Date: May 2, 2020
Season 5, Episodes 16 and 17
Musical Accompaniment: iTunes on shuffle with Hans Zimmer, Minus the Bear, Daft Punk, and El Ten Eleven.
Interstellar News: Completed three loads of laundry, eradicated the last of the weeds and ivy from the backyard, and walked the neighborhood for the first time since Monday.
Favorite Quote from “Ethics”:
Dr. Crusher: The first tenet of good medicine is never make the patient any worse. Right now, Worf is alive and functioning. If he goes into that operation, he could come out a corpse.
Picard: This may not be good medicine, but for Worf, it may be his only choice.The doctor making her point, but the captain coming in with a good counterpoint.
“Ethics” begins with a devastating injury to Worf where he learns he might never be able to walk again. As Worf is a Klingon, it is his custom to perform the Hegh’bat ceremony (read: ritual suicide) and he asks Riker for his help, playing the friend card. Alexander is upset because Worf doesn’t want him to see his father like that, and I totally understand both sides. Meanwhile, Dr. Crusher beams aboard Dr. Russell, a neuro-specialist, to see if there are any options. Russell talks about 3D printing organs, but Crusher thinks is too risky because it’s never been done before. Russell and Crusher bring a safe option to Worf, who refuses, so Russell dangles the bright, shiny, new experimental procedure in Worf’s face.
Riker brings Worf his dagger*, in a scene very reminiscent to the above from Moonstruck, and lectures Worf, even dragging in that Klingon law demands the oldest son to assist. Worf decides to meet with Alexander, decides to “break” with tradition and try Russell’s surgery option, and asks Troi to raise Alexander if everything goes horribly wrong. Everything goes well, and then horribly wrong, and then the Klingon backup system kicks in and Worf lives enough to go through rehab.
Picard and Riker’s discussion on different cultures is a good one,and it’s that scene that makes me know why he’s captain. That scene as well as the one he has with Dr. Crusher trying to make her see sense. Starfleet may be a mostly human run organization, but it understands that other’s cultures are just as important. This episode bring in elements of physician assisted suicide and the right for the patient to know all possible treatment options. While it may be true that Worf wasn’t in pain or near death, Picard puts it best when he explains that point of view is so human-centric. I’m ecstatic that Worf chose the surgery option, for a Klingon that is MONUMENTAL, but knowing he goes onto DS9 later on made me know there was no way he was going to die by his hand or the doctor’s. I also think it’s wonderful when Worf asks Troi to take care of Alexander, because it not only shows he’s a responsible parent but that he also picked someone who had a mixed heritage like his son.
I have several issues with this episode though. Why did Worf ask Riker instead of Picard? Why did Russell present her surgery option the way she did? She could have been more honest about the risks and danger involved, maybe that happened off camera. Why did Russell just fade away after Crusher was all high and mighty at the end? I understand Crusher’s point of view, but I think she made the wrong impression of Russell and didn’t trust her from the word go. I also missed seeing Data and La Forge in this episode, though I am not quite sure where they would have fit in. The five seconds they were each on screen was just too little time, I have grown quite fond of them. The subject matter could have made for an amazing episode, but instead it was just “meh”. 6 daggers of unknown, unnamed origin for this episode.
*according to my Klingon specialist, the dagger used in this episode has never been named. I feel like someone should remedy that. It’s a ceremonial dagger, it ought to have a fancy shmancy Klingon name with several apostrophes in it, at least.
Favorite Quote from “The Outcast”:
Soren: What makes you think you can dictate how people love each other?The only line that matters.
Worf’s One-Two Punch: “A warrior does not let a friend face danger alone.”
“The Outcast” has the Enterprise helping out the androgynous J’naii find a missing shuttle craft when one of their probes disappear, curiouser and curiouser. The running theory is that they’ve encountered some type of null space, so they first have to try to map it. One of the J’naii, named Soren, decides to show off their piloting skills to Riker and they have a discussion about the differences between a gendered and non-gendered society, as well as one about sexual organs and reproduction, oh my husk. Soren is injured at one point and has a very interesting discussion with Dr. Crusher.
Soren admits to Riker that some of the J’naii are born different and that she is prone to femininity and finds him attractive. They find the missing J’naii and all beam back to the Enterprise after some drama, so the J’naii throw a party down on the planet. Riker and Soren kiss while taking a walk, but Soren is discovered for her “treachery”. Riker tries to fall on his sword, Soren speechifies like the best of them, Worf is a good buddy, but they are all too late because Soren has already gone through treatment and Riker returns to duty with a broken heart.
There are a few bright spots in this episode. At first Riker isn’t super flirty and it’s refreshing to see him be a professional. He also tries to blame everything on himself, which is quite noble and shows how much he loves Soren. It’s also quite sad to see that he’s actually fallen in love, so much so he talks to his ex-love about it, and he has his heart broken in the end. There are fun conversations each have to learn about the other culture, and I think that could have been fascinating to explore more. I was so looking forward to a good episode about “coming out of the closet”, but I was unfortunately disappointed.
There is one line about pronouns and then Riker constantly genders the J’naii every chance he gets, ugh! Soren also uses a male pronoun in a story about a friend of hers, but it could be because that’s how they identified at the time… lots of inconsistencies. There is absolutely a difference between biological sex (your anatomy) and gender (a completely made up social construct). Putting that aside, this episode completely fucked up in every way as it enforced every damn stereotype I think it was trying to point out. This could have been a great LGBT-analogous episode and instead it was just awful. Riker wants to run away with Soren, like Anna in Frozen, but as Elsa says you can’t marry someone you just met. Also, La Forge has a beard and it’s the worst. 1 beard shave for La Forge, that’s an order!
A final thought: What’s up with two back-to-back episodes of Riker not being able to handle other people’s cultures?