The fourth episode of Star Trek The Next Generation is an episode called “Code of Honor”; where the leader of the Ligonians abducts Tasha Yar. It originally aired on October 12, 1987.
The story was originally pitched by Katharyn Powers and Michael Baron and evolved into a 1940’s tribal Africa theme story. The episode itself wasn’t very well received by the crew, but others believed the basic premise held some promise.
The Enterprise arrives at the planet Ligon II to acquire a vaccine needed to combat an outbreak of Anchilles fever on Styris IV. The crew, possessing little information on the Ligonian culture, finds it follows strict customs of status similar to ancient Africa. Specifically, while the men in their culture rule society, the land itself is controlled by the women.
Lutan, the Ligonian leader, transports up to the Enterprise to provide a sample of the vaccine, and is impressed by Lt. Tasha Yar’s status as head of security. Tasha further demonstrates her aikido skills against a holographic opponent for Lutan on the holodeck. After a tour of the ship, Lutan and the Ligonians abduct Tasha as they transport back to the surface.
Captain Picard demands that Lutan return Lt. Yar, considering the kidnapping an act of war, but receives no response from the planet. After consultation with his officers, Picard determines that Lutan took Yar in a “counting coup” as a show of heroism. Picard contacts Lutan in a more peaceful manner, who grants permission for the Enterprise crew to beam down to the planet and promises to return Tasha after a banquet in his honor.
Lutan announces at the banquet that he will make Tasha his “first one”, surprising not only the Enterprise crew but also Yareena who believed she was already selected by Lutan. Yareena challenges Tasha to a fight to the death to claim back the position and while Picard objects to the fight, Lutan refuses to give the Enterprise the rest of the vaccine unless Tasha participates.
The crew investigates the combat ritual and find that the weapons used are coated with a lethal poison, and also that it is Yareena’s wealth to which Lutan owes his position. Picard prepares to have Tasha beamed to the Enterprise should she be harmed in the battle. As the match progresses, both Yareena and Tasha are equally skilled, but Tasha eventually lands a strike on Yareena. Tasha quickly covers Yareena and orders the transport of both of them to the Enterprise against the demands of Lutan.
Aboard the Enterprise, Dr. Crusher reaches Yareena moments after death, but is able to counteract the poison and revive her. When Lutan demands to know the fate of Yareena, Crusher reveals that Yareena died, thus ceding the match to Tasha and breaking the “first one” bond. Yareena is now free to select a new mate; she chooses Hagon, one of Lutan’s bodyguards, and effectively strips Lutan of his position of power. Hagon lets Tasha go and gives the Enterprise their full supply of vaccine.
Star Trek The Next Generation – Code of Honor
First Aired: October 12, 1987
Season 1 / Blu-ray and DVD
Written By: Kathryn Powers & Michael Barton
Directed By: Russ Mayberry
TNG Tid Bit:
First time we see Patrick Stewart hitching down his uniform in frustration.
Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes as Commander William T. Riker
Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
LeVar Burton as Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge
Gates McFadden as Doctor Beverly Crusher
Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
Denise Crosby as Lieutenant Tasha Yar
Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher
Jessie Lawerence Ferguson as Lutan
Karole Selmon as Yareena
James Louis Watkins as Hagon
Michael Rider as Transporter Chief
Categories: Star Trek, The Next Generation
This episode was considered racist when it first aired by some groups because of the stereotype portrayal of African culture. I tend to agree with that. For me it suffered all the problems of the first series despite the very promising start with “Encounter at Farpoint”. The sets were campy, Picard was hot headed and the show lacked maturity. That being said a few good scripts did make their way in and kept the show’s potential alive. After being such a groundbreaking show in the 1960s with the way it tackled racism this episode must have seemed like the new show was taking a step back to trekkies.