Cultural differences, cloning and human rights are all discussed in this episode. While much of it is subtle, it is there. Star Trek has always been ready to broach the difficult subjects and this one is no different. Originally Airing on May 22, 1989, this is Up The Long Ladder.
Stardate 42823.2 Up The Long Ladder
The Enterprise receives a old distress call that has not been used in centuries. After investigating the source of the mysterious signal, they find two human colonies who must cooperate in order to survive.
The Main story follows the Enterprise investigating the unknown signal. After investigating, they find that the distress call is coming from a ship called The SS Mariposa which left Earth around 2123 commanded by Walter Granger. The ship left loaded down with two sets of cargo, one all typical tech of the time while the other consists of farming elements, spinning wheels and animals.
Arriving at the planet, they discover that the problem is that the system’s sun is undergoing major solar flare activity and it threatens the very lives of the colony. Riker beams down and arranges for evacuation only to have the colonists insist on bringing their…livestock.
After realizing the logistics involved with the new passengers, Picard arranges for the colonists to be beamed directly to the cargo hold where they will remain until they arrive at a nearby starbase.
After a brief fire, due to the colonists cooking, Riker meets the daughter of the groups leader, Brenna Odell. He, of course, takes a liking to her as she is a very strong and willful lady. Riker remains behind to help Brenna with the work. He gives her a tour of the ship and they…bond.
Picard soon learns from Danilo Odell (Brenna’s father) that there was another colony. He decides to investigate. They arrive at the planet to find the other colony only to be greeted by a fairly modern group. Riker and an away team beam down after Troi cautions that the colonists are hiding something.
They soon discover that the entire colony is comprised of Clones. They ask Pulaski for assistance as they are facing replicative fading meaning that as they clone copies of copies the DNA is beginning to break down over time. The Prime Minister requests that the crew of the Enterprise submit their DNA to help bolster their gene pool. This would involve cloning members of the crew and they are immediately declined. The Prime Minister asks for assistance with fixing their machinery and, after beaming down, Riker and Pulaski are knocked unconscious.
The clones steal DNA from Pulaski and Riker and begin the cloning process. They only discover something is amiss when Geordi asks where they were on the planet as he could not find them. They immediately beam back down where they find their clones being made. Riker vaporizes them both in the cloning tanks.
They realize that the solution to the situation is not cloning but joining the two colonies. The clones have the technological know-how while Odells’ people have the drive to work and survive.
After negotiations, they agree to join the colonies and, knowing that it will be a new experience, they go down to the planet to start a new life together. Sadly this also means that Brenna and Riker will not have an opportunity to be together but, in order to save save her people, she agrees to the arrangements after learning that she has a chance with the Prime Minister of the new colony.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
On its surface it’s not a bad one but it is pretty much a throwaway episode. This one does little to move the characters forward but it has some interesting elements nonetheless. We get a little more insight into Klingon Culture through Worf and also a little bit of pre-Federation history.
If you dig in, the concept of Cloning is something that is met head on. Does a clone have rights? Does a clone of you diminish who you are? Is a Clone being made have a soul or a life? Sadly, these questions are not entirely answered but they are brought up and make you think for a moment.
As I said before, all in all, it is a ‘throwaway’ episode at best. Plus, space-irish? I mean, I know Trek is pretty inclusive but this is downright insensitive.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
We learn that LaForge can detect subtle variations in humans. This allows him to be able to tell if someone is being truthful or not.
During the episode there is a minor subplot involving Worf contracting rop’ngor (Klingon Measles) and after Pulaski covers for him, we see the Klingon Teas Ceremony. We also learn that even their Tea Ceremonies are violent as the tea is highly toxic. Yeesh, Klingons do have a death wish.
Riker once again shows his cavalier nature and romances yet another woman. This time it is not entirely his pursuit as Brenna Odell is also a pretty forward lady. She seems to know what she wants and makes no qualms about it. With how much he insists he loves Deanna Troi, he sure has no issues sleeping around. If it wasn’t for the Federation Transporter technology filtering out ‘foreign objects’ this guy would be a walking social disease.
Then there is the case of the might-be-Eddie-Murphy appearing in this episode. There is a guy in this episode who could pass as Eddie’s…dare I say it…Clone. It is uncanny!
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Late To The Game 7/20/2019 (Originally Published 4/9/2018)
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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