2.15 – Pen Pals

This will be a short one.

In this episode, the Enterprise stumbles upon a series of planets that have all experienced a devastating geological catastrophe. They put Wesley in charge of figuring out what is going on, and there is a long, difficult-to-watch discussion of whether or not Wes is ready for such a challenge. Meanwhile, Data is working on a “personal project” (how can he have one, he’s a machine, not a person) to make the Enterprise’s sensors more efficient, and stumbles on to a plea for help from a little girl on one of the doomed planets (Drema IV I believe). Thus we get into a big ol’ Prime Directive conundrum when Data wants to intervene to save the girl and her dying planet.

The Fashions in this episode are few, but quality. First, early on in the ep we show Picard walking around the ship like this:


What is he doing? Why is he dressed like that? Why are those pants even more upsetting than his normal Star Trek uniform (or, if you’re into JLP, more exhilarating)? I smell a holodeck…


Of course, he’s riding a horse. And Troi is there to… watch him? Anyway, be glad you weren’t there for their discussion of why Betazeds don’t like animals… it involved the term “passions of the beast” and Picard smirking to himself.

Really, though, we need a close up on that top.


There’s almost more happening in that jacket/turtleneck-sweater combo than there is in the whole episode, which is saying something, because look at those colors! I thought those shades were only available at geriatrics-r-us. Yikes, Picard. Considering that all of your clothes are MAGICALLY MADE BY A COMPUTER maybe you could program it for a little less yechh.

Anyway, on with the show. Eventually, they decide to go intervene in violation of the Prime Directive and save Data’s friend (because of course they do). But by the time they’ve debated about it for five minutes of my life that I’ll never get back, they’ve already lost the ability to send a signal back to her. So Data has to beam down to the surface in a bit of shenanigans that involve Transporter Chief O’Brien to pretend to take a nap.

So Data beams down into what I imagine is someone’s psychedelic reinterpretation of their Aunt Muriel’s ranch just outside of Taos.


First of all, there is a cactus, like, right in the middle of the room. Second of all, there’s some sort of briliant white light that is sending crazy shadows way back, as if there’s just a spotlight off-screen. There’s a weird clear globe (so even if they don’t know that space-travel exists, they do know their world is round) and also in the middle of the room is what looks like it might be a bench except it’s got a weird stick sculpture planted in the middle of it. Ultimate summation: THESE ARE ALIENS.

Then Data’s friend runs in:


Sup Sarjenka??? I wonder if the Star Trek TNG costume department just ordered shiny fabric by the boltful. They must have. Also, there must have been some design department meeting about alien aesthetics… this one is THERE CAN BE NO ROUND CLOTHING. Even little girls must wear what end up looking like football pads in hemi-hexagonal patterns. However, it can still end in a dress, just so we know she’s a girl. I mean, c’mon, people. 

Also, she’s got crazy hands, and runs them over Data’s arms in what appears to be an alien hug?


I won’t lie, Data seems into it. At least, he ain’t opposed. Let’s get a closer look at her face:


This is right around when Data says, “Your planet is falling apart! Tina Turner, we’ve got to Private Dance-it outta here!”

So, long story short (too late), Data takes her back to the Enterprise because the rest of her family has gone to hide somewhere, and she ran away to hope that Data would come to save them. The Enterprise (using the info from Wesley’s team) manages to fix the major tectonic crises of the planet in about 7 seconds (whew, that was easy!) and then the Captain is like, okay, time to memory wipe the girl!

Off we go to sickbay, where Dr. Pulaski (sorry, you’re no Dr. Crusher!) is going to oversee a procedure that should probably get you thrown in prison, but it’s for the greater good. Anyway, as Sarjenka hops up on the examination table, we can see that even the hem of her dress must rigidly conform to the half-hexagon aesthetic:


That is awkward for all of us, including you.

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