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Code of Honor

Series : The Next Generation Rating : 2
Disc No : 1.1 Episode : 3
First Aired : 12 Oct 1987 Stardate : 41235.25
Director : Russ Mayberry Year : 2364
Writers : Kathryn Powers, Michael Barren Season : 1
Guest Cast :
James Louis Watkins as Hagon
Jessie Lawerence Ferguson as Lutan
Karole Selmon as Yareena
Michael Rider as Transporter Chief
Moral :
Honour : It's a thing worth fighting and even dying for
Guest Reviews :
Rating : 0.0000 for 2 reviewsView existing reviewsAdd your own review
YATI : I find it very hard to believe that Yar would actually assault one of the Ligonians for trying to give Picard a gift before she checked it. As it turned out Lutan was impressed by Yar's action, but this could have caused a major diplomatic incident!

Not strictly a YATI, but when Yareena is beamed up to the Enterprise Dr. Crusher is wearing a wrist watch.

Take a look at the planet Ligon in the remastered and updated version of the episode. The clouds are visibly moving across the surface in just a few seconds! Assuming Ligon is even close to the size of the Earth, that equates to a wind speed in the region of 300,000 miles per hour - that's one windy planet they have there!

When asked about the metal poles in the yard, Data states that "joined together, they would make a rectangle or square enclosing one hundred twenty one square metres. If put end to end vertically they would make a pole 44 metres high. Or two of twenty two." Now, the area Data gives for a square is correct - there is 44 metres of poll, so they would make a square with four sides of 11 metres each, for an area of 121 square metres. Great! But... he states that a rectangle would also have the same area. And that's not true. In fact, the area of a rectangle depends not only on the total length of the perimeter but on the ratio of the lengths. To illustrate, consider if the 44 metres of pole were split into two sides of 15 metres each and two sides of 7 metres each. That would make a rectangle 15x7, or 105 square metres. Or if they were split into two sides of 20 metres and two sides of two metres, that's a rectangle 20x2, or 40 square metres. In fact, the only rectangle that gives an area of 121 square metres is that special case where the sides of the rectangle happen to be equal - the square. NO other rectangular shape would give that area, so Data should simply have said "a square enclosing..." with no mention of rectangles at all. Bad show, Data!

Great Moment : I love the way Picard's todying to Lutan about how much he respects his culture contrasts to his later assertion that it is a "pompous, strutting charade". Some claim this as a YATI, but really, did they honestly expect Picard to greet Lutan with "Hello you pompous primitive from a backward culture. Can we have some vaccine now?"
Body Count : A spectator at the fight is killed. Yareena dies, but is brought back to life again.
Factoid : The music in this episode was provided by Fred Steiner, who also did many episodes of the original series.
Quote : "In my world it's a greater honour to refuse..." - Yar when Yareena challenges her to fight for her honour.

Plotline

The Enterprise is visiting Ligon II to bargain for supplies of a vaccine which is urgently needed to cure an outbreak of Anchilles Fever. The Ligonians are a relatively dvanced species technologically, but their culture is somewhat similar to early Earth societies - their code of honour is regarded as critically important. One of their leaders, Yutan, comes aboard the Starship to negotiate for the vaccine and seems more than willing to supply whatever is needed. He is impressed with the power of the Enterprise and its crew, especially with the obvious competence of Lieutenant Yar. When Lutan beams down to the surface he grabs Yar and takes her with him through the transporter.

Picard contacts the surface and demands the return of his officer, firing a few display blasts from the photon torpedoes as encouragement, but this is ignored. On researching Ligonian society Troi and Data announce that what Lutan has done is acceptable behaviour for his people. By abducting Yar he has proved that he is brave enough to stand up to the mighty Federation, gaining prestige from his peers on Ligon. By Ligonian standards the correct thing to do now is to politely ask for Yar's return. Picard, hoping for a peaceful solution that will still allow him to obtain supplies of the vaccine, agrees to do this and beams down with an away team.

Unfortunately, Lutan decides that he is going to hold onto Yar and make her his wife. His first wife, Yareena, strenuously objects to this and challenges Yar to personal combat - an ancient custom not followed for centuries but still technically in force. Picard confronts Lutan and realises that he is playing a clever ploy - if Yar wins he gets to keep her, but if she loses he is no worse off. Picard decides to play alone, and Yar and Yareena battle one another with deadly spiked gloves.

Yar wins out, and Yareena is killed. Immediately Picard beams both Yar and Yareena to the Enterprise. Lutan agrees to return to the ship to discuss the situation. On arrival he is amazed to find Yareena alive and well, having been brought back from death by Dr. Crusher. The furious Yareena regards herself as divorced from Lutan, since as on Earth marriages are until "death do us part" as it were. Since in Ligonian culture it is the women who own all the wealth and property that the men control, her decision leaves Lutan stripped of all of his power. Yareena quickly finds herself a new mate, and the ship proceeds on course with the vaccine safely aboard. Yar must fight to the death to obtain a critical vaccine from an honour bound society.

Analysis

After the poor outing of the last episode, this one is in some ways a marked improvement. It actually has a story of its own, rather than simply ripping off a TOS episode. TOS did do plenty of episodes where Kirk had to deal with some primitive culture that had something he needed, so in that sense this does hark back to TOS, but whereas the Naked Now is almost a direct copy, even down to the title, the implementation here is easily different enough that it comes across as something original.

The Ligonians are an interesting alien culture - they look Human, but they have their own culture and rules which they follow rigorously for the most part, whilst bending when they think they can get away with it. Given the "primitive" nature of their culture it is perhaps a little unfortunate that the Ligonians were played by exclusively black actors. I'm somewhat torn over this. Technically, it's pretty absurd that aliens would ever evolve to look like humans, especially right down to matching our racial distinctions. So really there shouldn't be "black" and "white" aliens, because they should all be green with tentacles or whatever. We can't do that, though, at least not at the time and on the budget that TNG had to work with. So it's inevitable to accept that aliens will end up looking like us, even though that makes no sense. But that raises the question... which part of "us" should they look like? If it's already silly that an alien species could look human, it's even sillier that they would also match all of our racial variations. Alien species might have races that vary in appearance, but those variations aren't really likely to match our own variations. So it is, technically, reasonable to posit an alien culture where everybody is white, or everybody is black, or everybody is the same shade of green.

The issue, then, is not one of "it's unlikely there would be a culture where everybody is dark skinned". That's reasonable, at least by Trek standards. it's about the perception it creates within the audience. Unfortunately, though, when the end product is they you have a bunch of black folks on screen behaving as "primitives", well the perception it creates within the audience is a rather unfortunate one, to put it mildly.

Some of the production values aren't really up to scratch, too. Whilst the sets and costumes are pretty good, the staging of the fight is just abysmal and some of the dialogue is rather clunky. Still, the episode does manage to at least hold the interest all the way through.


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 1,901 Last updated : 27 Mar 2014