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Code of Honor (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

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Code of Honor (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Code of Honor title card.jpg
Part of Season: 1
Episode Number: 4
Air Date: October 12, 1987
Writer: Katharyn Powers
Michael Baron
Director: Russ Mayberry
Les Landau
Previous episode: The Naked Now
Next episode: The Last Outpost


Code of Honor is a first season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Plot

The USS Enterprise arrives at the planet Ligon II, the only place where the cure to a rare disease can be found. In the midst of the negotiations, however, the Ligonian leader, Lutan suddenly abducts Tasha Yar, the security chief of the Enterprise, and threatens to withhold the cure unless he is allowed to marry her.

Why It Gets No Honor

  1. The racism. Infamously, all of the Ligonians are cast with African-American actors and depicted in what one of the show's writers later described as a "1940s tribal African" manner. This wasn't even specified in the script, which described the Ligonians as a mix of feudal Japanese and Native American cultures, but the director for some reason decided to cast them all as African-American.
  2. Awful acting from most of the guest stars, and even most of the regular actors apart from Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton seem to be phoning it in.
  3. Dull, flat direction, with scenes shot and staged unimaginatively. The credited director was fired halfway through the shoot, leaving the question as to whether he was completely incompetent in addition to being racist, or his replacement (who had only ever worked as an assistant director) just couldn't do any better under the circumstances.
  4. Horrible, unnatural dialogue, likely as a result of meddling from Gene Roddenberry, or possibly his lawyer, who was rewriting scripts against Writer's Guild regulations.
  5. The climatic fight scene makes even the notoriously cheesy fights from The Original Series seem cinematic by comparison. Tasha and her opponent, Lutan's current wife, conduct the fight on what resembles a children's climbing frame, and spend about five minutes just flailing at each other with poisoned gloves until Tasha lands a hit.
  6. Cheap sets, even compared to other Star Trek episodes.
  7. Most of the effects shots are recycled from the two previous episodes, and the one new shot that we get ends up contradicting the dialogue.
  8. Embarrassingly unfunny attempts at humor, with the attempted jokes between Data and Geordi being incomprehensible, and Picard trying to nitpick Data over something minor during a crisis.
  9. Wesley Crusher is as smug and irritating as ever.
  10. Worf doesn't even appear in the episode, nor is he mentioned.
  11. The episode's ending makes no sense, as the death and revival of Lutan's current wife dissolves their marriage, but doesn't cause him to inherit her lands, which is what his whole scheme was about.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Patrick Stewart is, as always, excellent as Captain Picard.
  2. The music score, while a little over the top at times, is worlds better than the "sonic wallpaper" scores that would be employed in the show's latter years.
  3. Lutan's angry declaration that the Enterprise crew shall have "No treaty, no vaccine, and no Lt. Yar!" is one of the show's most quotable lines, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

Reception

The episode is regarded as arguably the worst episode of TNG (its main competition being the second season clip show "Shades of Grey", which at least had the excuse of being put together with virtually no time or money), and among the worst episodes of Star Trek overall. In a 50th anniversary fan convention, it was voted second-only to "These Are The Voyages...", the infamous finale of Star Trek: Enterprise, as the worst-ever Star Trek episode.

Even most of the cast hated the episode, with Patrick Stewart feeling it was it embarrassing, Jonathan Frakes calling it a "racist piece of shit," and Brent Spiner considering it the worst episode of the show. Probably the most positive assessment was from Wil Wheaton, and even then he just said that the episode had some potential, but that it was completely wrecked by the execution.

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