Series: The Original Series
Air Date: October 18, 1988
Written by: His Royal Highness, Gene Roddenberry
Directed by: Robert Butler
Captain Christopher Pike battles a race of perverted voyeur aliens on Talos IV by channeling his inner Angry Archer while the Talosians feed him holodeck-like illusions. Truly an episode before its time.
In the beginning of this episode, it takes a long time for the crew of the Enterprise to decode and respond to a distress call. Nothing against them; I mean, they have to verify everything, but at some point you just want them to get going already. And then Pike spends a lot of time in his room regretting being in Starfleet and complaining to his doctor about how tired he is with command. It's probably a good thing that Pike was only in one episode. You get the feeling he just couldn't handle much more stress.
So they finally answer the distress call and it leads them to Talos IV where a scientific expedition had been sent out. They had apparently crashed and among the survivors was a beautiful young woman by the name of Vina. They have a little getting-to-know-you session and finally, Vina lures poor Captain Pike to an elevator where a Talosian appears and gasses him. The rest of the survivors and their camp are revealed to be an illusion and the crew of the Enterprise is left with mouths agape.
|Well played, Butt-Heads.|
So in order to make Pike romantically interested in Vina, they put them through a series of illusory tests. First the make her a Rigelian princess, and he has to protect her from a Manbearpig. Then they turn her into an Orion slave girl, but he still resists her sultry advances. Finally, they turn her into a loving, compassionate companion which is when Pike reveals that he was born and raised in Mojave, which has been turned into a lush green area instead of a desert. In the middle of all this, Pike discovers that the Talosians are unable to read through "primitive" emotions such as fear and anger.
|And probably herp-derpity.|
Using the knowledge that the Talosians can't read primitive emotions, Pike attacks one of the Talosians while the Talosian thought Pike was a sleep and attempted to feed him. It takes a real man to attack and bring down a physically atrophied alien. And then the Talosian uses his power of illusion to turn himself into some kind of ape creature, but Pike isn't just angry. He's angry and smart. He doesn't fall for it, and he demands the Talosian turn back to regular form and give him his phaser. Phaser in hand, he blasts at his glass encasement. It doesn't appear to work, but Pike, smart guy that he is, figures it out. The Talosian was only making it look like it was still in tact. When the Talosian lets his illusion down, a huge, gaping hole in the wall is revealed, and the captives escape.
On the surface of the planet, the Talosians catch up with Pike and the women, and after they explore the Enterprise's databanks, they find that humans have a history of hating captivity and, thus, would be a poor choice to start their new race. They allow Number One and the yeoman to beam up, but Pike stays behind to give Vina a chance to choose to come with him. But then, the twist! She doesn't want to come. She would prefer the land of illusions. But why? The Talosians release their illusory powers from her, and it's revealed that the only reason she initially escaped the crash is because all the kings horses and all the kings men were able to put her together again.
|More the horses than the men, really.|
The story in this episode is pretty great and indicative of the kind of storytelling Roddenberry does in general; the kind of storytelling that we're in for for the rest of the series. It's unfortunate that we don't get to know this crew a little bit more, but, on the other hand, I love the Kirk crew. And Spock just grows and grows. There may be a few things to be desired, but all-in-all, it's the kind of pilot that I, as a Paramount executive, would sign on for at least four seasons.