Thursday, March 14, 2013

Unsung Episode: Samaritan Snare

There are a lot of really amazing, excellent, iconic episodes in Star Trek. And, I write about those. They get a lot of attention because they really are just that superb. Classes are taught about some of these episodes. Academic papers are written. Critics are still taking them apart--even after all this time. But, here's the thing, there are a whole lot of other, really great episodes that people don't seem to recognize. I don't have any idea what other people think about them but I love them and (for the purposes of this blog) that's all that matters. So, I have a new mission: Shine a light on some of the unsung episodes. My first one is, "Samaritan Snare."

This episode has two plot lines. First, Geordi beams aboard a ship full of seemingly unintelligent aliens who need help fixing their engines. They're fond of saying, "Can you make our ship go?" Second, Picard is ordered by Pulaski to have an important medical issue taken care of but he doesn't want the rest of the crew to know about it so he takes a shuttle with Wesley Crusher, to a nearby star base.

The first plot is great because it's interesting and different. The aliens aren't as dumb as they seem and Geordi ends up in a lot of trouble. They also bring back an old TOS motif--talking in code--which makes the whole thing really satisfying. Otherwise, "Samaritan Snare" is relatively quiet. Fully half of this one is a road trip with Wesley and Picard.
Yeah, mostly it just looks like this. 
The most exciting thing that happens in this plot line is that Picard and Wesley eat some sandwiches and have a conversation. Yes. It's a legit road trip. They live in the future and could eat fois gras and lasagna if they wanted to but they're eating white bread sandwiches and drinking caffeinated beverages. This is every road trip ever. And, really, that's why it's so awesome. Because what happens on a road trip (and take this from someone who spent hours in the car with her divorced parents who lived hundreds of miles apart) is that you eat pre-packed sandwiches, stay quiet for a while, and then end up talking because there's nothing better to do and you're sick of staring at the road.

Wesley attempts to engage Picard in conversation and, after several false starts, the captain finally opens up. He tells Wesley why he's going to the star base--for cardiac surgery. Then, he tells the acting ensign a story about how when he wasn't much older than Wesley, he got into a bar fight and ended up being impaled through the heart. It's an AMAZING scene. There aren't any flashing lights and no one's trying to separate the saucer section; it's just two guys eating sandwiches and talking.

I'm not even joking. 

This plot line is wonderful because it's full of great lines and excellent character moments. The sandwich-eating scene is a perfect example of the quiet, human moments that we all have every day. It's a simple exchange of personal history. It's something humans have always done, continue to do, and will still be doing--on road shuttle trips--three hundred years from now. And, there's something really comforting about that.


  1. I just love your take on so many episodes. Samaritan Snare has always been one of my faves, for both plot lines. That sandwich scene always stuck with me, and is one of my very favorite getting-to-know-JeanLuc-better scenes. As for the Pakleds- my husband and I reference them on a regular basis. When one of us does something that seems a bit...dim, the other always says, "You are smart. You make us go". In full Pakled voice. This happens pretty regularly, I'm afraid...

    1. Oh wow, this comment just made my day. I laughed out loud. Going about the house, talking like the Pakleds seems exactly like the kind of thing we do around here!

  2. They are strong. We are not smart.

    We do it too.


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