Star Trek Canon Database

Displaying 51 to 100 of 157 records.

Database started: 1999-07-27
Page generated: 2014-11-27

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TNG Season 3, Ep# 51: "Survivors"

TROI: Captain, there are eleven thousand inhabitants in the colony. At this range I should be feeling something.... I'm not.

...

DATA: Sensors are scanning ninety degrees of longitude as we orbit. I am detecting no artificial structures, no vegetation, no bodies of water...

WORF: Lifeform readings are negative.

TROI: Could the colonists have escaped?

DATA: That is unlikely. Rana Four possessed no interstellar spacecraft.

Culture: more evidence of the deplorable manner in which starships are restricted to government and military use in the Federation. No one in the entire colony of Rana Four possessed an interstellar spacecraft, not even a runabout. All 11,000 people were essentially marooned, so they all died.

TNG Season 3, Ep# 52: "Who Watches the Watchers"

BEVERLY: Before you start quoting the Prime Directive -- he'd already seen us; the damage was done. It was bring him aboard or let him die.

PICARD: Then why didn't you let him die?

BEVERLY: Because we were responsible for his injuries!

PICARD: I don't know if I concur with that reasoning, Doctor. But now that he's here, you must remove all memory of his encounter with the away team.

BEVERLY: By erasing short-term recall?

PICARD: It's been accomplished before.

BEVERLY: Yes, I'm familiar with Doctor Pulaski's technique. Though I can't guarantee it will be effective on Mintakan brain chemistry --

(Liko awakens and sees Picard, but Dr. Crusher administers a tranquilizer)

PICARD: Doctor, your next task is clear.

...

(on the surface, Troi and Riker overhear Liko talking about "the Picard")

TROI: His memory is intact.

RIKER: The procedure didn't work.

Culture: it sounds like Doctor Pulaski actually invented the technique she used in "Pen Pals". That would mean she was experimenting on Sarjenka when she used it (we know she was experimenting already, since she had no foreknowledge of the biochemistry of Drema 4's inhabitants and it was therefore a gamble in any case).

Notice how readily they are willing to use untested neurological treatments on alien life forms about which Dr. Crusher admits they have no medical knowledge. On Liko, it simply didn't work. But what if it had killed him? Picard's position is clear: blindly follow the Prime Directive no matter where it may lead.

But Dr. Crusher administers a procedure which is completely untested, on a life form with which she is completely unfamiliar. This is a staggering risk to be taking; apparently, the Hippocratic Oath is subordinate to the Prime Directive in the 24th century.

TNG Season 3, Ep# 53: "The Bonding"

PICARD: I've always believed that carrying children on a starship... it's a questionable policy. Serving on a starship means accepting certain risks and dangers. But did Jeremy Aster make that choice?

TROI: Death and loss are an integral part of life everywhere. Leaving the boy on Earth would not have protected him from that.

PICARD: No, but Earth is not likely to be ordered to the Neutral Zone to repel a Romulan attack...

Culture: Picard understands why it's foolish to drag children along with the crew into dangerous situations. But why doesn't he separate the saucer before heading into danger?

TNG Season 3, Ep# 56: "The Price"

RIKER: Our proposal includes technology that will enhance your food production, your mining capabilities, and space travel. We offer scholars and scientists to investigate the wormhole's potential. And perhaps most critical of all, we offer Starfleet. The security of this passage must never be compromised. We offer protection of the wormhole in perpetuity.

Culture: the Federation makes its offer for access to the wormhole. As you might expect from a communist society, they primarily offer technology and military support (later, they will try to add some minerals to the offer), rather than economic incentives or the usual under-the-table bribes.

TNG Season 3, Ep# 56: "The Price"

(Troi walks in, having last been seen curling up in bed with Devinoni Ral)

BEVERLY: You're unusually "limber" this morning.

TROI: I'll say.

BEVERLY: Uh huh... ?

TROI: Devinoni Ral ... it's ridiculous. And wonderful. I feel... completely out of control. Happy. Terrified. There's nothing rational about this.

BEVERLY: Who needs rational when your toes curl up... ?

TROI: I'm afraid I'm going to lose myself... I can't get enough of him. Is it possible to fall in love in one day?

BEVERLY: I did.

TROI: It was like this for you and Jack?

BEVERLY: No, it was another fellow. Fell in love in a day. It lasted a week. But what a week.

Culture: this annoying "girl talk" gives us a glimpse into the state of sexual mores in the 24th century. You may find this refreshing or disturbing, depending on your own attitudes toward sexual promiscuity.

TNG Season 3, Ep# 59: "The Hunted"

PICARD VO: Captain's log, Stardate 43489.2. We have arrived at Angosia, a planet that is eager for membership in the Federation.

...

PICARD: I'm greatly impressed with what I've seen so far, Prime Minister.

NAYROK: Then I hope it will reflect favorably in your report, Captain.

RIKER: It's a tribute to your people to have recovered so rapidly from the Tarsian War.

NAYROK: It is indeed. We are not warriors. We believe reason can settle disputes. But not every culture agrees with our position.

PICARD: An unfortunate reality.

Culture: an example of a planet vying for Federation membership, along with an indication of why these independent planet-states might want to join.

It's no secret that there are numerous hostile forces in the Federation's region of the galaxy, and in the case of Angosia, they had just suffered through something called the "Tarsian War". The Federation's policy of non-interference means that they won't come to their aid if they become embroiled in another war, unless ... (drum roll please) ... they join the Federation.

In this respect, the Prime Directive serves an ulterior motive in that it provides a non-economic incentive for planet-states to join the Federation. A planet-state under threat from a superior foe is faced with the choice of either joining the racist Klingon or Romulan empires and effectively becoming slaves, or joining the Federation and modifying their culture to suit Federation expectations.

TNG Season 3, Ep# 59: "The Hunted"

SCREENPLAY: Roga continues walking through the tube. He reaches an intersection where many wave guides and conduits come together. Roga takes one of the two phasers he's carrying, opens it, adjusts it. We hear the faint first stage of a phaser overload whine. Roga jams the phaser into the mass of conduit and continues his walk.

...

DATA: Explosion in Jefferies Tube section T-nine-five. All external sensors are inoperative.

RIKER: Go to backup systems.

DATA: Unable to transfer control ...

Culture: the extreme level of standardization in the Star Trek world is highlighted here. Despite a lack of training or access to the ship's computer files, Roga Danar knows exactly where to hit the ship. He knows how to get around, and how to operate all of the technology, even going so far as to jury-rig a cargo bay transporter with a phaser as a battery (later in this episode).

Ted Collins notes that this suggests high porosity in the Federation's security. Even though interfaces and general operating characteristics of starship technology are fairly standardized across the quadrant (a fact seen in many incidents besides this one), it still shouldn't be possible for Roga Danar to know the layout of sensitive circuits on the ship. Therefore, it would appear that he must have learned about the ship's layout from some other source, probably long before he boarded the ship. If such detailed technical data regarding the USS Enterprise is easily obtained on non-aligned planets such as Angosia, then the Federation must be incapable of controlling sensitive military information.

TNG Season 3, Ep# 60: "The High Ground"

PICARD VO: Captain's log, Stardate 43510.7. The Enterprise has put in at Rutia Four to deliver medical supplies following an outbreak of violent protests. Although non-aligned, the planet has enjoyed a long trading relationship with the Federation.

Culture: the Federation engages in trade with non-aligned worlds without looking too deeply at their internal affairs. This isn't particularly surprising; both the Soviet Union and the United States did this during the Cold War, and both Russia and the United States continue to do it today.

However, given the Federation's incessant claims of moral superiority over its 20th century predecessors, this is still quite interesting.

TNG Season 3, Ep# 60: "The High Ground"

ALEXANA: Perhaps if we found ourselves in possession of some of that advanced Federation weaponry of yours it would shift the balance of power back to our favor.

PICARD: That we cannot do for you.

ALEXANA: No, of course not.

Culture: the Federation refuses to sell advanced weapons technology to non-aligned worlds. That in itself is not surprising or objectionable, but one must ask why Rutia couldn't purchase those weapons from the Ferengi.

One could spin around for a while trying to invent explanations, but the most straightforward theory is that the Ferengi in "The Last Outpost" was telling the truth: the Federation obstructs trade, even between third parties. Small wonder that there's hostility between the Ferengi and the Federation.

TNG Season 3, Ep# 60: "The High Ground"

BEVERLY: How can you have such a casual attitude toward killing?

FINN: I take my killing very seriously, Doctor. You are an idealist...

BEVERLY: I live in an ideal culture ... there is no need for your kind of violence... we've proven that.

Culture: Beverly refers to her culture as "ideal". I had no idea that there was a such thing as an "ideal" culture. What strikes one person as "ideal" may strike another as hell on Earth, and vice versa. The fact that Federation citizens are almost unanimous in their praise of their own culture is compelling evidence that true cultural diversity is almost nonexistent.

TNG Season 3, Ep# 60: "The High Ground"

FINN: Captain, there's a lot to admire in the Federation, but there's a hint of moral cowardice in your dealings with non-aligned planets. You do business with a government that's crushing us. And then you say you aren't involved. But of course you are. You just don't want to get dirty.

Culture: Finn sees clearly what many Trekkies do not: the Federation's high-minded Prime Directive is just a euphemism for moral cowardice. They deal with governments and turn a blind eye to their domestic issues.

Real-life governments do this as well (many world governments deal with China despite its horrific human rights abuse record), but they don't claim it as some sort of morally superior position! It's obvious to everyone that it's a simple matter of Machiavellian expediency and economic incentive, not morality.

If a politician tried to claim that it would be "immoral" to interfere in the internal affairs of China regardless of its human rights record, he would be laughed out of office. But when a Federation starship captain says the same thing on TV, it's lauded as proof of Star Trek's "depth".

TNG Season 3, Ep# 66: "Allegiance"

PICARD: You're a Bolian. There are very few Bolians in Starfleet.

HARO: I am one of three in the Academy. The other two have academic records much better than mine.

Culture: like every other Federation minority species but the Vulcans, the Bolians suffer from under-representation in Starfleet. The Vulcans appear to enjoy special status because of their history as the first alien species to contact Earth.

TNG Season 3, Ep# 66: "Allegiance"

PICARD: I found it unlikely that a first-year cadet would know of the Enterprise's visit to Mintaka Three... so I tested you. Starfleet has classified the Cor Caroli Five plague "secret." No cadet would have knowledge of the incident.

Culture: Starfleet is able to suppress all public knowledge of the plague on Cor Caroli Five. This is astounding; can you imagine if a plague affected an entire city in America and the government was somehow able to keep it a secret? This incident hints at even tighter government control over communications than I had previously suspected.

TNG Season 3, Ep# 74: "Best of Both Worlds Part 1"

SHELBY: There's one other recommendation I'd like to make, Commander. Separate the saucer section ... assign a skeleton crew to create a diversion.

RIKER: We may need power from the saucer impulse engines.

SHELBY: But it would give them more than one target to worry about.

RIKER: No, it's too great a risk.

...

PICARD: Yes, I entirely agree with you. It's not the time. But I am afraid the time may eventually come when greater risks are required. I'd like you to consider her plan as a fall-back position and make the necessary preparations.

Culture: according to Riker and Picard in this scene, the designers of the Galaxy class starship actually designed it in such a manner that it needed its civilian-inhabited saucer section for maximum combat effectiveness!

The fact that the Galaxy-class starship is actually weaker without its saucer section seems to bear out speculation that the Federation deliberately puts its civilians in harm's way, possibly to ensure loyalty (if the crew fails, their families die). Mind you, this also creates certain conflicts of interest (when the ship takes damage, do you worry about your station or do you check on your family), but the Federation may have believed the former would outweigh the latter.

Logan Gish points out that when viewed in this light, the Galaxy-class starship class seems more like a ruthless social engineering project than a legitimate military imperative. It is not surprising that its abysmal combat record caused a return to more traditional warships, particularly once the Dominion War started and the Federation had a legitimate external threat upon which to focus its citizens' attention (not to mention a dangerous enemy against which military efficiency became more important than social engineering experiments). Galaxy class ships were heavily deployed in the Dominion War without civilians on board (according to the non-canon DS9 TM, they didn't even have time to finish their accomodations), yet they still built and attached the saucer sections, thus further demonstrating that they are an integral part of the ship's combat role even though they normally house civilians.

TNG Season 4, Ep# 76: "Suddenly Human"

RIKER: Our position has not changed. We are returning him to Starfleet.

ENDAR: I regret your stubbornness. Much will be lost.

...

PICARD: Jono will return home -- to the only home he has ever known. To the father that he loves. To you, Endar.

Culture: Captain Picard can singlehandedly decide whether Jono, after being kidnapped by the Talarians as a child, should be returned to his adopted parents or his natural grandmother? Custody cases involving child abductions are a thorny issue at best, but since when does a starship captain get to make that decision on his own? The concentration of Federation power in military hands is even greater than I thought.

TNG Season 4, Ep# 77: "Brothers"

RIKER: Are you familiar with the condition upon which I agreed to allow you two boys to remain on the Enterprise when your parents went on sabbatical?

Culture: it's bad enough that families of Starfleet officers are housed on board a warship and routinely carted into deadly situations, but now we learn that the ship functions as a day-care for officers who aren't even there! What sort of parents would take a vacation and leave their kids on a ship which might be in the Romulan Neutral Zone or a border skirmish with the Cardassians on any given day of the week?

The motivation of the average Starfleet officer is confusing to me. From what I know of real-life soldiers, they are motivated by their desire to protect their friends, families, and homelands (or to pay for their college tuitions). Therefore, having one's family on board a warship strikes me as a mistake of enormous proportions because it dilutes his attention and motivations. When his family is at home, his entire attention can be focused on the task at hand. Anything the soldier does to stop the enemy will help protect his family.

But when that family is on board, an immediate conflict of interest arises. Now, his devotion to duty might actually harm his family. What if the ship is under attack? How can an officer concentrate if his wife and children are on board? What if the ship has taken a hit? Won't the thought cross his mind that they might be trapped in some burning, damaged part of the ship, calling out his name? I may not be an expert on military psychology, but I can't imagine that a distraction of that nature would be good in combat.

Of course, an exceptionally strong devotion to the state might weaken the importance of this potential conflict of interest, so that's one possible explanation. Another possible explanation is that they're simply idiots. That might help explain why the E-D tended to lose so many vital functions so quickly in combat, because damage control efforts were delayed while officers checked on their loved ones to make sure they were safe :)

TNG Season 4, Ep# 77: "Brothers"

SOONG: And what's so important about the past? People needed money, they got sick. Why tie yourself to that?

Culture: Dr. Soong repeats the incessant Federation propagandistic lie that they have overcome disease and the need for money. People still die of disease in the Federation, and money is a necessary method of quantifying work and resources even in a communist society. Doesn't the word "rubles" sound familiar to anyone?

TNG Season 4, Ep# 78: "Family"

PICARD: Leave it to Robert to find the best chef in France and marry her.

ROBERT: Cooking is becoming a lost art, thanks to your technology .

MARIE: Robert and I have had more than a few discussions about getting a replicator in the house.

PICARD: I can remember the same "discussions" between mother and father.

ROBERT: He understood the threat of losing what is precious to us.

Culture: replicators have apparently become so widespread on Earth that it is considered unusual for people to cook. Home cooking and family restaurants must therefore be something of a rarity.

TNG Season 4, Ep# 78: "Family"

(looking out over the vineyards)

LOUIS: One man's idea of paradise.

PICARD: Two men. Robert's. And my father's.

LOUIS: Never did I know anyone less interested in grapes than you, Jean-Luc.

PICARD: No, I was interested, Louis. And I was proud that my family helped to preserve the traditions. But I did not feel bound by those traditions as they seemed to be.

Culture: not once in the entire episode do we hear talk of sales, but we do hear of traditions. It seems as if the Picard family vineyard exists simply to provide scenery for the local community.

This isn't unprecedented in real life. In certain European countries, some farms are deliberately maintained despite economic unviability strictly for reasons of aesthetics, so that tourists will see the quaint "old world" agrarian lifestyles they've read about in books. Similarly, Björn Paulsen points out that the Inuits in Greenland are subsidized by the government for cultural reasons (in order to preserve "their way of life"), even though it makes no economic sense to do so.

If you watch this episode you may notice that their agricultural techniques are strictly primitive: everything is done by hand, as it was done centuries ago. This contradicts the common Trekkie argument that the Picard farm is proof of capitalism in the Federation, since a capitalist farm would be much more profitable using modern technology (never mind the advanced technology they would presumably have in four centuries).

At best, this would be analogous to modern "throwback" farms such as the Amish and Orthodox Mennonite farms, which deliberately conduct their affairs in a primitive manner. Of course, both of those religious sects preach that money is the root of all evil, so a distinct resemblance hardly makes the Federation look like a free-market society ...

TNG Season 4, Ep# 79: "Remember Me"

GEORDI: Wes, time for the experiment is over... I want my warp engines back. Now.

...

WESLEY: This is the static warp field we created inside the warp drive. The experiment was designed to see if we could keep a bubble like this intact.

GEORDI: As you'll see in a moment, we couldn't.

Culture: they are so reckless that they actually run unprecedented experiments on a fully-crewed vessel, with civilians on board. This could be interpreted as sheer stupidity, ignorance of all prudent engineering principles, or an unusually low concern for the welfare of the individual.

TNG Season 4, Ep# 80: "Legacy"

PICARD VO: Captain's log, supplemental. We are in orbit above Turkana Four, an Earth colony that severed relations with the Federation nearly fifteen years ago. I am concerned about sending an away team, but if we are to discover the fate of the two missing Federation crewmen, I see no alternative.

Culture: if Turkana 4 is typical, then the Federation provides defense against external threats but no assistance for internal turmoil for its members. When Turkana 4 fell into disarray due to internal strife, the response of the Federation government was apparently to leave the hapless government to its own devices, turning its back until the colony's government disintegrated completely, thus resulting in severed relations and loss of membership.

TNG Season 4, Ep# 82: "Future Imperfect"

(the away team transports down)

GEORDI: I'm detecting high levels of volcanic gases... sulphur dioxide, methane, hydrogen sulphide...

RIKER: Toxic?

GEORDI: We're okay for now... But I wouldn't want to spend my vacation here.

Culture: they trust their medical technology so implicitly that they actually beam down without environmental suits, even though they don't know whether the air is toxic yet. I can't help but think of the scene in "Galaxy Quest" where one of the characters tests the toxicity of air on an alien world by sniffing it and then muttering "seems OK". I laughed my ass off at that one.

TNG Season 4, Ep# 86: "The Wounded"

O'BRIEN: I can still remember the aromas when my mother was cooking...

KEIKO: She cooked?

O'BRIEN: She didn't believe in a replicator. She thought real food was more nutritious.

KEIKO (with mild distaste): She handled... real meat... touched it and cut it?

Culture: again, we hear that cooking is a rarity on Earth. We also learn that Keiko is repulsed by the idea of touching real meat. It is unknown whether she is unusual in this regard, but given some of the earlier comments from other officers about how meat-eating is inhumane, it seems probable.

It would be an understatement to say that these people are out of touch with nature. If you look at what passes for nature on 24th century Earth, it is clear that nature for them is something which must be climate-controlled, carefully landscaped, and cleansed of all violence or disruption. In short, they've taken the nature out of Nature.

Cycles of drought, torrential rainfall, wind and calm are a healthy part of the natural order. Even forest fires are natural, and beneficial for the forest over the long term. And in those forests, animals do kill one another, no matter how we may feel about it. The death of an animal for the sustenance of another is the natural order. The Federation's citizens are so insulated from nature that they've apparently forgotten this.

Needless to say, there are probably no hunters on Earth in the 24th century.

TNG Season 4, Ep# 95: "The Drumhead"

PICARD: Admiral Satie. Welcome to the Enterprise.

ADMIRAL SATIE: I am delighted to be here. I've managed to acquire my former staff... My aide, Sabin Genestra, from Betazed, and my assistant, Nellen Tore, from Delb Two.

Culture: the use of mind-readers for criminal investigations is officially sanctioned by Starfleet Command. Since the military justice system seems to have extended its purview to cover civilian life (as seen in "Doctor Bashir, I Presume") and take control of civilian property (such as Data, who was the creation of a civilian scientist and narrowly escaped being classified as non-sentient Starfleet property in "The Measure of a Man"), this would mean that the invasive practices of Starfleet law also affect civilian life. Again, this is not surprising given the communist nature of the Federation.

TNG Season 4, Ep# 95: "The Drumhead"

ADMIRAL SATIE: Captain Picard... do you believe in the Prime Directive?

PICARD: Of course.

ADMIRAL SATIE: In fact, it is Starfleet General Order Number One, isn't it?

PICARD: Your point, Admiral... ?

ADMIRAL SATIE: Would it surprise you to learn that you have violated the Prime Directive a total of nine times since you took command of the Enterprise? I must say, Captain, it surprised the hell out of me.

PICARD: My reports to Starfleet document the circumstances in each of those

instances --

Culture: the Prime Directive's broad application, universality, and stature have not faced legal challenge despite nearly a century of individually justifiable and unpunished violations of that directive (starting in Kirk's era, when he was known to "bend" that law on occasion).

If the Prime Directive cannot be universally applied, then it should be reworded so that it works. That would be a far preferable solution when compared to their current policy, which appears to be that it is written in stone and is the primary law of Starfleet, but violations are handled on a case by case basis and may not merit punishment.

Personally, I think the Prime Directive is far too absolute, and acts as a strait-jacket to prevent even the most benign humanitarian action for fear of being guilty of cultural contamination. It effectively throws the baby out with the bathwater. In fact, after watching a few too many Star Trek episodes, I would conclude that the litmus test of an ethical starship captain is that he has broken the Prime Directive at least once.

TNG Season 4, Ep# 96: "Half a Life"

PICARD VO: Captain's Log. Stardate 44805.7. For generations, the people of Kaelon Two have been working to revitalize their dying sun. The Federation has offered to assist in testing what may be a solution to this problem.

TIMICIN: The basic theories for helium fusion enhancement have been discussed for over a century, but there's been no method of practical application until now.

Culture: Picard explains that the Federation will assist Kaelon Two. Some Trekkies tend to assume that any planet featured in a Star Trek must be a Federation member planet unless it is explicitly stated to belong to some other organization. However, I would like to point out that this is invariably an unfounded assumption. Picard's personal log statements could describe a Federation world or a non-Federation world. In fact, it might more easily suit the idea that Kaelon Two is a non-Federation world (imagine an American naval captain saying "the United States has offered to assist New Jersey").

I bring this up because many Trekkies tend to erroneously draw cultural revelations about the Federation from worlds which have not yet been established to be Federation members (New Sydney is a good example of this problem, since it is explicitly described as a non-Federation world yet I have received dozens of pin-headed E-mails using its capitalist nature as disproof of my "Marxism in Star Trek" essay).

TNG Season 4, Ep# 97: "The Host"

PICARD: If you can arrange for the representatives of Alpha and Beta to be there, Ambassador Odan can beam directly to the planet.

ODAN: Excuse me, Captain... I would prefer to shuttle to the surface.

LEKA: I would not recommend it. There are many radical factions involved in this dispute. It would be difficult to guarantee your safety.

ODAN: I'm sure I'm not the first who has expressed discomfort with the idea of molecular transport. Thank you, but I much prefer to keep myself intact. I'll shuttle down.

Culture: Odan doesn't trust the transporter.

TNG Season 4, Ep# 100: "Redemption Part 1"

GOWRON: The family of Duras is massing support... they have many allies on the Council...

...

PICARD: Who speaks for his family now?

GOWRON: Lursa and B'Etor... the sisters of Duras.

PICARD: And they would claim leadership of the Council?

GOWRON: Women may not serve on the Council.

Culture: the Klingon Empire apparently practices sexism in its leadership politics. However, when Chancellor Gorkon was killed in ST6, his daughter was named to succeed him as sole ruler of the Klingon Empire. Their society has apparently undergone some sort of reactionary change between TOS and TNG (this reminds me of the resurgent radical fundamentalist movements that have drastically curtailed women's rights in some Middle Eastern nations).

TNG Season 4, Ep# 100: "Redemption Part 1"

GOWRON: The Duras family is gathering a large force near Beta Thoridar. As per the terms of the Treaty of Alliance, I now formally request your assistance in fighting these enemies of the Empire.

RIKER: These... enemies are Klingons.

GOWRON: By right and tradition, I am now the sole leader... all who oppose me... are traitors.

PICARD: I understand your position. However, you must be aware that the Federation will not become involved in what is, by definition, an internal Klingon matter.

Culture: what would our world look like if FDR had agreed with the Republicans that Hitler's unrelenting assault on his neighbours was "an internal European matter" and therefore none of his business? Picard is an idiot to believe so wholeheartedly in the primacy of the Prime Directive.

TNG Season 4, Ep# 100: "Redemption Part 1"

WORF: I was rescued from Khitomer by humans... raised and... loved by human parents. I have lived among humans for most of my life... fought at their sides. But I was born Klingon. My heart is of that world. I do hear the cry of the warrior ... I belong with my people.

Culture: more of Worf's race/culture nonsense. I was raised in Toronto. But my blood is from Taiwan. Hmmm ... the last time Taiwan was in a tense face-off with the military forces of Mainland China, I don't recall feeling any urge to board a plane and fight for "my people'. How strange.

I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that Worf was interested in Troi, because he needs a full-time therapist more than anybody else on board except for Barclay. My only question is why nobody seems to notice that he's nuts.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 101: "Redemption Part 2"

PICARD: There have been three major engagements in the last two weeks... all of them won by ships loyal to the Duras family.

ADMIRAL SHANTHI: None of which is our concern, Jean-Luc. The Klingon civil war is, by definition, an internal matter of the Empire.

Culture: Picard isn't the only one who subscribes blindly to Starfleet's Prime Directive dogma. The mentality reaches right up to the upper echelons of Starfleet Command.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 101: "Redemption Part 2"

DATA: Why have I not been assigned to command a ship in the fleet?

SCREENPLAY: Picard is caught off-guard and is quite frankly embarrassed.

PICARD: Well... I felt that you were needed here. (beat, then curious) Why do you ask?

DATA: You have commented on the lack of senior officers available for this mission. I believe that my twenty-six years of Starfleet service qualify me for such a post. (beat) However, if you do not believe the time has arrived for an android to command a starship, then perhaps I should address myself to improving---

PICARD: Commander... I believe the starship Sutherland will need a captain. I can think of no one more suited to the task than you.

...

DATA: You have taken the phaser and torpedo control units off-line.

HOBSON (ignoring him): Keith, you and I'll start bringing the coolant levels down in---

DATA: Mister Hobson, it is inappropriate for you to determine a course of action without consulting the commanding officer.

Culture: Roy Cowan points out that this incident highlights an anti-android sentiment in the Federation, which could be equated to a form of racism. Not only was Picard caught in a subconscious assumption that Data was unfit for command despite his rank and his decades of experience, but Data's second in command on the Sutherland was unapologetically defiant and insubordinate.

Of course, one cannot mention anti-android sentiment without mentioning that the entire episode "Measure of a Man" revolved around Data's fight to be recognized as a sentient being with rights, rather than a piece of property. And we must note that Data was not built by Starfleet! He was independently built by Soong on a remote colony, so even if one accepts the argument that Data is property rather than man, Starfleet had no property claim on him whatsoever (unless, of course, they do not recognize private property rights).

This problem was echoed later, when Data built his child Lal on his own time and without the knowledge or assistance of any other crewmembers, yet Lal was summarily declared Starfleet property anyway.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 103: "Ensign Ro"

PICARD VO: Captain's log, supplemental. I read about the achievements of the ancient Bajoran civilization in my fifth grade reader... they were architects and artists and builders and philosophers... when humans were not yet standing erect. Now I see how history has rewarded them...

Culture: Picard claims to be a student of history, but he considers the art of war a minor part of the mandate of Starfleet and the Federation. Even the scene before him fails to open his eyes to the truth that he should have learned from his study of Earth history: philosophy and art alone do not a successful civilization make. The ability to make war isn't the be-all and end-all of a society, but it is handy for making sure you don't end up as a footnote in the history books.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 103: "Ensign Ro"

PICARD: Do you know where we can find Orta?

KEEVE: I'm afraid not.

PICARD: Might you be able to help us locate him?

KEEVE: I'm sorry. I don't wish to help you.

KEEVE: Don't misunderstand. I for one believe the raid on the Federation outpost was poor judgment. You are innocent bystanders, and I cannot condone violence against those who are not our enemies.

PICARD: Then I don't understand why you are unwilling...

KEEVE: Because you are innocent bystanders ... you were innocent bystanders for decades as the Cardassians took our homes... as they violated and tortured our people in the most hideous ways imaginable... as we were forced to flee...

PICARD: We were saddened by those events... but they occurred within the designated borders of the Cardassian Empire...

KEEVE: ... and the Federation is pledged not to interfere in the internal affairs of others. How convenient it must be for you. To turn a deaf ear to those who suffer behind a line on a map.

Culture: Nuff said.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 103: "Ensign Ro"

RO: Admiral Kennelly came to me in prison... told me he'd arrange to get me out if I'd accept a mission.

PICARD: That part I know.

RO: Nossir. Not this mission. One for him and only him. You were being sent to talk, to negotiate... the Admiral knew that was hopeless... My job was to give Orta an incentive.

PICARD: What kind of incentive?

RO: One that you couldn't offer. That Starfleet couldn't offer. Orta was to end the terrorism against the Federation. Return with his people to the camps. In return he would get... weapons. Ships. Things that could really make a difference against the Cardassians in the future.

PICARD: I find that... almost impossible to believe. To suggest that Admiral Kennelly would consider sending weapons to terrorists.

RO: If you ask him, he will deny it. But it's true. I didn't leave the ship without authorization ... I received it last night from the Admiral.

PICARD: You have been in contact with Admiral Kennelly during this mission?

RO: Yessir. The subspace log can confirm that part of it at least.

PICARD: Arming these people would be a violation of all that the Federation stands for. You cannot be blind to that...

Culture: obviously, Captain Picard would be horrified to learn of a technologically advanced nation giving weapons to terrorists ... the way the United States supplied Afghan rebels against the Soviet military machine during the Cold War. Apathy is apparently the highest form of morality in the Federation.

Of course, one might argue that subsequent events in Afghanistan invalidate that intervention in hindsight, but the rise of Islamic reactionary thought in Afghanistan was a reaction to Soviet intervention. The problem was not an excess of US intervention, but the cessation of this intervention when the Soviets pulled out and the issue changed from "communism vs capitalism" to mere human rights violations. The Pakistan government began to intervene on behalf of the Taliban, and the US did nothing in response because communism was not on the rise, so they didn't care.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 104: "Silicon Avatar"

DOCTOR MARR: I don't understand. Why are we pursuing the Entity, if not to destroy it?

PICARD: We are not hunters, Doctor. Nor is it our role to exact revenge.

DOCTOR MARR: What do you propose? We track it down... greet it warmly... and ask if it would mind terribly not ravaging any more planets?

PICARD: I'm not denying that it might become necessary to fire on it. But that would be a last resort.

DOCTOR MARR: Why? Why not just kill it?

PICARD: I'm going to try to talk to it.

DOCTOR MARR: What?

PICARD: We know through our own experience that our shields will protect us from the Entity. As long as we are in no danger, I will make every effort to communicate.

DOCTOR MARR: To what end?

PICARD: If we can determine what its needs are, we might find other sources to supply it...

DOCTOR MARR: Its needs are to slaughter people by the thousands... it's nothing but a giant killing machine.

PICARD: The sperm whale on Earth devours millions of cuttlefish as it prowls the ocean. It is not evil... it is simply feeding. The same may well be true of the Crystalline Entity.

DOCTOR MARR: That would be small comfort to those who have died to feed it. We're not talking about cuttlefish ... we're talking about people.

PICARD: There are those, Doctor, who would argue that the Crystalline Entity has as much right to be here as we do.

Culture: Captain Picard seems to hold numerous moral and ethical principles in higher regard than the sanctity of human life.

Not only does the Prime Directive overrule any humanitarian concern that he should have for the suffering and death of the innocent, but his respect for non-human life leads him to seriously question whether he should eliminate a predator that feeds on humans!

He obviously doesn't understand the natural world. In the natural world, success or failure as a species hinges entirely on two things: the ability to procreate, and the ability to survive. The latter ability is not served by abstract moralizing over a would-be predator's right to survive. If it is willing and able to destroy human life, then we have to kill it.

Good and evil don't enter into it; in real life, when an animal is a dangerous killer with a history of preying on humans, that animal is put down, and nobody questions that decision. That doesn't make us immoral or inhumane; it is merely a prudent precaution, and it is also a perfectly natural act. Sorry Captain, but we have to protect our own. If you don't get it, then you're not paying attention.

Many readers have written to complain that by this logic, we should eliminate entire species of animal such as cougars, wolves, and sharks. However, it's an apples to oranges comparison. While incidental human/animal contact is dangerous and has caused casualties, an individual animal is rarely responsible for more than one or two deaths, and in most of those cases, the victim ventured into the animal's territory, thus inciting the attack. Moreover, the argument is logically flawed; the elimination of an individual animal with a history of preying on humans is hardly an invitation to wipe out its entire species! This "crystalline entity" ventured into human territory and killed not one, not two, not five, but tens of thousands of humans! And we do not care about hunting down and exterminating others of its kind; we only wish to eliminate this one, which has been preying on humans on a vast scale. Frankly, to say that one is equivalent to the other is ridiculous.

Some have also said that this entity may be endangered. This is a similarly meaningless defense, since we have no way of knowing how many others of its species exist. Since it travels at superluminal speed, they could be spread all over the galaxy (or multiple galaxies, for all we know), and there would be no practical way to track them down, much less enumerate them. One cannot make decisions on the basis of unknowable factors. Moreover, even if it is endangered, I would submit that human survival outweighs the prevention of an alien species' extinction. Picard used the example of a whale feeding on plankton and noted that the whale is not evil. I would point out that if the plankton could somehow organize and kill the whale in self-defense, they would not be evil either.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 106: "The Game"

PICARD: Quomodo tua Latinitas est? (How's your Latin?)

WESLEY: Praestat quam prius. (It's better than before.)

PICARD: Oppido bonum. (Very good.) Your Latin has improved.

...

WESLEY: Let's see ... I had Novakovich for anthropology... and Horne for creative writing ...

Culture: anthropology, creative writing, latin ... is this guy studying to be a military officer, or a hot-house academic? I'm not saying that anthropology and creative writing are useless (although latin is arguably of no use apart from impressing the impressionable), but the writers obviously have no comprehension whatsoever of the reality of a technical education.

When I went to university, the engineers and science students typically had twice the class time of the liberal arts students, not to mention a far higher workload, less tolerance for late assignments, and a shitload of lab time. The soap opera writers who punch out the Star Trek scripts obviously graduated from liberal arts and have very little respect for the difficulty of a technical education, because they think it's feasible to load up a technical student's schedule with far more material than it already has.

To put it bluntly, if a Starfleet engineer is called upon to troubleshoot a problem in the coolant pumping system, it's doubtful that a thorough understanding of classical history, renaissance poetry, or existential philosophy will do him much good. When the writers were studying drama or creative writing, did they try to devote equal effort to fluid control systems or fracture mechanics electives? I doubt it. It would be nice to study everything, but we can't all stay in school till we're forty, can we?

If Starfleet cadets are so unfocused in their first year at the Academy, it's no wonder their ships keep blowing up.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 107: "Unification Part 1"

RIKER: I'm Commander William Riker of the Federation Starship Enterprise.

DOKACHIN (a Zakdorn): Klim Dokachin, quartermaster of Surplus Depot Z15.

RIKER: We need some information about a Vulcan ship, the T'Pau. It was sent there a few years ago.

DOKACHIN: Did you arrange an appointment?

RIKER: Appointment... no...

DOKACHIN: Then I will be unable to help you. You may communicate with scheduling.

Culture: So this is what the almighty master strategist race does in the Federation. They don't command or serve on military vessels, but they do run supply depots.

Do you remember the Zakdorns? They were mentioned in "Peak Performance" as the master strategist race with whom no one would dare do battle.

Yeah, those supply depots must be pretty scary places for a warrior. Watch out, soldiers! The junkyard manager is coming after us with a crowbar and a pair of Strategema gloves!

TNG Season 5, Ep# 108: "Unification Part 2"

SELA: Actually, three Vulcan ships, Captain... The Enterprise is only aware of the one we stole from Qualor Two. We've been following their investigation. It as forced us to make some minor changes. Including a message that was sent in your name, ordering them to stay where they are.

PICARD: The moment those Vulcan ships appear in the Neutral Zone, the Enterprise will move to intercept...

SELA: In that event, the Enterprise will be given more important matters to attend to. In the meantime, Ambassador Spock will be telling his people to welcome the peace envoy. And when they do, our forces will seize control before anyone realizes what has happened.

...

GEORDI: There were over two thousand Romulan troops on those ships.

TROI: They destroyed their own invasion force.

Culture: the Romulans expected to conquer Vulcan with just 2000 troops! It's tempting to describe this as a "size and scope" problem, but that's just too much to swallow. A heavily populated planet can't possibly fall before a mere 2000 troops, no matter how good those troops are, unless ... it has no standing army, no militia, and no private weapons.

That is the only reasonable explanation for this scenario. If Vulcan is a "weapons free" zone, then it would be feasible to conquer the major cities with just a few hundred heavily armed troops apiece, simply by inserting men into the various government buildings. Earth also seems to be a weapons free zone, and I suspect that planetary weapons bans may actually be a Federation membership requirement.

As an aside, I believe this is one of the driving motivations behind the American second constitutional amendment. In the early days of the confederation, with a weak standing army, the survival of the nation depended on a militarized civilian population, willing and able to form armed militias on short notice (over the next two centuries, this idea somehow metamorphosized into gangs of crackpots who hole up in armed camps, terrorize their neighbours, and declare their own private fiefdoms, but it made sense in its original context). In the Star Trek world, the Klingons seem to subscribe to this philosophy. A militarized population is more difficult to conquer, and an invader on Quo'nos would have to take each city block by block, room by room, inch by inch. The Federation, on the other hand, indoctrinates its civilian population with militaristic values, but it keeps them disarmed. There appears to be no militia or even a standing ground army (as we saw in the DS9 episode "Paradise Lost", when Starfleet had to beam men to Earth's surface in order to defend it), so Earth has placed all of its eggs in the Starfleet basket.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 110: "New Ground"

JA'DAR: Twenty-three field coils, working in concert, will generate the soliton wave from this point on the planet surface. We will have the test ship towed to a position approximately two million kilometers from Bilana Three. If our theories are correct, the wave will envelop the ship and push it into warp.

...

JA'DAR: The wave will be directed toward Lemma Two, about three light years distance. We have a sister facility there which will generate a scattering field to dissipate the wave, and bring the ship out of warp.

Culture: their contempt for public safety is revealed yet again, when they put the lives of the people on Lemma Two at risk with nothing but theories to protect them.

It's tempting to assume that Lemma Two is an unmanned facility, because that would be the intelligent thing to do: direct the test wave at an uninhabited, automated site. But unfortunately, that's not the case. We will eventually discover that Lemma Two is actually a colony!

TNG Season 5, Ep# 112: "Violations"

PICARD VO: Captain's log, stardate 45429.3. While on a mapping survey of sector 22139, we are conveying a delegation of Ullians to Kaldra Four. These telepathic historians conduct their research by retrieving long-forgotten memories.

...

TARMIN: You, madam... you're thinking of that first childhood kiss. Wouldn't you like to remember more about it?

JEV: Father, you know you're not supposed to probe someone's memories unless they've given you permission.

TARMIN: You're right... but sometimes with a beautiful woman -- I can't help myself.

(everyone laughs)

Culture: the citizens of the Federation are obviously rather accustomed to violations of their privacy. They actually laugh at a telepath's admission that he routinely violates the minds of attractive women!

In real life, I don't think people would laugh good naturedly if they ran into somebody who was prone to invading others' minds without permission on a regular basis. Especially if he chose to victimize women.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 113: "The Masterpiece Society"

GEORDI: I guess if I had been conceived on your world, I wouldn't be here right now, would I?

HANNAH: No.

GEORDI: I'd've been terminated as a fertilized cell.

HANNAH: It was the wish of our founders that no one have to suffer a life with disabilities...

GEORDI: Who gave them the right to choose whether or not I should be here? Whether or not I might have something to contribute...

Culture: fascinating! An anti-abortion message, buried in the otherwise relentlessly left-wing feminist ideology of Star Trek! Did the writers do this deliberately, or did the parallels to the abortion issue not occur to them?

In this context, Geordi was railing against the eugenics program used by the "masterpiece society". But surely, if abortion on the basis of genetic imperfection is immoral in his eyes, then one would think that he should feel similarly repulsed at the idea of abortion on the basis of self-centred modern excuses such as "I don't have time for a baby in my life" or "my career comes first".

TNG Season 5, Ep# 113: "The Masterpiece Society"

PICARD: If we ever needed a reminder of the importance of the Prime Directive, we have it now.

RIKER: They're Human. The Prime Directive doesn't apply.

PICARD: Doesn't it? Our very presence damaged, perhaps destroyed, a way of life.

...

RIKER: We had to respond to the threat from the core fragment... didn't we?

PICARD: Yes. Of course we did. And I wish I could see any other course we could have taken. But I would submit, in the end, we proved ourselves just as dangerous to that colony as any stellar fragment could ever be.

Culture: Prime Directive, yadda yadda yadda, moral imperative, yadda yadda yadda, I'm Captain Picard and I'm so fine I blow my mind, yadda yadda yadda.

So Picard thinks that cultural contamination is just as bad as death, eh? What sort of warped value system is that? Cultural contamination has occasionally been connected with pillage, exploitation, murder and slavery throughout history. But that doesn't mean it causes those things. In and of itself, it's bad but it's hardly comparable to death!

If a primitive aboriginal tribe is living in the path of a huge lava flow and they get airlifted to safety, would we tie ourselves in knots worrying that exposure to our technology and way of life will be just as harmful to them as the lava? Yeah, right.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 114: "Conundrum"

WORF: I have completed a survey of our tactical systems. We are equipped with ten phaser banks, 275 photon torpedoes, and a high capacity shield grid.

MACDUFF: We're a battleship.

WORF: It appears so.

Culture: once freed from the baggage of his relentless Federation indoctrination, it's perfectly obvious to Worf (as well as every other member of the bridge crew) that the Enterprise is a warship.

Once their memories were restored, I presume they immediately reverted to their knee-jerk reflex to describe their ship as a peaceful exploration vessel, in spite of its weaponry and classic military mandate to project Federation power, defend Federation territory and deter potential enemies (all in the name of "peaceful exploration", of course).

TNG Season 5, Ep# 115: "Power Play"

BEVERLY: I've compared the away team's last transport trace patterns to earlier records. They're exactly the same, except in Troi, Data and O'Brien there's an unusual synaptic activity -- some kind of anionic energy. It may be a life form superimposing neural patterns onto our people.

Culture: they refuse to describe the disembodied spirits as ghosts, so they invent a steaming pile of meaningless technobabble instead.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 115: "Power Play"

DATA: I must apologize for my inadvertant misconduct toward you, Lieutenant.

WORF: There is no need to apologize.

DATA: Your restraint was most remarkable for a Klingon.

Culture: remove your instinctive Star Trek racism filter by replacing words like "Romulan" or "Klingon" with words like "black" or "asian". For example, imagine Data saying "your restraint was most remarkable for a black man." How would that strike you?

TNG Season 5, Ep# 116: "Ethics"

RUSSELL: We've been experimenting with DNA-based generators... this is a genetronic replicator. It reads the DNA coding of damaged organs, translates that into a specific set of replicant instructions and then begins to "grow" a replacement.

...

BEVERLY: I had no idea you were already using this on humanoids...

RUSSELL: I haven't been. This'll be the first time.

BEVERLY: First time?

RUSSELL: I've done dozens of holosimulations ... the success rate is up to 37%.

...

BEVERLY: I think you took advantage of the situation in order to test one of your theories -- just like you're trying to do with Worf.

RUSSELL: That's what this is really about, isn't it? Lieutenant Worf. I'm offering him the chance to recover fully -- a chance you can't give him.

BEVERLY: What this is about is the kind of medicine you seem to practice.

RUSSELL: I make no excuses about my approach to medicine. I don't like losing a patient any more than you do. But I'm looking down a long road, Doctor... this man didn't die for nothing -- the data I gathered was invaluable... it will eventually help save thousands of lives.

Culture: they go straight from holosimulations to experiments on humanoids? Look at the ethical problems created by their squeamishness about animal experimentation.

I like animals as much as the next guy (I do have a dog, after all, and I consider him a member of the family). But whether people like it or not, animal experimentation is a necessary step between theoretical projections and human experiments.

The only alternative is to subject humans to unconscionably severe risks, as Dr. Russell does in this episode. It seems that Federation respect for the sanctity of life knows no bounds ... unless that life happens to be human life.

When the lives of humans are weighed against the lifes of space slugs, giant snowflakes, or animals in medical labs, it appears that the Federation response is invariably to risk or even sacrifice the humans.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 116: "Ethics"

BEVERLY: Klingon or not, he's got to accept that his condition---

PICARD: He can't make the journey you're asking of him, Beverly. You want him to go from contemplating suicide to accepting his condition and living with the disability. But that's too far ... the road in between covers a lifetime of values and beliefs ... he can't do it.

Culture: Picard rants about a "lifetime of values and beliefs", but he's talking about a man who was raised from childhood by human parents, in a Federation colony surrounded by other humans!

He makes it sounds as if the acceptance of human cultural values would be some sort of "journey" for Worf, even though he's been surrounded by these values for almost all of his life!

TNG Season 5, Ep# 117: "The Outcast"

SOREN: Occasionally, among my people, a few are born who are different. Who are throwbacks to the era when we all had gender. Some are born with strong inclinations toward maleness ... and some have urges to be female. I am one of the latter.

...

SOREN: I remember when I was very young ... before I understood what I was ... there was a rumor in my school that one of the students preferred a gender ... in that case, male. The children started making fun of him ... every day, they got more cruel ... They could tell he was afraid... and that seemed to encourage them. He appeared in class one morning, bleeding... his clothes ripped. He said he'd fallen down. Of course the school authorities heard about it... They took him away and gave him psychotectic treatments. When he came back... he stood in front of the whole school and told us how happy he was now that he had been cured. After that... I knew how dangerous it was to be different. And as I got older, and realized what I was, I was terrified. I've lived with that fear ever since.

Culture: preach preach preach. This wouldn't be about gay rights, would it? Naahh. The writers wouldn't make an episode that's so transparently preachy, would they? Naahh.

PS. before any gay-rights advocates angrily E-mail me, I'm not trying to say that I approve of people who torment, harass and assault gays (or any other group, for that matter). I just don't like being preached at by Hollywood of all places, which has no business chastising the rest of us about morality.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 119: "The First Duty"

PICARD: My superintendent was a Betazoid -- a full telepath. When he called you into his office, he didn't have to ask what you'd done.

Culture: Betazoids have been employed as Starfleet Academy superintendants, with full authorization to perform telepathic violations of cadets without permission.

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