Before you read on, know that this is a continuation of last week’s! You can watch along with the second part right here.
Quick recap recap, though: Spock‘s facing the death penalty! Kirk might be jobless! It’s hard to imagine what the hell James T. Kirk would do would even do if he wasn’t captaining the Enterprise…
Yeah, that doesn’t seem like it would work out.
Your Fantasies Are on the Record
The court martial officers continue to watch footage from Episode 1: The Cage, which explains how the Talosians can make your deepest, darkest desires reality.
Considering how embarrassing this could be for Captain Pike, I feel really feel bad for him. Can you imagine Starfleet officers watching your fantasies come true on a widescreen during a hearing, as you sit by unable to move or communicate? Also, WTF future, you need better assistive devices.
Mendez is shocked when he realizes that the Talosians imprisoned Captain Pike to create a human zoo. “You were captured as breeding stock?” he asks, incredulously.
Yeah. I remember being pretty shocked back in Ep. One too!
Spock Gets Voted off the Island
The Talosian streaming video gets cut off, maybe because Kirk forgot to pay their Comcast bill. Since Spock refuses to provide any other explanation besides the footage, Mendez immediately declares Spock GUILTY of mutiny!
Then Pike and Kirk follow up with GUILTY votes too.
I was hoping that this verdict would elicit some kinda intense emotional response from Spock. You know, like this freaky smile from the first episode? And all those adorable micro-smiles he tries to repress?
But Spock keeps his poker face on, explaining that the Enterprise is now close enough to the planet that the Talosians have control of the ship!
The video stream kicks back up, revealing that the Talosians are able to help humans live with the illusions of idealized lives and bodies — like Vina from Ep 1, who was disfigured by her surgery.
And then we’re all hit by a whammy. Kirk turns to consult with Mendez, who turns out be an illusion, OMG!
A Talosian appears on screen and explains to Kirk:
“It was thought that the fiction of a court martial would prevent you from too soon gaining control over your vessel. Captain Pike is welcome to spend the rest of his life with us unfettered by his physical body.”
The Talosians are all like:
The Real Mendez signals them on the radio. Turns out he’s actually still on Starbase 11, watching the Talosian video feed from his office. He announces that the law forbidding officers from visiting Talos is suspended temporarily. Real Mendez removes all charges against Spock and encourages Kirk to proceed to the planet.
So now Spock is off the hook for this.
Pike’s Virtual Reality Adventure
Kirk and Spock ask Captain Pike if he’d like to shove off on Talos and live in a world of pure imagination. He beeps once for “Yes,” and Spock gets ready to drop him off on Talos.
Hold up, this makes me wonder — is this a special exception? What stops Starfleet from tossing other injured officers onto this planet?
Before Spock beams down with Pike, Kirk says, “Mister Spock, when you’re finished, please come back and see me. I want to talk to you. This regret table tendency you’ve been showing lately towards flagrant emotionalism…”
Whoa, things in this relationship are getting serious.
Spock brushes Kirk off, saying that his actions have been logical all along. I can just feel Spock smirking on the inside.
The Talosians stream over some final footage. It shows Captain Pike, as his younger self, climbing into the Talosian cave hand-in-hand with Vina, the woman trapped there. They both seem content.
I’m so conflicted about this ending.
I get that Spock didn’t want his friend to suffer, but was it really better to toss Pike into a world of illusion? Also how did they arrange all of this with the Talosians in the first place, if communicating with them was illegal? Also, what does this ending say about the show’s conception of disability?
Growing up, I had never watched a Star Trek episode all the way through. My family members weren’t huge sci-fi fans, and they’d flip the channel whenever Star Trek came on. Now I am embarking on an epic nerd rite of passage, chronicling my reactions to every episode of Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS).
Header by Rory Midhani
Disability? Poor Pike was far, far beyond disability! He was like a person with very advanced ALS. My brother died of that horrible disease. Stephen Hawking is a complete anomaly. Most people end up just like this: a mind trapped in a completely non-functioning body, wishing fervently for death to release them. Anyway…
I have always found this two-parter very moving. I love Spock’s devotion to his first captain. I love that he’s willing to do what’s necessary. It’s the first episode where we see this depth of feeling in him. I think such an episode was necessary to make it clear that Vulcans have very strong emotions (there’ll be more later), and it sets up the Kirk-Spock eternal commitment that carries on throughout the entire series and movies. And it makes very clever use of the first pilot’s footage.
I think the ALS comparison is apt, however I was still immensely bothered by what Starfleet was able to accomplish/ not able to accomplish as far as accessibility tech goes in this episode. Mendez explain that Pike can control the direction of his wheelchair and the flashing “YES/NO” light that can “respond to his brain waves.”
It seemed surprising to me that while he has that level of control, they couldn’t manage to rig his chair up to more sophisticated communications tech, beyond the binary yes/no flashing. We need to get some Proloquo up in here!
Anyway, I have to keep reminding myself that I am examining this show in major retrospect. :P
I feel like you sum up the dynamics between Spock and his captains perfectly – can’t wait to see what’s down the road!
You’re doing an amazing job of making these recaps funny and keeping your head as you take in the sometimes dizzying contradictions that make up Star Trek OS. It must be unbelievable to your generation that this is what passed for “progressive” in 1966 but, to us, it was incredibly exciting to see women doing “men’s jobs”, people of color front and center, and SPACE TRAVEL!
I’ve been doing the whole “historical and cultural perspective” thing on these recaps as I was 8 when I watched it in Prime Time, and I want to communicate the many feelings and thoughts lots of us had, the biggest of which was hope for the future. We were doing “duck and cover” exercises in school, our older brothers were being drafted to fight in a corner of the world no one had heard of, and we were scared. I was scared. It was hard to believe in the future (there may be surveys and whatnot online, that would show you how few children of that time believed they’d grow up at all–it was a big topic at the time, and one that adults were really shocked to discover). This show told us that there was a future, and one where we’d be in communication with entire galaxies. That was huge to me. It is not an overstatement to say that we really, really needed that kind of message to lift the gloom. And times got much worse before they got better, so our need only increased.
I am not very familiar with what was cutting edge neurology at this time, but I suppose it was difficult to imagine even this solution to Pike’s problem, which I think is very much like the system Stephen Hawking uses now, as a matter of fact. I now take a very non-futuristic point of view about this episode, which is that the limitations of the body, mortality, the fragility of the flesh, are things we will have to live with no matter how advanced our technology gets. The acceptance of pain and death will always be a necessary aspect of being human. I take comfort in that, actually.
“that would show you how few children of that time believed they’d grow up at all…It is not an overstatement to say that we really, really needed that kind of message to lift the gloom.”
This are such chilling statements about the atmosphere back then, and I know it’s something my generation has very little clue about. I had a wonderful professor who left East Germany in the late 1960s by getting over to Japan for work, then flying to Hawaii. His stories about the Cold War and survival were really shocking, and I felt like part of his purpose in teaching was to prevent future generations from repeating destructive political and cultural mistakes.
BTW Rebecca’s Niece, I just want to give you major thanks for your insights. You’ve been a very consistent presence here in my n00b journey, and I’m learning at ton!
I feel compelled to tell you that the “fuck da police” one made me lol out loud, like, a lot.
I like to imagine Spock jamming to some N.W.A.
That image is going to stay with me, Lorraine! I love it.
I was also a little bit troubled by the Spock kidnap. In that scene in the first part Pike just keeps flashing “NO NO NO.” Kind of chilling, and originally Pike has a really negative reaction to the whole Talosian illusion.
I would have been comforted by another scene, explaining how Spock came to his decision, or a word from Pike being like “yes, I want the Talosian full body television retirement service” but as it was, Pike seems to have very little agency.
I guess Spock just has too many un-vulcan feelings. Talosians take the wheel!
Other thoughts on this episode:
I forgot how fierce number 1 is!!! Also her manicure. Do you think the Enterprise has a beauty salon?
Also re-watching Pike’s square jawed manly suffering made me realize how much more… flair? Kirk has. William Shatner is just weirdly flamboyant and I kinda missed it!
“Pike seems to have very little agency.”
OMG yes, this really hits the crux of why I was uncomfortable with the limited communication. It’s hard to tell if he was saying “No” as in “No Spock, don’t ruin your life and career!” or “NO the Talosians creep me out, I don’t wanna be there, stop carrying me there!”
I do miss Number 1. Too bad both she and Uhura couldn’t be on the bridge. And haha, yes, Kirk is ultra fab with his dashing gaze at the camera.
Well, those Talosians with their big, veiny heads are very creepy. I was even more creeped out when I discovered, years later, that they were played by women, which I’d known on some unconscious level that I could never explain.
Kirk gets very romantical in our next ep: The Conscience of the King, an episode I quite like. Can’t wait to see your take on it!
UM WHAT? The Talosians are played by ladies?!! Wow.
Regarding the Talosians…my mind has been blown!
Their bodies, I should say. The voices were done by men. Very disorienting and rather brilliant choice! Meg Wylie played The Keeper.