Category Archives: Television

Episode 7-14, Sub Rosa

The Oxford English Dictionary definition for dumb (7b) is “Foolish, stupid, ignorant (chiefly of persons)”. This episode would have been better had Beverly just read random entries out of the OED for an hour rather than having to witness this lousy episode. What the producers should have done upon seeing a script involving a Scottish “ghost” that has haunted the Crusher family for generations, they should have said “Welp, let’s just stop making episodes because we’re officially out of ideas.” Everyone involved in this episode ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Episode 7-13, Homeward

Image getting Paul Sorvino to be a guest star and then handing him this unfinished mess of a script. The best acting he ever did was in this episode as he kept a straight face all the way to the bank. To be fair it’s not a terrible episode, there are some interesting ideas here, but there is SO MUCH GOING ON between failing holodecks, a dying planet, an entire civilization (which seems to consist of about 20 people), a primitive young man who wanders onto the Enterprise, the Prime Directive being thrown out the window … it just goes on and on. Why they felt they had to make Paul Sorvino Worf’s brother was dumb, they had no chemistry together and even though they are not supposed to be related by blood, they were not believable as brothers with a past. And the main story of breaking the prime directive could have been good if they just stuck to it, but you never really get to know any of the people and they just wander around in a holodeck cave all episode. Season 7 is a real let down.

Episode 7-12, The Pegasus

Pretty good episode, but it seems the writers keep having to find something in everyone’s past to create a decent story, and I’m not sure I buy this story about Riker keeping this secret of the Pegasus for 12 years. Also, there was a much earlier episode with a rogue Admiral breaking all the rules to get his way and so this is sort of a retread of that episode, however the acting is good – I always liked Terry O’Quinn (especially on the great but forgotten Millennium) – and the Romulan captain was a good character, too. Overall a good episode, but the premise was weak.

Episode 7-11, Parallels

I’m not going to defend myself for loving an otherwise dumb episode, but I think the reason why this worked for me despite how bat-shit insane it is was that Worf nails his performance here and really sells being confused and jumping to new “realities”. I also liked how things gradually got worse and more militaristic as he jumped and I really loved the touch near the end with one of the Riker’s (full on crazy beard and panicked) begging not to go back because their reality has been overrun with Borg. Troi also gives a convincing performance as Worf’s wife and it reminded me of what will come on DS9 with him and Dax. Nutso episode, but I really enjoyed it.

Episode 7-10, Inheritance

Inheritance was a fantastically interesting episode. At first I thought this was going to be yet another season 7 “hey, it’s a new family member because we ran out of ideas” episode, but this episode subverted those expectations. First of all the act, the actress, Fionnula Flanagan, did a perfect job of being believable but also in a way that made you wonder if she really was Data’s mother. Only a brilliant actor could do this and she nails this performance. And while the B-story of her planet needing the Enterprise to save its molten core was dumb, the final act in which we learn she was another android made after Data but doesn’t know she’s an android is a fantastic idea that gives Data a very difficult decision to have to make: tell her or not. This could have been a really bad episode, but great acting and a really good 4th act make this one of the better episodes of the whole series.

Episode 7-9, Force of Nature

This was a really cool episode, it’s too bad it was never explored further. The idea that warp travel actually damages space and could cause massive damage is an interesting idea regarding Starfleet’s directive to seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go. The ramifications of other species, such as the Romulans and Cardassians, not sticking to the warp 5 speed limit is also interesting – but as far as I remember from DS9 none of this was ever explored in any depth and things moved on at warp 9 as usual. I also wish the sacrifice Serova made was more dramatic since she was a very important character but was not on screen long enough to establish her sacrifice.

Episode 7-8, Attached

Wildly uneven episode. Playing the diplomatic issues between the two alien races as nearly comedic steals away all the emotional impact of an otherwise interesting story line with Picard and Crusher. It’s never felt like a secret that Picard’s and Crusher’s feelings for each other run deeper than friendship, so it was nice to see that explored here, though they went too far – the episode should have just taken them to the verge of admitting feelings and then pulled back. Regardless, the other story line would have been good had the aliens not come off as dopey conspiracy minded dopes. There was a very good story hiding in all this mess that feels like it never got past a first draft and a looming schedule to meet. Too bad; this episode was a serious missed opportunity.

Episode 7-7, Dark Page

On the one hand this is a nice episode for Majel Barrett to showcase some more very fine acting, but on the other it’s an episode that has very little to do with anything Star Trek. True, we learn Troi had a sister who died and this had been kept secret from her all these years, but as the main story line it feels … like they didn’t have any better ideas and wanted to do some more dream sequences. Not that I’m against exploring the character’s personal lives, but this just felt like it was too melodramatic.

Episode 7-6, Phantasms

They must be saving all the show’s budget for the finale because every episode so far has been filmed on set with very little special effects. Anyway, this was not a bad episode, and I liked how they made Frued out to be an idiot, but they did get the part about the Id wrong. The workmen in Data’s dream were the Superego, the controlling force exerting pressure on the ego, not the id. Also, if I were Troi I don’t know how comfortable I’d be around Data ever again after having him stab her. Yes, he was not in control of himself, but that’s some serious trauma the writers just hand wave away. For a show about deep rooted psychological effects on the psyche – even if they come in the form of dumb, weird alien bugs – they really should not have had Data literally attack Troi with a giant, serrated knife as he overpowers her in an isolated and confined space.

Episode 7-5, Gambit II

Gambit II was better than part I. I love the scene when Data tells Worf he better shape up as his fort officer or he can go back to tactical but then also worries that he’s lost Worf as a friend. Great scene, and Data kills it when he’s put in charge of the Enterprise. The actor who played Baran, Richard Lynch, did a very nice job in both episodes, and he has a really great voice. Too bad he never got more work in the mainstream as an actor, he’s very cool. Also, the mercenary Klingon in this episode, Koral, played by the great basketball player James Worthy was amazing. Not only were his few lines delivered perfect, but him literally towering over Worf was very funny.

Too bad the whole premise of this two-parter was convoluted and not much of a regular TNG episode. Honestly, it felt like it could have been any old sci-fi episode from any number of sci-fi series. It just didn’t feel like TNG Trek.

Episode 7-4, Gambit I

This feels like the sort of episode they would make after looking at what DS9 was doing and the writers thinking to themselves that they also need some gritty aliens and some mercenary story line to keep the drama up. And it just kind of doesn’t work. Not that it’s poorly made, or badly written, or not well cast – it’s actually a really decent episode, except that seeing Riker and Picard and the rest of the crew play at being mercenaries (or whatever) seems silly; they’re better than that and it’s cringy seeing them act like this, even if it is a ploy. But – the tone is just wrong for a TNG episode.

Episode 7-3, Interface

This was a really good episode. Granted, they were riffing on VR and movies like The Lawnmower Man since that was new tech in the mid 90’s (and still kinda sucks 30 years later), but the story was much more focused on the human element and Geordi being convinced not just that what he was seeing was real (the VR), but that what he was feeling about his mother’s disappearance was real. This also had a nice element of Geordi (and Data) disobeying orders, and specifically Data doing so because of his friendship with Geordi.

Episode 7-2, Liaisons

Not a bad episode, in fact in earlier seasons this would have been quite good, but it doesn’t really do anything new. The aliens trying to provoke a response from everyone was a neat idea, but the episode spent so much time actually showing how everyone was being provoked that it lost sight of the fact that it was for the sake of studying human behavior, something we, the human audience, are quite familiar with. This episode needed a few more drafts to get at something interesting, especially Anna who was a mix between Stands With A Fist from Dances With Wolves, and Cathy Bates’ character from Misery. In other words, she was not a very original character and it didn’t take me long to figure out who she really was.

Episode 7-1, Descent II

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.

Episode 6-26, Descent I

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.

Episode 6-25, Timescape

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.

Episode 6-24, Second Chances

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.

Episode 6-23, Rightful Heir

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.

Episode 6-22, Suspicions

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.

Episode 6-21, Frame of Mind

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.

Episode 6-20, The Chase

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.

Episode 6-19, Lessons

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.

Episode 6-18, Starship Mine

Starship Mine is such a fun episode! Getting to see Picard sort of go commando onboard his own ship to thwart the people stealing (something) from the engine core was really cool. I also love how Data is learning to make small talk and the opening sequence showing how annoying it would be to be the captain of a starship would be with everyone constantly asking you for something, The energy beam slowly making its way across the ship was also a cool sci-fi device that added a layer of tension which kept the episode always moving forward. I’m not sure about ending the episode with a Mr. Ed reference, but overall this is a fantastic episode.

Episode 6-17, Birthright II

Excellent conclusion to this story. I realized while watching this that TNG is basically three distinct story lines: 1) Data’s story of becoming human, 2) Worf’s story of becoming (more) Klingon, and 3) the over-arching Q story of humanity on trial which everyone takes part in. In this story it’s all Worf, and what’s really well done is that while there is a love story here, what’s more central is Worf’s relationship with the young Klingon man, Toq. The story wisely allows Worf to influence Toq in hopes he will discover his Klingon’ness rather than just make it some silly love story of a half Klingon, half Romulan girl. This was a very well thought out episode, and I loved the touch at the end when Worf lies to Picard and Picard says “I understand” with a look that means he really does. THere was also the philosophical issue of allowing these Roumlans and Klingons to live in peace away from their centuries of hatred and war with each other and having Worf disrupt that raises issues of whether its possible for old hatreds to truly die. The episode doesn’t give an answer, but it seems to imply that they can’t be put aside so easily.Excellent episode.

Episode 6-16, Birthright I

This was a very interesting episode. I really liked the idea of Data having grown enough to now be able to dream and I loved that this was, in many ways, actually a DS9 episode. Too bad only Dr. Bashir is in the crossover, but he’s a good fit with Data and Georidi. Worf’s story is straight out of a DS9 episode, we even get to see him in his sneaking around black outfit that he would wear when he and Dax would do something dangerous. Of course this is part 1 or a 2 part-er TNG has a checkered past with finishing multi-part stories as well as they start them, but I’m genuinely intrigued to see how this plays out. Also, I love that James Cromwell was such a trekkie / trekcer.

Episode 6-15, Tapestry

Holy shit, what an episode! It’s remarkable how Stewart can carry this whole show just by himself when he has to. So many times he’s been the main focus of an episode and he just kills it every single time. I also love how the show has stuck with the framing device Q sets up from the very first episode of putting humanity on trial, even in an instance like this when it’s just one person’s experiences and the choices they make when young. And to have Q really get the better of Picard was great, especially when Picard is just a lowly Lt. being told by Troi and Riker that he’ll never be in command because he just plays it too safe. Great episode about life, about choices, and about Picard’s character as someone who, though he tries to be a reserved and deliberate person, is really, at heart (pun intended) a far more interesting person than he lets on. That’s why the end of the episode is great with him telling Riker a story in the ready from from his wild youth. Brilliant episode!

Episode 6-14, Face of the Enemy

Face of the Enemy could have been, with some tweaks to the script, a feature film. While initially seeing Troi altered to look Romulan seemed like a gimmick, the plot was really clever, exciting, and aside from the convenient character, DeSeve who knew all the answers to help Picard, this was a well thought out thriller. Best of all was Carolyn Seymour playing the Romulan captain, Toreth. She was Picard’s equal in every way and also gave us a sympathetic look at the Romulans, especially their unease with their own government. Toreth is an honest captain doing her best for her ship and her crew and had this been a film it would have been fascinating to see two great captains go up against each other. Troi was excellent this episode, too; she really owned the part of playing a Romulan and she really had fun this episode. Nice to see her get to do something more than ask people about their feelings.

Episode 6-13, Aquiel

Aside from it wrapping up a little too quickly, this is a very good episode with a good mystery at the center of it and some good tension between Riker and Laforge. I love how this episode plays off Laforge’s previous relationships with women and how that adds an extra layer to the tension, especially when she learns he real all her personal files. Had this episode been maybe just 10 minutes longer it would have had the time to wrap up better, but overall I really liked this and can see how DS9 has slightly influenced the storytelling to be a but more realistic concerning personal conflicts between the crew.

Episode 6-12, Ship In A Bottle

Another holodeck episode, but this one was pretty good, especially since they brought back Moriarty from 4 years ago. Nice that we get more Barclay, too. The best part was Barclay saying “end program” just to be sure they weren’t in the simulation, and with Barclay’s history with the holodeck it had a little extra meaning.

Episode 6-11, Chain of Command II

Chain of Command II is an all-time classic episode, not only because how how chilling it is, or how great the acting of Stewart and David Warner (as Madred), but also because it sets the tone for the Cardassians as brutal, cold, militaristic, and beyond any ability for empathy. They are perhaps the best villains in all of Trek outside of the Borg – in fact they might be better since they actually have a personality whereas the Borg are more insect-like. It’s also refreshing to see an actor play a bad guy as someone who seems to be a good guy. Warner doesn’t yell or scream, he’s methodical and cold in his cruelty and somehow that’s far more cruel than if he yelled and screamed all over the place. Brilliant episode and there really are only four lights.

Episode 6-10, Chain of Command I

The most interesting aspect of this episode is Picard being relieved of command and Jellico, who nobody likes, takes over. But I just can’t understand why Starfleet would send a veteran captain to do commando work. Worf? Absolutely. Dr. Crusher? Most likely not. But absolutely not Picard. I’m hoping that part two explains this plot with the Cardassians better, and I do believe the next episode is the great “there are 4 lights” episode, but so far part I, while pretty good, is not great.

Episode 6-9, Quality of Life

Quality of Life is the first truly excellent episode of the season (other than the Barclay one maybe). This is also the first time Trek doesn’t cheat when determining a possible new life form by allowing it to communicate, all we have to go on are the Exocomp’s actions and so the question of if they are alive or not is left open somewhat. Tying this episode into Measure of a Man was a good decision too because it gave Data great motivation to explore the Exocomps as well as refuse Riker’s orders. Rock solid episode.

Episode 6-7, Rascals

When the episode began with Keiko, Picard, Guinan, and Ro turned into children I immediately assumed this would suck. However, this was actually a very fun episode and all 4 kids did a great job, especially young Guinan and Picard. 12 year old Picard stamping his feet and yelling “now” over and over again is exactly how you would expect adult Picard to assume a 12 year old would act. The side story with the Ferrengi was not bad either, but Ferengi stories never get good until DS9. I also loved Riker speaking in pure technobabble to solve a problem. I feel like this episode was a lot better than it should have been given how much of a poor start season 6 is off to, but I’m hoping this marks a turnaround. We’ll see.

Episode 6-6, True Q

True Q is pretty good, mostly because the actor playing Amanda does a really good job of making the most of a sort of weak script. She does a good job of exploring what it’s like to be a Q, and DeLance is sufficiently creepy and inevitable in this episode. He also has a great line about Picard’s wonderful speeches. Still, this wasn’t anything amazing; I’m curious why this season is so far below the standards of season 5 (and 4). The show just feels… off somehow, like something is missing.