Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Angel One"


Air date: 1/25/1988
Written by Patrick Barry
Directed by Michael Rhodes

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Angel One" is tripe, with endless season one cliches, whose plot lines are assembled into a massive incoherent mess where you end up caring about none of it. Strange society that looks completely human but is completely backward? Check. "Weighty" Prime Directive issues? Check. Highly contagious virus that virtually shuts down the ship and threatens to kill everyone? Check. Race to solve a problem while we have a ticking clock (in this case, scheduled executions)? Check. Second ticking clock involving the Enterprise in orbit (in this case, the need to deploy to the Neutral Zone ASAP)? Check.

Not one damn bit of sense or compelling drama regarding it all? Check.

Much like "Justice," the episode begins with a ludicrous premise that's impossible to take seriously (as presented) before then trying to get all serious on us with a Trekkian message about growth and tolerance. Angel One is run solely by women. The men are oppressed and essentially told to keep their place. This is shown in the silliest of ways, and we snicker when one of these annoying men interrupts Riker and government head Beata (Karen Montgomery) while they're about to seal the deal. (Should Riker be sleeping with the heads of states on such missions? Might not violate the PD, but it seems awfully inappropriate.)

The plot ostensibly is about the status of some Federation survivors who crashed on Angel One and brought with them the idea of men as equals (gasp!), thereby poisoning this society's status quo. Riker can't interfere in their forthcoming executions because of the Prime Directive, which leads to some of the most interminable, ponderous "substantive" dialog in TNG's run. The lesson here is as muddled as the plot ... and it's sanctimonious in TNG's worst way, until we're waiting for the soapbox to collapse, or, better yet, explode.

Previous episode: Datalore
Next episode: 11001001

Season Index

22 comments on this review

Corey - Mon, Apr 23, 2012 - 12:42pm (USA Central)
I agree Riker's liason with the head of state was dubious to say the least -- what if it resulted in WORSE relations with the Federation and Angel One? Riker should have been demoted!

At the very least, though, Riker is very in character do so, however. He always obliges females of any race, as long as they aren't ugly.

He even took two kisses in "Perfect Mate" from someone (the empathic metamorph) who is going to be a wife in a few days -- his reasoning? Just because he's curious. Is he going to take liberties with my wife, "just because he's curious"? I would have demoted him if I were captain. A command officer especially should have more self-control than that.

As for the episode itself, it was just middle of the road for me, two stars on Jammer's scale.
Rikko - Sun, Jul 29, 2012 - 2:51pm (USA Central)
Lol, excellent review Jammer. It's actually a pretty fun read.

Unlike this episode.

It's not the worst S1 episode (that dubious honor goes to "A Matter of Honor") but it's, certainly, one of the most boring. By the time they started talking about the prime directive I wanted to shoot myself.

I found myself watching the clock every 5 minutes. There's just not drama, not tension and not a single line of good dialogue.

The show is kinda sexist too. Wait for two guys to take over a world full of women. Yeah, right.
xaaos - Tue, Oct 30, 2012 - 3:59pm (USA Central)
Some cliche things I never liked about Star Trek in this episode:

a) The holodeck has a lot of activities, even mountain climbing and Wes acts like geek, the very second he gets in, he is throwing a snowball to his friend.

b) Enterprise gets near a new planet and Picard tries to make contact. It's like they are calling to a telephone number. And all the times, the person who responds is the "president" of the planet (aren't there any secretaries?). He is never busy of "afk", he stands always by the "phone"...Of course he speaks English fluently! And most of the times, this "president" is the leader of the whole planet, like there aren't any countries on it. And this "president" has the roles of lawmaker, minister of defence and police, ambassador, judge, executioner aswell.

One last thing: did Riker get Picard's licence in order to sleep with an alien? (I recall what happened with poor Ensign Kim in VOY when he slept with a sexy alien and that caused a major diplomatic issue :P)
Van_Patten - Thu, Nov 1, 2012 - 1:58pm (USA Central)
The season's halfway point (if you count Encounter as two episodes) and worth reflecting on how the season shapes up.

Of course, I doubt were the series shown now that it would have been picked up for another 13 episodes, let alone another 6 seasons, even with the benefit of the StarcTrek moniker. Looking at my ratings vis a vis Jammers, he seems a touch more generous, with only two utter clunkers in the season's first half, and two episodes above the 2.5 star middling/ mediocre bar. I was surprised given the opprobrium levelled at some episodes, how few poor episodes there were. Only three ('Code of Honour' , 'Lonely among us' and 'Justice' ) are below 2 stars, with the last five instalments all hitting 2.5 stars. Nevertheless, recurring middling fare probably wouldn't have saved the show now, but there's some promising signs.

Enter thus, the first ep of the season's second half, the notorious 'Angel One' which crashes the series back down to the depths. It is for the most part, fully deserving of the calumnies it receives. Jammer has listed the clich├ęs and hallmarks of lazy writing that characterise the episode. Rewatching it did nothing for it. The sets look hokey, the acting is at best passable in the case of Karen Montgomery (Beata) and to be frank, poor in the case of Sam Hennings (Ramsey) and Patricia McPherson (Ariel) - the script s a real turgid mess - the story doesn't hold up to scrutiny fr any real time, and despite attempts to set up multiple jeopardy premises, the story fails to create enough tension. The egregious use of the Romulans as a plot device (flatly overwritten in the series's finale) also annoyed me.

The weakest episode since 'Code of Honour' and fully agree with Jammer on the 1 star rating. That only because of two even weaker entries subsequent to this which merit even lower ratings in comparison. A month after Christmas, this Turkey was still very much on the table.
DPC - Tue, Nov 13, 2012 - 8:29pm (USA Central)
If mullets and big female hair are turn-ons, forget the "special interest" cable subscription... just rewatch this turkey over and over again.

It's eye-candy trying to make up for a plot so cheese-driven that "Justice" is a masterpiece by comparison.

And just how many STDs does Riker have by this point in the show's, anyhow? Never mind when we get to "The Game" when he must have contracted another 50 more by then... and somebody PLEASE think of the children! Riker outproduced Kirk, that's a given...
PD - Thu, Nov 15, 2012 - 4:59pm (USA Central)
An very mediocre episode, the story is completely predictable and boring and the only bits enjoyable are the little jokes like Worf's extreme sneezes, Rikers ridicilous native clothes and Picard losing his voice.

shame those jokes didn't have a better story around them.
DG - Thu, Dec 20, 2012 - 6:07am (USA Central)
The really irritating thing is how implausible this all is.

Angel One's sexism seems on par with Victorian England. (As opposed to say, Islam or the Ferengi)

Imagine American time travelers go back in time to the 1800s to retrieve a modern all-female Book Club and having it go like this... Say What?

Riker's speech at the end, when inverted like that, sounds even more sexist than Angel One...'evolvement'. Geez...
William B - Sat, Mar 23, 2013 - 10:23pm (USA Central)
In 1988, Star Trek: The Next Generation bravely comes out and says that executing people for opposing sexism is wrong. Thanks, TNG!

This episode is so muddled that we go through a whole episode wherein the central conflict is whether or not Beata will end up executing Ramsey for his anarchist subversive ways, and not once getting any indication:

1) what it is that Ramsey hopes to accomplish,

2) what exactly it is that Ramsey et al. are *doing* which is so dangerous to the fabric of society,

3) whether there are any men on Angel One who follow Ramsey's whatever-it-is.

Ramsey vaguely says that men on Angel One aren't allowed to vote or "have opinions." I mean, I guess Ramsey "has opinions," but it'd be ridiculous for Ramsey and the other people from the Odin to ask for the vote themselves since they are not from Angel One. They married Angel One women, one of whom has to keep her marriage a secret, and I guess those women, Angel One natives, are ready to accept that men can be partners in a relationship -- if they're space aliens. The only male character native to Angel One we see at any length of time is Beata's servant, who doesn't exactly read to me like he's about to start blowing up buildings as part of a men's suffrage movement. Riker helpfully says at the episode's end that social attitudes were already evolving on Angel One to gender equality before Ramsey got there and Ramsey and his people became a symbol. Uh, if you say so, Commander. The thing is, while we see Ariel a tiny bit, the only Angel One character who actually talks and has a point of view that is articulated is Beata.

The irony then is that it's actually possible that Beata is totally right. Maybe unbeknownst to us, a) all the men native to Angel One really are genuinely, physically/mentally incapable of handling complex tasks, b) Ramsey and his crew basically go around blowing up buildings and machine gunning women down as part of their revolutionary campaign. I mean, that is unlikely, but the episode gives us no idea what exactly it is that is going on.

The other funny thing about this episode is that the gender inversion ends up working against the "sexism is bad" message in ironic ways. The episode is generally arguing against patriarchal sexism and implicitly arguing for the right of women to vote and 'have opinions,' but it's Riker who gives the big big speech preaching tolerance, while Troi and Yar don't particularly do or say anything later in the episode. Ramsey talks for his people; Ariel never once (to my memory) speaks up in favour of her own experiences. Not only does this have the effect of having men do all the preaching about gender equality, it also (once again) means that no one from Angel One is the voice of tolerance. At least Crusher cures the disease, meaning that one female crew member is shown accomplishing something.

Riker sleeping with Beatta is dumb, dumb, obviously. But there is something interesting about the way Riker wears that objectifying outfit. Because, look -- it is a fashion disaster and ridiculous-looking, but it's actually not THAT much of an exaggeration from the outfit that Troi wears every week so that the audience can gawk every week at Marina Sirtis' boobs. At least, I hope that was intentional.
William B - Wed, Apr 24, 2013 - 7:05pm (USA Central)
Incidentally, there's an episode of MAD MEN in which a supporting character reveals that he has written a Star Trek spec script "The Negron Complex," a tale which a race of aliens are oppressing another group. This script is roundly mocked, and one of the other characters mentions, groaning, that the "twist" in the script is that the oppressed Negrons are white. "Angel One" is pretty much on this level.
Eduardo - Sat, May 11, 2013 - 6:10pm (USA Central)
Angel One's definitely not one of season 1's better hours, but it does have a couple of scenes that I've always admired.

One is the scene where Geordi finally sits on the Captain's Chair for the first time. There's this little private moment, beautifully brought to life by LeVar and his genuine reverence for the chair.

The other is the scene in which Riker decides he can't live with the guilt of leaving Ramsey's men to die, and promptly decides to beam them against their will, violating every Starfleet reg there is. Jonathan had quite a few memorable moments in that first season. To me, this was one of them, in terms of conveying Riker's guilt.

If TNG had a more gutsy attitude in its storytelling, it could have had Riker actually do it, and then face the consequences of his actions. It would have really added to the show's weight, especially considering Remmick's grilling of the crew, four episodes later.
SkepticalMI - Mon, Aug 26, 2013 - 7:59pm (USA Central)
Boring, silly episode all around. Besides the points other people brought up, I'd like to point out that Riker's "dilemma" is also ridiculous on its face. A society has the right to decide its borders and who deserves to live there. Ramsey and his crew did not have a visa to visit Angel One, and did not have a Green Card to stay there. Thus, the Angelone-ians had every right to demand they leave. If I get shipwrecked in, I don't know, Tanzania or somewhere, and decide I like it, I can't just stay. The Tanzanians can kick me out if they like. And if they didn't have a single boat (presumably Angel One is not a spacefaring planet, so this is the closest analogy), then Tanzania would have every right to dump me off at an American embassy and tell them to get rid of me.

But Riker and Data seemed to say they had no right to force someone to leave if he didn't want to, regardless of the laws of the society. If Ramsey decided to stay on the Enterprise and refuse to leave, would Picard have been ok with it? I think not.

And the Prime Directive only applies to Starfleet and not Federation citizens? So I can muck around on a pre-warp culture and pretend I'm a god or something and no one would complain? Sounds to me like that makes the Prime Directive useless.

Meanwhile, the plague on board the ship served only to fill up time and is a transparent attempt at a "B" plot. It served little purpose (other than conveniently preventing Riker's abduction of the prisoners), and had little tension. Did anyone really care? A ship like that is that susceptible to a random virus; shouldn't that have been a key takeaway? It could have been an interesting story. Instead, it was "a bunch of people got sick at a bad time, but then got better." And other than Geordi's first command (which, btw, Picard was an idiot for not ordering Data to beam up and assume command the moment he knew he was that sick), it was not particularly interesting watching any of these people.

And while this isn't the episode's fault, I also blame it for being in the wrong place in the season. In Datalore, Picard mentioned off-hand that they were late getting to their appointment in upgrading their computer. Sure enough, in 11001001, that's what they do. It should have been a nice bit of continuity, but instead Angel One was sandwiched in between them. I suppose they could have been diverted from their rendezvous with the Bynars by discovering the wrecked ship, but they should have mentioned it to complete the continuity. Instead, I get the feeling the order of episodes was changed post-production. Too bad.
Gabriel - Thu, Dec 12, 2013 - 1:06am (USA Central)
I totally disagree with all the comments above and with your review and most of the other reviews. Maybe I'm too new in the Star Trek universe, but I thought this episode was amazing. It shows another culture with strong sexism, in a fun and intelligent way, using this opportunity to criticize our own society. It gives room to some important character development, like Data being the robot with huge precision in following orders, as any other human couldn't do (and for doing so, saving the day), it shows La Forge as the captain and his fears in the duty (Worf gives him good advice on that), and so on. It has some cool moments with Riker being as diplomatic as smart (as a man) getting laid with Beata. If he didn't like this, maybe Beata wouldn't spare the revolutionaries lives.

I also liked how all those troubles (disease, romulans, execution, etc) comes all together, giving the right ammount of tension without getting out the focus on the plot. Yes, maybe it has some flaws, like when they get a oold even if in the last episode they said cold wasn't more a disease in the future. But I think those flaws aren't enough to make this episode bad.

And yes, Beata is gorgeous.
NCC-1701-Z - Thu, Jun 12, 2014 - 1:18pm (USA Central)
The only way this could have been worse was if Beata had started asking "Brain and brain, what is brain?"
DLPB - Tue, Aug 5, 2014 - 12:11pm (USA Central)
This is as close as liberals will ever get to having their crazy wet dreams made a reality. Back in the real world, women are outnumbered at MENSA, and in lists of geniuses, and chess champions, and at virtually all sports and human endeavours. Not sexism, not "glass ceiling", just stark reality that men and women are different. No amount of socialist propaganda can change it.
Paul M. - Tue, Aug 5, 2014 - 12:25pm (USA Central)
I heard that women in Saudi Arabia are especially useless. Must be their genetics are even worse than usual among womenfolk.

On the other hand, maybe opportunity has something to do with it? Crazy suggestion, I know.
Elliott - Tue, Aug 5, 2014 - 1:10pm (USA Central)
Oh, DLPB, you make it rather easy to assume that backwards political thinking begets backwards social thinking, or is that reversed? I suppose we'd find your name on those MENSA lists and chess tourneys, would we?
DLPB - Tue, Sep 2, 2014 - 1:14pm (USA Central)
Women have equal opportunity at tennis, running, darts, pool/snooker, and chess. And many other endeavours. They do not come close to the men. I am not making an argument that men are "better" than women, since men are generally the ones creating the most crime and dysfunction. But men are also overwhelmingly the driving force in science, now and in the past, as well as in the massive majority of fields.

The fact men have many more neurons in their neocortex than females (among other significant differences), may have a lot to do with it. Certainly it is a proven fact that men are generally stronger, faster, taller, and have better hand-eye coordination and spacial awareness.

All you need to do is look for the female equivalent of Feynman, Federer, Kasparov, Einstein, Picasso, Dickens, Bolt, and so on and so on and so on.

There isn't one.
Robert - Tue, Sep 2, 2014 - 1:42pm (USA Central)
I'm not going to argue you on some of the more physical things. Women athletes typically do not hold a candle to the male ones. It's very edge-case though... so it's an odd argument. For instance, the best female basketball player ever to live might be able to hack it in the NBA, but she'd only be famous for being a woman. She'd not be a Jordan, Shaq or Magic level player. But the males in the NBA are the edge of case of male anyway. She'd still be physically superior to 99.9999% of men.

Similarly, I don't know if saying there is no female Einstein is a really good way to present your case. There's no living male Einstein either (except perhaps Hawking). But those are still 2 in a hundred years kind of minds. There are brilliant females in science and engineering as well. And perhaps there WAS a female Einstein, but she was making babies and cooking for her husband, because she was supposed to.

But seriously.... there is no female Dickens and Picasso? How about Bronte and Kahlo. Just to name two (or three... both Brontes... off the top of my head).
DLPB - Tue, Sep 2, 2014 - 2:05pm (USA Central)
You tell me where Kasparov, Einstein, Federer, Feynman, Mozart equivalents are. They don't exist, and you can moan until the cows come home, but the facts are that males dominate a huge number of achievements now and in the past. And that's the end of your argument.
Robert - Tue, Sep 2, 2014 - 2:22pm (USA Central)
Well I answered the Federer question.

To quote me "I'm not going to argue you on some of the more physical things. Women athletes typically do not hold a candle to the male ones."

A male in the top .0001% of physical power is clearly going to be a superior athlete to anyone else in any field of athletics that does not largely rely on being incredibly tiny, aerodynamic and graceful. It just is. The Williams sisters could still destroy 99.9999% of male tennis players of course, but the top man vs the top woman? Nah, it's always going to be the male. At the physical edge case, male genetic potential wins out in most arenas.

Art/literature, at least you seem to have backed off a bit. As to Einstein, I think I mostly answered that too. Women just didn't have the opportunity to go into those fields that they do now. Perhaps we WILL have a female Einstein in the next 100 years. Since these people are once in a lifetime (or rarer.... where was the next male DaVinci!) it's not as those they just pop up all the time. Marie Curie made greater contributions to science than 99% of male scientists, though I'd not really put her up with Einstein.

I will grant there is no household composer I can be sure everyone would know in the vein of throwing out Curie, Kahlo and Bronte. Kasparov is neat, but if you can teach a modern computer to play chess like a genius I don't know that he belongs on this list.

I guess my point is just that such a woman would have to be born and placed in a situation where she could hone these skills. If nobody sought fit to educate Einstein I doubt we'd know his name....
Elliott - Tue, Sep 2, 2014 - 3:40pm (USA Central)
You'd also be hard-pressed to find the female Pol Pot, McCarthy, Hitler or Stalin, wouldn't you?

The reason males dominate the upper echelons of our society is that our society's parameters for greatness (be it benevolent or otherwise) has been defined by men. The deck is stacked because the historically dominant sex has conditioned our society to view its own gender's superior attributes as universally superior.
Robert - Tue, Sep 2, 2014 - 3:56pm (USA Central)
Elliott makes a good point. Male activists point to the fact that edge case women cannot achieve physically what edge case men can in sports and since this is true you'd be foolish to assume there aren't other differences and those differences must be the reason men make contributions to most fields at an incredible rate.

Except correlation != causation and just because you can prove a physical disparity between the sexes and achievement in sports does not mean that there is a mental disparity that causes the achievement gap in other things. Quite literally the deck has been stacked against women.

And as for the physical side... well it's amazing what testosterone will do for most athletes....

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