Star Trek TNG Season 7: “Genesis” and “Journey’s End”

journeys-end

Hey, let’s put this plot in the middle of a potentially great episode and ruin it? K? K!

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.

“Genesis”

Synopsis

Picard and Data chase a photon torpedo that veered off course, only to return to find the crew of the Enterprise has been turned into a bunch of animals. Apparently some disease infected them, which led to them “de-evolving” into lower forms of life. Ultimately, Data manufactures a retro-virus and while Picard distracts an angry Worf with pheromone sprays from Troi [!?] the crew gets better.

Commentary

Okay, this was a weird episode full of all kinds of problems. First off, devolve is a word… why did they have to keep using de-evolve? Is it because people might not get the concept? I don’t get it. Second, given that the whole crew has “de-evolved” into lower forms of life, how is it that pretty much no one except one crew member manages to end up dead? I’m pretty sure that the Worf-beast had some buddies of other sorts… how was this not a major incident involving the death of half the crew? That certainly seems much more likely than having everyone but one get better, naming a disease after Barclay, and high-fiving all around. Plus, why is everyone so cheerful given that one crew member, it seems, did die? They usually freak out when even one is in danger. Suddenly one crew member kills another in de-evolved state and no one cares? Come on.

Plausibility of this episode? Off the charts on the implausible side. What the heck? How could such a disease even happen? How could people just randomly turn into approximately human-sized animals? How could a cat turn into an iguana? What are Troi pheromones? It’s as silly as an old horror movie.

On the plus side, there was a serious sense of foreboding throughout the episode, enhanced by the weirdness of it all. The costumes and modification of various crew members was done well. It wasn’t a terrible episode… but it wasn’t great either.

Grade: C “They turned me into a newt. I got better.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “I thought it was an interesting premise but the short episode length left many questions unanswered.”

Mother-in-Law’s Grade and Comment: C “While I appreciated the premise, I would have liked them to have allowed actual engagement with the ‘de-evolved’ crew members to create obstacles along the way.”

Father-in-Law’s Grade and Comment: C- “Several things: the crew should have been able to recognize that something was happening and started some analysis or communicated with the missing Captain; then there’s the whole conservation of mass thing- where does all the extra hair and bone come from and where did it go?” 

“Journey’s End”

Synopsis

The Cardassians and the Federation have reached a way to ensure peace for some time, but it involves trading certain planets and colonies back and forth. One such colony has been inhabited by Native Americans–called “Indians” throughout the episode–and Picard is unwilling to remove them forcibly, as he is ordered to do if no other option presents itself. Meanwhile, Wesley is visiting and is super cranky, but he finds his answer to what he is supposed to do in the Traveler, who posed as a Native American in order to show him the next steps on his journey. Ultimately, the Native Americans decide to stay on the planet, basically staying in the Cardassian territory at their mercy, but working out some kind of deal with them to be allowed to stay.

Commentary

Okay, it’s obvious too much is going on in this episode. Moreover, it seems this is some kind of attempt to show the wrongs that have been done to Native Americans at the hands of Europeans, but it fails. It fails first, because they keep referring to Native Americans as Indians, which seems strange. It fails also because the Traveler is the most “spiritual” of all the Native Americans, and turns out he’s not one at all–he’s just some super-powerful being co-opting a narrative that should have been about other people.

It is really tough to figure out how I feel about this episode. I enjoyed much of it, but there was too much going on for any one aspect of it to shine. The concept was good–what happens when the Cardassians and Federation make peace but have to compromise–but the execution was poor.

Grade: B- “I’m not really sure how to take this one.

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “It was a good idea… it would have been better if they left Wes and the Traveler out of it.”

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 5 “The First Duty” and “Cost of Living”

Well, this is awkward to watch.

Well, this is awkward to watch.

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 First Duty”

Plot

The Enterprise is headed to earth and as they are inbound they discover that Wesley was involved in a training accident. He’s going to recover, but one of the five members of his flight crew was killed and an investigation is launched. As the inquiry continues, it turns out that the four remaining members have agreed to conceal their attempt to perform a highly dangerous maneuver and have instead appealed to the dead member making a pilot error that led to his death. Geordi and Data, however, discover that plasma ignited at the same time as the inquiry reveals a picture of the training craft in an unreported formation. Picard confronts Wesley and tells him that if he doesn’t come out with the truth, he will. Wesley does tell the truth, which leads to the leader of the flight crew being expelled and permanent reprimands on the rest of their records.

Commentary

The approach taken with the plot of this episode was thought out very well. As observers, we can tell something is wrong with Wesley, and as we see the pressure being put on him and the rest of the team by their flight leader, we can see that there is more to the story than meets the eye. But we don’t find out exactly what happened until about the time Picard reveals his own knowledge of it to Wesley following the investigation run by Geordi and Data.

Thus, we can understand Dr. Crusher’s concern and confusion regarding the situation and how the picture that demonstrates the falsehood of the flight crew’s story must be mistaken. There doesn’t seem another explanation. But the explanation is simple: they’re lying. It’s something that seems to go beyond the bounds of what we normally expect from Star Trek’s normally squeaky-clean world.

“The First Duty” is uncomfortable in that it makes us see things from both sides of a tragic event. The manipulative comments from the flight leader add to this discomfort. Picard’s epic tongue-lashing of Wesley seems both appropriate and well-deserved and it fits into the conversations Picard had with the groundskeeper.

I really loved this episode. Wesley has come into his own.

When my wife came up with a good score, but I gave it a super high score, I explained my reasoning to her thus: “It was like we got to witness all at once the threads that were put in place for Wesley’s development blossom and turn him into a beautiful flower, but then we watched it whither, only to be revivified in greater, but tarnished glory by Picard.”

Yep, that’s about how I feel about this episode. It was phenomenal.

Grade: A+ “It initially made Wesley suck, but then made him surprisingly admirable. Well done.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was interesting but it lacked the gravitas of better episodes.”

“Cost of Living”

Plot

Lwaxana Troi comes to the Enterprise to get married. As she struggles to deal with the implications of an arranged marriage, she tries to guide Alexander in his own path to self-awareness and freedom. They play around on the holodeck as tensions increase between Troi and her betrothed. Finally, she realizes that, like she did for Alexander, she needs to be herself. She shows up to the wedding in traditional Betazoid fashion: naked. The wedding is called off as her betrothed and his adviser are horrified and leave.

Commentary

This is an all-around weird episode. The interactions on the holodeck are a bit whimsical but also kind of creepy. The way that Lwaxana Troi tries to take over parenting of Alexander from Worf is left largely without comment. But there are a few things to like here as well. Troi becomes just a little bit less awful here–something it’s hard for me to admit–as she tries to realize her own needs alongside navigating Alexander towards his. There’s a kind of endearing sadness to Troi’s situation that makes you sympathize with her. Seeing her betrothed and his adviser absolutely flipping out about every little piece of protocol only added to the sympathy that was generated for Troi.

But really, having Alexander walk around saying random nonsense was a bit too much for me. Just stop it. Also, mud bath awkwardness. Just a weird episode.

I was surprised by the score difference between my wife and I here. She really liked it. I thought it was okay. I suppose my deep dislike of Lwaxana Troi might have contributed, but I just thought the episode was super weird.

Grade: C+ “Lwaxana Troi only barely ruins an episode. But seriously, this had some touching moments that were marred by a sense of strangeness and a throwaway side-plot.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It did a nice job exploring the challenges of responsibility and carefree living. It also had some very fun visuals in holodeck-land.”

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 5 “Disaster” and “The Game”

Most exciting [take that word as innuendo-laden] game ever!

Most exciting [take that word as innuendo-laden] game ever!

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.

“Disaster”

Plot

A quantum thingy (that’s the technical term) disrupts the Enterprise’s power, stranding crew members across the ship and leading to not a few injuries and deaths. Picard is stuck with some children in a turbolift; Worf is in Ten Forward coordinating the treatment of injured crew members on the deck; Geordi and Dr. Crusher are stuck in a storage bay with a plasma fire raging; Troi is the senior officer on the bridge and in charge, though Ensign Ro is skeptical of her command ability; Data and Riker seek to gain access to Engineering and possibly take control of the ship from there; and I think I caught all the main plots. All of these race to the finish as the ship nears cataclysmic explosion, from which a decision by Troi ultimately saves them all.

Commentary

“Disaster” is an episode that is ultimately far more than the sum of its parts. And, as you can see from my plot summary, there’s a whole lot going on. It’s quite a bit like “Data’s Day” in that it presents different views across the ship, but here instead of being the “mundane” of a standard day, it is the presentation of what the crew does all over the ship when a disaster strikes.

Each plot thread is actually really interesting, and the sense of tension throughout the episode is real, despite the fact that viewers generally know the main characters are pretty much invincible. You know that Geordi and Dr. Crusher aren’t going to both die, but the tension remains there because it’s well written; moreover, several guest characters (like the kids with Picard) mean that there are stakes so far as saving the lives of these side characters. It’s well done and it’s entertaining.

Worf’s dialogue as he delivers a baby is also superb. “Congratulations, you’re dilated to 10 centimeters. You may now deliver the baby!” Genius line. He has a number of good ones in this episode.

If there’s anything that makes this episode falter, it is just that some of the problems and resolutions seem to simple and too easily wrapped up. Overall though, this is a really fun episode that I’m more than happy to watch again (and again).

Grade: A- “Worf delivers a baby. ‘nough said.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “Overall it was a good idea and had good stories but a bit too complicated to do due diligence to all of the plot lines.”

“The Game”

Plot

Riker is introduced to an addictive game while on vacation and brings it back. As it spreads through the ship, Wesley–stopping by the Enterprise for a visit–and Robin Lefler are the only ones who think something might be up and act to try to stop it. Ultimately, even they are captured and forced into the game, but Wesley managed to get Data revived just in time to save the ship.

Commentary

“The Game” isn’t terrible, it’s just silly. It’s really hard to believe that everyone on board the ship would be sucked into a game, particularly with such personalities as Worf, Picard, and Troi on board. Moreover, it’s hard to believe that the game could so radically alter people’s entire belief system and loyalty in such a short time. It seems like it takes but a few seconds and you’re done for.

Also, if the game is so effective, why even bother to use the crew of the Enterprise at all? Just give the game to some of the most powerful people in the galaxy and you win. “Game” over. Okay, maybe that’s not so easy; but why not just make huge amounts of it and send it all over the place, then? Not everyone will have a Data to save the day. Subjugate a few planets and live like royalty for the rest of your lives. Anyway…

To be fair, though, the episode does a good job building a real sense of foreboding as what seems innocent at first becomes more and more ominous. The solution with Wesley being captured only to discover that he was just acting as a diversion for the off-camera action of Data is a smart way to tie the episode up. I liked the episode despite really not wanting to. That’s gotta say something, right?

Grade: C+ “‘The Game’ is a really silly episode that does enough to avoid being terrible as well.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “‘The Game’ had a good plot with a good balance of suspense and storytelling.”

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 “Future Imperfect” and “Final Mission”

I'll admit it, I'm going to miss you Wesley!

I’ll admit it, I’m going to miss you Wesley!

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.

“Future Imperfect”

Plot

Riker’s in trouble. He is poisoned by some kind of gas and awakens… apparently sixteen years later with memory loss. But something just feels wrong to Riker, and he figures it out when his wife is alleged to be someone who only existed on the holodeck. It turns out the Romulans have been toying with his mind on a holodeck. However, that is only another layer, because even that scenario turns out to be mistaken. Riker puts his foot down and it is finally revealed a lonely alien has kidnapped him and tried to keep him there. Riker reprimands the alien, but then the two depart, giving the alien a chance to find a new home with other people.

Commentary

It is unfortunate that the ending of “Future Imperfect” is so much of a cop-out, because the plot is extremely interesting. Riker’s continually confronted by alternative accounts of how he got into his predicament. Initially, it seems entirely plausible that it is a Romulan attempt to get information out of Riker, but as the episode continues, Riker continues to peel back layers of the onion.

The episode is ingenious in the way it draws viewers along the same logical path as Riker: we realize not all is as it appears and are suspicious of the Romulans, then we realize the kid has shown up in a few different places and his story is inconsistent, then we start to suspect the kid is the one doing all of it. The way this is built up is interesting and keeps the plot moving in such a way that it has viewers on the edge of their seats.

The problem is that the ending is such a clear case of “How do we tie this up in a minute” that it just undermines the whole feel of the plot. The mystery builds up so much and then it just falls into being just another godlike-scenario kind of cop-out.

“Future Imperfect” is probably better than the grade I gave it–it is one of the most compelling plots we’ve run into in some time–but the ending is just too much of a let-down for me. It went from what could have been an all-time greatest episode to being merely good.

Grade: B- “The intriguing plot is fatally marred by a major case of deus ex machina.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “It was a pretty good plot but the end was not very satisfying.”

“Final Mission”

Plot

Wesley, Picard, and a “captain” of a shuttle are stranded on a desert planet and have to get to water that is behind a force field. With Picard injured and the captain in stasis, Wesley must save the day [again]. Meanwhile, the Enterprise has to tow a garbage ship away from a local planet to prevent them from suffering immensely from radiation poisoning. The Enterprise and Wesley both succeed. High fives all around.

Commentary

“Final Mission” could have been much better. The entire episode really just felt like a way to throw Wesley and Picard back together so we can see them sharing some genuine moments together. I mean the “main” plot really just is as follows: Picard, Wesley, and random captain of a shuttle get stranded on a dry planet. They find a source of water that is defended by an energy being and must get the water. Sure, there’s a few wrinkles added to this, but wow that is a seriously thin plot.

The secondary plot features the crew of the Enterprise working to get a garbage vessel away from a planet it is threatening with its radioactive waste. It’s an interesting premise but it doesn’t have enough going on to keep the tension that an episode needs to keep up.

What the episode does do well is the genuine moments mentioned above. Picard and Wesley interacting has become a theme and the growth of their relationship over the course of the series, and if I recall correctly this might be his final episode as part of the crew due to his going to Starfleet Academy. It’s a good way to wrap up a character who has never been my favorite. But really, at this point, I have to say the continuity of Wesley’s story has made him more interesting. I don’t remember, but I hope he shows up again to give us at least a few insights into where he has gone.

Grade: C+ “Heartfelt moments can’t overcome a boring and paper-thin plot.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “The acting and characters were good but it seemed like an artificial way to get Wesley and Picard to bond.”

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 “Remember Me” and “Suddenly Human”

You're crazy! Why would we not have at least 5 seats on the bridge for a crew of 2?

You’re crazy! Why would we not have at least 5 seats on the bridge for a crew of 2?

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.

“Remember Me”

Plot

A friend of Dr. Crusher’s comes aboard ship, but promptly disappears without a trace–even a paper trail. Wesley was apparently doing some warp field experiment around the time it happened. Time goes on and more and more crew members disappear, without anyone having any memory or any record of them ever existing. As the crew dwindles down more and more, Dr. Crusher races to figure out what’s happening. However, it turns out she’s actually the one trapped inside the warp field and Wesley and others are trying to rescue her. Finally, she manages to put her trust in the notion that “her” universe is not the “real” one and jump through a closing portal to safety.

Commentary

Once again, TNG proves it is capable of carrying episodes purely on individual character on the crew. Dr. Crusher is marvelous in this episode, as she deals with the sense of impending doom and possible insanity as people continue to disappear with only her realizing it. We as viewers know right away that it is almost certainly due to Wesley’s experiment (which, by the way, he never gets in trouble for–can we ever get some consequences for this guy’s mad scientist experiments?), but the twist of having Beverly being the one who is taken rather than the others is what makes the episode really hit home. She has to figure out what’s going on from the perspective not of preventing it–her instinct–but of being the one trapped. That’s what keeps “Remember Me” going throughout, and it’s a great ride.

The plot is really thin, but the mystery of it allows it to carry through the whole episode without ever feeling slow or boring. It’s a compelling episode that really only suffers from having perhaps too few elements. It’s great to finally have a really solid episode under the belt for Dr. Crusher. I enjoyed this episode immensely.

Grade: B+ “See? Dr. Crusher can totally carry an episode too!”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “While it didn’t really explain the situation, it was very interesting to see Dr. Crusher’s character respond over the course of the episode.”

“Suddenly Human”

Plot

The Enterprise comes upon a distress call from a Talarian ship. The Talarians are a warlike people, but Picard decides to mount a rescuing mission. One of the five people rescued, Jono, is a human and the grandson of a Starfleet Admiral.  The crew starts trying to integrate Jono into human life, but he is resistant and insists that he is the son of a Talarian leader, Captain Endar. Endar shows up and demands to have his son returned, threatening to escalate to violence if needed to recover him. Finally, Picard decides to peaceably return Jono because he clearly feels he is part of Talarian, not human, society.

Commentary

The moral question of what to do with a young man who was kidnapped at a young age and raised in a different society was one of great interest, I thought. The episode interestingly conveys several different aspects of the problem while never trying to browbeat a point into the viewers, which is appreciated.

It was great to watch Picard and Jono interact. Picard also hilariously said that people might not be aware that he’s uncomfortable around children. No, really? It probably won’t help that this child tried to stab him to death in his sleep.

There are some flaws in the episode, as it is hard to believe people like Picard, Troi, and Riker who are supposed to be great diplomats would be so ignorant when it comes to thinking that this boy, Jono, could just be immediately placed in a different context and succeed. The plot also suffers from either too few or too many elements. That doesn’t make sense? Well what I mean is that either they needed to up the suspense further and perhaps have the Admiral speaking to Jono or some other ways to build the interest or they needed to really hone in on some of the specifics of the plot more. Nonetheless, this was an episode with many areas of interest and it explored a serious moral question in such a way as to make readers think further, which is always a positive.

Grade: B “A solid premise with some minor flaws.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “It presented an interesting dilemma for Picard and company.”

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- “The Best of Both Worlds Part II” and “Family”

family

Time for some tough love, Picard!

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 Best of Both Worlds Part II”

Plot

Picard remains a Borg as the Enterprise attempts to keep stride with the Borg cube heading towards Earth. The Borg use Picard’s knowledge as Locutus of Borg to massacre Starfleet at Wolf 359, but Riker formulates a plan to recapture Picard by sending an away team in under cover of sci-fi magic. Data integrates himself into the collective and discovers that he can input a code into the collective. The order to sleep is integrated into the Borg and the self-destruct, causing Picard to return to his humanity in the process.

Commentary

Look, TNG can do two-part episodes that end well! Seriously, though, this is a phenomenal episode. There is all kinds of awesome action with the chase of the Borg Cube and the destruction of the (pathetic) Mars defense perimeter (seriously, we need better defense for Earth, people!). The action, however, really serves only as a drive for the drama, which is found throughout. The continued tension between Shelby and Riker is interesting, but the real star is once again Picard.

There are two scenes which really show how incredible Picard’s character is. There is a scene that shows Picard still on the Borg ship and they are adding components to him. A single tear goes down the side of his face. That tear does more emotionally than many speeches could have done. The investment that TNG has placed into its viewers through Picard’s continued characterization pays in dividends in scenes like this. We, as viewers, can intuitively sense what’s happening in Picard’s mind at this point, knowing that he is feeling great remorse but is being controlled.

The scene at the end also brings Picard’s character into focus powerfully. We leave him staring into the vastness of space, surely a man who has been changed forever.

This is a great episode, and one which deserves its place among the fan favorites. It’s a reminder of what makes Trek so great.

Grade: A “The episode has an incredible narrative with the right mix of action, drama, and characterization.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was a compelling conclusion to last season’s cliffhanger.”

“Family”

Plot

The Enterprise is set for some maintenance and shore leave on Earth is granted. Picard goes to visit his family while Beverly Crusher recovers some items from her deceased husband. Worf’s family comes to the ship to visit. Picard and his brother don’t get along. One of his friends from Earth tries to get him to join a development project. Dr. Crusher finds a recording of her husband intended for Wesley, while Worf deals with balancing his shame from his Klingon lineage with his human lineage. Picard and his brother fight, leading to reconciliation.

Commentary

Wow. I gotta say I’m blown away by how excellent this episode is. I always thought it was super boring, but I haven’t seen this one since I was probably around 13-14 years old and the impact of it didn’t have the force it does now. (Well, that makes me sound old!) This time watching “Family” was an just an incredibly impactful experience.

Worf’s family is delightful. His parents dote on him, which is just the opposite of what one may have expected for people who would adopt a Klingon. To see Worf’s father get so excited over the Enterprise and have him talk about how he read all the manuals is just a great touch, and his mother’s understanding alongside his father’s rambunctiousness is just a perfect balance. His interaction with them also brings in threads from earlier (like Sins of the Father) and provides viewers with reflection alongside great character development. I don’t honestly remember if his parents show up again in the series (I’m pretty sure they do), but I’m hopeful. They’re great.

Picard once more carries the episode, however, as his struggles with his brother, indecisiveness about his future, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (never called that) all come into play. The scene in which Picard finally snaps and starts beating down Robert after being pushed into it is one of the most amazing moments in the series so far, as he breaks down and cries; “I should have been stronger.” His brother’s reaction is unexpected, but perfect: he basically just says “Deal with it. It will be hard, but deal.” Although they are harsh words, the implication, however, is that Robert will be there for Picard. They don’t like each other, but they do love each other.

Wesley’s side plot is also worth a mention as he learns more about his father through a holo-recording. It’s a touching moment that stands on its own right.

“Family” is one of the best episodes so far in TNG. At this point, that’s really saying something. TNG shows, with this episode, that it is fully capable of standing purely on the strength of its characters’ stories.

Grade: A+ “A stunning achievement of a completely character-driven episode which remains utterly compelling throughout.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It offered insights into the background of Picard, Worf, and Wesley.”

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 “Evolution” and “The Ensigns of Command”

"I sure hope this won't escape and threaten the lives of everyone on the ship!"

“I sure hope this won’t escape and threaten the lives of everyone on the ship!”

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.

“Evolution”

Plot

The Enterprise is ferrying a scientist with a pet project to a star that will only allow the study every 200 years or so. The ship has difficulties caused by nanomachines Wesley unwittingly released. Eventually, Data is able to communicate with the ever-evolving nanos and brings about a peace treaty. The science experiment(s) succeed.

Commentary

My enjoyment of this episode rapidly deteriorated as it got more and more absurd. The premise isn’t awful; runaway nanos (or other technology) seem like a legitimate threat, and the way it initially played out wasn’t bad. The problem is the amount of suspension of disbelief involved in thinking that some nanomachines programmed to aid in medicine were somehow able to evolve to eat computer parts and then manipulate them, then communicate, enter Data to communicate in English, and ultimately decide they wanted their own planet. Yeah, that happened! I mean I found this whole train just absurd.

It doesn’t help that the scientist–Dr. Stubbs– was unbearably annoying. Frankly, I was on Troi’s side when she lectured the heck out of him. Also, where did Pulaski go? I get that Crusher is back–and I think Dr. Crusher is a strong character–but what explanation is there for where Pulaski went? She was just growing on me, too.

The Wesley storyline was bearable, but it also makes me question, yet again, why there are no consequences for any characters. Wesley nearly killed everyone on the ship! Dr. Stubbs massacred a large portion of a sentient species (though I actually would have been on his side in this–they’re machines and also ridiculous!)! Yet they both walk away without any consequences.

Anyway, the whole thing is too unbelievable for me. Decent premise, poor execution. Great special effects in this one, though!

Grade: C- “My brain shut down from the amount of suspension of disbelief involved in this episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “The premise was very interesting, but a few things didn’t make sense, like the lack of consequences for the characters involved in the nano-crisis.”

“The Ensigns of Command”

Plot

An alien race contacts the Enterprise with instructions to remove a human colony per their treaty with Starfleet. The evacuation would be impossible in the time allotted, but the aliens are unwilling to negotiate. Meanwhile, Data must convince the colonists to evacuate. Picard scours the treaty for a loophole, while Data ultimately goes angry-android on the colonists to show them the military might headed their way. Ultimately, Picard finds the loophole and all is saved.

Commentary

The juxtaposition of the developing drama between the situation on the planet with Data and Picard’s struggles to delay the destruction of the colony makes for a genuinely suspenseful episode at several points. The added dimension of factions developing on the planet also heightened the suspense. Ultimately, however, the episode was carried by Data, and it shows how strong his character has become in TNG at this point.

First, the intro scene with his playing the violin (and Picard walking out to deal with the crisis) was a good opening to set up for the struggles with his (lack of) humanity later on. Then, the way the colonists rejected his advice merely because he was an android set up a nice obstacle for him to overcome. Later, his decision to follow the maxim that “actions speak louder than words” sets up an epic and cold-blooded scene in which Data mows down several guards and then attacks the aqueduct. Finally, the close with Picard arguing with Data to show that even in mimicry, he was making individualized choices created a compelling finish to close out the episode developing Data’s self-image.

Again, set alongside what is a genuinely interesting main plot, with some awesome scenes from Picard, this episode really shines. Some fun with Geordi and O’Brien in the transporter gives just enough comic relief in between the serious parts to keep it going. Troi also gets a major nod as she comes up with an excellent analogy for the difficulties of communication, leading Picard into some head scratching which ultimately unleashes Picard’s passive aggressive fury as he checks for dust around the bridge of the Enterprise before allowing the aliens a reprieve.

This is a fantastic episode with little to interfere with its superb storytelling.

Grade: A “The episode has a solid main plot with good side stories and is nicely bookended by the opening and closing about Data’s violin.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was fun to see Data struggle to succeed at the mission.”

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.