Sunday, February 26, 2017

Episode Review – Force of Nature (Next Generation, Season 7)

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

Data provides his insight on the Hekaras Corridor

Overview – The Enterprise is sent to find the missing the Fleming, a medical transport ship lost in the Hekaras corridor, an area of space surrounded by dangerous tetryon fields. As they investigate, they discover a sibling pair of Hekaran scientists who are disabling ships in the corridor, fearing that warp drive is damaging the fabric of space in their sector. Before long, and due to drastic measures taken by one of the scientists, the Enterprise is facing the consequences of a technology long thought to be safe.

The Hekaran Scientists have something to say.

Score: 2/10 – When I re-watched this episode I was a bit shocked as to how bad it was. Nothing seemed to work in this. The actors all appeared to be confused by the story, and sometimes it felt like they were just going through the motions so they could finish it and move on to something better. The story is not well constructed, meandering around without purpose or direction. There is even a distinct lack of a coherent B-story as we jump between Data training his cat and Geordi trying to outdo an old Academy rival for engine efficiency. I get that the writers wanted to do an episode that addressed environmental concerns, but this just seemed too forced. The list of things that just didn’t work could take a long time to accumulate, but let me leave it at this: there was a great deal of lost potential. Rumor has it that Geordi’s sister was originally supposed to visit and provide some comfort to the loss of their mother in an earlier episode, but it was dropped because they couldn’t get it to work right. Aside from some humorous moments about Data’s cat, the same solution could have worked for the entire story. I think the biggest issue here is that the writers painted the franchise into a corner with the Warp 5 speed limit solution. Eventually the whole speed limit thing was dropped, a half-hearted explanation about reconfiguring the warp engines was produced, and the idea was entirely forgotten.

Geordi is looking for Spot, thankfully without a phaser

Relevance - 1 point. The cursed speed limit was mentioned in a few other episodes, such as “The Pegasus” and “Eye of the Beholder”. Also, this is used as an explanation for the different design of the warp nacelles used on Voyager.

Spot's training begins.

Continuity - 0 points. Had to dock a point for story continuity in the fact that Data’s cat Spot had an unexpected sex change. I think this was setting us up for the importance of solving the issue in a future episode “Genesis”. I am docking the point for Universe continuity due to the fact that the whole warp speed restriction is largely forgotten by the time the series ends. As for character continuity, while there is some nice moments between Data and Geordi, and everyone does behave as one would expect them to, I found one thing in this episode that seemed out of place character wise. Troi is never on the bridge during the entire episode. Not when they are encountering the Ferengi or the Hekaran ship, not when they are trying to rescue the Fleming, not once. Her chair is empty during the entire episode, and that is very out of place.

Daimon Prak

Character Development – 0 points. There wasn’t much that pushed along any character. Just when they started to move things along with one character, they changed direction and focus. I felt that nobody really got any traction here.

The consequences of warp travel

Social Commentary – 1 point. Save the environment! OK, so that is a very relevant topic in all ages. The environment is important and should be protected. We need to realize that our actions and choices impact the Earth and its health, and its health is intimately interwoven with our own health. I get that, and my low ranking on this should not be in any way interpreted as a knock on environmentalism. The problem is in the delivery. The way the message was presented in this episode is weak, to put it mildly. It seems like the entire episode was written to get us to reduce our pollution or greenhouse gas emissions or something. It is not subtle, forced, and at times a bit over the top. If you want to see Star Trek tackle the environmental message is a very effective way, may I suggest you watch Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Data's training continues

Cool Stuff – 0 points. Nothing was cool about this episode. We didn’t get any great special effects, no intriguing characters, not even a look at the Fleming. Nothing.

What will happen if warp travel doesn't stop

Rank – Crewman (4 points). Well, as I have said before, every great show has its fair share of stinkers. Here’s one of them. Since the warp speed restriction is only touched on in a couple of later episodes, you can skip this one for now. Oh, and turn off the extra lights in your house, buy more efficient devices, and recycle.

Arguably the most interesting part of the episode


  1. Thanks for the update on the warp-5 speed limit. I actually watched this episode on Netflix a few weeks ago and figured the whole thing was dropped. Totally missed the references on how the problem was eliminated.

    1. The explanation given was in the writer's manual for Voyager. It was never officially mentioned on the show, just conveniently forgotten.