Episode no. 115
Season 1
Entertainment rating: D-
Tergiversation meter: -4


FEATURING: Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Denise Crosby, with Karen Montgomery as Beata. DIRECTOR: Michael Rhodes. WRITER: Patrick Barry, with heavy re-writes by Anonymous. STARDATE: 41636.9. EARTH DATE: 1-25-88.


THE SHOW: This stupid plot about a female-controlled planet is just a few cuts above the execrable "Code of Honor," as an insulting, patronizing statement about yet another oppressed group in our society--this time, women. According to Larry Nemecek, in "The 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' Companion," Patrick Barry's script was subjected to heavy re-writes (by whom is not indicated) which emasculated the script (so to speak) and turned it into this cheap, simple-minded male fantasy about women becoming dominant. I have no reason to disbelieve Nemecek's report, although Barry did not remove his name from the script. So far as I know, Patrick Barry is not a psuedonym. However, knowing what sort of crap writers are subjected to, in Hollywood, I will give Barry the benefit of the doubt, and from this point on, refer to the writer as Anonymous.(Gene Roddenberry? Maurice Hurley? Other?).

The Enterprise stumbles upon a matriarchal society, on a planet called Angel One, while looking for surviving members of a freighter crew that has been missing for many years. The women on this planet demand obedience and obeisance from their submissive men, and they execute those who won't cooperate. This idiotic turn-about has led to trouble, when the survivors of the Federation freighter are finally located by Angel One's female leaders and are discovered to be subversives who have attracted Angel One women to live with them in secret, in ...ugh...male dominant relationships. The Federation rebels are sentenced to death by the female leaders of Angel One. Riker beams down, with Counselor Troi and Lt. Yar, to try to straighten all this out.

Anonymous would have us believe that women would act as badly towards men as men have acted toward women over the years--if women somehow got to be on top. The premise is egregiously simple-minded and a rank piece of patriarchal propaganda which maintains, in effect, that it is human nature to dominate others. The script implies that ANY oppressed group would soon become oppressive if it had the chance. The trouble is that neither women nor people of color will ever have that chance in our lifetimes. So we will never know. We have to live with white males owning, and controlling, and running everything--including television shows--for some time to come.

Riker tries to view this silly and lethal (to men) planet with Prime Directive objectivity. He's there on a diplomatic mission--to rescue the Federation freighter crew. He's not there to judge, nor to change, the society of Angel One. He'll do what he has to--even wear a ridiculous "submissive male" costume--to accomplish his purpose. Thus, we get the one amusing scene in this piece of garbage--with Riker allowing himself to be seduced by Queen Beata, the top dog woman on the women-on-top-planet. (You know, we don't even have the language of oppression--women, I mean--we don't use phrases like "top dog," and "big honcho," and "Number One," except when we are in disguise, trying to sound like "one of the boys." And if you don't think in these terms--top dog, big honcho--then you likely won't act as if some people have to be "top dogs" and some people have to be "bottom dogs.")

I have a female friend who is an important financial executive. She has done quite a lot of observation of people in meetings, and she once described to me how differently men and women approach a meeting. Men generally see only one reality in a meeting--how to conquer the meeting, how to assert individual ego, promote the self and dominate the proceedings. This is the way they walk in. They look for the "dominant" chair. This is the way they talk--verbally domineering and self-assertive. This is how they assess the meeting afterwards--did I win?

Women, on the other hand, think of the purpose of the meeting, the group's goal, they study the on-going group dynamics, and look for ways to assist the group dynamics so that the group's purpose can be accomplished, and only secondarily do women evaluate things on a personal basis--how did I do? They ask, rather, how did "we" do?

There seems to be a lot of evidence that men and women approach reality differently, and there is good evidence that men's and women's brains are structurally different in very significant ways. Instead of carping at one another, and giving in to terrified fantasies, like Angel One, why don't we do like the French do, and appreciate the difference?

Frankly, Angel One bores me. Let's get on with it.

TERGIVERSATION METER READING: -4. Riker in drag is worth one point on the positive side of progressive thinking.

Tergiversate (tur-ji-ver-sat): 1. To use evasions or ambiguities; equivocate. 2. To change sides; to defect; apostatize. The Tergiversation Meter scale runs from -5 (very defective) through +5 (unambiguous, true blue philosophical humanism with no negative subliminal messages).

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