Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Devil's Due”

1 star.

Air date: 2/4/1991
Teleplay by Philip Lazebnik
Story by Philip Lazebnik and William Douglas Lansford
Directed by Tom Benko

Review Text

The Enterprise answers a distress call from the Ventaxians, whose world is besieged by its own panic because the terms for a legendary millennium-ago deal with the devil is set to expire — like today. According to said legend, the devil, Ardra, will return to enslave the world (after having so benevolently granted it 1,000 years of peace). Ardra (Marta Dubois) does indeed appear and lay claim to the world, demonstrating powers that would seem magical if this weren't, you know, Star Trek, where technology can do anything. In response to Ardra's parlor tricks, spineless Ventaxian bureaucrat Jared (Marcelo Tubert) is prepared to hand over the keys to the planet.

Not if Picard has anything to say about it. Picard doesn't believe Ardra is really the devil because Picard, you know, has an IQ over 80, which apparently can't be said of any of the Ventaxians. (Is this someone's twisted allegory for the Second Coming? Naturally, any references to human religions are absent.) The Enterprise crew embarks on an investigation to debunk Ardra's assertion and her claim to the planet. Meanwhile, Ardra also lays claim to the Enterprise, since it's in orbit. This is clearly overreaching, because if there's one thing you don't screw with, it's the USS Enterprise.

"Devil's Due" is, in a word, weak. Or in two words, really weak. The plot is a true who-cares scenario: Who cares if the Ventaxians are exploited? (Frankly, given their stupidity, they deserve it.) And who cares about all the contrived tech details of investigating Ardra? And who cares about this woman lusting after Picard? And who cares if the Enterprise disappears (which plays like lame unintended comedy)? The narrative is a choppy exercise in tedium, revealing its utter desperation by finally just becoming a courtroom episode where Data is the judge. Picard turns the tables in utterly predictable fashion, leading to a boring payoff where Ardra is exposed as the con woman she is. I have my doubts that any combination of Neat-O Technology could so perfectly perform the illusions we get in this episode, or if they could, that anyone (okay, maybe Jared, but that's the problem) would be fooled into thinking they're supernatural in origin.

Previous episode: The Wounded
Next episode: Clues

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Comment Section

160 comments on this post

    Devil's Due is so lame. They say they can't find any technology in use as a scam and then suddenly they do after all. Waste of time.

    Ahem! In reference to Devil's Due, how can you hate any any episode that includes the quote "Oh Picard, I will enjoy you morning, noon, and night!"?

    Devil's Due show us a nice insight how easy future generations will expose our faith and believes.

    Cant wait tbh.

    Oh yes, and "Devil's Due" is one of Trek's very best episodes. It's these kind of stories which make DS9 impossible if attention is paid them. I agree, who cares about the tech, the aliens or whomever, but that's NEVER the point of a Trek episode. Trek is commentary on the human condition, and it is about how characters develop in a universe freed from what Gene Roddenberry saw as extricable negative qualities in that condition (ie religion and money). The allegory is a perfect use of science fiction and your impression of the Ventaxans tells me that you haven't met enough mormons, because their reactions are very, very realistic. One star? No way.

    I find it interesting how viewers see what they want to see in some episodes. Take "Devil's Due," which a couple of commenters here interpreted as another Trek swipe at religion. I'm a Christian and I didn't see it that way at all; for me, it was a story about trusting false prophets, something that every religion warns against. I also think it deserved higher rating- 3 stars from me.

    I actually liked Devil's Due a lot. It had flaws, sure, but it kept me thoroughly entertained. I thought the woman who played Ardra did a fantastic job. There was something quite intriguing and "Q-ish" about her.

    When Picard caused the tremor, I think he should have considered the possibility that some Ventaxians might got killed because of it.

    I didn't like this episode, it was rather lame and bad written. Especially the scene with the disappearing of the Enterprise...

    This is an episode that would have been much better if it had appeared in TOS. There are other such episodes, but most of them happened in the first two seasons. Look at all the recycled TOS elements:
    * The Enterprise meets God, who turns out to actually be an alien with some techno-gadgets ("Who Mourns for Adonais," "Catspaw")
    * The planet the Enterprise visits lays claim to the ship based on some irrelevant ancient law ("A Taste of Armageddon")
    * The alien's plans are thwarted when the alien falls in love with the captain (many episodes)
    * The Enterprise visits a planet that believes in a preposterous religion (many episodes)

    I seem to remember reading, perhaps in the Star Trek Chronology, that this actually WAS a leftover TOS script. With Kirk in place of Picard and Scotty unraveling the techno-mystery (Data and Spock being mostly interchangeable as the judge), I think the episode would have been much better - I can just see Scotty reveling in figuring out Ardra's tricks, while Kirk's superior sense of humor would have made the use of the alien gadgets to turn the tables much more enjoyable.

    Unfortunately, we're deprived of any scenes actually showing Ardra's ship, and it's always a waste when a courtroom episode doesn't provide an opportunity for a nice facepalm. I guess the budget for alien ships (and facepalms) was all used up.

    You should leave your personal beliefs out when reviewing. No way this is one star episode... just like WWTW which is easily 3.5, but you gave it 2.5 because you thought it was anti-religious.
    Oh well, as long as you praised Daybreak and its religious nonsense...
    Nice site btw.

    MrCase, that's quite an assumption you're making there -- that I somehow hated this episode and didn't fully endorse "Who Watches the Watchers" because they are anti-religion, while I praised "Daybreak" for being heavy on religious explanations. It's like you're saying I endorse only those episodes that agree with my views.

    I find this odd, since I make my case based on the effectiveness of the episode at hand, while I've rarely mentioned my actual views on religion at all -- and the times I have would not line up with the conclusion you seem to draw here. But I'll just let you read all my reviews and maybe you can find my actual views somewhere -- sort of like an Easter egg (no religious endorsement meant there; it's just an expression).

    I just feel that you tend to underrate some "false gods", anti religion episodes, while praising some pro-religion shows like BSG and maybe DS9(how on Earth "Babel" or "Move along home" both have the same rating as WWTW?(i must admit that religious aspects didn't bug me that much in DS9, BSG on the other hand...)). Maybe i'm wrong. Thats all. It's your opinion and i respect it.
    Hey, but i'm just one of those who role their eyes every time religion enters in a sci fi show... It would be interesting to read your Babylon 5 reviews though, i hope you will do them some day...

    As Elliot alludes to above, here we have Picard discarding the possibility of Ardra's seemingly deitic powers, but then in DS9 we see similar powers that the Prophets, and to an extent even the Founders (making Odo a "solid"), demonstrate.

    Well, to be fair Picard had not (yet) heard about either the wormhole aliens or the Dominion. He had however come face to face with Q on several occasions, so you'd think aliens with God-like, seeming reality-manipulating powers wouldn't be *that* much of a stretch. In fact given what they encounter on a weekly basis, I'm not sure how Trekkian crews eliminate *any* possibilities off the bat.

    "This is an episode that would have been much better if it had appeared in TOS.
    I seem to remember reading, perhaps in the Star Trek Chronology, that this actually WAS a leftover TOS script."

    Whether it was a leftover script or not, it was clearly a TOS-style episode. Why is that a bad thing to have in TNG? I thought it was great fun precisely for this reason.

    YKNEKWYASFSPRT. (you know, not everyone knows what your abbreviations stand for so please remember that) Thank you everyone. :)

    @ David K...yes indeed, after his experiences with Q, it was absurd for Picard to dismiss even the possibility that Ardra was something approaching what she claimed. Picard bugged me here in the same way as he did later, in "Power Play", when he simply declared that the entity they were dealing with couldn't possibly be a Starfleet captain, as it claimed, because of his behavior, as if Picard would know what 200 years of being disembodied would do to someone's psyche. Of course, both there and here, the story had to end up proving Picard correct, because well, he's Picard.

    I agree with this being a delightful episode. I am not cool with critics loving TOS for these type of religious-moral episodes, yet give TNG the same think, and it is hokey. I have noticed that people that knew going in this was a re-hashed TOS episode do not like it, yet people who don't know that seem to like it.

    @David Hofstead, I think you miss the point in that the episode is saying YOUR prophets are the wrong ones, because there are NO right ones.

    Considering how often I don't seem to agree with the Trekkie majority on what episodes are good, and which ones are great and which ones truly suck, I almost expected to come here and read how wonderful this episode was.

    Relieved to see this is not the case. Lame is the exactly right word to describe it. One of the my personal zero stars episodes.

    I can see the argument that this episode is in the spirit of TOS and shouldn't be judged so harshly as a result. And it is a Star Trek II script and all. Still, I think the Devil coming onto the captain to offer him sex in exchange for a planet's soulll fits Kirk more than Picard, and the tone of the original show more than this one. More than that, though, I kind of feel like this episode's silliness leapfrogs TOS and ends up at the Scooby-Doo stage, where a supernatural threat, shockingly, turns out to be some weirdo in a costume. I'm all for puncturing religion as hucksterism but there's got to be some less hokey way of doing it. I think 1 star is moderately harsh though.

    @ David Hofstede:

    A religion warning about "false prophets" is hilariously ironic (every religion thinks the other's prophet is false, so, who's right?).

    If you can't see that it's the equivalent of Coke telling you Pepsi is poisoned so you stay with Coke, there's nothing anyone can do for you. To paraphrase Jammer, "Who cares if [believers] are exploited? Frankly, given their stupidity, they deserve it."

    I was expecting to have quite a few objections to this episode coming in, but was surprised to have almost all of them answered:

    I figured Picard and company would be overly skeptical of Ardra's claims in order to advance the plot (and agenda), given that they live in a universe filled with god-like beings. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. The possibility that this was a Q was immediately brought up, and Picard's skepticism relied on the fact that Ardra immediately zeroed in on the money aspect of ruling a planet.

    I also thought this might be another example of ignoring the Prime Directive. But no, the kidnapped Federation personnel gave Picard a reason to get involved, and Ardra demanding the ship as well gave him an excuse to get rid of her.

    As for the possibility that we would get an anti-religion speech, there was none of that here. Picard even mentions the possibility that a real Ardra really did sign a contract 1000 years ago. All told, this is a more open-minded episode than most stuff you'll see in the media.

    And then there's the gullibility of the planet. But even that was explained away relatively easily. Ardra did do exactly what was written in the contract, and according to Data she met the legal requirements for identification. It was still a somewhat difficult pill to swallow, but I guess we needed a plot somehow.

    So it met some of my criteria, but it was still a bit of a dull show. It was obvious from the beginning that she was using transporters and holograms from a cloaked ship; Geordi even said as much. So there was no mystery. So was it about finding the ship, matching wits with her crew? No, that was practically all done off-screen. Was it about the battle of wits between Picard and Ardra in the courtroom? Not really, it seemed to go that way, but also seemed to imply that Picard was about to lose until he was able to replicate everything. In the end, there just wasn't much of a plot there.

    And then there's the other plausibility issues. While her magic tricks on the planet were obviously transporters+holograms, her tricks on the Enterprise were far more Q-like. Are we to assume she beamed herself into the captain's chair without anyone knowing? Or beamed into sitting position at ops? Where's the flashy light thingy? And for that matter, why didn't they just raise shields at that point and throw her into the brig? And how could a "not very good" cloaking device cloak the entire Enterprise without them being able to do a thing about it? Pretty incompetent flagship....

    I read somewhere that this was rewritten to be something of a comedy episode, but I just don't see it.

    To fluffysheap and all:

    "Devil's Due" like TNG's season 2's "The Child" was actually an episode written for the non-produced late-1970's TV series, "Star Trek Phase II", that yes would have been given to the original series cast.

    "Who cares if the Ventaxians are exploited? (Frankly, given their stupidity, they deserve it.)"
    I think that's a very cold-hearted perspective. About 40% of Americans believe in astrology. Many believe in homeopathy or New Age crystals or superstitions, so we have no shortage of gullible people here on Earth. Yet, I don't think that they deserve to be exploited. I applaud people like James Randi who expose fraudsters of all kind.

    And I don't think that the fact that this is Star Trek and that "technology can do anything" makes this episode any less relevant. The Ventaxians are less technologically advanced, so what Adra does appears to be magic. There's nothing incoherent about the premise. If Adra came to Earth and used the same technology, most people would probably consider it magic too.

    And I don't see the episode as anti-religion, but as anti-superstition.

    I think that the episode was still somewhat weak. The trial wasn't clever or interesting and most of the investigation happened off-screen.

    I agree with SkepticalMI that Adra's tricks are harder to explain on the Enterprise, though presumably she was able to do what she did because the shields were down. Though, it still doesn't explain everything. And the premise of a contract really being written a 1000 years before isn't explained. I guess that she learned of this legend and tried to exploit it, but that doesn't really seem plausible to me.

    Imagine my surprise, when I am reading commentary on a Star Trek episode, and someone is insulting me because of my religion. There are a lot of people who believe the stuff that happens in the Bible, including the resurrection of Jesus Christ, whom hundreds of millions of people worship. I'm not sure how you put Mormons in a special gullibility spot because they believe in their religion, which includes that same Jesus Christ.

    For what it's worth I liked the episode. It is a little disturbing, even during rewatching and knowing the end, to see how easily the "Ardra" character can get through the Enterprise's shields. But I still thought a lot of the scenes were cute. Hadn't thought about it before, but indeed it might have been a better TOS episode.

    If the content and/or commentary of an episode of Star Trek should surprise you in its decrying of religion, I must infer you haven't seen much Trek or haven't been paying attention.

    I do not hesitate in stating plainly that belief in the Abrahamic religions is the purview of either the weak-minded, the masochistic, the oppressed or the gullible. The Mormon religion is worth special notice only because the historical inaccuracies upon which its narrative is based is so recent and easily debunked, while its edicts are especially crude and abhorrent.

    If you find this offensive, I would, for the official record, be utterly unsurprised.

    It's just entertainment, and the old STP2 script was used due to the short writer's strike. If it was MY Enterprise, Ardra would have had the keys shortly after showing up in my room.

    I do think it's funny that Elliot enjoyed the characters being "freed from Roddenberry" ... Since he supervised the script production.

    For me this is a 3 star episode. There's the theme of the hazard of fear blossoming, and overwhelming, reason. There's the lurid sexuality of Ardra (a well Trek has gone to on several occasions). There's dialogue that makes me smile (ex: when Picard is introducing himself to Ardra she cuts him off with "keep up the good work"). There's Data as a judge.

    My only nitpick is that when Ardra asks Picard in court if he can explain her powers he flatly says "no" when earlier he had given plausible explanations.

    I really enjoy this episode: Patrick Stewart's curmudgeonly performance as he sleuths for the truth is wonderful(all that's missing is the Sherlock Holmes cap), Data makes an amusing arbitrator, and the actors playing the leader and the head scientist do a lot with the relatively lean material they are given.

    I did notice that head scientist slurred a few words in the ready room scene with Picard, it was an authentic portroyal I thought, but maybe a the actor had a nip of something backstage? :)

    The musical score in this one is fantastic: the cues for attempted seduction in Picard's quarters and Feklar of Klingon are deserve attention for being exceptionally cinematic (especially if you have the Surround Sound on).

    The script had quite a few positives despite it being a holdover script: the way Ventax II is portrayed (i.e. social upheavels, rioters, history, etc) and the brief glimpses shown of the capitol and various builkdings (the hall of records, the courtroom) were a textbook case in how to build an alien culture on a tight budget and have it turn out completely believable. I didn't even mind the fact they looked exactly like humans.

    As far as the main guest star: I absolutely love Ardra and her antics. I belly-laughed at least ten times the last time I watched it. It's a shame we never saw the character again because her scenes with Picard crackle with tension, humor and excitement. That and her 80's video vixen nightie outfit totally rocks.

    Also, Patrick Stewart says "Flim Flam".

    SIDE NOTE: I didn't notice it until recently, but Ardra is predatorily sexual with Picard right from the start. It's funny within the context of the show ....

    However, if this had been a male "devil" acting this way with a female (say Captain Janeway), I can't help but feel it would have come across as much more rapey/stalkery and the episode would have had a totally different vibe.

    Forgive my typos. This is why writing reviews (or anything else) on a cell phone stinks.

    The scene lighting and the guest stars costumes in this episode seemed more in the style of Season 2...I almost found myself wondering where Pulaski was...

    I actually really liked this episode. Great example of scientific debunking of snake-oil salesmen. Also Ardra is played in a very charismatic way. Surprised it is so disliked by so many.

    I can see that it may have been more appropriate in TOS than in TNG, but still: good stuff.

    It's clear to me that Picard doubts that Ardra herself has these powers, not that any being could have such powers - they've already dealt with Q of course. His skepticism is personal and specific, not philosophical/metaphysical.

    Anyway... don't get the 1-star rating at all, this is one rare case in which I don't understand Jammer's opinion. It's a solid and effective, if occasionally silly, TNG episode. Enjoyable and interesting, just a bit lightweight compared to other TNG highpoints.

    This episode is anti-superstition, as one commenter mentioned, not anti-religion. An important distinction.

    There are plenty of anti-religion sentiments, episodes, and exposition throughout Star Trek in general, to say nothing of TNG in particular, which are better fodder for commentary and debate then this dismal, boring episode.

    I'm more interested in who the devil the Ventaxians made their original bargain with a millenium ago, and also if that person was the true cause of their long, albeit temporary peace. There was far too little development and characterization of these aliens of the week, and Ardra is only fleshed out in her motives.

    The DS9 episode "The Storyteller" is like the bizarro-world, mirror universe opposite of this episode in that it completely characterizes the Bajoran villagers, has no Scooby Doo villain preying on their superstitions, and our heroes don't disabuse the Bajoran villagers of their wrongheaded notions but instead play along and perpetuate the farce for, seemingly, their own good.

    Ardra: "Who would you be?"
    Picard: "I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation starship Enterprise."
    Ardra: "Keep up the good work." (walks away as Picard is about to respond)

    Maybe I'm easily amused but that scene was subtle and hilarious.

    Whether this episode is anti-religion or anti-superstition is six in one half dozen in the other, especially pertaining to the plot set forth here. In fact, a definition of superstition is "the irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, especially in connection with religion". It seems clear to me that these people had developed a religion, a "contract", that has been handed down over a millennia and had birthed (as it so often happens) superstitions based on said "contract".

    That being said, this is one of the very few times I have whole-heartedly disagreed with Jammer on a review. I thought the episode was well-paced, had some humorous moments, and the Ventaxians (through their leader) came off more as unfortunately naive as opposed to "deserving of exploitation". There was some rather insightful (if not sometimes obvious) moments in dialogue throughout as well.

    I don't think this is a great episode by any means. It does have a sense of whimsy to it that belies the story being told. But overall, I would recommend it.

    3 stars.

    I usually agree with the reviews here, but I have to disagree with this one. I found Devil's Due to be a nicely written story with plenty of suspense (in the Star Trek universe it's quite believable that the entity posing as the Devil could be some kind of superpowered alien; it doesn't have to be the Devil for Picard to be in danger from losing the wager). And I enjoyed the climax. All in all, one of the better episodes.

    This is a 3 star episode for me. Since the Ventaxians were raised on the legend of Ardra, even the one with "an IQ over 80" would likely be predisposed to believe the local mythology as fact. We do have people with "an IQ over 80" in the here in now believe in virgin births, angels and gold disks, and a slew of other quirky religious beliefs that aren't usually considered rational.
    I love the actress who plays Ardra, she was also Princess Koji on "Tales of the Gold Monkey" and she plays the sultry dragon lady quite well.
    I thought the tie in with Scrooge, and Data as Scrooge were a delight as well. The procedural trial part where Ardra is unmasked with Data as a judge was great, and a great payoff. Yes you could see it coming, but that in no way takes away from the satisfaction.

    Hey, anybody out there not an atheist? Because if you aren't then you're a brain-dead moron who will fall anything!

    The only "believers" in this episode are so unbelievably stupid that I find it hard to believe they can tie their own shoes. The "skeptics," on the other hand, are all rational in the extreme and shown to be so compassionate that they'll risk their own lives for the sake of this alien planet. Nope, no hidden message there! Move along, nothing to see here. Just ask yourself if this would be acceptable if the roles were reversed.

    Good grief! I am getting so sick and tired of TNG's treatment of religion. TOS was never this heavy-handed or dismissive. And thank God (oh wait, does that make me stupid?) that DS9 came along and offered an actual balanced look at this aspect of the human condition. While I can appreciate the fact that it's a false religion and a con-artist the crew defeats here, couldn't we have had at least ONE Ventaxian believer that wasn't so damn gullible?!

    Add to all of this the the fact that Jammer is absolutely, 100% correct when he says that the episode is weak, choppy, tedious and predictable. God, at least "Who Watches the Watchers" had something of an interesting plot. "Devil's Due" is so weak that it's almost painful to watch, even without the ham-fisted anti-religion message.

    Then there are the plotholes. 1.) Why does Picard even get involved in this dispute between Ardra and the Ventaxians to begin with? Once Ardra frees the Federation hostages, the Enterprise should have left. What happens on this planet is no concern of theirs after that point. If these morons what to throw their lives away to this con-artist, that's there business. Doesn't the Prime Directive apply here? Picard decides to interfere in the internal governmental affairs of a sovereign planet because.... shut up, that's why! "A starship captain's most solemn oath is that he will give his life, even his entire crew, rather than violate the Prime Directive.... unless he feels like doing it anyway." 2.) Why does Ardra risk everything just to get Picard into bed? Really, is she just that horny? Lady, you stand to gain an entire planet and all the resources that entails, find another man! I guess it only stands to reason that since the Ventaxians are so dumb that their supposed mythological beings should be as well. 3.) Ventax II is an agrarian based society? Umm, no, no they're not. Does this world really strike anybody as agrarian? They have a unified world government (which again TNG rams down our throat as the only way to end war and live in peace - that's bullshit), a massive capital city, the ability to communicate with orbiting spaceships, etc. This is not a farm based economy, people.

    Seriously, this episode is bad, really bad! I thought "Who Watches the Watchers" was bad, but this is worse. The only thing I can point to in its favor are two legitimately funny sight gags. I honestly laughed out loud when Ardra transformed herself into Fek'lhr of Gre'thor and Satan. Though, that's more in the realm of unintentional comedy, as I don't think they meant those scenes to be funny.


    Luke :

    "Just ask yourself if this would be acceptable if the roles were reversed."

    Meaning what exactly? That the atheistic Federation were shown that all the lack of evidence for God had been a rouse creating by some exploiter? That some charlatan had co-opted the scientific consensus of hundreds of worlds in order to make good on...a contract of some sort? I'm sorry, I can't see how the rôles in this situation could possibly be reversed. Maybe you could explain that to me.

    There are some minor issues with the episode, some of which you mentioned, but getting all bent out of shape because the show is anti-faith is a total waste. This is Star Trek. Faith in the supernatural has been slowly declining for most of human history. This is the natural progression.

    What I meant was that it wouldn't be acceptable if there existed an episode where all the atheist characters were presented as blithering idiots while the all the theists were presented as intelligent and compassionate people who just needed to properly educate said idiots. I, as a theist, would certainly find that unacceptable, just as I find it unacceptable when done in the reverse.

    In fact, I can give you a perfect example of just such a thing - the movie "God's Not Dead." That movie portrays atheists as cold, ruthless assholes who are incapable of love and compassion and who are perfectly willing to do anything because they have no moral code while showing all the Christians as loving, moral, upright people who have to help these atheists see the light and love of Jesus. It's horrible! I have the exact same problem with it as I do with "Devil's Due" - it treats the opposing side/viewpoint with contempt.

    If we're going to live in an actual progressive, pluralistic, diverse society (which, just to be clear, I'm in favor of) then both sides need to stop this kind of nonsense and accept others for who they are, not who the opposing side wants them to be. Theists will have to accept that some people will be atheists - that doesn't make them stupid. I, again as a theist myself, am more than willing to concede that theism is not going to be for everyone. But atheists have to do the same and accept that some people are going to be theistic - that doesn't make them stupid either. Producing shows like this really doesn't help build that diverse society. Instead it just makes atheists look like assholes (just as much as "God's Not Dead" makes theists look like assholes).

    @Luke :

    "What I meant was that it wouldn't be acceptable if there existed an episode where all the atheist characters were presented as blithering idiots while the all the theists were presented as intelligent and compassionate people who just needed to properly educate said idiots."

    That's somewhat fair--this is a fairly 2-dimensional morality play, so Ardra's victims are rather superficial. However, remember Picard and co. didn't ever tell the Ventaxians that they were wrong to believe in the existence of Ardra, they simply used deduction to prove that this woman wasn't her.

    The thing about most of the theistic cultures we see in Star Trek is that they operate theocratically. The entire policy of Ventax was based upon an accepted religious belief. That is something I and most atheists (and thankfully many theists) find unacceptable. Vulcans practice a kind of Buddhistic religion, but it in no way plays a part in their governance. Klingons (up until Worf's maddening decision in "Rightful Heir") are similar this way.

    In my experience, most atheists (although I claim no particular solidarity with them as, we are not an organised group) have little interest in disproving your god's existence until your beliefs start infringing upon their lives. The problem with your suggestion about pluralism and the like is that nearly all religions (especially the Abrahamic faiths) mandate that their followers actively evangelise, promote and even impose their beliefs on others. We don't want to replace "In God We Trust" with "In No One We Trust," we just want the concept stricken (how about our original motto "E Pluribus Unum" ("Out of Many, One"?).

    Elliot- while you don't try to "disprove" anything in your posts here, and while I am agnostic myself, I do find it funny how despite the (often well earned) reputation of evangelicals being annoying and too zealous in "forcing" their views on those who aren't interested and being over eager to voice their views, in many of your posts you Elliot are just as if not more obnoxious and overbearing than any posts made by pro-abrahamic religion people that I have read on this or other message boards in my recent memory. It would be one thing if it just seemed like you were simply giving your take on the episode in question and that happened to reflect your atheistic views, but no go to most any episode involving religion to some extent and there your are, loudly and obnoxiously clearly going well beyond commenting on the episode and seemingly taking a snide delight in an opportunity to trumpet how you feel about religious issues in an over the top, hyperbolic if not straw man way, and in a manner that I am more than a little suspicious reflects your desire and adolescent-like pleasure in making your posts as abrasive as possible to read for people with differing views and seeming to enjoy doing so. And yes, it does go beyond what I what "expect" to see on Star Trek comments (for example, ever notice how if it wasn't for your posts the Jammer's Reviews comment threads wouldn't have nearly as many- and on some episodes, none- comments against religion made in such over the top and needlessly abrasive/annoying fashion? THAT is actually what I would expect from a Stat Trek board/comments section. Like here, pretty much directly calling anybody who reads one post of yours who is a Jew/Christian/Muslim gullible/masochistic/oppressed/whatever else. And on a thread with nobody even arguing with you really. Talk about having a chip on your shoulder. If that is your idea of an appropriate post for here, I trust you will also think it appropriate when I say that (like someone else said first somewhere) after reading many of your posts (not just those involving religion) one gets the impression that you likely fall on the "autistic" side of the autistic/mentally healthy spectrum? To be more specific, much of what you say conveys the attitudes/limitations/disabilities on someone with asperger's. If that is the case, know that I don't judge you for being annoying/inept in some ways since you can't help it. If it's not, get over yourself, dude, and whatever it is/was that gave you that massive chip on the shoulder. Like I said above, I'm agnostic, so your comments don't refer to me so it's not like I'm insulted, I'm just irritated by classless, immature behavior in general and sympathize with those who are targeted/insulted by it.

    Hi Brian, thanks for the note.

    I have witnessed/suffered enough myopia on these threads myself, that the accusation you make is distressful to me--the last thing I would want is to be considered one of "those" kinds of people. I obviously don't try to hide my biases, but try to be logical, critical and genuine in my responses. That said, I obviously fail in that sometimes.

    To your points :

    "ever notice how if it wasn't for your posts the Jammer's Reviews comment threads wouldn't have nearly as many- and on some episodes, none- comments against religion made in such over the top and needlessly abrasive/annoying fashion? THAT is actually what I would expect from a Sta[r] Trek board/comments section. Like here, pretty much directly calling anybody who reads one post of yours who is a Jew/Christian/Muslim gullible/masochistic/oppressed/whatever else. And on a thread with nobody even arguing with you really."

    Post made before my first :

    TheRose : "Devil's Due show us a nice insight how easy future generations will expose our faith and believes."

    So, in fact, on this page at least, I was not the first person to bring up or decry religious belief. My first post took umbrage with Jammer's star-rating which I still find very unfair.

    Every other post I have made on this thread (including this one) has been in direct response to a comment or question from another commenter.

    The first came in response to my insinuation I found the Ventiaxans to resemble, in terms of Earth religions, Mormons most closely. 213karaokejoe said that my comment insulted him, specifically because Mormons believe in Jesus' resurrection, and so does he along with billions of others. In response, I clarified *exactly* how I feel about religion and the religious--not because I have a chip on my shoulder but because it was prompted. If responding to such a comment is "classless, immature behaviour," then you will have to explain that one to me.

    You say you are an agnostic, which is your right. I say that agnosticism on an issue gives one a pass on making a commitment to any cause or perspective. True, it may be wise to practise agnosticism about subjects with which one is insufficiently familiar to take a position; for example, I am an agnostic when it comes to quantum theory. I am aware that there are debates and disagreements on the subject, but don't know enough about it to form an opinion. Maybe, when it comes to religion, that is where you stand, but I highly doubt you would peruse the quantum physics pages and accuse advocates of quantum determinism of being autistic, no matter how forcefully or even myopically they pushed their perspective.

    To be perfectly clear, I have no intention of evangelising (or "de-vangelising) any person on these reviews or elsewhere. I happen to believe that any religious view (including an athiestic one) not arrived at through personal introspection and deliberate Sehnsucht is faulty. The reason you see me popping up so often on the pages dealing with religion (and economics and militarism, if you bothered checking) is because nearly all the episodes in which the *writers* take an anti-religious stance are belittled, nit-picked and generally dismissed by both Jammer and a large section of the commenting community, whereas the pro-religion episodes are generally praised. If there is a chip on my shoulder, THAT would be it, not being anti-religious per sæ.

    Please know that I am not trying to insult you or anyone else by saying so, but the gentle agnosticism which you profess often arises from an intellectual fallacy that non-alignment is automatically morally superior, for which there is no evidence. Discussions can often become heated, but I always try to keep discussions civil and on-topic. But I will also not mince or obfuscate the issues under discussion in order to spare someone a possible feeling of insult.

    Elliott is often the first person on any random board to bash religion, but the religion is usually Bajoran, so I'm not sure that counts :P

    Something of a throwback this, with all the feel of a TOS episode (and thus somewhat unsurprising to learn that its genesis was in TOS).

    And it's not without its charm - Ardra is deliciously over the top, and some of the dialogue is wonderfully en pointe ("The advocate will refrain from making her opponent disappear", “Mr. La Forge, my reputation as a litigator, not to mention my immortal soul, is in serious jeopardy.”).

    But while we get at least a brief mention of Q as a possibility, Picard is on to the flim-flam from the start so any tension is solely in finding out how the con is carried out - which as usual is wrapped up neatly in short order at the end. 1.5 stars.

    There is a reason for the saying: Never discuss religion or politics in good company.

    As a country, we've stopped being good company. Ask me for whom I'll vote and my answer is ... shove off, go suck an egg.

    Ask me what I believe ... shove off, go suck an egg.

    You kids need to go run with scissors. Or grow some damn respect. Personally I'd remove all your comments.

    A tremendously funny episode. 3 stars. Keep up the good work, a timeless classic.

    Elliot, I appreciate your polite response and how you seemed willing to consider what I had to say, and to you and all who may have been offended by the severity of my comment I apologize; I may have been carried away, although I stand by my core points (and am glad that you were willing to consider them, Elliot).

    As far as the nature of being agnostic I have to say that I see it and have read it defined in a broader nature than what you consider it to be, Elliot; it includes those who have certain inclinations or hunches on theology and metaphysics but not enough conviction to "have faith" as the expression goes. There are also strong and weak agnostics; the strong are more in line with what you said, the "weak" may believe in certain general ideas and reject others but believe that they don't have enough evidence or inherent conviction and belief to declare that anything specific is correct and even on their stronger beliefs admit that they could be wrong on everything, despite having what ill call semi beliefs. And I'll admit your hunch was correct Elliot, I suppose I somewhat downplayed my theological beliefs (I use that term instead of religious beliefs because my beliefs don't fall into any organized religion but have some general things common with them). I am something of a hermetic and I believe in some sort of "divine" true source and the existence of some cosmic/metaphysical reason for being but recognize that that reason and the true nature of other aspects of the divine may be beyond human logic. I also don't like to argue my views because my logical side admits they may be wrong in part or even in general, but I do admit I have a fairly strong bias against atheism (ie I feel that if my beliefs are wrong it is still the least likely possibility that the atheists, as in those who believe in no sort of higher power or existence beyond this life and what current science can explain, are correct). Also in the past I have know "temporary" atheists (who later changed when they encountered better times in life, and less of a need to rebel-not that I am saying all atheists are like this) who in a similar pattern to what I saw you doing liked to rudely and with a deliberate lack of respect for others (and a fondness of having a "shock value" to what they said) interject their views whenever they got a chance to, and seemed to go beyond expressing themselves to bitterly courting controversy and offense on purpose. Two that I particularly remember were raised as Catholics and understandably rebelled in college, but took it too far and with excessive histrionics in my and many others' opinions. I mention this to say to help explain my reaction to you that you reminded me in some ways of them (but not in others ways like general personality). I'm not trying to start an argument again by saying that, just trying to shed some more light on my reaction.

    This episode starts out with Data acting the part of Scrooge and trying to understand fear. I wouldn't consider Dicken's ghosts in Christmas Carol religious figures. Insofar as some religious mythology references fear, there is a parallel, but this is hardly a story about religion.

    The episode was trivial but cute. The actress who played Ardra carried the show - she was delightful.

    This is a fun fly-weight episode, about as close to camp as any post S2 episode can be. It does play/feel like a S2 ep, without the horrible stop-motion sfx, thank Ardra.

    The one thing I find curious/odd is that toward the beginning that they mention that the planet used to be highly advanced but "turned their back on technology" to eventually create an agrarian society. It would seem unlikely to me that an advanced society would come up with such a myth. It would be like our planet making up something similar a couple hundred years from now (assuming we make it that far). Then again this was originally written in the mid-late 70s...

    Also, I'm surprised that nobody mentioned it, but Patrick Stewart has been performing "A Christmas Carol" live off and on since the late 80s in both the UK and the states. My mom sent me a two cassette copy of it years ago and Stewart, of course, is absolutely spellbinding.

    Jammer, I think you really need to consider re-rating this episode. The majority of people commenting here seem to strongly disagree with your rating, as do I. There is no way that this episode is less than 2 stars, in my view, and comes very close to 3. Ardra is a great, fun, character, with very many similarities to Q. Your negative rating seems to be solely based on the fact that the people on the planet are stupid/ignorant, but you should be looking at the episode it as a whole rather than focusing on just one or two small points.

    The episode is daft and silly, but I like courtroom episodes.

    Ridiculous scoring - 1 star is far too harsh a mark. I too have noticed that whenever an episode takes a shot at religion or blind faith, Jammer tends to mark it down. How this is seen as a 1 star ep just boggles the mind. It's fun, whips along at a nice pace, gives an adversary for Picard to go toe to toe with and is a nice little mystery. Also Marta DuBois did a FANTASTIC job as Aarda, it's a shame she wasn't brought back as a recurring character. She'd have been good value scamming around DS9. OK, it's a bit of a fluff episode, but it's enjoyable fluff - I'd go with 2.5 stars.

    Trouble with this episode is that the writers cheated their way out. Ardra -- considering her long criminal record -- has some pretty incredible technology at command... better even than that of the Federation.

    So what starts out as a "now, how did she do that?", gets a neaty, tidy ending with nobody questioning how she came by technology that allows her to cloak her ship and the Enterprise and to materialize and disappear people and things in the blink of an eye.

    In any other context, who IS she and HOW did she get all this stuff could have made a good tale all by itself, maybe even better than the one we got.

    As others have noted, this episode cheats, to the point where it is impossible to take it seriously. This flim flam lady can project forcefields onto another ship? She can disrupt all communications and cloak a Galaxy Class starship without anyone onboard realizing it?

    The entire episode would have been over if Picard had just raised the damn shields or put a forcefield around this lady.

    And don't get me started on Troi, who can't sense whether Ardra is lying or not because of her "focused mind". Uhhh huh. Way to earn your wage "counsellor".

    By the way, what was Ardra's plan anyway? Say Picard lost the trial? How did she intend to take possession of a starship and its 1,000 crewmembers?

    I wholeheartedly support the 1 star review. This episode is as fraudulent as its main antagonist.

    "As others have noted, this episode cheats, to the point where it is impossible to take it seriously. This flim flam lady can project forcefields onto another ship? She can disrupt all communications and cloak a Galaxy Class starship without anyone onboard realizing it?"

    What's the big deal? She just has technology that Starfleet isn't familiar with. If she's a really good con artist, she probably has enough money to buy expensive toys. And don't say that could never happen in Star Trek. In "The Most Toys", Kivas Fajo had access to hand weapons more powerful than phasers, and was able to sneak the Mona Freakin' Lisa off Earth.

    @ Jason R.

    "By the way, what was Ardra's plan anyway?"

    This is the bit the episode doesn't actually address. I'm not sure whether that's a good or a bad thing. She claims she'll take possession of the Enterprise, but obviously that was another con in order to gain maneuvering room with the locals. To conduct such a massive scam she must have had an endgame in mind, such as them paying her tribute, or maybe they had some rare or powerful artifacts she would have claimed as taxation and then run off with them. Being a con artist she certainly wasn't going to try to actually administer over the entire planet on a full-time basis, so I imagine what she wanted was specific. It's never mentioned so we can only wonder.

    Regarding her decision to claim the Enterprise, it's also possible that in addition to being a con artist she was also a megalomaniac and once she was apparently succeeding maybe the feeling of power went to her head and she overstepped. I can imagine her crew listening in and going "Claim the Enterprise??? WTF!"

    Chrome, Fajo didn't have access to more powerful weapons than Starfleet. He had an illegal disruptor which killed its victims slowly - it was illegal because it was cruel, not because it was somehow advanced or technically sophisticated.

    You are comparing stealing a painting with cloaking a starship and attempting to commandeer the Federatiom flagship?

    To put this in perspective, it would be akin to a band of outlaw pirates looking to take over an American nuclear aircraft carrier. I don't care what resources they have - not gonna happen!

    Ardra wasn't some weird alien like Kevin Uxbridge or the Q. She was a known con artist in the sector, which means she likely didn't have any magic alien tech that would justify anything she did. Picard literally just had to say "shields up" and the whole game should have been over!!

    Peter yes I think you're correct in your assumption - so it's not Ardra's behaviour or motivation I am questioning.

    By the way, I was thinking about the Prime Directive issues in this episode and why Picard didn't just leave when the hostages were released. Of course the answer is that Ardra had laid claim to the Enterprise and under Ventaxian law that made the Enterprise her property - hence the need for the trial to disprove her claim. Using similar logic to Justice could Picard have left without violating Ventaxian law and in effect, the Prime Directive? Then it amused me to imagine the Romulun Senate passing a law annexing Earth and Starfleet being forced to concede the point, lest it interfere with Romulun law :)

    @Jason R.

    Yes, I'll compare it because the Mona Lisa is under extremely tight security. And we're supposed to believe that 350 years more sophisticated *Federation* technology still couldn't prevent Fajo's theft? And the theft of Data? Furthermore, and speaking of non-Federation technology, what about the Breen and their shield-disabling weaponry? The Ferengi mind control devices? No matter how mighty you build up Enterprise's technology, there's obviously a limit to what the Enterprise can deal with when it's caught off guard.

    At any rate, the tone of this episode is a comedy, so the audience should be expected to a lighten up a little when it comes to scientific scrutiny.


    The Mona Lisa is under tight security in Paris at *present*. Do you know what happened to it after the nuclear holocaust? :) Just saying it might have been misplaced some time in a couple centuries.

    And Chrome, you are describing the technologies of major galactic powers on their military vessels. This wasn't a cloaked Romulan military craft - they even note that Ardra's cloak was a poor copy of a Romulun version! This was just some random con artist. The idea of her being able to sand bag the Federation flagship is laughable.

    It isn't stated specifically, but it's appearance in "The Most Toys" was there to show that Fajo was capable of obtaining the usually unobtainable. Just like Ardra is able of conning even technologically advanced societies. How many aliases did she have 23? Does that mean her trick worked in some way on 23 different other planets? If so, Ardra's quite resourceful indeed.

    "The idea of her being able to sand bag [sic] the Federation flagship is laughable."

    Precisely! Which is part of what makes this a comedy. And the Federation Flagship was already conned by Pakled traders, so let's not give it too much credit. :)

    Chrome it's useless to speculate how Fajo obtained the Mona Lisa. But even if he stole it from a secure 24th century facility, that just makes him a clever thief. Fajo's kidnapping of Data was also clever, but didn't require him to employ any special technologies.

    If Ardra can just cloak the Enterprise and disappear it with a "cheap copy" of a Romulan cloak - why don't Romulans just do it whenever they fight the Enterprise? If she can create forcefields on the bridge to swat away security, why doesn't everybody do that?


    I don't object to a lighthearted comedy, just to the idiot plot. Outside of Q episodes, the established rules of the universe we are in should not be just casually hand waved away, conedy or not.

    @Jason R.

    "If Ardra can just cloak the Enterprise and disappear it with a "cheap copy" of a Romulan cloak - why don't Romulans just do it whenever they fight the Enterprise? If she can create forcefields on the bridge to swat away security, why doesn't everybody do that?"

    I wasn't under the impression that the Enterprise was caught up in it very long. Geordi did, in fact, figure out the shield pretty quickly and got into contact with the Enterprise.

    But if it's any consolation, this episode was originally written as a Phase II show, so I think some of the campy goofiness from TOS makes it's way into this episode. I wouldn't call it an idiot plot though, because Picard's onto Ardra from the very start, and any minor tactical advantage she has with her toys is thwarted pretty easily.

    What's funny, and perhaps scary is that, even in our time, people are still very susceptible to parlor tricks and carnival sideshows like Ardra. One need not look further back than our previous election cycle's Fake News for proof of that.

    Hello Everyone

    For some reason, just for a moment, I was left wondering how often the Federation must visit the planet from "A Piece of the Action", to get their cut?

    I had never thought about what Ardra was going to do if she grabbed the planet. The smart move would be to get the Enterprise to go on their merry way, and leave the planet to her, because it was internal. Then, she could just show up every so often for tribute. Or, if she stayed (a Whole Planet for her whims, why leave?), send the Enterprise away and leave the planet to her, because it was internal. Same result. Just let the starship Leave! She would be the Ruler.

    The Leader of the planet was ready to turn it over to her, but she annexed the Enterprise for some reason (writers), and then they could not leave because they were a part of it. While the annexation was a part of the original contract for whatever was in orbit, it seems obvious this was about launched satellites (or the moon(s) if it was before spaceflight, and 1,000 years ago they weren't thinking about visiting aliens). I think it would have been a much better outcome to let her have it, then re-visit it a few episodes later (for some Star Trek reason).

    I am ignoring the hostages because she made certain to give them back right from the get-go.

    Lastly, if they hadn't figured out what was going on in time and Data had decided against the Enterprise, would he have gone all "Super Android" on them and put in codes to make the Enterprise stay there? While this might seem like a stupid thought, for a positronic brain, who knows? Would Data have said "I'm sorry Captain, but these were the parameters, and you lost.", before turning the ship over to Ardra? It wouldn't be the first time he took over the Enterprise with some nifty tricks... Allowing Data as the Judge might have been a trick from Ardra, knowing if Data ruled in her favor, he'd follow his programming to the n'th degree...

    As usual, just some Thoughts... RT

    Stupid episode. Picard should have had a bit of evidence and not just a hunch before completely throwing away the possibility that Ardra was a Q-like entity. He was far too quick to decry everything she did and claimed as "impossible" despite having met beings capable of just that.

    Plot backtracked on previously established facts-first they had no idea at all how Ardra's doing it, then suddenly it's all being done with technology that they're already familiar with and can suddenly detect when they couldn't before. The ship is even hidden using a trick Riker is fond of and previous enemies have also used. Picard lists off how he thinks she's doing it all and then says he can't explain it when asked in "court". Data seems to want the Enterprise to become Ardra's new plaything and is a rather annoying "judge".

    The whole thing with her wanting Picard as a sex slave was pretty implausible, too. It would have been sort of believable with Kirk or Riker, but Picard is much too old and stuffy for me to ever believe any of these women are ever lusting after him the way TNG makes them out to be. It's laughable.

    Picard just can't pull off a joke episode like this when he's forced into this role; Riker would have been much better. Kirk would have nailed it, what with his "dad jokes" groan-able sense of humor and ability to see the irony in things, and Riker with his Sant Claus-like joviality would have done well, but Picard never pulls the stick out of his butt long enough to take advantage of the situation (the few things he does say, like saying his "immortal soul" is in danger are delivered too grimly to come off nearly as humorously as I'm sure they're meant to).

    (Oh my, I seem to have mentioned Santa Claus, a figure with historically religious origins, in a seemingly positive or neutral fashion. According to above posts, that means I'm due a derogatory comment calling me weak-minded/masochistic/opressed/guillable. Sorry to offend you Elliot, please come and preach your militant atheism at me, it's seems to have made you a wholly tolerant, reasonable, and stable individual.)

    So Ardra's a fake and the Enterprise has taken over her ship and its cloaking device-what does possession of this new technology that could help them out against the Borg mean? Surely they studied it to help them out in their understanding of Romulan cloaking? Nothing, never mentioned again. Presumably they just left her ship and crew in orbit to break her out of jail once they took off. Lovely.


    >What's funny, and perhaps scary is that, even in our time, people are still very susceptible to parlor tricks and carnival sideshows like Ardra. One need not look further back than our previous election cycle's Fake News for proof of that.

    Or that a con-man/woman could take over the reigns of an entire nation/world just using (easily detected for a sufficiently aware/intelligent person) chicanery and transparently obvious fear-manipulation just by following the ole' PT Barnum's advice (said in this episode and very applicable to modern state of world affairs as well) to get what s/he wants.

    Contrary to some other commentators, I have to say that I really disliked the actress who played Ardra.

    She's the reason why this episode drops to one star. Otherwise, it could have been two, because the main topic is relevant. To see Picard be the voice of reason against superstitious beliefs is always a good thing. The story on the Holodeck, with Ebenezer Scrooge who complained that he couldn't trust his senses and therefore ghosts couldn't be real, framed the episode nicely.

    However, Ardra was difficult to stand. Her decision to claim the Enterprise AND Picard for herself rather than letting them go did a lot of damage to the episode. It's obvious that the story was originally written to be on TOS, as has been pointed out, because it would normally be Kirk that every alien woman goes crazy over. The problem is, what was even her plan? How was she expecting to get away with seizing the flagship of the federation? Such nonsense. The stupidity of the Ventaxians bothered me, too, but it was kind of necessary for this episode to work.

    I found this woman to be dull, ordinary and repulsive. She was just annoying me every time when she opened her mouth, and her idea to seize the Enterprise and Picard made things even dumber. Was Picard attracted to her for even a moment? No, and that is the only consolation. Patrick Steward made his dislike very clear through his acting towards her. Kirk may have been swayed, for a moment, and I would have been sickened by it. Luckily, this is TNG.


    It's interesting that you didn't like Marta Dubois' work here but, although it's your lead-in, you never explain why. Where did the actress underperform? What actress do you think could've played this part better? Or is that you just don't like the character of Ardra and aren't really taking performances into consideration?

    Well, I kind of explained why. Because the character is "dull, ordinary and repulsive". I think both the actresses performance and how clichéd the role is written play into it, for me. I just googled Marta Dubois and judging from the photos, she gives off a completely different vibe in real life - not unsympathetic at all.

    Somehow, I find her creepy in that role. The cheesy "love interests" on TNG have always bothered me. Usually, it's some Gigolo lover who Deanna or Beverly falls for. The Ardra character is the worst of the lot, because she overacts so much both in terms of sexuality and of arrogance - just gives me the creeps.

    These kind of characters make me shout out to them in my mind "Why are you so full of yourself? You have almost nothing going for yourself, yet you think you're 'the shit'... but you're just creepy!"

    I don't know which actress could have delivered the role better. Some actresses manage to play similar villains without being gross.


    A character is not the same thing as an actor. I may think Gul Dukat is horrible person and still find that Marc Alaimo is a wonderful person.

    I see what you mean about Ardra coming on strong, but I think the acting fits a TOS script very well. In fact, I'm surprised you go on to make comparisons to other TNG love interests when Dubois' doesn't play Ardra like a typical TNG character.

    For my part, I think it's refreshing to have the con artist be a female for a change on TNG. We get all these despicable swindlers like Kivas Fajo, Berlinghoff Rasmussen, Lore, and so on, but rarely do we get to see the woman play that dubious role on this show.

    Thought this was a silly episode -- Ardra reminded me of a cross between Lwaxana Troi and Q. So the Enterprise basically has to find the source of her power and then game over -- yes, very much a 60s Trek plot.

    I think it does have an interesting premise in that a society is fearful of a contract with the devil being fulfilled especially when everything in the contract is coming true. So I disagree with Jammer's review on this 1 point: I wouldn't call the head of state as somebody with an IQ below 80, unless he is fully aware of everything a starship is capable of (transporters, holographic images etc.) that can pull off Ardra's tricks. The people could be very superstitious or religious and not as advanced technologically, hence the fear. Jammer is a bit harsh in his review.

    I suppose "Devil's Due" could be intended as a comedy episode as most of the Q/Lwaxana Troi episodes are, but it would be a failure if that was its purpose.

    Just when Picard is about beaten in the court-room scene (btw, like how Data handled being the judge), Geordi shows up with Ardra's magic tricks debunked. Excellent timing as usual and perfectly convenient.

    Anyhow, the premise is interesting: that of an interstellar con game; however, the silliness from Ardra toward Picard, not getting a showdown between her ship and the Enterprise tells me "Devil's Due" is a wasted opportunity.

    This episode gets 1.5 stars, nothing much to say here other than it'll go down as one of the weakest efforts for TNG S4 -- never been a fan of Lwaxana Troi and only a moderate fan of Q, so Ardra didn't do it for me either. Episode could have been boiled down to 30 mins.


    I agree with some parts of your review, but this sticks out:

    "Anyhow, the premise is interesting: that of an interstellar con game; however, the silliness from Ardra toward Picard, not getting a showdown between her ship and the Enterprise tells me "Devil's Due" is a wasted opportunity."

    How would a showdown between Ardra's ship and the Enterprise play out? Ardra can only mislead people, she breaks down when directly confronted. That's antithetical to a conman scenario.

    Wow, only 1 star? I rewatched this one last night and while it's no "Yesterday's Enterprise" I thought some of the dialogue was pretty good.

    I'd give it a 2-2.5 stars rating.

    So bad it's funny. Worth the price of admission just to see Ardra-as-Troi trying to seduce Picard, who's in his jammies.

    This leftover from Star Trek: Phase II had the dust blown off it by Michael Piller, who handed it Melinda Snodgrass, who passed it on to Larry Carroll and David Bennett Carren, who gave it to Lee Sheldon, where it finally landed in the lap of freelancer Philip LaZebnik. They should have stuck with the original, where the devil was not a bombshell con woman, but the mental force of the telepathic populace creating their devil out of their own fears. A little old-school (or Space: 1999ish), but better than this hilarous mess.

    A reliable tenet of TNG is just when you think it has emerged from the mire of the earliest seasons with their one dimensional characters, boring treknobabble driven plots and annoyingly archaic mores we get an episode like this.

    Devil's Due was a season one-esque festival of yawns.
    I completely agree with the one star.
    I also admire the guy (or gal) who saw this as a TOS episode.
    I agree entirely-just substitute Harry Mudd for Ardra and it could have worked.

    For me this would be a 2 star episode. Its a pleasant enough way to pad out the season. Plenty of funny lines in it, at least.

    I wouldn't say this episode is anti-religion, but I also don't think it believes in it. It mainly seems to see religion as a beneficial lie - if god did not exist it would be necessary to invent him - with the unfortunate side effect of allowing people to exploit it.

    @ William H,

    Why do you think this episode has anything at all to say about religion? It's about a con artist, not about the validity of the religion that the con artist abused.

    There could literally be a deity and a second coming that is literally true and will come to pass for these people, and that fact wouldn't at all prevent some thief from pretending to the their god and taking advantage of them. It doesn't speak at all to their beliefs that this can happen; on the contrary, it means that con artists try to prey on people who are looking for something and pretend to give it to them. That doesn't mean people shouldn't be looking for just means that bad people are bad.

    Well, Ardra doesn't show up and collect, and they're apparently due. I mean, maybe we're supposed to think they'll show up in a few months, but I don't get the impression that this is intended.

    I don't think the episode was particularly intended to be about religion, only that it has an attitude towards it that is discernible. It looks at the faith of the Ventaxians as a way of changing their society, I don't think it ever really considers it might be true. It allows that there might be an Ardra, but that seems to me to be considering a euhemerisation of a mortal figure, or at most something along the lines of Apollo in TOS

    I've always viewed this episode as a blatant statement about religion. ie - living beings do not need deities to provide moral frameworks or to define or inspire their actions. Civilization, ethics and progress can be achieved without a deity parasitizing these achievements. The episode is a response to the old charge that "morality is impossible without God".

    Picard says this himself at the episode's climax. Did God (Ardra) snap his fingers and transform the planet into a paradise? No, Jared the alien says, progress occurred gradually over a long period. Did God form governments and implement peaceful rule? No, the alien says, they personally formed councils and legal bodies to decide courses of actions. Did God advise these councils? No, simple beings did this, and signed non-aggression pacts and fought for constitutions. Did God, Picard ask, heal the environment and build the economy? No, the alien says, they worked toward this logically and rationally. Did God purify polluted waters and air? No, the alien says, they themselves enacted a "series of initiatives covering everything from atmospheric contaminants to waste disposal". Did God, Picard asks, at least pick up a single piece of trash? No, the alien replies, God left centuries before environmental reforms began. His point made, Picard then stands back and does his little philosophical mic drop: "What then did God do? It seems, with a great deal of hard work and courage, your ancestors changed this world all by themselves!"

    It's fitting in a way that the episode opens with a coda taken from Dickens, as Dickens was a kind of materialist preoccupied with the conditions of the poor, a poor "sanctified" in place by all kinds of horrible beliefs. It's also fitting that Data, in this coda, calls a ghost out on its notion that "what a believer feels with his senses must thus exist!". "Humbug!" Data says to the ghost, "I feel your touches, but they can be from anything. I do not believe in you! You're a humbug!"


    I really don't think this episode was a bust on religion or God (if it was, I wouldn't watch it). Rather on the charlentons that try to take advantage of people's faith. Besides which, Andra was saying she was their devil, not God

    Sean said: "Besides which, Andra was saying she was their devil, not God"

    A common science fiction trick is to reverse "real world things" when doing an on-screen allegory. Witness, for example, how TNG's "Outcast" codes "androgyny" as "normal" and "heterosexuality" as "gay". Witness too how the original "Planet of the Apes" franchise codes "white people" as "black slaves" and "black people" as "the ruling class". We wouldn't say "Planet of the Apes" is not about institutional racism and slavery, would we?

    So here, in this Trek episode, instead of the Judeo Christian God abandoning a corrupt world and returning to bring salvation and peace, we have the reverse: a Devil Deity abandoning a perfect world and returning to bring strife and calamity. It's a heretical inversion of the Second Coming narrative (probably inspired by Clarke's "Childhood's End").

    And as in Gene Roddenberrry's (a quite militant atheist) original draft for this script, it all ends with an unmasking of God. In Roddenberry's tale, we learn that the fake God was invented by philosophers- enlightened conmen. But the point is the same in both scripts: God wasn't responsible for the planet's progress or achievements. God wasn't responsible for man's Good. Rather, God hijacked these achievements. God, then, is a kind of charlatan, as is faith.

    The opening teaser makes these things explicit (Data refuses to believe in a Ghost, despite the "real feelings" it pretends to give). The last segment does the same: "I tried to tell you Jared," Picard says, "you saved your own lives a long time ago". The allusion to Judeo-Christian notions of Second Comings coming to save believers and bring salvation is made explicit here, but only for the purpose of subversion. The panacea promised by religions is demystified as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. We want these things not because they are divine and holy and prophesied - the con - rather, these things are deemed divine, holy and pined for because we want them. Behavior and attitude precede belief.

    “So here, in this Trek episode, instead of the Judeo Christian God abandoning a corrupt world and returning to bring salvation and peace, we have the reverse: a Devil Deity abandoning a perfect world and returning to bring strife and calamity. It's a heretical inversion of the Second Coming narrative”

    Except there was no second coming in this episode, it’s a hoax. Whatever an earlier version of this script had in it, the current draft dodges making commentary on religion and focuses on con artists who manipulate based on blind faith. I think there might be some interesting comparisons to Ardra and stage hucksters in the U.S. who claim to perform miracles on stage, but that’s just another species of con artist. Religion is merely the backdrop of this episode, but the meat of the story lies in catching a fraud in the act.

    "Religion is merely the backdrop of this episode, but the meat of the story lies in catching a fraud in the act."

    I agree with Chrome entirely. However, Trent, I like your write-up as it's an interesting perspective on literary device in order to present heretical view in a palatable manner. Actually, to reply to your rhetorical question, I actually never did consider Planet of the Apes to be about black/white inversion! I always took it to be about the sheer idiocy of man thinking he's the supreme intelligence, since what sort of "intelligence" would ever take steps to destroy itself? My impression was that the film was about the danger of thinking we're so smart; sort of shades of Trek in terms of Eugenics Wars, WWIII, etc. It never occurred to me that the apes were meant to be black masters in a sociological reversal, and to be frank I'm not sure that's what was intended, but maybe I have to watch it again to see if I get that vibe. An interesting hypothesis, however.

    About Devil's Due, one of the critical points is that Picard explains how the people achieved their society 'without Ardra's help', in the sense of having physically taken the steps themselves. You see, these people were keen to ascribe *all* of their progress to their deity/devil, and Picard's point is that it's ridiculous to literally take no credit at all for their accomplishments. The fact that Ardra lifted not a single stone to help is an a fortiori argument that it's impossible for these people to ascribe to themselves zero participation, but I don't think it likewise means that they should consider zero credit to go to Ardra. It would be idle to deny, for instance, that their original deal (whatever it was) inspired them to do what they did. Imagine for a moment that an Apollo-type being (like in Who Mourns for Adonis) did come to their planet, make some silly promises, then go away. That interaction may have impacted their development considerably. While they ought to take credit for the work, likewise the Prime Directive seems to tell us that the cultural interference was 'responsible' for them being on that path in the first place. So at worst, assuming there literally was a real Ardra in the past, that they owe her some credit, even though they should be proud of themselves as well. But as it was they were fanatically going to give her *all* credit and do whatever she said, and this kind of blind faith (i.e. dumb faith) as Chrome put it was the problem here.

    The reason I think it seems easy to see this episode as being a knock on religion is that if you go in assuming religion is stupid then the con artist can seem like a way of saying "haha! look at these religious idiots!" But reverse your premise and assume religion is correct (or at least worthwhile) and then you can have an alternate read, which is "if not for con artists these people could have gone very far on the power of their faith, but now perhaps it's been shattered." Think about the Federation itself, where belief in its tenets requires very strong faith. Can you imagine the faith it takes to follow the Prime Directive when common sense would often suggest to reject it and help people who need it? Now *that* is an act of faith, and the Federation is founded on it. It likewise takes faith to believe that IDIC as a cultural policy is actually a solid firmament for a Federation and that the Klingons won't eventually run them over like a steamroller. They need to believe that their values will carry them through their difficulties.

    If anything I would say the critique of the people of faith here isn't so much about the fact that they have beliefs that are hard to prove, but rather the fact that they are generally unaware of how their progress came to be. They've made achievements and don't have the self-awareness to realize what steps they've taken and what they mean. *That* is a dangerous situation, because if you don't know why you've come to be the way you are then you won't have the vigilance to maintain it. The Federation knew how it got where it got: horrible wars, hatred, and death. Its advances were made with self-awareness and deliberation, and its values were based on conscious choices. For a culture like this one, though, their choices seem to have been driven by a kind of sense that they just had to, but without having ever decided what the foundation of their society should be. Picard's speech to them is important not because they were foolish idiots to have faith, but rather because they needed to be able to take note of why their advanced worked for them and how to repeat that good progress. I think the Trekkian moral here isn't that you should or shouldn't believe in some deity; rather it's that you need to be able to state your principles clearly and know the foundation you stand on. That foundation can be religion, IDIC, or whatever else. You need to know who you are and how you got there.

    This is a hugely underrated episode. I have known women who have played appalling and unexpected tricks to get what they want (freebies, attention, love, sex) and Ardra is probably based on someone the writer knew. I am also under no illusions whatsoever that an intelligent woman is a formidable enemy and that most people are too stupid to recognise this. Society would race to the aid of a female devil if she were opposed by a male saint. The gender card isn't played in this episode other than Ardra hitting on Picard, which i think she did brilliantly.

    I am an aspie who does not easily fall for tricks, and i have plenty of experience with intelligent and ruthless women to the point where most fiction I write these days is based on true events. I'm not some dumb American Pie reject, and would certainly not be stupid enough to fall into the clutches of that type of woman ever again. And yet Ardra is incredibly appealing. She does not lack for charisma. She's unpredictable, with a sense of humour, and is wrathful when denied. The scariest thing about her is that if I were Picard, then Ardra would be the one woman in the universe I couldn't resist.

    And this, combined with brilliant writing and brilliant acting, along with an urgent sense of pace and a suitable atmosphere of "crazed wtf", is why I love this episode.

    Chrome said: "Except there was no second coming in this episode, it’s a hoax...."

    That's the point. Almost all religions have a second coming narrative: Maitreya's coming in Buddhism, Kalki Avatar et al in Hinduism, and Judaism, Islam, Rastafarianism and almost all New Age cults all have similar narratives about "paradise on earth" coming only when a savior arrives. The point of the episode is that this progress is achieved not by foretold supernatural dieties, but by the hands of men.

    Chrome said: "but the meat of the story lies in catching a fraud in the act."

    The meat of the story is that the original Ardra story - the tale of a God providing salvation to people - is itself a fraud which is hijacked by a money-milking con-artist. The second con-artist is almost besides the point.

    Peter said: "I actually never did consider Planet of the Apes to be about black/white inversion!"

    Planet of the Apes is pretty blatant about its race politics. In 1961, its writer Rod Sterling was asked "what he'd most like to write about next?" He responded: "I'd like to do a definitive study of segregation, from the Negro's point of view." Soon after he'd write "Planet of the Apes", a giant "what if the shoe were on the other foot?" parable about a chauvinistic American astronaut (Charlton Heston) forced to experience racial discrimination (justified along bio-genetic lines) of a type once reserved for blacks. The various revolutions in the original franchise were themselves based on the Watts riots, and tap into a zeitgeist in which some believed that black liberation struggles would threaten the security of white racial hegemony.

    Charlton Heston was also cast for deliberate reasons. Heston made a career starring in epics in which Western and non-Western interests collide. In "Gunfighter Nation: The myth of the frontier in 20th century America", for example, cultural historian Richard Slotkin states that the typical Heston character was a "hard and self-willed White male", an uber conservative "who stands for the highest values of civilization and progress but who is typically besieged from without by non-white savages who greatly outnumber him and beset from within by the decadence, corruption and softness of his own society". Indeed, in the sixties Heston seemed to be perpetually fighting to defend an outpost on the margins of Western civilisation from black/brown/oriental barbaric onslaughts (The Naked Jungle, El City, 55 Days at Peking, Khartoum etc).

    Peter said: "But reverse your premise and assume religion is correct (or at least worthwhile) and then you can have an alternate read, which is "if not for con artists these people could have gone very far on the power of their faith."

    The episode makes it clear that the power of their faith can't get them far, as their faith demands they be crushed and enslaved. This is foretold. This is what they believe. Escaping this teleology is to break free of their faith. The episode makes it explicit that Ardra's "progress" comes at a huge cost. Intellectually defending Ardra thus forces one to pick and choose what aspects of her you deem positive; a delusional belief in Ardra may inadvertently lead to centuries of progress, but it is not belief per se, it is not an honest belief, but a denial and rejection of over half of what Ardra represents. Ardra grants you salvation only to ultimately own and torment you.

    And that's the very point of the religious critique. As Data and Picard say, "Fear is a motivating factor", but an irrational and unneeded one. You don't need a fear of God to stop you beating your wife - a fear which will open you up to hysteria (the planet is literally on the verge of mass suicide), subjugation, blackmailing and cons - you have the ability to realize problems and solve things yourself.

    "The meat of the story is that the original Ardra story - the tale of a God providing salvation to people - is itself a fraud which is hijacked by a money-milking con-artist. The second con-artist is almost besides the point."

    The story never goes into whether the original legend is true or not, and I think your analysis misses that critical point.

    NoPoet wrote:

    "This is a hugely underrated episode. Ardra is incredibly appealing. She does not lack for charisma. She's unpredictable, with a sense of humour, and is wrathful when denied. this, combined with brilliant writing and brilliant acting, along with an urgent sense of pace and a suitable atmosphere of "crazed wtf", is why I love this episode."

    Sorry to let this comment get ignored in the other discussion, but I am with you here. I think what works with this show is that the con artist is an appealing and attractive woman who in another episode or series would likely be the hero. That's the thing with con artists, they aren't thick-mustached Gambinos you can spot from a mile away; they're often charismatic and likable people.

    Another thing, when I was growing up in Seattle (not a small city by any means) the local broadcasters refused to air this episode because it depicted the devil. So, I didn't get to see this until at least 15 years later when I found it on Netflix. Needless to say, I think the broadcasters were pretty uptight in hindsight. If you can look past all the surface with religious icons and whatnot, there's a pretty good detective story that balances humor and weighty issues at same time (Peter G. described this well above). Data as judge alone is worth the price of admission.

    It's also worth noting that DS9 puts way more controversial religious themes out there with episodes like "Rapture", so either that slipped past the sensors, or they just stopped censoring Trek sometime in the 90s. :-)

    "Another thing, when I was growing up in Seattle (not a small city by any means) the local broadcasters refused to air this episode because it depicted the devil."

    What?? In Seattle? Are you sure it wasn't preempted for baseball or something?


    I actually didn’t start watching broadcast TNG until season 5. But the local Fox affiliate reran two episodes of TNG every weeknight. This one, “Code of Honor” and “Up the Long Ladder” weren’t in the rerun rotation. I saw all the others, including “Conspiracy” in full gore though.

    I would give this episode three stars. I also think bringing up religion is reaching. The only tie at all this episode has To religion is how she claimed to be the devil. Otherwise this episode has as much to do with religion as The Wizard of Oz

    Hello Chrome

    So, out of many, many awful ST:TNG episodes, those particular broadcasters stood upon their bridge and declared "This... shall not... be BroadCast...!"... just because of someone in a devil suit (that wasn't even Ardra)? I'll bet they feel really silly now... (heh).

    Wow, and I thought Michiana was a weird place to grow up in.

    Regards... RT

    And the role of Ardra is being played today by Jill Foster Abbott.

    Dear God in Heaven! That was an over-the-performance and the biggest weakness of the show.

    The actress appears to have studied with Brenda Dickson, the ultrashallow actress who played Jill on "The Young & The Restless" back in the '80s.


    Jill Abbott was great in Frasier and I think she works here. You need someone who can ham it up if they’re pretending they have godly powers.

    I have to admit I have no idea what you guys are talking about. After a quick Google I find that (a) Jill Abbott is a fictional person, played by an actress who did not appear on Frasier, and that Ardra was played by Marta Dubois, who also never appeared on Frasier.


    Sorry, I was thinking of Mercedes Ruehl who acts, looks, and talks a lot like Marta Dubois.

    That said, Dubois appeared in Magnum P.I., MacGuyver, and Law & Order in addition to dozens of other TV roles, so I’d hardly say she’s an amateur.

    Half way through my TNG rewatch and I am pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed watching this episode again. I remember enjoying it before but it seems to get better and more fun with each viewing. Ardra is particularly good and silly to watch. I can see why some dont like it but it is, for me anyway, a bit of slightly mindless, switch your brain off for an hour, fun.

    1 star is very harsh. 3-3.5 stars every time.

    I think 1 star is a bit harsh, but I wouldn't personally give this episode more than 1.5 or 2. It just never sat well with me. I think part of it is that the penny pinching really hurts the production of this one. While the courtroom scene is technically arbitration, would that not be the single biggest court case in this planets entire history? If so, why is it just Picard, Data, Jared, and Ardra? It should be a media circus of the highest order. Yeah yeah they switched to an agrarian society, but that capital city is pretty heavily built up and modern looking, so it should still be teeming with advisors, court reporters, legal experts, and spectators.

    The entire government of this planet is represented only by Jared too, and I have to wonder how someone so meek and deferential got elected in the first place. At least when we see the Klingon High Council there's a bunch of other Klingons milling about. We don't need to know their positions or anything, but it shows at least a more appropriate level of activity for the seat of government. The courtroom scenes don't need to be to the level of Kirk and McCoy's trial in The Undiscovered Country, or even Farpoint/All Good things, but this should have been much better attended considering the stakes, same with The Measure of a Man honestly.

    I re-watched this last night and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I agree on the "who cares" bit, but can't you really say that about ALL of the one-off planets that TNG visits? Ardra was deliciously campy, and they did a good job keeping just enough tension (maybe she really IS some kind of Q-like being?).

    I thought this was a cute episode. I was really enthralled by Marta Dubois. I just loved the way she bit into every word - her voice could give me ASMR. I did a quick search and found some vocal demo tracks on YouTube - great singing voice, too! Unfortunately I also came across an obituary - she died in May of this year.

    Ah TOS in sheeps clothing.

    tell me , considering Picard had met the Q, why was he so quick to assume Ardra to be a fake?

    Why is it Data can perform the difficult job of legal interpretation and arbitration but not do contractions? was he able to prove to Pulaski that he could solve a mystery with advanced problem solving?

    this episode proves to me that this was the Jean Luc Picard show. they should have called it Where No One Man Has Gone Before

    although I still like the show, it is due to Picard and Data.


    Many people seem to have trouble with the fact that Picard seems convinced that Ardra is a con artist from early on. I think that the episode justifies this reasonably well through this exchange:

    RIKER: Could she be another refugee from the Q continuum?
    CRUSHER: For that matter, could she be Q?
    PICARD: Q would never bother with contracts.
    TROI: Or economic forecasts.
    PICARD: I noticed that too, Counsellor. I had the distinct impression of in the presence of a flim-flam artist.

    So the episode acknowledges that there are powerful entities who could do what Ardra is doing, but that their motivation is likely to be different (earlier Ardra asks for "a full census of the population, with emphasis on productivity and economic forecasts"). So Picard intuits from the situation that this is probably a mortal alien using technologically in specific ways to pose as a godlike being, and runs with that intuition, which turns out to be correct.


    Really stupid, though it had some good moments. I liked Data as the judge.

    I watched some eps last night while wrapping presents. I'm now trying to comment on the eps I saw, before the details flee my aging brain. But I feel like most of this one went in one ear and out the other, instantly.

    Not good.

    And since in my part of the world it's still the 25th, Merry Christmas, Trekeroonis. Live long and get great gifts.

    No comment about Picard quoting Mae West? (Goodness had nothing to do with it!)

    Also, does anyone else think that the "devil" costume was INTENTIONALLY cheesy and comical?

    Her constant lusty moaning got very awkward after the 666th time while watching this episode with my mother

    The opening fragment with Data as Scrooge on its own is enough to make this an outstanding episode.

    The rest was pretty enjoyable. I'm with the posters above who liked Ardra the vamp. And I got the impression that Patrick Stewart played it as Picard being considerably more taken by her than he admitted - he's a pretty sensitive actor at getting those kind of hints into a performance.

    Most of the posts focusing on the issue of religion strike me as pretty much beside the point. The threat of the Devil returning to claim on a debt is a pretty classic theme in folklore, but so far as the Ventaxians were concerned Ardra was essentially a powerful alien invader with. A back story. She could have been a Q or a Borg Queen - the point was she was in a position to destroy and dominate them.

    As for the business of Picard forcing the Ventaxian chief to recognise that the necessary changes to the planet's society and environment had been achieved by human action, there was nothing of an attack on religion there - St Theresa of Avila's words "Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours" express what is a pretty standard assumption of how things work in most religious contexts, not just Christian. (That doesn't mean that there aren't some quite powerful quasi-religious cults that would correctly recognize that as an attack.)

    Charming. The opening with Picard and Data on the holodeck is beautiful. Story starts to faintly echo that Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode with Homer's soul at stake over a donut.

    Sure this doesn't really hang together very well, and it poses the scintillating notion of another Q-like entity in the universe only to frustrate that possibility, but I had a good enough time.

    The story development where Picard is propositioned with putting his soul up for grabs is elegant plotting. Minus points for Data's clear delight as Picard gets the upper hand in the courtroom sequence. Would have been wild if he was totally blank.

    I must have seen this one once before this evening, because I distinctly remember Work taking exception to the appearance of the Klingon devil monster that looks a bit like a Predator. But apart from that I hadn't remembered a thing.

    It's not awful but it's weak. And it's certainly over-theatrical with the excessively vampy female protagonist gambling with Picard for his body and soul, and Data playing the courtroom judge.

    I don't buy that Data isn't capable of a bit of judicious (and judicial) dishonesty. Surely a Starfleet commander has to use a bit of subterfuge occasionally. Reminiscent of the old canard that Spock can't lie, when in fact he deceives people every third episode.

    I thought Marta Dubois did what she was asked to very nicely though, and I'm sad to see that she died two years ago.

    I'm surprised by the hate of this episode. I enjoyed seeing Picard expose Ardra's "flim-flammery" and, frankly, I don't care if it was a bit campy or inconsequential. Some episodes just are fun being what they are. Some of the comedic scenes in the episode, especially with Picard turning the tables on Ardra at the end after they figure out how Ardra was pulling her stunts, were quite enjoyable.

    @CreveCoeur - It makes sense that this would remind you of that Simpsons episode, as they are both loosely based on the short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster."

    I found this episode tedious and goofy. There was never a moment where we thought Arda was really the devil and I don't think we were ever supposed to. So it just became a question of 'how is Arda running this scam' and the answer wasn't particularly clever.

    ONE star? My god this site is garbage with the ratings. Sure it’s never explained how Ardra pulled off transforming into Troi or taking over the body of the Ensign, but beyond that a well crafted and well executed fun adventure. In my opinion the episode would have been made better if, at the end, after all of Ardra’s tricks have been exposed and deactivated she unexplainably vanishes suggesting she did, actually, have magical powers that suggest she could have been the “devil” toying around to relieve some boredom but all-in-all a TWO STAR episode AT LEAST.

    Silly but inoffensive. The Ventaxians' vulnerability to self-fulfilling prophecies and con artistry is familiar and believable--depressingly so, 30 years after the episode aired. Marta DuBois gives an entertaining performance as Ardra and things pick up noticeably whenever she is on screen. Otherwise, the episode wallows waist-deep in technobabble and other Trek cliches (like Picard and/or his crew being appointed to decide the fate of an entire planet) . I'd give it two stars.

    "Devil's Due" is 100% a swipe at religion, but like most of Trek's such swipes, they built in just enough plausible deniability for religious people to think, "Oh, this isn't about *us.* It's about a con artist using the vague ramblings of credulous primitives to frighten modern suckers into giving up their agency and material possessions to please a capricious deity... who... Wait a minute. This *is* about us!"

    Okay, minus that last part where they realize it actually is about them. Trek is pretty good at these indirect attacks, picking purveyors of woo and nonsense, or "false gods," or fake mystics, or other religious analogues, and taking them apart in the same ways, and for the same reasons, using the same methods as one would a religion. Even DS9, ostensibly the most "respectful" Trek series in regard to religion, periodically backs Major Kira or another Bajoran into a corner until they have to admit their religion is nonsense, but it comforts them, so don't give us a hard time about it, okay?

    Anyway, this episode is silly and broad, gingerly serving teaspoons of rationality to the fussy toddler of American audiences, lest they realize they're eating their vegetables, and pitch the usual fit. What "Devil's Due" lacks is focus, but times being what they were, the necessary focus was verboten. One star, plus two stars for even trying.

    More like a TOS-style episode (Catspaw?) with bad elements of Encounter At Farpoint thrown in for good measure.

    Typical Roddenberry “science versus magic and superstition” theme. Not very interesting, only moderately entertaining.

    The best thing about it is Jammer’s review. Laughs..

    1.5 stars, mainly for Data’s involvement.

    Devil's Due was quite entertaining. The message is one of societal self reliance. To me the story basis resembles the Wizard of Oz.

    Picard: "She has no powers whatsoever" final reveal is that a curtain is pulled away by Toto, exposing... just an apparatus ... a side show illusion. Ardra brings to my mind TOS' Harry Mudd in style. No threat to religions anywhere, let alone to supreme beings, nor to the impersonal expressions: the Sage, the Tao, or the Brahman.

    Lots of reason to panic.
    Liked seeing actor Paul the scientist; as a young man he was a forceful presence in several episodes of the old Perry Mason series.

    I usually agree with all of your great reviews. But not on this one. I like this episode alot. You have to sort of look at it thru a certain filter. It's stupid...really stupid. If you try to take it seriously it falls apart, but if you look at it as a comedy episode it's really good and so damn funny.

    Rather than exposing the con through courtroom drama, I would have been more entertained had they conned Arda like in a classic cat and mouse story: Think Spy Vs. Spy, Cheers Vs. Gary's Old Town Tavern, or the sitcom It's Your Move. I'd think of a Trek example but after that episode I need to clear my head of space adventures for a few hours.

    I almost gave up on this one less than a minute into it, with that idiotic opening scene with Data and the holoDRECK.

    Beyond that, reading through many of the comments here, it's amusing how self-unaware many of the smug irreligious types often are. "Hahahaaaaaaa, those religious bumpkins got suckered into believing absurd fairy tales and following self-serving hucksters... - what idiots! I am SO much more enlightened for doing objective research and relying on the scientific method. YAY MEEEEEEE!"

    And yet, many of these same people are convinced that:
    * An experimental gene therapy (= mRNA "vaccine") is safe for a mass rollout to the entire global population, after less than a year of testing, mainly because the politicians, bought-up/paid-off scientists, and media pundits they like or agree with say so.
    * A piece of cloth through which you can comfortably smoke a cigarette prevents transmission of viral particles, mainly because the politicians, bought-up/paid-off scientists, and media pundits they like or agree with say so.
    * An edited video clip of an incident with the police in which a black man died is proof that the police systematically victimize black Americans and do so on a racialist basis, mainly because the politicians... - well, you know the rest.
    * "Redistributing" wealth would address income inequality and make everyone rich(er).
    Etc. You get the idea. And not just do they wholeheartedly believe the above, and much more, but they do so with the zealotry and exclusionary intolerance that the most ardent religionists would be proud of.

    Also, do I need to remind anyone that the panic, looting, and lawlessness that engulfed places like New Orleans after Katrina or parts of Florida and Texas during similar weather events were not caused by god-botherers but quite the contrary?

    Yes, I said "god-botherers." I'm an atheist myself. It's just that I have enough self-cognizance to know that humans are supremely gullible, pliable, (com)pliant, and (self-)destructive, regardless of their religious belief, level of education or any other demographic characteristic. And, ironically, the more strongly they deny it, the more likely they are to be under the spell of some ideology or another.

    (I don't get notifications of new comments on this thread so if someone replies, it's unlikely I'll ever see it. Commenters used to get automatically subscribed to new comments notifications but it seems Jammer disabled that feature.)

    ok, super brief. FFP2 masks have an electrostatic filter that is very effective, beside the cloth. Surgeons don't wear masks for fun and their masks are far less effective. RNA vaccines were in development for 30 years and the I doubt that literally every country on the planet, from Austria to Zambia, agreed to screw themselves. I still remember when people in nothern Italy were dying in droves because the emergency rooms were full. And being in a country with quite a bit of redistribution, it's nice. The countries who always score highest in happiness indexes are the ones with the highest amount of redistribution. Ok, Jammer. I was very brief.

    I don't think anyone else has mentioned the strange shuttle with the very cramped seating and the solid wall with no door directly behind them cutting off access to the rest of the shuttle.

    I didn't think this deserved one star, but it wasn't a high ranking episode, that's for sure. It was entertaining though.

    It strikes me as odd that, in a universe with transport technology, the Ventaxians didn't just shoot her on the spot when she first appeared and then asked questions later. Or Worf for that matter, as he was there in that first moment. So what if she can teleport, create earthquakes and make herself look like other people? She is causing damage to a planet and is a security threat. If she bowls over from being shot then clearly she isn't some god.

    Why they just let her parade around with her chit-chattering is beyond me. Even on the bridge of the Enterprise where she appears in the Captain's chair, why did Worf even bother trying to walk up to her? JUST SHOOT HER. If she disappears to recover and then reappears, SHOOT HER AGAIN.

    For me that was the most frustrating part of the episode. They took no serious measures to stop her, they just entertained the mythology. Like seriously... transport her to a holding cell with a level 10 containment field. She won't be going anywhere.

    The Ventaxians are stupid but I don't buy that the Enterprise crew would just allow this charade to go on and on without trying more interventions. Furthermore, why use the court system of such a stupid people in order to try and save the stupid people from their stupid selves? You're in the Federation flag ship, just cut right through the BS.

    This episode is crap like the 80% of TOS and every single Gene Roddenberry's fancy and campy ideas about the future.

    The powerful galaxy-class Enterprise can't detect transporter beams, cloaking devices (superior than the ones of romulans?) and communications from the implant in the fake Ardra and her starship? No one tried to vaporize her with phasers... Does she have a technology superior to the Borgs? A mere "con artist" (known in many systems, the laughs...) like the pretending Ardra shouldn't have access to a technology capable of surpassing the Enterprise and even able to deceive experienced officers of the Starfleet.

    This episode doesn't simply make any sense and contradicts anything of the "90's Trek" after Gene Roddenberry died. The pretending Ardra is just one of those boring quasi-omnipontent aliens seen too much often in TOS, like the talosians and the Metrons. With technology of that level she wouldb

    With technology of that level she wouldn't be a mere "con artist" known in many systems, but a first class menace for all the beta (?) quadrant, chased to death by the Klingon Empire and every other big interstellar civilizations out there in the Star Trek universe...

    I really would like to ask, in the AVGN way: "WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?"

    But not to the ones that wrote this stupid episode meant for the silly Star Trek Phase II. To the ones that thought to recycle this crap for TNG.

    Just rewatched the episode.

    Minute 18:12. Captain Picard enters the bridge and sees Ardra sitting on his chair.

    "Red Alarm! Shields up!" says Picard. He reacts as such all the time when he sees strange aliens like Q, so it does that this time too.

    "Commander Worf! Remove the lady from my chair and escort her to the security cell!" shouts Picard. Worf performs, the security cell is surrounded by a very common force field able to stops teleports, communications and phasers. Data is recalled to the Enterprise (he doesn't need to much time to photograph with his mind some ancient documents, after all). Ventaxians are left to their destiny: no Ardra, no further problems for them.

    Scanning the surroundings of planet Ventax II more accurately, Geordie La Forge discovers Ardra starship. A crew from the Enterprise finds a way to disable it and tractor beams it to the nearest Federation starbase. Ardra is judged and sent to the Federation jails for her many crimes, all well documented because she's a "notorious con artist".

    End of the episode.

    I kinda like this one, in fact just rewatched it, strangely just after watching Patrick Stewart in 'a Christmas carol' TV movie from 1999. I'd forgotten the Christmas Carol themed start of the episode so that was rather bizarre. I found myself noting in the TV movie many mannerisms of Patrick Stewart, which he also does in TNG, expecting him at any moment to say 'engage' whilst the ghost of Xmas past was winding him up. Arda is great, she IS the episode.

    I have always found this episode just a fun diversion, if you don't expect it to be anything more. Yeah, she's definitely able to do far too much with her "cheap knockoffs" of Romulan technology. If the real Romulans could do half of what she does in this episode, they'd have defeated the Federation long ago. I really think the fun story might have worked better if she had been an alien with a bunch of special powers (but far more limited powers than Q) who had a magician's knack for making it seem like more than it was and a con artist's knack for fitting it into the local mythology.

    As for what she was hoping to accomplish, well, I found myself thinking of Harry Mudd (not when he was using the Venus drug to make women bedazzle rich lonely men, but when he was on the android planet). If this con had worked out for her, she might never have needed to pull off another con job again, just keep this one going for the rest of her life as she ruled a planet.

    For aficionados of a theorized "subtext" between Q and Picard, I note that Ardra's back and forth with Picard is a lot like Q and Picard dialogue.

    Very fun and light episode. Not every week needed to be ultra deep philosphical musings. I do find it mildly amusing that the religious and anti-religious both get similarly triggered depending on how religion is portrayed in a particular episode. No matter our beliefs, we're all much more alike than we want to admit.

    Why don't they just SHOOT HER? She is breaking so many laws. Just pull a phaser on her and be done with it!

    Wow. Some of the comments for this one are just...out there. Especially the one from the so-called atheist and his anti-vax/anti-mask/red hat chirping. Whatever.

    I've always liked this one in part because of the knock at superstitious belief in "contracts" (read: texts or books) that supposedly come right from deities themselves, and the ill effects they have on the gullible.

    But mostly I just really like Marta DuBois's performance as Ardra. I wish they'd found a way to bring her back.

    Agreed that Marta Dubois was a lot of irreverent fun, and would have been enjoyable in a return. Gone far too young.

    Also, Picard's behavior perfectly follows the reference to Ebenezer Scrooge, and is a complete 180 from what Kirk's response would have been. Never met a tail he wouldn't chase.

    "Also, Picard's behavior perfectly follows the reference to Ebenezer Scrooge, and is a complete 180 from what Kirk's response would have been. Never met a tail he wouldn't chase."

    Well, Picard is often obstinate in the face of a challenger like this, choosing confrontation, whereas Kirk was often game to play along or even cozy up to someone (like in Conscience of the King) in order to get closer to seeing their hand. And yes, Kirk was not afraid to entertain the fancy for the ladies, but often did it as a strategic (if enjoyable) maneuver. Kirk might well have allowed Ardra to seduce him, but only to play her better than she was trying to play him.

    "And yes, Kirk was not afraid to entertain the fancy for the ladies, but often did it as a strategic (if enjoyable) maneuver." Are you sure that Kirk did that? (Sorry, I know very little about TOS) That sounds really really bad. Manipulating women like this would be highly unethical and borderline psychotic.

    @ Booming,

    I'm not sure what your point is. Are you suggesting that manipulating people is out of the question when they are trying to destroy you or commit other crimes?

    Oh, I see. If he only seduced genocidal monsters and hardened criminals, and if he only did that to stop them, then I guess that's alright.

    Oh, I see. If he only seduced genocidal monsters and hardened criminals, and if he only did that to stop them, then I guess that's alright."

    Do alien technicolored octopus invaders count?

    On the Kirk seducing genocidal criminals topic,


    It is kind of a shame that despite featuring Cumberbatch late from the highly slashy Sherlock and being written near the peak of the tumblr era that Kirk didn't try to seduce Khan in STID.

    (Continued STID spoilers:)

    (If one pointed out "that would be out of character for the Kirk of TOS and STI-7," I'd suggest in response that the horse had already left the barn on that in the first Abrams movie. Might as well have some fun with it.)

    That’s a creative idea! I don’t think Abrams was daring enough to chance making Kirk come off as bisexual, even assuming Cumberpatch was game for it. Oddly, his portrayal of Khan eliminates all the animal magnetism of the original Khan from Space Seed.

    Incidentally, Lower Decks’ lead, who is written to have the sexual charisma of Kirk, has had a homosexual relationship. I wouldn’t put it past her character to seduce a woman to further a Starfleet mission.

    It is generally frowned upon when somebody gaslights people into believing that he loves or at least really cares for them, when he is actually only doing it for sexual gratification and personal benefits/furthering political goals. This trope was far more accepted in media 60 years ago. James Bond did it often several times in every movie. Meet, sex, exploiting, death was the normal "romantic" relationship with Bond. Of course, it was always portrayed in a way that made the gaslighting of these women look justified which is really insidious. You seemed to suggest that Kirk acted in a similar manner towards women/aliens with some kind of physical pleasure centers that can be penetrated or stimulated by Humans. Is Kirk a pansexual predator?

    "Do alien technicolored octopus invaders count? "
    You have to go case by case. ;)
    Seriously though, here is a good explainer about the difficulties understanding intent and meaning from the film arrival. I just love the scene in which she explains how incredibly complicated it is to even ask a simple question when interacting with a truly alien species. Portraying that was never Treks strong suit.


    It seems you’re ignoring the context of Kirk’s weaponized sexy times. The power dynamic between two people is a factor in the ethics/morality of the gaslighting that you’re referring to. If Kirk used his position as captain to bang a subordinate, then you’d be correct. But if Kirk used his barrel chested sexuality to free his ship from super-speed hostage takers or body snatching squid monsters, then I’d say it’s fair game.

    I would also argue just because the trope was more acceptable 60 years ago doesn't mean we can't enjoy it now in its historic context. Watching TOS is like watching a slice right out of the 1960s with a retro future vibe.

    And indeed the writers toned Kirk down over time. Kirk's romance with with Gillian Taylor in "The Voyage Home" feels more like a duet of equals. Gillian throws Kirk for a couple loops and he doesn't even get to sleep with her.

    Booming: "You seemed to suggest that Kirk acted in a similar manner towards women/aliens with some kind of physical pleasure centers that can be penetrated or stimulated by Humans. Is Kirk a pansexual predator?"

    What music would be appropriate for an intergalactic, alien booty-tapper like Kirk? Perhaps a mix of Lil Wayne and Tim Hecker?

    @Chrome, thanks. Interesting about Lower Decks.

    In general I think it is not worth criticizing Kirk himself for seducing captors or despots as a tactic. I think it is legitimate to criticize the trope as a lazy device, and by giving Kirk an out for female (and ONLY female) adversaries limits other more interesting and truthful story options. I think it sometimes works OK, as with The Conscience of the King.

    Don't worry guys. I'm not starting #CancelKirk. :)
    Enjoy your TOS.

    I was just a little confused because I only know movie Kirk and there he seemed alright. Well, there is that thing with the shapeshifter in VI. Even though she (??) initiated it with evil intent. So I guess that is fine.

    Peter just made it seem like Kirk was always on the lookout to manipulate aliens into a romantic relationship to gain an advantage. Oh and to satisfy his dark, perverted and disgusting sexual desires. ;)

    @Chrome @William B

    I think we'd agree that Kirk is one of the greatest fictional characters of all time in television and that results from infinitely more good writing for the character than bad. What the character represents has been widely discussed -- being a kind of balance between the logic of Spock and emotion of McCoy. His love for the Enterprise and duty to the Federation supersedes all else and that includes any cavorting with females. The only time I can think of where the character was poorly written was in "Requiem for Methuselah" where I felt Kirk threw himself at Rayna far too quickly. But in every other instance that comes to mind, how he handled women had the benefit of the Enterprise primary. Kirk represents the classic male lead -- and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    But I can see that with how Trek is run today, there can be this idea of presentism, not to mention wokeism, that would lead to some disingenuous opinions that Kirk has some other motives as primary in mind in his interactions with females (alien or not). I don't buy that (other than in the previous example I cited). Like could we (for example) really take seriously an opinion that the original Star Wars cast lacked diversity? Give me a break.

    So I'm not sure story options are limited. I would definitely hope nu-Trek doesn't blaspheme Kirk by making him anything other than heterosexual. I bet the powers that be with nu-Trek are already massively uncomfortable with having a straight white male in Pike in a position of authority -- hence they have to show him cooking all the time and taking orders from Uhura. I don't think that is the kind of story option (for example) that anybody would want to see befall Kirk on SNW.

    "I would definitely hope nu-Trek doesn't blaspheme Kirk by making him anything other than heterosexual."

    @ Booming.

    "It is generally frowned upon when somebody gaslights people into believing that he loves or at least really cares for them, when he is actually only doing it for sexual gratification and personal benefits/furthering political goals."

    Now what have we been taught about using the passive voice ;)

    It was a pleasant enough way to pass an hour. A few chuckles. Spiner as the arbitrator was fun.


    I always enjoyed this episode and Ardra's character. It would have been fun to see her again in a future episode. There's something very entertaining about watching Picard deal with charismatic characters like Ardra, Lwaxana, and Q. Watching this time around I kept thinking how fun it would be to have seen Joan Collins make an appearance on TNG as another light nemesis for Picard to play off of. She really nailed her antagonistic Alexis character in Dynasty, and it would have been a departure from her Edith Keeler character from TOS.

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