Thursday, March 8, 2012

Devil's Due

*** (3 stars out of 5)
"Why, there's more of gravy than of grave about you. Humbug, I say!"

Picard is the solo audience for more of Data's acting rehearsals. Data has studied Method Acting and declares: "Since I have no emotional awareness to create a performance, I am attempting to use performance to create emotional awareness."

Dr. Howard Clark of the science station on Ventax II makes a distress call you don't get every day: the Ventaxians are convinced it's the End of The World tomorrow.

Once scientifically advanced but troubled by war, the Ventaxians sold their souls to the devil, Ardra, a millennia ago in exchange for an idyllic agrarian life. She is due back to claim her due: (deep doo-doo indeed) total enslavement of the populace.

Unlike most doomsday prophecy, Ardra actually shows. She claims to have many names, including Fek'lhr of Gre'thor, where dishonoured Klingons go when they die. He's got he legs of a Greek satyr and the teeth of an English king. Hey-oh!

Ardra's eager to tally her holdings and learn the economic forecasts. Picard belives she's using transporter, holographic, and tractor beam technology to vanish, change form, and cause tremors.

Ardra may be a fraud, but she thinks big. She claims the Enterprise, too, according to the ancient scroll contracts. She claims Picard, and appears in his room in the guise of the Gatekeeper of Gozer, Mary Poppins, and even Slutty Troi. When he rejects all of these sexy options, she beams him down to the science station in just his scanty jammies for punishment.

Data shuttles down to retrieve Picard, but before they get back the Enterprise disappears!

Ardra agrees to arbitration if Picard consents to willingly service her morning, noon, and night should he lose. Captain Kirk never got that kind of offer from Lucien of Megas-Tu, let me tell you! Although he seemed like a hugger. Data will play the unbiased judge at the trial.

La Forge pinpoints Ardra's cloaked ship. Riker's away team steals her powers for Picard's use during the trial. Her crew fold like cards and she laughs gaily as the Ventaxian authorities take her into custody.

"Devil's Due" is fun, while also raising some good points about theological manipulation of deep-seated fears. How many religious leaders throughout history have used their power to achieve financial and sexual dominance? My guess is: not a few. And they'll still hold that power as long as fear holds us in thrall.

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