Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 12

The Menagerie - Part II

Aired Unknown Nov 24, 1966 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (8)

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  • I see no reason to insult me, sir

    What a shame, I now remember why I didn't favour this part as much as the first. You see, where part 1 managed to balance the plot of Spock and Pike with the footage from the Cage to a interesting and thought-provoking level, part 2 just seems to be 'The Cage' with about 10 minutes of unimportant filler. In fact, if it wasn't for The Cage's well told story, 'The Menagerie' would have surely fallen flat on its face.

    On the other hand however, part 2 does have its significant moments, even if most of them occur inside the pilot episode. Possibly most striking is the establishment of the death penalty, which I genuinely thought Roddenberry would have envisioned as out-ruled in his utopian future. However, it is clearly stated here that Spock is indeed in line for such a penalty, and I have to say I was quite disappointed in this rather strange exception to an otherwise functional society. I mean could a utopia really develop in a world that still clinically kills for revenge and justice? Didn't we see in a couple of episodes back, 'hospitals' for criminals? It should be interesting to see where this goes in subsequent series. In other less important but nonetheless culturally significant establishments for Trek is the introduction of the famous Green Orion Slave Girl and the ever intriguing themes on illusion. I particularly enjoyed (and it will probably always stick with me) the scenes where Pike discovers that he had indeed blasted a hole in his cage after threatening a Talosian with the same phaser. I also found the final twist involving the commodore being an illusion to be quite surprising and suitably executed to tie in with the 40 minutes of Cage footage. At least they got something right.

    However, this episode has major plotting problems that I just can't overlook. As I mentioned above, the vast majority of the show is spent observing Pike on the view screen in court. The problem with this is that as a viewer, my attention is slowly brought around fully to the adventures of Pike, rather than caring for what happens with Spock. So, by the time we reach the conclusion of the court case, I have very little interest in what was going on, since it was last developed over an hour ago (or if I had watched it back in the 60's, a week ago!). The one benefit it has is that the footage that we see from 'The Cage' obviously becomes more relevant and engaging to watch, which wasn't the case with part 1. Thankfully it also helps that the story in 'The Cage' that we're forced to watch unfold is actually well written and so at least redeems the episode in some respects. In the end what you essentially end up with is two episodes that separately could have worked fantastically (why didn't they just show 'The Cage' and have Spock introduce it as a kind of memory?) but unfortunately cancel each other out due to terrible pacing and awkward editing that brings both down.

    You may also note that I was hoping for more development of Kirk and his personal feelings on the court case- on his moral indecisiveness and sense of duty. Alas, there's virtually none of it to be seen here and instead we get treated to a shallow, loose tie-up that simply does not work: An unfortunate ending to an otherwise promising premise. Well, that's TV budgeting for you.