2/26/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Menagerie part 2"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S01E12
Air Date: November 24, 1966
Written by: Gene Roddenberry
Directed by: Marc Daniels

Premise
The crew finishes up watching "The Cage" and then decides whether or not to allow Captain Pike to live on Talos IV.

Review
When we last left Kirk and friends, they were holding a court martial proceedings for Spock who had deliberately disobeyed General Order 7 and put Enterprise on a course for Talos IV after apparently kidnapping Captain Christopher Pike. At the start of the episode, Kirk recaps part 1 and reveals that the images they were viewing on the screen for Spock's defense had been transmitted from Talos IV, which is, in itself, a court martial offense. Now Spock has put not only himself, but Kirk in danger of the death penalty.

It started off as a slumber party where the senior officers on board the Enterprise were watching "The Cage" together, but now the Talosians have taken control of the ship and the view screen and are forcing them to watch it. I mean, not that I would complain in their position, but it's just a little heavy handed, don't you think? In any case, despite whatever decision they may have come to in the court martial proceedings, now they're stuck. They're being forced to continue. Every slumber party has a weakling, however. And soon enough, the screen goes blank and everyone notices that Pike has fallen asleep. The Talosians have decided to let everyone rest for a while.
And then Kirk drew vulgar images on Pike's face.
That's when Mendez decides to be a jerk and demands a quick explanation from Spock who insists that they will only fully understand after they reach Talos IV. So they rest while the commercials play, and when they come back, Pike is wide awake and ready to view the rest of the mission that he lived. Eventually the Talosians quit transmitting "The Cage" and Mendez tries to force a verdict on the court martial. Kirk, Mendez and Pike all find Spock guilty of violating General Order 7. Because any other verdict would completely ignore the fact that they were now taking orbit over Talos IV.

As they take orbit, Spock explains that the Talosians are now in complete control over the Enterprise as they had been back when he and Pike first went there. So they can't leave orbit until the Spock's mission is complete. And now that they're there, the Talosians see fit to continue "The Cage" for the officers. They're now at the part where The Keeper finds out about the Humans' history of violence and resistance to captivity. That's when The Keeper reveals that Vina, the woman that Pike had found on Talos IV, was not actually beautiful at all, but she had been horrible disfigured after her ship crashed onto the planet. They had been using their power of illusion to give her a beautiful appearance.

So that's why Spock wanted to bring Pike back. He wanted Pike to live the rest of his life with the illusion of his former youth and beauty and get him out of his wheelchair. And to do that, he was willing to sacrifice his career and his life in a trial that requires three command officers to oversee.
Well... That's awkward...
After "Mendez" disappears, it's revealed that he's never actually been there at all. The Talosians had made him appear there for Kirk's benefit so they could keep him occupied while the Enterprise traveled to Talos IV. And then Spock says the reason he did not simply reveal his plan to Kirk was to subject only himself to the death penalty. So the court martial proceedings were all fake and the real Mendez hails them from back on Starbase 11. He says that he has seen the Talosian transmissions from there and will suspend General Order 7 for this occasion.

Pike signals that he'll stay on Talos IV and then Spock brings him to the transporter room, but not before Kirk calls out his "flagrant emotionalism." Spock regards this as an insult, naturally, and says that his actions have been completely logical. When Pike is on the surface, The Keeper shows Kirk that Pike has received his illusion of health and happiness as he walks along the planet surface hand-in-hand with Vina.

And all is well that ends well.

Overall Thoughts
I'm not sure how I feel about Mendez suddenly disappearing and the whole thing being an illusion, but, to be fair, that's kind of the Talosians's "thing". Other than that, this has been a fantastic journey into Spock's character and his extreme loyalty. And it reuses the old "The Cage" footage perfectly. In any case, this is an essential Star Trek: The Original Series episode. If you haven't seen this one, you haven't really seen Star Trek.