“You can’t rescue a man from what he calls his home.”
This is another episode, like “Code of Honor,” that viewers accuse of some form of bigotry or prejudice but invariably get wrong because they don’t understand the themes present. The Enterprise arrives at a planet dominated by women. I know what you’re thinking. Amazons. Kind of, except slightly more practically dressed and well-spoken. This is opposite world! The men are small! The women are big! “How big are the girls?” Get it? We’ve made it a physical characteristic for the women to be bigger. Perhaps, on this world, the men are victims of domestic violence, rape, and the wage gap. Riker and his away team (which display Troi and Yar prominently just so the ladies don’t get the wrong idea here) beam down looking for a lost ship and crew made up of big, strong men. Their leader, the perpetually-annoyed Mistress Beata, is aware of the stranded crew and makes Riker promise he will remove all of the men.
Aboard ship, the crew starts getting sick from something Wesley spread around after a trip to the holodeck (What?!). Crusher takes control of the ship and tells Riker he and his landing party are stuck on the planet for the foreseeable future. This complicates Riker’s plans, even after Mistress Beata seduces him and makes him wear sexy outfits. Get it? It’s a planet of dominant women! Riker is the object of conquest! What really burns Beata’s butter is that several of her people have taken husbands within the stranded crew of evil men, even her right-hand man (er, woman). Beata tracks the away team’s transporter to the remote location where the Captain of the downed ship and his crew are hiding. She takes them into custody and sentences them to death for heresy (of all things). The heresy stems from these alien men insisting they should have rights. Apparently men don’t have rights on this planet. Get it? Just like women, except not.
We spend way too much time waiting for Crusher to come up with a cure for this space cold. I find it hard to believe the ship couldn’t quarantine off certain sections of the ship so they could beam up Riker, the away team, and the refugees and get on with their crazy important mission to the Neutral Zone. The third act conflict is fairly banal. The Captain of the downed ship wants to stay on the planet with his crew and their various wives rather than leave. Riker takes the cake, though, with his final speech, pleading for the lives of the wrecked ship. “You may eliminate the symbols, but that does not mean death to the issues which those symbols represent,” Riker says. This line of dialogue has always stuck with me, and that’s why “Angel One” is a better episode than viewers give it credit for, and it shows that the real enemy is not sexism, racism, or any kind of prejudice. The real enemy is power, and how we wield that power.
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