Star Trek Recaps: TOS-“The Menagerie, Part 2”

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Images from TrekCore.com

And here we are, back at the clip show only showing clips from one episode of the series. As with my previous post on the subject, I’ll be glossing over the parts taken from “The Cage,” basically because I’ve already talked about it.

The episode basically begins where the other one left off: Spock has just revealed that the images they’ve been receiving are being transmitted to them from Talos IV. We see Spock pleading guilty to the charges laid against him, and Kirk wonders exactly why Spock’s doing what he’s doing. During this wondering, he also mentions that Pike is “now a shell of a man, unable to speak or move.” Which I’m sure a lot of disabled folks watching this episode really appreciate.

Anyway, Kirk continues, basically outlining the plot of the pilot. Then, in scene, he confirms with Spock that the footage they’ve been looking at is, indeed, being transmitted directly from Talos IV.
Commodore Mendez is about as happy with this news as he was about hearing they were heading to Talos IV in the first place, and asks Spock if he realizes that it’s highly likely that he’ll be put to death. Kirk then gets up and asks his first officer if he’s lost his god damn mind.
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Probably.
Spock responds by telling Kirk not to let Mendez stop him, adding “It’s your career, and Captain Pike’s life,” and that they need to see the rest of the transmission. Kirk looks at him, slightly confused, and roll credits.
After said credits, we get a continuation of Kirk’s captain’s log, mentioning that the court-martial is being reconvened, and that they’re still getting transmissions.
Mendez mentions again that Starfleet has banned all contact with Talos IV. Spock apologizes, but then says that they don’t really have a choice anymore, since “the keeper” (aka the leader of the big-headed aliens) has taken complete control of their viewscreens. He then asks Pike if he understands, and Pike uses the light on his wheelchair to blink yes.
Spock returns to his seat, and talks about where they left off: Pike’s capture by the Talosians. The room dims, and the camera zooms towards the viewscreen, which now shows Pike waking up in the titular cage.
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The scene continues to Pike talking to the Talosian group, threatening them, and then going into the illusionary version of the previous mission on Riegel VII, this time with Vina accompanying him. The scene then shifts back to the hearing room briefly.
Spock explains and praises the deduction Pike had made, that he wasn’t really on Riegel VII, and Kirk says that the Talosians were controlling his brain. Spock then adds that they “could make him live any place, any time, any situation they wished. He would see, taste, suffer with the same reality as you gentlemen sitting there.”
Back to the viewscreen, where we see the part with Pike and Vina fighting, and Pike killing, the bearded dude in the fuzzy hat, then ending up back in the cell with Vina. The transmission is then abruptly ended, and the camera pans back to show that Pike has fallen asleep.\
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That’s how I felt watching “The Cage” too.
Mendez asks why the Talosians have stopped the transmission, and Spock responds that they know that Pike is tired, and says that they can reconvene the trial later. Kirk asks, “Then they care about the captain?” Spock responds that they want Pike to arrive at the planet alive. Mendez demands to know why they want him in the first place, alive or otherwise, and Spock basically tells him to be patient.
Mendez interrupts him, and tells him that he’s forgetting that he’s the one on trial here, and that he’ll answer any questions that they decide to ask him. Spock retorts that Mendez likely wouldn’t believe him, and that he’ll just have to wait to get his answers. Mendez and Kirk, naturally, both look at Spock like he’s nuts. 
At any rate, the music swells dramatically, and the scene fades out.
The scene then fades back in to the meeting room, with Kirk’s log playing once again. He explains that they’re reconvening to watch “the strangest trial evidence ever heard aboard a starship.”
The parties re-enter the room, and after a bit more log, the footage from “The Cage” continues. It picks up with Vina and Pike in the cell, and Pike trying to determine if she’s real or not. He grills her, she gives him information, and is punished and removed from the cell for giving said information.
Back at the court-martial, Mendez asks if Pike was being kept as breeding stock, since they already had a human woman. Pike blinks yes, and Kirk asks if the Talosians wanted them to bang so they’d have a steady supply of specimens. Spock responds that it’s more than that, and back to the transmission.
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Pike and the Talosian magistrate argue about food, the magistrate punishes him and eventually learns that the Talosians can’t read his mind if he’s pissed off enough. He’s pushed into another scenario with Vina, this time a picnic, and learns about the breeding plan and that Vina’s completely broken by the Talosians. Vina realizes that it’s not working because everything is too familiar to him, and then we get to witness the Orion slave girl scenario.
We shift back to the hearing, where Kirk asks if the Orion girl is Vina. Pike blinks back yes. Mendez then decides to add, “They’re like animals-vicious, seductive. They say no human male can resist them.” And then I barfed.
Anyway, we get to go back to the wonderfully sexist and kinda racist slave girl fantasy as the screen fades out
The scene fades back in, with more of Kirk’s log. He basically reiterates that Talosians trying to get Pike to fuck Vina, and we get more pilot footage. Pike leaves, Vina follows. On the ship, Number One and Spock are arranging an away team, and we get to view the best part of the pilot again:

 

Number One and the Yeoman who’s name I don’t remember are beamed in, Number One and Vina share barbs, they capture the magistrate, and head to the surface.

The transmission then suddenly stops, to Spock’s confusion. Mendez pipes up to say, “Seems the Talosians have deserted you.” Spock asks them to wait for a moment, but the screen does not come back on.
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Mendez then calls for the other two to render their verdict, which I don’t really understand because Spock had earlier plead guilty to all the charges. Spock asks Pike to signal that he wants to wait, but Pike does not respond.
Spock pleads with him again, saying that it’s “a chance for life” for the captain, which, again, wonderful. Kirk tells Spock that he keeps talking about a life for Pike, but also points out that any life he would have would be as a prisoner. Spock says there’s more to it then that, and that they need to watch the rest of the footage. The screen, however, is uncooperative and stays off.
Mendez asks Pike again for his verdict, which is guilty. Mendez votes guilty, naturally. And Kirk, after some hesitation, votes guilty as well. There’s another dramatic music sting as the scene fades to black.
The scene fades back in, this time on the bridge of the Enterprise as it comes into orbit around Talos IV. The helmsman calls down to the hearing room to advise Mendez and Kirk of this, and Spock adds that the Talosians are now in control of the ship. He then adds that they’ve been asking why they want Pike, and that the answer is coming up as the screen comes back on.
The pilot footage continues, with the magistrate explaining that they needs humans to try and make the surface habitable again, learning that most humans would rather die than live as prisoners, and decide that they really aren’t suitable for that purpose. The Enterprise crew prepare to leave, and Vina can’t come with them because she’s too ugly.
In the hearing room, Kirk looks over to Pike before getting up and approaching Spock then turning to Mendez. He starts to ask the commodore a question.
And then Mendez disappears.
Kirk, absolutely dumbfounded, turns to Spock before the viewscreen comes back on, this time simply showing the magistrate.
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The magistrate explains that Mendez was actually an illusion since they were in the shuttle in the previous episode, and that the real commodore is still back on the starbase. He adds that the purpose of the court-martial was basically a distraction to try and keep Kirk from regaining control of the ship too quickly. The magistrate then says that, if he wants to, Pike is certainly welcome to spend his remaining years with them, “unfettered by his physical form,” adding the decision is both Kirk’s and Pike’s. Well, glad to know they’re finally listening to Pike’s input now.
The screen goes blank, and Kirk asks Spock why he didn’t just tell him what was going on. Spock points out that if Kirk had known about the plan, he also would’ve been subject to the death penaly, and that “one of us was enough, Captian.”
Uhura cuts in over the intercom, and says that the transmission was also sent to Starbase 11, so Starfleet has basically decided to rescind the statute prohibiting contact with Talos IV just this once. Well, that’s convenient.
Kirk moves over to Pike, and asks him if he wants to go down to the planet. He blinks yes, and Kirk asks Spock to take him to the transporter room.. Spock thanks him on behalf of both himself and Pike, before moving his wheelchair towards the door.
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As they’re leaving, Kirk jokingly tells Spock he wants to talk to him later, regarding “this regrettable tendency you’ve been showing lately towards flagrant emotionalism.” Spock, innocently, responds, “I see no reason to insult me, sir. I believe I’ve been completely logical about the whole affair.” He and Pike then leave. 
The screen comes back on, and Kirk turns to see a scene of a restored Pike and Vina walking into the bunker on the planet (also recycled from “The Cage,” but this time clearly meant to be in the present). Damn, that was fast. 
Anyway, the magistrate closes out with this little nugget: “Captain Pike has an illusion, and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.” 
So, as I said in the post about “The Cage,” I really didn’t care for the first pilot all that much. I found it extremely dull, sexist, and with a slight smattering of Orientalism just to round it all out. “The Menagerie,” both parts one and two have those same problems, but with the added issue of ableism as well.
See, there’s this narrative that able-bodied people have of the disabled: basically, that regardless of what disabilities they have, that they can’t really live a full life. Of course, however, a lot of people who actually have disabilities would disagree with this quite heavily.
I’m also bothered by the fact that no one actually bothers to ask what Pike, who is completely mentally sound, wants until the very end of the second part. In fact, he says no to going to Talos IV multiple times in the first part, which Spock ignores because he clearly knows best.
Plus the court-martial bits just really aren’t all that interesting. And of course it ends with no consequences at all for Spock, which is convenient. I really think Gene Roddenberry wrote himself into a corner, so deus ex machina was the only way out.
I really hope the next episode, “The Conscience Of The King,” is more interesting.
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