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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Angel One

by Wil Wheaton, posted Mar 28th 2008 3:03PM
st: tngTitle: Angel One
Original Air Date: January 25, 1988
Written by: Patrick Barry
Directed by: Michael Rhodes
Episode: S01E14
Stardate: 41636.9

Synopsis: The Enterprise comes across the long-lost freighter Odin, which has been missing since Captain Hazelwood crashed the ship into an asteroid seven years ago. Three escape pods are missing and assumed to be on their way to Tatooine, but since the planet Angel One is closer, Picard decides to look there, first. Besides, it's supposedly run by hot babes who like to snu-snu, so Picard can finally dump that load of hats he's been hauling around since "Justice." And -- Science Fiction Cliche alert! -- it's "similar to mid-twentieth century Earth."

After a chilly initial audio-only contact with Angel One's leader, Mistress Beata, during which no one at all asks why the leader has a dom-sub porn name, Picard sends Riker, Troi, Tasha and Data down to the planet to get permission to look for any survivors. On their way to the transporter room, they run into Wesley and Nameless Extra Kid, who are wrapped up in Jiffy Pop suits and on their way to skiing lessons. On the holodeck's version of the Denubian alps. Now, for all the failings in this episode, here are two things it does right: the holodeck doesn't malfunction, and we don't have to watch Wesley and his friend doing their best Suzie Chapstick impression on the icy slopes of Mount Needaplotpoint (part of the majestic Isthisthebestyoucoulddo range).

Picard tells the away team that Angel One could one day be of strategic importance to the Federation, so they'd better be on their best behavior. Riker says, "Dude, is there any planet in the galaxy that isn't going to be of strategic importance to the Federation one day?" Picard responds, "If you keep asking questions like that, Number One, it's going to be fifteen years before you get your own command. Beam them away, Nameless Transporter Chief."

When they get to the planet, we discover that the women are all statuesque beauties with perfectly feathered hair, and the men are all refugees from Planet Simper V. After a tense palaver with the planet's only two leaders with any opinions whatsoever, Mistresses Beata and Ariel, the away team is sent to their room to think about what they did while mommy and mommy talk. Like all kids who are sent to their rooms, though, instead of contritely thinking about what they did, they plot against the people who sent them there.

Troi says that pretty much everyone in the room was freaked out about something. Maybe it has something to do with the Odin crew. Tasha's insightful analysis: "Why? Good question." Data (and the audience) wonder what they'll do if the Mistresses deny the existence of any survivors. Hey, that's a good question, and probably something we'd all like to be prepared for, right, Riker? Actually, no. Riker petulantly tells Data, "Let's not look for problems." Yeah, because looking for and solving problems just isn't the way we do things in Starfleet, dog.

Back on the Enterprise, Picard tells Worf that some Romulan battlecruisers have been detected near the Neutral Zone, and the Enterprise may have to zip on over there to straighten shit out. Before he can deliver some more expository dialog, he gets a face full of ice. (For those of you playing TNG Clue, it was Wesley, in the holodeck, with the snowball.) Picard demands a report from Wesley, who sheepishly tells him, "We finished our ski lesson early, and, well, it just sort of happened." Picard snottily replies that nothing "just happens" on the Enterprise -- except for the events of 'The Naked Now', 'Where No One Has Gone Before', or 'The Big Goodbye', that is -- and heads off to Engineering to ask why the snowball didn't just turn into pixels like those holodeck dudes did a few episodes ago. (Silly Picard, we don't do technical consistency in the first season of TNG!)

(Personal aside: The scene is basically an excuse to set up the virus that will be infecting the entire ship in the next few minutes, but all snarking aside, it's not the terrible chunk of exposition that's TNG's hallmark thus far. This scene has two things going for it: except for 'Heart of Glory', it was the first and last time we saw Worf do much more than snarl and get his ass kicked in season one, and I thought it was really cool to see a Klingon walking and talking with a Starfleet Captain, almost like they had a friendly relationship outside of their professional duties. It's also a pretty believable exchange between Picard and Wesley, and it shows how much their relationship -- and the actors and writers -- have grown in 13 episodes. Plus, Patrick Stewart takes a snowball to the schnozz, and that just doesn't happen every day in space.)

Back on the planet, Beata and Ariel call the Away Team back into their council chamber, where they reveal that there are four survivors from the Odin, all men, led by a dude called Ramsey, who we just know is going to have Bon Jovi hair that rivals hers. Ramsey and his buddies are in hiding somewhere, because they just don't cotton to this here crazy notion that women-folk can be doin' much more than makin' babies and pie.

Troi tells Beata that they'll use the Enterprise's sensors to find them, and here's where we see the episode begin to unravel: Beata says that these four survivors -- just four, not even enough guys to play a decent game of Risk -- are dangerous!

Dangerous? Really? Four guys? Well, I guess all of us men in the audience can scratch our nuts with confidence right now, because four people who pee standing up are enough to scare the hell out of these supposedly tough women who take shit from no man.

It's worth pointing out here that Angel One is supposedly "sparsely settled," and we definitely get that impression in these scenes. NO ONE is there who doesn't need to be, and the sets are positively claustrophobic. Apparently all the budget for extras was spent on the Enterprise this week -- speaking of which...

Back on the Enterprise, Dr. Crusher tells Picard that Wesley and his buddy have contracted some sort of respiratory illness, probably while they were on a field trip -- a field trip? -- to Quazulu VIII.

Picard says, "Hey, I'm running a fucking starship here, lady. I don't need to be bothered every time you have to take care of a couple of sick kids!"

Oh, sorry, that's what he'd say if this script had any internal consistency. What he actually says is, "Oh, keep with it, Doctor, because the 'A' story in this show is starting to unravel, and if this 'B' story doesn't hold up, we're screwed." (Priority One message from Starfleet, Captain: You're screwed.)

Back on the planet, Data comes up with a pretty cool way of finding the Odin's survivors: isolate something unique to them that doesn't occur on Angel One -- like chest hair, or maybe just dudes who don't spray themselves with perfume -- and scan for that.

Riker asks Beata for access to their library, so Data can look around, and she tells him that "it's far too sophisticated for a man to understand."

Riker rolls his eyes like a teenager asked to take out the trash, Data tells her that he's a robot who's just anatomically male, and Troi and Tasha share a knowing look.

There's a pretty funny two-shot of Beata and her little boy toy, Trent, looking at Data, while they both clearly imagine what they could do with a robot that's shaped like a dude. When Beata tells Trent to "see to the android's needs," you can almost hear Judy Garland sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." In fact, it's not too hard to imagine Trent singing along while he organizes all his shoes.

While Data and Trent are off seeing the wizard, Riker gets ready to play dress up for a meeting he has with Beata. She's sent him one of the hideous twink suits, apparently unaware that body wax and muscle definition have gone out of favor in the Federation. Tasha and Troi throw up in their mouths a little when they see it, one of the first times in TNG when we can clearly see the characters sympathizing with the audience, instead of the other way around. Riker gets really defensive about the whole thing, and essentially accuses them of being jealous, because he's putting on a Siegfried and Roy costume to go meet up with Beata, who is "a woman, and an attractive one."

Oh, brother. Can we get a tiger sent down to Angel One?

... what? Too soon?

Back on the Enterprise, Picard is crankier than usual, and Dr. Crusher says he's just too sick to stay in command of the Enterprise. As she escorts him to his quarters, he gives command to Geordi, who is all too happy to get away from Worf, who is about to shower Geordi and everyone in the first ten rows of the arena with a Klingon Sneeze. Turns out that those forehead ridges are just extra sinuses. Ouch.

Geordi approaches the captain's chair, and a ray of awesome breaks through the clouds of crap that have obscured most of this episode: As he sits into command, we can feel how much Geordi respects the responsibility he's been given, and just how cool it is to sit in the big chair. Worf starts his scan and quickly locates the Odin survivors.

(Personal aside: LeVar and I were the only two original cast members on TNG who were self-proclaimed Star Trek fans. I never asked him, but I wouldn't be surprised if this moment meant a lot to LeVar, personally. I know that when I got to sit in the captain's chair in 'Farpoint', even though it was kind of silly and lame, it still meant a lot to me. Fun fact: when we weren't rolling, nobody ever sat in the captain's chair except Patrick. Sure, we'd get visitors who would want to have their picture taken in the chair, and it was a popular stop for studio executives who wanted to impress people, but for all of us in the cast and crew, there was a very real reverence for the captain's chair.)

From this very cool moment with Geordi, we drop back down -- waaaaaaaaaaay down -- to the planet, where Riker looks just dandy in his little Ron Jeremy suit and ear cuff. Tasha and Troi collapse into a heap of giggles, which is the single most real reaction of the entire episode TO the entire episode.

Riker meets up with Beata and Ariel, tells them he's found the Odin survivors, and requests permission to rescue those four dangerous men. Ariel is totally ragging about the whole thing and storms off to take care of some business. Hmm, Riker, I wonder if that's something you should follow up on. No? Left alone, Beata tells Riker to let the girls take care of the rescue, because while he may be an inferior man, she wants to take a ride on the Tilt-a-Riker.

Tasha, Data and Troi beam over to Stage 16, which is where they should have known to look for the survivors all along if they had just read their call sheets. (Important Trek trivia note: This is the first time we ever see the transporter used site to site, rather than to or from a transporter pad. This is also the only important thing about this scene. We now return you to your synopsis.).They find Ramsey sitting by a campfire at the mouth of a cave, drinking out of a 16th century tankard who tells them, "I've been expecting you." Because that particular cliche hasn't maxed out the lame-o-scope, he hoists his tankard high, and toasts them as we go to a commercial break that's not nearly long enough to wash the taste of cheese out of our mouths.

Back on the Enterprise, Geordi tells Picard that there are 82 more cases of the virus, and Worf lets loose one of those Klingon Sneezes we've heard so much about. He also doesn't cover his mouth, which is pretty gross. Luckily, CGI hadn't been invented yet, so we don't know what color Klingon snot is. Geordi sends Worf to his room so he can sneeze all over his own stuff.

Down on Stage 16 -- er, excuse me, Angel One -- Ramsey tells our heroes that he and his crew don't exactly want to be rescued, although they would love some more mead to go in the tankards. It's shocking, I know, but it turns out that the only four virile men on a planet dominated by women aren't in a big hurry to leave, and because the Odin wasn't a Federation starship, nobody can tell them what to do. Data makes the first of several extremely unhelpful comments this episode when he concurs: apparently the Federation's laws only apply if you want them to, thanks to the Project for a New Federation Century. They wish him well, beam away, and leave Ramsey alone. But wait! He's not alone! Ariel comes walking out of the cave and they make out. If you didn't see that coming, build yourself a time machine and apply for a writing job on TNG in 1987 or 24 in 2001.

Meanwhile, Riker and Beata retire to her quarters, where she seduces him in a scene that's way more uncomfortable to watch than it should be, and the virus continues to spread around the Enterprise. Just as Riker and Beata are about to pound one out, the rest of the away team comes back (escorted by a super-petulant Trent) and cock blocks them. Riker, showing his command aptitude, hears the highly sensitive report about this planet they're supposed to treat with kid gloves in front of its leader and her boi toi. They tell him -- and her -- that Ramsey refuses to leave, and Beata immediately sentences Ramsey and his crew to death. Hint: this is why you never interrupt snu-snu, people. I can not stress this point strongly enough.

The Away Team regroups to discuss their options. Dr. Crusher has told them that the virus is spreading rapidly (though we've just seen her figure out how the virus spreads so she can start working on a cure) and they're all worried about this seemingly unavoidable confrontation with the Romulans that's been looming since the second act and really can't wait until the very last episode of this season to be resolved. Riker decides that it's time to leave, but Troi suddenly decides that it's not right to leave Ramsey and his merry band of men who don't want to be rescued, so it's entirely reasonable to put everyone on board the Enterprise at risk because four dudes won't leave the planet because they like the wenches and ale. Riker tells her to chillax. Ramsey and his buddies have been fugitives for years, so there's no way that anyone could --

Knock. Knock.

"Hi, it's Beata. MY CAPTIVE DUDES! LET ME SHOW YOU THEM!" Wow, I bet no one saw THAT coming all the way from the Obviousscriptwriting Nebula.

It would appear that Ariel picked the wrong week to quit using effective counter surveillance, because someone was able to follow her to Ramsey's love cave and capture them all. Whoops. (Here, too, the entire fugitive team consists of Ramsey, Ariel, and Nameless Horde of Extras. The producers could have saved a lot of money if they'd changed "four survivors" to "one," and honestly, the episode doesn't make any less sense that way, does it?)

Riker tries to talk Beata out of executing the men from the Odin, and she agrees to let everyone beam up to the Enterprise. The only problem is, Ramsey still refuses to leave. Riker's going to go ahead and violate several Starfleet regulations, including the Prime Directive, because he just can't live with the guilt of leaving these people behind to die, because that's what they really want to do. (And a second special thank you to Data, who totally cuts Riker's balls off in front of everyone by quoting those Starfleet regs, making it look even more like Riker doesn't know what he's doing. Other than snu-snu, of course, and Data probably has helpful, ill-timed advice on that score as well.)

There's a little hitch in Riker's plan, though, when he contacts the Enterprise and is answered by Doctor Crusher. ("It must be worse up there than we thought," Tasha says. "Yeah, they left a woman in charge! Har! Har! Har!" Tom Servo adds.) Beverly says there's no way she's beaming anyone up until she can wipe out this virus. Luckily for her and everyone on the ship, it's managed to infect everyone except her, because that makes perfect medical sense. Riker wonders if it would infect Data. Everyone's forgotten how Data got infected in 'The Naked Now' (and, honestly, can you blame anyone who wants to wipe that whole episode from their memory? Don't be too quick to judge; we're going to want to do the same thing with this one in about ten minutes) so they beam him up with orders to drive the Enterprise to the Neutral Zone "before it's too late."

The following morning, just before the executions are to take place, Data calls Riker, who isn't very happy that Data didn't follow his orders and haul robot ass to the Neutral Zone. Data tells Riker that he told him to get there "before it was too late" so he used his super awesome robot brain to calculate a bunch of stuff and they still have 48 minutes to work on a cure before it's time to go.

Just before the execution, Beata says that Ramsey's teachings are heretical, and threatens to upset the natural balance of things on Angel One. Trent demonstrates his talent for interior decorating by vaporizing a big vase that no one ever liked anyway. Riker asks for one last chance to change her mind and ends up delivering the one speech in the episode that doesn't quite make us facepalm. He says that Ramsey didn't create the dissent that's rippling through their society, he just accelerated the change that citizens on Angel One are hungering for. If they execute him, it would make him a martyr, and nobody wants that. Especially Ramsey, who would really prefer not to die.

Beata appears willing to relent, but it's just a clever ruse. Ramsey is put into the kill-u-lator, but seconds before he's derezzed, Beata grants him a stay so she and the other Mistresses can reconsider. Jesus, she's going to kill him, then she's not going to kill him, then she's going to kill him again, but then she's not ... women!

... oh. Sorry about that. I see what I did there.

If you'll look at the clock on your DVD player now, you'll see that there's less than five minutes left in the episode, so you know what that means, right? Yes, Doctor Crusher has developed an inoculant for the virus. I know, try to act surprised. Data calls Riker and tells him the good news, everyone but Riker leaves him Hanging on the Telephone while he waits to see if Beata is going to send Ramsey off to an Atomic Rapture.

She comes back into the execution chamber, and says that nobody will be executed. Ramsey and his followers will be exiled to a "distant and unpopulated" area of the planet, where they live happily ever after. The Away Team heads back for the Enterprise and runs screaming to "The Neutral Zone" -- 11 episodes from now.

Quotable Dialog:
WORF
Yes, slightly reminiscent of Night-Blooming throgni, Captain. From home. Quite stimulating, wouldn't you say?

PICARD
No!

WORF
I think I may sneeze.

GEORDI
A Klingon sneeze?

WORF
Only kind I know ...

Obligatory Technobabble: "Mistress Beata invites you to witness this morning's reaffirmation of Angel One's moral imperative." -Trent, using technobabble-as-newspeak for executions. Orwell and Karl Rove would be proud.

Behind the Scenes Memory: My memories on this show are very dim, because I only worked one day on the episode, and wasn't on the set the rest of the shoot. I remember being happy to work with director Michael Rhodes again, because he directed me in an after school special in 1981 called 'The Shooting'. It remains one of my proudest acting achievements, even though I was only nine when we filmed it. I don't remember why, but some of the actors were annoyed with Michael one day while we filmed on the bridge, and being just 14 at the time, I felt torn between this guy who I liked, and who had told me on day one how excited he was to work with me again, and the cast I worked with every day, admired, and desperately wanted approval from. I didn't join in with the bitching, but I didn't say anything about how I actually liked the guy, which made me feel guilty and dishonorable for a long time.

The Bottom Line: Angel One has a promising first act, but the simplistic -- and overtly sexist -- plot makes it one of the first season's most forgettable episodes. In many ways, it feels like a script from the 1960s that was barely retooled: Riker is practically a clone of Kirk, we've got the mysterious disease of the week that's mysteriously cured in the last few moments of the show, and though the episode is supposed to flip the traditional roles of 1950s America and be about a society dominated by women, there's an overwhelming sense of chauvinism, almost like the writer is winking at the men in the audience and snickering at how cute it is that the girls think they're in charge. In fact, now that I think about it, rather than truly examine what a society would be like if those roles were flipped, or examining how silly it is for gender inequality to exist in the first place, the cliches and chauvinism that infect most of this show are the same ones that the original Star Trek was trying to subvert in 1968. Talk about a step backward!

One wonders what this episode would have been like if Picard, knowing the planet was run by the ladies, had done the intelligent thing and sent down an away team with only women on it, or at least one in which the women were unquestionably in command. Having Riker be the one who shakes up this society just reinforces the undercurrent that putting women in charge is a bad idea. Jonathan's performance is good, but giving that speech to Troi or Yar might have made the episode a lot more subtle than it turned out to be.

There's also a gaping plot wound: the Enterprise has plenty of shuttles, so the whole last act could have been avoided by having Data take out a shuttle and beam everyone there to wait for Doctor Crusher's Miracle Cure. It's a shame she couldn't fix the whole episode while she was at it.

It's not entirely horrible, though. It has some wonderfully authentic moments, from Tasha and Troi cracking up at how lame Riker looks in his ridiculous outfit to Geordi being genuinely humbled and honored to sit in command, to Worf doing much, much more than snarling and getting his ass kicked.

Ultimately, though, it's a pretty terrible hour of television, and everyone involved should go sit in time out and think about what they did, so it doesn't happen again.

Final Grade: D

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Cupcake

Love all of these reviews! So hillarious! Keep them coming! :)

February 17 2012 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nick

The women didn't need men in Angel One. The whole point was that they were capable of doing it without the men, but that men were being mistreated and discriminated against on the planet. The men weren't in exile because "they just don't cotton to this here crazy notion that women-folk can be doin' much more than makin' babies and pie."

September 26 2011 at 5:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nick

Wil...Sorry, but you've got the entire sexist thing wrong.

>Ramsey and his buddies are in hiding somewhere, because they just don't cotton to this here crazy notion that women-folk can be doin' much more than makin' babies and pie.

The episode's point is that the males on that planet were being discriminated against, openly and harshly, and when Ramsey spoke out against it, he was threatened and had to flee for his life.

>Dangerous? Really? Four guys? Well, I guess all of us men in the audience can scratch our nuts with confidence right now, because four people who pee standing up are enough to scare the hell out of these supposedly tough women who take **** from no man.

Dangerous means able to fire off a few shots and possibly kill a person or two before they're blasted to smithereens. It does *not* mean dominant, and it does *not* mean they would win in a fight.

A tall, skinny, 100lb 16 year old *with a gun* is DANGEROUS to the biggest body builder in all of history.

>Riker asks Beata for access to their library, so Data can look around, and she tells him that "it's far too sophisticated for a man to understand."

Hey, at least you state one of the demeaning phrases! Why you don't get the idea that *this* is what's causing the conflict is beyond me. Great job, Wesle--er, Wheaton.

>Angel One has a promising first act, but the simplistic -- **and overtly sexist** -- plot makes it one of the first season's most forgettable episodes. In many ways, it feels like a script from the 1960s that was barely retooled: Riker is practically a clone of Kirk, we've got the mysterious disease of the week that's mysteriously cured in the last few moments of the show, **and though the episode is supposed to flip the traditional roles of 1950s America and be about a society dominated by women, there's an overwhelming sense of chauvinism, almost like the writer is winking at the men in the audience and snickering at how cute it is that the girls think they're in charge.** In fact, now that I think about it, rather than truly examine what a society would be like if those roles were flipped, or examining how silly it is for gender inequality to exist in the first place, the cliches and chauvinism that infect most of this show are the same ones that the original Star Trek was trying to subvert in 1968. Talk about a step backward!

I couldn't disagree more. I can't believe you would even think these kinds of messages are present in that episode. Seriously, where are you getting them from?

I wish I could sit down with you and just ask--what specific points in the episode shows you this? How in the world did you come to your conclusions?

September 26 2011 at 5:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
trlkly

Wow. I never thought I'd get to outnerd Wesley Crusher (or at least Wil Wheaton)! Anyways, here goes. Ahem...

Snow being able to leave the Holodeck is completely consistent with what we know about Holodeck technology. Remember the episode where you (Wes) come out of the Holodeck dripping wet? From this we can surmise that the Holodeck uses REAL WATER. Thus snow, being crystalized frozen water would also be real, and thus able to leave the Holodeck.

(Also note that other objects will leave the Holodeck. Remember that little drawing of the Enterprise in "Elementary, Dear Data"? Not to mention the food and drink Pulaski consumes? It makes sense that both would be real, as replicating these objects is a lot simpler.

June 12 2008 at 3:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

Oh man, I think I laughed more about this review than any other of the TNG reviews you have done lol. I guess it's because "Angel One" is so easy to laugh it, it is one of the most ridiculous hours of Trek, even for first season TNG ;).

Also, love the continual Futurama references. In fact, when I originally saw "Amazon Women in the Mood", I could not help but think back to "Angel One" haha. As well as "Amazon Women on the Moon" parody film, and the SCTV sketch, "2009 Jupiter and Beyond" of course ;)

And did I catch a Mystery Science Theater 3000 reference in there as well?

Good work, as said by many users countless times, your reviews really should be published. It would also be entertaining as audio commentaries for TNG episodes on future releases.

David

May 08 2008 at 5:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Matt Adams

Another excellent review of a classic Season One gem. I actually remember this one again when it first aired.

May 02 2008 at 10:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James Meszaros

Just finished playing poker with you Wil. Haven't read your reviews in a while. Thought I'd pop back.
This one made me laugh out loud..
"Tilt-a-Riker"... Too damn funny.. I love your insight.. Nice to hear a review with attitude!
Keep it up! Hope to see you on the tables again!

April 16 2008 at 2:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Austin Armadillo

I would SO pay money for more of Wil's reviews! Please take note, TV Squad staff!

April 07 2008 at 4:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rosa

These reviews rock my world.

April 01 2008 at 4:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chewie

Oh man, Wil! You must watch as much Adult Swim as I do, you're hilarious.

Also, who ACTUALLY threw the snowball that hit Patrick Stewart? Was it you? Was there a lottery among the cast and crew?

April 01 2008 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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