Share Your Idea for Star Trek Series- Along with my idea!

q-whoOn Facebook I mentioned how much I’ve been enjoying the “New Frontier” Star Trek series of books. They’re a fascinating look at different parts of the universe that don’t show up in the TV shows or movies. A friend came along and asked what my idea would be for a Star Trek Series (book or television). I decided to write up a brief blog post on it and share my idea with you. I’d love to hear your own ideas in the comments. Here’s my pitch:

I think a series that was set as a struggle against Borg expansion would be utterly fascinating. The Borg remain a kind of open-ended question in the Star Trek Universe. Imagine a series that followed, say, a Defiant Class ship (or maybe a bigger one so they could introduce more characters–but a class designed to combat Borg) as they tried to stamp out Borg incursions in Federation space.

They could also have some kind of modified Warp drive that allowed them to jump around faster and get to hot spots behind the borders or in other places, combating Borg attacks on planets outside the Federation. Some of these planets could be lost, while others would be saved by the crew of the ship.

I’d give them a super nerdy Borg expert–possibly Vulcan–as a science officer, a battle hardened captain (maybe ex-Borg), a first officer with a grudge, at least one Klingon, a Bajoran who has seen a lot of fighting with Cardassians, and more. Medical officer should be pretty unique too–more willing to do things that would combat the Borg.

Ethical dilemmas could be the name of the game–do they do things that would kill more Borg just for the sake of killing them? How do they choose which planets/people to save? etc.

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Star Trek: TNG Season 7 “Descent, Part II” and “Liaisons”

Klingon Diplomacy

Klingon Diplomacy

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.

“Descent, Part II”

Plot

Lore and Data are working together towards Lore’s dream: creating a pure race of non-biological life. Lore happened upon the Borg ship that Hugh returned to in I, Borg and gave them this purpose. However, Hugh is also on the surface and is leading a band of renegade Borg who oppose Lore. Riker and Worf work with Hugh to rescue the imprisoned members of the crew. Ultimately, Data must make a choice about whether to assist Lore to keep his emotional capacity or fight him and choose his friends. He ends up deactivating Lore permanently.

Commentary

Well, we’ve finally taken care of Lore. It’s about time! It’s unfortunate that Data’s brother had to be so bad, but it has been equally unfortunate that they haven’t already deactivated and dismantled him. Although, I wonder how Starfleet felt about dismantling an android–which is supposedly a person, after all. Let’s just go ahead and dissect this person who could just be reactivated. Was there a trial? Does Starfleet have the death penalty? Are my speculations getting out of hand?

ANYWAY… “Descent Part II” is an enjoyable episode. Hugh showing up again was a great treat, though they clearly had too much going on to explore his character as much as I would have liked. What happens to Hugh next? I’d love to see a follow-up episode. The story was great too–it is always fun to see Lore and Data interact. However, the same problem that plagued the last episode is in this one: it is difficult to believe Data would just turn on his own people in any serious way over emotions.

Overall a solid way to start the season.

Grade: A- “We stopped Lore at last!”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “I only wish Hugh had had a larger part to play.”

“Liaisons”

Plot

Three Iyaaran ambassadors visit the Enterprise, on missions to come to mutual understanding with Starfleet and learn more about each other’s culture. Two remain aboard the ship, while another departs with Picard and crashes on a planet en route. On board the ship, one Iyaaran appears only interested in eating yummy food, while the other continues to jab at Worf. On the planet, Picard discovers a woman who has been stranded for 7 years. Worf and the Iyaaran get into a fight, which remarkably ends when the Iyaaran thanks Worf for showing him anger. The one whose been feasting the whole time thanks Troi for showing the nature of pleasure. Picard figures out the “woman” was actually the third Iyaaran in disguise, and that he was trying to experience love. The diplomatic encounter is successful, though it leaves everyone a bit nonplussed.

Commentary

I loved this episode when I was a kid, which I’m sure influenced how much I liked it now. Really though, this is a fun episode. The plot is fairly thin, yes, but it is full of hilarious moments. Worf’s interactions with the Iyaaran were particularly epic (more on that later), but Troi also had her moments. The mystery surrounding Picard’s circumstances was also highly interesting, and it is fun to see him figure out what’s going on. You can tell he’s suspicious almost right away, which contributes to me believing the episode is possible. Picard isn’t an idiot, so it was good they didn’t portray him as such. But he didn’t figure out what was actually going on until much later.

Worf had some epic lines in this one. “I will take him by the throat and rip out his esophagus” was probably my favorite. But yeah, Worf’s first stint as diplomat did not go so well. Or, maybe it went supremely well because he did exactly what the alien wanted him to do. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Overall, I’d say I was right to enjoy this episode when I was a kid. It’s just fun all around.

Grade: A “I find this episode delightful.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was pretty good, but quite strange.”

Links

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!

SDG.

Star Trek: TNG Season 5 “I, Borg” and “The Next Phase”

the-next-phase

The needs of the many… wait a second!

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.

“I, Borg”

Plot

An injured Borg is brought aboard the Enterprise, causing all kinds of chagrin among various members of the crew. As Dr. Crusher treats the Borg’s injuries, the crew tries to come up with a way to turn the Borg into a kind of silent bomb that would introduce a virus into the collective. They discover, however, that the Borg has learned identity as Hugh and “I.” The Borg, in other words, has in some way un-assimilated. Ultimately Picard and crew decide not to have him used to destroy the entire collective but rather hope that his re-assimilation will possibly share individuality with the Borg.

Commentary

You will be assimilated!

But seriously, this one is about a Borg’s assimilation into non-Borg society (see?). It’s quite compelling to see how the Borg act outside of being simply single-minded assimilation machines. Guinan’s character provided some balance to the other side, pointing out that the Borg show no sympathy and simply will continue unless impeded for all time. However, once she herself confronts Hugh, she seems not quite as ardent about the need to utterly wipe all Borg off the face of the universe.

What makes this episode so surprising is that it actually gets you as the viewer to empathize with a Borg. That is a true feat that is worth mentioning. It is hard to not still feel as though the smart thing would have been to eliminate the Borg, however.

Hugh turned to Geordi at the end, indicating that even after his reintegration into the Borg, he seemed to possess some sense of individuality. It will be interesting to see whether that impacts any future episodes at all or whether it is ever brought up. I can’t honestly recall it having any impact in Voyager or later in TNG, but I’ll try to keep my eyes open now that I’m watching them all in order.

The main complaint I had about this one is how hard it was to swallow the speed of the transition. Hugh is almost too human at points and it is surprising how quickly the transition takes place–and the crew’s buying into the transition is just as speedy. It’s a TV show so these things have to happen quickly, but it still felt rushed.

Grade: A- “I felt sorry for a Borg. Well done.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “I enjoyed it very much, but they could have done more with the crew’s response to having a Borg on board.”

“The Next Phase”

Plot

As the Enterprise assists a Romulan vessel that had an explosion, a transporter accident leads to the “death” of Ensign Ro and Geordi. The two crew members, however, are not dead but rather “phased” into a different level of existence. They are able to walk around ships, but also through walls. They are invisible to the crew. As they try to figure out what happened, they uncover Romulan subterfuge that would potentially lead to the destruction of the Enterprise. On a race to get themselves phased back into normal existence, they are pursued by a Romulan crew member who also suffered the same fate. Ultimately, they manage to send the Romulan hurtling through space and reappear at their own memorial service, saving the lives of everyone aboard the Enterprise.

Commentary

Wow, this one came out of left field! I remembered really not enjoying this episode before, and I think it is because of the dialogue between Ro and Geordi. Some time ago when I saw it, I interpreted it as an attack on religious sensibilities. I, being very religious, was offended.

Now, I being still very religious, realized that it was more a thoughtful discussion of the interplay between religious beliefs and their correspondence with reality. It was an interesting angle that was explored through Ro’s beliefs, and it actually seemed like it strengthened or reawakened her faith rather than jettisoning it.

The mystery surrounding the episode is very intriguing. Even without the raised stakes of the Romulans trying to destroy the Enterprise, there is plenty of suspense here. What would it be like to not be able to talk to anyone around you? What would you feel like if you just passed through everything and no one ever could interact with you? What would you do? The questions aren’t really explored, but I can’t help wondering about them. It’s part of what made this episode so good.

The race to save the Enterprise alongside being “phased” back into existence was great, and the scene in which Geordi tries to get Data to realize what is happening was absolutely delightful. The writers were able to mix some humor into the seriousness of the episode, while never losing the urgent tone. It’s a really awesome episode.

Also, can we officially say that Geordi has massively stepped it up? He’s had some good episodes in the past, but now it’s like every episode he has a major role in is fantastic. Way to go La Forge!

Grade: A “A surprisingly strong episode that reflects on some of the dangers of technology gone awry.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It had good action and characterization as Geordi and Ro dealt with their predicament.”

Links

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!

SDG.

Star Trek: TNG Season 4- “The Best of Both Worlds Part II” and “Family”

family

Time for some tough love, Picard!

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 Best of Both Worlds Part II”

Plot

Picard remains a Borg as the Enterprise attempts to keep stride with the Borg cube heading towards Earth. The Borg use Picard’s knowledge as Locutus of Borg to massacre Starfleet at Wolf 359, but Riker formulates a plan to recapture Picard by sending an away team in under cover of sci-fi magic. Data integrates himself into the collective and discovers that he can input a code into the collective. The order to sleep is integrated into the Borg and the self-destruct, causing Picard to return to his humanity in the process.

Commentary

Look, TNG can do two-part episodes that end well! Seriously, though, this is a phenomenal episode. There is all kinds of awesome action with the chase of the Borg Cube and the destruction of the (pathetic) Mars defense perimeter (seriously, we need better defense for Earth, people!). The action, however, really serves only as a drive for the drama, which is found throughout. The continued tension between Shelby and Riker is interesting, but the real star is once again Picard.

There are two scenes which really show how incredible Picard’s character is. There is a scene that shows Picard still on the Borg ship and they are adding components to him. A single tear goes down the side of his face. That tear does more emotionally than many speeches could have done. The investment that TNG has placed into its viewers through Picard’s continued characterization pays in dividends in scenes like this. We, as viewers, can intuitively sense what’s happening in Picard’s mind at this point, knowing that he is feeling great remorse but is being controlled.

The scene at the end also brings Picard’s character into focus powerfully. We leave him staring into the vastness of space, surely a man who has been changed forever.

This is a great episode, and one which deserves its place among the fan favorites. It’s a reminder of what makes Trek so great.

Grade: A “The episode has an incredible narrative with the right mix of action, drama, and characterization.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was a compelling conclusion to last season’s cliffhanger.”

“Family”

Plot

The Enterprise is set for some maintenance and shore leave on Earth is granted. Picard goes to visit his family while Beverly Crusher recovers some items from her deceased husband. Worf’s family comes to the ship to visit. Picard and his brother don’t get along. One of his friends from Earth tries to get him to join a development project. Dr. Crusher finds a recording of her husband intended for Wesley, while Worf deals with balancing his shame from his Klingon lineage with his human lineage. Picard and his brother fight, leading to reconciliation.

Commentary

Wow. I gotta say I’m blown away by how excellent this episode is. I always thought it was super boring, but I haven’t seen this one since I was probably around 13-14 years old and the impact of it didn’t have the force it does now. (Well, that makes me sound old!) This time watching “Family” was an just an incredibly impactful experience.

Worf’s family is delightful. His parents dote on him, which is just the opposite of what one may have expected for people who would adopt a Klingon. To see Worf’s father get so excited over the Enterprise and have him talk about how he read all the manuals is just a great touch, and his mother’s understanding alongside his father’s rambunctiousness is just a perfect balance. His interaction with them also brings in threads from earlier (like Sins of the Father) and provides viewers with reflection alongside great character development. I don’t honestly remember if his parents show up again in the series (I’m pretty sure they do), but I’m hopeful. They’re great.

Picard once more carries the episode, however, as his struggles with his brother, indecisiveness about his future, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (never called that) all come into play. The scene in which Picard finally snaps and starts beating down Robert after being pushed into it is one of the most amazing moments in the series so far, as he breaks down and cries; “I should have been stronger.” His brother’s reaction is unexpected, but perfect: he basically just says “Deal with it. It will be hard, but deal.” Although they are harsh words, the implication, however, is that Robert will be there for Picard. They don’t like each other, but they do love each other.

Wesley’s side plot is also worth a mention as he learns more about his father through a holo-recording. It’s a touching moment that stands on its own right.

“Family” is one of the best episodes so far in TNG. At this point, that’s really saying something. TNG shows, with this episode, that it is fully capable of standing purely on the strength of its characters’ stories.

Grade: A+ “A stunning achievement of a completely character-driven episode which remains utterly compelling throughout.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It offered insights into the background of Picard, Worf, and Wesley.”

Links

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!

SDG.

Star Trek: TNG Season 3 “Transfigurations” and “The Best of Both Worlds Part I”

Yep, that's the spot! Right there!

Yep, that’s the spot! Right there!

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.

“Transfigurations”

Plot

A badly injured man is the lone survivor of a wreck that the Enterprise goes to aid. He has remarkable healing powers and over time he and Dr. Crusher develop a working relationship that perhaps goes beyond that. However, he does not remember his past or what happened to him. His healing powers continue to increase and it turns out that he is actually the next stage in evolution for a local race of humanoids. They try to hunt him down due to fear, but he transcends their existence and ceases the mounting conflict in the process. He departs from the Enterprise as a being of seemingly pure energy.

Commentary

The premise of this episode isn’t terribly original: someone with amnesia is rescued by the Enterprise and a mystery develops around figuring them out. Mysterious powers are another well-worn path for TNG and Star Trek generally. However, the mystery throughout this episode is combined with an interesting element of elapsed time. The episode takes place over some indeterminate period of time which seems to be at least several weeks. This gives “Transfigurations” a feeling of development not just in the character of “John Doe” but also in the characters around him.

The side stories in this one don’t seem to add enough to the plot to keep it as compelling as it could be. Geordi’s sudden confidence bestowed by John Doe is tacky, and the developing relationship between Dr. Crusher and John Doe is awkward at best.

Despite the unoriginal plot, it is a main story that at least stays interesting as the tension mounts while John Doe starts to remember portions of his past and what happened to him. The revealing of his powers is a pretty cool moment, though it feels a little bit extreme.

It’s a decent but unremarkable episode.

Grade: B “An intriguing story that doesn’t quite do enough to push the episode to the next level.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “It was an interesting premise but not ultimately compelling as a story.”

“The Best of Both Worlds, Part I”

Plot

The Borg have shown up again as a Starfleet colony disappears. A Commander Shelby, an expert in Borg technology, is dispatched to help the Enterprise deal with the threat. The Borg come for Picard and end up capturing him, assimilating him into the Collective. Meanwhile, the crew of the Enterprise and Shelby must work to try to outwit not just the Borg but Picard. The episode ends on a cliffhanger as Riker decides to open fire on the Borg Cube that has Picard on board.

Commentary

“I am Locutus of Borg.”

Those words still terrify me. When I was younger it was because the Borg felt so real and I would fear they might come after me some day–I am J.W. of Borg! As an adult, the notion that the  untouchable Picard could be corrupted, possibly for good, is a very scary thought. Realistically, we know that he’s not going to be permanently Borg, but it still is a fearsome moment and an awesome cliffhanger ending. What makes the episode more powerful is that one gets the feeling Picard really will be scarred by this even if (when) the crew manages to save him. It simply is not something someone can go through without having deep scarring occur. How might this impact his sense of self going forward? How might we feel in the same situation–manipulated into attacking those we love?

The interplay between Shelby and Riker is also interesting, as it gives us time to reflect on how Riker’s character really has matured throughout the series. He continues to turn down his own ship, and the pressure to take on his own command, combined with a mirror image of his younger self in Commander Shelby, makes for a fine subplot to carry into the next season.

The plot is interesting, and the Borg have been carefully crafted into perhaps the most malicious threat in the Star Trek universe. Great way to end the season, unlike some seasons (here’s looking at you Shades of Gray).

Grade: A “An epic development in the persistent story of the Borg on TNG.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was very compelling and I want to know what happens next.” 

Links

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!

SDG.

Star Trek: The Next Generation “Pen Pals” and “Q Who?”

q-who

At last we reveal ourselves to the Enterprise; at last, we shall have revenge.

I’m going through “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and reviewing every episode, complete with commentary and a grade from A-F. Here, we’re in season 2 and discussing episodes fifteen and sixteen. 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.

“Pen Pals”

Plot

Wesley is put in charge of a team for a geological survey of a planet in order to continue his development towards officer training. Meanwhile, Data receives a transmission asking “Is anyone out there?” and decides to answer it by saying “Yes.” It turns out the transmission is from a young girl whose planet is experiencing geological upheaval. Data wants to fix it, but this would violate the prime directive. Ultimately, Wesley’s team figures out a way to stop the upheaval while Data saves his interstellar pen pal, after which her memory is erased.

Commentary

Wesley’s struggles with his first command of a team were actually pretty compelling. It was delivered in a winsome way while also cashing in on the premise. Watching him in a command situation while also trying to figure out the nuances of the situation was well-done and even well-acted.

The discussion over the Prime Directive between the senior officers was interesting, and the juxtaposition between Worf’s absolutism and Pulaski’s willingness to bend it was great. The ensuing debate over fate and the plight of a world was great, bringing forward philosophical ethical issues. Picard’s reasoning about moral certitude was catching, and Data’s insight into the issue not being a philosophical debate was well-placed.

The episode raises these questions alongside the debate over wiping the memory of the alien girl. Pulaski comforts Data by pointing out they need to wipe the girl’s memory to allow her to stay on whatever path she was born into, but one wonders whether perhaps her path would be to discover that there is life “out there” among the stars. Similar questions about fate were raised with the previous discussion on the Prime Directive, and TNG often tries to answer the questions. Here, we’re basically just served a number of questions without a proposed solution. It’s frustrating and charming all at once, and it calls for reflection afterwards as well.

Despite all these great aspects, there really was quite a bit of need for “suspension of disbelief” throughout this episode above and beyond the standard fare. Why didn’t Data immediately report this contact with alien life to Picard or a superior? Why does O’Brien unquestioningly transport Data and this alien to the Enterprise? Wouldn’t there be some kind of discipline for flaunting the Prime Directive so eagerly? Since when did they have the technology to wipe out memories, and how easily could they solve other Prime Directive issues with it? (Or apply it to crazy amounts of criminal activity?) How does a planet’s geological upheaval get fixed within seconds? The questions just keep coming, and the episode almost gleefully flaunts these issues without offering any explanation. They keep “Pen Pals” from being the great episode it could be.

Grade: B “Any episode that stars Wesley and isn’t terrible is refreshing. The stretching of imagination, however, got painful.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: C+ “It was nice to see Wes grow in his character, but the plot was very hard to believe.” 

“Q Who?”

Plot

Q shows up and is petulant because Picard won’t make him a crew member so he shoots the Enterprise off to meet the Borg. The Enterprise is worse for the wear after the engagement and Picard appeals to Q to get them back home. He does, the end. Oh, and Guinan is apparently hundreds (or thousands… or millions… or !?) of years old and has some history with Q somehow. Oh, and there’s a new engineering Ensign named Sonya who’s overeager and a klutz.

Commentary

If my summary seems a little chaotic that’s because I was trying to reflect the episode: it has a lot going on and seems a bit thrown together. We never get any reason behind Sonya’s introduction and she seems tacked on. The encounter with the Borg has much drama, but Q was there to deus ex machina the whole thing. It was cool to have the episode point ahead: “Look out for what’s coming!” but hard to follow that theme alongside weird revelations about Guinan. Lots of questions were raised, and no answers provided. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it also leaves me scratching my head. What was the point of this episode? It’s like an episode-long version of “What’s next on TNG.”

That said, the Borg are awesome. The creators did an awesome job introducing a truly sinister threat, but doing so in a way that isn’t over-the-top. There’s no question that the Borg are a major threat, but there’s also no question that they aren’t sporting devil horns and worshiping Satan; that is, they’re not evil for evil’s sake. There’s a mystery to them that makes the episode more appealing and wins me over despite its total lack of cohesion.

If the episode had simply stayed about the Borg and Q trying to show Picard they need to prepare even more, it would have had more cohesion. As it stands, it’s got too much going on to be a truly great episode.

Grade: B- “Introducing the Borg was genius, but it could have been done without so many distractions.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was very interesting but the Q manipulation felt artificial… and annoying.”

Links

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!

SDG.