To Boldly Recap: TNG 1×08 “Justice”

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Unicorner. Her continuing mission to recap every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. To seek out new lulz and new fun times. To boldly go where many have recapped before but nobody as cool as she.

The Rules, you know the drill:

  1. For every heartfelt and affecting moment in Data’s quest to be human, there’s way too many painfully awkward/unfunny ones.
  2. The competence of the Enterprise crew varies greatly depending on plot requirements.
  3. For a scifi show, some of this tech is dated as fuck.
  4. Wesley is the Gary-est Stu to ever Stu.
  5. Pop culture ended in 1987.
  6. Though TNG is a feminist show in many ways, it has some hella sexist moments.
  7. As progressive as Star Trek usually is, there’s some racist ass shit up in here.
  8. TNG writers should never, ever attempt humor. Ever.
  9. When it comes to distancing this utopian future from present day, holy overcompensation, Batman!
  10. Star Trek is kind of a mess when it comes to LGBT representation or lack thereof.
  11. Dramatic music always informs us when we’ve hit a Plot Point.
  12. This shit don’t make a damn lick of sense.
  13. Wesley Crusher sees all, knows all.
  14. Though most Trek tech is integrated into the world building, the series is not immune to unnecessary and seemingly extraneous technocrap because it’s THE FUTURE!

One more thing: if you’ve decided to watch TNG and follow along with my recaps, a) congrats on this excellent life decision b) beware potential spoilers, as I may occasionally comment on developments later in the series.

Well guys, we’re here. The worst episode of Star Trek: TNG. It might be the worst episode of Star Trek in general, but then Voyager’s “Threshold” exists, so I don’t know. “Threshold” is godawful but it reaches a point of such absurdity it almost comes back around to being entertaining, if only to see what whack ass shit the writers are going to pull out of their asses next. I swear the Voyager writers were on something half the time. No such entertaining lunacy exists in “Justice,” however. Just hurting. Deep hurting.

Now that I’ve got y’all sufficiently hyped up for this recap, let’s begin.

Captain’s log, stardate blahblahblah. The Enterprise has just completed its latest mission, depositing some human colonists on a Class M planet. They’ve also discovered another new Class M planet in a nearby star system. But wait—the planet’s inhabited! By a race similar to humans! So Picard sends an away team led by Riker to make first contact.

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I’ma get a lot of mileage out of this gif in this recap, aren’t I?

Now, granted I’m coming at this with the knowledge gleaned from watching 7 seasons of this show plus the spinoffs, but I’m fairly certain that this is not how the Prime Directive works. The point is non-interference with less technically advanced species, so it stands to reason that the crew would do a bit of recon first to see where these guys are. In fact, this procedure is explored in detail in the S4 episode “First Contact.” (We also learn that the requirement for first contact is warp technology, which this species is on the verge of developing). It’s TNG, so of course it all goes wrong and a massive clusterfuck ensues, but hey, at least an attempt was made. Whereas this episode is utterly bungled from the start. #2 plus new rule!

  1. Adherence to the Prime Directive comes and goes as plot convenience requires.

Dr. Crusher shows up on the bridge to emphasize the importance of shore leave after the exhausting mission of establishing the colony. As if on cue, the away team makes their return, with Riker in the lead sporting a shit-eating grin. We soon find out why.

LAFORGE: [The planet’s inhabitants] are wild in some ways, actually puritanical in others. Neat as pins, ultra lawful, and they make love at the drop of a hat.
YAR: (looking awkward) Any hat.

Picard turns away with a similar expression to the one we all are wearing. Like a) Who even talks that way? and b) No really, who talks that way???

"I'm really going to be earning my paycheck for this episode, aren't I?"
“I’m really going to be earning my paycheck for this episode, aren’t I?”

Furthermore, I don’t see why this is so exciting. These aliens just sound like college students on spring break.

PICARD: But the happiest report has its negatives. Let’s start with them, Number One.
RIKER: There are none, sir. None that any of us could find.

Did someone order a plot device? You know there’s gonna be some fucked-up shit going down on this planet. Though apparently that’s not the only thing going down.

The Enterprise’s sensors have picked up an object near the ship, though visually, there appears to be nothing there. The consensus seems to be that the sensor reading is a glitch. This is treated as almost an afterthought, because who can be bothered with that shit when you can beam down to a lush planet and get laid instead?

Yar suggests bringing a small group to the planet surface for shore leave. Picard suggests Wesley join the team to “evaluate this planet as a place for young people to relax” because that isn’t the most shoehorned-in reason ever. The fuck would you bring Wesley of all people to a planet you hardly know anything about? That makes even less sense than bringing Data (who, despite being fully functional, dodges a bullet and does not accompany the away team).

At least the little shit has a new outfit, though given the outfit in question, not sure this is a good thing.

"And Wesley, let's pray they don't find you representative of humans' fashion sense."
“And Wesley, let’s pray they don’t find you representative of humans’ fashion sense.”

PICARD: Let’s just hope it’s not too good to be true.

Let’s just hope the writers don’t continue thinking the audience are all morons (Spoiler: they do).

After the credits, we get our first glimpse of the planet surface, which actually looks a lot like Earth in the 80s. Seriously, you guys, they didn’t even try. They just picked a pretty garden with a vaguely futuristic building in the background and didn’t even bother editing out the extremely obvious streetlights.

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The Edo eventually banned automobiles because of all the road head-induced accidents.

The aliens, called the Edo, are all young slender white people with blond hair (or bad blond wigs.) So this lush, idyllic paradise is entirely populated by the Aryan nation. #7

2yoeg0o-jpg

The away team beams down and are greeted by blond Borat and a woman in some faux-Grecian Party City wig.

RIKER: They certainly are fit.
TROI: They certainly are.

This is delivered suggestively, as though Riker and Troi are planning some Aryan alien orgy or some shit. And while Riker is perfectly comfortable getting an intimate hug from the lady with the bad wig, Troi isn’t here for it when blond Borat starts nuzzling her neck. What is it with this show and creepy men invading women’s spaces while said women can’t tell them to fuck off because diplomacy? Christ, men ain’t shit even in outer space. Hang on, let me make that a rule.

  1. Men ain’t shit even in outer space.
"This needs to be the last time Picard sends Riker down to evaluate a planet."
“I’m sensing some inappropriate conduct here.”

Though Yar returns blond Borat’s hug, her body language looks almost as uncomfortable as Troi’s. I’m not sure if this was in the script or if it’s just how it was acted, because while the dialogue suggests the women are into it, their body language and facial expressions indicate otherwise. I’ma call a tentative #6.

Riker asks Troi what she senses.

TROI: Healthy sensuality, sir. I feel mainly friendship and, um, happiness.

This line is delivered in a delightfully shady way, with a sidelong glance at Yar, who smiles awkwardly. I can’t decide if shady Troi was part of the writing or Marina Sirtis is trolling, but either way, she’s delivering life.

CHICK WITH BAD WIG: (to Worf) And I welcome this huge one.

Guess the Edo are size queens.

Bad Wig greets Wesley far less… enthusiastically, so at least the Edo seem to have age of consent laws. However, she does say, “I do not know your custom regarding love.” Sis, why are you asking the kid? Wesley is the last person I’d ask about anything except maybe warp coils and unsightly knitwear. The Edo ask if they should show the away team to the council chambers or “remain in play” which Bad Wig clarifies, “at love.” The grownups all seem DTF, but Wesley’s there, so Bad Wig instead suggests finding some kids Wesley’s own age he can hang with.

The Edo run everywhere, and you know this shit has to be written by a man because ain’t no woman gonna have boobs that perky while running around unsupported all the time, unless the Edo also happen to have great cosmetic surgeons. Also, as a former runner, I ask how they have any knee cartilage left, running around in those Miami Vice loafers. I doubt that shit has arch support. And also, if this planet is warm enough to go around barely dressed, how are this lot not covered in sweat all the time? I guess the writers thought we’d be too busy jerking off to ask the important questions.

The Edo can't even manscape, let alone landscape.
The Edo can’t even manscape, let alone landscape.

The vaguely futuristic building turns out to be the council chambers, which looks even more painfully 80s Earth close up. You mean to tell me these people who seem to spend all their time fucking and running around a garden built all this? Not to mention that the garden is impeccably landscaped, yet we never see anyone tending it. Bitches can’t even attend to their wigs properly or use a sewing machine, given the construction details of their “outfits.” #12

Blond Borat introduces Wesley to three Edo teens, and all I can say is this is some CW casting. Wesley runs off with the teens while the grownups enter the council chambers. A couple guys play vaguely futuristic-looking string instruments while several extras perform what looks like a yoga/jazzercise hybrid. An oiled-up, muscular guy is massaged by two women. Bad Wig announces the guests and blond Borat adds, “Please enjoy what we have.” Edo of the opposite sex escort the away team members off. I was going to complain about the hetero-ness of it all, but then I realized any same-sex Edo pairings would’ve probably been portrayed in the most offensive way possible, so maybe it’s for the best.

"If this scene goes on much longer, at least I know I can stab myself with this thing and put myself out of my misery."
“If this scene goes on much longer, at least I know I can stab myself with this thing and put myself out of my misery.”

Back on the Enterprise (oh good), further investigation by Data and LaForge reveals that the glitch they noticed earlier was not in fact a glitch. Le gasp! Turns out to be a satellite or vessel of some sort, hovering between dimensions and half-materializing when Data tries to hail it. Visually, it appears translucent. While the crew are still dicking around trying to figure shit out, a CGI bubble thingy emerges from the object and osmoses into the Enterprise. An intruder alert goes off, and Data loses contact with the away team.

PICARD: Why has everything become a something or whatever?

I’d ask why this episode has become a piece of shit but to be honest, it started out that way.

The bubble thing rises out of the floor, and Data looks like he’s about to shit his pants. Do androids shit? Bored minds want to know.

"Don't mind me, just running my 'gastrointestinal distress' program"
“Don’t mind me, just running my ‘gastrointestinal distress’ program.”

The bubble yells and shakes the camera a bit, wanting to know what the Enterprise is doing here and why they’ve left people on the planet. Picard explains that they’re just visiting. The bubble points out that the Enterprise left people on the other planet, and Picard explains about the colony. The bubble just yells at him to leave the Edo alone.

BUBBLE: Do not interfere with my children below.

Bubble, I hate to say it, but your kids are an incestuous lot.

The bubble floats over to Data and seems to be communicating with him, which Data soon confirms to Picard. The bubble suddenly latches onto Data’s forehead, and the latter keels over in a dead faint (can androids faint? So many unanswered questions).

Back on the planet, Wesley and the Edo teens are showing off gymnastic tricks, all done with horrible form. Straighten your legs and point your toes, assholes!

vlcsnap-2017-01-22-03h43m44s513
I award this a -9.532.

The girl tells Wesley she wants him to teach her something, and Wesley starts stammering obvious euphemisms for sex, until the girl clarifies that she wants to play ball. As in, playing catch or baseball, not playing with balls, you perverts. So Wesley asks if they have a bat, and the Edo look confused, till he clarifies that he means a long, big stick. The kind that grows on trees. Man, you people are a mess. The girl says they can find the tree variety of a stick in the gardens and they run off.

Back at the council chambers, Riker passes by some Edo playing some form of space jacks.

"We Edo really love our balls!"
“We Edo really love playing with balls!”

Riker checks in with Worf while in the background, Troi sits awkwardly between two Edo and is clearly just here to collect her paycheck. Have I mentioned yet how much I love Marina Sirtis? She is a gift. Riker and Worf talk about hot Klingon sexin,’ a topic I’m sure you are dying to know more about.

WORF: … With the females available to me, sir, Earth females, I must restrain myself too much. They are quite fragile, sir.
RIKER: Worf, if anyone else had said that, I’d suspect he was bragging.

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Unless Riker’s into BDSM, I don’t know how this constitutes bragging. I guess it reveals Worf as a considerate and responsible partner, but like… that’s just being a decent person, not anything to brag about. Now I gotta wonder what Riker and Troi got up to when they were together. Riker’s got sub written all over him.

… Yes, I really went off on a tangent about BDSM. This episode has reduced me to this.

Worf seems to agree with me, because he deadpans, “Bragging, sir?” Meanwhile in the background, Troi keeps looking around as if planning an escape route. I can relate.

When Riker cannot contact Picard, he becomes concerned. He catches Troi’s eye and the latter, no doubt elated at this chance to make a getaway, joins him and Worf. She doesn’t believe the Edo are responsible for the communication loss, as she’s sensed no deception or duplicity from them.

TROI: Their minds are so open.

That ain’t the only thing that’s open.

Riker and Troi set out to find Wesley, while Worf goes to fetch Yar. He finds her sitting with blond Borat and Bad Wig, talking about crime. Apparently, there’s no crime here whatsoever. There used to be, but not anymore. The only law enforcement consists of “mediators” who patrol a randomly chosen area for a set amount of time. No one but the mediators knows when or where they’ll be patrolling. This ingenious system ensures that no one will commit a crime and risk death. The perky cheerfulness with which Bad Wig delivers this line is mildly amusing.

"The punishment for literally everything is death! Isn't that awesome?"
“The punishment for literally everything is death! Isn’t that awesome?”

Yar and Worf react with appropriate levels of incredulity, and you know your society’s fucked up when a Klingon is judging you. Yar is like, “You could be executed for anything, even taking a whiz on the grass?” Bad Wig helpfully stipulates that forbidden areas are marked with white fences. Yar asks, “So who tells the visitors all this?” The two Edo seem rather… dumbfounded by the question. Someone’s gonna get fired from the Edo Board of Tourism. Worf and Yar’s first thoughts are of finding Wesley, because if anyone is going to urinate on the forbidden grass, it’s him.

Speak of the devil, Wesley and the Edo teens are running around the garden playing catch. One of them throws a really long pass, and Wesley, fancying himself a wide receiver, starts running for an end zone marked by a white fence. The Edo kids frantically yell at him to get out of there, but he doesn’t seem to hear them and dives right into a flower bed.

Of course, this happens to take place in a punishment zone, and of course, two mediators show up. The remaining members of the away team arrive and it all descends into Clusterfuck Central. Riker accuses Yar, “I thought you reviewed their laws!” Yar claims the laws listed nothing about punishment. Um, the fuck? I’m no Starfleet officer, but I’d be suspish as fuck if a legal system made no mention of crime or punishment. Not that anyone intends to commit a crime, but you know, shit happens, particularly when you bring Wesley Crusher. #2

RIKER: "I can't decide what's more fucked-up, your laws, or your outfits."
RIKER: “I can’t decide what’s more fucked-up, your laws, or your outfits.”

Wesley might not have pissed in the grass, but I’m fairly certain he’s pissing his pants right about now. The mediators deem him guilty and are all set to execute him on the spot. One mediator makes to seize Wesley while the other whips out a big scary-looking syringe. Riker tackles the first mediator while Yar and Worf aim phasers at the second. Turns out the syringe is full of poison, though the mediator claims it’s painless.

MEDIATOR: The boy would have felt nothing. But look at him now. You frightened him.

Um, I think it’s safe to say Wesley was already pretty frightened when your buddy was coming at him with a syringe. Furthermore, it’s better to be dead than frightened? Really?

OTHER MEDIATOR: And if this zone was still in effect, you all deserve death.

So the zone went out of effect sometime between Wesley falling in the flowers and the grownups catching up to him? That’s awfully convenient.

MEDIATOR: It was announced you came as friends. Is this how friends act?

Y’all just tried to kill one of our own, no big. He’s just some punk ass kid anyway. Let’s all have a beer and an orgy and put it behind us, K?

Back on the Enterprise, Dr. Crusher examines Data and finds him unharmed. The bubble separates from Data and disappears, which seems to restore communication, because Picard immediately receives a message from Yar. She informs him of the situation without naming any specifics. Did she somehow know Dr. Crusher was on the bridge? Data is still unconscious and Dr. Crusher does not know when he’ll wake up. Picard tells her to get him to sickbay and prepares to beam down to the planet and collect his merry band of idiots.

DR. CRUSHER: "In fact, I'd say being unconscious for this episode makes Data better off than the rest of us."
DR. CRUSHER: “In fact, I’d say being unconscious for this episode makes Data better off than the rest of us.”

Picard joins the away team and they all go to a sitting area that I guess doubles as the Edo court. Not that anyone ever is put on trial, but there’s a first time for everything. Picard inquires as to Wesley’s current situation.

RIKER: In accordance with the Prime Directive, I’ve allowed them to hold him pending the outcome of this.

Oh, now you’re worried about the Prime Directive? None of you seemed to give a shit when y’all thought you were beaming down to experience the Edo hospitality. #2

Bad Wig assures Picard that Wesley is safe and unharmed. The only Edo with any actual lines discuss crime and punishment, and the Edo ask if humans execute criminals. Picard says they once did, but no longer. Humans can now “detect the seeds of criminal behavior” and execution is “no longer a justifiable deterrent.” That’s a lot of words to say “we don’t kill people for peeing on the grass, yo” and doesn’t really tell us much of anything, but whatever. This recap is rapidly killing my will to nitpick, not to mention my will to live. Blond Borat suggests Picard use Starfleet’s superior technology to rescue Wesley, but then Picard brings up the Prime Directive, and at this point I think we just need to make this entire episode a #15.

Talk about the jury duty assignment from hell.
Talk about the jury duty assignment from hell.

The Edo agree to postpone Wesley’s punishment till sunset, so the Enterprise gang has till then to get out of this. Picard inquires about the mysterious object the Enterprise discovered orbiting the planet, except he has to break it down like he’s talking to kindergartners, because these fools can’t even build a segway, let alone warp technology. In fact, they seem to think the mysterious vessel is a deity and worship it as one. This is so stupid, y’all. Evoking the Prime Directive now is like ordering a double cheeseburger and fries and then washing it down with diet soda. This episode ruined fries. This episode ruined everything.

Dr. Crusher pages Picard, informing him that Data is now awake and insists on talking to him. Picard makes to beam up, but gets the bright idea of taking an Edo with him to identify the mysterious vessel. Haven’t they already identified it? Why does Picard think they’ll know any more about the object seeing as they already think it’s a deity? Isn’t bringing a member of this childlike civilization on the Enterprise not only potentially traumatizing for them but also like, smashing the Prime Directive into an even finer pulp than it already has been? This exact issue was later addressed—far more effectively and thoughtfully—in later episodes such as “Who Watches the Watchers” and “Homeward.” In fact, the sheer amount of times I’m reminded of later, better episodes during this recap leads me to suspect the writers wanted to bury this turd’s existence almost as much as viewers do.

Bad Wig volunteers to come with them, so Picard beams up with her and Troi. They take her on a tour of the ship, and naturally she’s in awe of everything. They enter the observation lounge where the mysterious vessel is visible outside the window Bad Wig is instantly stricken with terror and drops to the ground to genuflect. Troi does her best to soothe her, and the crew learn that this object is indeed the Edo’s God, and that they’ve seen it before. Suddenly, the object turns to the Enterprise, and a voice booms, “Return my child!” It moves threateningly toward the ship, and Picard immediately has Bad Wig beamed down to the surface. When next we see her, do you think she suffers any lasting trauma from this ordeal? Come on, three guesses and the first two don’t count.

"Don't feel too bad. I, too, know the agony of terrible headwear."
“You are not alone. I, too, know the agony of terrible headwear.”

Picard goes to sickbay to talk to Data, who informs him that the mysterious object is “definitely not a single entity” and while not a vessel exactly, is capable of shifting to different dimensions and “[being] in several places at once.” The beings manning the vessel know the Edo worship them as a god, and fancy themselves the rulers of this star cluster. Data believes it unwise, in retrospect, to establish a human colony one of these planets. This scene, being a Data scene, would not be complete without moments such as his failure to understand what babbling is and failure to show proper sensitivity to Dr. Crusher’s anguish as Wesley’s mother. #1 Picard assures Dr. Crusher he will not let the Edo kill Wesley.

Later, Picard summons Data to the observation lounge for advice. Picard ruminates over his moral dilemma and discusses the overlord aliens with Data. The latter theorizes that the overlord aliens were once corporeal creatures as humans were, and have since evolved. Perhaps they are protective of the Edo because they put them on the planet, much like the Enterprise did with the human colonists. It sure makes more sense than the Edo developing on their own, as in their current state I can’t see how they could’ve created the infrastructure they now enjoy. Dr. Crusher shows up asking permission to beam down to the planet. Picard grants it, leaving Data in charge of the ship.

This has nothing to do with anything but OH MY GOD WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR EYE???
This has nothing to do with anything but OH MY GOD WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR EYE, DATA???

When Picard and Dr. Crusher arrive on the planet, Bad Wig genuflects to him, believing him a god now. He firmly tells her he and his crew are just humans. And yes, a similar incident happens later in “Who Watches the Watchers,” and no, it is not this quickly and easily resolved. The Edo bring Wesley out and they’re all like, these are our laws and you’re disrespecting us, y’all should die, etc. (No, I’m not exaggerating. These guys really like to kill people). Picard’s like, yeah, but I gotta look after my people too, and I’ll probably get in deep shit with Starfleet for this. Uhhhh… of all the fucked-up shit you fools have done since you found this planet, you think this is the cincher? Really? So Picard gets Wesley and is all set to beam out, but the Enterprise can’t get the transporter beam to work. The Edo are all, ha! Our god is punishing you! So Picard starts talking at the sky, clearly addressing the alien overlords, declaring that “there can be no justice so long as laws are absolute.” You gotta make exceptions given extenuating circumstances such as dumb kids not knowing you can’t pee on the grass. This seems to convince the overlords, who let the away team beam out.

"I know there's no way to end this episode with dignity, but I'll settle for expediency."
“I know there’s no way to end this episode with dignity, but I’ll settle for expediency.”

So now we’re back on the Enterprise, praise be. Picard hails the alien overlords saying he’ll remove the human colonists from the other planet if they give a signal. The vessel flashes its lights briefly and disappears, which the crew interpret as their signal. Picard is disappointed they won’t learn more about the vessel, but the rest of the crew are like, “nah, we’re good.” The Enterprise warps off and doesn’t look back—and after this recap, neither do I.

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