Monday, March 13, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 52 (Who Watches the Watchers)

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

Every Trek fan and many non-fans know of the Prime Directive. It states that the Federation may not interfere with the development of a pre-warp culture. There have been a few episodes that deal with this, but not so clearly as this one.

Starfleet is studying Mintaka III, which is home to a Vulcan-like race called, of course, the Mintakans. Since they’re still developing, the outpost is hidden behind a holographic projection. When systems fail, the outpost is exposed and one of the men becomes lost on the planet.

A Mintakan discovers the outpost, but Data sees him before he can go back to the village. Unfortunately, he’s injured and has to be brought aboard for treatment. Dr. Crusher attempts to erase his memory, but it doesn’t work. This is where the problems begin.

Captain Picard becomes The Picard, the Mintakans’ new god who they believe is responsible for an out-of-season storm. Riker and Troi go down disguised as Mintakans and find out that the Mintakans have found the missing officer and are going to sacrifice him to appease The Picard. Picard takes it upon himself to straighten things out. He shows a Mintakan how everything works and dispels the illusion that he is a supreme being.

The main issue here is why the Prime Directive is necessary but also the lengths to which an officer is willing to go to preserve it. Each officer, it is said, knows that upholding it is more important than his or her life. (The only reason that Picard lets Troi and Riker go down is that the damage has already been done.)

Picard confronts the Mintakans at the end of the episode and explains why it’s necessary to dismantle the outpost. Any interference or guidance could prove harmful to the less-developed race.

I recommend buying this episode. 

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