TNG Episode 1.8: Justice

In which there are many little pink playsuits.

Memory Alpha says: The Enterprise takes shore leave on a pleasurable and peaceful planet. However, things quickly turn ugly when Wesley Crusher is sentenced to death for a seemingly slight rules violation, a matter made more complicated when the Prime Directive is in effect. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review
This is a lavishly dumb episode, and as such I shall be reviewing it only in point form. I am psyching myself up for the dumbness by drinking soda and listening to Sailor Moon music. Speaking of which, I am vaguely impressed by how this manages to make me think ‘Star Trek‘ and ‘Sailor Mercury’ at the same time. Okay, Starfleet Prism Power, let’s go.

  • A particularly weird aspect of ‘Justice’ is that the planet they are visiting is newly discovered – by the Enterprise, just this week, in fact – and everyone just bundles down there for shore leave with only the preamble of an away team led by Riker checking out the place.
    A) There are frisky and scantily-clad ladies down there, of course Riker said it was okay. That man would lead you directly into a Hellmouth if he thought there was a prospect of beach volleyball.

    B) No formal first contact process? No diplomatic stuff, establishing terms and expectations, giving an undertaking that we will not trash too many of their hotel rooms or knock up too many of their women, before we start using their planet as a holiday park? No tequila and ‘Ooby Dooby’? (I refuse to let go of my idea that tequila and ‘Ooby Dooby’ have become enshrined as essential ceremonial components of first contact. Under adverse conditions, I would also accept Bailey’s Irish Cream and ‘You Got It.’ Which I just DLed because I couldn’t believe I didn’t have it in iTunes.

    I was once trying to escape the village Santa Parade (hot day, crowds) and the PA was playing ‘Oh Pretty Woman’ and I was just thinking how this song forces you to walk to its beat, which would at least help me to go fast and clear the crowds, when someone in full costume and make-up as Data hurried past and by the time I’d processed that he had already disappeared. a) At a Santa Parade? This applies equally to ‘Oh Pretty Woman’ and Star Trek cosplay. b) You know what, I’m just going to assume that actually was Data having some sort of time travel problem and he was trying as hard to get the hell out of there as I was. And that’s my anecdote. Close parentheses.)C) THEY DON’T HAVE WARP. YOU SHOULDN’T BE THERE, JEAN-LUC. Yet you get all worried about breaking the Prime Directive by telling them ‘Of course you can’t execute our cabin boy, don’t piss about’? I am not sure why this happens – was the canon about what the PD does and does not allow still being ironed out at this stage of season one? Did it just slip through quality control? Man, I only just thought of Wesley being the Enterprise‘s cabin boy and I am ridiculously tickled by the concept.

    D) Hey, what about diplomatic immunity, or do they not have that any more?

  • The episode starts with a lovely low angle shot which rotates around Captain Picard gazing out the viewscreen, and finishes looking right up his nose. Patrick Stewart does have a magnificent snout.
  • I notice that when Wesley doesn’t have a proper job to do on the bridge, he just perches on the edge of the ramp next to Deanna’s chair. He must get a sore bum. Could he have a cushion? I imagine Deanna chats to him during slack times and says kind, encouraging things. And possibly slips him peppermints. He just dreams of the day when Picard will give him a Werther’s Original.
  • I think Beverly is just this insistent about the shore leave because she really wants a holiday. I don’t blame her. Of course, being a self-abnegating sort of woman, she has to insist it’s because the children need fresh air.
  • Tasha says the Edo’s laws are fairly simple, commonplace things. Either they hid a lot from her, or Tasha is crazy strict. What would she do if you visited her quarters for a drink and didn’t use a coaster?
  • They think there’s a glitch in the sensor system. Their brand-new ship is awfully glitchy – but then I suppose this counts as a shakedown cruise.
  • Right after hearing that ‘they make love at the drop of a hat’ Picard decides Wesley should join the next group going to the planet. Jaysis, that’s creepy. Maybe he genuinely doesn’t see any connection between the two because he cannot remotely conceive of anyone ever wanting to have sex with Wesley. I’ll go with that.
  • Picard gets to anvil ‘Let’s just hope it’s not too good to be true.’
  • Theme music of GLORIOUS ADVENTURE!
  • I fuckin’ hate how these people jog everywhere. It is just too obnoxious. I think Worf agrees because he clearly wants to shoot them on sight. Sometimes I like to pretend I have Jadzia here with me watching all this old Worf stuff, and she is just cackling at this. (I also pretend that Jadzia and K’Ehley- K’Elehy- Alexander’s mum are great pals in Sto-Vo-Kor, so there’ll be no awkwardness when Worf eventually gets there.)
  • I cannot believe this woman’s wig. It is just too awful. I think I’m imagining it.
  • I’m just going to distract myself from the super-slimy way the Edo guy hits on Troi by observing that it seems as if Riker is about to introduce Deanna and Tasha, although Tasha was in the original landing party, and this perv clearly met her then. On the bright side, I feel better about Excessively Flirty Julian!Julian must never be allowed near this planet, no matter how he has matured; he would have a terrible relapse.
  • Ha ha Wesley gets the chaste minimum hug.
  • The way Riker says ‘Play?’ actually made me cringe harder than I did at some things in ‘The Naked Now.’ If this were the set-up for a porno parody of Star Trek, none of it would feel out of place. BUT IT’S ACTUAL STAR TREK. They did this to themselves. How frickin’ glad am I that they left Data up on the ship, by the way? If he were in these scenes I would die of second-hand awkwardness.

  • MORE JOGGING. Ha ha Wesley has to jog in the sun wearing a poo-brown sweater.
  • Worf hasn’t heard of Rome? That’s weird. Maybe I’m just biased by the fact that the Asterix books were such a big part of my childhood – I think I actually knew about ancient Rome before I had any clear ideas about modern Italy. Poor Worf, growing up without Asterix books! I think he would have loved them. All those punch-ups and moustaches.
  • Which is actually more awkward: when Star Trek builds a polystyrene rocks exterior set for an alien planet, or when they use a ‘futuristic’ looking modern Californian building? I’m not counting using natural-looking locations like parks or beaches, which usually work fine. I find that the modern, obviously used buildings actually mess up my suspension of disbelief more than the polystyrene rocks. And just now they jogged past a flowerbed full of roses. For some reason it’s just too hard for me to believe that other planets evolved roses.
  • The girl in the group of kids Wesley runs off to play with looks almost exactly as I imagine Dawn from The Baby-Sitters Club. I hope she’s not as bitchy as Dawn. I also note, with amusement, that her pink playsuit is much less revealing than any of the others’, including the two boys’ shorts – I guess they felt they had to be careful with an underage actress. Of course, her playsuit also looks much more comfortable than any of the others’, because it is not giving her a camel-toe. I hope this episode did not give anyone a yeast infection.
  • Oh, God, the wigs on the women! Too awful to be true! I think the wigs have yeast infections.
  • GOD it feels good to be back on the bridge with sensible, fully-dressed people. I am even happy to spend time with Geordi. Hi Geordi! Thanks for wearing pants!
  • Wait, why did the red alert lights and sirens start without anybody in authority saying ‘Red Alert’? Does Computer just do that on her own initiative sometimes? Are there panic buttons on Geordi and Data’s control panels? (How would Data know when to press it? For no reason I remember a character in the 80s TVNZ series Gloss who was called Panic because he didn’t.)
  • Picard says ‘Data, what the hell is it?’ and Data just shakes his head and makes a helpless little moue as if it’s so strange it’s robbed him of the ability to say ‘Unknown’ as he normally would. The fact that it’s sort of halfway in our set of dimensions and halfway not makes me think of the Dunwich Horror, and I love that story (particularly because it holds out a fragment of hope that we might be able to defend ourselves if we do our research, meaning librarians may be our first line of defence against eldritch monstrosities from beyond space), but I don’t think this is going to turn out to involve Yog-Sothoth.
  • I love how their big plan for getting a better analysis of the mysterious object is to have Geordi go and look at it through a window.
  • It’s a beautiful bubble! Data Contraction Alert: ‘We’ve lost contact with our people.’ That bubble is really pretty, but really LOUD.
  • Since there is a guy up the back of the bridge with kind of a flat face and curly light-brown hair, I am sad that he’s not O’Brien. Close, but not quite right. I shall call him Pepsi.
  • Look at Picard try to justify colonialism. Look at Data gaze at the bubble like it’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. HEY GET OFF DATA YOU STUPID BUBBLE.
  • The ability to walk on your hands is indeed impressive. Wesley, your wobbly cartwheels really can’t compete. At least throw down a sheet of cardboard and do some dolphins or something.
  • How does this girl not know how to play ball? She must be fourteen if she’s a day. Babies can play with a ball. My cat Teddy can play with a ball and everyone who meets her thinks she’s cognitively impaired. Laa-Laa from Teletubbies could play with a ball! Some days she did little else! Is she just asking to flatter Wesley, like all those stupid Cosmo dating tips that revolve around making yourself seem helpless to a man?
  • ‘About this long, this thick,’ that’s what Riker said. (I declare ‘That’s what Riker said’ the Star Trek ‘That’s what she said.’) HEY. Wouldn’t the Sisko be thrilled that when Wesley hears ‘play ball’ he assumes it’s a game with a bat and ball?
  • I think Riker feels he’s found his spiritual home. He doesn’t even need to join in with the macking, he just enjoys walking around watching it.
  • ‘What about plain old basic sex?’ Riker, do you have any boundaries concerning appropriate workplace conversations? What in the world makes you think it’s okay to ask poor Worf such a personal question? This is why your creepiness is a meme.
  • I like how Worf feels it necessary to specify ‘Wesley, the boy.’ No, Wesley the parakeet. He quite rightly resents the fact that they’re dragging a kid round with them. Worf, Voice of Reason.
  • ‘Help me locate Wes, he’s wandered off.’ Rubbish! He’s gone to play with the children you gave him permission to go and play with!
  • Never trust people who have something called ‘The Punishment Zone.’ Even before you hear about the death element. I can just about trust people who have a Naughty Step.
  • So a different Punishment Zone is selected every day, nobody but the Mediators knows where or when. That’s supposed to mean everyone is careful to obey all the rules all the time, just in case. But a white wall or fence is placed around the zone to remind people. So wouldn’t naughty Edo people just learn to watch out for white fences and do their bad things well away from them? I mean, that’s what I’d do, and I’m not even particularly wicked. Once you’ve found the PZ of the day, you know you’ve got until midnight to do whatever the hell you want anywhere else on the planet.
  • Wesley’s a fool for running without looking where he’s going, anyway.
  • Wesley, they don’t care if you’re fine. You fucked up the plants!
  • And here come the fuzz. Who rely on everyone telling them the truth about what happened when they arrive! Wouldn’t it make sense to stake out the PZ so you always have visual contact and know what happened?
  • Wesley’s awkward delivery of the line ‘I’m with Starfleet. We don’t lie’ is absolutely perfect because it’s so… pompous is not quite the word I’m looking for. But he’s trying so hard to sound grown-up and noble – and probably the way he thinks Riker or Picard would say it – that it emphasises how little and young he is.
  • Tasha’s excuse for not putting this in her report was that the material she reviewed said nothing about punishment. And you didn’t ask any questions about that? Did it not seem like an odd omission in a code of law? Were you so distracted by the little pink playsuits that you forgot how to think? Next time, please, make Data do your homework for you.
  • Apparently that guy is just carrying an uncapped hypodermic of some kind of lethal injection around in a holster. I wonder how many Mediators die of jogging-related thigh-stabs.
  • Wesley, Boy Genius, just now grasps that they were going to kill him. The inhibitory effect of little pink playsuits on human cognition merits study.
  • If this zone were still in effect, they would all ‘deserve death.’ So does the zone become ineffective immediately someone breaks a rule in it? So after that until the next day, it’s also free reign to commit crimes without being punished? This is making me want to go to Edo and become a supervillain. I’ll team up with Lore and Benjamin Linus and we’ll do just terrible things. Then eat ham.
  • I can’t explain why I liked Patrick Stewart’s delivery of ‘Anything new on that thing over there?’ so much, but I really enjoyed it. His vague irritation at having to be so vague, I think.
  • Good God this Edo guy bears a facial resemblance to Rhys Darby. Ginger balls!
  • While he’s being passive aggressive about it, Ginger Balls is offering you a perfectly good way out of this situation, Jean-Luc.
  • Delightful dialogue: Beverly reports that Data’s awake.
    ‘What condition? Can he talk?’
    ‘He’s insisting on it, sir.’
  • The Edo woman’s wig/hair is noticeably very different in location shots and on the Enterprise.
  • If I were Beverly, I would slap Picard’s bald head until he promised to immediately deal with the fact that my son, who he sent on this trip, is on Death Row.
  • They have a lot of dead-looking pot-plants on the Enterprise. Does nobody water them? Is Keiko slacking off?
  • When ‘God’ booms ‘Return my child’ I want Beverly to say ‘Return mine!’
  • Picard didn’t specify which of the four people in the room he wanted beamed down. How did the transporter chief know?
  • Don’t apologise for advocating for your son when he’s in mortal peril, Beverly! Enough self-abnegation!
  • Data contraction alert, ‘if that’s what you mean.’
  • Data, dear, you can come over here and babble as much as you like and I will just be happy to have your company. I do it myself. Come on, seriously, you can meet my cats and I’ll try to get you into Chief Inspector Wexford.
  • Couldn’t Picard reason with the Edo God by saying he is protective of Wesley, a child of his ship, in the same way it is protective of its ‘children’? And since Wesley is ‘his’ child, it’s up to him to punish him for misbehaviour, not another ‘parent’?
  • WOO Data gets to sit in the big swivelly chair! (Reverting again to New Zealand television, in the hospital soap opera Shortland Street there was a running joke that the chief attraction of being in charge of the hospital was ‘the swivelly chair.’ And in order to connect this parenthesis however tangentially to Star Trek, Karl Urban, the reboot McCoy, appeared in the first or second year of Shorty‘s run as a gay ambulance officer called Jamie. He got electrocuted by a faulty fridge in fellow ambo Sam’s flat and Sam had to overcome his homophobia to give him CPR.)
  • Oh, he put his badge on her, that’s how the transporter got the right person.
  • I like how when Wesley asks Picard if he’s going to let the Edo kill him, Picard says ‘No’ with a trace of impatience. I like to think that’s his way of showing love. Of course I’m not going to let anybody kill you, don’t be silly.
  • Shit like this is exactly why you shouldn’t contact such unsophisticated people. You should all have known better, but evidently you were blinded by little pink playsuits.
  • I love it when their transporter doesn’t work and they all just stand there looking uncomfortable and silly.

All that, and Beverly never got her break in the fresh air and sunshine. Her life sucks.

It’s time to check in with O’Brien! What did you do this week?

‘Wondered why I never get picked for away missions to Planet of the Bimbos.’

Next time: ‘The Battle’! With Ferengi!


2 Responses to “TNG Episode 1.8: Justice”

  1. Lori Says:

    >Lavishly dumb describes it to a T.This would have been the point that I would have been running about waving the script shouting to fire the writers. Part of the reason I tend to avoid romance novels is that many of them have a habit of making the characters really stupid – if the plot problems could be solved with a short open conversation, it's a bad plot, IMO. In this episode's case, actual competency on the part of the officers would have kept the civilians aboard until some detailed conversations and agreements had taken place. But then the writers would have had to figure out a more sophisticated plot complication than "kid falls into planter and gets death sentence."The notion that one can predict who will commit a crime just sounds asinine. Some of the Utopian elements in early Star Trek are real eye-rollers.

  2. Picardigan Says:

    >I just generally don't like romance novels – I mean, I read all the Earth's Children books because I was really interested in prehistoric people and how they may have lived, and I really dug how Auel made up different cultures each with their own style (the Mamutoi were definitely my favourites, because a) MAMMOTHS ROCK, b) redheads are pretty good too, c) they seem to drink a lot and I can get down with that, particularly in the middle of winter), but after a certain point I just had to admit I was reading romance novels that happened to take place in caves. I started to say that I generally don't like romance novels and got extremely sidetracked. But yeah, Mamutoi kegger, woo!It was interesting that Picard said they can 'detect the seeds of crime.' I suppose that means detecting troubled children and helping them sort out their problems so they don't become delinquents. A lot of the older teachers I know do say that they can recognise with certainty, in early primary school, the boys who will get into trouble with the law.Still, even if they are really, really good at prevention and rehabilitation, I agree that 'we just don't have a problem with crime any more' is a leap too far. It should just be that property crime has pretty much been forgotten on Earth, because everyone has everything they want, and violent crime is much more rare than in the past, and more shocking to most people when it does happen.Ha, that reminds me of one of the spin-offs I want to happen, either Star JAG or Law & Order: UFP.

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