Star Trek TNG: The Masterpiece Society
Geordi La Forge: "Oh, that's perfect."
Hannah Bates: "What?"
Geordi La Forge: "If the answer to all of this is in a VISOR created for a blind man who never would
have existed in your society."
Last week, we discussed Counselor Troi adapting to a “disability”. Now, let’s focus on a post-ADA episode (1992) that deals not just with disability issues, but finally Disability Rights. The Enterprise encounters a society of genetically-engineered humans, who are about to be destroyed by a “stellar core fragment.” At first, the head administrator Aaron Connors, tells them to leave as one disturbance to the engineered biosphere could throw the whole gene pool off balance, but they soon become intrigued by Enterprise’s advanced technology.
When they beam down, they meet a judge who tells them they’ve violated their founder’s intentions by polluting the gene pool. He says that they are all perfect and do not need their imperfections corrected, like Geordi, who is blind. Geordi says: “I can see just fine!” and goes to help their top scientist, Hannah Bates, work on avoiding the stellar fragment.
She is intrigued by Geordi’s VISOR, and Geordi let’s her study it. Hannah comments that it was their founders intention that “no one have to suffer a life of disabilities.” Geordi fires back: "Who gave them the right to decide whether or not I might have something to contribute?" Yes! Geordi points out not only his right to redefine his disability, but also the contribution that his disability has to the society, which they are blind to.
As seen in the above quote, they soon discover that the technology in the VISOR will help increase the power of the Enterprise’s tractor beam to move the fragment, but they need to construct power generator’s on the planet’s surface, which angers the judge. Also, there is a subplot with Aaron Connors wooing Deanna Troi; she tells him that she’s interested in him as a student of human nature. This part really makes me mad, and highlights the fact (to me.) that Geordi is not having a romance at all; when all the potential is there!
Later, Geordi is able to detect that Hannah is tampering with the results in order to seek political asylum on the Enterprise. She realizes her society is wrong to think they are perfect. But, Aaron Connors argues that she can’t leave without affecting the gene pool. Captain Picard argues in her favor, saying she is human and has the right to grow. However, they come to agreement that the Enterprise can return in 6 months, giving those who want to stay time to adapt to a new gene pool. As they return to the ship, Picard remarks that they may have been just as dangerous to that society as any stellar core fragment.
Honestly, I don’t have much good to say about this episode, other than Geordi defends his disability rights. The rest of the cast is hopelessly ignorant. Troi is duped by Aaron into romance, when it is painfully obvious that what they’re doing is wrong, and that it (the romance.) can’t last anyway. The last 15 minutes of the episode is a debate on whether or not Hannah can leave the society, and whether it can last without her. Aaron babbles about how much he’ll miss Troi, and yet Hannah says nothing about Geordi; he was arguably the hero of the episode, who made her see the light. Again, I blame this on TV audiences. The counselor can have a romance, but not Geordi. What a wasted opportunity!
(Aaron Connors and Deanna Troi.)