Date: April 29, 2020
Season 5, Episode 13
Musical Accompaniment: More randomness from my iPod instrumental playlist
Interstellar News: Today is the tenth anniversary of buying my first home (I’m now on home #2) and my youngest cat’s sixth birthday… Happy Birthday Thor!
La Forge: Why are you doing this?
Hannah: I was born to be one of the best scientific minds of my generation, and in the past five days I have encountered technology that I have barely imagined. And I’ve got to ask myself, If we’re so brilliant how come we didn’t invent any of these things?
La Forge: Well, maybe necessity really is the mother of invention. You never really look for something until you need it.Truer words have never been spoken. Okay, they likely have but La Forge is damn spot on. It’s why, unfortunately, people treat accessibility as an afterthought.
The Enterprise is asked to investigate the Moab system that is about to be effected by a stellar core fragment when they encounter a genetically engineered society ensconced in a biosphere. La Forge, Riker, and Troi beam down to discuss the colony’s situation. Troi is taken with Conor, the leader, and the share a connection despite all of the reasons they shouldn’t. La Forge and Hannah, their engineer, work on a solution to both fortify their shields and to help move the trajectory of the fragment, a la “Deja Q“.
They move the fragment, the colony is saved, but the crew of the Enterprise has already done its damage as an unintended consequence to this closed society is that some people want to leave. Picard cannot turn people away but also understands there will then be holes in the society that need to be filled, it will still upset the balance. In the end 23 people decide to leave the colony.
I have a lot to say about this episode,most of it is not good. Let’s start with the good stuff. It’s adorable the reactions of the colonists when they see the transporter at work, I always love seeing the reaction of people being introduced to new technology. The conversation between Troi and Picard in the turbolift was super awkward for both of them, but absolutely the right things to do and they both handled it very professionally. There were also some interesting conversations had about disabilities, namely because of La Forge, and it opened the door to some interesting questions. I also totally understood La Forge when he took his visor off, as a glasses wearer sometimes you just need nothing on your face, it really helps you to think and to relax. That, however, is the end of my list of good. Now, onto the bad.
For the record I have seen Gattaca and I’ve read up on genetic engineering, a lot. Also, for those just joining, I also have a counseling degree. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK was this episode’s problem? There’s seriously no actual conundrum. Either the Enterprise helps or they all die, I’m not seeing the dilemma here, so that means for once I agree with Riker. I mean this gives the society a chance to live, although it’s not as intact as when they left but it’s not irreparable. Picard is also super snarky about genetic engineering, he’s not supposed to be judgemental, and why does no one mention Khan and the Eugenics Wars here?
La Forge has an amazing point, where do you draw the line when it comes to who is allowed to be born? I’m not getting to a “pro-birth” vs. “pro-choice” discussion here, I’m talking about looking at a life that has already been “made” because it was selected from a per-determined set of characteristics. Life is not about making your avatar with available menu options… but it could be? I think it would be amazing to be able to get rid of congenital issues and diseases and maybe some other things, but again it comes down to where you draw the line. When one person decides the world is better off without blind people, without people who can’t hear, without someone who was born without a limb, a toe, or something else… we’ve gone down a very dark path. While La Forge gets all righteous about “it took a blind man’s technology to fix your problem”, he makes a very valid argument that we don’t invent things unless we need them. Everyone has a place in our society and we all don’t fit into one big happy box. The reason we work is because we have differences and it’s important to recognize that a disability does not mean that a person is “less than”.
Now, despite all of it’s flaws, I totally want to know what happened to the colony. I also want to know how their life worked before the Enterprise encountered them. Did they fall in love and go with it, because they were all comparable, or was there some sort of test to determine who you would find most attractive and enticing? Was it all done in a lab with test tube babies? Inquiring minds want to know! It’s a story that pulls me in for the tagline, but I wasn’t impressed with the execution so that’s 4 solar fragments aimed straight at this episode.