07 April 2012

Trek Review: The Cage

The Cage

Talosians on Talos IVThe year is 2254 and the Enterprise is under the command of Captain Christopher Pike. On their way to the Vega colony for treatment of injuries sustained in their recent encounter, they come across an old style distress call and divert course to the Talos star system to investigate.

On arrival, they come across the wreckage of an old Earth ship, the SS Columbia and several survivors, including a young woman named Vina. She manages to lure Pike away from the landing party to three awaiting aliens who render him unconscious and take him below ground through a concealed door in a rock.

Entrapped in a 'cage', the Talosian captors project images and scenarios into Pike's mind to see how he reacts. Eventually they offer Vina as a viable mate for him and depict scenarios designed to bring the two closer together. Pike's resolve to escape keeps him focussed but the projections from the Talosians keep delaying his progress.

Eventually, Pike realises that strong emotions can block the power the Talosians have over him and when they attempt to introduce two female Enterprise crew members as alternative mates, Pike is able to use their weapons to blast a way out of the cage.

The Talosians realise that humans are too aggressive for their purposes and concede their species will eventually die out. The Enterprise crew are free to go but Vina remains due to her true, deformed form from the Columbia crash.

Star Trek will forever be the series that was given a second chance. The Cage was the first pilot pitched to the executives and ultimately rejected for being 'too cerebral'. The second pilot, with a number of cast changes and a more action oriented story, Where No Man Has Gone Before eventually kicked off the series on its journey into the history books. Parts of The Cage would ultimately make up the bulk of the only Original Series two-parter, The Menagerie.

The Cage is a decent episode even with an unfamiliar crew. Even Spock is played out of character in this episode and it's hard to imagine the continuing adventures with these characters - I'm sure it would have been successful to a degree, but definitely Jeffrey Hunter's Pike is very different to William Shatner's Kirk. My only issue came with a bit of over-exposure to the episode when it was 'uncovered' in the mid-90's and suddenly it was being played everywhere by everyone - and not being the most action-packed episode, it became a bit tedious. I'm glad I've had a number of years between viewings, it allowed me to review the episode with a fresher mind again!

The remastered version brings the episode up to the standard introduced throughout what we have been exposed to in the three seasons of the Original series. I would have preferred this episode to precede the events of Season One, just for my own Trek-Geek chronological orderliness but nevermind. With the viewing of this episode, our journey through the live-action Original series is complete.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

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