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Natural Law

Series : Voyager Rating : 1
Disc No : 7.6 Episode : 168
First Aired : 2 May 2001 Stardate : 54814.5
Director : Terry Windell Year : 2377
Writers : James Kahn, Kenneth Biller Season : 7
Guest Cast :
Autumn Reeser as Girl
Ivar Brogger as Barus
Neil Vipond as Kleg
Paul Sandman as Healer
Robert Curtis Brown as Ambassador
Guest Reviews :
Rating : 2.0000 for 1 reviewsView existing reviewsAdd your own review
YATI : When Chakotay is asking the primitives about Seven of Nine, he points at his eyebrow to refer to her implant. Unfortunately, he points at the wrong eye!
Great Moment : Paris's driving lessons.
Body Count : One alien zapped, but she recovers.
Factoid : There is a monorail-style transport of some kind on the space station, but if you look closely you can see that it's made up of a heavily modified Karemma vessel.
Quote : "Piloting lessons!" - Paris to Janeway on his punishment for breaking local traffic rules.

Plotline

When Chakotay crashes yet another shuttle, he and Seven of Nine are trapped behind a powerful forcefield that covers the territory of a tribe of primitive humanoids. Set up by aliens long ago, the field is intended to protect the tribe from interference by the advanced society that dominates the planet. Chakotay and Seven must try to find a way to escape, while avoiding contamination of the primitives and keeping them isolated from the locals.

Analysis

You get the idea that we're meant to think that this barrier is a good thing. I can't imagine why; apparently Species 312 or somebody like them came along hundreds of years ago and saw that there were two species on this planet. Given their 24th century state of advancement, the Ledosians were probably already at or somewhere around our current level of development on Earth at the time. The aliens decided that these species must be separated for all time, lest the Ventu be exploited, so they set up this forcefield. What a cheek!

First off, what the hell gives Species 312 the right to make that kind of decision for the Ventu? Even assuming that they asked them what they wanted, certainly they have no right to assume that every successive generation of Ventu will want the same, forever. Even assuming that they had a right to interfere, they certainly did not have any right to set up a permanent prison and then go merrily on their way. If they think they have a right and obligation to 'protect' the Ventu, then they have a duty to stay on the planet and make sure they are exercising that obligation in a responsible manner.

Secondly, Chakotay and Seven discuss the situation and wonder if the Ventu might not be better off joining in with the rest of their planet. Hmm, yeah, just maybe they might enjoy having houses and replicators rather than starving and freezing to death in their noble primitive way whenever nature hands them a bad year. Then again, maybe not. We don't know, because at no point do Chakotay and Seven ever even think about ASKING THEM!

These are not animals, they are people. Chakotay and Seven establish rudimentary communication with them - enough to get help with their own situation. But they never even bother to try and ask the Ventu what they want - it's just automatically assumed that Ventu have absolutely no say in this, that all decisions regarding how these people are going to live for the next few centuries or more are automatically Chakotay and Seven's to make. It's an amazingly, breathtakingly arrogant attitude to take.

You get the impression that the writer of this episode isn't too fond of technology. I mean, what exactly were the Ventu being protected from? Modern life, that's what. It's not like the Vidiians were out there waiting to harvest them for organs or anything - the Ledosian who came to survey the place happily chatted about how they would be given "medicine, infrastructure, education..."; in fact, to judge from the episode about the worst thing the Ledosians have to offer is a strict adherence to traffic laws and a slightly itchy trigger finger when alien Starships try to interfere with their planet. Ooooo, will the horror never end!

If I'm going slightly over the top with the language here, it's because this is an attitude that intensely irritates me. The vast majority of Human history has been a concerted effort to get as far away from nature as is possible, and for very good reason. Now that we're relatively safe and secure from wild animals and bad weather and the thousand other ways that nature tries to kill us all every day, people whose idea of getting back to nature is a couple of weeks in a modern tent wearing warm clothing and eating pre-packaged food are happy to dismiss all of that progress and say we were better off when we were living in mud huts. It's beyond absurd; indeed, in some ways it is actually dangerous - witness the anti GM food nonsense which is going on at the moment. To see Star Trek pedalling this nonsense is a very, very sad thing.


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 1,391 Last updated : 31 Jul 2005