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. 

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