Star Trek: TNG Season 7 “Emergence” and “Preemptive Strike”

preemptive-strike

You can feel the emotions in this episode just bursting through the screen.

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.

“Emergence”

Synopsis

Data and Picard discover something is seriously wrong with the holodeck. As they find this out, multiple nodes are appearing throughout the Enterprise. It seems like these nodes have similarities to Data’s positronic brain. Moreover, the crew can only interact with the ship through the holodeck program that it has been running, with hints throughout it on board a simulation of the Orient Express. It turns out that some kind of emergent AI intelligence has been created on board the ship. Once it is grown enough, it leaves, restoring the ship to normal.

Commentary

Other than the infamously horrid re-run episode “Shades of Gray” *shudders,* this may be the episode where the crew is least involved in the episode. Sure, they are there, but realistically the whole episode could have resolved itself without them. Indeed, they could just go into the shuttles or something, wait for the ship to get to the energy source it needs for the AI lifeform, and then return to a perfectly sound Enterprise.

Hey, speaking of life support failing–are there really no space suits or oxygen tanks or anything on board? You’re telling me with a ship that can create force fields, etc. they can’t sustain life support in one section long enough for the crew to get through the whole situation? Come on! There have got to be some kind of life support things–and if nothing else, the escape pods, presumably, would have a long enough life for life support to make it livable. Oh well. Ask no questions, hear no lies, I suppose.

All of that said, I didn’t really hate this episode. The mystery-solving was straightforward but still fun. The episode just wasn’t as good as I’ve come to expect. In season one this episode might have been among the top 10, but that’s saying how far the show has come.

Grade: C+ “Star Trek has had a few too many… somethings.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was pretty good, it was just bizarre.”

“Preemptive Strike”

Synopsis

Ensign… er, Lieutenant Ro Laren returns to the Enterprise, only to immediately be assigned to infiltrate the Maquis, a group of people fighting back against Cardassian infringements in the demilitarized zone between Cardassian and Federation space. However, as Ro carries out her mission, she begins to realize how much resonance there is between the Maquis’ struggles and those of her own people, the Bajorans. When push comes to shove and she is assigned to betray the Maquis to get them captured by a Federation force, she instead gives away the plan to the Maquis and saves their strike squadron, ultimately leaving with them to join the Maquis. She leaves Riker with a message for Picard, who is seen looking stricken by her abandonment of Starfleet.

Commentary

Wow! This one blew me away. As readers know by this point, I love a bleak ending, and that, for Picard, was bleak. His protege, whom he has guided for so long, abandons Starfleet to join the very rebellion she was assigned to help take down. Yet, remarkably, this is exactly in character for Ro. Indeed, from about a third of the way in, I expected Ro to abandon Starfleet and join the Maquis. It made sense for her character.

I suppose that means the plot twist didn’t surprise me at all, but not for any bad reason. The characters have just been established so well that they operate inside certain parameters of behavior, and for both Ro and Picard this was right on.

Moreover, the number of interesting set pieces in this episode was huge. Each scene had a kind of poignancy embued into it by the scenery and set. The scene where the disguised Cardassians show up and start shooting (I spotted them earlier in the same scene and wondered if they may be trouble) was expertly set up to foreshadow the events to follow. I have to say this is one of the best TNG episodes. Certainly a great way to set up the ending of the series and lead into Deep Space 9.

Grade: A+ “Ro finds herself. And rebellion.” 

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A+ “One of the best episodes of the series.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: TNG– For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

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Star Trek: TNG Season 3 “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “The Offspring”

I can see the family resemblance.

I can see the family resemblance.

I’m going through “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and reviewing every episode, complete with commentary and a grade from A-F. I’ve also included a score and comment from my wife, who has never seen the show before. There are SPOILERS for each episode below.

“Yesterday’s Enterprise”

Plot

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

Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

“The Offspring”

Plot

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

Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: TNG– For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 “The Enemy” and “The Price”

This is how I felt when Lwazana Troi was mentioned. Good thing she was a no-show.

My face when I thought Lwaxana Troi would be in the 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.

“The Enemy”

Plot

The Enterprise investigates a Romulan [why is this so hard for me to spell?] crash site in Federation territory. In the process, Geordi gets stranded with a Romulan as a prisoner, and another Romulan is taken to the Enterprise. The latter is dying and the only one who can save him is Worf, who refuses to give his blood. As Dr. Crusher attempts to convince Worf to give blood, a Romulan Warbird bears down on the Enterprise and Geordi struggles to get some sense of trust with the Romulan on the planet. Ultimately, Geordi saves the day, and Picard defuses the situation, once more preventing war.

Commentary

Here’s how a Geordi-centric episode should look: put the focus on him as a character, not purely on his flaws. He is made vulnerable by his blindness, but he overcomes this with force of will and his interpersonal skills. The latter bring about a kind of ceasefire between Starfleet and the Romulan Empire on a micro-level. The tension which builds up between Picard and the Romulans is also a great entertainment factor.

I admit that the attempts to guilt Worf into giving his blood were annoying. However, Worf’s stoic resistance to all efforts was so true to his character that it made up for it. He is willing to allow a Romulan–a very valuable prisoner–to die rather than compromise his moral compass.

Overall it was a solid episode, which I admit I may have scored higher because it gives Geordi a chance to actually shine.

Grade: A- “Geordi finally gets his due, and the Romulans remain a mysterious threat.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: C+ “I thought the story was okay, but it seemed like it should have been more urgent. It was missing something.”

“The Price”

Plot

A wormhole is discovered which may usher in an era of prosperity when sold, to the highest bidder. The Ferengi show up to throw a wrench in the process. Devinoni Ral dominates the negotiations as he manipulates the other parties while also becoming Troi’s lover. Between love-fests, he finally seals the deal to get rights to the wormhole. Unfortunately for him, it turns out it is not stable on the other end, and a pair of Ferengi are left behind a Quadrant away. Ultimately, Ral leaves after a rather epic break-up with Troi.

Commentary

I think it is appropriate to mention the music. The tracks were actually quite good and beautiful, particularly in the scenes with Ral and Troi. The problem is that they were so overdone for those scenes that as we watched it felt as though a stirring love story were being shoved down our throats. I mean that literally: imagine a novel being shoved down your throat. That’s how each “love” scene in this episode felt, and the music made it even more sappy and unbelievable. Not bad music, but chosen poorly for this specific episode.

I also feel the need to mention how TNG fell on its face on gender issues once again. Troi totally duped by some guy whose first interaction with her involves him not letting her say no and stroking her hair (assault!)?- check. The two prominent female characters showing up in skimpy 80s workout gear passed off as sci-fi?- check. Reducing the one interaction between these two women to idle gossip about men?- check. Yep, we’ve failed this round.

The unfortunate thing is that apart from these rather massive failures–and the mention of Lwaxana Troi at the opening (I actually turned to my wife and said “Oh no!” rather loudly)–this is a great episode. The premise is pretty fascinating–negotiations over a galactic commodity with huge import. The Ferengi getting rocked by their idiocy was fun. Seeing Ral lose the negotiations despite winning was also a great piece of writing. Heck, even Troi’s zinger at the end “I’m already a counselor…” to Ral was fantastic.

Given all that, my score may seem low. Apart from the two items mentioned above, this is a solid A-B episode, but the things that were bad about it were so bad. Ouch.

Grade: C- “The main plot was good, the ‘love’ story was atrocious.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “There was a lot of plot that felt rushed or unresolved but it was good overall.”

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 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!