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Recap Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 1, Episode 8 - Justice

On stardate 41255.6, the USS Enterprise completes a mission of depositing settlers on the Stranad Colony and stops by the recently discovered world of Rubicun III, where Captain Picard approves shore leave. Based on initial survey reports by Commander Riker, the native people, who call themselves the Edo, are passive and sensual, living in a virtual utopia where they openly express love and affection. Riker returns to the planet with Tasha Yar, Worf, Deanna Troi, and Wesley Crusher. They are greeted lovingly by the leaders of the Edo, Liator and Rivan, who are beautiful people, fit and physically stunning, wearing thin, revealing outfits. The two Edo take them to their council chambers and they observe the happy Edo around them, exercising, playing and enjoying life in what Troi compares to a Garden of Eden. Along the way, Wesley finds a group of teens his age who are delighted to have a new playmate join them. Back on the Enterprise, Data reports an object ahead of the ship that seems to partially exist in their dimension. He then opens hailing frequencies and an immense vessel appears before them which is not completely solid, consisting of an array of lights and transparent framework. The object sends over a sphere of light which passes right through the shields and enters the bridge. The light hovers before Picard and projects a booming voice; "State the purpose of your visit here." Picard explains they are just visiting, but the light asks the reason for the colony that has been planted nearby. Picard explains the colony seeks the challenge of creating a new society for themselves and that humans seed their kind as widespread as possible for preservation. The orb warns to not interfere with its "children" below and then takes interest in Data. It suddenly attaches to his forehead and Data falls to the deck immobilized. Back on the planet, Yar has been conversing with Liator and Rivan and is shocked to learn about their claim that none of their people ever break the law. Liator explains they once faced disorder long ago, but now they have only one punishment for lawbreakers: death. The Edo explain that their police, called "mediators," enforce the law by setting up random "punishment zones" and because of the fear of execution, no one willingly breaks the law. Tasha is concerned that they were not told of this sooner, and rushes out to look for Wesley who has wandered off somewhere. Wesley is in the middle of a ball game and runs after a fly ball which takes him over a white barrier surrounding an enclosed garden of flowers. He trips and crashes through the glass enclosure as the other children anxiously tell him it is forbidden to disturb new flowers. Two Edo Mediators rush up to their horror and the girl of the group tearfully begs the lawmen for mercy, saying Wesley is a visitor and didn't know the law. The lawmen sadly state that he must carry out their duty and one withdraws a syringe. Wesley is confused, still unaware of how severe a crime he has committed. The rest of the away team rushes up and Riker offers a simple apology for what just happened. The Mediators say it changes nothing and the boy must be punished. One of the Mediators tries to grab Wesley's arm, but is stopped by Riker. Worf and Tasha quickly level phasers and order the other Mediator to drop the syringe. The lawman says the boy would have felt nothing and his death would have been quick. Wesley panics when he realizes they were just about to kill him. Riker tries to alert the Enterprise but there is no contact with the vessel. Back in space, the orb finally releases Data and a communication from Tasha comes through who asks for Picard's presence on the planet. Picard beams down where he is informed of Wesley's petty infraction and that it carries the death penalty. Picard meets with Liator and Rivan who tell him that Wesley is being held in custody pending the outcome of the case. Liator explains the tranquility around them has only been possible through their system of justice. Picard says he respects their laws, however the Federation has determined that capital punishment is an unjustifiable deterrent, and that humanity no longer uses such means. Liator takes offense stating if humans are so "advanced" then they could beam Wesley to freedom right now. Picard explains that's not an option and that he is bound by the Prime Directive to abide by a world's laws no matter how strange they might be. He says this incident however, concerns an innocent child, ignorant of the law, who has committed a crime that doesn't fit the punishment. He seeks another option, but the Edo see none without breaking their tradition. They inform him that Wesley is safe until sundown, but after that their sentence must be carried out. Picard then takes the opportunity to ask about the object in space with them, explaining the strange craft to which the Edo identify as their God. Picard then asks Rivan to accompany him to the Enterprise in hopes she will identify the ship in orbit with them. Once aboard the Enterprise, Dr. Crusher, having just been informed of Wesley's situation, tearfully demands a response from her Captain, but to her grief, he tells her to wait while he takes Rivan into an observation room. As soon as Rivan sees the object floating outside the ship, she falls to her knees and fearfully diverts her eyes. Picard asks her if it's her God to which she nods. He asks if she can communicate with it, but then the object moves toward the Enterprise sending rumbles through the hull with a booming voice that demands its child be returned. Picard attaches his communicator pin to Rivan's chest and orders an immediate beam out. She disappears and the object backs off. Beverly presses Picard to do something to free Wesley, but Picard reminds her of the power protecting the planet saying he will not risk the lives of the entire ship for her son. In sickbay, Data has recovered from his contact with the orb claiming "they" were able to better communicate through him, learning all about the Federation to the point of nearly overloading his circuits. Picard asks what he learned and what he means by "they". Data informs that "they" are "not a single entity," and are capable of being in several places at once, not really here, or anywhere. They are quite aware that the Edo worship them as gods, which they encourage during this stage of the Edo's development. They claim the Edo are their children and this entire star cluster is their territory, and they are concerned about the Enterprise's presence here. Picard asks what their intentions are, to which Data perceives as only curious observance. They now know everything Data knows, including all about the Prime Directive, but the question lies in how they evaluate it. Picard asks Data what he thinks they will do if he violated it, which stirs more unsettling emotion in Beverly. Data explains it would be a case of judging humans by their own rules; if they violate their own laws, they may consider them deceitful and untrustworthy. Data, unaware of Wesley's situation, inquires as to what is going on. Beverly explodes in tears informing him "The Edo want to execute my son." and vows to Picard that she will not allow it to happen. Picard wonders if the force out there understands reason as they do and hopes it will offer the leverage to free Wesley. Picard and Beverly beam down to the planet. As soon as Rivan sees Picard she rushes to him and drops to her knees saying they share the sky with God, and so they too, must be gods. Picard eases her up, reassuring her that they are just explorers and as human as they are. Wesley appears, led into the room by the Mediators but they refuse Beverly to get any closer. Wesley asks if the Edo are really going to execute him. Picard extends a hand to Wesley and tells him to come. Worf and Tasha make sure the Edo see their weapons are ready to enforce whatever Picard orders and Wesley runs to his mother who tearfully embraces him. The Mediators become anxious, knowing that their leaders are helpless to stop this, but warns that their God will. Riker commends the Edo's system of justice is probably better than any they once had, a testimony to their beautiful way of life, but adds that the Captain is also bound by the laws of the Prime Directive, which states he must protect his people from harm. Liator asks what of their ways, their world, their order. Has Picard no respect for justice? Tasha asks, "What of justice for Wesley? Does he really deserve to die?" The group is ready to beam out, but the transporter doesn't work. A mediator explains that God has prevented their escape. Beverly shouts "Then your God is unfair!" Picard steps forward announcing to every living creature within the sound of his voice, "there can be no justice so long as laws are absolute." and that "life itself is an exercise in exceptions." Riker adds, "When has justice ever been as simple as a rulebook?" The transport beam suddenly activates, and Picard comments that it seems the gods agree with Riker. 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