Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Up the Long Ladder"

1.5 stars

Air date: 5/22/1989
Written by Melinda M. Snodgrass
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Sometimes you just have to bow to the absurd," says Picard. Not me. Not for this episode. Here lies a colossal mess of a show, mixing serious (albeit unrealized) science fiction with broad, less-than-funny comedy. The Enterprise comes to the rescue of two long-lost Earth colonies from a single ship that was launched in the early 22nd century. One colony lives on a planet as anachronistic farmers with no technology; the other lives on another planet completely reliant on technology, with cloning having replaced sexual reproduction (which they now find "repugnant").

Let's start with the need to make the primitive colony into broad Irish caricatures: What was the point? It's supposed to be funny, but it ends up providing nothing but annoying stereotypes. The community leader, Danilo O'Dell (Barrie Ingham), is purely a grotesquery of himself. His daughter, Brenna (Rosalyn Landor), is immediately a target and conquest for Riker, for reasons completely unknown to the plot and the characters. Why do they hook up? Okay, it provides a reason for Brenna to start taking off her clothes (which I suppose was fun for me at age 13 when this show originally aired), but that's about it. Some of the Worf Ultimate Straight Man humor works to a degree ("Then you would suffocate and die"), as well as his honor-bonding with Pulaski near the beginning.

At about the midway point the episode pulls a 180 by following the serious story of the modern colony and its cloning procedures. They need a new infusion of DNA to survive and want the Enterprise crew members to volunteer. This leads to some interesting ideas about the nature of individuality amid cloning, and one particularly attention-getting scene where Riker destroys two developing clones of himself and Pulaski that were obtained illegally; in the right writer's hands, this could've been a provocative rape-victim/abortion allegory. As it is, the whole storyline is underdeveloped.

The solution proposed at the end is hammered together as an exercise in convenient TNG ultra-simplicity. Because the hour is over, the problem must be solved using the available variables at hand, with no parts left over.

Previous episode: Samaritan Snare
Next episode: Manhunt

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90 comments on this post

William B
Tue, Apr 2, 2013, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
Contra Jammer, I don't think the solution to the episode is quite "because the hour is over, the problem must be solved using the available variables at hand, with no parts left over." I think the ending to this episode is the point of the episode -- this is an allegory about how humans need both the unsophisticated carnal side and the sterile sophisticated side in order to live. The whole of the episode was designed to set up that conclusion, wherein one people is stupid but bursting with life (about to be destroyed by a solar flare, perhaps a metaphor for excessive libido), and another one brilliant and orderly but essentially dead, are brought together.

That's not a bad idea for an allegory, but of course the execution is bad for all the reasons Jammer listed. It's going to be especially hard to sell the solution here as being equitable. There's no reason the farming community can't survive on its own on a planet that isn't about to be destroyed by a solar flare. Given the pro-choice message of the attention-getting kill-the-clones scene, there needs to be a lot more effort to sell us on the idea that people from both societies are genuinely willing to enter into polygamous sexual relationships which *no one* particularly seems to want.

Also particularly funny: Worf's fainting on the bridge as the teaser break! They really needed to stretch to come up with ways to make this episode seem exciting. The Worf/Pulaski material after his fainting *is* quite good, though. I'm going to miss Pulaski when s2 ends.

I'm tempted to give it 2 stars because I see what they were trying to go for, but 1.5 is probably fair given how much of a mess the final product becomes.
Fri, Apr 5, 2013, 7:23pm (UTC -5)
@ William B: Jammer has a point, though. While I do think the episode was set up to arrive at the conclusion you're saying, it was the way they handled it that made it feel cheap and as far as they wanted to go because the hour was, indeed, over.

What a mess. Half funny, half serious, all S2 bad.
William B
Sat, Apr 6, 2013, 1:14am (UTC -5)
@Rikko, definitely. I tend to think that the episode is crappy reverse-engineering rather than crappy hasty last-minute engineering, if you catch my drift. The difference is probably slight, though.

The episode does feel very much to me like the episode is a first draft that needed a rewrite. Maybe there is no good second draft that could possibly come out of this first draft, though. Perhaps a portrayal of the techless farming community closer to DS9's "Paradise" might have worked.
William B
Mon, Apr 8, 2013, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
You know, I am tempted to take back my earlier comment. While I do think the intent of the episode was to suggest that humans need both the carnal side (represented by the farmer Irish stereotyptes) and the cerebral side (represented by the clones) to function, the basic premise still runs counter to this. The reason the farm community was going to be destroyed is because their Sun was going crazy; the reason the clone community was going to die out through replicative fading was because a bunch of the original settlers died, and if they didn't start cloning they would have died. As tech-savvy as the clone society were, if they had had their full complement with them when they first colonized, they would not have turned to cloning and making sex repugnant and taboo; and the sun problems have nothing to do with the Irish stereotype colonist's anachronistic behaviour.

Given that this rips out the only way the episode even *could* function, I think the episode is even worse. 1 star, ultimately -- and that is for the few moments that do work in the clone half. (I guess I could say generously that the clone half gets a low 2 stars for some interesting moments but unsatisfying resolution and follow-through, and the Irish stereotype material is somewhere around 0.5 stars, so that the average is 1.25 which gets rounded down.)
Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 12:41pm (UTC -5)
William B: So, we come back closer to Jammer's original score, hah.

Talking about drafts, this script should've spent more time in the oven, for sure. I feel like they had two half-baked ideas, each one feasible to be expanded into their own standalone episodes: One pseudo-comedy ep about the "Irish" people, as bad as that'd have been; and another episode in full serious mode with the hyper-tech clone society. Maybe that last one had the chance to be about something interesting.

Alas, that never happened. What we got was a mix of two lacking premises with the subtlety of a moving train.
William B
Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
@Rikko: I do think that the thematic reasons I listed were there in the design of the ep, so that these plot ideas were probably thought of together. But you're not wrong that they could have been split up. Actually, maybe the "Irish" stuff could have been pushed onto "Manhunt" -- that episode clearly had room to accommodate a second story, and was not in any danger of being very good anyway. That could leave this episode to a better examination of the cloned society or -- or I don't know, something better; and would have "Manhunt" be less padded and boring, if not actually any better.
Latex Zebra
Fri, Oct 4, 2013, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
I kind of like this one. It's not amazing. No more than 2 stars but it has its moments.
I like Picard finally cracking up in the cargo bay.
You'd have to.
Sun, Oct 13, 2013, 11:43am (UTC -5)
I really loved the Worf-Pulaski stuff at the beginning. Like the Picard-Wesley material in the early part of the previous episode, it really lifted an otherwise inconsistent episode for me. Like William B, I am sad that Pulaski will not remain on the show. She's one of my favourite characters so far (this is my first proper viewing of TNG).

Riker's volatile response to the cloning society's request was hardly becoming of an officer in his position. I also think Picard was presumptuous to claim that his attitude would be prevalent among the other crew-members as I for one would be happy to provide genetic material in such a situation (but I accept that it would be inappropriate for Picard to allow such a request to be made - if he had said 'I cannot allow you to take genetic material from my crew, starfleet regulations blah blah blah...' then I would have been happy).

The kill-the-clones scene horrified me, especially with the lack of any protest from Pulaski.
Paul M.
Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 12:18pm (UTC -5)
I adore the "Klingon Tea Ceremony" scene with Worf and Pulaski. I'm still sorry TPTB opted to bring back Crusher; Pulaski is such a great character, certainly one of TNG's liveliest.

Also, in the vein of "what Rick Berman did to Trek by firing Ron Jones", here's the link to the original (as I understand it, unaired) music for the above-mentioned tea scene --
Andy's Friend
Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 5:56am (UTC -5)
@Paul M: Thank you very much for that link. I always preferred Ron Jones' music in the early seasons, what a pity he was fired... As regards Pulaski... I hate to say it, because I like Crusher, but yes, I liked Pulaski more. And I like this episode a lot more than Jammer and some of the others did, I see. But then again, I've noticed that I am a lot more forgiving and a lot less pedantic, for lack of a better word, than most commenters here ;)
Paul M.
Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 7:24am (UTC -5)
@Andy's Friend: Pulaski is a joy to watch; a good character very well played by charismatic Diana Muldaur. Other TNG characters had a tendency to be infuriatingly prim and proper. Pulaski had a great non-PC vibe as in "I don't really care whether you like what I have to say or not, I'll just go ahead and say it". But beneath her curmudgeonly exterior was a personality that relished the different and unusual.

And yes, early TNG music was leagues ahead of the late-season sonic wallpaper Berman liked oh-so-much. I'm still shocked, SHOCKED I say, that he fired Ron Jones. His music was the highlight of almost every episode it was in -- Best of Both Worlds, Defector, Booby Trap, Q Who, Evolution, etc... Such a pity.
Wed, Feb 5, 2014, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
Behold, this St. Pattie's Day will mark the 25th anniversary of the writing of Up The Long Ladder, or as they called it in production, Send In The Clones!
The date on each page of the script is 3/17/89, and it's very rare that all dates in a script are the same.
Makes a wee bit more sense now, especially since the author was Irish or Scottish.
Tue, Feb 18, 2014, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
I could never understand why a SCI FI show would insist portraying "scientific" races as bad and scary, (listen to the ridiculous "ominous music" when they beam down to Mariposa and the shock stares when they mention the rather obvious presence of cloning...) while primitive "close to Earth (which apparently means being drunk all the time) are always nice, friendly and sympathetic... One would think that if you like ST you are not afraid of science and progress?
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 5:38am (UTC -5)
@Jons It's funny you mention that, I was recently talking to a friend about my frustration that sci-fi of all things tends to do this. His theory was that the majority of science-fiction stories are retellings of the Frankenstein story, that they're all about the dangers of the future and man playing with fire. I don't think "majority" is accurate but it's definitely a big theme through a lot of sci-fi.

It's probably just a reflection of our society too though, in that we tend to elevate and personify nature ("not what nature intended") versus a general theme that man cannot exceed nature and shouldn't try (transhumanism, genetic modification, that sort of thing). I tried to explain to a friend who "doesn't drink anything with chemicals in it" that water is a chemical; we went around in circles for 20 minutes.

I like that duality in fiction though, there's this sort of double-edged sword, we celebrate the potential of the future yet are wary at the same time (striking a balance is probably best).

Along those lines, I recommend Spike Jonze' latest movie "Her".
Plot setup (but not ending) spoilers: People focus on the "man falls in love with his operating system" element like it's a joke, but it ends up being a really nice and positive look at how love transcends the need for bodies. And I'd say it's quite a pro-science movie, if you know what I mean. There's never a sense of "how sad, why couldn't he find a real person", the movie barely even questions the worth of an AI (one or two characters aside).
Ryan of Nine
Sat, Mar 1, 2014, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
I'm terribly disappointed that the focus of this episode wasn't on the cloning. A rape-victim/abortion allegory could have made this one of the better episodes of early TNG. My head is spinning at the possibility.
Fri, Mar 21, 2014, 1:43am (UTC -5)
Speaking of rape, the Irish caricature woman was absolutely right that a small group of men had no business making decisions for a whole group of people, especially when those decisions are sexual. And for Picard to tell her she had a choice but still pressure her into going was way out of character. What if all the women don't want to be used as incubators? What if two people fall in love and want to be monogamous? What if some of the women feel no attraction to any of the men? Are they going to be forced into sex because it's their duty? The episode suggests the women don't have much of a choice. To me, that concept was far more disturbing than the clone killing scene.
Sat, Mar 29, 2014, 6:25pm (UTC -5)
This is an episode full of bad caricatures. They never went into a real discussion of the ethics of cloning or of what it means to own your genetic code. What if the clone guys had taken some of their stray hair or mucus as samples? That's a real scientific possibility and done by policemen to test people's DNA without their consent.

Also, what's the point of a wool sweater that only covers the breasts? Don't they know that body fat in this area already provides plenty of insulation?

The most problematic part of the episode is when three men, including Picard, bargain away women's sexual freedom in exchange for shelter. Isn't that basically prostitution? They barely acknowledge at the end that women might have the right to refuse having three husbands. How would Picard feel if he was forced to take on three wives or leave the Enterprise to be dropped off at the nearest planet? It's weird that a ship full of celibates is comfortable forcing women to take on three husbands. This is more Starfleet arrogance where they're obviously superior to these primitive people and would never themselves agree to play by the rules they're imposing on others. A disturbing anti-feminist and morally retrograde episode.
Mon, Apr 7, 2014, 7:13pm (UTC -5)
Who could Worf have caught Klingon measles from?

And if he has a Klingon disease that made him faint, why did Pulaski claim that "Klingons don't faint"? It's like saying that humans don't sneeze. The whole exchange seemed absurd.
Mon, Apr 7, 2014, 10:05pm (UTC -5)
Jack, the whole subplot is absurd. The whole episode is absurd. A good 70% of the 2nd season is absurd!

(But I never realized it was absurd for the reason you mention. Good catch!)
Mon, Dec 29, 2014, 7:07pm (UTC -5)
"A disturbing anti-feminist and morally retrograde episode."

Yes. This one is unforgivably bad on almost every level. Half a star for the enjoyable Worf-Pulaski moments, but everything from the "three children each from three husbands" conclusion to Riker murdering (yes, murdering) the clones in their sleep with no permission or objection raised to the unnecessary Irish caricatures to Brenna's obsession with her own *dirty feet* make this one of the worst TNG hours yet. I am going to need a couple of days before I start watching again.
Sat, Jan 10, 2015, 6:26am (UTC -5)
@Tim, there is no such thing as St Pattie's day. Pattie is not short for Patrick, it's a girl's name. Just as an FYI, as they say....
Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 3:35am (UTC -5)
The story is rubbish, but still, entertaining rubbish. As long as you don't think too much about the implications for the Star Trek universe (Riker bedding a foreign leader's daughter and murdering the clones, the space Irish caricatures, Picard ordering two separate cultures [one of which finds the idea of sexual intercourse revolting] to interbreed and install polygamy etc.), there are actually a lot of funny moments and we learn a new sex euphemism ("washing feet"). Plus, apart from all that, we get the great Klingon tea ceremony scene, which is one of the reasons why I am sad that Pulaski was only on the show for one season. She certainly got more character development in these few episodes than some of the main characters got over the whole series.

Bonus: This was one of the episodes which were redone for "Sinnlos im Weltraum" (pointless in space), a German TNG gagdub from the early 1990s. There, the Enterprise is en route to a big drinking party and picks up the Bringloidi to have them brew liquor on the ship. Danilo O'Dell constantly asks Picard for the way to the loo to take a "beer shit". The away team only beams down to the Mariposa colony because their leader is supposed to have stored a few crates of beer. And of course Pulaski conducts a bioscan on Worf's dick. Well, I didn't say it was particularly highbrow.
The Dreamer
Sun, Mar 22, 2015, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
Definitely another example of early series wierdness and TOS like scenarios. What was stopping them from recommending that more humans transport there and help in some way? But alas, these are people we will never see again and will not be contacted, they are isolated and must survive.

The kill the clone scene was definitely a whiff.

The Eddie Murphy look alikes wrere amusing though. Hee, Hee, Hee . . . . .

Best scene was when Worf gave them a real drink.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
Funnily enough, I was also about to start this with something along the lines of ""Sometimes you just have to bow to the absurd," says Picard. Not me."

This is a horror show of epic proportions, and smacks to me of two ideas not strong enough for their own show being rammed together. From the broad humour and brazen caricatures of the first half, to the more serious and disturbing elements of the second half, to the morally questionable conclusion, this hits all the wrong beats.

The tea ceremony offers some redemption - including a welcome call back for Klingon love poetry - but it can't save it. A shocker. 1 star.
Mon, Oct 19, 2015, 6:39pm (UTC -5)
@Jack You asked, "And if he has a Klingon disease that made him faint, why did Pulaski claim that 'Klingons don't faint?'"

I think she simply meant that fainting was very very rare for Klingons. And when it turns out that he has a childhood disease, that makes sense. Most Klingons would have had it as children, but if an adult got it, he might faint.

Jammer asked why Riker and Brenna hooked up. For me, that was one of the few parts of the episode that made sense. Brenna is exactly the type of woman Riker likes--smart, sexy, confident, powerful. Not to mention she was wearing a knitted crop-top, which is always welcome.
Jason R.
Mon, Nov 23, 2015, 11:28am (UTC -5)
I am a big fan of Pulowski, but I found her reflexive bigotry toward the clone society distasteful. Although saying this means looking behind the plot (which I try not to do) I actually got the feeling that Pulowski wasn't interesting in finding a solution to the genetic degradation problem (and wouldn't have helped them even if she could have!), because of her prejudice against cloning. In a Star Trek context, I just found that baffling and unworthy of her character.

Also noteworthy in this episode was the flagrant murder of several clones by Riker, which was precipitated by Picard's flippant dismissal of the notion of ANY Enterprise crew donating genetic material. Again, it was not Riker and Pulowski's refusal to voluntarily donate their material that troubled me, but Picard's casual presumption that nobody of the 1,000 crew members would agree to this that bugged me. If he had cited the Prime Directive that would have been one thing - but I just wasn't on the same page with this anti cloning attitude. It just seemed out of place. Riker's notion that something would be lost in the universe if he was cloned (an ironic comment considering what ultimately happened with his character and the Thomas Riker character) came across as superstitious, again out of place in the Star Trek universe and unworthy of a Starfleet officer. For the record, I would have been fine with the donation myself!

The episode ends with yet another baffling point where Picard more or less orders the two societies to merge, even prescribing polygamy as a solution to their problem. As others noted, this was yet another dubious decision that just felt out of place and totally inconsistent with the setting and character.

It's like the writers were just on another frequency from the rest of us with this episode.
Fri, May 6, 2016, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
Why did the Irish stereotypes and the Clones have to merge their societies? It would have made more sense for the Clones to ask for DNA from them and maybe some nearby colonies In order to continue their society. But no Each man has three wives Each wife has to have three kids from three husbands for the next nine years.
1 Star for the Tea ceremony.
Wed, May 18, 2016, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
This episode has an interesting production history where the writer wanted to depict how bad the U.S. handles immigration by illustrating that just because "simple immigrants" can be a bit rough around the edges, the U.S. shouldn't be too stuffy to accept them. Apparently one of TNG's executives at the time was Irish, and didn't understand the writer's pitch until was put into terms of Irish immigrants. And of course, the executive decided there and then that this episode *must* be about Irish immigrants.

So interesting idea, horrible execution. Danilo O'Dell is so rough he offends Irish peoples world-wide. Maybe the Enterprise should have let the star wipe him out, so the universe wouldn't be further populated by horrible Irish caricatures.

As for the tech-dependent society, why didn't they consider space exploration? Surely they could've looked for nearby colonies to trade, work, and proliferate with. None of their plight makes any sense unless you consider their race built to inevitably mate with O'Dell's group.

The only thing redeemable about these people is Brenna O'Dell, who despite also being a caricature, at least depicts a competent women in charge of incompetent men.

The Worf/Polaski scenes are fine, but don't really fit into the message of the episode.

1 star.
Phil Tevlin
Sat, Jun 4, 2016, 3:32pm (UTC -5)
The ONLY thing I liked about this episode was Brenna O'Dell--she reminded me of a very good friend of mine. I'm of Irish descent, and yes, the women of Ireland are a strong minded bunch.
Tue, Jun 21, 2016, 9:43am (UTC -5)
In regards to the comment of "Tom" who calls this episode "disturbing anti-feminist", I want to add that I feel your criticism one-sided and inconsequent. The plan to mix both societies in that episode called for both men and women having three partners each - each woman having three men and each man having three women. So the notion of "three men bargaining away women's sexual freedom" and the criticism of anti-feminism fall short, in my opinion. First, if at all, it bargained about women's and men's sexual freedom. Second, with Pulaski, a woman was also involved in creating this plan. And third, it didn't seem to me as if force as involved. Both societies agreed on that plan, and if anyone disagreed, nothing to me pointed to the suspicion that force would be involved.

Still, this episode is definitely not one of TNG's token episodes, and altogether a rather weak one. Others here have made some good points on why and how it is.
Vladimir Estragon
Tue, Jun 28, 2016, 4:56pm (UTC -5)
I've always enjoyed this episode, actually. My big complaint is that it perpetuates the ridiculous belief that clones somehow emerge from the gestation process as full-grown adults. What Riker should have found in the lab would be at most fertilized eggs, not body snatcher pod people.

Also, there are presumably thousands of Mariposans (since they have cities). Why couldn't the Bringloidi males (and the Enterprise males, for that matter) donate sperm to inseminate the clone women? Riker didn't seem too reluctant to donate his DNA to the Bringloidi genome.
Sun, Nov 6, 2016, 6:42am (UTC -5)
and here I have to disagree with you Jammer.
I find this a nice episode, while not the best of all, it still is one of the few than you will remember as the "irishman and a herd on the ship" and I for one like my stereotypes. However I have to agree this episode has a dark side than is passed to easely as well.

I judge an episode from 3 points :
*hard scifi
*overal enjoyment

In the hard scify point this one ranks supurb.
all facets are plausible, only the "exact break up of the ship in 2 parts with both ariving on a habitable planet some distance from eachother" while plausible, it is a bit far streched.
and the best cells for cloning are not the ones lining the stomach, but stemcells from other area's but not sure that knowledge was available when this came out.
so overall 4,5/5 for hard scifi

no conflicts and thats an achievement in itself, but also no tie in what so ever with any other episode or movie of trek what so ever.
I find they did not go deep enough with worfs measels, some talk about him not being exposed to klingons as a child enough, and how he now got it due some recent contact with klingon children would have been nice.
Overall a solid 3.5/5

Lots of funny scenes, the irish and the herde on board were great.
The o'donnel and his feisty daughter too, sure our lady's man would like a hit of that.
The worf scene did offer some comical relieve but whe could have done without, the tea ceremony was nice though and worth it, only I felt a bit more pain and suffering and sharing that poetry would have been nice, not having worf stand back onb the bridge the next second.
But I have to deduct MAYOR points for the murder of their two clones, as I am personally a strong advocate AGAINST abortus, I find the calmth they murdered their two clones horrible, it turns two characters of the crew forever in bloody murderes without giving so much as a hinge about it.
(for the one who saying an rape/abortion paralel is used here, well in that case I see abortion as murder in the first degree, and a larger crime than rape. I am also against the death penalty, while killing the rapist would from a moral point at least be understandable (it would still be a larger crime than the rape itself) killing the child (or in this case the clone) that has had no hand what so ever in the crime done unto you, makes you a far worse criminal than the one was that inflicted it on you.)
overal I give this episode 2/5 points (it would have been 4.5/5 if they left the clone murdering out, I cannot have that slip)

so thats gives an average of 3.5/5 or translated to the stars rating 2.5 stars.
Wed, Nov 23, 2016, 8:13pm (UTC -5)
You know, watching these episodes really makes me think about how much money was put into this stuff, how long it took to build things that will show up in only one scene in a terrible story and how nobody would think about. Here, they had to pay for all the Irish costumes and their stuff, then build an entire big set just for that clone colony, both of which are there for a half the episode. I dunno, there's just something depressing about it.

Anyway, yeah, this episode is a failure on every possible level. Plot points introduced just to be abandoned after two scenes (including the freaking teaser), absurd stereotypes, awful attempt at abortion Aesop (perfectly fitting the wacky Irish antics in the first half), incredibly arrogant behavior from our heroes and just plain terrible storytelling.

I like how Picard says he won't find any volunteers on the Enterprise (and apparently the whole Federation, since the option of just getting their request to some colonies willing to send them samples is never brought up). I may not be entirely on board with that particular criticism, but the whole "yes, we are ALL individuals" attitude really does show up here and there.

Nothing? What about Picard threatening to steal their clone-making technology? Funny these assholes got the idea in the same scene that opened with Riker saying they right to their own bodies.
Fri, Jan 20, 2017, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
There needs to be a special star system that means "horrible yet entertaining; hate it but want to watch it again!"

Love Brenna and her odd crop-top. Hate the insulting depiction of dumb dirty Irishmen - even in the eighties that seemed just ugly. Hated that Brenna got stuck being the men's mommy, practically. Hated that she went after the leader of the other group because "He looks like he has two coins to rub together!" Hated that the Irish females were expected to breed babies inside their bodies for the good of society - yeah I read that novel: it's called "Handmaid's Tale". It's prevalent IRL too: it exists in backward and fundamentalist and poor societies all over the world. Breed for God, breed for your man, breed soldiers for our revolution, breed because it's your female responsibility.

And yet in spite of all those objections... Worf! Pulaski! , Riker! The whole damn episode entertains me, I guess even more than it infuriates me. While the Season One clunkers make we wince and look away, this one makes me stare with mouth agape.
Wed, May 24, 2017, 4:30pm (UTC -5)
This was terrible.
Dreadful stereotyping of Irish tinker ,gypsy communities is not even remotely funny but it is insulting.
What were they thinking of for goodness sake?-this may just about have worked in a frothy hollywood musical some decades previously but not in this context.
And the wrap up-so all sins forgiven eh?
This guy arranges the non consensual assault and intrusive violation of two senior officers and there are no negative consequences.

Mind you I guess the Enterprise did go and poke its intrusive nose into the colony's affairs to begin with.

This one gets 3 wormholes from me.
Derek D
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
Loved Brenna O'Dell and the touching tea ceremony, but not much else. I am not a fan of Pulaski's but I really liked her in this one--she actually had some feeling and depth to her. Otherwise, this was rubbish. The stereotyping of the Irish was incredibly insulting and beneath the show. And wake up dudes--if you didn't agree to let them clone you then OF COURSE they're going to try to do it anyway. I didn't expect them to shoot Pulaski and Riker, but all they'd need is a hair follicle or skin cell or something which wouldn't be too hard to get. So don't be so shocked! The destruction of the clones was really quite a controversial act--isn't this murder?--that got no play.
I agreed pretty much with Jammer's review in its entirety. 1 1/2 stars
Tue, Jan 23, 2018, 12:54am (UTC -5)
The best thing I can say about this episode is that Brenna Odell (play by Rosalyn Landor) had a really nice body back in 1989.
Thu, Feb 15, 2018, 9:14am (UTC -5)
First time I've quit out of an episode before the end. That says a lot for how bad this is.
Thu, Feb 22, 2018, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
The Irish ☘️ leader’s takeoff on the classic song “Send in the Clowns” with his phrase “send in the clones” was hilarious.
Peter Swinkels
Mon, Mar 19, 2018, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
Amusing but not very good.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Sat, Mar 24, 2018, 9:53am (UTC -5)
Buried in the muck of this show was actually a good idea for a good episode: One ship carrying two groups of colonists that is "lost" to the Federation. And the two colonies take widely different paths of development.

I was always intrigued by the concept of Federation colonies, and those episodes on that theme usually didn't hang together well to my chagrin. This is a prime example of a solid idea gone stereotypically bad.

This one might have worked better if the Enterprise encountered the clone colony first. The ship is ready to evacuate them because of solar activity, but the away team quickly learns the colony has protective measures in place.

The clones send the Enterprise away by telling about the second group of colonists, the ones who eschew technology. However, they come up with a ruse to keep the away team (Riker, Pulaski, Geordi and a red shirt we must sadly sacrifice) on the planet.

So off goes the Enterprise to save some Luddites. When they get there, this away team ( Data, Troi and O'Brien) find not a bunch of wild Irish stereotypes but just a general group of Europeans who are pretty happy in their simple nonmechanical lives but also stubbornly proud about it. And they refuse to leave. To the point they attack O'Brien at one point to make their point.

(I think this is where you can have the strong daughter make the father and leader see they can no longer reject all technology; they must adapt to some technology to survive)

Eventually, the solar flares get so bad the daughter wins the day. They beam on board and head back to Clone Colony.

So of course our team learns about the clones AFTER the Enterprise as left orbit and they are forced into the clone experiments. Red Shirt is killed when the first attempt goes wrong.

Enterprise comes in when the away team is about to undergo the second cloning attempt.

And on their own with some assist by Troi, the daughter of Luddite group and the leader of the clones decide to merge colonies, one not too dependent nor totally devoid of technology.
Tue, Apr 3, 2018, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
Another really poor episode of TNG S2 -- so predictable that the 2 completely distinct colonies would have to be shotgun married together for their self-preservation, but how we get to this obvious solution is painful.

There are so many loose ends to this one: How did the 2 colonies that came from the same ship get separated such that one kept all the technology and the other had to live as peasants? What was the whole point of Worf's collapse -- just so that he could have a confidante in Pulaski? And how does that figure into the rest of the episode? What was the point of horndog Riker hooking up with the Irish leader's daughter? Trek made a few too many mistakes trying to abbreviate a manufactured romance. And was it Eddie Murphy who acted as one of the cloned humans in the 2nd colony? (ok the last question is isn't really important).

The part with the Irish colony -- it was too tedious, poorly written, poorly acted. Didn't it seem like Picard was extremely curt with this group? Good that he finally has a laugh about it. But overall, TNG suffered from a great deal of this kind of poorly conceived humanoid species in the early going that look particularly bad in light of other shows and later seasons of TNG.

The 2nd colony presented a more appropriate story for Trek. The need for genetic material -- reminds me of "Wink of an Eye" from TOS S3. The idea of rape/abortion ethical issues should have been examined when it was pretty clear that Riker/Pulaski did not want to contribute their genetic material -- it is right for them to have control over their own bodies.

1 star for "Up the Long Ladder" -- no way am I bowing to the absurd. This episode is just very weak on so many levels. Some stuff just thrown in without any consequence, an entirely predictable ending. Funny (actually strange) how the episode all of a sudden shifts to the 2nd colony and we don't hear about the 1st colony until it's time for the shotgun marriage at the end. The story should have just had 1 colony that was running out of genetic material and then focus more on the ethical aspects surrounding cloning etc. Instead, the bulk of the episode with the focus on the Irish colonists was like an insult to the intelligence of Trek fans.
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 3, 2018, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
Ugh, ok. Rahul, your diatribe against this turkey has motivated me to find something positive about it, and I've come up with one.

The one thing very clever about this episode's use of the Irish colonists is that there is a very deliberate choice to portray them as a bunch of moronic hicks, and it succeeds at this all too well. And thrown in for good measure is 'horndog Riker', as you put it. Both of these are irritating, and I think it's deliberate. We're suppose to dismiss the entire story with these peasants as being a waste of our time, a waste of the Enterprise's time, and Riker's 'romance' as being so lowbrow that it's a mustache. Yay, a group of people who don't know how to do anything but have a roll in the hay. How inspiring.

But then we turn on a dime and see a colony devoid of any such irritants, to a fault; it's a dry, colorless and cerebral place, with people who are mere copies of each other. They have no faults, and also no life to them. Literally. They can't breed, and this is shown in the sci-fi setting to be a weakness in their cloning technique, but metaphorically it's meant to portray that if you take away the 'messy' process of procreation and turn it into a factory technique - much like Brave New World - something crucial will have been lost. And this brings us back to our messy Irish colonists, whose most annoying features, which we sorely wished them to shed, is meant to lead inextricably to the other colony's situation, once actually shed. The facepalm horndog story - suddenly comes to light as the most natural thing ever, two people seeing each other and nature doing its thing. This 'cheesy' story, which we also wished had never happened, *never did happen* on the other colony, and now they're doomed because of it to live a life of sterility.

As I see it this episode very carefully gave us a series of things to hate in the first colony and wish wasn't there, and then gives us our wish in the second colony, with ghastly results. Be careful what you wish for, right? You may not like how it looks down the line. And I do think there's a cautionary tale here about trying to sanitize life too much and pack each part of life into a neat box that doesn't annoy anyone. You end up smoothing out all the rough edges and are left going through the motions of a life but nothing more.

It's too bad the episode actually does suck, hah. Because this narrative is actually one that needs to be told. The writing intent is clever, but I sometimes say you should watch out trying to portray something annoying; you might just succeed and end up with an annoying episode. Any meaningful message will be lost when the audience has already checked out.
Tue, Apr 3, 2018, 9:58pm (UTC -5)
@ Peter G.

Yes, I agree with you. The writers had an idea for a take on a classic Trek theme, but as was often the case in early TNG, the execution was totally botched with too much emphasis being placed on the wrong things such that the episode comes off as difficult to believe and enjoy.

This episode is supposed to be about how 2 diametrically opposing societies need each other for survival. And "horndog Riker" is a foreshadowing of the predictable final solution -- it should be totally out of character for the 2nd in command to get shotgun romantically involved with the Irish leader's daughter who is very bossy etc. But it happens successfully and so we are to believe that the Irish peasants and the clones will start pro-creating and live happily ever after. Not good enough for me.

I think of something similar like "The Enemy Within" -- how the Jekyll and Hyde Kirks needed each other for survival as a far superior example of this theme. It also provides an examination of what makes up a man / society without all the unnecessary distractions.
Wed, Apr 4, 2018, 11:27am (UTC -5)
So how was Worf's measles and the tea ceremony supposed to work into this episode? If I was being really generous I'd say the writers were trying to show how Klingon Worf's over-the-top reaction to something relatively mundane like measles is an example of how diverse cultures can handle a relatively simple problem in a dramatically different way. Though this line of thinking doesn't really fit the tea ceremony which plays out more like "hey look, Klingons are brutal warrior people but with elegant ceremonies too!" message.

It's probably safe to say writers just wanted to have a nice but unrelated story about Pulaski bonding with a member of the senior staff. Though considering this small exchange could have been a microcosm of the episode's larger message, as often the case in TNG's side stories, it's a bit of a missed opportunity.
Peter G.
Wed, Apr 4, 2018, 11:43am (UTC -5)
Chrome, yeah, it's a good question. Maybe they were trying to use the Worf story as a way of reinforcing the main point that it's healthy for a culture to have intense diversity, and that peoples who are vastly different from each other are better suited to helping each other than are homogeneous peoples? I could see an IDIC message buried in here somewhere, but honestly...yeah. It's not good.
Sat, May 26, 2018, 9:41am (UTC -5)
When Picard killed his future self in Time Squared it didn't matter because it was already doomed. What Riker did was murder. He passed it off as justifiable homicide. The problem with that is the clone was innocent. I suppose you could liken it to an abortion, if you get technical about it, but I don't see a clone as being the same as a fetus. (I don't condone abortion either, but some have no problem with it.)
Sat, May 26, 2018, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
“What Riker did was murder. He passed it off as justifiable homicide. The problem with that is the clone was innocent.“

I think cloning is outlawed in the Federation so I wouldn’t be surprised if the clones have no rights here. And to be fair, our society has no laws regarding the treatment of artificially created human life. It’s really a subject beyond abortion and delves into philosophical questions about treatment of artificial life.
Jason R.
Sat, May 26, 2018, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
Chrome, I find it inconceivable that any court today would arbitrarily conclude that a human clone has no rights and can be killed without consideration. Ethically, morally and legally I see no serious argument on this point. I suppose the Federation could be different, but that seems unlikely. Imcidentally, a ban on cloning hardly equates to stripping clones of their rights and permitting their murder.
Sat, May 26, 2018, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R.

I don’t disagree with you, but this discussion begs the question of when is an artificially constructed embryo or cell cluster considered life? With the topic of abortion you can make the argument that every step from fertilization to impregnation is biological and considered life and therefore deserves protection at all stages. It’s not quite as simple here because the scientists presumably use inorganic matter in the process of reproduction. So were the clones killed here still mostly in the inorganic stage? I don’t think we get an answer this episode so Riker’s culpability is still somewhat murky. And that’s assuming Starfleet has regulations to protect the early stages of cloning.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 8:46am (UTC -5)
A clone is a clone, Chrome. It's really that simple. It will be an exact biological duplicate, so your "inorganic" stage makes less sense that it started out with - which was zero sense.

I liked the episode for some mild comedy. Highlight is

"MY GOD, Picard! The place is a bloody death trap!! Lightning bolts falling from the ceiling!"
Jason R.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 10:31am (UTC -5)
"It’s not quite as simple here because the scientists presumably use inorganic matter in the process of reproduction. So were the clones killed here still mostly in the inorganic stage?"

I don't really get you here. You seem to be using "organic" to mean "alive" or maybe "biological"? But even then I can't follow you. You are suggesting a cluster of cells growing in a woman is automatically alive but not necessarily a fully recognizably human clone?!
Peter G.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 10:35am (UTC -5)
This was covered sufficiently in A Man Alone later on. Killing a clone is murder.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 11:19am (UTC -5)
Well it’s interesting that clones get killed in other series, and I would add Star Trek: Into Darkness as another example where killing clones is considered under. But perhaps I’m not making myself clear here. This episode is dealing with not fully functional clones, probably akin to a fetus (with an exception I’ll get to). That’s different than what was going on in DS9 where a fully grown clone was killed. Now, stay with me here... at some point in a clone’s creation it’s made from non-living chemicals or inorganic compounds. At what point do those chemicals become life? Surely before they’re living they can still treated and disposed of like chemicals.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 11:27am (UTC -5)
“It will be an exact biological duplicate”

...once it’s fully grown I agree. But before then I would assert it shouldn’t be granted any more rights than a houseplant. Chop up the logic all you like, but there’s a fundamental difference between a biological conception between two people and a birth grown in a pertri dish in a lab. One has established rights, the other, not so much. Not yet, anyway...
Peter G.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 11:36am (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

Clones don't come from 'chemicals', they come from human tissue that's grown just like a human being. Since this is sci-fi we may suppose that the growing process isn't identical to what happens with a human fetus as it grows into an adult human, but something *like that* must be happening where a small number of cells take shape and begin to 'grow up'. In the DS9 episode the science of it looks really wonky as - perhaps for dramatic effect - they made it look like a total mess so that they could have a puzzle as to what it was becoming. The reality would likely be closer to the forming of a small person who then grows in the vat.

So your question about when the 'life' begins is morally identical to when human life begins now. Does it begin when the process of growth is initiated, or when it reaches X level of development, or when it's totally able to be separated from the womb/machinery? I don't see how being a clone changes that.

However I'll add that the main argument for why abortion is acceptable is that it's a woman's body and she shouldn't be made to do something with it she's unwilling to do. In the case of a fetus/baby in a vat that argument would be gone and it would be more like *giving someone else* an abortion against their will. I'm willing to bet that would be tried as murder in a court.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 11:42am (UTC -5)
It could be that by the time the 24th century rolls around there will be fully established sets of rights for cloned humans in their growth cycle not dissimilar to rights granted to different terms of pregnancy.

But if we take this episode as canon, then obviously Riker and Polaski were not charged with murder. It stands to reason, then, that early term clones are not protected, even in the 24th century. Unless the lot of you are saying Picard went on to cover up Riker’s crime, a notion in itself that seems quite of character.
Peter G.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 11:51am (UTC -5)
For my part I'd guess that the writers had no interest in the subject of clone rights and were tunnel-visioned on the idea of a sterile, sexless society being really bad.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

I agree considering the quality of this episode.

Nevertheless in-universe I can’t think of a Trek episode that deals with the rights of clones at early stages of creation. It might have been too controversial a concept to tackle in the late 1980s, though I’m not even sure how the argument would play out if human clones existed today.
William B
Mon, May 28, 2018, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
"However I'll add that the main argument for why abortion is acceptable is that it's a woman's body and she shouldn't be made to do something with it she's unwilling to do. In the case of a fetus/baby in a vat that argument would be gone and it would be more like *giving someone else* an abortion against their will. I'm willing to bet that would be tried as murder in a court."

I agree. However, just to say what I think the idea behind this sequence was: another argument against abortion IN THE CASE OF RAPE is that people should have some control over their genetic material. That is what I think the (I want to really emphasize the word metaphor here) METAPHOR is here -- Riker and Pulaski are raped, in that they have their genetic material stolen and used to create new life forms against their will, and so the "argument" behind that clone-killing scene is that Riker and Pulaski have right not to have their genetic code stolen from them. And while the clones looked like Riker and Pulaski, I think that they were meant to not yet be conscious, and thus in some abstract, METAPHORIC sense, "not alive yet."

I'm not defending this episode or that scene, I just think that this is what the idea is.

The thing is, at the moment, the most common occasion in which someone is forced to create a life form with their genetic material, without consenting at all, is in the case where a woman is raped and then gets pregnant. I agree that the scene had nothing to do with cloning but is actually about abortion, and I think that's the analogy that's at the heart of the scene.

However, I basically agree that Riker and Pulaski's actions are wrong here if we take this episode literally, as opposed to as a fully-metaphorical not-very-coherent thought experiment. They were raped and should feel violated and disgusted -- because I think it should be a fundamental tenet of human ethics that people should have a right to keep their own genetic material and not have it stolen. However, they are not being forced to "carry" the clones now that they have been created, and so while they have a right to be angry and the Clone Society did a great crime to them in stealing their material, the Riker/Pulaski clones seem to be viable to be living as sentient human beings when they wake up.
William B
Mon, May 28, 2018, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
Or more specifically, the clones' right to existence is more important than Riker and Pulaski's right to control their genetic material.

Drafting off Chrome, though, I don't think this would NECESSARILY be true from the very instant that the clones started forming -- like if they started with ten cells in a petri dish, even if those cells could form a full human being clone eventually, I'd say (not conclusively -- but it's my take) that they wouldn't meet the standard for a human life with all the requisite rights. The thing is, because we see the clones look like physically complete adult humans, it really seems like they should meet the standard for an alive human, as opposed to a collection of cells that if left to grow could become an alive human, if cloning is *anything at all* like the way real cloning works. Although, given that they somehow grow up to be adults (in Pulaski's case, a middle aged adult) before waking up, it's obvious that it doesn't really work anything like real cloning. I think the episode works best if you take it as being very stagey and non-literal -- and on that level, it still doesn't particularly work.
Peter G.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
It's a bad episode.
William B
Mon, May 28, 2018, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 2, 2018, 4:42am (UTC -5)
The whole thing is a hot mess.
Sat, Jun 23, 2018, 3:38am (UTC -5)
Now that the autopsy's over, I would add "Madam, have you ever considered a career in security?" is probably one of Worf's funniest lines in TNG.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Mon, Jul 30, 2018, 9:09pm (UTC -5)
Funny how that these episodes that kind of suck generate such passionate commentary on various issues.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Mon, Jul 30, 2018, 9:10pm (UTC -5)
Funny how that these episodes that kind of suck generate such passionate commentary on various issues.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 4:17am (UTC -5)
I know this episode is years old but I need to complain. Didn't we already do the "kidnap you for your genetic heritage" thing in "When the Bough Breaks"? Side note, I love how the camera focused on an incensed William 'To boldly bone things that no man has boned before' Riker when the Prime Minister said "we find sexual reproduction a little repugnant"
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
I was going to give this 0/10 but then remembered the tea ceremony so it gets 1/10 for that.

+1 on Jammer's review
Ari Paul
Thu, May 9, 2019, 2:30am (UTC -5)
It was a good episode right up until Riker MURDERED those two people.
Wed, Jun 26, 2019, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
I don't care how ya'll feel about this episode, I like it. Just above me Ari Paul says Riker "murdered" -- NO, would you want some "crazy" stealing your cells and cloning them? I would not. They were not "people" -- it is not murder.

It is now all those years later and we all know so much more about INSANE people......The man that took these people into the universe to go back to the before Christ era's only wanted to play God. LIKE JIM JONES. ** Spinning wheels? Would you ladies want to go back to that? Not me. What all that means is that he wanted to rule a crowd of humans and have sex with countless women and little girls just like JIM JONES. Naturally, the guy died as did all the forebears of what was left of the colony. The other colony? Just imitations of humans. Who cares.

Viewer's don't realize that every one of these people has stagnated. They listened to a crazy man and went into space for the wrong reasons. They were already stupid so I wonder how any one of them could learn to fly a ship?

As for Riker getting it on with Brenna, these people would have a lot of diseases whereas the Enterprise crew would be sterile of disease ...... they would have run out of medicines two centuries ago. They were uneducated so they would not be able to exist any other way than to recede back into cave-man-style living. Pitiful.

As for all the crap about telling women to have multiple sexual partners, that is exactly what happened after the worst of the European plague came to pass...the DNA had to be diversified so offspring would not be GAGA down the see, most of the people had children with their own kinsmen, forget marriage. Think about it. THAT IS WHY WE ALL HAVE A TWIN SOMEWHERE ON THIS EARTH!!

The writers are not stupid, they are well educated, learned men and women. If that were so, they would not be writing for t.v. or movies.

The Samarian Snare came before, I like it too. The Pakled's are funny as whatever.

Must add this because I am not going to go to those episodes and comment. It is a farce that Earth only has two doctor's who can do successful surgery on critical patients. When Worf injured his spine...the doc brought in could not fullfil the job. Crusher had to spring into action and do it. Wait!, Picard is near death and Pulaski is rushed over to wherever to save his life. That man (doctor) should have been kicked out of the medical service. Back to Crusher, Beverly berated the lady doc so much and made countless threats so it is no wonder she could not FIX Worf. AND! Crusher was against this kind of surgery to begin with!
Mon, Aug 19, 2019, 4:04pm (UTC -5)
@Cinnamon Go home, you're drunk.
Fri, Sep 6, 2019, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
Watching and commenting:

--OPENER: Some spooky music and Worf growling on the bridge for no reason. Picard and Riker have a weird conversion in the Ready Room about a distress code that has old Terran origins. Worf collapses.

--Love Worf and Pulaski. Worf upset that he had a kiddie disease and Pulaski covers for him.

--"You can learn a lot about people from their luggage," says Picard. I like that. They learn about The Mariposa, a ship of naturalists that is a good suspect for the origin of the signal.

--Love Pulaski and Worf! The tea ceremony. They drink poison together!

--So far, no clue as to why this episode is called Up the Long Ladder. Oh, no! Is this the one with the awful Irish stereotypes?? I remember it. Ugh! So disappointing after a fun and intriguing start.

--Studly Riker - double ugh. Picard talking to us all as he says "Sometimes you have to bow to the absurd." Do I gotta, Jean Luc?

--Bored and googling this title, it's from an anti-English Irish ditty:

“Up the long ladder
And down the short rope
To hell with King Billy
And God bless the Pope
If that doesn’t do them
We’ll tear them in two
And send them to hell
…With their red, white and blue!”

Lovely. I guess this is a reference to a hanging? Climbing Up the Long Ladder to go down the short rope? So . . . going to your doom, your death. I guess that fits both groups of colonists before the Enterprise rescues them. Sorta.

--Dialogue is so stilted and awful on the Mariposan planet. The music is extra weird and not really suitable. Intrusive.

--Like Picard1 when confronted with Picard2, Riker and Pulaski destroy their duplicates.

--Lots of stuff about identity and individuality in the last few eps.

--Just disjointed and not very well done.

Not good.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Sat, Apr 4, 2020, 6:50pm (UTC -5)
Much like When the Bough Breaks, this is an episode where the plot only works when everyone involved is a blithering idiot. Picard stating that nobody on the Enterprise would be willing to donate their genes? Come on, just ASK them. If not, offer that the Federation is huge and they'll be able to find plenty of people willing to donate, or even move there and breed. But no, the Enterprise is here and this situation must be resolved right stat now.

The situation is apparently so desperate that after they steal Riker's and Pulaski's cells, they go ahead and make nearly fully-grown clones of them (to me they both look like Pulaski, but whatever). Why couldn't they just wait for the Enterprise to leave first? They could just hide the stolen cells in a refrigerator somewhere away from the cloning lab for the day or two the Enterprise would be in orbit. That just boggles the mind. But I guess they needed them to be more than just a petri dish so they could shoot something.

As to the disposition of the clones, I'm not sure I'd go quite so far as to call it murder. They're clearly frozen, suggesting they haven't been "activated" yet as some folks upthread have mentioned. We honestly don't know their actual level of development since it's hyper-accelerated, but they've definitely not awoken yet, so you could argue that until that point they're not yet alive per se. Yes this is getting into semantics, but that's the nature of the whole abortion argument, as well as for the different types of murder (voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, first and second degree murder, etc.)
Mr Peepers
Wed, Jun 10, 2020, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
These people weren't prostituted together. They were one race race or group of people who split up on two separate planets. Picard just suggested that they all get back together and procreate. Seemed very logical to me. It's not like the Enterprise brought a bunch of Romulans or green slave girls to the planet to prop up their race. The technical people on the planet need to loosen up and stop being so stuffy, and the Irish folk need to get better educated. A match made in heaven. And yes, Brenna. Riker definitely likes girls.
Mr Peepers
Fri, Jul 17, 2020, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
Just watched this episode a few minutes ago.

Evidently, the hypocritical Riker did indeed inject his DNA into the mix. There will soon be a little Riker in the Mariposa gene pool. Sometimes you have to bow to the absurd. I can't believe Brenna was only in a few short scenes. Now we'll never know if she picked Eddie Murphy as a DNA donor.
Sun, Jul 19, 2020, 6:46pm (UTC -5)
Interesting that Riker "washes Brenna's feet" early in the episode, i.e., he briefly shows her around the ship (offscreen) and then they hook up.

One scene later, though, and Brenna's back to being as cranky and argumentative as usual. I guess Riker wasn't very good at foot washing?

Then at the end of the episode, Brenna finds out that the Mariposan Prime Minister has money and power. If you watch closely, as Picard looks on smilingly, you'll see Brenna talking to the PM and she LITERALLY STARTS LOOKING DOWN AT HER FEET as the episode fades to black. I'm not sure if that editing was intentional, but they sure make it seem like Brenna's feet get washed on a frequent basis.

Riker might want to head over to Pulaski's office to get an STD hypo-spray, just in case.
Fri, Sep 4, 2020, 9:34pm (UTC -5)
Most irritating part of the episode was the portrayal of the put-upon woman (Brenna) who does all the work and organizing and thinking - ie, the actual leading - while the men who call themselves leaders act like (drunken) little boys. Why isn’t she the leader, and why does she dutifully clean up after the idiots rather than deposing them? The fact that she keeps spelling out her disdain for the men while continuing to serve and placate them, doesn’t make her lot any more palatable.

Picard’s polygamy solution was fine until Brenna - unable to envision a society that granted her freedom and equality - reinterpreted his meaning as “three husbands, you say?” and turned her gold-digger gaze on the lead clone. I’m pretty sure Picard just meant to encourage casual or transient partnerships among the colonists. This would be a far more pleasant and flexible way to shake up the genetic pool than shackling everyone in triple-matrimony.

(Assuming that males and females are roughly equal in numbers, the only way to give each woman three husbands would be to form 6-person marriage units of 3 men and 3 women. Emotionally arduous, and genetically confining.)
Fri, Sep 4, 2020, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
Side note: I would have eagerly donated my genetic material to the colonists. Am I really the only one who thinks it would be fascinating and fun to have a thousand clones of myself running around on a distant planet?
Top Hat
Sat, Sep 5, 2020, 8:47am (UTC -5)
Yeah, while stealing DNA is definitely wrong (all debates about whether destroying the clones is equally wrong aside), would it be that unreasonable to actually ask for donations of DNA? Is there really nobody on the Enterprise, let alone the whole Federation, who would be willing to agree?
Mon, Jan 25, 2021, 11:38am (UTC -5)
Holy shit, the morals of this episode are horrifying!

These people are clones! That's bad, because...? Aside from the made up fantasy science clone degragation why is it treated like a dramatic shock that they're clones? Why is everyone so sure that the people of the Enterprise will be so against being cloned? I can understand Riker's rationale for himself but not everyone would feel that way. Why not throw out a general survey on the ship, like "who wouldn't mind having a little DNA taken so these people can clone you?", there's like a thousand people on this Enterprise, I'm sure at least a hundred, maybe two of three hundred would agree to being cloned. A clone is just a genetic copy, like a twin, there's nothing inherently wrong about cloning. The only thing the cloners did wrong was incapacitating people and take DNA without their consent (arguably rape?) especially when Riker had explicitly refused.

What about killing the clones? They're effectively performing abortions and what the real life debate usually comes down to is whether or not the fetus constitutes a person (a discussion I'll happily engage in but preferably not here). These are fully grown adult humans, they're clearly people. Yes they were created without rhe consent of their progenitors but they themselves didn't consent either, they're not at fault. They're people, just genetically identical to you, they're their own human beings (also how are they adult? Why aren't the clones newborn babies? Rapid aging technology is frankly way bigger of a deal than cloning). No one even talks about, just pew pew. Closest thing to a discussion is looking to Pulaski for confirmation before killing her clone. Katherine, it's not for you to consent! That person isn't you! A twin couldn't consent to their identical twin to be murdered because they are not the same person. Why doesn't Star Trek understand this now when we've so recently had an excellent episode discussing Data's personhood?

And the solution? What the hell? Just do polygamy, three husbands per wife! Before we even start talking morality, I hope you understand that with a roughly equal split between men and women both men and women will have to engage in overlapping, polygamous relationships. Now, I'm not entirely opposed to polygamy even if I don't think it's for me, if several adults consent to such a relationship they're free to engage in it. The problem here is that you're expecting all of them, both the sex hating clones and the time misplaced Irish farmers, to be on board with it. Like, the people today who are ok with polygamy are usually ok with it because it's always been part of their culture as long as they've been alive. Now, you're asking two cultures to just change at the drop of a hat. Do you honestly think that would work? Do you honestly expect your audience to buy it?

At least we got the Klingon tea ceremony, that was legitimately great for both Worf's and Pulaski's characters. I also kinda like how after they all get chewed out by that lady, Worf is like "Mm, just like a Klingon woman". I find that funny abd pretty charming in a way.
Peter G.
Mon, Jan 25, 2021, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
Some good points, Bob. It's hard to address the issue of killing the clones, because honestly the episode doesn't want to be about that. It's a quick moment meant to wrap-up the discovery of what they did and do away with it. There seems to be no pretense in the episode about what it means of what to do about it, so Riker shooting them seems also to be - plotwise - a way to just make it go away. The fact that on the literal level making it go away in that fashion raises even more issues than the episode is already addressing, is a problem on a story-writing level. By having those clones exist in the first place the writers painted themselves into a corner they could never get back out of in just one episode, or perhaps at all. So I would personally call that a writing error, rather than a moral failure. It was just a mistake in terms of episode construction to write in that they were cloned successfully. I wouldn't worry to much beyond that about the moral implications; they aren't exploring that there and it's not supposed to be about that IMO. There seems to be no argument made that the cloned colonists themselves aren't real people, so clearly if you examine it closely this point isn't even consistent within the episode.

Regarding the polygamy, I have to say this seems to me like pure Roddenberry-itis which is present here and there throughout S1-2. It's not so much that it's a novel or controversial sexual concept being put forward as if the colonists all agree already. It's more like Roddenberry (and presumably this writer) already think it would be grand, and wait 'till these guys discover how good it is to have lots of ladies at once! Now it's not a good optic, to say the least, but I think that's where it's coming from. Amazingly you'd have thought this sort of hippy 'let's forget about monogamy' attitude would have been present more in TOS, but strangely that show - despite Kirk's flings - comes off as much more sensitive about sex than TNG is early on. Maybe it was the network censors or something reigning them in. But anyhow I don't think this episode is presenting the polygamy as a crazy idea but one that these guys will just have to dutifully accept. It feels to me more like the writer (a woman, interestingly) is saying that this is really the best setup anyhow, and boy will it be fun for all of you. So they are therefore expected to like it because it's super-cool, and once they get over themselves they'll love it. Or something like that.
Paul C
Tue, Feb 16, 2021, 5:31am (UTC -5)
Not only does Riker go and exterminate some living beings, he doesn't even bother to run it past Picard first and even mention that he's going down to the planet, and while there, will be exterminating living beings. He immediately sets himself up as judge, jury and, literally, executioner, which is contrary to ST ideals. The doctor nodding agreement and her almost fury at the existence of clones is also at odds with her character. And how does she know to check what they are immediately on arrival, and how can she tell they're clones from a flashing red light? Plus, why does she burst out with it without telling Riker first..?

This episode is deeply flawed.

I was actually living in Ireland when I saw this episode (when it originally aired there) and I can tell you that no-one there is remotely like that... but you probably won't be surprised to know that. And yes, Riker's 'well... hello there' is a bit much, even for him. 'Excuse me Cap'n, if you don't mind I'll stay here, to, er, help, yeah, that's it, giving that lady some of my DNA. And after that I will be exterminating clones, who I didn't give DNA to.'

Tue, Feb 16, 2021, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
@Paul C
>I was actually living in Ireland when I saw this episode (when it originally aired there).

Did you know that in TNG 3x12 "The High Ground" Data mentions the Irish unification of 2024 as an example of terrorism being successful? Apparently this was edited out on it's original broadcast in Ireland.
Bob (a different one)
Tue, Feb 23, 2021, 11:44am (UTC -5)
This episode is a relic of the old days of tv where every Irishman was loud and obnoxious, every Gypsy a thief, every Texan was a rich oil tycoon, and every southerner a hillbilly. Amazingly enough, the broad Irish stereotypes were the least offensive thing about the episode.

The clone plot could have made an excellent episode; I would have loved to have seen a more in depth examination of a culture based on only 5 people. Unfortunately, it's completely half-baked. Bob pointed out several of the things I was going to complain about so I won't bother rehashing all of that.

After rewatching several season 1 and 2 episodes recently I've grown to really dislike Riker. He's smug, arrogant, and his interactions with women come across as smarmy instead of charming.

RIKER: You want to clone us?
RIKER: No way, not me.
GRANGER: How can you possibly be harmed?
RIKER: It's not a question of harm. One William Riker is unique, perhaps even special. But a hundred of him, a thousand of him diminishes me in ways I can't even imagine.
GRANGER: You would be preserving yourself.
RIKER: Human beings have other ways of doing that. We have children.

I'm sure Granger was just chomping at the bit to clone a chunky balding middle-aged guy. Whatever will the colony do without those magnificent tromboning skills?!
Tue, Mar 2, 2021, 4:34pm (UTC -5)
The opinion regaring this episode and the moral in it seem to be as diverse as the two colonies.

It had flaws, prejudices and sexism in it. It was very funny and entertaining. Key sceen to me is when Picard states that it is the diffrences that drives the progress.

The discussion rergarding sceene where Riker destroys the clones is intresting. With my word destroying you can read that I do not see this as neither murder or nor killing. But what was it?

Wether it is possible do develop the close so quick is not relevant in sci-fy. The bodies was there on purpose to create a statment. If they just had destroyed two test tubes the reaction would have been smaller. It was indeed life lying there, but in which stage ?

Which right do you have to your own dna?
Which right do a woman have to decide over her own body and terminate a pregnancy?

So although I find that Riker would have had all the rights to destroy a culitivation sample a couple of hours (or days) old, the destruction of two bodies is the stage displayed made me feel slightly puzzeled and uneasy.
Fri, Mar 5, 2021, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
On occasion TNG actually delivers humor that has stood the test of time. Other times it fails to be funny but the failed attempt at humor is delivered in a way that is at least somewhat endearing because it was representative of the late 80s/90s or is simply just a goofy little Data moment they put in at the end, etc.

This episode is neither of those things. The person who wrote the Klingon alcohol taste testing scene is guilty of crimes against humanity.

Also - man IDK - I'm pro choice but Riker just fucking lighting up the incubated clones without so much as a discussion around it was jarring.

In fact, that's the sad part about this episode, it could have had another one of those Bridge Crew Debates about what was happening and given us an interesting conversation about the concept of stolen DNA being used to give you life.

Lastly, this episode is guilty of one of TNG's worst and most-frequent crimes: Technology that is convenient to the plot which would have completely undermined plotlines from other episodes. Pulaski scans and notes 'missing' cells for her and Riker. Cells are created and destroyed CONSTANTLY in our body but ok let's go with it that they're able to somehow track your cell mitosis (or whatever it would be) to note disturbances in the chain of cell division.

How the heck did this not come up during Contagion? If they're tracking cells in your tummy how are they also not able to note DNA changes?!
Just Some Guy
Sun, Mar 7, 2021, 7:54pm (UTC -5)
This episode is trash, just pure garbage. The women are basically sold into sexual slavery, which is problematic, but there are other glaring flaws.

Scientifically, there is no reason to perform invitro fertilization on the new batch of clones. There is also other technical issues, like the fact the cloners seem advanced, but they never found a way to do recombinant DNA permutations? The cloners don't seem to have evolved technologically for 300 years!

There is also the matter of honoring the agreement. Who is to say the cloners don't fence of the Mariposians into some compound and then harvest them for new clones?

Lastley, there is a huge issue on the prime directive. Either the societies are Federation Citizens, in which case, Picard blackmailing them into the solution without informing them of their rights is pain criminal.

Or they are non-flight capable societies, protected by the prime directive. Picard violates both their societies to fit into his prejudiced view of how society should work. There is no respect for different societies or different ideals. Even ignoring the vastly different cloner society, the Mariposian way of life was built upon simplicity and lack of technology. This is completely thrown away being forced to join the cloners.

So, regardless of which side you fall, Picard either violates the prime directive several times to a high degree, or he violates basic rights of Federation citizens. The "science" is garbage. The murder of the clones (which are clearly viable outside a womb) is not pro-choice or any kind of intelligent thinking. The racial stereotyping is just shocking and the sleeping around by Riker is problematic at best.

This episode was clearly thrown together, with the characters just puppeting whatever point the writer wanted to make, and resolved with just the "our way is the best way" ideaology. The people speculating that this is a beast vs evolved (id vs superego) are just reaching to make this episode into something it isn't: a real TNG episode.

This garbage should be flushed down the toilet and expunged from the official cannon.
Sat, Apr 10, 2021, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
It's a bit of a mess but for some reason I liked it.

I think one reason is Riker and Pulaski being down and frying their clones, no ifs ands or buts, along with their argument with the colonists. Granted, it certainly does seem like they left a full story on the vine here.

I also really liked the use of Geordi and his visor. It's underplayed and does seem believable, in as much as any lie detector works, especially with the liars completely unawares. This really should have been used again.

The stereotypes of the Irish is excessive, but there is a plausibility to it. An isolated colony could easily maintain strange accents and perhaps build their own.

I don't think the episode is "funny"-- I don't think Trek ever really pulled off solid comedy until Voyager. But like Picard, I think the situation is absurd.
Sat, Apr 10, 2021, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
Pulaski was a great character, but got off to such a horrid start. Her treatment of Data in Where Silence Has Lease torpedoed her quick. They were trying to recreate a McCoy/Spock thing and good lord it went poorly.

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