Monthly Archives: February 2019

Episode 5-18, Cause and Effect

Cause and Effect is fun. Watching shows on streaming is odd because they were always designed to have a few minutes long commercial break which gives the show time to transition between acts, sort of like waiting for stage hands to dress the stage in live theater. And a lot of episodes feel rushed because they no longer have a break, but this one actually benefits from the compressed time and makes the time loop disaster more urgent. Overall the story is very basic and the same few scenes play out roughly the same each time, but it’s a fun episode and the surprise Kelsey Grammar as captain is pretty cool, too.

Episode 5-17, The Outcast

The Outcast is an incredible episode. First of all the dialogue is incredibly well written, the chemistry between Riker and Soren is excellent, and the story is first rate classic Trek. It’s so good, Geordi grew a beard! But seriously, this is vintage Trek in using sci fi to explore contemporary social issues, in this case gender issues, but also gay and lesbian issues. Yet other than a good speech at the end that makes the case for treating people who are different no better or worse than “normal” people, the real weight of the episode is in getting to know Soren and seeing that relationship evolve naturally so that we care about Soren without having to be told how and what to think. This episode builds genuine empathy for Soren. Great, and heartbreaking episode.

Episode 5-16, Ethics

Ethics is another of the great Trek episodes. Part of its greatness is that it has elements of an over arching story with Worf’s son, Alexander. Having this history already in place makes the “miracle” of Worf’s recovery a legitimately earned emotional element and not just a convenient plot resolution. But what really makes this episode great is all the ethical concerns around Worf’s decision to want to commit suicide, which Riker is opposed to but Picard respects, and Beverly’s concern with a doctor who takes too many risks, even if it might save lives and which, again, Picard goes along with. The episode does make it clear which side they agree with but the episode is strong enough to still leave you mulling over all possibilities as being valid.

Episode 5-15, Power Play

Power Play is great right up until the “prisoners” give up and go back to the surface. But even with a convenient ending it was a fun episode, not groundbreaking, but fun. Episodes like this are part of the reason why the show sort of drags since it’s just a basic scifi story that doesn’t really do anything bigger. DS9’s story arcs made for even simple stories to at least feel like they were part of something bigger.

Episode 5-13, The Masterpiece Society

The Masterpiece Society starts as if it’s going to be a season 1 or 2 quality episode but then halfway becomes a very interesting philosophical dilemma and saves this to be obd of the much better episodes. What’s best here is how natural the plot unfolds: dangerous star core drifts too close to a planet and could kill all the inhabitants, the society is genetically engineered and outsiders would disrupt their society, Picard helps them and saves them from danger, but in the act of saving them upends their way of life probably beyond repair. Even Troi screws up and gets romantically involved when she shouldn’t have. And in the end the damage is done and there was no way it could have gone any different. Fascinating philosophical dilemma and a great example of why Trek is the best.

Episode 5-12, Violations

Violations is an uncomfortable episode since it deals with a mind reader who uses his ability to basically rape people. There’s no other mystrey, it’s strictly about someone who commits acts of violence and ends with Picard saying the seeds of violence are in everyone, it’s just a matter of some people giving in to it. Honestly, other than telepathy, there’s no sci fi here, it is just a story of someone who commits evil. And I’m not sure the episode is entirely successful since it never really deals with how and why someone might do this, unlike a show like Mindhunter whuch explores these types of things in detail. Star Trek isn’t really equipped for this sort of story and so I think that while they deserve credit for attempting it, it still doesn’t really work as a good or compelling or important episode.

Episode 5-11, Hero Worship

This was the first episode I wasn’t able to watch on its first run because I was in boot camp when it aired. I remember missing watching Star Trek the most when I was at Great Lakes. Funny, I hadn’t thought about that in decades. Anyway, this is a really good episode that deals with some serious traumatic issues and the young man who plays Timothy does a very nice job. The best moment, however, is Data explaining how much he’d give up just to enjoy an ice cream sundae. Spiner as an actor never ceases to amaze.

Episode 5-10, New Ground

New Ground is very good in dealing with Worf and his son, Alexander. In fact, the boy who plays Alexander does a fantastic job, he’s a talented young actor. The B story with the out of control wave was, while not particularly exciting (and even a little convenient) expresses the out of control emotions of Alexander and the challenge both he and Worf will face. This is also the first time in all 5 seasons so far where Worf and Troi have a meaningful scene together.

Episode 5-9, A Matter Of Time

A Matter Of Time is weird. The twist at the end was actually pretty good, but the lazy acting by Matt Frewer (he’s SOOO obviously not trustworthy) means the only tension is on what sort of con he’s running and not on the philosophical consequences of knowing the future. Also the science in this episode is bad even by Trek standards. Not a terrible episode, but slightly below good.

Episode 5-8, Unification Part II.

It’s too bad the conclusion to a great setup was all based around a totally hairbrained idea of the Romulans invading all of Vulcan with only 2000 troops in stolen ships. Also, Romulan Tasha is basically a Bond villain who gives away the whole plan in a monologue. At least Spok was excellent and it’s impressive to see him sort of tower over Picard, though Stewart more than holds his own with Nimoy. Even if this episode is sort of a letdown, it is still a great 2 parter.

Episode 5-7, Unification Part I

This episode could have been a movie, it’s even paced like one where each scene is allowed to breathe and let the actors really dig into their roles. Mark Leonard as Sarek gives a fantastic last performance and even the junkyard quarter master is a great character. TNG also handles original Trek characters well because rather than just playing to fan service with Spok, the episode is emotionally built around this legend of a character. Fantastic episode and easily top 5.

Episode 5-6, The Game

UGH. The ONLY thing good about this episode is Ashley Judd and even then she plays such a cutesy girlfriend for Wesley that it’s kind of embarrassing seeing her play a character so different than the roles she normally takes, but she does have good chemistry with Wes. Otherwise… UUUUGGGGHHHH! This was a dreadful episode.

Episode 5-5, Disaster

I like a good disaster film where each character has to rely on their wits to solve the problems. This episode does a nice job of showing how each crew person handles a really bad situation, though the real stars were Troi, O’Brien, and Ro. I was surprised how well Troi handled the role and it was cool to see her relying on how Picard would have managed the situation. Nice to see Keiko and Worf with the delivery since she’s one of the only characters that is ever able to boss him around. Fun stuff.

Episode 5-4, Silicon Avatar

By all rights this episode should not work. The opening part on the planet is not the main emotional center (Riker seeing his potential date killed), the guest star is the main emotional center, the antagonist is from season 1 and is never a threat to the Enterprise. Yet, and perhaps because of Ellen Geer, the episode does work, especially when Riker disagrees with Picard’s idealism to communicate with the entity. In fact, Picard comes off as aloof to human suffering and even Data is more in tune with the needs of a parent who has lost a child. Interesting episode and well written in that it is a very economical script that gets the most out of material that in previous seasons would have failed .

Episode 5-3, Ensign Ro

Here marks the beginning of the BIG STORYLINE that DS9 sees to completion almost a decade later. I remember when this first aired and loved it then and it still stands up as one of the very best Trek episodes with Michelle Forbes killing this performance. She would have been great on DS9 since she is a better actress than Nana Visitor, but Nana’s role of Kira is a better character than Ro, so it all worked out. I also love how the writers are finding faults with the Federation as too idealistic and blind to the suffering of others. Great stuff.

Episode 5-2, Darmok

Darmok is a contender for greatest Trek episode ever. As someone who studies literature and mythology and language, the idea that metaphor as the central basis for a form of communication is as beautiful as it is fascinating. What really makes this episode work is Paul Winfield as Dathon because he totally owns this role with empathy and as if he really was part of an alien race. The conclusion when he sacrificed himself just to open communication was a fantastic touch and places him at the same level of greatness as a captain as Picard. All around perfect episode and a great example of Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

Episode 5-1, Redemption II

P art 2 is much more exciting and interesting than part 1. Aside from the fact that the Duras family would not suddenly need supplies from dozens of Romulan ships after less than half a days worth of fighting, the intrigue was first rate and the side story with Data was really good too. Great way to start the season, and I love the Yar connection to the Enterprise C.