I wrote a few days ago about Star Trek: The Next Generation’s lame first season. The embarrassing early-season episode “Justice” aired last night on H&I and I watched some of it, following along with the script at ST–Minutae.
The first two seasons of TNG were produced under such drama that sometimes the scripts are different from the episodes—and this revealed a different ending.
In this episode, the Enterprise visits the primitive Aryan sex planet (thanks, Gene), filmed at the cool-looking Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys, where Wesley accidentally steps on some flowers and gets sentenced to death (because the aliens have a stupid penal system). But the aliens’ “God” is in orbit and threatens to destroy the Enterprise if they do not follow their own rules—the Prime Directive would decree that Wesley is toast.
(I thought the Enterprise would not reveal themselves to primitive, pre-warp cultures? Apparently they decided that later. This one is very 1960s–colonialist.)
In the episode as produced, the ending is one of the only elevated moments. Picard, after wrestling with the ethical dilemma of obeying the Prime Directive, even though it would sacrifice Wesley, finally decides, screw it, this is stupid, we’re beaming him out.
But “God” intervenes and blocks the crew’s transporter beams and communications.
So Picard, speaking to the heavens, argues for mercy—how can justice be justice if it’s absolute? “God” apparently agrees and lets the crew leave. It’s actually a great moment, and an early sign that this Patrick Stewart was really going places.
It’s not in the script! Read it above. Picard just says, we’re leaving—and they do! And one of the aliens shouts, “God will punish you!” The end!
What were they thinking? At least somebody realized it needed more. I wonder who came up with the better ending? Maybe the Inglorious Treksperts can find out (check out their podcast).