Star Trek: The Next Generation
"Up the Long Ladder"
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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140 comments on this post
Tue, Apr 2, 2013, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
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)
What a mess. Half funny, half serious, all S2 bad.
Sat, Apr 6, 2013, 1:14am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Apr 8, 2013, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
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)
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.
Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 4, 2013, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
I like Picard finally cracking up in the cargo bay.
You'd have to.
Sun, Oct 13, 2013, 11:43am (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 12:18pm (UTC -5)
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 -- www.youtube.com/watch?v=iipDf1XkWXs
Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 5:56am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 7:24am (UTC -5)
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)
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)
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 5:38am (UTC -5)
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).
Sat, Mar 1, 2014, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 21, 2014, 1:43am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 29, 2014, 6:25pm (UTC -5)
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)
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)
(But I never realized it was absurd for the reason you mention. Good catch!)
Mon, Dec 29, 2014, 7:07pm (UTC -5)
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)
Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 3:35am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Mar 22, 2015, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
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)
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.
Mon, Nov 23, 2015, 11:28am (UTC -5)
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)
1 Star for the Tea ceremony.
Wed, May 18, 2016, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Jun 4, 2016, 3:32pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 21, 2016, 9:43am (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Jun 28, 2016, 4:56pm (UTC -5)
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)
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 :
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)
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)
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)
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.
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
I agreed pretty much with Jammer's review in its entirety. 1 1/2 stars
Tue, Jan 23, 2018, 12:54am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 15, 2018, 9:14am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 22, 2018, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 19, 2018, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 24, 2018, 9:53am (UTC -5)
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)
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.
Tue, Apr 3, 2018, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
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)
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)
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.
Wed, Apr 4, 2018, 11:43am (UTC -5)
Sat, May 26, 2018, 9:41am (UTC -5)
Sat, May 26, 2018, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, May 26, 2018, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
Sat, May 26, 2018, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
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)
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!"
Mon, May 28, 2018, 10:31am (UTC -5)
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?!
Mon, May 28, 2018, 10:35am (UTC -5)
Mon, May 28, 2018, 11:19am (UTC -5)
Mon, May 28, 2018, 11:27am (UTC -5)
...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...
Mon, May 28, 2018, 11:36am (UTC -5)
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)
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.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 11:51am (UTC -5)
Mon, May 28, 2018, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
Mon, May 28, 2018, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 2, 2018, 4:42am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 23, 2018, 3:38am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 30, 2018, 9:09pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 30, 2018, 9:10pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 4:17am (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
+1 on Jammer's review
Thu, May 9, 2019, 2:30am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 26, 2019, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
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 future.....you 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)
Fri, Sep 6, 2019, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
--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.
Sat, Apr 4, 2020, 6:50pm (UTC -5)
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.)
Wed, Jun 10, 2020, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 17, 2020, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
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)
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)
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)
Sat, Sep 5, 2020, 8:47am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 25, 2021, 11:38am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jan 25, 2021, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Feb 16, 2021, 5:31am (UTC -5)
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, help...by 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)
>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.
Tue, Feb 23, 2021, 11:44am (UTC -5)
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)
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)
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?!
Sun, Mar 7, 2021, 7:54pm (UTC -5)
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)
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)
Mon, May 3, 2021, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 7, 2021, 3:54pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 5, 2021, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
Why did Pulaski have to lie about Worf's issue? It's implied it's do She doesn't have to tell Picard the embarassing truth. But she didn't need to say anything other than the issue has been resolved. As long as it is no threat to the ship, it's none of Picard's business what was wrong with Worf. This is a pattern I've noticed on the show where medical propriety has gone out the window.
Fri, Jul 16, 2021, 2:27am (UTC -5)
Data: “Accessing… Speculation: Sir, the Irish Troubles were still prevalent in the late 1980s. It seems quite possible that the BBC might refuse to broadcast an episode that contained such cliche’d and stereotyped Irish, which might have irritated the Irish community of the time.”
I suppose this was intended to be a largely comic story, and I did laugh several times, but then had the uncomfortable thought: “What am I laughing at - stereotypes? Comedy Irish? Is this really funny?” It would have been regarded as poor taste in 1988, let alone now.
As for the plot itself.. Picard looked like he’d discovered a major scientific theory when the solution to the Mariposan problem occurred to him, a solution that was so obvious to the average viewer we were tapping our feet impatiently just waiting for it to occur to the intellectually challenged crew of the Enterprise.
Then there was the gaping plot hole at the end: Brenna O’Dell set her eyes on the Mariposan prime minister as a suitable mate for herself, but Pulaski had already confirmed that the clones had lost all reproductive ability. Oh, right!
The one redeeming part of the episode was the scene with Pulaski and Worf involving the Klingon tea ceremony. That was TNG gold, and yet another reason to mourn Pulaski’s impending departure. I’d give 1 star for that scene, otherwise none.
Fri, Jul 16, 2021, 2:56am (UTC -5)
Interesting insight comparing the Irish community as alive and with much to recommend them, as opposed to the sterile and ‘dead’ Mariposans. Why though, did the peasant community have to be portrayed as caricature Irish? Not necessary to making your point, surely?
Thanks for finding out the origins of ‘Up the long ladder’ - if the BBC did ban the episode then the references to the Pope and ‘the red white and blue’ would certainly have been a strong reason.
Fri, Jul 16, 2021, 5:02pm (UTC -5)
I think you misunderstood the inability of the clones to procreate. They were not literally sterile, but as long as they remained in their closed society made up of clones of the few survivors of their original group, they lacked the genetic diversity to procreate safely for more than a generation. They realized at once that they would have become too inbred, so they then created a society that made them culturally asexual in order to prevent such procreation, but they were still biologically capable of it.
It is their chosen substitute method of procreation, cloning, that Pulaski has confirmed they cannot continue. The accumulated imperfections in the cloning process have reached a point that makes this an untenable option for them.
However, you are right that there IS a glaring plot hole in the supposed "solution": As the prime minister said, "There are (genetically) only five of us." There may be a whole bunch of people from the same clone line as the prime minister, but if too many of them breed, then this will create the same issue they were trying to avoid, a lack of genetic diversity in their descendants. If only one from each clone line breeds, then in reproductive terms, only five individuals have been added to the Bringloidi population, few enough to be genetically fairly negligible.
Picard's proposal will end up as not so much the merger of two societies as the passing of the technology of one that is going to die out to one that is going to survive physically, with both cultures being extinguished and being replaced by the technologized Bringloidi.
From the time I saw this episode in its first run, I've never seen why the Bringloidi needed the Mariposans at all. They like their simple, low-tech life; they chose it. They just had a natural disaster that interfered. If they move somewhere else, hey, why can't they keep being what they are, sort of the outer-space-Amish-with-Irish-accents? True, that wouldn't solve the problem the cloned Mariposans face, but why is it the Bringloidi's job to solve it, especially because adding the genes of five Mariposans to their society doesn't really solve it, anyway?
Fri, Jul 16, 2021, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
"From the time I saw this episode in its first run, I've never seen why the Bringloidi needed the Mariposans at all. They like their simple, low-tech life; they chose it."
I think the episode is taking the position that the Bringloidi do have a problem, namely that they are primitive dolts. Now I think I agree with you that if this is a definitive lifestyle choice then that position ends up being nothing more than condescending elitism. But I kind of sense the episode suggesting that not only did the original Bringloidi choose this way of life, but that (as with the Mariposans) this choice sent them down a path toward actual ignorance and stupidity. This hidden premise is so half-baked that there's no room to even ask whether it's possible to deliberately chose a low-tech life while still being quite aware of what's out there (like in DS9's Paradise). The episode seems to imply by default that going low-tech turns you into regressive pre-modern type of people, including values and education. But obviously this isn't a fair assumption, since it's possible to be highly educated, even hip and savvy, while being low-tech by choice.
So we can chalk this strawman yet again up to the episode being...bad.
There is one grain of truth inadvertently present in the episode, which is that many "sophisticated" people look down on and sneer at poor people with large families. To the extent that these are Irish-type folk, and the British captain (yeah, he's British!) is the one looking at them like a bunch of apes, it rings of the English disdain for the Catholic Irish and their cultural values. This can be seen in the recently famous Harry Potter series with the red-headed Irish Weasleys shunned by the aristocratic English families. Now the episode is not unilaterally against the Bringloidi per se, but damn they are made to look so stupid that I feel like it can't just be a coincidence that they were made to be Irish.
Fri, Jul 16, 2021, 6:39pm (UTC -5)
Yes, the other reaction I have had to this episode ever since its first run has been that as an Irish-American myself, I find it offensive. The Bringloidi aren't even an alien species that we are just ham-fistedly modeled on the Irish. As the episode is written, they are literally human beings from Ireland on Earth.
Of course, the writers didn't make them Irish-Catholics. They made them very much NOT Irish-Catholics, while keeping the anti-Catholic stereotypes.
The writers could instead have had the Bringloidi be a bunch of Swiss-German humans who chose a low technology life for religious reasons, and they could have been actual outer-space-Amish.
I live in Amish country. Their horse-and-buggy lifestyle doesn't make them stupid, but I think you've nailed it: The writers of this episode think it does.
In general, I love TNG, but this is one of those episodes that just leaves me rolling my eyes and shaking my head.
Sat, Jul 17, 2021, 2:30am (UTC -5)
“ Of course, the writers didn't make them Irish-Catholics. They made them very much NOT Irish-Catholics, while keeping the anti-Catholic stereotypes.”
A very troubled concept to show on British TV in the late 80s, with the ‘Irish Troubles’ still very much prevalent! But I am slightly puzzled by your view that they are “very much NOT Irish-Catholics” - if presented as Irish peasantry then surely they ARE Catholic even if it’s not explicitly said?
Sat, Jul 17, 2021, 3:07am (UTC -5)
I haven't seen the episode in forever but
"The episode seems to imply by default that going low-tech turns you into regressive pre-modern type of people, including values and education. But obviously this isn't a fair assumption, since it's possible to be highly educated, even hip and savvy, while being low-tech by choice."
I would argue that choosing to exist in a low tech state, not as an individual or a small group but as an entire civilization would make it necessary to force many people to accept a low tech life. The children who are born into this civilization aren't living low tech by choice. If you want to keep a low tech lifestyle in a veeeery high tech galaxy then you would have to keep people uneducated, even distrustful of technology because otherwise there will be a million instances every day where people will demand high tech stuff, for example medicine. Even the people in paradise didn't choose to live low tech and if somebody is very ill then they will call for a federation doctor with sophisticated equipment. It's just human nature.
Sat, Jul 17, 2021, 4:15am (UTC -5)
Amish only get the most basic education: reading, writing, basic math. No biology, no real science whatsoever. It's only to the 8th grade, barely any achieve a high school degree or go to college which makes controlling people far easier. The education is so inadequate for a modern world that leaving would mean being very poor. Add to this the "shunning" meaning that you will lose all of your social relations.
Sat, Jul 17, 2021, 11:53am (UTC -5)
You can tell they are not Irish-Catholics by what was NOT said. Nothing about any kind of religious practice. Then of course there's the ready embrace of polyandry, without a peep about any religious concerns about it.
In the TNG version of the Trek universe, 24th-century humans seem to have abandoned (in the writers' minds "outgrown") all religion. I think the closest the series comes to indicating that any current religious observances survive is in Data's Day when one of the events he mentions as part of a normal busy day on the Enterprise is the Hindu Festival of Lights. It's just a mention, and there's not enough information to know whether it remains a religious observance or purely a cultural one, and whether the term "Hindu" still refers to people of a specific religion. Of the ongoing existence of Christians, TNG gives no sign.
Regarding the socioeconomic background of the Bringloidi, remember, these people are not really "peasants" with unbroken centuries of history working the land under the authority of wealthy and powerful landowners. They are colonists living a rural life by choice (or at least by their ancestors' choice). The original colonists' socioeconomic background on Earth could have been anything, before they embraced a modern philosophy promoting a "simple life."
Sat, Jul 17, 2021, 12:32pm (UTC -5)
I think you are conflating issues of education with the issue of intelligence, and also conflating low technology with poverty.
Regarding education, Amish children receive an education designed to prepare them for the way of life their parents aspire to for them, a life making a contribution within their own community; in this sense, they are no different from children of any community, including children in schools with a curriculum designed to get more of the next generation going into STEM fields. It's true that Amish kids are not taught to use trigonometry and calculus to design skyscrapers. But when a tornado cut a swath of destruction through the county where I live, the Amish from miles around had come and rebuilt all the houses and barns of the Amish families, while the non-Amish were still waiting for their insurance checks so they could hire specialized contractors to rebuild theirs. How many college-educated people do you know who have the skills needed to build an entire house? For that matter, how many do you know who know how to fasten a horse harness, or how to decide which week to plant corn? The Amish education system, both in and out of the classroom (and a lot of it is outside the classroom), is designed to give children the skills they will need if they are going to live as adults in that community. A graduate of the non-Amish education system who decided to live within it would need years of "remedial work" to catch up.
A lot of Amish children do not end up staying within that community, and they go get the education that will prepare them for the modern way of life they are choosing. Despite what you may have read, those who make this choice prior to formally entering the Amish community by baptism are not "shunned." I'm sure they are aware of some disappointment by their parents, but they remain in contact. My own doctor grew up in an Amish family. He managed not only to attend high school and college, but medical school. Many Amish families go to him, and they value having someone with a foot in each world. I think they have probably come to see it as God's will that he did not end up Amish. (I'm sure it helps that he is a practicing Mennonite.)
Regarding the issue of low-tech vs. poverty, remember the scene in First Contact when Lily is wondering how much it cost to build the Enterprise, and Picard says, "The economics of the 24th-century are different"? Well, the economics of Amish life are different. Their lack of a TV set is not because they can't afford it. They have the resources to buy one if they wanted one. It's because they don't want it. But horses are a luxury for non-Amish families today, and few feel they could afford to own, stable and feed one. For Amish families, they are seen as a necessity, and it's not uncommon for them to have several. Health club memberships? People who choose to do manual labor for a living have no use for that. But you will not see their elderly members having to "spend down their assets" to qualify for Medicaid so they can go into a nursing home. Their community has a different way of making sure they are cared for.
It seems to work for them. It is not a way of life I would choose, and I do not believe in the theological reasons that have led them to choose it; if I did, I would BE Amish. But I respect them enough not to say that their choice of low-technology lifestyle makes them any less intelligent, or necessarily any worse off, than people who have made choices more like mine.
Sat, Jul 17, 2021, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
I guess we will have to disagree on this one. For me the Amish are a very intolerant religious sect which forces people from a very young age to conform to rules laid down by a bunch of guys hundreds of years ago and if you are lgbt or an atheist then you will lose your family and friends because of this stuff. I don't even want to begin talking about all the needless suffering because of their irrational refusal of many gifts of science like modern medicine. I know people who were scared for life by this kind of thinking and the fact that they can build a barn really doesn't make up for all the suffering they are inflicting.
Sat, Jul 17, 2021, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
I guess "agree to disagree" may be the only option.
But I do find myself with a question: Have you ever known anyone who grew up in an Amish family? Heck, I'll count if you have even met anyone who is or ever was Amish. I think chances are pretty good that the answer is "No." I might lose that gamble, but in general, I find that stereotypes don't hold up well to interpersonal contact. I'm sure you've read about them, but maybe nothing very accurate, given that you've apparently confused them with other religious groups that have an "irrational refusal of … modern medicine." (And you pulled out that canard after I flat out told you that many Amish go to the same primary care doctor I do. I've run into Amish people at my oncologist's office, too. It may seem inconsistent to us, but the same people who won't use a tractor with pneumatic tires will get chemotherapy for their cancer.)
As I said, I would not choose their way of life, nor their specific faith system, for myself. But I still respect that they are doing what makes sense to them, and I tolerate their existence, as they tolerate mine, and I don't accept the idea that embracing a less technology-intensive way of life makes people stupid. If I don't accept that idea regarding the real people I meet in my local community, I can't very well accept it as a foundational premise in a TNG episode.
Sun, Jul 18, 2021, 12:40am (UTC -5)
While their are some liberal strands of Amish who are more open to some medical treatments, there are many conservative ones. Furthermore they are excluded from social security systems (by their own will) and don't use insurance so I really don't know how they would be able to afford long and very expensive treatments. I got my info mostly from the sides like AmishAmerica or comparable which I would assume are pretty well meaning. Also scientific studies and respected services like reuters. As you can see in the reuters article, the fact that the amish are so reluctant to vaccinate leads to outbreaks of measles and will probably make it harder to eradicate covid in the USA.
I guess that lgbt people or non believers lose their families and are thrown out doesn't bother you? Or teaching children unscientific nonsense as fact like creationism? Or not providing them with an education which would give them an actual choice to live or not to live in an Amish community?
Considering that these people grow like populations in third world countries but with low infant mortality, their numbers have tripled since the 1990 and it is estimated that they will reach 1 million people in 2050 and 7 million in 2100, let's see how long they will stay so apolitical. They came out big for Trump in 2016, even more so in 2020.
Sun, Jul 18, 2021, 1:35am (UTC -5)
I guess "agree to disagree" went out the window for you when I dared to ask if you had ever even met one.
Although you didn't answer that very simple question, I think it's fair to assume from the fact that you ignored it that the answer is "NO."
I never said I had "no problem" with anything the Amish believe. In fact, I said I didn't share all their beliefs. I said I tolerate their existence, and that I don't assume they are stupid just because the content of their education reflects the skills important for survival in their lifestyle rather than skills important for survival in mine, or yours. You are apparently unable to agree with those two positions, so I'll assume you actively disagree with them.
I brought up both of these positions because they are directly related to the message of the episode under discussion. I see the Federation as not being willing to tolerate the continued existence of the Bringloidi as an intentionally low-tech community, and the writers as portraying them as stupid. That's the entire reason I brought up the Amish: Because the writers had portrayed the Bringloidi as some kind of Irish space-Amish and seemed to presume that the goal would be to make them stop being that.
You may find that message underlying the episode as fine and dandy, and that's your business, but I don't get how you decided that the topic of conversation should now be your list of reasons why the Amish should not exist, if these reasons have nothing to do with why the writers seem to want the Federation to think the Bringloidi should not exist.
I know I should not be surprised at your off-off-topic focus in making this a referendum on LGTBQ rights, an issue that has nothing to do with the Up the Long Ladder episode (except in that the insistence that everyone participate in polyandry seemed to make no exceptions based on sexual orientation or gender identity). It just comes off as starting an argument for argument's own sake. That's not a hobby I happen to be interested in taking up with you.
Low tech and anti-LGBTQ attitudes do not automatically go together. None of your links contain any proof that there is an inevitable causal connection that would apply to the fictional Bringloidi. The writers have not told us one way or the other about the Bringloidi. It's just not what the episode is about.
Sun, Jul 18, 2021, 4:05am (UTC -5)
You asked my about my opinions and what they were based on because you accused me of perpetuating stereotypes, so I showed you that my views on them are based on sources that are probably accurate.
"I never said I had "no problem" with anything the Amish believe. In fact, I said I didn't share all their beliefs."
You never said that you find some of the things these people do problematic. You only said that you didn't share all their believes ( It is not a way of life I would choose) which is something else completely. I don't share all the believes of vegetarians and I also don't share all the believes of the Taliban but with vegetarians I do not have a problem, with the Taliban I do.
" I said I tolerate their existence, and that I don't assume they are stupid just because the content of their education reflects the skills important for survival in their lifestyle rather than skills important for survival in mine, or yours."
I never said that Amish are "stupid", they are obviously as intelligent as anybody else. I said that the Amish use education as a way to control people. On the AmishAmerica page they specifically state that the Amish keep their children away from high schools because they fear that the abstract concepts of a modern education could distract them from the ways of the Amish. If an adult chooses to live like this, that is her or his choice but forcing children into this... For me stupid or dumb is another way of saying ignorant and the Amish are willingly ignorant.
As I said at the beginning, I haven't seen the episode in ages and don't remember if the Irish like people are portrayed as mentally challenged or ignorant. The whole Irish thing is inexcusable. The Irish (or Irish coded) were always portrayed pretty badly in Star Trek. Considering the state of affairs in the late 80s in Ireland makes the themes of this episode even worse. Irish bumpkins vs the UberBritish. Not a good choice.
To sum up my points in relations to the episode and the Amish.
If you want to control people, the best way would be to keep people ignorant and use societal punishment if somebody wants to leave.
"I know I should not be surprised at your off-off-topic focus in making this a referendum on LGTBQ rights"
A referendum? You brought the Amish into this and then romanticized their existence in a fairly long off topic post. I just mentioned that they are very intolerant to point towards a few less flattering facts about them and just so that you know there is a strong correlation between low education and intolerance. And before people start shouting correlation is not causation, yes obviously but testing that would not only be very hard but also child abuse. Maybe an ethics board in China would greenlight it but certainly not in Europe.
Sun, Jul 18, 2021, 8:45am (UTC -5)
Where I think you are making assumptions based on personal values (rather than objective analysis) is in your idea that parents shouldn't actually decide how to bring up their children:
"I never said that Amish are "stupid", they are obviously as intelligent as anybody else. I said that the Amish use education as a way to control people. On the AmishAmerica page they specifically state that the Amish keep their children away from high schools because they fear that the abstract concepts of a modern education could distract them from the ways of the Amish. If an adult chooses to live like this, that is her or his choice but forcing children into this... For me stupid or dumb is another way of saying ignorant and the Amish are willingly ignorant."
You seem to be either implicitly suggesting or maybe even directly saying that parents have no business raising their children with their values, and should take a popular vote and raise their kids how most other people do within national borders. I specify 'national borders' because obviously if you pick "others in the same town" as your criterion, and it's an Amish town, that will do your argument no good. So you need to expand the perimeter.
Imagine just for instance that not only do they prefer teaching their children in their own values and customs, but additionally believe that children will learn all sorts of harmful things in regular public schools, like about pornography and sex, and about ways to control and harm others (in their opinion), and fields of knowledge that take your focus away from how your neighbor is doing. Not only would you (Booming) have an unbelievable task on your hand disproving this types of positions, since IMO they actually have validity, but additionally you'd have to not only implicitly opine but actually demonstrate how it's better for parents to *ignore* their own values and let their children at a young age pick their future. I personally might equate that to allowing a child to pick between a candy vendor and a doctor, to use Socrates' analogy. Now *that* would be harming the child, by giving him that choice.
Sun, Jul 18, 2021, 9:02am (UTC -5)
A difference between the USA and Europe. In almost all European countries Amish or anybody else would not be allowed to spoon-feed their children this nonsense. There is public education and that is it. In America you can apparently teach you child whatever you want if you are religious which I find foolish but hey, there are many things that Europeans find foolish that Americans perceive as normal and certainly vice versa.
Sun, Jul 18, 2021, 9:10am (UTC -5)
I don't know how accurate your perspective is on Europe vs America, but on this point -
"In almost all European countries Amish or anybody else would not be allowed"
I think you said it all. "Not be allowed." So you *do* believe in forcing people what to think and how to learn, it's just that your personal preferential system is the one (according to you) mandated by law. I don't see how that's any different than a smaller community doing it; your version is just on a larger scale and with different community values. The difference is that the Amish wouldn't force people who disagree (other adults, let's say) to raise their children this way.
Sun, Jul 18, 2021, 10:04am (UTC -5)
"So you *do* believe in forcing people what to think and how to learn, it's just that your personal preferential system is the one (according to you) mandated by law."
Yes. I think it is foolish. All children should have at least a chance of being successful however they want. If religious parents want to teach their children how to be a good little fanatic then they have to do that in the afternoon.
"I don't see how that's any different than a smaller community doing it; your version is just on a larger scale and with different community values."
Are you really comparing a democratic society in a continuous process of improvement trying to give children the best possible start in this world, with untrained people teaching children lots of nonsense which only leads to these children being severely limited in their prospects?
"I don't know how accurate your perspective is on Europe vs America, but on this point -"
While it is allowed to homeschool children in some countries, even in those you have to pass tests that are on the same level as the children in schools. If they fail these tests, they are send to public schools (or private schools who follow the state mandated curriculum) and the numbers are very small. In the US it depends on the state but the USA are the country which has by far the highest homseschool percentage. It was actually for more than 50 years almost zero but since the 1970 it has increased dramatically. Between 1999 and 2012 (last census) it went up from around 900.000 to around 2 million. In quite a few states you do not have to have any qualification or prove that the child learns anything. I hope they at least teach them how to say:" Do you want fries with that." in Mandarin.
Sun, Jul 18, 2021, 10:51am (UTC -5)
"Yes. I think it is foolish. All children should have at least a chance of being successful however they want. If religious parents want to teach their children how to be a good little fanatic then they have to do that in the afternoon."
I just think you're unaware of how many presuppositions you are making, all of which involve your personal values as being placed at the highest level of importance. Now note that in all of this I'm not saying what *I* would suggest for an education, but rather I'm discussing the notion of respecting different cultures, even if they value items like rich/poor and industrial/rural differently. I can definitely see why there are advantages to a true community lifestyle, where the community all helps each other, have common frames of reference, feel like part of a group, and don't have the constant stress that typical Western city people have. No one who lives in a big city and gets a typical education and job is relaxed. No one. How much of a premium for feeling that life can just be enjoyable?
You can read old stories from the British Empire from when they would encounter native peoples, and how they could not understand why these people were so primitive. An entire branch of racial science emerged to try to assess whether they had brain differences, and other such impediments. It turns out that living in a tropical climate where your needs are met actually means you have no incentive to innovate and move through the mad rush of technological advancement. I can't speak for every island British ships came to, but the story of the Bounty is notable, as when they arrived in Tahiti they found the people apparently very happy, not needing much clothes, and enjoying their life there. Well no kidding! If your value system is to live with nature, enjoy the weather, have community song and dance, and not worry about what other people are doing, then that might be a great life. If your value system is "make sure you're armed to the teeth when some empire comes your way" then of course that system of life is a failure (by that standard).
Your position reads to me a lot like the British Imperial valuation, where being educated as a gentleman, having access to modern technologies (and if anything adding to them), and being part of the international trade is the only sensible choice for an intelligent human to make. Anything else is "primitive" and probably "backward" and "stupid." Well let me tell you, at around this point in my life I can see the appeal of a much simpler existence without worrying about arbitrary standards that to a certain extent I don't even care about (but have to care about). Now I'm not so much disagreeing with this type of valuation, but rather saying that to suppose that it's the only game in town that makes sense (and should be allowed) is essentially imperialist. I have seen all to often that people are sneered at for declining to go the path of riches, and I think this attitude is a mistake.
Sun, Jul 18, 2021, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
About your Tahiti example. The tribal clans on these islands were actually quite warlike, they also practiced human sacrifice. Many island cultures in the Pacific were very hostile and often cannibalistic. The first contact on Tahiti with Europeans lead to a short battle were the Tahitians acted hostile which the British answered with musket and cannon fire. The myth of the noble savage is exactly that, a myth.
To quote from wiki about a war of succession less than 20 years before the Bounty landed:"The warriors, women and children of Papara (a part of Tahiti) were massacred, while their houses, gardens, crops and livestock were destroyed. Even the Mahaiatea marae was ransacked, while Amo, Purea, Tupaia and Teri'irere fled into the mountains. Vehiatua built a wall of skulls (Te-ahu-upo'o) at his Tai'arapu marae from his war trophies"
The local chieftain actually used the mutineers and their weapons as mercenaries to strengthen his control over all of Tahiti. The guy you see in the move "The Bounty" from 1984 would certainly not have asked how his friend Captain Cook was, because the chieftain the Bounty met was an enemy of Cook. :)
" I have seen all to often that people are sneered at for declining to go the path of riches, and I think this attitude is a mistake."
What has getting a good education to do with chasing the almighty dollar?!
It is good for a society to have a well educated population. It is also good for children to meet children who are different from them. Then there is the fact that very poor families often use their children as unpaid labor.
That is how it looks in the world.
You may find my opinions imperialistic but it is certainly shared by many, especially in Europe.
You think that parents should have the right to keep their children ignorant or use them as unpaid labor, so that these children basically have no other chance then to continue the existence the parents choose for them.
I disagree. If an adult decides to live a simple life that is perfectly fine but forcing children down that path is not.
Sun, Jul 18, 2021, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 18, 2021, 8:18pm (UTC -5)
>If an adult chooses to live like this, that is her or his choice...
I read somewhere that once Amish turn 16 they are allowed to live with/as regular folk for a period of time called Rumspringa. At the end they get to choose which society they want to stay with for the rest of their lives. Of course it's not a completely free choice if they are shunned by their family for not embracing the Amish way.
All this talk reminds me of the parody song "Amish Paradise" by Weird Al Yankovic.
Mon, Jul 19, 2021, 1:42am (UTC -5)
True to some degree. I'm no expert but as far as I know there are two main views of what education should be. One view is utilitarian, one is humanitarian. Utilitarian means that children should be prepared for a later job, humanitarian means that the children should leave school as a more fully formed person who is equipped to deal with the modern world. I saw it somewhat explained in this video (among other things)
Yeah, the Rumspringa (a German word meaning jumping around). Again I get my information from Amish internet pages. You start this phase as a teenager, normally 16. Different from popular believe adolescent still live at home and are financially dependent on their parents. Also while the rules are a little more relaxed the fairly harsh system of rules is still in place. The main use of this time is to find a partner to marry.
If you want to know more
disclaimer, I don't know if these Amish sides paint a rosy picture of Amish life but I think it is always beneficial to look at an issue from the perspective you disagree with.
Mon, Jul 19, 2021, 5:05pm (UTC -5)
I can see where you might think there is no Catholicism among the Bringloidi... but, in creating the Irish stereotype, we are left to assume - even if only subconsciously - that they *are* Catholics. Ok, as far as the writers are concerned, that might well be a false assumption, but why saddle us with that appalling stereotype in the first place?
I take your point about the TNG 'no religions' 24th Century society, but these are isolated settlers who chose to adopt a peasant way of life - what's to say, that cut off from the Federation, they perhaps chose to be religious too? Ok, it's not stated explicitly one way or the other, but it's a possibility. Enough of a possibility for the British Government in the late 80s to ban the episode (possibly...).
Mon, Jul 19, 2021, 6:59pm (UTC -5)
I think Trish's point is that they were Catholic in all the conveniently negative ways (the stereotypes), but in none of the inconveniently positive ways (e.g. a profession of belief).
Mon, Jul 19, 2021, 7:35pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 19, 2021, 8:39pm (UTC -5)
As for "Up the Long Ladder," I seriously doubt it's the most offensive depiction of he Irish ever to air on the BBC.
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
The backstory to the colonists is actually fascinating. They came from something called the “European Hegemony” which Picard says was an early iteration of a World Government ("You should read more history, Number One”). The Mariposa launched on November 27, 2123. That’s 60 years after First Contact. Jonathan Archer was 10 years old :-)
The Mariposa carried two types of cargo: high tech equipment ("Two hundred and twenty five Yoshimitsu computers, five monitor beacon satellites, seven hundred cellular commlinks”); and low tech supplies ("Cattle, chickens, pigs” and "Spinning wheels”).
The high tech supplies were for a colony of scientists.
The low tech supplies were for a colony of Neo-Transcendentalists,
DATA: In the early twenty-second century, Earth was recovering from World War Three. A major philosopher of the period was Liam Dieghan, founder of the Neo-Transcendentalists, who advocated a return to a simpler life in which one lived in harmony with nature, and learned under her gentle tutelage.
The transcendentalists were some of the most empirical and rational of the Protestants in pre-Civil War America. Think Thoreau, or Harvard, or Ralph Waldo Emerson. These guys were classic “back-to-nature” types.
I don’t know where we're getting that these folks were Catholic? If anything, transcendentalism was pretty much the opposite of Catholicism. The title of the episode, “Up the Long Ladder” reflects an ugly bigotry against Irish Protestants. We’re supposed to see a similar bigotry against these Neo-Transcendentalists by the ever so sophisticated clones.
Now I know what you’re thinking: but these guys were O’Dells - they must have been Irish Catholic!
I hate to break it to you, but they were Odells, without the apostrophe. How do I know? Well, one of the most famous scholars of transcendentalism was a man named… (drum roll please)... Odell Shepard. I kid you not. It can’t be a coincidence that these Neo-Transcendentalists were named Odell and they were... shepherds!
So these despised Irish Protestants, specifically Irish Neo-Transcendentalists, left the European Hegemony when Jonathan Archer was a 10 year old boy, to go found a colony where they could return to nature, with their live-stock and their spinning wheels ("how could we build our future without our animals?”).
But what about all the drinking?
As the great naturalist Henry David Thoreau once wrote, "I would exchange my immortality for a glass of small beer.”
I suppose it says a lot about how far we’ve come as a society that Irish catholics and protestants can so easily be mistaken for each other.
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
That's actually very interesting, and although I didn't find the name Odell Shepard on Wiki's list of notable transcendentalists, maybe the author did intend a little Easter Egg there. But I don't think the transcendental movement has much in common with the Protestant Irish, to say the least. To the extent that it did include a back-to-nature theme, guided by Eastern Mysticism (and some distinctly non-Christian beliefs), there is about as much of a gulf between Emerson and Thoreau and the Bringloidi as there is between a Vulcan and a guy with a bad sense of humor. Maybe there's some cursory similarity (enjoying the outdoors, or in the latter case, never cracking a smile), but the Bringloidi seem to otherwise have nothing in common with what was essentially an intellectual movement.
You may be right that the author intended in some way to portray pseudo-religious but mostly intuitive-experiential thinkers as being the forebears of these people, but all the teleplay and the actual direction get across is that they're uneducated, like to reproduce a lot, and are hearty and lusty people. Hardly a good description of the intellectual, hardworking, and often teetotalling American Protestants. These guys are like the opposite of that. If the episode wanted to portray the Bringloidi as having degenerated over many years from being transcendentalists into being like they are now, they sure spent zero lines of scripting making that case. All we see is what we see, which is not Emerson wannabees.
But...I think you did a good job trying to make a case that this episode had a more developed backstory than we realized. My conclusion, novel to all involved, is still that the episode...is bad. Whatever the writing staff thought they were doing, it was hopeless mired in cliches and (if we're to believe the transcendentalism story) in a total inability to do more than recite the name of the movement in an expository scene. As far as I'm concerned, it's still an Irish Catholic stereotype. The fact that it's explicitly about another group makes it even worse, since they couldn't pry themselves away from the usual schtick.
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 5:06pm (UTC -5)
"I suppose it says a lot about how far we’ve come as a society that Irish catholics and protestants can so easily be mistaken for each other."
The vast majority of the Irish Protestant minority are in N Ireland, different accent, none in this episode.
I should have said the BBC. I'm not certain it was not aired, but I'd never seen it before which I can't claim for any other TNG episode .
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 9:25pm (UTC -5)
I think you hit the nail on the head!
Remember, there were two colonies. The lusty Naturalists and the antiseptic Clones. The episode does a good job of showing & telling how the Clones have literally degenerated over three centuries,
PULASKI: How did you overcome the problem of replicative fading?
GRANGER: We haven’t.
PULASKI: You have got a problem.
RIKER: Wait. I don't understand replicative fading.
PULASKI: Each time you clone, you're making a copy of a copy. Subtle errors creep into the chromosomes, and eventually you end up with a non-viable clone.
Yes, that is also a metaphor :-)
But as @Peter G. says, for the Naturalists, all we really get is Data “recit[ing] the name of the movement in an expository scene.”
The texture and drama is reserved for the Clones. The best we can do is recognize that the problems of the two colonies are the same, or at least mirror images of each other.
Both colonies started off as utopians, and they each degenerated into sad caricatures.
With the clones, this degeneration was literal, copies of copies of copies. With the Naturalists, well, the writers dropped the ball.
Back-to-nature cults have a long history in Star Trek of going off the deep end when left to their own devices. Think of that cult with no technology in DS9’s “Paradise” or even those space hippies in TOS’ "The Way to Eden.” And both of them still had their founders with them. “Up the Long Ladder” is 300 years removed from Captain Granger.
Not to get all yin and yang on you, but the point of the episode is that a society based purely on intellectualism - without the baser passions - will eventually degenerate and fade away like the Clones. And a Naturalist society unmoored from it’s intellectual foundations (@Peter G., "the Bringloidi seem to otherwise have nothing in common with what was essentially an intellectual movement”) will equally and oppositely degenerate into an animalistic life of eating, drinking, breeding. Rise and repeat, generation after generation after generation. The two sides need each other if they are to make something more of themselves.
TROI: I know the Mariposan culture seems alien, even frightening, but really, we do have much in common. They're human beings fighting for survival. Would we do any less?
PICARD: Are you saying we should give them the DNA samples they require?
PULASKI: That's just postponing the inevitable. If they get an infusion of fresh DNA, in fifteen generations they'll just go back to the same problems. Cloning isn't the answer. What they need is breeding stock.
PICARD: The Bringloidi.
TROI: Yes. They have the energy and drive, and the clones possess the emotional maturity and the technological knowledge.
PICARD: They started out together. It seems only fitting they should end up together.
PULASKI: It's a match made in heaven.
Melinda M. Snodgrass is one of the best TNG writers (“Measure of a Man”). They obviously put a lot of back-story into “Up the Long Ladder”. But the end result was a dud. Such is life.
For those interested, here is Odell Shepard, who won a Pulitzer for his scholarship on a transcendentalist,
@Tidd said, "The vast majority of the Irish Protestant minority are in N Ireland”
Ah, you see another Melinda M. Snodgrass episode “The High Ground” deals with this:
DATA: Yet there are numerous examples where it was successful. The independence of the Mexican State from Spain, the Irish Unification of 2024…
So, @Tidd, in the future (just 3 years from now!!!), the Emerald Isle will once again be reunited,
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 9:53pm (UTC -5)
"The texture and drama is reserved for the Clones. The best we can do is recognize that the problems of the two colonies are the same, or at least mirror images of each other.
Both colonies started off as utopians, and they each degenerated into sad caricatures."
That's well and good on the drawing board, but whereas the clones are clearly a result of a sterile and tidy way of life taken to its ultimate extreme, the Bringloidi are not in any way the inevitable result of the back-to-nature intellectual movement. Taking all the sex, randomness, and 'fun' out of life actually does sound like a very dangerous course to take, even intuitively. But reading Thoreau, I just can't see an obvious trap that would cause degeneration into what we're shown. They may as well have been circus clowns for all the similarity they had to Thoreau's way of life.
The schema you're trying to draw is quite tidy, but I do see a flaw in it even conceptually. For your theory to work the Bringloidi need to be the offshoots of a Unitarian side movement featuring other spiritual material from ascetic cultures. They essentially need to be secular Hindu-Protestants, if I can coin the term. But for the dichotomy the shows needs us to accept, it's the sterile sexless clones contrasted with the lusty vivacious Bringloidi. They actually *need* to be hearty in this way for the comparison to work they way Snodgrass wants it to. And therefore they are just a poor fit for transcendentalism gone wild. Don't forget, we're talking about a romantic movement, nature-enthused, which derived from such writers as Kant and other German philosophers. This is frankly the *last* group of people, aside from many monks, who I would cast as the forebears of a party-lovin husband-huntin kinda people. It just doesn't fit.
Honestly, I think the scripting mistake was in naming the transcendentalists at all. The episode's metaphor needed pseudo-Catholic Irish people vs puritan clones, and by god that's what we got in the actual episode. The only thing sticking out like a sore thumb is the mention of who they derived from.
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 11:45pm (UTC -5)
I really see it from a very different angle, but maybe they are two sides of the same coin?
One of the most famous writers in history (or at least American history) was the poet Walt Whitman. Both of the big back-to-nature writers, Whitman and Thoreau, were tied up with the transcendentalists of their time, especially Ralph Waldo Emerson. If Catholics have the holy trinity, then back-to-nature Transcendentalists - or at least American Transcendentalists - have Emerson, Whitman and Thoreau. All three were raised Protestant.
Most of us know Whitman for his classic poems like "O Captain, My Captain."
But if you're ever alone in the woods with no technology, I'd suggest that you take his other collection of poems with you instead.
Here's Whitman's poem
"A Woman Waits for Me"
A WOMAN waits for me—she contains all, nothing is lacking,
Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the right man were lacking.
Sex contains all,
Bodies, Souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results, promulgations,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal milk;
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals,
All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth,
All the governments, judges, gods, follow’d persons of the earth,
These are contain’d in sex, as parts of itself, and justifications of itself.
Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sex,
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.
Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those women that are warm-blooded and sufficient for me;
I see that they understand me, and do not deny me;
I see that they are worthy of me—I will be the robust husband of those women.
They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tann’d in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike, retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right—they are calm, clear, well-possess’d of themselves.
I draw you close to me, you women!
I cannot let you go, I would do you good,
I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our own sake, but for others’ sakes;
Envelop’d in you sleep greater heroes and bards,
They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me.
It is I, you women—I make my way,
I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable—but I love you,
I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for you,
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for These States—I press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually—I listen to no entreaties,
I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long accumulated within me.
Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,
In you I wrap a thousand onward years,
On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of me and America,
The drops I distil upon you shall grow fierce and athletic girls, new artists, musicians, and singers,
The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in their turn,
I shall demand perfect men and women out of my love-spendings,
I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I and you interpenetrate now,
I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers of them, as I count on the fruits of the gushing showers I give now,
I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life, death, immortality, I plant so lovingly now.
Fuck, I think I need a cold shower ;)
Maybe the episode takes the two sides of transcendentalism - the overly intellectual "secular Hindu-Protestants, if I can coin the term" @Peter G. talks about, and the lusty Whitman-esque Neo Transcendentalism (to use Data's term), and says that along, without each other, each side of the coin is a dead end?
Wed, Jul 21, 2021, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 22, 2021, 5:15pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 28, 2021, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 29, 2021, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
He probably just figured Picard was some 24th century Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson ;)
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 10:52am (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
Tue, May 10, 2022, 10:17am (UTC -5)
Fri, May 20, 2022, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 20, 2022, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 21, 2022, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
Religions do that all the time through mental conditioning, threats of hell, and strict social norms. It doesn't have to be genetic. They even mention in the show that drugs and punitive laws were used to reduce natural sex drive at first, until it became ingrained.
"If they were so technologically advanced why didn't they build another ship to send for help or at least start sending messages back to Earth."
Only five people survived the hull breach of the original colonist ship. Even if the ship wasn't destroyed, it's unlikely any small community, no matter how smart, could repair or build anew such sophisticated technology. Could someone stranded on a deserted island fix their broken iPhone screen, or a shorted out laptop processor? No. Think about how much incredibly advanced technology and processes goes into making computer chips today, or nuclear weapons, such that entire countries don't have the means to replicate it. Now imagine some ragtag group of colonists on a deserted planet trying to create a chip fab or uranium enrichment plant. They could all be clones of Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and it wouldn't matter because they don't have the resources, manufacturing ability, or logistical supply chains. Even if they had 24th century replicators it's still uncertain how much they could realistically accomplish.
As for contacting Earth, maybe early 22nd century ships didn't have subspace communication. Though if the dirt farming Bringloidi had the wherewithal to keep up an operational distress beacon, yeah, you'd think the Mariposans would have at least that too.
Thu, Oct 13, 2022, 11:05pm (UTC -5)
It's just a goofball episode meant to be a crowd-pleaser and then instantly forgotten. It had no higher aspirations than that. A tip of the hat to a fantastic 2-star episode.
Wed, Jan 11, 2023, 9:13am (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
It was Worf who claimed "Klingons don't faint."
It was his way of preserving his tough guy image. Pulaski just played along and humored him.
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