‘TOS’:The Pilots

Hey Hey Hey, fellow nerd-o-nauts (yes, I’m proud of that one AND WHAT!)

Time to discuss the TOS pilots; yup, there was two.

The first is ‘the cage’ in which Captain Pike is captured and enshrined in a powerful glass prison (no Dream Theater fans, not alcoholism) where he is effectively no more than a Zoological specimen for a race of beings with the ability to induce illusionary experiences in the mind of other, less mentally developed beings.

The episode follows Pike fighting against the illusionary, attempting to upend his captors and unearth their diabolical plan… It’s a fun episode that definitely sets a tone for the series. There are a couple of really interesting points for discussion raised in the episode… the first relates to that sexist thing I was discussing before…

Pike finds himself thrust into an illusion of something akin to an image from the Arabian nights. He is garbed in middle eastern finery (maybe it was a bit racist too…. shush brain, limit wordcount!) and is confronted with what is perhaps one of the most enduring images of The Original Series…

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This is the Orion Slave Girl.

She is a temptress, flaunting her body at the behest of sexually voracious appetites, and she is the focus of a lot of attention. It is another image of the misogynistic enterprise of the show (yes, another pun) … OR

In a world of ‘red blooded men’ against ‘red blooded men being with other red blooded women if they were a different colour to the original red blooded man in the statement’, or even ‘red blooded men being against red blooded men being with red blooded men’, what would it mean to find oneself titillated by a green gyrating woman? It would mean sexual impropriety, it would mean deviance and it would most definitely be a point of shame.

So would they have felt shame watching this? The answer, I theorise, would be threefold:

  1. They initially would feel no shame, because of the suspension of reality within their minds they would be more than happy to accept the premise that a green lady was attractive.

  2. Confronted with the scene as it continues the suspension of dis-belief would begin to fail and the heady realisation that they were attracted to a green woman would fall upon them; they would feel shame

  3. Eventually synthesising the above two points an uneasy mix of shame and acceptance would develop; whilst this wouldn’t be a full blown ‘I have had a vision of the harmony of all peoples and a freedom therein between religions, colours, sexualities and genders’ it would definitely be an emotional reaction that would be the foundation for such onwards thinking.

Of course there is a more nuanced and well thought out discussion that could be had here, and I think that’s going to be a feature of these posts, not fully examining my own philosophical points of Trek judgement… mainly because I can’t be bothered to type an academic level discussion I want to inspire others to watch the series with an open mind, and use my hashed together reactions to springboard their own thinking…

So my next point with regards this episode, and it’s the main thrust of ‘The Cage’. What does it mean to be a free human, and what is Illusion in relation to this.

BAM!

This ‘what does it mean to be human thing’ is something that gets questioned a fuck tonne in this series. It’s something that’s present in the second pilot ‘where no man has gone before’ too, but this episode is sexier, racier and clearly demonstrates what had to be done to appease the TV execs; Star Trek nearly wasn’t commissioned because ‘the cage’ was deemed too intellectual.

In ‘where no man has gone before’ changes are definitely perceptible; female crew members are now in short skirts (cue knicker shots) and the intellectual stuff isn’t quite so prominent, it’s there, but it takes second place to action.

That’s cool, you take what you’re given; its the 60’s remember.

In this episode a freakish space energy amplifies the psychic ability of a couple of crew members; one of which decides he is elevated above the level of being merely a human and he proceeds to exercise this crazy and tries to destroy the enterprise. Its decided that, you know, he gotta die before he gets too crazy and too killer-y. Wow, these are pretty deep things to throw onto TV screens.

Do his godlike powers mean he’s no longer human? What is humanity? Is it ethical to kill him to protect others? Is he still the individual he was before merely with additional potency?

As I’ve said, these things kind of take the back seat; they’re there for us to find and discuss and enjoy, but ultimately its the fun times of seeing crazy eyes doing crazy things, the ominousness of complete destruction and Kirk trying to beat down someone who is totally more powerful than him, that provide the drive to the show.

Crazy eyes? Yeah… check ’em

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Oh Star Trek, how you managed to appease the intellectuals, the action-adventure gluttons, and the combination of the two.

…ANYWAY…

With all of this floating around my noggin’ I’m off to brew up a nice cup of coffee and think about how I’m going to write crap about the next 13 episodes I’ve already watched before I move on to ‘the menagerie’….

Sigmund Freud is judging anyone that finds the Orion slave girl attractive…

I think that definitely means he is judging You!

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