The Hunted (ST: TNG Rewatch; Season Three, Episode 11) Honorable soldier exiled by the peaceful society he defended

(Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break.)

A great Trek morality drama, most obviously inspired by the challenges faced by US troops returning from Vietnam, but light on preachiness and heavy on action.

Impressed by the cultured and intellectual Angosians, Picard offers to help them recapture a violent prisoner who escaped a penal colony. The prisoner’s increasingly creative evasive maneuvers impress Riker and LaForge, though Picard is visibly annoyed.

After the prisoner Roga is finally captured, Troi finds him to be non-violent and intellectual, but Picard says he’ll be happy to hand him back over to the Angosians. Troi learns he was an honorable soldier whose mind was conditioned and body altered, sadly making him unfit to rejoin the cultured civilization he fought to defend.

The next time Roga wreaks havoc, we’re not only impressed by his methods (I remember on my first viewing being thrilled to see his hand burst through the transporter beam), we’re also sympathizing with his motives.

The climax boils down to Picard applying the Prime Directive non-interference doctrine in a creative way.