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.
Riker’s in trouble. He is poisoned by some kind of gas and awakens… apparently sixteen years later with memory loss. But something just feels wrong to Riker, and he figures it out when his wife is alleged to be someone who only existed on the holodeck. It turns out the Romulans have been toying with his mind on a holodeck. However, that is only another layer, because even that scenario turns out to be mistaken. Riker puts his foot down and it is finally revealed a lonely alien has kidnapped him and tried to keep him there. Riker reprimands the alien, but then the two depart, giving the alien a chance to find a new home with other people.
It is unfortunate that the ending of “Future Imperfect” is so much of a cop-out, because the plot is extremely interesting. Riker’s continually confronted by alternative accounts of how he got into his predicament. Initially, it seems entirely plausible that it is a Romulan attempt to get information out of Riker, but as the episode continues, Riker continues to peel back layers of the onion.
The episode is ingenious in the way it draws viewers along the same logical path as Riker: we realize not all is as it appears and are suspicious of the Romulans, then we realize the kid has shown up in a few different places and his story is inconsistent, then we start to suspect the kid is the one doing all of it. The way this is built up is interesting and keeps the plot moving in such a way that it has viewers on the edge of their seats.
The problem is that the ending is such a clear case of “How do we tie this up in a minute” that it just undermines the whole feel of the plot. The mystery builds up so much and then it just falls into being just another godlike-scenario kind of cop-out.
“Future Imperfect” is probably better than the grade I gave it–it is one of the most compelling plots we’ve run into in some time–but the ending is just too much of a let-down for me. It went from what could have been an all-time greatest episode to being merely good.
Grade: B- “The intriguing plot is fatally marred by a major case of deus ex machina.”
Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “It was a pretty good plot but the end was not very satisfying.”
Wesley, Picard, and a “captain” of a shuttle are stranded on a desert planet and have to get to water that is behind a force field. With Picard injured and the captain in stasis, Wesley must save the day [again]. Meanwhile, the Enterprise has to tow a garbage ship away from a local planet to prevent them from suffering immensely from radiation poisoning. The Enterprise and Wesley both succeed. High fives all around.
“Final Mission” could have been much better. The entire episode really just felt like a way to throw Wesley and Picard back together so we can see them sharing some genuine moments together. I mean the “main” plot really just is as follows: Picard, Wesley, and random captain of a shuttle get stranded on a dry planet. They find a source of water that is defended by an energy being and must get the water. Sure, there’s a few wrinkles added to this, but wow that is a seriously thin plot.
The secondary plot features the crew of the Enterprise working to get a garbage vessel away from a planet it is threatening with its radioactive waste. It’s an interesting premise but it doesn’t have enough going on to keep the tension that an episode needs to keep up.
What the episode does do well is the genuine moments mentioned above. Picard and Wesley interacting has become a theme and the growth of their relationship over the course of the series, and if I recall correctly this might be his final episode as part of the crew due to his going to Starfleet Academy. It’s a good way to wrap up a character who has never been my favorite. But really, at this point, I have to say the continuity of Wesley’s story has made him more interesting. I don’t remember, but I hope he shows up again to give us at least a few insights into where he has gone.
Grade: C+ “Heartfelt moments can’t overcome a boring and paper-thin plot.”
Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “The acting and characters were good but it seemed like an artificial way to get Wesley and Picard to bond.”
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