At Spock's court martial, he explains himself with mysterious footage about when Capt. Pike was kidnapped by powerful illusion casting aliens.
Spock's court-martial board views the video stream from Talos IV of Captain Pike's imprisonment 13 years earlier and of the Enterprise's attempts to rescue him. The Talosians, using their powers of mind-reading and illusion, place Pike in worlds from both his memory and his imagination. The one constant is Vina, the beautiful blonde survivor of a crashed Earth ship (the other half of a Talosian plan for a captive Adam and Eve). Number One's attempts to liberate Pike result in her and Yeoman Colt's capture (additional breeding stock for the Talosian plan), but when the humans and Talosians learn more of each other, the situation takes a turn neither side expects. As the Enterprise approaches Talos IV once again, Kirk and the court watch the past unfold and learn the real reason for Spock's mutiny.
Mr. Spock's court martial is ongoing and they continue to receive transmissions from Talos IV. The Talosians have the ability of creating any illusion in people's minds. The illusions can be pleasant or very painful. It is clear that they want Captain Pike to bond with another Earthling they have prisoner, the beautiful Vina. He resists and is punished as a result but he also realizes the Talosians can't read his thoughts if they are violent and angry. Eventually, the Talosians realize that humans are not suitable subjects and allow him to go free, but Vina has good reason to stay behind. Spock's court-martial comes to a surprising conclusion and his purpose in transporting Pike to Talos IV becomes obvious.
- Spock faces the death penalty. The Enterprise is speeding toward a forbidden planet. The video suddenly resumes, and the trial continues. They have no choice. Spock cannot stop it, nor the trial board.
We see Pike and Veena, the blonde girl, dressed now in a small dress, inside a plexiglass cage with nothing but a bed. Pike realizes that they are prisoners. He demands answers from the girl. Suddenly, three Talosians approach the cage. They have shapes like very old women, with large brains, covered with pulsing veins, on top of their heads. They speak with their minds. The Keeper, who is their leader, speaks to Pike through the plexiglass.
"Welcome, Captain. Are you pleased with the woman? We can create any setting you deem suitable." Pike says "Leave her out of this!" The Keeper smiles. "Ah, protective. Yes. Protecting her."
Suddenly Pike finds himself on a fantastic planet with a castle. This cannot be real, he thinks. I was here a month ago. How can this be real. Suddenly a woman rushes toward him, scared, and says "Hurry. We must hurry." This is Veena, dressed now as a princess, with a tall hat and veil. This cannot be happening, thinks Pike, but he follows her into the castle. On the wall of the parapet is a beastlike man with a sharpened spear. He grabs for Veena. Pike fights him, and after a struggle, kills the beastman. Veena looks at him. "You saved me." and tries to kiss him. Then they are back in the cell.
Pike thinks, what is this all about? The Keeper approaches again. "Why do you want me to desire her?" he demands?" The Keeper smiles. "This was not pleasant for you?"
After the Keeper leaves, Pike talks to Veena. He asks her why they are doing this to him. She explains that the Talosian race died out many years ago. They knew that the entire culture would be destroyed unless they found a way to repopulate the planet. When the ship crashed, she explains, I was the only survivor. But Pike says you are just an illusion too. But she tells him she is real, as any woman he has ever seen.
The Keeper returns. "Do you find her suitable?" she asks Pike. "If you can read my mind, you know I like her. But what is to stop me from breaking out of here and twisting your neck off?" The Keeper frowns. "You forget the unpleasant alternative of pain." Suddenly Pike is in a pool of molten flaming lava, dripping from his skin. He is in agony. Then the illusion stops. The Keeper smiles "From a fable you heard in childhood."
The Keeepr says "We only want you to find her desirable. Perhaps our deepest memories are from our homes." The illusion shifts, and Pike is now on his farm on earth. Veena is sitting on a picnic blanket, and there is a horse standing by. "Tango!" he says, "recognizing his horse from childhood. "Sorry, old boy, I have no sugar cubes." He reaches in his pocket and he does have sugar cubes. "They think of everything."
Veena looks at him. "Stop fighting" she says. "You're home, you can have anything you want. They will only punish you. I know. They have punished me too." Pike asks her "How do you stop them from reading your mind? Do angry thoughts prevent it?" She is upset that he will not sit on the blanket with her. "Yes, but you cannot keep the angry thoughts going. They trick you and trap you. Why don't you like me? Am I ugly?"
Pike takes her hands. "They know I find you desirable. But why do they want me to mate with you?"
The Keepers meanwhile are watching on a monitor. They are smiling. He is almost there. But a man can be comfortable with fond memories of home. But what does he really want? The Keeper thinks, something exotic, something tempting, yes.
Suddenly Pike is in a harem, and there is a green Orion slave girl doing an exotic dance. The men with him are smiling lewdly. "Something, eh?" says one. Another says "Wouldn't she be worth selling your soul for?" The green girl is Veena again, looking at Pike sexually as she dances. he is losing control of himself. He is sweating and helpless to watch her. He runs to a cave, but she appears with a torch in front of him, biting her lip and looking at him lustfully.
Then we see them in the cage. Pike has his eyes closed, and Veena is stroking his hair. In his mind, he is still in the illusion. The Keepers are approching. "No" she says "I almost have him. Why are you stopping?"
Pike snaps out of it. The Enterprise has been trying to shoot through the cave wall on the surface of the planet, but it is not working. They decide to beam down six of the crew, led by Number One to the caverns underneath the planet, where they have tracked Captain Pike's signal. The transporter beam shimmers, but afterward, they are all still on the pads. But the two women are not. they have been transported.
In the cage now are three women. Veena, Number One, and a college age girl with a ponytail, who is a young yeoman who was beaming down. Number One explains to the Captain what happened. The Keepers approach. Captain, we see that sometimes the men of your species require a choice. All are suitable. The female you call Number One is tall, strong, and possesses a superior mind. The other has youth, and particularly stroing female drives. She has admired you for a long time, but has always thought you unreachable. Now she thinks she may be wrong. Number One is looking at the Keeper with amusement, and the young girl is embarrassed by these words.
Pike says "Number One, give me your phaser." She does. He turns it up high and shoots at the plexiglass, but it does not work. "When I get out of here" Pike says "I'm going to twist your head off."
It is a little later, and they are all sleeping in the cage. But Pike is only pretending to sleep. Suddenly a small door opens at the side. A bony hand is reaching in to take the phasers that the girls had with them. Pike lunges, grabs the hand, and drags the Keepor inside. He grabs her neck as the girls all wake up.
"I see you wanted our phasers. Why?" He turns one up to full power, and shoots at the plexiglass. He says to the Keeper, "Now I'm willing to bet that I just blasted a hole in the wall, and you are causing the illusion that I have not. Would you like me to test my theory on your head?" He points the phaser at the Keeper's head. Suddenly, the hole appears. They all step through it, Pike holding the Keeper tightly, and the girls all climbing out.
They reach the cave entrance, and the Keeper is forced to remove the illusions. Number One sees the destroyed entrance. "We did blast through it. They only made us think we had not."
The Keeper speaks. "We cannot permit you to leave. We must preserve our race." Kirk says to his crew women "Turn your phasers on auto-destruct." Then he turns to the Keeper. "In three minutes, there is going to be an explosion, destroying everything within a mile. Now, to show you how barbaric I am, you go back down below and save yourself." The Keeper is stunned. Pike turns to Veena. "You too." She looks at him with love. "No" she says, if you three consiuder this so important, I will stay with you."
Another Talosian suddenly appears at the entrance and whispers to The Keeper, who say to Pike "We will allow you to leave." Pike turns off the destruct on the phaser, and the girls do as well.
The Keeper speaks. "We had no idea how stongly your species feels about captivity. That you would rather die than face it. You are too unstable for us."
Pike orders his crew girls back to the ship and says he will follow in a moment. When they leave, he turns to Veena. You may come too. but she says she cannot. Suddenly the illusion of her beauty fades, and we see a deformed and crippled girl.
"This is how they found me in the crash, a lump of flesh, barely alive. They repaired my body. Eveything works. But they had no idea what a human looked like, so this is what they made."
The Keeper says "Now you know."
Pike asks "Will you give her back her illusion of beauty?" The Keeper smiles "And more." Veena has become even more beautiful in the illusion. Pike aks "What will happen now?"
The Keeper says "We will die out as a race." Pike returns to the Enterprise. Number One asks "Didn't Veena come with you?" He says to her "No. And I understand her reasons."
In the courtroom. the monitor stops. Now Kirk understands. He turns to the Commodore and says "Commodore, don't you think..." but suddenly the Commodore vanishes. The face of the Keeper appears on the screen.
"Captain Kirk" the Keeper says, "the Commodore was not on board. His appearance on the Enterprise, and on the shuttlecraft were merely illusions, to keep the pretense of a trial continuing until your arrival. We welcome Captain Pike to live here in comfort with Veena."
Kirk turns to Pike. "Chris" he says, "Do you want to go there?" Pike blinks yes.
The guards bring Pike to the transporter room. Kirk turns to Spock and says "you could have asked me." Spock replies "Would you have said yes? I could not afford to endanger you, only myself." A message comes through the intercom on the bridge from the Starbase. "We received transmissions from Talos IV. All charges against Mr. Spock are dropped, signed, Mendez, JM, Commodore." Everyone except Kirk leaves the courtroom. Kirk looks at the screen. There are Veena and Pike, enetring the cave entrance, both young and attractive.
Kirk smiles and The Keeper speaks. "Captain Pike has his illusion, and you have your reality. May you find your way as pleasant."