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Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S1 E7 "Justice"

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Edo fashion, in all its barely-there glory.

Original air date: November 10, 1987

Wesley breaks an idyllic world's trivial law by accidentally stepping on flowers and faces the death sentence.

This episode contains the following tropes:

  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: Picard wrestles with how to apply the Prime Directive to the case; it calls for allowing Edo laws to apply without interference, but (he says) was never meant to require the sacrifice of a Federation citizen in such a circumstance. Ultimately he decides to violate the letter of the law, but attempts to make the Edo and their god understand his point of view; whether this constitutes less interference than simply jail-breaking Wesley (as the Edo themselves suggest) is a matter for debate.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Crimes on Edo are only punished if you happen to be spotted by the police, who are few in number, but the punishment is always death no matter the crime. This leads to people scrupulously avoiding any conduct that might break a law.
  • Broken Glass Penalty: On this planet, it's death.
  • Captain Obvious: "Sir, my sensors read it. Well, it's half there. It does look as if it were partly transparent."
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Wesley is sentenced to death for tripping into a flowerbed. Because he was trying to catch a ball an Edo boy had thrown.
  • Dystopian Edict: Commit any crime within a certain area and the punishment is immediate death by injection. These areas are chosen randomly each day so that no one risks any crime at all. At the same time, these areas are clearly marked by white barriers. Too bad no one bothered to explain the significance of the barriers before sending Wesley off to run around.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The Edo appear to be pre-warp, which would mean the Enterprise was violating the Prime Directive just by going to their world without any form of disguise, let alone subverting their system of justice.
    • When Worf hears "When in Rome" from Riker, he is unfamiliar with both the saying and the city itself. It's later revealed that Worf was partially raised on Earth by human foster parents.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The "god" the Edo worship is this and an Energy Being. Unlike most, it can be reasoned with, though it takes effort.
  • False Utopia: Edo is a paradise for the natives, and seems that way to visitors, but it can be downright dangerous for any not familiar with its customs.
  • Fanservice: The Edo women. Holy god, the Edo women. And the Edo men. If their skort-y things were any shorter or that one guy getting a massage any more oiled...
  • Free-Love Future: The Edo hat. As quoted in the report of the planet, "they make love at the drop of a hat. Any hat."note  Supposedly, the Federation itself is also such a society to a lesser extent, and they don't seem put out by the Edo at all beyond their very friendly greeting hugs.
  • Human Aliens: The Edo look completely human, as far as physical appearance goes; in fact, they might actually be more so than most examples on the show.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Rivan becomes convinced the Enterprise crew are gods after seeing the ship in the same orbit as the multi-dimensional entity.
  • Idiot Ball: Tasha failed to learn what the actual punishment of the Edo was, despite her claim that she reviewed their laws. At no point does she ever try to assume responsibility for completely failing at her job.
    • At no point does anyone bring up that Wesley didn't intentionally step on the plants...he tripped and fell, thus it was completely accidental. The most anyone says is "he had no warning his act was criminal". If they had brought up that it was accidental and the Edo said it didn't matter, fair enough, but no one even attempted to make the argument.
  • Ill-Fated Flowerbed: Tripping and falling into one of these gets Wesley the death penalty.
  • The Needs of the Many: Discussed. When Picard observes that violating the Prime Directive to save Wesley may result in the Edo "god" punishing the entire crew, Data asks whether Picard would choose one life over one thousand. Picard refuses to let arithmetic decide the issue. (Later, when Wesley himself learns of this possibility, it's implied that he wouldn't be willing to risk the crew's lives for his sake.)
  • Oh, Crap!: Wesley's friends when he falls into the flower bed, and when the mediators show up.
  • Papa Wolf: The entity flies into a rage simply by seeing its "child" on the ship, demanding they "release" her, even though she came willingly. (Picard wisely does what it says.)
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: This is how Picard talks the monster to death.
  • Pleasure Planet: Rubicun III is a world where the population wear barely any clothes and spend most of their time having sex.
  • Plenty of Blondes: Every one of the Edo is blond. Also toned, waxed and bronzed to perfection.
  • Protocol Peril: The Edo can't see anything wrong with capital punishment for any and all crime, since it serves as a perfectly effective deterrent among themselves. Picard has to try and honor that viewpoint and the Federation's own rather rigid code while saving Wesley's life anyway.
  • Stripperific: Every resident of Edo, both male and female, wears only a few straps over their body.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The Edo "god" is an inter-dimensional ship that appears translucently in orbit near the Enterprise. When they scan Data's mind he picks up that they used to be flesh-and-blood creatures in the distant past, but have evolved beyond such forms. Data practically quotes the principle while discussing the Edo "god" with Picard.
    Picard: Did you learn anything about the relationship between that and the Edo? Why are they so certain it's a god?
    Data: Any sufficiently advanced life-form would appear to others to be that, sir.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: When the transporter beam is interdicted by the multi-dimensional entity, Picard gives a short speech regarding the lack of justice inherent in absolute law (both that of the Edo and the Prime Directive). A comment from Riker seals the deal, convincing the Edo god to allow the crew to leave with Wesley.
    Picard: There can be no justice so long as laws are absolute. Even life itself is an exercise in exceptions.
    Riker: When has justice ever been as simple as a rulebook?
    Picard: [as they begin to beam up] Seems the Edo Lord agrees with you, Number One.
  • Tempting Fate: The initial away team report on the planet sounds too good to be true, and Picard says as much.
  • Vapor Wear: Apparently a common form of traditional dress on Edo, for both men and women. If they were wearing any less fabric, there would be no need to bother with fabric at all. (A bit of Fridge, especially for older and athletic viewers: those slippers they're wearing have no support whatsoever, and they're all running on hard-surfaced pathways. )