Star Trek N00b, Episode 19: Arena (Hunger Games in Space)

Star Trek N00b_(2)_Rory Midhani_640

Before we launch into this recap, I have to let you folks know something: I’ll be wrapping up Star Trek N00b next week with episode 20.

Don’t draw your phasers just yet! I’m not really a complete N00b to Star Trek anymore. After analyzing the minute details of each episode, I’m able to hold my own in Star Trek conversations, laugh at in-jokes, and appreciate the historical impacts of this amazing series.

Friends, I’ve gained new geek skills, kinda like a Pokemon in its intermediate stage of evolution.

Be careful, don't tap the B button!

Be careful, don’t tap the B button!

Instead of working on N00b, I’ll be moving onto even bigger nerdy pursuits with Autostraddle, like more Queer Your Tech articles and other nerdy projects with our Captain of the Geekery Enterprise, Ali Osworth. I’ll absolutely keep watching TOS, so feel free to add me on Twitter or Pinterest to keep up with my observations as I slowly evolve into full-fledged Trekkie (or *cough* Trekker). I’ve also been dipping my toes into Next Gen (LOVE Data!).

Thank you to everyone who has supported me during my n00bish exploration, and I’ll catch ya next week for one last hoorah!

Now onto the recap… and as always, you can watch along with me!


So the past few episodes have focused on Spock‘s overwhelming rationalism, but what about good ol’ human brutality?

Kirk goes on a war rampage in this episode, and we get to see how people can eff up too.

BATTLE! (Just so you know how out of touch I am with this franchise, I kept searching for "Leonidas from 500" until I realized that was the wrong number.)

BATTLE! (Just so you know how out of touch I am with this franchise, I kept searching for “Leonidas from 500” until I realized that was the wrong number.)

On to the blood and guts!


A Warm Invitation

Kirk and McCoy are super excited for dinner — they plan on chilling with Commodore Travers on the far-off outpost of Cestus III. McCoy’s hankering for rib eye steak and exotic booze, which leads to this great exchange.

Spock: You’re a sensualist.
Bones: You bet your pointed ears I am!

Oh boys, leave the dirty talk for Sick Bay.


Unfortunately McCoy’s culinary dreams come crashing down around him. They beam down to Cestus III to find it a destroyed wasteland.



So who REALLY invited them down to the planet?


Sulu Gets Fierce

A surprise vessel appears in space, and Sulu instantly puts up defensive shields. Now the landing party can’t beam up.

Kirk orders Sulu to slam the attacker with phasers and photon torpedoes. He’s so controlled during this scene — it’s super impressive!

Four for you, Sulu. You go, Sulu!

Four for you, Sulu. You go, Sulu!

Kirk orders Sulu to Warp away. His priority is to protect the ship.

Even though this is really hard for Sulu to do, he follows his captain’s orders and flies away.



A Red Shirt dies, but really, that’s no surprise.


Kirk and Spock get sick of getting bombed, so they roll around across a field until they find a canon.


They guess that the enemy is hiding behind a bunch of rocks. And they guess right! After firing, the attackers drop their shields and rush to help their fallen soldiers (who we still haven’t actually seen).

Sulu rushes in and beams up the landing party, breathing a sigh of relief that his boyfriend Bones is OK.



Once he gets back to the Enterprise, Kirk is hella pissed. He gets this weird gleam in his eye.

He speculates that the attackers must have on thing on their minds: invasion. Spock warns that this kind of assumption is dangerous, always the voice of reason.

But Kirk won’t listen. He wants WAR.

Spock: The regard for sentient life –
Kirk: There’s no time for that! Out here, we’re the only policemen around.

Cuz the eyes of a ranger are upon youuuuu.

Cuz the eyes of a ranger are upon youuuuu.

Yikes. Where’s your head at, Kirk?


The Metron: Smarter Than You

Kirk is powertrippin’, and he chases the attacking ship all around space. Scotty‘s pissed because they’re gonna burn out the engines. Because, you know — it’s happened before.

But suddenly, both ships get stuck in some kind of sticky mouse trap in space.


Kirk starts having acid flashbacks — oh wait, that’s just the new life form that has snared them.


A voice comes on over the intercom — they introduce themselves as the “Metron.” I wonder if they’re related to the Metatron?

I have a feeling that Alan Rickman's voice could get them outta trouble any day.

I have a feeling that Alan Rickman’s voice could get them outta trouble any day.

Turns out the Metron are an uber-intelligent species, and they’re annoyed by these angry dudes flying all over the place trying to kill each other. They propose a solution: Kirk and Gorn captain can fight to the death while isolated on a planet. The winner’s crew gets to live — the loser’s crew gets squished. Then *POOF!* Kirk disappears and the dance off begins!

Thank you random Imgur stranger!

Thank you random Imgur stranger!

Battle Royale

So let’s talk about the Gorn. It looks like their costume department dug out the live-action outfit for Reptar from Rugrats. Yeahhhhh.

I hear the soundtrack for Reptar on Ice is hella good.

Gorn is super slow, but boy is he strong. They try to start the fight with good sportsmanship and a little smooch.


The Metron have casually informed Kirk that all the materials he needs to build a weapons will be on the planet. He rolls around in yellow dust and gemstones, totally clueless about what to do.


Meanwhile, Gorn is honing a prison shank and getting all MacGyver with some rocks and string.

I'm tired, can we play a different game?

I’m tired, can we play a different game?

The Metron are terrible meanies, and they decide to live stream Kirk’s death to everyone on the Enterprise.

Gorn and Kirk start communicating with these awesome karaoke mics the Metron supplied. The Dance Off has now become a Sing Off.

Gorn grumbles about how the humans invaded his people’s land, Cestus III. And how Gorn killed them to protect his kind. Oopsie!

He's singing "Misunderstanding" by Genesis.

He’s singing “Misunderstanding” by Genesis.

Kirk’s still in survival mode, and he has a brilliant flash of insight! Potassium nitrate + sulphur + charcoal deposits + bamboo = a giant gun! With diamond bullets! And that white dust Kirk was sitting in? Not cocaine.

This is like some convoluted RPG recipe. Right before Gorn jumps him, Kirk shoots him with the Bamboo Bazooka.



Kirk’s about to shank Gorn with his own weapon, but then his WAR RAGE wears off and he decides to spare the Gorn.

“You’ll have to get your entertainment somewhere else!” Kirk cries.

If the Metron really wanted entertainment, don’t you think these would have been better arena ideas than a deserted planet?

– Low gravity
– All jello planet
Butter traps


Guess who’s in MENSA? That’s right, the Metron!

Gorn goes *POOF,* hopefully to an emergency room because dang, he just got blasted by a diamond canon.

Then the Metron appears. He’s a 1500 year old glowing boy, and I thought he was gonna launch into the “Touched by an Angel” speech.

This rule does not apply to Twilight.

This rule does not apply to Twilight.

“You demonstrated the advanced trait of mercy, something we hardly expected,” explains the Metron.

He gives Kirk a gold star, a pat on the head, and returns him to the Enterprise.

What. The. Hell.

So commenters, tell me: with the high death rates, how do they recruit more redshirts? And how would you survive the arena?

Growing up, I had never watched a Star Trek episode all the way through. My family members weren’t huge sci-fi fans, and they’d flip the channel whenever Star Trek came on. Now I am embarking on an epic nerd rite of passage, chronicling my reactions to every episode of Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS).

Header by Rory Midhani

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Queer hapa writer inspired by gadgets. Attending the Ada Developers Academy in the third cohort. Uninterested in quitting her coffee habit. Reads and writes sci-fi and horror. Find her at or on Twitter.

Loraine has written 33 articles for us.


  1. NOOO! I will miss these sooo much!!! I was super prepared to watch them all along with you.

    Well, thank you for brightening my Mondays for a little while anyway!!! And I’ll read all the other nerdery too, no worries.

    More sparkles always = more intellegence!

    • I think I’ll need to add sparkles to my wardrobe. Thanks so much for following along Elly and for being a continual voice here through the last few months!

      I’m going to miss writing these, but I will absolutely keep watching TOS. Don’t forget about my shameless social media plug – I’ll still be posting memes up on Pinterest (linked somewhere in this recap). Add meeeee.

  2. I’ll miss the recaps! I haven’t watched the original series in a really long time and it’s been fun to revisit them, so, thanks!

    The lizard creature looks like a cousin to the old Doctor Who Silurians, sort of ‘mid-century green rubber monster’ chic.

    • Hahah, I didn’t consider that! It would be amazing to see Kirk vs. Madame Vastra. That would be kick ass.

  3. If you’re only going to do one more, why not skip ahead to what is generally considered the greatest episode, The City on the Edge of Forever? The sad thing about your leaving now is that you will not be recapping the Gene Coons/D.C. (Dorothy) Fontana period, the period in which the greatest episodes were written and made–the Classic Star Trek Period. You are just about to hit that period, which is actually very different from this long, slow start to the show. It is in these up-coming ‘classic’ episodes that the Prime Directive, Starfleet and its role are both conceived and fully realized; also the banter between Kirk, Spock, and Bones is perfected and those relationships cemented. And you haven’t even met Chekov! I would love to see you recap both City and The Trouble with Tribbles before you beam yourself off this ship, not to mention the very famous and great Space Seed (prelude to The Wrath of Khan).

    And of course, I will miss you. It’s been really fun observing your observations. xxoo Annie

    • Yes, I second this! The City on the Edge of Forever is really good and you will just love The Trouble With Tribbles.

      Perhaps when you’ve finished watching them all you could do like a top 5 or something. I’m always curious to see which episodes other people consider to be their favourites.

    • “I’ll be wrapping up Star Trek N00b next week with episode 20.”


      What Rebecca’s Niece says, yes. City on the Edge of Forever is my FAVORITE.
      I was so looking forward to continuing this journey with you. Yes, I’ve seen them all–many times. But starting as a child; I’ve enjoyed seeing it through the eyes of an adult that never watched before.
      I looked forward to this article on AS more than any other–including NSFW Lesbosexy Sunday. ;-)

        • I was so happy, for a little while at least, that there was a queer lady friendly space for watching this silly show. I still don’t know why (I did just start watching Trek) but I just love the show so so much and the recaps were awesome.

    • Annie! Thanks for the ep suggestion. Sadly, my last recap has already been written, in an effort to stay on top of my writing deadlines. I wound up covering the next episode, just because the description about time travel sounded so freaking awesome. It’s also written by Dorothy Fontana, so she hasn’t completely escaped N00b.

      Thanks for hanging out and providing me with sweet behind-the-scenes info along the way!

      • You’re welcome. It must be Tomorrow is Yesterday coming up next. That’s fun, but I really, really want your take on the others I mentioned. Maybe you can come back once in awhile and add to this feature. Obviously you’re going to be missed. We’re all really disappointed!

  4. *sobs* i love these re-caps. this is also oddly enough one of my favorite episodes. i was super upset when mythbusters confirmed my fear that kirk really couldn’t make gunpowder.

  5. HEATHER! I must see this Mythbusters episode.

    I was wondering how easy it would be to MacGyver some gunpowder, but now I don’t even need to test it.

    Also thanks for sticking with n00b! Don’t worry, next week we’ll get to travel through time and space together.

  6. Loraine, you and these comments have finally convinced me that I need to watch all of TOS. I grew up watching TNG, DS9, and VOY (Janeway is captain of my heart), but only saw reruns of TOS. However, I really want to watch all the old movies, so clearly the earlier adventures of Kirk, Spock, and crew is important.

    However, I’m in the middle of season 5 of my DS9 watch, and I’m loathe to pull myself away…

    ALSO. Did anyone read the Star Trek books? I’ve read so many, including so legit terrible ones written by Shatner. Terribleeeee.

    • I’ve read a bunch of the books, yeah, but Diane Duane’s Rihannsu series is and always will be my favourite. “My Enemy, My Ally” and “The Romulan Way” turned my blood green for life.

      • I read quite a few books on the Vulcans that snagged me for life. Stuff about their culture before the major logic culture came into play. Loved it.

  7. Hold up, Shatner wrote a few Star Trek books? I gotta check these out, especially if they are as cringeworthy as you describe!

  8. I will miss these recaps, but thanks a lot for writing them! I hadn’t watched TOS in many, many years, but you’ve rekindled my interest in watching them with a new perspective!

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