I find this episode bizarrely fascinating. The sexism is pretty thick, no doubt. Several critics have alleged that the allegations of racism are solely due to the casting, that if the aliens had been played by whites, no one would have cried foul. There's an element of truth in this claim--it was astonishingly tone deaf to have cast only blacks in the part of the backwards alien race. But the claim misses the bigger point: namely, that scripts like this one wouldn't have been out of place in the classic TOS, and that many beloved and respected episodes of the old series were just as clueless and tone deaf.
It's not true that "women are property" in this script; it's simply true that women are property in this backwards culture, and that the Enterprise crew must adapt to these standards to interact with the To do otherwise would be to break the Prime Directive of non-interference, referenced many times in the episode. Picard's icky nudge-nudge interaction with the leader over how delightful women can be makes viewers uncomfortable, but I suggest that such viewers may have forgotten Gary Mitchell's interactions with Dr. Dehner, the "walking freezer unit" whom he shames into responding to his advances. They may have forgotten Kirk's demonstrating how delightful women can be to the alien race in "By Any Other Indeed, they may be overlooking the essential differences in male-female uniforms in both TOS and TNG. Picard's conversation with Lutan feels a hell of a lot like the 80s captain trying to be the 60s captain, an attempt that especially annoys in hindsight when we remember how much better Picard got, which is to say how his character was eventually written to avoid Kirk's smarmy chauvinism.
What makes the race question feel so offensive is that the script does not call for racial difference here, so the fact that these awkward, silly, immature AND sexist people are all black cannot be silenced in the viewer's thoughts as he or she watches. In that respect, the casting is indeed to blame. But the interactions between the advanced and the backwards cultures would still have seemed badly handled even if the actors were white. Perhaps no one would have cried racism, but the episode would still have been smug and self righteous--again, much like various TOS episodes.
What might have helped here is a little bit of irony. The script seems utterly unaware that two decades had gone by since TOS. The tiniest hint of parody, just a little acknowledgement that TOS had already given us such clunky scenarios before, might have made the episode work. As it is, it remains a curious anachronism that displays many of the original series' worst attributes without apparently recognizing them as such.
I mean, as others have noted, this ep reeks of Mighty Whitey old school racism, but wow. The sexism runs incredibly deep throughout this episode. Women are property, objects of desire at every turn. And the only unfettered choices a woman makes at any point are to fight another woman to the death, and to give herself ("All my land, all my property, all I am!") to a man!
Yar is a prop throughout. I don't blame the actor, though. it's entirely the fault of the writing. Although Yar's Akido demonstration did seem more than a little Yellow-beltish.
Also, I understand if the actor playing Yar is not the most physical person, but the show needs to communicate her basic competence in a fight. Generally, they do a good job of that. In the pilot, where she took down the soldier approaching them in the courtroom, and even in the beginning of this episode.
But the big fight at the end is just silly. The women are equally matched in strength, despite all Yar's training. If I had been writing this episode, that fight would have been played for laughs, with Yar entering unarmed, and just dodging and weaving until her opponent tired (which cannot take all that long for someone who is not a trained fighter). Then Yar makes it look like she's about to stab the lady with her own weapon, but the teleport away an instant before the blow lands. Then they make up a lie and bullshit their way through.
But honestly, this episode is not salvageable. At all.
The thing that stood out the most to me that made this such a bad episode was the directing: it was terrible. The actors were often very stiff (especially when Gates McFadden was talking to Patrick Stewart in his Ready Room -- she was awful -- and she is such a fantastic actor otherwise!) Blame it on the director: cues were not picked up quickly enough and the "action" dragged. Very little movement while the actors were speaking. They just stood there and recited their lines. God bless them. They were a fantastic and extremely talented group of actors, but in this episode the direction they were given was bor-ing and unimaginative. Of course, this was only the third episode ever of this new series, and everyone was still trying to find their footing and develop their characters. But man -- what awful directing. This episode gets a D+ from me.
Where to begin? Lutan's stunt was an act of war and Picard would have had every right to use force if he chose to. But to play along with Lutan's ridiculous game was dumb. I agreed with Data when it called it a joke. It was a joke.
I'm surprised that many did not like this episode, I found it quite enjoyable, I've watched it several times. The part where they demonstrate the akido training at the holodeck is quite intriguing, can you imagine how much money people would be willing to spend to be able to have a personal trainer available at all times? I thought the person who played Lutan performed well and I was quite amused by his antics. His facial expression at the end of the episode when he realized how badly his grand plan failed had me laughing for a while.
This is like the poor man's version of original Trek's "Amok Time", and the first indication that the writers just didn't know what to do with Denise Crosby and her character Tasha Yar. The way the aliens are written and portrayed is embarrassing enough (and borders on racism), but what really brings "Code of Honor" down is that the story is predictable, drawn out, and downright boring, not to mention forgettable. This is one of those episodes even a Star Trek fan can safely skip and still live a happy Trekkie life. Watch this one only if you're a completest.
"Code of Honor" is widely recognised as most probably the most un-PC episode from any 'Star Trek' TV eras – and that includes the dated 1960s series!
What is so infamous about this episode is its questionable representation of black characters. Things on paper seem to be a naïve re-working of stories that would have been about in the early 1900s, with the white people meeting (excuse the terminology) "the black man" in some far off land (say, tribal Africa), who has something that they want, but they must go through the black people's customs. Either way, this episode comes off feeling badly misjudged – to the extent that Gene Roddenberry fired original director Russ Mayberry mid-way through production.
Personally... I dunno, I think they were more naïve than anything. There might have been a fair story in there if it had been handled in the right way, but it comes off feeling as awkward as the whole episode does clunky.
Things start off so-so... we get to see how Picard and the Enterprise goes about diplomacy when meeting with a new people. This was okay, nothing special; they would go on to do it far better in other episodes. But when Tasha is kidnapped by Lutan, aside from the already awkward black representation, the episode contains some truly terrible dialogue. Any story that gives the underused Tasha something to do should have been fairly good, but this one pretty much falls flat, and with material like this, maybe it's not to hard to see why Denise Crosby decided to leave the series later in the season.
The only real thing of note from this episode, in my book, is that we first see that Geordi and Data are becoming good friends. Also regarding Data is that the writers, producers and Brent Spiner slowly seem to be getting a handle on the character. Although a couple of "out of character" moments (compared to the character we would soon become used to), Data seems much more on form here than he did in "Encounter and Farpoint" and "The Naked Now".
Proceedings get far too bogged down in the Prime Directive, something that would – in my opinion – mar many TNG episodes. One can only wonder what kind of all-guns-blazing approach Captain Kirk would have come up with, faced with the situation seen in this story.
And talking in 1960s 'Trek, the planet sets look *terrible* - even many of the original studio-based plants in the Original Series were far better than this.
Some people have noted similarity with the Original Series' memorable second season episode "Amok Time"; indeed, both stories do feature a character dying in a ritualistic duel only to be brought back to life again on the Enterprise, but personally I did not find the entire episode to be a complete rip as much as some have.
I have to confess that I do like "Code of Honor" marginally better than the abysmal "The Naked Now", at least it has some vague action and excitement (emphasis on the vague), but this is sadly another weak early TNG episode. Just keep telling ourselves: Things DID get better!
After a great beginning episode "Encounters At Farpoint," those who make Star Trek: The Next Generation function as a TV show decided to leave behind the unique film styles and different storylines and remake an original Star Trek series episode only two episodes into the series with "The Naked Now." Here in "Code Of Honor," The Next Generation producers and writers still had their heads up the original Star Trek series' backside.
"Code Of Honor" feels very much like a horrible original series episode. Original series music composer Fred Steiner makes his one and only Next Generation showing and helps the episode feel absolutely cheesy with each of his very dated music cues reminiscent his work with cheesy feeling cues of the original Star Trek series. On top of that, there is an incredibly dated portrayal of African Americans of which I honestly cannot decide is racist or just dumb. This episode sees the Enterprise trying to obtain a vaccine that only a primitive culture, the Ligonians, has through diplomatic ways. The Ligonians play ball for a while and then kidnap Tasha Yar in a diplomatic game that the Enterprise does not fully understand. Yar then has to fight for her life when the wife of the Ligonian leader challenges her to the death when her husband wants Yar as his wife instead. That scene is beyond hilarious (and not in a good way) as Yar and her royalness battle to the death.
Few elements redeem this bad, bad episode. Data's quest for first-hand knowledge of the human condition is handled well but really nothing else is. The portrayal of the primitive African American race is either obnoxious or insulting and the story is absurd, making Picard look like a wuss. "Code Of Honor" is a prime example of why many people consider the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation to be very weak.
I'm sorry but I can't seem to think of anything that is good about this episode because there is nothing that I can say that would be good. The acting was quite bad but not just that I don't really understand what the point to this whole thing was, and in the end I sat up and thought what was all that about. It was boring and pointless and just one big filler to a "Shacky 1st Season" of TNG.
OK I knew that the writers wanted to give "Tasha" something to do, and quite honestly they never really were able to do anything with her for some reason or another, this episode is an example of how poor the character was treated.
Okay. Fledgling series, wants to feel like TOS only bigger, and with "The Naked Now" they got (some of) the sexual tomfoolery over with. What next? Well, obviously they had to make up for the lack of Blaxploitation-themed Trek episodes during the 1970s because, let's face it, Trek wasn't on during the 1970s.
We all know Yar will win.
We all know Lutan will lose in some fashion. Since it's all about some sort of honor, that's what he'll lose.
And it's empty pablum like this episode, "The Naked Now", "Justice", and such that surely must have prompted Denise Crosby to leave TNG. Of course, season 2 being a radical improvement, it's nice she returned in "Yesterday's Enterprise", and to carve a greater niche than just being one small, doomed role.
Best left ignored. Or, at least watch this one before re-visiting half the stories found in TNG's latter 3 years...
The good part of this episode is that its a Tasha one. I always regret that she didnt stay longer and become as big a personality as Jeri Ryans 7of9. Still, her perfomance here is not as good as I would have expected - esp. the very important fight scene at the end.
The story though is well constructed and the elaborate plan of Lutan works very well in bringing conflict to the episode, through their established customs. The ending is very satisfying as Lutan gets his just deserts as Beverley manages to revive Lutans wife, the target of his cunning plan.
'Code of Honor' is a fairly dreadful episode on just about every count: abysmal script, poor performances, cheap-looking production and a horribly obtrusive score.
The Ligonians are depicted with a plethora of racial cultural stereotypes which is cringe-worthy at best and borderline offensive, while the meandering plot is strung together with cliches which recall the original series at its worst. In fact, this whole episode wouldn't have been out of place during the third season of TOS.
It's a shame really, because this is the only episode that focusses on Tasha Yar before her departure - and based on the quality of this script, I don't blame Denise Crosby for leaving so soon.
There are lots of reasons for why this is a lame episode, but I could forgive most of them if it wasn't so boring. Tasha gets kidnapped by an alien race and Picard has to figure out how to get her back.
As on many other early TNG, it seems like the writers expected to coast on the "visiting exotic civilizations" theme (though the "exotic" aliens look completely human) without giving much thought to creating a good story. I suspect most viewers will want to reach for the fast-forward button.
As one of the other reviewers points out, there are a few interesting ideas here which are tackled in sub-amateur fashion -- and of course, no early TNG episode is complete without a preachy speech by Picard about the sorry state of pre-24th century Earth.
This story line has been used over and over. It was too much like TOS style. Don't try to duplicate perfection. The plot had no twist and was not interesting at all. This is probably the reason they killed Tasha off. She became a better character as a martyr than alive.
This is the first truly bad episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation with a set-up that seems to flirt with racism and sexism but is primarily focused on boring the audience. There is a strange unconvincing quality to some of the performances here – whether this is because the regulars had not yet settled into their roles or were simply unconvinced by the script is anyone’s guess. A shame because an episode centred on Tasha Yar could have been interesting if the writers had bothered to delve into her back-story touched upon in Encounter at Farpoint. A first season mistake.
The “Enterprise” travels to the planet Ligon II to negotiate a treaty for the use of a rare vaccine. The vaccine is very badly need on Stryris IV. The Ligonians beam aboard the “enterprise” to make the treaty final. They chat for a bit.
The “Enterprise” travels to the planet Ligon II to negotiate a treaty for the use of a rare vaccine. The vaccine is very badly need on Stryris IV. The Ligonians beam aboard the “enterprise” to make the treaty final. They chat for a bit. The leader of the Ligonians then kidnaps Lt. Tasha Yar. Now Picard has to negotiate with the Ligonians on getting Lt. Yar. Will she be the price the Federation has to pay for the vaccine. I personally feel this is a lame episode. I give it a 2.7
The crew of the enterprise meets a new culture. Their leader captures one of the crew and now it is up to Picard to get her back. Has alot to do with honor in this episode, so this is most likely one of those 'lessons learned by the writers' episode.
I personally like this episode. its what star trek tng is all about, finding new worlds, new civilizations. I like how this culture seems to be a futuristic version of a african tribal unit. Also another cool thing is this is the first episode that Wesley is allowed on the bridge.
I do not like episode at all. It is VERY Stupid. I hate this episode. It is dumb. The people wear ugly costumes and I hate them and the people are mean and this episode is very early and very 80s and makes you think that because of the difference of this episode that ST The Next Generation was on a lot longer than it was. And these people they are so stupid and their uniforms are very ugly.....
After an above average episode like The Naked Now, we get this. It's bound to happen sometime on shows. Lt. Tasha Yar is kidnapped by Lutan because he wants her as his wife and Picard must do something to avoid breaking the Prime Directive, recieve the vaccine for a dying world and of course bring back Tasha to the Enterprise.
Nothing really happens here in this episode, Yar doesn't get any character development except that she has skills in martial arts. No one really acted like there was any danger so that left me not feeling what they should have.
I don't recommend this episode but if you do want to kill some time, go ahead and watch this one but ONLY if you want to kill time.
As anyone should note, this episode is very early. The writers were not only trying for character development, but also the different philosophy of TNG as opposed to TOS. This episode takes on feminism, race relations, and imperialism. The problem is that Yar fights over a man who she finds attractive, woman tend to stay in the subservient role on the planet, and the "proud" people are shown as backwater, violent, and petty, leading Picard to make snide remarks about historical humans yet again. The episode itself is uninteresting and full of plot holes, and developes a character who dies.
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