Star Trek 167: The High Ground

167. The High Ground

FORMULA: The Hunted + The Vengeance Factor + Angel One + Wink of an Eye

WHY WE LIKE IT: An intriguing exploration of the terrorist mindset with no real resolution.

WHY WE DON'T: Alexana's sanctimonious speeches. The Prime Directive is ignored.

REVIEW: For the second time in a row, we get a show that is an allegory for current events, and military-type current events at that. Again we have the sympathetic guest-star who's killed people. Again he befriends a member of the crew, and again, the Enterprise seems to be working with the authorities who are at least partially in the wrong. Aside from that, The High Ground is a very different episode, but I still wonder why they aired this and The Hunted back to back.

The High Ground is much more topical than The Hunted, and was even banned in Ireland for being too close for comfort (though technically, because of the reunification date given by Data). Today, it reads more as a commentary on Palestine-Israel than on the PLO, but it means to comment on all terrorism. It's a complex issue, and while I think there's something to be said for showing the terrorists in a sympathetic light (they too have children, they may have reason to fight an oppressive regime, etc.), we also have to acknowledge that this is a very specific kind of terrorism after all. Finn's separatists use terrorism, yes, but their goals are those of freedom fighters, whereas we well know that this isn't always the case. A complex issue thankfully not given a resolution here.

Beverly is uncommonly strong in this episode, giving Finn the silent treatment at first, but eventually succumbing to Stockholm syndrome. When the separatists target the Enterprise (and Wesley) she does get a bit more weepy, but it's well-played with only shades of the first season's constant mothering. I have a harder time with the scene in which Wesley is told of his mother's kidnapping, as Wil Weaton is usually out of his depth with this kind of thing.

The episode is a let-down whenever we're on the "other side". The character of police chief Alexana Devos is grating in the extreme. She spouts rhetoric at an incredible rate, making all these terrible, clichéed speeches about the "enemy". It's just dreadfully boring and hits us over the head with the message that no matter how sympathetic Finn can be, terrorism is still wrong. Well, duh! The music supports this cheesiness, as does the ending with a boy putting his weapon down. Actually, my biggest problem with the ending is that the crew really does break the Prime Directive and side with the apparently oppressive government. How? By allowing police forces to come with the rescue party where they kill a separatist leader, find the hidden hide-out, etc. Like that won't change the course of this culture's progress? Worse still, the issue isn't even addressed.

LESSON: If you didn't get it the first time...

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Yes, a worthy episode, but marred by all the sermonizing. The Finn-Crusher stuff is excellent though.