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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old September 21 2013, 06:36 PM   #1
ixfd64
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what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

In "Arena," the Metrons declare the Enterprise and the Gorn ship "savages" and force them to fight to the death. Kirk goes along with it because he has little other choice.

But suppose Kirk called the Metrons out by saying something along the following: "You say we are 'savages' because we have a right to defend ourselves [from what Kirk saw as a threat], yet you make us fight for your entertainment. That's something only the ancient cultures did. What makes you better than them?"

How do you think the Metrons would have responded?

I personally think the Metrons would agree with what Kirk says, but that they have to proceed because it is the "law of the land." However, I could also imagine them comparing the trespassers to the Metrons' equivalent of cockroaches and deciding to eliminate them as pests.

What does everyone else think?
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Old September 21 2013, 06:42 PM   #2
Geoff Peterson
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Re: what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

They would have scolded him for talking back to his betters.
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Old September 21 2013, 07:58 PM   #3
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Re: what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

I have this germ of an idea of two warring factions travelling to Metron space, and one of these 'mental people' try the same trick, only to have some psychic nullifier deployed, and the being captured by the two factions who actually had joined forces. It would make for a funny moment.
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Old September 21 2013, 10:20 PM   #4
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Re: what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

It's Machiavellian, pure and simple. Everyone seems to overlook the line, "Therefore, you will not be destroyed." After the fight, the winner was to be destroyed by the Metrons. (Let them fight it out so that we can learn who is most dangerous, then eliminate them.)

The Metrons could have wiped out both parties anyway. The "hypocrisy" of the Metrons was probably socio-political commentary. Remember that this is STAR TREK. How is this interference any different than the number of times Kirk violated the Prime Directive, all with the best of intentions because he knew what was right for another people?

Then there's my favorite line from "Conscience of the King" where Kirk asks Lenore, "Who do I have to be?" I'm not a moral relativist. I believe in leaving others alone, but I also believe in self-defense. Those offering rationalizations for their actions (like the Metrons) must feel their actions are questionable.
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Old September 21 2013, 10:36 PM   #5
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Re: what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

I love TOS, but it is full of themes where the Humans are considered barbaric and war-like and yet these advanced "peaceful civilizations" want to destroy them for that.

Oh the irony!!

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Old September 21 2013, 11:02 PM   #6
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Re: what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

Gojira wrote: View Post
I love TOS, but it is full of themes where the Humans are considered barbaric and war-like and yet these advanced "peaceful civilizations" want to destroy them for that.

Oh the irony!!

Without them we'd miss some Kirk speechifying on how we won't kill today.
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Old September 21 2013, 11:13 PM   #7
Gojira
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Re: what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Gojira wrote: View Post
I love TOS, but it is full of themes where the Humans are considered barbaric and war-like and yet these advanced "peaceful civilizations" want to destroy them for that.

Oh the irony!!

Without them we'd miss some Kirk speechifying on how we won't kill today.
That is true!!
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Old September 21 2013, 11:32 PM   #8
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Re: what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

Metryq wrote: View Post
It's Machiavellian, pure and simple. Everyone seems to overlook the line, "Therefore, you will not be destroyed." After the fight, the winner was to be destroyed by the Metrons. (Let them fight it out so that we can learn who is most dangerous, then eliminate them.)
Nope.

KIRK: What makes you think you can interfere with . . .

METRON (OC): It is you who are interfering. We are simply putting a stop to it. The place we have prepared for you contains sufficient elements for either of you to construct weapons lethal enough to destroy the other, which seems to be your intention. The winner of the contest will be permitted to go his way unharmed. The loser, along with his ship, shall be destroyed in the interests of peace. The contest will be one of ingenuity against ingenuity, brute strength against brute strength. The results will be final.
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Old September 21 2013, 11:36 PM   #9
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Re: what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

What about if the Metrons didn't care and Kirk destroys the Gorn ship? Later it turns out to have been gallantly defending Gorn space against an (accidental) Federation invasion. Then the Feds look like both the heavy and the fool at the same time. Or they catch up and the Gorns beat the Enterprise, becoming more encouraged by the victories in space and at Cestus?

Both options would likely have been worse than what happened when the Metrons interfered. Its refreshing to see a plot where a larger power got involved in a fight between 2 "lesser" groups and actually helped both sides out.
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Old September 22 2013, 12:13 AM   #10
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Re: what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

scotpens wrote: View Post
Metryq wrote: View Post
It's Machiavellian, pure and simple. Everyone seems to overlook the line, "Therefore, you will not be destroyed." After the fight, the winner was to be destroyed by the Metrons. (Let them fight it out so that we can learn who is most dangerous, then eliminate them.)
Nope.

KIRK: What makes you think you can interfere with . . .

METRON (OC): It is you who are interfering. We are simply putting a stop to it. The place we have prepared for you contains sufficient elements for either of you to construct weapons lethal enough to destroy the other, which seems to be your intention. The winner of the contest will be permitted to go his way unharmed. The loser, along with his ship, shall be destroyed in the interests of peace. The contest will be one of ingenuity against ingenuity, brute strength against brute strength. The results will be final.
Metryq must be remembering the James Blish novelization of the episode, in which the Metron admits at the end that they lied, that it was the winner -- and therefore the greater threat -- that they planned to destroy. Which may have been part of the original scene but was cut, or may have been added by Blish.

To the original poster, I don't think the Metrons were making them fight for their own entertainment. Rather, they were trying to limit and contain the violence. These two boatloads of primitives had barged into their territory to wage war on each other, and the Metrons went, "Okay, you guys want to fight? Then let's do it in an orderly fashion and limit the damage."

Also, it was clearly a test, of the sort that advanced aliens in Trek are so enamored of. They basically put two lab rats in a maze and observed their behavior. So it wasn't for their entertainment, but for their edification about two violent, primitive species that had intruded into their space and might pose a hazard.
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Old September 22 2013, 12:31 AM   #11
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Re: what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

What bugs me the most about "Arena" was that the story suggested that maybe Kirk and Co were in the wrong.

I mean really, the Gorn attacked the outpost, slaughtered EVERYONE there including defenseless colonists even though they had surrendered.

Then they lured the Enterprise there with a false message so they could kill them too.

I'm sorry, but that isn't exactly the most proportionate response to folks encroaching on your boundaries when you're not sure these folks even KNEW you existed in the first place. Kirk would've been fully in his rights and duties as a Starship Captain destroying the Gorn.
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Old September 22 2013, 02:19 AM   #12
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Re: what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

Wasn't the original script based on another science fiction story about a war between Earth and another group of aliens? I read it more than 20 years ago so I can't remember the details. I thought in that story the 'testers' took someone of each ship and had them duke it out. Then the "tester" guys just wiped out the losers planet.
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Old September 22 2013, 03:06 AM   #13
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Re: what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

Anwar wrote: View Post
What bugs me the most about "Arena" was that the story suggested that maybe Kirk and Co were in the wrong.

I mean really, the Gorn attacked the outpost, slaughtered EVERYONE there including defenseless colonists even though they had surrendered.

Then they lured the Enterprise there with a false message so they could kill them too.

I'm sorry, but that isn't exactly the most proportionate response to folks encroaching on your boundaries when you're not sure these folks even KNEW you existed in the first place. Kirk would've been fully in his rights and duties as a Starship Captain destroying the Gorn.
But the point is that it's not a zero-sum game where one side is entirely right and the other is entirely wrong. One side being wrong does not mean the opposite side was therefore right. As is so often the case in real-world conflicts, both sides were in the wrong. Yes, the Gorn reaction was excessive by human standards, but they had a legitimate claim to the territory that the Federation settled. It was a tragic misunderstanding that got out of hand, and the important question is not who deserves the blame, but how the conflict can be ended so more people don't have to die.

That's what's good about the episode -- the fact that it deflates the simplistic us-vs.-them view that drives so many wars and instead acknowledges that both sides can be in the wrong.



CommishSleer wrote: View Post
Wasn't the original script based on another science fiction story about a war between Earth and another group of aliens? I read it more than 20 years ago so I can't remember the details. I thought in that story the 'testers' took someone of each ship and had them duke it out. Then the "tester" guys just wiped out the losers planet.
The story can easily be found as a free ebook online, for instance here:

http://manybooks.net/titles/brownfother08Arena.html

Your recollection is basically correct.

Well, except that the Trek episode wasn't intentionally based on Brown's story. Gene Coon wrote it, and then the research department pointed out its resemblance to Brown's story, and Coon remembered that he'd read it in the past, so he couldn't rule out being unconsciously influenced by it. So the producers contacted Brown and bought the rights to the story.
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Old September 22 2013, 04:29 AM   #14
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Re: what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

Since I have it, here's what de Forest Research had to say about the issue in an October 14, 1966 memo:

“Arena”, story outline by Gene Coon, and “Arena” a short story by Frederic Brown contain the following substantive similarities:

1. Aliens attacking earth colonies.

2. Imminent battle between earth and aliens.

3. Intervention of third, highly advanced intellect.

4. Instant transportation of Earthman and Alien, unarmed, to “arena” on an asteroid.

5. Single combat to determine which race survives.

6. The quality of mercy being the decisive factor in the outcome.

There are the following differences:

1. In the details of the story-telling, Act I and Act II of the Coon “Arena” recounting the first Earth-Alien encounters and the intervention of the third party is told in flashback in the Brown “Arena.”

2. The details of the “single combat.” In Coon “Area” the intervening intellect provides weapons which test only Kirk’s ingenuity. In Brown “Arena” the intervening intellect provides no weapons, but supplies a force field and raw materials to test the ingenuity.

3. In Coon “Arena” Kirk is merciful to the Alien which saves him. In Brown “Arena” Carson is merciful to the intelligent lizard which reveals to him the way through the barrier.

It is our opinion that Coon’s “Arena” is substantially similar to the copyrighted story “Arena” by Frederic Brown, and the airing of a screenplay from this outline without purchase of the Brown story would be actionable.
(The memo goes on with a two-page synopsis of the original Brown story, but since the original is available, I have omitted it).
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Old September 22 2013, 04:51 AM   #15
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Re: what if Kirk called the Metrons out on their hypocrisy?

JT Perfecthair wrote: View Post
What about if the Metrons didn't care and Kirk destroys the Gorn ship? Later it turns out to have been gallantly defending Gorn space against an (accidental) Federation invasion. Then the Feds look like both the heavy and the fool at the same time. Or they catch up and the Gorns beat the Enterprise, becoming more encouraged by the victories in space and at Cestus?

Both options would likely have been worse than what happened when the Metrons interfered. Its refreshing to see a plot where a larger power got involved in a fight between 2 "lesser" groups and actually helped both sides out.
Excellent Point!
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