We pick up this second half the repackaging of the original Trek pilot, “The Cage,” with Captain James. T. Kirk posting an entry in his personal log. Our hero was relieved of duty after Starfleet detected the transmissions from Talos IV to the Enterprise. Kirk was still puzzled as to the motivations of his first officer, Mr. Spock, who was now facing both charges of mutiny and the death penalty.
When the trial resumed, Spock told all present in the chamber that the “Keeper,” who was on Talos IV, was now controlling the images on the display. Spock recapped what they had seen; then they began to watch again.
Pike regained consciousness and found himself trapped in a cell by the Talosians. His first attempt to escape was a failure when he tried to ram his shoulder through some Plexiglas wall… or perhaps it was Transparent Aluminum.
The Talosians entered and watched from the safety of the invisible wall. Pike was trapped like an animal at a zoo. Pike spoke to them as they watched, telling him that he was the captain of the Enterprise and that his intentions were peaceful.
One Talosians spoke to another without moving his lips. His thoughts transmitted from his giant brain to the others. He questioned the intelligence of Pike. The leader of the Talosians agreed, saying that he suspected Pike would not be too smart since the Enterprise was bated to Talos IV with relative ease.
Pike wondered if the crew of the S.S. Columbia were not real people, and possibly illusions. The Talosians heard this thought and supposed that he would remain confused by this. Pike recognized this power as “telepathy,” and told them that holding him might be seen as an “unfriendly act” … the Talosians did not let him finish. Their thoughts burst in, saying that his primitive fear/threat next steps were predictable.
The Talosians began to narrate Pike’s movements, predicting that he would use his physical prowess against the invisible wall — which he did a few times. Pike grew angry, telling the Talosians that they would try to break out of a cage, just like he was if they were in his place.
The Talosians said that he seemed more adaptable than their other specimens from other worlds. They would soon be able to begin the experiment. With that, Pike shot them both a terrified and angry look.
On board the Enterprise, Spock shared his thoughts on the Talosians and how they survived under the planet’s surface. He said that the shipwreck and crew were a complete illusion. Lt. Jose Tyler was in favor of sending a landing part back to rescue the captain. Spock told them that the Talosians’ mental power was so vast that they could likely swat the ship away as if they were flies.
Tyler said that while the Talosians’ were able to sustain shots from hand phasers, they would not be able to last against the might of the Enterprise. The ship’s first officer, Number One, agreed, saying that they could use the ship’s power to blast through the metal.
Back on Talos, the Talosians noted that they were probing Pike’s mind, saying that they felt his brain had high capacity for memory. They found a recent memory of when he fought to protect his life. The Talosians decided to start the experiment of giving him something more substantial to protect.
Then all changed for Pike. He was suddenly back on Rigel 7 and Veena was dressed as a princess, and they stood in front of a castle. Pike knew that the Talosians had created this illusion based on his memories, but he could not resist his involvement when Veena was in the mix.
On board the Enterprise, Spock spoke up to point out how correct Pike was. He still was in his cell on Talos IV, but his thoughts were under the control of the aliens.
Back the illusion, Pike questioned why Veena was presented to him again. Why her? Just then, a giant in Mongol-inspired garb, holding a shield and ax came through the castle growling like a lion. Pike said he would not perform for his jailers. The giant came toward them, and Pike fell into the illusion… he picked up a cudgel to defend Veena.
As they up the stairs of the castle, Pike picked up a spear (that I swear it was the same kind carried by the Wicked Witch of the West’s soldiers in the Wizard of Oz) and tried to stab the giant. The beast snapped the weapon in half. He then threw Pike off the side of some stairs. Pike threw a knife at the giant, who then jumped to attack Pike. The captain used the spike from the front of the Wizard of Oz spear to kill the giant.
“It’s over,” said Veena.
The screen suddenly stopped. Spock said that it was because the Telosians knew that Pike was tired and that they wanted him to rest. Kirk asked if they cared about Pike; Spock said that they did. Mendez demanded to know why. When Spock began to explain that if they would watch the program, they would learn — Mendez reminded Spock that he was on trial. Mendez told him that he would answer any questions asked of him.
Spock told him that his answers would be unbelievable and that they would have to watch.
When the show resumed, Pike asked Veena why she was there. She said that it was to please him. He asked her if she was real, and she told him that she was as real as he wished. Pike shook his head and said that was not a real answer.
Veena told him that she could wear anything he likes and be anyone that he wants. He asked if the Talosians would be watching and feeling him. Veena said that she could be any woman and that he could have anything in the universe.
Pike asked if there was any way to prevent the Talosians from peering into his mind. Veena told him that he was a fool. Pike told her that since she was not real, there was no point in continuing the conversation.
On the planet’s surface, Number One and her team set up an enormous “phaser cannon” and aimed it at the doors, which they could not pierce with their hand phasers earlier. They used the ship’s power to fuel the beam, which also was unable to penetrate the barrier.
Number One said that the beam should have sheared the whole knoll apart. Dr. Boyce told that it might have, but the Talosians’ power of illusion is so great that they could not trust what they see.
Number One said that the beam should have sheared the whole knoll apart. Dr. Boyce told that it might have, but the Talosians’ power of illusion is so great that they could not trust what they see.
Inside, Veena asked if she could answer any questions for Pike. He said that he wanted to know how far they could control his mind. She said that if she told him, then she wanted him to pick a dream and let him live it with her. He said that he might. She said to him that they could not control him, but they can punish him.
He asked if the Talosians ever lived on the surface, and if so, why then did they move underground. Veena said that war drove them below. But as they did, they worked on developing their mental ability. Soon, their dreams became more important than reality, and they forgot how to create or travel or live. The Talosians then lived through other “specimens” to make this happen.
Veena said that he needed to keep his end of the bargain and comply with her request. He said that was not a valid deal, because she was not real. She said that she was indeed real and human.
“We’re like Adam and Eve,” said Veena. At that moment, Veena curled up in tremendous pain and disappeared.
Pike noticed that a Telosian was watching outside his cell. When Pike turned his attention, the being walked from the hallway and disappeared.
On the Enterprise, Mendez asked Pike if they were both there as “breeding stock.” Pike agreed. Spock added that it was much more.
Back on the screen, Pike was searching for a means of escape, and one of his captors slid a panel back from the wall to give him some food. Pike pounced at this opening but was too late to grab the Talosian.
The Talosian in charge told Pike that the food was a protein complex that could be changed in color or form to suit him.
“Is the keeper actually communicating with one of his animals?” Pike asked.
The food could be anything he can Pike could imagine, said the Keeper. Pike said that he’d rather starve, to which the Keeper told him that he forgot about the punishment. Pike then found himself in Hell with flames everywhere and the pain too intense to bear.
When Pike returned to the cell, the Keeper said that he would now eat and that if he continued to disobey, they would find even more unpleasantness from deep in his mind.
Pike ate and then sprang up and rammed the invisible wall. The Keeper looked startled and stepped back. Pike asked why he looked that way — could the Talosian not read his thoughts just then?
The Keeper said that there actually was an Earth ship that crashed some time ago. There was but a single survivor.
Pike told him not to change the subject. He said that when the Talosian could not read his mind, he was thinking only of violence.
The alien went on to say that the survivor’s injuries were repaired, and they found her interesting.
Pike asked if his primitive thoughts made his mind unreadable.
The Keeper said that they needed to find a mate for her. Pike said that they were going out of their way to make her attractive to him. The alien said that was necessary to perpetuate the human species on Talos IV.
Pike asked why they wanted him happy… he wondered if they were supposed to start a human family. The Keeper said that she had been conditioned to the new life. Pike said that she had been punished for his actions. The alien smiled and said that now Pike was showing sympathy for her, which was excellent. He then walked away.
The captain now found himself in a country meadow with two horses and Veena. As Pike attempted to analyze and understand this new scenario, Veena did her best to make him feel comfortable.
She told him that he was home now and that he could stay. He said that they were not really on Earth. “We’re in a menagerie — a cage,” he told her.
Pike asked her if hate would block their minds from being read. She said that it would, but he would not be able to resist for long. She said that she tried and that now they own her. She asked if Pike hated her for that. Pike said that he didn’t.
Veena said that she could not help but love him. The Talosians read her thoughts to find out what her perfect man would be, and they used that information to lure Pike to Talos IV. Pike said that he was attracted to her as soon as he saw her.
From afar, the Talosians watched on their monitors and smiled.
Veena said that she wondered if he knew what it was like to forget to be a ship’s captain. She asked if he knew what it was like to relax.
Suddenly, Pike found himself back on Rigel with a few other Starfleet officers. They watched Veena dance and performed as a green-skinned Orion slave girl.
On the Enterprise, Mendez said that no human male could resist an Orion female. Kirk shifted in his seat, as if he agreed, and noted to himself that Pike was beginning to weaken.
Pike stood and rushed away from Veena’s dancing. He found himself in a dark corridor … when Veena in jade walked up from behind.
Meanwhile, Number One and her crew were not giving up on their aim to rescue Pike. She said that they were planning to use the transporter to beam directly into the Talosian underground base. Spock noted that some of them might beam into solid rock. Number One told them that they were free to back out of this volunteer mission.
No one did.
As they stood on the transporter pad, the ship’s engineers powered up the device… but only the female crewmembers were beamed down.
Number One and Yeoman J. M. Colt found themselves in the cell with Veena and Pike. When Veena saw the two Enterprise crew, she screamed at her captors and asked to finish what she started.
Pike grabbed their phasers and noted that they didn’t work. Number One was unable to use her communicator either. Pike told her to be quiet. He grabbed the phasers and said to her that he was filling his mind with hate. He then dropped the phasers on the floor, next to the panel where the food had been passed through.
Veena asked Pike how long he could keep it up. Colt told Veena to leave Pike alone, but she said to him that he didn’t need her and that she already picked Veena. Colt said that she didn’t understand what Veena meant. Veena said that Colt would not make for “intelligent offspring.”
“Offspring? As in he’s Adam,” said Number One. Veena sneered and said they’d have better luck mating Pike with a computer than his first officer.
Number One began to calculate Veena’s exact age based on the 18 years she had been on Talos IV. But just then, the Keeper returned to the hall.
The alien told Pike that he had a new selection of females since he resisted Veena. Pike strode to the invisible barrier and threatened the Keeper. He asked if Talosian blood was red like human blood. The Keeper ignored him and told him that the qualities of each of his shipmates might make him happy. Number One has a superior brain, while Colt has youth and strength in her favor.
As he spoke, Pike continued to conjure hateful and violent images into his mind, to cloud the ability of the Keeper. As he described what he wanted to do to the Keeper, a sudden shot of pain struck him down.
“Wrong thinking is punishable,” said the Keeper. Right thinking will be rewarded, he added.
Number One helped Pike to his feet. He said that he must concentrate on primitive thoughts and he asked for them not to help him.
That evening, as Pike and the others, slept in the cell, the Keeper returned. The Talosioan slid the panel back and reached his hand into the cell in the attempt to grab the phasers. Pike woke and saw this. He caught the Keeper and pulled him through the opening.
Pike told him to hold still while he held the Keeper’s neck. Veena pleaded with Pike not to hurt the alien, and that they did not mean to be evil. As he held the Talosian’s neck, the alien suddenly transformed into a space-ape with huge teeth. Number One and Colt jumped, but Pike knew it was an illusion.
The Keeper told Pike that if he did not release him, then they would destroy the Enterprise. Veena said that they would use the power of illusion to get the crew to press all the wrong buttons, and eventually they would destroy the ship.
Pike gave the Keeper to Number One to hold, while he tried to use the phasers again. But, as before, nothing happened. Pike said that he thought the aliens created an illusion to make them believe the phasers did not work, but in reality, they did work. He pointed the phaser at the Keeper’s giant head.
The charred hole in the invisible wall appeared.
Back at the court-martial, the screen went dead. Commodore Mendez said that the Talosians had deserted Spock, who pleaded for more time. Mendez asked for the verdict. Spock went to Pike and asked him to signal for a delay. He told Pike that this meant his life.
Kirk disagreed. What life, Kirk asked. As part of a zoo? Living life only so his captors could watch, Kirk said. Spock said that there could be meaning for Pike’s life yet.
Pike blinked once. Mendez said, “I must also vote — guilty as charged.” Kirk agreed.
The bridge messaged Mendez to report that the Enterprise had entered orbit around Talos IV. Spock said that the Talosians were now controlling the ship. The story resumed on the screen.
Pike, Number One, Colt and the Keeper returned to the surface. They observed the massive hole that their phaser cannon cut into the rock and metal, which was covered from observation by illusion.
As Pike tried to contact the Enterprise, the Keeper said that this was all part of their plan. Pike would live off the surface with the female of his choice and live “carefully guided lives.”
The Keeper said that they would provide plant life to help them live on the surface. Pike bargained, saying that he would trade the lives of his two crewmen for the Keeper’s. Send them back to the ship, and he would stay.
Number One set her phaser on overload, and as she did, told the Keeper that it was wrong to create a slave race of humans on Talos IV.
The Keeper was stunned. He could not believe that they would kill themselves, rather than be part of their plan. Pike told him that there was still time to go underground — and he shoved Veena toward the entrance. Pike said the Keeper to go as well. Veena said that she could not go with him, because that would mean they’d still have one human in bondage, and they’d try again.
Keeper said that they had not believed it possible, but humans prefer to die than to be in captivity. Humans, he said, were too dangerous to keep.
“And that’s it?” said Pike.
One of the other Talosians said that their “unsuitability” had condemned their race to death.
“You were our last hope,” said the Keeper. Pike asked what they meant. The Keeper said that humans would learn the power of illusion and destroy itself as well.
Number One informed Pike that they now had transporter control again. Pike said that they would get back to the Enterprise. Veena said that she could not join them.
Colt and Number One beamed back aboard.
Pike remained on the surface… and he watched Veena’s beauty disappear. When there was no illusion to prop her up, she was a wreck of a human being with a crooked and scarred frame.
Pike asked them to return her beauty. They did. But Pike still left. The captain then walked back to the bridge, where Spock commanded that all decks prepare for “hyperdrive.” The Enterprise broke orbit and left Talos IV.
The show was over.
Kirk stood up and walked over to Spock and considered him. He then turned to talk to Mendez… who disappeared! Kirk looked back at Spock and heard the “thought transmissions” of the Keeper, who also now appeared on the viewscreen.
The Keeper told Kirk that Mendez’s entire presentation was an illusion. He revealed to Kirk that the ruse of a court-martial would be the only hope of allowing him to relinquish control of the Enterprise. He also said that Captain Pike was welcome to spend the rest of his life on Talos IV, “unfettered by his physical body.” The decision was Kirk’s and Pike’s.
Kirk then turned to Spock and asked him why he didn’t just tell the truth. Spock said that it was not fair to tell Kirk to face the death penalty as well.
Uhura announced to Kirk and Spock that the images they had just watched were also beamed to Starbase 11, and they waived General Order 7, prohibiting contact on Talos IV. She added that Commodore Mendez recommended no action again Spock.
Kirk leaned over to Pike and asked him if he’d like to go. Pike blinked that he did. Kirk asked Spock to take Pike to the transporter room. Kirk ordered that Spock return afterward, as he wanted to talk about Spock’s emotional attitudes lately.
Spock said there was no need for insults, and that he had been logical about this entire affair.
When Spock left, the viewscreen came back on, and the Keeper told him to look at it. Veena and Pike were walking, hand-in-hand together on Talos IV.
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
WOW! What a great ending! Gene Roddenberry saved his pilot episode and wrapped the new cast (except for Spock) around it with a great new story. Very, very good.
The classic Trek themes were all represented, especially the question if humans could ever become something more and leave violence behind. While we didn’t find the answer, it’s always great to think about.
BUT! I realize that they needed to throw out all of Spock’s charges to keep him as the first officer of the Enterprise, but this really must cement why Spock never became the captain of a Starfleet vessel. He was part of a galaxy-wide manhunt (during Discovery’s Season 2) and allowed a hostile, alien force to take over control of his ship. For him to remain in the service of any fleet would be unthinkable — except under the command of Captain Jack Sparrow.
I wonder, though. Did they film two different endings? How did they get the footage at the end of Pike and Veena, or was that a Pike look-alike, since Jeffrey Hunter did not want to return to the role (which is why William Shatner was cast as the new captain)?
An excellent ending for the show, and the ‘show inside the show.’
RATING: 5 out of 5