17. Samaritan Snare

“It’s all a facade,”

is what I wanted the Pakleds to say to Geordi. “You thought we were so stupid, but it was all a facade.” Except the Pakled would pronounce the “c” like a “k.”

Oh boy. The thought makes me laugh and laugh.

Because it gets right down to the metaphysics of the Pakleds.

They’re less evolved, but unwilling to let that hold them back. They’re ambitious go-getters, but that’s not their character flaw. The character flaw is low self-esteem. It causes them to pretend to be something they’re not and makes them willing to do anything to gain respect from others.

So the Pakleds travel around taking technology from other species. Is it me or are they a less effective version of the Borg?

Deanna

comes to the bridge because she’s felt something wrong. It’s a good use of her because no one else in the crew has the slightest idea the Pakleds aim to misbehave. For the second time in two episodes, she swoops to help. I’m liking it. Too bad Riker just ignores her.

Worf

acts very much unlike Tasha Yar. When Riker wants to send the chief engineer to help the Pakleds, he rationally asks, Do we really have to send the CHIEF engineer? Can’t we just send them the information they need?  He, at least, never discriminates against the Pakleds.

Gomez

is still alive. Yay! Though according to Mission Log, this is the last time we’ll ever see her. Boo! She’s grown a lot since last episode. I guess the Borg will do that to you. She’s relaxed and praises Picard, telling Wes he can learn a lot from the captain. She even shares a look with Geordi when Picard comes by acting all Mr. Grumpy Pants.

Wes and Picard

on the shuttle was great. Picard is so self-absorbed he doesn’t think about the awkwardness of him riding with the son of the man whose dead body he brought back. Once Wes addresses the awkwardness, he starts thinking about it and overcompensates by spilling all the things he’d been brooding over while trying to read. It’s a good scene.

Picard is all kinds of cool when he stands there framed center with a red light flashing on his face and says, Open your mind to the past-art, history, philosophy. And all this may mean something.

I wondered where Picard’s talk about the humanities came from and why he would take so many books with him for a five hour trip. It didn’t seem like he’d be laid up in the hospital long.

However, one of the things his conversation with Wesley revealed (and later a quick log entry backed up) is he’s worried about dying. He’s thinking about all the stuff he hasn’t had enough of an opportunity to enjoy like the humanities and his own reading. His talk with Wesley is almost like he’s taking a last chance to be a father.

How about the time when Wesley said, I’m in complete control of the women thing. Picard is surprised and says I always had to work at it.

I liked it because 1) leave it to someone young to say such thing so confidently, and 2) I have to wonder if he still hasn’t overcome the shock of what he learned when he got too close to Selia back in the Dauphin: if you get close to someone, you learn they’re hiding some part of  themselves.

Riker’s Captaining

leaves a lot to be desired. He does a bad job out of arrogance. He should’ve listened to Troi and Worf. He even should’ve let Picard know they were off to help the Pakleds in the beginning. How powerless did he look when he shouted “Stop it!” like a petulant child?

Perspicuously,

by the way, means presented clearly and in a way easily understood. Yes. I looked it up.

Morals, Messages, and Meanings

  1. Be Good – Too simple? I don’t think the Pakleds are bad because they’re behind (evolutionarily speaking) but unwilling to let it hold them back. They’re bad because in pursuit of more choices, they’re taking choices away from others.
  2. Be Confident – The core of the Pakleds desire to be smart and strong makes them care too much what others think of them. One can imagine they’ve encountered numerous people like the Romulans who mistreated them. So instead of just being better, their focus became making others think they’re better.
  3. Don’t Accept Things at Face Value – The Pakleds play to the Federation’s expectations of them, and exploit it to entrap the Enterprise.
  4. Don’t Be Arrogant – Arrogance led to Picard getting a new heart and it led to the Riker falling for the Pakled trap.
  5. Don’t Be Prideful – Out of pride, Picard kept his faulty heart longer than he should’ve and went to Starbase 515 to get his new heart installed when he should’ve stayed onboard. After all the expert in this area of space is on his ship.
  6. Don’t Let Fear Prevent You from Doing Important Things – I’m think of Picard allowing anxiety about the procedure keep him from replacing his heart.
  7. Don’t Forget the Humanities
  8. Listen to Your Team

Does it hold up?

Yes.

It’s borderline though. The scenes between Patrick Stewart and Wil Weaton are fantastic. The two actors react to each other so well it’s fun to watch. And we learn a lot about each character. We see Wesley’s longing for a father figure, and Picard reflecting on his youth, how he became so disciplined. There is subtle, emotional depth in this part of the story.

While I’m not a big fan of the A plot / B plot story telling that’s a big part of seasons 1 and 2 so far, I thought they dovetailed nicely here. Once the doctors on Starbase 515 need Dr. P, the situation with the Pakleds threatens the lives of two crew members. So the stakes go up.

I was less excited about the B plot. The dialogue on the Enterprise wasn’t very good. It was as if they were expecting a bunch of new viewers this week and thought it necessary to explain as much as they could about Star Trek. Plus the performances seemed a little flat, as if Picard and Wesley took all the energy when they left. The whole tricking the Pakleds thing seemed familiar.

Plus what’s up with Wesley’s test? I guess it’s no longer important to his character development. He got more out Pen Pals than he’ll get out of a test, but I don’t get what the result is. Is he an ensign or not? The last test didn’t make him an ensign.

Still the A plot is so good it saves the episode just because of the acting and character work.

 

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