Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 0

The Cage

Aired Unknown Unknown on NBC
out of 10
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218 votes

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Episode Summary

Captain Pike of the Enterprise is kidnapped by aliens who have mastered illusion.

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  • "There's a way out of any cage, and I'll find it!"

    The Enterprise investigates a distress signal coming from the planet Talos IV, looking for survivors from the crashed survey ship SS Columbia, and once there Captain Pike is kidnapped and held captive by the Talosians, an alien race with a great power of illusion.

    Despite it being the first, rejected pilot for the original series, it's still a classic episode. In many aspects it's quite different than any other episode - there is another Captain in the Captain's chair, and an entirely different Enterprise crew, with Spock being the only exception. Save for Nimoy, there is only one other member of the regular TOS cast present - Majel Barrett, who will later play Nurse Christine Chapel, as Number One, the (seemingly) unemotional First Officer (much like Spock in the later series). The other two crewmen with a part in the story, Dr. Boyce and the red-haired Yeoman Colt, are also quite likeable.

    As far as the actual story goes, it has a much slower pace than TOS, mostly because the episode itself is somewhat longer than the usual 50 minutes. The Talosians are, no doubt, my favorite alien race encountered in TOS, with their over-sized heads, large pulsing veins, blue robes and slightly creepy, echoing voices. I hesitate to consider them villains, however. As Vina puts it, "They don't mean to be evil", and they do let the Enterprise depart at the end when they realize their mistake.

    The Talosians create three illusions for Pike, all involving a seemingly beautiful woman named Vina, who is also held captive. In one they are on Rigel VII, with Pike as the hero and Vina as the damsel in distress, in another they are married and on a peaceful picnic outside Mojave. But perhaps the best known one is of Vina appearing as the green-skinned Orion slave girl, dancing for Pike and two other men, accompanied by another musical number unique to the series, composed by Alexander Courage.

    Though there are some things that irk me, they are only minor, and don't distract from what is at it's core, classic Trek.moreless
  • Enterprise Captain Christopher Pike is kidnapped by a race of aliens who are masters of mental power.

    Watching this terrific episode, I could not help but wonder why CBS rejected it. On the other hand, I am glad CBS did so because we would not have the "Star Trek" we have today. I have seen "The Cage" numerous times and have enjoyed every second of it every time. This episode is very well made and extremely well acted by all involved. The Talosians (Who were actually women) are a great villain. They almost rival the Klingons and Romulans they are so good! Seeing them use their mental powers is nothing short of amazing. I am also a very big fan of the two-part episode "The Menagerie" as well which used footage from this episode to further its story. However "The Cage" is much better because it contains a number of scenes that were cut from "The Menagerie". These scenes are important to the episode and make it all the more better. See "The Menagerie" by all means but definitely see "The Cage" as well. May you find your way as pleasant.moreless
  • The full length version of this episode is incredible. The edited version that airs on television is missing lots of great stuff.

    The Cage stars an unfamiliar cast (with the exception of Leonard Nimoy), but it is "fascinating" to see this pre-James Kirk crew of the Enteprise. Also, the script for this, written by Roddenberry, is very good, and it's fun to see this story unfold.

    Unfortunately, The Cage (which did not air when Star Trek was first on television but was added for its syndication package) was brutually edited to get it down to 50 minutes for television, and a lot of meaningful scenes were cut. Also, a lot of the edits are painfully obvious with continuity errors and music skips. They did use the footage from this pilot as part of a two part episode called "The Menagerie" where they framed it with a Kirk/Spock story starring the familiar crew. It was a stroke of genius, and that's a superior episode, partly because the frame story is very good and amplifies the story, and partly because with two episodes the editor could keep in many key scenes cut for the television airing of "The Cage".moreless
  • Welcome to the pilot version of Star Trek, not the first episode that was aired, but it was the first episode none the less and is a must to see for any trekkie out there.moreless

    If you have not seen the pilot in it's uncut form, find it on DVD as it is readily available now, unless you are quite lucky enough to have it on vhs, sit back and enjoy Gene Roddenberry's original vision of the series. Capt. Pike, who preceded Kirk as the Enterprises first Captain, has grown weary of command, and has begun to consider life as a civilian. Also seen in this episode is a young, emotional Spock, and the stoic and logical female first officer, known as Number One (played by Majel Barrett who later takes on the role of Nurse Chapel.) A distress signal takes the Enterprise to the planet Talous IV to look for surivors. Upon exploring, the crew finds what appears to be a group of aged scientists living on the surface, along with the beautiful Vina. This proves to be a mere illusion placed in their minds by the real inhabitants of the planet, who kidnap Capt. Pike and imprison him underground. Although the script was a bit weak, the potential was spotted straight away and it proved what a serious contender it could be after its first two part episode "The Menagerie" which amazed the audiences.moreless
  • Awesome episode!

    This episode is weird because of the unfamiliar crew (save Spock) but it really is a perfect example of what a great Star Trek episode should be. It has a strange new world, strange new lifeforms and civilization, cool fight scene with a giant brute, sexy space woman... oh yeah. But above all it does what Star Trek does best, and that is to make us think about what it means to be human. This particular episode touches on how we feel about captivity, and how much we hate it, no matter what, even if it is a like your own personal paradise where all your wildest and sexiest dreams can come true.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • In the sequence where Captain Pike is fighting the Kelar in the fortress on Rigel 7, he points a long spear at the raging warrior. The tip of the spear bends as it touches the Kelar's chest.

    • Trivia: Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson can be seen during the sequence of downloaded information from the Enterprise files.

    • For all their intelligence and telepathic ability, the Talosians seem to have difficulty with the English language. When Pike is given a vial of liquid nourishment, the Keeper says, "If the form and the color is not appealing, it can appear as any food you wish to visualize." Shouldn't that be "…ARE not appealing"? And when Pike and the three women escape to the surface, only to discover that they are still under the Talosians' control, the Keeper says, "To help you reclaim the planet's surface, our zoological gardens will furnish a variety of plant life." Zoological gardens means a zoo. Surely the Keeper meant to say "botanical gardens."

    • The sound of The Keeper's voice constantly changes. This is because the video was put together from footage used in "The Menagerie" using Vic Perrin's voice, and 'rediscovered' footage with Malachi Throne's voice. Vic Perrin was used to dub the keeper in "The Menagerie" because Malachi Throne appeared in the episode in person as Commodore Mendez. Originally, the whole pilot episode used Malachi Throne's voice for the keeper.

    • The TV in Pike's quarters is a bit out of place. "Bread and Circuses" states that their century is beyond anything like TV, and the TNG episode "Neutral Zone" states that TV went out around 2040.

    • Talos IV is blue-ish at the beginning when they first show it on the screen, but later it is a mixture of different colors.

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Pike: Are you real?
      Vina: As real as you wish.
      Pike: No. No. No, that's not any answer. I've never met you before, never even imagined you.
      Vina: Perhaps they made me out of dreams you've forgotten.

    • Vina: You're a fool.
      Pike: Since you're not real, there's not much point in continuing this conversation, is there?

    • The Magistrate: Since you resist the present specimen, you now have a selection.
      Pike: I'll break out of this zoo somehow and get to you. Is your blood red like ours? I'm going to find out.
      The Magistrate: 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.
      Pike: All I want to do is get my hands on you. Can you read these thoughts, images of hate, killing?
      The Magistrate: The other new arrival considered you unreachable but now realizes this has changed. The factors in her favor are youth and strength plus unusually strong female drives.

    • The Magistrate: She has an illusion, and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.

    • Boyce: ...and now you're tired...
      Pike: You bet I'm tired! I'm tired of being responsible for 203 lives, and... I'm tired of deciding which mission is too risky and which isn't, and who's going on the landing party and who doesn't... and who lives... and who dies.

    • Dr. Boyce: Sometimes a man will tell his bartender things he'll never tell his doctor.

    • Pike: The point is this isn't the only life available. There's a whole galaxy of things to choose from.
      Dr. Boyce: Not for you. A man either lives life as it happens to him, meets it head-on and licks it, or he turns his back on it and starts to wither away.
      Pike: Now you're beginning to talk like a doctor, Bartender.
      Dr. Boyce: Take your choice. We both get the same kinds of customers--the living and the dying.

    • Vina: I'm beginning to see why none of this has worked for you. You've been home and fighting, as on Rigel. That's not new to you either. A person's strongest dreams are about what he can't do. Yes. A ship 's captain--always having to be so formal, so decent and honest and proper.

    • Pike: You can read my mind. I can read yours. Now, unless you want my ship to consider capturing me an unfriendly act...
      The Keeper: You now see the primitive fear-threat reaction. The specimen is about to boast of his strength, the weaponry of his vessel and so on. Next, frustrated into a need to display physical prowess, the creature will throw himself against the transparency. (Pike does so)
      Pike: If you were in here, wouldn't you test the strength of these walls too? There's a way out of any cage.

    • The Magistrate: The customs and history of your race show a unique hatred of captivity. Even when it's pleasant and benevolent, you prefer death. This makes you too violent and dangerous a species for our needs.

    • Vina: When dreams become more important than reality, you give up travel, building, creating; you even forget how to repair the machines left behind by your ancestors. You just sit, living and reliving other lives left behind in the thought records.

    • Yeoman Colt: Sir, I was wondering... just curious... who would have been Eve?
      Number One: Yeoman! You've delivered your report.
      Yeoman Colt: Yes, ma'am. Yes, sir.
      Lt. Tyler: Eve, sir? (Pike glares) Yes, sir.
      Dr. Boyce: Eve as in Adam?
      Pike: As in all ship's doctors are dirty old men.

  • NOTES (21)

    • When the landing party arrives on the planet, Spock scans some blue plants with his tricorder, and then he has an emotional reaction to them... he smiles. Later, he yells, "The women!" in a very excited tone. It is clear that Spock's "non-emotional" character was not fully developed when this pilot was filmed.

    • When this episode was being prepared, the producers were concerned about the green body makeup for the "Orion slave girl". The shade of green on film might look different than it did in the studio. Majel Barrett did a screen test in green body makeup. The prints came back with her looking normal. They tried darker shades to no effect. Eventually, it was discovered the the film developers didn't know that she was supposed to be green and had been adjusting the color balance to make her look normal.

    • The filming of this episode, and Star Trek itself, began on November 27, 1964 with the scene between Jeffrey Hunter and John Hoyt in Captain Pike's quarters.

    • There was one scene in this episode that was edited out, but was later reintegrated into The Menagerie (1) and The Menagerie (2). The scene features a conversation between Captain Pike and the ship's Chief Medical Officer.

    • In this episode, the show title as well as the cast credits after the show are in white, with a blue shadow rather than the regular gold used in seasons one and two (blue in season three).

    • This is Leonard Nimoy's first appearance on Star Trek. Malachi Throne who plays the voice of the Keeper in this episode was also on hand for Nimoy's last Star Trek appearance on the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Unification (2).

    • Leonard Nimoy is the only actor to appear in both this episode and the second pilot of the series Where No One Has Gone Before.

    • Leonard Nimoy and Majel Barrett are the only actors to appear in both this episode and the last episode of the series "Turnabout Intruder".

    • This episode and the other pilot for the show "Where No Man Has Gone Before" were the only episodes of Star Trek that were not filmed at the current-day Paramount Studio lot in Hollywood. They were filmed at the present day Sony Pictures Culver Studios in Culver City, California

    • The Spock character is described as "Vulcanian" and gets quite emotional at times. He's yells excitedly during a couple of scenes -- like the one where he says "Firing rockets!" as the Enterprise tries to escape from Talos IV, or the one where he realizes that only the female crew members have been beamed down and cries out "The women!"

    • On the DVD, Pike states where he was born, but every TV version edits it out. Mojave, California. In the picnic with Vina he says, "That Mojave, I was born there". All home video releases of this episode (VHS, DVD, Lasedisc) have this scene. However, the scene is cut out for syndication reasons, because the episode in its "network form" is about 60 minutes long, with no commercial breaks.

    • In this episode, the captain of the Enterprise has a hat as part of his uniform. It be seen on top of his TV set near his laser pistol.

    • It was stated in this episode that the Enterprise only has 203 people on board, while in the series, it has 430.

    • The picture of the Talos star group on the computer screen is actually a picture of the Pleiades star cluster.

    • Two versions of this episode are reported to exist. Besides the commonly seen home video / television broadcast version, there is a second version that Gene Roddenberry originally presented to NBC as a Pilot, with different editing and some alternative takes of material. As far as is known, this rare alternative version has never been shown to the general public (though it may possibly have appeared at some fan conventions).

    • In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise uses lasers instead of phasers.

    • Both letter "R"'s in the word Enterprise look different in this episode than they do in the series & the "1"'s and the "7" look different.

    • In some scenes (notably immediately after the first beam-down) Spock has a very pronounced limp; in others, it is barely perceptible or even non-existent.

    • The Enterprise had additional markings on the hull, Such as spikes sticking out of the ends of the nacelles, an extended bridge with a window instead of the view screen and additional paint on the primary hull.

    • At the time of production, this original pilot was also known as "The Menagerie." However, as the series proper has the two-part story of the same title, this episode is (nearly) always referred to as "The Cage."

    • Rejected by NBC for being "too cerebral". This led to the creation of a second pilot called "Where No Man Has Gone Before" which successfully sold the series.