Monday, November 29, 2010

"Justice" Abandons Itself On Star Trek: The Next Generation!

The Good: Theme, Character, Easy On the Eyes
The Bad: Abandonment of the Theme, Some Acting, Dated
The Basics: A morality play that renounces itself, "Justice" is an often maligned episode that falls as right about average.

The first season of Star Trek The Next Generation, as I've maintained from my first reviews on the subject, is about a group of philosopher explorers whose point is to reveal aspects of the human condition to the viewer. "Justice" is possibly the most blatant example; even the name implies a morality play.

"Justice" tells the story of the planet Rubicon III, home of the Edo (how you get the Edo out of Rubicon, beats me). It appears to be an idyllic world: the people are friendly, running around in skimpy outfits and the sun is shining. Everything goes nicely until young Wesley Crusher falls into a bunch of plants in a restricted area. It seems the penalty for this crime is death. So, threatened with death, the Captain intervenes to try to stop the execution. Unfortunately, the Prime Directive applies and to break that rule is an extreme thing. The Prime Directive states that the Federation will not influence planetary events outside the Federation or of any less advanced planet. In this case, to prevent the execution of Wesley Crusher, Captain Picard would be influencing the whole evolutionary track of the planet. It also doesn't help that God shows up.

I'm not kidding. A giant space station appears, which the people of Rubicon III recognize as god. This severely complicates things, by the fact that Picard promises not to mess around with the Edo.

A lot of people do not like this episode because of the extremity of philosophy in it. It's an obvious attempt to say something. The message is that power and might do not make right and a perfect society seldom is.

The problem is that the episode belabors the philosophy of noninterference and then ends up abandoning it. After all of the time spent on the importance of not affecting other planets, the decision Picard makes is ultimately self defeating.

But in all, this episode has a bad rap. It's fun to watch. Everyone of the Edo is Hollywood beautiful running around in little outfits that barely cover their bodies and that alone makes it easy to watch. Unfortunately, it seems most of the guest stars were chosen more for their physicality than their acting talents as some of the acting is just plain bad. This episode illustrates why most children are not cast on television shows (namely the guest teens).

Wil Wheaton gives a good performance as Wesley Crusher, however, illustrating very consistent characterization for both where he is and where his character will be going.

Most of all, the episode seems hokey. I think Star Trek suffers from an unwarranted prejudice over the '60s special effects when it often tells excellent stories. Similarly "Justice" is so obviously a product of the late 80s that it's difficult to watch now that we have moved beyond it.

Not the worst episode, but it could have been much better had it illustrated some consistency. Accessible to those who are not fans of Star Trek The Next Generation, though I doubt that viewer would ever want to watch another episode of the show.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete First Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the debut season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2010, 2008, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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