Star Trek: DS9 Season 2 “Rivals” and “The Alternate”

rivals

So much more could have been done in this episode!

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:

“Rivals”

Synopsis

Prince Humperdinck… er, Martus Mazor, an apparent con man looking to make a quick buck, gets some kind of gambling device from someone else in the brig. He decides to open up a new casino across the way from Quark’s. Meanwhile, O’Brien and Bashir continue a racquetball rivalry, playing each other multiple times. O’Brien is convinced that if he just had the speed he used to possess, he’d wipe the floor with Bashir. To try to gain some of the business back from Martus, Quark announces a rival racquetball throwdown between Bashir and O’Brien. As all of this has been going on, weird accidents and luck shifting have changed all over the station. The bets keep rolling in as Quark’s business regains prominence. Martus desperately gives his money to an apparently down-on-her-luck Bajoran in a business investment. Dax discovers that the strange luck events trace ti the device Martus acquired.

Commentary

I think I can readily say this is not a very good episode, but I enjoyed it way more than I should have because it had the guy who played Prince Humperdinck in The Princess Bride in it. And he’s hilariously over-the-top in this episode, just as he is in the movie. Yes, nothing makes sense in this episode at all. Some dying alien in the brig has a space magic lottery device that manages to impact luck on an entire space station? Sure, why the heck not? Start a new business based on these random lotto devices in which all they do is light up and make a happy noise if you win or turn the lights off and make a sad noise if you lose? Yeah, obviously everyone would be interested in that! Luck as something that can be impacted by some strange device that can be easily replicated and made bigger? Why not?

The whole episode is nonsensical. But wow the guy who plays Humperdinck is great. Oh and I thought the ‘swindle the swindler’ aspect towards the end was kinda cool.

Grade: C+ “I think that having Prince Humperdinck in this one made me like it more than I should have.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: C “The characters weren’t that great and nothing about the episode made sense.”

“The Alternate”

Synopsis

Dr. Mora Pol, a Bajoran who’d worked with Odo to help him adapt to society, shows up on Deep Space 9 and wants Odo to help him get a runabout to investigate the possibility of some DNA similar to Odo’s being found on a planet in the Gamma Quadrant. They go, and it is clear that Odo’s time with Dr. Pol wasn’t as wonderful for the former as it was for the latter–he was treated largely as an experiment, not a person. They get some goo that seems to be Odo-like from the planet and investigate, but a gas knocks everyone but Odo out. Back on DS9, things start to go radically wrong as the life-form goo goes missing and attacks start to happen on the station. It turns out that Odo was impacted by the gas as well–it turned him into a space monster goo. Bashir and Mora manage to cure Odo by taking the gas out of his cells. High fives all around, and Odo seems to forgive Dr. Pol.

Commentary

DS9 has a lot more episodes that are just plain weird than TNG did. This is another one. Interestingly, like many of the weird episodes so far, this one still somehow works, if only in a broken way. It gives Odo more characterization–and shows that his earliest times learning to take on form must have been super rough. It also gave a nice narrative of forgiveness as Odo and Pol worked together to solve problems, with the latter learning that Odo had achieved so much and coming to realize that he was more than an experiment.

The main problem here is the horror-type story in which Odo magically turns into a towering angry beast. I know we’ve already thrown conservation of matter out the window for Odo, and that’s fine. But some gas manages to turn him into a crazy death-dealing creature? And during the time we’ve already been told he must rest in order to survive? I don’t know, but my plausibility radar was going off big time.

Overall, it’s not a great episode, but it’s not bad either. I enjoyed it, and that’s what is important.

Grade: B- “Weird, but a nice break from the ‘space magic’ explanations we’ve had for many episodes this season.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “The space magic was a little strange but it had some good twists and turns.”

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: DS9 Season 2 “Armageddon Game” and “Whispers”

Well.. this is awkward.

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:

“Armageddon Game”

Synopsis

O’Brien and Bashir are sent to aid T’Lani III in the destruction of a dangerous bioweapon that has helped to spur on endless warfare between two factions. After they manage to destroy the last of it, an attack apparently makes them disappear. To the crew of DS9, it looks as though they’ve died. However, Keiko O’Brien suggests that because Chief Miles O’Brien was drinking coffee later than he ever would, the recording has been doctored. Sisko and Dax go to T’Lani III to investigate. Meanwhile, O’Brien has been getting sick, apparently from a bioweapon, and Bashir continues to try to treat him as O’Brien helps Bashir repair a communicator. As Sisko and Dax investigate, they discover that the runabout O’Brien and Bashir used has been tampered with, opening the possibility that they are alive. The T’Lani find O’Brien and Bashir, and it turns out they’ve decided to kill them to erase any possibility of the bioweapon ever being constructed again. Sisko and Dax manage to grab the imperiled crew members and distract the T’Lani, escaping back to DS9 with their lives.

Commentary

I thought this was a great character-building episode. One thing this episode highlights about DS9 as over and against TNG is that it is clear the relationships between characters are more complex. Yes, TNG is my favorite and probably always will be, but here in DS9 we have a relationship between two major characters that is not 100% amiable at all times. The relationship between O’Brien and Bashir is not caustic and awful, but it has tensions and is more depth to it than a lot of relationships on Star Trek in general have. It feels more real because of it.

The plot is pretty intriguing too, though a bit of suspension of disbelief is required for thinking the T’Lani would basically just start a war with Starfleet to preserve their peace after they’d just been assisted by Starfleet to get that peace achieved in the first place.

Overall, this was a great episode, and it built the heck outta O’Brien and Bashir as characters.

Grade: A- “O’Brien and Bashir are the best combination.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “Anytime Bashir and O’Brien face up, it’s gonna be great.”

“Whispers”

Synopsis

Something’s not right. O’Brien is in a runabout fleeing from Deep Space Nine, narrating the strange things that have happened. Basically everyone aboard DS9, including his wife, has become very strange, acting as though something is wrong with him when in reality all of them are going nuts. He narrates the lengthy series of events that leads to his escape from DS9. Ultimately, he ends up walking in on a meeting between Sisko and some others, only to see another one of himself across the way. He tries to fire on the imposters, but is instead killed by a bodyguard. As he lays dying, he tells the now-revealed-as-real O’Brien to tell Keiko he loves her.

Commentary

I kept getting shades of the classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (an excellent film, btw) throughout this episode, only to have the whole thing overthrown at the end. It was an unexpected twist that, while a bit tough to swallow, made sense as an ending and was satisfying. I enjoyed this one a great deal, especially because I enjoy a good mystery combined with my science fiction.

The abruptness of the ending is quite jarring, however. It’s clear from the beginning something isn’t right. And of course you simply go along with the expectation that O’Brien is the reliable narrator when in fact it is he who is compromised. But it felt like there weren’t really enough hints throughout to fully sell the ending, that the narrator was the imposter. That’s maybe the only real problem with this episode. I still enjoyed it a great deal.

Grade: B+ “The ending is a bit of a stretch, but this is a pretty mystifying–in a good way–episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “I like the premise, but I have a hard time believing they wouldn’t be better at keeping him locked up if they really thought they’d been infiltrated by a murderous spy group.”

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.

Star Trek: DS9 Season 1 “Progress” and “If Wishes Were Horses”

progressI’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:

“Progress”

Synopsis

Jake and Nog hear that Quark has a huge amount of yamok sauce, and Nog decides to get Jake to help him on an enterprising adventure to attempt to trade or sell the sauce for more and more different things in an effort to acquire profit. Meanwhile, Kira is sent off-station to help get a farmer, Mullibok, and his two mute friends off the land that is going to be used for an energy transfer. Nog and Jake manage to acquire land for one of their trades, and learn that the land is desired by the Bajoran government. They deal Quark into the mix, finally turning a profit. Kira finally must choose between her duty to Starfleet and Bajor and her empathy for Mullibok’s experience, ultimately choosing the former and going so far as to force him to leave by burning down his home.

Commentary

Yeah this was a weird episode. Kira deserved about a dozen court martials for her defiance of orders, but then turns around and goes way over the top. I remember commenting to my wife jokingly: “She’s totally gonna burn the place down to make him leave.” Apparently I was unintentionally prophetic there, as that’s exactly what Kira ended up doing. It wasn’t a bad storyline, it was just strange.

The other thread here was another Jake and Nog adventure, and I admit I have a decided soft spot for them, having grown up thinking we could be playmates on board DS9 (and reading the series of kids books that basically let you follow all their adventures). So I kind of liked this silliness that helped give more flavor to their relationship. Sure, it’s childish, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

What are we left with, then? A strange mashup of two episodes, neither capable of standing on its own, that becomes, well, basically the sum of its parts. It’s two half-episodes. Not great, but not terrible.

Grade: C+ “It feels incomplete and mashed together, but I’m a sucker for Jake and Nog storylines, so this one isn’t the bottom dweller it otherwise could have been.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B for Kira storyline and A for Jake and Nog play the paperclip challenge storyline. 

“If Wishes Were Horses”

Synopsis

Across DS9 people’s imaginings start to become real. As the station is overrun with strangeness, Sisko and crew must work to try to solve the problem, ultimately revealing some kind of rupture in the plasma field that is threatening the base. As all their efforts fail, Sisko finally decides even the rupture must be imaginary, and he solves the problem by simply disbelieving it. Turns out all the imaginary friends were some kind of observers sent to see how humans (and others) in this part of the galaxy work.

Commentary

[An earlier version of this post mistakenly referred to this episode as “If Wishes were Fishes.” Hey, steal a common phrase and expect people to get it wrong.]

I don’t really know how to feel about this one, which leaves me to decide that I feel largely ambivalent. It’s yet another strange episode in a chain of weirdness that is starting to make me think that DS9’s season 1, while better than TNG’s is quite “colorful,” and not always in a good way.

The reveal at the beginning when Rumpelstiltskin appears basically takes away whatever dramatic buildup was possible–imagine if the first thing that had happened was the Dax/Bashir encounter. We’d be weirded out and surprised, but it wouldn’t be obviously imaginary. Rumpelstiltskin just is not real; so having it be the first thing to show up immediately gave the game away. On the other hand, the playfulness of the episode is kind of its saving grace, such that at the end I don’t mind so much that a long-dead baseball player is telling me about his alien race. Yeah, that’s a sentence I just wrote.

The actors did a pretty decent job selling the whole thing, so I guess bonus points for that. It was weird, it was fun, and it was off-putting all at once. How do you even rate such an episode?

Anyway, can we mention baseball again here? The thought that baseball just dwindles away to nothing is a remarkably sad look at the future, especially for me as a Cubs fan just observing their first World Series win in more than 100 years. Let’s just pretend this pretend future really is pretend and pretend it won’t happen, k? K.

Grade: C “Another weird episode. Maybe DS9 season 1 just is a series of kind of strange, off-beat science fiction stories.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “That was a weird one. It just didn’t make sense.”

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.

Star Trek: TNG Season 7 “Lower Decks” and “Thine Own Self”

lower-decksI’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.

“Lower Decks”

Synopsis

The episode follows the story of a human ensign Sam Lavelle who is being considered for a new tactical slot alongside Bajoran ensign Sito Jaxa. As Riker and Troi look at evaluations and think on who might be the best fit, a civilian named Ben who works at Ten Forward learns and spreads gossip. Nurse Ogawa and a Vulcan, Taurik, begin to see there is more going on than just a crew evaluation. A Cardassian is on board and the Enterprise is working to get him back as a positive influence on Cardassians more generally. Ultimately, Picard sends Sito on the mission, but she is killed in the process. Worf mourns with the junior officers. (Fuller plot summary here.)

Commentary

“Lower Decks” is full of genius. First, the look the episode gives us at characters outside the bridge is phenomenal. Second, they used this perspective to increase the mystery quite well. Third, it builds suspense and mystery. Fourth, the main characters were utilized well.

Throughout this episode, it felt as though you as a viewer were sharing the perspective of those junior officers. It made the episode take on a very different “feel” from many others. Normally, we’d know right away exactly what is happening with the Cardassian on board. Here, however, the narrowed sphere of knowledge the junior officers has is our window into what’s happening, and it makes us have to think about what might be going on in a way that is so rarely the case in TNG.

Another astonishing thing about this episode is that it actually manages to introduce several new characters and develop them enough that I cared about them by the time it was over. Having the main characters interact with them helped, but they did a great job picking a diverse cast that played their roles well. Moreover, killing of Sito–yes, actually!–was a surprising move that made the episode even more emotionally impactful than it would have been otherwise.

Finally, the juxtaposition of poker games about halfway through the episode–that was an awesome scene. Well done all around.

Grade: A+ “A surprisingly deep look at life on the ‘other side’ of the Enterprise.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was fun to have parallel lives, ensign edition.”

“Thine Own Self”

Synopsis

Data is sent to recover radioactive material from an inhabited planet it crashed on, but his memory is overloaded by an accident and he shows up in one of the local villages, with radioactive material in hand. As the locals interact with the radioactive material, they start getting sick. Data and Talur, the local scientist/healer work on trying to heal people while the village people blame Data for the illness. Ultimately, Data solves the problem and puts the cure in the well just before he is “killed.” He is rescued some days later by Riker and Crusher, but doesn’t remember what transpired.

Commentary

A certain kind of terror is evoked by this episode. It’s not the terror of a straight up horror story. Instead, it is the terror of, as a viewer, knowing something is desperately wrong, but realizing that no one can fix it. When we see Data carrying a box labeled “radioactive,” we know something is wrong. But then we learn that he has apparently lost his memories, and then people begin to open up the box and finger the radioactive contents, going so far as to make jewelry out of the contents… and we realize that we can only watch as people get sick.

Talur, the local scientist and healer, is skeptical of any notion that Data might be a demon, but ironically he becomes one, in a way, through the impact of the radioactive material on everyone. Indeed, there is a kind of tongue-in-cheek self-criticism of anyone who would throw out any notion of faith or spirituality, because Talur’s own skepticism is accompanied by basic misunderstandings of reality, including Aristotelian science.

All of this makes for a fascinating episode, but then we have Data somehow cure everyone, without a single loss. That simple solution takes away the force of the narrative and the impact it could have had. Moreover, Data doesn’t remember what happened or how. That makes the whole episode effectively a wash as far as impact on the world is concerned–though surely Data helped import some new inventions and scientific rigor. But imagine if he remembered how his mistakes had almost killed off an entire village through radiation poisoning! It would give the episode a completely different feeling at the end.

Grade: A- “An introspective episode that didn’t quite take its premise as far as it could have.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was kind of weird, but had many good moments.”

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 7 “Homeward” and “Sub Rosa”

sub-rosa

This isn’t weird or anything.

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.

“Homeward”

Synopsis

Worf must work with his adoptive brother, Nikolai Rozhenko, to try to save a primitive people on a planet that is being destroyed. However, Nikolai has other plans than letting them die and instead forces Worf–and the crew of the Enterprise–to help him by simply beaming them on board.  He does so, however, in a carefully prepared holodeck deception such that he can prepare the people for transplanting to a new planet. One of the people discovers what has happened, but commits ritual suicide. Finally the rest of the group is transported to a new planet and Nikolai stays behind to help them adapt to the new planet.

Commentary

I wanted to like this one more than I did, but the plot holes were gaping. How do you transplant a whole people from one place to another–not just one place, but different planets–without major rehabilitation of how they live and breathe and move, etc.? How could the Enterprise really have so many difficulties maintaining the holodeck that it would start breaking down systems? How could Nikolai not be subject to any kind of discipline? I don’t know!

The interplay between Worf and Nikolai was pretty great. Basically all of Worf’s family from any species is amazing drama. It was great to see the brothers interacting and how that played out through the episode. It was really the interplay between these two that carried the episode and made me more willing to ignore the plot holes. Sure, it doesn’t make sense, but at least you get to see more dynamics of Worf’s family. The guy who played Nikolai did a great job selling his character and the backstory for him as well.

It’s not a terrible episode, it’s just very difficult to take the central premise seriously.

Grade: B “Intriguing character dynamics are marred by an unbelievable plot.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “The premise was interesting, but the plot as many holes as a screen door.” 

“Sub Rosa”

Synopsis

Dr. Crusher returns to her home to bury her grandmother, when she meets her grandmother’s lover. Turns out he is a good age for Beverly as well, and he is extremely charming, so she begins to fall for him too. However, when Picard comes to visit, he asks questions of Crusher’s new lover, Ronin. As Ronin evades Picard’s inquiries, he casts a web around Crusher that tightens ever more, ultimately revealing he is non-corporeal himself. When he is threatened with exposure by Geordi and Data, he attacks, and Beverly vaporizes him.

Commentary

I feel like I experienced this plot elsewhere before. The work I’m thinking of is a Clive Barker novel, Galilee. I admit I only vaguely remember that one, but what I do remember is some kind of dude who seduces all the ladies in a family over time. Of course, this episode was aired four years before the publication of that novel, but I read the novel more recently than I saw this episode, so it felt strange to me. Also, I’m pretty sure this was one of the episodes that my parents ultimately banished my sister and I from watching as it aired back in the day, because it is creepy.

Anyway, this was a strange episode. It is one of those that really does not feel like Star Trek at all. It’s like something from Edgar Allan Poe. What’s interesting is when you search this episode online, you see it popping up on a number of “worst of Trek” lists, but also a few “best of Trek” lists. Clearly this is a divisive episode for the fans.

It’s hard for me to see Crusher falling for Ronin so easily, but maybe he has more powers than the episode said such that he was able to seduce her very quickly. But… ew.

Grade: B- “Uh… What?”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “While not a standard Star Trek plot, it was a pretty good story. Penalty for continued use of female characters primarily for romantic subplots.”

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 7 “Parallels” and “The Pegasus”

ParallelsI’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.

“Parallels”

Synopsis

Worf returns from a bat’leth tournament (something I’d like to witness) to a surprise birthday party, much to his chagrin. Things start changing, however, almost immediately. His cake flavor is different, but that is just the first indication things are changing. As the episode continues, larger and larger changes happen, with Worf entering universes farther from his own. Ultimately, Worf must go in a Shuttle among a horde of different Enterprises in order to seal the rifts between the worlds.

Commentary

Alright, let’s get this out of the way. “Parallels” relies a lot on what has come before. It serves up a heaping helping of fan service. The plot itself is pretty interesting, but only because we care so much about the characters. Now, if you cheat and scroll down to see the grades I give, you’ll be wondering why I’m saying this given the score I awarded it. The simplest answer is because… it’s a heaping helping of fan service and I want to eat it whole.

How many times do Star Trek fans sit around saying “what if…”?

The opening is fabulous. Surprise party for Worf, just when he thought he was safe. It was delightful to see his reaction as well as the gifts people brought for him. The final scene is also done very smartly. Worf has learned from his experience, and one of the things he’s learned is that Troi could be more than a friend to him. It is possible, in a literal sense (this sentence is not nonsensical if you watch the episode). So, what does he do? Bust out the champagne, baby! Gotta love it.

Grade: A+ “Give me more Worfs.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “Aside from a few plot inconsistencies, it was quite good.”

“The Pegasus”

Synopsis

Admiral Erik Pressman takes the Enterprise on a top secret mission to try to recover technology from the Pegasus, Riker’s first ship. It turns out things aren’t as cut-and-dried as they seem, however, as Riker has second thoughts about his siding with Pressman so many years ago when the crew of the Pegasus mutinied. The Enterprise races a Romulan Warbird to find the Pegasus, and finally discovers it half entombed in stone. It turns out that they were testing a cloaking device that allowed for shifting through solid matter as well, in direct violation of a treaty with the Romulans. Ultimately, Pressman is called out for his violation of this treaty and it seems severe repercussions will follow. The true story of the Pegasus will be told.

Commentary

The main problem with this episode is how hard it is to believe. First off, the crew of the Pegasus mutinied for what reason, exactly? The answer seemed to be because of the experiment with this hyper-dangerous cloaking device. But then as the episode went on it morphed into being about the ethical problem of the treaty with the Romulans. If the mutiny was for the latter reason, then it is interesting how easily fixed that problem was this time. If for the former reason, it is surprising how easily the Enterprise used the cloaking device not even intended for it. That raises the second difficulty: how exactly does a cloaking device that is designed for one ship (and failed) magically work for an entirely different ship and class 12 years later? What?

Despite these difficulties, the overall plot was pretty phenomenal. It allowed us to plumb Riker’s past and learn just how complex a character he is, while also maintaining serious suspense in the here-and-now. Particularly poignant was Riker’s own reflection on how much he has changed since his tour of duty on board the Pegasus and how he has come to realize he probably made the wrong decision. That’s a big thing to address, and for Riker to realize that must be an enormous weight. The episode also does a good job balancing the ethical questions it raises with more pragmatic concerns.

I liked the episode a lot, but it would have been better if they’d managed to make the core premise more believable.

Grade: A- “I enjoyed the intensity of this one, even if it stretched credulity a bit much.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was a solid episode with some good ethical dilemmas. Riker was 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.

Star Trek: TNG Season 6 “Lessons” and “The Chase”

I love everything about this picture.

I love everything about this picture, except that I couldn’t find a better quality version of it.

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.

“Lessons”

Plot

There is a new transfer aboard the Enterprise shaking up the science departments,  Lieutenant Commander Nella Daren. When Picard confronts her, he figures out she is up to the challenge, and a skilled, intriguing woman as well. He starts to interact with her more and more, discovering that she is more interesting than he had imagined. It quickly becomes apparent that Picard and Daren are falling in love, and it is a poorly kept secret on board the ship, causing some tension. Meanwhile, they are preparing to attempt a rescue mission on a planet with raging firestorms. Lieutenant Commander Daren is assigned to one of the teams, and initially it seems she was lost on the mission, causing Picard much grief. She turns up alive, however, but Picard realizes he can’t be on board the Enterprise with someone he cares so much about. They decide to part ways, hoping to find each other again in the future.

Commentary

“Lessons” as an episode that does exceptionally well introducing a new character (Lieutenant Commander Nella Daren), building up her story, and having her make an impact on a main character in a noticeable way. It helps, of course, that they chose Captain Picard as the character to fall for Daren. Riker would have been too predictable, but to see Picard fall for her was unusual enough to be intriguing. Not only that, but the way she clearly complemented Picard so well made us root for the relationship as the audience.

Another major plus is that Patrick Stewart acts so well! The hesitancy with which he approaches the relationship, the embarassment he clearly displays when he realizes pretty much the whole ship knows, and his interactions with Riker about Daren are all portrayed exactly as we might expect from Picard. The side story of the rescue mission is clearly just an add-on to make drama with Daren go down, but I didn’t mind it because it made sense for the plot: what would Picard do if he had someone he loved–really loved–on board? The decision to part ways was painful, though expected. As a viewer, you know that it can’t possibly continue–they’re not just going to add a main character midway through the 6th season–but it still made me feel badly for them.

Also, the firestorm had some cool special effects and problem solving. Often, when something like that is just added on to make drama, the set isn’t that interesting or it might just occur entirely off-camera. This time, they really made their money’s worth on it.

Grade: A “Right in the feels, Captain. Right in the feels.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “The plot and acting were both quite good, but the pace of the storytelling seemed off.”

“The Chase”

Plot

Professor Richard Galen shows up on the Enterprise with a marvelous archaeological gift for Picard. He wants Picard to join him on a quest to finish his life’s work, but he is very secretive about it. When Picard turns him down, he leaves to do it on his own but his ship is attacked and destroyed by an information dealer. Picard is determined to track down the reasons behind what his old professor was doing and chases the information trail around the quadrant. It turns out he’s not the only one looking into it, however, as there are also Cardassians and Klingons searching for the same finds. Ultimately, they manage to trace the information back to one planet, where they are trapped by Romulans. In the ensuing confrontation, Picard and Dr. Crusher unwrap the last layer of the mystery, which turns out to be that an alien race long ago seeded the various worlds in this galaxy for life like their own. Hence the reason all the aliens look alike. The people exploring the region leave, largely disgusted, but the Romulan commander reaches out to Picard in hope for eventual reconciliation.

Commentary

The opening of this episode set the stage to be completely awesome, and it stored up enough good will for me to overlook some of the insanity that followed. I absolutely love when Picard gets all geeked out over archaeology stuff, probably because I also get nerd excitement from it. The opening with a description of how the artifact Galen gifted to Picard was just perfect, and it revealed enough mystery for me to want to know more.

The overall plot wasn’t bad either. Having the ultimate reveal be that some alien seeded life all over to look like themselves was kind of neat, and it retroactively explains why so many advanced aliens in the Star Trek universe look alike. I wonder if it ever gets referenced again.

What was difficult to accept was the insane amount of hand-waving over details throughout. How did all of these other peoples manage to have chunks of information that was relevant to the main quest? Scientific discoveries of their own? Well, the episode hints that they bought the information, but how did they get it so quickly and how did they break the code without the intimate knowledge of genetics that Dr. Crusher brought to the table? It just didn’t make a lot of sense. Moreover, when would Picard suddenly allow a Cardassian diplomatic access to his ship and then cart her around to help solve the mystery? Did he forget he was just tortured by the Cardassians not too long ago? Or did he also forget that they’re basically enemies? Why were the Klingons so hostile? The reason given was they wanted the “weapon” coming from the research, but that’s not really how alliances work, is it?

There was a lot of silliness and craziness in this episode, but it mostly seemed to work. I didn’t mind it all that much, because the mystery was exciting enough to keep me interested throughout. “The Chase” is one of those episodes that I feel like I enjoyed probably more than I should have given its quality. But why apologize for liking something more? I won’t! See the grade!

Grade: A- “Some ridiculous moments and a too-fast conclusion don’t completely undermine the careful groundwork laid at the beginning.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “Finally we understand why all the aliens are upright-walking bipedal humanoids.” 

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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SDG.