Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Vengeance Factor” and “The Defector”

vengeance-factor

A memory that will haunt Riker for years.

I’m going through “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and reviewing every episode, complete with commentary and a grade from A-F. I’ve also included a score and comment from my wife, who has never seen the show before. There are SPOILERS for each episode below.

“The Vengeance Factor”

Plot

Picard plays diplomat between the inhabitants of Acamar III and the “Gatherers”- a group that splintered off a century before. They take the Sovereign–the leader of Acamar–to have a face-to-face conversation with the leader of the Gatherers. What they don’t count on is Yuta, the Sovereign’s cook, having an ancient blood feud with some of the Gatherers and attempting to kill them all. When the crew of the Enterprise finally discovers who committed the murders, Riker must use lethal force to prevent Yuta from breaking the potential peace forever.

Commentary

I’ve always remembered this episode as one with an epic plot, though I admit I forgot the main points throughout. That just made it better, as the big reveals throughout felt new. Yes, some were expected, but there were other parts that were just shocking, like when Riker is forced to mow down Yuta in order to preserve the peace, or when Yuta first reveals herself to be a killer. The episode also does a great job with rising tension and having stakes which feel genuine.

The Riker/Yuta dynamic is of interest as well, because it doesn’t feel like so many of the other “love” stories we’ve had on the TNG thus far. Instead, there is a real interplay between them. In fact, Riker’s character really gets the most action of any character here, but it didn’t feel like a “Riker” episode. Instead, it was just a solid plot that happened to feature Riker throughout.

I haven’t commented on costumes frequently, but I want to point out that the Gatherers’ “Mad Max” look was pretty fun. The Sovereign’s mustard dress with large blue jewelry adorning it was actually quite stunning. I’m serious, that woman has style. It’s the first time I’ve been watching an episode and thought “Wow, that was a killer job by the wardrobe designer.”

Also, was that ending bleak or what? I did not expect TNG to leave us with Riker simply mulling over the whole thing on his own, with a brief pat on the shoulder from Picard and an offer of shore leave his only consolation. I love it. Great episode all around.

Grade: A “A really solid plot with some truly awesome moments throughout.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “There were good characters and the plot kept me guessing.”

“The Defector”

Plot

A Romulan–commander Jarok–seeks asylum aboard the Enterprise, claiming that he is trying to prevent a war which is only days away. Picard and crew are skeptical of his claims, but he ends up providing detailed tactical information and they go to investigate, finding nothing but an elaborate ploy to test Jarok’s loyalty.

Commentary

The notion of a defection in order to try to save one’s family is a serious premise for an episode, and “The Defector” does a great job of portraying it. Moreover, the fact that it all was for naught because the Romulans were really just testing Jarok’s loyalty was an epic twist, along with the Klingons showing up to defend the Enterprise. Though this ending did make me wonder whether the Romulans would really have decided to start a war with Starfleet on such a pretense.

The only real problem with this episode is that it just felt so slow. The tension built well, but then it just waited on the climax for about 15 minutes. It was an interesting episode, but at points boring. Thankfully, the epic reveal at the end made up for much of the slowness through the rest of the episode.

It’s not perfect, but “The Defector” is a memorable, solid episode.

Grade: B+

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “There were a few plot holes, but overall it was very good.” 

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason- Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: TNG- For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 “The Enemy” and “The Price”

This is how I felt when Lwazana Troi was mentioned. Good thing she was a no-show.

My face when I thought Lwaxana Troi would be in the episode.

I’m going through “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and reviewing every episode, complete with commentary and a grade from A-F. I’ve also included a score and comment from my wife, who has never seen the show before. There are SPOILERS for each episode below.

“The Enemy”

Plot

The Enterprise investigates a Romulan [why is this so hard for me to spell?] crash site in Federation territory. In the process, Geordi gets stranded with a Romulan as a prisoner, and another Romulan is taken to the Enterprise. The latter is dying and the only one who can save him is Worf, who refuses to give his blood. As Dr. Crusher attempts to convince Worf to give blood, a Romulan Warbird bears down on the Enterprise and Geordi struggles to get some sense of trust with the Romulan on the planet. Ultimately, Geordi saves the day, and Picard defuses the situation, once more preventing war.

Commentary

Here’s how a Geordi-centric episode should look: put the focus on him as a character, not purely on his flaws. He is made vulnerable by his blindness, but he overcomes this with force of will and his interpersonal skills. The latter bring about a kind of ceasefire between Starfleet and the Romulan Empire on a micro-level. The tension which builds up between Picard and the Romulans is also a great entertainment factor.

I admit that the attempts to guilt Worf into giving his blood were annoying. However, Worf’s stoic resistance to all efforts was so true to his character that it made up for it. He is willing to allow a Romulan–a very valuable prisoner–to die rather than compromise his moral compass.

Overall it was a solid episode, which I admit I may have scored higher because it gives Geordi a chance to actually shine.

Grade: A- “Geordi finally gets his due, and the Romulans remain a mysterious threat.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: C+ “I thought the story was okay, but it seemed like it should have been more urgent. It was missing something.”

“The Price”

Plot

A wormhole is discovered which may usher in an era of prosperity when sold, to the highest bidder. The Ferengi show up to throw a wrench in the process. Devinoni Ral dominates the negotiations as he manipulates the other parties while also becoming Troi’s lover. Between love-fests, he finally seals the deal to get rights to the wormhole. Unfortunately for him, it turns out it is not stable on the other end, and a pair of Ferengi are left behind a Quadrant away. Ultimately, Ral leaves after a rather epic break-up with Troi.

Commentary

I think it is appropriate to mention the music. The tracks were actually quite good and beautiful, particularly in the scenes with Ral and Troi. The problem is that they were so overdone for those scenes that as we watched it felt as though a stirring love story were being shoved down our throats. I mean that literally: imagine a novel being shoved down your throat. That’s how each “love” scene in this episode felt, and the music made it even more sappy and unbelievable. Not bad music, but chosen poorly for this specific episode.

I also feel the need to mention how TNG fell on its face on gender issues once again. Troi totally duped by some guy whose first interaction with her involves him not letting her say no and stroking her hair (assault!)?- check. The two prominent female characters showing up in skimpy 80s workout gear passed off as sci-fi?- check. Reducing the one interaction between these two women to idle gossip about men?- check. Yep, we’ve failed this round.

The unfortunate thing is that apart from these rather massive failures–and the mention of Lwaxana Troi at the opening (I actually turned to my wife and said “Oh no!” rather loudly)–this is a great episode. The premise is pretty fascinating–negotiations over a galactic commodity with huge import. The Ferengi getting rocked by their idiocy was fun. Seeing Ral lose the negotiations despite winning was also a great piece of writing. Heck, even Troi’s zinger at the end “I’m already a counselor…” to Ral was fantastic.

Given all that, my score may seem low. Apart from the two items mentioned above, this is a solid A-B episode, but the things that were bad about it were so bad. Ouch.

Grade: C- “The main plot was good, the ‘love’ story was atrocious.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “There was a lot of plot that felt rushed or unresolved but it was good overall.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason- Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: TNG- For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 “The Bonding” and “Booby Trap”

Carefully set up scenarios don't get you a girlfriend? Just make one on the holodeck!

Carefully set up scenarios don’t get you a girlfriend? Just make one on the holodeck!

I’m going through “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and reviewing every episode, complete with commentary and a grade from A-F. I’ve also included a score and comment from my wife, who has never seen the show before. There are SPOILERS for each episode below.

“The Bonding”

Plot

A freak accident on an away mission leads to the death of a crew member, survived only by her young son. Worf wants to share in the experience with the child, but so does an alien energy field which turns into a fake-mom and tries to lure the child off the ship to make a pseudo-utopic life for him. The alien-force is eventually talked out of it by reasoning that human experience must be had instead of a false front.

Commentary

I’ll admit it: I fell asleep during this one. But I did rewatch the ending to make up for it. That said, this is not a very exciting or engaging episode. It has some pretty good moments and deals well with issues of loss (did I just say that about a TNG episode!?), but it just doesn’t make you want to watch it. Perhaps the most interesting part of the episode is Picard’s dialogue with Troi on the ins-and-outs of having children aboard a starship. This conversation was interesting, and brings up some great questions: is it better to leave kids out of harm’s way but separate from their parent(s) for long periods of time or have them riding into the Neutral Zone with their families? The reasoning from Picard and Troi was interesting, and the question could probably sustain a different episode, but not this one. This one is more concerned with the question of grief and weird aliens. Yeah.

Worf finally gets another episode with some character time, but it is unfortunately largely wasted. He has a great exchange with Troi over dealing with grief and the futility of such a loss, but it doesn’t go beyond that. His ‘adoption’ of Jeremy isn’t awful, but it seems strange. You’d think Starfleet would have other systems in place.

Grade: C- “Literally put me to sleep.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “The acting was somewhat lacking but it dealt well with themes of grieving and death.”

“Booby Trap”

Plot

After exploring an ancient derelict, the Enterprise find itself caught in the same energy-sucking trap. Geordi goes to the holodeck to talk to the computer in order to figure out how to get out of the trap. Eventually, Geordi and a facsimile of an engineer who worked on the Enterprise‘s design come up with a solution which leads to Picard’s expertly piloting the Enterprise out of danger.

Commentary

“Booby Trap” has the makings of a great episode. Picard is jubilant over an ancient archaeological find; Geordi finally gets some real screen time; the plot itself is interesting; and the music is again noteworthy, though at times overbearing. Unfortunately, the episode fails to capitalize on these factors. Instead, we see Geordi as incompetent at relationships and getting to intimately know the ship’s computer. Weird.

It’s sad because the episode really has some great moments. The discovery aboard the derelict of a captain’s log was a great moment, and Picard’s piloting out of the mess by slingshotting around an asteroid makes the episode have an action-film feel not often present in TNG. However, for Geordi’s character to essentially get disrespected makes it all feel wrong. Sure, it’s fine to have problems with the opposite sex; but to reduce it to “what do women like” as if all women like the same thing or “what can I do differently” as if making up a scenario is the way to woo people makes the whole notion feel odd. Geordi’s ultimately relational “success” with the Computer–and did anyone else sense a double meaning with the notion that pressing the ship’s buttons is pressing the designer’s?–exacerbates the problem.

“Booby Trap” isn’t terrible, it just isn’t at the level set by other episodes at this point. Hopefully Geordi will see justice done for his character later.

Also, side note, wasn’t Worf trying to build a model ship in an earlier episode… and wasn’t Data perplexed by Geordi (?) building a model ship also? Maybe they just didn’t realize they could put them in bottles.

Grade: C “Geordi gets a girlfriend, named ‘Computer.'”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: C+ “Development for Geordi was good, but the rest of it was bland.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason- Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: TNG- For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 “The Survivors” and “Who Watches the Watchers”

Tea good. House good. Worf pleased.

Tea good. House good. Worf pleased.

I’m going through “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and reviewing every episode, complete with commentary and a grade from A-F. I’ve also included a score and comment from my wife, who has never seen the show before. There are SPOILERS for each episode below.

“The Survivors”

Plot

A settlement of 11,000 people is destroyed but for one household. The crew of the Enterprise attempts to figure out why they were spared, while being chased around the system by an angry ship. Meanwhile, Troi experiences mental trauma as a song continues to play. Picard eventually figures out the ship (and song) are caused by the man on the surface who is an extremely powerful being. That being reveals himself, heals Troi, and admits to killing off an entire species because of what they did to the colony. Picard concludes the being is to be left alone.

Commentary

This is one of the more memorable episodes so far in TNG. It starts off very slowly, but eventually the seeds of mystery planted in the beginning come to fruition. The plot keeps viewers guessing throughout, but not in a way that is ever obvious. Yes, it’s clear that the evil ship has a connection to the couple, but viewers have to reason alongside Picard in order to try to figure it out. It’s a mystery which keeps viewers guessing until the end. It is unfortunate that the episode feels so slow. It’s not bad at all, but the whole thing just lacks the kind of pacing that the greatest episodes of TNG are able to muster.

Worf’s “I like gall” line was great, but his “Good tea. Nice house.” one-off was better. He’s a great character so far for these one-liners, but I can’t wait to see him develop more as a character.

Picard’s moralizing is interesting, and leads to a number of questions: why could not such a being be punished?; how could this be seen in any way as justice (as Picard possibly implies)?; is there a punishment which could be meted out upon a such a being? These and other questions spring to mind, but “The Survivors” leaves them unanswered at the end, allowing viewers to muse upon them as the Enterprise flies off to another adventure. It doesn’t feel unsatisfying; rather, it calls for reflection in the way that the best episodes of TNG do.

Overall, a very solid episode marred by a fairly slow pace.

Grade: B+ “It’s not a thriller, but it stays interesting–and mysterious–throughout.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was slow to get started but ultimately the plot was quite compelling.”

“Who Watches the Watchers”

Plot

A Starfleet anthropology site is seen by the locals when a hologram projector fails, leading to the belief that Picard is deity. Troi is a captive and her life is in danger as the locals attempt to please their re-discovered belief in the “Overseer.” Ultimately, Picard reasons one of the proto-Vulcans into unbelief and convinces the rest that he is not a deity. They part ways, but have learned more about the broader universe.

Commentary

There is much to love in “Who watches…” First, I haven’t commented on the music in the series yet, but this episode had some pretty solid tracks. At some points they got overbearing/repetitive, but it is the first episode I actually noticed the music in, and it was a good thing overall. Second, the concept of Starfleet having little observation posts all over the place is compelling and interesting, and I remember my childhood wonder at the fact that they’d be there in the midst of discovering. Third, the overall plot is pretty solid.

Unfortunately, the episode isn’t all great. The main difficulty is the constant theme of “religion is for idiots.” On a blog with the title “Eclectic Theist” it should be no surprise that I think this is bunk. Picard emphasized that getting beyond belief in deity was a major intellectual accomplishment, and I would agree that it is–when one is not believing rationally in the actual God. However, apart from the fact that it is very reasonable to believe in God, the whole episode seemingly relies upon the history of religions school which is largely bunk. That is, it seems to portray simplistic primitive religion (which the people of the planet are retreating towards) as an evolutionary step on a movement beyond totemism and finally into “enlightened” atheism.

Now this history-of-religions is actually false, but it also makes for an episode which continues to operate on a kind of moralistic anti-theistic level which is just grating on the nerves. We can debate the finer points throughout, but that is for a different place (see linked posts). My point regarding this as an episode is that it simply destroys much of the appeal of the plot to have religion reduced to such simplicities that people instantly “devolve” into “primitive” religion when confronted with technology, and that this would seem just obviously true. It’s a weak plot point and, again, rams down our throat the notion that it is true throughout, despite having little empirical evidence and even a great amount of counter-evidence (see, for example, this book).

Okay, I promise I’m getting off the high horse now. The episode has a solid premise and some genuine entertainment value. It’s just brought down by the points mentioned above, along with the difficulty of believing that the situation would in any way develop as it did. To think that a person could move from unbelief to casually choosing to attempt to murder others to please an alleged deity is tough to swallow (and speaks to the what I mentioned above). It makes for one of the episodes where you wonder about what could have been rather than what is actually presented.

Grade: B- “A memorable episode brought down by shoved-in-your-face moralizing.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “It was a good story, but there were too many unbelievable plot moments.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason- Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: TNG- For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

Sigmund Freud, Totemism, and the origin religion- Who cares about facts?- I discuss some difficulties with the alleged origin and development of religion from totemism to ever-increasing complexity of practice. This belief is commonly associated with Freud, but is there evidence for it?

SDG.

A Look at Each Upcoming Star Wars “New Canon” Book- The Sampler Review

canon-samplerThe new Star Wars canon books will start coming out in September. Recently, I discussed how a sampler was released (and it remains available free here) to survey four of these upcoming novels.  I read through the sampler in its entirety and I would like to offer a brief thought on each of these samples. Each section starts with the publisher’s blurb.

A NEW DAWN by John Jackson Miller

Set during the legendary “Dark Times” between Episodes III and IV, A New Dawn tells the story of how two of the lead characters from the animated series Star Wars Rebels first came to cross paths.

I found this one to be really quite intense. The story immediately grabbed me and the characters seemed really interesting. I liked the style and intensity. The blending of character development alongside immediate action was done well, and I think that can be quite hard to do. I really look forward to this one, which is surprising because I thought it would be the one I’d enjoy the least. I don’t think I’ll be able to watch the “Rebels” show until it comes out on DVD so I hope the book does well as a stand-alone.

TARKIN by James Luceno

Bestselling Star Wars veteran James Luceno gives Grand Moff Tarkin the Star Wars: Darth Plagueis treatment, bringing a legendary character from A New Hope to full, fascinating life.

I expected to like this one the most because I think Tarkin is a character who could have a whole lot of awesome background development. However, I was surprised to find this one didn’t really grab me. I’ve enjoyed Luceno’s work in the Star Wars universe before so I’ll give some benefit of the doubt here and hope that Tarkin’s character carries the book more than he seemed to in this brief snippet. I think the main problem is the format, as I barely felt I had a chance to get the “feel” of Tarkin at all in the brief parts in which he was speaking apart from the action.

HEIR TO THE JEDI by Kevin Hearne

The author of The Iron Druid Chronicles tells a thrilling new adventure set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, and-for the first time ever-written entirely from Luke Skywalker’s first-person point of view.

Oh boy… I don’t know what to say about that one. I love Luke Skywalker. He remained one of my favorite characters throughout all the Expanded Universe novels, so I have a bit of a bias for him. That said, I’m not sure that this format will work for a Star Wars book. I did quite enjoy the sample, but it seemed like Luke spent a bit too much time explaining who other people were and what they were doing. Moreover, it seemed consciously self-referential in a way that undermined the genuine feel that first-person narratives need. I remain cautiously hopeful for this one, though. I enjoyed it, but I was also perhaps overly critical in my reading due to my attachment to the character.

LORDS OF THE SITH by Paul S. Kemp

When the Emperor and his notorious apprentice, Darth Vader, find themselves stranded in the middle of insurgent action on an inhospitable planet, they must rely on each other, the Force, and their awesome martial skills to prevail.

Honestly this was probably the least memorable of all the samples. I expect this one to be awesome, because, after all, it is about Vader. But really I was barely impacted at all by this sample. Hopefully it was just a poor selection, but I barely even remember what happened. Admittedly, part of that may have been that I was sick while reading it and probably read it around 4-5AM as I was trying to get tired again. Maybe I should re-read it!

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I will probably pick up at least one of these in hardcover for posterity, so I look forward to engaging with this new go-round of the Star Wars universe. I really hope they’re good and although I remain really upset about the fall of the Expanded Universe, I think this will be a fun run.

Did you read the sampler? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear them.

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason- Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 “Evolution” and “The Ensigns of Command”

"I sure hope this won't escape and threaten the lives of everyone on the ship!"

“I sure hope this won’t escape and threaten the lives of everyone on the ship!”

I’m going through “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and reviewing every episode, complete with commentary and a grade from A-F. I’ve also included a score and comment from my wife, who has never seen the show before. There are SPOILERS for each episode below.

“Evolution”

Plot

The Enterprise is ferrying a scientist with a pet project to a star that will only allow the study every 200 years or so. The ship has difficulties caused by nanomachines Wesley unwittingly released. Eventually, Data is able to communicate with the ever-evolving nanos and brings about a peace treaty. The science experiment(s) succeed.

Commentary

My enjoyment of this episode rapidly deteriorated as it got more and more absurd. The premise isn’t awful; runaway nanos (or other technology) seem like a legitimate threat, and the way it initially played out wasn’t bad. The problem is the amount of suspension of disbelief involved in thinking that some nanomachines programmed to aid in medicine were somehow able to evolve to eat computer parts and then manipulate them, then communicate, enter Data to communicate in English, and ultimately decide they wanted their own planet. Yeah, that happened! I mean I found this whole train just absurd.

It doesn’t help that the scientist–Dr. Stubbs– was unbearably annoying. Frankly, I was on Troi’s side when she lectured the heck out of him. Also, where did Pulaski go? I get that Crusher is back–and I think Dr. Crusher is a strong character–but what explanation is there for where Pulaski went? She was just growing on me, too.

The Wesley storyline was bearable, but it also makes me question, yet again, why there are no consequences for any characters. Wesley nearly killed everyone on the ship! Dr. Stubbs massacred a large portion of a sentient species (though I actually would have been on his side in this–they’re machines and also ridiculous!)! Yet they both walk away without any consequences.

Anyway, the whole thing is too unbelievable for me. Decent premise, poor execution. Great special effects in this one, though!

Grade: C- “My brain shut down from the amount of suspension of disbelief involved in this episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “The premise was very interesting, but a few things didn’t make sense, like the lack of consequences for the characters involved in the nano-crisis.”

“The Ensigns of Command”

Plot

An alien race contacts the Enterprise with instructions to remove a human colony per their treaty with Starfleet. The evacuation would be impossible in the time allotted, but the aliens are unwilling to negotiate. Meanwhile, Data must convince the colonists to evacuate. Picard scours the treaty for a loophole, while Data ultimately goes angry-android on the colonists to show them the military might headed their way. Ultimately, Picard finds the loophole and all is saved.

Commentary

The juxtaposition of the developing drama between the situation on the planet with Data and Picard’s struggles to delay the destruction of the colony makes for a genuinely suspenseful episode at several points. The added dimension of factions developing on the planet also heightened the suspense. Ultimately, however, the episode was carried by Data, and it shows how strong his character has become in TNG at this point.

First, the intro scene with his playing the violin (and Picard walking out to deal with the crisis) was a good opening to set up for the struggles with his (lack of) humanity later on. Then, the way the colonists rejected his advice merely because he was an android set up a nice obstacle for him to overcome. Later, his decision to follow the maxim that “actions speak louder than words” sets up an epic and cold-blooded scene in which Data mows down several guards and then attacks the aqueduct. Finally, the close with Picard arguing with Data to show that even in mimicry, he was making individualized choices created a compelling finish to close out the episode developing Data’s self-image.

Again, set alongside what is a genuinely interesting main plot, with some awesome scenes from Picard, this episode really shines. Some fun with Geordi and O’Brien in the transporter gives just enough comic relief in between the serious parts to keep it going. Troi also gets a major nod as she comes up with an excellent analogy for the difficulties of communication, leading Picard into some head scratching which ultimately unleashes Picard’s passive aggressive fury as he checks for dust around the bridge of the Enterprise before allowing the aliens a reprieve.

This is a fantastic episode with little to interfere with its superb storytelling.

Grade: A “The episode has a solid main plot with good side stories and is nicely bookended by the opening and closing about Data’s violin.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was fun to see Data struggle to succeed at the mission.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason- Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: TNG- For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

 

William Shakespeare’s “Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope” – A Review

doescher-swvnhWhen I first saw William Shakespeare’s ‘Star Wars: Verily A New Hope’ by Ian Doescher, I was immediately intrigued. I’ve been a fan of Shakespeare for some time (I remember reading through Julius Caesar in fourth grade and going on to other plays from there), and of course I’ve also been a huge Star Wars fan for most of my life. What would a combination of the two bring?

The answer is pretty simple: hilarity, fun, and joy. The book is an absolute blast. Here are a few representative quotes:

The scene is on the Death Star when Luke and Han are debating whether to save Leia:

Luke: Hast thou no heart? She sentenc’d is to die!
Han: My sentence is: ’tis better she than I.

[Later, the scene shortly after breaking into the prisoner blocks and Han is trying to answer a call from the authorities about whether they should send a unit:]

Han: —-‘Tis no matter, Sir—-
A slight malfunction o the weapons here.
But all is well, and we are well, and all
Within are well. The pris’ners, too, are well,
‘Tis well, ’tis well. And thou? Art also well?

It’s not just Han who gets great lines. R2D2 is portrayed as a droid masquerading as a simpleton to show that even the simple can make the Empire fall. C-3PO admits his reliance upon R2 in asides, while simultaneously ridiculing the little droid. Vader’s musings over his own place in the Galaxy are thoughtful and provide a better set up for the later stories in the series.

The language remains Shakespearean, though I would note that it is hard to say anyone could equal the master playwright. Rather, Doescher doesn’t try to hard. He simply uses the same language, but clearly imports his own prose into the work which gives the book a feel of a Shakespearean drama without feeling contrived. Throughout the whole book, there remains a feel of genuine drama without ever being overdone. Moreover, the feel of Star Wars is also preserved perfectly. It blends wonderfully with the feel of Shakespeare in a concoction that makes one wonder why it hasn’t been done before.

In short, the book is delightful. I would recommend it highly.

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason- Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

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Star Trek: TNG- For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.