"Star Trek: The Next Generation: Who Watches the Watchers (#3.4)"
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63 out of 71 people found the following review useful:

great story

Author: benjaminkh2 (benjaminkh2@hotmail.com) from United States
18 January 2007

I was watching back through the first three seasons to select episodes that would make a good sampling for a friend of mine; this episode is the one (out of the first three seasons) that I would be absolutely certain to recommend to anyone. It requires little to no background information and tells an engaging story. Also, to my recollection, no other episode conveys so well the wonder of reason and cultural progress.

Just as another reviewer observed about The Inner Light (my personal favorite), this episode shows that sci-fi, at its best, is not so much about the technology as it is about good storytelling.

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

The Prime Directive.

Author: russem31 from United States
17 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

ST:TNG:52 - "Who Watches The Watchers" (Stardate: 43173.5) - this is the 4th episode of the 3rd season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This episodes bring to the forefront the concept of the Prime Directive and what happens when it's violated (even if accidentally). The Enterprise crew will soon have to disguise themselves as this developing race (for the first time in TNG) in order to rescue an injured survey team member. An intriguing premise which continues the superb 3rd season. Great use of music in this episode too!

This episode stars Ray Wise as Liko (he was also in "Robocop" and the "Twin Peaks" series, as well as more recently playing the Vice President on "24").

Trivia note: the camouflage used to cover up a survey of a primitive race on a planet is just like in Star Trek: Insurrection (where a similar type survey is going on). Also, Dr. Crusher mentions Dr. Pulaski's short term memory wipe technique she used in "Pen Pals".

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18 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

I saw this episode as profound

Author: robbearfl from North Carolina, United States
20 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Other critics complain that it derides religion, what I got was that Picard did not want to be responsible for a religion in his name and the blood shed that seems to inevitably follow. This poster of the other review that has such a problem should read some European History about the Religious Wars. It is my considered opinion (and have been pondering for several decades that I don't need religion, faith is different. One can have faith in G'd, luck, the numbers, whatever, facts are however concrete. The medical therapy in ST:TNG would seem like magic to folks of lower tech worlds, that is a very good reason to show technology is not supernatural just advanced beyond their current understanding. (possible spoiler)

He did want to do his duty according to his standing orders, and did so in the best possible way he could devise.

I hope I have not spoiled

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

one of the best of Star Trek

Author: Ann Yard from United States
20 April 2014

This is a super episode of Star Trek, a true classic.

What is so great about this episode? The answer is simple. This episode illustrates one of the great flaws of human beings, namely the insanely extreme actions they will take to force others to believe whatever nonsense they themselves decide to believe.

This massive flaw in human being is at the root of endless billions of instances of humans mistreating other humans. Happens every day, in endless ways.

This understanding is not some religious or atheist lesson. People behave this way about endless issues, not just whether god exists or not. People mistreat others for not accepting socialism or communism or democracy or fascism or any number of political systems (all of which are bogus). People mistreat others for not accepting certain kinds of medical treatments. Hell, people kill each other for supporting "the wrong" sports team!

So yeah, the lesson this episode takes on is far more general than religion. The lesson is intellectual independence... or lack thereof. Shall we deal with other humans by intimidation and force, or should humans simply have conversations with each other, and let each draw their own provisional inferences, and update them as they accumulate more and more experience.

Great idea. Great story. Great writing. Great episode.

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33 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

If it upsets the fundamentalists...

Author: Grumpy Pheasant from Belgium
28 August 2011

The outrage of Christian extremists is the best testimony of this episode's necessity and of its continuing validity, 22 years after first airing.

Sadly, fundamentalists will always miss the point. Rather than realise the foolishness of resorting to extraordinary explanations when easy ones are unavailable (as the Mintakans briefly do, believing "Picard is a god" to be the only explanation to the feats they've witnessed); they'll claim outrage and talk of "offense".

"I'm offended" is the newest way dogmatic people have found to avoid thinking, and they'll ride it out for as long as we tolerate it. They'll make up oxymora like "militant atheism" to defend the dogma, because it's easier to throw nonsensical accusations than to actually start being rational about something.

Religious shows can be counted in dozens, atheist shows are pretty rare (there's Star Trek, Star Trek and, at a push, maybe Star Trek), yet that's already too much. Any view that contradicts the precious dogma is anathema, it must be purged from our screens!

Of course, they do look for opportunities to be offended, as often as possible. If atheism is so intolerable, so vile to them; there's an easy solution, one I personally adopt towards all religious shows: not watching.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Who Watches the Watchers

Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
18 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Prime Directive has produced some compelling, thought-provoking stories during the Next Gen series. "Who Watches the Watchers" is no exception. Dark Shadows' own Maggie Evans, Kathryn Leigh Scott has a great part as the female leader, Nuria, of a race of Vulcans named Mintakins similar to humans in that they live in huts and hunt with crossbows. They are considered by the Federation as sensibly thinking realists who have "abandoned the belief in the supernatural as a deity", his name the Overseer. They are considered a developing people certain to do great things. An outpost, holographically hidden, with a few scientists monitoring the Mintakins from a safe distance (or is it?) suffers a serious malfunction that sends surges of electric charges that harm them. The outpost reappears and now can be seen by the outside world. A father and daughter Mintakin, Liko and Oji (Ray Wise and Pamela Adlon), are going about their daily routine when the outpost can be seen by them. Liko climbs to see what it is, notices the away team beamed down to rescue the fallen scientists, shocks himself on the electrically charged building, falls a few feet, and is transported by Dr. Crusher's order to the Enterprise. The Pulaski brain wipe doesn't work on Liko and his memories on board the Enterprise remain intact. His stories of a god named the Picard places the Enterprise crew in a difficult position regarding "contamination" by interfering inadvertently in the Mintakin way of life, as Liko starts to change his people's views on a powerful deity who can do wondrous, supernatural things, certain he can control the weather or bring loved ones back to life. When the Mintakin's find a missing scientist, Riker and Troi will have to beam down disguised as them hoping to recover him without further damage. Damage control is what I would say Picard tries to implement, even beaming Nuria on board hoping to convince her that he is a flesh and blood lifeform, not a god worthy of worship. Picard is a little ticked off at Crusher for bringing Liko on board, but this is that sticky area where the Prime Directive Federation law, this special philosophy that discourages interference, can possibly be challenged. When Riker is successful in returning the scientist to the Enterprise, Troi is held captive by a conflicted Liko who is afraid that the Picard will be angry for the loss (Liko overheard Picard say he wanted this man back aboard the Enterprise) and might have to punish her to appease him. Conflict in how to correct a series of events that set in motion paranoia and fear based on wrongfully perceived information and that debate on how far to go to halt what could develop into chaos and holy war really places Picard in a fascinating quagmire; seeing him work this out really makes this episode great. This episode has been (or could be) seen by some as a treatise on religion and how belief in a god or God can cause more harm than good. Some passionate dialogue by Picard to the outpost's lead scientist might fuel this even further. But I just view this as another episode that examines the complexities of the Prime Directive and how an accident can trigger an upheaval of complications.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Polarizing Episode, With An Agenda

Author: J Bur from USA
8 July 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This episode promotes the atheist viewpoint, which diminishes its entertainment value for theists who are aware of the assault on the theistic world view. It does not present a reasoned argument, it simply dismisses theistic beliefs as ignorant and primitive. This would be okay if the atheist argument could be proved, or if the theistic argument could be disproved, but with repeatable test results being the standard of current scientific community thinking, neither can be. Therefore productions that present both sides can be enjoyed by thinking, open minded people, whereas productions that disrespect one side so blatantly can only be enjoyed by people who have closed their mind, are motivated more by arrogance than humility, and have little or no respect for fellow humans who have studied the facts and come to a different conclusion.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A True Challenge for Those That Do the Right Thing.

Author: Hitchcoc from United States
14 August 2014

Living under the prime directive should preclude carelessness. The people researching a race of people (who look like Vulcans) end up blowing their cover. This draws the Enterprise crew into the mix and they are observed by the inhabitants. Beverly, following her Hippocratic oath beams up a native who falls from a precipice when startled. When he awakens on board the Enterprise he sees Picard in a soft light and assumes he is a god who has used his powers to save him. Of course,things get truly complicated because the confusion that ensues presents complex moral situations that need to be remedied.To complicate things, Riker and Troi, dressed like the inhabitants, are stuck on the planet. As they bide their time, trying to convince these people that their beliefs are simply superstitions, a man is captured who had disappeared when all hell broke loose. Since "the Picard" is seen as a god, they have to figure out what to do with this incapacitated stranger. Jean-Luc beams the female leader aboard to do what he can to try to show her that they are not gods, the Enterprise isn't Valhalla, and he is only a human at a different stage of history. The prime directive certainly complicates things. It's sort of like the U. S. Bill of Rights. It may not allow you to do what you interpret as right, but at its foundation it is right and proper. Without it, all sorts of bad stuff can happen and civilizations would be changed forever. It also keeps those who think they have all the answers in check. Excellent episode.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

For some odd reason, Picard doesn't want to be a god!

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
15 November 2014

Boy, does the Federation screw up this time!!! A group of scientists are observing a bronze age civilization on Mintaka III. As per the Prime Directive, the scientists are hiding behind fake rock in the hills-- shielded from view by the Mintakans. However, their holoscreen malfunctions and the Mintakans SEE them! Sadly, when Picard tries to undo this harm, he accidentally ends up creating a new cult that worships HIM as their god!! So, in trying to undo the damage, they just make things worse!! Should Picard just give up once and for all or is there some way he can possible fix this huge mess?

This is a pretty intriguing show and shows just how much damage can be done unintentionally. Additionally, seeing Picard, the god, trying to dig his way out of this mess was rather entertaining.

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

"Sadly, fundamentalists will always miss the point." Indeed

Author: datping
18 January 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The fundamentalists in question don't appear to be the religious though, all of the secularist fundamentalists seem to be up in arms over some negative reviews of this poorly written and thinly veiled episode (note the copious use of ALL CAPS in their reviews). The violation of the prime directive and the subsequent repeated stomping all over it in pursuit of some "greater moral good" to squash any semblance of religion in this culture was one of the worst and most clearly agenda based premises in the catalog of this series.

The only thing you need to know about it is Picard's line about religion leading into the dark ages. Check your history bud, the collapse of organized religion after the sacking of Rome and barbarism of the pagans who took over was lead to the dark ages. The monks in the monasteries, more evil religious types in view of the brave new world of TNG, were the preservers of knowledge and helped to get humanity out of those dark ages.

But don't let actual human history derail your fundamentalist attitudes and clear agenda in support of a ridiculously poor episode in a usually solid Sci-Fi series.

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