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Star Trek TNG - Season 1 - Episode 22

Star Trek TNG - 1x22 - Symbiosis

Originally Aired: 1988-4-18

Picard mediates a dispute involving a mysterious drug. [DVD]

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 5.65

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 17 4 2 22 7 18 20 21 20 18 14

- Yar gives a big wave to the captain when he leaves the cargo bay at the end of the episode... uh why? Supposedly it's because it was the last scene she filmed as a regular cast member. But there's no canon reason why.


Remarkable Scenes
- I don't know why, but I love the looks of almost disgust Picard and Riker and the rest of the crew give each other when the freighter Saction's crewmembers speak over the hail.
- That natural electrical charge sure is handy. Yar and Riker's discussion on it is also nicely done and technically correct.
- I love the initial plague fear at the beginning of the episode before they know it's a narcotic.
- Data: "I would estimate four billion, three hundred and seventy five million--" Picard, interrupting: "Thank you Mr. Data."
- Yar and Wesley discussing drugs.
- Riker being electrocuted, the look on his face, Picard refusing to back down, the whole scene was amazing.
- Picard disgusted at the end: "Just put some distance between us and this system."

My Review
A narcotic somehow maintains an economic balance between two groups of people. How many times have we seen this in our own history? And even today? Some say that cigarettes are "the stupid people tax," seeing as how the U.S. government taxes them heavily. They tax the "stupid people" and redistribute the money to better causes by funding schools, road maintenance, and other tax funded things. Many smokers say to non smokers, "if we didn't smoke, where would all that tax money come from?" A similar dilemma is presented in this episode. Without the revenue generated from the narcotic in this episode, the producing species would supposedly not have a way to sustain themselves. The problem with that argument is that it's a cop out--denial of the real problem by using a cheap short-sighted excuse. What these people are really saying is, "I don't want to change." If smoking was banned tomorrow, schools, roads, etc, would still get paid for. Taxes would simply be collected from elsewhere. And if this symbiotic narcotic relationship in this episode were to be instantly severed, which is essentially what Picard did, the two planets would eventually get over each other and learn to survive on their own. The given here is that overcoming narcotic addiction on a global scale is preferable to short term gains acquired by exploiting its production.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From DSOmo on 2007-06-06 at 3:04am:
    Changed Premise: If the transporter can screen out bacteria and viruses, as mentioned in this episode, how could the young people who went on the field trip in the episode "Angel One" bring back a viral infection?

    - At the end of the show, La Forge calls out the new heading, "9-7-0 mark 3-1-8." The episode "Datalore" establishes that each of the numbers given in a heading cannot exceed 360.
  • From Jens-Ivar Seland on 2009-05-22 at 12:34pm:
    Merritt Butrick, who plays T'Jon, also plays Kir'k son David Marcus, in Start Trek 2 and 3.
  • From rpeh on 2010-06-20 at 1:33pm:
    The god-awful "Just say no" exchange between Wesley, Yar and Data is the single most preaching, sanctimonious scene in Star Trek. Apart from that, it's not a bad episode.
  • From Nick Counts on 2010-11-08 at 3:19pm:
    Sobi is played by Judson Scott, who also played Kahn's right hand man in Wrath of Khan
  • From CAlexander on 2011-03-13 at 9:00pm:
    I found the Prime Directive issues raised in this episode very interesting. Picard's dilemma is much more abstruse than in the typical morality episode since the Prime Directive doesn't exist in the real world.

    Picard's approach is interesting because, if he hadn't been aware of the political situation, he clearly would have given the Ornarans their engineering parts and told them they were not really sick. So Picard is not merely being neutral, he is actively manipulating the two sides in order to return them to the situation they were in before the Enterprise arrived.

    The downside to the episode is that it strains credulity to believe that in 200 years, nobody on Ornara has ever realized he can't die from the plague or noticed what the Brekkans are doing. Perhaps the Brekkans control the government and media on Ornara, and anyone who realizes the truth is taken away by the secret police.

    Also, how can the Ornarans be so stoned that they can't even remember how to maintain the space ships that they believe are critical to their planetary survival? You would think the Brekkans, at least, would try to correct the problem when the freighters started breaking down. Oh well, those silly alien races can be pretty short-sighted sometimes.
  • From a2a on 2012-02-11 at 6:08pm:
    The beginning of this episode made me realize something: I really enjoy how in TNG the Captain addresses and encourages the entire crew, and not just the senior officers (at least in these early episodes - for instance he did this also in Where No One Has Gone Before - and perhaps continues to throughout the series). It creates atmosphere and realism, and gives you a sense of the ship as a whole, with its full complement. When you see random crew men, they are no longer quite so random and forgettable, because they've been incorporated in some small but emotionally significant way into the main events. There's a real sense that the story is about them too, and not just about the main characters.

    I'm not so sure about DS9, but this was something that was sorely lacking in Voyager, with a few exceptions. With Voyager, after a while you kind of get the sense that the ship doesn't extend very far beyond the bridge, the captain's quarters, and sickbay (and later the astrometrics lab). (BTW this is why I so strongly disagreed with Kethinov and very much appreciated Neelix' short-lived television show - it gave the ship a kind of social *atmosphere* (and incorporated the rest of the crew and their minor dramas and events...).

    Anyway, I'm getting off topic. Little more to say about the actual episode. Quite a good one.

    A possible problem in the technical ineptness of the addicted population: I mean, they supplied their drug-dealers with all the means of survival and even prosperity, right? (Who themselves had no industry besides cultivating and producing the narcotic.) So... how inept could they really be? If they could provide for the "necessities of life" of both their own planet and another dependent one, is it really conceivable that they can't maintain their ships, can't produce replacement parts, don't have the necessary tools, and can't align their engine coils or whatever?

    The resolution of the episode hinges on this technical ineptness (on a societal scale, not just with this particular crew), and I'm not sure it really squares with their role as suppliers in the relationship...
  • From 1ne Moon Circles on 2012-02-17 at 11:57pm:
    I have done a ton of reading about Yar leaving STNG, I am still not convinced that Yar did not have a drug problem. If so the after school special scene between Yar and Young Crusher must have been so humiliating for her.

    I agree with what some others have said about the drug addicts, if they were industrious enough to supply the drug dealers with all the their posh comforts

    then could they really be so technicnly unaware and dim?
  • From Daniel on 2014-07-09 at 1:06am:
    Just one comment for this episode... In the scene where the Enterprise approaches the star, and the bridge crew is blinded by the bright light, Picard orders them to "mask out the photosphere", and a big black dot appears on the view screen and is moved into place. With 24th century technology, a big black dot is the best they could come up with to filter out bright light??? Kind of lacking on the tech level here.

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