Star Trek: DS9 Season 2 “Armageddon Game” and “Whispers”

Well.. this is awkward.

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:

“Armageddon Game”

Synopsis

O’Brien and Bashir are sent to aid T’Lani III in the destruction of a dangerous bioweapon that has helped to spur on endless warfare between two factions. After they manage to destroy the last of it, an attack apparently makes them disappear. To the crew of DS9, it looks as though they’ve died. However, Keiko O’Brien suggests that because Chief Miles O’Brien was drinking coffee later than he ever would, the recording has been doctored. Sisko and Dax go to T’Lani III to investigate. Meanwhile, O’Brien has been getting sick, apparently from a bioweapon, and Bashir continues to try to treat him as O’Brien helps Bashir repair a communicator. As Sisko and Dax investigate, they discover that the runabout O’Brien and Bashir used has been tampered with, opening the possibility that they are alive. The T’Lani find O’Brien and Bashir, and it turns out they’ve decided to kill them to erase any possibility of the bioweapon ever being constructed again. Sisko and Dax manage to grab the imperiled crew members and distract the T’Lani, escaping back to DS9 with their lives.

Commentary

I thought this was a great character-building episode. One thing this episode highlights about DS9 as over and against TNG is that it is clear the relationships between characters are more complex. Yes, TNG is my favorite and probably always will be, but here in DS9 we have a relationship between two major characters that is not 100% amiable at all times. The relationship between O’Brien and Bashir is not caustic and awful, but it has tensions and is more depth to it than a lot of relationships on Star Trek in general have. It feels more real because of it.

The plot is pretty intriguing too, though a bit of suspension of disbelief is required for thinking the T’Lani would basically just start a war with Starfleet to preserve their peace after they’d just been assisted by Starfleet to get that peace achieved in the first place.

Overall, this was a great episode, and it built the heck outta O’Brien and Bashir as characters.

Grade: A- “O’Brien and Bashir are the best combination.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “Anytime Bashir and O’Brien face up, it’s gonna be great.”

“Whispers”

Synopsis

Something’s not right. O’Brien is in a runabout fleeing from Deep Space Nine, narrating the strange things that have happened. Basically everyone aboard DS9, including his wife, has become very strange, acting as though something is wrong with him when in reality all of them are going nuts. He narrates the lengthy series of events that leads to his escape from DS9. Ultimately, he ends up walking in on a meeting between Sisko and some others, only to see another one of himself across the way. He tries to fire on the imposters, but is instead killed by a bodyguard. As he lays dying, he tells the now-revealed-as-real O’Brien to tell Keiko he loves her.

Commentary

I kept getting shades of the classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (an excellent film, btw) throughout this episode, only to have the whole thing overthrown at the end. It was an unexpected twist that, while a bit tough to swallow, made sense as an ending and was satisfying. I enjoyed this one a great deal, especially because I enjoy a good mystery combined with my science fiction.

The abruptness of the ending is quite jarring, however. It’s clear from the beginning something isn’t right. And of course you simply go along with the expectation that O’Brien is the reliable narrator when in fact it is he who is compromised. But it felt like there weren’t really enough hints throughout to fully sell the ending, that the narrator was the imposter. That’s maybe the only real problem with this episode. I still enjoyed it a great deal.

Grade: B+ “The ending is a bit of a stretch, but this is a pretty mystifying–in a good way–episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “I like the premise, but I have a hard time believing they wouldn’t be better at keeping him locked up if they really thought they’d been infiltrated by a murderous spy group.”

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 “The Forsaken” and “Dramatis Personae”

Well this is weird, all around.

Well this is weird, all around.

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:

“The Forsaken”

Synopsis

A delegation of ambassadors shows up on DS9, one of whom is the great Lwaxana Troi. Bashir is assigned to show the ambassadors around while Chief O’Brien struggles to teach the stations computer how to work. Troi starts to pursue a relationship with Odo. When an alien object shows up, suddenly the computer goes haywire. Troi and Odo are trapped together, and the other ambassadors are trapped due to an explosion with Dr. Bashir. Troi allows Odo to go liquid form in her dress to protect him, and Bashir manages–just–to save the other ambassadors. High fives all around.

Commentary

Lwaxana Troi drives me crazy, but she has become a progressively better character, despite her obnoxious qualities, as Star Trek goes on. Here again we see a new dimension of her character–a touching one–in which she reveals to Odo her own weaknesses regarding her looks to allow Odo to feel more comfortable with his own need to go liquid form (that’s what I’m calling it–deal with it).

Yeah, the side plot with the “puppy dog alien computer virus” was weird, but it served its purpose–to create drama for the other characters. Bashir’s delightful idiocy also got some expansion as he was smart when under pressure–something he hasn’t yet had the opportunity to demonstrate. He got all the perks of showing the ambassadors he could have dreamed of. Go Bashir!

So yeah, there are some big problems in this episode, not least of which is the weird virus that just wants some love, but those can largely be forgiven because Odo/Lwaxana worked so well together. It’s a true character piece that gives a lot more dimension to both of them.

Grade: A- “Like a puppy, it’s got some problems to work out, but it has a lot of heart.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It revealed depths of Lwaxana’s character that were previously hidden.”

“Dramatis Personae”

Synopsis

When an alien object is returned to the station, the crew starts to go crazy. It turns out that the alien object has managed to force most people on the station to start acting out roles in an ancient alien drama, recapitulating its warlike, betrayal-laden plot. Odo and Bashir manage to remove the alien influence from the crew, and everything is saved with only minimal losses.

Commentary

Okay, this is a really strange episode. It’s like some attempt to integrate Shakespeare into DS9 but in a way that isn’t as spectacularly epic (or fail) as many of the episodes with the same idea in TNG. It’s just weird. The impending paranoia that surrounds everyone in the crew made me as a viewer uneasy, but I never felt it was truly a threat to anyone, largely because they didn’t introduce any side character who might actually be in danger (yes, I know, it is hard not to meta-). But, that said, it was fun seeing all the characters being so out-of-character, and Sisko made a really, really cool clock that I would love to have. I don’t have much more to say about this one, to be honest. Strange.

Grade: B- “I want that clock.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “It was a cool story, but didn’t seem to make much sense as a Star Trek episode.”

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 “Battle Lines” and “The Storyteller”

"This seems bad."

“This seems bad.”

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:

“Battle Lines”

Synopsis

Kai Opaka, the religious leader of Bajor, visits DS9 but promptly departs with Sisko, Kira, and Dr. Bashir to see the wormhole. Something goes wrong and they end up stranded on a planet in which war is constant. Opaka appears to die in the landing, but later shows up, very much alive. Apparently there’s a virus on the planet that invades once someone dies and keeps bringing them back to life. Opaka stays behind on the planet to attempt to usher in an era of peace there, believing she has found her calling.

Commentary

First, the way the planet works reminds me of one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time, Hyperion. I won’t spoil anything beyond that because the book is an absolute must-read.

Anyway, the episode is kind of weird and really shows how willing Starfleet is to bend over backwards for Bajor. I mean seriously, let’s just go on a field trip through the wormhole on a whim? Does anyone ever wonder how they fuel their starships and how wasteful such a trip might be? But oh well, they want to get along with Bajor and I’m willing to buy it. Plus, the episode is weird but deliciously so. It’s a kind of strangeness that made me want to keep watching and learn more. And, realistically, we only learn enough here to want more. Could the thread be picked up in a later episode? I don’t know, but I’m going to go ahead and guess it might be.

We also got to see a little more development for Major Kira, as we discover through her sorrow over Opaka’s death that her faith seems clearly devout. I’m interested to see more development in that direction, too.

Grade: B+ “It’s weird, but in a good way.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “I liked the way it developed the character of Kai Opaka.”

“The Storyteller”

Synopsis

Chief O’Brien and Dr. Bashir go on a field trip to help an endangered village on Bajor while Sisko greets Varis Sul, the leader of a Bajoran faction that is threatening civil war on one part of the planet. As Sisko–along with his son, Jake, and Nog–manage the delegates, O’Brien and Bashir discover the threat facing the village is some kind of entity that feeds on fear. O’Brien is given the mantle of “Storyteller,” but the apprentice storyteller is not pleased. Nog manages to give some decent advice to Varis Sul, leading to her listening to Sisko on how to potentially compromise on the dispute. O’Brien manages to pass the mantle of storyteller onto the apprentice, and they discover the whole thing was probably manipulation by the previous storyteller to push the apprentice to his full potential.

Commentary

As I write the synopsis, I again realize how convoluted the plot is. This is an example of a problem that not-infrequently plagues Star Trek in every form: it’s one episode that is made up of more than one episode’s worth of plot ideas. Either of the main threads could have been stretched into an episode, but instead we get two rushed episodes in one.

The main problem with the Varis Sul storyline is that they treat her so much like a child while still trying to say that she’s so much more than a child. There are a few too many moments where people explain things in a rather condescending way to her, along with too many moments where she acts in ways that I realistically think someone in her position could not possibly not know to not do. Oh well.

The O’Brien/Bashir dynamic made this episode click for me. Snarky O’Brien was epic, and shows once again the greatness of the actor who plays him. Love that character. Seriously. It was so fun to see him get thrown into a situation that made him so uncomfortable, and it was played up well. O’Brien is turning out to be this series’ Worf. Good stuff.

I do like the Jake/Nog dynamic, but that is at least partially because as a kid I totally loved them. But hey, nostalgia’s not necessarily a bad thing, right?

Grade: B+ “It’s a stretch, but I loved snarky O’Brien so much.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was an interesting story, but the resolution felt a little contrived.”

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 “Q-Less” and “Dax”

We're in the wrong series!

We’re in the wrong series!

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:

“Q-Less”

Synopsis

Vash, the archaeologist friend/lover of Captain Picard, arrives at Deep Space Nine amidst some difficult circumstances. Almost immediately, things on the station start going haywire as power outages to various systems break out. Chief O’Brien thinks he has it figured out when Q shows up on station as well, but Q taunts Sisko and others for thinking it is him. Meanwhile, Vash is trying to sell a bunch of artifacts and partners with Quark to set up an auction. During the auction, the station gets in even more peril, and it turns out it is coming from one of the artifacts Vash has stolen. They beam it off station just before it explodes.

Commentary

I really like the character Vash, and I’m pretty lukewarm about Q. So I expected this to be overall a decent episode when both of them showed up, and it was. But the difficulty is that this was a story that seems to only exist for the sake of having these crossover characters show up. It’s like a big ad: “Hey everybody, you liked TNG? Check out DS9, because we bring TNG people over!” Meanwhile, O’Brien has been developed into a regular (and great) character. That’s how to cross characters from one series to a next. Don’t inundate–develop.

Oh well. The episode is kind of silly all around, and making Q try to have the same dynamics with Sisko as he had with Picard seemed forced. The mystery over what’s happening at the station–once it clearly became not Q–was very predictable. And, again, stop me if you’ve heard this before: Q gets blamed for something but makes other people figure out the real thing that’s happening. Oh yeah, TNG did that too.

Grade: B- “It was a little overdone, but I enjoyed the crossover characters from The Next Generation.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “It mostly just felt like they were rehashing The Next Generation storylines in a different setting.”

“Dax”

Synopsis

Police (?) from Klaestron IV come onto Deep Space Nine and capture Jadzia Dax to try to take her back home for trial for murder committed by Curzon Dax. However, Sisko and crew manage to stop them in time to use some political loopholes to force a hearing governed by Bajor over whether Dax will be extradited to Klaestron. At the hearing, the senior officers of Deep Space Nine endeavor to prove that Jadzia Dax is not the same as Curzon Dax and so cannot be responsible for the alleged crimes of the latter. Meanwhile, Odo is dispatched to Klaestron to investigate there. Dax is oddly reticent about defending her(?)self but Odo discovers this is because Curzon Dax had an affair with a woman back on Klaestron and is trying to protect that woman’s reputation. The trial seems to show that the two Daxs are the same, but with the evidence of Curzon’s alibi, the case falls through.

Commentary

The second episode in a row that seems to have major plot stolen from The Next Generation, “Dax” manages to pull it off with much better results. Yes, this is basically just “The Measure of a Man” retold with different characters, but because that inspiration was itself so good, this episode can’t be all bad. And it isn’t–it’s pretty good.

Another aspect of this episode is that it turns its inspiration around. Rather than trying to prove Jadzia Dax is something, the crew [or whatever I should call the main characters on a space station–the cadre?] is trying to prove she is not something (one). That’s enough of a twist to keep this episode from feeling entirely like it has been done before, and the added dimension of Odo going and doing some serious investigating ups the ante.

Overall, the episode builds Dax as a character more than has been done so far, and shows how complex her past is. Hopefully that theme continues through the series.

Grade: B+ “The plot has been done before, and on Star Trek, but it was still an enjoyable episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was an interesting idea, and there were good plot twists.”

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 “Babel” and “Captive Pursuit”

Our outfits are magnificent, k?

Our outfits are magnificent, k?

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:

“Babel”

Synopsis

Chief O’Brien continues to try to catch up on all the work that needs to be done to get Deep Space Nine back in working condition. As he does so, however, people start getting sick, and it looks like there is a booby trap that was left on the station. Odo and others try to solve the problem as people continue to lose their capacity to speak and understand communication. Finally, Major Kira uses some unorthodox methods to convince the one possible link to tell them how to cure the virus. All is saved!

Commentary

The main thing I want to say here is that I found the episode kinda boring. It was hard to take seriously a threat to the entire space station this early in the show. Of course they’re not going to let so many main characters be unable to talk with each other for the rest of the series. There was almost no suspense here. The plot itself wasn’t a bad one–it definitely makes you wonder whether there are a lot more traps scattered around the station. Heck, with the Cardassians you expect that to happen! It just felt predictable and “ho hum” throughout. Kira’s saving everything with her probably illegal kidnapping of a doctor was the only thing that spiced it up.

Grade: C- “It was a bit boring, despite attempts to make it suspenseful.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was good and fairly creative, but the suspension of the disbelief was a bit much.”

“Captive Pursuit”

Synopsis

A man arrives at Deep Space Nine through the wormhole, and appears to be in great fear, wanting to arm himself and flee at the earliest opportunity. He is locked up for trying to break into a weapons cache. Meanwhile, an aggressive ship shows up and beams intruders on board the station finally ending their attack when they discover the man who’d come earlier. Turns out that that man’s function in their culture is to flee to the best of the ability, and provide a good hunt. Disgusted at his capture, they consign him to humiliation back home. O’Brien, however, has other plans, and busts him out of prison, releasing him back to his ship to keep the hunt going.

Commentary

First, let me say that this was the episode that really hammered home that costumes on DS9 are really well done. The costumes for the people from the Gamma Quadrant were pretty spectacular. A little bit campy sci-fi, a touch of old Trek, and a bunch of flair. I enjoyed them very much.

Anyway, the plot isn’t what drives this episode, and that’s good because it’s pretty bare-bones. There’s a guy running from lots of people chasing him. But wait, turns out he is supposed to be chased in their society so that’s okay, right? Well O’Brien doesn’t think so, and he worked with the “Tosk” to help him keep running. It’s straightforward, but it is also action-packed and intense, with a touch of silliness mixed in. The hardest part of the episode to swallow, to be honest, was O’Brien just throwing the Prime Directive out the window. Of course, his twisted logic actually makes some kind of sense, so maybe that’s okay too. It’s good to see DS9 execute this kind of “fun” mixer episode so early in the series.

Grade: B+ “It’s enjoyable, but apparently O’Brien also discards Starfleet regulations at the drop of a hat as well.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “Chief O’Brien clearly takes Riker for his role model instead of Picard in his pursuit of the Prime Directive.”

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: TNG Season 6 “Time’s Arrow, Part II” and “Realm of Fear”

In the matter-antimatter plexing of the stasis phase inducer, we noticed a set of distortion wave theorems that mixed into the containment field.

In the matter-antimatter plexing of the stasis phase inducer, we noticed a set of distortion wave theorems that mixed into the containment field.

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.

“Time’s Arrow, Part II”

Plot

The crew continues to pursue some mysterious aliens who are going back in time on Earth to take the life energy of humans for their own sustenance. Mark Twain thinks the crew members of the Enterprise have come from a different time or place to try to destroy his own time period, and gives pursuit. As he confronts the crew, the aliens make an appearance and the crew gives chase, leaving Picard and Guinan behind. Ultimately, the threat is ended when the alien locale is destroyed and Twain is returned to his own time period.

Commentary

I vividly remember this two-part episode from when it first aired and I was little. It has stuck with me because of Mark Twain, I think, but also the weirdness and mixture of genres and ideas. Sometimes this is good, and sometimes it’s not so great.

I quite enjoyed the setting and the ways that Picard and crew tried to play things off like they were a crew preparing to put on a Shakespearean production. Those scenes were delightful, and it was also fun to see how they tried to cope with the challenges of a different era. On the other hand, there are plenty of question marks throughout the episode. It’s hard to accept the notion of an alien race that relies entirely on eating the life energy of humans to survive. How have they continued for any amount of time? Mark Twain was really annoying again, in my opinion, though he did manage to redeem himself somewhat by the end.

Also, when did Guinan-Picard become a weird “maybe more than friends, but unsure what that means” type of relationship? They’ve talked a few times, yes, but although it seems clear Picard takes her advice as rather weighty, it has never seemed suggested that they go beyond that. It just felt a bit weird to have this dynamic suddenly introduced.

It’s weird, and if I recall, a two-parter that is largely disliked by fans, but I didn’t think it was too bad to be honest. It was cool to see how the time loop got tied off and how Data’s head ended up in the past alongside some other objects.

Grade: B “Lots of weirdness and it is at times difficult to suspend disbelief, but this one is still interesting enough.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was very good, plus old-timey costumes make an enjoyable episode.”

“Realm of Fear”

Plot

Lieutenant Barclay is afraid of transporting, and after he finally convinces himself to get transported over to work on a problem with La Forge and others, he is seemingly attacked while in mid-transport. It turns out that he isn’t just hallucinating, despite his own conviction that he might be suffering some kind of mental disorder, and something really was in the matter stream with him. He ends up rescuing a few crew members that were stuck in mid-transport.

Commentary

“Realm of Fear” has a different feel than the episodes that have come along recently. It’s… campy. There is also a lot of fake techno-babble, as I tried to convey in the caption of the picture shared here.

I like Barclay. I think he’s a fun character, but it seems like they never quite know how to use him. He’s so normal that the writers must feel some perceived need to make everything around him abnormal to make up for it. But the story of having just a Joe Schmoe on board the Enterprise and trying to make do is enough. It would be great to see an episode kind of like “Data’s Day” for Barclay, but again with less drama happening around it. What is it like to not be the super-person that all the rest of the main characters seem to be? That’s the Barclay episode I want to see.

This episode is just kind of weird. Alongside the slew of fake-techno-babble, we have the transporter working very differently from any way it has been portrayed before. The way that transporters work is never really explored in depth, but the amount of discussion already given it seems to work against the way it is conveyed here.

We do, however, get to see how far along Geordi has come. He really does demonstrate his mettle as a strong leader, assigning teams to do things that he can delegate, supporting those who are struggling (i.e. Barclay), and the like. He’s come a long way from being used as a recurring attempted-love-interest joke. It’s good to see how well he is utilized now.

Grade: B- “Too many made up science-sounding words and I’m pretty sure transporters don’t work like that elsewhere.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “Fun development of a side character.”

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: “Power Play” and “Ethics”

ethics

Oh, what are we up to now? Casually casting aside centuries of medical ethics and practice, are we?

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.

“Power Play”

Plot

The Enterprise investigates a distress call only to have O’Brien, Troi, and Data taken over by alien energy beings. They attempt to hijack the ship in order to bring aboard more of their beings, but their initial attempt fails, only to have them instead take hostages in Ten Forward. As the hostage situation continues, the crew attempts to find ways to thwart the aliens, which largely only infuriate them more. Ultimately, Dr. Crusher finds a way to put the beings in stasis, just in time to save the ship.

Commentary

“Power Play” is a pretty intense episode based on a premise we’ve seen plenty of times before: foreign entities attempt to take over the ship. The reasons it managed to avoid feeling like a major case of deja vu were first, by involving secondary characters deeply in the drama and danger; second, by making tertiary characters more central; and third, by having just enough twists to keep viewers interested.

It was a great decision to make Chief O’Brien and Ensign Ro deeply involved in the plot, because it made the episode feel fresh despite having a plot that has largely been done before. Moreover, involving characters like Keiko O’Brien in the danger as well, because this made it feel as though someone might actually be in danger. Again, we know that unless an actor decides to leave, no main character is going to die off in TNG, so when characters who might recur show up and get in danger, it feels more real than when Riker gets in trouble for the hundredth time.

The plot itself is straightforward, but having the twist where the aliens weren’t actually what they claimed to be–marooned Starfleet people–was a bit unexpected and made it seem all the more genuine.

Also, here’s an epic quote:
Data: “Lieutenant, I must apologize for my inadvertent misconduct toward you.”
Worf: “No apology necessary.”
Data: “Your restraint was most remarkable.”
Worf: “You have no idea.”

“Power Play” is the kind of episode that could have gone very poorly, but featured enough unique plot points to rehash a similar story without feeling old or overdone.

Grade: B+ “Engaging and foreboding, ‘Power Play’ is enough to keep viewers entertained.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “I really enjoyed the suspense of figuring out who was possessing their bodies and the problem-solving that the crew went through. Also, Dr. Crusher saves the day!”

“Ethics”

Plot

Worf gets severely injured and may have permanent paralysis. This leads to his decision to try to end his own life, because for a Klingon, his life may as well be over. As the crew struggles to come to grips with this decision, Dr. Crusher has a showdown with Dr. Toby Russell, a neurological specialist, over whether to try a risky procedure that could regrow Worf’s spine. When tested methods fail to satisfy Worf, he makes the decision to ask Riker to help end his life. Riker argues that Worf must instead ask Alexander and explain it to his son. Dr. Russell, however, intervenes and suggests the risky surgery to Worf, who accepts. After apparently dying in surgery, Worf pulls through and it appears his functions will return to normal. Dr. Russell receives a stern lecture from Dr. Crusher.

Commentary

There are lots of lectures and even tongue-lashings in this episode, which was largely an exploration of ethical problems related to medicine and euthanasia. Despite this focus on the ethical questions the episode raised, there is a solid amount of plot here, even acknowledging the mostly throwaway side plot of a rescue mission the Enterprise is taking on. Sure, it’s not full of action, but the plot here centers around the characters, and the amount of investment the series has put into these characters shows through.

See, I think it must have been a tough sell to say “Let’s make an episode in which most of the main characters spend the whole time talking.” But, it weirdly works. Riker’s reservations about helping Worf were spot on. Picard’s insistence on maintaining respect for different cultural norms was also in character, though perhaps a bit more heated than one might expect. Dr. Crusher’s insistence on thoroughness and her scathing critique of Dr. Russell is probably the highlight of the episode. At the end, she acknowledges that the risk saved Worf, but her lines about the need for medical procedure and testing in environments with less risk was both in character and also on point.

The acting throughout is also great, which it would have to be if we’re supposed to believe the people are actually struggling with the issues being raised. Even Worf’s interactions with Alexander were touching.

Perhaps the biggest issue with the episode is one hinted at in the previous episode: as a viewer, you pretty much know Worf will pull through. I mean I knew this because I’ve seen the series and Deep Space Nine, but even before, you always knew the main characters would somehow make it out. I’m not sure if this episode would have worked if they had chosen a secondary or guest character to be the focus of the episode, but it would have been more dramatic as a viewer to have someone to whom something like paralysis or death could actually be permanent.

Overall, though, the episode was intriguing and emotionally powerful. It wasn’t the most exciting episode, but it was good to watch.

Grade: B+ “Lots of lecturing, but the questions it raised were deep, and the drama centering on Worf was very solid.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “‘Ethics’ featured some excellent acting but the story suffered from unexplained canister collapse and too many monologues.” 

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.