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Star Trek: The Original Series Episode 11 - The Menagerie, Pt. 1

Original Airdate: November 17, 1966



Jim, Spock, and Bones are beaming down to Starbase 11 because of a subspace message they received calling them there; upon arrival, they find that there was no such message sent. Spock is the one who received it, and it involves Captain Christopher Pike. Spock served under Pike for some years, (for 11 years, 4 months, and 5 days, you trivia buffs) and loyally at that. Pike was involved in an incident aboard his ship involving a warped baffle plate and the subsequent radiation that disfigured and disabled him for life; he will live the rest of his life in a wheelchair controlled by the power of his mind; he can only communicate via blinking lights, one for yes, two for no.

Commodore Mendez, commander of the base, agrees to investigate the source of the message; all signs point to Spock himself. Jim vehemently disagrees that he could be responsible for any dishonesty. God bless him, he really goes to bat for his first officer & friend.

Meanwhile, Spock is flat out telling Pike (who protests via blinking lights) what he plans. He can have him on Talos IV in no time, treachery be damned! He hops on down to Engineering afterward, neck pinching and punching (!) his way through, to set up some tapes that will mask his movements until it’s too late. He intends to set a secret course via computer only and allow the Enterprise crew to think that Jim approved it; they’ll take off in an hour.

They do, but not before tricking McCoy into coming aboard for an “emergency.” Once he’s aboard, Spock takes him to Pike and puts another faked-up card with fake instructions from Jim into the computer. The fake instructions tell Bones to just look after Pike and don’t bother him with any questions.

Bones might have been likelier to believe in all this if he hadn’t been called there straight from an argument with Jim in which Jim was convinced that it had been Spock all along. And Bones had been vehemently arguing that it could never have possibly been Spock. Poor Bones. His feeling of having been had is all over his face.

Jim & Mendez set out in a shuttlecraft after the Enterprise (its actual leaving tipping them off that something was truly wrong.) and the ship will not respond to their hails. Spock realizes that they will soon be in trouble, having reached the point of not having enough fuel to turn back, and is resigned to taking them aboard.

He orders them beamed aboard, calls for security to the bridge, and surrenders himself to McCoy. Bones isn’t comfortable with arresting a friend or a first officer, and stammers out a question to Spock – is confinement to quarters enough? Spock agrees. He won’t make any trouble.

You see, the issue here isn’t just that Spock lied about the message, kidnapped Pike, and stole the ship. He stole it to take Pike to Talos IV, which is a forbidden destination: to go there is punishable by death, and the last such statute on the books. Interestingly, nobody but the uppermost brass in Starfleet knows why.

A court-martial trial is set up aboard ship with the three necessary flag officers being Jim, Mendez, and Pike. Spock, in his defense, calls up footage of the first and only Starfleet mission there, one taken by the Enterprise under Pike.

I won’t go into the content of the footage; it’s recycled from the first pilot, The Cage, and is a very, very clever use of it. Basically, it’s all about their voyage to the planet and why.

The episode, Trek’s only two-parter, ends with the court at recess and Spock refusing to turn control of the ship back to manual. Mendez leaves the room, and Spock begs Jim to continue watching the tapes. Jim tells the security guard sadly, “lock him up.”

Behind the Scenes
Commodore Mendez is played by Malachi Throne, who would also play Senator Pardek, that treacherous bastard, in the ST:TNG episode Unification Pt. 2 25 years later. In that episode, he would once again play opposite Leonard Nimoy as Spock. Whenever something like that happens, I always wonder if the actors remember each other from the first time around.

Ol' Two-Tone Piper
Notable Moments

  • The whole part where I’d already recapped the pilot footage, so during those scenes I could play Bejeweled Blitz in another tab. That part was pretty awesome.
  • I like a couple of Bones’ scenes in this. The heated, though objective (if that makes sense) defense of Spock to Jim before being called up to the ship, and his reticent arrest of Spock.

  • Miss Piper has strangely two-toned hair. This being the ‘60s, I would normally assume it was a fall, but the colors’ locations make it unlikely. Maybe the actress and Miss Clairol had a misunderstanding prior to filming.
  • Best Line of the Episode
    Jim, upon realizing the fuel situation in the shuttle:
    “Part of me is hoping that the Enterprise won’t come back for us. We step on that deck, Spock is finished. Court-martialed, disgraced.” Now that’s love (of friendship or any other variety); almost wishing that you’d be left to die to save your friend’s career and reputation. His life, too, in this situation, as Mendez points out immediately after.

    Sex Appeal Moment

    Shatner. Just Shatner:

    Won't you marry me Biiiiiill/I love you so, I always will

    Midcentury Design Moment

    The beam-in site on Starbase 11 has a sweet metal sculpture.


    What Is It With You?

    Miss Piper, starbase staff, who is cute as a button. Piper hangs around staring sweetly at Jim after delivering information, and Mendez has to bring her back to reality. She also mentions that her friend Lt. Helen Johanson knows Jim. He seems a tiny bit concerned by that at first. Whether he’s more concerned that she might have kissed and told or that he doesn’t remember that one goes unsaid.

    Trek 101

    If you were one of the 18 billion who saw last year's reboot movie, you either smirked a little when Pike showed up at the end in a wheelchair, or thought those sitting around you were insensitive bastards for doing so. Well, now you know why they smirked.


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