Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 3 “Defiant” and “Fascination”

What the heck is going on?

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:

“Defiant”

Synopsis

Will Riker shows up on DS9 and shows some interest in Kira. When the latter agrees to give him a tour of the station, including the Defiant, he drugs her and takes over the ship. Turns out he is, in fact, Thomas Riker, who was created by a transporter incident some time ago and is referenced in the TNG episode Second Chances. He’s trying to help steal the Defiant for the Maquis. He and his crew take Kira deep into Cardassian territory, as Sisko partners with Gul Dukat to help track the ship. A member of the Obsidian Order, the Cardassian intelligence agency, monitors the events closely. Thomas Riker is convinced that the system he’s approaching has a secret Cardassian base where they are preparing for an attack on the Federation and specifically the area the Maquis dispute. Kira is unconvinced, but as the Defiant eludes pursuit, it is confronted by a number of Cardassian ships that even Gul Dukat did not know were in the system. Sisko swings a deal that sends Riker to a Cardassian prison camp instead of death in exchange for the Defiant‘s sensor logs, allowing Dukat to learn more about what the Obsidian Order may be up to in the system.

Commentary

Thomas Riker! That came out of left field, though I will say that I just barely called it in advance. I figured Riker was acting too strange to be William and it might be a shapeshifter or perhaps Thomas showing up. But I only thought of that just before he shot Kira, and the only reason I thought of Thomas was because that episode was pretty striking to me.

Anyway, this episode was actually totally exciting. Moreover, it seemed important. It wasn’t just a set piece to throw Riker into the mix. It showed yet another escalation of the Maquis conflict in the Star Trek universe, as well as some nefarious undercurrents with the Obsidian Order and the Cardassians. It set up a lot of stuff later, though I don’t remember how much of it is cashed in on. Moreover, it didn’t feel like a setup episode, because it was exciting and had an interesting plot on its own.

The man and perhaps only problem here is how totally willing Sisko was to share absolutely top secret and vital intel on the Defiant with the Cardassians. Though the ship was intended to combat the growing Dominion threat, I can’t help but think that sharing those secrets with the Cardassians, who are clearly another major rival, would not be okay. Yes, they rationalized it some as preventing all out war with the Cardassians, but it was still tough to completely suspend my disbelief here. If the rest of the episode hadn’t been so good, I may have marked it down even more for this.

But let’s get this straight, this was a great episode. It provided a tie-in to The Next Generation that wasn’t just for the sake of a cameo, it developed the Maquis, it perhaps closed the book on a loose thread with Thomas Riker, and opened exciting new possibilities for the show. Well done.

Grade: A- “Great follow up on the TNG episode, good action. If slightly unbelievable, it was exciting enough that I was able to mostly overlook that.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was a good tie-in to an old TNG story and had some nice action.” 

“Fascination”

Synopsis

Lwaxana Troi is back on station, much to Odo’s chagrin. But after her arrival, things begin to go haywire among the crew and visitors. People obsess over each other in ways that are clearly uncharacteristic. Meanwhile, Keiko and Miles O’Brien are reunited (oh yeah, and their daughter is there, too), but struggle because Keiko wants to stay on Bajor even longer for her botany. Miles is jealous of her time and her interactions with a male colleague, and he royally messes up. Ultimately, Bashir manages to isolate what’s happening to the station–Lwaxana’s Betazed abilities have been impacted by a fever and caused the mayhem. She gets treatment and the chaos stops. Miles reconciles with Keiko, offering to resign if necessary to let her pursue her dream. She says he doesn’t need to, and they’re happy once more.

Commentary

Yeah, this episode was silly. Surprisingly, the silliness wasn’t terrible though. It gave a more plausible reason for all the characters to act silly, because we’ve already seen how Betazed/Betazoid (which is correct, anyway?) abilities can impact all those around them. It made for some humorous scenarios to offset the drama among the O’Brien family. It was great to see how Keiko and Miles reconciled.

But speaking of Miles O’Brien, why does DS9 have it in for him so much? It’s like every episode he’s featured in he screws up big time or ends up stranded in some horrible situation. Poor O’Brien.

Another reason this episode gets kudos from me is because it used Lwaxana Troi wisely. It didn’t push her to be something she’s not, and it stayed in character for her without being completely obnoxious. I suspect Odo would disagree on that assessment, though.

Grade: B “Amazingly, DS9 has had Lwaxana Troi on it multiple times and not delivered a series-worst episode. Well done.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “There was nothing particularly special about this one, but I certainly enjoyed 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: 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: 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 “Dark Page” and “Attached”

My face while I watched this episode.

My face while I watched this episode.

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

“Dark Page”

Plot

Lwaxana Troi is having psychological difficulties. Initially, they appear to be linked to her attempts to communicate telepathically with a new race of telepaths–with potentially nefarious consequences–but it turns out that it is really Lwaxan’s own attempts to suppress a memory which are causing her distress. Deanna must enter into her mother’s mind to rescue her from the prison in which she has encased herself. She does so, thus revealing the truth of Lwaxana’s lost child.

Commentary

Ouch. This was a surprisingly thoughtful and emotional episode, starring Lwaxana Troi of all people.

I enjoyed it, but I also felt a little bit scared and uncertain afterwards. I wanted to run to check on my sleeping child to make sure he was okay. “Dark Page” preys upon that part of parents’ psyche: the knowledge that no matter what we do, something could always go wrong. No matter how much preparation, watching, and the like we engage in, something terrible could happen.

But then, the episode doesn’t just leave it at that. Instead, it turns to how we deal with great loss. It doesn’t offer an easy, stupid one-size-fits-all solution. Instead it just leaves the emotions raw and unchecked. With loss, we must not avoid the feelings we experience. That is what this episode tells us, and it hurts quite a bit to see it or even contemplate it.

There’s my analysis. As far as the actual details of the episode, I don’t think they matter much. This was an episode that was all about struggling with sorrow, and the plot was less important than the ideas it conveyed.

This is an episode that will hit you right in the gut, and leave you thinking for a while afterwards. Well done.

Grade: A “Right in the feels, there, Star Trek.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was a remarkable and touching exploration of Deanna’s relationship with her mom.”

“Attached”

Plot

The Enterprise is dispatched to check out a planet that is petitioning for entrance into the Federation. Once there, they beam Crusher and Picard down to the surface. But wait! During transport, the two are intercepted and imprisoned by a rival faction who believe the Enterprise is at their planet to give military assistance to conquer them. They implant something into Crusher and Picard which is supposed to let their thoughts be read to see if they’re telling the truth, but when the two escape, they start to hear each other’s thoughts and experience agony if they stray too far from one another. Eventually, as Riker deals with leaders from each faction, Picard and Crusher manage to escape, ending the potential conflict… and the chances for the planet’s entrance into the Federation (for now).

Commentary

Can we just agree that Crusher and Picard need to just get married already. They love each other. They effectively admitted that to each other in this episode. There is so much sexual tension happening that it is ridiculous. And why not? Huh? Well, probably because they both love the position they’re currently in and neither wants to transfer or move for the sake of a relationship. At some point though, they have to realize they’re basically letting their chances for happiness over a longer period of time slip away! It’s driving me crazy.

As far as the rest of the episode goes, I think it was pretty entertaining. It’s a pretty fun concept: show what happens when someone is petitioning to enter the Federation who is actually insane. Yep. This is a planet full of madness, and they manage to put just enough of a facade of normalcy forward to lure the Enterprise into having to come see if they might be considered for entry. This does not go well for them.

I particularly enjoyed Riker’s bemused expression as representatives of the two factions were countering each other with ever-increasing levels of paranoia. You could just tell the thought that was going through his head: “Yeah… not recommending these crazies for entrance into the Federation.” Of course, he gave voice to that very thought shortly thereafter, which was just as enjoyable.

“Attached” is full of characterization as well. We learn more about Picard and Crusher’s backgrounds in ways that are touching and revealing.

The complaint I have is that we keep getting more and more relationships that seem like they should just be a thing, but instead are put off for whatever reason (see also Troi/Riker). Look, we’re in the 7th season of this series. Can we just have the people who are obviously made for each other get together? I like resolution, so it is starting to drive me bonkers.

Another complaint: how is it so easy to just intercept a transport in progress? Basically every time that’s happened before this, people end up dead. Here’s another of the endless examples where technology is used in a very inconsistent fashion throughout the series.

Grade: A- “Just get married already!”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “Yet again, Picard demonstrates his extraordinary ability to stay out of a relationship with Beverly Crusher.”

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 “Gambit, Part II” and “Phantasms”

How strange.

How strange.

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.

“Gambit Part II”

Plot

Khan, I mean Arctus Baran, continues doggedly attempting to track down some unknown artifact. He attempts to pit Picard and Riker against each other, not knowing that they are actually allies from the Enterprise. Picard finds the artifact that Baran is looking for,  but is suspicious about its nature. The crew of the mercenary ship gets on board the Enterprise to steal another piece of the artifact, then flees toward Vulcan, where the artifact is supposed to work. Once there, however, Picard is able to overcome the device’s power as a weapon by remaining serene.

Commentary

Okay, there is way more to the plot than that but I figured I should probably not have the summary take up half of this post. The Vulcan weapon is surprisingly… logical. (Sorry.) But really, it kind of makes sense for them to have created a weapon which would only act against hostile enemies. It also was neat to get another piece of history about the Vulcans, who have been largely untapped in their potential throughout TNG.

The climactic confrontation between Picard and the Vulcan/Romulan (I can’t remember which, it was all too convoluted) was a little silly, though. Yes, the weapon makes sense for a Vulcan to have made it, but the way the scene was portrayed was much campier than TNG tends to do.

This is an episode that would fall apart if pressed on the edges too hard. There are several parts that don’t make a lot of sense, but it is also one of those episodes that manages to be so much fun to watch that as a viewer I didn’t much care about the holes. I mean, these are basically space pirates, right? But they’re not just space pirates; they are space pirates who go about seeking out booty that is archaeology. I was a social studies major in college and I gotta say it doesn’t get much cooler than that.

Grade: A “An all-around enjoyable episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “With a Khan-lookalike and a triple-timing Vulcan, what could go wrong?”

“Phantasms”

Plot

Data is having dreams again, and they are getting weirder and weirder. Indeed, they begin to impinge on everyday reality for him. There doesn’t appear to be any explanation for these nightmarish turns in his dreams, and he goes to the holodeck to talk to Sigmund Freud about them. It turns out that there was no help there, either. It turns out that the nightmares and Data’s odd behavior were caused by some correlation between creatures that were clinging to the different crew members.

Commentary

I gotta admit that part of the reason I didn’t enjoy this episode as much as I may have otherwise was Sigmund Freud. I think he was a bit of a quack, myself. Of course, this episode makes him look a little bit like a quack, so maybe I should have liked that part more… and hey he did help develop psychology as it stands today. Oh well, I still thought that part was just weird.

Weird? Yeah, this episode was surreal. It was never creepy, and it didn’t really push the boundary so far as mystery was concerned either. It just felt… strange. That was the main problem with this episode, really. There wasn’t enough here to get a strong feeling of mystery, nor was there as real a sense of foreboding as there has been in other episodes that focus so much on the strange. I don’t know if I’m conveying this as well as I would like in this review. It’s one thing to be weird in order to have it shrouded in mystery, or to throw the viewer off and make them uncomfortable in a kind of horror type experience. But this was just off-putting. Especially Troi as a cake.

It did, however, give a sense that there are probably more awful things out there in the universe that the crew of the Enterprise has yet to encounter.

It was surprising to me to see the wide grade difference between my wife and I. Apparently she liked the weirdness more than I did.

Grade: C “Data’s dreams are weird.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was quite enjoyable, though a bit strange. It didn’t quite feel like Star Trek.”

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 “Interface” and “Gambit, Part I”

KHHHAAAAAANNNNNN!!!!

KHHHAAAAAANNNNNN!!!!

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.

“Interface”

Plot

La Forge’s mom–a Starfleet captain–is missing, but La Forge presses on to complete a mission in which he controls a drone through an interface that hooks up to the same place his visor does. The mission is to recover some information from a wrecked Starfleet vessel. Yet, as La Forge goes through the derelict, he sees his mother asking him to lower the ship to the surface to save the missing crew. Ultimately, La Forge and Data work together to do so, but it turns out that some sort of flame being was masquerading as La Forge’s mother, and she is still missing–though he did save the fire beings.

Commentary

LaVar Burton picked up this episode, strapped it onto his shoulders, and carried it across the finish line. I say this because it was pretty much his acting alone which saved this episode from the garbage heap. It was only because I felt that La Forge was experiencing a real struggle that I could even begin to suspend disbelief long enough to enjoy the great character portrayal he put forward. And he sure nailed it. I can’t say enough for how well-acted this episode was on Burton/La Forge’s end, because without it, we would have had a poor episode at best.

There are a lot of problems with this one. First, how the heck is a probe that looks like a floating cylinder in any way parallel to a human walking around and interacting with the environment? Okay, I get it, they used tractor beams. But then, why do they need to have him walking up stairs or adjusting the interface so he can control his limbs? Am I supposed to believe that they just have tractor beams that work like limbs for some reason? That would seem incredibly limiting. Second, why is La Forge so gullible about his mother? I get that he is experiencing grief, but clearly something more was going on, and he just went with it.

So I suppose my final verdict would be: great La Forge acting; weak plot and execution.

Grade: B “La Forge was as epic as ever, but the episode is an assault on the credulity of the viewer.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “Geordi’s acting was really good, but it didn’t make up for an underwhelming plot.”

“Gambit, Part I”

Plot

Picard is missing and the crew finds a witness who says he was vaporized–and Troi says he’s telling the truth. Riker is filled with anger and decides to try to track down those who did Picard in. They appear to be some kind of pirates or mercenaries who are raiding archaeological sites. Riker is captured at one of these sites and brought on board the mercenary ship, implanted with a pain inducer, and forced into service of the crew. Yet, it turns out that Picard is there… alive of course! Picard has infiltrated the crew and tells Riker to go along with it. The episode ends with Riker taking shots at the Enterprise.

Commentary

Let’s get this out of the way: Arctus Baran, the commander of the mercenary ship, is Khan. He looks just like him. Seriously! Okay, so he isn’t supposed to be Khan, but I could totally see them just saying it is him. Oh well.

This is a great opener for a two-part episode. There’s plenty of action and mystery here, which is what two-part episodes often need to keep viewers hooked. I like the archaeology in the episode–it helps give a sense of robust history behind the show that isn’t always there. Baran makes a solid villain, even if he isn’t actually Khan. The motivation goes beyond a typical X-is-evil shtick, so that makes it intriguing as well. Sure, he is motivated by money, but there is more going on behind the scenes in this one than some episodes have had.

The scene in which Data dresses down Worf is particularly poignant. It shows the tension that could be in place on board a ship that has lost some senior officers. It was a great scene that illustrated how seriously Data took his position, and how Worf reacted to the changes as well. I loved it.

The opener was also a great scene, as the various crew members attempted to get information at Mos Eisley Canti… I mean, a random space bar. It had just the right mix of cheese and seriousness that happens when the actors are firing on all cylinders.

Grade: A “KHAAAAAAANNNN!!! Oh wait, wrong series.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was a good plot with surprises revealed at appropriate times throughout.”

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 “Rightful Heir” and “Second Chances”

I shall call him, Mini Me. No wait, "Riker, Junior Grade."

Red: “I shall call him, Mini Me. No wait, ‘Riker, Junior Grade.'” – Yellow: “I prefer Thomas.”

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.

“Rightful Heir”

Plot

Worf is bothered by some religious angst and is released by Captain Picard to go on an existential quest to find his faith. He goes to Boreth, a place where Klingons often have experiences of Kahless, their mythic warrior-figure. After some disappointing times, Kahless appears to Worf, but it turns out he is more than a vision–he is real! He claims the rights due to Kahless as the returned demigod/deity of the Klingons, but some–including Worf–are skeptical. After Gowron, the current head of the Klingon Empire, issues a challenge which Kahless passes, the stakes are raised even higher. However, Gowron later defeats Kahless in combat, undermining the notion of Kahless being the greatest warrior of all time. It turns out Kahless is, in fact, a clone that was given many of the memories of the true Kahless. The threat of civil war looms because Kahless has already attracted a large following. To avert this, Worf calls Gowron to make Kahless the kind of moral leader over the Klingons while Gowron retains civil authority. Gowron and Kahless agree. Worf is left wondering whether his faith in Kahless was misplaced or whether it could remain genuine.

Commentary

I pretty much loved this episode. If you’ve been following my reviews, you’ll know I’m a sucker for Worf episodes and Data episodes. This is clearly a Worf episode, but there are some great discussions about the nature of faith and belief with Data sprinkled in.

The plot is quite strong–there’s a sense of mystery surrounding Kahless. As the viewer, you are almost expected to be skeptical, but you are taken on a ride of evidence right alongside Worf–one which involves eventually believing Kahless might be vindicated as the real deal. Only, it turns out Kahless is a clone. What does that do to the faith Worf and others placed in Kahless? The question is left pretty much open-ended.

Kahless goes on to be the moral compass of the Klingon people–something that is an intriguing look into the needs of the Klingon Empire. Kahless himself notes that they are floundering in need of the realization that to be Klingon is to go beyond mere fighting for fighting’s sake. There is honor involved–joy, even. It’s a fascinating insight into Klingon culture that we’ve been developing quite a bit throughout TNG. I love it.

Overall, this is a super-solid episode. I forgot to mention the scenery paintings were really neat too. I liked every set as well. Just awesome.

Grade: A+ “Look, it was just awesome. Klingons. Awesome.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was a very interesting premise, though it seemed a strange direction for Worf’s character.”

“Second Chances”

Plot

The Enterprise is trying to recover some data from a lost outpost. Riker leads an away team down and, well, there’s another Riker there! Turns out the transporter fluke that got Riker out 8 years ago actually managed to copy him and leave one copy on the planet’s surface… alone… for 8 years. Riker 2 [the double, Thomas Riker] tries to integrate with the crew while Riker 1 continues to try to operate as normal. Ultimately, Riker 2 rekindles his relationship with Troi, but has to leave to go elsewhere to continue his Starfleet career.

Commentary

Surprise! We have two Rikers! But only for one episode… for now (eerie music). Google it if you’re curious, but you’ll spoil the fun like I did. Anyway, I quite enjoyed this episode. There are a lot of moments for pondering “what ifs” here that are worth thinking about. Most importantly: What if William Riker wasn’t so dumb about Troi and they just got back together! Come on!?

Thomas Riker should have killed Will Riker and replaced him. Apparently that’s what the writers thought too. The Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 book (which is excellent and should be required reading for TNG fans) told me so. Apparently, even Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) thought that’s how the plot should have gone, to allow for a continued romance between, well, Riker and Troi. Alas, instead we have to deal with the continued, constant sexual tension between the two until Star Trek Nemesis, but that’s a different story.

Anyway, another what if is whether you would make the same choices twice. Obviously this isn’t the exact same scenario for each Riker, but Thomas has a kind of fresh chance to repeat the same path William took–or not. It’s an intriguing look at free will and how character can help determine the choices people make.

An enjoyable episode that is really just dragged down a little by some of the same suspension-of-disbelief problems and lots of continuity difficulty. I mean if they can do things like this with a transporter, how would they let anyone stay dead? Oh well. It’s TV, not real life.

Grade: A- “Thomas Riker, you poor man.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “An intriguing exploration of what could go wrong with the transporter in an alternate universe within our own universe. Whoa.”

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 “Frame of Mind” and “Suspicions”

Riker is having a rough day.

Riker is having a rough day.

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.

“Frame of Mind”

Plot

The episode opens with Riker apparently in an insane asylum, being told that he needs more treatment because he apparently hurt someone. Turns out he is just practicing for an upcoming play on board the Enterprise. However, he wakes up later and it appears he is actually in an asylum that looks exactly like the set back on the Enterprise. As he tries to figure out what is going on, he continually shifts back and forth between the Enterprise and the asylum, trying to piece together what is real. He becomes convinced that the asylum is real, but then is apparently rescued by Dr. Crusher and Worf. Even this reality breaks down under investigation, time and again, until he finally awakens in the middle of some kind of brain surgery and manages to signal the Enterprise to rescue him.

Commentary

This one is like an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” It’s all over, with layer after layer of reality being peeled away throughout the episode until it is difficult to keep up. But it is never overwhelming, nor does it ever falter. “Frame of Mind” is a truly intense episode throughout.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot to actually comment on here, because the greatness of this episode is found in the suspense it carries through, not in any kind of depth of plot or characters. Riker, however, carries this episode quite well. It is not difficult to imagine become disillusioned with one’s own reality under the kinds of pressure that are shown being applied to his mental life in this episode.

So…. yeah not a lot to say but this is great viewing.

Grade: A “A great mystery that kept unveiling new layers in such a way as to keep the plot moving.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was very well done.”

“Suspicions”

Plot

Dr. Crusher talks with Guinan about her attempts to facilitate scientific discussion between a Ferengi scientist who has attempted to develop shield technology to allow travel much closer to stars than ever before possible. However, in the process one scientist apparently dies in a test flight, and the Ferengi turns up dead himself, apparently in a suicide. Crusher attempts to further her investigation, but is thwarted at every turn, including by a direct order not to perform an autopsy. Guinan convinces Crusher to keep up the investigation, which leads to Crusher commandeering a shuttle to see if the Ferengi’s theory works. It does, but the scientist who apparently died in the test flight isn’t dead… and attempts to kill Crusher, who takes him down and manages to return to the Enterprise.

Commentary

The narrative that Dr. Crusher gives to Guinan as she describes her efforts as a scientific diplomat makes this episode have a little bit of a noir feel, and I love that. The plot itself is pretty strong, too, as we have not just the mystery of whether a specific invention might be viable to deal with but also a possible murder mystery.

It was fun seeing the plot develop and keep getting more and more interesting. I for sure thought that the Vulcan and/or her husband were responsible for the Ferengi’s death, so it managed to throw me off the scent despite having seen the episode before (hey, it was a long time ago, so I didn’t remember, okay?). The pulpy feel along with the complexity of the actual mystery are paid off pretty well with an ending that doesn’t feel too contrived. It’s just a really solid episode with some excellent work by Dr. Crusher. Plus she gets to roundhouse kick an alien in the face. How epic was that?

All of the positive feelings aside, there are some problems with this one. For one, how the heck does the apparently dead alien scientist manage to keep leaving the morgue without anyone noticing he’s walking around on board the ship? For another, if the Enterprise constantly monitors people’s condition and where they are on the ship, why have they still not integrated some sort of security system into that? Why doesn’t Crusher have more severe consequences (like getting thrown in the brig) for her clear disobedience and insubordination at points?

Ultimately, my answer to these questions was “Who cares?”  because the episode was too fun to let myself get bogged down with these concerns about plausibility.

I’ve been reading through the Star Trek TNG 365 book, which is excellent, by the way, and apparently the authors and the writers of the episode itself thought this one wasn’t very good. Well, you can probably tell from my comments–and our grades below–that we loved it.

Grade: A “Some hard to believe moments don’t do much to drag this one down. Another suspenseful episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “I enjoyed it. Crusher was a fun detective, but it felt a little odd for a Star Trek episode.”

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.