Monday, March 13, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 59 (The Hunted)

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

Most of the time, the various Star Trek series were able to get a point across with subtlety.  You might not get the point right away.  Even if you did, it was more like, “Oh.  I see what you did there.”  On a few occasions, it was about as subtle as a flyswatter to the forehead.  Repeatedly.  One of those flyswatter episodes was “The Hunted.”

The episode starts with the Enterprise visiting Angosia.  They’re applying to be in the United Federation of Planets.  Everything looks good.  They just got out of a messy war, but they seem to have recovered nicely.  They’re a peaceful race that values the intellect above all.  There’s just one slight problem:  Roga Danar.  He’s escaped from a prison colony on Lunar V.  The Angosian prime minister, Nayrok, warns the crew to be careful.  He has a long list of crimes and is very dangerous.

He tricks the crew a few times, but is eventually beamed aboard.  As per the warning, it takes five Starfleet officers to subdue him.  Once in captivity, he has nightmares so strong that Counselor Troi senses them.  She goes to see who this troubled person is only to find out that he’s very calm and rational, much like any other Angosian.  It’s hard to believe that he’s some madman, except that it took five Starfleet officers to subdue him.

Here’s the thing:  That long list of crimes against Angosian society doesn’t exist.  It’s a military prison, but Danar has committed no crimes.  The Angosian military created these genetically and psychologically enhanced soldiers.  After the war, little attempt was made to undo what was done.  They were made to defend themselves at all costs, so the littlest threat would provoke them to kill someone.  The solution was to move them all off world.

Danar will escape by any means necessary, including busting out of a transporter beam.  I know.  I didn’t think it was possible either.  It’s never mentioned how he can do this and I’ve never seen it done before or after.  I think this is done simply because the writers couldn’t think of another way for him to escape.  Either that, or it’s to show that this guy really is that good.  I’m going with the first one, though.

When the episode first aired, I remember thinking that it was an obvious take on how we don’t treat returning veterans that well.  Even if I didn’t fully get that war changes a person, I got that veterans don’t always get access to basic stuff they need and that we need to treat them better.  Upon rewatching the episode, it comes across as a very blunt criticism.  I don’t really want to get into this, though.  I’ve never served in the military and I don’t know that it’s my place to comment.  I would, however, like to see a veteran’s response to this episode.

Danar points out that it was his bad timing that got him caught.  I wonder what would have happened if he had tried to escape when the Enterprise wasn’t there.  The Federation might never have known about Angosia’s dirty little secret.  Oh, and if Prime Minister Nayrok looks familiar, yes, that’s James Cromwell.  Yes, that James Cromwell.  There’s not much makeup, but it’s kind of odd seeing him as an alien.

This is one of those episodes I don’t know that I’d recommend watching unless you were set on watching them all in order.  Technically, I’m reviewing the episode on VHS and I don’t know that I’d recommend buying VHS to begin with.  (Can you even buy the VHS episodes new?)  Instead, put your money towards the season set. 

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