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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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