And so the litany of Eden-like planets with scantily-clad beauties that’s just too good to be true begins. This trope was cute and hopeful with just the right amount of foreboding in TOS, but here in TNG where sexual innuendos are allowed a lot more wiggle-room (because it isn’t the 60s) I don’t think I have the stomach for it.
Of course the only insurance the Prime Directive has here is a mysterious inter-dimensional being playing the part of a benevolent god.
Of course the blanket punishment for all crimes on this “perfect” planet is death if you’re caught in a special temporary zone of law enforcement.
Of course Data has a wealth of data regarding the tenacity of a mother protecting her child against anything and everything.
This episode managed to be so annoying it actually trampled over what might have been the saving grace of the episode, and another feather in Wesley’s hero cap. The way Wesley asked if Picard’s saving him could lead to the death of the rest of the crew (including the civilian families of the officers who live aboard the ship), his tone of voice (Wil Wheaton’s delivery) suggests he might be willing to sacrifice himself.
If that willingness had been allowed to play out, then – instead of an Eden turned sour – there could have been a moment more akin to biblical God stopping Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac.
Abraham didn’t want to sacrifice his son, but believed it more important to uphold God’s will/the greater good/the Prime Directive. Isaac didn’t want to be sacrificed, but he trusted his father and God’s wisdom. God was testing Abraham, I’ve never agreed with or understood the test beyond the teaching that God was never going to let Abraham actually sacrifice his child.
So if Picard had stood by the Prime Directive and Wesley had trusted him (and maybe his mother had asked to be killed with him or had made some very visual display of how wrong it was for this separate culture to kill her son according to virtues in conflict with those virtues by which she herself vowed to raise her child) and “God” had stepped in and stopped it, I just think it would have made for a far more compelling conclusion to the story (especially considering “God” knew everything Data knew including the Prime Directive and the story of Abraham almost sacrificing Isaac).
But Picard and his crew and the Edo (of course that’s the name of their race) didn’t have time for any such character development because the landing party was too busy flirting and then Picard was too busy trying to understand “the nature of God” and the Edo were too distracted by the lack of their requisite execution to run around and make love (literally how they spend every single day of their adult lives, kids just run around and play which is how Wesley got into trouble).
It could have been a contender. In the end, it just wasn’t.