Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 1 Episode 4

Code Of Honor

Aired Unknown Oct 12, 1987 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (21)

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  • A diplomatic mission to secure an urgently needed vaccine is jeopardised when the planetary ruler kidnaps Tasha Yar, and insists that she take part in a deadly duelling ritual. Pretty dire...

    "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!