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The Trek Nation - Justice

Justice

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at April 20, 2007 - 7:53 PM GMT

See Also: 'Justice' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: While setting up a colony in a nearby solar system, the Enterprise crew discovers the idyllic world of the Edo, where a culture of sensual humanoids live in apparent peace, harmony and fulfillment. But when Picard sends down an away team to determine whether the crew might enjoy shore leave among them, Wesley Crusher accidentally breaks the law and is sentenced to the only punishment known to the Edo: death. While the away team argues the unfairness of subjecting a child to a law of which he was ignorant, Picard discovers a multidimensional vessel orbiting the planet. When the vessel probes Data, allowing him to discover its objections to the nearby colony, the crew also discovers that the vessel is worshipped as a god by the Edo. Though the crew is allowed to retrieve Wesley over the objections of the Edo, the alien vessel gives Picard a signal that it would like the human colony removed from the nearby planet, then fades out of the dimension it shares with the Enterprise.


Analysis: "Justice" is like two bad episodes in one! The first is about a naïve, childlike pleasure planet where people make love all day and apparently do little else, unless they have the misfortune to be named mediators, in which case they must frown sternly and execute others for ridiculously trivial offenses. The second is about an interpretation of the Prime Directive so preposterous that one desperately longs for Captain Kirk to show up, save Wesley and give both Picard and the Edo one of his trademark lectures on truth, fairness and thinking for themselves. I vastly prefer the earlier minutes, when a grinning Riker returns from an initial contact to announce that there's a planet full of nubile hot young people ripe for first contact. Despite weird readings off the starboard bow that everyone in the audience knows perfectly well mean trouble, Picard sends down a team to evaluate the planet's appropriateness for shore leave, apparently including Wesley to make sure all the public lovemaking won't have too traumatic an effect on the youngsters.

But Wesley, that ubiquitous savior of the ship, makes the mistake of teaching the local kids Hacky Sack and causes an interstellar incident! Because it is not until the moment of his transgression that Tasha Yar, whose title is technically "chief of security", gets around to discovering that every crime among the Edo is punishable by execution. Apparently the Edo have as little time to commit crimes as they do to cultivate their own fields, etc., since they're busy making love all day. (It's extremely unclear whether child molestation is a crime among the Edo; the woman who first embraces Wesley looks like she's contemplating it.) It's hard to say which is the bigger guilty pleasure: watching all the terrible actors in blond wigs running around jiggling in their skin-tight shorts or watching Wesley making an idiot of himself and then, in a fit of nerdiness worthy of - well, Picard - announcing, "I'm with Starfleet. We don't lie," thus confessing his guilt and sealing his fate.

Now, here's an easy quiz for you. When Kirk meets something that calls itself "God", what does he do? If you answered, "Destroy it!", you'd be right in nearly every case! "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "The Apple", "The Return of the Archons", "Who Mourns For Adonais", etc. are just lead-ins to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier where Kirk meets a being claiming to be the God and naturally kicks His butt. Picard, unfortunately, cowers and blathers, citing the Prime Directive as a possible excuse just to let the Edo execute Wesley and be done with it until Beverly drops every trace of professionalism and sobs in Sickbay. You'd think that "God" initially warning the crew not to interfere with "his" children would be enough of a red flag to call off shore leave and get everyone off the planet, but no.

The Next Generation-era shows often tried to have it both ways with religion, unlike the original series, where belief in supreme beings was always exposed as a silly indulgence. The Edo "God" is in some ways like the Bajoran Prophets, interfering on every level with their lives, yet because the culture welcomes it and is dependent upon it, Picard respects this arrangement rather than concluding Kirk-like that God must be exposed for the fraud He is. The Edo girl Rivan strongly resembles the worshippers of Vaal making offerings, yet Picard never questions her obedience nor suggests that she question it. And she does not question, though she knows her God is not all-powerful; as she points out, Picard could just beam Wesley aboard his city in space and be gone. Too bad for Wesley that the captain is less afraid of the wrath of God than of violating the Prime Directive. Yet if beaming the innocent Rivan aboard the ship to face her God isn't a violation of the Prime Directive, why worry about the more clear-cut matter of saving a human child from execution?

Not altogether unexpectedly, the Edo start worshipping the Enterprise crewmembers because they share the sky with God and might therefore be gods themselves, but Picard refuses to play that card, though he does attempt to beam Wesley away. Which God at first prevents, but after a brief declaration by Riker that justice has never been as simple as a rule book, God changes his mind and the Starfleet officers are allowed to beam out. Huh? Did God just want their attention to put in another protest about the colony on the nearby planet? Or was God actually testing the Edo's commitment to punishments they rarely have had to execute? It doesn't ever really make sense. And although Picard shows more respect for the idea of spirituality than Kirk ever did, his willingness in the name of the Prime Directive to obey this tyrannical God and a planet of bimbos is frankly rather embarrassing.

Best moment of the episode: Worf telling Riker that he does not date because human females are too fragile, and Riker - who has been checking out every Edo woman available, in part, it seems, to make Troi jealous - tells Worf with a grin that if anyone else made such a statement, Riker would think it was bragging. Bring on those kinky Klingons, baby.


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green is a news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.