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.
Data is recording his day aboard the Enterprise in order to send it on to Starfleet to study the observations of an android. The day involves Chief O’Brien’s marriage to Keiko, Romulans and a potential diplomatic emergency, and the standard routines of Data’s day. It turns out the ambassador the Enterprise is ferrying is actually a Romulan spy that is now returned to them, and Data acts as father of the bride in Keiko’s marriage to O’Brien (after some ups and downs).
An episode narrated by Data! What could possibly go wrong?
Well, actually, not much. It’s a very solid episode that introduces Keiko–O’Brien’s fiancee/wife–along with following Data throughout a day. The Romulan subplot (more on this below) is introduced to add suspense. Data’s breaking of the news regarding Keiko’s decision to cancel the wedding with Miles O’Brien was hilarious. The integration of humor throughout the episode helped keep it from ever getting bogged down. Data learning to dance with Dr. Crusher was another fun and very believable bit of the story.
The best part of the episode is how it simply shows what Data does throughout a day. People who have watched the series this long are necessarily drawn to learning more about the “mundane” activities of the ship, and “Data’s Day” is simply fantastic at showing some of these details. One is the way the ship powers down the lights for the “night watch”–a nod to a potential human need to experience “night” even aboard a ship going all over the galaxy. Little tidbits like these are welcome and infuse TNG with some reality that is totally endearing.
Perhaps the only real shortcoming of the episode is that it tries just a little too hard. The Romulan plot is frankly superfluous. Though interesting, the episode could (should) have jettisoned it without any loss. Simply following Data’s life throughout one day would have been enough without the attempt to add suspense to the situation.
That said, “Data’s Day” is just a really fun episode that blends a conspiracy, a wedding, and a standard day into one. The insights into life on board the Enterprise was welcome and surprising. It’s so fun to see the show succeed at an episode that could have gone terribly wrong. Well done!
Grade: A- “A pretty awesome blend of three episodes that actually works.”
Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was a fun change of pace from the normal episode structure and Data was delightful.”
A Cardassian ship attacks the Enterprise, claiming the Federation has violated the treaty with the Cardassians and that they are at war. After tensions are calmed momentarily, Picard is instructed by Starfleet to investigate and the Enterprise brings aboard some Cardassians as they explore the possible misunderstanding.
Miles O’Brien gets even more screen time in this episode and that is a very good thing. He really does not like the Cardassians, though through the episode he seemed to be in denial of this fact. Finally, he comes to realize he hates his own confrontation with killing and the atrocities of war. He integrates this into his discussion that convinces the renegade Captain Maxwell to stand down in a frankly stirring scene reflecting the loyalty bought by side-by-side struggles. O’Brien is just spectacularly acted by Colm Meaney and I can’t wait to see more of him. The ascent of O’Brien in TNG has come to glorious fruition and to see him carry an episode in many ways was just fantastic.
The moral questions found in the episode related to war are also worth mention. Retaliation is not justice, and the episode does a fantastic job of introducing this concept through its narration of events and the use of Captain Maxwell. The increasing tension as we watched Maxwell blow away Cardassians on-screen was done really well simply by showing red blips disappear. It was a great juxtaposition of simplicity–blips representing ships–and reality–those ships were 650 deaths. Questions of the morality of these actions were not overdone and the subtlety with which they were conveyed was done quite well.
The Cardassians themselves are an intriguing race. Seemingly warlike, but not tempered by the same concepts of honor that the Klingons have or the subtlety of the Romulans, they present what feels like a more imminent threat than some others introduced in the series.
The final conversation between Picard and Gul Macet was a great way to close out the episode and show that some ambiguity remains in the relationship between the Federation and the Cardassians.
“The Wounded” is an impassioned narrative that deserves its place among the great episodes of TNG.
Grade: A “The introduction of the Cardassians to the universe is a stirring story of conspiracy, morality, and loyalty.”
Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was fun to meet a new race and the storyline 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!
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!