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Season Three:
-150: "Evolution"
-152: "Who Watches the Watchers?"
-157: "The Vengeance Factor"
-159: "The Hunted"
-160: "The High Ground"
-163: "Yesterday's Enterprise"
-167: "Captain's Holiday"
-173: "Transfigurations"
-174-175: "The Best of Both Worlds"

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Star Trek Prime Directive
TNG Season 3 continued...

"Be the change you want to see in the world."
~ Mahatma Gandhi, 20th century Indian spiritual & political leader

Our look at the Prime Directive in Season Three of The Next Generation actually begins with a previously published full article on the episode "Who Watches the Watchers", easily the most important Prime Directive story of all of TNG's third season. For those who have already read it, the rest of season three's Prime Directive escapades follow....

The Vengeance Factor

(Star Trek - The Next Generation episode production code 157)
written by Sam Rolfe

Continuing our look at the Prime Directive in Star Trek the Next Generation's third season, we come to this story..... not because it features the Prime Directive, but because it features a type of conflict between members of a "less developed" culture which would normally cause our Starfleet crews to cite the Prime Directive as their reason for not involving themselves, which is boring.

By giving the Acamarians interstellar travel, and making sure that some of them are already interacting with the Federation in violent and undesirable ways, Starfleet is forced to deal with them, and a good drama is underway. Much better.

And this episode does a good job of keeping the plot and the characters moving through many events and turns, providing some good action sequences in several places. The Enterprise really gets around, visiting three different planets, plus making a rendezvous in space. Predictable single-stop stories and episode-long ferrying plots are totally outdone here. And Acamar is a real star, giving the show a bit of astronomical cred as well. Nice!

The climactic action feels a little forced. It remains inexplicable why the stun setting doesn't have the usual effect of rendering a person unconscious, but failing that, you'd think they'd be able to get Worf and a contingent from security to tackle their quarry and beam the person into the Enterprise brig. If not, give us a reason.

The coda scene also feels surprisingly dry, considering the enormously excellent emotional ride the episode gave us previously. Oh well. It's odd, but doesn't diminish the episode too much, which is otherwise really, REALLY good.

The Hunted

(Star Trek - The Next Generation episode production code 159)
written by Robin Bernheim

By the time this adventure is all over, the Enterprise crew is citing "non-interference" ethics (although not the precious Prime Directive itself) as one of their key motivations. But it is very good firstly that the bulk of the episode remains free of this concern.

Early on it is clearly established exactly what kind of relations the Federation has with the society on today's guest planet. They're well beyond warp drive / first contact landmarks, and are favourably considering the planet for acceptance into the Federation. And through a direct request from the man in whom authority is vested, the members of the Enterprise crew get to try to play hero for them. And an excellent adventure is underway. The episode features a nice guest turn by actor James Cromwell, who would go on to play many big roles in feature films, including a second bout in Star Trek as infamous Warp engineer Zephram Cochrane.

By the time the ending comes along, "non-interference" is exactly what you'd want emotionally from the scene and the story developments, so the fact that it is a pre-established part of the Star Trek universe is just convenient. In the end, "The Hunted" is an outstanding episode proving the third season's remarkable improvement over the previous two years, and uses the "non-interference" idea better than many other tales, but will barely register as a footnote in the annals of the continuing development of the "Prime Directive" series concept.

11:44 of Dennis McCarthy's thumping score for "The Hunted" is available here:
Star Trek 50th Anniversary Collection
Animated Series Library /
The Hunted / Qpid

4-disc Audio CD set

Find out more....

The High Ground

(Star Trek - The Next Generation episode production code 160)
written by Melinda M. Snodgrass

This episode obviously exists primarily to make social commentary on terrorism. To facilitate this, it forces our regular characters into involvement in a less-developed society that had, at least until fairly recently, been considered worthy of trade agreements with the Federation. Once again, Star Trek defaults to the nearest chief medical officer's oath as a healer to get it into Prime Directive situations it might have otherwise avoided.

Though no real Prime Directive arguments spring from this episode, evidence of the Directive filters naturally into much of the dialogue and the policy behind Federation actions.

Planetary Official: "Perhaps if we found ourselves in possession of some of that advanced Federation weaponry of yours, it would shift the balance of power back to our favour...."

Picard: "Of course, you know that is out of the question."


Crusher: "I've told you, Finn, the Federation is not allied with the Ruteans; we're here on an errand of mercy."

Finn: "And since the Federation does not wish to take sides, they will send the supplies that you need?"

Crusher: "Absolutely."


Finn: "Captain, the Federation has a lot to admire in it. But there's a hint of moral cowardice in your dealings with non-aligned planets. You're doing business with a government that is crushing us, and you say you're not involved. I say you're very, very much involved. You just don't want to get dirty."

Picard: "You accuse us of cowardice while you plant bombs in shadows?"


Picard: "He's added another chair to the negotiating table."

Finn: "You added the chair, Captain; I am simply forcing you to sit in it."

This episode remains one of the most natural in the ways that it deals with Prime Directive issues - the arguments for the Prime Directive are buried in the background, while in the foreground, we just simply get good drama, with the characters thinking independently, and having rich philosophical discussions. Nice!

Read the next Star Trek review:
"Yesterday's Enterprise"

These Next Generation Season Three prime directive stories are available on DVD and Blu-ray:

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Three (1989-1990):

Captain Jean-Luc Picard and crew hit their stride in this third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and truly began to shine as only they could. Watch all 26 ground-breaking episodes, culminating in the season cliffhanger that many regard as the first half of the best Next Generation story of all time.

Includes 26 episodes @ 45 minutes each.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the desired disc format and location nearest you for more information:


DVD Canada

7-disc DVD set

DVD Canada


DVD Extras include 4 featurettes:

  • Season 3 "Mission Overview" (17 min.)
  • Crew Changes (14 min.)
  • Dept. Briefings: Production (20 min.)
  • Dept. Briefings: Memorable Missions (13 min.)
These extras feature interviews by cast and crew discussing favourite memories, cast input and response to character development, and new writer Michael Piller's insights into episodes' story mechanics.
Blu-ray U.S.

NEW for
April 30, 2013.
Blu-ray Canada

NEW for
April 30, 2013.
Blu-ray U.K.

NEW for
April 29, 2013.

6-disc Blu-ray box set

Additional Blu-ray Bonus Features include:

  • 5 Audio commentaries including:
    • "The Bonding" with writer Ronald D. Moore and scenic/graphic artists Mike and Denise Okuda.
    • "Yesterday's Enterprise" with Moore, the Okudas, and co-writer Ira Steven Behr.
    • "Yesterday's Enterprise" with director David Carson.
    • "The Offspring" with writer René Echevarria and the Okudas.
    • "Sins of the Father" with Moore, the Okudas, and visual effects technician Dan Curry.
  • "Assimilating the Next Gen." (HD) 3-part season three making-of documentary (90 min. total), with Moore, Behr, Echevarria, Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard), Jonathan Frakes (Riker), Brent Spiner (Data), Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher), Michael Dorn (Worf).
  • "Inside the Writers' Room" (HD) roundtable interview (71 min.) with Moore, Echevarria, Brannon Braga, and Naren Shankar.
  • A Tribute to head writer Michael Piller (HD, 14 min.)
  • Gag Reel (HD, 9 min.)
  • In Memoriam: David Rappaport (5 min.)
  • Promos for each individual episode
  • plus, all featurettes from the DVD version.

Article & reviews written by Martin Izsak. Comments are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

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Read the next Star Trek review: "Yesterday's Enterprise"

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