The Enterprise gets a friendly invite out to an observation outpost on Cestus Three. They pick up some chips and space beer on their way to the party, but when they get there, they find that the planet has been destroyed and the party invitation has been faked!
The invitation was really a trap set up by a reptilian alien species known as the Gorn. Understandably upset about the unfulfilled promise of a party, and possibly also about the loss of human life, the Enterprise chases the Gorn starship through uncharted space. Kirk is so pissed about the lack of party favors and bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, he almost blows out the Enterprise engine trying to chase them down, taking the ship to Warp 8. Both ships suddenly stall mid-flight, in what must be the least-climactic conclusion to a space dogfight ever.
The fight is broken up by a disembodied voice that claims to represent the Metrons, yet another all-powerful alien race that seems to exist only to pass judgement on less developed races. The Metrons say they are peaceful, but they can tell humans and Gorn are warmongering peoples, so in the interest of peace, they set up a fight to the death between the captains of the two starships. And then the winner gets the most peace. Or they get to conquer the other guy, thereby achieving peace. Or something.
Kirk is teleported down to another desert planet, along with the Gorn captain, a Sleestak-looking guy wearing a cocktail dress. He assesses his opponent in a soliloquy, saying that even though humans have a primal fear of lizard-like creatures, he has to remember that the Gorn are likely an intelligent and crafty people. The Gorn then tries to beat Kirk with a stick.
Kirk runs around the battle planet looking for weapons but instead only finds useless diamonds. He gives a long monologue into his recorder about how he can’t find any weapons and how the Gorn is creeping him out. Without a phaser, he falls back on his standby methods of self-defense, awkward karate and chucking rocks. This goes on for half an hour.
The Gorn commander suddenly begins talking to Kirk in English and reveals that he overheard all of Kirk’s monologues about him. Awkward. A topic I’ve never really broached yet: how come nobody has mentioned on this show why every single alien speaks English? Do they have Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy-type fish technology? Was there a reverse Tower of Babel event where God made everybody in the universe talk the same? Are the scriptwriters just too lazy to explain it?
Kirk tries to remember basic chemistry as he puts together gunpowder from basic minerals found on the planet’s surface. He uses it with a big piece of bamboo and some diamonds to make a diamond cannon, and we get to watch every nanosecond of him putting it together, with all the excitement of watching someone build a birdhouse, or watching the forensic science parts of CSI. We also get to watch the Enterprise crew watch him, helpless to do anything, just as I am helpless to move the plot along quicker.
Eventually Kirk gores the Gorn with his diamond cannon, which is not a euphemism in any way. He refuses to bash the lizard man’s brains in, however, proving the compassion of all humans. The Metron, a boy wearing a bedsheet, appears and commends him on not killing for once, and says humans may just have a chance. “You guys are gonna be aaaaaaal right.”
Then he teleports them 500 parsecs away. Not sure how far that is, or why it’s relevant.
This was a very boring, Kirk-heavy episode. But we were treated to some of his most introspective, haltingly-delivered monologues yet. Shatner is beginning to realize that he’s Shatner!