Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, May 22, 2017

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Eighteen "Up the Long Ladder"

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Eighteen "Up the Long Ladder"
Production Order: 44
Air Order: 44
Stardate: 42823.2
Original Air Date: May 22, 1989

Peeps are on the bridge doing their thing, and nothing scary or suspicious is happening, but scary/suspicious music is playing. Worf looks... nervous?
Picard exits the lift and asks Riker to join him in the ready room as he passes by. Riker puts Data in charge.
In the ready room, Picard presses a button and plays a repeating sound for Riker.
"What's this?" Picard asks, mildly amused.
Riker listens. "Distress signal?"
"Lol, good guess. It's totes a distress signal, terran in origin, and from the Ficus sector," relays Picard. "Took those idiots at Starfleet Command weeks to figure out that it was a distress signal."
Riker feels pretty good about himself. "Okay, but it doesn't sound like any distress signal I've ever heard."
"Let's Google it," says Picard, and he asks Majel Barrett when the signal was last used.
"European Hegemony," says Majel.
"What the hell is that?" demands Riker.
And for the second week in a row, Picard chastises someone for not reading more history.
Riker, who was feeling pretty smart a second ago, now feels less smart, and rolls his eyes. To be honest, I agree with him. Picard says that the European Hegemony was the first stirrings of a world government, but then dates are given: 2123-2190. The signal used came from a 67-year period in history. That's nothing in the grand scheme of things. A blip on the radar. What's more, how often have alliances been formed across multiple countries, only to be broken up a few decades later? Like, the European Union is only 24 years old, and now there's a possibility that it'll break apart.
No exact dates are given for the EH, just "early 22nd century," and the United Earth Government was founded in 2150, after which the EH ceased to exist, so we're talking a really tiny slice of time here.
Like, bully for you for knowing about the European Hegemony, Picard, but it's like when I tell people that the first Mickey Mouse cartoon was "Plane Crazy" and not "Steamboat Willie" - who the fuck is going to know that unless they have reason to look it up?

Anyway, they ask Majel about starship launches from that era that were bound for or near the Ficus sector, and she says there were none.
"Did aliens use this distress signal?" asks Riker.
"Nope," says Majel.
"Guess we better find these people," says Riker.
They go out to the bridge, but now we know the reason for the scary/suspicious music: Worf passed out.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log 42843.2: "Leaving our current starbase to go find out who sent that distress signal. Also, what the hell is up with Worf?"

Worf is in sick bay on a biobed, being scanned by Pulaski.
"Klingons do not faint," he asserts.
She then goes on to sarcastically rephrase her wording, but still reach the conclusion that he fainted. She's not being a jerk about it, though, which is nice.
Pulaski does a few quick scans and announces that he has rop'ngor.
OMG, what is that? Is it serious? Will he die?
He's pretty pissed off: "That's a childhood ailment!"
It's Klingon measles. He's annoyed. He feels kind of dumb.
Picard calls to ask about Worf's condition.
"Worf was fasting for a Klingon thing," she lies. "He forgot that you have to do less physical activity when you're fasting. He's fine."
She actually crosses her fingers when saying this, hoping Picard will buy it.
"Cool," says PIcard, and hangs up.
Worf thanks Pulaski for keeping his secret, and leaves sick bay.
Maybe she gave him a hypo when he got to sick bay? Otherwise, how is he fine? Dude is still technically sick.

Picard is in the ready room again when Data enters.
"I've been thinking about that distress signal," says Data. "Somebody had to load that ship."
"Oh, manifest!" says Picard. "Data, you're a fucking genius!"
Picard plugs in the info he wants, and the computer gives him an answer: the SS Mariposa, launched in 2123 and bound for the Ficus sector.
He starts reading off the cargo list - along with people, the ship is packed with all kinds of technology, computers, things of that nature, plus spinning wheels and livestock.
"What the hell?" asks Picard. "None of that stuff matches."
Data, in the meantime, is curious about the mention of the spinning wheel. He checks it out in his memory banks, then begins reciting off the definition while Picard talks aloud to himself about the Mariposa's disparate manifest.
"Data!" Picard barks. "I'm trying to think! Shut the hell up!... why computers and livestock?"
"Trying to prepare for every eventuality?" asks a now-silent Data.
"What was going on in the world when they launched?" Picard asked Data.
Data thinks. "So this was after WWIII, and this one philosopher was popular. He advocated Neo Transcendentalism, going back to nature, and stuff."
"That explains the spinning wheels, but not the computers," states Picard.
Data shrugs.

This next scene is actually pretty cool.
Worf goes into Pulaski's office with a tray laden with objects: cups and a branch with some flowers on it.
"Thanks for keeping my secret," he says.
She's pretty stoked. "No one's ever performed the Klingon tea ceremony for me!"
She gets a little table, and he sets the tray down. Excitedly, she picks the flowers and places them in the cups. He's surprised.
"You know this ceremony?"
I like her answer: "I understand the externals, not the mysteries. I'm not a Klingon."
And that, boys and girls, is the difference between appropriation and appreciation.
He tells her that the tea is deadly to her, so she can't drink it. She points out that it's not good for Klingons to drink it, either. He gives her a bit of background on those mysteries, and tells her that drinking the tea is about facing bravery, and reminding one another that death is an experience that is best when shared, like the tea.
She says he's a romantic, and he replies that love poetry is best in the hands of Klingons. I think she might argue with him again, like she did at Data's going-away party in "Measure of a Man," but instead she runs out of the room, returning with a hypospray.
Pulaski shoots herself with antidote. "Let's do this."
They drink, breathe deeply, and she asks him to quote some poetry to her.
(My only sticking point in this really excellent scene: why does Pulaski readily have a hypospray of Klingon tea ceremony antidote? Is that substance one she would need to use often enough that she keeps it on hand? She was only gone for a moment, seems like not enough time passed for her to replicate it.)

We finally arrive in the Ficus sector, and it's obvious right away what the problem is - the sun is producing solar flares, and the people have retreated underground. Hailing is tried, but gets no answer.
"The hell?" asks Picard. "These people were carrying a ton of technology. Where is it?"
"No power source," says Data.
Worf reports that the sun's flares will start brushing the planet in a little more than three hours, so they better move fast. Oh, and also, if they're going to transport, they can't do it when the flares are... flaring. They gotta go in between.
Troi points out to Picard that these people have been here and uncontacted for 300 years, so they might freak out if they suddenly appeared on a starship.
It is decided that Riker will beam down to talk to these people, then beam them up. But only in-between flares, like some kind of weird interstellar double-dutch.

Picard's Log 42827.3: "Rehash."

Picard calls Riker.
"So there's like 200 people down here, and they're in pretty good health, and they're totes willing to leave, but..."
"Cool, get 'em up here," says Picard.
"Yeah, but there's a problem..." starts Riker.
"No time. Transporting now, please," barks Picard. "Just beam 'em up, and we'll deal with it here."
"...'kay," replies Riker.
We switch to the transporter room, where Riker tells O'Brien to start transporting.
So he does.

" a problem, Captain," O'Brien pages Picard.
Picard and Worf step out of the lift a few moments later. The doors to the transporter room open, and a chicken flies out into the corridor, to be scooped up by a tiny sprite with a big smile, who pulls the chicken back in.
"The fuck?" demands Picard.
He and Worf step into the room as a dude steps forward to shake O'Brien's hand.
"Irishman, huh?" He offers O'Brien a pull off his flask, but the chief is standing right next to his CO, and declines.
The guy introduces himself to Picard as Danilo Odell, and good Lord, this guy is all brogue. He's mildly annoyed that they had to pack up and leave so quickly.
Picard doesn't respond to this. "Why animals?" he demands.
"We couldn't leave them to die," Odell explains. "Also, we'll need to stat a new life someplace else, and how will we do that without our animals?"
Picard decides that this answer is good enough, but there's no way they can all hang out in the transporter room, so he tells O'Brien in an irked voice to beam them to a cargo hold, including the ones that have yet to come onboard.
So they climb back up on the transporter pad and beam to the cargo hold.

(A question for this scene, and some others I've come across: how did they beam up the hay? Like, if you're carrying something, that will beam with you. Okay, no problem there. But... I think when they transport they scan for life signs, and then beam those up, specifically ones that are wearing comm badges. But here, they've transported up many people. So Riker says "three to beam up," or whatever
 and O'brien beams up Riker and two people next to him. Okay. But what if five people are standing there, and O'Brien picks the wrong two to come up with Riker? And then we have objects, like said spinning wheels. No life signs. We know they can transport matter because we've seen it. But O'Brien was really surprised when they beamed up a shit-ton of animals as well. And nothing in my quick-and-dirty research suggests anything about that hay, save for the fact that very early transporters could not filter out objects blowing in the wind during transport, which could then become embedded in a transporting person.
I guess it was just done to further the "these are country folk" feel of that particular transport, but it would be nice to get an explanation for it, anyway.)

Odell runs after Picard and Worf, guessing that Picard must be pretty rich to have a ship like this.
Picard sets him straight on that.
"Oh. Um, are you married?"
Damn. Two weeks in a row, and people can't stop asking Picard personal questions.
"No. Why?" says Picard in a clipped tone.
"I have a daughter."
Sassy Picard Moment: "Felicitations."
"Are you sure?" Odell asks as Picard climbs in the lift.
Worf stares him down.
"He's sure," Odell tells Worf's chest.

Picard is meeting with Pulaski and Riker in the Obs Lounge when Worf arrives and says there are 223 people in cargo bay 7. Pulaski smiles and says they should expect several more over the next few days. They discuss the fact that the Bringloidi (a name at last!) seem out of time with everyone else, and Riker states that "they'll adapt."
Some warning klaxon goes off and a security Gold calls Worf to say that fire suppression went off in the cargo bay... guess which one?

Picard, Worf, and Riker go down to the cargo bay to check it out. A Gold says the fire is contained, and when the cargo bay door is unsealed, Odell hurries out yelling about lightening bolts falling from the ceiling.
"What the hell was that?" he yells as everyone steps into the cargo bay.
"Fire suppression system," says Worf. "A force field contains the fire, and all oxygen is sucked out of the space."
"And what if I was inside that force field?" demands Odell indignantly.
Sassy Worf Moment: "You would have been standing in the fire."
"Okay, so what if I was?" Odell insists.
"Suffocation and death," Worf answers drily.
They come up on a woman who's got a cooking pot over some rocks, like a campfire. (Where the hell did those rocks come from?) She's pretty pissed off, though not the same way that Odell was. She's actually livid, where he was kind of frantic.
"You guys didn't offer us anything to eat, and when I tried to cook something, your freaking ship shut it down!"

Picard is taken aback by this woman, and says, "Oh, um, sorry. Didn't know you guys had not been introduced to the food dispensers. I'll have someone show you."
Riker stares at her with a half-smile. She rounds on him.
"Never seen a woman before?" she snaps.
"Thought I had," smiles Riker.
"This is my daughter, Brenna," says Odell sheepishly.
"Seriously, I have to take care of these people! Shouldn't you be flying this stupid ship?" she yells at Picard before storming off.
Still determined to marry her off to Picard, Odell adds, "She's not usually like this," but she screams for him from the other side of the cargo bay, and he goes running.
Picard goes to a spinning wheel and starts laughing his ass off.
"This is not what I expected," laughs Riker.
"Sometimes you gotta bow to the absurd," snickers Picard.

They're on their way out of the cargo bay when Brenna takes one more opportunity to bark at them to get back to work. Riker decides to stay behind and help her. He finds her moving hay around (still have no idea where that hay came from), and tells her the ship will clean itself.
Sassy Guest Star Moment: "Good for the bloody ship."
She considers him for a moment, then asks him, nicely, where she can go to wash her feet.
Riker uses his flirtiest voice to tell her that, as First Officer, it's his duty to show her around the ship, and she takes his arm.

Odell catches up with Picard and Worf in the corridor.
"Hey, so, have you guys ever learned what happened to the other colony?"
"Other colony?" asks Picard.

Mildly suspicious music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "There's a Class-M planet nearby that we're gonna check out, see if it might have that other colony that Odell is talking about. At least that solves the mystery of where the tech went."

Riker shows Brenna his quarters, and judging by the fact that she's had a costume change, it's like, the next day. She's slightly disgusted by the fact that he hasn't cleaned his quarters, and I am a bit, too. Like, if you've been showing her around, Will, then you knew you might bring her back here, so why the hell didn't you pick up?
He playfully remarks that he can see why her father wants to marry her off.
"And why's that?" she demands.
"So he can have a pipe and a mug of beer in peace," he jokes.
She looks around, then says that he's been remiss in his tour. "You still haven't shown me where to wash my feet."
"Through that door," he says, pointing to where I guess the bathroom is.
"Is something wrong?" she asks, puzzled.
"No, why?"
She steps forward, and out of her heavy outer skirt. "Do you not like girls?"

Riker realizes that he missed something. "Is there something about this feet-washing thing that I didn't get?"
"You start at the top," she purrs, "and you work your way down."
And they make out.

Odell calls Worf to the cargo bay.
"Okay," he says, standing next to a giant still. "We're making booze, but we need to know how to brew it without setting off the fire-suppressant thingy."
"You can get booze from the food dispensers," says Worf.
"Naw, O'Brien showed us that shit. It's fake," says Odell, wrinkling his nose.
"You can get the good shit from there also," says Worf, taking Odell back to the wall.
"Good," says Odell. Then a bit of Bringloid wisdom: "For every moment of pleasure in life, there's a bit of pain as well."
Odells orders whiskey from the food dispensers, then says it has no bite. because he's probably used to drinking flavored rubbing alcohol.
"Bitch, please," says Worf. He orders a Klingon drink, and that shit comes out smoking, which is the universal sign for "hangover after two sips."

He coughs after the first sip, then Brenna yells at him from across the cargo bay again. he chugs it before stepping up to her and coughing out, "Yes, my darlin'?"
"Get your drunk ass to Pulaski. She wants to talk to you about letting our kids go to school here on the ship."
Odell scurries off, and she chastises the guys who were standing around watching Odell get drunk off of that Klingon drink. They scurry away too, before she barks at Worf.
"Why the fuck did you tell them that they could get booze from that magic wall? Now they'll just be drunk all the time!"
Worf steps up to her: "Madam, have you ever considered a career in security?"
"If it's anything like babysitting, I'm an authority!"
The women gathered around laugh.

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Rolling up on the planet where we think the other colony might be."

Immediately, Worf gets a hail from the surface.
"Hi, I'm Wilson Granger, the Prime Minister of Mariposa, and I totally did not escape from a Talking Heads music video."
"He's probs a descendant from the captain, Walter Granger," Data says.
"Not quite, but close enough," says Granger. "We're so glad to see you. We thought something terrible happened to Earth, because we never heard anything else."
"Yeah, about that," says Picard diplomatically. "I think you guys got lost in the bureaucracy. We had no idea you were out here."
"You should come visit!" says Granger.
"Cool," says Picard, before signing off.
He tells Riker to put together an away team, but Troi says he should be cautious, because she thinks Granger is hiding something.

Riker takes Worf and Pulaski with him. While she's necessary to the story, not sure why he picked Pulaski. Oh, well. Whatever.
They're met at the beam-down site by a dude named Victor Granger, who says he'll escort them to the Prime Minister. Victor looks just like Wilson, so Riker and Worf quietly guess twins. They pass a trio of women who all look alike, and guess triplets. But then a fourth look-alike passes them, and Wor guesses quadruplets.

Esoteric TOS reference in three...

Yep, that's Diana Muldaur in "Return to Tomorrow"

When Pulaski pauses by the statue, she scans a dude, and then Victor shows her and the others into the office. Wilson greets them, and she responds with, "Is your entire population made up of clones?"
"Clones?" Worf asks Riker.
"Clones?" Riker asks Wilson.
"Clones," Wilson confirms.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Wilson Granger says he needs our help, so we called a meeting with him in the Obs Lounge."

Wilson explains to Picard, Riker, and Pulaski what their deal is. Apparently, there was an accident with the Mariposa after they dropped off the Bringloidi, and when they finally reached the surface of their planet, there were only five survivors, two women and three men. It was not a big enough gene pool to sustain a population, and they were all scientists, so they turned to cloning.
"How'd you keep them from getting down with one another?" asks Pulaski.
"Drugs and laws at first," shrugs Wilson. "But it's been three hundred years, so now we think sex is kind of gross."
"Uh-huh," says Pulaski. "And how did you deal with replicative fading?"
"Yeeeaaah, we haven't," Wilson admits.
"Whoa, that's a problem," says Pulaski.
Riker here is serving as the go-between for the audience. "What the hell is replicative fading?"
"Each time you clone somebody," explains Pulaski, "you make a copy of a copy. Little errors come up in the genetic material, and eventually, you get a clone that won't live because of those errors."
"What help do you need from us?" Picard asks.
"We need your DNA," says Wilson.
Picard is taken aback.
"Ex-squeeze me?" demands Riker. "You want to clone us?"
"Yeah," says Wilson, like he's not asking for much.
"Fuck off in the nicest way possible," replies Riker.
"How would it harm you to give us some tissue samples?" asks Wilson.
"Because one of me is unique, but hundreds or thousands are not," says Riker.
"You'd be preserving yourself," argues Wilson.
"I can do that by having kids," Riker argues.
Wilson looks at Picard and Pulaski, who shake their heads in turn.
"I don't think anyone will be willing to give you their tissue samples," Picard tells him.
"Okay." Wilson looks put out. "Can you at least have someone repair some of our failing equipment?"
Now that he's stopped asking for their essence, the Enterprise crew are more than happy to help. Riker jumps up to form a tech crew.
Pulaski asks for permission from both Picard and Wilson Granger to go back with the tech team to study replicative fading before they leave.
"Maybe you'll find a solution to our problem," says Wilson hopefully.
"That's flattering, but I doubt it," says Pulaski. "Also, fixing this equipment won't solve your problems."
"We have no solutions," Wilson replies. "Remember, doctor - there are only five of us."

Captain's Log: "Another one of those days where I make a thousand supplemental logs. Riker and Pulaski went back down to the surface with the tech team."

Pulaski and Riker enter Wilson's office. They report that the equipment repairs are almost done. Wilson asks them to reconsider donating to his cause, and they refuse again, at which point, he has them stunned by security and hauled off.
A second or so later, Geordi enters the office. "Hey, Prime Minister. Looking for Riker."
"Haven't seen him. Sorry," shrugs Wilson.
"Um, okay, thanks." Geordi leaves.
And now we're subjected to a creepy scene backed by a lot of percussion and suspicious music. Someone who is probably a doctor or genetic specialist uses the world's biggest needle, inserting it into Pulaski's abdomen. In the next bed over, someone else does it to Riker.

Riker and Pulaski are in her office later when Geordi comes in.
"WTF happened to you guys on the surface? Every time I asked where you were, some clone lied to me."
"Lied?" asks Riker.
"Yeah. I got better vision than you guys remember?" He taps the VISOR. "Humans go through body chemistry changes when they lie, and my VISOR picks it all up."
Pulaski gets up from her chair and scans all three of them. "Geordi, you're not missing any epithelial cells. But Will and I are."
"What are those?" asks Geordi.
"Stomach cells," explains Pulaski. "If you're gonna clone somebody, using those cells works best because they're all largely the same."
"Bullshit!" yells Riker. "I'm going to their fucking cloning lab!"
He storms out. The others follow.

This time, they beam directly into the cloning lab, where they find that the Mariposans have been busy. One coffin-like chamber holds a hairless Riker clone, which he disintegrates with a phaser. The other holds a hairless Pulaski clone. She nods, and he phasers that one as well.
Wilson runs in with three security dudes who are all clones of the same guy.
"Murderer!" yells Wilson.
"Thief!" hollers Riker. "You can't just take our shit!"
"We have the right to survive!" pleads Wilson.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Riker and Pulaski gather in the ready room to bitch to Picard and Troi. Riker says he wants their labs inspected, because remember - they had a tech crew down there, and just because they found the Riker and Pulaski clones, doesn't mean they won't find more. (Think about who they didn't steal from, though - Geordi. Because he's damaged goods, and they'd end up with a bunch of blind clones. Bullshit.)
Troi tries to get the others to see that the Mariposans, while they seemed different, are just like the humans on the Enterprise. She tries to make the case that if the E were in the same situation, they'd probably do as the Mariposans did.
"Doesn't matter even if they did get new DNA," explains Pulaski. "They're already dying out, and in 15 more generations, their new people would die out as well. They don't need more clones, they need breeding stock."
That term gives Picard and "a-ha" moment, and Troi reaches the same conclusion.
"We should have them mate with the Bringloidi!"

So now we go to the Obs Lounge, where Picard and Pulaski have introduced Odell and Wilson, and told them the plan.
"That's gross," says Wilson. "They're creepy, and I don't want to have sex with their women."
"Hey, you're gross, too!" says Odell indignantly. "I'm not doing this!"
"STFU, both of you," says Picard. "You both have problems, and this is a good solution. Also, Wilson, we're gonna inspect your labs to see if you took any more samples. We'll probs have to beam up all your shit to get a good look."
"That's blackmail!" says Wilson. "And we're fine without the Bringloidi."
Hella sarcastic Pulaski: "That's cool. In 50 years or so, we'll have a pre-colonized Class-M planet, complete with cities, roads and tech. Just add humans."
He looks uncomfortable.
She turns to Odell. "Look, I know this is weird, but you both have to compromise here. You can't have monogamous marriages for like, three generations. Each woman, both Mariposan and Bringloidi, needs to have three kids with three different guys."
This appeals to Odell, who tries again. "Okay, look. We both have problems, and this solves it for each of us. We should try to make this work."
Wilson agrees with hesitation, especially after Odell spits in his hand and offers it to shake.

Picard takes Wilson to cargo bay 7. Odell runs forward and pulls Brenna aside to tell her the plan. Meanwhile, Picard walks Wilson past a very preggo Bringloidi, who is snuggling a pygmy goat. Wilson puts out his hand, and the woman turns both her swollen middle and the goat toward him, uncertain which one he wants to touch. He seems uncertain himself, and kind of just lets his hand drop.

They walk past some Bringloidi men who are having a drink and a laugh, and it's probably a good thing that they're in such good moods, because the look on Wilson's face is douche-baggy.

An enraged Brenna storms up to Picard and Wilson escapes to talk to Odell.
"WTF?" she yells at Picard. "The men run off to discuss things over beers, and when they're done, the women always get stuck doing all the work!"
"You wanted a new home," he points out.
I like the way she phrases her answer: "Yeah, but I didn't want to be Eve!"
"It's cool," shrugs Picard. "Come with us, we'll drop you off at a starbase."
"Leave my da?" she asks uncertainly.

So he appeals to her sense of responsibility. "Look, if this is going to work, these people will need your strength and guidance."
She crumbles. "Well, shit." She scopes Wilson. "What's that guy do again?"
"Prime Minister."
"He's probably not poor," she muses.
"Probably not," he agrees.
"I get three husbands?"
"Uh-huh," says Picard.
And Brenna puts on her flirtiest smile to sidle up to Wilson Granger.

Irish-flavored Star Trek theme! Ending credits!

Some good, some bad, some weird.
So first, we have what appear to be two different stories mushed into one. I'm not sure how that could have been done differently, though, as the E encounters the Bringloidi first, and the Mariposans as a result. maybe integrate the Bringloidi story more once they reached Mariposa? Dunno. I do like the fact that it was discovered that the two cultures had beneficial things to offer one another, though. And the Mariposan story was pretty good sci-fi - starship landing goes badly, only a few survive, they get along by creating clones, but now they need to interbreed with another group of people in order to save themselves.
Thing is, as much as I like the Bringloidi, their straight-up caricature of 19th-century Irish peasants is a bit much for a show about space travel. The backstory didn't do too terrible a job of explaining why they were the way they were, but it was still a little strange.
Gotta kinda agree with Brenna on that last bit as well. While checking numbers on forums about how many people were needed to make a viable gene pool, someone brought up the very idea that she complained about: body autonomy. Certainly, the Mariposan women will complain about not only having to have sex with three different men, but also bearing children by each. Plus, it's possible that some of those Bringloidi women will not be amenable to the same issue. There's also the possibility that some of them are infertile, and that death from pregnancy complications are a real thing. Any way you slice it, this plan is going to put a tremendous burden on the backs of the females, specifically because the males are not capable of carrying pregnancies. Hopefully, Pulaski's guess of sixty couples leaves enough females out of the loop so that if some are unable or unwilling to participate, this is possible. Otherwise, you run the risk of a break-out of The Handmaid's Tale, and ain't nobody got time for that.
Some bits and pieces:
- Still baffled by that hay thing with the transporter. And who transported rocks on board? They weren't replicated, because the Bringloidi didn't know of the existence of those machines at that point.
- I love Brenna's clothes. I would wear everything she wore, including her lace-up-the-calf sandals. Okay, maybe I wouldn't wear her crop-top sweater, cuz I just don't have that kind of confidence, but I really like that spin they put on that traditional Irish cable-knit sweater.
- I like the word hegemony, It sounds like something a ridiculous person would name their daughter.
      "Um, you know that word means like, a form of domination, right?"
      "Well, no. But it's pretty! Like feminine, don't you think?"
      "... no."

Fun Facts:
- Melinda Snodgrass (author of "Measure of a Man") pitched this story as a commentary on American immigration policy, with the idea that your very different neighbor can bring something very valuable to your life. Maurice Hurley liked the pitch, and told her to write it up. But subsequent rewrites buried the immigration commentary, and it came out as a sort of "oddballs in space benefit other oddballs in space,"
- When giving the pitch to Hurley, Snodgrass likened her first colony to "a little village of Irish tinkerers." Hurley, a guy who gleefully leads St Patrick's Day parades, encouraged her to keep the Irish tinkerers village, creating the Bringloidi.
- Director Winrich "Rick" Kolbe wanted a huge difference in attitude and personality between the Bringloidi and Mariposans, so he purposefully allowed the actors playing the Bringloidi to go as nuts as they wanted.
- The result of these things is that Irish-Americans were pissed off that the Bringloidi were huge stereotypes. (I see their point, though now I'm interested in knowing how the actual Irish feel about this episode. I've noticed that there often seems to be a gap in what is found to be offensive to (immigrant-descended)-Americans, and the people of the country they descended from.)
- Another group this episode pissed off? The pro-lifers. They felt that Riker destroying the clones was Star Trek condoning abortion. Though that wasn't quite what Snodgrass was going for, she did purposefully add in a pro-choice-based line for Riker (with Hurley's blessing): "I told you that you can't clone me and you did it against my will, and I have the right to have control over my own body."
- The original title for this episode was "Send in the Clones," and can we talk about how glad I am that they changed it? It was changed a bit late, because all of the scripts had been printed with the original title by that point. The permanent title "Up the Long Ladder" comes from a song "Are You Ready For War?" "Up the long ladder and down the short rope" refers to the gallows.
- Briongloid is the Irish word for dream.
- The pygmy goats that the Bringloidi transport onboard with them were raised by the show's property master, Alan Sims.
- When Riker is talking to Picard in the ready room, a mission category for 22nd century ships lists "Diplomatic Mission to Alderaan." Sadly, it was scrubbed for the remastered edition.
- Neither Barrie Ingham (Danilo Odell) nor Rosalyn Landor (Brenna) is Irish, but they're at least British, and more likely to get the brogue right.
- Barrie Ingham was almost cast to play Captain Picard.
- Jon DeVries played both Wilson and Victor Granger.
- Triplets Floyd, Lloyd and Troy Weaver played one set of Mariposan clones.

Floyd Weaver

- The quadruplet clones were played by unknown actors.
- Elizabeth Vallis, a woman in Wilson Granger's office, is played by an unknown actor, as well as another Elizabeth Vallis clone.
- A pair of unknown twins play the last set of clones. These clones work security in Wilson Granger's office.

Red deaths: 0
To date: 2
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Unknown color crewmember deaths: 0
To date: 18
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date: 6
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Worf Moment: 1
To date: 4
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 6
Sassy Picard Moments: 1
To date: 13
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 6
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Pulaski Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 1
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 19
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 1
To date: 23
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 1
To date: 2
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 12

Episodes Left Until We Get Rid of Pulaski:

The Siamese-tabby I'm fostering

Monday, May 15, 2017

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Seventeen "Samaritan Snare"

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Seventeen "Samaritan Snare"
Production Order: 43
Air Order: 43
Stardate: 42779.1
Original Air Date: May 15, 1989

Picard's Log 42779.1: "Gonna go check out some cool astronomical shit. Also, Wes Crusher is gonna take a shuttle to Starbase 515 to Starfleet exams."

Wes enters the bridge, and Riker hands him a USB with testing parameters on it.
Wes makes a face and Data says that it should all be fine.
"You're good, dude," says Riker. "The results from your first exams were pretty good, and you've been getting Academy credit for being here."
"Yeah, but... potential cadets are tough cookies," complains Wes.
"You have practical experience," Riker points out.
Data: "While the information imparted to cadets at the Academy is unquestionably vital for prospective Starfleet officers, it nonetheless requires a significant period of supplementary systems training and situational disciplines."
Riker: (smiling) "Didn't I just say that?"
Sassy Data Moment: "Yes, sir. But not quite as perspicuously."

Meanwhile, down in sick bay, Pulaski and Picard are going ten rounds. Pulaski wants Picard to go to Starbase 515 for a medical thing - he needs to have something replaced. Picard is being a stubborn a-hole about it.
"Fuck off!" he yells. "I have shit to do!"
"The hell you do," she replies. "Our next mission is to check out some astronomical thing. That's Science Division."
"I was looking forward to that," he protests, and not gonna lie, that sounds like a lame excuse for not doing something.
"Fine," she counters. "You can stay on the ship and I'll do the procedure."
"No way! I have an image to protect."
She accuses him of ego, then gives him a choice: he can stay here and have her do the thing, or he can go to Starbase 515, and she can keep the secret that he's having a medical thing done. 
"RAWR," he barks at her before storming out.

He stomps up to the bridge and tells Wes that he'll be going with him in the shuttle. Wes is surprised. Riker is too, and offers to do whatever thing Picard needs to do on the starbase.
"I have to do it myself," grouches Picard.
"But you're gonna miss the astronomical thing," Riker points out.
"I'm going to 515, so fuck off," replies Picard. He stalks into the ready room and begins gathering hand-bound books to read on the trip.
Riker follows him. "Dude, why are you suddenly leaving for Starbase 515? And why are you being such a dick about it?"
"I have to do a thing," Picard growls.
"So why can't I know about it?" Riker demands. "I have high-level clearance."
"It's not a Starfleet or ship thing," sighs Picard. "I just have to do a thing, okay?"

Geordi and Sonia Gomez are walking through the corridors with Wes. They're telling him that he'll do fine on his exams.
"I'm not worried about the exams. I'm worried about Captain Picard," he answers.
Sonia's Lone Sassy Moment: "Why? He's not taking the exams."
Wes admits that he'll be stuck for six hours in a shuttle with Picard, and has no idea what they'll talk about. Sonia lists off stuff that Picard is interested in, as a way to be helpful, but Wes looks skeptical.
The lift door to their left opens, and a glowering Picard steps out with his books.
"Nice day for a road trip," remarks Geordi.
Picard stares daggers at him, then silently walks to the shuttle bay.
"Fucking great," laments Wes, following.

Picard and Wes get in the shuttle, which Wes is piloting, and they leave. On the bridge, Riker watches the shuttle leave, and he and Data discuss the fact that Picard said he was looking forward to seeing the astro-thing.
"Hey, getting a distress signal from way out in BFE, Space," announces Worf. "No info given, just distress," he adds.
"We'll check it out," says Riker decisively.
"That would put us really far away from the shuttle," says Data, as a warning.
"I know," says Riker.
I guess maybe the astro-thingy is closer to the starbase than the place where the distress signal is coming from?

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

When we return, the E has encountered some kind of flying space casket.
Riker hails them.
Some alien toddler answers. "We are the Pakled. Our ship is the Mondor. We are far from home."
Sassy Riker Moment: "Aren't we all."
Geordi enters from the lift and watches the convo.
Sassy Geordi Moment: "Lemme guess: their rubber band broke."
"Our ship is broken," says the Pakled. "We look for things. Things we need. Things to make us go."
Data lists off their broken stuff, and Geordi volunteers to go over there to fix it up.
Wait - hold the comm badge. Data told the others that the Mondor was a sub-light ship. Isn't using Federation technology here a violation of the PD? The Pakled are being presented here as being pre-warp.
They cut the communication, and Worf demands to know why they're sending their chief engineer over to the other ship to fix things.
"Can't we just give them the info? We don't know them."
"These people can't seem to find their own asses with two hands," Riker points out. "Do you really think they'd understand our specs?"
Worf is pissed that his warnings are going unheeded.

On the shuttle, Picard is trying to pass the time reading, but he gives it up as a bad job, and complains out loud that he should be back on his ship, and not going to Starbase 515.
"Then why are you here?" asks Wes bluntly.
Picard considers for a moment, then explains that his heart was injured at some point, and they put in a replacement. But the replacement is faulty.
"Why would anyone use a faulty replacement?" asks Wes.
That's a fucking stupid question. Like, why did he even ask that?
"Just drive," grouches Picard.

Geordi beams over to the Mondor, and is surrounded by a bunch of big dudes in an instant.
"I'm here to repair your ship?" he says, holding up his tool box.
The Pakled they had talked to on the viewscreen (Grebnedlog) steps forward.
"Who is in charge of engineering?" Geordi asks.
"My friend Reginod," smiles Grebnedlog.
Reginod steps forward, and takes Geordi to engineering.
"He is smart," asserts Grebnedlog, and the others nod.

Troi rushes onto the bridge.
"Why is Geordi on the alien ship?"
"He's helping them," replies Riker.
"I have no idea how they managed space travel," Data remarks.
"He's in trouble!" says Troi. "Those aliens are lying!"

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

"What do you mean, he's in danger?" asks Riker.
"You think they're weak, but they're perpetuating a ruse," Troi explains. "They don't want our help."
"Well. that's all they're getting," Riker says forcefully.
"Maybe we should listen to her," advises Data. "Troi often knows shit that no one else knows."
Riker glances back at Worf, who looks slightly mollified.

On the shuttle, Picard murmurs out loud that the mortality rate for the procedure he's having is hella low. Wes says that's good, then he asks why Picard he doesn't want to do the procedure.
"I don't want people in Starfleet gossiping about my innards," replies Picard.
"Okaaay, so... why didn't you have Pulaski do it?" asks Wes. "Then no one at Starfleet would know unless they looked at your medical records."
Picard pauses. "Shut up and fly the ship," he says finally.

Geordi is fixing some problems on the Pakled ship, finding the solutions to be simple. The Pakleds keep telling one another how smart Geordi is.
Riker calls Geordi. "Dude, the ship's counselor wants you back on the ship ASAP."
"Cool," says Geordi. "Should be done in a sec."
He puts the now-fixed parts in, and there's a main power failure.
"Will our ship go now?" asks Reginod.
"No, your power just failed," Geordi replies. He calls Riker again. "More shit just broke. Gonna be a little while before I can get back there."
"Fix it, and return," says Riker.
He and Troi exchange looks.

Wes decides to break some uncomfortable silence in the shuttle with some uncomfortable conversation.
"You probs would rather be hanging out with Riker. I know you don't like me," he adds.
Picard looks up from his book to stare out the window with a "WTF is this convo?" attitude.
"That's not true. You're an okay guy," he says.
"You don't have to pretend," Wes presses on. "Everybody knows you don't like kids. And that's kind of too bad, because I think you would have made a good father."
Picard snaps the book shut, says "thank you" caustically, and moves to the seat behind the cockpit to read his book without Wes interrupting. But even though this is a really loud sign for, "please stop fucking talking to me," Wes continues.
"Why didn't you ever have kids, sir?"
OMG, Wes. You can't just ask someone why they're childless.
"Wishing for a thing does not make it so," Picard snaps.

Riker has run out of patience with the Pakleds.
"Come on, Geordi, seriously. We need to leave."
"Almost done," Geordi replies.
He gets the thing up and running while Grebnedlog stares off into a space above and to the left of the viewscreen and says vaguely, "We look for things. Things to make us go."
Are these people on molly?
"Dude, we can tow your ship to the nearest starbase, and they'll fix your ship," offers Riker through his gritted teeth.
"He is smart, he can fix it," replies Grebnedlog.
"Okay, done," announces Geordi.
"You are smart, you are smart," chanted the Pakleds, surrounding him.
"Yeah, great. I need to go," answers Geordi, who looks creeped out.
"Beam Geordi the fuck out of there," Riker comms to the transporter chief.
"Can't," replies the chief.
"They have a shield up," reports Data. "It's like... Romulan? Way more advanced than the rest of their shit."
"Drop the shields!" Riker yells at the Pakleds.
"He is smart," says Grebnedlog. He pulls the phaser from Geordi's belt, and shoots him point-blank.
Then the viewscreen goes dark.
"They blocked us!" says Worf.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Riker tries hailing the Pakleds on all channels, but Data reports nothing available.
"They're ignoring us," states Riker.
Sassy Data Moment: "Apparently so."
(It's so hard to tell if Data is being sarcastic sometimes.)
The E takes a defensive stance.

Picard has decided to put down his book for a snack break. He offers Wes coffee and sandwiches, which Wes turns down at first, but then he put on the autopilot and climbs back into the cabin.
Then once more out of the gate with the personal questions:
"Were you ever married?"
Picard takes it in stride. "Never found the time," he replies.
"Don't you ever get lonely?"
Dude. Come on.
Picard pauses, then tells Wes that he has to make a lot of sacrifices if he wants to fast-track being an officer, and that he needs to avoid long-term commitments.
Wes replies with this gem: "No problem. Where women are concerned, I'm in complete control."
I'll pause here while you laugh at that.
Picard isn't quite buying it either, and he drops any guard he might have had. "Really? I always to work at that."
Wes asks if Picard was always this disciplined, and Picard replies, "fuck, no" before launching into a fabulous story with great visual descriptions.
Apparently, Picard had been some cocky douche-bro Academy cadet, when he was just a little older than Wes. He and his friends were at some rec center in BFE, Space, and the description he gives makes it sound similar to the Cantina on Mos Eisley, like super-sketch. So in walk three Nausicaans, and they're looking to pick a fight with hella-green Academy kids. Everybody else is smart enough to decline but not young Picard. He talks shit about the Nausicaans, and gets jumped by the three of them at once.
Just for reference, here's what a Nausicaan will end up looking like:

You're a dumb motherfucker if you pick a fight with these guys.
Picard admits that he wasn't doing too badly against the aliens, and Wes is all wide-eyed and asks how he managed to win.
"I didn't," Picard replies. "One of them stabbed me in the back. Pierced my heart. Didn't so much hurt as felt surreal. I actually laughed. But if I hadn't been so close to a medical facility, I would have died. And now you know why I had a heart replacement."
"That's fucked up, sir," says Wes.
"Indeed," replies Picard. "It was a shitty lesson to learn in a very hard way."

Data is working furiously to break through the shields on the Pakled ship, but so far, it is not working.

Geordi wakes up on the floor to find Grebnedlog pointing the phaser at him.
"Make us more weapons," the Pakled captain replies.
"You have a replicator?" asks Geordi in amazement.
"It is not broken," answers Reginod.
"Fuck you guys, I'm not making you more weapons," refuses Geordi.

Worf suggests to Riker that he can get through the Pakleds' shields with a photon torpedo, but Riker points out that that would put Geordi in a bad position. They ask Troi what the Pakleds want. Troi narrows her eyes and replies that the Pakleds have what they want... for now. She's pretty pissed off that no one heeded her warnings until it was too late.

Wes, back in the pilot's seat and leaving Picard alone to read, announces that they're reached their destination.
Picard packs up his book, then asks Wes if he read the book he gave him.
"Not all of it," Wes replies, begrudgingly. Picard seems annoyed, so he defends himself. "I don't have a lot of time, you know? And philosophy won't be on my entrance exams."
Picard argues that knowing stuff like art, history, and philosophy makes joining Starfleet worth it, and that he should make more time for such things.

Back on the bridge, Troi tells Riker that the Pakleds have been lying to them from the beginning. Data's better scans confirm this. He reports that all of the Mondor's systems function perfectly, and that the malfunctions had been carefully programmed into their computer.
"Why?" demands Riker.
"So they could kidnap Geordi," Troi replies.

Picard's Personal Log 42779.5: "Got to Starbase 515. Really don't wanna go in."

Picard walks into the medical center, and wishes Wes luck on his exams, but Wes follows him in.
"I don't need a chaperone," Picard tells him.
"Yeeeaaahhh, Pulaski asked me to make sure you actually went inside," Wes admits.
Sassy Picard Moment: "She would."
"I enjoyed the trip," Wes offers.
"Yeah, me too," says Picard.
They smile, and each go their separate ways.

The Pakleds have decided to strike up a conversation with Riker, so they call him.
"Let our guy go," Riker warns them.
"Fuck off," says Grebnedlog. "You think we are not smart."
"I think you're underdeveloped, and need more time," says Riker carefully.
"You want him back?" asks Grebnedlog. He shoots Geordi with the phaser, knocking him out again. The other Pakleds point phasers at Geordi as well. "Give us your entire computer."

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Riker holds a meeting in the Obs Lounge.
"We can't give them our computer - that's a breach of Starfleet security." he says.
"Then we have to take Geordi by force," says Worf.
No one disagrees.

We go into the operating room, where we see Picard on the table, while red-suited surgeons prep him for surgery.
Quick question - why does it seem like all medical personnel in the future wear red? Is it some kind of Deadpool thing? Are they making a tongue-in-cheek joke about Redshirts?
The head surgeon reassures Picard that he's done this a million times, and he'll pull through without fail.
"Just fucking do it," sighs Picard. "I have shit to do."
So the head surgeon knocks him out, explains the surgery, and cheerfully tells his team that, "we'll all be home for dinner."
And now we all know that some shit will be going down.

Back in the Obs Lounge, Data and Troi tell the others what they have pieced together about the Pakleds - that they're impatient for social development, and need things at a Veruca Salt level, so they trick other cultures into giving them advanced technology.
"I think we should perpetuate a ruse," suggests Riker. "I think we should give them what they want, then rescue Geordi and take it away."
"What if we fail?" asks Pulaski.
"We don't really have a choice," sighs Riker.

Geordi, injured and hobbling, makes his way across the Pakled ship.
"We are smart," Grebnedlog tells him.
"Cool," he replies. "Let me talk to my people."
They permit it, and Geordi is connected to the E bridge.
"Hey, Geordi," says Riker. "How's it going?"
"Shitty," says Geordi. "I'm being held prisoner."
"Do they steal technology?" asks Riker.
"They do," says Geordi. "Klingon, Romulan, Jerada... everyone they've come into contact with, they stole tech from. Now us."
"That sucks," replies Riker. "Well... we can't give them the computer, so it looks like you'll have to make the ultimate sacrifice. We'll miss you."
"Hey, wait --what?!"
They then begin this series of weird farewells, where they talk about good Geordi is at weapons systems analysis, and how much they'll miss him. Geordi eventually starts to play along.
"If you give them information," says Worf, "that's treason. You'll die without honor, and you'll never achieve the 24th level of awareness."
"Well that sucks," Geordi replies.
They hang up.
"You know about weapons," says Grebnedlog. "Make us strong."
"The hell?" asks Geordi. "I thought you wanted me to make you go."
"No." The Pakled captain pokes him in the ribs with a phaser. "No. Make us strong."

Back in surgery, the world's  universe's most dramatic doctor is playing soap opera over Picard's body. Like the acting is somewhere between a Simpson's character, and a young William Shatner.
"Damn it, man! We're losing him! We need 10 CC's of (24th-century tech gibberish), stat!"
The others are frightened of this man's terrible acting, and all look worried about appearing on-screen in a scene with him.
"We need a (vaguely future-y sounding med tech) in here! This man is dying!"

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

The Pakleds lead Geordi to the weapons systems.
"These suck," he says bluntly. "This isn't like showing up with a knife to a gun fight. This is like showing up to that gun fight, and trying to flick someone to death."
"Fix it," says Reginod. "Make us strong, and don't trick us. We can tell."
He brandishes the phaser at Geordi, who looks like he's being asked to make a gourmet fondue with government cheese.

We go back briefly to the surgery, and we still have no idea what the hell has gone wrong with this procedure, which has a mortality rate of 2.4%. We're not helped along any by the dialogue that follows, because they use more gobbledegook, but the dramatic doctor says he can't attempt the thing that they need to do because he isn't qualified to do it. Another doctor says he knows someone who is.

Spoilers: Picard lives. They're not gonna kill him off in the middle of the second season. In this case, wearing red doesn't mean jack shit, so trying to add tension by saying "Oh, noes, Picard could die!" is ridiculous.

Riker and Data go down to Engineering to convince Sonia to help them in their ruse. She agrees, but wonders if Geordi got the message, if he can react the way they need him to, and if he has the equipment on hand that he needs.
Riker and Data seem more confident.
Worf calls Riker. "Emergency call from Starbase 515. Captain Picard is dying."
They all exchange worried looks, then Riker and Data take off for the bridge.
Hello, Ship-Disabling device!

Geordi flips some switches, and some lights go on. "You're strong now. You're armed to the teeth."
Reginod has a Drax moment: "Teeth are for chewing."
"No," frowns Geordi. "You have photon torpedoes. You're strong."
The Pakleds are pleased.

On the bridge, Data reports the photon torpedoes are armed.
"We have to go to the starbase now," reports Worf. "They want us to rush there at warp 9."
"We're not leaving without Geordi," Riker insists.
They open the channel to the Mondor.
"Give us back Geordi," says Riker.
"Give us your computer," says Grebnedlog.
"Fuck you."
"Yeah well, fuck you back, because we have photon torpedoes now."
"Oh, yeah?" says Riker. "We'll turn our awesome weapons on you, too!"
"They're gonna fire on us!" says Geordi, over-acting for the Pakleds' sake. "They're gonna kill us! I'm gonna arm the torpedoes!"
"Ha!" yells Grebnedlog. "We are strong, and he is on our side now!"
Both ships go through the motions of arming stuff, and we see Sonia pressing touchscreen buttons in Engineering. Countdowns start on both ships, and amusingly, they're both done by Majel Barrett. But when they get to one, some kind of red mist comes out of the nacelles, and Geordi screams that they've been disarmed by the crimson force field.
"Oh, we are not strong," says a sad Grebnedlog.
"Drop your shields!" yells Riker.
The Pakleds drop their shields and transport Geordi back.
"To Starbase 515!" Riker yells at the conn. "Warp 9!"
The E takes off at top speed.
"That was clever, blowing hydrogen exhaust through the Bussard collectors," Geordi tells Riker.
"Did you disarm the torpedoes?" asks Riker.
"Just in time. That's why you're still here," replies Geordi.

Picard wakes up from surgery as the rest of the doctors clear out. One doctor remains, and you know exactly who it is.
"Oh, what in gay hell?" he demands groggily.
"Lol, saved your life," smiles Pulaski.
"If you're here, then the E is here, and everyone knows," he grouses.
"Meh, you're good," she shrugs.
His "thank you" has a distinct "fuck you" tone.
Sassy Pulaski Moment: "You're welcome!"

Picard and Wes enter the bridge, and the asshole bridge crew start applauding. Picard is polite enough not to phaser their sorry asses off the plane of existence. He does give them some nasty side-eye, though.
"Wes' Academy exams were good enough that he can stay here to study with us some more," he announces as Wes takes the conn. "Furthermore, any rumors of my brush with death are greatly exaggerated." He sits. "Let's get the fuck out of here."

Like so many others, this episode also falls into the category of "mixed bag." Two things I liked: I like the concept of a race of people who are a little backwater, who could use a few more millennia to evolve, but who are impatient, and have become just smart enough to figure out how to steal technology from others. We've all heard of those people before, those clever enough to perpetuate a ruse on others for personal gain, but who refuse to use that cleverness to get ahead legitimately. I'm not sure how effectively the Pakleds came off in this episode, though, so there's that.
The second thing I liked here was Picard's backstory. It adds greatly to his character that this was a turning point for him, this stupid bar fight that almost killed his sorry young ass. What's more, it'll be the basis of another, really fantastic episode further down the line, and I love it for that reason as well.
The rest of the episode is kind of just okay. There was one thing that kind of irks me, though - that of transportation. I mean, I know that, for the story to work, Picard and Wes needed to be alone for an awkwardly long amount of time, but I just can't get around why they'd take a slow-ass shuttle to the Starbase. I know they needed to be there by a certain time for Picard's surgery and Wes' exam, but why was it necessary for them to go off on their own? Couldn't the E have dropped them off first before heading out to the astro-thingy? We know that time was not of the essence for the Enterprise, because they had plenty of time to get side-tracked with the Pakleds before rushing back to the starbase at the end of the episode with Pulaski. And while I can't make heads or tails of the time-speed ratios for the E, we do know that the ship was able to get to the starbase very quickly so Pulaski could save Picard, even though they were more than six-hours away at impulse. It's one of those things that makes sense for the story, but logistically in my head, not so much.
I'm also curious about Wes' exams. Did he fail to get into the Academy again? Or was the Academy testing him on his "home study course" to make sure he was still on track? Memory Alpha seems to think he took the same exams as last time and failed them again, meaning that the way Picard had announced it, he was putting some kind of positive spin on the outcome. Truthfully, it was just a tool to get him alone with Picard for six hours, but one wonders how that fit into canon.

Fun Facts:

- Though Wes calls it "shuttle 2," the shuttle shown in the original footage was of the Sarkhov, shuttle 1. This was digitally corrected in the Blu-Ray edition (which must be the edition that Netflix uses), as the shuttle footage here says "02 Einstein."
- Originally, Picard and Wes were supposed to take the "captain's yacht" to Starbase 515. The captain's yacht is a little ship that docks to the underside of the saucer section. While it's mentioned in specs and added to models, it's never mentioned on-screen or used.

- Starbase 515 is actually a reuse of the matte painting of Angel One.

- Christopher Collins, who plays Grebnedlog, also played Captain Kargan on "A Matter of Honor," and will return in that same role later this season.

- The crimson force field trick is similar to the the one Kirk used in "The Corbomite Maneuver."
- Picard's insistence that "rumors of my brush with death have been greatly exaggerated" is an homage to Mark Twain, who said something similar.
- Wes mentions Picard's story having taken place before "the Klingons joined the Federation," and Picard says it was, but this doesn't quite gel with continuity. He may have been talking about the Treaty of Alliance (2352), as Picard's story takes place in 2327. There was a Federation crest next to a Klingon crest in the background of a Klingon cruiser in "Heart of Glory," possibly marking them as allies, but if you wanna get technical, the Klingon Empire is not part of the Federation. That bit of dialogue has never been properly explained in canon.
- The Mondor bridge features the "Custodian" console from "When the Bough Breaks" and another console from Captain Okona's ship from the episode "The Outrageous Okona." They also use actual military equipment as props.
- Director Les Landau kind of liked this episode, saying that the Pakleds kind of mirrored humanity in a way, which is something Gene wanted his show to feature. Maurice Hurley thought it was "strange, but nice" because he liked working with LeVar Burton, and thought it gave Geordi decent screen time. But writer Dennis Russell Bailey thought this episode was the absolute worst thing that had ever been produced by Star Trek at that point, and he went on for several paragraphs about why he thought it sucked. He said this episode inspired him to write another episode, although he didn't really go into why (presumably, he felt that his episode fixed the problems he thought this one had).

Red deaths: 0
To date: 2
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Unknown color crewmember deaths: 18
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Geordi moments: 1
To date: 6
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Riker Moments: 1
To date: 6
Sassy Picard Moments: 1
To date: 12
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Data Moments: 1
To date: 6
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Pulaski Moments: 1
To date: 3
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 19
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 3
To date: 22
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 1
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 12

Episodes Left Until We Get Rid of Pulaski:

"Dis my pillow!"