TNG Episode 1.22 – Symbiosis

In which I really wonder if Tasha Yar used to have a drug problem.

Memory Alpha says: Two alien races struggle over a major pharmaceutical shipment. The dominant race claims the drug will treat a deadly disease, but instead it has been used to keep the weaker race addicted and powerless. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review
Oops! I completely skipped this one. My apologies for the oversight to symbiotes everywhere. I have no memory of the episode, so I wouldn’t have really noticed missing it. I’m afraid it’s a bit of a Very Special Episode, based on the Memory Alpha stuff, so I’m hoping it at least has some funny throwaway stuff or some awesome outfits. Anything about addictive drugs from the 1980s is pretty guaranteed to be mawkishly earnest, and extra amusing given the amount of weed, LSD and latterly cocaine that I am morally certain lies behind Star Trek.

The only drugs I am abusing this evening are caffeine and alcohol, and if you would begrudge me that glass of vodka and cranberry earlier, or the half a chocolate bunny I ate after dinner, well, I guess maybe you’re a Mormon or something.

  • The opening of this episode is interestingly brisk, with no Captain’s Log narration. Picard is addressing his crew on the solar flares they’re going to observe, and how their electrical systems are going to be affected by the magnetic fields.
  • Full power to the shields!
  • I’m spooked to see Tasha. Actually, this was the last episode Denise Crosby filmed, since this and ‘Skin of Evil’ were shot out of order. That must have felt weird.
  • Tasha helpfully stops the viewscreen image of the sun from blinding the captain by Photoshopping a black circle over it.
  • ‘The violence of those eruptions is awesome.’ What a great line.
  • Wesley (in awe): Wow. Look. (turning around, completely matter-of-fact) Captain, my console seems to be overloading.
  • Already the consoles are giving people shocks! STOP GOING SO CLOSE TO IT YOU IDIOTS!
  • Well, Data, if you want to get closer and investigate, why don’t YOU go in a SHUTTLE and not scare everyone else? I love you and everything, but I think you need to be told this is a trifle inconsiderate.
  • May we be of assistance? We’re just fucking around staring directly into the sun.
  • Deanna’s lipstick is so glossy!
  • Aargh, my cat has curled up happily and gone to sleep in my lap and I want to get a Cooooooooke. And she’ll be mad if I wake her up.
  • A shlubby guy in a grey sweater who clearly doesn’t know much about how his ship works is in trouble. Not that I can talk much more coherently about the things that go wrong with my car.
  • An exchange that brings me joy:
    Picard: Freighter! We’re going to lock on the tractor beam and pull you out of orbit.
    T’Jon: Hey, th-that’s great. (Picard and Riker exchange astonished looks.)
  • Picard is such a prissy bitch about T’Jon not knowing how to fix his own ship. Come on, these are stoners you’re dealing with.
  • I really enjoy how useless and muddled T’Jon is and how confused and exasperated all these clean-cut Feds are by someone not being keen and perky and efficient.
  • And the first thing T’Jon beamed over was his stash.
  • Good job with the transporter, Tasha! Though I’m sure O’Brien would have got all six of them. Just saying. And hero-worshipping O’Brien.
  • One of the stoners is wearing an amazing silver shirt. No, wait, he’s not a stoner, he’s a dealer. The two better dressed people are dealers.
  • Lightning fight!
  • Ha! I actually liked Tasha’s delivery of ‘Behave yourselves, gentlemen.’
  • This must’ve been a weird week at work for Denise Crosby. I wonder if she was already regretting her decision, or still trying to convince herself it was the right one.
  • Sanction is a weird name for a ship.
  • Why would you make such a big thing of refusing to sell drugs to the only people who buy your drugs? It’s not like you have other buyers.
  • You can’t trust these shiny dealers with their Studio 54 haircuts.
  • Awesome! You’ve let two guys with a plague onto your ship. You guys never check, do you? You didn’t even think to put them into quarantine when you brought completely unknown aliens on board, who even if they were healthy might be carrying organisms that would make your people sick? What if you were all allergic to their hair or something?
  • The lady dealer is wearing a monstrously unflattering pink ruched cutaway dress. An analysis of its grotesquerie can be found here.
  • Beverly, like all right-thinking people, dislikes disco drug dealers.
  • Mm! Orange juice for the smugly lounging drug dealers.
  • Oh, God, the fabrics of their outfits are horrible. Is he in Crimplene?
  • Oh, you callous capitalists! You disgust Picard to the bottom of his socialist humanist heart.
  • You guys are parasites.
  • I love how the music changes when the junkies (I’ve promoted them from stoners to junkies) get their fix.
  • Dr Cleverly Crusher figures it out!
  • ‘Somehow, and there is limited information on this point’ – so please don’t point out anything odd about it, like why the then technologically superior Ornarans didn’t dominate the Brekkians and take the felicium plants by force?
  • It’s not a symbiosis, Picard, the dealers are parasites, and that’s different.
  • You disagree with his ass, Beverly! I’m with you on this one. I mostly think the Prime Directive is mealy-mouthed crap used to avoid having to take a moral stand and commit to the long-term difficulty of helping people out of complex problems. It’s not as if this one would even be so complex. Bev can make them some methadone and put them on a weaning-off programme easy peasy. Why can’t they just decide on a case by case basis whether intervention is justified?
  • Picard doesn’t want junkies on his bridge.
  • And now we have a very earnest, well-intentioned scene in which Tasha delivers a long, long lecture to Wesley explaining drug dependency. (To be fair, what she says is pretty accurate and mostly non-judgemental; it’s not alarmist War On Drugs rhetoric.) The whole thing is horribly boring unless you assume that Tasha is speaking from first-hand experience – not just of seeing people become drug addicts as they tried to escape from the hopelessness and daily fear of living on Rape Planet, but of going down that path herself and gradually, painfully making her way back. Data looks as if he is wondering if that’s the case; he certainly seems to consider the whole thing food for thought, whereas Wesley more or less just lets it dribble off his back, the complacent little nork.
  • Would it break the PD to explain to these poor people that their ‘medicine’ is an addictive drug and they won’t actually die if they stop taking it, just go through a painful withdrawal period and then feel better?
  • T’Jon has evidently had enough of being patronised by people who have everything they need but refuse to help others who aren’t their equals, because he goes like this:
  • My favourite part is Riker’s facial reaction to getting lightninged in the tit. BAROO?
  • If you thought he were a killer, Picard, would you have intervened? Or just let him titzap Riker to death?
  • Oh, the dealers are back. I think Beverly pretty much wants to kick that woman’s ass. I think Picard should let her.
  • Thanks for narrating all this for us, Jean-Luc, Bev. They’re finishing each other’s sentences to deliver the whole splurge of information!
  • I get the impression the woman is definitely the smarter of the two dealers.
  • Beverly! Slap SOMEONE!
  • There seems to be a lot of random crap lying around the cargo bay unsecured. What happens when the ship shakes and everyone falls around on the bridge? Does everything just rumble and roll around?
  • So no coils? You old bald meanie! So I suppose his plan is to force the Ornarans to go cold turkey, but I wonder how many of them will commit suicide in desperation before they can discover that the withdrawal is survivable? Is he hoping to force the Brekkians to do the decent thing and admit that the medicine is addictive?
  • So now Picard is going to make a speech in the lift to try and convince Beverly that his philosophy is correct. Yeah, you may never know if that was the right decision, because it’s not as if you care enough about these people to check up on them, is it? Beverly isn’t impressed and neither am I.
  • So a whole starship, the flagship of the fleet, can just go off in a random direction chosen by the blind helmsman because they’ve never been there? They don’t have to have a justification for where they explore? Weird.

Well, I didn’t think much of that episode. Except that ‘Tasha Yar is a recovered drug addict’ has just become part of the Personal Pocket Universe Canon.

Next time we end the first season with ‘The Neutral Zone.’ Romulans, yay!


3 Responses to “TNG Episode 1.22 – Symbiosis”

  1. Brin Says:

    It’s not a symbiosis, Picard, the dealers are parasites, and that’s different.

    Well, technically, “symbiosis” is a general term covering mutualism (what people usually think of when they think of symbiosis), parasitism, amensalism (which I only learned about just now), and commensalism (where one symbiont benefits and the other isn’t really affected either way).
    Still, from what you’ve said there’s no reason he should use the vague and misleading “symbiosis” when he could have just used parasitism.


    • Brin Says:

      Still, from what you’ve said there’s no reason he should use the vague and misleading “symbiosis” when he could have just used parasitism.

      Except, come to think of it, from a Doylist standpoint, where they were determined to call the episode “Symbiosis” and had to stick an excuse in somehow.

    • picardigan Says:

      Ahhhhhh well. This is the great lesson of the internet: there is always someone willing to pick more nits than you, and you should salute them for it.

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