Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TNG Ep. 14: Angel One

Enterprise searches Angel One, a planet ruled by a woman-only oligarchy, for the survivors of starship Odin, which crashed there seven years before. Angel One makes the Enterprise promise to take any survivors they find off of the planet, as they have been fueling rebellion. The away team has some trouble dealing with the Angel One rulers, it turns out in part because one of the counsel members is secretly aiding the rebels, but the real conflict comes when the Odin survivors do not want to leave with their families, and Data points out that because they are not federation crew, the Enterprise cannot uphold its promise and force them to leave. Meanwhile, the crew of the Enterprise suffers from a flu-like epidemic as Crusher hurries to find a cure, and their aid has also been requested in the neutral zone. At the same time, Riker has been smooching on Angel One leader Beata. Angel One gets a hold of the rebels by following their counsel traitor, and sentences them all to death, yet the rebels still refuse to leave. Riker makes a moving speech about martyrdom at the execution ceremony, and Angel One decides to stay the execution in favor of banishing the rebels to a remote part of the planet. If that didn't work, Riker had planned to beam up the rebels against their will. Dr. Crusher finds the cure and administers it to the crew - the away team returns, and they zoom off to the neutral zone.

I like the premise of the world Angel One because unlike other episodes where women's rights, or prejudice, or any other heavy-handed moral is at the center, this one feels more like a true what if. Not that I dislike the moralizing in Star Trek. If I did, I wouldn't love the original series so much. When it comes to feminism, though, this episode could have easily gotten into the ridiculous. It could have presented us with a world where women not only rule absolutely, but rule absolutely well. Instead we're presented with a world that appears as politically complex as our own, and indeed on the verge of major social change. Men's sufferage, perhaps. The current order is even exlained partially by an evolutionary biology of its own, where females are taller and stronger than males.

Ok, ok. I know that the premise is only part of the episode, but I don't often get to applaud Star Trek for its sociology. We're often presented with something interesting on other worlds, but also something simplified greatly in order to fit in the episode along all the action and more finite interpersonal dramas.

And now that I've mentioned feminism, let me say that Riker flirting with the leader of Angel One is hilariously in character and exactly what this episode needed. He mentions that Star Fleet officers have to play nice with strange people all the time. I'd only consider it bastardly of him if you consider him bounc to Troi, which, after she almost married that other dude she barely knew, I say go Riker. (But also go Troi for being right about his attachment to her. It's almost like a self-fulling prophecy kinda deal.)

Um, I guess I should talk about the whole matyrdom thing, which I gathered was a major point of the episode. I'm totally with the survivors on this one, because standing up for your principles does not mean running away. If they had, nothing would have changed on Angel One. And then of course it is a Star Trek episode, so I was fairly sure they wouldn't die. Even so, I actually think that Riker planning to beam them all out against their will was wrong of him. Not that you can really blame him for wanting to save the children and all. But still! He should know he's in a Star Trek episode and have a little faith!

...and everyone lived happily ever after!

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