One brief note before getting into this episode: “The Menagerie” recycles pretty much the entirety of the pilot episode, “The Cage.” Since I’ve already written a post on that episode, I’m not going to go into too much detail about those portions. If you would like to, you can read my recap of “The Cage” here.
Now, on to the episode.
The episode opens on a planet, specifically on a well-manicured courtyard with a number of abstract statues. A woman in a red uniform with a rather odd-looking insignia is staring off at something in the distance.
At this point, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy materialize on the planet, and the woman (who we later learn is named Piper) approaches them. Clearly expecting them, she welcomes the trio to Starbase 11, saying that “the commodore” is waiting to see them, and also that he’s wondering why they changed course to come here.
Kirk explains that they received a message saying that they needed to come immediately. Piper responds that the base hasn’t sent any such message before leading them inside.
The scene transitions to an office, which we learn belongs to the base’s commander, Commodore Mendez. Mendez basically echoes Piper’s question from earlier, saying that he isn’t quite sure why they’re there. Kirk reiterates what he told Piper, and adds that it came from the Enterprise’s former captain, Captain Pike.
Mendez points out that would be impossible. They argue this a bit, and then Mendez asks them if they know what happened to Pike. They don’t, so he decides to show them.
They head to the base’s medical section as Mendez informs the other three: Pike had been performing an inspection of a ship and ended up getting hit by delta rays. They then enter the room and find Pike, horrifically scarred and now confined to the most impractical looking wheelchair I’ve ever seen.
Mendez asks if Pike remembers the other three, and says that they’ve come to visit him. A light on the front of the wheelchair blinks twice, which Mendez explains means no. I’m sorry, I know this episode came out in the 60s, but I’m just amused by the idea that this communication method from the future is somehow less advanced than the one that, say, Stephen Hawking uses now.
Anyway, the three look mildly perturbed, and Mendez asks if he would make an exception for them. He responds by flashing no again, and Mendez apologizes as he starts to herd the others out. Spock, reluctant to leave, asks Pike if he can stay for just a moment, to which Pike flashes yes.
The others leave, and Spock says that Pike knows why he’s there. Basically, Spock wants to take him somewhere and Pike, as indicated by his flashing no, doesn’t want to go. But Spock clearly knows what’s best for Pike better than Pike himself, and is going to do it anyway.
The credits roll, and the scene cuts back to Mendez’s office. Kirk explains again that Spock received a message, and since Spock said it, it’s all the proof he needs. Mendez once again tells him that no such message was sent from the base, but Kirk thinks that someone tampered with the base’s records. Mendez retorts that doesn’t change the fact that there is no way Pike could have sent the message in his current state, plus he only has Spock’s word that he received a message.
After they argue the point some more, Kirk asks why someone would want them there, since there don’t seem to be any problems in the area. In answer, Mendez clicks a monitor on and calls the base’s computer room, asking if they’ve checked the record. They have, and Kirk proposes the possibility that a message was sent without the rest of the base knowing about it. The computer guy says they’ve checked every possibly, and Mendez tells him to start checking the impossible.
The scene switches to the computer room, where Spock creeps up on the computer guy, giving him the ol’ neck pinch before fiddling around with a console.
Back in Mendez’s office, Mendez formally introduces Kirk to Piper. Piker says that she recognizes him from the descriptions of a mutual friend, a Lieutenant Helen Johansson. Kirk looks surprised, but Piper reassures him that the lieutenant only mentioned that she knew the captain. Hmmmmm…
Anyway, the two grin at each other for a moment until Kirk reminds Piper that she has a report she needs to give him. Piper gets down to business, saying that their investigation didn’t turn up much besides Spock’s loyalty to his previous captain. Kirk reponds with, “A Vulcan can no sooner be disloyal than he can exist without breathing. That goes for his present commander as well as his his past.”
Piper tells him that the had to consider every possibility, and points out again that there was no way that Pike could have sent the message Spock claims to have received in his current condition. Mendez and Piper then add that Pike’s chair is attuned to his brain waves, so he can move the chair around and use the blinking lights to answer yes or no questions, but that’s really about it. Plus they have people watching over him all the time, so he wouldn’t be sending anything anytime soon.
Kirk asks if there’s any way Pike could have asked someone to send a message on his behalf, and Mendez shakes his head.
The scene then briefly cuts back to the computer room, where Spock is messing around with a console. As he does this, a voice can be heard at a variety of speeds as he adjusts it. Finally getting to the right speed, he transmits a message to the ship, telling them to stand by for new orders.
On the bridge, Uhura tells the helmsman, a guy named Hansen, that there’s a message from the base. She plays it over the intercom, and it’s the voice that Spock was adjusting earlier. The voice adds that the orders are top secret. Hansen punches something on a console, and reports that they’re on standby. Uhura gets up and walks over to Hansen (who seems to be in charge temporarily), who tells her to call the base to get confirmation.
Meanwhile, in the base’s computer room, a member of that crew walks in on Spock. He asks Spock what he’s doing there, since it’s a restricted area. Spock proceeds to lie out of his ass, saying that he has clearance. However, the other guy notices that he’s cross circuited the computer panel and a scuffle breaks out.
As this is happening, we hear Uhura requesting confirmation from Kirk over the intercom. Spock subdues the other guy with, yes, a neck pinch, then inserts a chip with a simulation of Kirk’s voice on it. Using this, he transmits a message providing the Enterprise with the confirmation that they seek. Hansen brings up the fact that the information they received was scrambles, and asks how he’s supposed to handle the helm if they have no idea where they’re supposed to be going.
Spock puts in another Kirk chip, this one saying that Spock will be able to answer that. Spock then gets on the horn himself, and explains that the ship’s computers will handle navigation, since the course will be set automatically. He adds that they are not to discuss this with the rest of the crew.
Hanen acknowledges the order, and Spock says that they’ll be heading out in one hour before ending the transmission and leaving the room.
Scene shifts again, and we’re in a different room where Kirk is watching Pike on a monitor. McCoy walks in, and Kirk says to him that he’s been blinking no the whole time, and wonders what he’s saying no to. McCoy responds that they’ve tried questioning him, and that he’s “almost agitated himself into a coma” over something. Kirks asks him how long he’ll live, and McCoy responds:
As long as any of us. Blast medicine anyway. We’ve learned to tie into every human organ in the body except one. The brain. The brain is what life is all about. Now, that man can think any thought that we can, and love, hope, dream as much as we can, but he can’t reach out, and no one can reach in.
Kirk once again notes that he’s blinking no, and McCoy asks, “No to what?” He adds that they could ask him that question for weeks before figuring out what he’s saying no to. Kirk then asks if this could have something to do with Spock.
McCoy says he doesn’t follow, so Kirk explains that either a message really was sent to get them to Starbase 11, or Spock is lying to them about having received one in the first place. McCoy is a bit dismissive of the second option, since Vulcans aren’t capable of lying. Kirk then points out that Spock is half human, but McCoy counters that Spock would be mortified to be caught thinking like a human.
Kirk angrily responds that someone’s interfering with his command, and that Spock has the technical prowess to plant a fake message; McCoy, however, is adamant that this is something Spock wouldn’t do. They argue about this for a bit longer, but are interrupted by a voice over the intercom saying that there’s a medical emergency and McCoy is needed back on the ship. McCoy asks for more details, but the voice says that’s all the information that they have.
McCoy ends the transmission and wryly tells the captain that someone probably just has a hangnail. He says that he’ll keep Kirk informed as he leaves the room.
The scene cuts back to Mendez’s office, where Kirk has been given a sealed document labeled “Talos IV.”
Mendez assures Kirk that he’ll certify that he ordered him to read it, and asks what Kirk knows about the planet in question. Kirk answers that he knows what any other starship captain does, as Piper keeps watch over Pike on a monitor. He elaborates that he knows Talos IV is forbidden territory, and Mendez adds that going there is the only crime the Federation has that’s punishable by death. Mendez then unseals the document, and says that it doesn’t explain much, but it does name the only Starfleet vessel to visit the planet: the Enterprise, under Pike’s command.
Piper then looks away for a brief moment, then back to the monitor, where she notes that something is very, very wrong: Pike is no longer there.
Mendez goes to the intercom, and is told by someone else that the Enterprise is leaving orbit and won’t respond to their hails.
The scene then shifts to the ship leaving the planet, then to the bridge, where Hansen tells Spock that they’re out of orbit and comments that it seems strange without a navigator there. Spock replies that the ship “knows where she’s going.”
Uhura reports that someone’s trying to hail them; Spock tells her to maintain radio silence, much to her surprise. He goes on the ship’s intercom and announces that he is now in temporary command of the ship, and that their destination is top secret but the mission itself should be simple He adds that Starbase Command has put Kirk on a medical rest leave, and that Kirk said that they should obey Spock as if he were the captain.
As he’s saying all this, McCoy comes onto the bridge and says that no one told him that Kirk was going on medical leave, not to mention that the medical emergency he was supposed to be there for was bogus. Spock says that, regretfully, he had to keep some things from the doctor, before asking McCoy to come with him.
They go to another room on the ship, where Pike is now in residence.
McCoy asks Spock what the fuck is going on here, then asks Pike if he’s all right without waiting for an answer. Pike, of course, is still blinking no, which is obviously because he doesn’t want to be here. Spock asks McCoy to wait a moment before playing a message that’s ostensibly (but clearly isn’t) from Kirk, telling him not to disturb Pike with questions, just take really good care of him, and to follow Spock’s instructions.
Spock goes back to the bridge, where Hansen tells him that something’s following them, and that it may be a shuttlecraft. He asks if they should reverse the helm. Spock says, rather brusquely, not to do anything. Hansen protests, saying that they’re going too fast for the shuttle to keep up, and they might need to reach them at some point. Spock reiterates the previous order.
We then cut to the shuttle, which is currently occupied by Kirk and Mendez. Mendez is still trying to hail the ship, which is still not responding. Kirk says that Spock is definitely heading towards Talos IV, and Mendez adds that they’re pulling way ahead of them. He also notes that they currently have just enough fuel to make it back to Starbase 11 before if they turn back now. Kirk tries hailing them again, with still no response.
Back on the Enterprise’s bridge, Spock tells the ship’s computer to scan the shuttle. It doesn, and confirms that it’s a shuttle, and starts to give him more details about it. He cuts if off, and asks it how long before it doesn’t have enough fuel to make it back to the starbase. The computer confirms that it’s already past that point.
Spock, of course, is not happy about this and we cut back to the shuttlecraft. At this point, it appears to have run out of fuel and Mendez notes that it’s drifting. Kirk cusses Mendez out for a bit for insisting that he come along. Mendez responds RHIP: rank hath its privileges.
Kirk gives him a mildly annoyed look, then moves to another panel. He says that they only have about two hours of oxygen left, to which Mendez sarcastically responds, “wonderful.” Kirk says that part of him kind of hopes that the Enterprise doesn’t rescue him, because that would mean a court martial for Spock. Mendez says that’s preferable to what would happen to him if he makes it to Talos IV, since he’ll be executed if that happens. He follows this up by asking why Spock wants to get Pike there, since the previous reports on the planet indicated that there was nothing beneficial there. Kirk says that Spock must have some logical reason for doing all this, but Mendez retorts that it’s possible he’s just lost his mind.
Back on the ship’s bridge, McCoy is expressing some doubts about all of this. For one thing, he wonders exactly who is on the shuttle, and keeps coming up with the same answer. He then tells Spock that he can’t be right about who’s on board the pursuing craft, with no small degree of sarcasm. Spock ignores him, and has the computer lock a tractor beam on the shuttle.
McCoy then turns around and point-blank asks Spock if Kirk’s the one that’s following them. Spock continues ignoring him, and moves towards the helm. Hansen reports that the engines are reversing, and eventually the ship comes to a stop. Spock then begins relaying orders: he has security send an armed team to the bridge, tells the transporter room to beam Kirk and Mendez aboard, and adds that Hansen is now in command.
He then turns to McCoy and informs him, as he is the superior officer on the bridge, that he is turning himself over to McCoy for arrest. McCoy is extremely confused, and Spock explains that he is to be charged with mutiny.
The security detail makes it to the bridge and report in, and Spock prompts the somewhat flustered McCoy. McCoy tells them that Spock’s under arrest, then asks if confining him to quarters would be sufficient. Spock says that he won’t make any trouble, and security escorts him away.
In the transporter room, we can hear Kirk over the intercom telling Scotty to store the shuttlecraft on the ship and just beam him and Mendez aboard. Scotty acknowledges and beams them up, and Hansen goes over and hands command of the ship back to Kirk. Kirk accepts, and asks him where Spock is. Hansen explains that he’s been confined to quarters, and Mendez is not too happy about the leniency on display here.
Uhura then cuts in, and reports that the engines are coming back on. Kirk says to hold position, and asks who’s giving the orders on the bridge right now; Hansen explains no one is, and that Spock set everything up to go automatically. Kirk tries multiple times to release the helm back to manual control; the computer says it can’t comply, eventually explaining that attempting to do so would fry the life support. Meanwhile, Spock is watching this from his quarters, with an expression that says he knows how badly he’s done fucked up.
The scene fades out, and back into a conference room, with a captain’s log explaining that they’re still heading for Talos IV, but in the meantime there is to be a preliminary hearing for Spock, which is something Kirk really doesn’t want to preside over. Kirk, Mendez, Spock, and three other crew members enter the room and sit down.
Kirk opens the proceedings by asking Spock if he’s aware of his right to counsel. He is, and has decided to waive that right. He also wants to waive his right to a preliminary hearing and just go straight to the court martial. Kirk denies this request, and Spock asks why. The captain points out that they need three command officers; at this time he and Mendez are the only ones there of sufficient rank.
Spock, however, points out that there is a third captain on board: Pike. Mendez says that he’s right, since Pike is still on the active duty roster because no one had the hear to retire him, and that this was clearly something that Spock has been planning.
The scene shifts again, with another captain’s log explaining that the court martial is now underway. We’re back in the conference room, where Pike has joined the proceedings. Kirk, Mendez, and Spock are also now in dress uniform.
Spock has plead guilty, and Mendez asks him if he knows that this means he faces the death penalty if this ship enters the Talos system. Spock does, so Mendez follows up by asking him why he did this.
Spock asks if this is on the record, and Mendez says that it is. Spock then requests that they turn on the monitor screen in the room. Mendez asks why he needs it on, and Spock cryptically responds that it’s to reply with the commodore’s request. Kirk tells Mendez by asking him why, he’s opened the door for Spock to present any evidence he wishes too, and that this was clearly planned.
Mendez tells Spock to just present his evidence, and has Scotty turn on the monitor. He does so, and the opening scenes from “The Cage” start playing on it. Spock explains that this is from 13 years before, when Pike was in command of the ship. At this point, there’s a brief shot of Pike looking at himself on the screen, and that is genuinely pretty sad.
They watch this for a moment, then Kirk has them shut if off and goes over to Pike. He asks if that was really him on the screen, and Pike signals yes. Kirk says that this can’t be possible, since there is no way to get a recording that detailed. He asks Spock what it is they’re watching. Spock says that he can’t answer that at this time. Mendez says that have no obligation to view evidence when they don’t know its source.
Spock says, “Unless the court asks a prisoner why, Commodore. You did ask that question.” Mendez says that Spock manipulated him into asking, and that Spock’s evidence is out of order. Kirk, however, contests this, and says he wants to see more.
Mendez says that’s certainly the captain’s right, but implies the only reason he wants to continue is because Spock is his friend. Kirk assures him that has nothing to do with it, and Mendez has them continue.
We go back to the opening scenes from the pilot, and the episode runs up to the point where they decide to land on Talos IV to rescue any survivors. It fades back to the court martial, and Mendez has them turn the screen off again. He walks over to Spock, and says, with no small amount of scorn, “Mr Spock, I’m truly amazed at your technical prowess in somehow manufacturing all this. I congratulate you on your imagination. But this is a court of space law, not a theater.” Wait, “space law”? Do they have space lawyers, space judges, and space juries as well?
Spock asks Pike to back him up, asking if they really are looking at the events from 13 years prior. Pike signals yes, and Spock adds, “Yes, gentlemen. On that screen, as it happened, the incredible experience of Captain Christopher Pike on Talos IV. If after witnessing this, the court wishes to turn this vessel back, I will release the ship to manual control.”
Mendez points out that Spock isn’t really in a position to bargain, and, clearly thinking this is horseshit, tells Kirk that this has gone on long enough. Kirk says that they still haven’t heard the full story, and votes to continue. Mendez says that they’re deadlocked, but Kirk points out they haven’t heard from Pike on the matter. Pike votes to continue, and the scene fades out.
We get another captain’s log, where Kirk talks about Spock’s “unusual evidence” as we go back to the trial. Mendez has Scotty turn the screen back on. This time, the footage runs up until the point where Pike is captured by the Talosians and the rest of the away team tries to rescue him.
At this point, the trial is interrupted again, this time by Uhura. She has a message from Starfleet command for Mendez. He tells her to go ahead, and she relays that the ship has been receiving messages from Talos. Kirk turns to Spock and asks again what they’ve been watching, and Spock confirms that the footage they’ve been watching was being transmitted from Talos IV.
Uhura continues, saying that Kirk is to be relieved of command, and Mendez is to take over. Mendez tells Spock that he’s not only destroyed his own career but Kirks’ as well. Spock tries to tell him that Kirk knew nothing about this, but Mendez retorts that as captain, Kirk is responsible for everything that happens on board his ship. He then orders Spock to switch the ship back over to manual control. Spock looks to Kirk, who is clearly very angry with him, then back to Mendez.
He says, “Sir, I respectfully decline.” Mendez tells him that he’s earned the consequences, and announces a recess. Everyone but Kirk, Spock, and two security officers leave.
Kirk asks Spock if he knows what he’s doing. Spock asks Kirk not to stop him, and tells him he needs to see the rest of the footage. Kirk, not having any of this, tells the security officers to “lock him up.” They escort Spock away, and Kirk is left alone in the meeting room.
Now, normally I would give my thoughts on the episode here, but since it’s a two-parter, I’m going to wait until the next post. See you in part 2!