“Angel One” is the fourteenth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was first broadcast on 25 January 1988, in the United States in broadcast syndication.
It was written by Patrick Barry and was directed by Michael Ray Rhodes.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, an away team visits a world dominated by women to search for survivors of a downed freighter, while the crew of the Enterprise suffer from the effects of a debilitating virus.
The episode was intended to be commentary on Apartheid in South Africa, using gender role reversal. However, there were problems between the cast and director during filming, and Patrick Stewart sought to have the sexist nature of the episode changed. The resulting episode was not well liked by members of the production team, and the response from reviewers was negative.
The Enterprise arrives at the planet Angel One, which is ruled by an oligarchy of women. The ship is looking for survivors from the shipwrecked freighter Odin, seven-plus years after having been evacuated. The freighter was missing three escape pods and the only planet in range was Angel One. An away team consisting of Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner), Lt. Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby), and Counsellor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) beam down to the surface. They attempt to negotiate with Beata (Karen Montgomery), the “Elected One” of the native inhabitants, to let them search for the survivors. Time is of the essence however, as the Enterprise must travel to a Federation outpost near the Romulan Neutral Zone (where a group of Romulan Battlecruisers has been detected) as soon as they resolve their investigation into the Odin survivors.
Beata reveals that they are aware of four male survivors of the Odin who have caused disruption in their society, and are considered fugitives. Beata requests Riker stay with her (and later requests that he order Troi, Data, and Yar to track down the survivors’ camp and their leader Ramsey (Sam Hennings), while staying and dining with her). After some back and forth, Data concludes Ramsey and the survivors of the Odin would have platinum with them, and Angel One is naturally devoid of platinum, allowing the Enterprise to easily detect them. Meanwhile, Riker dresses in the garb given to him for his dinner with Beata, Troi and Yar tease him for dressing in clothes that sexualise him and in some ways demean him, and he is only doing it to win favour with Beata. He responds by saying he is honouring the local customs, and acknowledges Beata’s beauty, and that the garb is rather comfortable.
The Enterprise searches while in orbit around Angel One. Doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) relieves Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) of duty after he and most of the crew have fallen ill to a random virus on board, that gives the sense of an odd smell to its victims at the time of infection. The Captain leaves Lieutenant Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) in command (Geordi’s first time in acting command of a starship). Shortly after, they find Ramsey and transmit his location to the Away Team, who beam directly to there.
When confronted by Data, Yar, and Troi, Ramsey and his men, having taken wives and started families during the seven years, refuse to leave, Geordi informs Yar of the medical situation on board, and that more Romulan ships have been detected near the Neutral Zone. Riker learns from Beata that their society structure has already been collapsing, but Ramsey and his men have served to accelerate its decline. Riker argues that it may just be the course of evolution taking place. On the Enterprise, systems are becoming harder to maintain with more crew succumbing the virus. Geordi (after a friendly reminder from a sniffling Worf (Michael Dorn)) remembers that in command, he must delegate tasks so he can stay on the bridge. Dr. Crusher finds that the virus is an airborne organism that produces a sweet smell, to encourage inhalation, after which becomes viral inside the body.
Riker gets up to date with the situation, and decides that while Ramsey and his group are at large and refusing to leave the planet, there is little they can do. Before leaving they find that one of Beata’s assistants, Ariel (Patricia McPherson), has married Ramsey, and was followed by Beata’s guards to their camp, where they arrested the survivors and their families. The Away Team attempt to explain to Beata the reason for Ramsey’s refusal to leave. Beata and her council reject his reasoning, and threatens to execute them the following day. After failing to convince Ramsey and his group to leave with them, Riker contacts the Enterprise in hopes of transporting Ramsey and his group without their consent (despite it being a violation of the Prime Directive, and almost certainly an end to his career), but Dr. Crusher (while treating an incapacitated Geordi in the Captain’s chair) refuses to allow anyone to beam aboard for fear of being infected, but allows Data, an android, to return. Riker orders Data to take command and get the Enterprise to the Neutral Zone before it’s too late.
The following morning the Away Team is invited to witness the execution of Ramsey and his followers. Moments after Riker rejects their invitation Data makes contact and informs them that there is a 48-minute window in which Dr. Crusher has to find a cure, and Riker must defuse the situation on the planet before the ship must leave for the Neutral Zone. On the planet, Ramsey and his men are prepared to be executed by disintegration despite Ariel’s pleas, while Dr. Crusher discovers a cure for the virus. Riker is prepared to have the away team and the Odin survivors beamed to the Enterprise, but Beata announces that she will stay the execution and banish Ramsey, his men, their families, and any others that support them to the far side of the planet. She explains that their banishment will not stop the fall of the oligarchy, but will slow it down enough that Beata will not be around to see its end. The away team return to the ship and Picard, already recovering from the virus but hardly having a voice, orders the ship to the Neutral Zone at high warp.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Michael Ray Rhodes.
- Writer(s): Patrick Barry.
- Release Date: 25 January 1988.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.