Avast! Thar be spoilers ahead!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode: The Enemy

I recorded this episode last week but only got around to watching it today. Geordi is stranded on a planet in an intense storm when he, Warf and Riker land to investigate a destroyed Romulan ship. They locate one badly injured Romulan but lose Georgi in the process. Geordi goes on to encounter another Romulan who takes him prisoner. They have a cliche, yet still touching, tete a tete that leads each to rescue the other despite their distrust and distate for the other.

Warf and the other Romulan have a less successful engagement. When Warf discovers the injured, barely conscious Romulan, the Romulan attempts to strangle Warf, stopped only by Warf's pragmatic punch. In sick bay, the Romulan deteriorates quickly due to damage from the planet's magnetic fields which has affected his ribsomes (caused by the Hollywood magic of filling in plot gaps). Only Warf has compatible ribosomes that the Romulan body will accept as a transplant.

Now, if you don't watch Star Trek you might need a little back story. Warf hates Romulans. The Klingons and Romulans have a tortured past including intrigue, conspiracies, and war. Warf has even more reason to hate the Romulans than the average Klingon since his parents were killed in a Romulan attack. Naturally, Worf declines to aid the Romulan. No surprise there. Dr. Crusher tells Worf that without his ribosomes, the Romulan will die. Worf does not relent. She tries again by forcing him to face the dieing Romulan, which backfires when said Romulan declares that he would rather die than have his body polluted by the Klingon. Finally, Captain Piccard practically begs Worf to save the Romulan, not because saving the one man is right but because refusing to save him would jeopardize the Federation and give the Romulans a motive to attack. Piccard can not bring himself to order Worf to comply and shortly after the Romulan dies.

And this moved me. It would be easy for the writers to make Worf the bigger man, the hero who overcomes prejudice to save the life of an enemy but they do not. Instead, Worf does the wrong thing, he lets his hurt and his anger rule him and determine the fate of the Romulan. Worf asserts his non-humanity, his nature as a Klingon through this refusal. He refused our standard of morals, which (rightly) outrages us.

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