the Enterprise and crew leave.
An interesting story where Kirk gets to fight and tear his shirt a lot - he even punches Shahna in the chin in order to knock her out, which was a bit of a shock! The anti-slavery message is quite clear in this one.
All up though I didn't find it that capturing, so my overall rating is 6/10.
A Piece of the Action
Kirk takes a landing party to determine what effects the Horizon's visit would have had on the developing civilisation before Starfleet introduced the non-interference directive.
The inhabitants have based their lives on Earth's 1920's gangsters, an idea picked up from a book left behind by the Horizon crew from its visit 100 years prior. As a result, there are different 'bosses' running different areas of the town organising 'hits' in order to 'cut in' on others territory.
Kirk, Spock and McCoy get caught up in the middle of it all as two of the main bosses want more 'heaters' (phasers, I think) from them so they can have the upper hand. In the end, Kirk learns to fight fire with fire and, poorly mimicking the gangster environment around him convinces the bosses that the Federation are more powerful and 'cutting in'.
An episode with a fair bit of humour thrown in. Gangsters and our 23rd century heroes thrown together. For me, the gangster parts (the whole episode) felt a bit overdone. Obviously I'm looking at this from the wrong perspective! Kirk's way of fitting in to a society such as this was much better pulled off in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. We also see that Kirk has no idea how to drive a car - something he is actually quite good at in the 2009 movie Star Trek!
Overall Rating: 5/10