The Talosians continue to project images to the viewing screen in the briefing room. Spock informs Kirk and Mendez that the Keeper now controls the screens and they have to watch the projection out until the end.
You have no choice, sir. I'm sorry. The Keeper has taken control of our screen.
Pike wakes up in a cell deep underground and two Talosians watch him through a thick transparent barrier. They are able to read his thoughts and predict his reactions to the situation, and all but ignore his attempts to negotiate with them. The Keeper notes that despite his many mental flaws, Pike is a suitably adaptable specimen and they can proceed with their experiment.
Next, frustrated into a need to display physical prowess, the creature will throw himself against the transparency.
On board the Enterprise
, Number One meets with Spock, Boyce, and the others and they discuss their options. The ship's controls aren't responding Boyce notes that the Talosians set a deliberate trap for Pike and can project any illusion that they wish, fooling all five sensors. Meanwhile, the Talosians proceed with their experiment while what's left of their race all telepathically tune in to Pike's thoughts. Pike finds himself outside an abandoned fortress, the same fortress the Enterprise
visited two weeks earlier when they lost crewmembers. Vina, dressed as a Rigellian princess, comes running out and warns that a Kaylar warrior is stalking her. Despite the fact he knows this is an illusion, Pike goes into the castle with Vina. The Kaylar comes after them and Vina begs Pike to attack, but the captain refuses to go along with his captors' plans. However, when Vina makes a noise the Kaylar spots them and attacks. Pike holds off the Kaylar and they fight up a small flight of stairs. The Kaylar knocks Pike off a ledge and goes after Vina. Pike throws a sword into his back and when the Kaylar leaps at him, the captain impales him on a spearhead. Everything disappears and Pike and Vina find themselves back in the cell.
What ever you call this, you'll feel it. You'll feel it. That's what matters. You'll feel whatever happens to you.
The Talosians stop transmitting for the moment and Spike says they want to give the injured Pike a respite. Kirk is puzzled at the Talosians' concern for their former prisoner. Mendez demands an explanation for the Talosians' actions and Spock tells him they have to see the entire transmission as otherwise the explanation would be too unbelievable. A few hours later, the trial is reconvened. In the past, the Enterprise
crew try to break through the barrier with a laser cannon but have no success. Below, Pike wonders if Vina is an illusion, noting he's never conceived of anyone like her. She sidesteps, saying she might be manufactured from his dreams and she's there to please him. Seizing on that, Pike asks her to tell him how to resist the Talosian illusions. She offers him information in return for his choosing a dream for them to share. He agrees and she says that the Talosians punish disobedience and use illusion to trick their subjects into doing what is desired. The Talosians once lived on the surface but a war devastated their planet and they moved underground. There they developed their mental abilities but became addicted to their own illusions. They forgot how to repair their machines and eventually grew bored, so they captured specimens from other planets and vicariously enjoyed their experiences through telepathy. Pike realizes they need a breeding pair and the Keeper, realizing Vina has said too much, inflicts illusory pain and then causes Vina to disappear.
You said if I answered questions...
That was a bargain with something that didn't exist. You said you weren't real, remember?
I'm a woman as real and as human as you are. We are like Adam and Eve.
The Keeper tells Pike to eat, noting the simple vial of nutrients can be made to appear as any food he wants. When he refuses, he tortured Pike with an illusion of Hell. Pike drinks the substance as-is but realizes that the Keeper is limited in his inability to project a sensation of hunger. Angry, Pike throws himself at the barrier wall and the Keeper retreats, startled. Pike realizes that strong emotions block their abilities. The Keeper ignores his speculation and talks about his reactions to Vina. Pike wonders why they want him attracted to her and insists on knowing what happened to her. Satisfied with his protectiveness, the Keeper creates a new illusion of Pike at home on the Mojave Desert, having a picnic with Vina. Unsatisfied, he prods Vina for answers and she reluctantly admits that the Talosians can't use telepathy through strong emotions. However, she warns that the Talosians keep trying and there's no way to resist them forever. When Pike wonders about her, she says that he was taken from her thoughts and dreams and she can't help but fall in love with her. He admits he feels the same way, but Vina, dissatisfied, concludes that the illusions so far have been of things he already has experienced. The illusory landscape changes and Pike finds himself a trader on Orion, as a seductive green-skinned Orion slave girl dances for him. He recognizes her as Vina and listens as a trader and an officer discuss what can be had on Orion. Frustrated and weakened by temptation, Pike flees through a tunnel only to find Vina waiting for him.
Suppose you had all of space to choose from and this was only one small sample. Wouldn't you say
it was worth a man's soul?
Number One prepares to beam directly into the Talosian city, bypassing the barrier. She takes a landing party of volunteers down, but only she and Yeoman Colt, the two women, dematerialize. The women appear in Pike's cell and Vina screams in anger, saying the Talosians promised Pike to her. The Keeper informs Pike that since Vina was insufficient, he now has two additional women to choose from and each has suitable candidates as a mate. Angry, Pike focuses his emotions to resist the Talosians, and the Keeper inflicts pain on him. He refuses to give in and tells the others to leave him be to focus.
Each of the two new specimens has qualities in her favor. The female you call Number One has
the superior mind and would produce highly intelligent children.
Later, everyone is dozing off in the cell when the Keeper opens a hidden panel and tries to remove the laser pistols that the newcomers brought. Pike grabs him by the throat and yanks him into the cell. The Keeper projects an illusion of transforming into a ferocious ape-creature, but Pike threatens to break his neck no matter what form the Keeper takes. The Keeper gives up the illusion but demands his release or he'll use illusions to trick the Enterprise
crew into destroying the ship. Pike calls his bluff but says he has something to kill for. He fires the laser pistol at the window/barrier and seemingly has no success. However, he realizes it's another illusion and threatens to use the gun on the Keeper's head. The Talosian drops the illusion, showing the shattered barrier, and they head for the surface.
You stop this illusion, or I'll twist your head off.
In the present, the Enterprise
arrives at Talos IV and the crew loses control of the ship. They watch the conclusion of the Talosian as Pike takes the others to the surface, where they discover that the metallic barrier has been shattered: its resistance another Talosian illusion. They're unable to contact the ship and the Keeper informs them that they are now where the Talosians want them. Agricultural supplies will be provided so that Pike and his chosen mate can begin to resettle the surface. Pike offers to stay with Vina in return for his crew women's freedom. However, Number One sets her laser pistol to overload, saying it's wrong for any race to create a slave species. Pike and Colt agree and the captain tells Vina and the Keeper to get to safety. Vina asserts herself and decides to stay, realizing the Talosians could use her again in some future scheme.
Just to show you how primitive humans are, Talosian, you go with her.
The other Talosians arrive from below, having scanned the ship's computers. Number One stops the self-destruct and the Keeper assimilates the data. He realizes that humanity refuses to live in slavery, no matter how comfortable the cage. He informs Pike that they're free to go: their intractability has doomed the Talosians to extinction. Pike suggests a negotiation but the Keeper warns that once Mankind learned of the Talosians' illusion powers, they would fall into the same self-destructive trap. Pike asks Vina to the planet and sends Colt and Number One up to the ship first. The Talosians reveal their final illusion: the illusion of beauty projected onto Vina. Without it she's a crippled, scarred, aging woman. Vina explains that she was the only survivor of the crash, but was badly injured and the Talosians had no way to know how to reconstruct her body. They healed her injuries but left her disfigured. The Keeper wants Pike to realize that Vina has nowhere to go as she is without her illusion. Pike agrees and beams up to the ship and they depart.
They found me in the wreckage, dying, a lump of flesh. They rebuilt me. Everything works. But they had never seen
a human. They had no guide for putting me back together.
Back in the present, Pike begins to discuss the case with Mendez, but the Commodore disappears. The Keeper transmits his image and explains that Mendez was an illusion on the shuttlecraft and the Enterprise
. The court-martial was a ruse to distract Kirk from regaining control of the ship before they arrived at Talos IV. The Talosians offered the crippled Pike a place among them, free to live his life in an illusion and free of the restraints of his broken body. Spock brought Pike there out of loyalty, and explains that if he had told Kirk the truth the both would have been found guilty of violating General Order 7 and risking the death penalty. Starfleet, which has been receiving the transmission, agree to honor Pike's duty by granting him a new life with Talosians and dropping all charges. As Pike is taken to the planet, Kirk watches as Pike and Vina, each in their perfect illusory bodies, are reunited. The Keeper says that Pike has his illusion, and Kirk has his reality.
Captain Pike has an illusion, and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.