Saturday, April 13, 2019

Pen Pals

TNG Season 2 Episode 15
Air Date: May 1st, 1989


The Enterprise is investigating why planets in a certain sector are all dying, turning from class M planets back to an earlier volcanic form killing all life. Wesley is given his first opportunity to be in charge of something, a kind of test. He has to create a team to figure out what is going on.

Meanwhile Data is working on ways of detecting more primitive communications from afar and makes contact with a girl who's planet is starting to go through it's conversion to a volcanic wasteland. Data tell Picard about his contact which is a violation of the prime directive, which leaves Picard between a rock and a hard place. Throughout the episode Data strategically plays with the hearts of the crew and gets Picard to agree to help.

Wesley figures out that the cause of the volcanic activity is due to a high concentration of dilithium in that sector which after a time causes this issue. They are able to use torpedoes to reverse the effect and save the planet.


The overall episode was average but it did one thing really well. It made you question what is right. The Federation has a rule, a prime directive and it is there not only to protect other societies but also the citizens of the Federation. That directive says that even when a planet is dying, the Federation can't do anything about it. But when the crew heard the voice of the little girl on the planet calling out for Data's help, Picard couldn't ignore it. It is a really hard choice to break a rule that has very valid reasons but also to not break the rule and let people die.


"Eight weeks ago, I received a transmission. A simple four word message. Is anybody out there? I answered it." - Data
"There is a loneliness inherent in that whisper from the darkness." - Picard
"Yes, sir. I am glad you understand, sir." - Data
"But it didn't end there." - Picard
"No, sir. We speak often. It is a young female, humanoid." - Data
"er society is aware that there is interstellar life?" - Picard
"No, sir." - Data
"Oops." - Picard

"It is no longer a matter of how wrong Data was, or why he did it. The dilemma exists. We have to discuss the options. And please talk freely." - Picard
"There are no options. The Prime Directive is not a matter of degrees. It is an absolute." - Worf
"I have a problem with that kind of rigidity. It seems callous and even a little cowardly." - Doctor Pulaski
"Doctor, I'm sure that is not what the Lieutenant meant, but in a situation like this, we have to be cautious. What we do today may profoundly affect upon the future. If we could see every possible outcome." - Picard
"We'd be gods, which we're not. If there is a cosmic plan, is it not the height of hubris to think that we can, or should, interfere?" - Riker
"So what are you saying? That the Dremans are fated to die?" - La Forge
"I think that's an option we should be considering." - Riker
"Consider it considered, and rejected." - La Forge
"If there is a cosmic plan, are we not a part of it? Our presence at this place at this moment in time could be a part of that fate." - Troi
"Right, and it could be part of that plan that we interfere." - La Forge
"Well that eliminates the possibility of fate." - Riker
"But Commander, the Dremans are not a subject for philosophical debate. They are a people." - Data
"So we make an exception in the deaths of millions." - Picard
"Yes." - Doctor Pulaski
"And is it the same situation if it's an epidemic, and not a geological calamity?" - Picard
"Absolutely." - Doctor Pulaski
"How about a war? If generations of conflict is killing millions, do we interfere? Ah, well, now we're all a little less secure in our moral certitude. And what if it's not just killings. If an oppressive government is enslaving millions? You see, the Prime Directive has many different functions, not the least of which is to protect us. To prevent us from allowing our emotions to overwhelm our judgement." - Picard

"O'Brien, take a nap. You didn't see any of this, you're not involved." - Riker
"Right, sir, I'll just be standing over here dozing off." - O'Brien

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