“Code of Honor” is the fourth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, originally aired on 12 October 1987, in broadcast syndication.
The episode was written by Katharyn Powers and Michael Baron and was directed by Russ Mayberry. Mayberry was replaced part way through the filming of the episode with first assistant director Les Landau.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, while the ship is visiting the planet Ligon II to retrieve a vaccine, crewman Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) is abducted by the leader of the Ligonians. The race abide by a strict code of honour and their leader seeks to use Yar as a pawn to increase his power.
Powers and Baron pitched a story based on a reptilian race following a code of honour similar to the bushido code of the Samurai. This was developed into the final story, which was described as having a “1940s tribal Africa” theme by staff writer Tracy Tormé. The episode was not well received amongst the cast and crew but Maurice Hurley thought that the basic premise held promise. The episode was received negatively by reviewers after the series ending, including being described by one as “quite possibly the worst piece of Star Trek ever made”.
The Enterprise arrives at the planet Ligon II to acquire a vaccine needed to combat an outbreak of Anchilles fever on Styris IV. The crew, possessing little information on the Ligonian culture, finds it follows strict customs of status similar to ancient China. Specifically, while the men in their culture rule society, the land itself is controlled by the women. Lutan (Jessie Lawrence Ferguson), the Ligonian leader, transports up to the Enterprise to provide a sample of the vaccine, and is impressed by Lt. Tasha Yar’s status as head of security. Yar further demonstrates her aikido skills against a holographic opponent for Lutan on the holodeck. After a tour of the ship, Lutan and the Ligonians abduct Yar as they transport back to the surface. Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) demands that Lutan return Yar, considering the kidnapping an act of war, but receives no response from the planet. After consultation with his officers, Picard determines that Lutan took Yar in a “counting coup” as a show of heroism. Picard contacts Lutan in a more peaceful manner, who grants permission for the Enterprise crew to beam down to the planet and promises to return Yar after a banquet in his honor.
Lutan announces at the banquet that he wishes to make Yar his “First one”, surprising not only the Enterprise crew but also Yareena (Karole Selmon) who was already Lutan’s “First one.” Yareena challenges Yar to a fight to the death to claim back the position. When Picard objects to the fight, Lutan refuses to give the Enterprise the rest of the vaccine unless Yar participates. The crew investigates the combat ritual and find that the weapons used are coated with a lethal poison, and also that it is Yareena’s wealth to which Lutan owes his position. Picard prepares to have Yar beamed to the Enterprise should she be harmed in the battle.
As the match progresses, both Yareena and Yar are equally skilled, but Yar eventually lands a strike on Yareena. Yar quickly covers Yareena and orders the transport of both of them to the Enterprise against the demands of Lutan. Aboard the ship, Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) reaches Yareena moments after death, but is able to counteract the poison and revive the woman’s body. When Lutan demands to know the fate of Yareena, Crusher reveals that Yareena died, thus ceding the match to Yar and breaking the “first one” bond. Yareena is now free to select a new mate; she chooses Hagon (James Louis Watkins), one of Lutan’s bodyguards, and effectively strips Lutan of his position of power. Hagon lets Yar go and gives the Enterprise their full supply of vaccine.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Russ Mayberry and Les Landau.
- Writer(s): Katharyn Powers and Michael Brown.
- Release Date: 12 October 1987.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.