Star Trek: TNG Season 5 “The Masterpiece Society” and “Conundrum”

Riker- "Hey now... whoa there!"

Riker- “Hey now… whoa there!”

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 Masterpiece Society”

Plot

The Enterprise is trailing a galactic core piece [or somesuch] when they realize there is a heretofore unknown human colony in the path of destruction this object will plow. After making contact, they learn that the colony is actually a genetic experiment in which all the people have been selectively bred in order to fulfill specific roles. The colonists are thus quite resistant to the notion they need to move or relocate because they fear that it will overthrow the society that has been created there. The crew works to try to convince Aaron Conor–the colony’s leader–of the necessity of working together, and as they do work to save the colony, Conor and Troi forge a relationship. Hannah Bates, a scientist from the colony, is dispatched to help with figuring out how to save it on the Enterprise. After the danger is averted, Bates and others decide they want to leave the colony, and after some pushing on all sides, it is agreed they may leave, putting the colony in some uncertainty about its future.

Commentary

In writing, there’s a mantra repeated all over in almost every corner I’ve ever explored: “Show, don’t tell.” “The Masterpiece Society” commits the mistake of doing a bit too much “telling” and not enough “showing.” There’s a whole lot of back-and-forth over what is the right thing to do. Thus, we as viewers are treated to lengthy periods in which all that is happening is talking. I don’t mind this too much, but at some point I had to wonder if we were going to move the plot forward amidst all the debates over the right course of action.

That said, I really enjoyed this episode quite a bit. In fact, I think I’ll write about the ethical issues some more on my main site. The issues that were raised were continually interesting–issues of eugenics, genetic modification, and the like. Geordi’s discussion over his own ability to contribute to society was particularly moving. The ethical questions are all worth thinking about, and the episode continually raises new angles to approach them from.

The core plot is also entertaining, because we so often see the Enterprise swoop in and solve issues on planets without getting insight into how the process works. Here, we see tech teams moving around, crew members trying to solve related problems, and more. It’s an extended look into how things work in the universe, and that makes it solid viewing. I have to wonder, though, how it is that the Chief Engineer is somehow the one who is involved in all the science-y questions.

“The Masterpiece Society” was an intriguing episode. It just does a bit too much talking about the issues instead of showing them to us to be truly spectacular television. As someone interested in philosophy, it was a home run; as a viewer just wanting to enjoy some Trek, it was still solid but not as amazing as it could have been.

Grade: B+ “It brings up a bunch of interesting ethical issues, but it preaches about them a bit too much.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was a very interesting premise that raised some good issues, but lacked the ‘wow’ factor to put it into the ‘A’s.'” 

“Conundrum”

Plot

The Enterprise encounters an unknown ship which scans them in such a way as to erase everyone’s memory and block most computer functions. When they come to, they must figure out what is going on and who they are. The computer seems to suggest they are on a mission to destroy the base of an enemy of Starfleet that they have been at war with for some time, but the ease of their penetration of the defenses leads to the crew getting suspicious. As more computer records are accessed, it turns out there is a mole that the crew doesn’t know about, the alleged First Officer MacDuff. As MacDuff tries to throw them off the trail and keep the crew on task to destroy the “enemy” base, the crew continues to figure out more and more about themselves. Finally, Picard and the crew refuse to fire on the defenseless base, and MacDuff is taken down in his attempt to destroy what turns out to be his own people’s mortal enemy.

Commentary

‘Conundrum’ was a super episode. There was an immediate sense of “all is not right” that set viewers on edge, but the big reveal was still surprising, despite my wariness and looking for some kind of twist. To have MacDuff  as a planted alien was quite surprising. Sure, we didn’t see him before the weird scan thing happened, but it was all too easy to accept him as another random redshirt. But then, Boom!, turns out we were being played all along and the writers were banking on us not noticing some random redshirt getting too many talking lines. I’d started to suspect, but only because I’d seen the episode a really long time ago and had a vague sense of there being a mole. All of this is to say that was a really well-done plot twist.

To then have the crew trying to figure out what was going on while MacDuff deceived them was also convincingly done. There is enough culpability on the part of the crew without it seeming to be entirely contrived for the sake of the episode.

The moral questions raised were also pretty well done, such as whether one could feel morally right in taking orders without knowing more or “enough” of the story. Picard’s discussion with MacDuff on this point was written in such a way as to avoid being too preachy–something that recent episodes haven’t quite managed.

Finally, there were some good hints of humor throughout the episode that kept it from being entirely serious the whole time. These didn’t ruin the feel of the episode but in fact added to my enjoyment of it, particularly with Riker, Rho, and Troi trying to figure out who they were and what there relationships were. Epic. I also enjoyed Worf taking command. I’m still looking for that Star Trek TV show with Worf as captain of a Defiant class or somesuch. Please!?

Grade: A “The episode skillfully combined a sense of mystery and foreboding with some lighthearted and funny moments.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was a very interesting storyline with a good mixture of humor and seriousness.”

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.

Book Review: “Oxygen” by John Olson and Randy Ingermanson

Oxygen-oiOxygen by John Olson and Randy Ingermanson is a novel of an attempt by NASA in the near future [originally published in 2001 and set in 2012-2014 it is easy enough to imagine it being in the near future still] attempt to make it to Mars. There will be SPOILERS in what follows.

The story is intense from the beginning to the end. A mission to Mars is something that would be stressful no matter what, but the characters set the stage for the suspense early on. The story basically goes from the recruitment of Valkerie [not Valkyrie] for the mission through trying to ensure budget cuts don’t sink it, to launch, some major and nearly catastrophic accidents, and finally to landing on the surface of Mars.

All throughout there is an undertone of intensity built up from suspicious of terrorism, sabotage, and more. The book as a whole is intensely character driven, with much of the action taking place alongside lengthy conversations and internal dialogue. However, this never seems to slow the story down or impact the pacing in a negative fashion. The dramatic interactions of the crew members and others is always interesting to read and it all feels intensely “human.” There is something that is just thoroughly real about these characters Olson and Ingermanson have created that makes them entirely believable.

The journey of the characters is also worth pursuing as they go from trust to suspicion after an apparent bomb turns the trip to Mars into a race against the loss of oxygen. The way this develops over time is, again, completely believable because of the way the characters have been developed so well. Then, as they pull together towards the end, it is again completely in character. I can’t emphasize enough how much these characters feel like “real” people.

There is also plenty of neat near-future science fiction in there too, from what it would be like to try to get funding for NASA to get to Mars–including the politics and media circuses–to the accounts of action surrounding the launch and traveling of the rocket and ship.

Alongside all of this there are some quiet undertones of faith and the intersections of Christianity and science. Some people picket the training ground of the Mars mission, arguing that the whole thing was just an attempt to “prove evolution.” The main characters–particularly Bob and Valkerie, have their own perspectives. Bob, a Roman Catholic, takes evolution largely in stride. Valkerie, a “born again” Christian, has struggled quite a bit in her Christian walk. Too often, she argues, people portrayed science as the bane of religion and viewed her training as a scientist with deep skepticism. She almost lost her faith due to this, but was carried through by a deep relational experience with God.

The way the authors–each with PhDs in science (Olson = biochemistry and Ingermanson in theoretical physics)–portray these brief but insightful discussions is deeply appreciated. I’m not sure if it is reflective of their own experience, but it certainly is a reflection of mine, and I’m not even a scientist! My own faith has been called into question–and even called apostasy!–simply for not adhering to certain perspectives on creation. Would that more Christians would find themselves called to insightful, genuine dialogue on this topic, like the characters of this book, rather than compelled to shout each other down! For those who’d like to read more on this topic, please check out my other site’s page on the Origins Debate.

Overall, Oxygen is a simply fantastic read, all-around. I enjoyed it immensely and recommend it highly to my readers.

The Good

+Strong characters
+Suspense is constant throughout the novel
+Feels incredibly “human”
+Real sense of mystery
+Interesting insight into science and faith issues

The Bad

-Some questions about how it treats men and women

The Verdict

Grade: “A fantastic character-driven thrill ride to Mars.”

Conclusion

Overall, Oxygen reminds me quite a bit of a Ben Bova novel (a very positive association) with less discussion of the science/universe and more character development. I enjoyed it enormously.

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” in which I discuss many topics in theology and philosophy, including the science/faith debate. 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!

The Source

John Olson and Randy Ingermanson, Oxygen (Colorado Springs, CO: Marcher Lord [Now Enclave] Press, 2011), second edition.

SDG.

80s Fantasy Movie Review: “Legend”

This poster is pretty epic. Unfortunately, the movie isn't so epic.

This poster is pretty epic. Unfortunately, the movie isn’t so epic.

I have embarked on a quest to watch a number of 80s Fantasy flicks and share my findings with you, dear readers. Today, we reflect on “Legend.” I’ve never seen it before, but was excited when I saw how cool the cover was. Anyway, here goes!

Review

What the devil did I just watch? [See what I did there?]

“Legend” starts off pretty well with some ominous discussion between baddies and then a beautiful look at a fantastical forest. I want to dwell on this for a bit: the movie looks really good. The sets are all highly detailed and interesting to look at, the makeup used for Lily and other characters has enough whimsy to sell it without being too cheesy or overdone, and the camera effects often highlight and emphasize the setting in just the right way.

Unfortunately, there is very little else that goes well. The dialogue is pretty poorly written (apart from the cool scene with a riddle and most of the lines the Devil gets to speak). The characters never receive any background story or development, which makes it extremely difficult to care what happens to them. It tries to come off as being fairly dark, but only seems to end up taking itself too seriously.

The worst thing, though, is how much of the movie feels like it is just added in to fill it up. At several points dialogue is repeated; at least one clip of a scene is shown twice back-to-back, large amounts of time are spent just staring at characters’ faces, and when characters do speak with the cheesy (or wooden) dialogue, they often do so for interminably long periods of time without any action to drive the movie forward. We are subjected to a very lengthy portion of the film dedicated to watching the Devil try to seduce Lily while Jack and friends move through the Devil’s stronghold, which highlights the decent dialogue written for the ultimate bad guy, but doesn’t do much for the other characters.

All this filler means that, as mentioned before, viewers never get a feel for why the characters act the way they do, what motivates them, or why we should care about any of these to begin with. Some of the characters are also exceedingly annoying, which doesn’t help matters.

Ultimately, I was left just wondering why I should care or what there was to care about. I know this one is considered a bit of a classic and is very well-loved, but I just thought it was overdone. At least it’s pretty!

The Good

+Solid beginning
+Beautiful scenery, makeup, camera effects, and sets

The Bad

-Some parts seem to drag on forever
-Lots of filler
-Not as epic as it should have been
-Very little connection to the characters
-Poor dialogue (and too much of it!)

The Verdict

My Score: D+ “Very little of ‘Legend’ is compelling or legendary.”

Conclusion

I wanted to like this movie very badly. I just didn’t. It is filled with, well, filler, has a very threadbare plot, and very little world development. The characters never grew on me and I never felt connected to the story. The best part about the movie is the sweet cover/poster.

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!

Time to Watch some 80s Fantasy Flicks– I describe my quest to watch a bunch of 80s fantasy movies. This post also features links to all the reviews done so far.

A Ranking of 1980s Fantasy that would please Crom Himself– The original list of movies that made me embark on this quest.

SDG.

Star Trek: TNG Season 5 “Hero Worship” and “Violations”

I shall call him "Mini-Me."

I shall call him “Mini-Me.”

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.

“Hero Worship”

Plot

The Enterprise investigates a distress signal, and it turns out the Starship Vico has multiple hull breaches. All on board have been killed, except for one boy whom Data rescues through a feat of strength. On board the Enterprise, Timoty, the boy, tries to suppress his feelings of anguish over the loss of the ship and his parents. He does so by deciding he is an Android and imitating Data more and more. It turns out he thinks that he destroyed the Vico when the ship shook and his arm touched a control panel right before the ship was largely destroyed. As the Enterprise suffers its own similar difficulties, he relates to Data what happened to the Vico and Data discerns the ships shields are causing resonance that destroyed the Vico. They save the ship by lowering shields and Timothy realizes he’d rather have emotions. He and Data agree to be friends.

Commentary

Here’s another episode I think I really didn’t like as a child, but came to enjoy a lot as an adult now. When I was younger, I pretty much just thought that everyone would want to be like Data, so it didn’t make a lot of sense to me as to why this was an issue (who wouldn’t want super strength and the ability to read books in seconds?). Now that I’m older, though, I get the interest of the psychology behind the events. The big reveal of the fact that Timothy thought he had destroyed the ship was a great twist.

I appreciated the episode dealing with the difficult psychological problems behind loss and coping. It was pretty charming seeing how Data dealt with Timothy, despite his own lack of emotional depth (AKA no emotional depth). The resolution of the threat to the Enterprise was believable, even though it was fairly instantaneous. Tying it together with how the Vico was destroyed was a smart move. Great episode overall!

Grade: A “A charming look into humanity with Data as a foil.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “Lots of emotional impact!”

“Violations”

Plot

Three Ullians–people with powerful psychic abilities–are traveling on the Enterprise in between destinations. The Ullians–Jev, Tarmin (Jev’s father), and Inad–interact with the crew and help recover memories. However, Troi is attacked sexually through the psychic powers of Jev and is thrown into a coma. As other crew members investigate, they are also put into comas. The Ullians are suspected, and crew members try to pinpoint whodunnit. When Troi recovers, Jev helps her recover the memory of the event but distorts the memory to implicate Tarmin. However, La Forge and Data manage to track down that it was, in fact, Jev alone who can account for all the data they collected from previous places the Ullians visited. As Jev tries once more to attack Troi, he is stopped and arrested.

Commentary

It’s hard to score this one. It was tough to watch, but not bad. It’s surprising to see TNG deal with such a difficult issue in a way that is both moving and disturbing. This is, at its core, an episode about the trauma of rape–even if that is put throw mediation of being “only” mental rather than physical. The fact the episode never tries to downplay this as “only” mental helps sell it as genuinely dealing with the issue. It was really well done.

Plot-wise, it was a good idea to have Jev try to throw off suspicion in more than one way. It would have been too simplistic to have him simply put everyone into comas. His redirection that almost works both helped heighten the drama and add layers of complexity that were necessary to keep me engaged in the investigation.

One issue I had with the episode was Picard saying he wasn’t sure there was any way to bring charges for the crime because there was no such crime in human experience. I think the later discussion that used the word “rape” is appropriate–this was rape and should be punished as such. It seems the Ullians had such a system in place, which alleviates some of this, but I would think Picard would be capable of making this connection himself and pointing it out.

There were some lighthearted moments thrown in, like Riker’s offhanded remark that he’d rather not share any of the memories he’d like to dig up (shades of Kirk?). These moments were needed to break up what is otherwise a truly foreboding and serious episode. Well done, but a tough episode to watch.

Grade: B+ “An extremely difficult episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “A good premise was ruined by being just a little bit weird.”

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.

Microview: The “Eisenhorn” Trilogy by Dan Abnett

eisenhorn-abnettThe Eisenhorn Trilogy by Dan Abnett is a set of stories that takes place in the universe of Warhammer 40K. The universe is one created for tabletop gaming (learn more here). I have read in many places that these novels are a great entry point, and I’d have to agree because they are the first I read that were set in this universe.

The trilogy follows the footsteps of Gregor Eisenhorn, an Inquisitor whose job it is to hunt down heretics, xenos (aliens), and the like (daemons, etc.). It is a perfect set up for a story with lots of fighting and intrigue, and Abnett delivers on both. Throughout the books, readers are treated to plenty of twists and turns, and the overarching plot is superb. It’s an absolute blast to read these books and engage in the plot.

The books are also filled with a slew of terminology, characters, and references to events which are not always explained. Many of these are from the overall 40k universe, and many of them are clearly borrowed from the language of Christianity. This means that although the book is often recommended as an entry point, it still has a pretty steep learning curve at points. Expect to either be looking things up a few times or just not fully knowing what’s happening or being referenced. At times, too, some side characters do not seem to get enough development. There’s awareness that they are there and generally who they are, but Abnett doesn’t often go beyond that.

Despite a sometimes steep learning curve, the Eisenhorn Trilogy is a fantastic place to enter the Warhammer 40K universe. Filled with action and adventure, with a hefty helping of deception and plot twists, the trilogy is an enthralling read. Trust me, you won’t look back.

The Good

+ Great action sequences
+ Very interesting story
+ Lots of unforeseen plot twists
+ Dark universe that is deeply interesting
+ Tons of interesting religious references

The Bad

– So many locations it becomes hard to keep track of them all
– Secondary characters lost against the backdrop
– At times, a steep learning curve

The Verdict

Grade: A

If you like science fiction with lots of action, Abnett is a must-read.

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!

Microview– Read more microviews to discover more materials to experience! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Dan Abnett, Eisenhorn (Black Library, 2005).

SDG.

80s Fantasy Movie Review: “Highlander”

The whole movie should have been in this setting.

The whole movie should have been in this setting.

I have embarked on a quest to watch a number of 80s Fantasy flicks and share my findings with you, dear readers. Here, we look at “Highlander.” I have not seen this movie before, but like just about everyone, I know THE quote: “There can only be one…” so it’s kind of like I’ve seen it. Okay, not really. Onto the review!

Review

Highlander giveth, and Highlander taketh away. The film has some scenes that are fantastic, but other scenes are just disastrous. The depiction of MacCleod’s wife growing old and dying was really touching, for example. But other scenes are drivel, such as the scene with the Kurgan driving like a maniac. It just makes me wonder what the heck the point of it is. The background story is intriguing and built up well, but then largely abandoned (what happened in the intervening years?).

Frankly, if the film had only been about the discovery of immortality, it would have been better. Perhaps it just bites off more than it can chew as far as the time it is supposed to cover is concerned. The concept of these immortals having to go around killing each other is a bit underdeveloped as well. Why? Other than the “Prize,” what have they to gain from it? Why must there only be one? Why can’t we all just get along? Alas, we are never treated with further explanation because we have to get dragged back into the 80s to fight Kurgan. On paper, it’s a good concept, but in practice I was left just wishing for more plot and less absurdity.

We just never get a chance to see whether the film is Braveheart or the Matrix, and I wish that the two points had melded together better. It really does have the feel of an awesome, epic movie at several points–during the training montage, for example–but then it is just dragged down by silliness. The world has a true feel of lore to it and behind the scenes, but I was left feeling like the curtain was never fully pulled away to see that lore. The hints we get in the flashback scenes are awesome, and the way the movie very slowly gives hints of what’s happening is actually really well done, but all the potential never fully comes to fruition.

Indeed, it seems to me that most of the “modern” scenes in the 80s are unnecessary and frankly kind of silly. We never get a sense of why the gathering of the Immortals needs to happen at that point in history or why there are so few remaining.

I really wanted to love this movie, and it fed me plenty of potential for me to love it, but it just didn’t cash in.

The Good

+Pretty cool premise
+It’s SO 80s
+A lore-filled world oozing potential
+Solid backstory…

The Bad

-…which is never really fully cashed in
-Really weird scenes
-Some terrible dialogue
-It’s SO 80s

The Verdict

My Score: “An uneven film that is at times awesome, but at other times terrible.”

Conclusion

One of the most inconsistent and frustrating movies I’ve seen. Lots of potential and some cool scenes make me not sad I watched it, but I could stand to skip about 1/2 the movie and then have that 1/2 filled in with more cashing in on the premise.

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!

Time to Watch some 80s Fantasy Flicks– I describe my quest to watch a bunch of 80s fantasy movies. This post also features links to all the reviews done so far.

A Ranking of 1980s Fantasy that would please Crom Himself– The original list of movies that made me embark on this quest.

SDG.

Star Trek: TNG Season 5 “A Matter of Time” and “New Ground”

Surprise! I'm dropping your son off with you with no notice!

Surprise! I’m dropping your son off with you with no notice!

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.

“A Matter of Time”

Plot

On the way to try to resolve an environmental disaster on a nearby planet, the Enterprise encounters a time distortion. It turns out to be an apparent time traveler in a super advanced ship. The traveler, Berlinghoff Rasmussen, claims to be a historian and wants to observe the crew of the Enterprise going about daily routines. Things are not as they seem, however, as it turns out a major planetary crisis is developing on Penthera IV. Not only that, but Rasmussen appears to be taking things. After Picard tries to enlist Rasmussen’s help in making a decision, a major risk manages to save the planet and all the lives thereon. Rasmussen decides to leave, but is confronted and exposed for stealing various items from the Enterprise. It turns out he is, in fact, from the past and not the future but stole the vessel from a traveler in the future. The ship disappears and Rasmussen is stuck in his future.

Commentary

Boom! Plot twist! That was a great ending in an episode that made me think I had it pretty much all figured out. From the start I was suspicious of Rasmussen’s story, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. By the end, I thought that he was either actually from the future but not a historian or a straight fraud. But to have him be from the past and in a ship from the future? That’s the kind of twist that both surprised me and made me think it totally fit the episode.

Rasmussen’s character is well-acted as well, with enough mix of eccentricity and annoying traits to make a convincing character. When the twist is sprung at the end, it seems entirely believable for his character to be so underhanded.

The scene in which Picard tries to get Rasmussen to help make a decision to save millions of lives was intense. Picard’s response to Rasmussen saying it would be a shame if all the people died is perfection: “Yes, it would be. It would be quite a shame.” The false smile he has plastered on his face with the delivery just proves again that Patrick Stewart is a phenomenal actor. Well done!

This isn’t  in the all-time great tier of episodes, but it is a solidly-acted episode with a great twist and good plot. I don’t really have anything to complain about. Another winner on the time-travel front from TNG.

Grade: A “Just enough of a mystery to keep me interested all the way through.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was pretty good. The Rasmussen character kept me guessing until the end.”

“New Ground”

Plot

As the Enterprise participates in a test for a new technology to facilitate Warp Speed traveling, Worf’s mom shows up with his son, Alexander, for a visit. It turns out she has decided Alexander needs to stay with Worf. As the experiment with Warp goes awry, Worf must struggle with the difficulties of relating to a son he hardly knows and who appears to have some discipline problems. Worf decides to send him to Klingon School, but an emergency cuts off their fight over the issue. When the Enterprise takes damage, Worf and Riker must try to save Alexander before Picard has to pull the trigger to save a colony. Worf, with parental adrenaline, saves Alexander and decides he can stay on the ship with him.

Commentary

First off, there is a really awesome scene here with Geordi getting all pumped up about making scientific history while Worf and Data are completely not pumped. Geordi tries his best to get them excited, but their deadpan deliveries of their lines was hilariously appropriate. Poor Geordi. I thought it was a cool scientific moment!

Anyway, this episode does a great job combining the plot points in a way that the main plot–Worf learning about parenting–is never overshadowed nor drowns out the secondary plot–new Warp technology. This is a pretty deep episode when you think about it at all, because Worf hasn’t really taken the time to get to know his son (his inability to tell the teacher Alexander’s birthday was a poignant reminder of this). That’s a pretty tough flaw to swallow for a character who is one of my favorites, but the story of “New Ground” helps vindicate him a bit.

Worf continually tries to make what he thinks are the best decisions regarding his son’s health and life, but it seems like he hasn’t always succeeded. The increasing tension from the secondary plot allows us to explore this dimension with some real consequences and tension. The involvement of seemingly the whole crew in Worf’s struggle was contrived at points, but still helpful. Troi’s interest, in particular, seemed genuine and touching. When Worf finally decides to let Alexander stay with him, viewers can breathe a sigh of relief and feel that confidence in Worf is not ill-placed.

Finally, when I was little I loved this episode because of the field trip. I thought it was so cool to get insight into what field trips would look like in the future. Weirdly, they look an awful lot like they do today, but with cooler animals. Who knew?

Grade: A “A surprisingly deep look at the struggles of parenting.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It showed us characters in ways we hadn’t seen before and the varying plot points worked together nicely.”

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.