Star Trek TOS – Episode 11 – The Menagerie, Part I [Remastered]

Thanks for holding on for a bit. My computer should be virus-free now, and after a good registry scrubbing, it’s actually working better than before.

Oh, The Menagerie. The coolest use of unused scrap TV footage ever. The flashback scenes in this episode and the next come from the original pilot, The Menagerie. The only character that survived the re-write was Spock, so that’s why he’s been used as the “bridge” between the old story and the new. I can only imagine Gene Roddenberry sitting down thinking, “How in the hell do I fit this into this???”, but he does it brilliantly.

Watch this episode at


Spock be snatchin’ up your Captains and stealing your spaceships. He’s a badass gangsta. He’s also way smarter than you.

Click the picture for a full summary from Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki.


Captain Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to Starbase 11. Spock claims that they have received a transmission from the former captain of the Enterprise, Captain Pike, to divert there. The Commodore looks at them like they are crazy people. They are led to the medical facility, and they see a badly scarred guy in a motorized beeping wheelchair.

Is it messed up that my first exposure to this was on South Park?

Mrs. Claridge from the South Park episode "Preschool".

Spock, alone with Captain Pike, speaks of some plan that they have together. The words “treachery” and “mutiny” are thrown around. Pike protests but, obviously, he’s in no position to stop Spock. Also, “protests” isn’t the right word. He beeps furiously.

Ooh. Nighttime on Starbase 11 is beautiful. The matte paintings in the remastered version of this episode are so pretty.

Kirk is sure that someone deliberately sent the Enterprise to Starbase 11, because Spock would never lie. Oh look, there’s Spock now, in the communications room, being a sneaky creeper, using the Vulcan neck pinch for evil rather than good. But the Commodore swears that Pike couldn’t have sent the message:

MENDEZ: [He’s] totally unable to move, Jim. His wheel chair is constructed to respond to his brain waves. Oh, he can turn it, move it forwards, or backwards slightly.
PIPER: With the flashing light, he can say yes or no.
MENDEZ: But that’s it, Jim. That’s as much as that poor devil can do. His mind is as active as yours and mine, but it’s trapped inside a useless vegetating body. He’s kept alive mechanically, a battery-driven heart.

You would think that they would have something a little bit better by then. I mean, Stephen Hawking can do better than that. Since his brain functions normally, why couldn’t they have rigged it so he could communicate in Morse code at least? SO FRUSTRATING.

Spock is sending messing around with the communications tapes, sending encoded orders to the Enterprise’s computers, making the next exchange even more ironic:

MCCOY: Jim, forgetting how well we both know Spock, the simple fact that he’s a Vulcan means he’s incapable of telling a lie.
KIRK: He’s also half human.
MCCOY: And that half is completely submerged. To be caught acting like us or even thinking like us would completely embarrass him.
KIRK: Someone’s interfering with my command and my ship. I don’t know who it is, but I mean to find out. Even you. If I thought you had the technical know-how I’d suspect you, but you don’t. Spock does.

They forget that Vulcans will lie if they deem it logical. McCoy is asked to beam back to the Enterprise.

MENDEZ: Know anything at all about this planet?
KIRK: What every ship Captain knows. General Order 7, no vessel under any condition, emergency or otherwise, is to visit Talos IV.
MENDEZ: And to do so is the only death penalty left on our books. Only Fleet Command knows why. Not even this file explains that. But it does name the only Earth ship that ever visited the planet.
KIRK: The Enterprise, commanded by Captain Christopher Pike.
MENDEZ: With a half Vulcan science officer named Spock.

Seriously? The death penalty for visiting a planet? Starfleet is weird.

Suddenly, they realize that Captain Pike is missing and the Enterprise has warped away. Spock just became the bad guy. He’s placed himself in charge, and even has forged recordings of Kirk to back it up. Kirk and the Commodore from Starbase 11 are following in a small shuttlecraft. They try hailing the Enterprise, but Spock orders radio silence. It turns out that the shuttlecraft has run out of fuel and Spock, not wanting to harm anybody, is forced to beam Kirk and the Commodore aboard.

Spock tells the computer:

SPOCK: Go to tape Abel Seven Baker. Execute instructions.

Abel? Is this an allusion to the biblical story? Spock has become the deceptive, murderous Cain to Kirk’s Abel? Very interesting. For some reason, that just jumped out at me. Considering that Gene Roddenberry was agnostic, it really makes you wonder if that was intentional or not.

Having been caught, Spock asks McCoy to place him under arrest for mutiny. The ship continues to fly towards Talos IV. Spock has set the ship to circumvent all of their commands until they get to the planet.

They convene a hearing on Spock’s actions, but he requests an immediate court-martial.

KIRK: Request denied.
SPOCK: May I inquire on what grounds, Captain?
KIRK: A mutiny requires a trial board of no less than three command officers. Since there are only two of that rank available…
SPOCK: Sir, I must point out that there are three officers of command rank available. Yourself, Commodore Mendez, and Captain Christopher Pike.
KIRK: Denied. Captain Pike is a complete invalid.
SPOCK: I believe you’ll find he’s still on the active duty list.
MENDEZ: We didn’t have the heart to retire him, Jim. He’s got you. Whatever he’s up to, he’s planned it well.

It’s like Sulu said in yesterday’s episode, The Corbomite Maneuver, “You try to cross brains with Spock, he’ll cut you to pieces every time.” Too bad Kirk wasn’t on the bridge to hear it.

At the court-martial, Spock presents video evidence of what happened thirteen years before. But Kirk is suspicious. That was some TV quality stuff that Spock was showing there, and since ships can’t record that, it makes no sense. But he wants to see more.

Hey, it’s Number One! She sure looks a lot like Nurse Chapel. (Majel Barrett-Roddenberry played both roles. She’s credited as “M. Leigh Hudec” in these episodes, though.)

Pike’s doctor, Boyce, goes to speak to him. He makes them martinis. There’s an awesome precedent there for all of the ship’s doctors to be total boozehounds. Boyce makes martinis, and McCoy keeps Saurian brandy in sickbay… but something tells me that Dr. Crusher isn’t going to be into that. Boo.

PIKE: You bet I’m tired. You bet. I’m tired of being responsible for two hundred and three lives. 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. Boy, I’ve had it, Phil.

Wow, dude. You sure aren’t as badass as Captain Kirk. Nut up or GTFO.

Back in the present, everybody doubts the authenticity of the video evidence, but Pike agrees that it is real.

Captain’s log supplemental. Mister Spock, on trial for mutiny, has forced the court to accept unusual evidence. On our monitor screen, the voyage of Captain Pike and the Enterprise to the one forbidden world in all the galaxy.

Back to the video. A geologist studying the planet says, “Our reading shows an oxygen nitrogen atmosphere, sir, heavy with inert elements but well within safety limits.” I totally heard “heavy with the nerd elements”. My brain is somewhere else today. Either that, or I’ve had way too much coffee this morning.

An away party of six guys beams down to the planet’s surface. They come across a blue plant, and Spock touches it and smiles. Weird. They come across a colony of men who have been marooned for a long time. Such a sausage-fest down there. Suddenly, a beautiful woman arrives, Vina, the Smurfette of the group. The leader explains that she was born just as they arrived on the planet.

It turns out that a bunch of big-brained aliens are watching some Trek TV, too. Their heads are so vascular. If you look closely, the main one’s head is pulsating. I just got a case of the skeevies.

Insane in the membrane... INSANE IN THE BRAIN!!!

Pike follows Vina to learn the colonist’s “secret”. She takes him to the top of a cliff, where she vanishes. The aliens come out of a cave, stun him, and take him into their secret lair.

Back in the present, Starfleet has noticed that the Enterprise is receiving the video transmission from Talos IV. Starfleet has relieved Kirk of his command, and placed the Commodore in charge. Spock pleads with Kirk to watch the rest of the transmission to save Captain Pike’s life.

To be continued… DUN DUN DUNNN!


McCoy was right, you can’t trust the pointy-eared bastards.


I’ll rate this one Lieutenant Commander.  2.5 out of 4 pips. I love how they’re reusing the discarded footage from the original pilot, The Cage. (I’ll be reviewing The Cage at the end of the Original Series.)


Until tomorrow,

Captain Painway


3 Responses to Star Trek TOS – Episode 11 – The Menagerie, Part I [Remastered]

  1. Champ says:

    By far one of my all time favorite episodes (the whole two parter). I’m sure it had nothing to do with the mace on shield action in part 2. And Vina as an Orion Slave Girl? Another friend to puberty. 🙂

  2. Denim says:

    I remember seeing this for the very first time as a kid and not understanding it. Years later I was introduced to The Cage and was informed about things like “Pilots” and then I was like…ahhhhh…way cool.

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