Thursday, May 21, 2009

Star Trek Initiation: The Menagerie Part 1

Well folks, I'm back with another episode of the original Star Trek to review for you! According to the good folks at Wikipedia, this was the only 2-part episode in the original series. It was also a way to use some of the footage from the original unaired pilot episode, but I'll get to that later on.

The episode begins with Spock, Kirk, and McCoy beaming down somewhere because Spock claims he received a message from Captain Pike, the former captain of the Enterprise. The other commander, Commodore Mendez, states that this is impossible, because something has happened to Captain Pike.

Ooh, ooh, I know this one! He was captured by vengeful Romulans as part of an intricate plot involving time travel and a device that can create black holes, right? No, that was somewhere else...

Anyway, Captain Pike was actually exposed to high levels of delta rays. This means that his face has become disfigured, and he is also now confined to a washing machine-like wheelchair. It operates on his brainwaves. With his mind, he can send it forwards or backwards, turn it, and make a little light blink. One blink means yes, and two blinks means no. That's all he can say. If they have the technology to create a brainwave-powered chair, why can't they give poor Captain Pike a larger vocabulary? Or a voice-output system? This is one of the inherent problems with old sci-fi, because we have different ideas of how technology will operate in the future. Back in the sixties, many people thought we'd all have flying cars by now. Or that we'd have blown ourselves up with nukes. But none of them ever imagined the Internet or iPods or TiVo. Going off on a bit of a tangent: you know those annoying walkie-talkie cell phones? I wonder if there's a way to get them to make the Star Trek communicator sound...

Okay, so Captain Pike refuses to see anyone besides Spock. Spock tells Pike that "it" is six days away at warp speed, and he's going "there." Pike keeps on blinking "no" at him, but Spock respectfully, stoically tells Pike he's going to do it anyway. Of course, we have no idea what "it" is yet. Spock then proceeds to hack into the ship's computer and send a message to the Enterprise that they are being sent on a classified mission and the course is being programmed into the computer. He runs into a couple guards, but they're quickly disabled by his nerve pinch. I wish I could do that; it would save me a lot of trouble if I ever find myself in a fight. And it's mutiny on the Enterprise as Spock manages to get both McCoy and Pike onto the ship, leaving Kirk and Commodore Mendez behind. They take off in another ship, and once Spock realizes they're not going to turn back, he turns himself in for mutiny. I failed to see his logic, but I'm sure he knows what he's doing. Did I mention I think Spock is awesome?

There are three main reasons Spock was able to pull off his plan (and, yes, getting caught was part of his plan all along). The first was that he simply has the knowledge of the technology and the ship (the geek shall inherit!). Second was that he had the trust of everyone onboard; even when Kirk suspected Spock, he didn't act on it. Third, it was completely unexpected, so he had the element of surprise. It's always the quiet ones...

We find out that Spock has programmed the computer to take the Enterprise to Talos-IV, the only planet which ships are forbidden, under punishment of death, to visit. During his tribunal, Spock points out that three officers must be present. This works out to be Kirk, Mendez, and Pike, which is why Spock kidnapped the former captain of the Enterprise. Spock submits a video log from thirteen years ago as evidence for why he's taking the ship to Talos-IV. This leads to a long flashback, which is actually from the unaired pilot. I saw it some months ago, and I thought it looked familiar. Anyway, the episode ends with flashback-Pike being captured by the Talosians, who are able to create powerful illusions with their oversized brains. The court has recessed and Spock's fate will be decided in the next episode.

I know how the flashback part ends, because I've seen the pilot, but I don't know what will happen with Spock (aside from the obvious fact that he won't be executed).

I'll be back with Part 2 soon! It was really weird, but cool, to see Spock act as the "bad guy": hacking into the computer, sending false transmissions, knocking out the guards. If it was anybody other than Spock, I'd be convinced that the Enterprise was being led into a trap. But Spock knows what he's doing.

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