Episode of the Week: 2x17 "Samaritan Snare"

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Jeyl, May 20, 2013.

  1. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    [​IMG]
    Memory Alpha Entry
    Chrissie's Transcript
    SFDebris' Review

    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 and Starscream!

    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?

    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.

    CONCLUSION: 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.

    STINGER:
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  2. Trek Survivor

    Trek Survivor Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Will always have a special place in my heart, despite being pretty poor.

    When this episode was first broadcast in the UK - August 1991 - I was on holiday, and my dad had this policy of always unplugging the TV/video etc if we were away for more than a few days. In other words, I couldn't record it (used to record every episode). I did get to see it on TV though.

    The following week was "Up the Long Ladder" and we were back from our holiday but off on a family day trip to the beach. I set the video, but managed to cock it up and missed "Up the Long Ladder" altogether.

    I know now we can all say "well, you didn't miss much" but the 11-year-old me was very disappointed. It was a long wait till Christmas, but volume #22 of the CIC-released VHS series contained... "Samaritan Snare" and "Up the Long Ladder", and was on my Christmas list! And my folks got it, I was over the moon.

    Um...(dusts off nostalgia) what was this thread about again? Ah, yes, "Samaritan Snare". It has several massive plot-holes (e.g. even if surgery is routine, why would you have it done in a facility where NO ONE is qualified to handle things if it goes wrong? Also, Deanna tells everyone "I sense deception; get Geordi back now"...and everyone just kind of ignores her.). Still, I kind of like the Pakleds. The lead Pakled was Chris Collins (back so soon after "A Matter of Honour") who also voiced Starscream in the original Transformers cartoon... so I can't be too bad at this episode :)
     
  3. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    Does anyone ever read what I type anymore?

    :wah:
     
  4. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    I read it, but was briefly confused because he went by Chris Latta. He was great as those voices, I didn't even realize that was him.

    I'd like to rewatch this now, with that in mind.

    It always amazes me how faithfully they stick to that one fact of he "laughed" and they made a whole episode out of it! A good one, too! One of my favorites, actually. And this episode is foreshadowing? :confused:
     
  5. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Poor, poor Worf. He questions why they can't just give the equipment to the Pakleds, and after he gets shot down, he questions the logic of sending the chief engineer, and he gets shot down again. Turns out it was a trap, and the Pakleds know what they're doing. Riker is a suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucker. Why wasn't Troi on the bridge in the first place? She obviously would have been useful here.

    I don't remember if Worf had the chance to gloat, but he should have pointed out that his caution was correct.

    This episode is dumb, but not so bad because ultimately it set up Tapestry.
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...Indeed, so much good came from the early seasons being bold enough to establish strange and wonderful things, even if in offhand remarks. "Concepts" seem to disappear from TNG soon after the third season, the show then flying on fumes or extrapolations. The latter were invariably entertaining, the former just noxious.

    Which calls into question whether they ever did capture that alien hardware. Perhaps that, too, was part of their deception?

    I mean, it's not that they'd be slow-witted or unintelligent, even in the endgame. What they suffer from is a complete and utter lack of understanding of weapons technology. They can't figure out what a crimson forcefield is or isn't, and they can't figure out whether they have photon torpedoes or not.

    (I bet not. LaForge only fiddled with bridge consoles - that may work for turning wimpy tickler beams into mighty death rays, under certain circumstances, but it won't provide your ship with projectiles, warheads and launch tubes. We could assume this was a gamble that paid off: by pretending to install photon torpedoes, LaForge established that the Pakled, no matter how devious, didn't know anything about weaponry - hence the crimson forcefield ploy would succeed.)

    For all we know, the Pakleds pilfered alien components that were easily obtainable due to being harmless, and patted themselves on the back for pulling a highly successful heist. Correct on the success, but only if you ignore the sad fact that the loot wasn't worth a penny.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If I ever find a Pak'led halloween costume...

    Samaritan Snare, like The Royale, is one of those episodes that's so stupid it's delightful.
     
  8. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Then how do you explain this exchange?

     
  9. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Since it's so darn difficult to accept that LaForge could have installed photon torpedoes by fiddling with bridge consoles, I just invoke the "they were ignorant of weapons tech" argument: they already had photon torpedoes from the get-go and didn't know it. :devil:

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. Trek Survivor

    Trek Survivor Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Um, yes. I repeated it as a reason why I LIKE the episode.
     
  11. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I love the nostalgia! I have many memories similar to this from back in the day, what a happy childhood!

    That's about all I have to say about this episode!
     
  12. Kevman7987

    Kevman7987 Captain Captain

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    The episode is so bad, but every time someone says strong or smart in an odd way, me and my Dad will look at each other and say either, "We are strong" or "We are smart."
     
  13. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    I take it more like "tongue in cheek"... Basically you have this wimpy Pakled vessel up against a huge high tech starship. Equipping it with photon torpedoes seems utterly ridiculous, not to mention that Enterprise sensors would've easily detected the physical structures that are required for launching said weapon. As Timo stated, there's no way Geordi could have given them that tech just by making some modifications of their bridge electronics.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2013
  14. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    That's a nice save - especially when we take into account LaForge's oft-demonstrated perverse sense of humor. Although usually Riker doesn't play along with it...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What's the point of the 24-second countdown and the "24th level of awareness"?
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    No idea, since LaForge never got to hear the start of it and thus couldn't have synched his actions to the countdown. (Unless that mysterious "forced spectrum communications" served as a means of piping E-D commands to LaForge's VISOR or something.)

    The basic plot is obvious: LaForge needs to get maximum access to Pakled systems, and he can do that by winning their trust. The beefing up of the photon torpedoes is a good way to do that. With the access, LaForge can then neutralize the Pakled threat.

    Whether this would lead to LaForge being released, or LaForge being executed... How can the heroes tell? Surely the obvious Plan A would be to have transporters standing by so that LaForge could be beamed out the second he misuses the trust he has earned and drops shields. But our heroes prepare for none of that - they wait and see what the Pakleds will do after being tricked.

    Oh, BTW, after several rewatches (not as painful as I thought), I now feel the Pakleds did have photon torpedoes. From the start, not thanks to LaForge's ministrations.

    Obviously, they couldn't. But the Pakled ship did already possess something that wasn't capable of blowing up asteroids but nevertheless physically existed and was based on antimatter charges. LaForge's eventual "You have photons" does not need to be interpreted as him saying "You didn't have photons before", then.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'v just noticed that the Pakled's name is Goldenberg backwards - is there a story or joke behind that?
     
  18. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I have a hunch there was an earlier draft of the screenplay that made more sense, and somewhere along the line it got broken.

    BTW, I just noticed something regarding Jeyl's "It's broken! :(" illustration. The Pakleds, like Data, do not use contractions. The line is "It is broken."
     
  19. Vulcan Logician

    Vulcan Logician Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I think you may be on to something.
    Classic episode. "You make it go" will remain forever etched in my vernacular.
     
  20. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    That means we're left with one startling conclusion. The illustration is broken.

    On that note, it's kind of sad how a pathetic, moronic race like the Pakleds have a better track record for not using contractions than Data, so I guess I'm doing the episode a favor. Remember how the episode "Datalore" brought up contractions?

    And when Lore is defeated and Picard checks with Data,

    In conclusion, EVERYTHING IS BROKEN. But if you would like me to fix it, I can do that. For now, I'll leave it there as a reminder at how my illustrations for these episode recaps developed and changed over the weeks.