Well it’s now 2019, please make your jokes about such and such sucking this year too. But now it’s time to look to the future, by looking to the past… set in the future.
Now I have no respect for Trekkies, not about Discovery – hate that as much as you want – don’t care, no it was when they voted Into Darkness the worst Star Trek film of all time. To them I say, “why does God, need a star ship?” Yes I’d force everyone who thinks Into Darkness was the worst to watch Star Trek 1 and 5 on back-to-back, then have a psychiatrist study them for their selective memory (or maybe 1 and 5 were just sooo much worse their minds repressed the memory).
But it’s a new year so let’s throw them a bone (P.S nothing against people who like Star Trek just those people who thought Into Darkness was worse than 1 and 5 just wanted to make that clear, venting a little sorry). So let’s go all the way back to when the series started, no not Kirk – before the first series – to the original pilot.
The Cage was the original pilot for the first series of Star Trek. Created in 1965 it wouldn’t be seen properly until a video release in 1988. However unlike some pilots the episode was considered part of the series canon and most audience saw the events of the pilot through the two part story “The Menagerie” (got to give credit to them, it was rather clever doing that) .
The events and designs of the aliens in the episode despite only appearing in this pilot and never again in Star Trek (not counting The Menagerie) ended up becoming iconic and in many ways better realized and thought out than many of Star Trek’s races to come for decades.
We follow Christopher Pike (pre horribly scarred in a wheel chair) the captain of the Enterprise with no one you will recognize from the series bar Spock (who has big fuzzy eyebrows). We see a very much more human person with Pike than the impossibly perfect and preachy idea of man who Roddenberry would later force upon his writers as early on he even talks to his ship doctor about retiring, weary of the life out in the stars.
Of course that talk is short lived as they get a reading from a group of human survivors from a missing ship and proceed to beam down (because shuttles hadn’t been made by toy companies yet, but don’t worry it’s in the main series). There they find the survivors one a beautiful woman, and he’s bonked on the head and taken by big headed aliens to be used for breeding purposes while everyone else turned out to be illusions.
What proceeds is the aliens trying to use plenty of scenarios to make Pike fall in love with the woman Vina including the now famous (or infamous) scene of her as a green woman, it’s rather amusing when people think of Star Trek they think of Kirk seducing green women yet Kirk never met any Orions till the Kelvin timeline (bo ya nerd points).
The nature and ramifications of the Talosians’ illusion powers are very well realized, people work out that they could be doing damage but made to think they hadn’t, they could change perceptions to cause people to blow up the ship. But also that the powers became so great the race began to lose itself from reality and thus no longer able to maintain their civilizations great works. It’s actually really refreshing to see such well thought out and realized aliens in the first iteration of Star Trek, to a level we wouldn’t see again till Deep Space Nine (look I love TNG but most of its aliens were just one gimmick left through the entire species, aka Klingons being all about honour, and lets not forget how they screwed up the Ferengi in their first appearance, those were meant to be the big antagonists).
What is interesting watching the pilot is it comes off more like a play than when the series started. The focus is entirely on Christopher Pike minus some scenes on the ship when he’s been captured. It’s more about his character rather than him overcoming some threat and he will move from one set to another.
The Cage is a classic piece of Star Trek history that is surprisingly enjoyable and in many ways superior to a lot of the original series , there are A LOT of episodes of the original series that suck, but you forget them often in favour of the good ones, that are very good, but I’m looking at the series as a whole so I can’t ignore that pile of crap where Kirk is willing to let his entire bridge crew die to space Romans rather than break the prime directive to people who already know they are from space (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH, and it gets dumber) But the call to take the pilot and combine it with new footage to present to the audience was a great idea cause it’s a good and classic story that any fan of Star Trek should, NAY must see.