Star Trek: The Wrath of Drugs. This is that episode. So, without further adieu, Originally airing on April 18,1988, I present
Drugs Are Like That Symbiosis.
Stardate unknown: Symbiosis
The Enterprise is investigating a unique solar event when they receive a distress signal from a nearby planet. Upon investigating the SOS, they discover that the freighter crew who sent it are not as competent as they should be.
After receiving a distress call the Enterprise goes in to rescue the crew of a doomed freighter. Contacting it’s Captain, Picard can’t seem to get a clear explanation as to what is wrong on board the ship. The Freighter captain seems to be inebriated or just plain incompetent.
While trying to get the crew aboard to safety the Freighter crew beams aboard their cargo first which ends up resulting in the Enterprise being unable to save all of the crew. The people they do manage to beam aboard do not seem to be concerned about the death of their crewmates but instead are more concerned about the cargo that had been beamed aboard. They immediately ask to see the cargo and the four survivors immediately separated into two factions, both claiming the cargo is theirs.
The two Ornarans claim that the cargo is theirs and fully paid for while the two Brekkians claim that the payment was destroyed on the ship so there was no deal. The Ornarans soon reveal that the cargo is a medicine called Felicium that is the only way to keep a plague on their home world under control.We soon learn that the cargo is actually a drug that the Ornaran people have been addicted to for possibly centuries that was used to treat a plague that hasn’t been around for just as long. The Brekkians are the only species that have access to it so they have been using this supply chain to keep themselves in control of the Ornaran people through the addiction to this drug.
Before this is revealed, things get crazy, a hostage situation, a threat, etc etc but by the end Picard refuses to help either as by imposing Federation values on the situation would violate the Prime Directive. This is not an easy decision to make but as this is an issue brought upon themselves, he says that they need to figure out how to solve it themselves before the Federation can be of any help.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Yes and no. Is it a good story? sure. Is it a little heavy handed in it’s delivery? somewhat. You see, in the late 80’s there was a HUGE push for the Just Say No to Drugs lead by the Reagan administration. Many TV series jumped on board and, with the popularity of Star Trek, it was only a matter of time before they had a ‘Don’t do Drugs’ episode. It’s not a bad one but, given the context, it comes off as a little preachy at moments.
There isn’t much in the way of character development other than seeing Doctor Crusher in action in her sickbay and Picard showing his decision making process and a little bit more background for Tasha. Overall it is a passable episode and certainly not one of the worst ones.
I vividly remember being swept up in the ‘Just Say No’ campaign. This series started while I was in elementary and so I was part of D.A.R.E. and of course lived through the whole escalated War on Drugs. Television was a great way to spread this message and MANY tv series jumped on board. This episode was one that pulled it off in a much better manner but you still have some of the old ‘drugs are bad’ preaching going on.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
You really see more of the reach of The Prime Directive and how important it is for the Federation to follow it. This was one of those hard decisions and, having these rules behind them, Picard made a calculated choice.
You get a little background with Tasha and her youth. In addition to the rape gangs she also dealt with rampant drug abuse on the planet in which she was raised. It heavily implies that she was once addicted to drugs as well.
Riker Beard Countdown B minus 5 Episodes until Beard Emergence.
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Late To The Game 5/4/2019 (Originally published on 02/16/18)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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