Synopsis: The Enterprise crew violate the Prime Directive again…and actually care this time!
Memory Alpha Summary: Picard has come a long way since emotionally raping the Edo girl.
Review: Accidentally making their presence aware of Bronze Age humanoids could have resulted in a very self-righteous, hammy episode. But this one has much more poignancy than I would have thought and I found myself loving it this time around.
For the first time, Beverly stands up to Picard when she violates the prime directive even further, while Picard almost orders her to kill a patient. Of course, then she fails to replicate a procedure successfully done by Pulaski, so she’s not out from under her superiority yet.
What makes this episode truly shine is that it deals with religion in a masterfully subtle and respectful way. Unlike Kirk, Picard shudders at the thought of being considered God by another species. He struggles with the decision as to whether or not to perpetuate this culture’s belief that he finds illogical and destructive or use his technology to advance their scientific knowledge years beyond where their culture would have naturally developed. There’s no easy answers. The only hard moral that comes through is that Roddenberry fully believed that invoking God in the name of violence was disgusting and immoral, and it’s one of the reasons I love Star Trek.