Star Trek: DS9 Season 2 “Cardassians” and “Melora”

melora

The Klingon Restaurant is Everything that is Awesome

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Cardassians”

Synopsis

A Cardassian boy, Rugal, shows up on DS9, apparently with Bajoran “parents.” He lashes out at Garak, the Cardassian tailor on board the station, leading to controversy over his situation. Gul Dukat insists on intervening and says he desires to bring all the Cardassian war orphans back home. When Bashir mentions Dukat’s ideas to Garak, he not-so-subtly hints that there is more than meets the eye with Dukat’s concerns because Dukat himself was involved with and opposed to evacuating Bajor. Dukat and Bashir go to Bajor where they find information that ultimately reveals Dukat intentionally left Rugal behind to poison the well of one of his political adversaries. When Dukat arrives on station to help arbitrate the hearing over custody of Rugal, he is confronted with this information. He storms off, his plan in ruins, and Rugal is sent “home” with his Cardassian father.

Commentary

It is difficult for me to figure out how to feel about this one. It’s also impossible to refrain from a comparison of the Cardassian treatment of the Bajorans to various modern day analogues. I did enjoy this episode. It asked many valuable questions, and what I thought for a while was a gaping plot hole (why the heck did the Cardassians leave any of their children behind to begin with) actually became the impetus for a major plot twist. I have to admit that was really well done.

I also like the character of Garak and his interplay with Bashir, which largely seems to be: Bashir looks kind of like an idiot. There’s a lot going on in this episode, and much of it involves Bashir annoying Sisko with little reason to back up his claims other than that some tailor told him to investigate further. No matter, he does so, and his curious nature is ultimately rewarded in the showdown with Gul Dukat, another great Cardassian character. Basically, the writers of both TNG and DS9 have done a phenomenal job writing the Cardassians so far. They’re much more threatening-feeling than most other enemies. There’s a sense not just of intrigue but also foreboding that accompanies them. I don’t know how to describe it, but they’re good.

I didn’t even get to mention the O’Briens impact on the situation, and O’Brien dealing with his own dislike of the Cardassians to try to convince Rugal that they aren’t all bad after all.

Anyway, the ending of this was tough, too. How will Rugal adapt to Cardassia, among those he has effectively been raised to hate? Will his own perspective help bring change, or will they simply beat into him the evils of Bajor? I doubt we’ll ever know, and the ambivalence of it is tough to swallow.

Grade: B+ “A rather ambivalent look at a number of tough questions that, ultimately, leaves them unanswered.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was a pretty good mix of the race relations between Cardassia and Bajor with some good mystery thrown in.”

“Melora”

Synopsis

Ensign Melora Pazlar is coming to DS9 and because she is Elaysian, she is used to lower gravity than DS9 has. Bashir has been getting everything prepared, and is surprised by her abrasive attitude when they first meet. She insists upon doing everything herself, but slowly begins to trust Bashir. After an accident that Bashir helps her to recover from, she gives him the experience of “flying” around her low-gravity quarters. They exchange a kiss. Bashir comes up with an idea to help her muscles adapt to the gravity of the station, but to complete the treatment, Melora will have to give up her low-gravity fields so her motor cortex doesn’t get messed up. Meanwhile, an old accomplice of Quark’s, Kot, has shown up on station, threatening to kill Quark. He is persuaded away from this course of action by a bribe, but as Quark acquires the money, Kot intervenes, insisting on even more. He takes Melora, Dax, and Quark hostage and steals a runabout. On the runabout, after being shot, Melora manages to turn off the gravity in the ship and disable Kot. She decides to discontinue the treatment because she feels it would change who she really is.

Commentary

The biggest problem in this episode is when Dax is talking to Melora and brings up the story of the Little Mermaid as a kind of analogy for Melora’s own situation. It’s like the thrust of the whole episode up to this point has been “Let’s fix the angry disabled person” (itself a major problem) and then it turns into “but wait, disabled people might be better off how they are!” Now, apart from the many complexities in such questions which are largely ignored by the episode, I found this a stunningly inept way of looking at the question of disabilities in the future. Melora is portrayed as rather savagely defensive instead of as a person who is adapting to difficult circumstances, the people around her basically all seem to be trying to “fix” her, and the one person who doesn’t favor that basically tells a horror story about how everything could go wrong with the choice she made.

All of that said, it is clear the intent of the episode was to try to deal with some of these very difficult questions. It just was inept in its execution. What makes this more surprising is that one of the writers, Evan Carlos Somers, apparently is a paraplegic himself who uses a wheelchair. According to the Deep Space Nine Companion, he had to deal with many of the problems shown on screen-elevators not designed to be accessible, etc. I just wish that the episode had highlighted more of the difficulties without making Melora seem so embittered by them. Yes, she does come out of her shell some, but there is little explanation for why she is so upset to begin with.

Also, can we ask how realistic the whole scenario is anyway? Basically any hard sci-fi I’ve read deals with the question of differing gravities, and I think that Melora would have to be better adapted to higher gravities than she is. Simply based on muscle mass and the fact she is able to fling herself about in low or no gravity suggests some better muscles and use thereof than this episode actually discusses. Oh well.

The sub-plot of the blast from Quark’s past was pretty interesting, and I think it could have carried an episode on its own, but maybe that’s because I’m coming to enjoy Quark more and more.

Finally, I give this episode mad props for the excellence that was the Klingon restaurant. That was basically the best non-story moment of any episode so far. Both scenes in the restaurant were pure gold, especially when the owner came around singing and playing his dainty Klingon incident. Superb.

Grade: C- “A questionably-executed attempt to deal with disabilities in the future.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “The ‘Little Mermaid in Space’ didn’t do a very good job addressing disability. Melora was interesting character, though.”

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: DS9- 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: Deep Space Nine Season 1 “Duet” and “In the Hands of the Prophets”

Everything is awful.

Everything is awful.

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Duet”

Synopsis

Major Kira investigates a Cardassian passenger who is suffering from a syndrome that was limited to the survivors of an accident at one specific Bajoran forced-labor camp. She believes he helped perpetuate major war crimes at that camp, but he denies it, asserting that he was merely a clerk. As she continues the investigation, with help from Odo, she discovers that he was, in fact, Gul Darhe’el, the leader of the Cardassian labor camp. Or at least he appears to be. But some parts of this don’t add up, even as Gul Darhe’el now proudly boasts of the tortures and slaughter he helped carry out at the camp. The Cardassian leaders say that Gul Darhe’el is dead, and they have a different person. But why would anyone claim to be a war criminal? As Kira presses him, he breaks down under questioning, revealing that he was in fact the file clerk Marritza, who had changed his appearance to that of Gul Darhe’el to try to gain some justice for the Bajorans slaughtered at the camp he worked at–whose deaths he feels an enormous amount of guilt over, despite his being unable to do anything about it. As Kira goes to release Marritza, another Bajoran murders him, saying that his being a Cardassian was reason enough to kill him. Kira realizes, at last, that it is not reason enough.

Commentary

I can’t really say enough about how excellent this episode is. It draws quite clearly from various accounts of Germans who lived through the holocaust, often with immense guilt at not doing more to prevent the atrocities. It also draws some aspects from the true story of the capture of Eichmann (something well worth reading about if you haven’t–I suggest this book). It offers commentary on morality and human nature (and alien nature… whatever). It has a bleak ending, and I love my bleak endings in Star Trek. It’s got immense drama, mystery, and sorrow. These all combine to make a simply fantastic piece of Star Trek viewing.

Another aspect of the episode that is interesting is how much it relies on the characters. It gives Kira a way to shine without just being some insubordinate crazy person all the time (remember that time she BURNED DOWN A GUY’S HOUSE after camping out with him for a bit? yeah, like that). I think it is interesting that so many of the best Star Trek episodes are really just people sitting around talking to each other (“The Measure of a Man” from TNG, for example). That says something about the writers, to be honest.

If you really wanted to poke holes here, you could, but I’m not even going to go through and list the nitpicks that are possible because the episode is just too fantastic. It makes you think as a viewer, not just about the episode, but about who you are, what humanity is, and about history. A truly excellent episode and definitely the best of DS9 so far.

Grade: A+ “Not just one of the best Star Trek episodes across all the series, but one of the great pieces of television, period.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “Everything was great about it, except that by now Sisko should know better than to put Kira in charge of anything involving Cardassians.”

“In the Hands of the Prophet”

Synopsis

Keiko O’Brien is teaching her class about the wormhole when she is interrupted by Vedek Winn, a spiritual leader from Bajor. Winn complains that Keiko is not teaching orthodox Bajoran beliefs regarding the wormhole and bemoans any Bajorans being mislead by this teaching. As tensions surrounding what is taught in school about hte wormhole increase, Sisko visits Vedek Bareil, another spiritual leader of Bajor. Bareil is a front-runner to be the next kai, a major leader of the Bajoran people. He agrees with many of Sisko’s concerns, but refuses to put himself in the potential political quagmire that would follow condemnation of Winn. Back on the station, a bombing happens at the school, which finally prompts Bareil to come to DS9 to help ease tensions. Winn, however had set up an assassination attempt, and Neela, who’d been working with O’Brien, is stopped–barely–by Sisko. Major Kira realizes that Winn’s activity was largely an attempt to lure Bareil into the open, but she cannot prove anything regarding the conspiracy.

Commentary

I think the biggest problem with this episode is its rather condescending tone towards those who disagree with its central premise. Basically, if you don’t line up lockstep with reinterpreting your religion in whatever way Starfleet’s characters determine best, then you’re a fundamentalist idiot. But there’s no question asked about whether trying to force others to reinterpret the tenets of their faith is just or even acceptable. It’s just assumed that if you believe x, you should instead believe y, because we don’t like x. I found that a pretty severe problem, especially because Starfleet continues to be portrayed as this kind of benevolent, allow everyone to believe whatever they want, kind of society. Of course, there are plenty of religious people who do explicitly condemn or deny findings of science, and this can lead to bad things. However, there are others who do reinterpret such claims or findings, or simply accept them. The narrative of the science-religion conflict is front-and-center here, but that narrative is itself mistaken.

Okay, with that out of the way, it is worth looking at some of the things the episode got right. It did have a great build up to drama. The conspiracy Winn was involved in made sense looking back but was surprising when it was revealed. It built up more drama surrounding the Bajoran political system. So really, a lot of things were done well in this episode. But it was so danged pretentious I couldn’t get over it.

Grade: B- “It showed just how inconsistent Starfleet is with its alleged tolerance of all viewpoints, but had a fairly strong central plot to make up for it.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “It dealt with the issues it raised, but I’m not sure that the issues it raised were real issues. Also, I just have a hard time believing that Bajoran spirituality is as monolithic as it keeps getting presented.”

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: DS9- 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: Deep Space 9 Season 1 “Past Prologue” and “A Man Alone”

Look, I'm handing you this case on a platter. Can you please figure out what I'm talking about!?

Look, I’m handing you this case on a platter. Can you please figure out what I’m talking about!?

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Past Prologue”

Synopsis

Tahna Los is rescued by DS9’s crew from a ship being pursued by Cardassians. The Cardassians demand his return because he is a terrorist, but Sisko grants him at least temporary asylum. Meanwhile, the Klingon Duras sisters show up on station and it is unclear why they are there. Dr. Bashir, however, forms a friendship with a Cardassian on the station, Elim Garak, who is ostensibly a tailor and clothier. Garak’s repeated and pointed directions lead Bashir to help uncover a possible plot that the Duras sisters are helping Los obtain materials for an explosive. Major Kira goes with Los, who ultimately wants to destroy the wormhole, thus keeping Bajor out of international meddling over the economic prosperity that wormhole would bring. Kira, saddened by his betrayal of trust, foils his plan, and he is given over to Starfleet authorities.

Commentary

This is another jam-packed episode, which does make sense given it being so early in the series. There are several threads here, I have to say I enjoyed pretty much all of them. Garak, the Cardassian tailor, is a fun addition to the station and I hope he keeps showing up. The way that he continually talks in a way that effectively punts to more meaning is exciting. Moreover, the cluelessness of the adventure-seeking Bashir was a delight to behold. I also enjoyed the continued look at political turmoil. It’s not like having the Cardassians pull of the region suddenly stabilized Bajor. I’m sure this is a theme throughout the show if I have any memory of it whatsoever, and I’m excited to see more.

The tie-ins to TNG continue as well, as those Klingon sisters show up on DS9, clearly up to no good. Can they really be Klingon if they have no honor? File that away to think about later.

I felt that this gave a good look into the fact that the Cardassian-Bajoran conflict has broader ramifications in the region. It helped to set the stage for future conflict. I look forward to learning more.

Grade: A- “An exciting set-up with great payoff that shows continued political turmoil in the region. It’s just a tad predictable, though.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “The story was overall good, but there were a few things that just didn’t add up.”

“A Man Alone”

Synopsis

Ibudan, a former smuggler who killed a Cardassian officer, shows up on the station. Odo recognizes him and wants to arrest him, but Sisko says he cannot be arrested if he hasn’t committed a crime on the station. Odo relents, but Ibudan turns up dead, and Odo is the prime suspect. As they scramble to figure out who committed the murder, more and more evidences surfaces that implicates Odo. However, it turns out that Ibudan cloned himself and killed the clone, and Odo takes him into custody for murder. A side story follows Keiko O’Brien’s struggle to find a place to fit on the station, and she does when she founds a school.

Commentary

Jake and his Ferengi buddy, Nog! I remember reading the heck out of the children’s series for DS9 that almost entirely followed their adventures around the station, so I admit I have very fond memories of them. Hopefully the show keeps featuring interactions between the two that build their characters. I also enjoyed the subplot of Keiko O’Brien setting up a school on board the station.

The main of plot one gives a great mystery that kept me in the dark for the most part but didn’t just have some kind of deus ex machina moment that is all too common in science fiction mysteries. Yes, it was a clone, but there were enough hints along the way that you could figure it out if you paid attention. The mystery also serves to distract from the episode’s major, glaring error. Namely, there is little-to-no motive for setting Odo up to take the blame for a murder. Sure, getting rid of the changeling security chief may make it easier on this specific smuggler for one time, but Sisko already told Odo he couldn’t just arrest the guy for no reason. So going through all the trouble to frame Odo seems superfluous. Still, as long as you don’t think too hard about it, it’s a solid episode that is a lot of fun.

Grade: A- “It’s a good mystery episode that keeps you guessing for most of the duration.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was a good way to show us more about the individual characters while still having an interesting plot.”

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: DS9- 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: Deep Space Nine Season 1- “Emissary”

"I don't even get a mention in the plot summary? What?" - Quark

“I don’t even get a mention in the plot summary? What?” – Quark

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Emissary”

Synopsis

Commander Benjamin Sisko is assigned to command Deep Space Nine, a station that the Cardassians used in their occupation of the Bajoran system. He arrives with his son, Jake Sisko, to find the station in a state of disrepair, the Cardassins having emptied it out. As Chief O’Brien (from the Enterprise) tries to repair the station, the security commander, Odo, tries to keep the people in order. Major Kira Nerys was briefly the station commander, and seems displeased that Sisko might displace her.

Sisko eventually must meet with Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Enterprise, where tension stands between them as Picard was involved in the Borg attack (as a Borg, briefly) that killed Sisko’s wife. Sisko then meets with a religious leader on the surface of Bajor, Kai Opaka. She says that he is the prophesied one and that he is to help Bajor as a kind of messianic figure.

Sisko and Lieutenant Jadzia Dax go looking for another one of the mysterious orbs that the Bajorans have been gathering due to prophecies and discover a Wormhole. A Cardassian ship follows, and though Dax returns, neither Sisko nor the Cardassians do. As more Cardassian ships arrive near DS9, Major Nerys works to prevent them from taking back the station. Meanwhile, Sisko discovers he is communicating with beings that may have created the stable wormhole.

Ultimately, the Cardassians return, tractored by Sisko in a runabout, and the Enterprise returns to enforce the peace. Sisko informs Picard he’d like to stay on in command of DS9, which is likely to become a major trading center.

Commentary

Whew, that was a jam-packed episode. It’s tough to know exactly where to pick it up.

First, it is clear there is a ton of potential here. The characters each have clear ways to develop as well as potential flaws. Odo, as I recall from the times I’ve watched the series, gets some weird stuff happening to him. Sisko is conflicted about his past. Nerys has Bajoran interests at heart. Quark seems much more serious than Ferengi have so far. There is a lot here to build upon, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. The notion of watching the station develop into a major trade center is a great idea.

Second, the episode itself does a good job introducing each major character, however briefly, while giving some interplay with the cast of TNG. Picard and Sisko talking was a good reminder of how Picard’s off-screen battle with the Federation as a Borg would have much farther reaching impact than it may have seemed when watching The Next Generation.

Third, the action seemed super intense here. I’m hoping this keeps up throughout the series.

The only real problem with this opener is that it drags quite a bit when Sisko is trying to explain how humans work. They did this backwards. See, we who are watching the show are humans, so we don’t need someone to explain to us what humans are or how time feels passing, etc. What we don’t understand is the aliens. It would have been better to flip the script and have the aliens explaining to humans what they’re like. But hey, budget probably didn’t permit it and it would be difficult to do. It was just a pretty boring part in the middle of an otherwise excellent episode.

Grade: A- “The parts with Sisko talking to the weird alien things dragged, but the rest was pretty fantastic.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “The first half was better than the second half, which left me sort of confused. I liked all the characters.”

Mother-in-Law’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was engaging, and it had developing elements that left it open for much potential. The idea of a space station gave it much potential, and the characters were interesting. I wish they would have done something more than paint on Dax’s neck to make her stand out as a kind of symbiot.”

Father-in-Law’s Grade and Comment: A- “A promising introduction to a new chapter in the Star Trek saga.”

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 6 “The Quality of Life” and “Chain of Command, Part I”

Get your motor running... head into the Jeffrey's tube... Lookin' for adventure...

Get your motor running… head into the Jeffrey’s tube… Lookin’ for adventure…

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 Quality of Life”

Plot

The Enterprise is on hand to evaluate some kind of particle stream technology at a space station to see if Starfleet will back it. The project seems to have everything going wrong, but an experimental robot–the Exocomp–appears to be doing great work on catching up. Then, they start malfunctioning. As Data, Geordi, and Dr. Farallon–the lead of the project on the space station–try to figure out what went wrong, Data begins to suspect the Exocomps may be alive. Work on the station is slowed down as Data performs a few tests and appears to be mistaken. However, as he goes back over the problem, he discovers the test did not actually reveal what he thought, and the Exocomps are alive. They are to be deployed as sacrifices to save Captain Picard and La Forge, who were trapped on the station , but Data interferes and the Exocomps save the day anyway, by sacrificing one of their own.

Commentary

Lots of plot to try to summarize here, but it’s a fairly straightforward episode despite all that. There are machines that, on close examination, appear to have attained some kind of self-preservation functionality. Are they alive? Data says yes, everybody else appears to say no. Ultimately Data is apparently proved to be correct.

There are some questions to be asked here, and the episode occasionally touches on them. One is the definition of “life” and what constitutes a life form. Others that weren’t touched go around the question of artificial intelligence. Is self-preservation really the best criterion for establishing that something is life? Could not an AI program generate self-preservation as part of its accomplishment of assigned tasks? Is life emergent or sui generis? These questions are barely even hinted at in the episode, but they keep popping up in my mind.

That’s what undermines the core of the episode: the execution just isn’t quite there. It skirts over some tough issues (those hit upon in episodes like “The Measure of a Man”) to make its point, but it gets their both too quickly–by ignoring questions–and too slowly–by having too much of the plot consumed by one question. It’s certainly not a bad episode, but it left a strange feeling afterwards. It wasn’t quite satisfactory.

Grade: B- “Not a bad episode, but a bit too roundabout in its execution.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “The premise was good, but the execution was lacking.”

“Chain of Command, Part I”

Plot

The Enterprise is handed over to Captain Jellico and Picard is relieved as he, Worf, and Crusher are sent on a secret mission into Cardassian territory. Tension has been rising along the border and Starfleet believes that the Cardassians are developing a biological weapon. Jellico clashes with the crew–particularly Riker–as his hardlined get-crap-done style goes against the more deliberative way the crew has been operating.

Commentary

This episode is intense! The Enterprise has a different captain, Picard and team are training for a secret mission, the Cardassians are putting on the heat, and the crew is struggling to deal with the swirl of changes around them.

Troi had a good scene when she went to Jellico and attempted to convince him that he was a bit over-the-top. She was roundabout enough to not get in direct confrontation, but also pointed enough to get her thoughts across. The scene just revealed how big a jerk Jellico is. One major question that remains in my head (and I suspected it wouldn’t be resolved in the next episode) is how such a hard customer as Jellico managed to be a Captain of some pure science vessel like the Excelsior class. I mean maybe it helps them get exploration done more quickly but wow he needs to take a chill pill.

Although the infiltration scenes were a bit of a stretch (the three of the crew kept talking in normal voices–even crying out at times–in a situation in which they would have needed absolute silence), they were still exciting. To discover that it was a trap was a thrill, even though I’d seen the episode multiple times before.

Overall this was a great Part I. A huge question is left wide open: What happens to Picard!?

Grade: A “The plot thickens! Traps are laid! Picard captured!

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was pretty good, but some of the things didn’t make very much sense, like the way they did the change of command. Also, why is he so 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.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4 Awards

qpid

This picture is everything.

Here, my wife and I offer a look at the best and worst parts of Season 4 of TNG! Feel free to chime in to let us know what you thought. There are SPOILERS for Season 4 in what follows.

Worst Guest Character 

J.W.: Odan from “The Host“- seductive male with plot twist weirdness! We’ve seen this one a bunch of times already.

Beth: Ardra in “Devil’s Due“- she was manipulative and evil.

Best Guest Character

J.W.: All Cardassians. The introduction of this new race and culture in “The Wounded” is a huge step for the series and sets up so much drama later on.

Beth: Picard’s sister-in-law from “Family“- she loves her husband and is committed to him and Picard being reunited as brothers.

Best Character

J.W.: Jean Luc Picard- Time and again it was Picard’s character who made an episode, saved the day, or delivered the emotional punch in this season. Data and Worf certainly had their moments, but not as many as the Captain.

Beth: Jean Luc Picard- he displays a remarkable degree of versatility and acting skills in the range of things that happens to his character.

Most Awesome Moment

J.W.: The ending of “The Mind’s Eye” when Geordi is forced to realize how manipulated he has been through a genuinely good counseling session with Troi.

Beth: When Data deletes the program of his dating life in “In Theory“- it is such a remarkable moment to demonstrate how different he is from other people–he just deletes the program and his relationship ends.

Most “Huh?” or Awful/Worst Moment

J.W.: The “big reveal” of Odan as a weird alien thing that just uses human bodies in “The Host.” How long have they enslaved this species?

Beth: That Picard is escorting Wesley to go to the academy in “Final Mission“- weird that the captain would get sent to do that.

Worst Episode

J.W.: The Host” – Been there, done that.

Beth: The Drumhead“- it didn’t really seem that plausible–suddenly, an Enterprise witch hunt; the end.

Best Episode

J.W.: I debated this for a really long time with myself. “The Wounded” is epic and introduces an entirely new enemy in an awesome way. All Worf episodes were amazing. “The Mind’s Eye” has so many cool moments. But ultimately, I have to go with what was the biggest surprise for me- “Family.” I didn’t like the episode when I was younger, but time and again I’ve thought about it since I re-watched it for this run through. It’s touching, it’s dramatic, and it’s so character driven. Amazing, amazing episode.

Beth: Qpid” – It was thoroughly delightful from beginning to end.

Overall Season Score and Comment

J.W.: “When the hardest part of this review is deciding the best episode, you know a season was done right. A fantastic season in an increasingly awesome series!”

Beth: A- “Star Trek delivers a thoroughly good season. Well done, Gene Roddenberry.”

Links

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2 Awards– Swing on by to take a look at the awards for Season 2. What do you think of the selections?

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 Awards– Don’t forget to also look at the Season 3 awards!

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- “Data’s Day” and “The Wounded”

Data, this might not be the right kind of dancing for a wedding...

Data, this might not be the right kind of dancing for a wedding…

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’s Day”

Plot

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).

Commentary

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.”

“The Wounded”

Plot

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.

Commentary

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.”

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.