Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Natural Law, Anthropology and The Prime Directive

As luck would have it, I turned the TV on just in time to catch the beginning of Star Trek: Voyager - one of the few shows on the box that I can stand to watch these days - however I missed the title of the episode, which isn't really too much of a big deal I guess, but it's good to know nevertheless, just as a point of reference. I knew it had to be one of the later episodes though as Seven of Nine was in it, but I wasn't sure which season exactly. Ok, so I like Star Trek, so shoot me, phasers set for stun.

The episode ended in the typical Star Trek fashion, harm to the crew averted and Star Fleet morals upheld. Turning to the internet, the ever useful source for everything geeky in nature, I googled up one of the hundreds of Voyager episode lists and began browsing through the episodes of season six and seven, looking through the potential titles. Incidentally, Natural Law, the first one I clicked on, just happened to be the right episode, how fortunate, but I suppose the titles usually give fairly clear indication of the episode content and I figured there was little chance that it would have been something like The Void or Unimatrix Zero Part 1.

In this episode, Seven and Chakotay become stranded on a strange planet after they crash through a mysterious barrier while in their shuttle. Thet come across a primitive culture, which they attempt, without much luck, not to interfere with, in accordance with The Prime Directive. When Voyager creates a hole in the barrier to rescue their crewmates, they unintentionally leave the door open for others to come in and impose on the culture, study them anthropologically and to help them become civilized. This is something Captain Janeway will not allow.

I find that The Prime Directive can at times can seem unnecessary and absurd, but I guess the message that they are trying to push in this episode and one that they cleverly attempt to mirror in Seven of Nine's subplot, is that a natural law exists, that every culture has a right to develop on its own and follow its own path in existence, much like in the individual.

You can take the borg out of the collective, but you can't take the collective out of the borg


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