Episode #41: Pen Pals

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Episode #41: Pen Pals

Post  BoG on Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:05 pm


PEN PALS - episode #15 of 2nd season / Air Date: 5/1/89
written by Melinda Snodgrass, Hannah Louise Shearer; Directed by Winrich Kolbe

The tricky Prime Directive is tackled head on in this one. The Enterprise arrives at a region of space where planets are falling apart rather quickly if going by geological time measures. Wesley is given his first task as supervisor - of being in command - when he's assigned the task of finding out why. He needs to put together a team and stay in charge - not easy for a teen.
The main story, though, involves Data and how he has responded to a voice from one of the planets - a young girl's voice. When he tells Picard of this, I was surprised at Picard's laidback reaction; he's not happy but I would expect him to disassemble Data then-and-there - this seems a serious breach of the PD right there. The involvement of the crew in this situation becomes more pronounced as the story proceeds. Soon they are placed in the position of saving the planet the girl (Nikki Cox) is on.
Doesn't all this go against the PD? Shouldn't they let nature take its course? I guess it's left up to each viewer as to whether they bent or broke the rule; Picard rationalizes that the young girl asked for aid at one point so they are now involved, whether they like it or not. Then Data ends up taking the girl with him to the ship and then the bridge, really annoying Picard. Of course, a memory wipe can take care of that. I liked the internal workings of the starship presented here, but the approach towards the PD becomes vague & contradictory by the end. Picard seems upset by it all but it was his decision - he's the captain. I also dunno how Starfleet Command would react to all this; that is left a mystery. BoG's Score: 6 out of 10


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TNG Trivia: this was one of the first episodes in which Picard asked for Tea-Earl Grey from the replicator; he also asked in Contagion, but he didn't get it in that one. Nikki Cox went on to a career as a full grown actress on TV, notably as a regular on Las Vegas for 4 years.
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