(airdate: November 24, 1966)
Writer: Gene Roddenberry
Director: Robert Butler [and Marc Daniels, who directed the new framing sequence]
Commodore Mendez: Malachi Throne
The injured Christopher Pike: Sean Kenney
Lt. Hansen: Hagan Beggs
[NB: As with the previous entry, this one only concerns itself with the framing material; for an examination of the original pilot, please see "The Cage".]
Captain's Log: With no way to stop the transmission from Talos IV, Kirk, Mendez, and Pike reconvene Spock's court-martial in a closed session, where the events of thirteen years ago continue to play out on the screen. They see how Pike was forced to experience both pain and pleasure in an effort to tame him, so that the Talosians could breed a race of slave humans, but it takes a while before the reason why Spock is taking Pike back to Talos IV is revealed; the Talosians can essentially free Pike from his crippled body, allowing him to live out his days as a healthy, active man, similar to how Vina was able to live. Pike wants to do this, so Kirk lets him go, and he watches on the viewscreen as Pike and Vina, both young and healthy, head down into the Talosian complex. Meanwhile, Starbase 11 has also seen this evidence, and Mendez decides to clear Spock of all charges.
Whoops!: There's an odd moment regarding the transition of the previous episode to this one. Part I ended with Spock being locked up, the hearing essentially over, as it became clear that the Talosians were transmitting the images in violation of General Order 7. Yet this episode starts up as if the hearing were still in full force, with no real explanation why. Similarly, later in the episode the Talosians stop transmitting their recording for no obvious reason, giving Kirk, Mendez, and Pike the opportunity to find Spock guilty. [Maybe this is because the Talosians need to take a moment to control the Enterprise, but it looks more like Roddenberry wanted something suitably dramatic for the ad break.] Oh, and that's a point: it turns out Mendez isn't actually aboard the Enterprise: the one who joined Kirk in the shuttlecraft was an illusion the Talosians created. But if that's the case, why is Starfleet Command sending a message to Commodore Mendez aboard the Enterprise in Part I? Or, alternately, if this message is also an illusion...why bother in the first place? What's the advantage in trying to get Kirk also in trouble? You also have to wonder at the choice of material, as for most of this evidence the argument seems to be firmly on Starfleet's side; wouldn't it have been easier for Spock to say, "The Talosians can free Pike from his body and give him a happy illusion of health, here's my proof"? And the Talosians state at the end that by creating a false Mendez, they were distracting Kirk from regaining control of his ship - but why would Kirk need to be involved with this in the first place? What is Scotty doing during this hearing (particularly since it becomes a closed hearing in this episode)?
It's the bit everyone notices, but Pike arrives on Talos IV at the end way too fast - the door's barely closed on him leaving the hearing room and Kirk's already watching him on the planet. The obvious explanation [well, beyond dramatic license] is that this is an illusion created by the Talosians to reassure Kirk - but if that's the case, that has a rather nasty undertone to it, if the Talosians feel the need to fake a happy ending. And it's not really a problem, but it is worth noting that Pike's ultimate fate is to spend the rest of his life more or less inside his head - in other words, he gets to enjoy the same experience that destroyed the Talosian civilization in the first place.
Classic Lines: Kirk: "Mr. Spock, when you're finished, please come back and see me. I want to talk to you. This regrettable tendency you've been showing lately towards flagrant emotionalism—" Spock: "I see no reason to insult me, sir. I believe I've been completely logical about the whole affair."
Library Computer: The Talosian Keeper has the ability to take control of the hearing room's viewscreen and project images to it, and these images [or similar ones] can also be broadcast to Starbase 11. The Talosians can also take control of the Enterprise itself once the ship is close enough to Talos IV. [This was also apparent in "The Cage", but they cut that moment from this version (probably since it showed Spock preparing to abandon Pike, Number One, and Yeoman Colt).] They could also fabricate an illusory Mendez for Captain Kirk and the others from a long distance - as far as Starbase 11, even. The Talosians did this to distract Kirk from regaining control of the ship. The Talosians cared about Pike's well-being, even halting the broadcast of images to give him time to rest, and offering to free him from his body, allowing him to live the rest of his life unfettered and with Vina [presumably] - an offer that Pike takes them up on.
The real Commodore Mendez (whose middle initial, incidentally, is I.) chose to suspend General Order 7 on this occasion in view of Pike's "historic importance...in space exploration", and thus charges against Spock were dropped.
According to the illusory Mendez, Orion slave girls are vicious and seductive, and they say no human male can resist them.
Final Analysis: "Talos controls the vessel now, sir, as they did thirteen years ago. You've asked me why. You'll see the answer now." This second part maintains the quality of the first, giving us a fascinating glimpse into a previous era of the Enterprise. And while the whole story may have been born as an act of desperation (as production was getting closer and closer to missing their airdate, and they had an unused pilot just sitting there), overall "The Menagerie" is an outstanding tale, taking the already good pilot and not only giving the public a chance to see it but also adding a nice message regarding Spock's loyalty to his friend and former commander. Plus they took the opportunity to cut some of the more questionable moments from the pilot, leaving this version possibly even stronger than the original. It deserved the Hugo Award it won.
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Page originally created: August 18, 2016
Page last updated: November 1, 2016