Star Trek 150: Samaritan Snare

150. Samaritan Snare

FORMULA: Symbiosis + The Corbomite Maneuver + Journey to Babel

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Pakleds are good for a laugh. Picard's story about the Nausicaans.

WHY WE DON'T: Sloppy plotting throughout. Wesley.

REVIEW: A well-remembered episode thanks to two things really. One of these is the Pakleds, the idiots of the galaxy, whose over-simple mode of speech makes them fairly funny. They're more cunning than they seem however, using others' perception of their intelligence to their advantage. And yet, they're pretty dumb too. Dangerous, but dumb (or perhaps BECAUSE they're dumb). This deflates Riker's strategic prowess somewhat, but I still enjoyed how out-of-the-box he always is in his battle tactics. It's one of the reasons I enjoy the character so much.

The other memorable moment is Picard's retelling of his encounter with some Nausicaans and why he now has an artificial heart. Patrick Stewart knows how to handle a long speech, and it's all interesting backstory about Picard, but more than that, it'll be featured prominently in a future episode. I do have some difficulty with Wesley in these scenes though, with his over-obvious reaction shots, whining about how Picard doesn't like him, and acting like some kind of interviewer for a high school paper. On a side-note, is it me, or did anyone else get the feeling from Encounter at Farpoint til now that we were being prepared for the revelation that Wesley was actually Picard's son? Just a vibe I always get when they have these kinds of scenes together.

But the real problem with Samaritan Snare is that it is badly written, ignoring a lot of what has gone before (and it hasn't even been two seasons yet, so the homework is pretty light). For example, Wesley reacts to Picard's story has if he had never seen a blade come out of his own torso (see Hide and Q). Wesley says something about "before the Klingons joined the Federation" (they never have). Riker doesn't believe Troi when she says the Pakleds are up to no good, but she's never been wrong before. Wesley is getting Academy credits, but his application was refused in Coming of Age. And there's even a reuse of the Angel One matte painting.

There's more sloppy writing though, including a long shuttle trip the Enterprise could have handled in a few minutes only, the Pakleds apparent tricking of Romulans, etc. that's hard to believe, a lot of stupid moves on Riker's part (not listening to Worf or Troi, sending over one guy instead of a team), and the big battle of egos between Picard and Pulaski that scarcely makes sense at this point (especially if you're gonna blurt out your secret to a 16-year-old later that afternoon). Glad to see Gomez again, but sadly, they didn't keep her. Really too bad.

LESSON: Never underestimate others or overestimate yourself.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: The Pakleds are a hoot (though it wears pretty thin by the middle of the episode) and the insight into Picard's character is definitely worth watching. Unfortunately, the plot is on auto-pilot and really lets the rest down.

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