Where No Man Has Gone Before


E2 Star Trek episode guide : Original Series

Captain Christopher PikeJeffrey Hunter
First Officer Number OneMajel Barrett
Lieutenant SpockLeonard Nimoy
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Phillip BoyceJohn Hoyt
Navigator José TylerPeter Duryea
Yeoman ColtLaurel Goodwin

Perhaps it’s the romance of the unknown, but whenever I watch this, the pilot episode of Star Trek, I can’t help but think that it would have been a far better show with the original cast. The best character of Star Trek, Spock, is here, and the seeds of the other characters already exist in this bunch. The sexism ("I’ll never get used to women on the bridge") is there, but here the women wear pants instead of short skirts and go go boots, and the first officer is a woman, and a stronger character than any woman that would appear in the original series.

The pilot strikes me as more realistic, intelligent, and exciting than the original series. The USS Enterprise is lured by a false distress signal to Talos IV, home of a race of skilled telepaths who can create powerful illusions. The Talosians, the product of some of the best makeup jobs on the original series, were played by women, but the voices of men were dubbed in, creating a very eerie and disconcerting effect. They capture Captain Pike in an attempt to breed him with Vina (Susan Oliver), the lone survivor of a crashed ship, to create a race of slave laborers. They later capture Colt and Number One, but the first officer sets her weapon to overload, preferring to kill herself and her crewmates ("It’s wrong to create a race of slaves"). The Talosians realize that humans are too damn stubborn to be slaves, and let the crew warp home safely.

In February 1965, The Cage was promptly rejected by NBC as "too cerebral". Too much intelligence, not enough action or hot chicks in short skirts. Gene Roddenberry went back to the drawing board and eliminated all of the original crew except for one character, Spock. NBC wanted the satanic-looking pointy-eared guy gone, but Roddenberry insisted he stay.

The Cage never aired as part of the series, though I believe it’s been shown on TV a couple of times as part of an "anniversary special" or somesuch. The footage from The Cage was recycled as part of a two-part regular series episode, The Menagerie, where viewers were shown the fate of Captain Pike and learned that Talos IV was off limits to Federation citizens, upon penalty of death.

The Cage is a haunting and powerful song by those masters of metal from Finland, Sonata Arctica. It was first released in 2003 on the album Winterheart's Guild. Wonderfully written lyrics, well-executed emotive vocals and edgy, energetic instrumentals combine to form a musical masterpiece that really gets inside your head.

I personally love music that tells a story, and ye gods, what a story this one tells! It tells a tale of a wolf, taken by cruel and heartless captors, growing bitter and desperate in captivity. I do not have another year in me, you've got to set me free - this was the line that made me really perk up and actually pay attention to what I was listening to. When I fully understood the story this song was telling, it struck a chord with me. Some part of me empathised strongly with the wolf, caged and unable to be free, longing to just once actually see the other side of the tree, pining away. Perhaps it had to do with the parallels to my own situation at the time, or perhaps it was just Sonata Arctica's masterful storytelling, but this song actually managed to bring a tear to my eye.

Anyone who loves metal, and indeed anyone who loves music that tells a story with feeling, owes it to themself to listen to this song. In fact, the entire Winterheart's Guild album is well worth the money, but this is the top track on it. I've used this song to introduce several people to the genre of power metal, and not one has found it wanting.

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