A Private Little War-This underrated 'cold war' episode featuring a gorilla-unicorn, is another taught thriller from the second season. In addition to the non-stop action (shootings, Mugatu bites, Klingon intrigue, etc.) we have a well-reasoned ethical debate about the dual perils of intervention and non-intervention by a superpower. Kirk even acknowledges some ambivalence about the arming of the Hill people (think Vietnam) at the end of the show. Other pluses in this episode are the culture of the planet, as well as Nona. Her healing scene with Shatner is pretty racy, even by today's standards. (4 stars)
The Gamesters of Triskelion-This episode, in which the enslaved crew are forced by giant brains to engage in arena combat, was a big step down from prior episodes. In fact, I would argue that the drop in quality attributed to the 3rd season really started here; only one of ten remaining second season shows was truly strong (A Piece of the Action). I for one would take the first ten shows of the 3rd season over the remaining ten from the second season.
But that's another story. The Gamesters of Triskelion is a very nasty episode. In addition to violence for it's own sake, there is the strong suggestion that Uhura is violated as the show fades to commercial. It's really unforgivable that the subject is never adressed in the rest of the episode. We also have one of the true bimbos of Trek in the nubile Shana, who is made to utter some truly stupid lines. There isn't much going for this episode; with a bit less action, it would belong in the latter part of season three.
Tidbit: Angelique Pettijohn, who played Shana, went on to adult film fame. (2 stars)