Up the Long Ladder
Season 2 Episode 18
Original airdate: May 20, 1989
When Starfleet receives an old Earth distress signal from deep in space, the Enterprise is sent to investigate.
My Brief Review
But seriously. I should have known from early in the episode when they all (including the computer) pronounced “hegemony” with a hard G. (Kind of the reverse of “1.21 jigawatts.”) This definitely the worst episode I’ve bothered to watch so far.
The Enterprise follows an antiquated distress signal and discovers a forgotten 22nd century Earth colony. Its ship departed with an odd mix of high technology, farm animals and spinning wheels.
The people Enterprise finds are an agrarian society that plays up every imaginable Irish stereotype. Their planet is endangered by solar flares, and they need to be evacuated — along with their farm animals. Hilarity ensues.
On board Enterprise, the daughter of the leader of the colony, inexplicably dressed in a cable knit crop top, makes out with Riker (a subplot that never comes up again); meanwhile the leader himself asks Picard about the other colony. (Ah, so that’s where all of the technology went.) They locate an M-class planet a half lightyear away, populated by a society of erudite, celibate clones. It turns out only 5 members of this colony survived the landing on the planet, and they used their scientific knowledge to populate the planet with copies of themselves. But genetic degradation is creeping in and their society is doomed.
Long story short, they steal DNA samples (hence the episode’s title, I guess) from Riker and Dr. Pulaski, who then beam down and kill their own clones. Then Picard sets up a meeting between the two leaders, a real Odd Couple, to concoct a harebrained scheme to merge their societies as a solution to both worlds’ problems. Of course there will be polygamy.
We never find out why these two groups left Earth together in the 22nd century. Or anything else that would help this terrible, sloppy episode make any sense.
I didn’t even mention that the episode starts with Worf grunting at his station and then collapsing. He apparently has the Klingon equivalent of the measles, which humiliates him, but Dr. Pulaski keeps his secret and he thanks her by performing the Klingon tea ceremony. Which has nothing to do with anything else in the episode, and of course is not mentioned again.
And another throwaway moment: we learn that Geordi’s visor is basically a lie detector. Who knew? (Apparently no one before or after this episode!)
I really feel like this episode was the result of every writer on the staff throwing their worst idea in a hat, and then stitching them together into a bare semblance of a story.
None. Even the red shirts had the good sense to avoid this disaster.
Distance Rating: 4K
IMDb score: 6.3/10