After delivering a party of Earth colonists to the Strnad Solar System, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise anxiously awaits a pending shore leave on the pastoral planet of Rubicun III.
The civilization, whose inhabitants are known as the Edo, is less advanced than those on Earth but is brimming with love, health and sensual pleasure.
Vacation plans are suddenly thwarted when Wesley Crusher, playing with the Edo children, innocently violates a planet law and is sentenced to death. At the same time, the crew is confronted by a mysterious vessel that appears to be existing in two dimensions simultaneously. The vessel, protesting the installation of Earth colonists in the Strnad Solar System, startles the crew by sending a powerful light object that enters Data's mind and renders him unconscious.
In order to determine the origins of the vessel, Captain Picard beams down to Edo and negotiates to save Wesley's life for a few more hours and asks for Edo assistance in determining the origins of the mysterious vessel.
Beaming aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise with Rivan, a knowledgeable Edo woman, the Captain soon learns the Edo consider the vessel as "God." To make matters worse, it is learned that the inhabitants of this powerful object are observing the crew's morals and preparing to pass judgment.
Picard returns to Rubicun III and despite Edo objections and the Federation's prime directive, beams Wesley and the crew back to the U.S.S. Enterprise. Preparing to face the wrath of the mysterious vessel for violating Edo customs, Picard and crew are pleasantly surprised that the judgment passed on the starship is favorable. The alien vessel fades away.