12/18/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "Angel One"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S01E14
Air Date: January 25, 1988
Written by: Patrick Barry
Directed by: Michael Rhodes

Premise
The Enterprise visits a matriarchal planet to find some lost people and Riker makes it with the leader.
 
Review
Seven years ago, the freighter, Odin, disappeared never to be heard from the Federation again. Well, the Enterprise has found it on the planet Angel I and they figure it'll be an easy thing to find the survivors and bring them back home. The inhabitants of Angel I are a matriarchal society who's sexism against men is as bad as it was on Earth for women in the 1960's. So, the logical choice is to let Troi and Yar do most of the talking and bring Riker along for some eye candy. The "elected one", Mistress Beata, is wary of the newcomers and refuses to say whether there are survivors from the Odin. She tells the team she has to consider it and her manservant, Trent, leads them into another room where they wait.

Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, Wesley has taken up skiing on the holodeck. At the same time, Picard is preparing to head out to the Romulan neutral zone as soon as the away team returns because Romulans have been spotted near the border. While Picard is discussing this with Worf, a snowball smacks him in the face, coming from inside the holodeck where Wesley and his "friend" come running. What no one expected was that this was when they would all come down with a mysterious illness. It starts with an odd aroma. And then descends into madness.
I'm gonna go ahead and say that sparkly winter clothing is the first symptom.
On Angel One, Beata decides to tell the away team about the survivors. She says there were four and their leader is named Ramsay, but they're in hiding because they were stirring up trouble and are now fugitives. So Data devises a plan to find the survivors by looking for an element that's not native to Angel I. Meanwhile, Riker changes into a native outfit in order to resume "diplomatic relations" with Beata. Yar and Troi immediately burst into laughter seeing him in the revealing outfit. In Beata's room, she pours some champagne for herself and Riker, but before she can turn on the Barry White she explains how Ramsey and his friends are anarchists and such just because they believe men should be equal to women. Riker doesn't care about misandry when he's half undressed on a woman's bed, though. He gets it on no matter what.

Meanwhile, having received permission to start looking, Yar, Data and Troi beam over to where Ramsey is and find him pretty easily. The catch: he doesn't wanna go. He and his friends have found wives and settled down. They admit the men are treated terribly and that's why they're in hiding, but I guess they wanna fight the good fight, or something. So the three of them beam back to where they were before they're able to see that Beata's right-hand-woman is actually Ramsey's wife. They report what's going on to Riker, interrupting his sexy times, and Beata is forced to sentence the survivors to death.
Because that's what crazy chicks do.
Back on the ship, everyone wishes they were dead. There are more sick than there are beds and they definitely can't go off and fight Romulans in their condition. Crusher gets a lucky break when she smells the same thing that Picard smelled after Wesley left the holodeck. She discovers that this is how the virus is spread and she goes to work on that hypothesis while Data, as the only one who can't get sick, beams back up under Riker's orders to take command and bring the Enterprise to the Romulan fight before it's too late.

Well, it turns out Beata had her right-hand-woman followed, so she found Ramsey and discovered that she was a traitor. They're scheduled to be executed the next day and Riker is outraged. He gives Ramsey one more chance, but he still one go. The next day comes and Data reports in. Riker asks why he isn't gone, and Data says because it's not too late yet. They still have 47 minutes before they have to leave to fight Romulans. So Riker attends the execution and makes a grand speech about how Beata is trying to fight evolution which can't be done. And if she kills Ramsey, she'll only make him a martyr and his ideals will spread.
As long as his Macgyver fashion sense doesn't spread.
At the last minute, she gives up and lets Ramsey live. She decides rather to banish him so he can live his life in peace outside of the city. Up on Enterprise, Beverly has conveniently come up with an inoculant at the last minute and informs Data that everyone can come back on board. The away team beams up, reports to a very horse Picard, and they all live happily ever after, living another day to fight the Romulans.

Overall Thoughts
The only real gripe I have about this episode is that there are two completely disconnected plot lines running at the same time. Here and there they may have tried to jam them together, but it never really worked. And I have a feeling this isn't the last we'll see of the double plot episode structure. The first we saw of it was in "Lonely Among Us" and I didn't like it there, either. There should be some effort made to wrap these plots together somehow. Meanwhile, this is a great episode to refer to if you ever want to just have a good laugh at the expense of 80's fashion. And the reversal of sexism roles is always a very interesting idea to explore.