Haha. I saw Ross had a new video uploaded, and I saw it wasn't a game review but something about Star Trek. I wasn't expecting it to be my kind of thing, but because I enjoy Ross' creative and / or mindful postulations in general, I decided to check out what he was saying. I jumped a few minutes into the video and saw some scenes of old TNG and tried to figure out which episode they were from. Then there was the mention of the cargo ship crew sending over their cargo ahead of their crew, and my mind started slowly going 'hey, that's...' as it was putting the pieces together, and then the video mentions the two planets, and I had a sudden experience like the hair standing up on the back of your neck, but this was due to a signal of irritation and displeasure spiking in me.
I hate this episode. In fact, despite not being a big Star Trek fan and not really ever writing reviews for TV shows or movies, I actually wrote a review for this episode immediately after watching it because I found it so incredibly fallacious, and like sort-of xenophobic and ignorantly-stereotyping but towards drug-usage instead of people, that it made me flustered and I had to verify that the world knows that this was a really bad episode.
So, I'm not of the same view that the episode is merely so-so. To me, it's much worse than that. I classify this episode along with the live-action Super Mario Bros movie as something I would live happier having not known existed and something I wish I could un-watch.
Here's the review I wrote for this episode when I first watched it. Some of my issues with the episode are ones or similar to ones Ross also has with it:
Watching Star Trek TNG for the first time starting with season 1 episode 1, and I found this episode ridiculous and terrible enough that I had to do an internet search to confirm that I had just watched something so poorly written and thought-out.
None of the premise or explanation of this episode is rational or believable:
- A planet which has figured out space travel hasn't figured out how to examine and understand chemical compounds and has no conception of what drugs are? [edit: And also lacks 20th century understanding of human physiology?]
- An entire planet is addicted to a drug and nobody on it has even been separated from the drug long enough to realize that withdrawals pass? Nobody on this planet ever gets lost in the wilderness, doesn't have the funds to acquire the drug, or any of many other scenarios where they'd inevitably get over the withdrawal period? How do newborns come to be addicted to the drug? Nobody ever just wilfully refuses to take it either out of protest or with a goal to suicide, or some other motivation?
- Picard and his crew violate the "prime directive" worse than speaking simple truth to these people all the time. And Picard violated the prime directive worse than telling the 'drug addicts' the truth when he saved them from their decaying ship - that interventionist action ensured that the entire planet would continue to be drugged, while if Picard hadn't done that they would have been forced to go through withdrawal with no alternative. Picard obviously violated the "prime directive" to save Wesley Crusher... but he wouldn't save an entire planet filled with teenagers of Wesley Crusher's age, and of children and babies younger than him? [edit: Picard's morals kicking-in to disregard the PD only when it affects him and the people he loves makes him out to be an extremely selfish hypocrite - which I blame on the show's writers doing a poor job, and less on the intended character of Picard]
- Picard gives utmost hypocritical speeches on the prime directive and how critical it is in an episode where he violates it multiple times, including wilfully and knowingly by giving the inhabitants of the drug-using planet the coils they need to fix their cargo ships. Picard later reverses that decision, but not for the sake of the prime directive, but because he wanted to cut their supply of the drug - and he openly acknowledges that he's flip-flopping and being selective in where he applies the prime directive by responding to the drug seller's "that's absurd!" comment by saying, "you did not think so when it worked in your favour". There is just 1 minute and 50 seconds between Picard selectively applying the prime directive as a tool for ulterior motives and openly acknowledging that he's doing so, and him giving Dr Crusher a lecture on the prime directive's importance in the elevator. This is stupid.
- The planet that makes and sells the drugs to the other is 100% filled with evil persons who eagerly exploit the other planet's people and feel no compassion or sense of humanity towards them? Not one of the people on that planet cared to send a message to tell the other planet that they're just addicted? An entire planet's population has no compassion, doesn't regard other people are equal to themselves? How could that planet then care for each other? They couldn't, they would inevitably rationalize betrayal of each other just as they do the people on the other planet.
These are just some select major issues with the episode, while I think I could point out a dozen more. This whole episode's premise and execution was completely stupid, and it shouldn't have been done. The episode also is entirely ignorant of the topic of drug use and portrays out-dated (were they ever in-date?) tropes of people who use drugs, and is like watching a very old film that features extreme racial prejudices that were normal at the time, but which reeks of ignorance when watched today.
I would not be surprised to find out that this episode was sponsored by the US government or some other third party - though, the DEA seems a very likely possibility.
There are some things I would add to my review.
One of the things I dislike about TNG is that, probably more often in the earlier seasons, Picard makes comments about human civilization having long-since evolved past its 19th, 20th, etc century perspectives towards life and no longer being motivated by selfish gain or a need to toil to survive (with everybody's normal living needs being taken care of), but now being dedicated towards betterment of oneself and human knowledge.
But anyone watching the show can see that's a total load of crap. In fact, the only top-rank officer (captains, admirals, etc) depicted in the series as having some appreciable level of dignity, compassion, and mental sophistication is Picard himself. Nearly all the others in the series are characterized by boorishness, stupidity, arrogance and self-righteousness, closed-mindedness, hypocrisy, cruelty, incompetence, etc. In general, Starfleet and Federation brass that aren't Picard are towards the sleaze-bag moron end of the spectrum, and that's by 2000's standards.
For example, the admiral who manslaughtered Data's daughter by saying he was going to take her away to use her for Starfleet's interests, against the desire of her, her father, and Picard. He terrified her into death, showing no consideration for her, anyone, or life in general. That man was a cruel, mindless, heartless, and compassionateless fool by any year's measurement. Yet, he's one of the heads of this Starfleet that supposedly represents an enlightened and evolved human civilization that is all about betterment through knowledge and understanding?
That self-contradictory stuff really drags the show down for me.
And the "prime directive" itself is illogical and inhumane, and is essentially a rule to do evil. There's no such thing as being an objective observer to life. So long as you're living, you're a part of it and your inaction is your complicity in what happened because you didn't act. And the PD forbids people from doing good. Life and its development are not the product of objective observation, but of harmonious intercession and engagement between every capable thing.
Would Picard apply the PD upon the human race, if it meant the human race would have been wiped-out before the pyramids were built? So, no Picard, no Picard's friends, no Enterprise, no seeking personal and human civilization betterment through knowledge, no making the universe a better place? If so, then the PD would be self-nullifying as it would never have been created, and therefore its own meaning testifies that it is a falsehood.
The PD denies the philosophy of doing to others as you would have them do to you, which is a couple of millennia older than even the 20th century that Picard claims humanity has evolved beyond, and it also rejects the morals of the strong standing up for the weak, and replaces those things with galactic sociopathism that makes an allegedly enlightened human civilization complicit in genocide of other civilizations. It ultimately represents a devolution of humanity, and so I think it's no wonder why the PD barely ever gets mentioned again for the rest of the series, and isn't again featured (from what I recall) as a primary focus in Picard's decision-making.
TNG sometimes egregiously lacks self-awareness regarding what it says versus what it depicts, claiming an idea in speech but not manifesting it in the way the show's characters behave.
But back to the reviewed episode, its plot-holes seem to be so problematic that people can't help but think or say something about them just to fix the picture of reality within themselves because in no way can things just be allowed to stay the way the episode tries to leave them. That episode is something wrong, in my view.