Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation - "Justice"

Bit of a mixed bag, this episode. If you want, you can skip all the rambling below and just read my last paragraph, which sums everything all up. ;)

On the one hand, it raises some great concepts about laws and justice. The line "There can be no justice when laws are absolute" stuck with me from the moment I first saw this episode back in '87; I even put it on a job application once. (Suffice to say, I didn't get the job.) Picard's dilemma is dealing with conflicting senses of justice-- Allowing Wesley to be executed for a crime that would barely be a misdemeanor in his culture strikes him as an injustice, but forcibly preventing it is not only an injustice to the laws of the Edos, but an injustice to his own laws, as it would be breaking the prime directive.

Which is another interesting aspect of this episode-- it takes a totally TOS approach to the Prime Directive, saying it's okay to introduce yourself to a pre-warp civilization, as long as you don't interfere with their laws or customs. By the episode "First Contact," this was changed to any contact with a pre-warp civilization was not allowed, on the grounds that simple knowledge of the Federation's existence could change the course of the planet's development.

Hmm, maybe after this episode, Starfleet decided to tighten up the rules?

I also love the "God Ship" in this episode. I just always loved the look of it, so angular yet ethereal. I think this episode handles the concept of God and religion quite well also. I also love the bit where the Edo guy throws Picard's "Diss the 20th Century" bit back in his face.

The places where I feel this episode doesn't work mostly involves the acting. Once again, (with the exception of Patrick Stewart,) everybody's so stiff, especially the Crushers and the Edos. I'm not saying they have to talk like they're from New York, but I feel like they all do that "We-must-care-ful-ly-space-our-words-be-cause-we-come-from-a-diff-er-ent-time-and-place!" way of talking that just sounds stiff.

And speaking of stiff, I think the concept of a sexually open society was a good one, but unfortunately it just kind of falls flat here. But that may be a case of my standards being too high, so they at least get points for trying. And I know this is my queer eye speaking, but I just also have a hard time accepting that absolutely EVERYONE we see on this planet is straight. They're this open, loving society that places a huge emphasis on health and pleasure and basically saying the body is something to celebrate... but only between opposite genders. Anytime you see people making out in the background, it's always boy-girl. Maybe their God-Ship decreed it. "Why, no-one-would-dare-risk-playing-love-games-with-some-one-of-the-same-gender, because-no-one-would-risk-death!" But seriously, to be fair I need to be realistic of the situation-- this was 1987, on the show that scrapped "Blood and Fire." It just would have been great if Star Trek had continued to be the barrier breaking show it was in 1966. So when I watch this episode, I find myself thinking of what might have been.

Thank heavens for Ivanova and Talia on Babylon 5 years later...

::climbs down off of patented LGBT Soap Box™::

Anyway. Cool looking God-Ship and concepts on justice, fairness and religion. Nice acting by Patrick Stewart, dissapointing acting by a lot of others. Dissapointing follow-through of Planet Love, but nice concept and lots of hot blondes in skimpy outfits.

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