Star Trek: TNG Season 3 “Deja Q” and “A Matter of Perspective”

Riker as cold-blooded murder doesn't actually seem that implausible sometimes...

Riker as cold-blooded murderer doesn’t actually seem that implausible sometimes…

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.

“Deja Q”

Plot

As a planet is nearing destruction, Q shows up on board the Enterprise claiming to have been stripped of powers and title. The crew struggles to believe him as the destruction of the planet grows more imminent. When aliens try to take vengeance on Q, the crew realizes he may be serious. Q decides to leave the ship to prevent more bloodshed and because of this selfless act is reinstated in the Q Continuum. He then saves the local planet from destruction and even thanks the crew.

Commentary

I gotta say it: I’m stunned that I enjoyed this episode. I remember not hating it when I saw it long ago, but I really don’t like Q. He’s annoying, the episodes he is in tend to purely be for the sake of deus ex machina without any relevance, he’s annoying, his episodes tend to be features on him rather than on individual crew members… and did I mention he’s annoying? But seriously, “Deja Q” is a solid episode. It expands on the wealth of annoyance I have as a viewer with Q alongside the crew’s annoyance with his previous absurdities in order to make him a relatable character. By making him become not only human, but also a (deserved?) target, even for the length of an episode, we find Q is vulnerable and frankly even terrified at the prospect of being in the same position he has placed others in.

It’s endearing, and surprisingly so. The episode made a character whose main feature has been to be utterly irksome and played turnabout, making him actually a bit likable.

The plot of the planet struggling is mostly just filler, but it provides a nice bookend to the whole adventure as the crew of the  Enterprise realizes they can’t really prevent the tragedy, while Q simply solves it immediately for them. It’s a deus ex machina which, for once, does not feel utterly contrived.

Grade: Surprisingly, A- “A ‘Q’ episode that’s not only not terrible, but quite endearing while also making him relatable? Incredible.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was entertaining all-around though occasionally I wondered if they’d tried to squeeze too much plot in.” 

“A Matter of Perspective”

Plot

Riker is put on trial after he is accused of murdering Dr. Apgar, a scientist on a space station he was visiting, due to a dispute over Mrs. Apgar’s coming-on to Riker. The trial takes place on the holodeck and testimony varies wildly as the story unfolds. It doesn’t look good for Riker, though, as the energy burst that blew the station came from where he beamed out. Ultimately, it turns out that Dr. Apgar was in fact trying to kill Riker, but the plan backfired and he killed himself.

Commentary

TNG seems to fairly frequently have these “trial” episodes where a court is convened and usually something big is at stake. Sometimes it works spectacularly (“The Measure of a Man”); sometimes, not so much (“Encounter at Farpoint”). Here, it works really well. The difficulty with a series like TNG is that whenever a main character is in peril, you can be pretty darned sure they’re going to come out alright. Like Superman, it seems that sometimes the only way to injure them is through emotional trauma. Although “A Matter of Perspective” doesn’t fully capitalize on how traumatic this whole experience would have to be for Riker, not to mention various people who worked with him, when he is exonerated, there is genuine relief.

The episode has its problems, for sure. There are some pretty major plot holes in trying to figure out exactly what happened (though some of these are surely intentional), there are some major inconsistencies in how TNG handles transporting, and the ending does seem just a bit too convenient. The score for this one is really hard, and I’m going a bit against my better judgment. This is a deeply flawed episode, but I just enjoyed it too dang much to let that drag it down for me. I enjoyed it too much to go lower.

Grade: A- “Gaping plot holes and a bit of too-convenient solutions don’t totally mar this exciting episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “It was interesting but the flashback series got a little bit long.”

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.

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Star Trek: TNG Season 3 “The Hunted” and “The High Ground”

"Now I'm creeped out...."

“Now I’m creeped out….”

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 Hunted”

Plot

As the Enterprise visits a potential member of the Federation–Angosia III, a fugitive tries to escape, leading the ship on a brief but difficult pursuit. It turns out the fugitive is actually a soldier created by the members of Angosia III and then cordoned away along with many other created warriors on a prison planet (with some comforts) once war was eliminated. This is why he is so dangerous, and as Troi continues to learn more about him, Picard must decide whether to turn him back over to the authorities or not. Ultimately, the fugitive escapes and leads a rebellion which culminates in Picard telling the leadership of Angosia III they must deal with their own self-inflicted difficulties.

Commentary

Troi. Boom. I said it. Finally, at long last, we have an episode in which Troi is neither target for uncomfortably-close-to-assault lust nor an awkward “we need a mind reader” point. In “The Hunted,” Troi is just… Troi. She is compassionate, caring, but also powerful and, well, counseling! It was an awesome use of a character I’ve always liked. Her interactions with the fugitive feel real rather than contrived, as well, and they lead to a logical, but fun ending featuring Picard.

There’s really not much wrong with this episode, as the premise is interesting, the “big reveal” of finding out Angosia III’s secrets was well-done, and it finally features a lead character–Troi–in a role that does not seem to compromise her as a person. The only real complaint I have is that it seems they recycled scenes by having the fugitive break out so much. It’s not a bad thing at all, but it felt like they were using the escape to fill space.

Grade: A- “A fun episode with a great balance of mystery and action.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It had good action scenes and interesting characters.”

“The High Ground”

Plot

The Enterprise is providing aid to the inhabitants of a planet embroiled in civil war when Dr. Crusher is kidnapped by the rebels. As Riker tries to coordinate efforts to rescue her with the local police force, Crusher realizes that the rebels are being destroyed by their own technology. She tries to help them, but they ultimately attack the Enterprise as well. Finally, Wesley manages to track their movements and Riker works with the local authorities to rescue Crusher and Picard. During the rescue, the police chief kills the rebel leader, hoping to end the violence, and is almost killed by a boy who Wesley talks down. The possibility for conversation is thus opened.

Commentary

There’s a lot going on in this episode, and much of it is great. The juxtaposition of different viewpoints as we first see the local authorities, then the rebels gives a picture of conflict as more complex than “good guy” and “bad guy.” Riker’s relationship with local authorities has much of interest. The increasing tension as the conflict embroils the crew of the Enterprise ever more deeply was done well, and the ambiguous ending caps it off with some thoughtful moments.

Unfortunately, not everything goes right. In particular, the rebel leader’s creepy stalker-ish behavior around Crusher is weird. He keeps drawing pictures of her which the episode makes feel like a clumsy attempt to endear him to the audience (it doesn’t work). In fact, his character overall is off-putting despite clear attempts to make him add to some of the moral ambiguity throughout the episode. He’s just not that relatable but rather aloof and creepy.

Overall, though, this is another solid entry. The action is great, and the intensity of the episode almost never lets up. Although the rebel leader is not great, Crusher’s performance makes up for it a bit. A good but not great episode.

Grade: B+ “Great juxtaposition of viewpoints, but a few oddities keep it from all-time greatness.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It had solid characters in ways we don’t always get to see them and a compelling plot.”

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 “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.