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 must deal with a hostage situation that involves a whole planet being held against a contract which allegedly places them in slavery to a mythical figure–Ardra–in exchange for the 1000 years of peace they have enjoyed. Ardra herself allegedly shows up and has lots of tricks to back up her claim. However, Geordi’s diligent work leads to the discovery of Ardra’s ship and an epic showdown as Picard embarrasses the woman claiming to be Ardra in court through use of her own powers.
“Devil’s Due” is an interesting premise. What would happen if someone used the powers of a starship for something like, say, imitating a malevolent deity? It seems like the perfect con, and “Ardra” almost gets away with it here. Picard, however, is determined to intervene.
The main plot is nothing special–it just serves to set the stage for Picard and Ardra to have a showdown over the fate of a planet, with Data moderating of course. It’s fun, and even though we know Picard will ultimately win, Ardra gives him a run for his money and some good points of hilarity are found through the episode.
The incredulity factor is a bit high in some of Ardra’s uses of her ship. How, for example, did she make the Enterprise disappear or move? How did she show up in Picard’s quarters and disable functions of the computer? These are largely left unexplained. It’s not like we need a thorough explanation of everything, but it would have been interesting to see how she managed to get so powerful in these specific ways.
“Devil’s Due” is a solid episode. It’s not spectacular–the premise is a bit too thin for that–but it’s the kind of fun filler episode that is pleasant to have come along once in a while.
Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was fun to see Captain Picard and his crew problem solve to demythologize Ardra.”
The Enterprise encounters something that causes the crew–sans Data–to go unconscious and wakes up apparently 30 seconds later. However, as the crew continues to try to figure out what happened, a number of incongruities in the story pop up, and Data falls under suspicion for concealing the truth. He finally admits to Picard that Picard himself ordered Data to deceive them, and a powerful entity is at work here–one that will destroy the Enterprise simply for knowing about its existence. Picard convinces the entity that they will succeed if they try again, and they proceed. This time, no clues are left behind and only Data knows the truth in the end.
“Clues” is another one of those episodes with a really solid mystery at its core. What happened in the lost day? Why is Data apparently concealing facts? The episode also introduces the various little inconsistencies in the story in ways that continue to build the mystery rather than revealing it all at once. At the beginning it seems like it is some probably benign mishap that Data possibly suffered, but as the episode continues a sense of foreboding builds that is all-too-often difficult for a show like TNG to pull off.
The best part about this episode, though, is that unlike with the recent “Future Imperfect,” “Clues” manages to wrap up the story satisfactorily. Simply seeing Data, knowing that he will take the terrible secret with him forever, is an extraordinarily bleak ending that wraps the episode up perfectly.
Grade: A “Here’s how an episode with a mysterious main plot should wrap up.”
Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was a good premise and interesting story but it would be nice if they body-snatched someone other than Troi every once in a while.”
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