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Star Trek TNG - Season 3 - Episode 04

Star Trek TNG - 3x04 - Who Watches The Watchers?

Originally Aired: 1989-10-16

Picard is mistaken for a god-like being. [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 5.99

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 50 4 3 2 5 7 23 37 32 44 30



Remarkable Scenes
- Dr. Crusher mentions Dr. Pulaski's memory erasure technique. Good continuity with season 2.
- Troi and Riker attempting to free Palmer.
- Picard's condemnation of religion.
- Nuria's reaction to Picard's introduction.
- Picard carefully attempting to convince Nuria that he's not a god.
- Nuria asking Picard for miracles.
- Nuria finally "getting it" when she sees Picard is powerless against death.
- Picard struck with Liko's arrow.

My Review
Picard seems a bit cold hearted. "Why didn't you let him die?" Acceptable though because his crew members once again prevailed against his uncaring disposition. I like this episode's concept quite a bit. It represents a pipe dream in the modern world. Oh how great an opportunity it would be to study an ancient civilization like the Romans or Egyptians first hand. Think of how much more we could learn about them! This episode also serves as a firm reinforcement of Trek's anti religious standpoint; another feature of it I enjoyed. The climax of the episode is when Picard asks Liko to shoot him with his bow and arrow. I got the impression that Picard was calling Liko's bluff only to find out that he wasn't bluffing. :) All in all, one of TNG's finer moments.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From DSOmo on 2007-07-08 at 7:04pm:
    At the very end of the episode, in his voice-over, Picard claims that Dr. Crusher has tended to his injuries with her usual skill. But in the very next scene, Picard is wearing a sling to support his arm. Why is Picard in a sling? This is the twenty-fourth century, medicine has come a long way.
  • From JRPoole on 2008-01-30 at 10:34am:
    I think the sling was for effect, to show the natives that he'd actually been injured. To them, using the knitter to seemingly magically cure the injury would have seemed god-like, exactly what they were trying to avoid.
  • From JRPoole on 2008-03-12 at 5:40pm:
    I remembered this episode as one of my favorites, but when I watched it again this time around, I was a little disappointed. It's still a fairly strong episode, but there are some problems.

    I'm not usually one to bitch about issues with the universal translator; we have to accept it as a convention of the show to make many of the plots work. Here it's a little more problematic. Theoretically, the UT works by broadcasting speech in the host language in some fashion while it's being spoken. That would seem to make it impossible to fool someone into thinking you're not using it, which makes Riker and Troi's foray down to the planet unlikely at best.

    That said, this episode is classic Trek in its insistence on rational thinking in lieu of religion. I also like episodes that showcase the inner workings of Star Fleet, and the duck blind scenario was great. All in all, an above average episode.
  • From TashaFan on 2008-10-27 at 9:39pm:
    DSOmo asks "Picard claims that Dr. Crusher has tended to his injuries with her usual skill. But in the very next scene, Picard is wearing a sling to support his arm. Why is Picard in a sling?"

    In my recollection, that IS Dr. Crusher's usual level of skill. I think Dr. Pulaski was a far superior physician (for instance, she could fix Geordi's eyes but when Crusher was the doctor, Geordi was told it was impossible), although Crusher had a better knowledge of things like herbal medicine.
  • From Stephen on 2010-08-13 at 10:52pm:
    I loved the simplicity and strength of this episode. Picard's dialogues were brilliant .. they were efficient, logical and pitch perfect.

    Only pet peeve was that the senior researcher studying the civilization was so disrespectful of it. He would completely wreck it by confirming their belief in a god. That should be the antithesis of his perspective.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-05 at 12:57pm:
    A solid episode.

    - Funny how the anthropologist is the one who is eager to ditch the Prime Directive. If there is a scientific basis for the Prime Directive, you would think it would be anthropologists who were responsible for it!
    - On the other hand, mabye there is no scientific basis for the Prime Directive, considering how the crew never seems to have any guidelines and always re-debates the philosophical meaning of it from scratch each time.
  • From Ggen on 2012-03-09 at 8:10pm:
    This episode is a rather poignant and explicit assault on religious belief and its consequences (most of it justified, in my personal opinion... but not entirely).

    Riker: "It's worse than we thought. They're beginning to believe in a *God*."

    Need I say more?

    More about specifics: Picard and the crew are faced with an interesting and rather unique dilemma, a kind of Prime Directive Catch-22. They've been discovered and Picard is assumed to be a God. Do they now follow the anthropologist's suggestion and encourage a benign religion, something closer to the Mintakan's natural development, but also a throwback to earlier stages of their development, or do they do as Picard ultimately decides: expose all, take them on the Enterprise, introducing foreign concepts and foreign technology thousands of years beyond their current state of progress (but amenable and compatible with the general logical direction of their proto-vulcan evolution)? Either way, the intrusion, the "cultural contamination" is considerable.

    I don't even know how to pick a side here, from an Anthropological Prime Directive point of view, which is partly what makes this all so great... there is no clear path... arguments can be made for both sides.

    Anyway, there are things I liked about the execution as well, among them just seeing a logical and quite likeable primitive people... if only studying them was really studying ourselves (meaning humans), as Picard proclaims presumptuously. Human beings "in the Bronze Age" were almost certainly a much more fearsome sight...

    Along those same lines, Lico's character was delightfully sincere, emotive, and conflicted... His scenes and story arc were a pleasure to watch.

    So, rather excellent episode, on the whole. A great, original anthropological concept, skillfully executed. I think this falls somewhere in my TNG top 10.

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