For decades, there was a debate as to whether "The Cage" was part of Star Trek canon. The original pilot episode, produced in 1965 by Desilu, flopped. Network suits found the plot too academic, the action too slow. So the studio went back to the drawing board, axing the original Captain Pike and bringing in Kirk… well, you know the rest.
Footage from "The Cage" was recycled into the two-part episode "The Menagerie" in Star Trek season one. Pike returned, much worse for the wear, badly scarred, limbless and confined to a machine — kind of like Darth Vader, in a way. The full version of "The Cage" would not be seen by fans until 1988, twenty years after the Original Series aired. Because of that, it has always felt a bit like bonus content to some.
Of course, to those of the streaming generation, it can be seen as the first episode of the Original Series on Netflix. Today, the once rejected pilot can sit alongside the other 79 episodes.
Well, any question of whether "The Cage" is part of the canon is now moot, because the March 7 episode of Discovery, "If Memory Serves," the eighth of its second season, was a direct follow-up to the events of that half-century-old tale.
"If Memory Serves" began in a gloriously nostalgic way. The standard "Previously on…" montage at the start gave a recap of "The Cage"… with footage from "The Cage!"
In the plot, Pike (Anson Mount) and Spock (Ethan Peck) return to Talos IV. They are not the only original characters to appear in new forms. First, we get to see an update of the brainy Talosians — you know, the robed aliens with the pulsing bald heads. You can see them up top. Then, we get a fresh glimpse at Vina, the young human woman in the care of the Talosians whom Pike falls for in "The Cage." Take a look.
We won't get too much into the plot.
But we will mention one great zinger. Spock's beard has been rather divisive, and the show acknowledged this in a cheeky way. Spock's sister, Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), knocks his scruffy look.
"Is there a valuable question in your arsenal," Spock coldly asks his sibling.
"You actually think the beard is working?" she quips back. Oh, snap!
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