(written from a Production point of view)
|"Up The Long Ladder"|
|TNG, Episode 2x18|
Production number: 40272-144
First aired: 22 May 1989
|←||43rd of 176 produced in TNG||→|
|←||43rd of 176 released in TNG||→|
|←||149th of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
Melinda M. Snodgrass
The Enterprise discovers two threatened colonies which must cooperate to survive.
On the bridge of the USS Enterprise-D, Worf is at his post when he suddenly begins to feel uncomfortable. He is fighting the odd sensations the best he can. Captain Picard arrives on the bridge and summons Commander Riker into the ready room. There, the captain talks about a meeting he had with Admiral Moore. He then plays for his first officer the subject of the meeting: a series of sound pulses that had begun transmitting one month ago. Riker is quick to discern the sound as an antiquated distress signal; Starbase Research had spent hours coming to the same conclusion.
A computer lookup reveals the distress signal as one that had been used by the European Hegemony, a 22nd century alliance that had been one of the earliest progressions towards a United Earth. However, further research into deep space launches in that timeframe draws a blank. That leaves only one option: go to the Ficus sector and figure out who needs help. But as they emerge from the ready room, Picard and Riker are surprised to see the bridge crew surrounding Worf...who has collapsed at his post.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 42823.2. We are departing from Starbase 73 to investigate the source of the mysterious distress signal. Meanwhile, my security officer remains in sickbay where Dr. Pulaski is searching for the cause of his collapse."
Worf, in typical Klingon stubbornness, is adamant that he is fine, but Dr. Pulaski counters with sarcasm. Eventually, the doctor gets to the point; Worf has contracted Rop'ngor: "Klingon measles." Worf is appalled to learn that he had fainted because of a childhood ailment. However, Dr. Pulaski understands his concern, so when Picard asks what happened, Pulaski says Worf fainted due to a Klingon rite of fasting. Worf genuinely appreciates her going out of her way to preserve his dignity.
Meanwhile, Data reports to Picard in the ready room with a possible means of identifying the unknown ship. As the 22nd century was a rather tumultuous time, record keeping from that era is known to be spotty. However, someone had to have loaded the ship. Picard realizes that means a manifest of that loading must be on record. Sure enough, this angle provides the answer. The ship they seek is the SS Mariposa: loaded 2123, commanded by a Walter Granger and bound for the Ficus sector. However, the manifest introduces its own mystery; there are two distinct sets of cargo. One set is high-tech and expected cargo for a deep-space colony. But the other set lists among it spinning wheels and farm animals. Data propses a theory for the latter; the tumult of the time prompted some people to revert to simpler ways of life: the Neo-Transcendentalism movement. Still, the mystery of the two now-apparently-conflicting sets of cargo remain.
In appreciation and apology for earlier, Worf treats Dr. Pulaski to a Klingon tea ceremony. Pulaski, aware of the nature of the plants used to make the tea, antidotes herself prior to partaking.
The Enterprise traces the distress signal to the Bringloid system. The problem is soon apparent: the system's sun is undergoing major solar flare activity, threatening the viability of the planet, Bringloid V. There is no sign of technology other than orbital satellites that set off the signal automatically when the star became a threat. The situation is complicated. Data projects the flares will reach the planet in 3.6 hours, Worf points out that transport can only occur between flares, and Counselor Troi warns that exposing unsophisticated people to the Enterprise will present problems of culture shock. Picard decides to send Riker down to the colony (located underground) as an emissary to provide a cultural bridge and assist in the evacuation.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 42827.3. Commander Riker has reached the caverns where he is making preparations to begin the evacuation."
Riker reports the siutation of the colony: approximately 200 people, all in good spirits and understanding of the need to leave, but Riker still has an issue with them. Picard orders the evacuation to proceed in spite of the concern, saying they can deal with it later. This concern becomes known, however, once Chief O'Brien requests the captain come to the transporter room. In addition to some of the colonists, an assortment of farm animals have been transported aboard.
Picard and Worf are on their way to the transporter room when a chicken flies out of the door. A girl picks it up, beams, and runs back in. Once Picard is inside, one of the refugees steps forward: the colony's leader, Danilo Odell. All in all, he and the other Bringloidi (who turn out to be the Neo-transcendentalists Data alluded earlier) seem to be taking the exposure to advanced technology (and alien races) with surprising sanity. Riker explains that the Bringloidi wouldn't leave without the animals since they represent their livelihood. Picard quickly demands they be placed out of the way in Cargo Hold 7. The Bringloidi quickly get back on the pads for transport, and all remaining Bringloidi are directly transported there.
In the observation lounge, the final tally is made: 223 refugees (and two more just days from being delivered). Picard prepares to transport them to the nearest Starbase, and Riker quips that, while anachronistic, the Bringloidi are eager; they'll probably be running the place before long. Suddenly, a fire alarm goes off. The problem is quickly traced to Cargo Hold 7...and the Bringloidi. Unused to modern conveniences like replicators, they'd been cooking their own food (which set off the automated suppressors).
Danilo is puzzled and a little nonplussed, but his reaction is nothing compared to that of the cook: his daughter, Brenna Odell. Sharp of tongue, she voices her frustration and displeasure in no uncertain terms. The whole situation leaves Picard laughing, left with no choice but to "bow to the absurd." The trip is going to be a learning experience for both parties. However, Riker's gentlemanly manner helps Brenna to warm to him.
Danilo catches up with Picard in the corridor with a thought that had slipped his mind. He asks if there ever was any word about "the other colony". Suddenly, things begin to make sense in Picard's mind; there had been two colonies aboard the Mariposa.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. A review of stellar charts had revealed a Class M planet only half a light year from the Bringloid system. I am proceeding on the premise that it was the destination of the colony which possessed the more-sophisticated equipment."
Riker leads Brenna to his quarters. The first thing she sees is a mess, and she insists on cleaning up. The conversation gets rather spirited, with both of them making verbal jabs at each other. Eventually, the words give way to actions as Riker gives in to Brenna's advances.
Back in Cargo Hold 7, the rest of the Bringloidi, true to their Irish roots, try to get their still working, but Worf patiently demonstrates the replicator. After Danilo remarks that his ordered synthehol whiskey "has no bite", Worf orders a Klingon drink, Chech'tluth, for him which is strong and much more to his liking. Just then, Brenna bursts in. After giving him an earful about drinking, she discusses having the Bringloidi children educated with the ship's children. Danilo goes along, and Brenna quickly sets everyone back to work. She even has a few choice words for Worf.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. We are approaching the Class M planet, where we hope to find the other colonists."
Upon arriving at the nearby system, the Enterprise is hailed from the surface. The caller identifies himself as Wilson Granger, prime minister of Mariposa. Although the Granger surname leads Data to believe Wilson is a descendant of Walter, the captain of the Mariposa, Wilson points out this is not exactly true. Still, he is eager to re-establish ties with Earth after several centuries and invites them down planetside. Troi cautions, however, that Wilson is hiding something.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. Prime Minister Granger has requested an urgent meeting to discuss the future of the Mariposan colony. I've invited him to the Enterprise."
Wilson confirms Pulaski's assumption; the Mariposa had suffered a hull breach during landing; only five people (two women, three men) survived: not enough to sustain the colony. However, as they were all scientists, they found another way to survive: cloning. Everyone is a clone of one of those five survivors. However, in the process of repetitive cloning, they have abandoned the practice of sexual reproduction entirely.
Suffering from a degenerative condition known as replicative fading, the colonists ask the Enterprise crew to donate fresh DNA so they can clone new citizens. Riker refuses because he values his individuality. Picard points out that Riker's attitude is not unique and that Wilson will be hard-pressed to get consent from anyone on board. Picard does agree, however, to help repair defective equipment, and Pulaski is curious about the replicative fading effect.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. Commander Riker and Dr. Pulaski have returned to Mariposa with a team of Enterprise technicians."
But as Riker and Pulaski report to Wilson that repairs are almost complete, they are shot from behind with a phaser-like weapon and stunned. The two are dragged away to have some of their cells taken without their knowledge while Wilson tells Geordi La Forge that he hadn't seen Riker.
Geordi eventually finds Riker and Pulaski back on the Enterprise. He wonders where they had been since every clone he spoke to lied about their whereabouts; he knew they were lying because his VISOR reads beyond normal vision and he's trained himself to detect telltale signs of human lying. Between the three of them, Riker and Pulaski note inconsistencies and finally holes in their memories. Curious, Dr. Pulaski scans Riker, La Forge, and herself with her tricorder. She finds that both she and Riker are missing some epithelial cells; interstitial undifferentiated cells had been extracted from their stomachs without their knowledge.
Outraged and repulsed at what the Mariposans have done, the three transport directly to the cloning labs. Inside, two clones are incubating: clones derived from their cells. Riker proceeds to destroy his maturing clone with his phaser, and Pulaski's clone with her permission, to the chagrin of the Prime Minister Granger. A heated argument ensues. Riker accuses the Mariposans of stealing but Wilson counters that desperation had forced their hand; they have a right to survive.
Back on the Enterprise, Picard considers the Mariposans' situation. Pulaski reports that Wilson's concerns are valid; their DNA will become terminally faded in two to three generations. Riker insists on a full inspection of the cloning lab: in case the Mariposans found more tissue samples to steal. Troi counters, that the Mariposans are doing what anyone else would do given the situation. However, Pulaski notes that providing fresh DNA to them will only stave off the replicative fading for about fifteen generations.
The only long-term solution is "breeding stock". Picard realizes there is an answer: the Bringloidi. Troi immediately agrees; the colonies have complementary traits (the Bringloidi's drive and the Mariposans' sophistication) that could work well in concert. If the two could be convinced to merge, both their problems would be solved; the Bringloidi would have a new home while the Mariposans would have sufficient genetic diversity to sustain themselves. Riker notes the one catch, though: "It will have to be a shotgun wedding."
Wilson Granger and Danilo Odell are brought in to discuss the merge. It does not start well. Wilson looks with disdain at the technologically backward, whiskey-loving Danilo, and Danilo is not impressed by Granger's haughty attitudes. Picard points out that they may have to confiscate the cloning lab to inspect for stolen tissue samples. Wilson takes it as blackmail, but Pulaski points out they're doomed anyway; lab or nor lab, the colony will be vacant in about 50 years.
Wilson is still reluctant to tear down a centuries-strong culture, but Danilo points out they're open to new ideas. This diversity is what they need to strengthen themselves. As for breaking down the sexual taboos, that'll be up to nature to fix. Pulaski then notes that the Bringloidi will also have to change. To encourage genetic diversity, both polygamy and polyandry will be permitted and encouraged for several generations (each person would take 3 spouses). Danilo considers it and is willing to adapt. He spits his palm and offers it to Wilson. Grudgingly, Wilson shakes it.
They all head for Cargo Hold 7 where the Bringloidi are currently residing. Wilson is genuinely shocked at the Bringloidi. Meanwhile, Brenna, sharp-tongued as ever, wonders how this whole business will sort itself out. Picard offers her the chance to be taken to a starbase and seek out a new destination on her own, but Brenna is reluctant to leave her father. When she learns that Wilson is Prime Minister and leader of the Mariposans, however, she realizes that "moving up" might not be such a bad idea.
"What have they done to my ship now?"
- - Captain Picard
"What can we do? We asked for your help and you refused us! We are desperate! Desperate!!"
"And that gave you the right to assault us? To rob us at...!"
"We have the rights to survive!!"
- - Granger and Riker
"My God, Picard, the place is a bloody death trap...lightning bolts falling from the ceiling! Just what the hell was that thing?!"
"Automated fire system. A force field contains the flame until the remaining oxygen has been consumed."
"Ah, wh-wh-what if I'd be under that thing?"
"You would have been standing in the fire."
"Yeah, well, leaving that aside for the moment-what would have happened to me?"
"You would have suffocated and died."
"Ah, sweet mercy."
- - Danilo Odell, Worf and Picard
"I am fine."
"You're not fine, you fainted."
"I did not faint. Klingons do not faint."
- - Dr. Pulaski and Worf
(Farm animals making noises in the background)
"Captain, you'd better get somebody down here. Right away."
- - Chief O'Brien
"What are these animals doing here, Number One?"
"I'm sorry, sir. It was either this or arguing until Hell froze over."
- - Picard and Riker
"Tell me, is your entire population made up of clones, Prime Minister?"
- - Katherine Pulaski, Worf, William Riker and Wilson Granger
"Sometimes, Number One, you just have to... bow to the absurd."
- - Picard, to Riker
"You want to clone us?"
- - Riker and Granger
"She is very much like a Klingon woman."
- - Worf, about Brenna Odell
"Oh ho ho ho! Right now and lets go stake out my three women. Send in the clones!"
"I must be out of my mind."
"Starfleet will probably agree with you."
- - Danilo Odell, Picard and Dr. Pulaski
"Send in the clones."
- - Danilo Odell, to Wilson Granger
"Now that's what I call a wee drop of the creature."
- - Danilo Odell, after a swallow of Worf's selection of Chech'tluth.
"Hello my Darl'n'!"
- - Danilo Odell drunk from the drink of Chech'tluth and wheezing a greeting to his daughter, Brenna.
"Madam, have you ever considered a career in security?"
"Well if it's anything like babysitting, then I'm an authority!"
- - Worf and Brenna O'Dell
Story and production
- Melinda Snodgrass remarked, "It was intended to be a commentary about immigration, because I hate the current American policy. I wanted it to be something that says sometimes those outsiders you think are so smelly and wrong-colored, can bring enormous benefits to your society because they bring life and energy. That's what I was going for. Now my boss, at the time, was Maury Hurley, who is a major Irishman and leads the Saint Patrick's Day parade. When I was describing to him what I wanted to do, I was trying to come up with an analogy, and I said it was like a little village of Irish tinkerers, and he loved it so much he made me make them Irish tinkerers. I said okay, and that's how it came about." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Snodgrass admitted that rewrites and budget restrictions resulted in the intended commentary being lost. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- The episode title, "Up The Long Ladder," derives from an expression, "Up the long ladder and down the short rope," a reference to the gallows in an Irish rhyme popularized in the Tommy Makem song, "Are You Ready for a War?"
- A draft title for the episode was "Send In the Clones," a pun on the Stephen Sondheim song "Send in the Clowns." The title was changed late in the production, after the scripts were already printed. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- "Brionglóid" is the Irish word for "dream."
- Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) does not appear in this episode.
- The African pygmy goats used in the Bringliodi scenes were bred by property master Alan Sims and his family. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- Just after arriving on Mariposa, Dr. Pulaski notices a sculpture holding a large sphere reminiscent of the receptacles from the TOS episode "Return to Tomorrow," which also featured Diana Muldaur.
- When William T. Riker confers with Picard in the ready room, one of the mission categories of 22nd century ships lists "Diplomatic Mission to Alderaan," a reference to Star Wars.
- Riker in this episode mentions that one of him is unique and special, yet a hundred or a thousand would diminish that status. He later finds out what that's like when he runs into a duplicate of himself in the TNG episode "Second Chances."
- "Up the Long Ladder" was criticized from two directions. Snodgrass recalled, "I got enormous flack from the right to life coalition because they destroyed the clones. They thought I was condoning abortion. In fact, I did put a line in Riker's mouth that was very pro-choice and the right to life coalition went crazy. He says I told you that you can't clone me and you did it against my will, and I have the right to have control over my own body. That's my feeling and it was soapbox, and it was one I got to get on. I was supported by Maurice all the way." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- On the other hand, the episode was criticized by Irish Americans for presenting an overly-stereotyped view of their culture. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- Ronald D. Moore called it "embarrassing". (AOL chat, 1997)
- The Bringloidi and the Mariposans were revisited in the non-canon Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers eBook "Out of the Cocoon".
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 22, catalogue number VHR 2505, 7 October 1991.
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 2.6, catalogue number VHR 4742, 21 June 1999.
- As part of the TNG Season 2 DVD collection.
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
Special appearance by
- Barrie Ingham as Danilo Odell
- Jon De Vries as Wilson Granger/Victor Granger
- Rosalyn Landor as Brenna Odell
- Majel Barrett as USS Enterprise-D computer voice
- Dexter Clay as an operations division officer
- Tim McCormack as Bennett
- Richard Sarstedt as a command division officer
- Deniece Sims as a Bringloidi
- Floyd Weaver as a Mariposan clone
- Lloyd Weaver as a Mariposan clone
- Troy Weaver as a Mariposan clone
- Unknown performers as
- James G. Becker - stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Darrell Burris - stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Dexter Clay - stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Jeffrey Deacon - stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Nora Leonhardt - stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack - stand-in for Brent Spiner
2123; 2165; 2190; 2365; Adam and Eve; automated fire system; Bringloid; Bringloid V; Bringloid V colony; Bringloid system; Bringloidi; butterfly; Cargo Hold 7; cellular com link; chech'tluth; chicken; chief of staff; chromosome; class M; clone; concertina; cow; Dieghan, Liam; distress beacon; DNA; duck; DY-500; Earth; epithelial cells; European Hegemony; Federation; Ficus sector; glucose; goat; Granger, Walter; Ireland; Klingon tea ceremony; light year; Mariposa, SS; Mariposa; Mariposa colony; Mariposans; measles; medical tricorder; meter; minister; monitor beacon satellite; Moore, Admiral; murder; Neo-Transcendentalism; Old Earth Calendar; pig; poteen; prime minister; quadruplets; rop'ngor; replicative fading; sheep; SOS; solar flare; Spanish; spinning wheel; Starbase 73; Starbase 73 planet; Starbase Research; stellar chart; stomach; synthehol; transporter room 3; triplets; twins; VISOR; whiskey; World War III; Yoshimitsu computer; Irish language
Library Computer References
2102; 2105; 2119; 2120; 2135; 2137; 2146; 2160; 2183; 2187; ADR looping; Alderaan; Baikonur Cosmodrome; BBI-993; Buckaroo Banzai, SS; DY-245; DY-430; DY-732; DY-950; DY-1200; Glink, David; King, Dan; Kolbe, Winrich; Kolbe, Winrich; Eagle Valley, DEV; Hatteras, SS; Hokule'a, SS; Kim, Young Jae; Lederman, Bob; Loes, Gary; Lord Nelson, HMS; NAR-18834; Lauritson, Peter; Neuss, Wendy; New United Nations; New Zealand, HMS; OCC; Planet 10 (DIM-8); Roddenberry, Gene; RT-2203; Seattle, SS; Sector 184; Sector 185; Snodgrass; Snodgrass, Melinda; Sol system; Tomobiki, SS; Urusei Yatsura, SS; Velikan, VK; Whorfin, John; Yoyodyne pulse fusion; Yuri Gagarin, VK
- Up The Long Ladder at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- Up The Long Ladder at Wikipedia
- Up The Long Ladder at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
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