The Rewatch 162: Devil’s Due

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 4.13 Devil’s Due (02/04/1991)
Rating: 3/5
Redshirt Status: 0/1/34

Notable Guest Stars:
Marta Dubois (Ardra) She spent a lot of time on television, ending up in a reoccurring role on Magnum PI, and eventually a lead in a series of TV-movies as Detective Roberta Hanson. She passed away in 2018.

Paul Lambert (Howard Clark) Lambert was a character actor who appeared in over 300 shows. He was also a veteran of WWII, a Lieutenant in the Army’s air forces. He passed away in 1995.

Marcelo Tubert (Acost Jared) Tubert is a second generation actor, and has done many different mediums.  He has done both live action and voice acting over the years.  In more recent years, his credits include Prison Break, Jane the Virgin, and Pink and the Brain.  He continues to work in film.

Review:
 

This episode isn’t horrible, but I can’t say this is my favorite, or even one that I remember when I’m not in the middle of a rewatch. Its also a bit out of character for TNG, but when you come to know that it was originally written as a TOS idea, it makes more sense.

The episode opens with an ongoing story trope that TNG uses where Data performs a play to better understand humanity, and Picard watches and then gives commentary.  This time it The Christmas Carol, with Data as Scrooge. He wants to understand fear.

Ironically perhaps as they are talking about that, Picard gets word that an alien world has gone into hystera because of fear.  Of course they don’t know that quite yet.  They manage to save the lead scientist who explains the legend of Ardria, the planet’s version of the devil.

Ardria, it seems, came to the planet a thousand years ago and promised them a thousand years of peace and prosperity.  Once those years were up, they were to become her slaves.  And those thousand years are up just as Picard arrives.

Star Trek is not really a big fan of religion.  It likes to ignore it mostly, although later editions of the show are a bit more lenient on it then TNG and TOS which showcase a more atheistic view.  TNG has a problem of being a bit condescending about it as well, which I think is a reason I dislike this episode.  Not that they are fighting a “Devil” but that they seem to brush off any religious belief as total nonsense and beneath them.  Its rude.

Ardria is a bit annoying to be honest.  Not that it’s the Actress to blame.  She played the part well.  I blame the writers.  This episode may have worked better with Kirk, Picard is more intrigued then automatically disbelieving.  He’s a bit more forward in this episode then he usually is. Riker might have been a better choice, since he’s the closet to Kirk in personality.

Overall this episode is neutral on my scale.  It could have been much worse, but I don’t really consider it that great or something one needs to watch to understand Star Trek or enjoy it.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Phillip Lazebnik and William Douglas Lansford based on a draft idea by Gene Roddenberry
  • Directed by Tom Benko
  • Original idea came from the original draft idea for the Original Series made by Gene Roddenberry.  It developed into a possible script for Phase II (which never was realized).
  • This episode made use of several props already made for the show.  The chairs were later used in The Addams Family film.
  • The Klingon home world has already been named Q’onos, but for some reason the script was never changed from the place keeper of Klingon when talking about Fek’lhr, the Klingon version of Anubis I think.  He’s not a devil so to speak, but he torments the dishonorable dead.
  • This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Costume Design.
  • We see a continuing story element used where the episode starts with Data and Picard exploring humanity through the arts (plays, poetry etc).  This time Data is performing a scene from A Christmas Carol.  Patrick Stewart would go on to play the same character of Scrooge in the 1999 version of the tale.

Pros:

  •  Very good Data episode.  Also a good Brent Spiner episode, as he gets to play a second character of Scrooge.  He does a pretty good job switching from character to character.

Cons:

  • No respect for various belief systems yet in Star Trek. 
  • Picard a bit out of character (But Stewart does an excellent job)

Screencap via CygnusX1.net

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