Star Trek: TNG Season 6 “Chain of Command, Part II” and “Ship in a Bottle”

HOW MANY LIGHTS!?

HOW MANY LIGHTS!?

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.

“Chain of Command, Part II”

Plot

Picard is tortured by his Cardassian captors as they try–and fail–to get any of the Starfleet plans of defense against Cardassia. Then, the torture turns to just being torture for the sake of torment. Picard initially seems to be breaking, but then he realizes that his tormentor was himself tormented and Picard begins to think of him as a lost, small, scared little boy. Ultimately, Captain Jellico’s bold maneuver to put mines around the Cardassian ships saves the day and Picard is released.

For a fuller plot summary, see Memory Alpha.

Commentary

Patrick Stewart’s acting sells this one hard, but it’s not just that. This episode was fantastically written. The torture scenes are truly tough to watch, but you can’t help but watch, hoping that Picard doesn’t break under the pressure. After Picard is released and he’s talking to Troi, he admits that he not only wanted to see five lights, but he was convinced for a moment there were five. It’s a tough perspective on how we can learn to fool ourselves under pressure–or indeed, even without pressure.

Meanwhile, Captain Jellico is off being his crazy self and trying to hardball the Cardassians. As a viewer, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to root for Jellico or not. When Jellico had to go ask Riker to pilot the shuttle that laid the trap against the Cardassians, it was sweet to watch Riker sit back, smile, and say “Ask me.” More evidence of great writing. It was also nice to see Data in red. I’d love to see a spin-off series with Data as a Captain. Or, you know, any new Star Trek TV series. I can dream, right?

The Cardassians are turning into a formidable opponent to Starfleet, and I’m excited to re-watch Deep Space Nine once we’ve gone through TNG entirely.

Grade: A+ “A stunning performance by Patrick Stewart with a strong plot.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “Overall it was very good, especially the excellent performance by Patrick Stewart.”

“Ship in a Bottle”

Plot

Don’t SPOIL this one! 

Remember way back in Season 2 when there was an episode in which La Forge tried to foil Data on the holodeck with a Sherlock Holmes mystery he couldn’t solve (“Elementary, Dear Data“)? Yeah, and remember how Moriarty was promised they would try to find a way for him to walk around outside the holodeck? Yep, that happened. Well, Data and La Forge were back at it and they–and Barclay–accidentally reactivate Moriarty. Moriarty walks off the holodeck himself, and he demands that Picard and crew get the love of his life off it as well. As they scramble to do so, a nearby planet and star are colliding, putting the Enterprise in danger. Ultimately, Data realizes the whole thing is just a ploy and Picard, Barclay, and Data manage to trap Moriarty in a smaller memory capsule while still allowing him to think that he is free.

Commentary

DAT TWIST!

The plot twist in this was great, and I confess I didn’t remember it at all. To suddenly find out that Picard, Barclay, and Data are actually trapped in a broader holodeck program made by Moriarty was just stunning. More importantly, it didn’t seem at all contrived. Sure, you have to suspend some disbelief in how Moriarty was able to reprogram the computer, but it still seems to fit in with how the holodeck has been treated in the past.

Think how crazy it would be if you were trapped in a similar situation! How would you ever trust reality again? Barclay does a good job showing this as he calls for the computer to end the program at the very end. But of course that doesn’t solve anything- he could still be trapped! AS COULD WE ALL!? (Cue creepy music.)

But seriously, this was a great mystery episode that I thought I had figured out. Then, BAM, you don’t know what hits you, but you realize that you’re not as smart as you thought you were.

This was a surprisingly great episode that helped tie up a loose thread in epic fashion.

Grade: A “A great way to conclude a loose thread, with a super-epic plot twist towards the end… what more could you ask?”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “Moriarty is a fun opponent for Picard and Data, but the episode lacked something to make it really great.”

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: The Next Generation Season 2, “Elementary, Dear Data” and “The Outrageous Okona”

elementary-dear-data

I have deduced that this is a shoe.

I’m going through “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and reviewing every episode, complete with commentary and a grade from A-F. Here, we’re in season 2 and discussing episodes three and four. This week I’ve changed the format a bit by including scores from my wife, who has never seen the show before. There are SPOILERS for each episode below.

“Elementary, Dear Data”

Plot

Data and Geordi trade moments of sharing favorite things. Data’s is Sherlock Holmes but he has all the novels memorized and so they present no challenge. Dr. Pulaski argues Data can’t reason himself out of a box, but Geordi is convinced Data could solve a mystery and sets the holodeck to create a mystery and nemesis that could defeat Data. The computer complies, resulting in a nemesis, Professor Moriarty, who can eventually take control of the Enterprise, who is ultimately not defeated but allowed to continue on in the code of the computer until the technology comes along that can maintain his existence outside of the holodeck.

Commentary

I loved the interplay of Data and Geordi in this episode. Geordi sharing one of his favorite things with Data and agreeing to share in a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Dr. Pulaski being the character to spur Data into a challenge to see if he can solve it is a good use of her character. She has officially grown on me marginally, but she still treats Data in a manner unbecoming a Doctor, in my opinion. The use of Moriarty as the nemesis of Holmes/Data is also well done and the building suspense is interesting and entertaining. I can’t but say that the episode entertained me. Character growth for both Data and Geordi was both needed and welcome. Their dynamic is great and I can’t wait to see that develop more.

Despite that, the episode really pushed the “suspension of disbelief” envelope. Why would you build a holodeck in which failsafes were able to be turned off so easily and unintentionally. I mean, shouldn’t there at least be a warning: “Hey, you’re making a really dangerous program, proceed?” Why not have a failsafe that allows you to just turn the power off no matter what? Importing my philosophy background: how does a computer that is non-sentient come up with a program that “gains consciousness”? If I were Picard, I’d be thinking it is time to ban use of my holodecks.

That said, I actually liked this episode a lot. It had lots of flaws, yes, but it was entertaining and fun. At the heart of Star Trek, that’s what the show is all about.

Grade: B

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A-/B+ “It was pretty good… I was entertained.”

The Outrageous Okona

Plot

A ship is broken down, the Enterprise assists. The ship’s captain, Okona, is Han Solo (basically). Two ships come wanting Okona for different reasons. It turns out that their reasons are linked and Okona was kind of the fall guy trying to help young love happen. In the end, young love wins, and Okona leaves safely. Oh yeah, Data also tried to find out what’s funny.

Commentary

Okona had a lot of promise when he showed up. Sure, he’s a stereotypical rebel-without-a-cause character/Han Solo, but who doesn’t like Han Solo? (Lower your hand, you!) Unfortunately, that never plays out. Instead, we have to endure shots of Data trying to figure out what’s funny while Guinan scorns his efforts in between shots of Okona being the ravishing space captain.

There are a lot of problems here apart from mere disappointment, however. Guinan has apparently joined the bash-Data club of which she and Pulaski are the founding members. Data’s interplay with “the comic” were initially sort of fun but dragged on forever and became dull and painful to watch. Okona’s character was utterly stereotypical. The commentary on a father being upset that a guy got his daughter pregnant and then ran off was just weird. I believe the word they used was “ancient” customs. It seemed disrespectful to the real plight of the woman involved. Another failed effort at egalitarian themes. The big reveal in which the young love was shown to be the thrust of the plot was a potentially interesting twist that just fell flat due to its surroundings.

This episode was very *shrug*-worthy, and at times painful. Long story short, the episode was boring.

Grade: D+

Wife’s Grade and Comment: C “Data jokes weren’t that funny; two groups fighting over one thing feels like it’s been done before.”

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!