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.
Picard dies and meets Q in the afterlife. Q challenges him on how he got the artificial heart and offers the possibility of avoiding the same mistakes by reliving his life as a young Picard. Picard accepts after some debate and is thrust back into himself at a younger age. As he reverses his decisions that led to him getting an artificial heart (and that he thinks are blemishes on his past), he discovers that the long-term consequences are great. Fast forward and Picard is a science officer on board the Enterprise, with little ambition or drive. He demands that Q take him back and let him die. Q instead restarts his heart in the real world and Picard recovers fully.
“Picard dies and meets Q in the afterlife” – that’s a surefire set up for something that will end up going either extraordinarily poorly or very well. Thankfully, it was the latter. This is really an endearing look at Picard. It fills out his back story, while also giving us a glimpse into what he views as most important. We see a young Picard who is more foolish and boisterous than the Picard we know, but it fits the persona of the “real” Picard. You can see how he could have developed out of the character they showed.
The story isn’t the most epic–it’s really just three Starfleet officers hanging out. What makes it work is the premise. You have to be willing to stick with the characters because you like Picard so much. It was a smart choice to leave Picard as Patrick Stewart instead of giving us a different perspective on the young Picard–it keeps us engaged with the character in a way that might have been more difficult with a different actor (though it worked in “Rascals”). Q is really great in this one as well. Nothing too crazy, but still very in character. Loved it.
My favorite part of this episode is when Picard discovers he is a science officer. Rather than being content to live, he decides the only thing he should do is immediately go back and die. Picard just can’t handle being the little guy, and I find that hilarious at the same time as it is telling. It’s great.
Grade: A “A great episode that provides insight into Picard’s younger self, while also giving all kinds of opportunity for comedy and reflection.”
Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was interesting to see the way history might be changed, but it lacked something special to make it great.”
“Birthright, Part I”
The Enterprise is docked at Deep Space Nine, a Starfleet-run space station. As the crew mingles with those aboard the station, Worf is approached by an alien who claims his father is still alive and a prisoner of the Romulans. While Worf struggles to discern whether he wants to pursue the information, Data experiences some feedback that leads him into having dreams, which awaken a new level of neural development for his Android brain. Ultimately, Worf tracks down the information broker, lands on the planet, and is captured by Romulans.
What? We get to see Deep Space Nine in this one! I can’t wait to start going through that series again, and that glimpse really whetted my appetite for it.
It was cool to see Data having dreams and coming into discovery about himself. As Picard said, he’s a culture of one, and so he can explore meaning and the like within his own context. I wonder about how it is supposed to work, exactly. Allegedly the tinkering done around Data actually triggered the dream portion of his neural net a little early. Does that mean he will have trouble adapting to it? Or will it bring him to the next level more quickly?
The plot that follows Worf is vastly different, though you can see some parallels. Both Data and Worf are trying to seek out real aspects of themselves–for Data it is an encounter with his “father” in a dream world; for Worf, it is the sudden possibility that his father might have lost his honor after all. Each traces back their origins.
It will be fun to see how Worf gets out of this one–and how it develops, because it seems like the Klingons aren’t necessarily captives in a traditional sense.
Grade: A- “An interesting setup for more discovery of Worf and Data’s background.”
Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “I particularly enjoyed the Data dream sequences.”
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