The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Samaritan Snare

When the Enterprise answers a distress call from a Pakled ship, Geordi is keen to help them effect repairs – but his enthusiasm is poorly repaid when the Pakleds refuse to let him go. Whilst Riker tries to figure out how to get Geordi back, Picard is en route to Starbase 515 to get his artificial heart replaced.

In many ways, this is a stupid episode in which all the jeopardy is derived from ridiculously contrived levels of incompetence. And yet, perhaps that’s the point. Is this episode actually a warning against arrogance, a tale of the folly of hubris? Think about it. Riker believes that Starfleet and the Enterprise are superior to the Pakleds, so he ignores Worf’s warnings and sends Geordi over anyway – only to fall into their obvious trap. Picard does want to look weak by having his operation on the Enterprise, but ultimately the ship has to divert at top speed so that Pulaski can save him. I remember when I first watched this, my mother and her best friend mocked Picard for acting like a “typical man” and being too stubborn to accept help.

Of course, that isn’t to say that this is anything but a poor episode – but even so, it’s a reminder that even superior, evolved humans can fall prey to arrogance.

Bits and pieces

  • In his Academy days, Picard picked a fight with three Nausicaans and got stabbed in the heart. He almost died, but thanks to a nearby medical facility, he was saved and now has an artificial heart. This is mere anecdote now, but it will be the focal plot point of season six’s Tapestry.
  • What, they can’t replicate Picard a perfectly functioning organic heart in the 24th century?
  • Wesley continues to ask Picard awkward personal questions even as everyone viewing is thinking “shut the fuck up, Wesley!”.
  • For once, Worf is right about the Pakleds, but he is overruled as per usual. Deanna is also conveniently not on the bridge, and only later tells Riker that the Pakleds are obviously lying.
  • If the Enterprise’s scans could later reveal that the Pakleds were lying about their ship being broken, why didn’t they do those scans in the first place? It wasn’t like it was a life threatening situation where there was no time to spare.
  • Despite all this, the Enterprise crew are cringingly patronising towards the Pakleds, even claiming that they are trying to evolve faster than they are supposed to. By whose standards? The Pakleds are stealing technology on their own – they’re not even having it supplied by the Klingons or anything.
  • Wesley says “before the Klingons joined the Federation”. This is not a thing that happened. The Klingons are allies of the Federation, but they are not members.
  • Geordi could probably have convinced the Pakleds that he could upgrade their shields, and then used that time to disable them and get beamed back.
  • Wesley is allowed to continue pre-Academy study aboard the Enterprise, but still has to take Starfleet exams. Just send him off to the Academy already!

Summary – Samaritan Snare: The arrogance of the Starfleet officer.

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