Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 11/9/1987
Teleplay by Worley Thorne
Story by Ralph Wills and Worley Thorne
Directed by James L. Conway
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Here's a bad episode that plays like a severe case of whiplash. What begins as one of the most hilariously unintentional self-parodies in all of Trek (this side of "Spock's Brain") becomes, by the end, a talky and serious affair about the Prime Directive. That shift is not in its favor.
The Enterprise away team beams down to a paradise-like planet inhabited by the Edo, a peaceful bunch known to "make love at the drop of a hat." Their outfits, customs, and manner of speech are so hopelessly corny that it takes sheer endurance not to giggle through all the silliness of the first half of the show. (I encourage you just to laugh out loud; it's much more fun that way.) Does anyone on this planet have a job or a reason for living, or do they just frolic and gambol and laugh all day?
Wesley, aka "The Boy," frolics with some other teenagers and ends up falling into a Forbidden Flower Bed (FFB), the penalty for which is death — because the penalty for all crimes on this world, no matter how trivial, is death ... which, let's face it, is just plain stupid. Watching this unfold, you'd think you were watching a Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker movie about space adventures, but no, this story actually plays itself basically straight.
Back aboard the Enterprise, we have yet another Trek-cliched Infinitely Superior Life Form (best Picard line: "Why has everything become a 'something' or a 'whatever'?") that the Edo regard as God. Picard's dilemma is how to rescue Wesley from his death sentence without violating the Prime Directive and without offending the Edo's god. This leads to some seriously talky debate, and a conclusion that's more obtuse than enlightening. By this point I could regard the story with a straight face, but the opening silliness was frankly more fun to snicker at.