The Neutral Zone (Episode)

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Trekker4747, Jul 5, 2020.

  1. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    So, I've been on a TNG Rewatch kick which, for some reason, started with Season 3, when I finished 7 I'm going back to do 1 and 2. For no real reason other than I my rewatch was prompted by a want to watch S3.

    Anyway, I watched the episode "The Neutral Zone" and with my rewatch I usually look and see what threads and discussion happened around the episode and can see there's a decent level of discussion on this episode.

    A minor point I want to kind of say is just generally how "time" tends to work in trek and, well, all TV where it seems like more time passes than should have. Data is told there's several hours before Picard is expected back so he decides to take Worf and explore the derelict cryo-stasis satellite that has some how drifted from Earth to this location in 300 years. He and Worf appear to leave immediately but they don't get very far in exploring the capsule before he's told to beam back because Picard is expected soon.

    A good part of the episode focuses on the crew's interactions with these late 20th century humans and much of their reaction is just the general dislike for, well, "us" as was common to this era of TNG. We could debate whether or not their disdain is warranted or not considering where humans were in the late 20th century and where we're at in TNG's time but I wonder...

    Are these particular people that warranting of such disdain?

    The lore of Trek has late 20th century Earth pretty much in shambles and at, or near a major world war. But in these three people we have:

    A housewife who's quiet, polite and spends most of her time crying over the loss of her children. Hardly very representative of how humans are looked at for our time.

    A musician who seems ready to just go on with life, to live and love it, and causes no real problems other than pestering Crusher for some pick-me-ups and patting her on the butt, but generally seems willing to stay out of everyone's way.

    Then there's Ralph the financier who mostly embodies the worst of what we are today as his concerns are mostly over where his own interests are right now, he pesters the Captain and goes into restricted areas of the ship. It's understandable he'd annoy Picard but he's one of three. The rest of them just seem willing to stay out of the way and figure out what is next.

    So where's Picard's "get those people under control" directive to Troi coming from? Most of them aren't a problem.

    Anyway, for me it's a fine episode and I always liked the aspect with the thawed humans and think more time should have been spent on it and the stuff with the Romulans dealt with elsewhere (mostly because it goes no where other than the "scooping" of the planets being referenced again when the Borg are introduced but the uneasy alliance between the Romulans on the issue. never seems to come up again.)

    And, come on, First Season Riker can't figure out what a "low-mileage pit woofie" is?
     
  2. Finn

    Finn Admiral Admiral

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    Plot
     
  3. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

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    It’s not as much that it portrayed 20th century humans negatively so much as the way they did. The crew had a lack of empathy toward them even knowing where they came from. You’d think evolved humans would take into account the culture these people came from before treating them like dirt.

    The financier talked about “My ability to control your life” and that even gets rich bastards wrong. Money is the end unto itself for them, they could care less about controlling your life so long as they can get what they want when they want.
     
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  4. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In the evolved future it's acceptible to despise that which is different.

    The Federation has had two centuries to make peace with the Romulans, and yet it's Ralph who's the bad one for wondering where his money is.
     
  5. at Quark's

    at Quark's Commodore Commodore

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    From a slightly different perspective, I'd think Ralph would adapt very quickly to 24th century life. With his intelligence and perceptiveness, he'd have a handle very quickly on how the 24th century "works", and start carving his path from there. Perhaps not necessarily within the Federation, though, if he would find that he'd have more opportunities within another political entity. I can also see Clare adapt to her new circumstances in time. Sonny on the other hand, while sympathetic, seems to think he can just repeat his old tricks and become a success this time around. Moreover he has a substance addiction to deal with and possibly more than one- he had both advanced emphysema and extensive liver damage. Curious as to how he'd deal with those.

    But I'm sure some fan fiction or novelizations (I don't read those) have been written around that theme.

    Although he is behaving quite condescendingly towards Picard, I think he never meant that. From the context, I take the 'you's' in that quote to be meant in the general, abstract sense.

     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
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  6. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^^this

    He was talking about control over his own life. He did seem genuinely oblivious that Picard and crew still helped him out.

    I'm not sure I'd want a sequel to see how they'd have adjusted or not either. Two of the three would be Maquis (yawn) and the other died from internal organ failure (yawn).
     
  7. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    :)

    Which isn't going to be too far away from Earth and amazingly it's the flagship close to home that stumbles over it. Don't tell the sensor arrays that some unknown mass with EM radiation is in the vicinity! :guffaw:

    But fort some it's so much fuuuuuuuuuuun to disdain!

    Since they're 1D caricatures and stick figures, why not? It's fun! :devil:

    TOS lore. Then again, just before WW2 nobody would have known either.

    Mmm, Troi said in an earlier episode how humans are "unusually attached" to their offspring as if most species try to eat their young once born (like what guppies do)... plus, Deanna and mommy Lwaxana seem to be tightly knit despite superficial grumblings too.

    The episode also stated the Doctor Who actors formed her family tree. :guffaw:


    (at time index 2:46)
    (Also, the only thing missing is the computer responding "Everyone is dead, Dave." while mistaking her identity in the process. That, and the computer has a name - "Holly".)


    Troi couldn't figure out "shrink" is either a comedic or pejorative term for a counselor/therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist and in this case it's more pejorative for anyone on both sides of the TV screen.

    Also, the episode uses biological birth data as loose and lackadaisically freewheeling as "The Orville" did. :barf: Except this episode isn't a comedy - intentionally.

    Amazing she didn't tell him to use the Holodeck, where Riker was already there! :guffaw:

    The episode got that bit right - they're in a new area, they're not going to explore all out willy nilly until feeling more comfortable.

    Also, the same actor played The Pharoah in "ElectraWoman and DynaGirl", more or less the same way. :hugegrin:

    It's all relative; they're nearing the Neutral Zone and he has zero time for distractions?

    TBH it's not that bad of an episode, despite being cheesy...

    And using hard disc drives in a charming way. By season 3 they were aping Unix terms and conditions. Nowadays in sci-fi technology is analogous to today's disposably dorky iCrap.

    In terms of an illicit mind-altering substance, a newly manufactured NASCAR vehicle. the female equivalent to the sex-needy chain-smoking alcoholic, or loudspeakers to play Jefferson Airplane music on? :guffaw::guffaw::guffaw::guffaw::guffaw:
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
  8. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think Ralph was the only one the crew actually had disdain for; the other two did seem fairly puzzling to the crew, hard for them to understand, but without hostility happening along with or coming from the confusion. And even with Ralph the hostility really came as he became more hostile, at least demanding to them.

    Well from the scene it seemed very much mostly about and because of Ralph, otherwise it does feel harsh but he may have felt even the harmless ones were causing too much distraction in the high-stakes situation.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, it wouldn't make sense for Riker to be so apprehensive originally if time weren't of the essence. And Riker doesn't know when Picard will return - but he apparently does know that the Captain will want an immediate departure the moment he touches down. So Data and Worf getting even less time than they planned for is merely realistic.

    Why an object that has spent 300 years literally on ice is suddenly in need of immediate attention is the odd bit of timey-wimeyness here. Is it moving really fast? Doesn't seem so, because Riker won't allow the ship to budge, yet the object is within transporter range all the time. Did it arrive by jumping through a wormhole or somesuch? If so, it seems unlikely it would again find such a hole and be lost any time soon.

    Probably not, but in-universe, this wouldn't be an issue. The heroes hate the guests not for what they are, but for what they represent. For Riker and Picard, they all wear swastika tattoos and have baby blood dribbling from the corners of their mouths, so them being nice folks doesn't help at all.

    OTOH, she wouldn't have been hated for that in the 1990s yet... Ah, the tolerant days of the past.

    And Picard probably views her like LeMay viewed the average Japanese civilian: not firebombing her is not an option when she helps run a society so profoundly evil.

    He's certainly no more alien than most of the monsters Riker or Picard generally run into; if anything, his odd ways are less threatening than the scary average. I wonder if the heroes could find fault in his participating in the commercial lifestyle of the 20th century? That is, people paying for music and this guy getting filthily rich for it might be among the nightmares our heroes associate with the century they apparently so poorly understand.

    Well, the outburst isn't specifically directed against Clare or Sonny, either. And I can see Picard not having the patience to do specific at that particular moment. Offenhouse is a problem because Data made him a problem, and it's Data's making a problem for Picard that Picard is having a problem with... But he has already channeled some if it at Data, and it isn't helping.

    The flow of the story is certainly in need of refining, but perhaps more an issue of general pacing than of the actual balance of A vs B plot. Apparently, it always was the intent for this story to not be self-contained, even if it isn't a tightly written cliffhanger. It not following the structure of a self-contained story is refreshing in its own way, then.

    ...I'm still having a bit of trouble with that one. (And Riker's scene is the conventional New Orleans jazz one, with nary a microphone to be seen, even.)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
  10. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What goes around, comes around?
    In my "headcanon re-write," Data takes Sonny and his new guitar to Ten-Forward, where Sonny plays county and folk for a appreciative audience.
    But only apparently in a few places, Voyager shows that 1990's America is just fine. Other series say there were ongoing technological advances, it doesn't sound as if the Earth generally is in shambles.
    Hardly the worst, in fact not even close. Ralph comes off as a pretty nice guy, if a somewhat driven.

    Ralph intially was very polite and correct, until he discerned that he was being given the runaround and that something important was happening aboard the ship that he wasn't being told about.

    His first interest was to restart his life, something he was clearly used to being in control of. His money was merely a tool.
    I lay that at Riker's feet. If he had been more forthcoming and directly answered the three's questions they (Ralph) likely would have been satified, Riker repeatedly gave vague responses and a general runaround.

    The ship does have at least one historian (The Big Goodbye), an ideal person to have be put in contact with the three right from the start.
    He might not have recognized the term, but Riker sure knew what one was.
     
  11. daveyjones

    daveyjones Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    [QUOTE="Ralph comes off as a pretty nice guy, if a somewhat driven[/QUOTE]
    that's an interesting take. every single time i've watched "the neutral zone" ralph scans as a total weasel to me, top to bottom.
     
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  12. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Let's not forget that it was Season 1 either and Season 1 Picard spend most of his time annoyed at everyone and everything.
    Plus it was when they really tried very hard, and for the most part failed very hard, at portraying the crew as "perfect humans" and so they had to state that those 20th century humans were horrible and barbaric and, at best, to be pitied, so that the "evolved" 24th century folk (who jump around like angry howler monkies if their ex-girlfriend gets married aand frequently can't bare the mere presence of one another) will look good in comparison.

    On the less cynical level, it is really not Captain Picard's job to entertain or care for those 20th century humans, or to help them adjust. That falls square into Troi's duties, so he's right in handing them off to her.
     
  13. at Quark's

    at Quark's Commodore Commodore

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    Well, I'll give them that they have to deal with the equivalent of a cold war era standoff between two nuclear vessels-- a lot of tension in the air. Probably even first season Picard & crew would have been slightly friendlier under "normal" conditions.
     
  14. darrenjl

    darrenjl Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Riker didn't even want to explore the capsule at the start calling it 'ancient space debris', which was very season one-like.
     
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  15. somebuddyx

    somebuddyx Captain Captain

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    I feel like with some minor changes Conspiracy, The Neutral Zone and a third episode as the season 2 premiere having the Enterprise and Romulans teaming up to fight the outpost attackers would have made a cool trilogy.
    The Tomed Incident and aftermath is interesting when what was happening in Angel One is considered. I'm not worried about rationalisations but more why writers seem to forget stuff that happened a few episodes ago. Just seems odd.
    Ralph just wanders onto the bridge. Sure, why not.
     
  16. Orphalesion

    Orphalesion Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It was the same season where they had children sneak into the meeting room to play with the ship models there. It's fair to say that there were no restrictions whatsoever on who could access Deck 1 in the first season.
     
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  17. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Models and bamboo finger traps. ;) Though in S1 it's not entirely clear if the main meeting room is on Deck 1. We see a regular corridor outside the port door and often people walking through it often toward the BACK of the ship.

    And, really, Troi should have been one of the first people talking to the group of thawed humans instead of waiting for one of them to have an emotional break down.
     
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  18. Iamnotspock

    Iamnotspock Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Another example that springs to mind is in "...Farpoint," when Riker comes aboard and is shown the visual record of the preceding events. As Picard goes to the Battle Bridge Ready Room, Data tells him that the saucer section will arrive at Deneb IV in 51 minutes. Picard replies, "Inform them we'll connect as soon as they arrive, and send the commander to me when he's finished."

    Riker spends a few more moments watching the sensor logs, comments, "He calls that a 'little adventure'?", and goes to the Ready Room. He and Picard have a brief exchange before the saucer arrives and Riker is ordered to perform a manual docking.
     
  19. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    24th-century humans don't grieve and look down on those who do.
     
  20. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If Riker watched the recording in real time, this would have taked up a good piece of the 51 minutes.
     
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