Devil’s Due

The population of Ventax II is losing its collective mind. That’s because Ardra, the deity that brought 1,000 years of peace to the planet, is coming back to collect her payment: the servitude of every Ventaxian, as well as the servitude of every person orbiting Ventax II. Sadly, this includes the captain and crew of the starship Enterprise. But maybe Captain Picard can find a loophole in the contract. Also, are we SURE Ardra is a deity? Part Columbo and part Perry Mason, it’s time to put Devil’s Due in the Mission Log.

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  • CmdrR

    Fek’lhr! Gesundheit.

    Kang: We have no devil, Kirk. But, we understand the habits of yours.

    … hmmm

    • Muthsarah

      I thought the story was that the Klingons killed the gods who created them, for being weak, and then destroyed heaven. Maybe Fek’lhr or whatever was like their Hades, and met the same fate.

      BTW, Picard/Fek’lhr’s little roar at the end always puts a big smile on my face. I wonder if that was the actor clowning around and they just left it in.

      • CmdrR

        Trek continuity not 100%? WHUH?!?!?

      • Dave Steph Taylor

        Good catch

    • Harry S. Plinkett


  • Wildride

    “Vishuns?!? You mean dreamsh.” – Picard, with a weird lisp — For some reason.

  • Wildride

    “I have the distinct impression of being in the presence of a flim flam artist.”
    “You mean, like you said of Q?”
    “Yeah, I guess.”
    “Who has turned out to be pretty much the genuine article?”
    “What’s your point?”
    “Nothing — Nothing at all.”

  • mc900

    There is an increasing- hipster esque vibe of I like this but I’m going to make fun of it in a sarcastic way that is increasnigly distrubing. Maybe it’s time for more love boat breaks to refresh the enthusiasm.

  • James Goss

    Proof that this was an adapted Phase 2 script was how useless Troi was. The plot doesn’t work when a member of the crew can sense a con. Typically, Troi would immediately pipe in that she is sensing deception or whatever. In this one, she is silent when Ardra appears, and later there’s a one-line explanation about how she can’t read her because she’s a really good con artist or something, and her powers are never used again. This should have been a season 1 episode and had Troi away on a conference again.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      Agreed. Troi, you are fired.

      • Low Mileage Pit Woofie

        Troi: “I sense that you’re trying to get me fired.”

  • Mike C.

    The spice must flow, gentlemen.

  • Muthsarah

    Yaaaaaayyyy!!!! You guys fell on the right side of….eternity. Or something. I’m drunk with surprise. And a few beers. I’m used to people disliking this episode, considering it pointless, boring, and not-Trek. Because the cast isn’t traveling around (though they did), visiting planets (though they are), and…well…they’re still preaching stuff (as they do). So…I dont’ know WHY it’s not more-liked, I’ve just gathered that it isn’t. They’re still doing the human condition thing (with a stand-in alien planet this time). Picard speech. Whaddya want? Is it just the minimalism that isn’t working for you? I don’t get the hate, at all. I was fully expecting to have my heart crushed here. But it survives, thanks to our gallant hosts.

    “Devil’s Due”, whatever you wanna say about its message (which is never, ever the draw of Trek, not for me), is just a super-fun episode. Yeah, a TOS-type episode. Kinda like the last kinda-TOS episode, “The Most Toys”. This episode lives and dies on the chemistry of Picard, Data, and the guest star, the fabulous Ardra. The story here, very, very light. Minimal sets. Just…chemistry. Dialogue. Flirting. Jokes. A message (again, NOT the draw) based on core Gene-values. But not outrageously dated or sexist or whatever. In fact, half the episode is the female guest star sexually harassing Picard. Yeah, it’s not funny. In theory. In practice…it’s…kinda amusing to watch him continually rejecting her, in such a dignified way, I gotta admit. At least she isn’t physical with him. Just beaming him around in his skivvies, while still dressing herself up, trying/failing to be seductive, when really she shoulda taken the hint. If not for her Picard-lust, she maybe coulda had a whole planet at her feet. But she would not let him leave, because she found him irresistible. Woulda loved to see Sylvia’s Phyllis Diller outfit HERE. Troi was a very nice touch, however, though if Ardra knew anything (which she clearly didn’t), she chose the wrong female Trek regular. Was Beverly even in this episode?

    It’s gotta be the finest hour for Trek and sexual harassment, is what I’m saying. I’ll stand by that.

    This episode’s a courtroom procedural, Which Trek has done before, never any more dramatically than here (no, that’s not exactly meant as a compliment) The Ventaxian leader is so spineless and brainless that he’s annoying. I almost wanted him to lose, if his poor, dumb planet would still be spared. But having Data as the judge, and the….God, the chemistry! Again. “The advocate will please refrain from making her opponent disappear”, “The advocate will refrain from expressing personal affections for her opponent.” Brilliant deadpan writing. Woulda been hilarious to hear it coming from Spock, but Data has license to be even drier, so it’s better coming from him.

    This episode is pure fun. It’s atypical for TNG, sure. VERY atypical for Season Four (The season of family). But it’s a semi-goofy throwback to the more casual days of Trek. Put the captain in a situation where he has to duke it out with an alien, word-wise And make it a sexy alien woman to boot! Kirk woulda done the false seduction trick for certain (just like with Sylvia!), but Picard, of course, is not yet movie Picard, and so would remain dispassionate. A great chance to highlight the difference, while still underlining how Stewart was already being considered a TV sex symbol. Who knew the public had such good taste?

    Classic episode. Even without the message(s). To me, this occupies similar ground as TOS’s “A Piece of the Action”. Just a silly divertisement based around the chemistry of the show’s two leads., dropped into a silly situation. Very above-average.

  • Harry S. Plinkett

    I’m a sucker for any of the “message” episodes on the topic of skepticism, so this one was particularly memorable for me.

  • Durakken

    With regards to entertainment and saying the Holodeck is it… The holodeck is apparently a very new device so that’s unlikely to be their main source of entertainment. We are given to believe that they mainly play sports, read books, gambling, and listening to music. The only inkling of other things is that AR game we see in one of the older episodes which indicates they’re not really common and lastly the holo screen we see in Riker’s room.

    Movie night suggested by Paris is practically considered revolutionary and their cold description of what tv shows and movies are also seems to indicate a lack of entertainment. Further, even sports aren’t viewed for entertainment anymore either and those people that do, watch very old broadcasts from 1960 and before it seems.

    What seems to be the case is that 1960s till about 2030 has been whiped out of the history books and or changed… and that includes all modern TV and Video Games. After 2030 those things were forgotten largely as people were rebuilding civilization. around the 2100s it seems that there was a resurgance of interest in past entertainment to some degree, but we’re also given to the idea that Vulcans and other Alien races started visiting Earth and possibly bringing their culture which means a lack of Humans re-developing their culture. I’d say by the 2200s Humans rejected a lot of Technological civilization which lead to a more Rural civ which looked at TV as more of an Alien thing or a thing that lead to the past wars which would have kept them from developing TV and games again. And that is th culture that stuck until the invention of the Holodeck which allowed people to create and develop in new ways.

    Also, don’t forget that during the boom of the video game era in ST’s timeline we have the Bell Riots and the Eugenics wars which may have spread to Japan. This being the case it could be that the game industry never took off in the ST timeline considering the people who made it likely was fighting a war and the people who’d buy were severely impoverished…


    As far as the episode is concerned. This a memorable episode, but it also seems out of place and there are quite a few mis-steps they took… like it really doesn’t make sense at all…

    Ventax is said have had the technological Golden age that was Ended by war followed by 1000 years of peace… that will be ended when Ardra claims her prize for making this happen.

    That to me is straight mythology that is common throughout all mythologies with minor variations… mixed with millenialist mythology which is another common mythological thing. I wouldn’t by that they were technological in the past without proof so that’s first thing, but let’s say they show proof….

    What we have then is a 1 world government emerging and enforcing a no tech law. This is also a common thing in history to have happened minus the global government, but either way, provided a single government with such a large advantage over the rest of the world there is very little reason to believe there would be anything other than peace and once that state is achieved, if for some reason the governing body falls apart it’s possible that they all just continue peacefully…It’s also possible that the government over time just stops being so tyrannical too and forgets what happened.

    The only way i can see this happening really is if there was an outside force that is so superior that it can just overwhelm all opponents, but in that case the contract is between the government of the world and the person/people that supressed the world. And the question then becomes is that government still in place?
    It could or could not be…
    If it is still in place then they’d most likely have a record of the being(s) that they made a deal with and they’d know the truth, but the leader doesn’t seem to know the truth.
    If it isn’t, then the contract couldn’t be upheld, because the things that a government that no longer exists agrees to are null and void at best.

    Even so, we’re talking contract and contract law which in Star Trek we take that they always go to arbitratrion and as such it seems that all species have similar laws about contracts that can be simply reasoned out logically. In that case one simply has to ask the question, even if it’s a deal made with a god, does that deal apply to all the people who didn’t sign or agree to it? And the answer to that is no, no it does not. It can only apply through a group body, not just every random person.

    So I wonder how Data gets this notion of “This contract is iron clad”…


    Ardra’s powers being what they are and Picard saying he doesn’t know how she’s doing it is dumb when he knows full well that he can do those things if he wants to himself…

    Likewise, the difference between Ardra (and the God head thing in the center of the galaxy) and all those other beings that we see… is a very simple one. Ardra claims that what she is doing is magic that will never be able to do or understand and is above us in some essential way. Q and the others all say the reverse in some way, including Lucien, that they are the same as us, but have some greater knowledge or understanding that we don’t have but can get to be like them, but they’re essentially the same as us.

    The only time I can think of when this isn’t the defining division between these two groups is maybe when Q tries to convince Picard he’s god on, seemingly, a lark. Also possibly with the Wormhole aliens and that is more due to how they exist and less them trying to claim they’re gods and above everyone else.

  • Dave Steph Taylor

    I gotta go with Ken. There are plenty of souls in the (Star Trek) Universe totally capable of what she was pulling off.

    Way to go Councilor Troi on picking up on that completely obvious bluff. She’s fired.

    I enjoyed watching Data make judgments on the bench against Picard and squirming about it.

    Overall a fine episode.

  • Nick Swanson

    I am in no way shocked they were hyped on this episode because it tilts skeptic and that seems to be an easy way to a thumbs up, but the use of an old script really shows how much some storytelling can help a story.

  • So, where does this story go after Enterprise leaves? The REAL Ardra returns of course, being only a few minutes late after 1000 years. She says, “I’m here to destroy you now,” and they say, “Yeah, that’s what the last Ardra said. Buzz off.” Then she says, “Oh, I was only kidding anyway, good to see how much you’ve matured. My business is done. Bye.”

    Or she says, “How DARE you mess with me? I’m most annoyed.” Then she changes the gravitational constant of the universe (just locally though, the Q think that’s pretty trivial, so …) and the entire planet and all life on it either flies apart or collapses in on itself.

    Seeing as how it’s Star Trek, I’d say the first one. If it was Battlestar Galactica, or one of the other darker Sci Fi series, it would be the second.

  • Barry Ingram

    On the down side, this planet has sold their soul to the devil. On the upside, I bet they have kick-ass blues and rock & roll music.

    Also, the comment about “pork bellies” and the agrarian lifestyle of the planet got me thinking. I bet that when Ardra first got here, the first thing Acost Jared said was “Ardra, there’s a couple of old geezers at the commodity exchange trying to corner the market on frozen orange juice. Can you help us?”

  • Muthsarah

    Hey, John Champion, Two questions:

    If this has not already been asked, by me, maybe a few months ago, it really could have been, and I totally woulda forgotten, my memory being hopeless): I’ve noticed that the comment section of this here Missionlogpodcast.com site has grown rapidly since the TOS days. Now, I know this same podcast has a FaceBook presence and whatever, but….

    …for the record. When do you think this podcast really took off? It couldn’t have struck lightning or whatever from the start. Did it not take ’til TNG before it blew up? Are comments even an accurate reflection of this podcast’s popularity? At what point did it strike you that this series was legit,and had the fanbase (it rightfully deserved)? I didn’t sign on ’til near the end of TNG Season Two, when things seemed like it was taking off. But, especially since Season Three (MY FAVORITE SEASON of all Trekkishness), it seems the comment section here has been especially active.

    You started this (from my perspective) very successful podcast series years ago. When did it strike you, that you had really made a success of it? It IS a success, it is! Don’t argue that point. But do you judge by streams/downloads, or by comments, or what?

    Also, if it’s not too corporate, how do you measure the success of this podcast? Is it altruistic, and are you personally motivated only by us commenters, who, by our being ourselves, re-enforce your love of this series, and, thus, this podcast, by extension? This podcast is probably not, I suspect, your main source of revenue (for rent-and-food-paying purposes), but as you two spend so much time watching, and re-watching, and re-re-watching, and note-taking, and audio editing, and trivia-taking….

    Is this an intrinsically passion project, still? Or is it a second job, that you put as much time into as you possibly can fit given your other responsibilities? A weekend sideline, or something you spend several evenings a week on, watching and recording and thinking and examining, and composing about, just for maybe sixty minutes of new audio footage a week for us OS fans? For which I am extremely grateful, Thursday mornings are just THE mornings for me, at least for my morning bus commute. Just curious. A cynic, be I. Wary to love, even after a year of enthusiastic listening. Please feel free to answer only those parts of this post you feel like answering. You owe me nothing. If you wanna disregard the most dismal questions, that’s cool.

    I just placed a comment on another Trek message board. And got kinda depressed, as a result. It was of a bad episode. It happens.

    • Wow – well fist of all thank you sincerely and deeply for your enthusiasm and extremely kind words about what we do. I can say for certain that Ken and I are still just as motivated and interested today as we were when we launched in 2012. Sure, there is a “work” aspect to it, but the process is still fun, and actually sitting down to record a show is the easiest part of it all. We each might watch an episode anywhere from 3-5 times then we each have our methods of writing and taking notes. That may be anywhere from 8-16 hours per show by the time you add in post-production. So it’s a “job” in the respect that we have to dedicate a good deal of time and we have to maintain a kind of schedule. Actually turning on the microphone and having a conversation is actually the easiest part of it.
      What has grown is the amount of feedback we get. We didn’t introduce the comments feature on our web site until after the redesign which was somewhere after TNG started so that’s not really a fair measurement – it’s just one more place people now have to leave comments. Nearly from the start, we had a good conversation going on Facebook and in our email. It’s more now, for sure, but we still read it all, and I do my best to reply whenever I can. That’s the part of the job that actually has grown exponentially.
      When Rod, Ken and I first started talking about Mission Log, we knew we weren’t chasing a number – of downloads, of ad dollars, etc. Our measurement of success would be the engagement we got from listeners. So far that has been beyond our imagination. We don’t do HUGE numbers in terms of downloads, but we do have massive engagement when it comes to the number of people who take the time to write to us and, even more interesting, engage in conversations online about the topics we raise.
      All that said, our goal is to become totally self-sustained. Rod started this as a passion project, but there are costs involved. We want to keep growing the show so we can spend more time on it as well as expand – additional Supplementals, new show ideas, etc. We’ll see.
      Thank you again – it is deeply appreciated. (Hope I answered everything! If not – I’ll be here for more.)

      • Durakken

        Yeah, reading comments and interacting with “fans” will always be the thing that grows exponentially… and it also causes problems depending on the expectations.

        A lot of the early adopters will get turned off as popularity grows due to a change in interaction, because the Early Adopters will interact and expect that interaction, but as you grow you may be interacting the same amount, but there is more and thus their interaction decreases which then creates the perception that you are becoming “distant” in whatever way which will eventually make them lose interest.

        There is always some limit of interaction in these various mediums… and it’s why the more non-indie will just ignore “fans”, because eventually it will appear you are anyways for unless you’re really good at interacting on such a level to make it not give that impression.

        But the fact is there is still a limit and every new interactor will change that dynamic. For example. If 120 fans comment with normal length comments that’s roughly an hour of time, and you’ve scheduled for that, but then comes along someone like me. My average post length takes something like 5 minutes to go through. Add 6 people like me and suddenly you’ve gone from being able to read every comment in an hour to 30 mins on just 6 people… Those 6 people have essentially removed the commenting of 60 people.

        What makes it bad though is that those lengthy could be good, or bad, and so you want to read them… but also you don’t know initially if they’ll be long or worthwhile and so you may wind up wasting 30 mins while essentially ostracizing some part of your fan base.

        It’s a problem every person putting things out there has to deal with. Success = more fans but more fans kinda means less quality by default for a lot of these things.

        On a side note: On the podcast you guys always say “your comments may be used”. I think you guys have done it once or twice, and gone through comments once in a side-show. Seems like a pointless thing to continuously say every episode (181 times). Is this a legal thing you guys do or to entice people to send you stuff?

        • Hey there – well, what you say is definitely true that it’s harder to stay on top the more people find us. That said, it is actually true that we read everything (long or short), but responding can be problematic. Just personally speaking, I know I feel like a jerk if I just write “thanks” after someone has taken the time to write long, well-thought-out comment. At the same time, I can’t always take the 20 or 30 minutes or more to do a long and involved message either. In any case, I like to think that we do at least absorb the ideas we’re given and then those make their way back into the show at least in some small way.
          As for reminding people that we “may” use comments on the show. It is something we feel like we need to just just in case. We don’t want it to be a surprise to anyone if we do, and we don’t want anyone to be offended.
          We specifically hold the Supplemental shows as a place to do long-form Q&A where we can pick some comments/questions and answer them or, at the very least, consolidate questions if we notice there is a theme in what we are hearing from listeners.
          We haven’t been able to produce Supplementals as quickly or as frequently as we like, but I can tell you that I have a collection of flagged comments and voicemails that are the backbone for the next show. It will happen – we just have to work on scheduling (as always) and also plan around the guests we have invited.

  • “Ardra” Marta Dubois

  • Low Mileage Pit Woofie

    If I’d been Picard and saw Ardra bouncing around the bridge replacing crewmen with herself before bringing them back again, I might have asked the crewmen where they’d gone, and they might have replied with something like, “Oh, it was on this other ship with cloaking devices and holograms and earthquake-causing tractor beams.”

    But what do I know?