Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, April 25, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Nine "Justice"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Nine "Justice"
Production Order: 9
Air Order: 8
Stardate: 41255.6
Original Air Date: November 9, 1987

Picard's Log 41255.6: "So we just finished helping some Earth colonists settle on a new planet, and we were headed out again when we saw that there's an inhabited planet in the next system over. Riker took some people down to check it out."

Picard and Troi are on the bridge talking about reports back from the away team, and Crusher enters. There's a weird moment here where Crusher interrupts and says, "Sorry, Troi."
"Troi"? It sounds weird, Crusher calling her that, especially because I know that they'll become super buddy-buddy later on, and only refer to each other as Deanna and Beverly.
Troi isn't mad at being interrupted, because her tone is friendly when she tells Picard that Crusher has something important to say to him. It's kind of unsettling, Troi reminding everyone that she can read their emotions. Seems like information she'd mostly keep to herself, and that others would also ignore in turn. More polite that way.
Anyway, Crusher is insistent that the crew get some shore leave. Preferably without giant rabbits. Riker, Geordi and Yar come back from their away mission, and Riker says that the people are super-cool, and confirms that it would be a good place to rest for a bit. Geordi says they're very lawful people, but "make love at the drop of a hat."
"Any hat," adds Yar.
They can't find any bad parts to this place, which automatically means that there's some giant secret afoot, because that's how plots work.
Data and Worf tell Picard that there's some weird anomaly out in space near them, but they can't really detect it fully. There's something there, but also not. Yar thinks it's a glitch in the sensors.
Picard tells Wes that he wants to form another away team, this time with the idea of doing shore leave, and he wants Wes to see if it's a cool place for kids to hang out as well. Wes is chuffed.

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Orbiting Rubicun 3. These people call themselves the Edo, and we're gonna see if we can hang with them for a bit."

The away team beams down with Wes in tow. I actually like Wes' sweater this time. The two-tone pants are weird, but they aren't the fashion crime of last week's orange bedspread. Actually, I would pair this week's sweater with last week's brown pinstripe pants.
Anyway, everyone else looks pretty good except for Troi, who still looks awful. I cannot wait for next season, when she gets a wardrobe change that suits her better. That also seems to be when they ditch those long manicured nails on her, which strikes me as being too fussy for Deanna Troi.

Check out the light poles in the background. There's one above Deanna's head.
These scenes were filmed near the Van Nuys airport.

A male and female Edo approach and greet them. Riker starts to introduce everybody, but they cut him off, because I guess the Edo dry-hump people in greeting. Riker gets a super-erotic hug from a blonde chick, Rivan, and Troi is like, "Okay, y'all, get a room." But then the dude, Liator, hugs her, and she's all "Riker who?"

Rivan says she will welcome "this huge one" and she hugs Worf. Should he take exception to that? I feel like calling someone "this huge one" is kind of rude. Whatever. She also moans "oh, yes" when hugging Worf.
She comes to Wes, and is confused, because he's "young." It's clear she means "not yet fuckable," and asks what the custom is regarding young people.
Wes is awkward and says "whatever you guys do is fine." She hugs him, but it isn't like the way she hugged Worf and Riker.
Dude, terrible wig alert. It's like Rand-bad.

Riker says that the E would like to do shore leave on their planet, and Liator says they can discuss it with the council. Rivan wants to know if they should go now, or stay where they are and start an orgy. Nope, not kidding. She'd really like to hook up with Worf. Liator wants to get into Troi's ugly grey jumpsuit.
Wes awkwardly reminds them that he's standing right the fuck there, and Rivan is like, "Oh, right. Kids. Let's go to the council now instead. We can find you some other kids to play with."
They run to the council chambers, because everybody runs here for some reason, where they conveniently encounter a trio of kids Wes' age. The kids aren't dressed as provocatively as the adults, but the clothes are similar, if a bit unflattering on her. Whatever, close enough. The boys are friendly and invite Wes to join them. The girl adds, "Yes, please!" in a way that's sort of half-way between "friendly teenage girl" and Jessica Rabbit.

Rivan takes the rest of the away team into the chambers, where we see people doing some kind of exercise, people dancing, people giving massages to one another, people making out. And everyone is dressed in that same way, like they bleached Andrea the android's coveralls and then ran them through a shredder. Rivan tells the team to enjoy themselves.

Data enters the bridge to tell Picard that they've checked all of the sensor arrays and things, and whatever their sensors are picking up is not a glitch or mistake. There's actually something there, kind of in their space and not at the same time, yet it's not setting off their proximity alarms. He opens the channel (which is weird - can a person who is not the captain contact other ships like that?) and addresses "the ship which is off our starboard side."
A ship half-appears in front of them. Or maybe it's a station. I don't know. Looks like a station, but we can only see parts of it, so I'm just guessing. The proximity alarms finally go off, if only to provide a sense of impending doom.

Data says they got back a response, but none of their language programs have figured it out yet. Picard instructs Geordi to "have a real look." We don't find out until we follow Geordi from the bridge, that he's actually going to a window where he can stare at the thing with his VISOR. I don't know how I feel about that, Picard using Geordi's circumstances to further his own situation. Is it different than his using Troi to "read" people? Are Troi and Geordi okay with using their abilities in these ways? This is the first time we've seen Geordi being instructed to act in this way, but he's compliant, so maybe this has been asked of him before? It's an interesting subject, for me anyway.
Geordi reports back that "spectral analysis" says that the ship-station is only half-there.

The language systems finally spit out a message of "stand by," and a little ball of light exits the station-thing and flies at them. Everyone starts reporting in that the ball of light has entered the ship, but they don't know where. Data says they've lost contact with the away team. They have no idea what's going on or how to describe it, so they have to guess.
Frustrated with the language being used, Picard demands "Why has everything become a "something" or a "whatever"?"
Because this is Star Trek, Picard. And because sometimes, "something" and "whatever" are the closest thing one can approximate to a description on this show.
The ball of light appears on the bridge and flies up to Picard, where it demands in a booming voice "STATE THE PURPOSE." Everybody claps their hands over their ears and the ship shakes.

After a few moments, the ball adjusts the volume, because it recognizes that it's yelling when using an indoor voice works perfectly well, and there's some stumbling conversation before it gets to what it wants to say: the station has noticed that the E left its own people on the last planet they visited, and wants to know if they'll be leaving people at Rubicon 3 as well.
"No," says Picard. "We're just visiting here. Then we'll leave and take all of our people away."
The ball refers to the Edo as "my children." It doesn't particularly want them there, but seems satisfied that they're leaving. It then goes to Data, who relays back that the ball has asked him telepathically if he exists for "information exchange."
"Yes! Make it the fuck so! We need answers!" says Picard. Again, using his crew members' special talents for his own gain. I don't know how much I like Picard this week.
The ball attaches itself to Data's forehead, and he falls over... unconscious? Asleep? Whatever Data does when he isn't awake, I guess. Receiving Windows updates. Let's go with that. He's there, he's supposedly functioning, but you can't turn him off or use him for the next few hours, because you've been telling him to go fuck himself whenever he suggests an update, and now those updates have built up, so you don't have a choice anymore.

Back on the planet, Wes has found himself in an awkward position. After one boy does a walking handstand, he tries to one-up with a series of cartwheels and a round-off. Then the girl approaches him and says she'd like to do something with him, but he'll have to teach her. Wes takes it the wrong way, because this whole planet seems to be encouraging him to walk around with a partial boner, and he haltingly admits in a round-about way that he's a virgin. She says she wants him to teach her how to play ball. Relieved, he says if they find a branch, he can show them a game. They go to the gardens to find something to use.

Riker is checking out the ample ass at the council chambers, and he encounters Worf, who looks uncomfortable.
"What, you don't like sex?" Riker asks.
Whoa, yo. Personal.
"It's not that I don't like it," admits Worf. "It's that I'd need a Klingon female. Human females and Edo are too... delicate."
Riker deflects this by checking in with the E. His comm badge chirps, but no answer is given. He and Worf both look concerned. Troi, sitting nearby, also looks concerned.
...really? You tried one comm badge, but not the others? Maybe yours is busted, Riker. Maybe it got crushed when you were grinding up against some hot piece of Edo. Noooo, instead, there must be something wrong with the situation. He decides to gather up the away team, just to be on the safe side.
Troi thinks the Edo have nothing to do with the loss of communication. Riker decides that he's going to go find Wes, anyway.
"He's wandered off."
No, he hasn't. You guys wanted to get down with the Edo, so you shipped him off to the gardens with kids his own age. Technically, dude was just following orders. Riker goes to find Wes.
Worf approaches Yar, who is talking to Liator and Rivan about the laws on Rubicun 3. They tell her that there is no crime on the planet. They have cops, called mediators, who randomly select one zone each day, and make it a crime to enter that zone. Entering the zone means punishment by death.
"The fuck?" asks Yar.
"It's cool," says Rivan. "There's always a little white fence around the zone to warn people to keep out. So they do. Who wants to risk death?"
"You guys didn't tell us that!" yells Yar.
Now they really have to find Wes.

Shockingly, guess where Wes ends up? One of the boys throws a ball to him, and he trips over the little white fence-thing and falls into a bed of newly-planted flowers.
"It's cool, I'm fine," he says, getting up.
He doesn't realize that his new friends are upset because he's gonna die now, and not because he felt down and went boom.
A pair of mediators comes by, and he tries to tell them that he's fine, but they have no fucks to give. Dude crossed the white fence.
Riker finds them, and says he's sorry, and that it won't happen again, because they know the laws now. The girl is protesting that Wes can't be held accountable because he's from someplace else and didn't know.
Wes is super-confused, because nobody has mentioned that the punishment for tripping and falling into this flower bed is execution. Riker still doesn't know.
The mediators are telling Riker that it's extra-sad, because Wes didn't know, but the law is the law.
Yar and Worf come running up, and Riker accuses Tasha of filing an incomplete report about Edo laws.
"They didn't say anything about punishments!" she protests.
One of the mediators pulls out a syringe of poison and approaches Wes, but Riker knocks him down, and Yar and Worf pull out phasers.
"You were gonna kill him!" yells Riker.
"What the fuck?" demands Wes.

Riker tries to call the E again, but everything is blocked.
Back on the E, Crusher is scanning Data and says that he's otherwise fine. The ball of light lifts off of Data's head and dissipates. This lifts the communications block, and Yar's voice immediately comes in over Picard's comm badge.
Riker and Yar tell Picard that they need him down there ASAP because "there a problem with one of the away team and a strange law they have here."
Picard beams down.

They're having some kind of tribunal or something, and Rivan and Liator welcome them. Riker tells Picard that he's allowed them to hold Wes in detention, in accordance with the Prime Directive.
Liator says the law system they have in place has kept their society from crumbling into chaos, and they're peaceful and happy because of it. Rivan asks Picard if they execute criminal on his world.
Ooh, sticky wicket, Star Trek. How do you do an episode about capital punishment without getting a bunch of angry letters from either one side or the other?
Picard is understandably hesitant. The answer he gives could offend their guests, but in no way does he want them killing Wes.
"Um, we used to," he admits. "And the people who believed in capital punishment certainly felt it was justified. But these days, we've figured out how to detect which people will end up becoming criminals, so we can take care of that situation before it arises."
Ah, vague and polite, Star Trek. Maybe no hate mail for you.
But Liator apparently had a big ol' bucket of ramen for lunch, because boyfriend is salty as hell. "We're not as advanced as they are," he scoffs to Rivan. "Use your advanced powers to save Wes. Go on, then."

Sooo many boob hammocks...

"Yeah, we can't just take him," explains Picard. "We have this Prime Directive thing."
Rivan says that Riker explained the PD to them, and that they'll keep Wes alive until sun down, but after that they have to kill him, because he broke the law.
Picard agrees to this timeline, then asks them what the hell that thing is in space. He describes it as being in two places at once, both "here" and "not here."
Rivan and Liator look at one another in confusion, then Rivan asks, "Do you mean God?"
Hello, plot twist!
"Wait, what?" asks Picard.
Crusher calls Picard. She refers to herself formally as "CMO Crusher." I don't think I've ever heard her use that term before or since.
She says Data is awake and is demanding to talk to Picard. Picard wants to talk to him as well, and says he'll beam back up. He also wants to tell Crusher about Wes in person, rather than over the comm badges. After being reassured that the Edo will not kill Wes until sundown, Picard asks if one of them will come back to the ship with him. Rivan volunteers as tribute, but he tells her that he doesn't want her as a hostage. He just wants her to identify that thing out in space that she called God.

In the E corridors, Rivan exclaims that the ship is a city. Crusher approaches and tells Picard that she's just read the reports about Wes, but he tells her he'll talk to her in a moment.
Yeah, that's smart, Picard. Make the mama bear wait to hear about her son being executed at sundown, while you talk to the half-naked chick. Because that's not a good way at all to get your throat ripped out.
Rivan rephrases Liator's nasty comment form earlier: if they have all of this power, why don't they just take Wes back? He answers both women at once by saying that the PD complicates matters.

What's up with Rivan's wig here? It's sitting further back on her head, and they've
curled the actor's hair underneath to make weird two-toned bangs or something.

They take Rivan into the room where Geordi went to "check out" the station earlier, and when she sees it through the window, she genuflects, terrified.
"Is that God?" asks Picard. "How do you know? Does it speak to you?"
She haltingly says yes, that is God, and that it has appeared before and has spoken to them.
The station immediately rushes toward the E and that booming voice yells, "RETURN MY CHILD!"
"Whoa, fuck," Picard says, and he slaps his comm badge on Rivan, yelling at the transporter chief to beam her the hell off the ship, post-haste.
As soon as she's gone, the station backs off.

Picard and Crusher go to talk to Data, who is still in sick bay. In the corridor, Crusher demands info about Wes. She starts to go off on him, then backs up, regaining her composure, and apologizes. She says she is scared.
"So am I," he answers.
Nice. I like this building on history here. Picard is an old family friend of the Crushers' and while he struggles to relate to Wes, he understands that that is his friends' kid. He's also the CO of this ship, and is directly responsible for the well-being of both mother and son, as well as of inferior officers, of which they are also. His position right now sucks, and his brief vulnerability showing through is awesome. Truthfully, I kind of liked those moments in Kirk as well.

Data tells Picard and Crusher that the station connected with him in such a way as to take all of the information stored in Data's brain. Everything he knows, they know. And the station is most definitely a "they" rather than an it. He says the station exists in several places at once. So these Schrodinger aliens pretty much own all of the surrounding star systems, and Data says that it was probably not a good idea to set up a colony in the area. He starts to offer better suggestions for the settlers, but Picard barks at him to stop babbling.
"I was not aware that I babble, sir," he replies. He starts to talk about how he takes in information, sorts it, and returns it in verbal form, and Picard interrupts him to say that he needs to only pick out the most pertinent information to answer his questions.
The Schrodinger aliens are aware that the Edo worship them as God, and recognize that this is an okay thing for their current state of evolution. When Picard asks Data if the aliens are okay with the E being there, Data responds that they haven't decided yet, and they're waiting to see if the humans will violate their own Prime Directive.
Crusher gets upset at this, and yells at an unknowing Data that the Edo want to execute her son. Data is fascinated by the motherly emotions that Crusher is experiencing. She screams at him to shut up, and runs from the room.
"Huh," says Data. "I do babble."
I know it's mostly meant as a throw-away joke here, but I think that it's good character development for Data to recognize that he often offers up too much information, or outwardly wonders things that he should be keeping to himself, and possibly inquiring about, privately, later. Dude's ambition is to become more human-like, and humans will sometimes babble. Body language and verbal clues will tell another human when babbling is not appreciated, but Data has not picked up on that. It's actually something he'll struggle with for a while.

Picard's Log 41229.5: "So now on top of everything else, I have to figure out how to fix this shit with the Schrodinger aliens watching my every move. Lovely."

Picard invites Data back to his quarters to babble some more. He's stumped by the lack of answers, and is hoping that data might have more information to share. What they end up talking about is moral relativism. Data says that at one point, the Schrodinger aliens were much like humans in that they had blood and flesh bodies, and probably values very similar to Terrans. Picard doesn't want Wes to die, but if he breaks the PD, the aliens might decide that the Enterprise crew are no good, and the station could descend upon them, putting 1000 other lives at risk.
"Is the life of one worth more than the lives of 1000?" Data asks.
Whoa, damn. Data went all Spock there.
But instead of pulling out a Kobayashi Maru, Picard snaps back that he refuses "to allow arithmetic to decide in these matters."
Crusher comes in to request formally to be allowed to beam down to the planet's surface. Picard grants it, and puts Data in charge. He and Crusher transport down.

Rivan rushes forward the moment they appear on the scene. She gives Picard his comm badge, the genuflects.
"You share the sky with God, so you must also be gods."
"No," he says. "We're not gods."
Liator and the mediators bring in Wes. Crusher starts forward, but catches herself. I'm not sure if she stops because she doesn't want to embarrass Wes, or because they are all Starfleet officers, and rushing to hug him is not really becoming of any of their ranks.
Wes asks Picard if he's going to let them kill him.
"No," he answers, " but I have to make the Edo understand why."
The mediators are pissed. If they don't kill Wes, then the laws are undermined by strangers. One of them angrily implores Picard to look at how they were before enacting these laws.
"They seem to work very well for you," he replies. "But I have my own laws to follow and I'll catch hell from Starfleet for violating the Prime Directive."
"No way," says the mediator. "You'll have to answer to God for this."
"Yeah, they may kill us all as well," says Picard.
"If you save me," asks Wes, "is it possible that everyone on board the E would die?"
"STFU, Wesley," says Picard. "You're not involved in this, boy."
"The hell I'm not!" says Wes.
Good for you, Wes. Assert yourself, buddy.
Unfortunately, it comes to nothing.

Picard gathers the away team and Wes, and calls for a beam-out.
Really, Star Trek? You're not going to come up with a solution? You're just gonna leave? What crap.
But then nothing happens. The transporter chief says everything works, but the transporter is not transporting.
"Ha!" says the mediator. "God is not letting you leave!"
Wow, that's some unearthly schadenfreude right there.

"Okay, look," Picard addresses the ceiling. "I know it's shitty of me not to obey the laws here, but I also have to follow the Prime Directive, and let's be honest: the law doesn't work when it's absolute. Even life itself had to have loopholes in order to progress."
Riker makes a muttered comment about how life is never as well-laid-out as a rule book, and the away team shimmers and beams up.
The Schrodinger aliens agreed.

Everybody tromps back to the bridge, and Picard calls the station one more time. "So hey, we're leaving, and if you want us to go get those colonists, give us some kind of sign."
The station turns slightly, glows a bit, and vanishes.
"I guess that was a sign," shrugs Picard. "Let's get the hell out of here."

So this episode had some good stuff and some bad stuff. Let's get that first thing out of the way right out of the gate: the Enterprise should not have made contact with the Edo in the first place. The Edo appear to have been largely un-contacted, not to mention pre-warp. They don't even seem to have any kind of space capabilities at all (Picard tells the Edo their ship is in orbit, but corrects himself to say that they are "circling" the planet). Talking to them is a major no-no as far as the Prime Directive is concerned. If they had stumbled upon the Edo accidentally, this would be one thing, but they found the planet, decided it was nice, then introduced themselves and asked if they could stay.
Since the writers decided to go ahead and film while ignoring that part of the PD in a PD-centric episode, we'll have to do so when talking about it, otherwise we end up having to assign alternate universe status to this episode, and it's way too early in this series to be dealing with AUs. We'll just ignore it, too.
We're dealing with a couple of things here. As well as the prime Directive, we also butt heads with the law and ignorance of it. The mediator is right - not knowing the law exists doesn't excuse you from being punished by it when you break it. While this seems like a shitty argument, the fact of the matter is, if you just let it go anytime anyone claimed that, then the law would be no good. "Officer, I'm sorry you caught me doing 55 in a school zone. I'm from out of town and didn't know!" Naw, dude. Know what the laws are before you venture someplace new. Sometimes it catches you off-guard, but the alternative is that there are no laws, and people can just mow over kids in a school zone.
HOWEVER, the Edo should have been clearer about their law system when they invited the E to stay for a visit. I'm not gonna blame Tasha for turning in an incomplete report on laws and customs, but why did that never come up when she was talking to them initially? Seems like it would have.

Let's hop into our Prime Directive issues. Picard never really followed it. In the end, he decided against it, and made the choice to follow his own rules about keeping his crew safe, despite the costs. And also, despite the fact that the PD would have called for letting the Edo kill Wes. He went a bit Kirk here. I'm not saying it was the wrong decision by any means - any time someone is allowed to escape death, I'm on board - but the PD does call for the culture's wishes to be followed so as not to interfere with development. And here, the Edo now know that appealing to a higher power can sometimes get them what they want, and that each transgression they make can now come with the option of not being punished. That's a crazy-direct violation of the Prime Directive.

One thing that Star Trek does well (really, really well) is to sometimes leave things open-ended. To point out that sometimes, there are no easy answers. Here we get a taste of that. Instead of grabbing onto a plan and putting it into action, Picard sits in his quarters with his head in his hands, lamenting the fact that cultural and moral relativism has him stymied this time. He ended up having to make a decision to break one law over another, but in the meantime, he bounced a lot of ideas off of Data. (Frankly, who better to bounce ideas off of? Data has probably studied a whole library of philosophers on these issues, and he is the most likely to be objective. It's the one time in this episode where I didn't question his utilizing a crew member's abilities.) When he finally arrives back on the surface, he has an outcome in mind (Wesley living to see another day), but not a solution. The solution only arrives when he breaks the PD in favor of saving Wesley, and points out to the Schrodinger aliens that things are never so black and white as the law frequently allows. Even then, it is not strictly a solution, but a compromise: the Edo punishment does not go through, but the Prime Directive is violated as well.
Things are, as Riker put it, never so cut and dry as a rule book.

Fun Facts:

-This episode shows a striking resemblance to the TOS episode "The Apple" in that the E crew finds an Eden-like planet and encounters it's naive people, who are under the thumb of a God-like machine.
- Gene Rod originally wanted the costumes for the Edo to be even skimpier, but they would not stay on when the actors moved, and more fabric was needed to be functional. (What do you want to bet that the actors playing the Edo were "gifted" those costumes when filming was completed? There's no room for underwear of any kind in those costumes, so I can't imagine the costume department saving those to use again.)
- Starfleet's possible policy of just stopping "wherever" for shore leave is crap. Starfleet is patterned after the Navy, which plans things far in advance, and assigns people leave in the same way. There is no "this place looks nice, and the crew is tired," like exists on Star Trek.
- There's a line given by Wesley when being interrogated by the mediators, "I'm in Starfleet. We don't lie," that Wil Wheaton didn't like. He later conceded that it works well enough to point out how naive Wes is.
- This is the first episode since the holodeck scenes in "Encounter at Farpoint" to utilize location shots. Most of the outdoor scenes were filmed at the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, and the place where Wes falls into the flowers was filmed at the Huntington Library.
- This episode was actually the next to be commissioned after "Encounter at Farpoint" had been written, but went through so many re-writes that it ended up being filmed eighth.
- Filming near the airport meant that many of the outdoor scenes had to be re-dubbed in post-production.


Bottle Two of the Third Street Tea:
This time I tried the "lightly sweetened" Black Tea. While not quite as sweet as the Peach tea, this one was still fairly sweet, enough so that it might turn off people who don't care for sweetened tea. It's lightly spiced, but not so much that it's overpowering. I would totally drink this tea again.

Curie and Mo

Monday, April 18, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Eight "Lonely Among Us"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Eight "Lonely Among Us"
Production Order: 8
Air Order: 7
Stardate: 41249.3
Original Air Date: November 2, 1987

While filing through Google Images' collection of facepalms last week, I stumbled upon this cookie:

Where did it come from? Where could I get one? Was that even a thing, or was it Photoshop trickery? Nope, it's a thing. A girl owns an online shop where she turns simple line drawings into cookie cutters using a 3-D printer, and most of them are geek-themed. Check it out:


Picard's Log 41249.3: "Gonna go to this peace conference thing on this neutral planet called Parliament, but on the way, we're stopping to pick up delegates from two species - the Anticans, and the Selay. They come from the same system, but they hate each other. It's like Space Westside Story! Anyway, they both want to get into the Federation, so we're taking them to Parliament for a chat and probably some space hors d'oeuvres. We're super not letting them in until this shit is resolved."

So, remember a while ago when we talked about skants, and how they were meant to play off of the mini-dress tunics of TOS female crewmembers? And how they seem to be offered up as short-sleeve unisex alternatives to the longer-sleeved everyday uniforms on TNG, but were also used as formal wear for officers during important occasions? Here we are, friends. Picard, Riker, and Yar are meeting delegates for a peace conference, so they're dressed to the nines. It's a little goofy, the long-tunic-and-leggings combo on Picard and Riker... but Yar's tunic hangs oddly. It's like they decided to make it hang more like a sundress below her hips, as though making it tighter would harken back to those old miniskirts too much. It just occurred to me that on Picard and Riker, the tunic and leggings look like unbelted garb from LARP and Ren Fest activities.

Anyway, moving on: the Selay beam onboard, and check it out! Non-humanoid! Sort of. I mean, they are in that they have the same body shape and number of limbs, but the Selay are reptilian, which makes me clap like a little kid. Yay, non-humanoids! I always get excited for these. They require more labor-intensive make-up and prosthetics.
Also, I like their costumes. Simple and elegant, and there's a color change to indicate which one is more important. In this case, it's gold over red, which is a bit TOS. High-five, costumer.

The Selay actually look like a nice cross between Classic Who and New Who Silurians:

Dude, they also have three fingers, like The Traveler. I imagine the design and make-up people being called in to a really early morning meeting, and the writers going, "We need you guys to put in some overtime on this one, and bring your A game." Seriously, A game brought here. What's more, the jaw prosthesis was clearly attached to the lower jaws of the actors playing these parts, as their mouths move when they speak. Not a lot, mind you, but enough that the whole thing doesn't feel like a rubber mask slapped over an actor's head, like the Tellarites from Journey to Babel.

Anyway, enough tangents and rabbit holes.
The Selay hop off the transporter pads and complain that they can smell the Anticans, who were picked up first, Then they bitch when Riker says their quarters are close-ish to the Anticans. He agrees to provide them with other lodgings farther away.
"We must be upwind of the Anticans," insists Ssestar, the dude in gold.
"Of course," says Riker. 
He gives them that customer service smile that he gave fucking Kosinski last week. I never noticed that smile until I did seven unlucky years as a retail slave, and now I have no idea how I could have missed it. It makes sense, though: when you deal with space-douches (and you're gonna do that when you're given the commission of Number One), you're gonna have to deal with their bullshit demands, and do so with a Starfleet "can-do" attitude. I think I've seen Picard's customer service smile, too. It's tight-lipped and not as convincing as Riker's.

They get underway, and Picard and Riker return to the bridge, now sans dress uniform. They are discussing the hostilities between the two races, and are having trouble understanding them, as humans no longer fight over such things as "god concepts, and even economic systems." This smacks of smugness, not gonna lie. We get it. Humans of the future are awesome and never argue amongst themselves because they're better than that. And also us, because we still fight over god concepts and economic systems. Screw you, Star Trek. Also, not buying that you guys don't understand hostilities. You encounter this crap every time you meet a new hostile alien race. One of the original concepts of Star Trek was that humans didn't have conflict with each other anymore. That's crap. Not only is that not possible, but a show about people with no conflict is boring as hell.
Data interrupts to say that there's some weird cloud thing out in front of them.

Yar checks the computers. "Yeah, it's a weird cloud-thing."
Picard decides to match the warp speed of the cloud to check it out before going on to Parliament.

We get a previously unknown location in the next scene. Geordi and Worf are in some tiny space with a bunch of computer banks and read-outs.
It seems that Geordi is supposed to be there, but Worf is there to brush up on stuff because Picard wants everyone to be cross-trained on things. He doesn't seemed thrilled.
The E gets close to the cloud thing to take sensor readings, and that"s when Worf gets zapped by some kind of energy. The face Michael Dorn makes in Worf make-up is mildly terrifying.
Worf collapses and Geordi calls sick bay.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Dr Crusher and another blue come to collect Worf. When he comes to, he attacks everyone, so Crusher hypos him, then they make him stand up and walk calmly and drunkenly to sick bay. Why did they not bring a stretcher?
Then there's a short scene where Geordi tells Picard what happened, and said that for a moment, Worf was glowing.
Riker goes down to the guest quarters to meet up with Yar, and we finally get to see the Anticans, who it would appear, live on Planet Redwall.

Yar tells Riker that's been some kind of confusion with the Anticans' food supply. The E crew beamed up their live animals and were going to preserve it, but the Anticans want it brought to them alive.
"Oh, sorry," says Riker, and you can see his customer service skills working again as he tells the Antican delegate, Badar N'D'D, that Yar was confused, as humans no longer enslave animals for eating. N'D'D protests, as he has seen humans eating meat before, but Riker says it just looks like meat, and is actually replicated matter. N'D'D is disgusted.
This is actually a sweet bit of exposition here. While it seems like filler for Riker and Yar to be seeing to the dietary needs of the Anticans, it actually plays heavily into the plot, and we get a bonus bit of info here: the replicator doesn't produce meat. It makes something like meat. On Star Trek, the food is akin to the slop eaten onboard the Nebuchadnezzar from The Matrix trilogy. It's nutritious, and contains "everything the body needs," but in this franchise, they have the luxury of eating food that looks and tastes like the real thing. 
Also, a bit of trivia and helpfulness here: Badar N'D'D is never called by name in this episode, but it was written out in the script, so no one actually knows how to pronounce that name. Lucky for me that he actually has a name, though, as I would have run into the same issue I was having with The Traveler. The same is true for Ssestar. Never mentioned by name, but it's helpful that he has something I can call him.

Does N'D'D look familiar to you?

How about now?

Yep, same dude. That's Marc Alaimo, the guy who plays Gul Dukat, my favorite unapologetic asshole on DS9. He played a bunch of guest roles on TNG before morphing into DS9 regular Dukat.
This is what he looks like in real life. Can we get a round of applause for the make-up department? I mean, shit, dude.

We switch over to sick bay, and Crusher is wearing some kind of helmet with Google Glass on the front. I don't know what the hell that thing is, but it's ugly. Anyway, she touches Worf to do her exam, and that blue, glowy light crackles up her arms and away from him. Troi comes in and sees that Worf's numbers are reading normal, and when she asks what Crusher did, Crusher says nothing. Worf wakes up and can't remember anything past being in the little sensor room with Geordi. Crusher mysteriously leaves sick bay without saying anything to either of them.

There's a brief scene where Data advises Picard to check into the mysterious cloud-thing, and while Picard says that he digs a mystery, they don't have time now. They have to get those Redwall guys to the peace conference.
Crusher goes back to her quarters to find Wes studying. In that same goddawful orange bedspread - why? He tells her that, in class, they've been looking at Dr Important-Sounding's research into dilithium crystals and their possible further applications regarding warp theory and beyond. This is very clearly Wes' jam, and really not Crusher's, because when she asks him to tell her about it, he gets this look on his face that I got last weekend when a guy at a party asked my about my Oswald the Lucky Rabbit shirt. (Because, you know, who doesn't want to know about the biggest coup in animation history? ONLY EVERYONE, THAT'S WHO!)

So Wes starts fangirling about this research, and Crusher pays attention to what he's saying, right up until the part where she realizes out loud that this has nothing to do with helm control, and she promptly gets up and leaves.
She gets off the lift on the bridge and goes to Geordi's conn. Picard spots her and asks about Worf.
"Naw, he's good," she mutters. "He can go back to work now. He just had a thing, you know?"
"WTF?" demands Picard. "That's a bridge officer, so you need to give me a better explanation!"
Oddly-acting Crusher comes up with a pretty good reason to rummage through the E's computer banks: "I'll have to cross-check with the computer. Klingons are so different in their physiology, you know."
"Cool," he shrugs.
She goes to Science Station 2. Data is at SS1, still checking out the info on the cloud-thing, and he notices that she's looking at stuff on helm control rather than medical things. She ignores his inquiry, and a moment later, the blue glowy light runs down her arm and into the computer bank.

Crusher sort of stumbles against the computer bank, and when Picard and Data ask if she is alright, she mumbles that she is, and that she's going to go work in her office. She trips back to the lift and leaves. Data tells Picard that SS1 and SS2 no longer work. calls start coming in from all over the ship, saying that certain things no longer work. Warp drive is down, as is one of the transporters. Picard suspects foul play.
A meeting is called between senior officers. There are a number of people we've never seen before, and which we'll probably never see again. Mr Singh, who called the bridge about the warp drive being down, is present. He suggests that it was some kind of short that hopped from station to station, then righted itself. but none of the affected systems generally interact with one another, so everyone in engineering is completely baffled. Riker looks like he thinks this meeting could have been covered just as easily through email.
Picard tells Singh that he wants some answers by the time they reach Parliament.

In the next scene, Riker puts the smack-down on N'D'D. It seems that some Security Golds found some Anticans loitering around the Selay quarters with weapons.
"No, these are tools used to get food," says N'D'D. 
His explanation seems flimsy, especially when Riker points out that the animals brought on board for them to eat are nowhere near the Selays' quarters.
 "We're taking your weapons," replies Riker. "All of them."
N'D'D assures him that they will not start anything with the Selay while on board the E, and satisfied, Riker and Yar leave.
"But we'll finish it," N'D'D finishes as soon as the door has closed.
Geez, N'D'D. Be more cliche.

Up on the bridge, Worf reports that they are falling out of warp. Picard calls Singh in engineering, who says they lost the link to the computer - warp still works, they just can't tell the ship as much.
"Well, fuck," says Picard. "Data, tell Parliament we're gonna be late."
"Yeah, no," responds Data. "Subspace radio is out, too."
So Picard calls another meeting, this time with just Data and Riker in his ready room.
They agree that it must be a saboteur, because the E is too new to be breaking down.
Star Trek, are you telling me that, in the future, manufacturers are going to stop this BS where they purposefully build things with shoddy parts so you'll be forced to upgrade?
"Well captain, it seems that your warp drive link is down, as is your subspace radio. Together, those things will cost more to repair than the ship is worth. I recommend you scrap it and get yourself a new Enterprise. We'll go ahead and send this one to a third-world planet, where kids can roam through the junkyard and pick it apart for scrap."
Picard thinks too highly of his crew to suspect any of them, so they wonder if it might be the Selay, the Anticans, or Ferengi, who have had contact with both of those species.The topic of private investigation comes up, and when data is confused, Picard explains private eyes to him. This is clearly Picard's jam, and he's quick to flood Data with info just as much as Wes was willing to tell his mother about dilithium crystals. Sherlock Holmes comes up. Data is intrigued.

Down in engineering, Wes has figured out how to bypass whatever roadblock was keeping the computer from connecting to the warp drive. Singh takes over, and fails to thank Wes. Then he dismisses him, because Wes is supposed to be studying now.
Wes puts up a bit of a stink, saying that he learns more through practical application in engineering than in a classroom setting. Singh gives him a smile and an agreement, but points out in a friendly manner that it's captain's orders. I guess that kind of makes up a bit for the fact that Singh is probably going to take credit for Wes' work now. As in, "We've fixed the problem," not "Wes fixed the problem."
Wes goes back to his quarters and kvetches lightly to his mother about having to go to school when he wants to be fixing shit in engineering. She's sympathetic, but tells him that he still needs to go to school. He brings up the dilithium crystal thing from earlier, but she doesn't remember them talking about that at all.

Dammit, why does everyone on this show get cool costumes, except for Wes
Crusher? Let's say yes to those brown pinstripe pants, but "oh, hellll no!" to that
orange sherbet bedspread. Also, I think Bev is wearing a Snuggie. I know this show
was ahead of it's time for all kinds of technology, but did it really predict
blanket-with-sleeves tech 21 years ahead of time?
We go back to engineering, where Singh is working by himself and get the blue glowy light up his arms. Instead of just taking over, the thing kills him. I guess I don't have to decide if he was a dick now or not. It's moot.

Worf comes by a moment later and calls Picard to report Singh dead.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log 41249.4: "Opening an investigation into Singh's death. But we still only have impulse power."

Wes, Worf, and Geordi are in engineering looking at that same console where Singh had been working. Wes says the calculations on the screen are different than the ones he plugged in. Worf and Geordi argue that Singh must have fixed stuff before dying. Wes is skeptical. He says there was an issue inside of the engines that had not been fixed yet.
"Who gives a shit?" responds Geordi. "We have warp, and that's what counts."
So they send the ship to warp and take off again.

Yar goes to question the Antican delegates. N'D'D tries to shrug her off.
"Your dead engineer isn't our concern."
"What were you doing between 1800 and 0700 hours?" she asks.
"Bullshit. That's like, a 13-hour span."
"It was a big-ass animal," he replies.
Yar is grossed out.

Worf reports to sick bay and Crusher asks him about his blackout period. he replies that he doesn't recall that time, and she says she had one also. Troi says she wants to do hypnosis on both of them to see if she can get any information that way. 
Wait - that was still a thing in 1987? *checks Wikipedia* Oh, it's still a thing now. But it's a hotly-debated thing as to whether or not it's actually a thing. I'm wondering about that scene, where Troi hypnotizes them, if it'll end up being like "Where No Man Has Gone Before," wherein ESP is discussed, thereby dating the episode, because the medical community doesn't think that ESP is a thing anymore.
We go back to the briefing room, where Data is smoking a big-ass pipe. He's enigmatically taken on this Basil Rathbone-ish persona, where he's excitable and gestures a lot. He tells an amused Yar and Riker that they can glean information from the things that the alien passengers are not telling them. Turns out our friends, who look an awful lot like Sir Didymus, stopped at a dispensary to get dressings for wounds during the time that were supposedly "eating." He concludes that they were too wrapped up in trying to kill the Selay, and vice versa, to kill any of the crew members.

Troi does her hypno-thang on Worf and Crusher, and then reports back to Picard & Co. that they both said at the time of their blackouts that there was someone else in their heads. She says that when she encountered Crusher and Worf at these times, she sensed a duality in them, which is now explained.
"How come you didn't say anything?" Picard asks.
"Well, cuz humans normally have a kind of duality in their minds. Like, you talk to yourselves in your own minds. But this was different. Not them talking to themselves, them talking to someone else."
Data pulls out his Holmes schtick again to suggest that it wasn't the delegates or any of the crew, so it has to be someone else. Picard tells him to ditch the pipe, so he pulls out a magnifying glass to examine the ready room lionfish instead.

Wes is sitting at conn complaining about how the system just "got better" for no reason, and Geordi shrugs it off again. Then helm control goes down. Picard and the others exit the ready room and get the news that helm is down again. Picard puts his hand on Geordi's station to check things out, and the glowy blue light runs up his arm. Geordi sees... something, and asks Picard if he's alright.
"Everything is fine now," Picard says.
Light dramatic music! Commercial break!

When we return, Picard asks why the ship has dropped to impulse.
"Something is wrong with warp," Geordi responds.
"Nope, check again!" said Picard brightly.
Helm control magically comes back online. Geordi is suspicious.
"Also, turn us the hell around! I want to back to the road-side attraction we passed - that cloud-thing! Fuck the peace conference - let's go get us some scans of some clouds!"
Now everyone is suspicious.
But they don't really get a say in the matter, because Picard is the boss.

N'D'D is pissed off. He's stalking through the corridors, demanding to see Picard, and being followed by He-Who-Is-Yet-To-Be-Named-O'Brien. Blink, and you'll miss him. They run into one of the Selay, and the pair make threatening gestures at one another, while N'D'D yells that he wants to know why they changed course.

We haven't had nearly enough meetings in this episode, so now Picard & Co is meeting without Picard, this time to discuss mutiny. Troi thinks Picard is off his rocker, and that he'll do something dangerous eventually. They discuss how Crusher could relieve him of duty, but she protests that she'd need concrete evidence to put in a medical log. Riker could do it, but he'd have to get the agreement of all of the senior officers. Crusher decides to look into it and they all agree to keep an eye on Picard in the meantime.

Riker's Log, supplemental: "Crusher and I are gonna chat with the captain."

They go into the ready room.
"Hey," says Crusher. "I think you should come with me to sick bay for some medical exams."
"Why?" asks Picard.
"We think you're under alien influence," replies Riker. "Troi thinks so, too."
Then that lousy motherfucker gaslights them:
"Really? Because I think you guys are under alien influence, and need a whole of the same medical and psychiatric tests to prove you aren't. Troi, too."
And they can't say or do anything, because this creepy alien a-hole hasn't actually endangered anyone.
They agree to do the tests.

Over in B-Plotland, Riker is noosed by the Selay in the corridor.
"Sorry, wrong species," they hiss.
Riker calls security to have all of the Anticans and Selay rounded up and taken back to their quarters under guard.

Crusher returns to the ready room with the test results on what I can only describe as a USB. Picard takes it from her and drops it on the desk, uncaring.
"Please," she says in earnest, "are you Jean-Luc?"
"He's in here," is the creepiest reply ever. "We're going home. It's going to be awesome."
The sound effects guys made Picard's voice echo ever so slightly, as though he's speaking with two voices. It's kind of effective.
Psychological thriller music! Commercial break!...

Riker's Log, supplemental: "Back at the cloud. Kind of screwed, because we think there's something in the cloud that's also in the captain's mind, but, you know, he hasn't done anything but detour the ship, so we can't take him down."

Picard exits the ready room.
"I have an announcement," he says to the bridge crew. "The last time we were at this cloud, the ship came too close and it scooped up a life form, which got caught in the energy matrix of the ship. Then it went from person to person, looking for a way to get out, and no one helped it. Beeteedubs, sorry about Singh. Didn't mean to kill him. That was an accident."
"Are you like, Picard plus the entity?" asks Troi.
"Yep," says Picard. "We have a lot in common. We're both explorers and such. We're going to explore."
"I get it," says Data. "As an energy pattern, the captain could go anywhere at any speed. But you can't go, sir. It's a bad idea."

Troi, who can sense his thoughts, says that Picard and this entity plan to beam themselves into the cloud.
"You can't do it! You'll die out there!"
"Naw, it's cool," says Picard. "The transporter doesn't have to beam me out as matter. It can beam me out as energy. This is who I am now, Mom. I'm going to travel the universe with Jeremy the energy pattern, and we're gonna settle on land near Woodstock and raise non-corporeal goats. I've already sent my resignation to Starfleet."
"The hell you have!" yells Riker.
"How am I hurting anything by going with Jeremy?" asks Picard. "I'm not."
Crusher starts to relieve him of duty, but he just turns, grabs the computer consoles, and shoots blue glowy light at everyone on the bridge.
I guess that's one way to incapacitate everyone in the room.

He gets in the lift while they're still trapped by the glowy blue light, and arrives shortly thereafter in the transporter room. The transporter chief (nope, not Almost-O'Brien) is on the floor twitching with the light as well. I guess he passed that shit onto every console in the ship, which means that everyone, including little kids who were working at consoles in the school rooms, is now lying on the floor twitching. Asshole.
He sets his coordinates and transports out of there.

Riker's Log, supplemental: "Been an hour since Jeremy and Jean-Luc beamed out into the ether, energy only. Been scanning, and we can't find a damn thing."

Yar says the transporter chief has no idea what the coordinates were. I guess there was no record or something? Seems like a thing that the computer would do automatically, but I guess if Jeremy the energy thing was in the computer too, it could just erase it? Whatever. I don't care enough to pick it apart.
"We can't just give up!" says Geordi.
"What do you want me to do?" demands Riker in frustration.
Riker finally says they have to go, and he tells Geordi to set their heading for Parliament, but then Troi says she "found" him, and he's out there alone because the combination of Picard and Jeremy "wasn't possible."
Some of the consoles crackle with energy, and a P appears on Geordi's console panel.
Ugh, that's so cheesy. I'm not sure what else they might have done instead to alert the crew that Picard was in the computer circuitry, but posting a P to a console panel is so goofy.

Data rushes to the transporter room with Riker and Troi in tow. His hope is that Picard will recall that the transporter has his physical form on file, as he was the last person on the pad, and that he will go there to be inserted back into his own body. Everyone is all, "Is this going to work?" but there's like, two minutes left in this episode, soooo... yes.

"What the fuck am I doing in the transporter room?" Picard demands, stepping off the pad. "I remember being in here, and I was going to transport... somewhere... but I don't remember."
Everyone is like, "Yay, the captain's back!"
"Dr Crusher says you should go to sick bay for a rest," Riker tells him.
Then the door opens and Yar bursts in.
"There's blood on the floor outside of the Selay delegates' quarters, and one of the cooks says the Anticans want them to cook up a reptile, and it looks like a Selay!"
"Yeah, I do need a rest," says Picard. And he exits.

Yar looks at Riker. Riker looks at Troi. Troi is smiling like she's holding back a laugh. And light, playful music plays, and the credits roll.
Are you kidding me, Star Trek?
You're ending on a cannibalism joke?
You're heading to a peace conference, and a dude ate another dude, but this is hilarious?

OMG. Is this better or worse than ending with a racist remark about Vulcans?
You lost me, Star Trek.
I just... damn.


Dear members of the Singh family,

This is to regretfully inform you that one of your own (first name) Singh, has been killed in the line of duty. He died well, doing his job admirably at his post, but unfortunately, was fried by a runaway entity that stowed away with the ship when we flew through some cloud-thing in the middle of nowhere. I was personally possessed by this entity for a while, and it assures me that your family member's senseless death was a total accident, and he totally didn't mean to do it. I'm sure it would have written this letter itself if it had hands... or a body, or corporeal form of any kind.

Jean-Luc Picard,
No longer joined to Jeremy, the errant energy pattern

Fun Facts:
- First instance of a crewman dying on board the Enterprise-D.
-This is the only episode where we see Tasha Yar in dress uniform.
- Colm Meaney shows up for the second and last time in season one on TNG. He won't actually get a name until season two, when he shows up in more than half of the episodes.

- Because Marc Alaimo's first Star Trek role included heavy make-up, a cast was taken of his face. This would come in handy later, as the make-up department would use it time and again to create new  facial appliances and make-up for other characters he would play.
- James McElroy, who played several bit parts and background characters in TNG and Enterprise, started out on Star Trek as one of the Selay delegates. He noted that his make-up call for the Selay delegate character began at 4:30 in the morning.
- Marc Alaimo's long, strong neck muscles were influential in creating the look of the Cardassians, as this was the inspiration for the neck ridges of that species.
- This episode marks the first time Data plays at being Sherlock Holmes.

- First appearance of the PADD. Though similar devices appeared on TOS, those were actually electronic clipboards, and did not interface with the Enterprise's computers the way the PADDs did. PADD designer Rick Sternbach has said that he didn't necessarily think the PADD was a direct influence on Apple's iPad, but rather that the PADD was a natural continuation of technology as imagined by people before and after himself. He notes that today's devices are actually less limited in their uses than the way PADDs were used on-screen in Star Trek.

- The role of N'D'D is uncredited to Marc Alaimo. He did that on purpose, not knowing if it would add to his resume or take away from it. But he later said the role was "fun."
- "Lonely Among Us" is TNG's first so-called "bottle show." These episodes are created with mostly already-existing sets and very few guest stars. This way, the budget can be contained and the money that would have been spent on these things could be given over to other, more expensive episodes. TOS episodes that were bottle shows include "The Naked Time" and "The Doomsday Machine."


I went into a Whole Paycheck this week, looking a certain kind of lemonade, which I don't think that particular store carries. But I found new tea, so that works. This time, I grabbed a few bottles of Third Street. Because it's Whole Paycheck, the label is covered in declarations like "organic Fair Trade non-GMO." Also, it's gluten-free! Yay!
Anyway, beyond the ridiculous, the tea is pretty good. The first one I tried was the Peach Black Tea, because I'm apparently addicted to peach tea.Here's the thing about the sweetened Third Street teas: they're pretty freaking sweet. It's made with actual peach juice and cane sugar, so it's not sweetened garbage, but if you don't take your tea sweet, avoid the peach tea.
Either way, the art on the bottles is bad-ass, and worth a look even if you don't end up buying it:

Uhura, Bratty, Mo