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Old June 16 2009, 05:47 PM   #1
hyzmarca
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Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

Over the years, there have been episodes dedicated to showing exactly why the Prime Directive is a good thing. Some deal with the logical implications of the Prime Directive, including it's weaknesses, and attempt to fend off attacks against it. Others present the plain consequences of human hubris on the lives of pre-warp aliens. Others still produce incredibly contrives situations that are so absurdly unlikely that it's just funny.

Those Prime Directive episodes that do it right are very good. Those that do it wrong make the PD appear incredibly immoral. And then there are those which are just unintentionally hilarious.

So, what are, in your opinions, the best Prime Directive episodes in all of Trek, and which are the worst, and why.

In this case, I'd prefer to define best and worst by how well they justify the Prime Directive, but feel free to use other criteria for grading, just mention it if you do, please.


I'll go first.

Best
The Omega Glory - As a whole, this episode was cringeworthy in ways that are impossible to justify, but it has one of the best treatments of the Prime Directive in all of Trek. If you ignore all the stupidness, you'll find a show about a Captain who tried to do the right thing, and who tried to profit from it, by assisting one pre-warp civilization in their conflict with another. But he discovers that there are no potential benefits for the Federation, and that the conflict is much more morally grey than he has once believed.


Worst
Pen Pals - It's difficult to imagine how the unfortunate implications of this episode got past everybody. While Picard does his damnded to defend the Prime Directive, and he does so well, the fact remains that this episode presents it as totally and grotesquely immoral, a dangerous inflexible restriction that they have to get around. It also sets the unfortunate precedent that the Federation believes that it is better to let entire species go extinct due to natural than it is to actually help them. This is the episode that turns the Prime Driective from something that might be a little elitest and paternalistic, but ultimately serves a good purpose, into a horibly dangerous philosophy of apathy.

Silliest
A Piece of the Action - As a justification for the Prime Directive, it's just the stupdest thing imaginable. It's a gangster planet. Everybody on the entine plannet decided to take up Prohibition-era Chicago style orginized crime because someone left a book. I don't know what's funnier, the fact that a starship captain would choose to leave a book about Chicago gangs of the 1920s, instead of something more culturally relevant, or that an entire Planet of the Hats would decide to make organized crime their hat after reading it. It's just too absurd to take seriously, but it is fun.
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Old June 16 2009, 06:11 PM   #2
Xerxes1979
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Re: Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

I was never happy with the actions of the Ent-D in Justice. Were the Edo a warp capable civizilation?

Properly adhearing to the Prime Directive would have avoided the near castostrophe, even though some here openly opine for the death of Wesley Crusher.

You can't blame it on being the first season of TNG either, since McCoy clearly went undercover when first studying the natives of Neural in A Private Little War.
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Old June 16 2009, 06:32 PM   #3
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Re: Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

Worst prime directive justification episode - TNG: Homeward. Picard is turned into a mass murderer, willing to sacrifice an entire species for a nonsensical rule.
The justification offered for Picard's actions - the native species will comit suicide after learning about the larger universe - is just ridiculous.


Best justification episode for the prime directive - TNG form - ENT: Dear Doctor, perhaps? The justification offered has a lot of holes, but that's to be expected - TNG prime directive is nonsense.

Last edited by ProtoAvatar; June 16 2009 at 07:46 PM.
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Old June 16 2009, 06:33 PM   #4
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Re: Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

Just put any Voyager episode.
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Old June 16 2009, 06:40 PM   #5
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Re: Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

Best - "Who Watches The Watchers" (TNG) - it really shows the damage interfering with primitive (developing) cultures can cause.

Worst - "Dear Doctor" (ENT) - I've stated my reasons for loathing this episode number of times in the ENT forum, don't have the will to do it all over again.
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Old June 16 2009, 06:40 PM   #6
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Re: Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

Xerxes1979 wrote: View Post
I was never happy with the actions of the Ent-D in Justice. Were the Edo a warp capable civizilation?

Properly adhearing to the Prime Directive would have avoided the near castostrophe, even though some here openly opine for the death of Wesley Crusher.

You can't blame it on being the first season of TNG either, since McCoy clearly went undercover when first studying the natives of Neural in A Private Little War.
That's not quite what happened in Justice. They were not a warp civilization, but the crew didn't try to interfere when they first appeared either. They were going to the planet for shore leave and blending in just fine. It wasn't until Wesley was threatened with execution for stepping in the wrong spot that the crew came up with the plan to interfere. So if they had stuck to non-interference, Wesley would have been dead. (Yeah, they could have avoided the planet altogether, but that wasn't my impression of what non-interference meant; just that they couldn't show their true technology level)
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Old June 16 2009, 06:46 PM   #7
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Re: Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

I don't recall the name of the episode, but it was a TNG ep where they sat in orbit and watched as an entire population was obliterated by an ecological catastrophe. Apparently extinction was a better fate for those people than exposure to a warp-capable society.
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Old June 16 2009, 09:09 PM   #8
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Re: Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

I always thought that Kirk would have been court martialed for his actions in "A Taste of Armageddon" when he destroyed the war by computer system and exposed the citizens of Eminiar and Vendikar to an actual war.

Although this is only one of many episodes where JTK violated the Prime Directive.
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Old June 16 2009, 09:55 PM   #9
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Re: Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

That's really a huge difference between the TOS and TNG Prime Directives. The TOS Prime Directive only really applied to pre-warp civilizations, and even then it didn't apply when other warp-capable civilizations were also involved, as in An Errand of Mercy and Friday's Child.

In A Taste of Armageddon, the Eminiar attempted to slaughter a diplomatic envoy, an act of war. They were a warp capable civilization perfectly able to prosecute an interstellar conflict and potentially posed a major threat to the Federation, so much so that Kirk felt justified in invoking General Order 24 upon the planet if a better solution couldn't be found. All things being equal, if sterilizing the planet's surface via orbital bombardment wasn't a Prime Directive violation in that circumstance, then the much less genocidal solution of destroying a computer and forcing peace certainly couldn't have been.
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Old June 16 2009, 11:14 PM   #10
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Re: Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

Everyone seems to yell at it for being an 'atheistic' episode, but 'Who Watches the Watchers' is the best PD episode.
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Old June 16 2009, 11:36 PM   #11
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Re: Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

Yeah, arguably Kirk breaks the PD in 'A Taste Of Armaggedon'. He may not have approved of the Eminian system, but he didn't have to interfere.
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Old June 16 2009, 11:51 PM   #12
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Re: Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

PD is a 'grey area' kind of rule. It must be interpreted in the circumstances, so I tend to take them all in stride. Who Watches The Watchers would be one of my favourites and Justice one of my least favourite, but in defense of Justice, those people knew about warp capable civilizations and were still ready to execute (I mean EXECUTE!?!) an alien for walking on the grass. Sorry, those people get the cold shoulder as murdering morons. Kidnap the prisoner and leave a warning beacon in orbit on your way out.
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Old June 17 2009, 12:35 AM   #13
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Re: Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

LutherSloan wrote: View Post
Everyone seems to yell at it for being an 'atheistic' episode, but 'Who Watches the Watchers' is the best PD episode.
Not everybody, we atheists find it an excellent and refreshing episode. I guess some take umbridge that if one belief system is shown to fraudelent and superstitious the natural linkage to real life Earth religions is only a stones throw away.
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Old June 17 2009, 01:05 AM   #14
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Re: Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

I try not to think about the Prime Directive all that much, being as immoral as it is.

That said, "First Contact" (the episode) is pretty good.
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Old June 17 2009, 01:55 AM   #15
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Re: Best and Worst Prime Directive Justification Episodes

It's not that immoral when you think of the consequences beyond just the single planet involved. "Homeward" for example: There was no way to evacuate that entire planet in the time they had, and if they had tried it would have taken hundreds of ships working round the clock to do so. Then they'd have to transport them to another world suitable for them and leave behind a large task force to adjust their culture to the massive changes.

Once done, this would set a precedent that the pro-interventionalists would continually bring up, forcing Starfleet to have to establish a bureau for this. A bureau dedicated to finding endangered worlds and protecting them/transplanting them.

Where are the ships, crews and resources for such an operation to come from? Starfleet would run its' resources dry to do so, and deplete their numbers from other areas such as DEFENSE in order to even try it. The Federation would become a Galactic Nanny State and leave itself wide open to attacks from their enemies while spending everything they had babying the rest of the galaxy.
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