One thing I really enjoy as a fan is seeing sequels featuring beloved characters and episodes. A cool example of that is “Return to Triskelion” as produced by a person whose screen name is “tommy bunny,” so let’s get hopping into this week’s independent production.
The episode gets underway with the Enterprise receiving an automated distress call from M24-Alpha, a trinary star system that’s the home of the planet Triskelion,.where Captain Kirk (here voiced by Paul Sibbalo) “was taken by the Providers” and forced to fight in an arena as a Thrall during the second-season Star Trek episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion.”
After running a long-range sensor scan, Mister Spock (Paul Sibbalo as well) determines that the area has debris consistent with a destroyed Klingon vessel. “It would appear that the Providers have resumed their previous pattern of behavior,” he states.
“The real question is what the Klingons were doing in this sector in the first place,” Kirk replies before ordering Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (Paul Sibbalo yet again) to scan for other Klingon vessels.
Sulu finds one Klingon ship within the Neutral Zone. “Its course takes us straight to M24-Alpha” and will enter Federation space in just over 30 minutes.
The captain orders Lieutenant Chekov/Arex (Paul Sibbalo does a cool Chekov voice but the character’s image is that of Arex) to “plot a course for the point in the Neutral Zone border where the Klingon vessel will cross, and proceed at Warp Factor 7.”
“Do you intend to stop the Klingons from attempting a rescue?” Spock asks.
“I intend on preventing that second Klingon crew from being taken as slaves,” Kirk responds.
As the Enterprise and the Battle Cruiser approach the interception point, the Starfleet vessel is hailed by the Klingons.
After Kirk identifies himself and his vessel, Klingon Captain Klev (Tommy Gerenscer) responds in less-than-friendly terms.
“Kirk, you slithering bloodworm,” the captain says. “I should have known it would be you. Do not approach us and do not interfere or I will destroy you.”
“I cannot allow you to enter Federation space,” Kirk responds.
After some back-and-forth between Kirk and Klev, Spock orders Lieutenant Uhura (Christina Megee) to cut off the audio transmission.
“Captain, might I remind you that it would serve all of our interests to maintain a state of civility with the Klingons to encourage cooperation in the resolution in this matter?” Spock asks.
Kirk orders the audio transmission restored and states he would be willing to meet peacefully with Klev and cooperate with the Klingons to avoid further losses.
“There is no trap, and this is no trick,” the captain says before telling everyone on both ships to cease using transporters since the Gamesters previously intercepted a transporter beam and whisked Kirk, Uhura and Chekov away to fight in their games. As a result, he orders Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott (Paul Sibbalo) to prepare a shuttle to bring the Klingon captain onto the Enterprise.
“We’re at peace with the Klingons,” Kirk continues. “It’s a fragile treaty, and I do not wish to be remembered as the one who broke it.”
When Klev joins Kirk and Spock in the briefing room, the Enterprise captain explains that the three remaining Providers (yep, Paul Sibbalo) are so advanced that only their disembodied brains remain, so they gamble on games pitting one slave against another.
Klev states that beings like the Providers should be easy to destroy, but Kirk says their ancient civilization exists 1,000 meters below the planet’s surface and cannot be located by starship scanners.
But when Klev responds that a cloaked ship could be the answer to destroying the Providers, Kirk agrees and is “volunteered” to return to the arena while carrying a subcutaneous transmitter to help him provide the proper target.
Spock adds that the real Klingon vessel will be cloaked while the Enterprise transmits a “sensor ghost” to fool the Providers.
With the plan in place, Kirk prepares to beam over to the Klingon vessel but, as expected, is sent to Triskelion by the Providers, who praise the captain as “the first ever returning Thrall.”
Back in space, the Enterprise and the Klingon ship separate, and the Starfleet vessel transmits a hologram of the Klingon vessel while the real starship prepares to attack the Providers.
In the arena, Kirk tells Galt (Brian Mowery) that he is no longer a Thrall, but a Gamester who wishes to “raise the stakes even higher..Do you fear to lose to me … again?”
Spoiler Alert: If you’d rather watch the fan film’s ending yourself, skip down to the link at the end of this article. If not, just continue reading.
Kirk is suddenly spirited to the Providers’ chamber, and the alien brains state that the recently captured Klingons have made the games “more fulfilling” than ever.
The captain then tells the Providers that when he determined the Klingons had been taken by the Providers, he captured another Battle Cruiser and its crew in preparation for an interplanetary war.
“If you accept my terms, I will order the destruction of the second Klingon vessel,” Kirk continues, “and it will be done in such a way that both sides will have no choice but to construe it as an act of war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.”
And while the war rages above, Kirk and his crew would be “guests” in the Providers’ chamber while they watch the interplanetary carnage. Then, after both sides are greatly weakened, the captain will use the forces at his command to conquer both the Federation and the Klingon Empire.
When the Gamesters accept the captain’s “ruthless” offer, he’s sent back to the arena and tells his first officer to move their ship away from the “Klingon vessel” and destroy it in a “bright show that will be seen all the way from both the Federation and the Klingon Empire.”
Spock asks Mister Scott to prepare a torpedo that will give the appearance of the Klingon ship being demolished. “I’ll drain a little anti-matter from the engines, and it’ll light up like Christmas,” the chief engineer states.
As soon as the explosion erupts, Klev decloaks his ship and fires on the planetary coordinates provided by Kirk, apparently wiping out the Gamesters and the Thralls.
While watching the demolition from a good distance away, Kirk is joined by Klev, who transports to the site and congratulates the Starfleet captain for managing to survive his mission.
“No, Klev. Our mission,” Kirk states.“It seems that we can cooperate after all.”
“Only when the fate of both our worlds is threatened,” the Klingon responds.
I always thought Clint Eastwood would make a great Galt, but for now, let’s do some reviewing.
The Good: “Return” is a solid first effort in Trek that brings Triskelion back and involves the Klingons with the Providers. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a return trip to the planet of the Thralls, and this 30-minute independent production provides a clever sequel to “Gamesters.”
The Bad: Somebody goofed when Arex showed up on the bridge but had Chekov’s voice and mannerisms. On the other side of the coin, I would have loved to see Shahna, she of the pre-Seven of Nine silver outfit. I hope she got off the planet before it got a real going-over in “Return.”
The Ugly: The thing that bothered me the most in the episode was the mixing of animated and live-action elements. I realize that changing the scenes from “The Gamesters of Triskelion” to the animated style would have been a big undertaking, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as jarring as animated characters set in a scene from “Gamesters,” including a background shot of a still of Uhura wearing her slave collar.
Also, I was a bit put off by Kirk’s decision to just about annihilate Triskelion. I realize they’d been baddies in the past, but I would like to have seen the captain come up with a much less lethal solution.
If you want to view “Return to Triskelion” for yourself, follow this link.