Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 2/4/1991
Teleplay by Philip Lazebnik
Story by Philip Lazebnik and William Douglas Lansford
Directed by Tom Benko
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
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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136 comments on this post
Fri, Mar 7, 2008, 8:37pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Aug 11, 2009, 9:19pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 5, 2010, 12:12am (UTC -5)
Cant wait tbh.
Tue, Sep 7, 2010, 11:24pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 27, 2011, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Aug 2, 2011, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 18, 2012, 11:51am (UTC -5)
I didn't like this episode, it was rather lame and bad written. Especially the scene with the disappearing of the Enterprise...
Fri, Dec 21, 2012, 1:53am (UTC -5)
* 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.
Mon, Feb 4, 2013, 11:18am (UTC -5)
Oh well, as long as you praised Daybreak and its religious nonsense...
Nice site btw.
Tue, Feb 5, 2013, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
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).
Wed, Feb 6, 2013, 4:12pm (UTC -5)
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...
Thu, Feb 14, 2013, 10:15am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 15, 2013, 4:28am (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 17, 2013, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 3:38am (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 5, 2013, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 20, 2013, 9:37am (UTC -5)
@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.
Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 6:35am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Dec 1, 2013, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Dec 29, 2013, 9:31am (UTC -5)
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."
Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 9:25pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Apr 15, 2014, 11:35am (UTC -5)
"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.
Tue, Apr 22, 2014, 3:12am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, May 11, 2014, 11:18pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, May 12, 2014, 2:33am (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 25, 2014, 4:25pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Jun 26, 2014, 1:51am (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Jun 26, 2014, 1:55am (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 9, 2014, 10:46am (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 30, 2014, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
I can see that it may have been more appropriate in TOS than in TNG, but still: good stuff.
Thu, Jan 1, 2015, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Mar 9, 2015, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Mar 11, 2015, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Mar 11, 2015, 11:12pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Apr 17, 2015, 8:33am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 3, 2015, 8:34am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Jul 5, 2015, 9:34pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Jul 9, 2015, 11:27pm (UTC -5)
"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.
Fri, Jul 10, 2015, 1:58am (UTC -5)
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).
Fri, Jul 10, 2015, 11:16am (UTC -5)
"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"?).
Thu, Sep 10, 2015, 6:12am (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 10, 2015, 10:20am (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Sep 10, 2015, 11:21am (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 13, 2015, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Sep 14, 2015, 1:08am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Sep 14, 2015, 1:13am (UTC -5)
Wed, Sep 23, 2015, 3:54am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, May 14, 2016, 9:43am (UTC -5)
The episode was trivial but cute. The actress who played Ardra carried the show - she was delightful.
Sun, Aug 14, 2016, 8:17am (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Nov 1, 2016, 8:27am (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 11, 2016, 9:40am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 14, 2017, 12:21am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 15, 2017, 2:48pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 9:21am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 10:22am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 10:38am (UTC -5)
"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!"
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 10:57am (UTC -5)
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 :)
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 11:25am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 11:30am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 11:34am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 11:40am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 11:43am (UTC -5)
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. :)
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 11:47am (UTC -5)
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?
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 11:50am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 12:03pm (UTC -5)
"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.
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 6:38pm (UTC -5)
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
Fri, Mar 3, 2017, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Mar 16, 2017, 2:35am (UTC -5)
>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.
Fri, May 19, 2017, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, May 19, 2017, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
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?
Sun, Jun 18, 2017, 6:33pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Aug 1, 2017, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Aug 2, 2017, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Nov 29, 2017, 10:02am (UTC -5)
I'd give it a 2-2.5 stars rating.
Tue, Feb 13, 2018, 10:55pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Mar 23, 2018, 5:15pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 8:58am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 10:59am (UTC -5)
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 things...it just means that bad people are bad.
Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 3:49pm (UTC -5)
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
Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
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!"
Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 5:25pm (UTC -5)
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
Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 10:43pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 11:12pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 6:15am (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 6:45am (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 8:30am (UTC -5)
The story never goes into whether the original legend is true or not, and I think your analysis misses that critical point.
Fri, Apr 20, 2018, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
"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. :-)
Fri, Apr 20, 2018, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
What?? In Seattle? Are you sure it wasn't preempted for baseball or something?
Sat, Apr 21, 2018, 10:21am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, May 6, 2018, 11:07pm (UTC -5)
Sun, May 20, 2018, 3:23am (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Jun 19, 2018, 10:07pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Jun 20, 2018, 10:37am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Jun 20, 2018, 10:50am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 20, 2018, 11:24am (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Jul 24, 2018, 4:04am (UTC -5)
1 star is very harsh. 3-3.5 stars every time.
Sat, Oct 6, 2018, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Nov 15, 2018, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 3, 2018, 7:19pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 8, 2019, 10:28am (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Apr 16, 2019, 9:39am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Dec 25, 2019, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
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.
And since in my part of the world it's still the 25th, Merry Christmas, Trekeroonis. Live long and get great gifts.
Tue, Mar 31, 2020, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
Also, does anyone else think that the "devil" costume was INTENTIONALLY cheesy and comical?
Tue, Mar 31, 2020, 11:47pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 17, 2020, 9:44am (UTC -5)
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.)
Sat, Jun 20, 2020, 1:02am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Jun 20, 2020, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Aug 26, 2020, 8:34pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 27, 2020, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 5, 2021, 2:13am (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 24, 2021, 6:26am (UTC -5)
Mon, May 10, 2021, 5:49am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 1, 2021, 8:39pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 12, 2021, 7:36pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 19, 2021, 2:25am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Aug 29, 2021, 2:22am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Oct 17, 2021, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
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 fun...no reason to panic.
Liked seeing actor Paul Lambert...as the scientist; as a young man he was a forceful presence in several episodes of the old Perry Mason series.
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 8:09am (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 15, 2022, 7:21pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 14, 2022, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 29, 2022, 10:39am (UTC -5)
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.)
Fri, Apr 29, 2022, 11:17am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 22, 2022, 12:16pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 8, 2022, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Nov 12, 2022, 3:34am (UTC -5)
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
Sat, Nov 12, 2022, 3:37am (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 12, 2022, 3:42am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Nov 12, 2022, 6:43am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Dec 21, 2022, 1:58am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 28, 2023, 4:38pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Apr 15, 2023, 10:50pm (UTC -5)
Wed, May 17, 2023, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
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