Star Trek: TNG Season 6 “Frame of Mind” and “Suspicions”

Riker is having a rough day.

Riker is having a rough day.

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.

“Frame of Mind”

Plot

The episode opens with Riker apparently in an insane asylum, being told that he needs more treatment because he apparently hurt someone. Turns out he is just practicing for an upcoming play on board the Enterprise. However, he wakes up later and it appears he is actually in an asylum that looks exactly like the set back on the Enterprise. As he tries to figure out what is going on, he continually shifts back and forth between the Enterprise and the asylum, trying to piece together what is real. He becomes convinced that the asylum is real, but then is apparently rescued by Dr. Crusher and Worf. Even this reality breaks down under investigation, time and again, until he finally awakens in the middle of some kind of brain surgery and manages to signal the Enterprise to rescue him.

Commentary

This one is like an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” It’s all over, with layer after layer of reality being peeled away throughout the episode until it is difficult to keep up. But it is never overwhelming, nor does it ever falter. “Frame of Mind” is a truly intense episode throughout.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot to actually comment on here, because the greatness of this episode is found in the suspense it carries through, not in any kind of depth of plot or characters. Riker, however, carries this episode quite well. It is not difficult to imagine become disillusioned with one’s own reality under the kinds of pressure that are shown being applied to his mental life in this episode.

So…. yeah not a lot to say but this is great viewing.

Grade: A “A great mystery that kept unveiling new layers in such a way as to keep the plot moving.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was very well done.”

“Suspicions”

Plot

Dr. Crusher talks with Guinan about her attempts to facilitate scientific discussion between a Ferengi scientist who has attempted to develop shield technology to allow travel much closer to stars than ever before possible. However, in the process one scientist apparently dies in a test flight, and the Ferengi turns up dead himself, apparently in a suicide. Crusher attempts to further her investigation, but is thwarted at every turn, including by a direct order not to perform an autopsy. Guinan convinces Crusher to keep up the investigation, which leads to Crusher commandeering a shuttle to see if the Ferengi’s theory works. It does, but the scientist who apparently died in the test flight isn’t dead… and attempts to kill Crusher, who takes him down and manages to return to the Enterprise.

Commentary

The narrative that Dr. Crusher gives to Guinan as she describes her efforts as a scientific diplomat makes this episode have a little bit of a noir feel, and I love that. The plot itself is pretty strong, too, as we have not just the mystery of whether a specific invention might be viable to deal with but also a possible murder mystery.

It was fun seeing the plot develop and keep getting more and more interesting. I for sure thought that the Vulcan and/or her husband were responsible for the Ferengi’s death, so it managed to throw me off the scent despite having seen the episode before (hey, it was a long time ago, so I didn’t remember, okay?). The pulpy feel along with the complexity of the actual mystery are paid off pretty well with an ending that doesn’t feel too contrived. It’s just a really solid episode with some excellent work by Dr. Crusher. Plus she gets to roundhouse kick an alien in the face. How epic was that?

All of the positive feelings aside, there are some problems with this one. For one, how the heck does the apparently dead alien scientist manage to keep leaving the morgue without anyone noticing he’s walking around on board the ship? For another, if the Enterprise constantly monitors people’s condition and where they are on the ship, why have they still not integrated some sort of security system into that? Why doesn’t Crusher have more severe consequences (like getting thrown in the brig) for her clear disobedience and insubordination at points?

Ultimately, my answer to these questions was “Who cares?”  because the episode was too fun to let myself get bogged down with these concerns about plausibility.

I’ve been reading through the Star Trek TNG 365 book, which is excellent, by the way, and apparently the authors and the writers of the episode itself thought this one wasn’t very good. Well, you can probably tell from my comments–and our grades below–that we loved it.

Grade: A “Some hard to believe moments don’t do much to drag this one down. Another suspenseful episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “I enjoyed it. Crusher was a fun detective, but it felt a little odd for 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: 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.

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Star Trek: TNG Season 6 “Rascals” and “A Fistful of Datas”

A dream come true: Star Trek: The Ancient West.

A dream come true: Star Trek: The Ancient West.

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.

“Rascals”

Plot

A strange transporter incident leads to Ensign Ro, Captain Picard, Guinan, and Keiko O’Brien to have their bodies turned into those of children. As the crew tries to adjust, a treacherous Ferengi trap leads to the Enterprise being taken over. The bite-sized crew members have to work with children to take the ship back over, and succeed in the nick of time.

Commentary

I found this an absolutely charming and delightful episode. Seeing how each individual struggled with their new body was hilarious, but also at times endearing or even sad (as in Keiko’s case). Picard, of course, had a lot of trouble simply because he doesn’t like children. My favorite part was watching young Picard throw a fit and hug Riker, his “dad.” It was hilarious and advanced the plot.

The Ferengi are always a bit hard to take seriously as a major threat, but they did a good job here of making them more threatening by taking over others’ ships and being craftier than usual. Too often, they’re portrayed as just being stupid or greedy (or both), but “Rascals” cashed in on them being more nefarious and cunning.

I remember hating this episode when I was a kid. After all, why would I want to watch what kids were doing when I could see the cool adults solving all the problems? But now, adult perspective has made me think this episode is just quite a bit of fun to watch.

Grade: A “Surprisingly fun, ‘Rascals’ was a treat to watch.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was delightful. Also, ‘A+’ to whoever got the same actor to play little Whoopi that played her in Sister Act.”

“A Fistful of Datas”

Plot

The Enterprise has a few days to wait for a rendezvous and as they do so, Geordi and Data attempt to make Data into a backup of the computer system. Meanwhile, Worf and Alexander are joined by Troi as they go to the holodeck to enjoy a Wild West (as they call it, “ancient West”) adventure. Data’s interfacing with the computer, however, leads to his neural network weirdly integrating with parts of the recreational systems on the ship, including the holodeck. As systems on the ship go haywire, Worf, Alexander, and Troi are put in terrible danger as Datas begin to take over the holodeck simulation. Ultimately, they manage to play out the story of the ancient West and Geordi/Data get Data’s brain out of the computer.

Commentary

Genre-blending can sometimes go terribly… TERRIBLY! Other times, it is awesome. Here, we have a mash-up of science fiction and wild west and it goes quite well indeed (of course, I would be remiss to mention Firefly around as another example done right).

First, the opening was hilarious. Picard just trying to relax while the whole crew comes to him with various requests… then Worf trying to get out of the time in the West with Alexander.

It was funny to see Data taking over various personages in the holodeck simulation–the amount of outfit changes he must have had to do for this episode! I laughed out loud a couple times as the transition continued. It feels like a generic shootout set-up (though with strong tones of the movie Tombstone, which is fantastic), but you don’t mind because having it mixed in with the science fiction elements just makes it all work together smoothly–or at least more smoothly than one might expect.

The episode comes full circle at the end when Worf tells Alexander the Ancient West needs its sheriff and deputy. It’s just so fun.

Grade: A “Who wouldn’t want to mix Wild West adventure with Star Trek?”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It also was delightful!” 

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 “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 “The Inner Light” and “Time’s Arrow, Part I”

Welcome to your new home, where you will spend the rest of your life only to wake up and realize it's all a dream kind of.

Welcome to your new home, where you will spend the rest of your life only to wake up and realize it’s all a dream kind of.

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 Inner Light”

Plot

A strange probe is found in the middle of space and when the Enterprise draws near, it seems to attack Picard. As the crew tries to figure out what happened to him, Picard wakes up in a completely different world, complete with a wife and a society in which he exists. Initially perturbed, he attempts for years (!) to figure out what happened, and slowly comes to integrate himself into the agrarian society. Meanwhile, only minutes are passing on the Enterprise as they track the probe’s flight path back to a system devoid of life–apparently a star went nova, burning out any life forms in the area. Picard in the other world grows old, has children and even a grandchild, and then is asked to come see a rocket launch. It turns out the rocket was launching the probe that has passed on the memories of the system’s people and society to Picard because they knew they would all be destroyed. Picard wakes up back on the Enterprise having lived a lifetime elsewhere.

Commentary

The sheer scope of the episode is astounding, as it tells the story of the culture and people in snippets that make one envious of the way they’ve organized society. Thinking about the episode makes it really tough to think that anyone other than Picard could have taken the overwhelming mental toll that living an entire life in minutes could take on him. Do the memories continue to haunt him forever? How real are they to him? How does he sort out the real from the complete other life he lived?

Patrick Stewart puts this episode on his shoulders like Samson put the city gate of Gaza on his back and carries it in the most epic possible way. The episode was absolutely sold by Stewart throughout, as viewers are sucked in by his performance. He never seems to fully give up the notion that his real life was indeed his real life, but he ultimately settles into his alien life–as any of us would.

The society created for the episode seems utopic, but not over-the-top. It is easy to see how Picard eventually could have felt comfortable settling in. The characters are all robust enough to make you care about them, even if you know they are all just one-offs. It’s just really well-done.

The final scene in which we see Picard get delivered the flute and begin to play with it–a nod to the fact that he has just experienced an entire lifetime of an alternate universe–was both hopeful and terribly sad. Perfection.

“The Inner Light” is, in my opinion, one of the best pieces of television out there. It is just absolutely phenomenal.

Grade: A+ 

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was a fairly touching but frankly bizarre way for the alien people to record their history.”

“Time’s Arrow, Part I”

Plot

Data’s head is discovered in a dig site on Earth–from hundreds of years prior to the “current” time in Star Trek. The crew discovers temporal distortions that lead them to believe some malevolent time travellers are going back in time on Earth. They try to protect Data but he is the only one capable of spying on the different time period and then inadvertently gets sent back to San Francisco in the 1800s. There he finds that Guinan is among the literary elite–but it is actually Guinan several hundred years ago so she isn’t cognizant of everything that is happening. As Data and the crew try to reunite, Mark Twain spies on them, thinking they are part of an alien plot.

Commentary

If I recall correctly, this two-parter is hated by many TNG fans. Frankly, I didn’t think it was awful. It was just ridden with plot holes and unexplained things. Well, plenty of things were attempted explanations but the answers to “why” and “how” questions provided were not very satisfactory. How does the crew so easily go back in time when before only Data could handle it?

And why is Mark Twain so annoying? I’m going to sidetrack here for a second and say that when I was young my family would visit my Grandma in Quincy, Illinois and cross the border to Hannibal, Missouri every year to visit the various Mark Twain tourist locations that were available. It was a great time that involved all kinds of fun with caves, sluicing for rocks, and literature. I fell in love with Twain and the lore around him on these trips. All of that said, I can honestly say that if he was this annoying in real life he was a real twit! Goodness, they did not really pull out any stops!

There is also a bit of difficult, in my opinion, with the overall plot. It just seems a bit strange that the aliens would pick the time they went back to out of all times in human history to eat humans. Maybe some of the weirdness will be cleared up in the next episode.

Grade: C+ “An intriguing concept with more holes than Swiss cheese.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “Great suspense and use of plot devices.”

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 5- “Ensign Ro” and “Silicon Avatar”

Opinionated barber is opinionated.

Opinionated barber is opinionated.

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.

“Ensign Ro”

Plot

The Enterprise is dispatched to try to deal with a Bajoran–a people persecuted by the Cardassians–terrorist who allegedly destroyed a Starfleet colony. Ensign Ro is assigned by Admiral Kennelly to assist with this quest, fresh out of prison. The crew is as unimpressed by her as she is by them at first, and they try to track down the Bajoran terrorist. Ro is revealed to be working with Kennelly to try to help the Cardassians, and after a conversation with Guinan she decides to fess up to Picard. It turns out, however, that the Bajorans didn’t commit this act at all; in fact, it seems it may have been a Cardassian ploy to try to get Starfleet to clean up their mess for them. Picard commends Ro and tells her Kennelly is likely to be court martialed.

Commentary

At last we are introduced to the Bajorans. I admit I had forgotten they showed up at all in the TNG universe and thought them limited to Deep Space 9. How (happily) mistaken I was! This is a great episode that not only sympathetically introduces a race of people but also seamlessly interweaves them into already existing storylines. It is easy to believe that the Cardassians would do such injustice because that is the persona given to them: warlike and most concerned with their own survival as opposed to anything else. The introduction of the Bajorans adds another layer of complexity over that storyline, and this episode does it very well.

Guinan also had another scene! Yay! I enjoy her character quite a bit, and the apparent rapport behind the story of Picard and her continues to offer tantalizing hints.

This is an all-around good episode with plenty of intrigue, interesting plot, and solid characterization.

Grade: A “A great blend of political backstabbing, buildup, and action. Give us more Bajorans!” 

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “I enjoyed Ensign Ro’s character development and the intrigue of the mission.”

“Silicon Avatar”

Plot

The Crystalline Entity which destroyed the colony from which Data hails shows up at another Starfleet colony to reduce it to rubble. The crew of the Enterprise set off in pursuit, aided by a xenobiologist, Dr. Kila Marr, whose son died on a colony that the Crystalline Entity destroyed. As Data and Marr try to work together despite Marr’s suspicion of Data, they piece together a way to perhaps try to communicate with the Entity. Meanwhile, Dr. Marr finds out Data has her son’s memories and even voice pattern in his memory banks and seems to believe that it may be her son. When the Enterprise finally encounters the Entity, she manages to use their form of communication to destroy it through resonance. Saying she did it for her son, she turns to Data for affirmation. Instead, Data argues it is not what her son would have liked at all.

Commentary

This is a decent episode with a great opening and several impactful scenes. The sense of foreboding surrounding the Crystalline Entity is well done, and some of the drama between Dr. Marr and Data is pretty interesting.

What makes this episode hard is really two aspects of the same problem: the notion that Data could be so gullible and oblivious and the quick descent into seeming madness that Dr. Marr experienced. I get that Data isn’t human and sometimes really can’t figure humans out, but seriously, he had a real rough time predicting the craziness of Dr. Marr here. Moreover, it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t have noticed her locking out the console to make sure the Entity was destroyed.

The episode also drags a whole bunch in some parts. A lot of filler with Dr. Marr and Data just sitting around talking to each other. It’s not awful, but it does make it slow down a ton.

It was nice to see the Entity show up again, as we keep having some interesting continuity with the series pop up at unexpected moments. It’s a testament to how well the universe was established in the earlier seasons that we can go back and visit concepts to learn more about them. This wasn’t a terrible episode; indeed it was pretty decent. But it was just that; decent.

Grade: B- “Some good emotional impact is marred by a quick descent to madness… and some sloth-like moments.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was overall good, but I have a hard time believing that Data is so inept at interpreting people… still.”

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 “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “The Offspring”

I can see the family resemblance.

I can see the family resemblance.

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.

“Yesterday’s Enterprise”

Plot

The Enterprise crew unwittingly stumbles into a time rift which sets in motion an alternative future in which war has persisted with the Klingons for many years. The only one who notices anything is different is Guinan, who tries to figure out how to revert things to the past. Meanwhile, the future-Enterprise encounters a ship from its own parallel past, the Enterprise C. It seems that because C came to the future through a time rift as well which has disrupted this future because the C would have fought Romulans and perhaps prevented this long war. Ultimately, the C is sent back to its doom, along with Tasha Yar who will die in the line of duty instead of senselessly being murdered.

Commentary

It’s a convoluted plot, and I apologize for having to take so long to explain it, but it is a good one! The sense of wrongness about seeing the Enterprise as a warship instead of a vessel of exploration is exacerbated by having Tasha Yar in the flesh once more. Guinan knows something is wrong, and of course the viewer knows it too, but the way it develops unfolds a mystery that is both fun and compelling.

Showing off the alternative-future Enterprise is a lot of fun, and it is also interesting to see how the war with the Klingons may have developed had peace not instead been reached. It is particularly surreal to see the bridge crew armed at all times and watch the Enterprise function as a warship.The explanation of having the C die defending the Klingons (ultimately to no avail!), thus showing the honorable nature of the Federation to the Klingons is genius and also provides a lot of great background information.

The only major downfall of “Yesterday’s Enterprise” is its continued moralizing to the extent that it seems a bit like getting the questions the episode raises rammed down viewers’ throats. Is war okay? Is a death in one fashion better than one which is senseless? Is sacrifice of the few for the many good? Should we mess around with time travel anyway? Etc., etc. I normally like the moral questions TNG raises, but the massive number of questions so intentionally raised and dangled past viewers here was just overdone. Overall a solid episode, but just hampered by too much reflection. This is one that could stood by just having the action continue.

Grade: A- “A great episode with just a little too much moralizing.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “I enjoyed the concept and it was pretty well acted, plus it was fun to see Lieutenant Yar again.”

“The Offspring”

Plot

Data creates another android he refers to as his child. The android picks gender as a female human and her given name is Lal. Admiral Haftel comes to investigate and argues Lal should be given to Starfleet to raise her, but Data counters that he is the most experienced one to do this task. Data’s creative skill is so good that she surpasses him, and as the Federation tries to decide what to do with her, she short-circuits. Haftel tries to help Data but ultimately she succumbs and she suffers a total failure of her cognitive net. She dies saying that she loves Data and will feel enough love for both of them.

Commentary

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one, as I remember in the past being bored by it. Maybe it’s the fact that I have a child on the way (well, by the time this publishes I’ll have a newborn!), but this hit me right in the gut. It’s an incredibly touching episode made all the more impressive by the fact that it is headlined by the character without feelings, Data. This was a smart choice by the writers as they were able to utilize the emotional roller coaster of the episode to make Data’s own striving for humanity and emotions all the more interesting.

The mounting drama between Picard and Haftel over the fate of Lal is done very well. Picard, despite chastising Data for his project (to which Data humorously responds that no other crew members have to discuss their procreation with the Captain), sticks up for his own in a fashion that we have come to expect from him. Having Haftel turn from antagonist and villain to co-operator when trying to save Lal is another genius move as it makes him a more realized character while also adding to the emotional gravity of the moment. Haftel’s description of Data continuing to work despite the fact that hope was being lost was gripping.

Really, this episode could be summarized as “All the feels.” An excellent episode, and one which improves upon re-viewing.

Grade: A “An amazingly emotional episode centered around some awesome questions.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was a very good exploration of personhood and development… and Data.”

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.