(written from a Production point of view)
A mission of mercy is jeopardized when a planetary ruler decides he wants an Enterprise officer as his wife.
The USS Enterprise-D has traveled to Ligon II for a vaccine, found only on that planet, that is needed to cure a plague, Anchilles fever, on Styris IV, a Federation planet. Captain Picard has to negotiate with the Ligonian leader Lutan for the vaccine. Picard, Troi and Riker meet up with Natasha Yar in cargo bay 1 to greet the Ligonians. Riker and Troi inform Picard that the Ligonians are a closely humanoid race with similarities to Human culture, as well as an extremely proud race of people with a highly-structured society.
The Ligonians beam over with a red carpet, which is rolled out before Lutan himself beams over. Picard greets him, and Lutan introduces his secondary Hagon. Picard then introduces his crew. Immediately, Lutan is intrigued that a woman, Yar, is in charge of security on the Enterprise. Hagon approaches Picard with a sample of the vaccine, and brushes Yar out of the way when she tries to take it from him. Yar then throws Hagon to the ground before inspecting the vaccine and giving it to Picard. Troi recommends not to apologize for the incident as they would see this as a sign of weakness. Picard thanks Lutan and invites them to stay for entertainment.
Lutan agrees, however, once the Enterprise crew leaves, he tells Hagon that Yar may be "just what he needs."
In the observation lounge, Picard presents Lutan with a 13th century statue of a horse from China's Sung Dynasty. Lutan makes a speech praising Picard and saying he hopes their two peoples can become friends. He tells Picard that on Ligon, the women own all the land and wealth, but apart from that they are subservient to the men. He then asks to see the holodeck, and specifically requests Yar to show it to him. She brings him and Hagon there and shows them an aikido training holoprogram. Lutan tells Yar that he is very impressed by her.
They return to the cargo bay and prepare to leave. Lutan goes to shake Yar's hand, but then grabs her and forcefully beams her down to Ligon. Picard immediately orders a red alert.
Picard tries to contact Lutan through Ligon's orbital control station, but he doesn't respond. He then orders a display blast of photon torpedoes 1,000 meters above the planet's surface. Unfortunately, they cannot trace the location of the transporter beam. Troi advises the captain that she sensed avarice and ambition from Lutan, but general attraction and curiosity from the rest of the Ligonians. Data comments that the Ligonians value patience and that perhaps they should wait and see if Lutan contacts them.
A day later, Dr. Crusher visits the captain in his ready room and tells him that the vaccine can't be replicated – only the original will work. She also asks him to allow her son Wesley to come on to the bridge. Picard relents and goes out onto the bridge and asks him to come out from the bridge's turbolift and to sit at the operations officer station. The crew is surprised as this violates Picard's order that no children should be on the Bridge, let alone man a station. But Picard reiterates his request for Wesley to sit at "Ops" (operations) and clarifies that it's "temporary." Data is ready with his briefing on the Ligonians. He tells Picard that they live by a strict code of honor and that what Lutan has done is similar to what Native Americans called "counting coup". In this case, Lutan's abduction of Yar was a sign of his heroism. Since Yar was the security chief, she was the riskiest target to capture and thus carried the most prestige.
Lutan hails them and Troi and Riker advise Picard that he ask for Yar back. Although he's not happy about it, Picard agrees and asks Lutan to return Yar. Lutan invites them down to the planet.
Riker is persuaded to allow Picard down to the planet, as a visiting leader becomes an honored guest and cannot be harmed. Riker jokingly warns Picard that if he gets hurt, he will put the captain on report.
Picard and Troi beam down to a building Lutan calls his Centerplace. He arrives with Hagon and his "first one" Yareena. Lutan offers any courtesy Picard desires, and so Picard insists to see Yar. When she is brought out she tells him that she's all right. The culture difference in the incident is acknowledged, and Lutan says she will be returned at a banquet in their honor tonight.
At the banquet, Picard makes a speech about Lutan and his honor and asks for Yar back. However, Lutan refuses, saying he wants Yar as his first one. This outrages both Picard and Yareena, who challenges Yar's right of supersedence with a fight to the death. When Picard objects, Lutan exclaims he won't give them the vaccine or enter a treaty.
Riker is alerted and maintains sensor sweeps of the compound. A message is received from Starbase 14, saying that the plague has worsened and that millions could die without the vaccine.
Picard and Troi come to visit Yar in a room prepared for her, where she admits that she finds Lutan attractive. She is confident that she can win, and Troi agrees, saying that the odds are in her favor. Picard decides to reason with Lutan. He finds out that Lutan needs Yareena's money and land if he is to stay in power. If she dies, he gets her money, so he's in a win-win situation. Picard says he will order Yar to fight, and they toast.
On the Enterprise, Data visits La Forge in his quarters while he shaves with a razor and tries to tell him a joke, but Data still doesn't understand humor. Then they are ordered to beam down to the surface, where they meet Picard. He orders them to examine the weapons on display, as they won't know which is to be used until just before the fight. On the Enterprise, investigation of the area continues in order to be ready to transport Yar out in case of trouble.
Yareena comes to see Yar at her request. Yar tries to talk her out of fighting but Yareena is determined to fight for Lutan, unconvinced that Yar is only fighting for the vaccine, and not out of love for Lutan. Clearly, the honor is to fight even if death is likely.
Yar reports this to Picard, as Data and La Forge return with their report on the weapons, which are very sharp, light and poison tipped. Hagon arrives with the weapon to be used – a spiked metal ball on a glove, called a glavin. As Yar examines the weapons, the group overhears Yareena practicing in the arena.
Act FiveData beams back to the Enterprise to inform Riker on what the captain is planning. Meanwhile, down on the surface, Picard, Troi, La Forge and Yar enter the arena. The fight starts and Yar dodges and parries Yareena's attacks. Then Yareena's glove hits an electrified pole and the glove flies off and hits a spectator. The spikes cut him and he is dead in seconds. The fight resumes and eventually Yar bests Yareena, hitting her with her weapon, and dives on her. They are both beamed up to the Enterprise where Dr. Crusher attempts to counteract the poison.
Lutan is initially upset, however, Picard convinces him he has seen the final blow, concluding the fight. Hagon reminds him he has Yareena's money and land. Happy with the outcome, he allows medical teams from the Enterprise to beam down to get the vaccine. Quickly, though, Picard orders the away team to be beamed up, along with Lutan and Hagon. They are brought to the observation lounge, where Yareena is alive, resuscitated by Dr. Crusher. Since Yareena technically died, her marriage to Lutan is over, but she still has her wealth. Upset with Lutan, and as she heard Hagon call out to her during the fight, she selects Hagon as her new first one. He now has all Yareena's wealth and power. She asks Lutan to be her second one and he accepts. Picard returns to the bridge and sees Wesley is still manning one of the bridge stations and says "Thanks again for manning one of our Bridge stations, Wesley. We'll see... that you have another chance." Wesley is delighted at the thought and leaves.
With the vaccine secured, the Enterprise leaves for Styris IV.
- Captain's log, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D), 2364
- First officer's log, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D)
- Ship's log, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D)
"He's on the turbolift. You'll remember you ordered him to stay off of the bridge."
- - Beverly Crusher, to Picard about Wesley
"Then you shall have no treaty, no vaccine and no Lieutenant Yar!"
- - Lutan
"A code of honor protects one, captain, like a magic cloak."
- - Lutan, to Picard
"This is my first one, Yareena."
"Lutan is a fortunate man."
- - Lutan, introducing Yareena to Picard
"May I speak to you about my son, Wesley?"
"What? Oh, yes [grumbling]... all right."
- - Beverly Crusher and Jean-Luc Picard
"Most interesting. Could this be Human joke number 663?"
"Negative, Data. That's a captain's order."
- - Data and La Forge, when Picard asks both of them to examine the weapons Yar and Yareena will be using
"Surrounded by such friendship, I feel no need for my guards!"
- - Lutan, to Picard in the Enterprise-D's conference lounge
"You can create people without a soul?"
- - Lutan, on the holographic simulation of an Aikido fighter
"Ah, I see. You too understand the proper value of women!"
- - Picard, to Lutan
"Your skill impresses me. I like you."
- - Lutan, to Tasha Yar
"You speak of a code of honor. What you are saying now, according to our customs is called an act of war!"
"This is not an act of war, but of love!"
- - Picard and Lutan, after Lutan finds he cannot part with Tasha Yar
"Are you making demands, captain?!"
- - Lutan
"(To Wesley Crusher) Why don't you sit at Ops, next to Lieutenant La Forge?"
"Is the whole ship deaf? Sit down over there, young man! Temporarily!"
- - Picard, Wesley Crusher, and Geordi La Forge
"I fight for the vaccine. That's the truth."
"The truth is I will kill you if I can. And believe me, I can. There is nothing else to say."
"In my world, it's a greater honor to refuse."
"You are on our world!!"
- - Tasha Yar and Yareena
"Lutan is such such a basic male image and having him say he wants you..."
"Well, yes of course, it made me feel good when he... Troi, I'm your friend and you tricked me!"
"Only so you'd think about it, completely and clearly."
- - Deanna Troi and Tasha Yar
"We're all being manipulated, lieutenant. Myself most of all."
- - Picard, to Tasha Yar
"Includling" the kiddlies! Now, see that's funny!"
- - La Forge, to Data after his tongue slipped while telling an old and unfunny joke
"For example, what Lutan did is similar to what certain American Indians once did, called 'counting coup'. That is from an obscure language known as French. Counting coup "
"Mr. Data, the French language for centuries on Earth represented civilization!"
- - Data and Picard
"By our standard, the customs here – their code of honor – is the same kind of pompous, strutting charade that endangered our own species a few centuries ago. We evolved out of it because no one tried to impose their own set of. I'm sorry, this is becoming a speech."
"You're the captain, sir, you're entitled."
"Hmm. I'm not entitled to ramble on about something everyone knows. Carry on."
- - Troi and Picard, during an impromptu lecture to Data on the Prime Directive
- - Riker, ordering Dr. Crusher to treat Yareena before she and Yar have finished materializing on the transporter pad
"She is not dead!"
- - Lutan, seeing Yareena alive and well in the Enterprise-D's conference lounge
"These I understand."
- - Yar, examining the combat weapons
"As you can see, captain, you may excel in technology, but not in civilized behavior."
- - Hagon
"Yeah. Wesley had been manning that station for me. I forgot."
"Well, thanks again for manning one of our bridge stations, Wesley. We'll see that you get another chance."
- - Picard, Riker, and Wesley
"Damn. Where are the calluses we doctors are supposed to grow over our feelings?"
"Perhaps the good ones never get them."
- - Beverly Crusher and Picard
- First story outline: 6 March 1987 (Creating the Next Generation: The Conception and Creation of a Phenomenon)
- Kellam de Forest research notes: sent on 7 May 1987, received on 8 May 1987
- Four pages of script notes from Merri Howard: 28 May 1987
- Revised final draft script: 2 July 1987
- Filmed: 15 July 1987 – 24 July 1987
- Score recorded at Paramount Stage M: 11 September 1987 
- Premiere airdate: 12 October 1987
- UK premiere (BBC2): 10 October 1990
Story and script
- The original concept of this episode's story, by Kathryn Powers and Michael Baron, called the Ligonians "Tellisians", a reptilian species with a culture similar to the Japanese samurai and a warrior caste called the Kadim. (Creating the Next Generation: The Conception and Creation of a Phenomenon, p. 39) This story concept also named the planet Ligon II "Tellis" and Lutan was the captain of a Tellisian ship. He met the Enterprise-D crew on a shore leave planet where ritual fightings were held and kidnapped Tasha on this planet where she had a fight with Lutan's son. The concept also featured a reference to James T. Kirk, who once fought against Lutan's grandfather. Yareena's uncle, the king, was poisoned by Lutan and the away team of the Enterprise-D was imprisoned. In this prison, they met the Tellisian Hinun, a nephew of Lutan who assisted in their escape. (Creating the Next Generation: The Conception and Creation of a Phenomenon, pp. 76-78)
- Despite having vetoed Herbert J. Wright previously writing (into a different episode) a warning shot fired by the Enterprise at a Ferengi ship that had fired at the Enterprise (objecting that Captain Picard wouldn't allow the Enterprise to retaliate), Gene Roddenberry wrote into this episode's script, when he did a rewrite of it, that the Enterprise fired at a planet with full power, as a warning. (Gene Roddenberry: The Myth and the Man Behind Star Trek, paperback ed., pp. 235-236; The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, p. 81)
- In this episode, the entire humanoid population of the planet is portrayed by African-American performers. In the teleplay, however, only Lutan's guards were specifically written as being African.
- Glenn R. Wilder served as stunt coordinator for this episode. He was among the group of "one time" hired coordinators, prior to Dennis Madalone's employment on the series. Wilder also coordinated Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, two years later.
- This was the only Star Trek episode directed by Russ Mayberry. He left the production during filming and was replaced by First Assistant Director Les Landau.
- The score for this episode was composed by Fred Steiner, who had written numerous scores for TOS and was the only composer to write for both series. The score was recorded on 11 September 1987 at Paramount Stage M.  The complete episode score appears on Disc Three of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Collection, Volume One collection.
Cast and characters
- Jonathan Frakes referred to the episode as a "racist piece of shit."  At a 2007 science fiction convention in Toronto, Canada, he told the audience, "The worst and most embarrassing and one that even Gene would have been embarrassed by was that horrible racist episode from the first season 'Code of Honor', oh my God in heaven!" 
- Brent Spiner regarded this episode as the "worst episode we ever did" and "an inadvertently racist episode." (The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, p. 82) In a 2012 interview with TrekMovie.com, Spiner recalled, "It ["Code of Honor"] was just a racist episode. Maybe not intentionally but it felt that way and looked that way. It was the third episode so it was fortuitous that we did our worst that early on and it never got quite that bad again." 
- According to Wesley Crusher actor Wil Wheaton, 'if the cast wasn't arbitrarily decided to be African-American,' the idea of the episode being racist or non-racist wouldn't have been an issue. 
- Michael Dorn (Worf) does not appear in this episode. This is his first non-appearance. The only other TNG episode in which he does not appear is "Haven". At the 2013 Toronto Comic Con's "An Evening With the Cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation", Dorn referred to this episode as "the worst episode of Star Trek ever filmed," to agreement from the rest of the cast and the crowd.  La Forge actor LeVar Burton wasn't proud of the episode, either. 
- Michael Rider can be seen for the first time after his scene from "The Naked Now" was deleted. He later reprised this role in the episodes "Haven" and "Reunion".
- Stuntman Bernie Pock later worked as stunt double for William Shatner on Star Trek Generations.
- Stuntwoman Sharon Schaffer previously worked as stunt actress on Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
- James Louis Watkins, who played Hagon, later worked under a different name on the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Tribunal".
Sets and props
- Doctor Crusher is seen wearing an antiquated wristwatch when she is reviving Yareena in the transporter room.
- The ivory-like sticks the Ligonians use to show approval or to applaud are later seen again in "Frame of Mind", where an illusory Tilonian inmate plays with them.
- Characteristic white lamps, consisting of several tubes in different shapes are seen on Ligon II for the first time. They later re-appear on many planets, like on Angel I, Risa, Cardassia and the first Founders' homeworld.
- One of the lamps, a spherical type was recycled from the 1983 film Scarface, and later reused on Angel I in "Angel One" and on the first Founders' homeworld in DS9: "The Search, Part II". Another one was recycled from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, where it appeared in the San Francisco bar. Another type of these lamps also appeared on Babylon 5. 
- In this episode, the floor of the holodeck is not yet covered by the familiar pattern of yellow stripes on black background; instead, the floor is covered by grey carpet.
- Special care was taken to include a Ligonian logo into many set pieces. The hexagonal shape, consisting of three diagonal stripes and a small circle, is seen on walls, doors, the vaccine box and the weapon boxes. The hexagonal shape is also echoed in the shape of doors, windows and the weapon wall in the large open courtyard.
- The blue razor prop that La Forge uses to shave was later seen, again as a razor, in DS9: "The Sword of Kahless" – which, coincidentally, was directed by actor LeVar Burton.
- The Ligonian glavin appears in later episodes such as "Reunion" and "Cost of Living", slightly repainted, in Worf's quarters as a Klingon hand-weapon.
- The Ligonian gongs were later re-used in the Temple of Akadar in TNG: "The Perfect Mate".
Special and visual effects
- According to Robert Legato, eighty visual effects shots were used in this episode. ("Departmental Briefing Year Five" ("Visual Effects"), TNG Season 5 DVD special features)
- This episode is similar to TOS: "Amok Time" and ENT: "United", as, in each episode, a member of the series' main cast (and the Enterprise's senior staff) is forced into fighting in ceremonial combat. Both this episode and "Amok Time" (in which Spock is forced to fight Captain Kirk) feature two characters (Lieutenant Yar and Spock) who both later die but return in some form in their respective series (Tasha Yar dies in "Skin of Evil" but returns in "Yesterday's Enterprise" and "All Good Things..."; Spock dies in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan before being resurrected in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock).
- Katharyn Powers was later responsible for the very similar Stargate SG-1 Season One episode "Emancipation". Both episodes feature a female officer being abducted and later participating in a fight to the death which both parties survive. Both episodes were also widely criticized, not only by much of the cast, but by fans as well.
- As noted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, Tracy Tormé was embarrassed by what he called a "1940s tribal Africa" view of Africans in this episode. Tormé commented, "That episode was offensive. It was like Amos 'n' Andy in the way African Americans were depicted." (The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, p. 81)
- At a Star Trek panel at DragonCon 2010, Star Trek: Voyager actor Garrett Wang said this episode "stinks", to which LeVar Burton agreed, adding, "Without question."  Furthermore, Wang attributed his viewing of the episode as the reason why he ended up landing the role of Harry Kim, stating that, had he watched another episode of TNG, he would have been "too nervous" during his audition, as he would have ended up being a big fan of the show: "So three times I tried watching [the series] and I realised God was telling me 'Do not watch Star Trek: The Next Generation'." 
- Star Trek: Enterprise Consulting Producer David A. Goodman and Gene Roddenberry's son Rod were rare voices of approval for this installment. "As weirdly offensive as people think 'Code of Honor' is, I, at least, liked it because it felt new and different," Goodman commented. "There was some action, and it had a great score – it probably has the best score of any Next Generation episode." Rod Roddenberry stated, "'Code of Honor' is the one that people say is the most racist, but I just didn't see it. Is it the best episode ever? No. But did I enjoy the episode? Sure. I just saw them as people on a planet that happened to be of dark skin that evolved in this certain way." (The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, p. 82)
- Mark A. Altman regarded this episode as one of a few "really sub-par" episodes in the early run of TNG. (Trek: Deepspace Nine, p. 73)
- A mission report for this episode, by Patrick Daniel O'Neill, was featured in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 2, pp. 52-57.
- The novel Dark Mirror establishes that in the mirror universe, when the ISS Enterprise-D arrived at Ligonia and the Ligonians tried to make the Enterprise-D crew follow their rituals, they simply sterilized the planet's southern continent, which forced the Ligonians into cooperating with the Empire's demands.
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 2, catalog number VHR 2264, 7 May 1990
- US LaserDisc (Pioneer): catalog number LV40270-103, 11 October 1991
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 1.2, catalog number VHR 4643, 4 May 1998
- On both UK VHS releases, the title of the episode was given as "Code of Honour" on the video sleeve.
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Geordi La Forge
- Denise Crosby as Lt. Tasha Yar
- Gates McFadden as Doctor Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher
- James G. Becker as Youngblood
- Darrell Burris as operations division officer
- Dexter Clay as security officer
- Jeffrey Deacon as command division officer
- Nora Leonhardt as science division ensign
- Tim McCormack as Bennett
- Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
- Bernie Pock as Aikido fighter
- Richard Sarstedt as command division officer
- Ken Warfield as Ligonian juggler
- Unknown performers as
- Dwayne McGee as stunt double for James Louis Watkins
- Sharon Schaffer as stunt double for Karole Selmon
- Cheryl Wheeler Duncan as stunt double for Denise Crosby
- James G. Becker – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Darrell Burris – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Jeffrey Deacon – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Susan Duchow – stand-in for Denise Crosby
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Guy Vardaman – stand-in for Wil Wheaton
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- "Code of Honor" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Code of Honor" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Code of Honor" at Wikipedia
- "Code of Honor" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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