The Enteprise detects something coming towards them. It turns out to be an old distress signal from a ship that crashed approx 18 years ago. As there is no sign that they either survived the crash or have managed to survive the intervening 18 years Pike insists that they continue on to the Vega colony to take care of their own wounded after the battle on Rigel VII.
Pike goes to his quarters where he summons Doctor Boyce, whom he tells that he is sick and tired of the pressures of command and might just resign and do something different instead such as take picnics near his home. Spock then tells them that there was another message indicating that there were indeed survivors.
Pike leads an away team to the planet Talos IV where they come across a group of survivors which including a group of elderley male scientists and one young and very pretty girl who immediately takes the eye of Pike. Just before they are about to beam the survivors up to the Enterprise Boyce points out that are all healthy which is wrong consdiering what they have bine rhough but one of them tells them that they have a secret and asks Vina to explain it to Pike.
The girl, Vina, takes Pike to one side to explain everything and keeps telling him what a fine specimen he is. When they get to the entrace to a cave Vina vanishes and several small humanoids with huge heads grab Pike and drag him to the cave.
The rest of the survivors disappear and the rest of the away team try to gain entrance to the cave where Pike was taken but to no effect. Spock reports back to the Enterprise that the captain is missing.
Pike wakes up in a cage where he is being watched over by two Talosians who are telepathic beings who tell him that there experiments will soon begin.
Back on the Enterprise they all decide that they need to rescue Pike whatever it takes. Number One agrees to use the ships power to power a laser cannon to blast there way into the caves.
Pike tries to break out of his cage but soon finds himself back on Rigel VII but with Vina present. He soon works out this is an illusion and refuses to play along. However when is is attacked by a Rigellian he returns to his cage where Vina tries to persuade him just to accept his fate and that she can be whoever he wants her to be. Pike refuses to accept this and tries to get Vina to tell him more about the Talosians.
Number One’s away team tries to blast their way into the entrace where Pike was snatched but it doesn;t appear to work, but they are not sure if it has worked and they are being led to believe that it hasn’t.
Vina acquiesces to Pike’s question and tells him about the history of the Talosians and their wars and then vanishes apparently to be puinished by the Talosians which Pike doesn’t buy at all.
Pike soon realises that the Talosians plan to match him and Vina together but for what purpose he is not sure and Vina either won’t or can’t tell him. She does tells him that Pike was picked as he is her idea of a perfect mate and he has to admit that he is attracted to her as well.
Back on the Enterprise they decide to attempt to beam down into the underground settlement unless that is another illusion. When they try and beam down there is malfunction and only Number One and Colt dematerialise.
The Talosians tell them they have bought them down to Pike as he has rejected Vina and now has two other women to chose from telling Pike that the both want to jump his bones. Vina is not happy about this and is rather jealous of the two newcomers.
Spock as the most senior officer now aboard the ship orders that they leave but when they are about to go the power goes and the library computer is being accessed from the planet below.
Pike manages to capture a Talosian who has tries to grab the weapons from the cell. Pike tries to strangle the alien at first then threatens them with a gun. He fires into the window ahead of him and then threatens to do the same with the Talosian. It is then revealed that the lasers are astually functional and a hole appears in the window through which they all escape. They also realise that they had in fact managed to penetrate the entrance with the laser cannon.
After studying the library computers the Talosians decide that the humans are not right for them and agree to let them go.
Vina is revealed to really be an old woman who survived the crash and was put back togehter by the Talosians and is of no use as she truly is. They give her back her illusion of youth and beuaty and also an illusion of Pike for company.
Pike returns to the Enterprise and just as they are about to leave Colt asks him which one would have been Eve. He orders her off the bridge.
The Cage is the first episode of Star Trek ever made and it was rejected by the network for a number of reasons. One of the reasons was that it was to cerebral and would go over the heads of most viewers which could be viewed as a message that tv networks thought that most of the viewers would be too stupid to work out what was going on in the episode which I find a bit hard to believe as what is going on is spelled out later on in the episode so it wouldn’t have been difficult to work out what was going on.
I guess that the episode was rather talky and there wasn’t a great deal of action in the episode apart from the odd couple of scenes such as when Pike was reliving the events on Rigel IV which were talked about in the episode and for the most part the episode was dialogue heavy so perhaps people might have got a bit bored with all of the talking and hoping that something else might happen.
I didn’t mind it though as the acting was generally very good and I found that I was listening to much of the dialogue and not really noticing that there wasn’t actually lots of action sequences.
True they are beloved of most viewers of television but it isn’t
the be all and end all and the lack of it shouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.
Another thing the suits were not overly enamoured with was the character of Mr Spock on the basis that he looked a bit like the devil, and the character of Number One on the basis that she was a woman in a position of power and that people just wouldn’t accept that in 1965.
I can quite believe that some of the potential viewers would have thought that at the time and the same with some of the people who live in the bible belt of America regarding Spock.
I wonder how many of them realised that the woman playing Number One was Roddenberry’s mistress and if she had been played by a different actress then it would have made a difference!
I am not sure they were probably more accepting of adultery than of a woman being the second in command of a starship and the actress returned in the series proper in a different role albeit in a role that they would probably agreed was more befitting a woman, i.e a nurse.
They didn’t seem to like a lot of the characters either it appears. Let’s start with Captain Christopher Pike who was played by Jeffrey Hunter. He played the part well but was a little too serious and po-faced when compared to Shatner and did seem to lack any sort of humour and warmth considering he spent most of the episode completely pissed off with the whole being a Captain of a starship thing.
Leonard Nimoy’s Spock was ok but was markedly different to his later self in the series proper. He wasn’t even marked out as being an alien and was far more animated that he later became.
Majel Barrett’s Number One was the logical second in command that Spock later became and was actually rather good in this episode. I think it was that the fact that she was a woman and second in command that made her character a target as they basically took her logical and emotionless side and gave that to Spock. Again there was no suggestion that she was not human either.
John Hoyt’s Doctor Philip Boyce was actually rather good and I reckon that the show would have worked with him as he had the cinicism of Bones and was rather grumpy so you could pretty much have kept him and virtually got the same character.
Peter Duryea’s Lt Jose Tyler was rather non-descript in this episode and Laurel Goodwin’s Yeoman Colt was there to exsasperate Captain Pike by being on the bridge and look pretty.
In general most of the characters were pretty much cyphers and didn’t really have much going for them in this episode but it was the pilot and they would have been developed.
Susan Oliver who was the main guest star Vina was very good in the episode and played several different parts in this episode including as a green skinned Orion slave girl even if she probably was only cast due to her looks.
The alien Talosians were Mekon like aliens with large craniums with glistening veins in them who mostly spoke using telepathy. They were played by women but voiced by men.
In general the acting was pretty good and the pilot was well made and directed and there was a nice scene when we see the Enterprise travel for the first time and you get the bridge team mixed in with a shot of space as seen in flight to show that they were actually travelling, akin I would say to the first TARDIS flight that we witnessed in the very first episode of Doctor Who. I also like the opening shot of the Enterprise and the zoom into the bridge at the start of the episode.
I really don’t think that there is a great deal wrong with The Chase as a pilot. Any issues has would I am sure have been ironed out over the course of the series but it just doesn’t feel like Star Trek as we know it and not just because of the different characters either.
It is hard to put my finger on it but something about it just isn’t right. If the Spock we know and love was present as the executive officer and a female character was in the place of the Spock character in the pilot then it might have felt a bit more like proper Star Trek, but that would be a different story all together and a totally different show.