Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, August 1, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Eighteen "When the Bough Breaks"

8ST:TNG Season One, Episode Eighteen "When the Bough Breaks"
Production Order: 18
Air Order: 17
Stardate: 41509.1
Original Air Date: February 15, 1988

Nope, not flipping you off. Needed finger there to keep book from
falling over.

It is Jo's birthday, and y'all are lucky you're getting a post this week. Just sayin.'


This week we start off with a small personal moment rather than with Official Ship's Business. I really like these little scenes because they tend to be kind of light-hearted, and highlight the fact that the E is carrying more than 1000 people, a large portion of them civilians. It also helps build a bit of character development, as these people have to interact with one another each day. In this case, Riker collides in the corridor with a kid named Harry. (Not sure why Harry was running through the corridor like he was auditioning for Cabin in the Woods, but...) Riker helps the kid to his feet and calls him by name in a friendly manner, so we know that they're familiar with one another, and that Riker seems to like Harry well enough.
Harry's father, Dr Bernard, catches up with them, and apologizes to Riker. His tone is friendly, but has a tinge of "dammit, my kid ran right into a senior officer" annoyance. He takes Harry by the arm and leads him away. They argue as they exit about Harry hating calculus, and how he's "not going back." Ah, gotcha. The kid went AWOL from math class.
Also: damn. That kid is like ten, and already doing college-level math. I guess by the 24th century we had progressed enough as a species that grade-schoolers were taking calc.
Riker enters the bridge a moment later. Picard is practically hopping up and down in fangirly excitement, and he tells Riker that the followed some chemtrails or some shit, and it lead the to the Epsilon Minos system, and he thought Riker would be excited to know that. 

Riker is pretty stoked. We need to some exposition here, so Yar volunteers to play the youngest person at the Seder dinner, and asks what the hell everyone is so chuffed about.
They reveal that there's supposed to be a mythological planet in the Epsilon Minos system called Aldea, but no one has ever seen it. It's supposedly this great civilization, but the Aldeans have found a way to cloak the entire planet to keep it safe from hostile outsiders, but since no one has seen it in living memory, no one knows if it actually exists or not.

Yar laughs. She thinks it's crap. Data says his scanner don't show anything, but Troi says that something is there. Then a planet de-cloaks in front of them. It's probably Aldea!
Fun-time, wonderous, fantasy music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log 41509.1: "Woot! Found Aldea!"

Just to confirm, a chick named Rashella hops on the line to welcome them to Aldea. She says that their shields have been up for "millenia" and when he asks why they chosen to reveal themselves now, she says that they really want to meet in person to talk about not only that but stuff of "mutual interest."
"Awesome," says Picard.
He's probably already forming an away crew in his head that consists mostly of the bridge crew and senior officers, because this franchise's only learned lesson so far has been "just don't send the captain out."

Turns out he didn't have to form that team after all, as Rashella and someone else beam themselves onto the bridge. A bit rude, but they brought flowers, so it's okay, right?
Alarms go off, and the security team is on edge, and Crusher points out that, because they didn't transport "the normal way," the Aldeans didn't go through contamination.
The guy with Rashella, who calls himself Radue, apologizes for throwing them off-guard, but Starfleet transporters don't work with their shields, and this was the only way of getting in or out. Apparently, letting people know that you plan to just appear in one of their higher-security areas is also something that is not allowed by their shields, based on the fact that they were like, "Hi, it's nice to meet you," followed by "Surprise, motherfuckers, we're on your ship!"

They then reveal that they've been monitoring the E's communications and more, because they call Riker by name without anyone having said it. The bridge crew has an awkward moment. 
"Anyway, we have to go. The light here is super-bright. We'll expect you soon, okay?" 
They touch their little personal transporter devices and vanish.
Riker is put off by their visitors, but Picard is still all, "Dude! Aldeans!"
Troi says they want something very badly from the Enterprise, but they're afraid the crew won't give it to them, because it's something that humans value higly.
Radue calls and says they are ready for Riker and two others. Riker, Troi and Crusher disappear.
"Interesting choices," remarks Picard.

Damn, Star Trek. You sexy.

A bit later, Wes is on the bridge asking Data about the cloaking device on Aldea. I like that they made Wes the asker here. He's younger, so there are things that he doesn't know, so he's going to ask. But he's also a pretty sharp cookie, so he'll be able to understand more technical terms than most younger people. I also like that they had Data give the answer. Data is older (if you can call it that) and has more information than Wes, but unlike other older people, he isn't going to sigh in annoyance at the question, or be all uppity with the answer. He simply recognizes that Wes is seeking an answer to a question, and he has the information.
What's more, this is a really nice way to do exposition. Wesley probably wants to know out of scientific curiosity. That's his jam. The writers wanted to insert some science, so they said, "Let's have Wes ask Data." 
Now everyone, including Wes and the audience, knows that cloaking devices work by bending light around an object, in the same way that the Romulans have cloaking devices on their ships.
Now the scene moves forward, with some kind of beam scanning the bridge. And oops, that beam lingers on Wesley.

They realize that all of the decks are being scanned at the same time, and when the beam lets up, Picard goes to Wes to see if he's okay. Wes says he's fine. Worf reports that only the children were scanned.
Suspicious music!

Downstairs, our away team is having a meal with Rashella, Radue, and his wife (I think?), Duana. Radu talks about how the Aldean traditions and ways have brought them peace and prosperity, but now there are not a lot of people left to enjoy it.
We get down to brass tacks: Rashella was the last kid born on Aldea, and the doctors and scientists are at a loss as to why everyone is now sterile. Radue says the Aldeans want the Federation help them to pass along Aldean traditions and culture.
"How?" asks Riker.
"We want a trade," says Radue. "We'll give you some awesome information about the universe and technology and stuff - something you'd have to spend centuries to get - for your kids."

Yep, this wagon train to the stars just encountered the bazaar, and the natives here do not want to trade spices or silk. They want your crotchfruit.
Troi attempts to diplomatically explain that humans are really attached to their kids, and probably won't agree.
Crusher, however, is blunt. Pretty sure her phaser is not set to stun.

"Yeeeaaahh," says Riker. "Not giving you our kids. Is there anything else you want?"
"Huh, disappointing," replies Radue.
Rashella pushes a button on her transporter device, and the away team is beamed back to the bridge. But then Wes disappears.
And we see shots of other parts of the ship, where more kids are disappearing.

Worf reports to the bridge crew that a bunch of kids were just beamed off the ship.
"They want our kids," Riker tells Picard. "That's why they brought us here and revealed themselves."
Shields up! Dramatic music! Commercial break!

When we return, we find out that Picard has been trying to contact Aldea. Their hailing frequencies are open, but they aren't responding.
Radue finally calls them back, and says that no harm have come to the children, and that he'd like to discuss how the Aldeans might compensate the E crew's parents.

Every now and again, I'll pause Netflix and accidentally get a really fantastic screencapture without trying. This is one. I love the composition, the lighting, the color palette, everything. But most of all, I love the individual reactions: Picard is still trying to wrap his head around a mythological planet appearing before the ship, extending words of welcome, then promptly kidnapping a dozen of their children; Riker and Crusher look like they're planning to cut Radue just as soon as they see him again; and Yar very angrily cannot even with this shit.
Picard loses his shit here. He yells at Radue that there's no way the Aldeans can call themselves civilized when they've just committed an act of "utter barbarity."
Radue says he'll call back when Picard is no longer on his period.
Radue is a douche-waffle.

When Radue ends the call, Picard turns and gives his crew a "this is fucked up" look.

The kids are all gathered in that same place where Riker, Crusher and Troi told Radue that their children were not for sale. Wes, the oldest, reminds the kids that everyone knows where they are, and that no one is going to harm them.
Radue, Rashella and Duana enter. Radue sees Wes talking to the kids.
"Oh, good," he says. "The Custodian said you would be the leader."
"Who is that?" asks Wes, suspicious.
"The Custodian is not a person," Radue replies cryptically.
"You're our guests," gushes Rashella, as though she's the entertainment director on a cruise ship. "You can have anything you want!"

It appears that Wesley is also planning to cut Radue. Remember, friends: the crew that slays together, stays together.
"You guys were chosen because you're special snowflakes," Radue says.
You know what that means? Somewhere on the Enterprise, there's gonna be at least one kid crying in Troi's office because "I wasn't special enough to be kidnapped by aliens!"
Alexandra, the little redhead with the tribble plushie, walks forward and shakes Rashella's hand.

Upstairs, Picard and Troi meet with Crusher and the other parents. Crusher reminds the parents that they all knew what the risks were when they signed on with the Enterprise, but that Picard is going to do his damnedest to get the kids back. 

Downstairs, Alexandra plays with Rashella.
Wes is ushered into another room with Harry and Katie. Radue says that the other kids have already been "assigned" to their new families. 
"We already have families," Wes points out.
Radue makes this face, because he's full of himself, but can't seem to pass it.

A couple collects Harry, and tell him that they are artists, like he is.
"I'm not an artist," he protests.
"You are," they insist. "Or, you have the potential to be. You'll be awesome!"
Are these people prescient? How do they know that?
He goes with them, because he's a kid, and he's not given any choice. He looks pretty miserable with these new parents.
Then Katie is handed over to a guy of retirement age. Radue says he's the foremost musician on Aldea.
"I am honored," says the musician respectfully. 
Katie does this fantastic thing here where she almost does an eyeroll, but stops herself, and just does a really long blink or a short-ish closing of her eyes in irritation. Either way, she answers "thank you" stiffly, as though remembering her manners.

Before anyone comments, no: the older, single musician guy does not strike me as a creeper, just a nice older guy geared up to teach a kid music. This episode isn't about child molestation, it's about people kidnapping kids because they can't have their own. It's not an After-School Special, and you'd know if it was, because when Star Trek does those, they're either lovely and subtle, or heavy-handed and awful.
However, it does make me wonder about Aldea's screening process. They figured out which kids they wanted, and only took those specifically, a very small percentage of the kids on that ship. Then they were quick to pair them off with couples who had been matched to them pretty carefully. Either they had been hatching this plan longer than they were letting on, or they were getting help from that mysterious Custodian. Possibly both. At any rate, with a really small program of less than a dozen kids, it's easier to weed out the creepers to begin with. But then you have to wonder what their breeding program looks like.... ugh.

Wes wants to know what his part is in all of this. Radue starts giving him some bullshit spiel about how, as leader, it's now up to Wes to see that the other kids transition smoothly into Stockholm Syndrome, and how they're all members of Aldean society now, and that isn't going to change, so it's his responsibility to see that the other kids fall in line.
Now I am also gearing up to cut Radue. This stupid motherfucker is trying to make Wes an accomplice in his crimes here. There are certain things that young teens should be responsible for, but it's things like homework, and cleaning their rooms, and picking up pet waste. "Ensuring that small children go along with their kidnappers" is not one.

Alexandra runs giggling into the room, being chased by Rashella. Radue admonishes her for keeping Alexandra away, because her new jailers are waiting for her. Rashella snatches the little redhead up and says they can't have her, because she is keeping the kid.
Dramatic music! 

Real quick: so during the parent meeting, Troi told the parents that the Aldeans can't have children of their own, and Harry's father remarked that that probably meant that it would be that much harder to get the Aldeans to return their kids. The dramatic music is most likely supposed to be about that, about the Aldeans not wanting to give the kids back because they have none of their own and will become attached to the human children. 
But right before the dramatic music was an argument between Rashella and Radue about Rashella not being willing to give Alexandra to another couple, so it actually comes off like this:
Dramatic music! Rashella wants to keep Alexandra! Radue now has to tell the other couple! One antagonist has now slightly inconvenienced another! Oh, no!

On the bridge, Riker tells Picard that they've figured out that the Aldean shield has little holes in it. Not so big that they could beam an away team through it, but you know, they exist, so that's something. Data says he is working on figuring out the codes the Aldeans use to transport through their shields. Picard wants to keep them talking, because he knows when they realize that the E is not going to take compensation, they will slam the shield and cloaking device down, and the kids will never be seen again.
Correct use of dramatic music this time! Commercial break!

Duana takes Wesley to see The Custodian, which turns out to be a computer system that runs the planet. She tells him that it was built by The Progenitors, millenia ago, and that it "takes care of us."
"How does it work?" he asks.
She shrugs. "Who cares?"
"If you don't know how it works, then how do you repair it?"
"Why would it need to be repaired?"
"Because sometimes shit breaks down, you dumb bitch!"
Oh, great. We're gonna get a Red Hour or some crap, aren't we? Hail Landru!

Duana gives Wes level three clearance, which means that he can ask The Custodian questions. Wes asks to see Harry, and The Custodian shows him CCTV of Harry in his new home, using this thing that's like a chisel and a phaser had a baby. He uses it on some wood, and tells his new mother that it's kind of fun.
Wes is concerned that they're "making" Harry into a sculptor, but Duana says that he was already a sculptor, He just hadn't been properly encouraged.
We spy on Rashella and Alexandra as well, but never find out what the hell it is they're doing. Magic or some shit, I guess. Katie does music, Harry is an artist, Wes is a leader, why did they take Alexandra? Because she's cute?

Wes asks what's behind Door #1, and guesses it might be the power source for The Custodian, but Duana says she doesn't know. What's weird is her tone. Her "I don't know"sounds like the tone used when you ask someone with dementia what their name is, and they don't recall: sad, confused, kind of regretful. 

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Still in orbit around Aldea. Still trying to get our kids back. But talk is not working, and we need to get through the shield."

Radue calls. "Are you ready to beam down for negotiations?"
"Yeah, me and Dr Crusher."
"Why her?"
"She's a staff officer," shrugs Picard. "Starfleet regulation 6.57 says we have to have at least two staff officers at negotiations."
There's a funny-ass moment here between Picard and Data once Radue hangs up.
"Captain, I am not aware of regulation 6.57," says Data.
"No, Data, neither am I," replies Picard.
"I see, sir." Then: "Oh! I see, sir!"

This plan appears to be Yar-approved.

They beam down, and Picard opens with, "We'd like to see the children."
"No. Go fuck yourselves," says Radue. "We're here to give you money or information, then you're gonna fly away from here and forget that those children existed. Go make more or something."
No, seriously. That asshat tells them that they can always just have more kids.
"Your kids will have great lives here, and have more kids, and jump-start a new generation, infused with our culture," Rashella says, trying to make things sound better than they are.
"Who says those kids can have kids?" demands Crusher.
"Of course they can!" argues Rashella, because she really doesn't want to entertain the thought that their grand plan might backfire. "Our problem is genetic, not contagious!"
Oh. My fucking fuck. Are Aldean scientists and doctors really that stupid that they believe that there are only two ways that a person might become sterile?
Do they not watch House?
Do they not get cable out here on Aldea?
Have they never taken basic biology classes?
How about "I'll take Environmental for 400, Alex"?

Picard finally convinces Radue to let Crusher see Wes.
When they embrace, Crusher slips Wes the little scanner part of her tricorder, and he secretly scans Duana while telling his mother that the Aldeans are treating the kids well, and that everyone is safe. 
Crusher returns to the meeting room and reports that Wes is fine. 
Radue bids Picard farewell, and Rashella beams them back to the bridge.
Once there, Radue calls again. "Because it wasn't creepy enough that we kidnapped your kids and offered you compensation while suggesting that you can make more, now I'm going to threaten you by demonstrating the vast power of Aldea. But - don't forget that I'm a nice guy with a big need, and you're doing us a favor, and we're trustworthy."
Then he flips a switch or something, because some ball of power swings around the planet, hitting the Enterprise and sending it flying through space.
"Oh, shit," says Geordi. "We're like, three days away from Aldea at warp nine."
Gee, remind you of everyone's favorite omnipotent asshole?

Radue calls back and brushes some salt off of his salty-ass arms into the Enterprise's wounds. "Oh, beeteedubs, if you don't fucking comply, then next time I'm pushing your little flying tin can so far into space that by the time you get back, your kids will have grandkids."
Dramatic music! Commercial break! Lady Archon imagines all of the bridge crew flipping off the screen when Radue signs off!

Picard's Log 41512.4: "So we're about a day away now, and we still have no freaking clue how to get our kids back from these psychos."

We check in with Katie and Melian, the musician-dad. He shows her how to hold an instrument, and tells her to feel the music rather than play it. After a quick slip-up, she manages to play a few notes. The instrument kind of lights up like a Simon game. Melian compliments her, even though the tune was kind of introspective.
"Play something happy," he suggests afterward.
"But that's not the way I feel," she says. She gets up and puts the instrument away.

There's a short scene where we check in with Harry as well. He tells his new artist-dad that he's really digging this sculpture thing, and asks if he still needs to take calculus.
"You don't have to do anything you do't want to do," says artist-dad, which is what you say to a kid that you've been parenting for less than a week.
Then: "What's calculus?"
Um, what? I thought you guys were supposed to be hella smart, but you don't know what calculus is? Have you guys just been kicking back for millenia, not needing to be smart, because The Freaking Custodian does everything for you? Are you the cultured, skinny equivalents of the fat people in the floaty chairs on Wall-E?
Ohhh, I think we just solved the mystery as to why their scientists and doctors are so fucking stupid...

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Okay, been three days, and we're back now."

That was an almost non-existent Disable the Ship. I think it mostly existed to give the kids time to adapt to the situation and learn how to be artists. It also gave Crusher time to look at the scans Wes took for her. She reports to Picard that Duana is dying from chromosomal damage, and she guesses that everyone else is, too. This explains their lack of appetite and sensitivity to light.
"Is it genetic?" he asks. "Environmental?"
Huh. Lookit that. The non-doctor, non-scientist suggests that elusive third option. 
"Won't know until I look some more at causes," she replies, and heads back to her lab.

Artist-mom is rubbing at the back of her hand.
"Are the lesions gone?" asks artist-dad.
"Yes," she replies. "The medicine has worked again."
Yep. Skinny people. Floaty chairs.
Harry has finished his sculpture, and it's this hella-nice dolphin.
"What is it?" asks artist-dad.
"A dolphin. Like a fish, but not a fish," explains Harry.
"Oh, we used to have fish in our oceans!" says artist-mom excitedly. "I've never seen one!"
Harry starts to talk about his dad, the oceanographer, and being stationed on this one planet with all these dolphins in the water, but the kid makes himself sad, because he remembers that he's Patty freaking Hearst, and maybe calculus is an okay trade-off for being with his actual parent.

Wes is in that main set piece that meeting hall and dining room and all-around whatever room, picking at his food. Duana tries to convince him that they'll be all be happy, forever after.
"We were happy before we came," he replies. "And I gotta tell you, we aren't going to cooperate."
Later, he gets out of bed in the middle of the night. For some dumbass reason, he's fully clothed and wearing his shoes.
Wes goes to see The Custodian. He asks where the kids are in the building, and Google Maps shows him the way. He goes to Katie's room and shakes her awake, telling her he needs her help.

Crusher's Log 41512.9: "I think maybe Aldea has the same problem that Earth had in the late-twentieth century, this thing with holes in the ozone layer."

Crusher flips through screens of information, looking for matches to prove her hypothesis.

Wes has gathered the kids in that main room. This time, it has one large table instead of many smaller ones. He's decided to try civil disobedience, and tells the kids they all have to do it, or it won't work.
"But I kind of like these people," says Harry, uncertain.
"Me too," says Wes. "But I don't want to live here forever. I wanna go home."
Harry reluctantly agrees.
Rashella comes in to find them gathered, and panics. She tries to take Alexandra, but Wes picks her up instead.

Upstairs, Crusher has figured out that the Aldeans have radiation poisoning. This is what's sterilizing them. It's curable if they can fix the problem.
Data's shield computations have failed. It would take weeks to figure out what numbers he'd need. Riker and Geordi have figured out what's going on in the fluctuations in the Aldean shields, and that if they calculate it just right, they can beam down through the hole. But it's too risky to beam the kids up through it. Picard tells them to keep working on it while he stalls for time.

Back at the sit-in, artist-mom has brought a tray of food. She sets it down, but everyone refuses to talk to her. She leaves. Alexandra reaches for fruit, but Wes pulls her hand back.
"We're not eating out of protest. This is how we tell them that we want to go home. Do you understand?" he asks.
"Yeah," she replies.
No, she doesn't. That kid is like, three. She doesn't understand hunger strikes or civil disobedience or sit-ins. 
Just have her say no. Have him kind of explain it again, then apologize. That's way more realistic than a preschooler understanding why she can't eat the fruit on the tray in front of her.

So here we get a few tiny scenes that show the carry-out of the new plan: Picard and Crusher allow Radue to beam them down from the bridge, while Worf carefully monitors the shield fluctuations. On his command, Data and Riker beam down to the room where The Custodian is kept.
Data tells Riker that he can't get into The Custodian because it's all done by voice recognition and command, but he can hack into it and make it so that no one else can get into the computer.

Radue tells Picard that they need him and Crusher to talk to the kids.
"They're on strike or some shit? I dunno. This is new to me. Tell them to be good little kidnap victims."
Oh, I see.  This dude wants you to believe that he has these great powers, but they've turned out to be less infinite, and more... impotent. 
Your people can't have kids, so you steal them. Then when you steal some, you realize that you can't control them, and put some kid in charge. "Make them heel." When the kid instead starts a tiny revolution, you beg the people you ripped off to make it all better.
Then he drops this bomb:
"You have to help me! I'm... not very good with children."
Wow, no shit? I'm shocked!
The hilarious part - and which Radue is completely unaware of - is that Picard is shit with kids, too.
Radue beams Picard into the room with the kids, because apparently, no one can walk anywhere on this planet.

Wes immediately tells Picard that he's figured out their computer system, and Picard tells him that's awesome. A rare compliment - take it and run, Wesley.
There's a brief awkward moment here where Picard looks at the kids, and you know he's thinking of filling the void with, "Soooo, you guys are kids... how's that going for you?"
Harry breaks in by telling Picard that he feels crappy for arguing with his dad right before he got kidnapped, and would Picard please relay the message to his father that he's sorry?
Picard rallies, and tells Harry that he will be able to tell his father this himself, as they are getting the hell out of Dodge. He seems pretty confident until Alexandra walks up and holds her arms out to him. Picard stares at her.
"Hello." Girlfriend is not giving up. He concedes and picks her up. It's hilariously awkward.

Picard beams back into the main room with the kids.
"WTF?" demands Radue.
"Yeah, we're taking our kids back," Picard tells him.
Crusher starts telling him that the shield and cloaking devices that Aldea has been using for millenia have given them radiation poisoning, and sterility is one of the symptoms. 
Radue insists that it's lies. But he says it in this tired, casual way that says that maybe others in his community may have suggested this as well, like it's an Aldean conspiracy theory.
"If that was true, our scientists would have figured it out," he replies.
"Your scientists are fucking morons!" she bursts out. "You've been letting The Custodian run things for so long, that you've stopped questioning things altogether!"
He still doesn't buy it, but then Rashelle steps forward.
"Wait, what if they're right, and instead of providing us with another generation, we're condemning these kids to our same fate?"
"They're lying because they want their kids back," Radue argues.
Right? Those pesky parents, ruining kidnapping plots with their logic!

Radue is done talking about this, and tries to use his personal beaming device to send the kids back to that other room, but it just kind of beeps ineffectively and does nothing. The look on Wes' face in the background when this occurs is fucking fantastic:

"Haha, we fucked up all your shit!"

Picard hits his comm badge to call Riker, which of course everyone can hear:
"I guess you took it down."
"Yep. Found the power source, neutralized it. We're good."
"Rad." Picard calls the E for a beam-up for the kids.
Harry stops the proceedings to thank the artist-dad for everything, and to tell him to keep the cool dolphin sculpture, because he can make another.
The kids are beamed off of Aldea.
"You have destroyed us," mumbles Radue, because he's a giant drama queen.
"Don't be a douchebag," replies Picard. "We're helping your sorry A, after you kidnapped our kids."

We skip to the next scene, where we get to meet The Custodian. He's a pretty impressive dude.

"What is that?" asks Radue.
"The thing that's powering your planet," says Picard. "Also the reason why you have those dumb floaty chairs and radiation poisoning."
Radue has a very swift change of heart here, which seems odd considering that like two seconds ago, he was insisting that all of this was lies designed to keep them from kidnapping alien kids.
"We have to re-learn all of this," he tells Rashella, "so we won't fall into the same trap."
"We'll help you," offers Picard.
"Cool, thanks."

Back on the E, Harry tells his father that he wants to be an artist, and that he doesn't want to take calculus.
"You can be whatever you'd like," says Dad reasonably, "but you gotta take calculus."
Harry agrees.

On the bridge, Data tells Picard that they have successfully "re-seeded" the ozone layer, but using the shield or cloaking device ever again will fuck up all of the shit. Crusher enters and reports that she has finished treating the Aldeans, and when they're cured they can have kids again.
"We already know they'll make good parents," says Troi.
Sorry, what? Kidnappers make good parents now? Are you sure of that, Counselor?
The lift opens, and Wesley exits with Alexandra.
"WTF?" demands Picard. "No kids on my bridge!"
"She wanted to thank you for rescuing her," says Wes.
Alexandra gives Picard some flowers and an uncomfortable hug.

Wes takes Alexandra away, and Picard stands to give the order to leave, but the bridge crew laughs, because when he turns around, we see that the tribble plushie is stuck to his back.

So my (un)professional opinion on this episode is "eh." The sci-fi was only so-so, like a quieter, slower progression of "The Return of the Archons," where instead of making the inhabitants insane, The Custodian chugs right along, eventually causing Aldea to pollute itself and kill off the natives. That was about the only sci-fi involved, as I feel like their ozone layer issue could have taken place at any time and in any place. It's interesting to note that the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer would be put into full force just seven or so months after this episode aired, so current events were clearly on the writing staff's mind. It's not the first time that Star Trek had written episodes involving news items - TOS made episodes about the Vietnam war all the time.
The thing is, this is not really an episode about the ozone layer. It was just a means as to why the Aldeans couldn't have their own children. No, this was an episode about desperate people doing desperate things: a race of people feel the only way to preserve their race is to steal the children of another. It's not terribly poignant, despite the fact that it could have been. And here's the thing that gets me - it appears that the Aldeans won't be dealing with any kind of consequence here. They kidnapped seven people and held them hostage, yet they appear to be getting away with it. 
Compare that with the Bynars, who stole a ship to save their home planet, and at least had to face a hearing with the Federation.
This was also a Wes-heavy episode, and not a great one, if you ask me. "Where No One Has Gone Before" was better. In this episode, Wes is asked to lead a tiny revolution against a guy who has no clue what the hell he's doing. Radue was a bit wishy-washy, leaving Wes with practically nothing to battle against. I know they wanted us and the kids to like the Aldeans, to think that they might be just misguided, but it means that Wes didn't have much to butt heads with. We end up not being as invested in the children being returned to their parents.

Red deaths: 0
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: Like 3. Anytime he had to deal with Radue's shit, basically.
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
Sassy Yar Moments: 0
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings:1
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0

Fun Facts:
- Wil Wheaton's younger siblings, Jeremy and Amy, played Mason and Tara, though they received no on-screen credit for the parts.

- McKenzie Westmore, daughter of TNG make-up artist Michael Westmore, played Rose. McKenzie would later play Ensign Jenkins on Voyager.

- This is the first episode of TNG not to feature an opening shot of the outside of the Enterprise.
- It's pretty obvious that the name of the planet had been changed to Aldea after filming had begun, because when Riker tells Yar about Aldea in the opening scene, the way his mouth moves forms a completely different word. It looks like bad dubbing on a Power Rangers-level.
- "Aldea" is the Spanish word for village.
- The tune that Katie plays on the Aldean instrument is actually The Traveler's Theme from "Where No One Has Gone Before."
- The Custodian set was made with bits of other models, surrounding a clear acrylic tube with a florescent light in it.

Hacker kitten Scrappy


  1. I found the Aldeans - particularly Radue - horrible. This was one of those *get up from my chair and walk away from the TV in anger* episodes, and I admit I did that a few times while reading your review.

    I can buy kids having to learn calculus in the 24th century, like life is so advanced and accelerated by then that learning has to be accelerated. This probably means cutting art, music, and so on out of the curriculum (leave the kids to explore those in their free time) and focusing on reading, math, history, and various sciences.

    1. I think they were trying to make them sympathetic, like they weren't terrible people, just people who were desperate enough to do terrible things to fix a problem. It's a tricky thing - how does one separate the person from their actions, especially if those actions are ones they wouldn't normally take?
      I had a bad reaction to Radue as well, mostly because he reminded me of this utter asshole who told someone I care about that it was her responsibility to [take on unnecessary, Herculean task] because [dumbshit reason]. I nearly fucking punched the guy. Kid in question was Wes' age at about the time of this episode. I'm still really, really pissed off about that, twenty years later. That guy needs to go fuck himself.
      I think they were trying to use Harry to illustrate how far we'd advanced by the 24th century... without having to break out the exposition, which is nice. It's like how kids used to have to wait until first grade or so to begin reading, but now many younger children can recognize small words way before they start grade school. It's due in part largely to the efforts of the Children's Television Workshop in the late sixties and early seventies, followed by early childhood education reforms. It just made me kind of glad that I live now, and not the 24th century, because I absolutely would have been Harry: the little artist girl who struggles with math. I'd have hella skipped class, too.

  2. Those who can't do calculus go into Security. :X