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 observing a stellar core fragment and discover that it is about to collide with an inhabited planet populated with genetically-engineered humans. As Picard and his crew discuss ways to save the colony, Deanna Troi forms a romantic relationship with one of their leaders, Aaron Connor. When the crisis is averted, the crew learn that their presence has caused unintentionally another problem among this “perfect” society.
Score: 4/10 – Oh Troi, why can’t the writers find a good romance story for you? “The Masterpiece Society” does try to give our beloved counsellor some attention in the romance department, but the spark and chemistry just do not seem to work here. The character of Aaron Connor is a tad on the dull side, and other than being physically attractive, I am not sure why Troi falls for the guy. The colony of genetically-engineered humans are just a bit too perfect, and they are not very interesting. The story moves along slowly, and it is only when the core fragment issue is dealt with that the interest begins to pick up. Hannah Bates (the first of three Trek roles for actress Dey Young) is sympathetic enough, and Ron Canada (also making his first of three Trek characters) is effective as Martin Benbeck, the representative of keeping the status quo. Even though these two characters are effective, they are unable to bring a lot of interest into the colonists. There are some good points, such as Picard’s debate with Connor, but you have to slog through a lot of boredom to get there.
Relevance – 0 points. This is one of those episodes where they do refer to some things that are recurring themes in Star Trek, mainly the thoughts towards genetically engineered humans. While this is a recurring theme throughout Star Trek, the events surrounding this episode are self-contained. We hear Picard and Connor banter the concept back and forth, but no mention of specific examples are given. In essence one can skip this episode and not miss anything relevant to the overall discussion of this theme, so it adds nothing.
Continuity – 3 points. Character continuity is intact here, although I was wondering about the likelihood of Troi falling for Connor. She seems to fall for the most unlikely men as apart from being physically attractive, there doesn’t seem to be anything that gives her a reason to fall for him. When I look at her track record, however, I think it fits her pattern. I particularly enjoyed Geordi in this episode, as he gets rightfully defensive about the colony’s attitude towards people with physical imperfections. His glee at the fact that his VISOR technology provides the key to saving them is appropriate. Story continuity does make it, though again I found the relationship between Troi and Connor to be a bit forced. I will also concede a point for universe continuity.
Character Development – 2 points. Troi is the focus, but this relationship does little to advance her character. Geordi also gets some good moments, but nothing that really helps discover things that we didn’t already know. It’s enough to score a couple points here, but that is about it. Again, if you miss this episode, you do not miss much.
Social Commentary – 1 point. The quest for perfection is shown in this colony (well, at least on paper; they really didn’t come across as anything but regular humans). There is also the idea that interaction with cultures external to your own can have unexpected influences. In all there were twenty-three colonists who wanted to leave the colony, creating a large disruption among those who remained. Still, how this concept was discussed really didn’t leave much for the viewer to sink their teeth into, so only a single point can be scored here.
Cool Stuff – 0 points. A dull episode where the most interesting guest characters are foils to a very bland character. John Snyder, who plays Aaron, has a much more interesting character in his first Trek appearance as the Romulan Bochra. I don’t lay blame on the actor for this. I think the character was very one-dimensional and bland, and even the most talented actors are limited in what they can do with a role such as this.
Rank – Ensign (10 points). This is a bit of a turkey episode from TNG’s fifth season. It really does not do enough to make you care about anything until almost the end of the episode. There are some good points to it, so do not give it too much of hard time, but if you choose to skip it, I won’t judge you poorly because of it.
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