The Rewatch 120: Up The Long Ladder

Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Episode: 2.18  Up The Long Ladder (5-22-89)
Rating:  3/5
Redshirt Status: 0/18.5/21.5

Notable Guest Stars:
Rosalyn Landor (Brenna) – Landor does mostly voice acting in recent years, but she did appear in several TV shows during the 1980s, and appeared in the 1990 film Bad Influence, which I’ve not seen but includes Rob Lowe and James Spader.
Barrie Ingham (Danilo)- Ingham was prolific television actor and a long career. He was in The Great Mouse Detective, which I haven’t watched in years. Should probably change that.
Jon De Vries (Wilson & Victor Granger) DeVries has appears as a guest star on many television shows over the years, most recently The Black list and Elementary. He also had a part in the film Sarah, Plain and Tall. A film I loved as a kid, and really should watch again (It stars Glenn Close and Christopher Walken and remains my favorite film of both)

Review:

This episode has some interesting concepts, but its not a favorite of mine.  The main reason?  This episode is responsible for so many continuity mistakes its not even funny.  Not only does it not fit in with the timeline of Enterprise (which to be fair would be on ENT’s shoulders), it doesn’t go with  the timeline of TOS.  It even goes against its own timeline as established in the pilot.

So, I think that part of this whole episode should be just thrown out.

Onto the more interesting concepts.  The first concept is transcendentalism.  Data mentions early in the episode that the colony might follow neo-transcendentalism.  Transcendentalism was a movement in the early 1800s to return to pre-industrial life, preferring self-reliance and individualism they believed was missing from the current society.  Or at least that is the relevant parts to this episode.  If you want to learn more – here’s the wiki.

The colony here seems to have taken at least part of the philosophy – they are returning to pre-industrial leaving. And they seemed to enjoy it.  They do have some knowledge of technology – they aren’t completely surprised by the Enterprise’s facilities.  They also seem more willing then most to be transferred to another planet.

Their sister colony, Mariposa, goes the other direction.  They are using clones.  Only they only have five genetic strands.  Remarkably no one thought to save the original DNA samples to recreate off of so they have just been making copies for the last two hundred years.  I’m not sure how much of the science in this episode is based on true science or just made up. They idea of making a copy from a copy seems to be a common science fiction trope. Interestingly enough, I learned that while the first mammal to be cloned wouldn’t be cloned for another 7 years, salamanders were cloned in the 1950s.  Also that Harvard is currently trying to clone a Wooly mammoth which you can learn about here.

So this episode explores two sides of a coin, and comes up with a wacky way to connect them at the end.  I’m still not sure why they couldn’t also invite other people to the colony to help invest in its new population. 

So if you ignore the timeline problems and Riker’s doomed relationship with Brenna, there is a interesting plot.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Melinda M. Snodgrass
  • Directed by Winrich Kolbe
  • Melinda Snodgrass wrote this episode as a commentary on the contemporary immigration policy.  She also got criticism for writing Pro-choice views for Riker.

Pros:

  • This episode is more of the science fiction side rather than fantasy
  • I just like Irish accents.
  • O’Dell’s fear of Worf
  • Pulaski & Worf friendship.
  • Klingon culture exploration

Cons:

  • Riker’s romance with Brenna.  Soooo much awkward.
  • The assault of Riker & Pulaski is not really dealt with.  Sure, they destroy the clones, but no one really brings up the fact they were drugged and then had their bodies experimented on. I bet Deanna had alot of work that day.

Screencap via CygnusX1.net

EDIT: This episode happens to be the 500th post on this blog. Party on.

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