Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Episode Review - Q Who (Next Generation, Season 2)

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

Overview – Q returns to the Enterprise, wanting to be a member of the crew. When Picard scoffs at the idea, Q warns him that there are great dangers in the universe that they are unaware of. Without warning Q sends the Enterprise to a distant corner of the galaxy where Picard and his crew encounter a new threat, one that seems to be unstoppable.

Score: 9/10 – “Q Who” is one of those episodes that you need to see for following TNG. This is the first time that Q has appeared on the ship since Guinan came aboard, and it is obvious that they have a past. It also gives us some insight to her character, and layers on the mystery of her character. We learn that her people were destroyed by the Borg. Speaking of which, this gives us our first official introduction to the most dangerous enemy Picard and his crew will tangle with throughout the series and the films. Because of how powerful the Borg are, they are (appropriately) used sparingly so as to maintain the seriousness of their threat. This episode effectively establishes them as the deadliest foe the Federation has yet to face. This episode also has a lot to offer. There is action, humor, and suspense. The writing is crisp, the acting is great, and the story is compelling. Before this point the Enterprise had not really suffered any loss of life in the double digits. The Borg took out 18 crewmembers. That was a serious blow to Picard, and he approaches it with concern and trepidation. Overall, one not to miss.

Relevance - 3 points. One point for solving the mystery of the missing colonies along the neutral zone that was mentioned at the end of the last season. One point scored for the references to Q’s purposes for his prior visits to the Enterprise. And finally, a third point is scored for the introduction of the Borg. I think it is safe to say that the Borg would turn out to be TNG’s nemesis above all others. This episode marks a launching point that will give us some great episodes, such as “I, Borg”, “Descent”, and, of course, “The Best of Both Worlds”. Plus, if you are a Q fan, this episode is also relevant in that it establishes a history between our favorite omnipotent being and Guinan.

Continuity – 3 points. Story continuity is good, although I would have liked it if they had been a little more explicit with the connection to “The Neutral Zone” which established that Federation and Romulan outposts were being destroyed. Universe contiuity also gets a point here, though I thought that the subtle change in the Borg’s main objectives between this and their next appearance pushed it a bit. In this episode, it is technology that they are seeking to assimilate, whereas it will later be established that it encompasses much more than that. Since it is a logical progression, I still gave it a point. Character continuity also gets a point scored here. Since Picard is the major focus, his reactions are under the most scrutiny. When he has to tell Q that he is helpless to defeat this adversary, it took a great deal of humility. While Picard often works at establishing confidence in his leadership, it is perfectly fitting for him to demonstrate that there are times when in order to help his crew, he must confess his limitations.

Character Development – 2 points. The characters that receive the most development in this episode are the two main guest characters, Q and Guinan. That leaves Picard from the main cast as the one who receives some significant treatment. For our beloved captain, Jean-Luc must swallow his pride a bit. I like the ending of this episode where, as Q is mocking him for being out of his league with the Borg, he humbly admits that Q is right. At that moment, Picard is inadequate to handle the situation and needs Q. I have always felt that the best leaders require an element of humility in their character, and Picard demonstrates that here. While he is not groveling for help, he does show that he is in need of Q’s help. That is one of the first times that I can recall Picard conceding that he is not always up to the task. Sadly, for Picard, this will not be the last time he finds himself falling short when dealing with the Borg.

Social Commentary – 2 points. As often seems to be the case in some of these excellent episodes, I have difficulty narrowing down what the story might be saying about our day-to-day lives. In this episode, there are several comments that can be interpreted. Picard’s show of humility teaches us the importance of being humble when leading. There are those that feel that any sign of humility is a sign of weakness, and that a good leader never shows weakness. I’m not advocating that all leaders need to constantly inform their crew that they are inadequate to the task at hand, because I do believe that good leaders need to be confident in themselves and their crew, but I do feel that if a leader is faced with a difficult or even impossible task, there is no shame in admitting it.

Cool Stuff – 3 points. Everything about the Borg here is cool. Their look, their ship, and their culture was beyond impressive and showed a great deal of consideration and planning. Originally they were supposed to be insectoids of some sort, but I like the cyborg better. While the Borg themselves score a point, I am scoring a second point for the special effect of the section of the Enterprise being carved out of the hull. A very cool effect. Finally, since I cannot use Guinan’s development in the Character Development, I think the excitement about the mysteries surrounding her character just made her that much cooler.

Rank – Admiral (22 points). While Q may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he is a very popular character that has made several big impacts on the TNG. This episode is one where some argue he makes the biggest impact of them all in introducing the Borg to Picard and his crew. It has been hotly debated over the last three decades as to whether or not Q did Picard any favors here, it cannot be denied that this episode is an essential show to watch for the series. The episode itself is excellently made and is a lot of fun on repeat viewings.

If you would like to read other reviews from the Next Generation, click this link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Episode Review - The Forgotten (Enterprise, Season 3)

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

Overview – The Enterprise is badly damaged after a devastating Xindi attack that has left over a dozen crew members dead. They have a meeting set up with Degra, the Xindi-Primate scientist who developed the weapon that attacked Earth, and Jannar, the Xindi-Arboreal Council member, hoping to convince them of the truth behind the Sphere builders. As they attempt to form an alliance with the Xindi representatives, Tucker must come to terms with a letter he is asked to write for a fallen comrade and the emotions it is causing him to experience.

Score: 8/10 – As we wind down the Xindi arc that comprises the third season, we are given this treat of an episode that starts tying up a lot of threads that have begun throughout the season. Of the many highlights in this episode, I particularly enjoyed the opening memorial that Archer holds for the fallen crewmembers. I also liked how the Enterprise is still badly banged up from the previous episodes. With the exception of “Year of Hell”, this is one of the complaints that fans had about Star Trek: Voyager that was remedied here. The ship has been through an almost literal hell, and they have not been able to make the necessary repairs between the last two episodes. Even the crew are still sooty and unkempt, giving the happenings of the last few epsidoes weight and significance. It is a nice attention to detail. We had some great development of several characters and the fractious Xindi council continues to splinter. Malcom Reed shows some of his grit by completing his assignment with extinguishing the plasma fire on the hull of the ship. Phlox gets to show the different ways that he can be supportive of his crewmates, ranging from a nurturing role with T’Pol to a more stern, tough-love approach with Tucker. Archer continues to show the strains of command from this difficult mission, while Tucker and T’Pol continue to sort through the psychological burdens that the mission has placed upon their shoulders. There is a good dose of action with the arrival of the Reptilian Xindi vessel, and we finally see some members of the Xindi Council begin to accept the truth of what Archer has been telling them. Most notably, Degra is showing his remorse for the weapon that he created, and takes the final step that begins his road to redemption by destroying the Reptilian vessel. Underlying all of this is a simple yet poignant story of Tucker having to write a letter to the family of one of his fallen crew, forcing him to acknowledge the grief he bears over the loss of his sister. In the end, we see that those that have fallen will not be forgotten, at least not in the minds of those who worked with them. Overall, a great episode.

Relevance – 3 points. Points are scored for T’Pol’s continuation struggles to deal with her trillium addiction, Tucker finally accepting the impact of his sister’s death, and finally for Degra destroying the Reptilian vessel with the hope that it will ensure that Enterprise can reach the Xindi council. The repercussions of this action will have a significant impact in upcoming episodes. There could also have been points scored for the reference to the episode “Carpenter Street” when Archer shows Degra and Jannar the bodies of the Reptilian Windi they found and killed in 2004, and to the crewmen killed in an earlier episode as “The Forgotten” begins with their memorial.

Continuity – 3 points. For character continuity, everything checks out. A lot of people seem to try to ignore orders, from Reed’s refusal to stop his work with the plasma fire as his EVA suit reaches dangerous levels, to Tucker bargaining down Phlox’s order to get some sleep so that he can keep the ship together all fit with their characters. Story wise things also check out, especially the fact the Enterprise is still heavily damaged. If not for Degra’s assistance, the Reptilians would have finished them off for good. Universe continuity also checks out here.

Character Development – 3 points. I at first thought that this show would do more to develop Archer’s character, and maybe T’Pol, but it soon becomes apparent that it is Trip that gets the most attention. His order to write the letter to crewman Taylor’s family weighs heavy on him, and it is a catalyst that forces him to accept that he is feeling conflicted for mourning the death of his sister Elisabeth more than the other 7 million people killed in the Xindi attack. This also leads to some significant development for T’Pol as she bonds with Tucker over this. Archer also gets some significant growth as he continues to address the desperation of their situation. Phlox and Reed get some good moments as well (and of course, Hoshi and Travis are given some token lines, but that’s about it).

Social Commentary – 2 points. Coping with the tragedies of our lives, looking for internal healing, or remembering the forgotten. Any of these themes can apply to this episode. We tend to take the loss of loved ones harder than the loss of complete strangers, and sometimes we feel guilt over this fact. We recognize that all lives matter, but we feel that by feeling the loss of those we knew more keenly than the loss of strangers that we have somehow failed. I think the point that Trip came to in that it was fine to grieve his sister more than to grieve the other millions of lives that were lost is one we can all acknowledge. Yes, he knew that Elizabeth was no more important than any other life lost, but she was more important to him.

Cool Stuff – 2 points. A point is scored here for the plasma fire and the hull walk needed to fix it. I also score a point here for the first appearance of Seth MacFarlane as an engineer that Tucker berates. MacFarlane, who is best known for creating the animated show “The Family Guy” (and, this fall, Trek-like “The Orville” which appears to be a parody/homage to Star Trek) is a huge Star Trek fan. While his humor tends to lean more to the raunchy side of things, I almost always appreciated his Trek references in his work. At a convention several years ago, Connor Trineer admitted that when Seth was on the show, he had no idea who he was or what Family Guy was. When he realised how big MacFarlane was, Connor thought that maybe Trip shouldn’t have yelled at him so much.

Rank – Admiral (21 points). This episode gives us necessary plot movement to advance the story that arches across the season while delving into the human condition that deals with loss and tragedy. Some fine acting gets us set up for a solid end to this year-long adventure. 

If you would like to check out my other episode reviews for Enterprise, simply click here.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Episode Review - Relics (Next Generation, Season 6)

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

Overview – The Enterprise receives a distress call from the USS Jenolan, a transport ship that had been missing for seventy-five years. They find it on the surface of what they will learn is a Dyson sphere, a large structure built around a star. On the Jenolan they discover a pattern that has been stuck in the transporter buffer. Upon activating the transporter, they rematerialize Captain Montgomery Scott. Scotty attempts to rematerialize a fellow crewman, but his pattern had degraded too much. As the Enterprise studies the Dyson sphere, Scotty tries to adjust to living in the 24th century. He clashes with Geordi in engineering, finds that members of the crew are disinterested in his stories of past adventures, and eventually has to accept that all of his former friends and colleagues are most likely dead. It is a crisis with the Dyson sphere that finally brings two generations together to save the ship and crew.

Score: 9/10 – This is one of the fondest tales for fans of the old series to be in the Next Generation. When word came out that Scotty was going to be brought back, fans were understandably excited. When the show aired, they were not disappointed. The story was great, the acting was wonderful, and it was a pleasant romp down memory lane. I thought the use of the transporter to bring back Scotty was not only clever but appropriate for our favorite Scotsman. The pairing of him with Geordi as a source of conflict was well done. The concept of the Dyson sphere was something the writers had been toying with, and it was the story of “Relics” that allowed them to do so. So many things about this episode are noteworthy, but I want to give a special shout out to the recreation of the Enterprise bridge from the original series. The detail that they employed, even down to the sound effects, was touching. There was a plan to have footage from previous episodes that would have had Scotty interacting with his former crew, but budget restraints sadly led to that being omitted. It was unfortunate, to say the least, but beyond that, this was and is a special event episode.

Relevance - 3 points. It’s Scotty! That has to be relevant! Besides, he refers to three classic episodes: “Elaan of Troyius”, “Wolf in the Fold”, and “The Naked Time”. Those alone could be worth the three points, but wait, there’s more! We eventually got Geordi swapping tales with Scotty, sharing a moment from “Galaxy’s Child”. Plus, we have Data in Ten Forward offering Scotty an alcoholic drink for when Scotty could not stomach the synthetic scotch he was offered. When asked what kind of drink it is, he tries to determine what it is before replying “It is green”. This is a direct reference to the original series episode “By Any Other Name”, in which Scotty gives the same answer to an alien that he had been drinking with.

Continuity – 2 points. Character continuity gets a point here as everyone acts the way that they should have. Geordi is definitely a different sort of engineer than Scotty is, and this does lead to some understandable conflict between them. Geordi has shown a similar lack of patience with other crew members that are just a bit out of their league on the Enterprise (looking at you, Barclay). I almost deducted the point for Troi giving Scotty a warm kiss on the cheek before he left at the end of the episode, but there was a deleted scene that would have established a history between the two. Still, I see Troi as being a warm and compassionate person who truly would have done that for him. Speaking of the final scene, the brief exchange of looks between Scotty and Worf was perfect. I am taking a continuity point away for the line that Scotty uses when he rematerializes on the transporter pad of the Jenolan. When he learned that it was the Enterprise that rescued him, he claimed that he knew that James T Kirk would have pulled the Enterprise out of mothballs to go looking for him. It would later be established in the film “Generations” that Kirk was lost and presumed dead, and Scotty was present when it happened. Sorry, that is a point lost for story continuity. Universe continuity does check out, so we still score two points here.

Character Development – 2 points. One of the reasons that I love this episode is that Geordi gets some much needed attention. He has great chemistry with Scotty, even though they are very different in their approach to engineering. Geordi treats his title as chief engineer as a job, Scotty treated it as a sacred calling. This put the two at odds initially, but Geordi came around to seeing Scotty for who he is. I am also counting Picard’s development here. After Geordi, Picard is the character that has the most interaction with Scotty. Their shared scene in the holodeck on the bridge of the Enterprise (no bloody A, B, C, or D) is a great one, as the two bond over lost loves (previous ships they has served on). We learn that although Picard loves the Enterprise, he misses his first command, the Stargazer.

Social Commentary – 3 points. How do you stay relevant when you become more associated with the past than the present? That is the issue tackled here. It is poignant for both those in the older generation and those in the younger. The young among us must acknowledge the wisdom and experience that comes from those that are older, while those who are older must learn that the world keeps moving right along without them. A clash and then combing of two generations is always relevant.

Cool Stuff – 3 points. You cannot help but score a point for the recreation of the original Enterprise bridge. That is still one of the best things in all of Star Trek for me. I also am scoring a point for the Dyson sphere. While I remain skeptical that such a structure could ever be constructed, it is pretty cool to see. Plus, the fancy flying of the Enterprise as they try to escape the sphere is cool. Finally, a point scored for James Montgomery Scott himself. If nothing else, this is a really cool thing about this episode.

Rank – Admiral (22 points). Honestly, I have never met someone who actually disliked this episode. They may not have seen its merit the way most fans do, but not to the point of hating it. If there are any out there that do, please don’t tell me. I may have to ask that your fan club membership be revoked for not fully appreciating how wonderful this episode is. It is how you do nostalgia properly, and it gave us one last adventure with James Doohan in his defining role.

If you would like to read other reviews from the Next Generation, click this link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Episode Review - Heart of Stone (Deep Space Nine, Season 3)

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

Overview – Kira and Odo find themselves on an unstable moon, hunting for a member of the Maquis. An earthquake traps Kira in a strange rock that threatens to slowly engulf her, and Odo is torn as several attempts to free her fail. Back on the station, Nog has completed the Ferengi Attainment Ceremony and must now purchase his apprenticeship. His choice is an odd one, as he approaches Commander Sisko with the idea that he will sponsor him as he applies to Starfleet Academy and become the first Ferengi in Starfleet. Sisko is skeptical and tries to get to the motivation of the young Ferengi’s request.

The start of Kira's trap

Score: 8/10 – I hovered between a 7 and 8 for this episode. The acting is strong, especially from Aaron Eisneberg as Nog, and the stories being told a solid. There is not too much in the way of action, but the drama is compelling for the most part. In the A story, Kira is in jeopardy while Odo desperately tries to save her from a slow but certain demise. This is meant to reveal the love that Odo has likely had for Kira for some time, and explains part of the reason that he chose to remain with DS9 instead of going to join the Great Link. The surprise twist of having Kira turn out to be the female changeling in disguise was clever, especially with not having Salome Jens name listed in the opening guest star credits. In the B story, Nog surprises many of us by asking Sisko to sponsor him as he wants to be in Starfleet. It is interesting to note that between the two story lines, it is the B story that seems to have the most impact on the overall series. Like Sisko and Dax, many of us would not have expected Nog to give up Ferengi tradition and joing Starfleet, but that is indeed what he wants. This also sets up for some great stories and development for Nog’s character, which means we will see some pretty good growth. For many fans, this is where Nog truly started to shine.

Nog makes his pitch

Relevance – 3 points. There are two significant over-arching stories that really take root here. The love between Odo and Kira really starts to bear fruit here. This scores a point. We also see Nog begin his path to becoming a Starfleet officer, so we score a point here as well. The female Changeling keeps her promise made at the start of the season when she promises Odo that she will visit him again. That scores a third point. We have reached the maximum number of points for this category, but we can also consider the first mention of Ensign Villix’Pran, a Starfleet officer that is talked about a few times but is never seen on screen. Apparently, in his yet to be identified species, the males reproduce by budding (although this could be asexual reproduction, and that could make his gender irrelevant). He is on the list of characters that we have heard about a lot but not seen, right there with Captain Boday and the Chef from “Enterprise”.

One of many attempts to free Kira

Continuity – 3 points. Seeing as how the Kira we see for most of the episode is the female Changeling in disguise, the seemingly contradictory fact of her character being in love Odo can be ignored. In fact, it was the major plot device that helped Odo figure out what was going on. As far as character continuity goes, everyone checks out here. In the B story, Sisko and Dax are understandably skeptical of Nog, and even when he accomplishes the task set before him, Sisko pushes for a better understanding as to why. Quark is understandably against Nog’s choice, and in a first, Rom stands up to his older brother. He tells Quark that while he may make the business decisions, only Rom can decide what is best for his son. For the first part of the episode, Nog seemed to be acting a little out of character with him being serious about joining Starfleet. When his reasons are finally revealed, it makes sense and points the character in an excitingly new direction. Story and universe continuity is also maintained here.

Sisko is not sure of what he is being offered

Character Development – 2 points. Of course, Odo is the main character that receives the bulk of development here. We learn about his past, how he got his name, and his true feelings towards Major Kira. We also delve further into his inner conflict between his loyalty to his friends and his desire to be with his own kind. Many other main characters receive some attention as well, and it all revolves around Nog. There is Quark who is disapproving of his nephew. He is not in favor of this development and he will continue to voice it for the rest of the series. Then there is Sisko. He is suspicious of Nog’s true motives here, and gives him some tests. When he finally gets the truth from Nog, we see another step towards the mentor role that he will come to embrace with the young Ferengi.

Odo comforts Kira near the end

Social Commentary – 3 points. Two stories, two things for consideration. In the Odo story, there is the topic of the hidden love that many of us have held at some point. We hold back on acknowledging our feelings, but they are there. Nog’s story seems to be a little more relevant for more people, With Nog’s story, we learn about wanting to be more than what is expected from us. Nog saw his father’s talents for being a skilled engineer, yet he still pursued the business life despite not having the “lobes” for it. Nog saw much of his father in himself, and decided that he was not going to wallow in mediocrity. If you want to achieve your potential, then you need to ignore what everyone expects you to do and fight for it.

The truth is revealed

Cool Stuff – 1 point. By this point seeing Odo’s shape shifting abilities is well known, so the effects are not as high on the cool factor. The rock that is engulfing Kira just didn’t work well for me, so effect wise nothing was “cool”. What I did find cool was the raw emotion that Nog showed when Sisko kept denying his request unless he gave him a good reason. He just lets it go when he yells “I don’t want to be like my father!”. His following dialogue forces us to see this misunderstood Ferengi in a new light. The point here is all due to Aaron Eisenberg’s acting skills in likely what is the defining moment for Nog.

Nog is about reveal his own truth

Rank – Captain (20 points). No explosions, no funky new aliens, no deep issues tackled, but a strong episode based on strong character development and starting some integral story lines. A great episode from the third season. 

The inventory test

If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, please click the following link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Episode Review - Lineage (Voyager, Season 7)

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

Overview – B’Elanna discovers that she is pregnant. Her husband, Tom Paris, is excited, and B’Elanna is a bit nervous. While the crew rally around the new parents-to-be, B’Elanna is showing that she is a bit overwhelmed by the attention. When the Doctor discovers a deviation in the spine of the fetus, he offers genetic modification treatments to correct the issue. This prompts B’Elanna to begin considering if similar treatments could make the child look less Klingon. Things come to a head when she attempts to reprogram the Doctor to cause him to perform the modifications that she desires. As she recalls how members of her family treated her due to her Klingon heritage, she confides in Tom that it was her Klingon traits that likely drove her father to leave. In doing so she reveals her inner struggles with her heritage and identity.

Score: 8/10 – This is a character driven episode that is almost devoid on action and danger, and yet is as compelling based on the issues it deals with. While some may want to have more fighting and cool aliens, Star Trek often is strongest when it tackles complex social issues and delves into character development. Here we see Torres once again struggle with her Klingon heritage. Just when she seems to have come to grips with her Klingon traits, she now faces the fact that her child will also have physical Klingon characteristics. We see, via flashbacks, her troubled childhood and are taken deep into the sources of her anxiety. We are also given a good showing by Tom Paris who has fully cast aside his bad-boy attitudes and has transformed into a deeply devoted husband who is excited to become a father. It is also nice to see the crew have something to celebrate, and everybody gets in on it. Even Tuvok shows a Vulcan-like joyfulness for Tom and B’Elanna. The different crewmates vying for godparent is fun, though minor, and I like B’Elanna’s final choice. It fits in well with the story, (spoiler alert), and adds another layer to the relationship between Torres and the Doctor.

Relevance – 3 points. The pregnancy of B’Elanna will factor into a future episode “Prophecy”. The birth will occur in the finale “Endgame”. This scores a point for each episode. The issues that Torres has with her Klingon heritage has been building for several episodes throughout the series, as early as the first season episode “Faces”.

Continuity – 3 points. Character continuity checks out for everyone. I pretty much guessed how everybody would act with the news of the upcoming child. Neelix clamoring to be a godfather again, Janeway showing her motherly side, even Tuvok showing a fondness for parenting and offering advice for Paris. Story line works well, and the universe as we know it in Trek stays consistent.

Character Development – 3 points. This is a strong episode for B’Elanna and Tom. I have heard from many fans who dislike the character of Torres was that she is heavy on the drama (for one with Klingon blood). Well, this episode really ramps up that drama. I think it adds some much-needed depth for our chief engineer. I think that we gain a better appreciation of the conflict that rages inside her due to her mixed heritage. Personally, I always found that Roxann Dawson was able to capture the essence of how conflicted her character is, and this episode shows us her talents. Tom Paris also shows how far he has come since he started this adventure almost seven years ago. His carefree days are largely behind him, and while he still has his energy and youthful obsessions, it is better tempered now that he is committed to his relationship with Torres. Now that he knows he will be a father, it is even deeper. Great development for both of these characters.

Social Commentary – 3 points. A lot of us feel conflicted about who we are. It may not be like B’Elanna where we are at odds with our heritage, but there often comes to each of us a moment where we feel unhappy about who we are, and if given an opportunity to save someone we care about (our child, for instance), who among us wouldn’t be tempted to save them some of the pain we endured previously. I think in this episode we are given a look at how someone is at odds with how they perceive themselves and are willing to go to great lengths to change it, if not for themselves then someone else. In many of those cases, when we accept ourselves for who we are and what we are, whether it be our heritage or anything else, we can find peace within ourselves.

Cool Stuff – 1 point. I score a point for the idea that in the future we can give holographic representations of what an unborn child may look like. That was cool.

Rank – Admiral (21 points). Fans of Tom and/or B’Elanna will enjoy this episode, but so will any of us that appreciate a good character driven story that most people can relate to. A strong showing in the final season of Voyager.

If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Voyager, click on the link here.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Episode Review - Conspiracy (Next Generation, Season 1)

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

As I promised in my post "Celebrating 30 Years of the Next Generation", here is the first of ten TNG episode reviews. I will publish one a week in addition to other reviews and posts. Enjoy!

Overview – Picard is invited to a secret meeting of Starfleet captains by his old friend, Walker Keel. At the meeting, Captain Keel informs those gathered of a conspiracy that has infiltrated the highest ranks of Starfleet. Shortly after their meeting, and continuing on their route to the planet Pacifica, the Enterprise detects a debris field, which is revealed to be the remains of Keel’s ship, the Horatio. Picard confides in Riker about Keel’s suspicions, and after reviewing some of Data’s research on uncustomary personnel shuffling in Starfleet, Picard orders the Enterprise to head to Earth. Upon arriving at Earth, he is greeted by three admirals, including Admiral Quinn. Before long the crew find themselves battling fellow Starfleet officers who have been taken over by a race of parasitic-like aliens.

Dinner is served

Score: 8/10 – This episode bears the distinction of being (thus far) the only episode to be given a “viewer’s discretion advised” warning. This is due to the amount of violence. The events of this episode where set up in an episode earlier in the season, “Coming of Age”, in which Remmick and Quinn investigate Picard, attempting to see if he had been corrupted by the conspiracy. Things come to a head in this episode and we see that the conspiracy is due to a group of parasitic aliens that upon entering a humanoid can take control of the new host. It’s an interesting twist on the story, and action rules the day. We see lots of shooting, people getting thrown around, and the infamous exploding head. In fact, there is so much packed into this episode it almost seems to be too much. I think they could have strengthened this episode by making it a two-parter, but it is still a fun episode to watch.

The alien parasite

Relevance – 2 points. Definitely scores a point for picking up where “Coming of Age” left off. This is the first time that we see a direct follow up to a previous episode. We also score a point for “Drumhead”, where it was revealed that Admiral Norah Satie was instrumental in the uncovering of the conspiracy.

Riker disabled by Quinn

Continuity – 2 points. Story continuity is working here. As I researched this episode, I did come across a few thoughts that suggested that there were some inconsistencies, but as I thought about it myself, there was nothing that was glaringly obvious. An example of this is that when Worf and Geordi arrive at the admiral’s quarters after Riker calls for security, Quinn tells them that Riker slipped. Some people took issue with the fact that it is hard to slip on carpet, but the way I see it is that Quinn just wanted to get their attention somewhere else so he could surprise them. Well, he accomplished it. Universe continuity also works. Some have said that when the Vulcan admiral used the neck pinch on Riker, it should have immediately disabled him, but the admiral was under the control of the parasite, and it makes sense that he would not have mastered the neck pinch. Where I am going to take a point off is for character continuity. In the previously mentioned scene from Admiral Quinn’s quarters, Riker calls for security. Sprinting down the hallway come Worf (security chief) and…Geordi? In all fairness to La Forge, he was not a security officer, and all that ended up happening was that he was thrown through the door. That really could have been any security officer, but what is really bothersome to me is that Worf, the security chief who knows there is something afoot, responds to an emergency by arriving UNARMED! I am sorry, but I don’t care how much of a hurry Worf was in, he would have had the sense to have grabbed a phaser. I always found this part a bit off. Still, we get some great action out of it. We also, sadly, get to see Worf lose another fight. Oh well.

Remmec as the host of the mother creature

Character Development – 1 point. While the focus on this episode is Picard, that is about all there is. We learn that to Picard, when it comes to friendship, he will not always play by the rules. He shows that he trusts not only his gut instincts, but those of his closest friends. Aside from that, there is very little that moves along any character development.

Picard is not impressed with the main entree

Social Commentary – 0 points. As much as I enjoyed this episode, here is where I struggle to find anything to check off this segment. The old “Don’t trust the establishment” just seems a bit too nutbar-paranoia for my liking. I really don’t mind that this episode doesn’t give us a lot to think about with respect to our own society. A good, fun episode does not have to be a poignant one. It just won’t score you anything here.

During the fight with Quinn, Doctor Crusher is the only one smart enough to bring a phaser

Cool Stuff – 3 points. One point scored for the parasitic invaders. I liked the fact that you could detect them by the presence of a gill on the back of the neck. A clever way of identifying who your enemies are. I am also scoring a point for exploding head. Never has there been such a gruesome effect in Star Trek, and it still is noteworthy. I am scoring a third point for a quick “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” picture that Data comes across when he is researching Starfleet activity. There is a picture of a bird with a human head that looks a bit like Gene Roddenberry’s. Below it is written “The Great Bird of the Galaxy”, which is one of the nicknames of the beloved Star Trek creator. It happens at about the 16-minute mark if you want to see it. I neat little Easter egg.

The Great Bird of the Galaxy

Rank – Captain (16 points). Personally, I think this is one of those episodes everybody should see at least once. I have always enjoyed how this episode deviated from the typical Star Trek flavor. While I am glad that Trek is generally not like this, a little variety spices things up nicely.

Likely the most gruesome scene in Star Trek

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Star Trek's first Bolian