Some old episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation seem eerily prophetic when seen through the prism of America in 2021.
Because I spend all day, every day, reading politics (and I’m not complaining but just stating a fact), when I have downtime, I want to engage in fairly minimal brain activity. To that end, I have of late been watching Star Trek: The Next Generation (“ST:TNG”) I missed all of the first season and some of the second season back in 1987 and 1988. So, unless I caught those episodes on reruns, this is the first time I’ve seen many of them. Additionally, even the ones I’m pretty sure I’ve seen before, I don’t remember. (With a memory like mine, watching old shows is like watching them for the first time.)
What’s so amazing is how some of these episodes seem very prophetic. Others, despite the show’s central leftist conceit (that the Federation through science is able to provide for the needs of all people), reveal conservative themes. I’ll discuss just three episodes. There are lots of spoilers here so stop reading if you intend to watch ST:TNG yourself.
In Symbiosis, the enterprise rescues four passengers and their cargo from a ship that then explodes. All four passengers come from the same system. Two of them come from a planet suffering from a terrible plague. The other two from a planet that has a valuable medicine that will treat the plague. The two parties fight over the medicine, with those from the plague planet saying they paid for it and are entitled to it and those from the medicine planet claiming that, because the payment was lost when the ship disintegrated, the medicine reverts to them.
The denouement reveals that the medicine is, in fact, a powerful narcotic. The people on the plague planet have no plague; they’re just addicts. The drug sellers knew this but benefitted hugely from encouraging the addiction.
Maybe I was reaching, but this made me think of the way the Democrat power class (tech tyrants, politicians, media) used COVID as a means to make leftists utterly dependent on masks, lockdowns, government guidance, and welfare. As with the plague on the ST:TNG episode, the disease vanished but the dependence continued.
In The Child, the ship’s counselor, Deanna Troi, is impregnated by a ball of light, leading to this moment:
The senior officers meet to discuss the pregnancy. The fetus is developing at an accelerated rate and would be fully developed in 36 hours. Troi does not know who the father is, but was aware of a “presence” entering her body the night before. Though the senior staff debate terminating the pregnancy, Troi decides she will carry the child to term.
Here’s the short dialog:
Counselor Deanna Troi: Captain.
[the senior officers abruptly stop their discussion and focus on Counselor Troi]
Counselor Deanna Troi: Do whatever you feel is necessary to protect the ship and the crew. But know this: I’m going to have this baby!
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Then it would seem that the discussion, is over.
The episode then has a rapturous birth scene that sees all the characters reveling in the new life.
There is only one way to understand this episode: It is pro-life. It recognizes that the fetus has an inherent value. I’m sure that’s not what the creators meant to do, but it’s what they ended up doing anyway.
In addition to the mystical pregnancy, the crew is struggling to get on board some extremely dangerous virus samples that need to be transferred to a medical station seeking a possible cure for a plague epidemic. Although the samples are stored in an ostensibly supersafe container, the container’s integrity breaks down. One of the viruses is growing and will soon break out, killing everyone on board.
That whole subplot seemed awfully like a Wuhan prophecy. Because the USS Enterprise had to survive beyond this episode, though, everyone figured out that Troi’s child was causing the system to break down. Because he was a good alien, not a bad one, he left the ship, preventing a viral breakout.
In The Royale, Riker, Worf, and Data find themselves on an otherwise unlivable planet trapped in a 1980s-style casino. They learn that aliens, having somehow rescued a late 21st century NASA astronaut found a pulp novel on his ship and concluded that this was the way his life had been. In a diary they discover, the NASA astronaut writes (emphasis mine):
“I write this in the hope that it will someday be read by human eyes. I can only surmise at this point, but apparently, our exploratory shuttle was contaminated by an alien life form, which infected and killed all personnel except myself. I awakened to find myself here in the Royale Hotel, precisely as described in the novel I found in my room. And for the last 38 years, I have survived here. I have come to understand that the alien contaminators created this place for me out of some sense of guilt, presuming that the novel we had on board the shuttle about the Hotel Royale was, in fact, a guide to our preferred lifestyle and social habits. Obviously they thought that this was the world from which I came. I hold no malice toward my benefactors. They could not possibly know the hell that they have put me through. For it was such a badly-written book, filled with endless cliché and shallow characters… I shall welcome death when it comes.“
I couldn’t help comparing that language to Andrew Stiles’ hilarious review of Bill Clinton’s latest novel, which seems like a cliched, overblown thriller. Judging by the review, the novel is a shockingly trite “thriller” complete with characters named “Trask Floyd, Randy Grambler, Coleman Pelletier, Bruce Hardy, Rollie Spruce, and so on.”
There are some aspects of the novel, though, that Stiles says are interesting. Fore one thing, you do get Bill’s true feelings about Hillary, for his alter ego is a former president who is separated from his wife. This is how Bill describes his “fictional” wife, accordingly to Stiles:
HillarySamantha carries herself with a “familiar steel showing through her smile for an old grudge” that she will “never, ever forget.” She is ready to move on from “those wasted hours and days and weeks being First Lady and pretending to care.” By the end of the book, she has exerted her dominance over Pamela Barnes, the backstabbing VP who went on to become the first female president in history, unlike a certain real-life politician who so desperately coveted that distinction.
Additionally, and somewhat surprisingly, Bill has nothing but disdain for wokeness or China:
The President’s Daughter will never be a Hollywood film, but that might be its most endearing quality. It is decidedly anti-woke, refreshingly problematic. Keating’s daughter, Melanie, is appalled by her Dartmouth classmates, whose “ignorance and apathy about the real world” enable them to “drone on and on about how the real roots of terrorism were poverty, despair, and inequality.” Characters pray to God and quote the Bible. Then there’s Jiang Lijun, the sadistic and openly racist Chinese intelligence officer who pals around with terrorists.
But back to that ST:TNG episode: The flag on the NASA astronaut’s uniform has 52 stars. Considering that the Democrats want to add Puerto Rico and D.C. as states and that Sen. Joe Manchin’s position on the filibuster seems to be for sale, let’s hope this wasn’t one of ST:TNG’s more prophetic episodes.
Please note that, if you were wondering, my point about the show being prophetic is, of course, tongue in cheek. However, it’s fascinating to see how plots and subplots, as well as throwaway lines (most of which I’ve forgotten), seem eerily applicable to the world in which we live.