Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Episode Review - New Ground (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

Overview – The Enterprise is headed to Bilana III where they will be assisting in the testing of a new form of propulsion called the soliton wave. Worf receives a communication from his adoptive human mother who is coming to the ship with Worf’s son, Alexander. She informs Worf that due to their age, she and her husband are unable to raise Alexander anymore. Worf suddenly finds himself to be a single parent. As he adjusts to his new responsibilities, the soliton wave causes an accident that endangers the entire ship.

Score: 6/10 – Well, Worf finally has to take responsibility for his son, something I personally thought he should have done when he first met Alexander. It makes sense that his adoptive parents cannot care for him any longer (side note, this is one of the last performances by actress Georgia Brown who played Worf’s mother. The actress passed away in 1992, shortly after the episode aired). This was always one aspect of Worf’s character that I felt the writers had difficulty developing. Worf was great at a lot of things, but being a father was one that this father had difficulties with. I don’t blame the character himself, but he did seem like a fish out of water when it came to his son. This episode does have some good moments, but it is a bit slow at times. It is refreshing to give Worf something more than just losing fights and offering sensible solutions that few pay attention to. The side storyline involves the new theoretical way of moving a starship, and it is this story that provides a dilemma that resolves aspects of Worf’s discomfort with raising his son. It is a convenient way of getting Worf to embrace his new parental responsibilities. Their bonding at the end is touching, it just takes a while to get there first.

Relevance – 1 point. This episode is important in introducing the element of Worf having his son on the ship. This will be significant for the several episodes to follow. It also is the last time that we see Helena Rozhenko. Besides that, not much that is relevant to the rest of the series.

Continuity – 3 points. Worf is definitely out of his element, and it shows here. He is responding the way we would expect him to. He wants to do what is right by his son, but I bet a big motivation for him to send Alexander to live with Worf’s parents had a lot to do with how uncomfortable parenting was to Worf. Other characters are also acting how we expect them to. Picard being first irritated by Worf’s lateness and later amused by his security chief’s new role fits, as does Geordi’s excitement about the new technology they were about to test. Story continuity and universe continuity are also intact here.

Character Development – 2 points. This is a Worf-centric episode that makes him a full-time parent. This is very significant in his development. It sets the stage for several father-son conflicts to arise in the years to come. Establish Worf’s uneasiness with being a parent and send him through the typical motions of one caught up in his situation. First, there is discomfort, followed with a by-the-book approach that shows limited success. Then there is the resignation at the first sign of trouble. There is then a threat or dilemma that forces the two together which brings them closer together. There is finally acceptance and a promise that things will get better. Pretty standard stuff here, but it is a first for Worf, so it amounts to a significant growth for his character.

Social Commentary – 2 points. Parenting is never easy. In fact, it can be quite intimidating. Worf, like many of us, is thrust into it with little warning and is not prepared for its challenges. At the end, he shows that there is no easy way to parent, but it is necessary to show the child that you love them and will be there for them. Once that has been achieved, it becomes more manageable. Something many parents (especially single parents) can relate to.

Cool Stuff – 1 point. It’s a cool idea to replace warp drive that gives a cool effect of the Enterprise being caught up in it. It gives us an interesting visual effect that sadly does not get further developed in the future.

Rank – Lieutenant (15 points). A mediocre episode that tells a good yet typical parenting story. It adds an element to Worf’s character that will make him more interesting in the future, and it is an episode that should be viewed to explain why Alexander is now aboard the Enterprise.

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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