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Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S1E13 "Angel One"

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Angel One: planet of tall women and zero acting talent.
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Original air date: January 25, 1988

We open with the Enterprise having investigated a seven-year overdue ship, the Odin. The wreck contained no life signs, but had several missing escape pods, suggesting there are survivors. The nearest planet is Angel One, a pre-warp society that is a matriarchy. Women are larger and dominant, while the men are small and subservient. The all-male survivors of Odin have become outlaws due to their subversive behavior. The elected leader of planet, Beata, agrees to allow the Federation to find and extract them.

Picard wants to get this small issue finished with quickly so that he can rush to the neutral zone, where the Romulans have started amassing battlecruisers. Further complications arise when Wesley Crusher contracts a virus aboard the ship, and it quickly spreads to other members of the crew. Picard gets hit with flu-like symptoms and is relieved of duty by Dr. Crusher, leaving Geordi in command.

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On the planet, Riker has developed quite a thing for Beata. He meets with her for a private audience wearing the traditional attire of the native men, which includes a plunging neckline that exposes almost all of his Carpet of Virility. The display proves irresistible. After some heart-to-heart conversation, Riker marks another notch in his quest to screw every female guest star on the series.

Meanwhile, the away team decides to find the missing crew by isolating something unique to them that doesn't exist on Angel One. Rather than looking for human biosigns, they look for platinum. Sure enough, they find Ramsey, the leader of the surviving freighter crew. Unfortunately, he has no intention of leaving. The crew has settled in, taken wives, and even have children. However, due to how men are treated on this planet, they're in hiding. Nevertheless, they refuse to leave.

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As Ramsey and his men are not members of Starfleet bound by the Prime Directive, the away team has no power to force them to comply. The team reports back to Riker right in front of Beata, who promptly sentences Ramsey and his followers to death and easily captures them. Riker offers to take them and their families off-planet to avoid execution, but they still choose to stay even in the face of death. Meanwhile, the virus has spread to so many crew members that Dr. Crusher declares the ship quarantined, meaning Riker can't beam them away even by force.

As the scheduled execution approaches, Riker makes a last-ditch appeal to Beata, pointing out that Ramsey's men are not the cause of the revolutionary views spreading across Angel One, but merely a symbol, and executing them would make them into martyrs and worsen the situation. After some thought, Beata agrees, and sentences the Odin survivors and their families to exile on the opposite side of the planet to at least slow down the effects of their rebellious views.

Just in time, Crusher has finally figured out how the virus spreads and treats the crew. The away team beams back, and a recovering Picard orders the ship to make haste to the Neutral Zone.


Tropes in this episode include:

  • '80s Hair: It's all over S1, but it is especially prominent in this episode with Ramsey and Beata.
  • Boldly Coming: One of the more notable cases in the series. Riker not only rationalizes going off to score with Beata as being part of the diplomatic nature of their mission, but he even dresses up in native male attire, which bares his chest, specifically to appeal to her. Deanna and Tasha find it hilarious.
  • Camp Straight: The native males of Angel One are distinctly effeminate as compared to men from the Federation.
  • Carpet of Virility: Riker causes several women to swoon when he bares his hairy chest while decked out in the planet's native attire.
  • Disintegration Chamber: A variant, in which victims are executed by disintegration out in the open rather than in some kind of closed chamber—simply placed between two pillars and then subjected to a "swift and painless" death.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Angel One is established to be a world in a mid-20th Century age of development, meaning the Prime Directive should have forbidden Picard from making contact with them. Possibly an in-universe example of the Grandfather Clause, as dialogue implies that first contact with them occurred back around the Star Trek: The Original Series era, when the Prime Directive was much more loosely applied.
    • Picard refers to the sighted Romulan ships as "battlecruisers" rather than "warbirds."
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Producer Maurice Hurley's credit appears onscreen right when Picard's log says "an unusual matriarchal society where the female is as **aggressively dominant as the male gender** was on Earth".
  • Lady Land: Angel One is ruled by women.
  • Lost Aesop: At the time of this episode's writing and for years afterwards, it was heavily insisted that the society on Angel One was an allegory for The Apartheid Era in South Africa. Although Angel One does depict a segregated society, there is far more evidence of a cautionary tale against certain radical feminist movements whose ideology is often interpreted as an intention to replace the alleged patriarchy with a matriarchy. It is possible that the writers insist on the apartheid allegory to avoid alienating part of the fanbase, and/or the credited writer, Patrick Barry, genuinely did intend for it to be a commentary on apartheid, but the message was lost during Gene Roddenberry's rewrites.
  • Ludicrous Precision:
    Riker: To travel the distance we did in two days at warp one would have taken the Odin escape pod five months.
    Data: Five months, six days, eleven hours, two minutes...
    Riker: Thank you, Data.
    Data: ...And 57 seconds.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: When Picard falls ill, he turns command over to Lieutenant JG La Forge, who at this point is just the helmsman. The Enterprise's crew should include scads of higher-ranking officers for this duty, but practically speaking, it has to be La Forge because every main cast member who outranks him is busy (on the away mission, ill, or — in Dr. Crusher's case — combating the illness).
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Dr. Crusher dramatically tells Picard that he's no longer capable of effectively commanding the ship, even though he looks like he has a mild case of the flu.
  • Modern Stasis: Angel One is described as having roughly a 20th Century level of technology. Yet this is not their first contact with the Federation. They had been contacted more than 60 years prior, raising the question of whether they had either been very primitive at the time of first contact or else made very little technological progress.
  • Moral Dissonance: Despite the above-mentioned low-tech nature of the civilization on Angel One, not only is the Prime Directive being ignored with regards to them, but the opening exposition outright states that this mission is diplomatically sensitive because the Federation hopes to induct Angel One as a member! Apparently this is due to their strategic proximity to the Romulan Neutral Zone.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: In this episode, Crusher is a GP, a virologist, immunologist, and chemist, and she doesn't need to run any kind of clinical trials on her cure once she has one she thinks will work (which she comes up with less than an hour after she figures out what the pathogen is). She also seems to have the best immune system because she never shows any symptoms despite her constant exposure to the sick.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Riker tries his hand at one.
    "When you spoke of the prisoners, you used the term revolutionary. Indeed, death has been known to stop revolutions. But I suspect it's not a revolution that Angel One is hoping to stop. It's evolution. Mister Ramsey and the Odin survivors did not initiate the waves of dissent that are rippling through your planet. Their presence here merely reinforced the change in attitudes between men and women that was already well under way. They became symbols around whom others who shared their views could gather. You may eliminate the symbols, but that does not mean death to the issues which those symbols represent. No power in the universe can hope to stop the force of evolution. Be warned. The execution of Mister Ramsey and his followers may elevate them to the status of martyrs. Martyrs cannot be silenced."
  • Persecution Flip: The native males on Angel One are physically smaller and weaker than the females, and are likewise treated as intellectually inferior. This reflects Angel One as a society supposedly similar to 20th Century Earth prior to the modern women's liberation movement.
  • Race Against the Clock: The Enterprise can't linger too long, as there is increased Romulan activity at an outpost near the Neutral Zone.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Or a minor part of the plot, at least. Originally, the Race Against the Clock was supposed to be Ferengi ships threatening an outpost. Due to negative reactions to the Ferengi from fans and production personnel alike, this was changed to a Romulan threat instead.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The episode was meant to be a commentary on Apartheid.
  • Running Gag: Data's Ludicrous Precision is once again played for comedy.
  • Schizo Tech: Angel One does not seem to have much in the way of advanced technology, in keeping with their 20th Century level of development. However, public executions are by Disintegrator Ray, albeit one that is a bulky piece of machinery and obviously nowhere near as effective as Federation handheld phasers.
  • Shirtless Scene: Picard while in bed.
  • Straw Feminist: Angel One women are just as chauvinist against men as Earth men were against women in the mid-20th century.
  • Take a Third Option: Instead of executing the freighter's survivors, or letting the Enterprise take them away, Beata chooses to exile them to a remote portion of the planet.
  • Tempting Fate: Riker assures Troi and Tasha that execution of Ramsey and his people will be unlikely to happen since, being refugees on the run, they would be difficult to find in the first place. Literally ten seconds later, Beata returns with the survivors in tow.
  • Ticking Clock: The crew are in a rush to finish their business on Angel One so that they can address more pressing concerns in the Neutral Zone.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ariel, a member of the ruling council, had married one of the survivors, presumably for quite some time, and somehow it is only now that she is caught.
  • You Are in Command Now: Picard puts Geordi in command upon being relieved by Dr. Crusher. When Geordi is incapacitated, Riker orders Data back to the ship to take command, as he is immune to the virus.

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