Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The High Ground"


Air date: 1/29/1990
Written by Melinda M. Snodgrass
Directed by Gabrielle Beaumont

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

While on a mission of mercy delivering medical supplies to a war-torn world, Crusher is taken hostage into underground tunnels by Finn (Richard Cox), the leader of a terrorist group that commits frequent violence against the planet's functioning government and its civilians. With the kidnapping, Finn hopes to get the attention of the Federation and shine a spotlight on his cause, which he feels has long been ignored. Finn's methods start with kidnapping Crusher, and then he raises the stakes with an attempt to destroy the Enterprise by using untraceable (and fatal to its users, when used repeatedly) transporter technology to get aboard the ship and plant a bomb. When that fails, Finn kidnaps Picard.

"The High Ground" takes a surprisingly candid and surprisingly balanced look at the issue of terrorism from multiple points of view. Finn, while clearly taking violence to extremes that prove counter-productive even to his own cause, is not a cardboard madman. He wants his grievances heard; violence is merely his currency. At the same time, the episode does not condone or make excuses for his actions.

The episode also takes a hard look at those who attempt to fight terrorism — what they do and why. One key point of view is from the head of the counterterrorism force, Alexana Devos (Kerrie Keane), who has had to deal with Finn's daily violence for years. She's become a hardliner, and her stance is understandable; she's trying to minimize violence in a war zone where civilians have become routine terrorist targets. But, for that matter, the civilians have also become routine targets for arrest for being sympathetic to the separatists; one shot shows a 12-year-old kid being hauled away as a suspected terrorist. This is a police-state society.

Caught in the middle is the Enterprise. Finn has an attention-getting speech about the Federation's willingness to supply the government with medical supplies while turning a blind eye to the separatists. Is he right? Not really, but it demonstrates how appearing to choose sides gets the Federation pulled into an otherwise obscure struggle that does not concern them.

This is one of those rare episodes of TNG where, by the end, essentially nothing has been solved. Sure, Crusher and Picard have been rescued, but the cycle of violence will continue, and the episode doesn't pretend that the situation can be fixed simply because the Enterprise was here or Picard came in and made a pithy speech.

Previous episode: The Hunted
Next episode: Deja Q

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49 comments on this review

Bad Horse
Fri, Mar 26, 2010, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
The High Ground - "This is one of those rare episodes of TNG where, by the end, essentially nothing has been solved. Sure, Crusher and Picard have been rescued, but the cycle of violence will continue, and the episode doesn't pretend that the situation can be fixed simply because the Enterprise was here or Picard came in and made a pithy speech."

I didn't get that. IIRC, the ending has Crusher saying "No more killing" and the last kid with a gun slowly lays it down, for no reason other than she said so. If there was anything after that suggesting that the violence would go on, I sure don't remember it. I just remember that pitiful oversimplification.
Sun, Jul 8, 2012, 6:55am (UTC -5)
Really liked this one. Nicely handled, even to the charismatic but ruthless leader. Have to agree with the "nothing was solved" -summery. Even though the kid lowered his gun, what is that in the face of 70 years of conflict? I bet some kid in Israel/Palestine -conflict has lowered his gun as well. Saw it as a commentary on that and Riker's last words as a kind of wish for real world things to change somehow.
Sun, Jul 8, 2012, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
Bit of trivia for you American types, this episode was banned in the UK during the first S3 broadcasts, due to the sensitive content (we had been bombed by the IRA in similar ways for years) and the "Irish Reunification" line.

It has been shown since the bombings stopped though.
Sun, Dec 16, 2012, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
The Rutians could solve the conflict in five seconds by granting the independence the Ansata have wanted fro 70 years.. Their reasons not to were never given, so assumedly they can only be oppressive in nature.
Sun, Dec 16, 2012, 5:13pm (UTC -5)
And it was bizarre that Troi fretted about Geordi saying to transport the bomb at his signal...did she think he was going to ride the bomb into space?
William B
Mon, May 27, 2013, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Jay that the lack of indication why the Rutians didn't just grant independence to the Ansata in the first place hurts the episode a little bit, if only because in order for the Rutians in general and Devos in particular should have a POV on why they have refused. It's not hard to imagine possible reasons -- not all Ansata actually want independence; the land is "owned" by all society and splitting it apart is difficult and there aren't sufficient resources; the reasons that apply in our world. There is a reason why Northern Ireland can't "just" split from the rest of the UK and why Palestine can't "just" declare its independence from Israel (or why the US couldn't "just" declare independence from England without a fight, for that matter). Still, it would be nice to have a character articulate why this fight exists at all. The other thing that might very well be happening is that the government, after terrorism has started, has entrenched in their position because it’s Wrong to negotiate with terrorists, which emphasizes how vicious the cycle of oppression/terrorism can become.

It's actually a little astonishing that this episode exists at all -- it's 1990, and Data says that the Irish Unification was achieved through terrorism. This is not "The Battle of Algiers," (the movie, not the...battle), but for a Star Trek episode it is fairly hard-hitting and generally doesn't pull punches about the brutality of either side, with a police state detaining anyone with some connection to terrorism and dehumanizing (...deperson-izing) the terrorists themselves on the one hand, and a terrorist outfit blowing up military targets and accidentally-or-not-accidentally blowing up schoolbuses of children and recruiting children into lives of violence from an early age. Both Finn and Devos are portrayed as right-and-wrong; justified to believe that they are in an unfair situation, mistaken to think that their situation gives them the rights to take the measures they are taking. Ultimately, the Enterprise sides with Devos, and her position is the stronger of the two: the police brutality does not seem to cross over into torture and the police are not killing. Riker is skeptical of Devos, but ultimately doesn’t rail against her.

Finn’s comparison of himself to George Washington, and Data’s speech to Picard on the role terrorism played in the Mexican independence and in the (!) Irish Reunification, show an attitude toward terrorism that would be difficult if not impossible to get on the air on a mainstream show today. The episode doesn’t justify or excuse or condone Finn’s actions, but neither does it pretend that terrorism (and guerrilla tactics similar to it) is something that has only sprung up suddenly and is not a part of human history. I am not convinced that Finn is wrong when he claims that the Federation chooses sides when it delivers medical supplies to the ruling party on the planet and not to the terrorist factions; trading is a choice, and trading with the dominant government is a choice to assign legitimacy to them, and violates the thread of non-interference. Insofar as this episode is partly a Northern Ireland metaphor (and can be applied, roughly, to aspects of the Israel/Palestine situation), the Federation’s role is akin to the United States and other superpowers outside the conflict, which can claim neutrality but whose weight can alter the balance of power even they only put their toes on the scale. Finn’s pointing out to Crusher that human history is full of violent revolt and that the current era of human peace is to some degree enjoyed because of those past conflicts is also a fantastic moment -- it doesn’t go into the depths or excesses (depending on your point of view) that Deep Space Nine would go to criticize the Federation POV as naïve, but it does suggest that on some level it is not possible for people from a culture which is no longer violent and in which freedom is not threatened (either by terrorism or by an oppressive government) to understand fully what they are fighting for, even if they can still hope to show a better way.

I do think that Crusher’s “no more killing!” and the child’s putting down the gun is cheesy as all heck and it was a little hard not to laugh at the execution of the moment. But I do think that, simplicity and execution problems aside, there had to be a moment like this at the episode’s end, to suggest Crusher’s humanism can provide at least in some instances an alternative to Finn’s violence and murder-suicide-for-the-cause bluster. I don’t think that the episode is saying that the problems will be over -- he’s one kid! -- but it does suggest the possibility that there can be some kind of reconciliation in the next generation (no pun intended). In some senses this is the reverse of “The Vengeance Factor,” where reconciliation requires the symbolic death of the last remnants of vengeance from the past as represented by Yuta; here reconciliation is not currently possible, but the possibility of a better future is represented by the child.

For me I think this is on the 3-3.5 star border, probably just tipping into 3.5 stars.
Mon, Jul 15, 2013, 8:03pm (UTC -5)
I would give this episode 3.5 stars. Cheesy ending aside, this episode is very balanced and thought provoking, and bold for 1990! I think of Isreal and Palestine when I watch this one, but it could be a metaphor for a lot of different things. Regardless of the conflict, Finn is right when he says the only difference between terrorists and generals is who is on the winning side. Barack Obama is murdering children in Pakistan daily with drone strikes, yet he has a nobel peace prize. Israel kills/tortures/detains Palestinians about 10x more than the other way around, and it doesn't even make the news. In response to a previous comment that they didn't torture detainees on the show, I think they just didn't show it because it's a family show. Lady Gestapo did say she could use more persuasive methods, and Finn's son died in detention. I think it was hinted at. The question remains, is terrorism an acceptable means to an end? To answer no, I think one must denounce every armed conflict in history, not just the losing ones. That includes fighting back, because every side thinks they're fighting back. I really can't answer if war is ever a valid means to achieve something, but I can say this much: As an American, I want my president to stop killing in my name, and as a Jew, I want Israel to do the same and grant the people of Palestine independence. Maybe in the year 2400 it could happen.
Nick P.
Mon, Oct 14, 2013, 11:24am (UTC -5)
I agree thatsome reason for not giving independence would have been nice, but probably not that important, there are a million reasons. We Americans LOVE giving independance, but in reality we really are not fans. Although not quite to the level of terrorism, anyone like me from Michigan can tell you the UP has a fairly strong separatist movement. Now if it ever got to the point of terrorism, who knows, because the problem is MOST in the UP do NOT support separation from the US. These issues are never that simple, and that is why I don't really care why the government of this planet didn't grant independance, they had a reason, enough for me. Look at the tibetans, it seems like an easy one for Liberals, but if you actually study the tibetan issue, it is WAY more complex than just giving some mountain guys some independance.
Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 10:11pm (UTC -5)
Huh. I must confess to being in error here. I was dreading this episode, as I do essentially any time Star Trek decides to jump into politics. But surprisingly, it still turned out to be a good show. And nowhere near as annoyingly preachy as I would have expected. This is especially true given how it was set up; we are quickly introduced to the soft spokenkind-hearted terrorist offering food and friendship to his prisoner, and then the harsh-spoken, no-nonsense police chief in her quasi-fascist uniform. The stage was set for a typical liberal terrorism apology.

And yet somewhere in there it changed. Did Dr. Crusher, the wide-eyed idealist bleeding heart start to argue in favor of this sweet gentleman of a terrorist? Yes, but only some. And Picard was having none of it. And she still seemed to hate him and consider his actions horrific. Did Riker start bad-mouthing the police chief's actions? Yes, but Riker's holier-than-thou approach turned out to bite him in the derriere, nearly destroying the Enterprise as a result. And while the police state certainly didn't look pleasant, the police chief was never portrayed as a one-dimensional villain who needed to be lectured by her moral superiors; and always had a legitiimate response.

That's not to stop them from throwing in a few eye-rolling lines. The old canard about George Washington being a terrorist in a different perspective was thrown in, as ridiculous as the statement might be. There's a difference between war, even a war for independence or civil war, and terrorism. Terrorism suscribes to the underpants gnome theory of war: 1) blow stuff up. 2) ??? 3) profit! There is no clear long term goal for terrorism besides fear. This isn't just about good guys and bad guys; Al Qaeda has engaged in both war and terrorism over the past decade or so. But they have to try to pretend they're equivalent, so whatever. And Data's questions was out of place and clearly intended to talk to the audience rather than just being part of the show. But really, only two cringeworthy scenes? I'll take it.

Because there was some subtlety there. For example, there was no preaching about whether or not one should negotiate with terrorists. Instead, they showed it. Whether intentional or not, it was Riker's willingness to negotiate that raised the stakes and gave the terrorists the idea to go after the Enterprise. Essentially, they showed the maxim that negotiating with terrorists only emboldens said terrorists. Given the intent was to provide a more balanced view, this is somewhat surprising. So instead of making a big deal about it, it was only shown and not stated out loud. Nice.

And regardless of the politics involved, it turned out to be a very engaging 45 minutes. It's nice to see Beverly get a show for herslf. We see her innocent "do no harm" persona that showed up in Symbiosis reinforced, and it's an aspect of her that gets repeated later. Unfortunately, her characterization was all over the place, seemingly wanting to destroy the terrorist one moment and wanting to kiss him the next. But since she was called out on it a few times, it seems like that was the intent. Not sure why; maybe to represent the balance the show tried to have... Also, Gates McFadden really can't act angry, at least not in this episode.

Great, now I'm complaining agin... Picard was great, as usual. The technology was a neat idea that added to the plot. The guest actors were pretty good. And the dialogue, the emotions, the atmosphere all portrayed the messed up situation that it really was. Like I said, I came in expecting the worst. And I came out being impressed. Well done.

Jay, it's rather premature to declare that the Rutians must be oppressing the other side since no reason was given. The episode was clearly intending to mirror the Irish situation. And the fact remained that not everyone in Northern Ireland, either then or now, wanted to secede. Declaring that one side is the oppressors with no evidence is probably just a projection.
Patrick D
Fri, Jan 24, 2014, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
Looking back, and re-watching TNG on Blu ray (btw: goddamn these episodes look GORGEOUS!), I'm presently watching "The High Ground" and its primary antagonist, Kyril Finn strikes me as the prototypical Deep Space Nine character. In fact, I'll go so far as to call Finn the *first* Deep Space Nine character; one who passionately dresses down Federation characters for perceived hypocrisies while justifying their own immoral behaviors. Seriously Finn sounds just like Kira, Quark, Garak, Dukat, Odo and a host of others throughout the seven years of DS9.
Patrick D
Sat, Jan 25, 2014, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
Addendum to previous post:

The difference in this episode is that the TNG Federation characters have some admonishments to dish out right back to their accusers ("Washington was a general not a terrorist), whereas the DS9 Federation characters usually had no real comeback (with the possible exception of Bashir) after being told how much the Federation and Starfleet suck.
Sat, Feb 1, 2014, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
So so episode. I didn't buy the premise as much as Jammer did, although I must recognize that guest actor(the guy that kidnaps Crusher) was good.

What I dont see mentioned yet is something I thought was slightly hinted at, and that is that Beverly developed a minor case of Stockholm syndrome.

At the beginning of the episode she was hostile towards the guy, and by the end she almost defended his actions. Sure, she's a humanist and a bleeding-heart and they talked enough to make their points clear (and boy, did they talk). But I think it's also interesting to consider the Stockholm syndrome side.

If we look at the episode as a whole, I think it's against Terrorism in general(in despite of what Data said about Human History) because the way the planet is dealing with the issue is a lose-lose for both parties. On one side, we have a totalitarian police state, on the other hand people that was born with a gun in their hands.

Now, that ending was very simplistic, but hey! They needed some sort of upbeat and hopeful finale or this wouldn't be TNG (post S1 TNG, at least, I'm thinking about the episode "Conspirancy", which's disturbing as hell).
Sat, Feb 1, 2014, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
I see William B point now, regarding this episode being Beverly Crusher's breakthrough. This is certainly a much better episode to show her personality than the one I mentioned ("Remember Me?").

But yeah, I liked the latter much more than the former :P
Sun, Apr 20, 2014, 12:24pm (UTC -5)
Pretty good episode. But let me make one thing clear here: Palestine's issue is not the same as this. The fact is, Palestine bombs Israel because the Koran and Hadith teach that Jews are "not to be taken as friends" among other evil verses.

The left wing media continually ignore the truth that ISLAM is the issue in the middle east. Until we confront Islam, there will never be any peace in that region.
Sat, Jun 28, 2014, 9:14am (UTC -5)
The execution and characterizations were pretty good but a lot of the initial premises were very strained-a two-continent planet (maybe) with the eastern one seemingly much more advanced but unwilling to grant independence and both seeming to have small populations (for there to be only an estimated 200 terrorists). It's also very inconsistent in how long the conflict had been violent-the episode suggests much of the 70 years since independence was not granted while the initial log entry suggests very recently (and it's a little hard to buy the Federation trading with a society that had had such intense conflict, especially if the non-independence was not justified, for decades/and not know of it).
Sat, Jun 28, 2014, 9:23am (UTC -5)
Another thing, I think they really should have had more background on the situation because of Data's question of whether terrorism was acceptable if all peaceful measures had been tried or forbidden as some evidence suggests that terrorists usually do have peaceful methods but don't bother with them. It appears that the dominant society did allow sympathy strikes and protest marches to occur albeit with suspicion and some harassment of many of the participants.
Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 10:14pm (UTC -5)
A great episode because of its balance. The key question being - as put by data, when attempts at peace have failed, is violence an option? Is violence an acceptable form of protest? I wish Picard, our philosophical hero, could have given us more guidance other than 'it's something humanity struggles with'. The French resistance would certainly think violence is an option. What about insurgence in Iraq attacking American and British soldiers? Or the people living in Giza? What about Saudis (most of the he 9/11 hijackers were Saudis and, many would argue its a controlled state kept in power by western countries), what about the Rodney King riots protesting unfair treatment within a democracy?

Trek is great because it puts us in a future witch gives us a chance to see and examine a conflict dispassionately. To pull something out that may be close to our hearts and examine it, and maybe see it from a different perspective. My list of examples above will likely elicit a clear yes violence is acceptable or no it is not and I provide this spectrum because the comments suggest that more people want more facts on the root of why independents was denied - but I feel like that misses the point. If we had more facts we could more easily take sides, and the whole point of the episode is to examine the legitimacy of the use of violence. When is it ok to put down a sign and start making bombs, that question is for the viewer and more facts would absolve us of asking the question of ourselves. What would it take for you to be willing to use violence? To kill, and to die?

Also, I think the line that this has been going on for 70 years and the this provided an 'excuse' may have been lost on some viewers. It doesn't take long for a conflict to become ingrained. To use a current example, does it matter if Hamas fired rockets first or if Israel bombed first? In 70 years of conflict it doesn't really matter who did what first in a given spark of violence - it's a chicken and egg debate where both end up roasted on the farmers dinner table.

I feel (and I welcome comments) this is about asking ourselves about the limits of the use of violence and about showing the consequences of terrorist tactics-the police state, children being put in prison and dying at the hands of the state which may fuel more terrorism
Fri, Sep 5, 2014, 9:42pm (UTC -5)
p.s. For another view of terrorism, one that shows it as the actions of those analogous to the kkk and actions that have a 100% failure rate see the west wing - a special post 9/11 episode called isaac and ishmael.
Thu, Oct 9, 2014, 8:25pm (UTC -5)
I believe this is the first time we see Picard full-on tackle someone. Considering that TNG doesn't really go for TOS-style knock-down-drag-outs *that* often, it was quite a surprise the first time.
Thu, Oct 9, 2014, 11:17pm (UTC -5)
Good point, Z. As the story goes, by the 3rd season Stewart was begging for more sex & violence. Looking back, Picard hardly does anything physical in Seasons 1 & 2, apart from firing a phaser in "Conspiracy" and dodging holo-bullets in "Manhunt." Finally, after the Christmas break, he got his wish. More so two months later with "Captain's Holiday." And then... not much more: wrestling with his brother, a little space-racquetball, but few good opportunities to rip his shirt, Shatner-style.
Thu, Oct 9, 2014, 11:20pm (UTC -5)
P.S. Being Worf's bodyguard in "Sins of the Father" also characterizes the new emphasis on action during this period.
Tue, Oct 14, 2014, 7:22am (UTC -5)
Another wooden perfomance for Dr. Crusher... By far the worst and most boring TNG character.
Tue, Oct 14, 2014, 8:32pm (UTC -5)
"By far the worst and most boring TNG character."

Worse than Troi? I dunno. Little hard to understand the Crusher hate... certainly a better doc than Pulaski... but I guess when compared to the other ST docs, she usually fails to match their quality.
Sat, Dec 6, 2014, 8:56pm (UTC -5)
"But let me make one thing clear here: Palestine's issue is not the same as this. The fact is, Palestine bombs Israel because the Koran and Hadith teach..."

Palestine bombs Israel because Israel is illegally occupying land, was illegally formed in violation of the UN Security Council in 1948, and refuses to return to UN242 borders, as mandated by the World Court, UN and virtually every country on the planet. Everything else is irrelevent.

As for this episode, its very daring, but mis-steps by not delving into why independence is not being granted, and why it should. The episode ultimately comes down on the side of the State, of the status quo, and is so less radical than it seems at first glance.

Also, I didn't see anyone talk about the teleportation device in the film. Seems to me, the device is a metaphor for suicide bombing. ie - the device slowly saps the lives of the rebel faction, but allows them to infiltrate everywhere. It's a kind of tactically useful death sentence.
Tue, Dec 16, 2014, 11:35am (UTC -5)
Sorry, Corey, but no. If you understand Islamic teaching then you see numerous quotes that teach hatred to Jews. There are dozens of countries around the world that have lost land at some point, and they aren't blowing people up anymore. Islam is a death cult.
Dave in NC
Tue, Dec 16, 2014, 11:59am (UTC -5)
I guess your Bible doesn't have Leviticus in it, dlpb.

There are numerous quotes supporting murder and violence in all of the holy books of the Abrahamaic religions. It's not really fair to single out the Quran.

Tue, Dec 16, 2014, 1:50pm (UTC -5)
Not to get into too heated a discussion over this, but...

DLPB, you aren't incorrect that Islamic texts support violence, but that in no way invalidates what Corey is saying about Israel being an illegal occupying force. It's not an either/or.

Dave in NC, you are also correct, however, in 2014, the only sect of Abrahamic faiths which take their holy book seriously enough to commit violence in its name on a mass scale is Islam. The other two have (mostly) gotten to the point of ignoring their own religions enough to be past this stage, so it *is* fair to single Islam out in at least this respect.
Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 6:36am (UTC -5)
3 Quick Questions

1) Can we think of very many nations that aren't technically occupying land that isn't theirs? Does there ever come a point in which it's no longer fair game to attack someone forever over land that your grandfather owned?

2) Does anyone actually think that either side would agree to anything remotely reasonable to end the fighting?

3) If #2 happened, does anyone actually think the fighting would stop?
Mon, Dec 29, 2014, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
I guess your Bible doesn't have Leviticus in it, dlpb.

There are numerous quotes supporting murder and violence in all of the holy books of the Abrahamaic religions. It's not really fair to single out the Quran.


Not this old chestnut again. First, Christians live by the 4 Gospels. Not Leviticus. Second, the Bible is made up of over 60 books (I seem to recall 72). Third, Christians are not the overwhelming issue in today's world. Open your eyes. Every single country that even has a minority Muslim community has internal problems with their beliefs. Europe is already starting to push back. And where Muslims make a larger proportion? Oh, yeah, massive curtailment of freedoms. Sharia law. Need I go on? There is a reason that Christianity moved on, and Islam is stuck fast in 600 AD.

That reason is the doctrine of Islam and Chsitianity are very different. The Koran is not the same as the Bible... it's almost one complete work, said to be transcribed from Muhammad. He instructs his followers to do things, like Jesus. But unlike Jesus, Muhammad comes out with things like:

Qur'an (5:51) - "O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people."

You see, there is no comparable passage to this by Jesus singling out different religions or people and telling them not to be friends. And now you'll come back and say "Oh, but what about all the good verses?" Unfortunately, Muhammad and the Hadith dictate that the former passages (the peaceful ones before Muhammad created an army) are superseded by the latter (where he was conquering).

The media don't tell you this, but the internet is right there, so ignorance is no excuse for your total lack of understanding on this topic.
Mon, Dec 29, 2014, 5:26pm (UTC -5)
In fact, let someone who has studied it, and holds degree in it, to explain it to you.
Jonn Walsh
Fri, Feb 27, 2015, 9:18am (UTC -5)
And there's Corey ignoring the reasons why Israel's sovereignty was and still is necessary. Ongoing malignant world prejudices curry any need to consider Israel an illegally occupied land. Seems you may embrace some of them.
It's been over 60 years since Israel's formation- heck, even Great Britain acknowledged America's sovereignty sooner than that. The nation of Israel has been fighting a battle for survival against the horrors of genocide for thousands of years, the only difference today being that they can do so from within their own borders, supported by their allies, rather than as disjointed minority factions within others' borders against people like you.
Fri, Feb 27, 2015, 10:50am (UTC -5)
@Jonn Walsh

Well that's a specious argument--white British people accepted that other white (recently) British people claimed independence for land which they themselves recently stole from the brown people (not really considered people in the 18th century)? That's not analogous to a 20th century land-seizure and occupation which actively displaces one group of people for the benefit of another being *accepted* by the global community. The fact that Jews, Semites and Israeli nationals have faced (and do indeed still face) persecution immaterial to the fact that the so-called "solution" to that problem was to inflict others with a different problem. Realistically, there is no option which doesn't include maintaining a sovereign Israeli nationstate, but what irks me at least (and I would argue is anathema to a lasting peace) is the attitude which posits Israel's illegal existence as shamelessly necessary, the consequences to others be damned; that its presence is *more* justified that the presence of Palestine, simply because the Holocaust happened.
Sun, May 31, 2015, 8:12pm (UTC -5)
This is episode is a great idea because of its attempted balance. However, it ultimately fails in that attempt. The writers go to great lengths to show both sides positively and negatively, but they fail to answer one very important question - why are the separatists using terrorism in the first place?

We get the impression that the government is only cracking down because of the terrorism. There is no indication that there was oppression against the separatists before the terrorism began. Sure, they were denied independence, but that's a far cry away from mass arrests and a police surveillance state. By not giving us any reason why the separatists felt compelled to turn to terrorism, I'm forced to side with the Rutian government despite their harsh tactics because they seem to be up against an irrational and immoral enemy.

If "The High Ground" had offered us this explanation, I would gladly mark it much, much higher because there is a lot to like here. It's good to see Crusher finally get some time in spotlight (and Gates McFadden delivers an excellent performance) and it's really nice that Finn wasn't a cartoonish over-the-top villain. But this major problem and the rather trite ending (it's going to take more than one kid putting a weapon down to solve this problem) really drag it down.

Wed, Jun 3, 2015, 3:22am (UTC -5)
@ John Walsh, DLPB

These same haughty, accusatory cries for justice have been heard around the world before. The same howls of hysteria paved way for an Austrian painter and his band to cause havoc and calamity in the name of any vainglorious birthright. Whether you don a NSDAP armband or rally under an IDF flag remember that intolerance begets justified opposition, violence begets terror, and the loudest hatemongers always hang first.
Wed, Jun 3, 2015, 4:58am (UTC -5)
Oh, a new tag. Run out of other insults, have we? Tolerating bad people or criminals is exactly why we are in the predicament we are in. I remember your lot in 1930s, Leaflet... they were calling Churchill a warmonger for suggesting Hitler needed dealing with.

Same old rubbish. Some of us aren't blind to the world's problems and their causes, and we aren't trendy liberals who want to send roses to people who want to send a bomb to us. Wakey wakey!

Thu, Jun 4, 2015, 11:29am (UTC -5)

Perhaps it is difficult for you to accept that more than one person thinks you are wrong and dangerously so. Rest assured this is my second time posting on this site.

You remember my lot in the 1930s? May I ask how old you are? Be careful you are not taking offense on the behalf of others from another time.

Churchill was indeed a war-criminal, not for WWII in particular but perhaps if you care to educate yourself in the plight of the Afrikaners or Sudanese you would find it hard to dispute that notion.

It doesn't take a trendy liberal to understand that alienating about a sixth of the world's population on the basis of the religion they happen to follow is an extremely idiotic foreign policy doctrine....if peace and security is your goal.

You didn't single out religious flat out denounced "muslims"...I am not one myself but I have to wonder if you would have the courage to say such things in a market square in Mecca, Istanbul, or Cairo.

Of course peace and security for all is of no interest to you, your lot only has the courage and character to indiscriminately bomb whole peoples from the safety of a war room. So far the international community has done a poor job of getting in your way but trust me there will be a day when your brand of racist sadism will be a thing of history. Teachers in schools will point to the likes of Ariel Sharon and speak of him the way we speak of Hitler.

But for now the stage is yours oh brave radical! Send countless other men and women off to die in senseless war for profit, murder seas of unarmed citizens whose life worth to you is less than that of an animal. Wake us all up with the sounds of fighter jets and gunfire! Indeed!
Mon, Jun 8, 2015, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
Considering people like you were indirectly responsible for around 50 million deaths in the greatest war of all time, I will take no lessons from you. Your whole philosophy is one of inaction, appeasement and self hate.
Tue, Jun 9, 2015, 6:05am (UTC -5)
As opposed to those like you who are directly responsible? If you take no lessons from me then perhaps you will learn some shame and pick yourself out a nice tin-hat and go fight these wars against "muslims" or whoever else you deem to be the boogeyman of the age with the same vigor and sincerity you show here with a keyboard.

And be at ease. I have no reason to hate myself or anyone else. Even you and those like you I cannot bring myself to hate because that level of emotion is far beyond what you and your misguided vision of the world are worth, frankly.
Paul M.
Tue, Jun 9, 2015, 6:55am (UTC -5)
There's nothing worse than erroneous historical analogies. Should we conclude that because of 1938 Munich, we should never again seek to come to terms and understand our opponent or rival? Was 1970s Detente also badwrong appeasement?

Someone should come along and destroy, annihilate, and eradicate every single instance of the word 'appeasement' from all the dictionaries around the world. Maybe then we'll stop mentioning it every time someone proposes a course of action that doesn't involve bombs, tanks, cruise missiles, drones, coups, sanctions, and their like.
Tue, Jun 9, 2015, 10:54am (UTC -5)
@ Paul M.

Unfortunately such words and tactics are staples in the pseudo-intellectual arsenal of the bigoted zealot bent on "bringing peace to all" from his underground missile-control headquarters.

Straw men, false name it they commit it only to vindicate themselves in their sick quests for glorified violence and forced conflicts.

Bu what's astonishing to me is not that such people exist, even today, but that they appear to be viewers of Star Trek and yet every meaningful portent and caveat is completely lost on them. It goes right over their heads I guess. Maybe to them it's all about the phasers and photon torpedoes with some bothersome white noise about peace or tolerance or something or other mixed in.

I was going to suggest that perhaps such people draw inspiration from the Romulan or Ferengi episodes but on further reflection the former are far too courageous and the latter far too honest for me to see the likes of DLPB cheering them on.
Tue, Jun 9, 2015, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, removing words from the dictionary. Classic "sweep problem under the carpet" solution. Haha, hilarious!
Paul M.
Wed, Jun 10, 2015, 1:09am (UTC -5)
I know humor is hard to understand sometimes...
Diamond Dave
Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
Last time out, an examination of the problems of reintegrating veterans. This time, an examination of the problems of terrorism. Last time, the oppressed were to be supported. This time, not. Last time, the leader was left to take charge when holding a gun on Picard. This time, he's gunned down when holding a gun on Picard. So what's the difference?

This purports to be a balanced and nuanced account of the motivations and drivers for terrorism, but it never makes up its mind what it wants to say. The cause is just, but the means wrong? The end justifies the means? As Finn says - "there’s a hint of moral cowardice in your dealings with nonaligned planets. You do business with a government that’s crushing us, and then you say you aren’t involved?"

To me, the episode suffers from not really taking a stand one way or the other. Everything else is competently handled enough, and for the second episode in a row we get shoot-outs and fist fights. 2.5 stars.
Fri, Sep 25, 2015, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
SkepticaMI said:

"Jay, it's rather premature to declare that the Rutians must be oppressing the other side since no reason was given. The episode was clearly intending to mirror the Irish situation. And the fact remained that not everyone in Northern Ireland, either then or now, wanted to secede. Declaring that one side is the oppressors with no evidence is probably just a projection."

It can actually, because when an ethnic groups's homeland is under the control of an occupying ethnic group, population adjustment tend to occur. In the Soviet era, Russians moved into all the other republics, to the extent that at the breakup of the USSR, Russians were huge pluralities in nations like Estonia, Latvia, and Kazakhstan. It's no surprise that the ethnic groups would want to stay under that jurisdiction. If 45% of Rutia's population is transpalnted Ansatans, the presence of those 45% don't make the Rutians any less entitled to want a nation of their own.
Fri, Oct 16, 2015, 4:25am (UTC -5)
I wouldn't mind seeing the illegal state of Israel ending up like Cardassia did at the end of Deep Space 9.
Wed, Dec 2, 2015, 1:30am (UTC -5)
I'm curious about the transporter tech: are we ever given an in-universe explanation for why everyday transporters can't be used to accomplish the same thing? Some sort of shielding or something? Of course, the Enterprise with shields up is impenetrable by transporters, but what about everyday places?

I ask because I wonder how the whole Star Trek galaxy hasn't devolved into terrorism and assassination. A transporter and a phaser in the hands of one person (native or alien) with a Cause to fight for seems like enough to create utter chaos. Political leaders should be paranoid, never going out in public or even leaving whatever shielding is in place, because at any moment someone can show up next to you, shoot you, and beam away.

Anyway, maybe Undiscovered Country had something to say about this? Or Into Darkness?
Ross TW
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
I've seen this episode countless times, but this is the first time I consciously realized they didn't bother to make the aliens look alien at all. They're perfectly human in appearance. I assume this was on purpose, to make the allegory more hard-hitting, especially at the time.

But the message is something that still has relevance today. It's also interesting to compare the takes on terrorism here vs. Deep Space Nine (with Kira, especially).

Ron Jones with another memorable score, too.
Wed, Apr 20, 2016, 2:01am (UTC -5)
I think this episodes highlights the most dreadful thing about terrorism: You can not reason with terrorists. To make the comparison with northern Ireland: Only after seventy years (Or threehundred, depending on your point of view) was peace achieved, when the terrorists lost the support of the population. I doubt that had the UK given into the demands, that that would have stopped the violence. Either it would have continued at the peace talks, or the remaining englishmen in Northern Ireland would have been persecuted.

But anyway, my point is: I don't want a situation that has to endure for 70 or 100 or 1000 years before it is finally resolved, without the option to change anything. Terrorists are absolutists: Every compromise has to fail by default. And since terrorist groups are not monolithic organisations, you can never negotiate successfully. The only way for terrorism to end is if the people doing the terrorising grow tired of it, or change their mind. But I can not think of a way to change a mind that is so fanatic it does not even fear death.

Actually, I do know a way. You kill the terrorists. All of them, at once. Scary thought, I know. Of course, that is not practical. You can't track down every single one. But what else is there? If you can't reason and can't negotiate, you either give in, or you kill them all. Take Israel as an example. Even if they make concessions, return to their rightfull borders, pay reparations etc, somebody will still lay claim to the rest of their land (which was also taken by force). So, even if there is some kind of peace and Israel backs down, you still have to eliminate all the splinter groups, or wait till they subside, but how many innocents are you willing to sacrifice for that?

As scary as it is, now we have the technology to may be able to force terrorists to concede defeat. Not by attacking them directly, but by robbing them of support. Unfortunately that necessitates a genocide. First you warn the terrorist: Back down, or we will drop a nuclear bomb on one of your cities. If they don't listen, you warn them again. if they still don't listen, you drop a bomb. And then one next week. And then after three days. Then every day. You drop nukes so long that the people that the terrorists are fighting for have enough and don't support them anymore. If they still don't listen, you drop your bombs on until their sacred ground, or whatever they were fighting for, are uninhabitable for 1000 years. To beat terrorism, you have to be a better terrorist. You have to totally defeat your enemy. Why do you think that there are no german or japanese terrorists today? Because both nations were so utterly crushed that no one dreams of trying to get back what they lost. And those that do want to know that they have no support.

Or let me put it this way: For every conflict there are two options that bring a lasting peace. You can either find common ground, and both adopt basically the same set of values. Not in all regards, but in the important ones: Peace, Prosperity, Progress. Or you eliminate the opposition so that only your set of values remains. This is true for countries als well as groups or single persons. It is the only logical conclusion. Of course, there is the third case, where both parties agree to disagree and stay well clear of each other. But that does not work for nationalistic or religious conflicts, because both accept no compromise. Ireland is case one. Or was, until 2011, when the terrorists resumed hostilities. Germany and Japan after WW2 are case two. The Federation acts to achieve case one, the Borg to achieve case two. Europe is on its way to way one, the muslims are on the way to way two. And before you say "not all of them!!!11!!", yes, sure, but enough of them to, as George Carlin would have said, provide us with a lot of entertainment in the future. And in this case, the future can be anything from 20 to 400 years. I guess it is the latter case. You just have to look at people who watch Star Trek, yet get angry when it dares to declare their Religion fiction. Now mulitply that by 10 and you are on the level of the average muslim in the middle east. Try to reason a Star Trek viewer out of his position, and now try to imagine doing the same with a muslim. And even if that conflict is resolved, the next one waits right behind it: Money. As long as it exists, it will always favour the rich, who control everything that matters, and I am glad that I will not be around when we fight out that fight. In Star Trek it took a Global Nuclear Holocaust, and humanity sure was lucky to survive that.

So, I think this was a good episode. It got me thinking. And I did not find the ending cheesy at all. After all, this is not the leader of the terrorists laying down his gun, and all his followers follow suit, and everyone lives happily ever after. This is a young boy that just saw his great leader killed, will sit in prison for a long time, and will continue to spread the hate. And when the right moment comes, he will be the first one to shoot. He will forever feel ashamed of not having shot the police woman when he had the chance. At least that's what I got from that episode.
Fri, Apr 22, 2016, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
To add my own two cents on the whole "Israel vs. Palestine" debate here, I find myself frustrated with both sides. I agree with the pro-Palestinian argument that Israel should not have been formed in the first place. It was an attempt by the Western powers to right a horrific wrong - the Holocaust - but they did that by carving up the Palestinian territory (which had already experienced years of colonization by the British Empire) and giving the Jews a piece of it. While I am sympathetic to the Jews for wanting a land they could call home (especially considering that the Holocaust was really just the culmination of generations of anti-Semitism), I can't imagine that I would be all that thrilled if I were a Palestinian in the late 40s about the prospect of my homeland being taken over by people who mostly hadn't lived their for generations. Plus, the Zionist movement largely originated from a religious belief that the Jews had a right to that land because God said so - which is patently absurd. The UN should have sought a better solution, like liberating the Palestinian territories from the British and helping to form a secular government run by both Israelis and Palestinians... but that probably isn't a great solution either. That's part of my point, though: this is a problem with no easy solution, and the Western powers chose to take the most hamfisted, clumsy approach.
However... the fact of the matter is, that Israel exists. Whether the formation of Israel was right or wrong may be important, but it has no real bearing on the conflict at this point. It's been many decades since it was formed - it's long past the point where it would be fair to undo it. The Israelis are there now. They've lived their for several generations, and have managed to survive and thrive. Taking away the entirety of Israel and giving it to the Palestinians again is, at this point, unfair to the Israelis who inhabit it. Saying it has no right to exist is both pointless and wrong, because the Israelis are, at this point, firmly rooted in the territory.
And yet, the same must also be said for the Palestinians. The land they occupy is theirs. Israel has no right to take it from them. The whole "settlement" nonsense is wrong, and is illegal under international law. Further, the Netanyahu government's refusal to try and stop these settlers (many of whom also use the nonsensical idea that the Palestinian land is "theirs" because God said so to justify it as well) is a show of just how little Netanyahu really cares about finally coming to a solution. As of this moment, the Israelis have at least one group that is at least sane enough to negotiate with - Fatah. Despite their flaws, they at least show some willingness to negotiate with Israel. Israel is obviously stronger than Fatah, and they know it - they wouldn't ever win in an actual war against the Israeli state, so they have seemed to have accepted the basic fact that they'll have to negotiate. At the moment, however, the Netanyahu government seems like it thinks that, since they're so much stronger than the Palestinians, and so successful at repelling their attacks (though they still remain dangerous and deadly to Israeli civilians), that there is no reason to bother with diplomacy. Instead, they'll simply maintain the current status quo of a never-ending simmering conflict, which occasionally boils over into another pointless war, despite the fact that this merely kicks the can down the road.
None of this justifies terrorism. Of course, it also doesn't justify reckless bombing in Gaza, one of the world's most densely populated areas (especially since it doesn't seem to actually solve much of anything for either side). Mind you, it also doesn't justify rocket attacks into Israeli territory. The current state of affairs has lasted for a long time, but never-ending wars are bad for societies - both Israeli and Palestinian citizens suffer from this. The two sides need to grow up and get to the table. While it will be very difficult to find a solution, it's much better than what we have now.

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