102: Justice (1.08)

Synopsis:  When the Edo aren’t making love at the drop of a hat (any hat), they are trying to execute Wesley for disturbing some plants.

Memory Alpha Summary:  Rhu_Ru’s favorite link on the internet.

Review:  For me the most bipolar episode of the series, with some of the worst and some of the best moments in season one.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first.  This entire episode is Picard’s most blatant, inexcusable violation of the Prime Directive in the entire series.  He makes first contact with a society that is obviously in early stages of development and have never been in space before.  As if their arrival didn’t disturb them enough, he takes an Edo girl upon the ship to face her own god, scaring her to death.  When she says she’s afraid, Troi, the ship’s COUNSELOR, tells her there’s nothing to worry about.  You’re a FREAKING PSYCHOLOGIST, and you’re telling this innocent girl that beaming onto a starship and seeing her god is nothing to worry about?  As a licensed social worker, I say “Fuck off, you patronizing windbag.”

Also, I am getting really tired of everyone calling Wesley, “The boy.”   It must happen at least four times in this episode.  It was cute in the beginning, but he’s since been promoted to an acting ensign.   The disrespect his own crew shows for him is sickening, and it does nothing but put a divide between him, the crew, and the viewer.  When his superiors dismiss his desire to give his opinions on the matter of his own execution, he essentially tells them to bugger off, and I did a little cheer for him.

I get all this out of the way because there are a few things that make me smile here, and so far during the first season I’ve been crabby.  It might be the only episode of the whole series that Crusher acts like she cares more about her son than her hair.  She shows some real emotion and yells at both Picard and Data, and both of them deserve it.  At least Picard doesn’t talk down to his bridge officers in this episode (well, except Wesley of course).

Speaking of Data, his realization that he babbles is freaking gold, and the funniest scene during the first season.  The one expected difficulty with working with an android is managing social etiquette, and Brent Spiner is able to encompass this perfectly into his character.

The final conversation Picard and Riker have with God is pretty good.  “When has justice ever been as simple as a rule book?” is a salient point that is pretty basic but very relevant still in our times.  Black and white lenses neither dominate our society nor the Federation, and this crew will eventually improve at looking at things in shades of grey.

One thing that bugs some people and not me is how Wesley acts in this episode.  When propositioned by a barely clothed Edo girl, he gets bashful and scared.  When caught damaging the flowers, he proudly stands up, puffs out his chest, and says, “I’m with StarFleet.  We don’t lie.”  Yes, these things make him seem like kind of a douche, but they also make him sound like a normal 15-year old boy who has led a pretty sheltered life.  It’s much better than the precocious, know-it-all twit we usually see.

The writers took a ton of chances during season one and they misfired quite a bit.  While Justice is not even in my top half, it ranks this high because it avoids the one thing I criticized Too Short A Season of being, and that’s boring.  And it avoids it in spades.

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