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The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old May 27 2013, 04:23 PM   #1
Jeyl
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Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"


Memory Alpha Entry
Chrissie's Transcript
SFDebris' Review

After Melinda Snodgrass' hugely successful episode "The Measure of a Man", writing another episode for The Next Generation was all but certain. Enter "Up The Long Ladder", a story that had a promising concept that brought real world issues into the Star Trek universe that unfortunately crashes and burns thanks to two mistakes.
  1. The Mary Sue in this episode is a lot more obvious and adds nothing to the story.
  2. Melinda pitched her story to our good friend Maurice Hurley.
While watching all of Melinda's episodes on BluRay, the one thing I quickly learned about Melinda's writing is that she incorporates a Mary Sue character in almost all of her episodes. In "The Measure of a Man" it was Captain Louvois (Michael Okuda was very subtle in calling her out on that one in the commentary track), in "The Ensigns of Command" it was Ard'rian McKenzie, and in "Up the Long Ladder" it's Brenna O'Dell. Where as Captain Louvois had a major role to play in the episode, and Ard'rian was an alien resident who had an open mind to the situation she and her people were in, Brenna has almost no relevance in this episode outside of showing off her tummy to Riker.

But I can forgive that if it wasn't for her second mistake that turned this episode into an almost unwatchable mess that it is now. She tried to pitch it to Maurice Hurley in a way that it would make it look more appealing to him. When she gave an analogy on what this culture of primitives was like, she used the phrase "Irish Tinkerers" since Maurice was an Irishman himself. Well, Maurice loved the idea so much that he practically ordered Melinda to write these inhabitants as literal Irish Tinkerers, complete with Irish accents, barrels, stacks of hey, and even farm animals like chickens and pigs. This feels less like a 22nd century human colonization and more like some literal human Irish group from the 19th century just somehow found a way onto a far away world and didn't make any kind of technological progression. And even if they literally were that, they would still be depicted as less stereo typical than what we got here.

And if that wasn't bad enough, this episode begins with with the most random, non-set up and no pay off teaser I think I've ever seen in a Star Trek episode. Worf simply collapses. Will this have anything to do with the story later on? No. It just happens.

The other colony in this episode comes in the form of a much more technologically advanced culture who continue to exist simply by cloning themselves. This culture tricks Riker and Pulaski into coming down on their planet where they conveniently knock them out, take samples from their bodies and erase their memories of this happening. You know an episode is bad when we go from Irish Stereotypes that are there solely for comic relief, to a society of clones who attack and violate our heroes. And it gets worse. When Riker and Pulaski learn about what happened to them, they discover the cloning area where their clones are almost ready to start living their newly formed lives. Riker and Pulaski give an understanding look to one another and decide to kill the clones in their sleep. No debate, no moral discussion, nothing. While these clones are a result of Riker and Pulaski being violated, this by no means comes off as an act of Justice. It feels more like what Game of Thrones characters would do to a King's bast*** child.

And how does our episode conclude? By having the cloning colony mate with the Irish colony. This sounds less like a solution and more like a dictator telling his civilians how to procreate. Our heroes are literally telling these two civilizations that their unique cultures are irrelevant and that, as SFDebris put it, "You are mules for DNA and nothing more". I could go on, but you really need to check out SFDebris' review. He words it better than I ever could, and he brings up a moment in a Season 3 episode that completely opposes everything that Picard does here.

CONCLUSION: This is a bad episode. Not that the idea isn't good, but the way idea plays out and how our heroes resolve it is so poorly done that you have to wonder why the Prime Directive even exists if our heroes are not going to look at the moral ramifications of it. Sure, law wise it wouldn't apply, but what about the reasoning behind it? Our heroes are literally interfering with two cultures and making them change their ways because they believe it will save them in the long run. Not three episodes ago, they were honestly close to letting an entire species die out on a planet even if their interference wouldn't have been known. This episode is nothing but bad taste in moral dilemmas.

STINGER:

Last edited by Jeyl; May 28 2013 at 03:04 PM.
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Old May 27 2013, 04:31 PM   #2
LOKAI of CHERON
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"

Brenna, and her very lovely tummy, is a saving grace in this otherwise not so good season 2 entry!
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Old May 27 2013, 11:08 PM   #3
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"

Well summarized. Not a very good episode. I found it kind of offensive Riker and Pulaski killed the climes.so quickly and without thought. They were innocent clones regardless of how they we're created.Really annoying.

The Irish colonists were a total stereotype of 19th centudry.
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Old May 27 2013, 11:15 PM   #4
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"

I don't think that stereotypes are per se bad but here they are overdone and the characters are not treated warmly like the Fair Haven characters in VOY.
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Old May 27 2013, 11:54 PM   #5
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"

Jeyl wrote: View Post
No debate, no moral discussion
The "killing of the innocents" scene is the only particularly interesting part of this episode, Riker's actions are impossible to justify.

The was no reason to rush to action here. The clones could have been removed to the Enterprise, where they would have matured in safety. Once born (I'm unclear as to any memories they would have had) the two clones could have gone on to live their own lives.

If for some reason the cloning chambers couldn't be moved, they could have remained under the guard of security teams on the surface until they "hatched."

When Will Riker came upon Thomas Riker, there was no immediate move to kill him. How is one situation different from the other?

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Old May 28 2013, 07:10 AM   #6
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"

I remember there being a huge controversy over a line "send in the clones". Anyone remember this and/or why it was controversial?
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Old May 28 2013, 08:50 AM   #7
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"

MikeS wrote: View Post
I remember there being a huge controversy over a line "send in the clones". Anyone remember this and/or why it was controversial?
I believe that was the original title for the episode. Perhaps the controversy was someone fearing copyright issues over the pun.
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Old May 28 2013, 03:43 PM   #8
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"

The was no reason to rush to action here. The clones could have been removed to the Enterprise, where they would have matured in safety.
Well, that in itself constitutes a reason. By immediately killing the clones before they became citizens, Riker and Pulaski could probably preempt the legal action that would come to play with a fully matured clone. I mean, if "A Man Alone" describes UFP rather than Bajoran law, then clones attain rights only hat the point where they reach consciousness, which seems to coincide with them ripening biologically into fully grown adults.

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Old May 28 2013, 03:49 PM   #9
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"

What's the source of all this behind the scenes dirt about Maurice Hurley?

And, yes, what a terrible episode. The Riker love scene (wash my feet) is cringeworthy.
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Old May 28 2013, 06:11 PM   #10
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"

Terrible, terrible episode. Didn't know it was from the same person who did The Measure of a Man, guess everyone has an off day...
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Old May 29 2013, 04:12 PM   #11
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"

As far as the clones are concerned, I largely agree with what Timo seems to be saying. Since the clones aren't mature enough to be conscious, at that point they're not alive and so destroying them is not a problem. If Riker and Pulaski had come in a day later and found fully-grown versions of themselves, at that point it would have been murder to kill them.
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Old May 29 2013, 04:23 PM   #12
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"

Significantly, our heroes, while law-abiding, seem to positively loathe clones. Riker in "Second Chances" seemed to be begging for the other heroes to reach the conclusion that the other him is a clone, so that he could point a phaser at him, and was devastated when this did not turn out to be the case!

An early killing would be contrary to the spirit of the law, which seems to be "clones are people, don't hurt them", but not illegal per se. Which makes sense: laws in general are about forcing people to do what they think is the wrong thing, otherwise they wouldn't be needed. And people in the 24th century want to kill their clones...

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Old May 29 2013, 04:47 PM   #13
Jeyl
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"

The Librarian wrote: View Post
As far as the clones are concerned, I largely agree with what Timo seems to be saying. Since the clones aren't mature enough to be conscious, at that point they're not alive and so destroying them is not a problem.
How do you know the clones were not alive? Who is to say that they didn't reach a stage where they could fully develop on their own and were simply kept in those tubes for convenience? These clones were wanted by those who created them, and Riker and Pulaski were content in killing them for no reason outside of the fact that they felt "uncomfortable". There was no beneficial or logistical reason for it. To use "law" to justify that these Clones are not people and you can kill them off without consequence goes against everything that the episode "The Measure of a Man" tried to establish. Really shows your "enlightened" humanity when you kill a life form that didn't even have a chance to defend itself the way Data did.
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Old May 29 2013, 04:52 PM   #14
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"

Harvey wrote: View Post
What's the source of all this behind the scenes dirt about Maurice Hurley?
Captain's Logs

Melinda Snodgrass wrote:
"It was intended to be a commentary about immigration, because I hate the current American policy. I wanted it to be something that says sometimes those outsiders you think are so smelly and wrong-colored, can bring enormous benefits to your society because they bring life and energy. That's what I was going for. Now my boss, at the time, was Maury Hurley, who is a major Irishman and leads the Saint Patrick's Day parade. When I was describing to him what I wanted to do, I was trying to come up with an analogy, and I said it was like a little village of Irish tinkerers, and he loved it so much he made me make them Irish tinkerers. I said okay, and that's how it came about."
Ah, Maurice. But don't worry. The flack against him will become self-evident when we reach Season 2's incredible season finale.
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Old May 29 2013, 07:45 PM   #15
Kevman7987
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x18 "Up The Long Ladder"

The difference between whether you accept abortion as murder or not.

Pro-Choice stance:
The Librarian wrote: View Post
As far as the clones are concerned, I largely agree with what Timo seems to be saying. Since the clones aren't mature enough to be conscious, at that point they're not alive and so destroying them is not a problem. If Riker and Pulaski had come in a day later and found fully-grown versions of themselves, at that point it would have been murder to kill them.
Pro-Life stance:
Jeyl wrote: View Post
How do you know the clones were not alive? Who is to say that they didn't reach a stage where they could fully develop on their own and were simply kept in those tubes for convenience? These clones were wanted by those who created them, and Riker and Pulaski were content in killing them for no reason outside of the fact that they felt "uncomfortable". There was no beneficial or logistical reason for it. To use "law" to justify that these Clones are not people and you can kill them off without consequence goes against everything that the episode "The Measure of a Man" tried to establish. Really shows your "enlightened" humanity when you kill a life form that didn't even have a chance to defend itself the way Data did.
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