So if I understand this correctly the big-headed aliens, the Talosians, are beaming their memories to the screen at the court martial in the Enterprise? Their thoughts are very professionally directed. And they are able to remember / beam incidents at which they were not present. Presumably they grabbed those moments from the minds of the humans, or maybe the ‘gaps’ were just conjecture. Either way it’s a very slick form of evidence – the Talosians should be making tv shows, I’m sure it’d be a hit. Could run for years…

Spock is being court martialled for hijacking the Enterprise and contacting the forbidden planet Talos IV. Why the planet is forbidden I’m not clear on. Seems a bit of an over-reaction to punish anyone who makes contact in this way. There must be some big scary secret going on there. Perhaps a really powerful weapon?

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So we get a recap from Captain Kirk, and Spock insists that they watch the rest of The Cage and then we get the opening titles.

We learn that the Talosians are telepathic. We notice their heads look a bit like bottoms (snigger). I think having a female actor playing the head Talosian (known as the Keeper) and dubbed with a male voice is very effective and slightly creepy. A bit like the other week in The Corbomite Manoeuvre when they had a little boy dubbed with the voice of a grown man. So their heads are huge and they have no hair and wear dresses…this all points towards high intelligence and your classic Advanced Civilisation.

Pike has been imprisoned in a sort of ‘Cage’. The human crash survivors he and the crew encountered last week were all an illusion. Yes the Talosians are definitely from an Advanced Civilisation because they are all haughty and mocking and boast how easy it was to lure the Enterprise to their planet. They’ll be calling him a “puny earthling” next (they didn’t). They have an “experiment” planned…

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Suddenly Pike is in some sort of fantasy world with a familiar looking damsel in distress. Wait, but that is…it’s the disappearing girl from last week: Vina. She has new hair and outfit and is in full-on Damsel In Distress mode…a bit much actually. But her hammy acting is all part of the plan to test Pike. He’s having none of it though – clever captain recognises the planet and has sussed that it’s all fakery. It all goes Sword and Sorcery when a brute with a big axe appears and a fight ensues. Vina is is no screaming damsel after all, and has a go herself with some melee weapons. You go girl.

Then suddenly they are in Pike’s cell together. The Talosians being sympathetic chaps allow us and the Enterprise a commercial break.

In the cell Vina claims to be an illusion who is there to please the captain. She could be anything he wants (that’s what women were for in the sixties, I know this because I’ve watched a lot of tv since I’ve been here). It all gets a bit smouldery: “Do they feel with me too?”. Kirk would have kissed her at this point. Pike’s a professional though. He persuades her to give away the aliens’ plans and having said too much (it’s a trap basically – they want their own Adam and Eve) Vina gets zapped by them. It seems she is real after all and also imprisoned but Pike is only seeing an image of her.

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The Keeper arrives to study Pike a bit more, and demonstrate his power. Pike gets cross and the Keeper looks startled. Pike spots this and reasons that they can’t read his mind completely. Then, whoosh, Pike and Vina are having a picnic in the woods. She’s got new hair again. I like all this illusionary stuff, it’s quite refreshing amid all the Starfleet corridors and space rocks. Pike presses the pretend Vina for more info. The plan is to try to tempt the captain with his fantasy woman and presumably have a peek at how this Earth thing called love works. Will Pike be a sixties love stallion or will the peeping Talosians be treated to the sight of a quick fumble behind a tree followed by hasty getting dressed, awkward silence and regret? Perhaps we’ll find out after the break.

Vina admits she loves Pike (good old the sixties with its abundance of instant falling-in-love!) and he confesses that he is quite attracted to her too. Not in love you understand, just attracted to. Let’s not get carried away.

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But there is no fumbling nor proficient lovemaking because the channel is suddenly switched and Pike is at a party, and there’s a dancing girl…The Green Lady! Hurrah! And the Green Lady is Pretend Vina!! The Green Lady is a slave, the hope being that perhaps Pike would be more likely to fall for a sexy green slave girl than a blonde damsel. I think these Talosians are too impatient. He’s already admitted he fancies blonde Vina, they just needed to wait a while longer at the picnic. The Keeper could have stepped from behind a tree and shouted “COME ON, COME ON, HURRY UP!”, that usually works for me.

Meanwhile Spock, ‘Number One’ and the others have been trying to get into the Talosians community. The plan now is to beam themselves inside. They operate the transporter but only the two women disappear: Number One and Colt. The two of them beam directly into Pike’s cage and discover their guns don’t work here. There follows some bitchiness amongst the ladies (you know the kind of thing: “he’s mine!”, “I saw him first!”, “I’m prettier than you!” etc) then the Keeper arrives. Operation Vina failed so the captain gets to pick from a selection of female specimens. “The female you call Number One has the superior mind and would produce highly intelligent children.” Let’s hope there is no Mr One back home. Pike gets cross: “Is your blood red like ours? I’m going to find out.” Fighting talk.

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He thinks angry thoughts so the aliens can’t read his mind. Meanwhile the girls have lost interest and fallen asleep. The Keeper opens a hatch to retrieve the crew’s dropped weapons and Pike drags him into the cell and threatens him, waking everybody up. The Keeper transforms into a big sci-fi monster but it’s another illusion and after a mini stand-off between him and Pike, he gives in and they all leave the cell.

There follows a bit of contrived drama on the Enterprise (Mendez asks Kirk for a verdict. “Guilty!”) so that we can watch some adverts.

Moments later the trial continues as though nothing has happened.

On the planet Pike threatens the Keeper, Ms One threatens to blow them all up together, and Pike offers a compromise. The Keeper is baffled that they’d rather die than be imprisoned. He realises that Earth people really really hate captivity and so he lets them go. They really should have said so sooner.

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Pike is ready to leave but there’s a problem: Vina won’t come with them. It turns out that she’s not quite as young and attractive as she appears. The real Vina was badly injured in the crash, scarred, broken and with messy hair. The Talosians tried to repair her but had no reference human to work from, and no hair brush so they put her together all wrong. And as she quite rightly points out, she couldn’t possibly go aboard the Enterprise looking like that.

In the hearing room Mr Mendez disappears. The whole courtroom thing was an illusion too! Spock needed time to get to Talos IV so organised the whole thing. Starbase send a message saying they’ve watched “the Cage” as well, they quite enjoyed it, hoped for a full series commission and all is forgiven, Spock is off the hook. This seems quite lenient though, Spock got away with breaking a lot of rules there, no matter what the motive! In fact Bones was wrong, you can’t trust the man! I’ll be keeping a close eye on the Vulcan from now on.

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Pike has decided that as Vina is too ugly to face other people he will remain on the planet with her and they can maintain their dignity and good looks in the Talosians fantasy world together. He exits the hearing room in his space wheelchair and about half a second later we see him on the planet again in handsome form. Everyone is happy in the end.

So this business of living one’s life in an illusionary realm where anything is possible…is this such a bad existence, to live in the perfect world of your imagination if it feels real? Does it matter if it’s not real? I must admit I’d be tempted (I like a nice picnic).

That was a great story. Apparently after it had been rejected as a pilot Roddenbury had wanted to use it as a movie rather than a tv episode, and one can see why. This episode wasn’t quite as exciting as last week, but I find mysterious opening episodes are often more interesting than conclusions. It was still very enjoyable. I missed McCoy and the other regulars and am looking forward to a ‘normal’ episode next week.

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