Star Trek: The Cage Review

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It’s time to take a look at the pilot that began the whole Star Trek craze. It will feel very familiar even if you haven’t watched the pilot before since the original TV show re-adapted this story. It’s definitely not the best one and I don’t imagine that it would have went over very well with the fans, but it’s not terrible either. The main cast just isn’t all that likable and I can see why many of them got the axe.

Captain Pike received a distress call when his ship was in proximity to a nearby planet. He wasn’t thrilled about checking it out since he prefers not to risk his life for perfect strangers, but the others prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is down there and now Pike must help or risk looking antagonistic. He reluctantly beams down and is kidnapped by a group of aliens. They used illusions to trick the heroes and their telepathic abilities are formidable. They let Pike know that he has to live a fairy tail illusion life with a woman they rescued a while back or he will be destroyed. Pike half heartedly resists the whole time so he continues to get zapped along with the girl. The rest of the Enterprise tries to help, but it’s no good. Can Pike talk his way out of this one?

I feel like the special intentionally tried to make Pike unlikable. I’m just not sure what the rationale behind such a decision was. One of his lines would be pretty infamous nowadays as one of the lieutenants shows up to give him something to sign and Pike says “I don’t like seeing women on the bridge” That may not be word for word, but that’s essentially what he said. Only men may walk in the main offices and even if they have tasks for him to do, they are to wait downstairs. He even reminds the same lieutenant of that at the end of the film to ensure that they know nothing has changed. It’s not the kind of thing that you would expect from the main character and this was a trait that you wouldn’t soon forget.

Pike also made things hard on the other captive. She lets him know that she’ll be punished if he continues to ask her questions and defy the captors, but Pike continues on. I’m fine with him resisting since he should in this situation, but he should try to keep her out of it. He always brings her into danger by asking all sorts of questions. She tried to switch the topic at least 10 times at one point, but Pike kept bringing it back. Pike’s will power did start to fade by the end, but that’s when two of his crew mates showed up. We learn plot twists about them that we didn’t really need to know and it certainly made the problem a little trickier.

I do have to say that the aliens were lucky that the crew was so docile though. The heroes had actually broken through to the villain base a while back, but didn’t know it because of the illusions. This would have been found out had any of the heroes actually tried to touch the mountain though. I feel like they usually would at some point right? Apparently nobody did and that was that. It was still clever of Pike to figure out this weakness and while the aliens could have still won by using a lot of other illusions and making the heroes walk in circles all day, they had clearly had enough by the end. At least they claim that they won’t try to do the same to any more people. Their goals and motives still seemed to come out of the blue and based on how they actually helped the other captive back in the day..it doesn’t make much sense. Even if she was disfigured, she should have gone back with Pike and the others. I wouldn’t have stayed with the aliens for anything in the world.

It’s just a sad special though and that ends up hurting it in the long run. Lets ignore Captain Pike. Even without him, it would be hard for the special to be too good because the villains are just too powerful. It gets annoying to keep seeing them zap the heroes whenever they try to make a move. They didn’t have many options and you’ll especially feel bad for the old captive since she was apparently treated well at the start of things. I guess the aliens just got corrupted and Pike’s presence was too much for them to resist.

Overall, This special didn’t have a whole lot of Trekking in it, but it still feels like a Star Trek kind of plot. At least we didn’t have a lot of forced romance, but seeing as how the whole episode revolved around the premise of the captive trying to seduce Pike, it was felt anyway. There wasn’t any easy way out of the situation, but I’m sure that a better main character would have made it all more interesting. I’d recommend just watching the actual Star Trek TV show if you’re looking for some interesting plots and you can just skip the pilot. It is just a pilot for a reason after all and I’m sure that they used the critiques from the early viewers to improve upon their original ideas and to make the show solid. I’m sure that one complaint was just that the special wasn’t all that enjoyable. It’s pretty grim the whole time and if that’s what viewers thought they could expect from the show, they probably were not all that interested. It was fun to see the retro special effects though. They’ve actually aged pretty well so that’s impressive. This is just a pilot episode so it is pretty short in case you do decide to watch it. It’s not as if it’s a big investment of your time.

Overall 4/10

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3 thoughts on “Star Trek: The Cage Review

  1. I like the original Star Trek pilot episode. You can see those early aspects that define Star Trek taking shape, its interesting to see how different things were, and how much things were improved by the changes that were ultimately made. Still a very worthy addition to the Star Trek legacy and something we should all see at least once – just to see where it all started.

    • It definitely is nice to be able to say that I’ve now seen where Star Trek originated. I may not have cared much for the actual plot used this time, but I do like the concept of visiting other planets and seeing many different alien races. Especially considering how there weren’t many special effects back in the day, the show did a great job of making them all seem different.

      • I think parts of this episode were used again later in a 2 part story in Star Trek’s first season The Menagerie, as a kind of flash back. That was a good episode as well. Always interesting to see how a series began, amazing how they managed to do special effects back then.

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