The episode centers on an incident involving Christoper Pike, the original captain of the Enterprise, on planet Talos IV.
Captain Pike is taken captive by beings who centuries earlier were forced to live underground after a war made their planet uninhabitable.
In their bleak existence the Talosians focused on developing their mental capacities (evidenced in part by their large bald heads with protruding active veins just under the surface of the skin, an appearance that years ago led my high school friend Mark Spencer, in all his sophistication, to call the Talosians “buttheads”).
The Talosians fell into a trap of their own making, however. They got caught up in their ability to create elaborate mental illusions and fantasies that came to take the place of real world experiences, ultimately to the point that the Talosians were losing the ability to perform tasks necessary to sustain their lives and their civilization. It was through telepathy and their power of illusion that the Talosians were able to take Captain Pike prisoner.
The quote in the title of this post comes from an explanation of the Talosians given to Captain Pike by a woman named Vina, a human survivor from a ship that crashed on Talos IV, and herself a longtime captive of the Talosians.
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry wrote these episodes. Roddenberry is regarded as a visionary in many ways.
Was Roddenberry able to foresee the addictive effects of technologies such as television, the Internet, social media, smartphones, tablets, gaming, video streaming, and other technologies that seem to rob so many of invaluable time and opportunities?
Think of it, some guy sitting around in his home in 2016 watching a 1966 two-part episode of Star Trek that he had already seen countless times before . . .
Here is an excerpt from a transcript for The Menagerie:
PIKE: Did they ever live on the surface of this planet? Why did they go underground?
VINA: War, thousands of centuries ago.
PIKE: That’s why it’s so barren up there?
VINA; The planet’s only now becoming able to support life again.
PIKE: So the Talosians who came underground found life limited here and they concentrated on developing their mental power.
VINA: But they found it’s a trap, like a narcotic, 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.