Sunday, June 12, 2016

Episode Review - The High Ground (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 3)

Episode Overview – The Enterprise is called to provide assistance to the planet Rutia IV, where the government is heavily threatened by internal terrorism. The terrorists have begun using a new form of experimental transporter technology with deadly consequences. Soon, Dr. Crusher is kidnapped and becomes personally involved.

Episode Score – 6/10. The episode is solid but not revolutionary (pardon the pun). Its main message: terrorism is bad. Not very revelatory. Many of the writers and producers of the show were not fans of it. I do think that it is a good vehicle to give Dr. Crusher’s character a bit of depth.

Relevance – 0 points. This story is a stand-alone episode that really does not connect much to other episodes. It is worthwhile to watch it, but if you are streamlining your episode viewing to only watching key episodes, then this one is likely not to make the final cut.

Continuity – 3 points. Character continuity scores a point as everyone does what they are expected to do. This ranges from the continued personal attachment between Picard and Beverly to Worf always managing to go down first in a fire fight. Universe continuity gets a check from me as it is typical for the Federation to provide medical aid while attempting to stay out of an internal conflict. Storyline continuity scores a point as nothing that happens goes against what has been previously established.

Character Development – 2 points. As far as character development goes, this is a big time Dr. Crusher episode. I have always liked how Beverly has a true caregiver’s heart, and she easily makes connections with the people around her. This is tested as she forms a bond with her captors, especially Finn, the terrorist leader. Picard, Wes, and Riker also get some good moments, but this is pretty much a Beverly Crusher episode. 

Social Commentary – 2 points. I am writing this review in 2016, over 25 years after this episode first aired. I also am writing this on the day that 50 people were killed in Orlando Florida, in what is believed to have been done by a domestic terrorist. At the time of its original airing, Ireland and the UK would not allow the episode to be shown due to IRA terrorism and how the episode could be interpreted as being sympathetic to terrorist activities. I wonder how this episode would be received today by people watching it for the first time. With radical terrorist groups getting a lot of media attention today, the concept of using terrorism to achieve political change is very relevant, as is the notion of humanizing the terrorists. What I am not sure is as relevant is the idea that terrorism should be glorified, as some may claim happens to an extent in this episode. While I am not wanting to use the case of Finn and his followers as an analogy to such horrific groups such as ISIS, I do think we can learn some valuable lessons from this episode as we try to reach out to those who feel disenfranchised in our society.

Cool Factor – 1 point. I think the dimensional shift inverters are pretty cool, and it would have been nice to see something more come from this.

Rank – Lieutenant (14 points). Overall an average episode. I like how Beverly gets the spotlight and a chance to shine. Gates McFadden shows some good acting chops here. Like many early TNG episodes, this one is pretty much self-contained. For those that are only wanting to watch what are considered essential episodes, I would recommend it only for the die-hard Doctor Crusher fans. 

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