3/19/13

Star Trek: Asterisk "Up the Long Ladder"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S02E18
Air Date: May 22, 1989
Written by: Melinda M Snodgrass
Directed by: Winrich Kolbe

Premise
Welcome to the Star Trek Comedy Variety Hour! Watch Klingons fall on their face, chickens run through the halls of the Enterprise, Irishmen get drunk, and technologically sophisticated men talk about how sex is icky! It's all right here on the Star Trek Comedy Variety Hour!

Review
We start out on the bridge where Worf is having some issues standing at his post. He's grunting and making weird faces, but even so, no one seems to notice. Picard calls Riker into the ready room and plays a recording of a signal to him and Riker immediately recognizes it as an antiquated distress signal, which a research team took hours to figure out. Clearly, Riker is superior in all respects. So, that's their mission: to find out where this really old signal is coming from. Meanwhile, as Riker and Picard walk back out onto the bridge, they find that Worf has fallen down at his post and is unconscious. The weak, old fool!

In sickbay, Pulaski reveals that Worf has contracted Rop'ngor, which is analogous to the Klingon measles. Worf is quite distressed that he has fainted from a childhood illness, but he's quite relieved when Pulaski covers for him when Picard asks what was wrong. She said he merely fainted from practicing a Klingon fasting rite. His dignity in tact, Worf leaves sick bay. Later, while they're on their way to the distressed ship, Worf comes back to sick bay with a gift for Pulaski. He prepares for her a Klingon tea ceremony as a thank-you for her help. Normally, a human would die from the leaves used in such a ceremony, but Pulaski takes an antidote and they partake. And that's all for that story.
Do you ship it? Can you ship it?
Back to the real mission, with Data's help, Picard discovers that the ship they're looking for carried to distinct types of cargo: one with high tech equipment meant for deep-space travel and another with old spinning wheels and hay and old farm stuff. Due to the tumultuous nature of the 22nd century from which this ship took off, many people reverted to a simpler way of life following the Neo-transcendentalism movement, so that would explain the farming equipment. When they get to where the signal was coming from, they find a planet in danger of being destroyed by major solar flare activity. There's no sign of technology on the planet; only the satellites that went off automatically when the sun started acting up. But there is human life, so they have to save it.

There's only one problem: when Riker beams down, he reports back up that taking the people in the colony with them will be... complicated. In the transporter room, when the colonists beam up, so does a stack of hay, a lot of animals and some farming equipment. Danilo Odell, the leader of the Neo-transcendentalists, explains to Picard that they can't very well leave all their animals behind. And he immediately starts trying to marry off his daughter to the captain of this fine ship. (Which meets with disapproval.) Later, Riker takes an interest in Danilo's daughter when he finds how beautiful and feisty she is. (This meets with approval.) Meanwhile, Worf teaches Danilo how to use the replicator to get some real whiskey and even some Klingon alcohol, which he ends up liking much more.
Mmmmmthat's great!
Meanwhile, there's another signal out there, so the Enterprise traces it to another colony. This is the colony that had all of the technology. When they reach it, they're easily able to communicate with the leader, Wilson Granger. Picard explains to him that because of tumultuous times on Earth and a change of leadership, their colony was lost in the shuffle, but they are now ready to reconnect. And that's wonderful! So, Pulaski and Riker go down to the colony and take a look around and find out to the utter surprise that... they're all clones! Every one of the colonists is a clone of one of the original five.

Turns out, when they got to the colony, there weren't enough people to maintain a healthy gene pool, so cloning was the only way they could survive. Well, this presents a bit of a problem, you see, because after a few generations of making a copy of a copy of a copy the genetic materials eventually degrade. It's Wilson's hope that the Enterprise can provide more genetic material by letting them clone members of the crew. Riker flat-out denies them the pleasure of having another Riker around with whom to do as they wish. So Wilson says "fine," but they still have some tech that needs to be fixed, so Riker, Geordi and Pulaski go back down and help them out. And it's during this time that they kidnap Riker and Pulaski to make clones of them.
Seriously?
When they compare notes with Geordi, they find that they've lost some time, so they go back and discover their clones, promptly disintegrating them with phasers. Then they confront Wilson about it and Wilson says they need to survive. Well, Picard comes up with the brilliant idea to put them together with the Neo-transcendentalists so they can have sex with each other and the Neo-transcendentalists will have a home that isn't blowing up. Wilson says that they haven't had sex in so long that the idea has become pretty repulsive. But when Danilo hears that he's going to have to have childbearing intercourse with at least three women in order to provide a stable gene pool... he feel's he's up to the task. So Wilson eventually agrees in the name of survival and they all lived happily ever after and learned a valuable lesson about polygamy.

Overall Thoughts
Three completely different stories in one episode, that's what this one was. And the first one was completely unnecessary, with Worf and Pulaski. Luckily, the other two pulled together in the end, and that made it all worth it, but for a minute there, I grew worried. Other than that, there was some humor in this episode and some mystery and intrigue. I see no reason this shouldn't stand among some of the greater episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.