Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.
Captain Kirk, from Return to Tomorrow.
Meddling is our business, gentlemen. That’s what this ship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.
Captain Jean Luc Picard, from a recent troubling dream.
See the two quotes above? That was the essential premise of each of these two versions of Star Trek. In this article, we will examine the nature of the Enterprise-D and her Captain.
Inevitably, something would go wrong, and just because the Enterprise was nearby, there would be hell to pay.
Unknown source, commenting on the Enterprise Effect.
First of all, news of the imminent arrival of the Enterprise should have been taken as a bad omen. Especially at outposts or science stations. Think about it. At every outpost she visited, disaster either ensued or had begun just prior to her arrival. It’s as if the Enterprise was riding a tidal wave of misfortune that crested over wherever it stopped. The result would be a sudden crisis that destroyed equipment and killed people.
An example was the time they were watching a primitive Vulcanoid species. There didn’t seem to be any problems until the Enterprise arrived and then everything started to malfunction. Even Data became visible to the aliens. The result was serious contamination of the primitive society. There are other examples, but the point is made.
What is interesting is that one would think that Star Fleet Command would get a clue. But no! They keep sending the Enterprise around, visiting mayhem on some poor, unsuspecting base or planet, goodwill ambassadors of Murphy’s Law.
Here’s what should really happen. In a perfect world. Rather, a more perfect Star Trek universe. That damned ship should be scrapped and the crew fired!
Yes. The captain should be fired, due to his meddling nature. Riker should be fired for supporting him. The rest? Well, they were under the mentoring of the good Captain and his patrician demeanor. Even Wesley Crusher should be fired just for looking up to him.
Many episodes show the effect of their meddling on inhabitants. Verily, even unto the laws of physics. They have even figured out a way to disrupt time’s arrow and cause a ruckus at the turn of the twentieth century. Another example is the reactivation of Data’s brother, Lore.
Now that is something. Would you reactivate an android that seemed inherently dangerous? Not unless you got a death wish.
But that is the nature of bureaucracy. Starships are the blunt instruments of Star Fleet Command, itself a blunt instrument of the Federation Council and the President. Why use finesse when you can bludgeon a problem into submission?
So they send the Enterprise; not because there is a problem to fix, but because of an obscure need to continue the ship’s existence. Perhaps there is a need to keep 24th century man busy, as there is that need in the 21st century. Who knows?
The Enterprise is also seen as a meddler probably because she carries the chief meddler, Captain Picard. She goes around the galaxy, dispensing unwanted and unneeded advice, similar to the original series Enterprise as referenced by David Gerrold. In World of Star Trek, he compared the ship to Mary Worth. This description is even more apt for the ‘Galaxy’s Policeman’ of the 24th century.
I was always curious as to what happened after the Enterprise left a world that no longer interested the crew. After all, Captain Picard fixed the alien society and then that was it, right? No. Not by a long shot. You just know, that people being people, they’d gravitate back to their original behavior and in a year or so; everything would be as it was. At least the original NCC-1701 sometimes left advisors.