The Menagerie (Star Trek: The Original Series)

The Menagerie (Star Trek: The Original Series)
"The Menagerie (Parts 1 & 2)"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
The disabled Fleet Captain Pike
Episode no. Episode 11, 12
Directed by Marc Daniels (Part 1)
Robert Butler (Part 2)
Written by Gene Roddenberry
Production code 016
Original air date November 17 - November 24, 1966
Guest stars
Episode chronology
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List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"The Menagerie" is a two-part episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. It is episodes #11 and 12 (production #16) of the show's first season, and is the only two-part story in the original series. Part one of the episode was broadcast on November 17, 1966 with the second part broadcast a week later on November 24, 1966. NBC repeated the two shows on May 18 and 25, 1967. The episode's screenplay was written by Gene Roddenberry. Since the true 1965 pilot episode "The Cage" was not shown on television until 1988 and The Original Series began with a second pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before", Desilu—the show's production company—made a decision on what should be done with the wasted footage from the unused pilot movie.[citation needed]

Incorporating "The Cage" into the two-part episode, "The Menagerie", was actually a solution to a large and growing problem with the show's production. Its special effects, unprecedented for a weekly television production, were causing delays in the completion of each episode. The problem was cumulative, with shows getting delivered to NBC later and later. At its worst, episodes (filmed in Los Angeles) were being delivered to NBC (in New York) only three days before their scheduled Thursday airing. Sensing impending disaster, Roddenberry solved the problem by writing a two-part episode that needed only one week of production.

He did this by writing an entirely new bookend story, so that "The Cage" would serve as a back story for the Starship Enterprise's early history. New footage would be combined with the old and placed into the continuity of the overall Star Trek storyline.

"The Menagerie" won a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. The other episode with such an honor is "The City on the Edge of Forever". This episode also served as the inspiration for the term "Reality Distortion Field" to refer to Apple founder Steve Jobs' ability to convince audiences of his narrative. Early Apple Engineer Bud Tribble came up with this in his conversations with Andrew Hertzfeld, according to Steve Jobs' biography by Walter Isaacson.

Overview: Spock kidnaps his former commander Christopher Pike, locks the Enterprise on a course to the forbidden planet Talos IV, and turns himself in for court-martial.



Part I

On stardate 3012.4, the USS Enterprise diverts to Starbase 11 when Mr. Spock receives a subspace call from the former captain of the Enterprise, Christopher Pike (under whom Spock served for 11 years, and since promoted to Fleet Captain). When the ship arrives, the commander of the starbase, Commodore Mendez (the first appearance of a rank higher than Captain in the series), states that communication with Pike is impossible, since he has been severely burned and paralyzed by exposure to delta rays during a maintenance accident aboard a J-class training vessel. He couldn't have possibly sent the message. In fact, it is revealed that Pike uses a wheelchair operated by brainwaves. He cannot speak and only communicates with a flashing light: one flash means "yes", two flashes mean "no".

Pike is at the station, and refuses to talk to either Captain Kirk or Dr. McCoy and only allows his old friend and former officer, Mr. Spock, to talk with him in private. Spock partially explains his appearance by indicating his intention to take Captain Pike against Starfleet regulations.

Back in Mendez's office, Kirk discovers that the communication logs reveal that Spock had not received any messages from Pike at all, and can't understand his deception. Spock sneaks into the station's computer center, nerve-pinches the technician, and proceeds to override the computer system, sending the Enterprise fake orders that will be read directly into the ship's navigation system. What Spock doesn't tell the crew is that the destination is Talos IV, a world under a strict "no-contact" quarantine. He informs the navigation chief on the bridge that the navigation data will automatically pilot the ship. He overrides the voice authorization protocols with bogus recordings of Kirk's voice. The bewildered navigator accepts the strange authorization and Spock uploads the data. Meanwhile, another station technician enters the computer room and confronts Spock, but Spock easily subdues him with another nerve pinch.

Dr. McCoy is tricked into returning to the Enterprise by a request for medical assistance, after which Mendez shows Kirk a secret file on the fate of Talos IV. The file contains minimal background information on an earlier mission to Talos IV, not even explaining why unauthorized passage to Talos is grounds for the death penalty under Starfleet General Order 7. Spock then transports himself and the disabled Captain Pike aboard. By the time a duty nurse notices Pike is missing, the Enterprise has left orbit about Starbase 11 and warped away to Talos IV.

Kirk and Commodore Mendez head out and follow the Enterprise with a starbase shuttlecraft. Spock detects the pursuing craft, which is rapidly exhausting its fuel reserves just to keep up, and surrenders himself to the Enterprise crew for arrest, confessing to Dr. McCoy (as senior officer present) that he mutinied and that he never received command orders. Stunned at this inexplicable behavior and duty-bound to uphold the law as the ship's senior officer, McCoy confines Spock to quarters. Commander Scott beams Captain Kirk and Commodore Mendez aboard. They demand that the system's computer explain Spock's actions and return control of the ship to the navigator. The computer informs them that any attempt to override the navigation computer will disable ship's life support, and that the system cannot disengage until the Enterprise has reached Talos IV.

Commodore Mendez orders a preliminary hearing on Spock, who requests immediate court martial, which requires a tribunal board of three command officers. When Kirk objects that only two (himself and Mendez) are present, Spock points out there are three already there – Kirk, Mendez, and Pike, who is still listed as being on "active duty". Spock begins showing video footage of the recorded events that took place during "The Cage" to explain how this "story" begins.

The video recounts how 13 years earlier the Enterprise, commanded by Captain Pike, received a weak distress signal from the SS Columbia, a survey ship reported lost 18 years earlier. The Columbia reportedly crash-landed on Talos IV.

A landing party beams down and a few remaining survivors are found, including a young woman, Vina, who was born shortly before the Columbia's crash, and whose parents had died. Pike immediately takes an interest in her. Unknown to Pike and the others, they are being monitored by the planet's native inhabitants, the Talosians, who can create very realistic illusions and wish to study the humans that have come to their planet.

Dr. Boyce, Pike's chief medical officer, monitors the survivors but finds them in remarkable health, far better off than he expected and becomes suspicious that something isn't right. Before he can inform his Captain, Pike is lured away into a Talosian trap by Vina. Pike disappears behind a stone door and the survivors all disappear, having been only illusions.

Part one ends when Kirk discovers that the images Spock is showing are actually being transmitted to the Enterprise from Talos IV. Starfleet also learns of the origin of the transmission, relieves Kirk of command, and orders Mendez to stop the transmissions at all costs. While Spock argues that Kirk had nothing to do with the contact, Mendez reminds him that a captain is responsible for all things that happen on his ship. When Mendez orders Spock to cease contact, Spock "respectfully declines." Kirk order security to "lock him up" and the court stands in recess as the final credits roll.

Part II

The trial continues at Kirk's request, even though Starfleet has denied the Enterprise further access to the Talosian transmission. The recordings show Pike in a cage, and he learns that the Talosians wish for him and Vina to mate and produce offspring so that the Talosian captors can rebuild their destroyed civilization. Above ground, Pike's crew frantically try to rescue him, but cannot get past the first hurdle, a door which not even the ship's weapons can penetrate. A larger problem is that the crew cannot trust their own senses, as the Talosians are capable of casting illusions on the planet's surface as well as underground. An attempt by the crew to force open the entrance where Pike was taken with a heavy phaser cannon was apparently unsuccessful. In reality, it managed to cut open the entrance, but the Talosians' illusions completely hid that reality from them.

The aliens send Pike through numerous virtual realities with Vina, hoping that the settings will move his interest with the girl into passionate love for her, and the two will copulate. Pike, however, resists their mind games and demands to be set free. The Talosians threaten him with traumatizing illusions to punish him, inflicting a few agonizing seconds of an illusion of Hell on him to make their point. The Enterprise attempts to beam a landing party directly into the Talosians' underground network in order to rescue Pike. The Talosians, aware of this raid, manipulate the transport operators so that only female crew members beam into the cage thus providing Pike with a wider choice of 'mates'. Furthermore, the new captives' fully charged phasers are seemingly rendered inert, thus precluding the option of shooting their way out.

That night Pike captures a Talosian attempting to confiscate the guns while the captives sleep. Pike tells his new prisoner that he believes that the phasers had successfully burned through the cage wall but the results were hidden by illusion. Pike threatens to test out the theory by shooting the Talosian unless the phaser damage is revealed. The Talosian complies and reveals the large hole in the transparent cage wall, and the humans escape. Upon reaching the surface, however, the Talosian reveals that they were allowed to escape so as to settle the new slave colony on the planet's surface.

In reaction, Number One sets her phaser on overload to kill all of them instead of being enslaved. She is persuaded to deactivate her weapon when more Talosians arrive with the results of their scan of the Enterprise's records. Humans' history shows them to have a hatred for captivity, even if it is pleasant and benevolent. Humans are thus far too dangerous and violent for the Talosians' needs, so the humans are freed. When Pike complains that they are getting away with kidnapping and threatening himself and his crew, the Talosians explain that if their captives wanted revenge, they should realize that they were the last hope for the survival of the Talosian species, which is now doomed by their resistance. Concerned at their plight, Pike suggests that the Talosians open up diplomatic relations so the Federation can render assistance, but the Talosians decline explaining that would mean that Pike's people would learn their illusion casting power and doom themselves as well.

Number One and Yeoman Colt are beamed back to the ship, while the Talosians hold Pike for just a few moments longer. Vina is revealed to be hideously deformed, the results of the injuries she sustained in the crash of the Columbia and her beauty was only maintained by a Talosian illusion. As Pike leaves he requests her illusion be restored. After the Keeper replies "and more" Vina is immediately transformed back to health. Pike leaves, satisfied that Vina is happy to live on Talos with an illusion of beauty. Suddenly the video transmission ends and Kirk understands what Spock has been planning. Pike, now disfigured and disabled, can be "revived" by the Talosians' power.

To Kirk's surprise, Commodore Mendez suddenly disappears, having been a Talosian illusion, created so he could force Kirk to watch Pike's story, and delay regaining control of the ship and diverting away from Talos IV. Starfleet Command, which has been watching the trial footage from Starbase 11 and satisfied by the explanation, gives Kirk official permission to finish the journey to Talos IV and beam Captain Pike to the planet as a matter of recognition for his illustrious years of service.

Spock is cleared of all charges against him. Kirk demands to know why Spock did not tell him what he was planning so he could help. Spock explains that doing so would have put the captain at risk of execution himself as an accessory while Spock was confident that he could manage on his own. Kirk expresses concern about Spock's mental state, but the Vulcan maintains that he has been "logical about the whole affair". Spock sees Pike out, and once Pike is beamed to Talos, the Talosians return the former captain to his normal state (via illusion). Pike is reunited with Vina. The Talosians' final message to Kirk is "Captain Pike has an illusion, and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant." The Enterprise then leaves Talos and returns to Starfleet.


"The Menagerie" solved two problems, by re-using the extensive footage from "The Cage", and also a script crunch. The script was written by Gene Roddenberry, creator of the show, also the writer of "The Cage". The script for both parts of this episode is only 64 pages long, shorter than the scripts for some single episodes. Part I is 43 pages in length, while Part II runs to only 21 pages.

New filming took place for the framing story for "The Cage". Since actor Jeffrey Hunter was unavailable to reprise his role as Captain Pike, a look-alike actor Sean Kenney played the injured captain in the new scenes, although Hunter was represented in the "Cage" flashback footage and credited accordingly (along with the original "Cage" cast).

Also in the new scenes, Malachi Throne (who provided the voice of the Keeper in the original "Cage") portrayed Commodore Jose Mendez, while Julie Parrish played personal assistant Miss Piper. Because Throne played a second role in "The Menagerie", the Keeper's voice was re-recorded by another actor, Vic Perrin. The trailer for part two uses Throne's original Keeper's voice.

The framing story was directed by veteran Trek director Marc Daniels. Since the majority of his footage was used in Part I, he was given directing credit for this part. The director of The Cage, Robert Butler, was given credit for Part II, as the majority of that footage was from the original pilot.

In the scene on Rigel-7, Vina actually plays the slave girl painted in green makeup and dancing for Captain Pike. During pre-production makeup tests (using Majel Barrett as a stand-in), they sent the footage out for printing and when the film returned, there was little difference. The lab thought there had been an error in colorizing and thought they should compensate. The first time this happened, they re-shot the film with a darker green, and sent it out again for printing. The same thing happened again, but eventually the lab was notified to make no color changes.[1]

Footage from the master negative of "The Cage" was edited into the master negative of "The Menagerie". No other color or 35 mm copy of "The Cage" existed, only a black and white 16 mm print owned by Gene Roddenberry. In 1987, the full-color negative "trims" from "The Cage" that had not been used in "The Menagerie" were discovered at a film laboratory in Los Angeles, and returned to Paramount Pictures.[2]

40th Anniversary remastering

These episodes were remastered in 2006[citation needed] with Part I first airing November 25, 2006 and Part II first airing December 2, 2006 as part of the remastered Original Series. Part I was preceded a week earlier by "Space Seed" and Part II was followed a week later by "The Corbomite Maneuver". Aside from remastered video and audio, and the all-CGI animation of the USS Enterprise that is standard among the revisions, specific changes to this episode also include:

  • An ambitious shot at the start of the inset from "The Cage" combined a model shot of the Enterprise with an overhead shot of the crew on the bridge. This has been re-done, with a CGI bridge and crew being transitioned seamlessly to live action.
  • The Starbase 11 planet has been updated in CGI adding more realism.
  • The Starbase 11 background mattes have been reworked as CGI elements adding more depth and realism including the enhancement of the ringed planet in the sky. During the night time scene, the lights of air vehicles can be seen occasionally flying past.
  • The Starbase 11 shuttlecraft has "STARBASE 11" written on the bow and is given the name Picasso.
  • Talos IV has been given a face lift as well.
  • The disappearance of the stranded survivors is given a ripple effect, just like the one of Vina a few seconds earlier in the original version of the episode
  • The picnic scene with Pike and Vina in Part II has been given a new 3D backdrop showing the Mojave City skyline.
  • Character transition effects in Part II were given a fading warping effect.
  • The clarity of the fortress on Rigel matte painting in Part II was enhanced, and some of the rocks in the foreground were changed.

Use of old footage

  • The original episode, "The Cage", ended with the Talosians creating an illusion of Captain Pike to keep Vina happy, while the real Captain Pike set off with the Enterprise. When that footage was edited to create "The Menagerie", the same shot is used to show that Pike has returned to Talos IV, and that the Talosians have used their abilities to create the illusion that Pike is young and healthy once more.
  • "The Menagerie" does not reveal what actually happened to Vina after Pike left her in The Cage. Previous short shots are strung together that were originally used throughout the final surface scene. After the Keeper replies "and more" to Pike's request to restore Vina's health, the camera cuts to the previously used shot of Vina beautiful, which was shown just before her revelation of deformity. Then Pike is seen in a recycled shot from when he looks in bewilderment at Vina's transformation. After this a shot of the Keeper smiling tilting his head at an angle is used from "The Cage" where the Keeper says "She has an illusion...". Another shot of Pike follows this, which was originally shown just after the Keeper's final words in "The Cage" and then we see a final shot of Vina with her illusory beauty.
  • The final shot of Vina with her illusory beauty restored before Pike beams back to the ship, in the court evidence, was not used in "The Cage", and instead a short piece of footage that was a first take of a shot of Vina was used. Viewers can tell this is the case as for a split second Oliver looks directly at the camera, and the camera is slightly wobbly and the film grainier than the rest. Oliver's eye line and the camera's movement meant that this shot was not deemed suitable to be used in "The Cage" but, since The Menagerie created an edited ending, the only unused available shot of Vina was the shot shown.[citation needed]


Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode a 'B-' rating, noting that "the whole thing plays out over two hours, and with a framing story from the regular cast that, while dramatic, doesn't quite gel". Handlen did note some memorable aspects of the episode such as the extent of Pike's injuries and the ambiguity around his final fate.[3]

Theatrical release

On November 13 and November 15, 2007, the digitally remastered version of "The Menagerie", in high definition and with Cinema Surround Sound, was released in theatres as a special two-night-only showing. It included a message from Gene "Rod" Roddenberry, Jr., a 20-minute "making of" documentary about the restoration process, and a trailer for Season Two of the remastered series.[4][5] This presentation was also shown in the United Kingdom for distribution for one night only at selected Odeon Cinemas on November 13, 2007.[6]

Cultural references

  • The South Park episode "4th Grade" has two characters arguing over how many episodes there were for the original run of Star Trek. Counting "The Menagerie" as one or two episodes is the point of disagreement, as they keep arguing if there were 73 or 72 (they are both wrong; Star Trek ran for 79 episodes total). In a later episode of South Park, "Pre-School", the kids revisit the past after they hear about an old classmate getting released from prison. The events that led up to the imprisonment involved the kindergarten teacher getting burned to near death. Now, she travels in a wheelchair much like the one used by Pike.
  • In the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", Fry and the other crewmen on board the Planet Express were being interrogated during a court martial while they were in a "wheelchair" similar to Pike's. The rest of the episode also contains actors from Star Trek. Additionally, in the season two episode "A Clone of My Own", the Planet Express Ship's former captain appears in a chair and condition similar to that of Pike. His name, Captain Muskie, is also a reference to Pike.
  • The Farscape episode "Losing Time" features a Diagnostic Repair Drone communicating with John Crichton by blinking. Because of this, John names the tiny robot "Pike".
  • According to Steve Jobs' biography written by Walter Isaacson, Apple engineer Bud Tribble coined the term "Reality Distortion Field" by making a reference to this episode of Star Trek. The Reality Distortion Field, referring to Steve Jobs' ability to bend reality for audiences to suit his purposes, would go one to be referenced hundreds of times at Steve Jobs' famous keynote speeches introducing new Apple Products.

See also


  1. ^ Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenbury, The Making of STAR TREK, 1971? edition
  2. ^ Bob Furmanek, The Cage (1966) (post), at Classic Horror Film Board, April 21, 2008.
  3. ^ Handlen, Zack (20 February 2009). ""The Menagerie"". The A.V. Club.,24100/. Retrieved 5 September 2009. 
  4. ^ Fathom Events
  5. ^ STARTREK.COM : Article
  6. ^ Star Trek

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