(airdate: November 17, 1966)
Writer: Gene Roddenberry
Director: Marc Daniels [and Robert Butler, who directed "The Cage"]
Commodore Mendez: Malachi Throne
Lt. Hansen: Hagan Beggs
The injured Christopher Pike: Sean Kenney
Miss Piper: Julie Parrish
[NB: This entry only concerns itself with the new framing material; for an examination of the original pilot, please see "The Cage".]
Captain's Log: The Enterprise is diverted to Starbase 11, but the base doesn't have a record of any communique with the ship. While on Starbase 11, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy encounter Captain Christopher Pike, the previous captain of the Enterprise and Spock's former commander. A terrible accident has left Pike's body crippled, only able to respond with a flashing light - but his brain remains intact. Spock enacts a plan to take Pike to the planet Talos IV - the only planet in the galaxy forbidden to visit on pain of death - and when Captain Kirk and Commodore Mendez catch up with him, they are unable to divert the Enterprise's course. Spock begins to explain the reasoning why in a court martial hearing, but before long the hearing is interrupted with a message from Starfleet Command: they are illegally receiving transmissions from Talos IV...
Whoops!: Less a problem and more a curiosity, but the door to Pike's room in the medical center swings, rather than slides, open. And it's a little rude how the copy of General Order 7 that Mendez shows Kirk goes out of its way (twice!) to single out Spock as "Half-Vulcan Science Officer Spock". It's not like Pike is called "Human Captain Christopher Pike", after all.
It's probably more obvious now than at the time, what with people such as Dr. Stephen Hawking around, but is there really no way to allow Pike to communicate more than "yes" or "no"? At the very least he could signal in Morse Code (since we see the duration of the flashes change), or perhaps a more efficient system could be devised. This doesn't seem like an insurmountable problem.
The preview trailer for this episode provides the incorrect stardate of 1512.2. [This stardate is from last week's episode, "The Corbomite Manuever"; presumably they didn't have the actual stardate available at the time they cut together the trailer.]
Classic Lines: "Miss Piper, a Vulcan can no sooner be disloyal than he can exist without breathing."
Technobabble: Detailed information about Talos IV is cross-referenced with 3XY phagrin level-mass computer.
Library Computer: Starbase 11 is a Starfleet installation located on a blue-black planet with a purple sky, with a large ringed planet prominent in the sky. In the part we see, there is a lawn, some sculptures, and large skyscrapers (rather like squared-off mushrooms) in the distance. Starbase 11 is run by Commodore Jose Mendez, a stocky man with a thinning hairline and a friendly disposition. He's dressed in command gold, with a starburst assignment patch [the patch for Starfleet Command] and commodore stripes on his wrists - a thick gold band with decorative braiding on either side. [This is by airdate the first time we see a commodore on the show; by production it's "Court Martial", with Commodore Stone.] One of Commodore Mendez's aides is a young woman named Piper, who has a mutual friend with Kirk named Lt. Helen Johansson. Kirk appeared to become slightly nervous when Piper said that Johansson had described him to her. Starbase 11 also included a computer center, with a couple of technicians, including a Chief Humbolt, on duty, and a medical section.
This medical section was, at the time of this episode, looking after Fleet Captain and former Enterprise commander Christopher Pike. A number of months ago, Pike was involved in an accident while inspecting an old class J cadet starship; a baffle plate ruptured, exposing people to delta rays. Pike went in, bringing out the cadets who were still alive, but he was very badly injured in the process. Pike was reduced to a vegetative state; his mind was as active as ever, but he was confined to a black enclosed wheelchair. His heart was kept beating by a machine, his face was very badly scarred (even blackened on his right side), his hair had turned white, and he could only communicate by flashing a light on his chair: one flash for "yes", two for "no". The chair was tuned in to his brainwaves, so he could also move the chair around slightly. Starfleet felt bad for Pike, so he was kept on the active duty list - a moment of weakness that Spock was able to exploit. Kirk had previously met Pike when Pike was promoted to Fleet Captain, while Spock served under Pike for eleven years, four months, and five days; during that time he had never disobeyed Pike's orders. Mendez described Pike as roughly Kirk's age, and formerly a handsome, active man. [The age seems a bit odd; Kirk is 34 in "The Deadly Years", which aired after this, which would make Pike an impressively young captain. It's more likely that Mendez is speaking off the cuff and doesn't actually know how old they are.]
Spock claimed to have received a message from Starbase 11 diverting the Enterprise there, but neither the ship's computers nor the starbase's record tapes showed any evidence of such a message. [This may have been part of Spock's deception, but it's equally likely that it was the Talosians who originally contacted him.] Spock planned on taking Pike to Talos IV, in violation of General Order 7, which stated that no [Starfleet] vessel could visit Talos IV for any reason; violating this order was the only law that still carried the death penalty, and thus was the reason Spock couldn't confide in Kirk as to his plans. Spock used Starbase 11's computer facility to fake secret orders that were to be carried out via the ship's computers. The destination was scramble-fed into the Enterprise's helm computer, and Spock cross-circuited the computer such that it couldn't be disengaged from the helm without also disengaging life support.
There's a copy of General Order 7 that's sealed with a magnetic lock that's been issued for "eyes of Starfleet Command only". This document doesn't explain why no one can visit Talos IV, but it does note that the Enterprise is the only Earth ship to have visited the planet. [So, we're not counting the S.S. Columbia then?] It's signed by Robert L. Comsol, commanding officer. [This scene is the first time (by airdate; by production it's "Court Martial" again) the word "Starfleet" is used on the series as the organization that the Enterprise and her crew belong to.]
Starfleet General Orders require that one who is accused of violating a general order must be given a preliminary hearing before being court-martialled. A mutiny board requires no less than three command officers. If one of the board asks the accused why they did something, that allows the accused to provide the evidence they think will provide the answer to that question.
Talos IV is located in the third quadrant of [the] vernal galaxy [whatever that means]. It's the only forbidden world in the galaxy, according to Kirk. It was six days away from Starbase 11 at maximum warp. According to the official command reports, Talos IV contained no practical benefits to humanity. The Talosians themselves were able to broadcast the events of thirteen years ago [aka "The Cage"] in order to explain why Spock felt it necessary to do what he did, although this was also in violation of Starfleet General Orders. The Talosians' record of events was far more advanced than anything Starfleet had access to.
A class F shuttlecraft is a boxy, short-range vessel, with a duranium metal shell and powered by ion engines, which are suspended on the bottom sides of the craft. Kirk and Mendez take one of Starbase 11's shuttlecraft in an effort to intercept the Enterprise. [The remastered version of this episode says this is the Picasso, registry SB11-1201/1; the original version is too indistinct to make out. This is the first appearance by airdate of the typical shuttlecraft (by production it's "The Galileo Seven").]
Spock is a lieutenant commander. [This is the first time (once again, by airdate; by production it's "Court Martial") that we learn Spock is a lieutenant commander. The production team's intention was that he's wearing commander's stripes because he's been brevetted - made an acting commander to fill the post of first officer - so this isn't a mistake.]
Starfleet dress uniforms consist of a jacket with a small standing collar [sometimes called a Mandarin collar] lined with gold embroidery; this embroidery runs down the edge of the jacket flap to the bottom. The dress uniforms are made of a material that appears more satin-like than the standard uniform. These uniforms are adorned with small different-colored triangles, presumably representing awards and decorations. [Yep, once again this is the first appearance by airdate of Starfleet dress uniforms; by production it's - you guessed it - "Court Martial".] Starfleet ranks on the dress uniforms could be determined based on the gold piping: lieutenant commanders had thin gold piping around the collar and running down the front of the uniform; commanders had a thick gold embroidery in place of the piping; captains had the thick gold embroidery, but also thin gold piping running from the collar to the armpit; and commodores had the same embroidery and piping as captains, but with additional thin gold piping running from the collar down the length of the sleeves.
According to Dr. McCoy, Federation science can tie into every human organ except the brain. He also states that Vulcans are incapable of lying.
There's no trouble in the space sector currently being patrolled by the Enterprise.
Final Analysis: "Captain, Jim, please don't stop me. Don't let him stop me. It's your career and Captain Pike's life. You must see the rest of the transmission." This first part is compelling viewing, as it takes the already outstanding pilot and frames around it a mystery regarding Spock and his seemingly illogical actions. And the appearance of the injured Pike is justly iconic.
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Page originally created: August 18, 2016
Page last updated: September 29, 2018