Star Trek’s Stupidest Episode Meant To Be Its Most Important

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

It’s an open secret among Star Trek fans that any episode from the first season of The Next Generation is going to be awful compared to average episodes from later seasons.

One of the infamous early stinkers was “Angel One,” and if the show had It’s Always Sunny style titles, this adventure involving a matriarchal society would have been more accurately named “The Gang Gets Weird About Women.” In short, this is one of the stupidest episodes of the entire series, but in a wild twist, it was originally meant to be one of the most important ones.

Angel One Doesn’t Break New Ground

How, exactly, was “Angel One” going to be one of the most important episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation? It all goes back to ideas that producer Herbert J. Wright had regarding Patrick Barry’s script for the episode. The big gimmick about the story is that the Enterprise encounters a matriarchal society, but Wright was a bit worried that this idea had been done to death in sci-fi and that Trek would make a blunder of it.

An Allegory For Apartheid

He wanted “Angel One” to avoid cliches, and as he later put it, they “didn’t want…an Amazon Women kind of thing where the women are six feet tall with steel D cups.” To differentiate this story from other sci-fi tales, he had the idea to make the entire tale a metaphor for apartheid. In Wright’s mind, the men of this planet were going to be treated like Black people in apartheid South Africa, allowing Trek to do what it does best: use sci-fi storytelling as an allegory for an issue that might otherwise be too political for TV.

From Politically-Charged To Scantily-Clad Waste Of Time


Speaking of which, Wright didn’t want to shy away from politics when it came to “Angel One.” In defiance of the generally more conservative airwaves of the ‘80s, the producer wanted to “make it political.” While he acknowledged that the episode would have “sexual overtones,” he was adamant that it should retain its inherently political nature.

How, then, did “Angel One” go from being an ambitious political episode to scantily-clad stupidity? To hear Wright tell the tale, the blame goes to franchise creator Gene Roddenberry. “Everything that Gene got involved with had to have sex in it,” the producer said, further claiming, “It’s so perverse that it’s hard to believe.”

Gene Roddenberry’s View Of Women Changed Everything

To his point that the Trek creator had issues with women, Wright said that during a meeting between himself, screenwriter Patrick Barry, and Gene Roddenberry, the inevitable question arose: how would women react to this episode? The producer claims that at first, Roddenberry stressed the importance of presenting women fairly and making sure the studio didn’t get angry letters from feminists.

However, this eventually turned into a rant about the dangers of presenting a matriarchal society as superior and allegedly ended with Roddenberry angrily claiming that women were “vicious creatures” that could never be trusted.

Next Generation Recovered And Became A Classic

Wright believes that somewhere between Gene Roddenberry’s known tendency to add strange sexual situations to scripts and his outburst about women, “Angel One” went from being a highly political metaphor for apartheid to the hot mess of melodrama and pajamas that we saw onscreen.

While this isn’t the only tale about Roddenberry tampering with scripts and storylines, it does serve as a sad reminder that even the worst episodes were originally driven by some great ideas. Fortunately, it wouldn’t take Star Trek: The Next Generation long to master the art of delivering powerful political episodes that didn’t make us cringe half as much as “Angel One” always does.