Devil’s Due (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 13) Picard vs. sexy devil Ardra

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break.

Picard searches for a legal loophole in peaceful planet’s pact with the devil. Memorable scenes include Data playing Scrooge on the holodeck, courtroom hijinks (“The advocate will refrain from making her opponent disappear”), and Picard padding around on the planet in his jammies (“Just have Mister Data fetch me in a shuttle. And have him bring along a uniform.”)

Ardra’s Q-worthy antics are enjoyable, but it’s a stretch to believe someone with her abilities would settle for scamming a peaceful agrarian planet. Yes she convinces the Ventaxians, but she also bypasses security aboard the Enterprise and can jam their communications, transporters, and apparently even the use of shuttlecraft.

She rather hastily assumes that androids cannot lie, when we’ve encountered the mendacious Lore and we’ve just seen Data pretending to be afraid of a ghost. This is one of several telltale details marking a script written for the never-filmed original series reboot, with Data playing a role written for Spock, and Picard playing a role written for Kirk.

Dr. Clark is a rare civilian researcher who seems competent and useful, and who is not sacrificed to ramp up the tension. Federation hostages are mentioned in dialogue but never shown, because budget. Likewise, dialogue references planetwide chaos, but we see only a matte painting of a city with smoke clouds and distant boom noises.

We spend a lot of budget-friendly time in the courtroom, where Data’s attempts to maintain control (“The advocate will refrain from expressing personal affections for her opponent”) lighten up Picard’s focused gravitas.

Some shots of the Enterprise reflected in the windshield of a shuttlecraft are a nice touch, but look at the angle of the window. If we’re seeing the Enterprise being reflected at eye level for Data and Picard, then the shuttle can’t be lining up to enter the landing bay (as seems to be the case in a different shot).