Season 5, Episode 21 “Who Watches the Watchers” (TNG) with Mollie Pettit

Get ready to catch an important arrow as we wonder “Who Watches the Watchers”!

Data visualization engineer and designer Millie Pettit joins the show this week to discuss an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that presents a pitiless examination of Starfleet’s most sacred law: the Prime Directive. While assisting a team of scientists observing a developing world, the Enterprise crew accidently reveals their existence to the planet’s natives. Now, Picard must choose between letting a nascent society slip back into darkness or sacrificing his life to protect their future!

The Federation holds sentient life in the highest regard, but that tenet of their egalitarian philosophy comes with the strictest prescription. In seeking to avoid “playing God” with disadvantaged societies, Starfleet captains are often called on to make choices even gods would find daunting. On this episode, we discuss the humanist catechisms of Federation society, the singularity of Trek’s universe of morality, the presumption inherent in the Prime Directive, the utilitarian implications of the “needs of the many”, Roddenberry’s struggles in portraying a moral but areligious society, the godlike aliens of Star Trek, and the godlike power of a Starfleet captain.

We also discuss the navel-gazing of intergalactic liberalism, data visualization now and in Trek’s future, ROCK CLIMBING, no sympathy for goo monsters, altruism as a fictional technology, who gets trolley’d, the REAL Picard maneuver, why you need a Chad scientist, genetic haircuts, Kirk vs. Jesus, Rorschach, Bobby Hill, a ton of sci-fi allusions, and our first Foundation reference!

“Have I failed you in some way?”

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Listen to “Season 5, Episode 21 “Who Watches the Watchers” (TNG) with Mollie Pettit” on Spreaker.

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