Friday, July 17, 2020

Star Trek: Up the Long Ladder

Episode: "Up the Long Ladder"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 2, Episode 18
Original Air Date: May 22, 1989
The Enterprise receives an archaic distress call and goes to investigate.  The society they encounter, descended from Neo-Transcendentalist Earth colonists, is based on a subsistence, back-to-basics, low tech ethos.  At head writer Maury Hurley's encouragement, they are based on an Irish tinkerer village.  When Danilo Odell, the leader of the group, suggests the possibility of a second, separate colony, our heroes find another M class planet in the vicinity.  Lo and behold, the other party is there.

This second group, while decidedly more sophisticated - at least by outward appearances - is in trouble.  Their reliance on cloning for reproduction is taking its toll and they ask the Enterprise for help.  After a few missteps, Picard finds a solution to everyone's problems.

"Up the Long Ladder" is based on strong narrative ideas and contains some wonderful moments.  But taken as a whole, it doesn't quite work.  It feels like two incomplete story ideas stapled together rather than a cohesive whole.  However, as noted, there are a few gems.  Brenna Odell, Danilo's daughter performed by the amazing Rosalyn Landor, is one of the more appealing characters to come through in a while.  The tale's resolution, while certainly unconventional, is oddly satisfying.
Brenna Odell | Memory Alpha | Fandom
via Memory Alpha
The installment is also, rather surprisingly, a fantastic Worf episode.  In an additional, tacked-on, tertiary story line, the security chief collapses on the bridge.  Dr. Pulaski diagnoses him with rop'ngor, Klingon measles.  Worf is embarrassed by the childhood disease and Pulaski covers for him with the rest of the crew.  In gratitude, Worf performs the Klingon tea ceremony for her.

Later, he introduces Danilo to chech'tluth, a potent Klingon alcoholic beverage.

Acting Notes

Image result for barrie ingham
via TARDIS Data Core
Barrie Ingham (Danilo Odell) was born February 10, 1932 in Halifax, England.  He served in the Royal Artillery.  Ingham made more than 200 appearances on both British and American television.  However, his more impressive credits were for Broadway musicals: Copperfield, Camelot, Aspects of Love and Jeckyll & Hyde.

Ingham died January 23, 2015.


  1. I have missed some of your posts on star Trek and others...This one was funny but I agree with you on the assessment of this episode. I found it just a bit too quick of a resolution

  2. I kind of remember the whole thing with Worf, but I don't remember the rest of the episode.

    1. It is mostly forgettable. Brenna is lovely and the Worf stuff is great. Otherwise, not much here.

  3. I completely agree with your assessment of the episode. In fact, I'll go farther and say a fully fleshed out version of this story could have been a two or three episode story arc.

    For me personally, it would have been fascinating to see Riker have to deal with his fully awake clone. Zapping it in the incubator is one thing, but walking around and talking would have been murder(?).

    I'd also have wondered that once an adult clone is fully grown how would it have been educated. Massive neural data upload including a basic personality?

    1. Yes, the cloning story leaves a lot of interesting questions unanswered! The anti-choice crowd had their issues with this episode, too.