Friday, July 10, 2020

Star Trek: Samaritan Snare

Episode: "Samaritan Snare"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 2, Episode 17
Original Air Date: May 15, 1989
Samaritan Snare (episode) | Memory Alpha | Fandom
via Memory Alpha
Picard leaves for Starbase 515 for a heart transplant, embarrassed to have Pulaski do the procedure on the Enterprise.  Wesley is along for the ride so he can take another stab at the Starfleet exams.  Meanwhile, Geordi is abducted by the relatively primitive Pakleds, led by Grebnedlog.

"Samaritan Snare" is widely panned for admittedly weak writing.  The Picard story is especially clunky and feels rather tacked on to boot, not good for what is supposedly meant to be the primary narrative.  And there's something a little embarrassing about the simplicity of the Pakleds.  However, to me the dialogue between Picard and Wesley en route to 515 brings a small measure of redemption to the episode.  Picard tells a story of his reckless youth, adding some dimension to our captain.  There's also a nice glimpse of Riker's leadership style in Picard's absence.  It's not so unlike Jean-Luc's in sounding out others for their opinions, and he decides on a good old Kirk-style bluff.

Acting Notes
Christopher Collins (Grebnedlog - Goldenberg backwards - haha, just got that) was born Christopher Lawrence Lotta, August 30, 1949 in Orange, New Jersey, though he grew up in Manhattan.  He attended NYU for a year.  He is better known for his voice work than his on-screen credits, having voiced Cobra Commander in GI Joe and Starscream in the original Transformers series.  This was his second of four Trek appearances between TNG and DS9.  He was Captain Kargan in "A Matter of Honor."

Collins voiced the roles of Mr. Burns and Moe during the first season of The Simpsons.  He was let go during that season because, in Matt Groening's words, "he was just kind of jerky to everyone." From that point on, Mr. Burns was voiced by Harry Shearer, Moe by Hank Azaria.  When asked about Collins, Azaria said "That guy could have been on The Simpsons his whole life. Lesson to you kids: always be nice!"

Collins died of a brain hemorrhage, June 12, 1994.


  1. Dear Squid, there was a subtlety to the writing on this episode that escaped me until I saw it in reruns. The deceptive simplicity of the Pakleds was off-set by some pretty impressive dialogue on the Enterprise:

    Ryker: Didn't I just say that?
    Data: Yes sir, but not quite as perspicuously.

    I was born the same year as Grebnedlog but never caught the backward spelling (Good job on that, Squid!) but did finally run across the word, "perspicuously" in the dictionary. Picard's line to Wesley,"Open your mind to the past --art, history, philosophy--and all this may mean something." is pure gold.

    1. Geo! Always delighted to hear from you.

      Agreed. The episode's saving grace is the conversation between Wes and Picard on the transport.

  2. Hank Azaria certainly has been.

    1. Certainly nice enough to get and keep steady work.

  3. I always had the uncomfortable feeling that the look and sound of the Pakleds were based on the mentally challenged character "Benny" from L.A. Law.

    But I had NO idea that Mr. Burns and Moe underwent a change in voice actors on the Simpsons! I watched that show religiously for its first 5 or 6 years. Hank Azaria stepped right in there seamlessly.

    But... who was Goldenberg?!

    1. That's it exactly. I feel like the Pakleds are meant to resemble the developmentally challenged and that's not cool.

      Goldenberg! Don't go thinking I haven't wondered. Here's what I found on Memory Alpha:

      Writer Robert L. McCullough explained the names of Grebnedlog and his subordinate Reginod: "These were names I learned in junior high school," McCullough explained. "My last name used to be Goldenberg and my best friend's was Donager, and we had a code of calling each other by our last names backwards."

  4. I hated this episode and have probably not watched it in many years. That being said I sort of have the view that it was the Enterprise crew falling short on the situational intelligence.

    I vaguely remember Danna warning everyone that the apparent lack intelligence of the Pakleds was just the clumsiness of their language skills and/or a problem with the universal translator. That she could feel their language shortfalls hid a better than average intelligence trying to steal more advanced tech from any species they could take advantage of.

    A strategy terroristic in nature but with super-advanced starships warping all over the galaxy and more than eager to help the less fortunate, I could see humans pulling the same con-job.

    As for the Picard heart issue and Wesley's exams, those plot lines makes this one of the worst Star Trek episodes in the whole franchise for me. Star Trek: Enterprise caught a lot of crap by many fans for being terrible but I honestly do not remember any episodes on it being as bad as this one and the first season episode involving Tasha Yar and the all black planet.

    1. I'm not ready to call "Samaritan Snare" the worst of the season but only because I hated "The Schizoid Man" more.