The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Who Watches the Watchers?

When an anthropological team observing a proto-Vulcan culture on planet Mintaka accidentally breaks the Prime Directive, it is up to the Enterprise to undo the damage. But when everything they do only worsens the problem, the Mintakans are in very real danger of adopting a new religion – one in which they worship the great god Picard.

Although slightly better than the other episodes of season three so far, again, what we have here is an entry in the “solid but not outstanding” range. Although it’s good to see Starfleet on the back foot somewhat after The Patented Pulaski Memory Wipe fails (and yes, I do mean Pulaski – Crusher uses her technique), one can’t help feeling that a lot of the damage could have been avoided if a little more procedure was in place. The Mintakans are, however, a pleasant people, and it’s nice to see a matriarchal culture for once.

If I were in charge of anthropological expeditions…

Why does the outpost need to be in a place where it would be visible without a holographic disguise? Wouldn’t it be easier to put the observation station somewhere better hidden, with highly disguised remote cameras that the natives wouldn’t spot? Or alternatively, just hide in plain sight – make your observation post “the old shack belonging to that grumpy old hermit that no one ever speaks to”. Of course, there’s always some annoyingly curious kid who finds out your secret, but it’s got to be better than relying on a generator that could fail at any time.

…and other stories

  • The Enterprise crew say that the Mintakans are peaceful because they are proto-Vulcans. Let’s not forget that, at this early stage of their evolution, the Vulcans themselves were hardly peaceful.
  • I’m pretty sure Picard could have better explained the difference between treating injuries with advanced memories and bringing back the dead better than he does. Wasn’t it just convenient that someone died in sickbay so that he could demonstrate he wasn’t all-powerful?
  • The Mintakans are not surprised at Picard’s red blood. If they are proto-Vulcans, shouldn’t they be green-blooded?
  • Pulaski’s memory erasure techniques from Pen Pals are mentioned, but it turns out they do not work on Mintakans due to their differing brain chemistry.
  • In the Kirk days, Starfleet would have just made contact with Mintakans, as McCoy did with the Cappellans.

Summary – Who Watches the Watchers?: Someone review Starfleet procedures asap.

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