Saturday, November 11, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 165 (Homeward)

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

WARNING: I’m going to give away major details about this episode that will probably ruin it for you. If this bothers you, don’t read this review.

You’ve been warned…

The Prime Directive is a rule that prohibits any Starfleet officer from interfering with the natural development of a planet. (Usually, this only applies to planets that don’t have warp drive, but there have been exceptions.) When the Enterprise responds to a distress call, they find that Worf’s adoptive brother, Nikolai Rozhenko, has made himself known to a population that he was supposed to be observing from a distance. He had the good sense to surgically alter himself, but it still would seem like a violation of the Prime Directive.

The reason for the distress call was that the planet’s atmosphere is about to go bad and the entire population of the planet will die. Nikolai wants to at least save the one tribe that he’s been watching. However, Captain Picard will have no part of it. Not one to take no for an answer, Nikolai beams the tribe up and puts them in a holodeck recreation of their planet. Picard is upset, but there’s not much that anyone can do about it.

Once a new planet is found for them, the Enterprise is off. The terrain in the holodeck is changed to match the terrain of the new planet as the group travels through caves and up to the surface. Things get complicated when one of the people, the tribe’s chronicler, wanders off and out of the holodeck. He finds his way to Ten-Forward, where Commander Riker and Counselor Troi see him walk in. Knowing that this is really bad, they try their best to contain the situation.

However, his memory can’t be wiped which means that he’ll either have to go back to his tribe knowing what he knows or he’ll have to stay on the Enterprise. Ultimately, he decides that he can’t go back to the tribe. He wouldn’t be able to tell anyone, but he wouldn’t be able to keep the secret, either. He ends up committing suicide rather than have to live in exile.

The tribe makes it to their new home. Nikolai decides to stay with them. Some of it probably has to do with the fact that his career is over. However, most of it has to do with the fact that he’s going to have a child with one of the women in the tribe.

The story is primarily a story about the Prime Directive, which is nothing new. The Enterprise can’t interfere in the natural development of a culture. However, isn’t it equally as wrong to let them die? They can’t save the entire planet, but they can at least save one tribe.

It also ends up being adoptive brother against adoptive brother. Worf was always the honorable, noble brother while Nikolai was the emotional, selfish one. Nikolai attended Starfleet Academy, but dropped out after a year. He always seemed to be getting into trouble that someone else had to get him out of. (On that note, Nikolai will have a lot of explaining to do when the child is born.) This sort of relationship is kind of cliche, especially when the two brothers come to some sort of mutual understanding or compromise. I didn’t find this to be an exception.

Speaking of when the child will be born, one of the problems with this episode being so late in the series is that there is no chance to follow up on it. Since Worf transferred to Deep Space Nine, there was at least some remote possibility that he might go back to visit his adoptive brother. There was some doubt expressed in the episode as to what might happen to the tribe. It would have been nice to go back in a couple of years and have Worf visit his nephew. (I really do want to know how Nikolai will explain why the child has a less-pronounced nose ridge.)

I’d give this episode three stars. It’s interesting, but not spectacular. It’s basically an episode where the crew of the Enterprise is thrust into a difficult situation and they simply have to take the course laid out for them. I wouldn’t really recommend buying this episode. I don’t really think it’s worth that much to get on VHS unless you can get some sort of great deal on it. 


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