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The crew finds that a strange alien race, in a different dimensional plane, are feeding on human essences from old San Francisco.
Monday September 21st, 1992
10/10 (4 Votes cast)
Special Guest StarsGuest StarsCo-Guest Stars
*Captain's Log, Stardate 46001.3. Everyone who should be in the 19th century is safely there and those who should be in the 24th are here. Mister Data has been restored to us, head and all, and Samuel Clemens will write the books he was to have written after our encounter.
Clemens: I'm glad I have the chance to thank you.
Data: For what, sir?
Clemens: For starting me on the greatest adventure a man's ever had. Whoo!...(wistfully) And for helping a bitter old man open his eyes...so he can see that the future turns out pretty well, after all.
Dr. Crusher: It doesn't make sense that so many people are dying of cholera. It just isn't that virulent.
I don't know what medical school Dr. Crusher went to, but cholera is one of the nastier things in human history, killing literally millions prior to modern technology, and continuing to cause thousands of deaths today (as recently as the mid-90s, a pandemic in South America killed upwards from 10000 people, and infected roughly one million people). While such deaths would be less likely in a place like 1900s San Francisco, it hardly qualifies as "not that virulent" -- the writers needed, at best, to qualify Dr. Crusher's statement better. In general, though, she would know it is a major problem in pre-technological cultures, and that San Francisco ca. 1900 was on the cusp of such, with many people living in primitive conditions with poor sanitary arrangements and questionable drinking water, the two most likely causes of an outbreak. While major outbreaks after 1900 usually occurred outside of Europe and the Americas, the number of bodies shown wouldn't be all that unreasonable ca. 1900.
Bellboy: And don't forget -- the name's London. Jack London.
Jack London was a noted writer at the turn of the century, writing Call of the Wild, White Fang, and The Sea Wolf, along with numerous other popular books and magazine articles. He was one of the primary influences on public knowledge of the northern activity of sled dog racing, and wrote widely of life in the rough territory of Alaska at the turn of the century. Some of the activities he admits to in the episode were, indeed, activities of the real Jack London.
Deanna: Poverty was eliminated on Earth a long time ago. And a lot of other things disappeared with it -- hopelessness, dispair, cruelty.
The essence of Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future: Make 'em rich, and they'll all be good.
It demonstrates an unfortunate naivete about the nature of humans. While humans will most likely keep improving on themselves, becoming better, more moral people, it is inherent in the nature of the universe that, if you eliminate that which allows us to be cruel, you will produce sheep who will be helpless before the first wolf that comes along. And no matter how you try, if you retain individual freedom, then that must also include the power to remain cruel, sadistic, and evil. So you will at best be able to segregate those who would not be part of your better order away -- you will not be able to eliminate them. But the same qualities which allow Kirk, or Picard, to make those tough decisions -- to allow a crewman to die to save the ship, to ignore a plea for help when such would defy the Prime Directive -- are the same ones which allow others to do cruel and evil things. The former is subjugated to the greater good, the latter is not.
Freedom from desperation with regards to life's basic necessities -- food, water, shelter -- will certainly improve the overall lot of humanity, and probably improve its summary disposition -- in order to be generous, it helps a lot to be rich (not a requirement, but it's a heck of a lot easier).
So people will likely be better as a whole -- but there will always be bad eggs.