The Cage (Pilot) - Recap
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The Enterprise makes contact with a radio wave, an old-style distress signal that was designed to cause ship's interference. They identify its source as the S.S. Columbia, a survey expedition that disappeared in the vicinity of the Talos star system 18 years ago. They are eighteen light years from Talos, and Spock confirms the system has never been explored. The fourth planet has a Class M atmosphere. Captain Christopher Pike says that there's no reason to go if there are any indication of survivors, and has the helmsman set course for the Vega Colonies to tend to their sick and injured.
Pike goes to his quarters and calls Dr. Boyce by. The doctor arrives and notes that they received a distress signal. Pike insists that there's no reason to investigate and their own crew takes precedent. Boyce pours him a drink and brings up their last mission on Rigel VII. Pike notes that they lost three crewmen and he blames himself. He says he's tired of being responsible for 203 lives and is considering resigning. Pike suggests he might go home to Mojave and enjoy horseback riding on a picnic lunch. Or he might go into business in the Orion colonies as a trader dealing in women slaves: the point is he has more choices. Boyce points out that for a starship captain, there's only one choice, and if he refuses to face challenges head on, he'll wither away.
Spock calls Pike to the bridge to inform him they've received a follow-up signal from the survivors, confirming that some of them have survived. Pike orders the ship to head for Talos IV. As they proceed, Pike has an awkward moment with his newly-assigned yeoman, J.M. Colt. They arrive, enter orbit, and do a scan of the planet. They find traces of the Columbia and Pike takes down a landing party, leaving the female Number One in command as the most experienced officer.
The transporter officer sets the six-man party down just out of site of the survivors' camp. They approach and meet the survivors, led by Dr. Theodore Haskins. Pike assures them that nothing has substantially changed. The landing party is taken aback when they meet one additional survivor: a young woman, Vina. As Haskins introduces her, the landing party is unaware that humanoid aliens are watching them from an underground bunker.
As the landing party prepares the survivors for departure, Vina speaks with the captain and notes that he's a prime specimen. Haskins apologizes, noting that Vina grew up with the much older men. Dr. Boyce reports that the survivors' health is excellent and Haskins says they've discovered something that accounts for their conditions. He has Vina take Pike to see it. She takes him to a hillside and assures him that he'll feel better soon. She disappears and the aliens emerge, stun Pike, and take him into a hidden elevator. Meanwhile, the landing party watches as the entire camp and its survivors disappear. They run to the hillside just in time to see Pike taken away. They try to cut open the rock with their lasers but the weapons have no effect. Spock contacts the ship to inform Number One that Pike has been taken.
The Talosians place Pike in a zoo-like enclosure and then discuss him among themselves using telepathy. They initially ignore Pike's attempts to make contact but the Magistrate finally explains that they lured the Enterprise there with a mental illusion. It derides Pike's mental abilities but notes that he is highly adaptable and the experiment can soon begin.
The ship's command crew review what they know of the Talosians and Dr. Boyce warns that the mental illusions can cause them to think and believe anything that the aliens wish. Number One orders the crew to blast through the door using full ship's powers.
The Talosians scan Pike's mind and find his memories of his recent battle on Rigel VII. They place him in an illusion of the planet and Vina is there as a local woman. She begs Pike for help and he reluctantly agrees, while wondering why she's so afraid if she's an illusion like everything else. Vina insists that whatever happens in the illusion will feel real, up to the point of death. A Rigellian warrior attacks and Pike takes Vina into a nearby castle. The warrior follows and Pike is forced to kill him.
Pike finds himself back in his cell. The Talosians leave and Pike wonders why Vina is there. She insists that she's there to please him and claims she might be made of dreams he's forgotten. Pike isn't interested in performing for the Talosians and wonders if they can feel whatever he feels. Vina tries to convince him to give into the dreams and says she can become anyone he wants. Pike asks for information on the Talosians but she calls him a fool and insists there's nothing they can do against the aliens' mental powers.
On the surface, Number One has a heavy-duty laser brought down and they reroute power from the ship to try to blast through the hillside. The boring drill seemingly has no effect. However, Boyce notes that the Talosians could easily use their mental powers to keep them from seeing the destruction they might have caused.
Desperate to get Pike to embrace her fantasy life, Vina offers to answer his questions in return for his choosing a fantasy to live out. She explains that the Talosians can't force them to do anything but they can use illusions to trick and punish them. The surface is barren because of an ancient war and the planet is just now starting to develop life again. The surviving Talosians went underground and developed their mental abilities, but soon became addicted and forgot how to use the machinery of their ancestors. They have specimens of life from planets across the galaxy to mentally tap for their pleasure. Pike realize that the Talosians must have two of each species and wonders where they'll get a suitable woman for him to mate with. The Magistrate arrives as Vina insists that she's just as human as he is. The Talosian mentally tortures her for speaking and then causes her to disappear.
As Pike searches for a way out, a panel opens and a vial of nutrients are placed in his cell. The Magistrate appears again to insist that he eats to sustain himself. When Pike refuses, the Magistrate briefly tortures him with a mental illusion of Hell. Pike wonders why the Magistrate simply doesn't use an illusion of hunger and realizes that the Talosians have limits. He throws himself at the glass dividing wall, startling the Talosian. The Magistrate prefers to discuss Vina, and Pike realizes that they want him to accept and like her so that their specimens can be happy. He suggests they punish him instead of Vina and the Magistrate points out he's starting to develop feelings for the girl, much to their pleasure.
Pike finds himself in an illusion of Mojave. Vina is there, setting up a picnic. Pike's horses are also there. She suggests that he accept the illusion and stay there as long as he wishes while they produce a family. Pike refuses to give in and asks Vina if he can use strong emotions like hate to block out the Talosians' telepathy. Vina reluctantly admits that it's possible but when she's tried in the past, she can't keep it up for long. She finally gave in and now they own her. Pike admits he can understand and he doesn't hate her, and she explains that the Talosians picked Pike as her perfect mate based on his thoughts. The captain admits that he's attracted to her.
Vina realizes that the first two illusions haven't worked because they are of things Pike has already experienced. The Talosians place Pike in a mental illusion of Orion where he's a slave trader and Vina is a green Orion woman. As she tries to seduce him, an officer and a trader suggest it would be worth it to give in. Pike storms away into nearby tunnels only to find Vina waiting for him.
Aboard the ship, the crew has detected underground tunnels and prepares to beam down a landing party. However, only Number One and Yeoman Colt transport down while the others remain. On the planet, the two women appear in Pike's cell. Vina objects, insisting she needs more time to convince Pike. Pike quickly takes their weapons but discovers that neither they nor the communicators work. The captain tries to focus his thoughts on nothing but hate while the Magistrate arrives and informs Pike that they've chosen Number One and Yeoman Colt for their potential breeding capability. Pike refuses to give in and the Talosian briefly tortures him before leaving.
Aboard the Enterprise, Spock orders the ship to depart but the engines shut down.
The Magistrate slips into the cell to remove the lasers. Pike wakes up and grabs the alien, who briefly tries to stop him with an illusion. Pike insists on wringing its neck regardless of what he sees and the Magistrate yields. However, the alien warns that if Pike doesn't release them, the Talosians will destroy the ship.
Aboard the ship, the computer banks activate as the Talosians go through the entire ship's records.
Pike uses the seemingly useless laser on the divider wall but nothing happens. Realizing it's an illusion, he threatens to use it on the Magistrate, who drops the illusion and reveals the hole in the wall. They get to the surface and discover the top of the hillside was sheared off after all. Number One tries to contact the ship but doesn't get a signal. The Magistrate explains that they are now on the surface where the Talosians wished them, and Pike will now start a life with his choice of the females. They will settle the planet's surface using the supplies from the Talosian's gardens.
Pike offers to stay on the planet with Vina if the Talosians release Colt and Number One, but Number One sets her laser power pack on self-destruct. The Magistrate is shocked to realize they would destroy themselves rather than submit to a happy life as prisoners. Pike tells Vina and the Magistrate to go, but Vina insists on staying rather than be used in some future attempt.
The other Talosians come to the surface and Pike orders Number One to stop the self-destruct. The newcomers telepathically transmit the information from the ship's computers to the Magistrate, who realizes that humans have a unique hatred of captivity. The humans are unsuitable and no other species can match their adaptability. The Talosians are now condemned to slow extinction. Pike suggest some form of trade but the Magistrate notes that the humans would learn of the power of illusion and destroy themselves as well. The Enterprise regains power and makes contact and Pike prepares to depart. Vina explains that she can't stay.
First Colt and then Number One beam back to the ship. On the surface, Vina has the Talosians drop their illusion to reveal that her true appearance is hideously scarred. Vina was the only survivor of the crash, but they had no basis on which to rebuild her. The Magistrate explains that they had to convince Pike that Vina's desire to stay was an honest one. They give her back her illusion of beauty, and an illusionary Pike to stay with her.
Pike returns to the ship and tells the crew that Vina will be staying. Pike returns to the bridge where Boyce notes he's looking much better. The captain comments that he's been home briefly. He bumps into Colt, who is ready with his papers. She asks which one of them he would have chosen and Boyce takes a keen interest.