Star Trek 194: Devil's Due

194. Devil's Due

FORMULA: Catspaw + The Measure of a Man + Who Watches the Watchers + Mudd's Women

WHY WE LIKE IT: More courtroom theatrics for Picard. Marta DuBois is fun as Ardra.

WHY WE DON'T: Massive plot holes.

REVIEW: TNG is settling into the trap of offering up a teaser that has nothing to do with the plot, and everything to do with the theme, which seems awfully fortuitous. As with the poker/bluffing scene in Brothers, here Data explores Scrooge's fear, touching on Ardra's exploitation of that same emotion. An interesting subplot for Data, sure, but do we need these links, and even more importantly, do we need them referenced later on? A minor quibble, since I always find Devil's Due entertaining, though it is, by all accounts, a rather averagely written episode.

Marta DuBois does a savvy job as the roguish Ardra (real name unknown), extremely confident and sexy. As with Vash, this character type infuriates Picard, but he doesn't fall for this one. Instead, she needles him to the point where it becomes personal. Fun, as is her bag of tricks, especially when it goes out of bounds of the basic three that are explained - appearing as an ensign after being forcibly beamed off, for example. Courtroom stuff featuring Picard is usually a winner, and again, it's a spot of fun here, especially with Data as the judge ("The advocate will refrain from making her opponent disappear."), owing more to Matlock than more serious legal shows like L.A. Law (to use references from the time).

But despite the conundrum being an interesting and unusual one, Ardra hamming it up effectively, and an amusing courtroom climax with Picard in good form, the story has plot holes you can drive a runabout through. For example, if Picard could explain her tricks in the conference room, why can't he do so in the courtroom later? How does Ardra beam through the Enterprise's shields? How did Ardra hope to keep her claim on a Starfleet vessel? What would she have done with Picard's soul? Why are the Ventaxians so dense, since, as Picard demonstrates, Ardra had little to do with their golden age? The 1000 years of peace and prosperity are a dubious concept, as is Ardra's getting hold of the legend, as is the peaceful Ventaxians not being annexed by the Klingons 70 years ago, as is the idea that the guards can come in and arrest her like they knew she wasn't really the devil anymore, etc., etc. But this is harmless fluff and I can't help but enjoy it as is. The ending seems to open the door for later appearances, but unlike Harry Mudd, Ardra never returned. Sadly.

LESSON: He is INDEED The Picard!

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: Though the reflex is to reserve High rankings for "important" episodes, I shouldn't be shy about expressing enjoyment of some of these stand-alone tales. Give me Ardra over Vash any day.

1 comments:

Hale of Angelthorne said...

I remember reading somewhere that this episode was originally written for the "Star Trek Phase 2" series with the TOS cast that never got off the ground.

 

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