The Menagerie (Star Trek: The Original Series)

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"The Menagerie (Parts 1 & 2)"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
ST TheMenagerie.jpg
The disabled Fleet Captain Pike
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 11 & 12
Directed by
Written by Gene Roddenberry
Featured music Alexander Courage
Cinematography by
Editing by
Production code 016
Original air date
  • November 17, 1966 (1966-11-17) (Part I)
  • November 24, 1966 (1966-11-24) (Part II)
Running time
  • 50 minutes (Part I) (runtime)
  • 50 minutes (Part II) (runtime)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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"The Corbomite Maneuver"
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"The Conscience of the King"

"The Menagerie" is a two-part episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek. It consists of 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, and the second part was broadcast 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 the 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 backstory 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 co-founder Steve Jobs' ability to convince audiences of his narrative.

In this episode, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) abducts his former commander Christopher Pike (Sean Kenney), locks the Enterprise on a course to the forbidden planet Talos IV, and turns himself in for court-martial where he presents an elaborate story explaining the reason for his actions.


Part I[edit]

On stardate 3012.4, the Federation starship USS Enterprise arrives at Starbase 11 in response to a subspace call First Officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy) reported receiving from the former captain of the Enterprise, Christopher Pike (Sean Kenney) (whom Spock served under for 11 years and who had since been promoted to Fleet Captain). When the ship arrives, the commander of the starbase, Commodore Mendez (Malachi Throne),[note 1] 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 (William Shatner) or Enterprise Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), instead speaking only to Spock and that 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 accept Spock's involvement in deception. Meanwhile, 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 summoned to the Enterprise by a request for medical assistance later revealed to be bogus, 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, lacking even justification for the death penalty as punishment for unauthorized passage to Talos, but does acknowledge the Enterprise (then under the command of Pike with a half-Vulcan science officer named Spock) as the only starship that had ever visited Talos, and the warning that no one ever visit Talos again. Spock then transports himself and the disabled Captain Pike aboard. By the time Pike is noticed missing, the Enterprise is warping out of orbit from Starbase 11.

Kirk and Commodore Mendez trail the Enterprise, now on its way to the forbidden planet Talos IV, 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 never received orders to leave planetary orbit and therefore has mutinied. Stunned at this inexplicable behaviour and duty-bound to uphold the law as the ship's senior officer, McCoy confines Spock to quarters. Chief Engineer Scott (James Doohan) 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 waives the hearing and 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". When the court martial convenes, Commodore Mendez opens by asking Spock why he has done all this. Spock answers by showing video footage of an unknown origin.[note 2]

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

A landing-party beams down and a few remaining survivors are found, including a young woman, Vina (Susan Oliver), who was born shortly before the Columbia '​s crash, and whose parents had died in connection with the crash. 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 (John Hoyt), Pike's chief medical officer, monitors the survivors, but finds them in better health than he had expected given their living conditions and becomes suspicious that something isn't right. Before he can inform his Captain, Pike is lured away into a Talosian trap by Vina just before Vina and the rest of the survivors vanish, along with their camp.

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 orders security to "lock him up", and the court stands in recess as the final credits roll.

Part II[edit]

The trial continues, despite Starfleet's order that the Enterprise stop further access to the Talosian transmission. The recordings resume, showing Pike in a cage as 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 not even the ship's weapons can pierce the door barring their passage. 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; they managed to conceal the damage caused by a laser cannon used against the door.

The aliens send Pike through numerous virtual realities with Vina, hoping that the settings will move his mild interest into passion for Vina, 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 (M. Leigh Hudec) 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 at simply being let go without so much as an apology for 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 (Laurel Goodwin) 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 the Talosians' lack of human knowledge when attempting to repair her. Her beauty was only maintained by a Talosian illusion. As Pike leaves, he requests her illusion be restored. After the Keeper replies "(restored)...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.

Back in the "present" in the Court Martial room, to Kirk's surprise, Commodore Mendez suddenly disappears, his onboard presence having been an illusion created by the Talosians. 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. 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 uncharacteristic emotionalism of late, 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 reusing the extensive footage from "The Cage" and was 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 long, whereas Part II runs to only 21 pages.

New filming took place for the framing story for "The Cage". Because 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 other 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 electronically processed to sound higher-pitched.[1] (This modified voice would replace Malachi Throne's original voice work in the remastered and new "Original" versions of "The Cage" released later.) The preview trailer for Part II uses Throne's original Keeper's voice.

The framing story was directed by veteran Trek director Marc Daniels. Because most 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, because most of that footage was from the original pilot.

In the scene on Rigel VII, Vina actually plays the slave girl painted in green makeup and dancing for Captain Pike. During preproduction 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 reshot 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.[2]

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.[3]


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.[4] This episode won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Theatrical release[edit]

On November 13 and 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.[5][citation needed] This presentation was also shown in the United Kingdom for distribution for one night only at selected Odeon Cinemas on November 13, 2007.[citation needed]

Some repertory movie theaters in North America showed the classic two-part episode as a feature film in the 1970s. Basically, the two original series episodes were shown back-to-back and unedited as part of one program. One such theater, the Seville in Montreal, showed 16mm prints of "The Menagerie" episodes on a big screen as part of a program that concluded with the presentation of the Star Trek blooper reels from season 1 and season 2.


  1. ^ This is the first appearance of a rank higher than Captain in the series.
  2. ^ The video footage used is actually from Star Trek '​s first pilot, "The Cage". See Production.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Cage Page: Behind the Scenes of Star Trek '​s First Pilot". Retrieved June 27, 2012. 
  2. ^ Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenbury, The Making of STAR TREK, 1971? edition
  3. ^ Bob Furmanek, The Cage (1966) (post), at Classic Horror Film Board, April 21, 2008.
  4. ^ Handlen, Zack (February 20, 2009). "The Menagerie". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 5, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Star Trek: The Menagerie ENCORE". November 15, 2007. [dead link][dead link]

External links[edit]