Jimmy and Tom are still going strong with Star Trek the Next Generation. So, what happens when the episode itself isn’t going too strong? Well, we’ve seen a few of those already, but few are as…odd as “Up the Long Ladder”.
What happened there and how did they react? See below.
“Up the Long Ladder”
The Enterprise has to rescue two very different Earth colonies with two very different problems.
jimmy: This seems like an episode Ryan would say was “fun”.
tomk: Really? I’ll bet Colm Meaney hated it.
jimmy: Really? A good Irish lad like him?
tomk: With those offensively awful Irish stereotypes? You bet.
There was an early DS9 episode where aliens, trying to understand how imagination worked, took the forms of what people fantasized about around the station. O’Brien was followed around by Rumplestiltskin after telling his daughter that story. That was a script change made at Meaney’s request since originally it was a leprechaun.
People from Ireland aren’t fond of how the Irish appear in many American stories.
jimmy: Not surprised.
I will say, it’s a good thing the cloning plot came along, as I don’t know if I could have handled 44 minutes of Darby O’Gill and the Little People.
tomk: Was Picard’s laughter just Patrick Stewart breaking character?
jimmy: You know, I thought the same thing.
tomk: Like in a “I can’t believe they’re doing this crap!” kind of way.
jimmy: That’s what it seemed like to me and he and Riker just improvised the end of the scene and they left it in.
tomk: Damn writers strike.
jimmy: The father had some comedic moments. The daughter was over the top but fine…until they played “that music” and she turned into a puddle in front of Riker.
tomk: She was fine in other ways.
jimmy: That’s true.
tomk: But this episode is just a big mess. At least “Samaritan Snare” had a coherent plot over the entire episode even if it was stupid.
jimmy: But it had TWO different colonies on that ship! That’s AMAZING!
tomk: Let’s break this one down.
First we have Worf’s illness and the Pulaski thing that gets dropped.
Then we have the Space Irish, a colony with no advanced technology that knew a solar flare was coming and called for help.
And then there’s the clones who don’t like sex somehow.
Geordi can see liars, something that would come in handy when the gang plays poker.
We get an abortion analogy.
And then Picard forces two cultures to adapt or else.
jimmy: Ok. Let’s take them one at a time.
I felt the Worf Klingon measles thing was clued up with the whole tea ceremony.
Also interesting that Pulaski has moved on from her Worf hate like she did with Data. Who’s next on her hate list?
tomk: Troi isn’t entirely human.
But whatever it was supposed to be, there wasn’t much to that plot.
jimmy: No. And had no baring on the plot. More of a bit of character building for the two.
The Klingon poetry thing did set up an extended alternate ending in which Worf recites a long poem on the bridge that leaves everyone speechless.
tomk: Isn’t it love poetry?
tomk: Worf…and Pulaski.
tomk: But it ended quickly.
jimmy: That said, I never felt the Worf/Pulaski scenes were leading to anything romantic between them.
tomk: Nah. But they felt like a waste of time to me.
jimmy: Your second point…didn’t the cloners leave the distress beacon at the Irish planet or am I remembering wrong?
tomk: I don’t recall but the Irish remembered a second colony existed.
jimmy: Yes. That is a good point. 300 years later, it does seem like that could be something lost to history. And definitely not something that would be top of mind to the drunken Irish leader.
tomk: His daughter was the real leader.
jimmy: You know what I mean.
tomk: Well, no one in the Enterprise thought to keep an eye on the folks who didn’t know what a computer was. That’s worse than when they found those people from the 20th century that everyone just laughed at for being “primitive”.
jimmy: And if the colony had enough people to start with a viable gene pool, 300 years later shouldn’t there have been a lot more of them?
tomk: Well, the Space Irish looked like some of them were lucky they knew how to tie their own shoes.
jimmy: Maybe they didn’t have a viable gene pool…
tomk: I wasn’t sure why they needed help anyway.
You know, aside from the solar flare.
jimmy: That was it really. The flares would have wiped them out. Especially that guy who kept looking directly at the solar flares when everyone said not to.
tomk: Someone had to keep an eye on it.
jimmy: To your third point, gene issues aside, it would be like having sex with your sister.
tomk: Yes, but they aren’t even interested and that makes me wonder how and why.
jimmy: If you were told not to do something for 300 years, would you not find the thought of it repugnant?
tomk: Well, we were told not to a lot of things for years and people still do them.
jimmy: You’re really not happy with this one are you?
tomk: Nope! You?
jimmy: I thought it was ok. Sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity of it. Like JL Picard.
It did feel very TOS though.
tomk: Even weak TOS has better story construction.
jimmy: Why did the lower tech community even need to be stereotypical Irish anyway?
tomk: Apparently, that’s what Maurice Hurley decided.
jimmy: Our old friend.
tomk: Because, really, getting the Lucky Charms Colony somewhere else was a priority until the clones showed up.
jimmy: Riker and Worf kept them occupied.
tomk: Instead of having, say, Troi help them acclimate to life on the ship.
jimmy: She never even visited them that we saw.
tomk: And yet, you would think that would be her job anyway. Just like with the folks from deep freeze.
jimmy: They didn’t need to be acclimated, Picard was dumping them at the next star base anyway.
tomk: Well, they might not have started a fire that way.
jimmy: But then we couldn’t laugh at how backwards they are.
tomk: But I didn’t laugh at them. Or with them. Or around them.
jimmy: Not even when Worf served up the Klingon alcohol?
tomk: If the Klingon tea was toxic, that stuff must have been worse or very weak stuff by Klingon standards.
jimmy: It was like a Klingon wine cooler.
tomk: Maybe a Klingon O’Doul’s.
jimmy: Is that non-alcoholic beer?
jimmy: Makes sense.
Ok, next. Geordi the human lie detector. The explanation makes a sort of sense, but it just seemed silly…especially since I bet it never happens again. He did mention it works best on humans to cover his idiocy last episode.
And great point about him playing poker.
tomk: See, if those clones also took Geordi, he wouldn’t have revealed anything because he wouldn’t remember either.
jimmy: Yeah, why didn’t they just take him too? They had other black members of the community so not racist. Maybe because he was blind? Maybe to advance the plot? Maybe not think too much about it?
tomk: I’ll guess the last one.
jimmy: Yeah. You are right though. If they take Geordi, no human lie detector, Enterprise goes on it’s way, new colony of Riker, Pulaskis and Geordis.
tomk: We could also wonder when Picard gained the power to decide whether or not the entire crew would be uninterested in cell donations.
Also, Riker’s statement that he wants to be one of a kind is interesting considering the Thomas Riker story
jimmy: That crossed my mind too when I was going to make a joke about you not laughing at them going around the table shaking their heads or everyone saying “clones” over and over.
tomk: Clones are always trouble.
jimmy: Since, we’re on the subject, let’s move onto your next point. I felt like Riker straight up murdered those two clones. But when you make the correct observation about it being an abortion analogy, it sure brings up some sensitive topics.
tomk: Yeah. And DS9 distinctly said killing your own clone counts as murder.
jimmy: They were all very nonchalant about it. Especially surprising from Pulaski.
tomk: Maybe because those clones were only half-baked.
Rolling back to another point you made…how many people are on the Enterprise? If Picard had asked for potential DNA donors, you’d have to think some people would have volunteered. Maybe even some of the LCC (Lucky Charms Colony, I love that), and then not have to force them to live together with multiple husbands.
tomk: I believe there’s 1200 people on the ship. You mean there isn’t one who would give some cells willingly?
jimmy: Exactly. Potentially hundreds.
tomk: And then they can mate the old fashioned way and problem solved.
jimmy: Yes. You’d only need X number of them to start the gene pool and go from there.
tomk: I’m starting to think the high tech colony’s people weren’t very bright.
jimmy: Cloning is not brain surgery or rocket science.
tomk: Then again, this is an episode where Picard makes all kinds of decisions for everybody. The only one who comes close to challenging him is Lady Lucky Charms, the daughter lucky enough to charm her way into Riker’s tights.
jimmy: More vice versa I think. She didn’t seem the least bit interested until the Enterprise computer played “that music”.
tomk: Are you saying the computer has the ability to play music that causes people to just get it on?
jimmy: You watched the episode…
tomk: Yes, but correlation is not the same as causation. Does the music cause the sex or the sex cause the music?
jimmy: Once a woman asks about washing her feet and then magically changes clothes, sex is inevitable.
tomk: Is that in your Book of Canadian Seduction Techniques?
jimmy: Chapter 9.
tomk: Doesn’t it come as part of your national healthcare plan?
jimmy: The book? One in every household.
tomk: Figures. Your country knows what it’s doing when it comes to feet cleaning procedures.
jimmy: So that leaves Picard’s unilateral decision to force the colonies together. Which, they did have a choice in…even if not really given other options. Which there had to be many of since they were now back on the grid. Couldn’t Starfleet had sent people out to live with the cloners? Etc…
jimmy: Maybe Starfleet is not the brightest either.
tomk: Wait…you mean everyone in the future is dumb?
jimmy: Maybe not everyone.
tomk: I suppose Picard is doing OK so far. But he can’t make decisions for the entire galaxy.
tomk: He was probably making all those faces between scenes.
jimmy: And sometimes in them.
tomk: It’s laugh or cry sometimes.
jimmy: And your last point was “The End”. Got any more words of wisdom for this one?
tomk: Season two is still better than season one.
jimmy: It stumbles at times, but is finding it’s way.
tomk: Yes, and there was a writers strike. A story like this may have worked better with better pacing across the episode. The Worf thing was dropped. The Lucky Charms Colony was just kinda dumb. And the potential of the clone arc was only about ten minutes of the total episode.
jimmy: Similar to the last episode where the best story was the smallest piece.
tomk: Except even this time the best moment never really amounted to much.
jimmy: You got to see a Klingon faint. That’s something.
tomk: There was livestock on the ship. That is also something. That doesn’t mean I wanted to see a Klingon faint or livestock on the ship.
jimmy: Heh. Fair enough.
tomk: How about you, Jimmy? Anything else?
jimmy: Nah. I think we gave it a good shakedown. I managed to let go of the absurdity and enjoy it more than you. That’s not to say it was great.
tomk: Well, it wasn’t, but I can appreciate your efforts.
Hopefully you can sustain them for the next episode as Lwaxana Troi returns.
jimmy: That…sounds like we might need to let go of the absurdity as well.
tomk: We’re almost done season two.
jimmy: How many episodes left?
tomk: Season two was the shortest at 22 episodes instead of the standard 25. “Up the Long Ladder” is the eighteenth.
So, four more.
jimmy: Then let’s see what Pulaski is up to next!
Weekend Trek “Ship In A Bottle”
Vikings: Valhalla “Pieces Of The Gods”
Noteworthy Issues: The Amazing Spider-Man #52 (September, 1967)