The Great Star Trek Rewatch: Half a Life

Whilst the Enterprise helps the people of Kaelon II with research into revitalising their dying sun, Lwaxana Troi decides to pay a visit. She soon becomes enamoured with Kaelon scientist Dr Timicin, only to discover that he is approaching The Resolution – the age at which a Kaelon commits suicide to avoid becoming a burden to their family in their old age. Can Lwaxana convince Timicin not to go through with this, and is interfering in these affairs a gross breach of the Prime Directive?

TNG goes Logan’s Run in this episode, as it deals with old age by introducing a society where people aren’t even allowed to get old. It’s a chance for Lwaxana Troi to do something a bit more serious than just harass the senior crew, even if her relationship with Timicin is a bit rushed. Nonetheless, overall it’s a good effort towards a classic Star Trek theme of exploring contemporary issues.

Security matters

  • Once again, Worf protests about Lwaxana having bridge clearance, and no one else seems to care. It’s possible that as an ambassador she’s allowed on the bridge, but she certainly shouldn’t be permitted to use a computer station.
  • Lwaxana says “it’s not my Prime Directive”, but as I understand it, the Prime Directive binds all members of the Federation, not just Starfleet, so this is blatantly incorrect.
  • How exactly does firing a couple of photon torpedoes into a sun revitalise it? Were they planning to ignite helium fusion without the sun going to a red giant phase? Short of dragging more hydrogen or helium to the star, they can’t provide it with more fuel.

The Prime Directive

When exactly does the Prime Directive apply? We know that it covers the following:

  • Contact with pre-warp cultures is prohibited (except in Kirk’s day).
  • Giving advanced technology to less advanced cultures is also prohibited, but working with them on solutions to scientific problems seems to be allowed. Is this like when state police call in the FBI? Saving the Kaelon dying sun is allowed, perhaps because Dr Timicin came up with the theories and the Enterprise is just assisting, but stopping the earthquakes on Sarjenka’s planet was not okay?
  • Otherwise interfering with the development of a planet’s culture is not allowed, for example supporting either side in a planetary war. Yet Starfleet often mediates in disputes – isn’t arranging a peace an equal interference? Isn’t Starfleet just saying “we’ll help out when we think it’s a good idea, but otherwise you’re on your own – bye suckahs!”

Summary – Half a Life: don’t become old, ill and a burden on the state! Kill yourself while you still can!

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