The look and feel of the ship, the crew and their gadgets is a bit different from what was to come later in the series, yet the basic elements are there.
|That's the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101) on the wall of the transporter room.|
The story follows the crew of the Enterprise under the command of Christopher Pike as they look for survivors of a spaceship, the S.S. Columbia, which went missing in the Talos Star Group some 18 years prior.the Pleiades (also known as the Seven Sisters), a group of stars that is easily visible in the nighttime sky here on Earth. The crew tracks down metal wreckage on the world known as Talos IV, which you aren't supposed to notice is really the Moon.
|Talos IV (left), the Moon (right)|
Pike and the crew find the survivors - a "collection of aging scientists" and Vina, who was apparently born as they crashed.
Unbeknownst to Pike and the crew, none of this is real. The crash site is a fake and Pike is imprisoned by the Talosians. We learn later that the Talosians live underground because the surface of their world was decimated by war. The Talosians have developed great mental powers and can create realistic illusions.
Pike, always with Vina, is taken through a series of illusions - places and events from his past as the Talosians enjoy the show. As Vina explains "You're better than the theater to them. They create an illusion for you. They watch you react, feel your emotions."
Of course Pike isn't playing along and wants nothing to do with her or any fantasy that the Talosians create for him. Vina later explains the problem with how the Talosians are living:
"Because when dreams become more important than reality, you give up travel, building, creating. You even forget how to repair the machines left behind by your ancestors. You just sit, living and reliving other lives left behind in the thought record."
Ultimately Pike manages to break free and the Talosians are convinced that holding humans captive isn't a good idea because they are "too violent and dangerous a species" for their needs. Pike and two others later brought down are free to go. But what of Vina?
And they fly off for another adventure:
All of this works not only because of performances given by the actors and the technical crew, but also because of the masterful musical score written by Alexander Courage. Courage wrote just over 32 minutes of music for the episode. In it he created not only the iconic Star Trek musical theme but also two themes that are used often here - one for the Talosians and one for Vina.
The theme for the Talosians is a played on an electronic guitar giving an undeniably creepy vibe for the aliens. You can hear a sample of it here.
Vina's theme is used in a variety of ways. It is at times haunting and longing. It is also used as the pulsing theme as Vina dances as an Orion slave girl. Play the clip below and you'll hear it used for both the quiet picnic scene and then as she dances.
All-in-all the score works very well. Courage's music for this first episode of Star Trek sets the tone (get it?) for what is to follow in the entire series and it listens well in isolation too.