Memory Alpha Entry
Ah, Samaritan Snare. An episode that is broken, and that is NOT a deception.
It's funny how in the previous episode we had the Enterprise facing against an invincible and intimidating enemy called the Borg, to the laughable cartoony bad guys known as the Pakleds. Think cartoony is a bit of an overstatement? Their leader is played by the late Christopher Collins, an actor who is best known for voicing Cobra Commander
This episode also has the added benefit of reminding us that we're not yet in Season Three because Pulaski is still the ship's doctor and Picard is still a heartless jerk. Fitting since this episode establishes that Picard literally has no real heart. Despite that, the best parts of this episode all deal with Picard and Wesley taking a shuttle to a near by starbase to have his artificial heart replaced. It's the only time where Picard's smug attitude can be relatable (Alone with Wesley) and we learn a bit more about his character that we never would have assumed he was capable of doing. He picked a fight with a ruthless alien that almost resulted in his death. The moment where he mentions getting stabbed through his heart is made all the more strange by the fact that he says "I laughed out loud" after realizing what had just happened.... I'm not much of a Ron D. Moore fan, but when it came to the task of taking this very weird moment in Picard's life and making something out of it, I would not have come up with anything near the excellence to what Ron did.
As you can probably tell, the biggest problem with this episode are the Pakleds and how they are written. There is certainly an intent made to establish that the Pakleds are not as dumb as they look, but the end result feels like the writer simply forgot about the clever part and just embraced the idiocy of their dumb nature without changing the story. Our characters say in dialogue that the Pakleds managed to fool both the Romulans and Klingons to the point where they've managed to steal their technology and incorporated it into their own ship. But as we see later in the episode, the Pakleds are so stupid that they literally fall for a deception that was even more obvious than theirs. In the end, do the Pakleds really come off as a race capable of fooling both the Klingons and Romulans into stealing their technology and getting away with it? Nope. Not buying it.
Also, the surgeons working on replacing Picard's artificial heart?
Surgeon: Don't worry about a thing, Captain. We've done this a hundred times, and we're ready when you are.
This will be a secondary cardiac procedure with mid-line entry and excision of the early model unit. I anticipate no complications, as the patient has had positive primary results and exhibits extraordinary physical condition. We'll all be home in time for dinner.
I know the episode is dumb, but this part makes me feel sorry for writer Robert L. McCullough. He writes a script featuring surgeons getting ready to replace Picard's artificial heart by making a fairly long confidence speech about it, yet the execution in the final episode completely botches it. The surgeons work in Picard's lower stomach area while the area of the chest where the heart is located isn't even under the futuristic surgery cover. At least the director of "Spock's Brain" knew where the brain was located on the human body. So when something does go wrong with the surgery that threatens Picard's life, I'm not thinking "Uh oh, something happened that they didn't anticipate", I'm bonking myself on the head because it's obvious the surgeon screwed it up because he didn't know where his freaking heart is!
So in the end, the Enterprise fools the Pakleds, rush Pulaski to the star base and Picard is saved much to his utter dismay.
While it's certainly a below average episode, I can actually see this episode being sort of a guilty pleasure for some. Despite how horribly written the Pakleds are, the actors playing them manage to make them enjoyable. The only thing that manages to make this episode important is the establishment of Picard's artificial heart and the mystery surrounding his "lol" moment. It also helps to serve how much Picard would later change as a character as the series progressed.