Thursday, November 10, 2016

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 23 (Symbiosis)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinuions account.

The Enterprise is studying a solar storm when they receive a distress call. Things are tricky as the solar storm interferes with the ships equipment. They’re barely able to make the transporter work; the first transport turns out to be the cargo they’re carrying. Because of this, the Enterprise is only able to get 4 of the 6 crewmembers off before it explodes. Unfortunately, the payment for the cargo was left on the ship, which leads to a dispute.

The two races are the Brekkans and the Onarans. The Brekkans grow a medicine for a plague that the Onarans have suffered from for about 200 years. The cargo turns out to be a shipment of the medicine that can help several hundred people, thus making it understandably valuable. Since the payment was lost with the ship, the Brekkans claim that the medicine is still theirs while the Onarans claim that since they already gave the Brekkans payment, the medicine is theirs. The whole thing seems strange to Dr. Crusher. She and Capt. Picard do some investigating and find out that production of the medicine accounts for all of the Brekkans’ economy.

The Brekkans on board the Enterprise decide that they’re going to give the medicine as a one-time gift since so many people are suffering. However, it turns out that what seemed to be a symbiotic relationship is actually a parasitic one. Dr. Crusher realizes that the plague had been cured by the medicine a long time ago. The medicine is now nothing more than a narcotic; the Brekkans got over it out a long time ago, but the Onarans didn’t. They’ve been addicted ever since. (The drug is called Felicium, which sounds a lot like “fleecing” to me.)

The Onarans make convincing, yet stereotypical addicts. The withdrawal symptoms are very evident and the joy they get from the drug is equally as apparent. The Brekkans make convincing, yet stereotypical drug lords. All they care about is making as much money as they can off of the Onarans’ suffering. Wesley Crusher asks why anyone would stay addicted to a drug. Tasha Yar is there to answer him with what sounds like a commercial.

It’s interesting to note that Symbiosis was filmed after Skin of Evil, but was aired before it since they couldn’t have a dead character on the bridge. However, since the production numbers are what counted for the release of the videos, this does happen. I suspect that this may be the origin of the whole “Kenny’s dead” routine on South Park. While I can’t be certain, I’ve caught a few other Star Trek references.

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