Samaritan Snare

They are smiley. They are pudgy. They are incredibly deadly. The Enterprise comes across a benign seeming race known as Pakleds. They have much technology, but they cannot make it go. Luckily, Geordi La Forge can. He can fix lots of things. So the Pakleds decide to keep him. Now the Enterprise has to get him back, and quickly. Captain Picard is on space station 515. He is about to die and he needs the help of the Enterprise. Can the crew save both men? Find out when the Mission Log gets caught in a Samaritan Snare

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  1. CmdrR says:

    A fun episode, unless you’re Geordi… or anybody undergoing surgery. Seriously, those surgical costumes were scary, almost satanic. I love the story in the shuttle — which of course becomes the basis for ‘Tapestry.’ If this ep has flaws, they’re largely due to the fact that the writers are struggling to make this a plot-driven story. Aha! Pakleds are menacing! Aha! Riker outsmarts the idiots. Aha! Pulaski shows up! It’s actually tiresome. It’s interesting to see how TNG slowly moved to a more confident style where the action stems from the characters’ interactions; ‘Tapestry’ being an excellent example.

  2. McDunno says:

    Worf recommends shields. Riker says, “Nah.” Worf recommends not sending the chief engineer. Riker says, “What can go wrong?” Troi says Geordi is in great danger. Riker casually calls over and asks, “How’s it goin’?”

    I guess we have an answer to the question raised in “The Icarus Factor”: Is Riker ready to command his own ship?

  3. Stephen McFadden says:

    I’d like to suggest a moral/message for this episode. Beware pride. Picard’s pride almost cost him his life and Riker/Geordie got trapped by their own pride.

    I think this is a reasonably common story moral that, for star trek, is one we should always be aware of.

  4. I was sort of amazed that you barely alluded to what to me is the obvious key to understanding the Pakleds … the species is Star Trek TNG’s attempt to deal with another marginalized group as they occasionally do, in this case, people with cognitive impairment. They couldn’t be more obvious analogues to people with Down Syndrome. You can almost hear the writers and producers going down the checklist and saying, “This season, we really must do developmentally disabled people.” However, as so often happens on Trek, the attempt is deeply flawed. The Pakleds end up being a caricature, and as you both pointed out, depicted as deceptively dangerous. That’s a fine message to send about developmentally disabled people. They’re goofy. They talk funny. Their faces are weird. They’re not very bright. But beware, they aren’t harmless, in fact their very ignorance makes their dangerousness even worse!

    I’m not sure these messages are intentional. Actually, I’m pretty sure they are a result of sloppy, careless thinking about developmentally disabled people. But that just makes the whole thing more disgusting. It’s as if they decided to give a vote of confidence to black people by having Geordi talk in hip-hop slang.

    • Stephen McFadden says:

      I don’t believe that this was intentional but, to my mind, that makes what you’re pointing out much worse.

      In their effort to make the race appear harmless, they have fell into the caricature of a mentally disabled person. By accident. If I was feeling generous, I’d characterise this as an attempt to show the perils of ignorance when approaching technology but a failed one.

      In truth your argument has swayed me to look at this episode in the same light as Code Of Honour and Angel One. Unfortunate missteps that promote a bad stereotype.

    • Very interesting perspective, Andrew. I can’t imagine that there was anything like that intentional on the part of writers/producers/directors for this episode, and it’s probably why we didn’t discuss it from that angle on the show. In the end, I could see the Pakleds as their own distinct species who evolved into what we were presented: users who didn’t understand the technology they craved. For me it was more about demanding power.

      • I don’t think any of the people involved meant to convey negative stereotypes, but I can’t believe they didn’t intend for the Pakleds to represent developmentally disabled people as popularly understood. It would not be the only time Trek would explore a social issue or real-life subculture by creating a species to represent it.

        • nathankc says:

          I am a couple weeks behind and just finished listening to this episode and came to comment the same thing as Andrew that I was really surprised that the seemingly obvious references (especially speech and makeup) to developmental disability wasn’t addressed. It’s one of those things were if they were lizards or bugs it could be more easily passed off as the ‘not ready for power’ but with the design choices that were made I have always cringed a bit at the Pakleds. I doubt, if this episode were remade today, it would be done in the same way

  5. Troy Brooks says:

    This is an episode when everyone, other than Worf and Troi, are being idiots.
    Picard should have let Pulaski do the surgery, especially given that she’s apparently the best surgeon for the job. Pulaski should have insisted on doing the surgery. La Forge should have brought some sort of security, or at least other engineers with him. Riker should have listened to Worf and/or Troi.
    Then there’s the Pakleds, ugh, they were so stereotypically disabled that it seemed bigoted. I might have found them a better foil if it would have been revealed that they were just acting impaired, but apparently they are actually that stupid.

  6. Durakken says:

    The “bonk bonk on the head” message is “This is why we follow the prime directive” because the Pakleds are clearly a result of them not following it…

    Speaking of that, it’d be great to see an episode where they show the Federation dealing with all those civilizations they made contact with before they had the prime directive. We know of a few from TOS and we have to assume there are some from the Pakleds…

    As far as the treatment of the Pakleds, it is a bit interesting that they treat them that way when it could be that the reason they are speaking that way is due to the translator and not because that is how they talk. It makes me wonder why Riker didn’t ask about that.

    And Riker… is a terrible leader. If he had taken that ship it would have been destroyed quickly if this is any representation of his leadership style. The least he could have done is sent a grunt rather than the department head. That has always bothered me that they do that. They always send the chiefs and heads rather than the people under them, at least whenever we, the audience, go with them.

  7. Regarding Worf and the Pacleds, my feeling is that Worf was more like a stopped clock than a perceptive security office. His answers ALWAYS to be suspicious – he’s usually wrong, but if you say the same thing often enough, you’ll eventually strike it lucky!

  8. GummyHoops says:

    Re: the discussion on planet based starbases, you guys forgot Starbase 11 in Court Martial and The Menagerie. It’s the first Starbase we see in Star Trek history and it’s based on a planet.

  9. What about Farpoint Station? It did not become a Starbase in the end, but Star Fleet considered it…

  10. Symbionese Liberation Auntie says:

    I wonder if the red surgical outfits were inspired by those worn by the main characters in David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers, which was released 7-8 months before this episode aired. It would be an odd source of inspiration for Trek, if so.
    It’s odd to think of Picard being the father of a young child in the TNG post-Nemesis relaunch novels, although it’s certainly a new wrinkle on his interactions with younger characters in the early episodes of televised TNG.

    Wasn’t there a possibility of Bajor’s starbase being on the planet at one point? That wouldn’t really count as another example, I suppose, but it’s the only one that hasn’t been mentioned here already AFAIK.

  11. Shannon Sea says:

    Sandwiches? The same thoughts went through ny memory banks when I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey. Go back and watch the movie and marvel at the petite sandwiches. I believe it was the scene when Floyd traveled by shuttle over the Moon to visit the mini Monolith.

  12. nathankc says:

    How Samaritan Snare should have gone:

  13. Craig Bourdon says:

    Is it possible that the reason Picard doesn’t want to have Pulaski do the surgery on board the Enterprise is because he feels self-conscious about having an artificial heart? Especially since he obtained said heart as the result of some pretty reckless behavior on his part? He has been portrayed as a very controlled and contained individual who is very intellectual. While the crew respects and admires him, they may feel he is a little cold. Then to find out he is literally heartless…well that could explain his trip to the star base.

  14. Low Mileage Pit Woofie says:

    Me, I thought the Pakleds might be a dig at the fans, the Pack Led who want their shows, shows to make them go, and all the merchandising and such before they’re prepared to earn it. Or something.
    Actually, the attitude of the Federation/Starfleet in this and other episodes, condemnation of cultures trying to obtain advanced technology before they’ve earned it or were ready for it would explain all those instances in the Original Series and here where advanced technology from dead civilisations were discovered but never seemingly applied – Roger Korby’s android makers, Sargon’s folk, the Doomsday Machine, the teaching machine from Spock’s Brain – because someone decided that they weren’t ready.

  15. Daryl Wor says:

    Oh good! You did do this one! It’s been on my mind a ton lately. I’ll probably drag my feet but if you are still taking phone calls (voice mails) expect one from me in the distant future about this podcast. Thank you! Ohhhhh, you lovely, lovely people!

    • No episode goes unexamined! We’re in it for the long haul…

      • Daryl Wor says:

        Thank you, John. Had a good time listening to it on the bus and will listen a second time before I get all my thoughts together. BUT! I love the idea of The Romulans finding The Pakleds. I burst out laughing. ^_^

        • Rod says:

          Daryl, I am a grandfather here in Southern California trying to get my granddaughters interested in the rest of the world. Plus, I am very aware of the garbage that goes on in the world, so I am very protective of them. I would like for them to contact with one person and maybe they would branch out. Can you e-mail me any contact info, maybe for yourself? The girls are 13 and 14. My e-mail is rjerls3087@att.net, thank you.

  16. Robert Hackett says:

    Thanks to BBC America, I can rewatch a whole bunch of Star Trek. Look, this episode stinks. Period. I get angry watching episodes like this. It does not hold up.

    I find it odd when Geordi says ” Let me guess, their rubber band broke.” Do they really use rubber bands in the 24th century?

    After Geordi gets shot with his own phaser, and the Pakleds put up their shields while the bridge crew watches, he says “Don’t interfere with our transport!” Uh, Commander, how about telling them to stop phasering your chief engineer? At that point they don’t seem likely to care about Riker’s warning.

    Worf says, “Do we really need to send our Chief Engineer?” Well, yes, because we need to move the plot along and try to instill some suspense. I for one was shocked Geordi made it back alive!!

    Deanna Troi, about Geordi “He’s afraid.” Yeah, no kidding. I would be too. Do you really need to be an empath to figure that out?

    I don’t care how it is explained away, no race could ever reach space travel ability period if they had the intellectual level of the Pakleds. No way. The Roman Empire had more brainpower and technology than what the Pakleds were capable of.

  17. KatieN says:

    This episode seemed to have harsher language than the episodes before it. I almost wonder if standards or the FCC changed their rules. Oh, how far they still have yet to come.