The USS Enterprise has found an Eden-like planet which, surprise, tries to kill one of their crew members, namely Wesley. It's really Tasha's fault, as she claims to have researched the laws and customs of the Edo, but misses both the rule about forbidden areas, and that the punishment for every crime is death. Also, there's a super race hovering above the planet who warn the Enterprise not to interfere with their "children." The Edo agree to hold off on killing Wesley until sundown, and Picard chides the super race until the Enterprise is allowed to take Wesley off of the planet.
Nooooo, not Wesley! But then, when Picard said that Wesley was coming with them to the planet, I knew that something terrible would happen to him. That's kinda like Kirk sending a red shirt (note: some of the officers on TNG wear red shirts!), only with slightly less death. Knowing that the episode will be about Wesley, naturally, ensures my fondness from the beginning. Also, half-naked men and women. Ha ha!
How Wesley gets in trouble is a bit ridiculous. Actually, the laws and customs mistake I can deal with, because I can see how Tasha was busy checking out the oh-so-available hunks during her "research." what I don't understand is why forbidden areas are surrounded by an extremely low, easily missed fence. Wesley barely lifts an ankle to fall over one of these "fences". Pft. I guess we wanted whatever Wesley did to be unmistakeable not his fault, so that we could feel sorry for the boy and his mother. It sure worked on me, and I loved this episode because of it.
In fact, my favorite part about this episode is that they throw the Prime Directive out the window. Actually, they do that from the beginning by beaming down to a place that doesn't even have warp technology yet, but I don't mean that. That's just a bit of lazy writing - Kirk always beamed down just out of sight and then insisted that he was grom "very far away" which, you know, totally works. Anyway, I like the part that they want you to notice, which is when Picard decides that the Prime Directive can go cry in a corner if it means letting an innocent die. (Nevermind the probable murder of the Selay official in the last episode. He's not nearly as blameless as Wil Wheaton - I mean, Wesley.)
Data: Will you chose one life over one thousand, Sir?
Picard: I refuse to let arithmetic decide questions like that.
Take that, Spock logic! (No, no, I love Spock! And he sacrificed himself, not a boy, so it's different!)
Anyway, they get out of the whole mess by pointing out that laws shouldn't be absolute, which is another good take-away quote from the episode. Try using either out of context in your day-to-day conversations, unless you're talking about your math homework, of course.
Your Mom: If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?!
You: There can be no justice as long as laws are absolute!
Thanks, Picard, for finally saying something smart.