Thursday, December 15, 2016

Episode Review - Disaster (Next Generation, Season 5)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here.

Episode Overview – The Enterprise is left critically disabled after hitting a quantum filament. With the crew separated from each other and unable to communicate with different sections, each officer must dig deep within themselves to handle the situation as best as they can.

Lt. Monroe right before she bites it.

Episode Score – 8/10. I really enjoyed this excellent bottle episode. It pushes many of the characters out of their own comfort zone and gives us several smaller stories interwoven by a large scale disaster. With five separate tales being told, it is impressive how each one is treated almost equally, although the Crusher-La Forge story seemed just a little bit like an after-thought. It was as if they needed another something to go wrong to give these two characters something to do (which, mind you, may not be a bad thing after all). There are definitely some lighter moments that bring you laughter, and though you know that everything will work out for the main characters, there are some moments when you feel concerned for the outcome.

Troi and O'Brien discuss their options.

Relevance – 3 points. Three key things that score a relevance point. First, in the episode “The Loss” the ship encounters a cosmic string. Troi references that when she is discussing what has happened to the ship. Second, this episode leads Troi to eventually seek a promotion to Commander in the episode “To Thine Own Self”. Finally, the birth of Molly O’Brien, ushering in a character that we watch grow up on Deep Space Nine. The fact that Worf delivers Molly is also brought up in the Deep Space Nine episode “Accession”.  

Worf meets Molly

Continuity – 2 points. Trek universe and story continuity both score points here. Where a point was deducted was in character continuity. This is for two reasons. First, Ensign Ro was very apologetic at the end of the episode. After butting heads with Troi over what to do (Ro wanted to separate the saucer section while Troi chose to give everyone as much of a chance as they could to survive), when the dust finally settles, Ro meekly offers her apology to Troi, conceding that she was right. Show producer Michael Piller felt that this was not the right direction for the character, feeling that she would have been the one to point out that she could have very well been right. I agree with that reflection. Second, Riker tells Data that, android or not, he wouldn’t order anyone to risk their life in the manner in which Data offers. In the next season, when Troi is taking the promotion exam, Riker tells her that his first duty is to the ship, which means that sometimes you order officers to risk their lives to save the ship

Data acting as a lightning rod

Character Development – 3 points. Lots of great character development here. We see growth in several of the main cast and some supporting cast. This being the second episode to feature Ensign Ro we see more of how she interacts with a Starfleet crew. We learn that La Forge can sing and that Beverly is heavily involved in the ship’s theatre program. We see Worf squirm a bit as he delivers Keiko’s baby (which also brings in some great comedic dialogue). Riker and Data pretty much do things by the book for their characters. Picard really has to soften up as he is trapped in the turbolift with three scared children, and he makes further growth in dealing with his discomfort around children. I especially liked how Picard used his own rank pips to give the children their ranks as they became a part of his crew. When he agrees to show the kids some of the more exciting parts of the ship on their reschedule tour (starting with the battle bridge), it shows how far he has come in this regard. More than all the others, though, this is Troi’s episode. She is the one left in command of the bridge, and the moment when she takes her place in the captain’s chair seems to be a major turning point for her career and attitude. Troi fans should definitely watch this episode.

Troi takes command

Social Commentary – 1 point. Work well as a time in tough times. That’s about it. Hey, a fun episode does not always have to have something profound to say.

Picard;s worst nightmare is realized.

Cool Factor – 2 points. When Riker takes Data’s head and brings it to engineering to stabilize the warp core we have a cool moment (especially since it becomes apparent that all you really need is Data’s head). I always thought they should have finished the episode with only Data’s head hooked up to his console. The birth of Molly is one of the funniest scenes in Trek, as Worf and Keiko have a great dialogue between them.

Data showing he is the brains of the operation.

Rank Captain (19 points). This episode is a breath of fresh air for so many reasons. It is fun, has some great comedy, some tension, and some good character development.  


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