Episode of the Week: The Neutral Zone

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Captrek, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    The Neutral Zone

    Oh, Maurice Hurley. You have once again blessed us with your divine work for The Next Generation's first season finale, The Neutral Zone. An episode who's synopsis is full of dramatic potential but is smothered by the efforts of making it preach Gene's vision of a perfect humanity and spending too much time with one-shot characters who nobody should give a crap about. It's almost baffling how anyone thought Maurice's writing on this episode was good material when our heroes are so arrogant and so clueless about what humanity was like back in the 20th century that they would honestly look at these three people and use them as a means of describing how we ever survived as a race.

    Our episode opens with a nice visual effect shot of a satellite drifting in front of the Enterprise. What is this satellite? Why is it all the way out here? even Geordi asks "I wonder how it got out here". Riker's reaction?

    Riker: It's just a piece of space debris. If we hadn't sitting here waiting for the Captain, we wouldn't have noticed it. Leave it be. Let nature take its course.

    Wait, what? Maurice, you were tasked with writing a show about explorers who seek out the wonders of the universe, and when they find something that even leaves even Geordie curious, you have the one person in charge not give a crap about it. No scientific or historical curiosity at all. Even when Data wishes to explore the satellite, you have Riker respond with-

    Riker: Why, Data? It's just a derelict.

    If Maurice wrote an episode for a firefighter series, he'd have the lead character question his fellow firefighters on why they would want to put out a house fire simply by saying "Why? The house is obviously ruined." without any regards as to actually saving the house or whether there might still be people inside. And if you think that's bad, just wait until you see what Maurice does in the very next episode with the Enterprise's new doctor.

    Turns out that Data's suggestion paid off since he and Worf discover dead people inside the satellite who can be revived. You would think that Riker's blatant misbehavior towards this satellite would lead to a potential character development moment for him since if he had more of an adventurous spirit, he probably could have done more good in the past. But no. Not only will Riker be be doing the exact opposite, his drinking buddy Picard will also be bit***ing about this whole situation to.

    CRUSHER: they were frozen. I thawed them.
    PICARD: You what?

    DATA: I could not leave them there, Captain. The condition of their vehicle was deteriorating.
    PICARD: But Data, they were already dead. I mean, what more could have happened to them?

    ....Not be brought back to life? Look, I don't know how well Maurice's knowledge of medical history is, but there have been cases where patients have actually died in the hospital and were successfully revived. But the fact that Picard is appalled by the concept of bringing humans back to life using only their modern medical expertise (and not Q powers), one has to wonder if Maurice has any care for human life period. Now, if their brains had deteriorated over the centuries, than yes. It would be a bad idea to bring them back to life because they'll be nothing but mindless vegetables. But that's not the case with these three.

    That's all I got for today. Tune in for tomorrow where we learn that despite our heroes working onboard a starship with families and children, there is not one single genuine baby sitter who can be tasked with taking care of our very 'infantile' guests.
     
  2. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yes...I mean of what POSSIBLE use could these people be? I'm sure historians have every detail of their probably pre WW3 lives down to the last detail. (though they do have family trees readily on hand)

    Riker: They're (sniff) practically cavemen.
    Picard (Snort) I knoooooow. I'm of a good mind to stuff them back in their can.

    They should have got a goddamn parade. Shooting themselves into the future in the 1 in a quabillion chance they would be rescued and revived.

    I suppose they should have stuffed Scotty back in the transporter too.
     
  3. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Do we ever find out what the "Tomed Incident" was?

    And do we find out what happened to the 20th Century Humans in the novelverse?

    One line I loved from Dr. Crusher - "Too afraid to live, too scared to die". Although she does not realise it (the line was played as puzzlement), she sums up drug abuse perfectly here, much better than she does in Symbiosis.
     
  4. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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  5. Zaku

    Zaku Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  6. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    RALPH: If they are so important, why don't they need an executive key?
    PICARD: Aboard a starship, that is not necessary. We are all capable of exercising self-discipline.

    StarFleet Security measures: Anyone who is not a member of Starfleet or the Federation can just go anywhere and use anything.

    Seriously, these people are onboard a ship that can identify you by name, rank and locate you anywhere onboard, and at no point does anyone tell the computer to limit their access. It's even more silly when you realize that a couple of episodes ago, an escaped Klingon prisoner was able to make his way to Engineering and threaten to blow up the entire ship by shooting at the warp core. If it's so easy to destroy the ship, and every crew member onboard has a high rating of self-discipline, why does it take two senior officers to activate the self-destruct sequence? It's kind of like that Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns and Smithers go through a lot of rigorous security measures to get into the room the controls Springfield's power, even though the same room can be accessed outside via a broken screen door.
     
  7. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Interesting. I've read some of those books but hadn't recognised the references. Thanks. :techman:

    Thanks for the info. I think that rather than click on the link, I will seek and read the book. :techman:
     
  8. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    What's hilarious is, the exact opposite of what Picard wanted to present to the Romulans occurs. I'm sure Picard wanted the Feds to appear determined, resolute and united. Instead they look a little silly from the Romulan POV.

    Worf: "Still, what gives you the right"
    20th century dude: "He doesn't know!"
    Riker: "You're out of line mister!"

    When have we *ever* seen the peanut gallery on a Klingon or Romulan ship chirping up?
     
  9. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    I would argue that the Romulans come off a bit worse. Things were going ok when both commanders agreed to corporate with Picard until one of the commanders tells Picard that the Federation is not wanted and than leaves. What exactly did the Romulans accomplish that benefited them in making contact with the Enterprise? They're actions are about as intimidating as some gamer challenging you only to leave before the game starts.
     
  10. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    True, but they were in Federation space.

    The Romulans are going to say they went *into* Fed Space, discovered the Feds had been attacked also, appear to be greatly agitated, found that a Klingon is in SF, and that this Galaxy Class is kinda 'soft'. (speculation on my part)

    Picard will say both sides have been attacked, the Roms are 'back', they have a badass, undetectable ship....annnnd apparently operate on some sort of co-command system that we will never see again.
     
  11. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, but this episode doesn't want to dwell on Romulans or outposts. It wants to dive deep into that good old human condition.

    Picard: Here's what I propose. You can't stay on the Enterprise, but I have arranged for us to rendezvous with the USS Charleston, bound for Earth. They will deliver you there.

    Lol. This sounds less like a proposition and more like a sentence. Aren't propositions supposed to have the option to agree or disagree with what ever was proposed?

    Ralph: Then what will happen to us? There's no trace of my money. My office is gone. What will I do? How will I live?
    Picard: This is the twenty fourth century. Material needs no longer exist.
    Ralph: Then what's the challenge?
    Picard: The challenge, Mister Offenhouse, is to improve yourself. To enrich yourself. Enjoy it.

    Can the same be said about the Vulcans? Klingons? Romulans? Ferengi? Betazoids? Andorians? Cardassians? Bajorans? Tholians? Androids? OR HUMANS? Why doesn't Picard recommend a different race or society that would fit Ralph's personality? I'm sure his trade expertise would be a value to the Ferengi and other words that have trade and currency. But no, just because Ralph is human, he must adhere to the new human ways whether he wants to or not.

    So the episode is over and we can finally end the first season of the TNG era with another condescending remark

    Riker: It's a pity we can't take them ourselves. Having them on board is like a visit from the past.
    Picard: That would take us in the wrong direction. Our mission is to go forward, and it's just begun.

    Geezos cripes. It's one thing to openly mock 20th century humans and preach about how infantile they are and how awesome humans of the 24th century have become, it's another to paint them as a 'wrong direction' especially when the first officer considers those three humans as signs that we could never have reached the 20th century.

    And this whole "wrong direction" thing regarding our past? Screw you Picard. The past can enlightening and educational to those who seek to understand it. People have sacrificed, cured diseases, sought peace with enemy nations, accomplished what many thought were impossible, and you don't give a crap about it. I'm almost scared to imagine what Picard would think of all the war memorials dedicated to the men and women who gave their lives in the line of duty. Actually, I have a good idea.

    Picard: Barbaric, infantile costume wearing savages.

    Like unto angels and gods indeed Picard.
     
  12. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Picard's line has nothing to do with the past, it's more to do with seeing whats beyond the next star. If the Enterrpise took them back the ship would be heading home instead of exploring foward.

    Still their is a nice little DW referrence in this episode.
     
  13. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'd forgotten to mention the USS Charleston. Sister ships USS Samba, USS Bolero and USS Gangnam Style. Members of the "Dance" class of ships.
     
  14. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    That's so old trek thinking. Haven't you seen the new movies? Star Trek is all about Earth now.
     
  15. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

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    I can't remember a movie which had exploration as its theme. Is it hard to write a film about exploration?

    I think that of the 12 films, there have been only one or two that didn't begin on or near Earth or didn't involve a threat to Earth.
     
  16. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    Heh.

    Of all 11 films to date, only Insurrection had no scenes on or near Earth.
     
  17. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Making Insurrection the most "trek-like" and best film to date. I've been screaming about that for years!
     
  18. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    What's ironic is Picard considers himself an amateur archeologist, but tells these people to bugger off.
     
  19. The Mirrorball Man

    The Mirrorball Man Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yes it is. "Exploration" is not really a theme. "Revenge" is a theme, "love" is a theme, "finding yourself" is a theme. Usually what we call a theme in fiction has something to do with characters, not with plot.

    Exploration can be used as a plot element, a backdrop for some other, more tightly focused theme. But even then, it's a lousy plot element, because exploration never ends. You just move from place to place and see things that no one has ever seen, and when you've seen them, you move to other places that no one has ever seen and so on. There's no dramatic tension to be found there.
     
  20. Captrek

    Captrek Vice Admiral Admiral

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    By general consensus, the best episodes of TOS and TNG are, respectively, The City on the Edge of Forever and the two-parter The Best of Both Worlds. The former takes place mostly on Earth, while the latter concerns a threat to Earth and reaches its climax in the immediate vicinity. Hmm.