How Social Media Saved the World

It cannot be understated that we are living through a history-making difficult time. Hundreds of thousands of people are falling victim to a global pandemic and everyone is else either staying home or acting brazenly stupid. It shouldn't be surprising, though, that one of the upshots of all of this is that there has been a rise in meme-making.

First defined by Richard Dawkins in 1976 as a cultural idea that takes on a life of its own and is passed down through generations much the same way that genes are, the word "meme" has itself taken on a life of its own to define pictures made and passed around on the Internet that often lampoon various aspects of life. I don't think I've seen any new memes in the past few days that weren't about the COVID-19 epidemic. But this isn't the first time a global catastrophe has been made fun of in what could be described as a "childish" fashion. In fact, one of the memes I've seen compared the uptick in Cor…

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Hunted"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S03E11
Air Date: January 8, 1990
Written by: Robin Bernheim
Directed by: Cliff Bole

A super soldier escapes from prison on an idyllic world and reveals it to be not so idyllic after all.

So Riker and Picard are taking a tour of Angosia III lead by the Prime Minister Zephram Cochrane Nayrok. When they get to the end of it, some aid or something pulls Nayrok aside to whisper in his ear, giving Riker and Picard a chance to talk about the Angosians who Riker finds to be stuffy, but otherwise good candidates for entry into the Federation. Meanwhile, the aid has told Nayrok that there's been a prison break. And Nayrok subtly asks for the Enterprise to take care of it. Should be easy right? Yeah, right up until Data reports that the prisoner has eluded them. "Eluded the Enterprise?" Picard asks incredulously... aaaaand cut to commercial.

Turns out this particular prisoner is a master of strategy and, besides that, he's got a way of tricking sensors so they don't see his life form readings. Picard sees through that, though, and tells O'Brien to lock onto anything in the escape pod that's big enough to be a male humanoid. The prisoner's name is Roga Danar and after he beams onto the ship, he runs amok until Riker is able to knock him out and send him to the brig. So while Picard makes arrangements to transfer Danar back to Angosia, Data tries to find out why he doesn't have life signs and Troi walks by, senses him and discovers that he doesn't actually have a naturally violent personality.
He just likes to touch harmful force fields from time to time.
So he's not naturally violent, but he has a sort of negative reaction to Troi especially when she calls herself a counselor. She reports this to Picard, but he kind of blows it off 'cause this guy ran amok on the ship before they were able to capture him. She then teams up with Data to check out Danar's background and finds nothing about what crime he may have committed. In fact, they find that the penal colony he was on was actually a military facility. Troi goes back to Danar for more information and asks what he did to be put in the facility and he says he did "everything they asked me to."

So, a medical examination and a commercial break later, they find out that Danar is actually a chemically enhanced super soldier that fought in Angosia's Tarsian War. He was "programmed" for superior strategy and martial arts. Data confronts him and says that, as an android, he can be reprogrammed, but asks if Danar cannot. The only thing Danar can say is that if they could reprogram him, wouldn't they have tried? Well, now it's time to transfer him back to the Angosians, so Worf did a little programming so that the transporter activates 0.1 seconds after his force field goes down. So, what does Danar do? HE LITERALLY BREAKS OUT OF THE TRANSPORTER BEAM.
WHAT!? WHAT?!?!?
I DIDN'T EVEN THINK THAT WAS POSSIBLE! But somehow he did it, and it caused an explosion of energy that knocked out Worf and Troi and when they came to, they found that both Danar and a phaser was missing. Danar is now running around the Enterprise and knocking out anyone who gets in his way. He hacks into a few of the ship's systems to misdirect whoever came after him and then hid in a cargo bay. Worf eventually finds him there, but then an explosion that Danar set earlier goes off and shuts down the power. He fights with Worf in the dark for a while, but then uses a phaser to power the cargo transporter and beams onto an awaiting ship! Brilliant tactical maneuvering here, man.

Well, now Picard is faced with the task of telling the Angosians that they lost Danar. Turns out Danar organized a mass breakout for all of the super soldiers and now it's just a matter of waiting for them to get onto the planet from the lunar facility. Meanwhile, Picard, Troi and Worf beam down to the planet to confront them about the immoral treatment of their veterans. Nayrok says they're dangerous and had to be put out of harm's way. Troi asks them if they even tried to reprogram them to live safely among their own people, but all Nayrok can say is that even if they removed the chemicals from their system, their mental training would still be dangerous.
What? We can't have a penal colony? All the best dictators are doing it!
The super soldiers are programmed not to attack innocent people unless they are threatened in some way. Which is kind of convenient because just then, all of the soldiers invade the area where Nayrok and his people are talking to Picard and his team. The soldiers hold guns up to them and basically dare them to make the first move. But it's more than a dare, because everyone knows their programming disallows them to make any first move. Picard basically tells Nayrok that they have to actually care for their veterans if they want to get into the Federation, so with that being a matter of internal security, Picard beams up and leaves them to choose the wellbeing of their own people first.

Overall Thoughts
Danar's brilliant strategies are fun to watch in this episode, but it's also a good lesson that you can't just ignore the people for whom you're responsible. A lot of action in this episode, but also a lot of profundity. Okay, I'll be honest, I just really wanted to use the world "profundity." A+ on this one!