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.

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Star Trek: TNG Season 7 “All Good Things…”

all-good-things

*Sniffle*

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.

“All Good Things…”

Synopsis

Picard is apparently traveling through time, encountering the crew of the Enterprise across different timelines. One constant, however, is a disturbance in the neutral zone. As Picard guides three different time periods to investigate the neutral zone, it becomes apparent that someone is tampering with things. Of course, it is Q. Q challenges Picard to figure out what is happening and blames him for the destruction of the entire human race. Ultimately, Picard must sacrifice the ship in each timeline in order to stop the destruction of humanity. Q, however, appears to reset things to normal, saying that Picard passed the test, for now, and that all good things must come to an end. Picard joins the crew for some poker at the end.

Commentary

I was surprised watching this episode because for a long time it has been among my favorites. Yet, watching it for about the 10th time, I was watching it in order–at the very end of the entire series. Set against that backdrop, it remains a good episode, but there are plenty of episodes that are far better. That said, as far as a series finale goes, this was a solid way to finish. The very end–with Picard joining in the poker game–was a great way to send fans out on a joyous/nostalgic note.

They also did a good job kind of book-ending the series with a Q-trial scene. However, given that I didn’t think the first episode was very good, it didn’t bring back warm and fuzzy memories for me of that episode. It just seemed a little like a weird extension of the same. Q usually is weird, though watching the series in order has given me a better appreciation of his character than I had before.

The main problem here is there is so much going on. Is it a time-travel episode, a Q episode, a character-highlight episode, a mystery episode? It’s all of these and more. They tried to shove too many things into such a small amount of time and space that it feels totally full. Moreover, the episode loses some impact because the future/past timelines are unconnected with the present, so the neat glimpses into the future of the crew are effectively a wash. They aren’t “real” in the sense of happening to the universe we’ve been in and enjoying.

Hey, it’s been an awesome run! We made it all the way through. Time to relax for a bit, then start up Deep Space 9!

Grade: A- “It’s good, but convoluted to the extreme.” 

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was a good episode, but they could have ended the series without Q.” 

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 “Tapestry” and “Birthright, Part I”

Blue shirt? Kill me now.

Blue shirt? Kill me now.

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.

“Tapestry”

Plot

Picard dies and meets Q in the afterlife. Q challenges him on how he got the artificial heart and offers the possibility of avoiding the same mistakes by reliving his life as a young Picard. Picard accepts after some debate and is thrust back into himself at a younger age. As he reverses his decisions that led to him getting an artificial heart (and that he thinks are blemishes on his past), he discovers that the long-term consequences are great. Fast forward and Picard is a science officer on board the Enterprise, with little ambition or drive. He demands that Q take him back and let him die. Q instead restarts his heart in the real world and Picard recovers fully.

Commentary

“Picard dies and meets Q in the afterlife” – that’s a surefire set up for something that will end up going either extraordinarily poorly or very well. Thankfully, it was the latter. This is really an endearing look at Picard. It fills out his back story, while also giving us a glimpse into what he views as most important. We see a young Picard who is more foolish and boisterous than the Picard we know, but it fits the persona of the “real” Picard. You can see how he could have developed out of the character they showed.

The story isn’t the most epic–it’s really just three Starfleet officers hanging out. What makes it work is the premise. You have to be willing to stick with the characters because you like Picard so much. It was a smart choice to leave Picard as Patrick Stewart instead of giving us a different perspective on the young Picard–it keeps us engaged with the character in a way that might have been more difficult with a different actor (though it worked in “Rascals”). Q is really great in this one as well. Nothing too crazy, but still very in character. Loved it.

My favorite part of this episode is when Picard discovers he is a science officer. Rather than being content to live, he decides the only thing he should do is immediately go back and die. Picard just can’t handle being the little guy, and I find that hilarious at the same time as it is telling. It’s great.

Grade: A “A great episode that provides insight into Picard’s younger self, while also giving all kinds of opportunity for comedy and reflection.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was interesting to see the way history might be changed, but it lacked something special to make it great.”

“Birthright, Part I”

Plot

The Enterprise is docked at Deep Space Nine, a Starfleet-run space station. As the crew mingles with those aboard the station, Worf is approached by an alien who claims his father is still alive and a prisoner of the Romulans. While Worf struggles to discern whether he wants to pursue the information, Data experiences some feedback that leads him into having dreams, which awaken a new level of neural development for his Android brain. Ultimately, Worf tracks down the information broker, lands on the planet, and is captured by Romulans.

Commentary

What? We get to see Deep Space Nine in this one! I can’t wait to start going through that series again, and that glimpse really whetted my appetite for it.

It was cool to see Data having dreams and coming into discovery about himself. As Picard said, he’s a culture of one, and so he can explore meaning and the like within his own context. I wonder about how it is supposed to work, exactly. Allegedly the tinkering done around Data actually triggered the dream portion of his neural net a little early. Does that mean he will have trouble adapting to it? Or will it bring him to the next level more quickly?

The plot that follows Worf is vastly different, though you can see some parallels. Both Data and Worf are trying to seek out real aspects of themselves–for Data it is an encounter with his “father” in a dream world; for Worf, it is the sudden possibility that his father might have lost his honor after all. Each traces back their origins.

It will be fun to see how Worf gets out of this one–and how it develops, because it seems like the Klingons aren’t necessarily captives in a traditional sense.

Grade: A- “An interesting setup for more discovery of Worf and Data’s background.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “I particularly enjoyed the Data dream sequences.”

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 “Schisms” and “True Q”

Just gettin' my 8th Grade Science Experiment on.

Just gettin’ my 8th Grade Science Experiment on.

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.

“Schisms”

Plot

Riker is having problems sleeping, and it begins to creep into his working life on board the Enterprise. He and others convene to share some of the strange experiences and discover they’ve been having the same “dream” that features some disturbing content, suggesting they might be kidnapped each night. La Forge, Dr. Crusher, and Data work together to find a way to track the people who disappear, and when Riker does, he wakes up and thwarts the aliens who have been abducting people from the Enterprise.

Commentary

Okay, let’s just throw this out there (probably again): how the heck do they not just have a monitoring system on board the Enterprise that lets security know when someone just disappears off the ship or when someone comes on board? Seriously. They are able to track people at all points on board. How is this not a basic safety feature both for individuals and the ship’s security? Not having this stretches credulity quite a bit in many episodes, and this is one of the more blatant ones. It’s just hard to believe something like this could actually happen.

The scene in which the people who have been taken away describe their experience on the holodeck is also super weird in a number of ways. The weirdest thing is the unannounced and un-introduced random woman who is there. We know the other people, but who the heck is she? Why doesn’t she have a uniform? Or a name? We never find out. Oh well.

All of that said, there is a strong sense of creepy foreboding surrounding this episode that makes it somehow not terrible despite the aforementioned problems. Is it impossible to believe that this could actually happen? Yes. Is it still enjoyable? Yes.

Grade: B- “It’s pretty weird and it relies too much on me not thinking about it.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “There was nothing wrong with it, it just wasn’t that great.”

“True Q”

Plot

Amanda is a young woman who has been offered the chance to join Starfleet and have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to trial run it on the Enterprise. However, she keeps making things happen, and it turns out Q is involved in testing her. She is actually one of the Q Continuum, and she must either decide to take on her identity as Q or give up her powers forever under penalty of death. Ultimately, she struggles mightily with the decision, but cannot give up her powers in the face of people who have needs. She goes to join the Q.

Commentary

What would you do when faced with a decision like this? Give up the life you live and everything you thought was real and wanted to do in exchange for near-omnipotence? It sounds obvious that you’d pursue the omnipotence, but “True Q” makes a solid case for how difficult the decision would actually be.

It helps that Amanda was solidly acted. It would be hard to believe this was a dilemma at all if the actor hadn’t pulled it off, but she did. Q was his usual ridiculous self, and I also noticed yet again how uncomfortably close he gets to everyone. Is it necessary for him to creep so closely to Amanda as he trains her? Why are his hands always on Riker or Picard? He’s very touchy-feely. Maybe that’s what all Q are like. Weird.

I used to really not like Q episodes because I found him so annoying, but I’ve discovered as I watch these in order, several of the Q episodes are quite good. This is another entry in that string of success. It is well-written and well-acted.

Grade: A- “An interesting look at facing an extremely difficult choice.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “I liked the way they dealt with Amanda’s self-discovery and personality, but Q was kind of a creep.” 

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 4 “Qpid” and “The Drumhead”

qpid

Yep. This is awesome.

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.

“Qpid”

Plot

Picard is hosting a major archaeological conference on board the Enterprise and Vash–the woman from “Captain’s Holiday“–shows up. Q also peeks in. Q wants to do Picard a favor, because he feels he owes him after being reinstated into the Continuum. He sees the struggle Vash and Picard have hitting it off again and thrusts them into a Robin Hood scenario placing Picard as Robin Hood and Vash as Maid Marian. Picard saves the day after some difficulties, and Q whisks Vash away to explore more of the universe.

Commentary

“Q wants to do Picard a favor.” Yep. This should be good. And it is! A reprisal of Vash as Picard’s love interest is just perfect, and to have Q try to set them up via making Picard Robin Hood? Genius.

Really, this is just an absolutely delightful episode. The Robin Hood aspects of it are just hilarious and clearly a play off the grand Errol Flynn film. This could have gone so poorly but it was pulled off with just enough of a combination of seriousness and tongue-in-cheek winking that it just works. Having the scenario play out in unexpected ways like Vash capturing Picard –and throwing Q off balance–is one of the thigns that makes the episode so good.

“I PROTEST! I AM NOT A MERRY MAN!” – Worf.

Yep, that kind of dialogue is so hilarious and it what makes this episode really click. They perfectly chose which characters would be which and then executed a fun plot to go along with it. Finally, the touch of reiterating Picard’s interest in archaeology helped maintain his characterization on the show.

“Qpid” is so fun. It’s the kind of episode that the Original Series almost always aimed for. TNG occasionally does it but generally maintains a more serious tone. Here, the silliness worked perfectly.

Grade: A “It’s just a really fun episode to watch. What more can you ask for?”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “A delightful blend of character development and Q-driven plot.”

“The Drumhead”

Plot

A Klingon is caught sending information to the Romulans but a simultaneous explosion leads to a witch hunt aboard the Enterprise as a conspiracy is suspected. Even Picard is brought before the tribunal, but it is ultimately revealed as exactly what it is: a witch hunt with little basis in reality.

Commentary

The episode is built upon an interesting premise: the notion that people will always have some built in conspiracy-mindedness that can bubble over into false accusations and absurdity. The problem is that the episode is built entirely upon that premise. There’s really nothing else here.

Picard gets some great dialogue about the travesty that is occurring, but even that ultimately gets dragged out too long and becomes entirely preachy to stay entertaining.

Another difficulty is that once Picard himself is put to the question, we as viewers know the stakes have been dissolved–they’re not going to remove Picard from the series, so we know we’re in for exactly what we get: Picard lecturing the silly people who have launched the witch hunt. When it was just the random medical officer, we were concerned with whether he would be unfairly found guilty, but with Picard it becomes predictable. I’m one who enjoys Picard’s lectures, because they are often quite moving, but here the predictability of it and the centering of the whole episode around it was just at little too much.

It’s not a terrible episode, but it needed much more to be great.

Grade: B- “Too preachy to keep a plot moving.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “The message was good but the story itself was not all that interesting.”

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 “Deja Q” and “A Matter of Perspective”

Riker as cold-blooded murder doesn't actually seem that implausible sometimes...

Riker as cold-blooded murderer doesn’t actually seem that implausible sometimes…

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.

“Deja Q”

Plot

As a planet is nearing destruction, Q shows up on board the Enterprise claiming to have been stripped of powers and title. The crew struggles to believe him as the destruction of the planet grows more imminent. When aliens try to take vengeance on Q, the crew realizes he may be serious. Q decides to leave the ship to prevent more bloodshed and because of this selfless act is reinstated in the Q Continuum. He then saves the local planet from destruction and even thanks the crew.

Commentary

I gotta say it: I’m stunned that I enjoyed this episode. I remember not hating it when I saw it long ago, but I really don’t like Q. He’s annoying, the episodes he is in tend to purely be for the sake of deus ex machina without any relevance, he’s annoying, his episodes tend to be features on him rather than on individual crew members… and did I mention he’s annoying? But seriously, “Deja Q” is a solid episode. It expands on the wealth of annoyance I have as a viewer with Q alongside the crew’s annoyance with his previous absurdities in order to make him a relatable character. By making him become not only human, but also a (deserved?) target, even for the length of an episode, we find Q is vulnerable and frankly even terrified at the prospect of being in the same position he has placed others in.

It’s endearing, and surprisingly so. The episode made a character whose main feature has been to be utterly irksome and played turnabout, making him actually a bit likable.

The plot of the planet struggling is mostly just filler, but it provides a nice bookend to the whole adventure as the crew of the  Enterprise realizes they can’t really prevent the tragedy, while Q simply solves it immediately for them. It’s a deus ex machina which, for once, does not feel utterly contrived.

Grade: Surprisingly, A- “A ‘Q’ episode that’s not only not terrible, but quite endearing while also making him relatable? Incredible.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was entertaining all-around though occasionally I wondered if they’d tried to squeeze too much plot in.” 

“A Matter of Perspective”

Plot

Riker is put on trial after he is accused of murdering Dr. Apgar, a scientist on a space station he was visiting, due to a dispute over Mrs. Apgar’s coming-on to Riker. The trial takes place on the holodeck and testimony varies wildly as the story unfolds. It doesn’t look good for Riker, though, as the energy burst that blew the station came from where he beamed out. Ultimately, it turns out that Dr. Apgar was in fact trying to kill Riker, but the plan backfired and he killed himself.

Commentary

TNG seems to fairly frequently have these “trial” episodes where a court is convened and usually something big is at stake. Sometimes it works spectacularly (“The Measure of a Man”); sometimes, not so much (“Encounter at Farpoint”). Here, it works really well. The difficulty with a series like TNG is that whenever a main character is in peril, you can be pretty darned sure they’re going to come out alright. Like Superman, it seems that sometimes the only way to injure them is through emotional trauma. Although “A Matter of Perspective” doesn’t fully capitalize on how traumatic this whole experience would have to be for Riker, not to mention various people who worked with him, when he is exonerated, there is genuine relief.

The episode has its problems, for sure. There are some pretty major plot holes in trying to figure out exactly what happened (though some of these are surely intentional), there are some major inconsistencies in how TNG handles transporting, and the ending does seem just a bit too convenient. The score for this one is really hard, and I’m going a bit against my better judgment. This is a deeply flawed episode, but I just enjoyed it too dang much to let that drag it down for me. I enjoyed it too much to go lower.

Grade: A- “Gaping plot holes and a bit of too-convenient solutions don’t totally mar this exciting episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “It was interesting but the flashback series got a little bit long.”

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 “Pen Pals” and “Q Who?”

q-who

At last we reveal ourselves to the Enterprise; at last, we shall have revenge.

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 fifteen and sixteen. 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.

“Pen Pals”

Plot

Wesley is put in charge of a team for a geological survey of a planet in order to continue his development towards officer training. Meanwhile, Data receives a transmission asking “Is anyone out there?” and decides to answer it by saying “Yes.” It turns out the transmission is from a young girl whose planet is experiencing geological upheaval. Data wants to fix it, but this would violate the prime directive. Ultimately, Wesley’s team figures out a way to stop the upheaval while Data saves his interstellar pen pal, after which her memory is erased.

Commentary

Wesley’s struggles with his first command of a team were actually pretty compelling. It was delivered in a winsome way while also cashing in on the premise. Watching him in a command situation while also trying to figure out the nuances of the situation was well-done and even well-acted.

The discussion over the Prime Directive between the senior officers was interesting, and the juxtaposition between Worf’s absolutism and Pulaski’s willingness to bend it was great. The ensuing debate over fate and the plight of a world was great, bringing forward philosophical ethical issues. Picard’s reasoning about moral certitude was catching, and Data’s insight into the issue not being a philosophical debate was well-placed.

The episode raises these questions alongside the debate over wiping the memory of the alien girl. Pulaski comforts Data by pointing out they need to wipe the girl’s memory to allow her to stay on whatever path she was born into, but one wonders whether perhaps her path would be to discover that there is life “out there” among the stars. Similar questions about fate were raised with the previous discussion on the Prime Directive, and TNG often tries to answer the questions. Here, we’re basically just served a number of questions without a proposed solution. It’s frustrating and charming all at once, and it calls for reflection afterwards as well.

Despite all these great aspects, there really was quite a bit of need for “suspension of disbelief” throughout this episode above and beyond the standard fare. Why didn’t Data immediately report this contact with alien life to Picard or a superior? Why does O’Brien unquestioningly transport Data and this alien to the Enterprise? Wouldn’t there be some kind of discipline for flaunting the Prime Directive so eagerly? Since when did they have the technology to wipe out memories, and how easily could they solve other Prime Directive issues with it? (Or apply it to crazy amounts of criminal activity?) How does a planet’s geological upheaval get fixed within seconds? The questions just keep coming, and the episode almost gleefully flaunts these issues without offering any explanation. They keep “Pen Pals” from being the great episode it could be.

Grade: B “Any episode that stars Wesley and isn’t terrible is refreshing. The stretching of imagination, however, got painful.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: C+ “It was nice to see Wes grow in his character, but the plot was very hard to believe.” 

“Q Who?”

Plot

Q shows up and is petulant because Picard won’t make him a crew member so he shoots the Enterprise off to meet the Borg. The Enterprise is worse for the wear after the engagement and Picard appeals to Q to get them back home. He does, the end. Oh, and Guinan is apparently hundreds (or thousands… or millions… or !?) of years old and has some history with Q somehow. Oh, and there’s a new engineering Ensign named Sonya who’s overeager and a klutz.

Commentary

If my summary seems a little chaotic that’s because I was trying to reflect the episode: it has a lot going on and seems a bit thrown together. We never get any reason behind Sonya’s introduction and she seems tacked on. The encounter with the Borg has much drama, but Q was there to deus ex machina the whole thing. It was cool to have the episode point ahead: “Look out for what’s coming!” but hard to follow that theme alongside weird revelations about Guinan. Lots of questions were raised, and no answers provided. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it also leaves me scratching my head. What was the point of this episode? It’s like an episode-long version of “What’s next on TNG.”

That said, the Borg are awesome. The creators did an awesome job introducing a truly sinister threat, but doing so in a way that isn’t over-the-top. There’s no question that the Borg are a major threat, but there’s also no question that they aren’t sporting devil horns and worshiping Satan; that is, they’re not evil for evil’s sake. There’s a mystery to them that makes the episode more appealing and wins me over despite its total lack of cohesion.

If the episode had simply stayed about the Borg and Q trying to show Picard they need to prepare even more, it would have had more cohesion. As it stands, it’s got too much going on to be a truly great episode.

Grade: B- “Introducing the Borg was genius, but it could have been done without so many distractions.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was very interesting but the Q manipulation felt artificial… and 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!

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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.