The Quality of Life
Well, there's no direct mention here of the Prime Directive
or strict non-interference ethics, but since the story so neatly
expands upon a Prime Directive theme seen previously in
season one's "Home Soil",
not to mention
the Genesis Project seen in
Star Trek II & III,
it seemed only right to have a few words.
Specifically, a lot of energy and dramatic screen time in this
episode seems to be devoted to figuring out if the exocomps
are alive or not. I force myself to ask why, and to ask,
if the Star Trek crew believed as I do, and as I indicated
in my reviews mentioned above, that everything in the universe
is indeed alive, what use is actually being served by making
Surprisingly, it all seems to boil down to the human need
to be in control of things, to objectify. We draw a line
in the sand, and say these things are alive and these are "dead",
just so we can satisfy our conscience as we treat the "dead"
things to exploitation. If everything were alive, we would
no longer be able to exploit resources, or push objects
around carelessly. And maybe that's not such a bad idea.
Perhaps in my universe,
exploitation would be the only issue, and it would be more obvious
from the start. This episode eventually gets there, and does
the issue justice. Perhaps going about things my way would
just be quicker, with fewer distracting issues,
and being a bit less dramatic. Still, I have this episode
to thank for figuring all this out!
This episode has a lot of good twists in it, and always seems
to have a knack for choosing a path that will both be highly
dramatic and raise the
best questions for debate, all while still finding its way to
a suitable "feel good" ending. Top marks.
Personally, the early "self-preservation" questions seemed
the most hokey, since sci-fi usually abuses this idea by
having it spontaneously arise out of nowhere.
Writers often don't seem to be able to
envision machines coming alive without
anthropomorphizing them to automatically include all
basic animal traits. But I think the exocomps have a believable
excuse here, since their main function is to repair machines,
and they are adaptive, and they have a knack for constantly
seeking the best possible solutions....
So suddenly it doesn't seem too
far fetched that they should want to repair their own selves,
prevent damage to machine systems including themselves
and countermand slow-thinking human methods for
doing so. The exploration and demonstration of their characters
that build throughout the episode make it believable by the time
you get to the end. I'll buy it.
So far, season six is turning out to be my favourite of Next Gen,
and this is another of the best episodes. Good one!
"Chain of Command",
"Face of the Enemy",
can now be found on their own pages.)