Star Trek: The Next Generation – Angel One [1.13]

The Enterprise visits the female dominated Angel One in an attempt to find survivors of a wrecked Federation vessel.  While Riker romances the leader of the planet, the others discover that the survivors have  become agents for potential revolution related to gender inequality, and are considered enemies of state.  Meanwhile, a plague breaks out on the Enterprise, incapacitating Picard and much of the crew.

Written by Patrick Barry.  Directed by  Michael Rhodes.

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Angel One is an extremely routine episode of Next Generation, not really bringing anything new or interesting to the Star Trek universe.  The heart of the story is Riker confronting a matriarchal society – first via sex and romance, then with anger, and finally with reason, to try provoke a level of change.  That’s all well and good but the society itself is only barely glimpsed in this episode – never really going beyond a small group in the leader’s court, and feels like very familiar ground, if not in Star Trek than certainly in science fiction in general.

Time that could have been spent giving greater development to the story’s core concept is instead a bit wasted on an extensive subplot about a debilitating flu that hits the ship.  It’s not particularly threatening – nobody dies or anything – but it means that the ship is suddenly vastly undermanned, and it keeps the Away Team from beaming back at a critical moment in the main story.  It’s nice that it ties in in that way, and it does give Geordi a bit of  character attention as he is left in charge of the ship, but seems like a lot of work, story-wise, just to facilitate that one point. In the end, there’s no explanation as to where the disease came from at all.  It’s almost hinted at that it originated from the holodeck, but I think that must an unintentional inference.

Even if we accept the flu outbreak as legitimate story, there seems to be a lot of “filler” in this episode.  I felt like on a number of occasions precious screen time was spent on the characters going over the imminent need for the ship to get away to support Federation outposts from potential attacks by the mysterious Romulans (seems like those Romulans are always threatening Federation outposts).  Actually, the story they are describing, with possible ship to ship battles, sounds a lot more engaging than what we are watching here, and it’s too bad they didn’t do an episode on that instead.

Shout Outs to the Past
Of course, the Romulans themselves are a reference to the original series, as well as (as noted above) the danger they pose to Federation outposts.

Anticipating the Future:
The Romulans fit here as well, as they will eventually make their first Next Generation appearance at the end of this season, and will continue to play a role in the Star Trek universe in general.

Guest Cast
• Patricia McPherson, who plays Ariel, was a regular on Knight Rider for some time.

• Klingon insights:  “Klingons appreciate strong women.”   It’s a cute line from Worf.

• Holo-snow comes out of the holodeck, which again contradicts later assertions that no holodeck material can do so.

• Picard is so obviously sick, that Dr. Crusher finally orders him to stand down (after coming close in a couple of other episodes where he was possessed or under alien influence.)

• Tasha laughing at Riker in his “native apparel” is pretty funny

• Riker’s ladies man status, which was sort of hinted at in Justice, is really confirmed here, with him thinking sex is really the best way to handle this diplomatic mission.

• OK, so Mistress Beata is going to execute the prisoners by some sort of dematerialization technology.  However, just before hand, she decides to demonstrate this machine on a vase.  There’s obviously no reason for this except to tell the audience what is going on.

• It’s nice that Riker is prepared to violate the Prime Directive for the sake of people’s lives if necessary.

Dialogue High Point
There are a number of decent lines for what is otherwise a mundane story.  The runner up is an exchange between Trent, a servant to the leader of Angel One, and Tasha Yar:

Trent:  Mistress Beata invites you to witness this morning’s re-affirmation of Angel One’s moral imperative.
Tasha:  Is that the civilized word for murder on this world?

But my favorite is probably from Riker, as he confronts Mistress Beata at the end of the story.

As the governing body of Angel One, you are entitled to execute your laws, or your citizens, as you see fit.

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2 thoughts on “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Angel One [1.13]

  1. Oh, Angel One. What a terrible, terrible episode. Actually, that’s not entirely true. As an Original Series episode, this would’ve been really good. Innovative, subversive, with a very interesting premise. As a TNG episode, though, it’s . . . none of those things. I’d be surprised if this wasn’t originally written as a TOS story, frankly. It fits too well. Riker is Kirk, Data is Spock, Yar and Troi take the role that would’ve been filled by either Uhura or a female guest star. Sadly, for an episode about how men and women are equal, Troi and Yar still end up feeling like secondary characters, with the male Riker making the big speech that changes the world. His final speech to Beata would’ve been far more effective coming from Troi, and would’ve gotten the message of the episode across much, much better.

    This episode was simply not good for 1988.

  2. I’m not as down on it as you, I guess, but yes, it is pretty bad. It just doesn’t stick out to me as particularly bad when I look at its context.

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