4/23/13

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Vengeance Factor"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S03E09
Air Date: November 20, 1989
Written by: Sam Rolfe
Directed by: Timothy Bond

Premise
The Enterprise hosts negotiations for the end of pirate raids by the Gatherers. Riker finds another woman to destroy.

Review
The episode starts off with Worf, Riker, Crusher and Data wandering around a broken-down, decrepit area that appears to have been raided and pillaged.  Worf notes that the reactor was missing, so clearly there were space pirates. Crusher finds a jagged metal edge with blood on it that wasn't human and then Data opens a jammed door to find some unconscious scientists behind it. So they take all this stuff back and Crusher discovers that the blood is Acamarian, which suggests the raiders were Gatherers, which are members of that race that split off after a war on that planet. Apparently they got tired of just taking small things from people's houses.

So the Enterprise heads over to Acamar where they meet with the Acamarian leader and she is the epitome of aristocracy. Not a pirate at all. She agrees to travel with the Enterprise to negotiate an end to raids with the Gatherers, but she insists on bringing along some servants. One of those servants is Yuta, and she is a cook. While Riker settles the leader and her servants into their quarters, he teaches Yuta the ways of love how to work the replicator. Obviously, he immediately falls in love with her. But she doesn't know how to handle that love because she's a servant and not used to such attention.
Riker likes 'em subservient.
They arrive at a planet in the Hromi Cluster because they heard there was a Gatherer encampment there and immediately upon beaming down, the away team is ambushed. Quite a lovely way to greet your guests. But Riker turns it around on them by creating a smoke screen, faking a beam-out and then grabbing the Gatherers as they came to investigate. Having gained their attention, if not their respect, the Gatherers agree to meet with the Acamarian leader. The head of this encampment is Brull. He laughs at their invitation to negotiate peace to appear strong in front of his dudes, but then he asks everyone to walk away so they can really negotiate.

That turned out not to be such a good idea, because while Picard, Gull and the Acamarian leader met alone, Yuta approached one of the Gatherers and merely touched him which caused him to go into cardiac arrest while she said "I am the last of my clan, but my clan will out-live yours." When he is finally found, Crusher confirms cardiac arrest, but is unsure how exactly it happened since he's otherwise quite healthy. She would later find out that there's a virus in his system that seems to specifically target his clan. So they see if any similar cases have happened in the past and, as it turns out, several of his clan had been assassinated the same way. And guess who was there 50 years ago the last time it happened.
Yuta has aged quite gracefully... or not at all.
But all that happens after Gull agrees to take the Enterprise to the Gatherer leader. And after Riker has several lovey moments with Yuta in his quarters, trying to teach her to be equal and not subservient or whatever. They get to the Gatherer leader and Picard mediates between the Gatherer leader and the Acamarian leader. The Acamarians offer to give them land where they could be free, in exchange for them stopping their raiding parties. It all seems to be going well until 1) all the stuff I told you about in the last paragraph happens and 2) they find out that the Gatherer leader is the last of that clan that Yuta is going after.

As soon as Riker finds this out, he beams down and halts negotiations in their tracks just as Yuta is about to serve the Gatherer leader a drink. He reveals what he knows about her and points a phaser at her to dissuade her from moving any further. She reveals that 50 years ago she was one of five survivors of a massacre that this one clan perpetrated. She did die, but scientists brought her back to life with an altered cell structure that slowed her aging and allowed her to carry out her vendetta with just a touch. With tears in her eyes, she tries to move forward.
That turns out to be a bad idea.
Riker shoots her with a low stun setting and she stumbles back, but is not done. She goes forward again and Riker shoots her again with a slightly higher setting. Riker turns up the setting once more and she inches forward again, forcing Riker to... COMPLETELY DISINTEGRATE HER. With Yuta dead, the negotiations can continue and the Gatherers live happily ever after with the rest of the Acamarians. Back on the Enterprise, however, Riker is forced to confront the reality of what he had done. And Picard implies that he can take a few days off if he wants. Because he COMPLETELY DISINTEGRATED A WOMAN.

Overall Thoughts
This episode moves along quite well. I loved the intricacy and the character work done all around. It was pretty well written and well acted (save for an over-the-top Gull). BUT THEN RIKER DECIDED TO DISINTEGRATE YUTA. Dammit, man, there are so many more settings on that phaser! Just stun the poor woman so she's knocked unconscious! I understand that she's been genetically modified, but isn't there something between "pinch" and "disintegrate" that he could have used?! Anyway, aside from that one part, I thought this was a pretty great episode. Would watch again!