Thursday, May 26, 2011

Star Trek: The Next Generation - ''Up the Long Ladder''

Spoiler Level: High

Melinda Snodgrass wrote good Trek episodes.  In this one, the Enterprise investi- gates a distress call from a lost colony, who have adopted a more simple way of life by getting back to basics and farming.  When their planet is in danger of being destroyed by solar flares, they refuse to evacuate without their livestock.  This episode truly is Pigs In Space!

It turns out the ship carrying them also had another set of colonists, who founded a high-tech colony of clones on a different world.  When the Enterprise finds them, they learn that they've cloned themselves so many times that flaws are starting to creep into their DNA, and they're now in danger of extinction.

The big issue is of course that the high-tech colonists steal some of Riker's and Pulaski's DNA so they can make fresh clones for their colony, which of course ticks off Riker and Pulaski. They beam down to the colony's clone chamber and disintegrate the clones being made of themselves. The colonists accuse them of murder, and they defend themselves by saying they have the right to decide what is done with their bodies.  It's a pretty blatant parallel for the abortion debate, but it's very superficial as the discussion is never carried any further than those two lines. Since the Starfleet officers are considered the good guys and the colonists were deceptive and therefore the bad guys, it's probably safe to assume that the show was trying to take the pro-choice side of the argument, but since no argument is really made the viewer is left to side with either position that they already agree with, and in that sense the episode really wimps out by not firmly taking a side at all.  The argument was made much better in "The Child."

There's also a very minor B-plot where Worf comes down with a childhood Klingon disease, and in gratitude to Pulaski for keeping it quiet from Picard Worf performs a Klingon Tea Ceremony with her.  It's a good scene for both characters, another nice character developing moment, and another good example of how Pulaski was starting to become a part of the Enterprise family.

Okay, time for the geeking-out observations.

The colony ship Mariposa left Earth in 2123, which fits in nicely with Star Trek: Enterprise, as that was the time period that a lot of Earth colonies were getting started, yet still before the launch of the NX-01 Enterprise.  The Mariposa is also a DY-500, which is a nice reference back to the DY-100 from Classic Trek.
The ship also came from the European Hegemony, which was, to quote Picard, "a loose alliance formed at the late end of the twenty-second century.  It was the first stirrings of world government." Now this fits in nicely with Trek history, as it puts it after World War III as we saw it in the Star Trek: First Contact movie, and fits in fairly well with Trip's assertion to T'Pol that humanity has pulled together over the last 50 years. (Or did he say 100?  That would work better, but I can't remember which episode he said it in.)  However if you want to try and fit this in with the real world, it means that the European Union will not lead to a world government, but will more likely be broken up due to World War III. So spend those euros while you still can!

1 comment:

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