Satan, Beelzebub, Mr. Scratch, Lucifer, Prince of Darkness. However you refer to the personification of evil, it is something that is in most religions and beliefs. What if a being appeared one day claiming to be this entity and wished to lay claim to your civilization? How would you react? Would you believe this being to be legitimate or just a hoax of some sort? That is the subject of today’s episode, Devil’s Due which originally aired on February 4, 1991.
Stardate 44474.5 Devil’s Due
The Enterprise receives a distress call from a Federation science station where they discover the planet is in chaos due to the return of a being named Ardra, this cultures Devil, who has come to the planet to reclaim it as her own.
Picard learns from Doctor Howard Clark that the people of Ventax II have gone into a hysteria due to the signs that the return of Ardra have begun. Many of the remaining science team have been captured and Picard must negotiate their return as they face a panicked people.
Picard and an away team beam down to rescue their people and confront this Ardra. Upon arrival, Ardra makes her appearance and indicates that she is the mythical Devil that is known throughout the Universe under many names including Fek’lhr (Klingon),Torak (Drellian), Mendora (Berussian Cluster and even The Devil (Earth). She claims that she has returned to claim the planet based on a thousand-year-old contract that she made with the Ventaxians. Although she shows herself to have powers, Picard isn’t convinced of the claims this woman has.
Picard and Data begin to explore the myths surrounding Ardra and her claims. He is convinced that she is indeed a con-artist and he asks Data to find a loophole to dispute Ardra’s claims. Ardra later appears to Picard in multiple forms to seduce him in his sleep but he, of course, refuses. In retaliation she beams him down to the planet in his pajamas but, as they are unable to beam him back, Data must take him some clothing via shuttle.
Upon his return, Ardra makes the Enterprise vanish and Picard demands that Ardra submits to an arbitration to determine her claim on the planet. He offers a rare jewel as her prize if she wins but she demands that Picard himself give himself in full to her with no complaints. He agrees and she then chooses Data as the arbitrator in the case. They agree and the court case begins.
While she is demonstrating her abilities, Dr Clark and Geordi have been tracking the source of Ardra’s abilities. They soon find a device above the planet and disable it, preventing her from performing her magic. Ultimately, Picard proves that Ardra did not actually help the Ventaxians as they helped themselves by cleaning up their planet and then shows that Ardra is not the being she claims to be. She is actually taking advantage of the people on the planet through technology.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is one of my favorite stand alone episodes. It really shows how the series can have fun all the while telling a compelling story.
The story itself makes the audience think what they would do should a being of immense power from their mythology appear before them. It is a question that many have asked themselves but few have seen anything close to what they claim to believe. Ultimately the episode is about belief and how easy it is for someone to convince others that they are what the believer seeks. Even watching the show, you begin to wonder if this Ardra is not what she claims. With everything the Enterprise had encountered so far, it wouldn’t be a surprise.
Charlatans of all kinds abound in our own world convincing people to give up their possessions and even their lives for what they see as a manifestation of their belief. People such as Charles Ponzi, Bernie Madoff and even Ed and Lorraine Warren are just a few of our very own versions of Ardra. They have all, in some way, preyed upon individuals fears and beliefs for their own personal gain. Imagine if this were done on a planetary scale, or even to just one country…
The fun part is that the episode itself manages a clever tale all the while not taking itself too seriously. Everyone hits their roles perfectly as they are facing The End Times. Patrick Stewart nails his beautifully as the skeptic who ultimately exposes the fraud. It is indeed a good episode and one that was as enjoyable this time around as it was the first time I saw it.
I remember when this one aired as a kid and how I loved it. It was one that made me want to know more about the various ‘evil’ beings and would lead me to read on things such as Cthulhu, Krampus, Oni and more. Myths and Legends have always been fascinating to me and having this appear in one of my favorite series really made it all the more interesting.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
We never see nor hear from the Imposter Ardra again although she hints at coming back at the end of the episode.
We get a chance to see some cool bits of Klingon mysticism through Ardra’s appearance as Fek’lhr. It clearly unnerves Worf as Fek’lhr is the being whom dishonorable Klingons go to upon their death.
This episode was originally intended to be one of the Star Trek Phase II episodes and was adapted from one of the scripts from that series.
The opening of the show has Data, once more, practicing his theater this time in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. Picard comments on how good he is becoming and this is evident in his continual goal to understand and be more human.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Clues
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Late To The Game 12/15/2019 (Originally published 7/18/2018)
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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