52 – Who Watches the Watchers

Grade: C-

Who Watches The Watchers (1989) on IMDb


The Enterprise arrives at a planet where a Starfleet station needs help. The station houses three anthropological observers who are keeping a close eye on an extended family of proto-Vulcans living in the Bronze Age of their civilization. Things get out of hand when the hologram hiding the facility fails and one of the scientists falls out of the window.


This really could have been one of the best Next Generation episodes. The acting is pretty good, and the characterizations are also better than average. The storyline is fairly interesting, and the dialogue is far better than what it has been up to this point. But I rate this episode fairly low.

There are several problems with this episode, but the biggest one is that Picard is so disrespectful of the religion on this planet. It’s very hard for me to believe that a supposed archaeologist would treat this planet’s ancient religious beliefs so disrespectfully. Indiana Jones wasn’t a religious man either but he could at least be respectful of the religions he encountered.

In addition to that, the rest of the crew talk about faith as if it keeps people in the Dark Ages. One thought is that untethering yourself from religion is the key to technological progress. I can see how some people would feel that way, but I wish they could have found a different way to make this point.

Check out this bit of dialogue: “Dr. Barron, your report describes how rational these people are. Millennia ago, they abandoned their belief in the supernatural. Now you are asking me to sabotage that achievement, to send them back into the dark ages of superstition and ignorance and fear?” As a person of faith myself, I don’t like the way this episode treats religion.

I wish they could have left out all the anti-religion stuff. It could have been a pretty funny episode. Seriously, a bronze-age society thinks Picard is God. How could that not be funny?

Of Note

Several scenes in this episode are very similar to First Contact. There’s the time, for example when Dr. Crusher transports one of the aliens onto the ship for medical attention. When Picard finds out, he begins to say something about the Prime Directive, she tells him to spare her the lecture. The same thing happens in the movie, about 7 years later.