Star Trek: TNG Season 5: “Unification Part I” and “Part II”

Data wants in on that action.

Data wants in on that action.

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.

“Unification Part I”

Plot

Ambassador Spock has gone to Romulus and the security risks are huge. Picard and Data are dispatched to investigate and recover Spock while the Enterprise is sent to track down some missing ships and suspicious activity surrounding them. Picard and Data have to co-opt a Klingon starship to get to Romulus, and they encounter a good deal of resistance. Meanwhile, Riker and crew discover there is something untoward happening with the disappearing ships. After Picard and Data arrive on Romulus, they are captured, only to discover they have found Spock! Oh, and Sarek dies.

Commentary

This is a pretty solid set up for a two-part episode. The stakes feel pretty high as it is understandable that if Spock is capture, all kinds of important information might be extracted from him. Many of the scenes are high-impact as well, such as the pretty cool scene with the junkyard dog and Troi. Look! The episode can use irony to combat the objectification of women!

The initial scenes with Sarek and Picard trying to discern Spock’s intent reveal some real depth of character for both Sarek and Spock that wasn’t there before, and that alone makes this episode worthwhile. But there is much more, such as the interesting concept of political movement in Romulus towards reform, the need to compromise, and some really neat political intrigue.

I have to wonder, though, what’s going on with the Klingons. I suspect we’ll see some interesting flare-ups happen with them again, because they really seem anti-Starfleet all of a sudden.

Overall, Part I is a fun watch with some really great moments. Can’t wait to watch the next part!

Grade: A- “A great beginning that has me excited for the conclusion.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “An intriguing beginning, I look forward to seeing what happens next!”

“Unification Part II”

Plot

Spock is working to try to reform Romulus from within, but it seems that elements in the hierarchy are moving at a too-convenient pace. Meanwhile, Riker and crew work to trace the path the missing Vulcan ships took. As Spock and gang are captured and seemingly forced to watch while the Romulans destroy the Vulcans, Riker’s suspicious nature saves the day. Picard and Data manage a great escape while Spock stays behind to try to work further towards reform.

Commentary

The range of sets and scenes in the episode was really impressive. I particularly enjoyed the alien bar with the four-handed piano player. It had just enough flare and fun to keep me smiling the whole time without ever seeming to overdo it. Romulus’ various sets were pretty awesome, too, and watching the Enterprise range all over the place was pretty neat. The production values across the board were great.

The plot is exciting, too. As betrayals are unveiled and the stakes are continually raised, it never feels like it is overly forced. The Romulans just seem cunning enough that they just might try to pull something like this off, and Spock and gang aren’t overly gullible about what’s happening. It was a great way to balance the buildup to betrayal with necessary skepticism of the good guys.

Seeing Spock talk about his father has the emotional impact it should and Picard giving him his father’s love is a touching scene. Spock’s decision to stay behind seems to exactly fit his character as well.

This is a two-part episode I’m genuinely shocked I didn’t remember. Maybe I only managed to watch it once before or something, but this thing has impact. Weirdly, I discovered from reading some comments online that it apparently doesn’t sit well with many hardcore Trekkies because they feel it was a desperate movie tie-in. But neither I nor my wife felt that way about what is, really, a great episode. Are some things too convenient? Sure, but that’s just par for the course in TNG.

Grade: A “A few flaws don’t mar what is otherwise a pretty awesome episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “The follow-through on the first episode’s beginning was very good, but it lacked a little something awesome.”

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 3 Awards

I can see the family resemblance.

I can see the family resemblance.

We’ve now finished watching all of season 3 of TNG and offered individual reviews of every episode. How about taking some looks at the best and worst parts of the season! Feel free to chime in to let us know what you thought. There are SPOILERS for Season 3 in what follows.

Worst Guest Character 

J.W.: Alright let’s just admit that Lwaxana Troi (“Menage a Troi“) can take this category any season in which she appears. Instead, I’m going to pick Devinoni Ral from “The Price.” The episode itself was decent, but Ral’s hyper-seduction and assault of Troi (touching without permission, etc.) and overbearing insults toward Riker made it almost unbearable to watch at points.

Beth: DaiMon Tog from “Menage a Troi“- he was just really annoying. [J.W. note- can I point out that this episode gets a lot of hate from us in this awards ceremony?]

Best Guest Character

J.W.: Sarek from “Sarek.” Watching a Vulcan suffer breakdowns related to emotions was moving, and Sarek played the part perfectly. It’s also a great tie in to earlier Trek lore.

Beth: Sarek is the best guest character. He’s got the most interesting dilemma and the characters around him added interest.

Best Character

J.W.: Let’s give credit where it is due: Picard rocked this season. Whether it was as an archaeologist on an adventure in “Captain’s Holiday” or as the emotional outlet for Sarek in the oh-so-aptly named “Sarek,” Picard showed versatility and genuine development as a character. Plus, I don’t think anyone will forget Picard’s final words on “Best of Both Worlds Part I“- “I am Lucutus of Borg.”

Beth: Geordi La Forge between the two episodes he was prominently featured in, his character was developed and his acting talent shown.

Most Awesome Moment

J.W.: The Klingon assembly turning away from Worf in “Sins of the Father.” You may have thought the episode might end badly for Worf, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted the utter shame he was wrongfully subjected to. It seems like an awesome set up for later plot development.

Beth: “I am Locutus of Borg” from “Best of Both Worlds Part I”- it was so epic!

Most “Huh?” or Awful/Worst Moment

J.W.: In “Who Watches the Watchers” we’re taken on an ahistorical ride through the evolution of religions school. It’s rather pointless and also inaccurate.

Beth: The Lwaxana and DaiMon Tog interactions from “Menage a Troi.”

Worst Episode

J.W.: Easily “Menage a Troi.” Absolutely nothing went right in this episode, and it was just a terrible sight to behold. It might be the worst episode in the series so far (and hopefully overall), though “The Child” gives it a run for its money (as does “Shades of Gray” but that gets a Mulligan). Watching Lwaxana Troi is always a way to spoil an episode, and the plot was just absurd. Approximately 20 seconds of this episode was bearable.

Beth: Captain’s Holiday” just didn’t interest me that much. It seemed out of place in the season. [J.W.’s note- I almost picked this one for best episode! I loved it!]

Best Episode

J.W.: I had to sit and think this one over for a while, but I’m going to go with “Sins of the Father.” Season 3 was filled with epic moments and persistent storylines, but here we have something that catapults Worf’s family into the limelight in spectacular fashion and sets up what will hopefully be more thrills in the Klingon part of the galaxy.

Beth: Best of Both Worlds Part I” kept you on the edge of your seat and featured some great acting.

Overall Season Score and Comment

J.W.: I think this season is just fantastic. Sure, there are bumps along the way but it is consistently good television. I give it an A- overall. There’s still room for improvement, but I was very satisfied with this season.

Beth: B+ Despite a few not-so-great episodes the overall quality of the season.

Links

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2 Awards– Swing on by to take a look at the awards for Season 2. What do you think of the selections?

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 “Sarek” and “Menage a Troi”

Deanna is also unimpressed by this episode.

Deanna is also unimpressed by this episode.

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.

“Sarek”

Plot

Renowned ambassador Sarek–Spock’s father–is dispatched to the Enterprise to start of negotiations with a notoriously difficult species. The moment he boards, however, it seems things are wrong. Emotions run high aboard the ship and even Sarek appears to be hampered by emotions. As the crew investigates, it turns out that these may be coming from Sarek because of a rare disease. The only way to continue negotiations is to have Picard take on the burden of Sarek’s boiling emotions, which he does. The negotiations are successful and both Picard and Sarek are changed by the event.

Commentary

Patrick Stewart. Patrick Stewart. Patrick Stewart.

What an amazing actor. The scene in this episode in which he is taking all the pain and emotion from Sarek must go down as one of the greatest scenes in television history. I mean that seriously. The acting by Stewart sells a scene that could have been silly and makes it into an awesomely emotional and stirring moment.

The episode starts off very slowly. Sarek shows up, there appears to be something ailing him. The crew experiences increasing tension. The connection is made. It’s not much of a mystery. We can see the clear link between Sarek and the anger long before any of the main characters have, but the payoff we get from this episode is all about how Picard is able to step in and take on a situation which could destroy him. It’s moving in a way that few TV episodes manage to be.

I wish we’d been able to see whatever species it was that wanted to sit in the weird pool in the darkness, but again that’s not what this episode is about. It’s all about getting we, the viewers, to see Picard handle an emotional roller coaster. It’s that moment which sells this episode. Everything else is fluff. That could be a bad thing, but in “Sarek” you won’t mind. It’s just that good.

Grade: A- “Slow out the gate, but a stirring episode that impacts the audience as few others have.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “Despite a slow beginning, Picard gave an amazing performance.”

“Menage a Troi”

Plot

A conference is being held on Betazed and the Ferengi are among the invited species. One Ferengi, Damon Tog, is infatuated with Lwaxana Troi and the monetary prospects of having her as a mate. He kidnaps Lwaxana and Deanna Troi along with Riker. As these three try to manipulate the situation, they are thwarted. Ultimately, Lwaxana volunteers to stay behind but is saved by a clever false love spat between herself and Picard.

Commentary

What can I say? So much goes wrong in “Menage A Troi” (the title, for one) that it is hard to pick a place to begin. First, it forced me to type the line “infatuated with Lwaxana Troi” which is a phrase that must never be uttered. Second, oh my goodness what a paper-thin plot. I get it in a way: it is supposed to be a way to feature a set piece of the Troi family’s interacting with Riker and kind of a get to know everybody moment. Riker gets a chance to prove himself, right? Well, no, not really. That may have been the intent but the product is quite different as Lwaxana is split from the other two upon the kidnapping and then is forced to carry her own part of the episode.

Let me tell you this: if Lwaxana Troi has to carry an episode in any part, that episode will be awful. Honestly, the actress does a decent job, assuming her job is to be an insufferable character. The problem is that Lwaxana is utterly insufferable on any conceivable level.

But even the parts of the episode that don’t have Lwaxana in them are pretty bad. The Enterprise is dispatched on some random mission that keeps them from helping. Riker and Deanna have barely any time to try to salvage what’s left of the episode, and the whole thing just feels totally forced.

There is one scene which isn’t atrocious: Picard forced to pretend he likes Lwaxana and reciting love poetry to her. It is a really funny sequence, but after being force-fed garbage for so long, it hardly makes an impact. I should also note (here I am trying to not some positives, look how good I am at this!) that the set for Betazed was decent. The Ferengi ship having random beds and torture devices was weird but at least made the ship seem clearly different from other ship sets. Oh, and I suppose that Star Trek Chess has always been cool. Does it seem like I’m grasping at straws here? I am. This is an irredeemably bad episode.

Side note: I think this is the new biggest spread in the score between my wife and myself.

Grade: F “If there must be a silver lining, at least it is now easy to select the worst episode of the season for our season review.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “The Ferengi-Betazoid interactions were funny.”

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.