‘Angel One’ is one of the worst episodes in series one of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’. I thought even I could do better and highlight the women of the Enterprise-D while I was at it.
In Angel One, the 14th episode of the first series of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Enterprise-D is looking for the survivors of a ship-wrecked trading vessel. They trace the escape pods to the planet Angel One which is a matriarchy where women are in control. There they discover that the shipwrecked traders have started families and want to stay. However, their very presence has begun a dissident movement and they are considered enemies of the state. Meanwhile, on board the Enterprise, Dr Crusher is battling a viral infection which prevents the crew beaming themselves and the traders on board when the traders are captured and condemned to death. However, Riker saves the day when he talks the leader, with whom he is having a sexual relationship, into sparing their lives. She decrees that they will be released and resettled in a remote area.
Apart from being poorly written and acted, this episode is profoundly sexist. The ‘matriarchs’ are all good looking women in their twenties. There is not an older woman in sight. And despite the fact that their men are small and hairless, we are expected to believe that the leader finds Riker irresistible, a large and hairy man which such a woman would find distasteful and intimidating.
This is an episode screaming for a re-write and here is my effort.
(replacing Angel One — Season 1, Episode 14)
1. Enterprise, exterior — Day 1
The Enterprise is orbiting a beautiful blue-green planet. Captain Picard’s log tells us that they have been asked by the Federation to find a Starfleet runabout which was stolen six months ago by pirates from a star base. It disappeared in this sector. Starfleet believes they also stole a large number of armaments and may be involved in illegal gun-running. They have traced the runabout to an M-class planet which is not on the Federation charts.
2. Enterprise, bridge — Day 1
Data reports to the captain that their instruments have discovered humanoid lifeforms on the planet. The population is small, only about 3,000, all living on a large island in the temperate zone. The scanners are having difficulty scanning as there is some form of communication scrambler, but they can make out that the lifeforms are not only human, but the technology is Federation dating back around 200 years. This is a long lost Federation colony.
Picard and Riker discuss why a habitable planet with a Federation colony should be deleted from the charts and is blocking communication. Perhaps it is some sort of secret facility. Picard doubts the Federation would keep it from them. He asks Troi what she senses. Troi says she is picking up pain, fear and suffering, but she also senses something strange, something unbalanced about the population she can’t quite fathom. Data reports he can pick up traces of current Federation technology and the aftermath of weapons fire.
After much difficulty Yar establishes a faint line of communication but in audio only and somewhat distorted. A woman answers Picard’s hail. She refuses permission for the Enterprise to send down an away team. As she is speaking they can hear explosions. Picard asks what is happening but the woman refuses to answer and tells him to go away. As Picard ponders this mystery, he is notified by the transporter room that someone is beaming up. Picard and Riker go to investigate and call in a security detail.
3. Enterprise, transporter room — Day 1
Picard and Riker enter as a man in civilan clothes materialises holding a white cloth. He says he represents the ‘free traders’ and that he urgently needs to inform Picard of what is really happening on the planet.
4. Opening Credits
5. Enterprise, Observation Lounge — Day 1
The pirate is speaking to Picard, Riker, Yar and Troi. He tells them that he and his crew were just looking for a place to hide from the Federation for a while when they came across this uncharted planet. It wasn’t long after they arrived that they discovered something shocking — the women of the colony had done away with the men and were out to kill him and his crew. If the Enterprise had picked up any weapons fire on the surface, it was them just trying to defend themselves. He tells them the women have come under the influence of a radical feminist cult and when they discovered how to make babies without men they just slaughtered them all. When the pirates discovered what the women had done they wanted to get out of there, but the women disabled their runabout and wouldn’t let them go for fear they would make their atrocities known to the Federation. In fact, the pirates could do with some spare parts to get the runabout off the ground. Picard says he’ll consider it and asks the security detail to escort the pirate back to the transporter room. The pirate reminds them not to try to trace his passage as they have the runabout well camouflaged.
6. Enterprise, Observation Lounge — Day 1
The senior crew are disturbed to hear this story and wonder if it could be true. Troi says the man was certainly hiding something, but he was telling what he believed to be the truth, although she finds it hard to believe. Picard reminds her that she felt there was something unbalanced about the population. Could this be it? Riker wonders what such isolation might do to a small population. Such communities were known to have developed extreme religious cults in the past. This might be a variation. Yar remembers the rape gangs of her childhood and remarks that if the women on her planet could have got rid of all the men they might have. Riker reminds Picard that whatever the circumstances, if Starfleet wants the runabout back they’ll need to give them those spare parts. Picard agrees and tells Riker to ask the chief engineer to ready the parts, but they won’t hand them over just yet. They get a signal from the bridge saying they are being hailed from the planet. They all head to the bridge.
7. Enterprise, bridge — Day 1
Picard and the others enter and return to their posts as Picard responds to the hail. Again communication is audio only and distorted. Another woman is speaking. She says that the woman they spoke to earlier doesn’t speak for all the colonists. They’re in desperate need of help as her people are being slaughtered and worse. She asks if the Enterprise is armed and whether they could help defend them against their enemies. Picard is reluctant and says he must send some of his own people down to assess the situation before offering his assistance. The woman is reluctant to agree, but finally does on the proviso that the away team is female only. If any males come down to the surface they will suffer a terrible punishment. Picard is disturbed. He asks Troi and Yar if they are willing to go. They agree to. He asks them to take Dr Crusher with them. They leave for the transporter room, but he and Riker are worried for them.
8. Minerva 2, interior, council chambers, night — Day 1
Troi, Yar and Crusher materialise. They are in a dark place that is being rocked by explosions and are met by three women in their twenties and thirties with short hair, dressed in plain, but dirty working clothes and carrying old fashioned gas lights. The colonists are reserved but thankful. The colonists tell them that if they want to see what’s going on, to follow them.
9. Minerva 2, interior, great hall, night — Day 1
The colonists lead them through a large room being used as a hospital. The large windows are boarded up. The facilities are minimal and there are women and girls with all sorts of injuries, some in shock whose wounds are not visible. Crusher immediately goes to their aid and one of the colonists goes with her to light her way. She sees phaser burns on several of the women and then comes across one young woman who is terribly traumatised. Dr Crusher asks what happened to her and the colonist answers she was kidnapped, raped then abandoned because she wasn’t co-operative.
Yar’s companion asks her if her phaser is a weapon. She tells her it is, so the colonist leads her outdoors.
An older woman comes to Troi and her colonist companion and berates her for sending for the Enterprise crew. Troi assures her the younger women did what was best as the Enterprise only wants to help them. The older woman says it might not be what’s best for the Enterprise.
10. Minerva 2, exterior, compound, night — Day 1
Yar follows the colonist out into a compound that might once have been the grounds of the council chamber. High barricades have been built behind the fence surrounding it. All the visible windows have been boarded up. Various wrecked items and piles of debris act as shielding for the women cowering there. Phaser fire is coming from the upper floors of buildings across the street. The women have nothing to counter it, except buckets of water to put out the resulting flames. Yar immediately goes on the offensive and shoots at the source of the phaser fire. There is a momentary pause, then the fire is redoubled. As they take cover, the colonist tells Yar the men weren’t expecting return of fire as the women have no weapons. Yar asks why not and the colonist answers that they’ve never needed them before.
11. Minerva 2, interior, great hall/cellars, night — Day 1
The colonist with Troi leads her to the back of the room and to a trap door. She beats out a distinctive knock before opening it. Beneath her is a woman with an improvised spear. She stands aside and Troi is led into a large dank cellar where old women and small children are hiding. Some of the women have improvised spears and clubs. The colonist tells Troi this will be their last stand. Troi asks what has happened here, but before she can answer, the colonist’s watch beeps and she tells Troi they have to go. She can’t stay much longer. As they pass through the great hall, they are joined by Crusher, Yar and the colonists accompanying them. They all urge the crew to hurry back to their pick up point. They have to get off the planet before it’s too late.
12. Minerva 2, interior, council chambers, night — Day 1
Crusher, Troi and Yar are resisting the colonists’ attempts to get them to go back to their ship. They refuse to leave until they know more about what is happening. The colonists ask Crusher if medical technology has improved over the last two centuries. When Crusher assures them it has, the women agree reluctantly that they can stay another fifteen minutes but no longer. They tell them how six months previously two ship loads of pirates, mostly men, arrived on the planet. They tried to negotiate with them, offering to let them join their settlement or to settle anywhere else on the largely unpopulated planet, but they refused to listen. When they threatened to go and get more pirates to take over the planet, the colonists sneaked onto their ships and disabled them. The pirates took that as an act of war and have been killing the colonists ever since. Killing and worse. Since the women are without men, the male pirates think they have the right to possess and use them. Yar asks them if they didn’t want these men on their planet, why they didn’t just try to drive them away, or kill them like they did their own men. The colonists are shocked and ask where they got that idea. Yar tells them that is what the pirates told them. The colonists reluctantly agree among themselves that they have to tell the whole story.
13. Minerva 2, interior, men’s museum, night — Day 1
The colonists are showing the crew around a gallery they call the men’s museum. They show them a photograph of the last surviving man who died eighty years earlier. He looks ancient but was only 24. The colonists describe to them the virulent disease that took all their men. At first they thought the men were ageing faster because they tended to do the heavy, outdoor work, but they soon discovered it was a disease that attacked the Y-chromosome and they could find no cure or preventative. Over the generations the symptoms developed earlier and earlier, until it was deemed cruel to even let males be born. Instead of wasting their energies on finding a cure, they developed a method for forming an embryo from two eggs and so breed only females. They were able to discover that the disease did not originate on the planet so had come from elsewhere. They feared they were carriers of the disease, so with the Federation’s permission, the put themselves under total quarantine. They disabled the pirates’ ships to stop them from leaving and spreading the disease. Hoping that with new medical technologies she can find a cure, Crusher asks to see all the colonists’ research.
Meanwhile the other colonists talk to Yar and Troi about the disease and its effects on their community. The colony is barely surviving as so many of their resources have to go into just reproducing. They fear they will never thrive and may well have to accept extinction. If the pirates had proven co-operative they would have been a great help, but instead they have destroyed everything the colonists have managed to achieve.
Crusher returns and tells Yar and Troi that the disease attacks all DNA and they may already be carriers. Yar asks if the pirate might have carried the disease on board the Enterprise. Crusher is horrified that it might be so. They discuss solutions and Yar suggests they use the trace facility on the transporter to reinstate their DNA as it was recorded before they beamed down. Crusher realises they should also do the same with anyone who came in contact with the pirate, and anyone who came into contact with them. She contacts Picard to tell him so.
14. Enterprise, bridge — Day 1
Picard is receiving Crusher’s call. He immediately contacts the transport officer who says he can do as Yar suggests but it will take fifteen minutes or so to set up. Picard makes a general announcement calling on all personnel who had contact with the pirate, and all those they have subsequently had contact with to report to a transporter room.
15. Minerva 2, interior, men’s museum, night — Day 1
Crusher tells the colonists she will do further research into the disease and try to help them. Yar says she will urge the Captain to help them defend themselves. The three crew members beam up to the Enterprise.
16. Enterprise, transporter room — Day 1
Several crew members materialise and step off the transporter pads. Crusher, Yar and Troi materialise. Picard and Riker are there to meet them. Crusher tells them the colonists’ situation is dire and they have to do something to help them.
17. Enterprise, Observation Lounge — Day 1
The senior crew are meeting. Crusher is just finishing off telling them about the disease and then hands over to Yar who tells them about the defence situation. The women urgently need help, but they can’t send anyone down to them. Data suggests he can go. Yar says one person alone, even with Data’s capabilities, will not be much help. Riker suggests they send Data in an armed shuttlecraft and that he can also carry down small arms and train the women in their use. After all, there couldn’t be more than 50 pirates. Yar suggests that from the Enterprise they can try to find their ships and destroy them. Picard disagrees. The best outcome is for the pirates to settle elsewhere on the planet. They’ll need their ships to move there. For the present, however, they’ll withhold the spare parts the pirates requested.
18. Minerva 2, exterior, above the council chambers, early morning — Day 2
A shuttlecraft flies in over the compound and exchanges fire with the pirates attacking it. Pirates run out of the buildings and away from the shuttlecraft’s fire.
19. Minerva 2, exterior, street outside the council chambers, early morning — Day 2
Data has landed the shuttlecraft and is disembarking. The women are coming out of the compound, but are reluctant to approach him. Data tells them not to worry. He’s an android and will do them no harm, nor can he catch or carry the disease. He tells them he’s brought weapons so they can defend themselves. The women are relieved and gather round him.
20. Enterprise, bridge — Day 4
Data is up on the screen reporting to the Captain. He tells them that he has visited all the settlements under siege from the pirates, has driven them off and supplied the colonists with weapons. The pirates have been driven back to their base and he believes they will be ready to negotiate. Picard tells Data he’s done well but asks him to stay on the planet until the situation has been resolved.
21. Enterprise, sick bay — Day 4
Picard enters and finds Crusher hard at work, but obviously exhausted and frustrated. He tells her that Data has driven back the pirates and asks how she is getting on. Crusher admits there is nothing she can do to control the spread of the disease, beyond the measures they took. There is no way she can develop an inoculant with the current medical technology. At best she might be able to slow the symptoms of the disease and make the colonists’ method of conception more efficient, but that is the best she can offer. She tells Picard that if the disease should escape Minerva Two, not only humanoids, but all gendered species will be wiped out.
22. Enterprise, bridge/captain’s ready room — Day 4
Picard enters the bridge and asks Riker and Troi to join him in his ready room. He tells them the situation and that the pirates will have to stay on the planet. They will need to negotiate a permanent peace between the pirates and the colonists. Riker suggests that Data get representatives of both parties onto the shuttlecraft as a neutral space where they can have visual communication. Picard agrees, contacts Data and informs him of the proposal. Data says he will try. Troi offers to join Data and help him make the arrangements. She is willing to go through the entire decontamination process again.
23. Minerva 2, pirate’s base — Day 4
Troi and Data are talking to the pirate leader, the man that came aboard the Enterprise, and the leader’s son. Troi is trying to explain to them the colonists’ situation, but the older pirates refuse to believe their story. They maintain the Enterprise has been duped, and the women should be wiped out for the atrocities they’ve carried out. The leader’s son tries to reason with his father, quoting the women’s obvious unpreparedness to defend themselves as evidence they are not likely to have killed off their men. The older men belittle him. Data finally impresses on them the fact that the Enterprise is capable of destroying their ships and killing them all if necessary.
24. Minerva 2, shuttlecraft, day — Day 5
The three leading pirates reluctantly come aboard where three colonists, the older woman and two of the younger women, are waiting for them. Once they are settled, Data takes off and calls the Captain, who appears on the screen with Riker and Crusher by his side.
25. Shuttlecraft/Enterprise ready room — Day 5
A lengthy negotiation ensues in which the older pirates resist every step of the way. Picard informs the pirates that they will not be able to leave the planet, but they can settle anywhere on the planet as long as they agree to cease hostilities against the women. The colonists agree to the terms and will even allow any of their number to join the pirates if they so wish, not that any of them would want to after the way the pirates have behaved. Picard offers to let them keep the runabout and to give them the required spare parts as long as they give up whatever they have left of their weapons. The women also offer to give back their weapons once the men are disarmed. The older pirates still refuse to believe in the disease. Crusher shows them images of men afflicted by the disease. The leader’s son is moved, but the older ones say the images could well be falsified. The older pirates finally only give in when Picard threatens to destroy their ships.
26. Minerva 2, shuttlecraft/pirate’s base — Day 5
The pirates are being returned to their base. The older ones continue to act tough and tell Data his Captain is not as clever as he thinks. The leader’s son lags behind so as to talk to Troi. He asks her to confirm what Crusher said about the disease. Troi assures him it’s all true. One of the younger colonists approaches him. She tells him they don’t hate men. In fact, if the pirates had been willing they could have done with their help. It’s been tough for them without men. They remember their men fondly which is why they were so willing to take the pirates in when they first arrived. The young man is convinced but knows he’s in the minority.
27. Minerva 2, shuttlecraft/council chambers compound — Day 5
The colonists are disembarking from the shuttlecraft. They tell Troi how grateful they are for the Enterprise’s help. They especially ask her to thank Crusher for all her efforts. Troi tells them they have reported to the Federation about their situation. The Federation will furnish them with the supplies and equipment they’ll need to rebuild their colony. She asks to be beamed up.
28. Enterprise, transporter room — Day 5
Troi slowly materialises and Picard and Riker are there to meet her. She is disturbed. She tells them she didn’t think the pirate leader was negotiating in good faith. Picard will need to watch him. Picard and Riker agree, but think he will comply, however reluctantly, when he sees he has no choice.
29. Enterprise, bridge — Day 6
Picard is speaking on the screen to the pirate leader who is piloting the runabout. He seems reluctantly compliant and tells Picard his crew has agreed to settle on another area of the planet. He ungraciously thanks the captain for settling the dispute and tells him the Enterprise can go now. Troi warns Picard he’s not being honest. Picard commends the pirate for his good sense, and says the Enterprise will now leave. He signs off and orders that the Enterprise should pull away at half-impulse, but keep their scanners and weapons locked on the pirates.
The crew continues to watch the planet’s surface apprehensively. Yar informs Picard the pirate ships are leaving orbit. The Enterprise pursues them and Picard orders them to return to the planet. The pirate leader comes back on screen, defiantly telling him Picard may be stupid enough to be duped by those women, but he isn’t. There’s no way the pirates will let themselves be confined to this isolated planet. Picard orders Yar to shoot to disable the ships. The runabout fires back. Picard tries one last time to convince them to return to the planet and threatens them with destruction if they don’t. The pirate taunts Picard about his Starfleet honour and reluctance to kill. Picard makes the difficult decision to order the runabout destroyed.
The leader’s son hails him from the other ship. He begs Picard not to destroy his ship. He and his shipmates will stay and join with the colonists to help them rebuild. Troi confirms the young man’s bona fides and Picard allows him to return to the planet.
© Pauline Montagna 2016