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.
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.
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”
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.
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.”
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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