The history behind this episode is the coolest!! I love origin stories about stuff I love, so reading up about this has been great. I recommend looking some of this up for yourself, since I'm just barely scratching the surface of what went on behind the scenes. This is the original 1964 pilot, which NBC rejected. Nearly every character was replaced (except Spock) and the interior of the ship looks different. Once the second pilot was picked up, this episode was eventually cut up and spliced into a two-part episode call The Menagerie. They re-framed the story so that this occurred 11 years before the Captain Kirk missions began. Back in the olden days editing was done by actually CUTTING and GLUING film, so the original color footage with audio was thought to be lost/unrecoverable. Gene Roddenberry kept a black and white reel, which he showed at small conventions after the original series ended. In 1987 a film archivist found an unmarked mute reel in a lab with the negatives of the unused scenes (in color). He sent these back to Roddenberry's company, where they eventually pieced the original footage back together. The Cage was first aired on tv in November of 1988.
What I loved:
You gotta remember that this is a pilot. They make zero attempt to secretly/obviously explain the crazy new technology they're using, what the heck Star Fleet is, why they're even in space, character backgrounds, etc. And I love that! They relied on the audience to use context clues (something people nowadays can't do) to figure everything out instead of wasting time with pointless dialogue. Ex: "Man, I can never get used to these transporters. Every time it breaks me down into tiny electrical signals and transmits me from one location to another I just feel like it might not have re-assembled my genetic code correctly."
All right, let's get started.
Episode 0.1 - The Cage
Plot: The Enterprise receives an 18 year old distress signal from the SS Columbia, which crashed on a planet in the Talos star system. Captain Christopher Pike (originally named Robert April before script revisions!) is held prisoner and tested by aliens who have the power to project lifelike illusions.
The first thing I noticed was the intro. There's not "Space - The Final Frontier." I'm glad they added that.
After hearing the distress signal and choosing to continue on the original mission, Captain Pike heads back to his quarters. Along the way, he passes by these two clowns in the hallway. What are they wearing?? I get that they're supposed to be off-duty, but... are they also headed to the beach in 1955? I'm gonna need something a little more appropriate for space travel.
After a two second "I need you now" communication to what must be his secret lover, Dr. Phillip Boyce, Pike flops down (go back and watch the flop action) and poses enticingly on the bed.
His eyes are saying "Come to me big daddy."
While discussing the distress signal and a previous mission where crew members were killed, the doc mixes up a couple martinis from the supplies in his doctor bag. "Sometimes a man will tell his bartender things he'd never tell his doctor," he says in the teasing voice he reserves only for his lover.
They jabber on about Pike blaming himself for the deaths and wanting to leave Star Fleet to either 1) ride horses and eat picnics 2) live in the Orion colony selling green women slaves. This I didn't make up.
Spock interrupts this lover's quarrel to announce that a second message has been received, indicating that there were survivors that made it to the planet. Pike agrees that they should go check it out. Yeoman Colt (a female!) who obviously hasn't been around for very long, dares to enter the bridge and speak to the captain. After explaining that he had asked her for an update, she hustles away looking terrified. I like to think that she walked in on a doctor/captain after-hours "bonding session" and has been sworn to secrecy. The captain tries to play the awkwardness off by saying that he is "can't get used to having a woman on the bridge." He says this to Number One, his female first officer (who doesn't have a real name).
"No offence, lieutenant. You're different. Of course." I think he's hinting that she's a lesbian. Either way, when he gets an away-team together, she's left behind to look after things like a good woman should. [Sexist instances in one scene - 2.]
The team transports to the surface and stumbles upon.. something. Let's call them blue bra padding on sticks. I think they're meant to be a plant that jiggles around? Whatever they are makes Spock happy while he fondles them.
They walk ten feet past the bra padding and find a raggedy group of humans. They appear to all be old, white men over the age of one billion. The one on the right must be the leader, because he's wearing a very ornate seaweed scarf. If you look closely, you can see that the third man from the left is in fact my good friend, Laura Tully.
While explaining their rescue plan, an unnamed ensign stops mid-sentence so that they can all stare at the blonde bombshell who sashays into the conversation. Vina was born right before the ship crashed, making her 18, if you're keeping track. Since she didn't look anywhere near 18, I looked the actress up - 33.
Pike makes a just-jizzed-my-pants face just as the shot zooms out, revealing a group of weirdo telepathic aliens (the Talosians) that are watching this meeting unfold on tv screens.
|Fun fact: All of the Talosians were played by women because they wanted them to look like they were puny and weak. Male voices were later dubbed in for the telepathic communication.|
Turns out that the Talosians are super bored, and the only thing they enjoy in life is capturing new species, putting them in cages filled with realistic projections of everything they could ever want (or fear), and watching these tests on their tv screens. Pike goes through a series of hallucinations and complains that nothing is real while Vina tries to convince him that he should just go with it.
My good friend Kelley made a guest appearance as the fur-loving poster child for dental hygiene.
Some good quotes from the middle here
Pike: "Why are you here?"
Vina: "To please you."
*more talking about what's real*
Pike: "They dress you in the same metal fabric they wear?"
Vina: "I've have to wear something..... don't I? *winky face*
It's actually a cute outfit...
Turns out the Talosians started living underground after some huge war wiped out the surface of the planet. And since they had to stay inside all day, they focused on developing mental powers. They also collected two of each kind of species they could (bird people, bear people, etc.) and used their thoughts and dreams to entertain themselves. Eventually they spent so much time creating illusions/dreams that they forgot how to actually do anything, like repair their machinery. At this point Pike discovers that Vina is real, the sole survivor from the crash, and the Talosians need him as the male human generate new humans to observe. I'm feeling sorry for Vina. Pike is the first human she's ever been around. She's just a single lady looking for someone to put a ring on it.
Pike gets his wish to ride horses and go on picnics. This is actually supposed to be Mojave, aka the Mojave Desert which was converted into a huge city with giant parks, and is Pike's hometown.
The park just wasn't doing it for ole' Cap, so they switched it up and tried out selling green slave women. Laura popped back up to make sexy faces and say helloooo.
Vina, now Greena, gives this lovely dog statue a lapdance...
While this creep makes an even creepier statement -
"Funny how they are on this planet. Actually like being taken advantage of."
I guess the aliens wanted to give Pike a couple more options for who he wanted to repopulate the planet with. Vina insults her competition while Number One begins to reveal that there was a person Vina on the flight that crashed, but that she was an adult. Now plus 18 years... Cat fight! Insulting intelligence and age all over the place. Just to make the situation more awkward, one of the aliens comes out and describes the qualities in each girl. Number One is smart, will make smart babies, and often has fantasies about the captain. The Yeoman has youth, strength, and "unusually strong female drives." Good lord.
Back on the Enterprise, Spock takes charge and says it's time for them to peace the f- out of this galaxy. Shockingly, the controls stop working.
FINALLY Pike grabs an alien as it tries to sneak into the cage through the food door. They go back and forth for a long while trying to trade the safety of the female crewmen for him to go along with the boning. The aliens download the ship's library, read all of recorded human history, and realize that humans have a "strong aversion for captivity." Der. Apparently that's shocking.
That does the trick, and they just decide that humans aren't suitable to be their slaves and just let them go. Vina couldn't come along because she was too ugly and wanted to live in a dreamland. When she crashed, she was just a pile of flesh, and they just guessed about how to put her back together. I feel like they could have been like "maybe she looks like us, only less bulbous" but instead they put her head on crooked and stuff.
You'd think they'd just fly away and the episode would be over. Oh, no. They have to get one more awkward moment in. Yeoman Idiot, in front of everyone, asks Pike "Who would have been Eve?" (to his Adam). This is her getting chewed out by Number One.
The doctor understands her not-so-subtle question, and is unable to contain his jealousy.
Doctor: "As in Adam and Eve?" Captain: "As in all ships doctors are dirty old men." Then they smiled, looked into each other's eyes, and went about their duties.
In the end, true love conquered all.