Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Star Trek--"Elaan of Troyius"

I absolutely despise this episode. It never decided what it wanted to be about, nor did it deal with the interesting moral question of whether the Federation should be helping an arranged marriage when one party is resisting the nuptials.

First, about the schizo nature of the episode. Is it about human trafficking? No, there is no moral dilemma addressed. Is it Pygmalion? Kirk’s attempt to teach Elaan courtesy is all too brief and it winds up with the two obviously sleeping together, so I do not think you can say that, either. Is it a submarine battle with the Klingons? Yes, and that is the closest thing to a saving grace the episode has. Yet it still feels awkwardly thrown in just so the story would have something exciting to add.

Second, the morality of an arranged marriage. I can appreciate the allusion to Helen of Troy., Trek has made many efforts to be as literary as possible. But in the enlightened future of the Federation, you would think there would be some quandary about assisting in an unwilling arranged marriage. You can claim Kirk and company are just being forced to respect a different cultural belief, but I have doubts it would do so if, say elaa were to be a ritual sacrifice instead. There is a difference between marriage and adeat sentence (or so I am told. Skepticism abounds.) but the principle is the same. They are participating in an action that should be against their moral code.

It certainly is not like Kirk has not altered entire civilizations which did not suit his moral standards. Of course, he also slept with an engaged woman here before tossing her to a life as an unwilling bride, so at least there is consistency in lack of standards.

The “Elann of Toyius” plot is recycled must more intelligently in TNG’s ‘The Perfect mate,” which I have to wonder is a way of making up for the flaws of its predecessor. Regardless, “The Perfect Mate” gives me more to work with, so any further discussion about the issue will be better served then, since they are actually addressed then.

Rating: * (out of 5).

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