Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 10/9/1989
Written by Michael Wagner
Directed by Les Landau
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"The Survivors" is one of TNG's most unsung gems — a slowly building sci-fi mystery that thinks big while all the time going to painstaking efforts to keep the drama small and intimate. It starts as the mystery of two people and slowly and implacably marches toward a revelation that's haunting and universe-shaking in its exceptionally quiet way.
The Enterprise races to answer a distress call from the colony at Rana IV; when they arrive, they find the world has been completely destroyed by an unknown alien attack. There are no survivors ... except for Kevin and Rishon Uxbridge (John Anderson and Anne Haney), whose house and a few acres of land have survived the complete scorching of the rest of the planet's surface. Why has this elderly couple survived while the rest of the 11,000 colonists perished?
This story belongs to a subgenre that might best be called "Twilight Zone Trek." Strange things are afoot. The Uxbridges say they do not know why they were spared, but Kevin is obviously hiding something. He's adamant that Picard and the Federation simply leave them alone. An unknown, heavily armed, and mean-looking alien vessel appears and attacks the Enterprise. Its actions are erratic. Troi begins hearing a repeating song in her mind that gets louder and louder and will not go away. Her disturbed mental state starts off as a small, percolating problem, but like the rest of the episode, it slowly and steadily builds until her mental anguish pushes her to insanity.
This story is pitch-perfect in tone. The behavior and method of the attacks from the alien vessel hint that its real goal is simply to coax the Enterprise away from Rana. The clues lead us to the inevitable truth that all of this has to do with Kevin and his pacifist stance when the aliens attacked the colony. Why didn't he fight when the rest of the colony was trying to defend itself? All the answers lie in a revelation that is truly one of TNG's more unsettling concepts: Kevin is actually a superbeing called a Douwd, capable of boundless power, but assuming human identity to live with his human wife Rishon. He put the music in Troi's head to keep her from learning the truth: Great power requires great restraint, which Kevin exercised until Rishon was killed in the attack, at which point he lashed out and killed the Husnock — not just the attackers, but the entire race of 50 billion. Kevin's confession is a stunning revelation of frightening power, profound individual guilt, and audacious sci-fi imagination. If you stop and think about a being with cosmic power like that, humanity seems but a speck of insignificance.
For once, there's no humanistic preaching that Picard can possibly make. Concerning a being of such limitless power, Picard simply concludes, "We are not qualified to be your judge." The episode ends with one of Picard's most memorable voice-over logs: "We leave behind a being of extraordinary power and conscience. I'm not sure whether he should be praised or condemned — only that he should be left alone."
Previous episode: The Ensigns of Command
Next episode: Who Watches the Watchers
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143 comments on this post
Fri, Aug 5, 2011, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
Jammer, you are quite right that "The Survivors" is an unsung gem. To me, the greatest mystery about the episode is why it is unsung.
The acting: The acting was the best it has ever been on TNG (the story somehow gains a bizarre poignancy by the fact that John Anderson and Anne Haney are now both gone). The final scene between Picard and Kevin - the direction, acting, writing, lensing, staging, sound and lighting came together to produce two perfect minutes of television.
The staging: Often it is said that a script's level of ambition counts for little if the level of execution is found wanting. "The Survivors" was an enormously ambitious episode whose execution matched the ambition.
The mystery and build-up of suspense: A mystery is only as good as is how good the placement of clues are throughout the story. Although the ending of course was a "Twilight Zone"-whoa type of ending (one wishes that Rod Serling, who had denigrated the original Star Trek, had been alive to see it, as it was as well-written as anything Serling came up with), when one rewatches the episode, one realizes that it played fair and did not cheat, in much the way "The Sixth Sense" played fair.
The intangibles: The moment where Picard informs the Uxbridges that Troi's mind is gradually being destroyed is followed by Richad's saying, plantively, "Kevin.... no...." in a voice that suggests controlled anger, frustration and fear all at once... so many nice little touches like that. The story was essentially free of contrivances and plot gimmicks, did not have to rely on pyrotechnics to compensate for lacklustre direction (which BBW Pt.1, as great as it was, did).
Great character drama, great action, seeking out new life (something TNG rarely did), thought-provoking... what more could a fan want?
Apparently the answer is "The Inner Light." That episode, although great, was nothing more (and less, i suppose) than a terrific example of audience manipulation and an attempt to manufacture poignancy that should have (and did come from, to some degree) come from the characters, not from the music or the speechifying. In this episode, one could feel the gears grinding. "The Survivors" unfolded so naturally, with such elegance and grace, as to, I am afraid to suggest, be simply too "reserved" to be considered great. And that's a shame. The episode is as fine as ANY hour of TNG.
Thu, Jun 14, 2012, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 3, 2012, 4:45am (UTC -5)
I find Kevin's confession one of the strongest moments on TNG, without it necessarily being a "classic TNG". His pain, his awareness of the illusion he has created, his love... "I killed them all". "We have no law to fit your crime", Picard says, and then I cannot help but for a fraction of a moment think: "this man was robbed of love; whose crime was truly greater?"
Thu, Mar 14, 2013, 11:45am (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 15, 2013, 12:24am (UTC -5)
It was "gall" not guile. It's an OCD Trekkie thing.
Wed, Apr 17, 2013, 5:44am (UTC -5)
As with many great episodes, I find it harder to talk about “The Survivors” than I do about “merely good,” or average or weak episodes. Unlike the first two episodes of the season, this is not really a (main cast) character outing, though everyone acts consistently and the episode does give some time both to Worf’s pride; even more so, the episode is devoted to the crew’s in general and Picard’s in particular curiosity. The episode is a great one for Picard’s tenacity and bravery as an investigator and careful observer of psychology; he is several steps ahead of the audience without seeming, at least to me, to make any leaps that are impossible for him to have made (though I admit that I would not be able to make the gambles that he made). And partly because Picard believes what he does, we believe it: that Kevin Uxbridge *means* his pacifism and that despite his bringing the Husnock ship out repeatedly to scare or trick the Enterprise away, he will not kill. The advantage of this structure—spending most of the episode with the Enterprise crew coming closer and closer to Kevin’s secret, and Kevin trying to shoo them away as best he can—is that it helps to underline how much Kevin is a man of peace, how unwilling he is, even *after* his act of genocide, to use force on others even when they become a personal and emotionally devastating nuisance to him.
(That is, except for the force that he uses on Troi—and I think the one potential weak spot in the plot is that Kevin doesn’t remove the music-box block on Troi when the Enterprise seems to leave the system for good, though it seems as if Kevin is not really thinking clearly about how torturous the music-box is for Troi.)
In addition to this, while Kevin knows that the current Rishon is not real and that she’s an illusion, and is partly consoling himself with that lie because it’s the only way he knows how to continue living, he pointedly does not create an idealized version of her: besides not going to fight with the others (and even on that, Rishon seems uncertain as to why she decided to stay with Kevin), she seemingly is as Rishon was, friendly to outsiders, shocked at Kevin’s having hurt a woman on the ship.
All this adds up to a devastating conclusion. When we learn that Kevin Uxbridge committed genocide, wiping tens of billions of people from the universe, we recognize the depths of his guilt and pain. Beings with power far beyond humans’ are seldom portrayed as having pacifist tendencies (though the Organians from the original series come to mind), and humans who get godlike powers almost instantly become corrupted by them (ask Gary Mitchell, or I suppose “Hide and Q” Riker). Here is a seemingly all-powerful alien who voluntarily represses his powers for decades, refuses to use force, is dedicated to pacifism far beyond what we could imagine—and then the consequences of that pacifism is that his wife is dead, and for a moment afterward he loses his conviction long enough to become a mass murderer. He’s a tragic figure, but I think the episode asks us to do as Picard does: to neither condemn him nor praise him; the thing that strikes me watching this is to be glad not to have the kind of power he has, of being able to act in an instant of emotion against everything he believes in and to know for the rest of his days that this emotion came just too late to save his wife.
The episode’s tone, which builds up from an intimate chamber drama, captures in a way this show can every so often, but only rarely (“The Inner Light” comes to mind) the way the whole universe is perceived through the personal—here we see that it works in reverse (a moment of loss of emotional control over a personal injury can make men in positions of power do untold, unimaginable damage).
To be honest, I hadn’t remembered this episode being extraordinary and Jammer’s 4 star rating surprised me, but watching it again and its slow burn story, coming to a gripping conclusion with implications that the episode itself admits (through Picard) are too great to be contemplated and yet are presented, without sentimentality or devoid of their import, it did work very well. Yes, 4 stars seems right.
Sat, May 18, 2013, 2:23am (UTC -5)
Tue, Aug 13, 2013, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
I didn't love this episode, but didn't hate it either. It's funny, because I don't have many complaints about it. It's just left me feeling a bit apathetic.
The acting was fine, the plot was revealed slowly and the story is pretty cool but at that time I was coming from two terrible TNG seasons, and that hurt my perception of the episode.
Instead of looking at all those good points you mentioned (the responsibility of being super powerful yet a pacifist) all I saw was yet another god-like creature of the week. Q is my favorite among them, but there were oh, so many "Gods" that didn't work after him: The skin of evil, the nebula of energy in "Lonely Among Us", the sentient cube at certain episode which name I can't remember, etc.
When this episode's guy revealed the truth my line of thought was like "Oh, so he's like a God...again. And he killed an entire race I never heard anything about. Ok. Moving on, next episode".
I'll try to keep an open mind and re-watch it sometime later, now that I've become a Trek fan. Back then I wasn't.
Sun, Aug 25, 2013, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 1, 2013, 11:42am (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 6, 2013, 8:01am (UTC -5)
I do have one minor quibble. Picard (and most here) say "how could we judge". an @Dustwy above says Kevin lost love, which is the worse crime. I have an answer, killing 50 billion is worse. I realize us trek fans have to be good little liberals and make everything in the universe relative, but I will take a stand and say that killing 50 billion (mostly innocent) is slightly worse than killing one guys love. YES, it is a worse crime. And the crime is called genocide, and we have numerous times in the last century put humans on trial for it. It is wrong, no ifs-ands-or buts. If an arab terrorist accidentally killed a Dowd in a terror attack, is it then morrally acceptable for this dowd to kill every human on Earth? The answer is NO.
But anyways, I took Picards' speech at the end to mean we couldn't punish a god in any meaningful way, not that we can't judge him......
But I was always hoping TNG would have more episodes like this, and "CLUES" from season 4 comes close, but the slow-building sci fi mystery Trek really seemed to die around season 4.
Mon, Oct 7, 2013, 11:45am (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 8, 2013, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
- Marina Sirtis cannot act as if in pain. Period. Those scenes were painful to see for us; not because of our empathy for her, but because of how bad the acting is. I realize the music box is a plot point and not easily excised, but it's painful to get through.
- Speaking of which, the musical score went straight to creepy at the end of each Troi in pain scene. We already know it's creepy and linked to the mystery of the Uxbridges. That just seemed too much of overkill.
- The Dowd may seem to be as powerful as the Q, but Kevin's IQ was closer to 20 than 2,005. The fakeness of the Husnock ship, particularly its last scene, was glaringly obvious to me, and would have been glaringly obvious to Picard as well even if he didn't already suspect something was up. Reading the review and comments, I was surprised to see comments that the mystery was perfectly executed. It wasn't! The final Husnock appearance was so bizarre that there's no way Kevin would assume it'd fool anyone. Why allow it to be destroyed so easily after proving it could take on anything the Enterprise could dish out? Why suddenly attack the Uxbridge home 5 minutes after Picard told Kevin that that was the only thing that would cause him to leave? Did Kevin really think Picard was that stupid to not notice something was up?
- Well, maybe he did think that, because the rest of the crew certainly was. Sure, maybe Picard was the only one to catch on. But did everyone else have to act so dumbfounded at every twist in the last act even after A) so many bizarre twists already happened that they should start to expect the unexpected, and B) their captain, who they all trust, clearly expects these unexpected events to occur. And yet Riker and the rest of them continue to be shocked and bewildered at each oddity: the Husnock ship returning, firing on the Uxbridges, being destroyed easily, and the house returning. Doesn't speak much for their intelligence.
- But going back to Kevin for a second. So he has the power to find every single Husnock in the galaxy, but doesn't bother to peak up into orbit for a few seconds to see if his little charade worked? Unlikely.
- While I suppose it's reasonable that Picard would have deduced that the whole thing, including the Husnock ship, was a scam and that there were powerful beings at work. But how did he deduce that Mrs Uxbridge was not only a human, but died as well? There was never a hint of that. At best, there was a sense that she supported her husband completely and didn't take much initiative on her own (Except, of course, that she did take initiative with the first away team). But that's hardly a reason to suspect anything. There are plenty of couples today in which one person is more of the decider and the other is the follower; presumably couples like that exist in the future as well. The Uxbridge's relationship seemed perfectly normal to me, and I didn't see any hint that one was fake. So Picard catching that seems to come out of nowhere.
- Picard's statement wondering if he should be praised or condemned is stupid. What, exactly, should he be praised for? Only exterminating one species? Telling the truth after being goaded and prompted by someone who figured half of it anyway? For feeling guilty about genocide? While we're all glad that he did do those things, none of it is praiseworthy, anymore than thinking it is praiseworthy that I didn't decide to go on a murder spree today. Sounds way too much like a particularly nasty kind of moral relativism to me. Same with Picard saying there is no law to judge him. Maybe there's no ability to judge him, and no way (or authority, perhaps) to punish him, but according to our morals genocide is a pretty awful act, whether committed by a super powered being or not, or committed as an act of "insanity" or not.
Some of those are minor points, yes. And this episode has lots of good points, which I won't reiterate. The mystery (until the end, at least) and Kevin's revelation were well done, and both guest stars did a very good job. But I just don't see this episode as being that much better than the previous two.
Sun, Nov 3, 2013, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 9, 2014, 2:26am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 13, 2014, 6:39pm (UTC -5)
Secondly, Kevin says he couldn't help the colonists because he didn't want to kill. However, killing is not the only way to protect people. If it was then what is the point of defensive shielding and maneuvers? Kevin could have done a multitude of acts to prevent the colonists from being killed. Shields, camouflage, cloaking, I can't think of anything else right now but there would be other things a super powerful being could do that wouldn't break his code of pacifism. If Kevin was smart the colonists wouldn't have to know he was behind it either. Kevin did say he tried to lure the Husnock away, but if this is all he could think of then although he is powerful he isn't very imaginative.
On the plus side the acting by "Kevin" especially was great and the step-by-step build up of the mystery was great and this episode definitely got me thinking about morals, guilt and judgment and in that way is very Trek.
Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 2:46am (UTC -5)
Yeah I remember this from the first time it aired and it was a firm favourite. Still a great episode. Like Kobi says it does seem strange given all his power that he couldn't better defend the colony but if he does we don't get our episode.
The Hussnock ship looks like my son made it in class and my other annoyance is them dancing to a music box/thing. Why? Is there not such thing as a music player/Hi Fi in the future...
3/4 for me, not quite a classic but fond memories.
Sun, Mar 30, 2014, 5:14am (UTC -5)
The points that SkepticalMI brings up are good, but I didn't really think about that while watching the episode. Kevin curiously seemed to lack a way to see the results of his actions. This could make sense if it were not for the fact that he tracked every Husnock across the galaxy. That implies that he had an amazing "vision".
It's true that Kevin's strategies were not very clever. But if they had been super clever, then the Enterprise wouldn't have solved the mystery. The writers didn't have much choice but to make his plans flawed in some way.
I also agree that there was no way for Picard to know that Mrs Uxbridge wasn't real. It might be that he went with his instincts and bluffed to force Kevin to reveal himself. Still, he was very lucky to get it exactly right.
"What, exactly, should he be praised for?" I guess that it's implied that he exterminated an evil and dangerous race. If they were, say, as bad as the Borg then maybe he deserves praise? The only thing we know is that they savagely destroyed one planet, so it's hard to say. That being said, praising genocide seems taking things a bit too far.
Wed, Jul 30, 2014, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 29, 2014, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
-Kevin Uxbridge (TNG)
Fri, Aug 29, 2014, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 30, 2014, 11:00am (UTC -5)
Was Apollo really even near-omnipotent?
Extremely powerful, yes. But he didn't really have many powers that would qualify him for being even semi omnipotent. Did he?
Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
List of omnipotent or "near-omnipotent" characters in the Star Trek universe
Omnipotent / near-omnipotent character (first appearance episode)
-Charlie Evans (Charlie X, S1E2)
-Gary Mitchell (Where No Man Has Gone Before, S1E3 / Second Pilot)
-Trelane (The Squire of Gothos, S1E17)
-Metrons (Arena, S1E18
-Organians (Errand of Mercy, S1E26)
-Apollo (Who Mourns for Adonais?, S2E2)
-Ornithoids ("Catspaw", S2E7)
-The Providers, ("The Gamesters of Triskelion", S2E16)
-Melkot ("Spectre of the Gun", S3E6)
-Q (Encounter at Farpoint, S1E1)
-Nagilum (Where Silence Has Lease, S2E2)
-Kevin Uxbridge (The Survivors, S3E3)
-Bajoran "Prophets" (Emissary, S1E1)
Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
Apollo manifested a giant disembodied hand that literally held the Enterprise in place. He also was an alien with authentic powers that allowed him to successfully pose as a God in ancient Greece.
I'd say that qualifies him as "near omnipotent", at least in the sense I was thinking.
-Regarding the above-posted list, though I may be missing a few in the later series (DS9, Voyager, Enterprise), my sense from just having watched all those episodes was that there were extremely few (perhaps none) near-omnipotent beings in those later series (other than the occasional appearance by Q).
This leads me to conclude that the all-powerful being encounters was mainly a fetish of Gene Roddenberry himself, since they went away after he died.
Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 5:46pm (UTC -5)
Omnipotent / near-omnipotent character (first appearance episode)
-Charlie Evans ("Charlie X", S1E2)
-Gary Mitchell ("Where No Man Has Gone Before", S1E3 / Second Pilot)
-Trelane ("The Squire of Gothos", S1E17)
-Metrons ("Arena", S1E18)
-Organians ("Errand of Mercy", S1E26)
-Apollo ("Who Mourns for Adonais?", S2E2)
-Ornithoids ("Catspaw", S2E7)
-The Providers, ("The Gamesters of Triskelion", S2E16)
-Melkot ("Spectre of the Gun", S3E6)
-Excalbians ("The Savage Curtain", S3E22)
-Q ("Encounter at Farpoint", S1E1)
-God-like inter-dimensional aliens protecting Edo ("Justice", S1E7)
-Nagilum ("Where Silence Has Lease", S2E2)
-Kevin Uxbridge ("The Survivors", S3E3)
-Bajoran Prophets / Wormhole Aliens ("Emissary", S1E1)
Thu, Sep 4, 2014, 8:47am (UTC -5)
As to ones you may have missed (just suggestions, not 100% sure if you'd want to count them)....
1) The beings from "If Wishes Were Horses" could manifest dreams as reality.
2) The STV God maybe?
3) Does Kes count? She was able to send VOY 10k lightyears and if she didn't leave the ship she could have destroyed VOY at a sub molecular level...
4) The Caretakers (especially the second one) were pretty overpowered too.
Thu, Sep 4, 2014, 8:55am (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 4, 2014, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
-I think you're right about the Edo "God". They were highly evolved multi-dimensional beings. Now that I've thought about it, the only powers they demonstrated were the ability to interface with Data and to menacingly approach the Enterprise. That's less demonstrated capability than Apollo, and not really "near-omnipotent".
My main interest was in how often super-powerful god-like characters showed up in the Star Trek series, and the apparent fact that they were more frequent in TOS than later series. Wasn't at first interested in getting into the details of relative abilities of the "near-omnipotent" beings.
That said, it is indeed interesting to think about the variety of super-powerful characters, so let me try to organize my thoughts:
Admittedly there is going to be gray area here. But in general when I think of "near-omnipotent" I am thinking of those characters that have abilities to either:
-manipulate reality (turning one object/lifeform into another instantly, manifesting matter/energy out of nothing, etc. without the use of technology),
-travel through time or over vast distances instantly (and, again, without the use of technology).
-Extra points for immortality
Of course each character is different so we'll get a spectrum. But we can start by categorizing them into groups.
Type A: With the above guidelines a couple of the characters we've seen stand out as obviously qualifying as "near-omnipotent". Q, Trelane, Nagilum, Kevin Uxbridge are all obvious examples: they are each pretty much omnipotent, can travel through and manipulate time and space, are omniscient, and immortal. This was mainly the type I was originally thinking of, though now I see some of those on my list would actually better fit in the below Types.
Type B: A class of characters/races that are less capable or more limited than Type A, but still extremely powerful compared to the "standard" races in star trek (humans, vulcans, romulans, klingons, cardassians etc.). Beings in this category may be telekinetic or able to manipulate reality or manifest objects in real space out of nothing, but are not typically omniscient and are still largely dependent on technology for things like space travel. In this category I'd put characters like Kes (the last time we saw her) since she is extremely telekinetic, but can't teleport or (AFAIK) manifest objects from nothing. Other examples would be Apollo and the Caretakers (perhaps straddling the line between Type A and B), perhaps the Edo God, the dream aliens from "If Wishes were Horses", Charlie X, Gary Mitchell, the "God" from Star Trek V, maybe the "Gorgon" from "And the Children Shall Lead", Maybe Armus the tar-monster that killed Yar, etc.
Type C: would be any beings that cannot really manipulate reality, but have strong telepathic abilities and can use them to control other beings and give the appearance of omnipotence. I'm thinking especially of characters like "Plato's Stepchildren", or the Talosians from "The Cage / The Menagerie".
Thu, Sep 4, 2014, 3:49pm (UTC -5)
I'll add another for TNG though. John Doe from Transfigurations. Shape shift, fly through space, transportation, healing, etc.
Thu, Sep 4, 2014, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
Think about that: the Enterprise would have been *on* this list, if it were compiled by certain cultures in the Trekverse.
Fri, Apr 10, 2015, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
Here I'd take very strong issue with those who denigrated Sirtis' performance. One comment in particular struck me as pointedly I'll-informed - that she behaved like a child. Intense pain Is experienced in the self-same areas of the brain as conscious thought, executive decision making, sensory experience and emotional control. It crowds out, sometimes partially, but sometimes largely, the ability to reason, act normally. or even speak clearly. That's why, for example, a strong headache often makes people very irritable, sensitive to light or sound, etc. Sirtis turned in a great performance here; anyone who may attack her interpretation simply hasn't experienced - or had to care for someone who experienced - pain of a sort and intensity that it debilitates, disorients, and, indeed, causes temporary regression to a child-like state.
Next, Kevin did try to fight with non-lethal means. Recall that he said it just made the Hues-Noch (sp?) angrier, that it didn't "fool them." Therefore, the somewhat transparent tactics he employed against the Enterprise were consistent, insofar as being generally ineffective. Probably just a narrative requirement, but an argument could be made that for someone so powerful, exercising non-lethal means of dissuasion against mere mortals would be like you or I trying to push an egg yolk down a street witn a bulldozer....same thing with overwhelming Troi's tempathic sense.
Great review Jammer!
Mon, Apr 20, 2015, 8:51am (UTC -5)
The final scene moved me to tears, in part out of sympathy for Kevin Uxbridge and in part out of sympathy for the actor who played him.
Still, I don't think it's a perfect episode. It's not the kind of mystery where you're kicking yourself in the head at thend for not figuring it out, because there's simply not enough clues given for you to make a guess. The Troi scenes were grating as well.
Sun, May 24, 2015, 11:26am (UTC -5)
1.) The whole music-in-Troi's-head subplot was ridiculous. With an away-team on the planet researching how two people and a few acres of land mysteriously survived a planet-wide catastrophe Troi suddenly begins hearing music that just won't stop. Does she report this immediately? No. Does she think "I'm being telepathically manipulated? No. She just dismisses it and tries not to think about it. Is she stupid?! Even when it's to the point of driving her insane enough to cry into the mirror she STILL doesn't tell anybody until Picard flat out confronts her on her obvious problem. I'm sorry, but this just destroys any empathy I have for her in this situation.
2.) Kevin's not exactly the brightest bulb in the box, is he? He tried to fool the Husnock ship and failed. So, what's his plan for the Enterprise? Try to fool them. Genius level thinking there.
3.) If this episode where in the first or second season, Picard would have ended the episode with a monumental condemnation of Kevin's genocide while strutting around like a self-important ass. I'm so glad the crew is no longer acting like insufferable douchebags anymore, but here the writers went too far in the other direction. They're not qualified to be his judges? Yes they damn well are! Maybe the Federation isn't qualified, or capable, of delivering punishment and/or correction on him since he's so powerful, but they can still condemn him for being a genocidal murderer!
That being said, this episode does have some good elements. The acting is top-notch and I greatly applaud the writers for having the guts to have Kevin kill 50,000,000,000 people. It just a shame they ruined it with the moral relativism in Picard's final Captain's Log.
Fri, Jul 17, 2015, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 9:20pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
There are also some wonderful little vignettes - Worf's "I admire gall" and "Good tea. Nice house", and Riker's upside-down delivery in the trap of particular note.
Without the Troi subplot - which was an intriguing idea but which was perhaps not perfectly implemented - this would be a slam dunk 4 star. VFX dropped off badly in this episode too. 3.5 stars it is.
Fri, Oct 9, 2015, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 16, 2016, 7:54am (UTC -5)
This was an omnipotent being who chose to be mortal, who set aside his powers and wanted to grow old and die with someone he loved. We can envision that Kevin would have been reluctant to tap into those powers once he had given them up. He could not be both Kevin Uxbridge, the kind mortal husband and the all-powerful Douwd. These would have been incompatible roles and it's naive to assume that a person could maintain such dual identities. No, for him to take on the role of Kevin Uxbridge, he needed to set aside what he was.
As a being who spent so long keeping those powers bottled up and maintaining his mortal shell, he could not easily just shed that facade, and even fought to maintain it, indulging in what could only be described as self-delusion.
The Douwd could undoubtedly have flung the Husnack ship into the Delta quadrant, or turned its weapons into cotton candy, but Kevin Uxbridge couldn't, or wouldn't, not merely because of his pacifist leanings, but probably because he was at war with himself - unwilling or unable to tap into the powers and the identity that he had chosen to set aside. And his indecision cost him the life of the one he loved. His greatest guilt was not just that he had wiped out an entire race, but that he had the power to save the one he loved and he allowed her to die instead. That's what makes Kevin a real tragic hero. It's that tragedy that I think lies at the heart of the episode.
Sat, Jul 30, 2016, 9:17am (UTC -5)
Sun, Oct 16, 2016, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 3, 2017, 10:51am (UTC -5)
For example, why couldn't Kevin simply move the warship somewhere else? Why couldn't Kevin construct a shield to protect the planet considering he has the means to just make however a strong shield or weapon needed to protect his secret. If he had the ability to destroy all Husnock, would he not also have the ability to re-create all Husnock?
With Q episodes, at least he has problems that he himself do not interfere in. This problem happens directly toward Kevin and its unbelievable that he would simply not do anything.
Fri, Jan 20, 2017, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 19, 2017, 5:20pm (UTC -5)
That being said, what was with the trap on the lawn? The odds of anyone visiting were remote, and it's blind luck that someone stepped just on the right spot.
Fri, Apr 14, 2017, 11:53pm (UTC -5)
The previous episode (The Ensigns of Command) gave us a good characterization of "diplomat Picard" but The Survivors showed us a captain worthy of the name Star Trek. After watching that first-run broadcast, it had me wondering how Kirk would have done if placed in Picard's shoes.
A great episode that made me sit up and take notice: The series was changing for the better.
Mon, Apr 17, 2017, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
Two quick subtle things that always impress me:
-When Kevin 'transforms' at the end, each time he does there appears to be a practical, on-set source of very strong light that frames his face before the CGI takes hold. It works really well, combined with the eerie-wind sound FX, and I'm glad they did something different rather than just 'sparklies' taking hold.
-When Rishon is shown to be an illusion, her dissolve goes through stages which includes one that seems to be just an almost 'plastic' form with primitive facial features. Again, not just a simple effect and really evident that extra care and time was taken in so many parts of this episode; someone/many someones were really sweating the details on this one.
Sun, May 14, 2017, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
You may have read that I'm just starting to rewatch TNG starting with season 3, after having worked my way through all the other series, finishing with the 2005 season of Enterprise. Last week's 'Ensigns of Command', to me, showed how Enterprise at its best outshone TNG at its weakest. Inferior, half-baked writing and dialog, and utterly inept acting from guest stars. 'Survivors' OTOH shows a crucial area where TNG and DS9 outshone ENT (and Voyager): a solid performance from an ensemble cast. In TNG everyone pretty much pulls their weight. Troi might be a weak link at times (BTW as someone with catastrophic tinnitus I can sympathise with her having a noise in her head driving her mad), but even Wesley, who everyone loves to hate, can't really be accused of being a character who didn't work. He was shuffled off for long stretches at a time, but at least he didn't become a non-entity like Mayweather.
Anyway I'm rambling. I think there were substantial problems which kept this from being a classic. As has beeen noted, Kevin could surely have found some method of dealing with the Husnock. As Zg noted, if he had the ability to wipe out 50 billion people just by thinking about it, surely he could have just moved their ship away, or turned their weapons into cauliflowers, or made them just decide to go to Risa instead. And yes, of course Picard is 'qualified' to judge genocide as a crime. A more appropriate statement might have been "We're not capable of doing anything about you."
I'm not sure what I think about the whole Gods mating with humans business. It's certainly well-worn territory: Zeus made a career of it. Aphrodite, too, come to think of it. But this was more of an unpremeditated thing. Kevin,s wandering about being all omnipotent and immortal, and suddenly falls in love with an Earth woman. This would probably be a bit like one of us falling in love with an anteater, but I suppose such things do happen.
I enjoyed this ep. The acting was generally of a high standard, and notwithstanding the few problems I had with it, the writing was leagues ahead of last week's effort. I just remembered one thing which annoyed me a little: Picard's figuring out what was going on, but not letting anyone, even his First Officer, in on it. I suppose it was nescessarily for dramatic purposes, but it seemed odd behaviour on a starship. I suppose you just live with it, the same way nobody in any of these series can ever be bothered explaining things over the com. It's always, "I'm in sickbay, Captain. There's something here you'd better see", or "Riker to Picard. I'm in engineering. There's something here you're going to want to look at". "What is it?" "Oh, it's a stick insect." "I thought so. Number One, stop bothering me with this entomological trivia."
Tue, May 30, 2017, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
Still, whenever you have a God-like character, one has to wonder what he could have done, why he killed 50 billion people etc. it introduces a fair bit of conveniences for the writers and doubts in minds of the viewers.
But in this case, it works out as one can believe the quandry Kevin is in, being pacifist but having a hugely guilty conscience. The comparison is with the Organians from "Errand of Mercy" on TOS - who I believe to be among the most powerful God-like figures TOS ever created with morals to support their level of evolution. That Kevin would commit genocide because of lost love is a bit of a stretch for an otherwise purely pacifist.
Just because Kevin is a "God" doesn't mean Picard can't judge/condemn him. He certainly should not be praised.
The resolution of the mystery and how Picard sort of gets it but doesn't let on too much to Riker etc. takes us on a very interesting journey.
I think Troi's acting with the music in her head was well-portrayed as causing her great grief and Worf had some great lines too. A lot of good things about this episode.
The ending with Picard and Kevin is terrific, however I can't get over the writers leaving it with Kevin committing genocide out of rage for the purpose of inducing a terrible guilt.
I think SkepticalIMI makes some very good points (Troi's acting is not one I agree with) about some of the shortcomings in this episode but it's almost clutching at straws.
For me, this is a strong 3.5/4 stars and can see why many would give it 4 stars.
Wed, May 31, 2017, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
If an episode makes one think about the creation of such a being as Kevin, with such limitless power - it is as Jammer says "audacious sci-fi imagination". While I honestly believe such a being would not irrationally wipe out a race of 50 billion, it is after all fiction and not an oversight or plot hole by the writers.
The plot is very clever in how Kevin tries to shoo away Picard & co.
Being the geek I can be, I've also checked out some threads comparing the Douwd and Q, Organians etc. including gods from religion and spirituality.
For what this episode has made me think about, I must upgrade my rating to 4 stars. For me, this is the best TNG episode up to this point early in S3.
Sun, Jun 18, 2017, 11:27pm (UTC -5)
Kevin is an extreme pacifist, which is to be applauded. He sticks to his conviction 99.99999% of his life, and only loses his cool in a moment of desperation. If we humans could kill with thoughts like he can, we would long have destroyed the universe. No chance in hell that we'd even exist anymore. Because obviously, his power can only be used destructively: He can kill, but not revive.
So, he is more moral than any human could ever be. Have you never had vicious thoughts against a group? Have you never, in a moment of anger, generalized and thought that ALL people from a certain culture are despicable (because you really, really don't like some aspects of that culture; they go against your convictions and core beliefs)? Sure, we usually correct our thoughts pretty quickly and realize how naive we've been in our generalization. But if we had had the power of Kevin, it might have been too late already... the damage would've been done.
Long story short, Kevin really can't be measured by human standards. Because thoughts are incredibly difficult to control. Much more difficult than actions. But for Kevin, his thoughts BECOME actions, which completely changes the rules.
We don't punish people for thought crimes, we have no laws for that.
Sun, Jun 18, 2017, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
That he may be more "moral" than practically every human, but at the same time committed a crime that is worse than any crime a human ever did.
The extreme Pacifist becomes the biggest mass murderer.
From a human perspective, it's so inappropriate.
Wed, Jul 12, 2017, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
On the one hand I instinctively want to dislike the appearance of yet another immortal super being but on the other hand there was great power in Kevin's confession of genocide.
I agree with Jammer's review and rating and I think the Twilight Zone classification is spot on.
My only beef really is that this is a variation on an over visited theme.
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 4:20am (UTC -5)
@NickP: I agree that genocide is worse than losing your love. But we also have to keep in mind that the enemy he was facing was also apparently genocidal. Killing 50 billion isn't right, but it also may have saved many other Federation colonies and others from annihilation.
I thought it was sort of odd that Picard told Kevin at the end that he was free to leave the ship. Force of habit, I guess?
I like dgalvan's list of omnipotent beings, and enjoy pondering what would happen if they were pitted against each other. Could Q kill 50 billion of a race all through the galaxy in an instant? I suppose maybe so, but I'm not sure. How, I wonder, would the little boy from "The Twilight Zone" fare in a tournament against all of these?
It is interesting how many times this came up in TOS relative to other series, especially as a percentage of all episodes.
@Lupe: Literal LOL about the stick insect.
@Steven: good points about Kevin being both the most moral being, and greatest mass murderer, at the same time.
I can't quite go 4 stars with this, but 3.5 stars for sure.
Wed, Jan 3, 2018, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
I think people are shortsighted when they question how someone could simply kill an entire race rather than do any number of other things in response to the only being they ever loved being killed (something they could've easily prevent if not for their own personal code they lived by). Imagine any time you ever yelled at anyone who did something really bad.
This guy is a god - for all we know, killing that entire race might have been the godly equivalent of a scream of rage in response to them killing his loved one. Especially since he's able to do it with a single thought. Imagine all the times you wished someone dead? He simply couldn't control himself enough in the wake of what happened to have that one thought, that unfortunately for him, unlike an actual human, he can't take back.
I think Picard's lines at the end are taken exactly with that in mind. To steal another line from something completely different, Primal Fear, when this "soulless" defense attorney tries to explain why he does what he does, he says "I believe in the notion, that people are innocent until proven guilty. I believe in that notion because I choose to believe in the basic goodness of people. I choose to believe that not all crimes are committed by bad people. And I try to understand that some very, very good people do some very bad things." This is the same kind of mindset Picard is displaying at the end, and as others have said, Picard probably understands as well that a god punishing himself with endless grief and regret is more than what humans could do to him anyways.
The mystery component of the episode was pretty solid too. Like someone else said, Picard shows himself a worthy captain as he doesn't just take the hand he's dealt. A ship that keeps up with the Enterprise at ridiculous speeds and seems impossible to defeat suddenly letting off, later being easy to defeat - he wasn't happy with the simple conclusion of the safety of the enterprise but wants to get to the bottom of what's really going on. That's always been Picard at his best in this series and part of why the finale was so incredible.
I agree that the Troi part was maybe unnecessary and a bit much, though I think the music box was an interesting choice, sort of like a "kind" way to keep someone off of their trail while inadvertently torturing them in the process. Who knows - if not for the seriousness of that, Picard may not have been quite as determined to figure out what was going on.
There are certainly some better episodes, but I always find this one very memorable and I'd agree with 4 stars too on it. If choosing a selection of the greatest episodes - let's say 20 across the series, I'd include this.
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 6:23am (UTC -5)
However, Troi's performance was brilliant. It was a disturbing scenario and far more interesting than relentlessly questioning a couple of stubborn old gits.
Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 12:21pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 18, 2018, 12:13am (UTC -5)
Also I found it quite funny how Picard says "You're free to return to the surface" like Picard could actually do anything to prevent him, I get that Kevin was putting himself in Picard's hands out of a feeling of guilt but had he wanted to return to the surface it's not like Picard could have thrown him in the brig, he could wipe out the Enterprise in one thought.
Sun, Apr 8, 2018, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 13, 2018, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 5, 2018, 4:05am (UTC -5)
Troi is annoying in this episode. That bloody music, she's not the only one screaming "make it stop!"
Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 11:33pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 1, 2018, 12:35pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 22, 2018, 6:25pm (UTC -5)
Exactly! Is he just trying to not use his powers? It's not like that stopped him from messing with Troi, or rebuilding the house, or dispatching the fake warship. If he feels so guilty about wiping out this species (also I'm glad he said species and not race, that's something Star Trek never seems to get right), then just woosh them back into existence. Maybe he felt that his grief was worth them not being around to kill anyone else?
Aside from that, considering his morality, I can totally believe that if Picard told Kevin go with them for a trial that he would do it and accept whatever consequences were dished out. Though I think I'd have liked it a little better if Picard told Kevin to go back to the planet and never leave, and that he'd put out beacons to keep anyone else away.
Sun, Sep 23, 2018, 3:49pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
Fun anecdote thrown in there about Andorians disassembling their ship and hiding it
Lots of jolting surprises like the red alert out of the blue once when Picard in troi quarters and then again when Beverly treating troi. Or the house and land returning after being destroyed by marauder. Or Picard informing Riker there was actually only one survivor ?!?!? Huh? What?!?!?
Terrifying ordeal Troi endured being possibly put in a coma trapped in your body with the maddening music still there. I’d much rather be awake than in that condition
Battlescenes were exciting as marauder attacks enterprise the alien shields were pretty cool too
Liked the touch of Data memorizing information about colonists
The guest actors were great
Almost a 4 star episode but I think the payoff could have been more original
I did like in isolation the idea of superbeing pacifist in a moment of rage at loss of rishon to take revenge on the husbock and Picard realizing living with that guilt everyday is enough punishment
But it felt like a left turn from Where the mystery was heading. Would have liked something more than the house being an illusion and there had actually been a real legitimate reason the Uxbridges were spared rather than saying they really weren’t spared and the house was destroyed
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
BZ, Dr Crusher didn’t pick up the music box, Data did.
As for Kevin recreating the Husnok? It’s generally far easier to destroy than create. Humans have the power to nuke a city, but not recreate it just like that.
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
He never said he wiped out the Husnock in a single moment though, he said he "went insane" so it's possible it actually took some substantial amount of time and effort on his part. He was an absolute pacifist and determined to avoid causing _any harm at all_ to the attacking Husnock right up to the point his wife was killed, so I could just barely imagine his powers not being up to snuff under the circumstances.
Wed, Feb 6, 2019, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 18, 2019, 8:21am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed the suspense of it. It was a little different in that Picard took the role of chief detective and kept his suspicions to himself. this is out of character to the Picard who always asks his bridge crew for ideas and speculation even. Seeing Riker's face when he is left out of Picard's thoughts and reasons for issuing the commands he did was priceless. However I found it in explicable how Picard solved the mystery all on his own. And for that reason I cannot give this a perfect score like Jammer.
Its funny my memory was also wrong about who destroyed the planet and why. I remember it being the crystalline entity and that the guy on the planet struck a deal to be spared...oh I think I know what I am confusing it with....
It was a good premise to have an immortal strong species (like Q?) but as pacifist instead of indifferent to life.
I thought the idea of Troi being vulnerable was a good one. There has to be a downside to all that intrusive thought and emotion reading.
The guest actors were excellent. This was more like an episode of Twilight Zone or Night Gallery. Couldn't you just hear a spooky narrator voice asking "what if you were immortal and found the love of your life, only to be doomed to living forever without her..."
8/10 lower for me due to the non -Trekkian style (although I enjoyed it).
Thu, Jul 25, 2019, 9:35am (UTC -5)
Both are beings with immense power, yet the Doud would have more scruples and restraint than the Q...
As Picard said that he could not judge Kevin....I was half-expecting Q to impishly show up in his Encounter at Farpoint judge regalia, saying “Did someone need my services?” (LOL)
Sun, Aug 25, 2019, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 27, 2019, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 29, 2019, 10:22pm (UTC -5)
The guest stars really make the ep: They are perfection. Anderson at the end, with his confession: Excellent! And Haney as Rishon who is not quite Rishon . . . exquisite.
Kevin refuses to kill as a matter of principle, but kills 50 billion when he gets hurt and angry. Scary. Weird! One might expect a little more emotional maturity from an ancient being. Was this his first experience with unexpected, emotionally crippling loss? Maybe so.
There's a kind of fragility that comes with great power, with never knowing failure or loss.
I think in Troi's outward suffering, we are meant to see Kevin's inner suffering - from the loss of Rishon but also from his guilt over his crime, and guilt over not saving Rishon and the others. It plagues him, it is a constant refrain. He tries to find relief by recreating his life with Rishon, but in doing so, he has sprung the trap on himself: she isn't really Rishon, and on Rana, he will live a life of unending loneliness.
He couldn't fake out the Husnok; he couldn't fake out Picard. He's not faking himself out, either. Not really.
What does Picard say: "I do not know if he should be praised or condemned--only that he should be left alone."
And left alone he is: Very, very alone. For eternity.
Sun, Nov 17, 2019, 5:47am (UTC -5)
A couple of thoughts though - did the writers miss a trick by not having Kevin turn out to be a member of the Q Continuum? he seems to possess similar power, being able to snuff out an entire race on a whim provoked by rage. And he has a similar fascination with, or weakness for, humans. That might have been a nice tie in.
And secondly, a similar complaint that I always have about the 'Q' episodes. Doesn't the Federation have a lot to learn from a being like Kevin, or Q? Q can make vessels travel at many times maximum warp speed. Kevin has similar extraordinary power. But Q is treated like the annoying, embarrassing uncle who turns up at an awkward time. Kevin is just left to live out his (endless) life on a remote shell of a planet.
I don't like to think that these individuals are practitioners of "magic", so shouldn't the Federation be urging them to pass on a few secrets? Or at least ask for some sort of help or alliance; imagine what someone like Kevin or Q could do to a fleet of invading Borg cubes given the right motivation.
Sun, Nov 17, 2019, 10:56am (UTC -5)
I suspect that the writers didn't want us to get Q fatigue (as opposed to just plain old superbeing fatigue). I suppose a viewer so inclined could say that Douwd is literally a Q by any other name. But to the extent that rating the individual capacities of godlike beings makes any sense, the Douwd seems a little less powerful than the Q, since the Husnock were able to outdo Kevin's initial defences.
Sun, Nov 17, 2019, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 6, 2019, 2:27am (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 6, 2019, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 6, 2019, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 6:19am (UTC -5)
A word or two on Marina Sirtis:
I believe Marina Sirtis performance was perfection. She was in great mental anguish and was barely able to hold it together. Her full commitment to the given circumstances was nothing short of breath taking. Her scenes with Sir Patrick Stewart rank in my book as some of the best scenes in the episode. They play well off of each other and they're excellent listeners. She makes excellent physical choices and is so emotionally connected and seasoned that She can go from 0 - 100 in Ann instant. When She heard the door bell, Ratcheted it down to about 60. The underlying suffering was still there but She was putting on a brave face for the captain. She never gets the credit she deserves.
Mon, Mar 16, 2020, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
I feel sure that Crusher has been edited into the scene later, but no searches on the usual web sources - and certainly nothing here - confirms it. Am I just seeing things?
Mon, Mar 16, 2020, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
I could try to claim I was thinking of the actor and the character at the same time, but I even spelt Wil with two L’s.... and I don’t usually mix reality and fiction. Just a stupid mistake!
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
- the acting is superb - especially John Anderson. His confession at the end was mind blowing and heart breaking and shocking all at the same time. And how Gates McFadden plays Beverly’s reaction - just amazing.
- the writing & script are on point. It was a slow burn, with only a little clues dropped through out. While there was some action (and the simultaneous phaser and torpedo fire was awesome) it was mostly just talking. But it was so engrossing.
Reading some of the comments here make me sad that people think that immortal & all-powerful = infallible. They are not. While Kevin has immense power, he lacks both will, perfect vision, and perfect decision making. I am sure he did what he thought was best at the time, but he couldn’t predict the future and how life forms would react. And he obviously has emotions, which can override logic. We all know people who are good people but do bad things when they are angry. I think his plot line makes perfect sense.
In the end, one of my top 3 episodes.
Mon, May 4, 2020, 9:29am (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 21, 2020, 5:29am (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 21, 2020, 5:40am (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 10, 2020, 9:57am (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 17, 2020, 4:34pm (UTC -5)
More chillingly I began to imagine that not only did Kevin wipe them out, he obliterated them so effectively even the memory of them was lost to the universe. Any contact the Federation ever had with the Husnack, they wouldn't be able to remember from that point onwards.
Excellent episode and one of my favourites. It's more of a Twilight Zone anthology thought-piece type story and I think it's a mistake to start obsessing over its ramifications for the Trek universe as a whole. The ideas of continuity and ongoing development of the universe kind of came later, with DS9, as this point STNG was firmly an anthology show.
Sat, Jan 9, 2021, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
But still excellent, so many nice touches. Riker flat out staring at Troi in the conference room as she’s being consumed by the music. Great directing choices. Picard and some of the others are aware she’s got something weird going on. I always wondered if Riker was more attuned to her acting weird because he knew her far better, or if in some small way he was being pulled into her mind telepathically as she struggled.
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 2:51am (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 9:37am (UTC -5)
Kevin is, for all intents and purposes, a god. To the extent that he could be brought to justice, it would be at his whim and any punishment would be meaningless. I mean think of it - what is a 10 year sentence to a being such as this? What would even a "life" sentence mean? How could such a thing be carried out?
Picard's statement "we have no law for your crime" is best understood as "we *can't* bring you to justice. That's the bottom line.
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 10:39am (UTC -5)
It makes Picard seem insanely arrogant, imo. Uxbridge wiped an entire species out of existence with the blink of an eye and Picard is acting as if he is graciously allowing Kevin to leave the Enterprise without being punished. It's like an ant telling an elephant he's free to go where he pleases.
Maybe it's just the way the line was delivered. I don't know.
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 10:39am (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 10:51am (UTC -5)
That's a good point about the "You're free to return to the planet." I guess he's just trying to communicate that he's not going to bother Uxbridge anymore. Uxbridge has demonstrated that he'll limit his response to the Enterprise's meddling (primarily trying to use misdirection rather than force) so even if Uxbridge could crush them like a bug, he probably won't.
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 11:05am (UTC -5)
I think perhaps the most important reason Kevin is beyond human law is the moral side of it. Our laws regard actions taken within a social context, against fellow sentients, and within the bounds of 'free will' and 'choice to act'. Laws in TNG don't apply to thoughts or to desires, only to actions taken with the intent to act. None of these categories, however, apply to a being that is (a) not of the same type at all, not even corporeal, and (b) who can commit what we could call crimes by accident, in a moment's blind thought. It is not possible for a human to have a single moment of rage and be prosecuted for it; it takes far longer than that for a human to execute a course of violent action. But for Kevin, one single moment's rage can mean a genocide. How can a law manage individual extreme thoughts? For a being like that, there is not even a way for us to comprehend how such powers could be prevented from going wild. You could even imagine a technological human age far in the future where pressing one button (the world eraser button!) could cause mayhem, and where it could be pressed in a moment's rage.
So no, we really can't (and shouldn't, and are unable to) judge Kevin.
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 11:50am (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
I agree that choosing to live among humans may carry some tacit agreement to abide by their laws, but then again he only exercised his power after they were all destroyed, so I guess he wasn't among humans anymore when he did it?
I also started thinking that maybe the fact that he chose to live among humans and not use his powers meant he was renouncing doing godlike things. In other words, he was trying to not use his powers. But then when he had everything taken away from him the powers just jumped out of him, which may mean it's impossible for him not to do such things when provoked. If that's true then even talking about a rule is pointless, because if he can't prevent himself doing that kind of thing even after having made efforts not to, then any sense of a law being preventative is irrelevant. Beyond that the only question would be punishment, which is impossible, and judgement. This last is the one I would choose to focus on if I had to, and frankly I'm not even sure how much I could condemn someone who literally tried their best to do no harm and simply couldn't help it. At that point you need to either help them, stop them, or avoid them. But you can't ask for more than trying his best.
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
I guess one place we could say is that he should be asked to not impersonate Federation citizens, because it does mean that people are dealing with someone who could massacre them with a thought, without knowing that this is the case. Not that it's enforceable. Of course humans can do second degree crimes impulsively under certain circumstances, but 1) humans are mostly, at least in principle, aware of that, and 2) a human's abilities to do impulsive damage are more limited. It's clear that Uxbridge never anticipated this event, and now that it's occurred he's not going to reenter human society again, but if there were a place to offer "judgment" I guess it would be there. Even there I agree that he genuinely planned to live among humans as a human, and peacefully. I don't have any condemnation for him, all in all.
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
Kevin's supposed morality notwithstanding, there's nothing to prove what he said about the Husnock. They don't appear to be a species the Federation has encountered before. While Kevin is very powerful, he doesn't seem to be as powerful as the Q. He can't bring back the dead for instance. Rishon and the house and the warship are just illusions, albeit powerful ones. In my comment from 2018 I thought he just wooshed the Husnock away, erased them from existence, but he lacks that ability, he just killed them. So are there 50 billion dead Husnock smelling up a sector of space waiting to be found among lonely planets and warships on autopilot?
I bring that up because we only have Kevin's word to go on as to what he did. Is he guilty? Probably. Do we have any evidence to prosecute him? Other than his confession, no. If he weren't impersonating a human (which is a good point), he's an alien being that wiped out another alien species. Is that something the Federation should or could police, what with the Prime Directive's non-interference policy?
Tue, Feb 9, 2021, 8:42am (UTC -5)
That is really the only explanation that makes sense and it (kind of) helps explain one of the glaring potholes, namely why Kevin didn't use his cosmic powers to turn the Husnac ship's weapons into cotton candy or fling them into the Delta Quadrant or do one of 10,000,000 non lethal things short of exterminating their race. Kevin had decided to live as a human and even to grow old and die as one. Presumably his powers were bottled up for many years. I guess he was rusty?
But ugggh then again he tells us explicitly that he tried to trick the Husnac the way he did the Enterprise so blahhh. Yup it's just a stupid stupid pothole no way around it.
Tue, Feb 9, 2021, 10:10am (UTC -5)
I think also probably he wanted to use fairly low-impact techniques to avoid getting noticed. If he started using bigger godlike "you stay away from here or I'll make all your ship's controls work in reverse or turn you into newts" or whatever it would alert both the Husnok and those around him to his true identity. Plus I think maybe he's operating under a kind of Prime Directive of his own, which allows mild deceptions but not more involved interference.
Of course that kind of interference would have been preferable to genocide, but I think we're maybe meant to see him as very powerful but not omniscient, and having really believed his plans would work, and/or not being able to readjust his ethics fast enough to keep up with the destruction.
If it were convenient the episode could maybe have given more details on Uxbridge's code, but I also kind of think that even given a longer running time, it might have interfered with the story dramatically, particularly for a one-off. I think we maybe just have to imagine why Uxbridge might have restrained himself from all but the smallest actions, thinking those would be sufficient, until the reality that they weren't actually settled onto him.
Sat, Mar 13, 2021, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
A little bit of a mystery and some mildly interesting questions about pacificism, revenge, one race judging another...
This is the sort of episode that makes me glad I wade through all the ones that make me so angry I become a caricature.
Sat, May 8, 2021, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 30, 2021, 7:53pm (UTC -5)
As others have mentioned, the Federation certainly WOULD have laws to fit Kevin's crime -- his crime was genocide, perhaps the worst of all crimes. Maybe he would be exonerated or his sentence reduced because his crime was a crime of passion, just that an omnipotent being's crimes of passion are far more destructive than those of your average mortal. But Picard should have at least asked him whether he would be willing to stand trial, even if he couldn't have forced him to do so. Kevin may even have agreed to it.
There was also some fun in the first couple of acts for the average viewer. I quite liked Beverly's blue uniform in the intro and the way she said "illusion." I loved how Riker got strung up like a tetherball and how Geordi untethered him in the background. And Worf's most sincere compliment had ever uttered: "Your attempt to hold the away team at bay with a nonfunctional phaser was an act of unmitigated gall... I admire gall." I also thought Marina Sirtis did a good job of simulating a nervous breakdown, although it was more effective in the low-key conference table scene (which gave me goose bumps) than when she was in full-blown hysterics. The distorted music box melody was very chilling, especially in repetition, even Stephen King-worthy as a horror trope.
Question: Why didn't Kevin just recreate the entire colony? Why just his wife? His ruse would have been more successful if the Enterprise had arrived and found no destruction, and things would be even more "the way they were." I'm sure the writers would have had Picard get to the bottom of that in the same way, but I think that would be a more expected response from an all-powerful being.
Thu, Jul 1, 2021, 7:51am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 5, 2021, 12:18pm (UTC -5)
As a student of philosophy, my biggest complaint about this episode comes near the very end, when Picard is giving Rishon that insufferably condescending speech. “I can touch your skin, I can smell your perfume…but you are not real.” I was waiting for Rishon to indignantly respond, “Excuse me, I don’t know what point you’re trying to make, but I am indeed ‘real’, thank you! Now perhaps you can explain to me, wise sir, just how I am to be sure that YOU are real!” Of course, there’s no way to know whether she’s actually conscious - that is, having a subjective experience of reality (as opposed to being a philosophical zombie). But that’s the point - if she is, then she doesn’t know that Picard is conscious. And Picard should have the same suspicions about Riker…and Worf, and Troi, and…
But even putting solipsist concerns aside, just how real is Rishon? Was she a walking mannequin, a puppet with invisible strings whose every word and action were under Kevin’s direct control? Because if so, then I can’t imagine how the illusion was in any way satisfying for Kevin. If my wife died and I could reanimate her body, but I had to input every little thing she said and did and could never be surprised by her again, I wouldn’t feel like I had her back. Indeed, being in the presence of such a vapid facsimile would simply be painful - I would rather bury her and grieve.
Yet if Rishon had even a shred more autonomy than this - even a shred - then how is it fair to call her an illusion? I could be misremembering, as I don’t much care for the first season, but wasn’t there an episode therein in which Q murders Tasha Yar, then brings her back to life after his point is made? Was she an “illusion” for every moment between that resurrection and Skin of Evil? And didn’t Q once boast in Qpid that he had given his fantasy world a life of its own, so that even he would be surprised by his characters’ actions? Those characters disappeared once Q was finished playing that game, but I don’t see how we can regard that as anything but an atrocity: Q created living people, then slaughtered them when he was done exploiting them. Were they “illusions”?
These scenarios with Q really make the absurdity of Picard’s attitude toward Rishon stand out with the greatest starkness, to me. She “wasn’t real” because a Trek super-alien cancelled her death? Really, Picard? Why didn’t Tasha ever have to endure that speech?
Tue, Jul 6, 2021, 9:41am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 6, 2021, 9:38pm (UTC -5)
I'd argue that there's no evidence that Kevin couldn't have recreated the entire colony, and the better evidence is that he can actually create whatever he puts his mind to. He did create the Husnock ship, so why not a colony? I think that the Kevin-centric reason would be that Rishon -- not the colony -- was what was most important to him. But his powers didn't seem limited in scale. Meaning that if he had the power to create one person and one house, he could also recreate thousands of people, etc. Just as he could not only destroy a ship, he could destroy an entire race, anywhere in the galaxy.
And I do think that Rishon was indeed real. She argues with Kevin and has different viewpoints than him. She's flesh and blood and does seem to really have her own mind, and the episode doesn't suggest that Kevin is just creating the impression of their being a realistic couple to throw Picard off the scent. So I'd think he could just recreate the colony and then it would continue on its own after the act of creation. Would it be "exactly" the same as it was? Was Rishon "exactly" the same as she had been? Would she age, for example? Perhaps not, but those are questions for another day, and they don't mean that she's not still a sentient being.
The more I think about it, though, the more of a problem I have with TNG using the deaths of 50 billion (!) people as a plot point, and then exonerating the perpetrator of their deaths, and even justifying some sort of bizarre non-interventionist ideology in the face of an act of incalculable destruction. There were so many better ways to end the episode and stay true to Trek's core values, without a get-out-of-jail-free card for the intergalactic Hitler. So what if he's now remorseful and peace-loving? That doesn't exactly make up for an act of wholesale annihilation.
The ONLY justification is if Picard thought to himself, "Well, jeez, I certainly don't want to get on Kevin's bad side and risk all of humanity, so I'd better just let him go back to his planet where he can live by himself keep himself occupied with Rishon for the rest of eternity."
Wed, Jul 7, 2021, 7:27am (UTC -5)
There's something innately unsatisfying about debating the capabilities of your stock "mysterious superbeing." If this were an RPG, sure, they'd need some stats that would show what a game master is expected to have them do and what their limits might be.
There also tends to be a convention that the most godlike of powers is the ability to create life. There's also a convention that killing is easier than creating, so I have no trouble with the notion that Kevin can commit an instantaneous universal genocide but be incapable of sustaining a living colony on a much smaller scale. The ship is another question altogether -- it's a thing, it does things, but doesn't need any agency of its own.
The question of whether Rishon is actually alive or sentient is an interesting one academically, but also a somewhat dramatically inert one. Clearly she's his creation, and has no independent existence without his continued agency. The fact that she's almost as nonplussed by the recent destruction of all their neighbours as Kevin was speaks to this -- would be original Rishon act that way? When he "dismisses her," it plays less like him killing her a second time and more like him discontinuing an illusion.
Wed, Jul 7, 2021, 9:19am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 8, 2021, 4:04pm (UTC -5)
The Usain Bolt analogy is poor. Kevin has already proved he has the power to recreate (1) people, (2) their habitations, and (3) complex machines, i.e., star ships. It's a question of scale -- why can't he recreate MORE people and MORE habitations -- not a question of ability to do it in the first place.
I suppose that to given an in-universe answer my own question above, Kevin may have concluded that his stock explanation ("We were spared and we don't know why, but we just count ourselves lucky"), and the lack of any evidence of foul play, would be satisfactory to any investigator, who would then just leave him and Rishon alone. In other words, the typical overconfidence of omnipotent beings dismissing human powers of observation and detection, which as with Q, Picard proves to be wrong.
Thu, Jul 8, 2021, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
The issue of recreating the entire colony is, I think, a question without an answer, not least because it’s really a thread that - if pulled aggressively enough - threatens to unravel the entire plot. The fact that Kevin was able to wipe out a whole species with a thought means that there should have been any number of ways in which he could have non-lethally stopped the Husnock’s initial attack. He could have pulled a Thanos and turned all their weapons into bubbles. He could have messed up their computers so the “Fire” button just played Gilligan’s Island reruns on the viewscreen. Heck, entirely from what we saw him do in the episode, he could have filled the Husnock’s heads with max-volume Metallica and personally informed them that it was going to continue until they left orbit. Bottom line: The attack never should have been successful, in which case Kevin wouldn’t have been worrying about deceiving the Enterprise.
As for Kevin getting away with his crime, it’s been discussed upthread (as has the possibility of him stopping the attack, actually). Someone pointed out that if, instead of telling him to return to the surface, Picard had instructed him to go with them to a starbase or Earth or some location where he could face a criminal court and stand trial for genocide, Kevin probably would have gone. In all likelihood, he would even have willingly submitted to whatever sentence he was given, despite the fact that the court would of course have been unable to forcefully impose it upon him.
But to what end? To deter all the other super aliens who keep freaking out and erasing entire civilizations? It doesn’t seem to happen so often, and when it does I doubt most perpetrators would be so willing to bow to Federation justice. To rehabilitate Kevin? His was a total crime of passion that already went against his most deeply-held moral convictions; we may just have to accept that if we murder this guy’s wife, we’re in real trouble.
So, retribution? What good is that? It’s unclear whether the Federation has a death penalty on the books (sources are contradictory), but again, if they do I doubt it could be enforced even with Kevin’s full cooperation. That just leaves incarceration, but what’s 50, 75, 100 years in a penal colony to an immortal being?
Life sentence? The Federation’s life, you mean.
It’s pointless. Picard may have been mistaken when he said they had no law to fit Kevin’s crime (I certainly *hope* the Federation has laws against genocide…), but he was quite correct in saying that they were not qualified to be his judge. There simply was nothing more to be done.
I will say that annihilation of advanced starfaring species on an angry whim seems like the sort of thing that the Q might wish to crack down on, but that’s another matter entirely.
Thu, Jul 8, 2021, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
Very thoughtful comments. I would just offer a slightly different perspective, which is that since Kevin was living in a Federation colony, by choice no less, he is under the jurisdiction of Federation laws, no matter that he's of a different species. Therefore the Federation is by definition qualified to be his judge, and it is entitled to judge him according to the same laws that would have applied to any of the other colonists.
I'd say it's not for us (or Picard) to decide what the "point" would be of charging a particular person with a particular crime. Also, Picard is not the Federation's overlord or an Attorney General. Perhaps ultimately it would be pointless as you say, and obviously would require Kevin's willing participation as we both agree. But it was Picard's duty to at least determine whether Kevin was willing to stand trial for his crimes and if so, deliver him to the authorities (which would of course require that genocide actually be considered a crime, bringing us back to the original problem).
Let's say someone born in Foreign Country X killed a member of my immediate family (God forbid), and I happen to have a secret nuclear missile silo in my backyard, which I then use to obliterate that entire country. I then become immediately remorseful for what I have done. Should I not still be tried in a court of law for my crime? Even though it may not have any effect on me, since I am already remorseful, nor would it bring back the dead, who will remain dead, nor deter others in such a situation, because presumably there (presumably) aren't other civilians with nuclear silos in their backyards. But there's still something important to humanity as a whole about the process occurring and for there to have been an official verdict that what I did was wrong.
But it's gotta start with genocide (or any murder of innocent life) being a crime, which is where I think we all agree that this episode really stumbled badly.
Thu, Jul 8, 2021, 7:36pm (UTC -5)
Not only was he not ready to use the kind of force that was required to stop them, he simply couldn't fathom the brutality they were capable of and did not anticipate or prepare to counter it.
At that point, holding his dead wife in his arms, and having lived a little too long as a human, he just lost it and poof, bye bye Husnack.
As for punishing him, I'd say Ben might be right on the letter of the law that he could be in Federation jurisdiction but I agree 100% with Picard: what the hell is the point? Deterrence, restitution, incapacitation and rehabilitation are totally inapplicable as there is nothing to deter (how do you deter a god?), no one to give restitution to (the Husnack are dead!), no basis for rehabilitation and incapacitation is meaningless if it's completely voluntary.
Literally the only traditional purpose of criminal law that could conceivably apply is retribution. And even that is iffy because the Federation had nothing to do with the Husnack - they didn't even know the species existed. And the "crime" didn't even take place in the Federation but on the Husnack homeworld, wherever the hell that is.
Thu, Jul 8, 2021, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
As a side point, it's not even clear that Kevin ever verbatim agreed to abide by Federation law. He did decide *for himself* to refrain from using his powers and to live as a human, but as far as I recall he doesn't say that he officially submitted that he would agree to abide by human laws. I mean, out of politeness maybe he would have agreed to that, but as far as we know he went native and had his own code to live by, not one dictated to him in the "gods who want to immigrate here" handbook. For all we know he thought Federation law was stupid, and he just wanted to be left alone with his wife.
Anyhow this is all getting into the weeds. I think the reason Picard needs to say that there is no law to judge Kevin is because the sheer magnitude and power involved in what happened is too far off the charts for mere mortals to claim to have authority over. Kevin is way beyond them and humans have no right to imply they can issue judgements to him. Kevin's own self-judgement should - both morally and in terms of his stature as a being - be understood to be above the Federation. It would be like a mollusk trying to judge a human; it's just irrelevant.
Fri, Jul 9, 2021, 7:26am (UTC -5)
If I walked into a police station tomorrow and confessed to a murder, but there was no body, no witness, no weapon, no identifiable victim, could I be charged with murder purely on the basis of my confession?
Let's even imagine that the police can rule out me being delusional or having made it up, and all the shrinks say I am 100% lucid and sane.
Fri, Jul 9, 2021, 8:45am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 9, 2021, 10:25am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 9, 2021, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 9, 2021, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
It's a fair point about lack of evidence. And of course it's innocent until proven guilty. But certainly if Kevin was a willing participant in the process, the Federation investigator could ask Kevin to assist in locating the evidence, e.g. the location of the Husnock homeworld, the identities of other species who had interacted with them before their disappearance, etc. After gathering and assessing the evidence, the Federation could decide whether to press charges and seek a trial. Maybe he would be exonerated after all, who knows. All I'm saying is that the writers were wrong to vest Picard with so much power on deciding there would be no legal process.
We could of course further desconstruct the episode and wonder whether we can really assume that Kevin was telling the truth about ANYTHING. He had already shown the ability to lie for his own interest. Maybe the Husnock were just a hoax -- is it reasonable to believe that the Federation had really never encountered or even anecdotally heard of a warlike race of 50 billion who were close enough to Federation space to be able to send battle cruisers to wipe out a Federation planet? Maybe Kevin wiped out the colony because he wanted Rishon all for himself, accidentally killing Rishon in the process, and then invented this whole Husnock story. Or maybe they were actually a peace-loving race and this was a rogue ship. Obviously there's no evidence for that either, but that's why it's so problematic for Picard to (1) just take Kevin at his word and (2) be the self-appointed Federatiion legal czar.
Fri, Jul 9, 2021, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
You make some very interesting points. It is true that Kevin was voluntarily living a full human life as a Federation citizen, so for better or worse he should ethically submit to the Federation’s code of laws out of respect for his “host” civilization. To his credit, it appears that he was prepared to do this, though of course we’d simply be out of luck if he decided otherwise.
I agree with you that Picard was not the appropriate person to decide whether Kevin should stand trial. On that point, however, I can only remind you that Picard assuming super-authority without apparent censure is a recurrent phenomenon on TNG. The example that most readily jumps to my mind at this moment (and there are many) would be in “Silicon Avatar”, when Picard makes a supplemental log entry mid-episode stating something to the effect of, “We’ve advised Starfleet of our intention to pursue the Crystalline Entity, and in response they’ve sent us Dr. Marr.” I do find it odd that Picard apparently gets to make unilateral decisions about where he’s going to take the Federation’s flagship and what he’s going to do with it when he gets there. Shouldn’t there be an entire roomful of Admirals somewhere on Earth who would like a say in the matter? But no, it would seem that Starfleet’s attitude is, “Oh, you want to go chasing a dangerously carnivorous alien life form on a mission that could easily result in the loss of an incalculably valuable piece of hardware and over 1,000 lives, many of them children? Sure, have Dr. Marr to help out!” But, that’s just Star Trek. It would be boring if Picard spent as much time talking to Starfleet Command as he realistically should.
Your backyard nuke analogy is intriguing, but if I may, I propose that it’s inaccurate or at least incomplete. I’m imagining that if you actually had such a weapon and wanted to use it, then you would need to log in to a computer somewhere, access targeting software that we certainly hope is protected by multiple long alphanumeric passwords, provide final launch confirmation, etc etc. There’s an important difference, there. You had to take several not-insignificant steps after witnessing your family tragedy to get to the point of committing your crime, giving you precious time to come to your senses. Heck, let’s just say you didn’t bother with any of the above precautions, and you have a literal Big Red Button in your living room - you would still have to consciously walk to it and hit it. Even the proverbial husband coming home early from work to find his wife in bed with his best friend has to take a moment to reach for and draw his gun. Kevin had no such privileges.
So here, in my view, is the more accurate analogue. You were born with that nuclear missile in your back yard, and as a baby you had a computerized control chip surgically implanted into your brain. If you but think the right (wrong) thought, backed by intent, the missile will immediately launch at any destination you will. Neither the missile nor the chip can ever be taken away, even if you’d like to be rid of them; they’re part of you.
So all your life, you’ve just had to be very careful with your emotions, and have probably learned some anger management techniques that would make Bruce Banner jealous. Because you know that if you ever get mad - really, mind-breakingly enraged - there is going to be a mushroom cloud.
Oh, and by the way, you’re immortal. You’ve been around for thousands of years (Kevin’s own stated timeline), and you have every reason to believe you’re going to go on for thousands, millions more. It’s worth wondering at what point you cease to be an ordinary citizen who may or may not commit a crime at some point (and should be held accountable if you do), and become a literal ticking time bomb, who will inevitably go off in the fullness of time. When you do, do you deserve scorn, or pity?
But put that question aside, because my real point is that it was trivially quick and easy for Kevin to do what he did - a fact which very much worked against him. He saw his wife’s dead body, knowing that her murderers were still in orbit actively destroying his home and slaughtering his friends and neighbors, and it only took a moment. I imagine he would have been glad to have had to work a computer to use his doomsday weapon; then the Husnock might still be alive.
He’s not so much a “space Hitler”. Hitler laid calm, methodical plans, and took years to accomplish what he did. Kevin didn’t, and I think we can agree that he wouldn’t.
So it’s just not at all clear to me that the Federation’s laws on genocide (assuming they do exist) can ethically be applied to this crime. The people who wrote those laws were thinking of Khan Singh, not Kevin Uxbridge. That’s why Picard was right to say that the Federation was unqualified to judge Kevin. No one within it really understood what he was facing. Yes, Picard should have sent a subspace message to the Federation’s Department of Justice, so the Attorney General could ask to be furnished with all relevant facts of the case and return a decision within 2 - 3 weeks. That didn’t happen, because it would have slowed down the story. But if it had, I think there’s every likelihood that the Federation would simply have “let” Kevin go.
Fri, Jul 9, 2021, 8:37pm (UTC -5)
Lol -- yeah I was totally thinking about a giant red button like in the cartoons. Your other analogy with computer chip is a very good one. But still, as long as I intended to press that button, or think the thought that triggered the computer chip, it's still second degree murder, which by definition is NOT premeditated. Crimes of passion are split second impulses, but it's still second degree murder (just that a lot of juries will refuse to convict someone for crimes of passion even if it's technically the law).
You're of course right about Hitler, I was only using his name as the paradigm of genocide, not to equate him and Kevin.
I can see your points and I think we just have a difference of opinion about whether it's still worth it to require (or in Kevin's case, ask politely) someone to go through the legal process where a crime MAY have been committed, even if ultimately it perhaps won't result in a conviction or even a charge. I say yes, you say no. That's quite alright by me.
This has been a great and surprising debate with a lot of fascinating viewpoints. I think we all owe Jammer a big debt of gratitude for this very magical site that he has diligently maintained for so many years.
Fri, Jul 23, 2021, 2:32am (UTC -5)
The support cast - Kevin and Rishon - were tremendous. They conveyed the sense of tragedy, yet illusory normality and wanting to be left alone, quite beautifully. The musical box sub-theme and its effect on Troi added to the ghostly character, even though it’s been used many times before in movies and ghost stories.
The ending I suppose should have been anticipated. In a sense it was, though not in its details. Who could have guessed that Kevin either could or would destroy an entire species with a single thought?
There was a great Worf moment: drinking tea with Picard, Kevin and Rishon, he’s asked to make polite talk. He glowers, then reluctantly lies, and says “Nice tea”. Realising that isn’t enough, he grinds his teeth and growls “Nice house “. Brilliant!
Of course, no-one realised that the whole thing had been caused by Wesley’s new quiff…
I’d give it a solid 3 stars.
Fri, Jul 23, 2021, 3:06am (UTC -5)
“ just how real is Rishon? Was she a walking mannequin, a puppet with invisible strings whose every word and action were under Kevin’s direct control? Because if so, then I can’t imagine how the illusion was in any way satisfying for Kevin. If my wife died and I could reanimate her body, but I had to input every little thing she said and did and could never be surprised by her again, I wouldn’t feel like I had her back. Indeed, being in the presence of such a vapid facsimile would simply be painful - I would rather bury her and grieve. “
I assume you have Netflix? Have you seen Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’ series? Last night I watched the episode ‘I’ll Be Back’. It deals EXACTLY with this theme. I won’t say more just now - just watch it!
Sat, Aug 14, 2021, 11:19am (UTC -5)
As for judging him, from his description it seems like the species responsible are Space Nazis or Space Mongols. I can tell you that if Nazis killed my wife and entire family, and I had the power, I would probably kill all of them too.
Good episode. Sci-Fi never goes wrong when it explores interesting moral questions in creative ways.
Wed, Sep 1, 2021, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
My personal assumption was that he had the ability, but didn't want to go that far and hide all his guilt. He wanted to be reminded of it and wallow in it. He wasn't initially trying to fool the Enterprise, he just went to that when they wouldn't leave.
I think, sadly, having lived as a human without his powers, he was simply out of practice even thinking in those terms. This is why he failed at tricking the Husnock, then failed at tricking the Enterprise. Also, his clumsy effort to distract Deanna.
Wed, Nov 10, 2021, 9:21am (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 19, 2021, 1:14pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 30, 2022, 5:47pm (UTC -5)
* As with the attribute "unique," there probably aren’t — or wouldn’t be — degrees of omnipotence; you’re either omnipotent or you’re not.
Sun, Jan 30, 2022, 5:51pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 1, 2022, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
"In my comment from 2018 I thought he just wooshed the Husnock away, erased them from existence, but he lacks that ability, he just killed them. So are there 50 billion dead Husnock smelling up a sector of space waiting to be found among lonely planets and warships on autopilot?"
Since we're used to god-like beings such as Q, who can woosh entire species away, I think that's where our minds go first. But Kevin just said he killed them all, he didn't "disappear" them. He can't reanimate them, just like he couldn't reanimate the real Rishon or the rest of the colony. I assume maintaining the fake Rishon and the house takes some amount of energy on his part, whether mental, physical, or both. They're not self-sustaining like some Q creations, he needs to be actively "maintaining" those illusions, so to speak. I guess Kevin is a holodeck and Q is a replicator.
Sat, Feb 5, 2022, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
"Kevin Uxbridge is a very powerful, dangerous and possibly unstable immortal being. I recommend no direct contact with this being and that this star system be quarantined. A discrete orbital monitoring system should be considered."
Sat, Apr 16, 2022, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
1. You approach a planet that just underwent some massive scorched-earth annihilation, don't find what you're expecting (viz. multiple survivors), and everything appears off-kilter, so the most logical and sensible thing to do is to beam down every senior officer you've got except the Captain. Sigh...
2. Riker steps on a booby-trap and gets hoisted up some pole. That gives cue to the others to run on up over to him; to hell with any further booby traps that could see ALL of them incapacitated, hurt, or killed. Groan...
3. On first blush, I thought the old lady was Mrs. Seinfeld! (As of this writing, she passed away yesterday. R.I.P. Liz Sheridan...)
4. Troi is hearing music. How long before she starts convulsing and grimacing? Yup, there it is: in the third scene.
5. The main story arc is great. A lot of mystery and suspense. I can see why Jammer gave it a full score.
Wow, EXCELLENT episode!!!
Sun, Jul 3, 2022, 11:23pm (UTC -5)
If Picard had said "We have no way to punish you for your crime" that would make sense because even if Kevin willingly submitted to arrest, trial and imprisonment they would have no way to keep him locked up if he eventually changed his mind somewhere down the road.
Sun, Apr 9, 2023, 7:37am (UTC -5)
I came to comment especially on the "we don't have laws to fit your crime". Of course they have, it's just mass murdering. Or the 50 billion husnocks deserved to die, and the Douwd did good, or they didn't, and he is a genocide. I mean, just by calling it a "CRIME" Picard already implies the fitting! Just a really bad line. What Picard (and apparently The Federation) didn't have is power to inflict any punishment on him. The Douwnd concept and story was ok, but in the end it was just Picard doing bets on hunches he got out of nowhere and then lazely calling it a day, running tail between legs but trying to pose as "profound".
And you see, the Douwnd may be powerfull, but if he is such a superior being, and a pacifist and aware (an remorsed!) of his wrong action, what was impeding him to voluntarielly submitting himself to judgment and pay for his crime? Or at least what impeded Picard of raising that point to him?
Well, I think we all know why: it's because the episode had no substance at all. It is only the idea of a super alien who did something really bad, but being revealed just after 40min of "bullshit mistery". Nothing more.
They could've made the super alien claiming his 50 bilion people killing was no wrong, and then our impossibility to bring him to justice would have some dramatic wheight, but no, we (supposedly) can't do nothing about it because he is so super; but he himself is already very sorry for what he did so we can't do nothing but it's kinda of fine and doesn't really matter anyway, eh?
Sun, Apr 9, 2023, 7:38am (UTC -5)
Yeah, but that's just standart Star Fleet procedure, for story telling reasons... I think of it by Kirk's approach: he wouldn't send anyone to dangers he wouldn't face himself. (Now, I'm not sure if he actually states that in some episode or if it is just my reading of him, but I think is a good way of seeing it).
Sun, Apr 9, 2023, 5:15pm (UTC -5)
What purpose is served by him voluntarily submitting to confinement? Whether he hangs out in a jail cell that can't possibly hold him or on a barren world alone what difference does it make?
Mon, Apr 10, 2023, 6:40am (UTC -5)
I guess that's a broader question, about the function of confinement itself — to which I'm afraid I don't have a good answer, be it imposed or self imposed confinement, of powerfull or of regular beings...
but indeed, I think being alone in a barren planet may be enough (and it be fine had Picard made this point, by the way). But apparently that was not his opinion. Our problem is he doing nothing by hiding behind the Federation not having "laws to fit his crime", as if we couldn't even judge if what he did was right or wrong. Like @Beard of Sisko commented, had Picard sad only "well, we have no way of dealing with this guy, so I guess we better get the fuck out of here as fast as we can before he gets mad with us" it would be more on point.
Mon, Apr 10, 2023, 9:05am (UTC -5)
The Dowd is an advanced being, like the Q, or maybe somewhat less than that, perhaps like the Organians or other energy beings. Suggesting a being like that submits himself to humans for 'punishment' is like saying that someone kicking over an ant hill is obligated to submit himself to the ants for trial. He already judged his own crime, in a manner more sophisticated than humans could do, and chose a punishment. The entire point of the episode is that the Enterprise was meddling with his prison cell, which is why he was trying to get rid of them. The judgement and punishment had already been meted out, so I don't really understand this idea that more judgement and more punishment is necessary. The only reason Kevin even discusses the matter with Picard is because of how friendly and non-violent he is. It's not because he owes Picard an explanation.
Mon, Apr 10, 2023, 9:24am (UTC -5)
Kevin just wants to shoo away Picard & co. so that he doesn't have to explain his genocidal actions or think about them again. But he has clearly come to terms with his crime and is very regretful. But that he's continuing to punish himself - I don't think so.
His punishment is just the momentary realization that as a pacifist, he has violated everything he stands for and that hurt him a great deal. He has felt the pain of the hurt and that is his punishment. He's now moved beyond that when Picard & co. come snooping.
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