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 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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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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