Star Trek: The Next Generation


2 stars

Air date: 4/18/1988
Teleplay by Robert Lewin and Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Story by Robert Lewin
Directed by Win Phelps

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise crew rescues the occupants of a disabled ship in a decaying orbit and Picard subsequently finds himself in the middle of a dispute between the representatives from two societies — the Brekka and the Ornara — who are involved in a business transaction regarding some valuable cargo. The Brekka's payment for the cargo went down with the ship, so the Ornara refuse delivery, and we have a problem.

The problem becomes a moral quagmire when the cargo is revealed to be medicine desperately needed by the Brekka, and the situation is further compounded when Crusher determines the medicine is actually an addictive narcotic the Brekka don't actually need in order to survive. The Ornara benefit greatly from the Brekka's dependency on the drug, which has permitted the Ornarans to advance their society while the Brekka have been treading water for the past 200 years. Crusher desperately wants to free the Brekka of their drug addiction, but Picard notes that this would be a blatant violation of the Prime Directive.

The Prime Directive can make for an interesting debate, and it's nice to see Crusher's distaste over the situation even as Picard defends it as a necessary tenet. But again, a key problem with "Symbiosis" is that it oversimplifies the story to a point that we're forced to wonder how, after 200 years, an entire society can uniformly be addicted to a drug with no knowledge that they're being exploited by their "symbiotic" partners in drug-dealing/addiction. They're hopelessly incompetent ship-runners, which makes you wonder how they even survive.

Simply put, "Symbiosis" — even though it tries to be about something real — is ultimately too heavy-handed and simplistic to work. There's a point in the story where one Ornaran actually makes an evil grin when Picard confronts her with the fact that he's on to their exploitative behavior. This betrays the story as unintended parody more than parable.

Previous episode: The Arsenal of Freedom
Next episode: Skin of Evil

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39 comments on this review

Sat, Aug 30, 2008, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
I just watched the Symbiosis. It's the kind of prime directive episodes which just don't seem to be well thought through. I meen, if the prime directive would really claim all kind of information and trade with less developed civilizations wrong, then it would basically mean abandoning all kind of trade and exchange.

Not to mention Wesley Crusher beeing more annoying than ever when discussing drugs.

However, I think you mixed up the alians. The Brekkians were the bad guys and the Ornarans the unaware drug junkies.
Mon, Dec 26, 2011, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
In "Symbiosis", it makes no sense that the Ornarans would simply start pumping their newborn children with felicium before giving them a medical exam to determine if they really do have a plague. If the Brekkians were able to conclude that they had recovered from the plague when they did, why not the more advanced (by the script's own reckoning) Ornarans? The Ornarans as presented here seem far too stupid to be the race that provides all of the resources (other than the felicium) for both systems that dialogue claims they are. The disconnect is high fail.
Tue, Sep 25, 2012, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
Talk about trying too hard and fail miserably. With a plot full of logical holes, the overall 'message' of the ep is too obvious to be taken seriously. I think it'd have been more interesting if it was about Tasha experiencing a relapse or something, instead of dropping a single suggestive line about her past. But we all know now her character was actually on her way out of the series.
Tue, Nov 13, 2012, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
Nice Afterschool Special, there...

Yar's performance is great, but... until season 5, TNG would rarely be so one-dimensional and excessively preachy.

The baddies are indeed nasty pieces of work and I like the ideas, but the execution is simplistic.

Still, the use of solar flares to knock out electronic equipment is a nice bit of realism...

2 of 4
Tue, Mar 12, 2013, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Jammer's rating (2 stars). I think the general story had promise, but too many logical plot holes to be a 4 star outing. The previous posters mentioned some of the more obvious problems, such as injecting newborns with felicium before determining do they have the disease.

Also, the Brekkan's total lack of preparedness in case the trade with Onarrans ever goes south (war, ship problems, etc.) where they can't even take care of themselves (foodstuffs, clothes, etc.). Remember we are talking about an entire PLANET. They must build their homes and recreation facilities, right? Surely there's a construction industry on Brekka! But the Brekkan woman clearly said "We have no other industries" - not even service industry? The episode over-simplified the issues. That may have been intentional by the writer, but it's detracting in this case.

I did enjoy the humor when the Enterprise tried to save the Onarran ship but was flabbergasted at the Onarran's incompetence (Picard's increduluous look when the Onarran captain said he had been captain for 7 years was a nice touch).
William B
Thu, Apr 11, 2013, 7:42am (UTC -5)
There are two outright terrible scenes in this episode which move into so-bad-it's-good territory:

1) the scene where the Brekka holds Riker hostage in stasis with his energy beam. The look on Frakes' face is one of the funniest things in the show's history. It's made even better by the utter lack of necessity for the sequence at all. Nothing necessitated a hostage situation in this episode; and even a hostage situation was required, giving the Brekkians & Ornarans poorly F/X'd electro-powers is totally unnecessary. I get that they were trying to be imaginative and use sci-fi tropes, but it just looks ridiculous. Riker's eyes! Hee.

2) The Tasha/Wesley scene discussing drugs is, of course, infamous and for good reason. I think both characters can be used well (Yesterday's Enterprise and The First Duty are both stunning episodes, for example), but Tasha and Wesley are the characters the show struggled the most with in season one, and they are both at their worst here -- Wesley's dopey inability to comprehend human behaviour because he's so gosh darn naive, Tasha's casual discussion of a lifetime of trauma delivered unconvincingly by Crosby. In addition to all the obvious reasons this sequence fails, it is deeply inappropriate in THIS episode for Wesley to start asking why anyone would become addicted to a chemical when the episode is about people being tricked into addiction under the premise that it is medicinal. Wesley does mention that he gets why the Brekkians started taking the drug, so he gets that what he's saying is irrelevant to this situation -- so, um, why say it? It's like hearing about someone being murdered, and then wondering allowed why anyone would commit suicide.

Anyway, these two scenes are unfortunately the most interesting thing about the episode. I don't mind the premise behind it -- the idea of using medicinal needs to addict people to a substance is relevant. (Addictive drugs are often presented as some kind of solution to some problem or another first and foremost.) And if the episode were not so insistent upon the drug behaviour, down to pothead-like behaviour of the Brekkians, it could also serve as a loose allegory for various systems of exploitation between two classes. Still, there's no real subtlety here and the episode falls apart.

What I do like is the Picard vs. Crusher conflict here -- Picard's duty is to abstract principles, Crusher's is to humanistic values of protecting people from pain. It's the first time these two are in opposition in any real way, and it's a good dynamic (though Stewart is the stronger actor and delivers his side with more conviction). The compromise Picard makes -- in which he removes his 'interference' entirely in order to prevent the Enterprise crew from *helping* the exploitation continue -- is a smart one as well as one that hints at the vagaries of the way the Prime Directive is interpreted (and the way people often just interpret it however they want -- but are still guided by it as a principle). On that level, the episode is far better than the other Prime Directive episodes this year (Justice, Angel One), though it's not hard to be....

Somewhere in the 1.5 - 2 star range.
Kyle M.
Tue, May 7, 2013, 2:08am (UTC -5)
My first post on this site! Anyway, It looks like I'm in the minority here. Overall I enjoyed the episode and though the two scenes mentioned above were cringe worthy, they were classic TNG cringe worthy in the best TNG way. I'm often distracted by the inappropriate to the situation looks on Rikers face but those eyes wide open in the hostage scene were at least comically entertaining.
Beyond all of that I really enjoyed the Picard/Crusher moral duel and the ultimate resolution that Picard decided on.

For me this wasn't a great episode but enjoyable for its attributes. 2.5 stars for me.
Thu, May 23, 2013, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
I agree, that although the drugs chat was a bit forced, it was a tidy example of discussion and application of the prime directive and a neat solution by Picard. Perhaps the story was a tad lacking but not truly awful... 2.5 at least.
Sat, Sep 21, 2013, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
I found this episode really fun and well-paced. I objected to the preachy, cloying morality tale aspect deeply (this is the one aspect of Star Trek that I truly despise) but by the time that element reared its head, I realised that the episode was nearly over and I'd enjoyed the rescue sequence and subsequent conflict so much that I hadn't noticed the time.

A couple of commentators have questioned the logic of the Ornarans giving the 'medicine' to newborn babies. I guess they are not aware that, for many drugs, babies of dependent mothers are born with the same dependency. Even if they weren't in this specific case then they would still likely become addicted due to breastfeeding. I'm assuming the Ornarans are mammals, here, of course.

Also I don't think the Ornarans are required to be stupid to not have 'figured out' that they don't have the plague. They are drug addicts and there would be no benefit to them (as far as they can see) in making this discovery. The drug makes them happy. They have a socially accepted reason for taking it. They can afford to keep buying it from the Brekkan - their resources could be better spent, no doubt, but that's not how they see it. The Brekkan, in contrast, perhaps had to recover from the addiction because devoting their resources to producing the drug for themselves really was crippling their society and so it had to be addressed.
Mon, Mar 24, 2014, 4:12pm (UTC -5)
One of the saddest things about this episode is seeing Merritt Buttrick (at age 28!), both with the memory of how he looked in STII/III and with his death from AIDS coming only a year later.

As ever, this is a well-meaning episode that doesn't really work, and feels a bit too much like a "very special episode of TNG" (albeit not as bad as "The Outcast").
Sun, May 11, 2014, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
Good catch on the relative closeness of this episodes release to Buttrick's death, Josh. It's too bad Merritt couldn't hold on a few more years for the much better medications that came out and of course for the endless revenue stream he would have found with his place in star trek lore.

In re-watching old trek episodes, one of my favorite things is seeing who the guest stars will be. I was too young to recognize a lot of them the first time through, and, of course, we didn't have imdb to quickly find out exactly who everyone was.

In any case, it was great seeing both of the "sons" from Wrath of Khan in this episode.
Mon, Jun 30, 2014, 10:34pm (UTC -5)
"As ever, this is a well-meaning episode that doesn't really work, and feels a bit too much like a "very special episode of TNG" (albeit not as bad as "The Outcast")."

The problem with "The Outcast" is that the moral question which the story allegorises is blatantly hypocritical out of universe (the producers refused to add a gay or transgender character). I don't see that being the case here -- I agree there are some execution issues (the evil grins and lack of subtle characterisation in general), but there isn't anything wrong with the premise at all. It's obviously an allegory for the Drug Industry, pumping up the effects of real "medical" drugs which inhibit symptoms while creating dependency (we've all heard about the refusal of the FDA to approve new drugs which actually might cure diseases, rather than perpetually treat them and continue to collect payment for the manufacturers). We tend to draw a very distinct line between addictive narcotics which provide euphoric highs at cost to one's health and livelihood, and prescription drugs which minimise preventable maladies for a similar cost. One is the individual's fault, the other a necessary evil in society. By conflating the two ideas, this episode correctly blurs that line.

Picard's speech at the end should have been required reading at the Academy. Just fantastic.

I'd probably give it 3 stars. The later half of S1 is better than I remembered. I'm actually enjoying much of it.
Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 5:04pm (UTC -5)
Why were they portrayed as incompetent regarding starship operations? They never seemed to pay that off in the story. The backstory was that they were technologically advanced enough for space travel. Seems like something got cut out of the episode.
Mon, Nov 24, 2014, 9:19pm (UTC -5)
Elliott, I don't normally agree with your posts but in this case I think we're among the very few who legitimately enjoy this one.

This one is hamfisted, yeah, but I think it pretty much works on all of its cylinders. There's nice tension at the beginning and the slowburn of the true nature of the plague was surprisingly compelling (I still recalled the twist from decades ago, but still enjoyed the plot workings). Picard has a nice speech and I think his "solution" is a reasonable and cathartic one.

I'm going 3 stars with this. Pretty decent.

It's actually the fifth "winner" episode in a row (2-1/2 stars or higher - hey the bar is pretty low after all) and the seventh out of the last eight that wasn't embarrassing. Elliott, you're right that the second half of S1 is much stronger than the first. The first 13 episodes contain about 7 or 8 bottom-of-the-barrel shows, but the last 12 (starting from "10011001") are a lot more solid (with a few exceptions). I don't know much about how much in advance shows are written before they're produced, but it looks a lot like the producers saw how terrible the show was and were actively smoothing out the air bubbles.
Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 5:25pm (UTC -5)
As Season 1 goes, I actually liked this one. Is some the acting a bit cheesy, yes, and is the plot line that entire society has unwittingly become drug addicts for 200 years a bit tough to swallow, sure. But I like that it put Crusher and Picard at odds over how to interpret the Prime Directive. This is exactly what the PD is all about, and I loved the end which was unexpected, where Picard refuses to help the Ornarans with new engine components. He knows full well that this move will in the long run help the Ornarans, and he's not violating the PD. I also love his line to that Brekkian snob when he says "oh, you didn't think so when it worked to your advantage." Great stuff, an easy 3 stars for me.
Sun, Aug 2, 2015, 3:07am (UTC -5)
Ahh, TNG's Just Say No episode. So in the 24th century, Romulan Ale is in but any other drug is still out. Suspiciously like the USA of our time, although that is changing as I write this.

Something tells me this hypocrisy will be long buried by the 24th century, however drugs - including alcohol - are viewed by then.
Diamond Dave
Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
A fairly heavy-handed morality tale on the perils of drug dependency. But unusually when confronted with Prime Directive questions it wrestles with an insoluble problem and can only provide a morally ambiguous outcome - and that is worthy of note in a series where issues have up to now been wrapped up tidily in seconds at the end of the episode.

In does suffer from having the rescue drag on too long, and then seemingly interminable "our medicine" "no, our medicine" arguments, and of course the extraordinary Wesley/Yar drugs discussion scene that seems like it's jumped in from a school educational film. But that doesn't detract too far - 2.5 stars.
Fri, Aug 28, 2015, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
It's been a long time since I've seen the episode, but from the review and from what I do remember, this, for me, represents one of the cases where the Prime Directive just starts to seem stupid and counterproductive.

For starters, it's not as if the Ornarans are a completely isolated society - they have space travel, and they clearly know that other species exist besides themselves and the Brekkians. Maybe their quality of life is below the level of most Federation worlds, but why does that preclude Starfleet from offering them a cure from drug addiction? That's like saying it's wrong for groups like Doctors Without Borders to go to an impoverished society to provide medical care that the residents couldn't otherwise get because it "interferes" with their civilization's development.

And even if you assume that the Ornarans would be better off in the long run if they devised a cure themselves, why does the Prime Directive prevent Picard or anyone else from at least *telling* them that the Brekkians are scamming them? The Brekkians are essentially committing a crime here. If the Brekkians were planning to nuke an Ornaran city, would it be "interference" to warn the Ornarans to evacuate?
Tue, Sep 22, 2015, 8:32pm (UTC -5)
Carl said:

Also I don't think the Ornarans are required to be stupid to not have 'figured out' that they don't have the plague. They are drug addicts and there would be no benefit to them (as far as they can see) in making this discovery. The drug makes them happy. They have a socially accepted reason for taking it. They can afford to keep buying it from the Brekkan - their resources could be better spent, no doubt, but that's not how they see it. The Brekkan, in contrast, perhaps had to recover from the addiction because devoting their resources to producing the drug for themselves really was crippling their society and so it had to be addressed. "

Some of this might be logical, but it's all negated because it can all be applied to the Brekkians too, yet they still overcame the addiction.
Mon, Feb 1, 2016, 7:49pm (UTC -5)
I'd give this episode ZERO stars and consider it as a contender for worst episode of the series, it's boring, annoying, badly written, badly cast, with not 1 but 2 actors from The Wrath of Khan you can't help but watch this episode remembering the film that was great, which would be fine if this episode was great, it's not, it's obvious, people take drugs, didn't need Star Trek to tell me that!
Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
A very amusing bit of watchable trivia -- this was actually the last episode that Denise Crosby filmed ("Skin of Evil", where Tasha dies, was filmed before this one). So, her very last moment on a Trek set was near the end of this episode, during the scene in the cargo bay. As Picard and Crusher are leaving the cargo bay and the door is closing behind them, you can see Tasha jumping up and down in the far background and "waving goodbye". Very funny -- check it out.
Thu, Oct 6, 2016, 7:26pm (UTC -5)
Bad episode, bad morale story.

The prime directive does NOT work this way.
-one shall not contact civilizations pre-warp
(exeption, if they actively use impulsedrive to contact other worlds and succeeded in doing so)
-every civilization has the right to make it's own laws, order, and rule over it's own property how it sees fit.
*when it is a warp-capable civilization, it IS allowed to criticize other cultures and laws, and stimulate chance from whiithin. However one may not supply outside weapons or technology to force this chance.

Exception General : the prime directive excist to PRESERVE the development of races and cultures, logically it IS allowed to take actions that help towards this goal, it never is ment to taken so litterly it actually contradicts it's own prime reason for existance.

In this regard it was totally legal to inform the junkies of their addiction, as it would not be information above their own technological level of understanding, and beneficial to their own development.
it would also be allowed to offer them the means to break the addiction.

However it would be THEIR chooice if they believe this, and if they want any help.
if they not want any or not believe the intell, than you would be bound by the prime directive to do nothing more.

If enterprise really wanted to play the hardline prime directive (not as inteneded) they should have beamed the two dealers, the two addicts and the drugs back into the sun, as without them interfearing, none of it all would have made it to planet crack.

In a further reasoning.. enterprise did allow for the drug to be delivered by resqueing those people and their cargo, if they really would not want to interfere they would have beamed them all back into the sun to be killed and destroyed, just how they found them.

Now as for the morale-story :

the people aboard the ship acted as idiots, every vieuwer noted those two were crack adics 5 seconds into the story, it took far to long for the crew to notice, it is not believable the elite of the 2200 space navy is that dumb, blind and guilllable.

ilikewise the "let them rot and just lets just move away to a better neighbourhood far away from the junkies" attitude does not set a good morale play from that end of the equation.

overal felt more like a very dumb and scientifficicly unsound "drugs are bad mkay" add..
Tue, Apr 11, 2017, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
Yes, the episode is heavy-handed and oversimplified but I think it does provide a good example of the Prime Directive in action.
Thought it was an interesting episode that Picard's character came through well. It was good to see how the disagreement between him and Crusher played out and the end action of not helping the Onarans with their coil provided another take on the PD which worked out well.
I'd rate it 2.5/4 stars - an interesting premise with decent examination of the PD although oversimplified.
Sun, May 7, 2017, 6:13am (UTC -5)
This is actually one of my favorite episodes of season one. I enjoy the stand off between Crusher and Picard. Crusher wanting to help the Onarans there and then and do what's best for the "sick" people while Picard won't let her interfere. I found myself inclined to agree with Crusher for most of the episode only to be persuaded by Picard by the end.

Sure, the episode isn't perfect and it's a bit overdone in places but the final resolution works really well. By not helping and causing short-term suffering they will create a positive over the long term is an interesting end to the story which works much better than any alternative (e.g. telling the Onarans the truth or letting the trade continue). The use of the engine parts was unpredictable and provided a nice solution to the problem.

For all of its faults, the overall story works well and we get to see a genuine and well played out stand off between Crusher and Picard. Personally I'd give it 3/4.

I'd happily take this over any of the inane Q episodes or slow and boring Klingon episodes.
Daniel B
Mon, Jul 17, 2017, 1:19am (UTC -5)
Execution was shaky, but it's one of the better "Prime Directive" episodes in concept. They actually come up with a great way to solve the situation without technically breaking the rules. Usually they just make a big moralizing speech about why the rules aren't as important as The Right Thing and then flout the rules completely, or something else comes up to save them, or they use a trick to fool the less-advanced aliens.

But "We can't intervene to stop you - but we won't intervene to help you either" was a good way to handle it.

TB's first 2 paragraphs summed it up very well.
Tue, Jul 18, 2017, 5:20pm (UTC -5)
So: The Ornorans loaded their wobbly freighter with goods to barter for the drug, and flew to Brekka . There, Brekkans loaded the drug onto the freighter but somehow forgot to offload the Ornaran goods. Then the Brekkans climbed aboard the deathtrap ship themselves for a ride to Ornora. We're not given even a throwaway line to explain any of this.

I remain confused also by how the two cultures are portrayed. The Ornorans have spacefaring technology but are dumb as Pacleds about maintaining their ships. They also wear clothes that look rustic and threadbare. What's the message: Are they stupid? Drugged to the point of incompetence? Impoverished by the predatory Brekkans? None of these options make a lot of sense. Meanwhile the Brekkans are wearing the latest in metallic fashions - presumably manufactured in Ornoran factories. And for all their apparent riches and leisure time, they've been content to remain technologically behind the Ornorans they look down on - and are okay with completely dependent on them and their crumbling ships?

I am going to stop thinking too much - and just get back to enjoying the bizarre face of Electric Riker. I could look at that all day.
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
I didn't mind this episode. While I agree with the criticisms, and the fact that it was definitely heavy handed, I also agree with many of the commenters that it was nice to have a strong prime directive episode. The first season has a lot of scenarios where they quote the prime directive, but the viewer questions whether it really applies.

One thing that bugged me about this episode, more than anything else was:

Picard was initially willing to just hand over some ship coils to help them repair their ship. So this shows that he is willing to trade resources as long as it's not advanced tech and it doesn't screw up the status quo of their society.

So then why did Picard not ask the Onarans what the payment was supposed to be for the cargo? If it was something that could have been easily replicated on the Enterprise then Picard could have payed the tab for this shipment, resolving the dispute, and restoring the status quo.

The enterprise can replicate a lot of materials and resources that would be considered valuable on other worlds. That's one of the reasons why Federation technology is kept under lock and key. Even if it turns out they couldn't replicate whatever the payment was supposed to be, why not ask at least? It could have easily been covered with some throw away dialogue.

*Sigh* In the end they had a satisfactory solution. But up until that point I couldn't stop thinking about this one issue.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Wed, Dec 27, 2017, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
This is a decent episode if you just turn off your brain and let it flow over you. That's what I did last night. And except for the stunningly awkward Wesley/Tasha drugs chit-chat on the bridge, I was mildly entertained.

However, the more you think about the episode (and read the reviews noting plot holes on here), the more it just falls apart.

I think "Symbiosis" is best watched under the influence of a few bong hits (which I did not do) or some general post-Christmas, brain-tired malaise, which I did do.

As for Merritt Buttrick, that was very sad. In hindsight, you could see the effects of HIV on him already. I didn't pick up on it at the time. Like someone else said, if he had just a few more years in him, he might have made it to the era of effective antivirals. Poor guy may not have even been aware of his medical condition at the time.
Prince of Space
Fri, Mar 30, 2018, 2:41am (UTC -5)
My favorite part is at the end of the anti-drug scene between Wesley and Tasha, when Tasha says, “And in conclusion, always remember to floss.”

Wesley looks her dead in the eye and replies, “We always floss. We’re Starfleet.”

Powerful stuff. Giving me shivers even now.
Dr Lazarus
Tue, May 8, 2018, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
I think this is the only episode where Tasha speaks at length and doesn't talk about her evading rape gangs. She never says if they ever caught her, but I suspect you would to get captured a time or two. I know it is wrong, but catching Tasha at least once would be kinda sweet.

This is yet another episode where the Prime Directive makes no sense. If you can't warp to the other side of the galaxy, you are just a backwoods rube of a civilization. The city where I grew up, didn't have public transportation to the Southside, so I never went there. Was I less of a person because I didn't have a vehicle capable of making it to the Southside of town? I would be denied the use of city resources because I wasn't worldly enough to reach the South or points beyond? I would be denied legal advice or new technology because I wasn't smart enough or rich enough to build or buy a vehicle capable of reaching the outer rim area of my city?

These two worlds seemed to have a high level of technology, other than the fact the knew nothing about how to repair their ships or owning space capable ships at all. For that they are treated like 5th graders who can't be told about the ways of the universe. I'm sure they would have an incentive to develop warp capability if they knew about places like Risa, or Dabbo girls on DS9.

The Prime Directive is far too rigid . I can see if a civilization still lives in caves, or don't even have the internet. But to not clue them in that they are being played and taken advantage of just because they don't know how to build or add a turbocharger on their ships, is very cruel.
Sun, May 13, 2018, 12:37pm (UTC -5)
The first few minutes were fun, listening to the freighter captain being a total idiot, whacked out of his mind on drugs. When asked how much time before the ship explodes, Worf should have said "4:20".
The Public Service Announcement about Drugs. Are. Bad. to Wesley was AWFUL. What ridiculous lame writing. Do they really need to beat viewers over the head with a sledgehammer with that point?
Nice concept, but terrible writing, terrible acting, and it became all SO BORING!
Sat, May 19, 2018, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
This is your brain on drugs. Any questions? Fade to black
Cesar Gonzalez
Wed, May 23, 2018, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
The beginnung was fun. The conversation between Picard and the freight captain was something else. Really entertaining.
Poor, Picard. Lol. He couldn't get over the stupidity of the caotain. The way he delivered the line, "yes. I Think that's best," was gold.
Thu, May 24, 2018, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
Really, Dr. Lazarus? rape fantasies?

It is with regard to Tasha that I want to speak up for this episode because for the first act she is suddenly competent, rather than being a helpless bridge bunny, and that was long overdue. Still too little, too late.
Wed, Jan 30, 2019, 8:25pm (UTC -5)
This is an episode that is weirdly both dated and ahead of its time. The "don't do drugs" speech is so incredibly 80s, but at the same time, the stuff the episode is actually an allegory for - painkiller addiction and fair trade between wealthy and developing nations - were not significant issues yet at the time the episode was made.

It's a good test case if you want to talk about the death of the author, at least!

I hope The Orville decides to remake this episode. One of their mistakes is redoing good Star Trek episodes that are hard to improve on, instead of bad ones that could easily be upgraded.
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 4:21am (UTC -5)
Just Say No to this episode.
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
The best part of this episode was the clever way that Picard used non interference to interfere with the horrible relationship between the two planets. Otehrwise ho hum
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 10:08am (UTC -5)
Nobody's mentioned this episode's great opening scenes. We open with the crew all hyped up and happily exploring a sun and various solar anomaly, complete with neat "solar flare" special effects. We then get a fairly good rescue sequence, as Picard tries to save a doomed ship. No flashy FX, no strained attempts to drum up drama; just Picard standing and speaking to a static-filled screen whilst dropping some beautifully banal, methodical dialogue.

The episode also ends on a great scene, Picard and the crew randomly picking a segment of the universe to boldly explore. These bookends really convey a sense of science and exploration as a giddy, fun impulse.

Another thing: I believe no episode in TNG is more packed with extras and darting about background characters. The bridge and Enterprise is far more busy than usual in this episode, crewman and women always zipping about in droves. I like this, as it really conveys the idea that this is a huge vessel.

I've noticed that the comments on this site, particularly for TOS and s1 of TNG, get less harsh as time goes on; people seem to become more forgiving and/or begin to find several dated aspects to be kind of charming and retro. The new HD transfers of TOS and TNG may also be an influence; this episode, with the twin planets, and sunlight glinting off the Enterprise's hull, looks great.

Beyond this, I thought the core storyline of this episode was good, at least in theory. The idea of a simbiotic/parasitic relationship between a planet of addicts and drug dealers is a great concept, and still relevant (such parasitic relationships apply to goods/products/trade-deals far outside the realm of narcotics). But as Jammer mentions, several sanctimonious, on-the-nose speeches tarnish the episode badly.

In a comment above, Elliot praises Picard's elevator speech. It always rubbed me the wrong way. It's wonderfully acted and staged, and I tend to defend the Prime Directive's non-interference policies in some other episodes, but here it's surely wrong (?). You have a planet of drug dealers essentially going into a community, lying to a group of people, getting them addicted, and then exploiting them for profit. Surely one has a moral duty to stop this, and explain to the victims what's going on. To me it just seems like one of Trek's more stark and clear dilemmas, and something that demands swift action.

On the flip side, what I always like about these early PD episodes (there've been at least 3 so far in season 1), is how Picard "always finds a way". He kowtows to the PD, but manages to find a loophole in which (what I believe to be) the moral is never-less arrived upon. It's a kind of intellectual game of chess, and Picard shines as a character when he's asked to navigate these dilemmas.
Sat, May 18, 2019, 9:22am (UTC -5)
Yes this episode can be cloying and I’d like to smack the Brekkans. But that aside, has anyone ever noticed that drug thing is a plasma injector conduit in other episodes?

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