Star Trek/Recap/S1/E00 The Cage
The original Pilot Episode of Star Trek the Original Series. Written by Gene Roddenberry and produced in late 1964, it preceded the series itself by a good two years. While this pilot was not considered to have been a success at the time, the network executives did like it enough to finance a second pilot episode. And you all know how well that turned out.
The episode begins with the USS Enterprise (under the command of Captain Christopher Pike) on a routine patrol. Pike is suffering from self-doubt, having just come from a mission where a number of his landing party were killed in action (including his close friend and Yeoman).
The ship receives an belated S.O.S from survivors of a Earth spaceship that crashed on the nearby planet Talos IV some time ago. Once they arrive on this barren and desolate planet, they find a ragtag bunch of survivors, but something doesn't feel quite right about them. While the landing party does a thorough examination of the group, a young woman named Vina lures Captain Pike to a secluded spot, where he gets zapped by humanoid aliens and taken deep underground.
The survivors vanish, having been revealed to be an illusion created by the alien Talosians. Captain Pike has been placed inside a zoo. The Talosians aim to pair him off with Vina, who is in fact the only true survivor of the earlier spaceship crash. While the aliens use their telepathy to try and bring Pike and Vina closer together, in illusionary versions of his recent near-death encounter, his home city of Mojave back on Earth, and a Orion slave harem; the crew of the Enterprise attempt to breach the underground complex and rescue their kidnapped captain.
The Talosians finally kidnap two further females from the Enterprise crew, giving Pike the choice of three potential mates. The Enterprise's female first officer sets her hand phaser to self destruct, forcing the Talosians' hand and giving them no option but to let the three of them go. Pike watches sadly as the true extent of Vina's casualties are revealed, explaining why she can not come with them.
- Absentee Actor - The entire regular Star Trek cast except for Leonard Nimoy (and, though in a very different role, Majel Barrett).
- Adam and Eve Plot
- Characterization Marches On / Out-of-Character Moment - Spock's joyful reaction to hearing the singing plants on Talos IV, and also his panic when he realises THE WOMEN have been kidnapped. Actually, Spock in general.
- Darker and Edgier - It comes across this way compared to the series that it spawned. Although it might be fairer to say that the series was actually Lighter and Softer than The Cage, changes which were mandated by Executive Meddling.
- Distress Call - One of these kickstarts the plot.
- Early Installment Weirdness - Everything from the characters, to the uniforms, to the USS Enterprise itself.
- Energy Weapon - The huge laser cannon that gets wheeled out on the planet surface during the Enterprise crew's attempt to break into the Talos compound.
- Epiphany Therapy - Dr Boyce's attempts to help Captain Pike get over his Heroic BSOD.
- Executive Meddling - The network chiefs felt this initial pilot episode was too cerebral for the average viewer at home, and turned it down on those grounds. They gave the series another chance though, on the proviso that Gene Roddenberry gave them something with a bit more action and a bit less philosophy.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe - The Trope Codifier. Although strictly speaking, Vina is only pretending to be a green skinned space babe. But she's still the first one that we ever see in Star Trek!
- Heroic BSOD - Captain Pike is going through one of these when the episode begins.
- Hilarious in Hindsight - Captain Pike irritably asking Number One "are we running a cadet review?" takes on a whole new, unintended meaning in context of his role in the 2009 film.
- Not to mention how he got his injuries in "The Menagerie"
- Ice Queen - Number One was designed to be this trope.
- In Medias Res
- Master of Illusion - The Talosians force Captain Pike to partake in a series of illusionary worlds. When he resists, they are also able to punish him with a Fire and Brimstone Hell.
- Named After Their Planet - Talosians. From Talos IV.
- No Name Given - Majel Barrett's character is referred to throughout simply as "Number One".
- Pilot Episode
- Raygun Gothic
- Rubber Forehead Aliens
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands
- Technology Marches On - An in-universe example. The consoles on the Enterprise bridge are here fitted with what look like personal computer printers (which print out messages on paper), and the Yeoman is seen using a clipboard with paper sheets on it. By the time of the series proper, both would be replaced by more futuristic devices.
- Telepathic Spacemen
- The Bartender - Dr. Boyce brings some alcohol with him during his visit to the Pike's quarters, and mixes him a martini as a part of the captain's Epiphany Therapy.
Boyce: Sometimes a man will tell things to his bartender that he'd never tell his doctor.
- The Pete Best - Jeffrey Hunter's Captain Christopher Pike has gained something of a loyal following as being "the Star Trek captain who wasn't". Adventures featuring him have appeared in the expanded universe, in novels and in comic books; and he also made an reappearance in the 2009 reboot movie, as played by Bruce Greenwood.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension - Between Pike and Yeoman Colt, and particularly between Pike and Number One.
- What Could Have Been
- Whole-Episode Flashback - It became this when it was later re-edited and screened as a regular episode.