25. The Neutral Zone

Another Code 47?

Captain Picard starts this episode off ship at a conference. Apparently this conference was about people being killed in the neutral zone, possibly by Romulans. Now why couldn’t they talk about this over the comms? Is it a secret?

Secrets make me think of Conspiracy and Conspiracy makes me think of claymation bugs. Is this related to near destruction of the Federation from within? And when I say within I mean within all those admirals.

No, apparently not. The only thing left over from the last episode is a new found fondness for gore. Data finds some pretty gnarly mummies.

Data is wonderful

in this episode. I get that the storytelling wants to convey that there is danger and urgency in this situation with the neutral zone, but I don’t think this should stop our characters from upholding their own values.

They encounter a relic from a long gone era, the probe, and Riker thinks it’s just trash. Worf says, I can do something to keep it from being destroyed by the sun it’s headed towards. Riker’s like, don’t waste your energy.

But Data, who always wants to learn, insists that there is value in historical objects, insists they try to learn from it, insists they try to help the frozen. And his drive to learn, his drive to be good saves three people, but earns him scorn from Riker and Picard.

Now I can see how these two could kill that Aliens monster from Conspiracy without hesitating last episode.

I applaud Data. Loudly. I say to Data, never mind that they made you say that stupid homemaker joke because to me you’re the hero of this episode. You and Mr. Offenhouse. 

Bring Out Your Dead

Not too keep going about this, by which I mean to keep going about this, in Sick Bay Picard is chastising Data like Data is a child. Chastising him for saving lives. Comparing it to preadolescent curisority.

This is how I imagined it in my head.

DATA

I could not leave them there.

PICARD

They were already dead.

RALPH OFFENHOUSE

I’m not dead yet. I’m feeling much better now.

I think I’ll go for a walk.

The Bright Side

is that Dr. C is at least compassionate enough to thaw them out, cure them, and bring em back alive.

Also, another bright side, Dr. C seems to imply that in the future people aren’t horrified by death. Who would be when so many of the serious health conditions we might develop now are trivial in the future? More than anything else, this made me optimistic about the future.

I for one can’t wait to put this burden down.

I wonder why Dr. C was limping in sickbay.

How they died

seems to tell us a lot about what the storytellers think is wrong with society today. Let’s get table with it.

Name Age Cause of Death Profession View of Death
Clare Raymond 35 embolism homemaker never saw it coming
Ralph Offenhouse 55 advanced cardiomyopathy financier knew it was coming
L. Q. Sonny Clemonds not given chemical abuse musician *see rant below

So there we see the woman is a housewife who never makes decisions and doesn’t even expect death. Let’s look down our noses at her.

Then we see the guy who only cares about money. Of course he saw death coming. He was always planning. Too bad he’s so darn greedy.

In Defense of Financiers

I just have to say this episode goes to great lengths to criticize Mr. Offenhouse because he’s greedy. And perhaps our current method of resource allocation doesn’t take care of nearly enough people nearly as well as it should. But we’re talking about a guy who was highly skilled at getting projects to happen, getting resources to go where they needed to go to make it happen. Those are important skills, and I’m certain he’ll be useful to the future. Sorry that was not

the rant.

The truth is I’ve given it some thought, and I’m still a little embarrassed about my blow up over the Tasha Yar / Wesley Crusher conversation about drugs. I won’t rant. Instead I’ll just say this.

Picard and Dr. C talked about alcohol abuse. Picard said, Mr. Clemonds hated life yet had himself frozen so he could do it all again. Dr. C said, it was unbelievable because Mr. Clemonds was too afraid to live and too scared to die.

Alcoholism is more complicated than that.

Wow, that rant wanted out. It was touch and go there for a minute.

Let’s move on to something pleasant like

Pit Woofies.

I’ve nothing to say here other than I like them.

Troi’s Racial Profiling of the Romulans

Deanna says,

One moment they’re violent beyond description. The next tender. (Sounds like me after a few Romulan Ales. Elbow nudge, elbow nudge.) They’re intensely curious. Their belief in their own superiority is beyond arrogance. (Sadly, sounds like me sober.) For some reason they’ve exhibited a fascination with human and it’s that fascination more than anything that has kept the peace. One other thing, they will not initiate anything. They will wait for you to commit yourself.

To all this, Captain Picard says, quite valuable.

Two things here.

One. That’s a lot of stuff and it’s pretty specific considering she said there wasn’t much information.

Two. It’s not all that valuable if the Enterprise runs into the Romulan equivalent of the Sea Shepherds. Who knows what they will be like?

Yes. Monoculture again.

How do we know Romulans are all the same?

Data is wonderful (part II)

again because he seems to be the least violent person aboard the Enterprise. Everyone else is making huge assumptions about the Romulans, but Data calls them on it. He keeps reminding them that they don’t know anything, and that they should collect information first.

Riker: The outposts have probably been destroyed by the Romulans. It fits with their pattern of behavior. Data: Since we have not had contact with them in a long time, we must consider our ideas of their patterns out of date.
Riker: Romulans don’t have information either, and they’re creating a confrontation to get info on us. We should take the initiative.Worf: Yea. Data: The idea of taking initiative is fine and everything if the Romulans are hostile, but we do not know if they are. If they are not, then it would be a total admiral move to charge in phasers blazing.
Geordi: If their intentions aren’t hostile, what are they? Data: Not hostile.

Worf’s racism

I get. I’m not saying I condone it, but I understand it. Not everyone else’s. Maybe they have parents killed by the Romulan military too. But I haven’t heard anything about it. 

Mr. Offenhouse

saves the day in the end. Sure Deanna’s racial profiling helped too. It kept Picard from fighting when Riker and Worf were chomping at the bit, and that kept the Romulans from initiating conflict.

But the day that needed saving was some way for them to work together with the Romulans to solve the outpost conundrum. Yet the negotiations were about to peter out. It was Mr. Offenhouse, using his honed financier skills, who saw what was really going on.

Why?

Because he didn’t have any of the prejudices that the rest of the crew had. He looked at the facts and assessed them on their own merits. Just like bam! He knew what was going on.

Thus the crew should’ve learned two things: don’t be guided by your prejudices, and you can learn from the past.

Of course, based on what Picard said at the end of the episode, I don’t think he did.

 The End?

Hello? Is this really the end?

Why are the outposts gone?

Hello?

WHY ARE THE OUTPOSTS GONE?

Did I miss a “To Be Continued?”

Is this thing on?

Morals, messages, and meanings

  1. Don’t let your prejudices guide you
  2. Learn from the past
  3. Don’t let your convictions make you judgemental – This is a lot like We’ll Always Have Paris, but Picard represents the idea that humanity should continue to strive to improve itself. He says as much to Mr. Offenhouse. But that drive upward shouldn’t make you look down on the people who came before you. They, after all, lifted you up so you could climb higher. He learns not to judge Mr. Offenhouse. (In order for this interpretation to hold up, you have to ignore the last thing Picard said.)
  4. Don’t abuse alcohol
  5. Don’t fear death
  6. Gather information before drawing a conclusion

Does it hold up?

Yes.

I love this episode. I like the idea of the frozen people waking up in the future. I enjoy the stranger in a strange land storyline. Mr. Clemonds is cheesey and crazy and who knows what era he comes from, but I like him.

Data is great in this episode.

All the Romulan stuff that should annoy me is easy to overlook, and I cannot explain why. The thing that gets me is Picard and Riker acting out of character, refusing to help people who need help. But wasn’t it great how sincerely Picard shook Mr. Offenhouse’s hand when it was offered to him?

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about this question. It troubles me because I’m not sure exactly what it means. Am I asking if it’s as good as stuff that’s on TV now?

That’s hard to answer, but we’re currently in a golden age of Television. Not a lot of Street Hawks anymore. Man, I loved that show. Could it be made today?

The other reason it troubles me is that it leads to us looking for negatives. Something to make it not hold up. I wonder if we should be asking why do you love this episode.

Because with a few exceptions I loved all the episodes from the first season. Some like an Uncle Walter, but it’s love nonetheless.

All that said. Here’s my last table. A does it hold up table for the first season.

Does it hold up?
Encounter at Farpoint Yes.
The Naked Now Yes.
Code of Honor No.
The Last Outpost NO.
Where No One Has Gone Before Yeah, sure.
Lonely Among Us I’m going to go with “No.”
Justice Oh yea.
The Battle Patrick Stewart’s acting, yes. Everything else, I say no.
Hide and Q Yes.
Haven Yes.
The Big Goodbye No.
Datalore From a production standpoint: no.From a story standpoint: no.From an idea standpoint: Oh yea.
Angel One NO!
11001001 Yes.
Too Short a Season I guess.
When the Bough Breaks Yes.
Home Soil Yes.
Coming of Age Yes.
Heart of Glory No.
The Arsenal of Freedom It’s not horrible.
Symbiosis Yes.
Skin of Evil No.
We’ll Always Have Paris Not a terrible episode.
Conspiracy No.
The Neutral Zone Yes.

 

<<24. Conspiracy

01. The Child>>