The Next Generation
Disc No :
First Aired :
25 Jan 1988
This episode claims that the Prime Directive applies only to Starfleet personnel. So the Federation doesn't mind at all if its citizens go out and interfere with other cultures, so long as its official representitives don't do so. Does this really sound right to anybody? What's to stop somebody like Vash from going and conquering some primitive planet with advanced technology so she could strip the place, like the Ferengi did in Voyager's "False Profits"?
Also, how come Beverly won't let the Odin survivors be beamed up? Sure, they might die on board the ship because of the disease. But as far as anybody knew, they would definitely die on the planet! What would you rather do, take your chances with the virus or get disintergrated?
Great Moment :
Yar and Troi laughing at Riker's outfit. These gals obviously don't care much about their promotion prospects!
Body Count :
No deaths. Picard is hit in the face with a snowball, though. And a big urn is disintegrated. But it wasn't a very nice urn, so that's okay.
The crystal Riker gives to Beata will reappear in DS9's "Q-less" as an alien egg.
The Angelian city view is recycled throughout the later incarnations of Trek, notably as Starbase 515, a Banean city and a city on Klaestron IV.
We get a pretty accurate speed for the Odin's escape pods in this episode. Riker and Data note that the Odin pods took five months and six days (and change) to cover the distance the Enterprise covered in two days at Warp 1. We know that Warp 1 is the speed of light, so that's two light days of distance. How long a month is varies somewhat, but let's take 30 days as a baseline; the pods therefore took 156 days to cover the distance, which means they go at 1.282% of the speed of light. Essentially, very low impulse speed. Of course by present day standards even this crawl is incredibly fast - for example compare it to the space probe Voyager 1 speeds along at around 60,000 km/h. The Odin escape pods are some 230 times faster than this!
The episode as filmed has some notable difference from the script. For one, there were no Romulan battlecruisers in the script. Rather, a Federation outpost was surrounded by seven Ferengi battle cruisers. This is probably the first indication that the producers had decided to abandon the Ferengi as the main threat of the series.
In the script, one of the Mistresses attempts to seduce Data.
Also, Ramsey was the only survivor and he was not in hiding, he was already a prisoner.
Troi was in command of the away mission, which was a problem for Riker.
Dr. Crusher wound up in command of the ship when she relieved the senior officer for being ill.
Writer Herbert J. Wright would recall that Gene Roddenberry had a rather strange attitude to this episode. In an early script meeting Wright stated that he didn't want to do an "Amazon women" with "steel D cups" kind of show, as this had been done so often before. Rather he wanted to do a political message about a society that had an apartheid-style system. Gene insisted that the show had to have a lot of sex in it (something he frequently insisted on). At one point he declared that they had to make sure women were represented fairly, because "women are probably the superior sex anyway", and because he didn't want "letters from feminists". Then he suddenly began to stridently declare that they couldn't depict a world as being better if women were in charge because women were untrustworthy, "vicious creatures". After a "torrent of hateful verbiage" Gene trailed off, before carrying on with the meeting as if nothing had happened.
The Enterprise is investigating the loss of the Odin, a freighter which vanished without trace seven years ago. The ship is located, but it is abandoned and three of the escape pods are missing. Picard heads to Angel I, the nearest habitable planet, to see if any survivors have made their way there. Although Angel I is known to the Federation, it has been decades since the last contact. The planet's culture is entirely dominated by women, who are larger and stronger than the men; the men are reportedly treated as second class citizens.
The ship contacts the planet's leader, Mistress Beata, and although she initially refuses to confirm or deny the presence of Odin survivors, she agrees to allow a team to beam down to discuss the matter. Riker takes Data, Troi and Yar down with him; face to face Beata continues her evasiveness, obviously distrustful of the outsiders. She orders the team to wait in a nearby room whilst she discusses the matter with her advisory council.
On the Enterprise, Picard informs Worf that a message from Starfleet command has informed him that a group of Romulan battlecruisers has been detected near a Neutral Zone border outpost. Starfleet wants the Enterprise-D to proceed to the area for a show of force. During the conversation Picard is hit by a snowball flung out of the holodeck by Wesley. Whilst telling the youngster off, Picard and Worf both detect an odd odour.
On returning to the council chambers, Beata informs Riker that there are indeed survivors from the Odin on Angel I, four of them. She extracts a promise from Riker that he will remove the men, claiming that they are fugitives who began to stir up political dissent, which she considers an abuse of the hospitality which had been shown to them.
On the ship, Crusher informs Picard that Wesley and a boy he was playing with in the holodeck are ill with a respiratory condition. She is working on a vaccine, but has no idea how serious the condition is or how contagious. However, she has quarantined everybody who was with Wesley in the holodeck to be on the safe side.
On Angel I, Data suggests that the Enterprise might be able to use its sensors to locate the Odin survivors by scanning for traces of platinum, a metal which the planet naturally lacks. La Forge begins the scan; meanwhile Riker dons local garb for a private meeting with Mistress Beata, much to the amusement of Troi and Yar.
On the Enterprise, Crusher declares Picard unfit for command after he develops the same disease as Wesley. He reluctantly agrees and transfers command to Geordi. Worf completes the scan of the planet, successfully locating the Odin survivors, and informs Riker. Riker, keen to show Beata that he has faith in his female subordinates, details Yar, Troi and Data to go and collect the four whilst he remains with her. The three beam to the location, finding a Human male named Ramsey who says he has been expecting them.
On the Enterprise Crusher reports more than eighty new cases of the virus, which is threatening to rage out of control through the crew. Worf heads to sickbay, leaving Geordi on the bridge. Back on the planet Yar tells Ramsey she is there to bring him home but he adamantly refuses to leave. Angel I has become the men's home in the last seven years, some of them have wives and children and none want to leave. He admits causing trouble; on arrival they were impressed with the self assuredness of the dominant women, but after a while they came to see how unjust the society was towards men, and sought to change it. Since he and his men are not members of Starfleet, Yar has no way to force him to return against his wishes.
Riker's meeting with Beata is going well, with the two flirting with one another. He shows her an Albeni meditation crystal which he has brought as a gift, and they begin to kiss. Yar contacts Geordi to beam up, but he tells her that a third of the crew is now incapacitated and more Romulan ships are arriving at the Neutral Zone. The away team returns to Beata's residence instead. After they leave Mistress Ariel, one of Beata's advisors, emerges from the shadows and kisses Ramsey. Beata is furious that Ramsey and his men are not to be removed after all, and declares that she will have them all put to death.
Visiting Picard in his quarters, Crusher notices the same odd smell that Picard and Worf detected earlier. She realises that this is how the virus spreads; it creates the odour because when people sniff, they breathe the virus in. Armed with this knowledge she hurries to sickbay to work on the vaccine.
Meanwhile Beata has quickly captured Ramsey and his men; she knew Ariel was a collaborator, and has been having her followed. She is detemined to have the four men executed tomorrow, despite Riker's moral objections. Riker considers illegally beaming the men aboard the Enterprise regardless of their objections, preferring to face a court martial rather than allow them to die. However, Crusher refuses to allow anybody else to beam aboard the ship due to the quarantine which is in place. Knowing that Data will be immune to infection Riker orders him to beam up and assume command, taking the ship to the Neutral Zone before it is too late.
The following day, the time set for the execution arrives. Data contacts Riker from orbit; having interpreted his order literally, he calculated how long the forces already at the Neutral Zone could hold out alone and deducted the time it would take to get there at maximum speed, allowing him to wait until the last possible moment before departing; they have 47 minutes left. Riker attends the execution ceremony, where he makes an impassioned speech claiming that the changes Ramsey and his men seek are an inevitable evolution of the planet's culture. Beata is apparently unmoved, but literally one second before Ramsey's execution she relents, deciding instead to exile the group and their followers to a remote island in the hope that if evolution can't be stopped, at least it can be slowed.
Crusher calls to inform Riker that she has successfully produced a vaccine for the disease and is treating the crew. The away team beam up, and a recovering Captain Picard orders the ship to head for the Neutral Zone.
An okay episode, but nothing special. The premise seems to be how a female dominated society would deal with the presence of men who believed in equality, but this isn't really explored in any great detail. We see the uncompromising reaction of the government in the form of Mistress Beata - who believes men should be kept down but has no trouble treating Riker as an equal, the hypocrite! We never learn how the Angelian men feel about the situation - Trent, for example, seems perfectly happy to do whatever he's told all the way up to killing people, but I find it hard to believe that Ramsey and his band of three are a threat all on their own. Is there a popular "masculinist" equal rights movement amongst the Angelian men that they became figureheads for? There pretty much has to be, but we don't see it, we're not told of it. (And by the way, I hate that word "Angelian". But the episode never even tells us what the name of this species is, or what their own name for their planet is, and what the hell can you call people who come from a place called "Angel"? Things like this often happen in Trek, and are a pet peeve of mine.) I wanted to learn more about how this society works, what the rules are. Can men vote? Hold public office? Are they essentially slaves? How does marriage or its equivalent work?
Instead, we get the virus B-story. This is annoying on several fronts. First, I strongly suspect that the whole thing was concocted purely to give the writers an excuse not to just have Riker beam Ramsey up and leave. As such, it sucks. For one, Beverly should have had the virus contained in nothing flat. She told
Picard she was instituting quarantine procedures, Picard knew
he had met the infected Wesley, but he didn't volunteer this information? We had better quarantine procedures than that in the 1950s! For another, the Enterprise-D is a starship. That means it has a life support system with total control over the environment. We've seen several times that individual compartments can lose life support, which means that all the compartments can be isolated with airtight seals. It is virtually impossible to imagine a worse environment for an airborne virus to try and spread in. It should be trivial
to stop such a thing, and it makes Crusher look like a complete idiot that she can't manage it.
Then we have the vaccine. I'm not a doctor, but as I understand it a vaccine prevents you from becoming infected with a disease in the first place by giving your immune system a chance to destroy a weaker version of it, so you have the antibodies and whatnot needed for when the real thing shows up. It does nothing
to inject somebody with a vaccine when they are already infected. And as I mentioned in the YATI section, as an excuse for not beaming Ramsey up the disease sucks. Ramsey was seconds
from a near certain death; surely being exposed to a potentially
fatal virus is preferable to that!
If they wanted an excuse not to beam Ramsey up, why not simply make Angel I's technology level equal to or superior to the Federation? Then Beata's residence or palace or whatever it was could have been equipped with shields to prevent beaming, guards to prevent a rescue mission, there could have been orbital defences which the Enterprise-D would have had no chance of withstanding if it did try. All nice and simple, none of it would have even required any FX shots - a couple of lines of dialogue would suffice. Then we could have spent all that time on the far more interesting A story and relegated the absurd B story to the trash.