Great end to an excellent 2 part story. One part I really liked was how Beverly used some of the tech they worked on last season in her fight with the Borg (the meta-phasic shield thingy technobable). Most of the credit goes to Spiner who does a great job of playing both Data and his crazy brother, Lore. These episodes would never work without his fantastic acting. I also like that they brought Hugh back, though I’m not certain making even a splinter faction of the Borg less threatening is a good idea. Knowing the Borg have a weakness sort of ruins the idea of the Borg, but it is handled really well in this episode.
I’ve never needed to comment on whomever has directed any of these episodes because they’re all filmed pretty much the same, but the one stands out, and not in a good way. The story is good, and the acting is very good, especially between Data and Troi, but the way it’s filmed with so many tight shots of the actors that the episode feels … small. For example, when the Borg are attacking (yea, Borg) the bridge of the Enterprise basically consists of Picrard’s head and whomever he is speaking with, nothing else is visible and so it really feels like they are on a cheap set. This is a real shame because this is otherwise a really good, action packed episode, but it’s dragged down by some unusual direction. I know this is nit-picky, but I’m well over 100 episodes into this show so you sort of get accustomed to how things “ought” to feel and look.
Fun episode, though this is one that stretches the audience’s ability to suspend their disbelief and accept Trek-science. This is also another episode that introduces an alien as central to the plot device, but spends so little time with them that all the show deals with are the effects of the alien encounter and nothing else. Trek is lazy like this sometimes and it’s frustrating since the most interesting aspects of an episode are never really explored. But, for what it is the episode is not bad.
Second Chances is the sort of episode that only a show that’s been on for 6 seasons can pull off well. Had this episode been made in the first 3-4 seasons it would have been pretty terrible, but because the writers have a firm understanding of the characters and know how far to push an otherwise silly idea – a crew member duplicated by the transporter – this episode is really quite good. And what makes it good is that it focuses more on Troi than on Riker and explores her feelings of having a second chance that slipped away years ago. Who wouldn’t want an opportunity to fix things that they screwed up, especially romantically, and this episode does a nice job of using a silly sci-fi concept to explore a uniquely human idea.
One of the greatest novels ever written, Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, contains a story told by one of the brothers called the Grand Inquisitor, a fictional account of Jesus’ return in medieval Spain. Jesus is arrested after performing miracles in the city square and is interrogated by the Grand Inquisitor (think the Spanish Inquisition). Jesus never once speaks during the whole story and just sits there letting his inquisitor tell him that the church does not need him coming back and screwing up everything the church has built. This episode is similar to that story, and the parallels to Kahless to Jesus are close without feeling like the writers went too far in making the comparison. But it’s a very intriguing idea to think about how a religious figure could perhaps come back and challenge the authority of the secular world. This is a really good and thought provoking episode; I’d rank it as one of the best.
Hey, it’s Gunian. Where the hell has she been this whole season? Also a whole episode with Dr. Crusher, and it’s actually pretty good! She’s such an under utilized character on the show and as an actor she has so much training as a dancer and (I think) fencer, that it’s too bad she never gets to really show off her talents. Overall this was a fun mystery solving episode where the culprit was a maniacal alien with a weak motivation. More important it showed the Ferrengi was being capable of being much more than just greedy weirdos and the Klingons as being capable of being scientists. However, since DS9 was already on at the time, I don’t think TNG should get much credit for fixing the issues with these two races, especially the Ferrengi. Still, fun episode.
Frame of Mind was … weird. I like the idea of the aliens messing with Riker’s memory to get access to information, but it just felt too silly. The great thing about Garak and the Obsidian Order on DS9 (and i guess even the Federation’s Section 31) was that you never knew how they were torturing people, you just it was plenty horrible. Here it’s just so overdone and techy-fancy. Besides, the DS9 episode Far Beyond the Stars did a MUCH BETTER job of dealing with insanity where Star Trek is a fantasy coping mechanism for a miserable person. I will say Frakes does a nice job in this episode, but it’s just not an episode that really works overall. Nice try, though.
The Chase is a fascinating idea for an episode that should have been split up into two parts and the extra money gone to better actors to play the Cardassian captain, the Klingon captain (this guy was a dolt), and the Romulan captain. Also, seeing Salome Jens playing a character that looks A LOT like a Founder is … unnerving. Though “her” character hadn’t yet been introduced on DS9, that show was already on the air and Odo looks not too different so I don’t know if there was going to be some sort of carry over here or not – or even if we’re supposed to assume the Progenitors in this episode are actually Founders – but either way, it’s weird.
This was a pretty good episode, but it was just too much story to fit well into 45 min.
Following up, even just partially, to The Inner Light (the flute episode), is playing with fire. The Inner Light is (I still believe) the greatest science fiction story ever told, and so doing anything that could injure that is tricky. This episode does a very good job of staying true to The Inner Light while also giving Picard something to actually have to struggle with. LtCmdr Darren is a great match for Picard, but you can tell they are almost to well suited for each other and that for was well as they work together, it will never really work. Such is the life of an ambitious Captain – forever alone. Excellent episode.