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Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Masterpiece Society

Stardate: 45470.1 Enterprise finds a secluded planetary colony in danger from a stellar core fragment. However, their contact leads some in the colony to want to leave with Enterprise. This could prove the demise to those that want to remain on the planet due to the limited population there.

Episode Info  

Episode number: 5x13
Production Number: 213
Airdate: Monday February 10th, 1992

Alternate Airdates:

CA (Télé-Québec) Feb 10, 1992
FR (BBC TWO) Mar 15, 1995
UK (BBC TWO) Mar 15, 1995

Guest Stars
John SnyderJohn Snyder
As Aaron Connor
Sheila FranklinSheila Franklin
As Ensign
Dey YoungDey Young
As Hannah Bates
Ron CanadaRon Canada
As Martin Benbeck
Main Cast
Patrick StewartPatrick Stewart
As Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan FrakesJonathan Frakes
As Commander William T. Riker
LeVar BurtonLeVar Burton
As Lieutenant/Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge
Michael DornMichael Dorn
As Lieutenant Worf
Gates McFaddenGates McFadden
As Dr. Beverly Crusher
Marina SirtisMarina Sirtis
As Counselor Deanna Troi
Brent SpinerBrent Spiner
As Lt. Commander Data
Episode Notes
Log Entries:
*Captain's log, Stardate 45470.1. The Enterprise has been diverted to the Moab sector to track a stellar core fragment from a disintegrated neutron star. Our science teams have been asked to monitor the planetary disruptions it may cause.
*Captain's log, supplemental. Commander La Forge and Hannah Bates have spent three days trying to find a way to adjust the path of the core fragment. If they do not succeed in the next 48 hours, we will need to begin evacuation.
*Captain's Log, supplemental. The Enterprise has moved to a parallel course with core fragment. We must adjust its trajectory by a minimum of 1.2 degrees to ensure the colony's safety.
*Captain's Log, supplemental. The stellar core fragment has passed safely out of the Moab system. The colony was shaken by powerful tremors, but fortunately there were no injuries, and only minor damage was reported.

This script was worked on by 5 different writers before Michale Piller finished it. The script was in limbo for a year and a half.

Riker: We had to respond to the threat of the core fragment, didn't we?
Picard: Of course we did. But in the end, we may have proved just as dangerous to that colony as any core fragment could ever have been.

Very flawed reasoning.
1) That society was doomed from the start. If not the core fragment, then some other disaster, alien invasion,or other external force would have struck it, and struck it hard. The attempt was to create a static society, unchanging and unaffected by external influences. This inevitably left it with limited capacity to adapt to changing conditions, and life in this universe is all about constant, unending change.
The only time anything alive is unchanging is when it is dead.
That society was already dead. Sooner or later, something was going to come along and knock it over.

2) Related to the above is the fact that it was slower to develop. The reason science developed in the Federation so much faster than their society was because it had a much larger pool of ideas and people able to test those ideas. By limiting their pool of idea-makers and idea-provers, they limited their speed of development.
Further, the insular, static nature of their society also suggests that there are ideas which would be discouraged, because of their blatantly likely disruptive influence. Why would anyone work on warp drive improvements, when that would require that one seek to leave the society? Yet, clearly, one of the reasons why the Enterprise was able to help solve the situation was that they needed the higher energy states to operate the warp drive.
The solutions to one problem led to solutions for another. This is one of the beauties of science and technology -- Laser technology leads to LED technology leads to LCD technology leads to LCD light sources, which helps reduce power consumption when compared to incandescent and fluorescent lighting. Yet it's pretty certain that no one doing work on lasers early on was thinking about more efficient household lighting. Technology is amazingly interlocking, and this is the reason why doom-and-gloom resource-depletion scenarios never pan out -- because human ingenuity, in the form of technology, can almost always find alternatives to a depleted resource, or to any problems which develop. Instead of listening to always-wrong fools like Paul Ehrlich, people should be studying the late Julian Simon.

3) Picard's final comment is also blatantly inaccurate in that the stellar fragment would certainly have killed a large number of people, even if it did not completely destroy them. If the society would have such a difficult time dealing with the imbalance of people leaving voluntarily, then how could it possibly have withstood the loss of a large number of people from the stellar fragment? At the worst, the presence of the Enterprise and the contact with the Federation made the inherent and serious design flaw in the society clear (its inflexibility in the face of disaster, a thing which is inevitable in this universe), yet gave them at least some time to adapt and develop some systems for dealing with the matter. On another level, the stellar core fragment also would have flat out killed a lot of people, whereas contact with the Enterprise at worst represented a deathblow to the society (and, as above, such a deathblow, from some source, was inevitable), not to the people therein.

Q.E.D. -- in all ways, and on all levels, the concerns, guilts, and doubts Picard expresses are wrong.

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