Episode of the Week: 3x11 "The Hunted"

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Jeyl, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    "First Blood" in SPAAAACE! And that's not the only action hero movie franchise that TNG will be lifting it's ideas from.

    Our story opens with Picard on an alien world where he is discussing with the Prime Minister about his world joining the Federation of Planets. Things seem to go smoothly until the Prime Minister informs Picard that a prisoner has escaped and they're not equipped to handle it. Riker decides to help out and we get a sour preview of what's to come. The prisoner they're chasing is so clever, he manages to outthink and outmaneuver EVERYONE. The way his character is portrayed comes off more as a game character where the player typed in "godmode" and, I'm not kidding, "noclip". After managing to beam him onboard, we get that funny scene with O'Brien where he calls again and again for "More security! More security!" as this prisoner owns the whole place. We even get an awkward shot of Worf peeking out of the Turbolift before dashing out into the corridor to subdue the prisoner. Was this an editing miscalculation? The way Worf slowly peeks out of the turbolift really feels out of place and out of character. It would have been better if the shot had just cut to Worf and Riker running out of the turbolift.

    And...*sigh*... Troi is brought into the picture. I know she gets a lot of flack for stating the obvious from episode to episode, but I find the handling of Roga to be much worse. This is a prisoner who has killed two people and assaulted five Starfleet officers, and she's trying to convince Picard that he is not a violent person based solely on the notion that there is something about him that is "inherently" non-violent. The problem with that argument is that it doesn't amount to much if his violent nature is all that he responds to and it's a cheap way of saying "There is more to him" when really, there isn't. Roga doesn't come off as a sympathetic character who is misunderstood or mistreated. There is no indication that he wants to resolve his problems in a peaceful manner. Maybe if a different actor was cast in the role, they could have pulled it off better, but Jeff McCarthy seems to only channel one emotion, and it's utter disdain.

    So Picard decides that Roga is to be transferred back to Angosian authorities despite the very forced views of Troi and Data stating that Roga is perfectly fit to rejoin civilized society. Thankfully Picard just shrugs them off and they initiate the transporter. This is the point in the episode where it goes from a poorly executed drama to complete and utter nonsense. Roga, through the power of the noclip cheat executed by a dance command, manages to manipulate the transporter and escape the Brig. Not only does he manage to escape elsewhere on the Enterprise, he manages to not materialize into a solid object since there is no stationary control over what he was doing. What follows is a series of events that pretty much turns all our main characters into "Wile E. Coyote"s. They try to capture Roga, but are thwarted in every... single... step... I don't mind clever bad guys, but Roga is supposed to be an alien who has never been on a Federation Starship before, yet he's programming phasers into overload, circumventing security subsystems and disabling the ship's sensors. Despite everyone's attempts at stopping him, even venting gas in the cargo hold (which he somehow conveniently knew where a breathing mask was, despite not using it), Roga still manages to escape the Enterprise. Yay........

    As the Enterprise tries to repair the job that Roga had done, Picard is informed by the Prime Minister that Roga has freed several of his fellow soldier prisoners and are now heading to the capitol. Picard decides to bring down Troi, Data and Worf. That's great. If you can't contain one single person on your own ship who managed to beat your chief of security one-on-one, what the heck are you going to do when facing an army of them on their own planet? I know Picard is going under the assumption that they won't kill them unless their survival is at stake, but last I checked, Roga's survival wasn't at stake on the Enterprise either. Just his freedom. They're still liable to knock you out, capture you- Oh, never mind. Turns out they literally don't attack anyone unless their lives are being threatened. So how does Picard handle this situation? He lectures the Prime Minister in the most smug manner possible and leaves everything up to them. To make things even more smug, Picard decides while on the bridge to offer the Federation's assistance should the Angosians decide to reintegrate their soldiers back into society. Wow. Kind of makes that whole beaming down thing kind of pointless, doesn't it? And this is Picard's decision, not while he's on the planet trying to not provoke a fight, but while he's leaving the system. No wonder we hardly see any new worlds join the Federation. All the diplomats we send are a bunch of a-holes.

    CONCLUSION:
    It's really hard to recommend this episode because it doesn't paint our heroes in any sort of positive light. Troi's positive outlook on Roga's condition is non-evident in his actual depiction, the crew are all outsmarted by an alien who should be completely unfamiliar with their ship and nobody seems to give a crap about it in the end. Now that I think about it, "The Hunted" would make for a perfect Enterprise episode since it's level of incompetence and lack of concern from the show's Captain is one of Enterprises' defining qualities.

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  2. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    I like this one.

    It's an obvious nod to those who came home from Vietnam and were no longer able to fit into society.
     
  3. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Though I think Worf needs to speak to his security departnemnt, they didn't exactly respond quickly to the urgent call for security. Unless this is one of those union rules only 2 security officers at any one time will be provided. ;)
     
  4. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    This episode also marks the first appearance and canonical naming of the Jefferies Tubes in TNG, though this is the only episode to portray them as wide corridors that you can stand in.

    It was a better idea to change them to actual tubes that you had to crawl through, though I bet the cast HATED that. :lol:

    Other useless trivia - Jeff McCarthy later appears as Voyager's very short-lived original CMO.
     
  5. Makarov

    Makarov Captain Captain

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    I like the scene in this one where Worf gets thrown into some cardboard boxes that are meant to be heavy. I can't help but laugh.

    Roga's outfit is cool, reminds me of Dash Rendar from star wars. I liked this guy a lot more than "the outrageous okona" atleast. I think it was necessary to have him outsmart the crew. Otherwise they'd just be talking about how he's a great soldier and never showing it.

    I wonder who would win, Roga or Khan, since they're both meant to be super soldiers.

    I also laugh at the end of the episode because I imagine Picard getting a message a day later saying they all got wiped out.
     
  6. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Are you kidding? His government altered him, used him and then threw him away without even trying to rehabilitate him. "These men had families". When you back an animal into a corner it is likely to attack you to try to escape.

    Weren't they arguing for a rehabilitation programme as a precursor to a return to society? I don't think they would expect to return a killer straight back to society.

    ^ This.
     
  7. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    "These men had families"

    A line never spoken once in the actual episode. Not saying that they didn't have families, but I'm not going to cut this episode any slack for details it did not bother to cover. Maybe if Roga said he had a family that he left so he could volunteer to fight in a war he believed was the right thing to do, well, maybe Roga's motivation for escaping would make more sense than just acting like a generic criminal who just wanted to escape prison.

    I find it ironic that when a society practically abandons their soldiers to a life in prison that our real enlightened heroes, when given the opportunity to understand and help out, do the exact same thing. Oh, you're about to potentially start a devastating attack on your own kind because you want to reintegrate back into society? Well, good luck with that because we want no part of it. So I guess the message of this episode is to not get yourself involved with war veterans and the government's inability to reintegrate them into society because it's none of your business.

    Since I've been known to have problems conveying why I have issues with some of these episodes, I'm going to quote a bit from SFDebris' review of the episode since he does a much better job at it than I do. I've abridged some of it so if you want to see the whole argument, check out his review.

    SFD: This episode was created as an allegory for soldiers returning from the vietnam war, so it might seem that I'm missing the point and criticizing it. I'm not. I know what they're doing, I just don't think they're doing it terribly well. There's no connection forged with this character so the situation is an abstract one. And you might say "Well, that's the point. People don't understand." Well if that is, that's just not a terribly effective way to carry a message. People don't care, and I'll prove it by making sure you don't give a sh** either!

    The episode "The Siege of AR558" showed us the personal horror of war, that it either breaks you or changes you. Now Roga has gone through the same thing, but you would not know it from this episode. The message of what a society owes to those who have made such sacrifices to preserve it is indeed important, and the idea that the people made that decision, that it wasn't worth the expense is definitely a deplorable one. Don't get me wrong. It's just that Roga is an ineffectual poster child for this and it's message does not have the weight that it deserves, trading in implausible escape for time and effort that could have been better spent to showing what a victim he is. He is NOT SHOWN to be a caged wild beast struggling to survive, nor some Hannibal Lector, watching and watching and watching for the one mistake until he strikes. He's just some guy. So you might say "Well, that's what the problem is. He seems like he's just some guy and than his conditioning kicks in *snap* and he's an uber warrior." Except this also is not what we're shown. Roga running about the ship and Roga in his cell seem in every way to be the same person. Troi does not see archive clips of Roga's treatment turning him from an upstanding and enlightened citizen into a killing machine. He just tells us without detail and Doctor Crusher backs it up with some chemical formula. I should be outraged by all of this, but any negative feelings are merely intellectual and thus, less affecting than actual veterans would be. I mean, Roga acts like the greatest trauma he's ever had in this entire thing is having to settle for hazel nut creamer when he prefers french vanilla. ​

    And that's my problem with this episode in a nutshell. Not that it tried to be an allegory to Vietnam War veterans, but for not giving it the right amount of attention that such subjects needs in order to better understand the character and how he relates to actual war veterans.
     
  8. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    The problem being, you still have to fit it within the context of the Star Trek universe and its rules. Picard still has to obey the Prime Directive whether we like it or not.
     
  9. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    In regards to the Prime Directive, doesn't this society want to join the United Federation of Planets? Doesn't that mean they have warp technology? Shouldn't Picard, a representative of the Federation try to bring peace between these two conflicting cultures as a show of support? He had no problems doing that in "The Vengeance Factor" and those two cultures expressed no interest in becoming part of the Federation.
     
  10. Makarov

    Makarov Captain Captain

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    The episode wanted to paint the society as bad guys. So Picard just wanted to stick it to them by bringing their problem to light, scolding them for being bad and then beaming away. Surely he should have helped them in any realistic sense, but I guess it's just a TV moment. They do kind of come off as jerks for doing that, and I have to knock the episode down a couple points because of that.
     
  11. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    But the actions of the Gatherers forced the Federation's involvement (raiding Federation outposts).

    The dispensation of the soldiers was an internal matter of the Angosian government.

    So the difference is the Acamarians were open to Federation intervention to help solve their problem, the Angosians were not.
     
  12. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    And didn't Picard recommend providing assistance (should the Government survive the night)?
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013
  13. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    Yup.
     
  14. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    So the gatherers were attacking the Federation which is why they chose to get involved. How do you describe what Roga was doing on the Enterprise while he was escaping? I'd hardly call assaulting unarmed Starfleet personal, sabotaging the ship's systems and using the phasers as explosive bombs things that we tolerate. Also, assault on Starfleet officers and sabotage have been used in Star Trek as genuine criminal offenses.

    Yes, and as I said in my original post...

    So the only point of Picard beaming down to the planet at all was just to lecture and berate the Prime Minister on how this was his society's fault and when things come to a turning point, Picard decides it's none of their business and just leaves. And the assistance you were talking about?

    PICARD: Number One, will you note in our report that if the government of Angosia survives the night, we will offer them Federation assistance in their efforts to reprogram their veterans.
    RIKER: And if the government doesn't survive?
    PICARD: I have a feeling they will choose to.​

    "if the government of Angosia survives". So a whole society is on the brink of a potentially violent and brutal uprising, and our enlightened Picard's reaction to this is just to be tepid. And this is how you want to tell a story about war veterans being unwanted in society by having our enlightened heroes just shrug it off and hope they don't kill everyone. Well since we never heard from the Angosians again, I have a feeling they didn't survive the night.
     
  15. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

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    I actually liked this bit.
     
  16. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    If you wish to explain, I would like to know why this bit works for you. Not to counter you or say you're wrong (it's your opinion and I respect that), but so it will help me see something that I may be missing. All I see here is Picard hoping for the best even though he should have the diplomatic experience and means to bring a resolution to this conflict without being so pompous. He could have offered the Prime Minister the resources needed to help bring these soldiers back into society as a sign of good faith that the Federation wants what's best for everyone. The Angosians wouldn't have to default their economy, and the soldiers can be brought back into society. This would have given the Angosians a taste of what it means to work together with other cultures while still giving them a choice if they want this kind of assistance or not.
     
  17. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    Picard didn't have a leg to stand on once the Angosian government told him to butt-out. His thought process at the end was likely once the Angosian government went through a bit of turbulence over the issue, then they may be more receptive to Federation mediation/intervention.
     
  18. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    Actually, Picard did have a leg to stand on.

    Roga: Mister Prime Minister, with all due respect, you will have to force us. Or at least try.
    Nayrok: Captain, you must do something. Call your ship. ​

    There's your "bit of turbulence" where the Prime Minister was more receptive to Federation intervention. Instead of offering the assistance to help reintegrate the soldiers back into society right then and there, Picard is willing to risk the deaths of thousands just so he can teach the Prime Minister a lesson.

    I guess I shouldn't look too much into this. We are after all talking about the same character who praised Riker for not saving a little girl's life.
     
  19. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    It is very clear that the Prime Minister wants Picard to "deal" with the issue at that point and it's not dealing with it by working to reintegrate those soldiers back into Angosian society.
     
  20. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    Consider the possible situation had Picard given the Prime Minister a choice. They can either accept the Federation's help at reintegrating their soldiers back into society at no expense, or deal with the situation themselves. Taking sides in an armed conflict is one thing, but helping to prevent a conflict should be an entirely different matter, especially if this world has an interest in joining the Federation. Star Trek has done this kind of thing before!

    Kirk: Yes, Councilman, you have a real war on your hands. You can either wage it with real weapons, or you might consider an alternative. Put an end to it. Make peace.
    Anan: There can be no peace. Don't you see? We've admitted it to ourselves. We're a killer species. It's instinctive. It's the same with you. Your General Order Twenty Four.
    Kirk: All right. It's instinctive. But the instinct can be fought. We're human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit that we're killers, but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes. Knowing that we won't kill today. Contact Vendikar. I think you'll find that they're just as terrified, appalled, horrified as you are, that they'll do anything to avoid the alternative I've given you. Peace or utter destruction. It's up to you.
    Fox: As a third party interested only in peace and the establishment of normal relations, I should be glad to offer my services as negotiator between you and Vendikar. I've had some small experiences in such matters.
    Anan: There may be a chance. We have a direct channel with Vendikar's High Council. It hasn't been used in centuries.
    Fox: Then it's long overdue.​

    See? That's the Federation working with a non-Federation civilization put an end to a conflict hands on. No "it's none of our business" or "Let's see if they survive the night".
     

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