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Strange New Worlds 101: The Gorn

Who are the mysterious Gorn?

The Gorn captain from the episode "Arena" lifts up a rock to throw at Captain Kirk; the image is copied four times and set against a purple background. / Rob DeHart

Spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode four to follow!

Welcome back to Strange New Worlds 101, where we break down an Easter egg or topic from the latest episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. We’ve investigated the origins of the Prime Directive, looked at the history of the Kirk family, and debated the merits of the Federation banning genetic engineering. This week, we’re looking at one of Captain Kirk’s most iconic foes, who also happens to be a presence in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds… the Gorn.

Let’s face it, even if you haven’t seen every episode of Star Trek, you’ve probably at least seen clips of the fight where Kirk faces off against the Gorn captain in the The Original Series episode “Arena.” The episode, which marks the first appearance of the Gorn in the canon, centers on a Gorn attack on a Federation outpost on Cestus III, due to viewing the outpost as the Federation encroaching on their territory. The Enterprise pursues their ship to an unknown part of the galaxy, where the Metrons beam both the Gorn captain and Kirk to a nearby planet for a fight to the death. Kirk ultimately emerges triumphant and, in a move of compassion, argues for the Gorn to be released as well. This becomes a famous encounter in the world of Star Trek, with Captain Benjamin Sisko excitedly saying he wants to ask Kirk about it when he and his crew time travel back to the events of “The Trouble With Tribbles.”

Star Trek: The Original Series -

Following that episode, the Gorn have made scattered appearances throughout canon. In The Animated Series episode “The Time Trap,” a Gorn serves as a member of a council made up of various species in the pocket dimension Elysia, though the episode doesn’t provide any context for how long they have been trapped in that dimension. In other animated canon, Star Trek: Lower Decks not only features a Gorn wedding — which looked to be the event of the century — but a Gorn chef running a food cart on Federation Starbase 25.

In the Mirror Universe, years before Kirk would encounter the Gorn, Captain Jonathan Archer encountered a Gorn in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “In a Mirror Darkly, Part 2.” Discovery’s Mirror Universe episodes (and characters from the Mirror Universe) also referenced the Gorn as well, though none really appeared in the show’s early seasons.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has the specter of the Gorn hanging heavily over the crew, in particular the Security Chief La’an Noonien Singh. La’an’s family and their colony ship were captured by the Gorn and deposited on a Gorn nursery planet. La’an watched as her entire family were killed; as the sole survivor, La’an was placed on a life raft and abandoned in space, where she was found by a ship that Una Chin-Riley was serving on.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds -

In the latest episode, “Memento Mori,” the Gorn come after the Enterprise when they respond to a distress call from a colony, reminding La’an of that traumatic experience. Though she and Spock, along with the rest of the crew, are able to successfully evade the Gorn and save some survivors from the colony, La’an theorizes that this is a sign that the Gorn are poised to move further into Federation space.

What will happen next to the crew of the Enterprise? Is La’an correct in her theory that the Gorn pose a bigger threat? We’ll have to watch more to find out, but in the meantime, let us know on social what your theories and thoughts are!