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

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Old September 20 2012, 07:21 AM   #1
Captrek
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Episode of the Week: Justice

Evidently I was wrong about the weekly threads not taking hiatuses.

This week’s episode is Justice.

My customary comments and nits:

BOY: Watch! I bet you can't do this!
(He walks along in a hand-stand)
WESLEY: Watch this.
(He does a series of cart wheels)
This is an obvious stunt double because Wil Wheaton couldn’t do anything like that, and I don’t believe Wesley Crusher could do it either.

GIRL: I want to do something too. With you.
WESLEY: Er. What?
GIRL: It's something you can teach me. Will you?
WESLEY: Er. Well, actually, there are some games I don't quite know yet.
Get your mind out of the gutter, Wes.

RIKER: This may be nothing, but let's move all our people together.
WORF: Including Wesley, the boy?
Why does everyone keep calling him that?

RIKER: Help me locate Wes. He's wandered off.
“Wandered off”? He was told to go play with the other kids and he did. You were there. If you wanted him to stay with the rest of the landing party, you should have said so.

TASHA: Are you telling me that there's no crime here whatsoever? No one breaks any laws?
LIATOR: Once they did. Long, long ago there was much disorder. But not now.
TASHA: But I see no sign of police. Those who enforce laws.
RIVAN: Oh, we have very few. They are called Mediators. And they are needed only in one place each day.
LIATOR: The Punishment Zone. An area that's selected for a period of time.
TASHA: It's a completely random selection?
LIATOR: No one but our Mediators know what place or for how long. We're very proud of the wisdom of our ancestors. No person ever knows where or when a Zone will be.
RIVAN: And so no one risks death.
WORF: Death?
RIVAN: by breaking any law.
TASHA: Wait. Explain this.
LIATOR: Only one punishment for any crime.
WORF: Anyone who commits any crime in the Punishment Zone dies?
LIATOR: The law is the law. Our peace is built on that.
TASHA: Even a small thing? Such as ignoring the rule "keep off the grass"?
RIVAN: Then no one breaks that rule. Who wants to risk execution?
Everybody is happy with their system. Nobody bristles about the draconian nature of the their justice, nor does it seem that anyone is tempted to risk breaking the law by the very low probability of being in a Punishment Zone.

I submit there’s more going on here than the simple risk-benefit analysis Rivan and Liator describe. I think the Edo have been fundamentally changed by selective breeding.

Liator says that “Long, long ago there was much disorder,” and presumably more comprehensive Punishment Zone coverage. We can also imagine that long, long ago they would execute not only the transgressor but the transgressor’s progeny. After a few centuries under the Edo god, removing transgressors from the gene pool and encouraging non-transgressors to make love constantly (and probably to eschew contraception and abortion) you will breed a population naturally disposed to fear the Punishment Zones and obey the law.

TASHA: Careful, Commander. They've got some strange laws here.
RIKER: I thought you reviewed their laws.
TASHA: But they listed nothing about punishment.
She didn’t know the white fences mean keep out, and she didn’t know the punishments for any transgressions. Her review must not have been very thorough.

MEDIATOR: Death, of course. Don't make it difficult for the boy.
It’s not enough to kill him, you also have to give him “the boy” as the last words he’ll ever hear. Nice.
MEDIATOR: But of course it is. Completely painless. The boy would have felt nothing. But look at him now. You've frightened him.
PICARD: The boy, Wesley Crusher, where is he, please?
LIATOR: So, we are not yet as advanced as they are. And since you are advanced in other ways too, I suggest you use your superior powers to rescue the Wesley boy.
PICARD: Is the boy in any danger from you at this moment?
RIVAN: Of course. I'll go as a hostage for the boy's safety.
RIVAN: Since you have all this power, why be concerned about our laws? You could take the boy from us.
PICARD: You also see things in a way we do not, but as they truly are. I need help, my friend. I cannot permit that boy or any member of this vessel be sacrificed.
PICARD: Exactly. How do I explain my refusing to obey their laws down there. Not permitting the Crusher boy to be executed.
RIKER: It's almost time. I want the boy brought here now.
PICARD: We are all sworn not to interfere with other lives in the galaxy. If I save this boy, I break that law.
PICARD: You're not involved in this decision, boy.
Grr...

PICARD: Some people felt that it was necessary. But we have learned to detect the seeds of criminal behaviour Capital punishment, in our world, is no longer considered a justifiable deterrent.
LIATOR: So, we are not yet as advanced as they are. And since you are advanced in other ways too, I suggest you use your superior powers to rescue the Wesley boy. We will record him as a convicted criminal out of our reach, an advanced person who luckily escaped the barbarism of this backward little world.
PICARD: Unfortunately, we have a law known as the Prime Directive.
Judging by Liator’s comments here and Rivan’s similar comments later, the Edo have an intuitive understanding that respect for the law is based on fear of the Punishment Zones and that aliens powerful enough to resist Edo punishment might not respect Edo law. If that is proven correct, Liator indicates that the Edo will simply go on thinking and living as they always have. Their culture won’t be significantly altered.

There may be good reason to respect Edo law, but I don’t think the non-interference directive applies.

PICARD: One to beam down to away team location. Hurry! Engage! Transporter Room. Urgent! Engage!
You’d think a military organization would have a more succinct way to express that.

CRUSHER: What do you intend to do about my son?
PICARD: He's being held safely until sundown.
CRUSHER: When he faces execution! Although he's committed no crime, certainly none that any sane and reasonable person would
PICARD: You saw what that thing was about to do.
Yes, Dr. Crusher’s species has a perception that goes beyond linear time.

PICARD: You're saying they. It is a vessel of some sort.
DATA: Definitely not a single entity if that's what you mean, sir, although they know the Edo worship them as a god thing.
PICARD: They know?
DATA: They recognise that this is quite expected and harmless at the present Edo stage of evolution.
PICARD: What sort of vessel?
DATA: It is perhaps not what we would understand as a vessel, sir. The dimensions this one occupies allows them to be, well, to be in several places at once. But they consider this entire star cluster to be theirs. It was probably unwise of us to attempt to place a human colony in this area. Of course, there are three thousand four other planets in this star cluster in which we could have colonised. The largest and closest
PICARD: Data, don't babble.
DATA: Babble, sir? I'm not aware that I ever babble, sir. It may be that from time to time I have considerable information to communicate, and you may question the way I organise it.
PICARD: Please, organise it into brief answers to my questions. We have very little time. Do they accept our presence at this planet?
DATA: Undecided, sir.
PICARD: Data, please, feel free to volunteer any important information.
DATA: I volunteer that they are now observing us, sir.
PICARD: To judge what kind of life forms we are?
DATA: No, it is more curiosity, sir. I doubt that they expect us to abide by their value systems.
PICARD: Do they know of our Prime Directive?
DATA: They know everything I know, sir.
PICARD: And, if we were to violate the Prime Directive, how
CRUSHER: That's not a fair question.
PICARD: How would they react?
DATA: It would be a case of judging us by our own rules, sir. If we violate our own Prime Directive, they might consider us to be deceitful and untrustworthy. You do recall they cautioned us not to interfere with their children below. What has happened?
CRUSHER: The Edo want to execute my son. I will not allow that to happen, Jean-Luc.
DATA: Most interesting, sir. The emotion of motherhood, compared to all others felt by
CRUSHER: Shut up!
(Beverly storms out)
DATA: You were right, sir. I do tend to babble.
I enjoyed this bit.

PICARD: I don't know how to communicate this, or even if it is possible, but the question of justice has concerned me greatly of lately. And I say to any creature who may be listening, there can be no justice so long as laws are absolute. Even life itself is an exercise in exceptions.
RIKER: When has justice ever been as simple as a rulebook?
(The party are beamed up)
PICARD: It seems the Edo Lord agrees with you, Number One.
That’s not a very substantial argument or useful guide.

You can’t just say “Rules are made to be broken” and then break them. That’s throwing away the rulebook altogether. The rulebook exists for a reason. You have to recognize the purpose of the rule, then advocate an exception by arguing that the proposed exception would not undermine the purpose of the rule or is justified by greater concerns.

Saying that Punishment Zone law shouldn’t be absolute is a start, but then you have to explain why an exception should be made for Wesley and why making an exception for Wesley won’t undermine the Edo culture that depends on that law. The episode completely omits the substantial part of the argument, leaving the impression that “life is an exercise in exceptions” is all the justification you need when a rule proves inconvenient (assuming you’re one of the good guys, of course).

This is supposed to be an episode with a moral. Unfortunately, the moral is botched by the episode’s failure to demonstrate its proper application.
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Old September 20 2012, 12:45 PM   #2
Timo
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Re: Episode of the Week: Justice

Random hipshots:

This is an obvious stunt double because Wil Wheaton couldn’t do anything like that
Why not? It doesn't look particularly demanding - handstands are much more difficult than cartwheel series.

She didn’t know the white fences mean keep out
Do they?

I mean, Wesley broke the law by breaking some glass. The fences didn't seem to have anything to do with that.

There may be good reason to respect Edo law, but I don’t think the non-interference directive applies.
The Prime Directive is about many things, non-interference only being one of them. For example the elements our heroes rattle off in "Bread and Circuses" deal with issues of tactical secrecy and security, not non-interference. It doesn't sound implausible that the PD would flat out declare that local laws must be respected to the hilt, too.

...Which Kirk obviously didn't do in "Bread and Circuses". But there would no doubt be double, triple or octuple standards about such things, all carefully specified in the Directive.

You’d think a military organization would have a more succinct way to express that.
And a more descriptive and specific one. Since these vague "three to beam up" orders never end up with the wrong three getting beamed up, it seems as if the order as such is a mere formality, and other, nonverbal means are used for specifying what is actually wanted... Presumably, Picard could thus go quote Shakespeare for all we know, as long as that was what he had formally specified as the trigger phrase.

That’s not a very substantial argument or useful guide.
And, amusingly, the penultimate script that can be found at TrekCore takes a path where this is not a shortcoming.

In that version, the Edo are not convinced by Picard's argument at all. Picard merely uses this as his parting words when fleeing with Wesley via transporter, whilst the Edo shout impotent insults at him. He is not interested in what the Edo think - he deals directly with their God now, and the God seems to think the laws of its children are of no particular relevance to it. Interstellar relationships are more important...

This is supposed to be an episode with a moral. Unfortunately, the moral is botched by the episode’s failure to demonstrate its proper application.
In either version, the moral is that nations with draconian laws can be freely ignored, nuked or made fun of, because they have forfeited any right to reasonable discourse.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old September 20 2012, 04:11 PM   #3
billcosby
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Re: Episode of the Week: Justice

It's one of those "so bad it's actually good" episodes.
In my classification system, anyway.
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Old September 20 2012, 05:19 PM   #4
Takeru
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Re: Episode of the Week: Justice

What always annoyed me the most about this episode is that the Edo basically tell Picard to just take Wesley and leave very early in the episode, they have no way of stopping him and don't seem to think it's a big deal "Just leave, we make a note and keep screwing each other" but Picard is like "Nah, I'd rather find a way to convince you to change the way your justice system works in a few hours, please keep the boy and threaten him with death".
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Old September 20 2012, 05:40 PM   #5
Delsaber
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Re: Episode of the Week: Justice

I'm with Worf: nice planet.

Probably would've become one of the Federation's leading tourist traps if it weren't for Risa cornering the market with all those horga'hn statuettes.

...oh right, the episode itself. Horrible, horrible stuff, but hilarious. If Rifftrax ever does individual Star Trek episodes, this should be on the shortlist.
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Old September 20 2012, 05:49 PM   #6
Mott the barber
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Re: Episode of the Week: Justice

It wasn't as bad as I remembered but some of those lines in the original post are really cringe-worthy.
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Old September 20 2012, 06:25 PM   #7
T'Girl
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Re: Episode of the Week: Justice

captrek wrote: View Post
Why does everyone keep calling him that?
Because Wesley is a boy, it only years later that he grows up, attends Starfleet academy and spends the rest of his life harassing Shelden Cooper.

I suggest you use your superior powers to rescue the Wesley boy. We will record him as a convicted criminal out of our reach
The cop unlocks the cell door, and loudly declares that he going down the block for coffee, and won't be back for five minutes.

How dense is Picard anyway?

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Old September 20 2012, 06:29 PM   #8
Silvercrest
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Re: Episode of the Week: Justice

T'Girl wrote: View Post
captrek wrote: View Post
Why does everyone keep calling him that?
Because Wesley is a boy, it only years later that he grows up, attends Starfleet academy and spends the rest of his life harassing Shelden Cooper.
Now now, be fair. He also spent part of his life harassing Douglas Fargo.
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Old September 21 2012, 01:50 AM   #9
BillJ
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Re: Episode of the Week: Justice

Always liked this one, but I like most of the first season.
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Old September 21 2012, 02:30 AM   #10
Trekker4747
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Re: Episode of the Week: Justice

This episode is too filled with satin/silk-wrapped man junk and terrible perms/frizzy wigs for one to enjoy. The "story" in it isn't too bad but I think gets muddied somewhat in goofiness of the story and Wheaton was hardly in his "acting best" this early in the series.

(He says in a "big boy" voice)
"I'm with Starfleet. We don't lie."

Crusher's overreaction here is understandable (unlike many other times when she over-reacts to things concerning Wesley) but when she says things like "no reasonable society would use capital punishment for a minor offense" it sort of smacks in the face of everything we're supposed to believe about humanity in this period of time. Namely they wouldn't so harshly judge another civilization's laws.

Picard suggests in this episode the Federation has no capital punishment which best fits with what we know about the 24c version of humanity/Earth. But it sort of flies in the face with General Order 7 saying anyone visiting Talos IV gets the DP. Which is dumb and, yeah, best ignored.

And, well, I love Wil Wheaton's "recap" of this episode.

Wesley tells them to get a bat. When they don't know what it is, he describes Worf's penis. It's not awkward at all.
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Old September 21 2012, 03:26 PM   #11
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Re: Episode of the Week: Justice

Poor old Wheaton, in an episode where even Patrick Stewart is struggling he didn't stand a chance did he?

Pretty much agreed with what everyone else has put, but I'll just add this is probably the least sexy planet of sex maniacs ever committed to film.
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Old September 21 2012, 04:03 PM   #12
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Re: Episode of the Week: Justice

ah yes, the "incompetent Yar" episode. She reviews the culture's laws, but learns nothing about them.


And the "dilemma" is a pretty fake one. No one would seriously suggest that a minor should die for a transgression that harmed no one and that he didn't even know he was committing. If anything, Yar would bear the responsibility.
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Old September 21 2012, 09:07 PM   #13
Trekker4747
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Re: Episode of the Week: Justice

The planet's laws were universal, applied to everyone and served one punishment. Yeah it was unreasonable but from their point of view it not only worked it worked brilliantly! The planet was an Eden!

What's odd to me is that, if I understood correctly, that there's only one place on the entire planet where the "Mediators" are to catch a law being broken and to dispense punishment. No one knows where this place is and it's different everyday. And, again, it's only on ONE place on the planet. No one tramples flowers because they never know if they're in that one spot where the Mediators are.

So of the entire planet where punishment was being dispensed for breaking the law that day it just happened to be where Wesley was doofusly playing ball?

That's some shitty luck there.

And, yeah, Yar really should have done "better homework" when it came to reading up on the planet. It suggests she did read on what was illegal -which she seemed to say was pretty standard- (So "don't be a dink and crash into flower beds" was likely on there.) But she never looked into what the punishment was for breaking the law?! Even if it was a stiff fine what was Wesley to do when they bounded up in unsettling "uniforms" doing a poor job of containing man batches and demanded $500 from him? Just put on his big-boy voice and say, "I'm with Starfleet! We don't carry money!"

Seemed like someone did drop the ball here and wasn't just Wesley Dick Van Dyke-ing it into a nursery.
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Old September 21 2012, 10:44 PM   #14
Mott the barber
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Re: Episode of the Week: Justice

Trekker4747 wrote: View Post
This episode is too filled with satin/silk-wrapped man junk and terrible perms/frizzy wigs for one to enjoy. The "story" in it isn't too bad but I think gets muddied somewhat in goofiness of the story and Wheaton was hardly in his "acting best" this early in the series.

(He says in a "big boy" voice)
"I'm with Starfleet. We don't lie."

Crusher's overreaction here is understandable (unlike many other times when she over-reacts to things concerning Wesley) but when she says things like "no reasonable society would use capital punishment for a minor offense" it sort of smacks in the face of everything we're supposed to believe about humanity in this period of time. Namely they wouldn't so harshly judge another civilization's laws.

Picard suggests in this episode the Federation has no capital punishment which best fits with what we know about the 24c version of humanity/Earth. But it sort of flies in the face with General Order 7 saying anyone visiting Talos IV gets the DP. Which is dumb and, yeah, best ignored.

And, well, I love Wil Wheaton's "recap" of this episode.

Wesley tells them to get a bat. When they don't know what it is, he describes Worf's penis. It's not awkward at all.

I wonder if the kids giggled during that scene in one of the takes. I bet they did.
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Old September 22 2012, 03:22 AM   #15
Gojira
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Re: Episode of the Week: Justice

BillJ wrote: View Post
Always liked this one, but I like most of the first season.
I just finished season 1 and a little ways into season 2 and I don't think season 1 is really that bad either. I enjoy almost all of the episodes. Justice, not without its flaws, is still a pretty good episode.
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