Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Next Generation 5x16 "Ethics"

rating: ****

the story: Worf becomes paralyzed, despondent, suicidal...and the recipient of a controversial medical miracle.

similar to: "The Host" (Next Generation)

my thoughts: Only Crusher could have pulled off something like this.  Actually, I guess Crusher and Riker.  Such an odd pair, these two.  Riker, early on, was cast in the mold of Captain Kirk, the fallback character in case Picard didn't work out (bald, older, cerebral).  Yet the more Picard caught on, the more Riker regressed (Voyager haters, please continue to pay attention: the more confident Janeway grew, the less she relied on Chakotay).  So what exactly was there to do with him?  Like Decker before him, Riker became more cynical, despite offering every protest that he didn't (see: "Second Chances").  By "Ethics" he's openly being ethnocentric concerning Worf's cultural plight, the overt struggle Crusher carries against a medical rival and proving how different she is from, say, Dr. McCoy.

Like Kirk, McCoy was known as a maverick, and a genius.  In fact, Kirk's was a crew of geniuses.  Picard's was always more subdued.  Even the android who for all intents and purposes was a born savant filled the role of an average crewman, generally speaking.  La Forge didn't even start out as chief engineer.  Whatever Worf was before his ascension to chief of security has never really been examined.  Crusher's competence was her knowledge, not her practice.  That's why her absence during the second season, and her departure in Nemesis, was in an office capacity.  McCoy would have been the one performing daring medical fetes, not condemning them.

The moral stances taken in "Ethics" are bold.  They can't be ignored.  They serve as a statement for the whole series.  Maybe you tend to think about one over the other, Worf's emotional journey versus Crusher's intellectual one.  Granted, "Ethics" gives Alexander one of his better uses.  But it's just a tough, tough episode.  I call it a classic insofar as it's easily one of the franchise's most challenging stories, one that can't be ignored, and one that stands to be continually examined.  What else is there to do with it?

criteria analysis: franchise - series - character - essential (all criteria met)

notable guest-stars:
Brian Bonsall (Alexander)
Patti Yasutake (Ogawa)


  1. Your absolutely right Tony. This is simply a case of Kirk vs Picard and who wins? Starfleets chief battle strategist of course.

    1. It's so odd to consider an episode that so poorly represents the series to be a classic. But I think I outlined the reasons why well enough...


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