How is the change of the Enterprise-D crew's attitude explained, in-universe, concerning these two events?

In "Pen Pals," Data breaks the Prime Directive, yet Picard and company proceed to help save the inhabitants of Drema IV. However, in "Homeward," the crew stubbornly refuses to help save the culturally rich Boraalans, almost to the point of appearing cold and without feeling.

It seems so hypocritical.

  • 2
    The Prime Directive is more of a guideline, actually...
    – Omegacron
    Jul 5, 2017 at 20:01
  • The Prime Directive isn't meant to be strict dogma. It exists to force the discussion and make sure those situations are treated very seriously. It's very similar to mutiny. Mutiny could sometimes be necessary but that doesn't stop it being a court martial-able offense. Jul 6, 2017 at 15:00
  • "almost to the point of appearing cold and without feeling" - Almost? As far as I remember, even though Nikolai Rozhenko saves basically a handful of people, the entire planet becomes uninhabitable and we must assume thousands, if not millions more have perished. While the Enterprise crew marvels the view from the bridge and condems even the thought of trying to save at least parts of the population. Aug 7, 2022 at 8:38

1 Answer 1


Perhaps I should watch "Pen Pals" again, but based on memory and the synopsis on Memory Alpha, there is a significant mitigating factor.

At first, Picard (and as the Commanding Officer, his is the only opinion that should matter) does not want to interfere; the same stance he takes in "Homeward." However, the direct plea for help (played by Data) can be considered something different, and the Enterprise should intervene at that point. Picard's justification is "Your whisper from the dark has now become a plea, we cannot turn our backs."

All in all, both episodes show a basic reluctance to violate the Prime Directive, but exceptional conditions (Data playing the direct plea for help, Nikolai Rozhenko beaming up the villagers in 'Homeward') cause the crew to take action, more or less willingly. I consider the crew (and Picard's) attitudes towards the Prime Directive to have changed that much.

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