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