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Season Seven:
-252-253: "Descent"
-254: "Liaisons"
-256-257: "Gambit"
-263: "Parallels"
-265: "Homeward"
-268: "Thine Own Self"
-272: "Journey's End"
-273: "Firstborn"
-277-278: "All Good Things..."

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(Star Trek - The Next Generation episode production code 265)
  • television story by Spike Steingasser
  • teleplay by Naren Shankar
  • directed by Alexander Singer
  • music by Dennis McCarthy


After "Symbiosis" (season one), "Who Watches the Watchers" (season three), and "First Contact" (season four episode - NOT the feature film), this is the final of the four key Prime Directive stories for Star Trek: The Next Generation. In terms of jurisdiction, it seems to contradict "Angel One" (from season one), and validate the original Trek episode "Bread and Circuses". As far as the directive itself goes, the episode shows little reason for the Federation to keep it in the end, yet the Star Trek franchise doesn't seem willing to acknowledge this.

The question of the Prime Directive's jurisdiction is only handled by the early sections of the episode, and is centered squarely on the position in Federation society of Worf's brother Nikolai. As with the captain of the Beagle in "Bread and Circuses", Nikolai is a Starfleet Academy dropout, who only lasted for one year. Therefore it seems safe to assume that he is not a member of Starfleet, and may be more generally governed by Federation law. Picard is adamant at one point that Nikolai has thrown away his entire career by violating the Prime Directive. But it never is said exactly where this career stems from, or what specific organization Nikolai belongs to that would station observers on Prime-Directive-protected planets. If we believe in the Heisenberg principle, observation alone is enough to cause interference, and already grates against the Prime Directive. Much is left vague about Nikolai's need to adhere to this law in the first place.

Most of the Starfleet characters on board the Enterprise seem to favour following the Prime Directive while it is being debated. However, once they get over the fact that they have been tricked into becoming involved with its violation, none of them are willing to say that the final outcome wasn't worthwhile. Worf is probably the last holdout, not because of belief in the Prime Directive, but more as an extension of the old argument that he has had with his brother over the years.

If there is any lasting impression in this episode that the Prime Directive actually is a good thing, it probably stems from sadness that one of the primitives (Voron?) strays from the holodeck, learns the truth, and kills himself because he can't deal with it. I find the viewpoints of this character so unsympathetic, that he doesn't even begin to sway me at all. Early on, he demonstrates his need to gain his identity from his past. This betrays his third density mindset, which I suppose we should expect from a society protected by Prime Directive isolation. In "fourth density", one is secure in one's identity in the present. Even if we can't expect him to grow out of any of his third density mindset, I think we can expect the Enterprise crew to act on a fourth density mindset, as both the time period and Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future seem to want to suggest for humanity and their space-faring fellow species. And it should not be their place to use deception to try to protect Voron's third density limits. If the truth will challenge him to grow, good. The Enterprise crew should stick with the truth.

What a nice touch it is that Dr. Crusher is unable to do anything to wipe Voron's memory. What a nicer touch it would have been if it had been for a philosophical reason rather than a question of having no medical technique. Stick with honesty and forget the deceptions and secrets!

In some ways, much of Voron's dilemma is imposed on him by the Enterprise crew, who should not bother about keeping the holodeck running. It's another deception. Be honest. Let these people deal with the fact that they are moving to another planet. Let Voron deal with it with them, where they have as much knowledge as he does. It was move or die.

Really, as the episode stands, Worf and his brother are elevated to the position of saviours with powers to know and command the elements, powers with unknown, undefined limits. How is that really any better than coming out and saying, we're moving you farther by spacecraft? If the Enterprise crew are going to get involved, they should do it with complete honesty. Only then can they maintain their highest integrity, and inspire the same in other species at any level of technological or social advancement.

Holodeck off. No more lies and deception.

That aside, there is little reason for the audience to want to side with the Prime Directive here. Worf's brother has a better and more satisfying idea. He is a good hero, and deserves considerably more praise than he gets. And considering what the Enterprise crew themselves were up to back in season two's "Pen Pals", they really don't have the right to be so righteous when attacking Nikolai's ideas.

If there is any caveat to this, it is not in the present, but in the future (and if you have to go to the future for it, you know this is a less-evolved third density consideration). What if this rescued population turns out to be really nasty and uncivilized when they get out and mingle with the rest of the galaxy? What if the Federation deems this was more or less their fault? What if it seems it would have been better in hindsight to have let nature wipe them out as it tried to? Well, there certainly is no sense that this population is on any road to becoming particularly nasty, and the Federation characters can only act on what they see now. In that sense, the episode seems a bit contrived in creating a perfectly innocent race threatened by such a devastating weather phenomenon. BUT, that also puts the Federation and its characters outside of what is considered to be "natural". They are in fact an integral part of their universe, and spiritually speaking, with Worf's brother on the planet already, the storm may be as much about the Federation's growth as about the indigenous population's. Maybe it's there to challenge Starfleet and the Federation to re-examine their Prime Directive and find greater philosophies to live by. If you're a Federation character, you should consider this first, before worrying so much about the growth of the other population.

Data and Dr. Crusher feel a little overwhelmed at making the choice of a new planet for these people. Nice scene, by the way! Maybe though, that feeling is an indication that those people themselves should be brought into the discussion. If the lies and the holodeck cease, it should be a no-brainer.

In the end, this is an enjoyable episode, and a good challenge to the Prime Directive. If only it had gone further and brought that challenge out victorious.....

(The episodes
"Thine Own Self" and "Journey's End" can now be found on their own pages.)

This Next Generation Season Seven story is available on DVD and Blu-ray:

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Seven (1993-1994):

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:

  • Mission Overview: Year Seven
  • A Captain's Tribute
  • Departmental Briefing: Production
  • Starfleet Moments and Memories
  • Special Profiles
  • Inside Starfleet Archives: Dressing the Future
  • The Making of "All Good Things..."
Blu-ray U.S.

NEW for
Dec. 2, 2014.
Blu-ray Canada

NEW for
Dec. 2, 2014.
Blu-ray U.K.

NEW for
Dec. 15, 2014.

Blu-ray features add:

  • 3 Audio Commentaries:
    • "Parallels" by writer Brannon Braga (2008).
    • "Lower Decks" by co-writer René Echevarria and
      scenic/graphic artists Mike and Denise Okuda.
    • "Preemptive Strike" by the Okudas and
      writers René Echevarria and Naren Shankar.
  • Three-part documentary "The Sky's the Limit - The Eclipse of ST:TNG" (HD, 90 min. total) with all seven regular castmembers, plus Wil Wheaton (Wesley), Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan), Natalija Nogulich (Admiral Nechayev), and John de Lancie (Q), writer/producers Rick Berman, Ronald D. Moore, Braga, Echevarria, Shankar, Larry Nemecek, André Bormanis, producer/director David Livingston, and many others.
  • "Journey's End: The Saga of ST:TNG" (45 min.) (1994)
  • "Closed Set: A Tour of the Real Enterprise" (11 min.)
  • "In Conversation: Lensing ST:TNG" (42 min.) with Livingston,
    director James L. Conway, D.O.P. Jonathan West, and
    camera operator Kris Krosskove.
  • Gag Reel (HD, 5 min.)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD) from 15 episodes.
  • Episodic Promos
  • plus, all featurettes from the DVD version.
  • Main audio tracks in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.

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

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Read the next Star Trek review: "Thine Own Self"

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