Jun 20 2011 1:04pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Angel One”

The leaders of Angel One“Angel One”
Written by Patrick Barry
Directed by Michael Rhodes
Season 1, Episode 13
Production episode 40271-115
Original air date: January 25, 1988
Stardate: 41636.9

Captain’s Log: The freighter Odin—missing for seven years—has been found destroyed, but while investigating, the Enterprise discovers that three escape pods were launched. They track them to Angel One.

Initial diplomatic contact with the women who run the planet is tense, as they don’t trust the Enterprise crew, but they eventually reveal that four survivors did land seven years earlier. They are also fugitives, and the Elected One, Mistress Beata, agrees to cooperate with the away team only if they promise to take them away.

Data learns that the planet has no platinum, so a search for that metal reveals the survivors’ location. Riker stays with Beata while Yar, Data, and Troi find Ramsey, the leader of the Odin survivors. He does not wish to leave—the four of them have settled on Angel One and made lives here. They don’t like the way men are treated, but they don’t wish to leave, either. Beata, therefore, condemns them to death.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise has problems of its own. The ship has been requested to travel to the Neutral Zone after their mission is done, as there has been Romulan activity. Unfortunately, a virus has spread throughout the ship, which incapacitates the entire crew, one by one.

Beata finds Ramsey and his bunch by following Mistress Ariel, another of the ruling council, who has secretly married Ramsey. Riker’s plan to take Ramsey and his people to the Enterprise is curtailed by Crusher declaring a quarantine, so Beata condemns them all to death.

Riker pleads before they are put to death—not for mercy, but for common sense, pointing out that in death, Ramsey becomes a martyr. Beata considers, and changes the sentence to exile.

Crusher finds an innoculant, and the crew is cured, in time to head to the Neutral Zone.

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: “There was much fear in that room.” “Paranoia, I’d say, but of what?” “I cannot say.” So Riker consults the counselor who doesn’t tell him anything he doesn’t already know from reading body language. Why have the empath again?

What Happens on the Holodeck Stays on the Holodeck: A snowball from the holodeck seems to cause the virus, which is a neat trick, especially since “The Big Goodbye” made it clear that any holodeck matter—like the snow—would disappear after leaving the holodeck. This leaves the question of how it was able to stain Picard’s uniform….

Riker goes native

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: Riker dresses like one of the locals, which involves tight pants and a shirt that reveals most of his chest hair. Dress like a rent boy, get treated like a rent boy—Mistress Beata immediately takes him to bed. I’m not sure, but I’m fairly certain that that’s an ethics violation….

If I Only Had a Brain…: As the only person immune to the virus, Data winds up in charge of the Enterprise all by himself.

The boy!? This time, Wes is the one who endangers the ship, as the virus seems to start with him and his friend, and move onto Picard and Worf, who were hit by his snowball.

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf and Picard are among the first to get the virus, which leads to some entertaining sneezes from the Klingon. He also gives La Forge command advice, which makes you wonder why La Forge was put in charge when “Lonely Among Us” established Worf as fourth in command.

Welcome Aboard: Karen Montgomery and Patricia McPherson are particularly uninspired as Beata and Ariel, and that’s as nothing to how spectacularly boring Sam Hennings is as Ramsey….

Data in charge

I Believe I Said That. “I’m sorry, I’m getting sick.”

“I’m sure half the ship knows that by now.”

Worf apologizing for a sneeze that shook the ship, and La Forge commenting on it.

Trivial Matters: This is the first time the Romulans are mentioned on TNG, though they are not seen, and the end result of the movements in the Neutral Zone are never revealed.

Make it So: This episode manages the remarkable feat of being one of the most sexist episodes of Star Trek ever produced under the veneer of feminism.

It starts with Picard’s moronic suggestion that Troi make first contact because it’s a female dominated society. Right. By that loopy logic, La Forge should’ve made the first contact in “Code of Honor.” It’s followed by Picard describing their culture as an “unusual” matriarchal society—this right after Troi described it as reminding her of Betazed.

It doesn’t get any better. The women of Angel One fall right into bed with the first “real men” they meet—Ariel with Ramsey, Beata with Riker—and the society is portrayed with embarrassing simplicity. The virus subplot is filler, and boring filler at that. (Well, except for Worf sneezing….)

One of the absolute low points of the show.


Warp factor rating: 2.

Keith R.A. DeCandido has a new novel out: the Dungeons & Dragons tome Dark Sun: Under the Crimson Sun. You should buy it. Really. You can follow Keith online at his blog or on Facebook or Twitter under the username KRADeC.

rob mcCathy
1. roblewmac
aw this I Barely remember but it is more proof that people join starfleet becuase the univerese dresses tacky.
Kristoff Bergenholm
2. Magentawolf
Sigh. I'd almost managed to put this episode out of my memory, so much so that the only scene I remembered was the snowball hitting Picard.
Michael Poteet
3. MikePoteet
I've always liked to think that "the end result of the movements in the Neutral Zone" were somehow related to the Romulans' reaction to the loss of their border colonies, revealed in "The Neutral Zone" and ultimately (though not unambiguously) laid at the feet of the Borg -- but I suspect, as Keith suggests, it was just a sloppy loose end.

The less said about "Angel One," the better.
John R. Ellis
4. John R. Ellis
Sometimes I wonder how much the creepy vibe certain Star Trek episodes give off about women was due to Roddenberry, who seemed to have a real thing for "Sure, women can be strong and all, but they're best when they're HUBBA HUBBA" fixation.
John R. Ellis
5. hammerlock
@3 I don't think we've been introduced to the Borg yet, and I think canon has them not poking their olfactory prothesis into the "local" neighborhood until Q introduces the enterprise (and a slice of of the saucer section) to them.

As for the whole "troi, you talk to them" bit, I could rationalize it as falling under diplomacy--a gender-caste society would probably respond better to entreaties by the same gender. They're there for a rescue mission, not diplomatic talks, so its not the captain can't delegate this if he feels they'll be more responsive to a woman asking "have you seen our peeps?"

Of course, the rest of the episode is utter sexist tripe.
Jenny Thrash
6. Sihaya
This episode has one thing going for it - a really good title. I always wanted to write a story that was more deserving of it.
rob mcCathy
7. roblewmac
I don't know "Angel 1" just sounds like a spaceship to me
John R. Ellis
8. euphbass
I saw Beata sleeping with Riker are more a comment on the fact that they used men almost as playthings, with little regard for them as individuals (an extremely unsubtle commentary on the reverse situation often seen in our world, e.g. male boss sleeping with some girl low down in the office heirarchy - it's a power thing), rather than them suddenly swooning over off-world men. Tha Ariel/Ramsey thing was more like swooning though.
John R. Ellis
9. Sumek
One woman I know enjoyed the "unsubtle" role reversal. That said, this episode is, for me, an example of why--at the risk of being equally sexist--men writing about feminism (real or veneer) is a pet peeve of this man's.

According to this episode's wikipedia page, "in her book Sexual Generations: "Star Trek, the Next Generation" and Gender (University of Illinois Press, 1999), Robin Roberts points out that a similar plot was used by Walter Besant in his 1882 anti-feminist dystopia, The Revolt of Man." I think I remember reading in one of the Okuda books that another Roddenberry project had a similar theme.

Oh, by the way: how many times was a dread virus used as a plot complication? And yes, that holodeck had a few bugs in it!

Finally, a podcast suggestion: how about an episode centered around "planet of women" episodes such as this? (It could cover other such wonderful stories as "Spock's Brain" from TOS and "Favorite Son" from VGR!)
rob mcCathy
10. roblewmac
well being kind maybe EVERYTHING on the holdodeck is not a hologram ice is esay to make
John R. Ellis
11. Chessara
Interesting how some things you just didn't give much thought to when you were a kid now seem so....silly....I mean, a holodeck snowball causing a virus?????? *sobs* I had totally forgot about that, or more accurately, just never gave it a second thought when I first saw it, all those years ago!

But one thing that I've always loved about Dr. Crusher: she was the only one who could send Picard to his room! :P (due to no longer being fit to commmand the ship 'cause of medical reasons) And Picard being the srtong character that he is, that fact alone elevated Crusher's cool factor in my eyes tenthfold!! She was the strongest female character on the show :D
John R. Ellis
12. euphbass
I was under the impression that the holodeck works by creating virtual images for stuff far away / stuff you're not going to touch, but for things you interact with it synthesises them useing transporter technology in the same way it synthesises food, but that at the end of the program, said objects would be turned back into energy by the reverse process (ultimate waste disposal!). Thus, a snowball (for example) thrown off the holodeck would be real in all senses, and since it left the holodeck, the computer wouldn't re-absorb it (wouldn't choose to? I wonder how that applies to characters, e.g. in The Big Goodbye - I guess they're not real like a snowball is real.). (This just led me to thinking how easy it would be to clean stuff if the computer can just convert matter into energy as required - maybe that trick only works on the holodeck.)

As for the virus, I thought Wesley or his friend had it (picked up on a field trip or something), and from them it was on the snowball and hence got on Picard - so it wasn't the holodeck's fault!
rob mcCathy
13. roblewmac
Somehow the point is "don't send your kid to daycare. Grems are scary"
John R. Ellis
14. Chessara
@euphbass: Well, I like your explanation! :D Certainly makes all the silly holodeck stuff...not so silly! ;)
John R. Ellis
15. efullerton
There is a funny blooper when Riker and Beata are getting comfortable; she puts down the wine glass and you can see a stage hand grasping for it.
Justin Devlin
16. EnsignJayburd
I always referred to this episode as Charlie's Angel One. Because of the feathered hair. Definitely one of the worst episodes of season 1, which is saying something...
John R. Ellis
17. crzydroid
I was very confused at the end of this episode. When Data makes his calculations for how long they have until they need to leave for the Neutral Zone, he calculates the time at maximum Warp. He says there are 17 minutes left shortly before the away team beams there are about 12 or so before they actually get underway. However Picard orders them out of there at Warp 6. Huh? Warp 6 is 392 times the speed of light, Warp 9.2 is 1,649 times the speed of light. So unless the Neutral Zone was only 0.012 light years (4.29 light days) away this whole time, I don't think they're going to make it.
John R. Ellis
18. USER
The acting from our guest stars is at the level of a porno flick, no exaggeration. Engage. Apparently, McStar Fleet is allowed to interfere in societies if they are sexist, but not if the societies are made up of drug addicts ('Symbiosis'). Make it snow.
John R. Ellis
19. Nick P.
Keith, this is only the second most sexist episode of STTNG, remember in "Too short a season", Jamesons' wife apparently didn't have a job, and loved her husband as a breadwinner. But we shouldn't judge these writers, after all they lived in the late 1980's before the "civil rights" movement.

Sorry, i am still dripping with sarcasm at your "too short a season" review.
John R. Ellis
20. Electone
Having rewatched this again, I have to agree that Angel One is not a great episode. But, I have to say, Karen Montgommery is a total babe.
John R. Ellis
21. Ashcom
You missed the best exchange of the episode

Worf: I think I may sneeze.
Geordi: A Klingon sneeze?
Worf: Only kind I know.

Hands up anyone who, prior to this, was aware that Klingons had their own sneeze.
John R. Ellis
22. RMS
Hahahaha, I remember this one!! The acting from the guest stars in this one is reminiscent of the acting in a porn movie! It's hilariously stilted.

And I'm shocked 1980s hair made a resurgence in the 24th century. I would have thought they would have realized all of the ozone damage hairspray does! haha
John R. Ellis
23. ellisk
Ah, c'mon! It's not THAT bad. Look, "Mistress Beatta" is uber-hot, and that alone makes this episode, well, almost worth watching. (Her hair is GREAT, by the way.) The thing is, and I'm not kidding, virtually every word in the previous episode, "Datalore", exemplifies such incredibly lazy and stupid writing that "Angel One", despite being ungreat, is almost a relief. You roll your eyes a few dozen times, but unlike the very worst episodes, it doesn't make you sick to your stomach. If you like the series and the characters, it teeters on the edge of unwatchability, but doesn't quite fall in.
John R. Ellis
24. Chris L. Plumb
I wrote a blog response to your review if you'd care to read.

I should say, I'm actually a newcomer to Star Trek. Or at least, I'm only now really sitting down to give the show a proper shot. I'd seen lots of episodes before. So no spoilers of any kind if you decide to respond please!
John R. Ellis
25. Steve C
This wasn't THAT bad. I'd take this over Haven or We'll Always Have Paris any day. Also, this episode reminds me what I sort of like about Yar. She was tough, and who else would tell Riker he's sexy?
John R. Ellis
26. SethC
People forget that before the '88 Writers' Strike, Season 2 was supposed to open with the Romulans and Federation joining forces to counter the threat from the species that became the Borg. So I think the "trouble at the Netural Zone" subplot in this episode was intended to help start that plot thread. The rest of the episode is cringe-worthy and barely watchable without several drinks of an alcoholic beverage.
John R. Ellis
27. loungeshep
A 2?! TWO!? This episode is bad it actually manges to forgive way to eden.
Daniel Baye
28. Pooga
Many have spoken on the sexism issue. The inconsistencies on how holograms and holodeck technology works over the course of the 24th century shows are legion. What baffled me was how 24th century medicine was not only unable to detect an airborn pathogen, but one that apparently should have been detectable *by smell*. Not to mention that despite having at that point treated hundreds of patients, it wasn't until Dr. Crusher went to look in on the captain that she even *noticed* it?

I can't fault TNG too much for not predicting things in the next few decades that would make some of the technobabble sound particularly silly, but airborn infection vectors have been known for centuries! This isn't just "Did Not Do The Research", it's "Critical Research Failure".

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