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The Menagerie, Part 1

Review

Series : The Original Series Rating : 4
Disc No : 1.3 Episode : 16
First Aired : 17 Nov 1966 Stardate : 3012.4
Director : Marc Daniels Year : 2267
Writers : Gene Roddenberry Season : 1
Guest Cast :
Brett Dunham as Security chief
Eddie Paskey as Lieutenant Leslie
Ian Reddin as Security guard
Jeffery Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike
Julie Parrish as Miss Piper
Majel Barrett as Number One
Malachi Throne as Commodore Mendez
Sean Kenney as Captain Christopher Pike
Susan Oliver as Vina
Moral :
Loyalty : Loyalty, no matter the consequences, is a good thing
YATI : Behold the marvel of the 23rd century that is Fleet Captain Pike's chair and communication system. He has a light, which he flashes once for "yes" and twice for "no". Contrast that with what we've accomplished in the backwards era of the early 21st century - Professor Stephen Hawking, for instance, is at least as badly incapacitated as Pike is. Yet he can communicate very effectively, if a little slowly. Yeah, I know, there's no way they could have foreseen any of that in the 1960s.

Look at the report that Kirk reads about the Enterprise's visit to Talos IV. It actually says in the report that the USS Enterprise was "commanded by Captain Christopher Pike with Half-Vulcan Science Officer Spock". It even has it again at the bottom of the report where the two officers sign off on it. Um.... really? They specify people's racial status in their reports? Or at least, they specify non-Human people's species - notice it doesn't say "Commanded by Human Captain Christopher Pike", which would at least be consistent, if still a bit weird. It makes Starfleet seem oddly racist.

Great Moment : Spock's complete out manoeuvring of Kirk and the others at the court marshal, and dare one say Vina as the green Orion slave girl? A classic bit of Trek sexism!
Body Count : Zero
Factoid : When doing makeup tests for Vina as an orion slave girl, the film kept coming back without the green being visible. The makeup people painted the poor woman ever-brighter shades of green in the hope that it would become visible on film - only to discover that the film processing lab was recolourising her because they didn't know she was meant to be green!

Robert H. Justman suggested turning the footage from the unaired pilot into a double episode because the show had run out of scripts and would have to shut down production whilst more were written. Originally the surrounding story was written by John D.F. Black, but Roddenberry was unhappy with it and rewrote it himself. Black filed a grievance demanding payment and screen credit for his work, but the claim was denied.

Roddenberry had considered ways to use the pilot episode before this. One plan was to turn it into a theatrical film; the running time would be increased by filming scenes set around the crash of the Columbia, which wouldn't require Jeffrey Hunter to reprise the role. The idea never materialised.

This is the only two part episode in the whole of the original series.

The two parter won the 1967 Hugo Award for "Best Dramatic Presentation".

Quote : "RHIP Captain... rank hath its privileges." - Commodore Mendez to Kirk

"Now, that man can think anything we can, and love, hope, dream as much as we can. But he can't reach out and no one can reach in!" - McCoy to Kirk; on Pike

Plotline

On Enterprise arrives at Starbase 11, responding to a message from Captain Pike asking them to divert from their normal route. On arrival, however, the base commander Commodore Mendez denies any such message was sent. It could not have been - for although Captain Pike is indeed at the base he is an invalid, horribly burned by exposure to delta rays in an accident aboard a training ship. Pike is virtually paralysed, capable of communicating only by blinking a light once for yes, twice for no.

Pike declines to 'talk' to them about the mystery, though he does allow Spock to remain - the two served together for over eleven years when Pike was captain of the Enterprise. Spock informs Pike that he is there for some purpose of his own, which Pike responds to in the negative, again and again.

Meanwhile Kirk finds that the communication logs of the Enterprise reveal that Spock never received any message, something he is reluctant to believe. Spock's link to pike makes Mendez suspicious, yet Kirk notes that if all Spock wanted to do was visit his former commander he had only to ask, as he had plenty of leave accumulated.

Spock enters the Starbase computer centre, immobilising a technician and using the computer system there to send falsified orders to the Enterprise. The orders are to head for Talos IV, a planet several days away, leaving Kirk behind on the station. Spock sends a faked transmission from Kirk to confirm the orders, causing surprise but ultimate acceptance by the crew. Spock beams up to the ship and calls for McCoy to join him to deal with a medical matter - that matter proving to be Captain Pike, who Spock has brought aboard. The ship departs for Talos IV, much to Kirk's surprise.

Mendez shows Kirk a file regarding Talos IV, indicating that Starfleet has placed a quarantine on the world - and trespass there is punishable by death, the only crime on the books for which that penalty is allowed. However, there is little in the way of information and no real explanation of why the planet rates this special treatment. When the Enterprise departs Kirk takes a shuttle to pursue it, with Commodore Mendez accompanying him.

On the ship, Spock detects the shuttle following along behind them. The little craft hasn't the fuel to return to the Starbase, and will end up a drifting hulk in space if it does not reach the ship. McCoy, suspicious of all the strange activity, wonders aloud if it might be Captain Kirk on board. Faced with abandoning Kirk to die Spock confesses his deception to McCoy, and surrenders himself for arrest. Kirk and Mendez are beamed aboard. Investigation proves that Spock has tied in the navigation computer to life support, meaning any attempt to divert from their destination will kill the entire crew.

Mendez orders a hearing held on Spock, but the First Officer waives it and requests an immediate court martial. He points out that the required judging panel of three officers is indeed possible - Mendez and Kirk making up two and Pike the third, since he has not yet been taken off the active duty list. The court martial is duly convened, and Mendez begins by asking Spock to explain his actions. Unfortunately asking such an open question gives Spock a free pass to enter whatever evidence he deems necessary to explain his actions. He begins to show the court martial video footage from a mission the Enterprise undertook 13 years ago, whilst Pike was in command. The ship picked up a distress call from Talos IV indicating that the survey ship SS Columbia was stranded there 18 years before. They travel to the planet and find an encampment of survivors, including a young woman named Vina. However, the situation is a trap - Vina lures Pike to a nearby rock formation where strange aliens abduct him and drag him into an underground base. All attempts to follow fail, and the rest of the landing party are left helpless on the surface.

When the origin of the recordings is questioned, it is found that they are being transmitted from Talos IV itself. Mendez is ordered by Starfleet to prevent further transmissions at any cost, and to relieve Kirk of command. Despite this, Spock declines to do anything to change matters.

Analysis

To me, the best aspect of these two episodes is the use of the pilot footage. Yes, it's a trick used out of need rather than choice - but desperation can push people into a level of creativity that a big fat budget does not, and this is an example. The episode gives us an earlier iteration of the Enterprise, a Starbase, an alien planet, an underground alien base, several "dream" locations, and several guest stars - ironically for a show done on the cheap, what we get looks like one of the more expensive, high-production episodes TOS ever did.

The idea of Spock turning traitor is an interesting and engaging one, and his motives keep you guessing. You never get the idea that he's become a bad guy as such... you know he's doing something that we will be able to sympathise with, but you can't really see what that might be.

There are some weaknesses, though. Mostly they centre on the whole 'death penalty' thing. It's so obviously put there to try and up the stakes on what is happening, but there's really no justification for it. It's just kind of there. This is even more true of the idea that it applies to Kirk. Yes, sure, Kirk is responsible for what happens aboard his ship. But that really extends to the idea that Kirk is automatically guilty of anything anybody on the ship does, as if he had done it himself? By all means, have Starfleet take the view that Kirk's allowing Spock to get the better of him indicates that he's not fit to command and needs to be removed. But planting a death threat on him comes across as so heavy handed that it's just stupid.


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 4,135 Last updated : 24 Nov 2014