280. [TNG] Sins of the Father
SCORE: (5/5 stars)
As a courtesy for Riker’s tour of duty in the Officer Exchange Program aboard the IKS Pagh, the Enterprise accepts a new temporary first officer, a Klingon named Kurn. Kurn is strict, unforgiving, and enjoys telling people how under a Klingon ship they’d have been executed by now. He’s a hardass to everyone on the ship… everyone, that is, except Worf. Worf he treats with kid gloves. Checks to make sure Worf is comfortable. Has his cozy slippers on and his hot chocolate and a bubble bath and a teddy bear and the third season DVD of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Worf confronts him on the dishonor he’s receiving in private, and when his temper runs out, Kurn is satisfied. He had to make sure that his elder brother was still Klingon at heart.
Worf didn’t even know he had a brother. Kurn was staying with a family friend while Mogh moved to Khitomer. And it is Mogh and the events of Khitomer that have brought Kurn here. You see, recent information has come to light that implicates Mogh as a Romulan conspirator, who aided them in the destruction of the Khitomer colony. This has brought dishonor upon the House of Mogh, and Kurn wanted to see if Worf would have the Klingon blood to defend the honor of his house. He certainly does, and asks Picard for leave to go to Qo’noS. Picard will do him one better: he’ll take the Enteprise there.
When Worf comes to defend his family’s honor at the High Council, Chancellor K’mpec takes him aside and tells him that what he’s doing is senseless and needless. If he fails, he will be guilty of his father’s crime and sentenced to die. K’mpec, in a very un-Klingon-like manner, tells Worf his life is more important than his family’s honor, and to give up this fight. Duras, another member of the High Council (and descendant of the Duras that was a thorn in Jonathan Archer’s side), seems to have a vested interest in maintaining Mogh’s guilt and dishonor. He even sends assassins to kill Kurn when Kurn refuses to stand down from his support of Worf, though he survives the assault.
279. [TNG] The Offspring
SCORE: (5/5 stars)
[Fair warning up front: if you have ever lost a child, this episode is
probably going to hit you hard.]
It’s the first episode directed by Jonathan Frakes! He’ll go on to direct many episodes of TNG as well as the films First Contact and Insurrection. Because of this, a line of dialogue mentions that Riker’s out on personal leave for the majority of the episode. Data’s just returned from a cybernetics conference and has kept himself locked away in a lab during every off-duty hour. Finally, he is ready to showcase his new project to Geordi, Deanna and Wesley. They shuffle into the lab and find a brand-new android. Data introduces them to Lal… his child.
Picard is initially apprehensive about Data having constructed a new android, but every point he brings up, Data merely rebuts by comparing it to human procreation and parenting. It takes a while for our captain to warm up to the idea when Data’s procreation doesn’t involve passing on of genetic material (though Lal’s brain is copied from Data’s structure nearly identically) or emerging through a birth canal, but he eventually is able to come around to the idea. After all, Data is a life form. And life procreates.
Data intentionally creates Lal featureless and androgynous because he wishes it to choose its own appearance, and it eventually settles on the form of a human female. Data’s able to improve upon Soong’s external design and gives Lal more accurate color in the eyes and skin. Very quickly he begins to engage in parenting and teaching her about relationships, objects, senses, and what it means to be human… well, as much of it as he’s able to understand, anyway. Upon Wesley’s recommendation, he decides to send Lal to school so she can learn to socialize with other children, but it doesn’t go so well. They’re scared of her and laugh at her.
278. [TNG] Yesterday’s Enterprise
SCORE: (5/5 stars)
Due to the nature of this episode, we get an early (and memorable) scene with Guinan introducing prune juice to Worf. “A warrior’s drink,” he proclaims, and forever more will he be drinking this drink and taking regular shits. But he’s called to the bridge because of a space thing that pops up nearby. They’re not able to accurately determine what the anomaly is until a starship passes through it… and everything changes.
The lighting is darker. The captain’s chair is alone and higher up. The uniforms are more military, with belts and shoulder straps and weapons galore. Riker and Picard have a much more adversarial relationship. And Worf is no longer at tactical… or on the starship. In his place is Lieutenant Natasha Yar. And the starship that just came out of the anomaly? Why, she’s just some old ship with the registry NCC-1701-C. That’s right, the Enterprise-C. She’s banged up like she just escaped from a fight, and the crew aboard have suffered heavy injuries and deaths.
Picard debates whether or not he should reveal to them what happened, but decides to tell Captain Rachel Garrett the truth. She’s traveled 22 years into the future, and what a future it is. The Federation has been mired in a two-decade-long war against the Klingon Empire, with billions dead and a Federation defeat looming on the horizon. You see, the Enterprise-C was protecting a Klingon outpost from a Romulan attack. But falling into the rift created by the Romulan weapons, they escaped into the future and the impact of the ship bravely dying in defense of a Klingon colony is no more. It seems like the fate of the Alpha Quadrant hinges on one little ship named Enterprise.
Are you going to review Into Darkness?
Yes, I am, but not anytime soon. First, I have to watch it, which I will be doing in about 24 hours. Then I have to reach it in the chronology. Since it takes place in the alternate reality, I consider that a branch-off from 2387, when Nero and Spock go back in time to create the reboot universe. So Into Darkness will actually be the last bit of Star Trek I review barring another film or TV series coming out between now and 2016, when I project to have finished my reviews at my current rate.
277. [TNG] A Matter of Perspective
SCORE: (3/5 stars)
It’s a genuine murder mystery as Riker is beamed aboard the Enterprise the split-second that the space station he was on explodes, killing the sole scientist aboard, Dr. Apgar. That’s only the start of Riker’s troubles. You see, the explosion is under investigation as a potential murder… and Riker is the primary suspect. Worse still, this society operates on the legal basis of “guilty until proven innocent.” While the investigator demands that Riker be extradited to the surface for trial and conviction, Picard reserves the right as a Starfleet captain to provide judgment over whether extradition is to be done. He won’t rule it out completely, but he won’t just throw Riker to the wolves either.
Using the holodeck to recreate the space station, and testimony of the three witnesses (Riker, Mrs. Apgar, and an assistant researcher) to recreate the scenes that took place aboard it, we get three very different tellings of what went down on the station, but the similarities are thus: Riker had arrived to check up on Apgar’s research. Apgar is apprehensive about the visit and worried that Starfleet will pull funding without a result, despite Riker’s insistance that they really just want to know how it’s going along. Mrs. Apgar takes Riker to guest quarters aboard the station as the Enterprise had left to take care of other business, and either she or Riker makes a pass at the other person. Dr. Apgar walks in on the thing, gets angry, and a physical altercation happens. (Though who wins that fight varies wildly on the telling.) Apgar threatens to report Riker for this incident, and has both his wife and assistant beam down to the planet while he makes preparations for… something. Riker beams away, and according to at least one model, opens fire on Dr. Apgar mid-transport, accidentally hitting the station core and destroying it.
The truth, however, is not to be found in any of the eyewitness testimony. (A true testament to the unreliability of personal recollection; even when Mrs. Apgar’s story is almost completely the opposite of Riker’s, Troi insists she was not sensing dishonestiy.) A form of unknown radiation has been hitting the Enterprise at regular intervals, with enough power to melt holes in solid duranium. More interesting still, the station explosion happened 4 intervals before the radiation spikes. They determine that Apgar was not concerned over the lack of progress with his device, but that he’d actually finished it and weaponized it and was concerned that Starfleet would learn of this before he could sell to a higher bidder. The station’s engine converted harmless radiation surges from the planet’s surface to Krieger waves, and the recreation of the engine on the holodeck was having the same effect. (Wat.) They determine that the station exploded because Apgar attempted to use Krieger waves on the dematerializing Riker, and it caused a feedback loop that destroyed the station. Mystery solved: murder by suicide.
276. [TNG] Deja Q
SCORE: (4/5 stars)
While attempting to divert a small moon that is rapidly deorbiting toward an inhabited world, the Enterprise is paid a visit by our favorite naked deity, Q. Naked?! Why is he naked? As he explains after getting some clothes on that he hates, he’s been kicked out of the Q Continuum and stripped of his powers. He’s now as human and mortal as the crew of the Enterprise… so he claims, anyway. Picard has no inclination to believe in, and indeed suspects Q of being responsible for this deorbiting moon. Q’s power really is gone though, but his vast intellect remains, and he offers that to assist in stopping the moon.
Of course, Q is still thinking like a Q, and his initial solution to divert the asteroid moon is to “change the gravitational constant of the universe.” This does, however, give Geordi an idea to extend a static warp field over the moon which would lower its rest mass, allowing a fleet of ships to tractor it out of the way. But as they attempt to do this, an energy alien species called the Calamarain show up. They’ve caught wind that Q is mortal now, and he wasn’t exactly… nice to them back when he was a god. They’ve taken advantage of his vulnerability and begin attacking the Enterprise. They’re able to repel them, but with this comes the realization that Q has made many enemies in his lifetime and should he continue to be on the Enterprise, it makes them a target. Many of the crew want Q gone, and Riker notes that this isn’t what he signed up for.
As the Enterprise makes another attempt to move the moon, the Calamarain return. Q realizes how much he’s put the Enterprise crew in jeopardy and, perhaps, is developing a twinge of a conscience, so he takes a shuttlecraft to lead the Calamarain away from the Enterrpise. Another Q, referred to as Q2 in the shooting script, shows up in the shuttle admiring Q’s change of heart and apparently selfless motives. He decides that Q’s learned his lesson and is welcome back into the Continuum. Q’s first act is to change out of the horrible clothes the Enterprise provided for him and into the classic captain’s uniform. His second act is to shrink the Calamarain down so they fit in the palm of his hand. And just as he’s about to threaten them again, Q2 shows up all “Dude wtf did I just tell you” and Q’s all “Naw man I’m just playin.” As thanks to the Enterprise for taking him in, he restores the moon to its original orbit and tries to engage everyone in festivities on the bridge, but none of them are having it. So he decides, since Data helped him understand what it meant to be human, that he’d give Data a gift: uncontrollable laughter.
275. [TNG] The High Ground
SCORE: (4/5 stars)
The Enterprise has arrived at Rutia IV to deliver medical supplies in the wake of terrorist attacks. Freedom fighters from the eastern continent have been demanding independence from the western continent and turned violent when their pleas weren’t heeded. When a bomb goes off near Dr. Crusher who’s having lunch, she quickly takes to caring for the injured in the blast, despite Worf and Picard’s insisting that it is not safe to remain on the surface and they must return to the Enterprise immediately. She refuses to cooperate and Picard is about ready to beam her up against her will when a terrorist pops in out of nowhere, grabs her, and they both vanish.
The Starfleet crew scramble to find her. Geordi, Data and Wesley get to work on figuring out the dimensional shifting technology the terrorists use to pop in and out of places, while Riker works with planetary security to see if they can track down the terrorists. While local authorities request Starfleet equipment to aid in their fight, since this is not a Federation world, they will not be doing that. Meanwhile, the terrorist leader Finn tries to get Crusher to eat, or tell him her name, or really anything. She practices passive resistance until he explains he kidnapped her because she’s a doctor and they need help. You see, the dimensional shifting technology they use is slowly killing them, and they’d like her to help treat the dying. When Riker releases a young member of the terrorist cell with a message for Finn that he wants to open talks to negotiate the release of Crusher, they respond by teleporting onto the Enterprise, killing several crewmembers, attaching a bomb to the warp core that Geordi only beams out in the nick of time, and kidnapping Picard.
Finn points out to Picard the hypocrisy of his situation. He claims to be uninvolved in this conflict yet has a trade agreement with one side. Finn actually welcomes Federation interference because he feels it will give his movement legitimacy, pulling up a moderator’s chair to negotiate the independence they desire. Unfortunately for Finn, the kidnapping of Picard gave the engineering team enough data on the shifting technology to track it to its source. Security forces storm the compound, arrest most people in there, and the head of security kills Finn by shooting him in the back, because she’d rather he be a martyr than a target for liberation. The Enterprise wisely backs out of the whole situation, a bad taste left in their mouth over the ordeal. Still, no clear answers are given about terrorism other than “Yeah, it sometimes works, and when it does, they quickly stop calling it terrorism.” Of course, that’s fine. If we had easy and clear answers about terrorism and the situations that necessitate them, we might live in a very different world right now.
274. [TNG] The Hunted
SCORE: (5/5 stars)
Angosia III is applying for Federation membership and Picard’s visiting its capital city to compile a report and recommendation. The leader of the planet is Zefram Cochrane! Well, not really, his name’s Nayrok, but he’s played by James Cromwell. You can actually get a pretty good feel for just how gigantic Cromwell is when he stands a good inch or two taller than Riker, who’s 6’5”. Everything seems to be going quite swimmingly. The people are very peaceful, abhor violence, and have just survived a lengthy war that they rebuilt very quickly from. But the demons of that war have not vanished, they’ve simply been… relocated.
When the Enterprise assists in the capture of an escaped prisoner named Roga Danar (not at all an easy feat, he uses military tactics to evade capture and restraint at every turn), Troi begins investigating him. She’s surprised at how violent he is, because she reads from him an entirely non-violent personality. While Nayrok says he’s just a criminal, they can find no criminal history of him, but instead learn that he was a soldier in the recent conflicts. He and the soldiers like him were genetically modified and psychologically programmed to be soldiers. When they came home, they couldn’t turn off their programming and would react violently to stressful situations. Instead of working to undo the programming, the Angosian society voted instead to exile them all to Luna 5. Originally it was just a colony for them, but soon it became a prison.
While Picard feels uncomfortable about the whole situation, he can’t interfere and so he must give Danar back to the Angosians. But the impossible happens—he is able to break free of a transporter beam, and leads Enterprise security on a chase all throughout the ship. Despite their best efforts, he’s able to steal away with a shuttle like he’s John Rambo. (This is some very good action for an early Star Trek episode.) He sets course for Luna 5 to liberate his compatriots. Picard and crew beam down to confront Nayrok about their poor treatment of their soldiers, blaming them for not doing enough to help. “But it was democratically decided to get rid of them!” they say as if that makes it okay. “Plus we can’t reverse their programming, we might need them for the next war!” At this point you almost WANT the soldiers to storm the capital and kill everyone. Well, they do the former. Nayrok begs Picard to help, but well, this is an internal matter and Picard can’t intervene. But what he can do is tell them they’ve got quite a mess to sort out before they can be considered for membership in the Federation. They beam away, leaving the leaders of the planet at the mercy of their soldiers. God help them.
273. [TNG] The Defector
SCORE: (5/5 stars)
Picard observes Data performing Shakespeare’s Henry V, act IV, scene 1 on the holodeck, which is a bonus since Patrick Stewart, renowned Shakespearean actor, is also playing one of the holographic players. As he gives Data critiques on his performance, he advises him not to copy too much from other performances, but to draw from within to find his own inspiration. This sends Data off on a B-plot where he tries to grapple with questions of human instinct and intuition, when he lacks those. Like most Data storylines, it’s left open-ended, which is one of my favorite aspects of his character. Rarely does he get a simple answer, or any answer, to the important questions of the human condition.
The Enterprise receives a distress call coming from the Neutral Zone. A small Romulan craft is requesting asylum from the Federation. He is pursued by a warbird which breaks off pursuit when it sees the Enterprise standing guard. Beaming aboard, the Romulan identifies himself as Setal, a low-level operative in the Romulan Empire who caught wind of a potential Cuban missile crisis. He is loyal to the Empire but fears the destruction a war between their peoples would cause and wants to stop it from happening. He alerts them to a base being constructed in the Neutral Zone… but the details he’s providing don’t seem to match up with their long-range scans of the system, and his low clearance shouldn’t be enough to provide them the level of detail he’s providing.
When Picard makes it clear that they won’t go into the Neutral Zone without better proof, “Setal” reveals he is actually Admiral Alidar Jarok, infamous for carrying out massacres on Norkan and most probably considered a war criminal by the Federation. Picard asks him what changed his mind after having served the Romulan Empire so brutally. The answer? He had a child, and he wanted to make the world better for her. He’d become an advocate for peace in the Emptire and had been relegated to a backwater outpost until he saw the orders for the construction of a base in the Neutral Zone to serve as a strike point against the Federation. The Enterprise visits the planet… but finds nothing there. The orders were false, deliberately given to Jarok to test his loyalty. And leading the Enterprise into the Neutral Zone, well… that’s just a bonus for the cloaked Romulan ships. Tomalak’s back to get his revenge. However, Picard anticipated this in a sneeze-and-you’ll-miss-it scene earlier in the episode, and his own escort of cloaked Klingon Birds-of-Prey uncloak to counter. Each side opts to go their seperate ways instead of all getting blown up. And Jarok? The poor sap. Tricked into turning coat, he takes a suicide pill, leaving behind a letter for his wife and daughter.
272. [TNG] The Vengeance Factor
SCORE: (2/5 stars)
The Enterprise is drawn into a tribal conflict within a people known as the Acamarians when an outcast caste (how many casts can an outcast caste cast?) raids a Federation science lab. Picard sets a course for the Acamar system to enlist the aid of Marouk, the Sovereign of the Acamarians. While Picard discusses ways to get the Gatherers brought back into the fold with the rest of Acamarian society, Riker starts getting friendly with Marouk’s servant, a girl named Yuta. And by friendly, we mean sex. (It’s Riker, do I have to spell it out every time?)
But Yuta isn’t all she appears to be. When they make contact with the Gatherers (which starts with a shootout and ends with Brull, the camp’s leader, being obnoxious on the Enterprise bridge), she touches one of the older members of the Gatherers when nobody is watching, and it kills him. Dr. Crusher begins investigating whatever agent killed him and discovered it was keyed almost exactly to his DNA. Studying Acamarian historical records, she finds other members of the victim’s family who succumbed to death in a similar manner, and discovers a fifty-year-old picture of Yuta, who hasn’t aged. They realize she is the assassin, and her final target is the leader of the Gatherers, a man named Chorgan who is having heated negotiations with Marouk for reintegration to Acamarian society. Riker is forced to vaporize her (as her genetic alterations make her resistant to the stun setting). Picard offers him some extended shoreleave at their next Starbase stop, and he probably needs it after what he had to do.
I really don’t have much to add about this episode. It wasn’t really about anything, the Enterprise was just there to observe a culture, but we didn’t really learn a lesson and the culture wasn’t even hyper-interesting. The most compelling part of the episode was Riker being compelled to kill Yuta, but since their making sex was really more of a casual fling, it didn’t have the emotional impact it should have. The episode should have focused far more on that, really developing their relationship so it took a severe toll on Riker, and the audience, at the end.
271. [TNG] The Price
SCORE: (2/5 stars)
The Enterprise is serving as the venue for negotiations for the rights to the first discovered stable wormhole, connecting the Alpha and Gamma Quadrants. (Now, I know what you’re thinking, but no, this isn’t the Bajoran wormhole.) Representatives of multiple governments are there to be the highest bidder, and the Federation is no exception. One species, the Chrystalians, haven’t arrived in person but they have sent a human negotiator by the name of Devinoni Ral. He and Deanna take to each other almost immediately and start making of the sex. Most of this is blatantly pandering fanservice. I understand the writers’ desires to give Deanna stuff to do on the show, but having her parade around in lingerie, or doing stretching exercises with Beverly in tight sweats is not exactly playing up to the quality of audience they intend to reach.
An unexpected buyer crashes the party: the Ferengi are rather incensed they were not invited to the table, but they are of course welcome to bid. When Picard decides he wants to investigate the wormhole to ensure that they’re not being sold a lemon, he has Data and Geordi take a shuttlecraft through. The Ferengi object to this, thinking the Federation is up to some subterfuge to preempt their claim to the wormhole, but Picard tells them they are welcome to launch their own probe. So two shuttles go in, though the Ferengi ignore all warnings about anomalous readings and refuse to share their own data even if it would be in their best interest. Indeed, when they arrive on the other end, Data and Geordi discover that the wormhole is not as stable as previously thought; they’ve been dumped out in the Delta Quadrant, not the Gamma. They try to warn the Ferengi, but they don’t listen, so by the time the wormhole reopens and the Enterprise shuttle leaves, the Ferengi miss the boat and the wormhole moves to a new location. They’re trapped! (But we’ll come back to them in a few years. After all, they are trapped in the Delta Quadrant…)
Deanna learns that Ral is a quarter Betazoid, from his grandmother, and was one of only five children to develop empathic ability. He uses his ability to get an edge in negotiations. She seems to think his use of his ability is unethical, but he argues she uses hers too and isn’t always upfront with every alien species they meet. He even tries to twist it that he’s only using his for minor things but hers is used for life-and-death situations, as if using your powers to save lives is a morally murky area but using it for personal gain is ethically hunky-dory. She is able to pick up that he’s been conspiring with the Ferengi to make both the Federation and the Ferengi look like unsuitable stewards of the wormhole, and manages to win the bid for the wormhole. Of course, just then, Data and Geordi return with the information that the wormhole is worthless, so much for that. Ral asks Deanna to come with him as he goes on to his next job, saying he needs her to be his moral compass. She refuses. She’s already got a job as a counselor.
270. [TNG] The Enemy
SCORE: (4/5 stars)
Investigating a crashed ship on a Federation world near the Romulan Neutral Zone, they discover an injured Romulan. Because of the intense electromagnetic storms on the planet, they have limited windows to beam out, and Geordi gets separated from the group, falling into a pit. While Worf, Riker and the Romulan beam up, Geordi is left down on the planet to fend for himself, unable to even contact the Enterprise. But Geordi is a friggin boss. He fashions a makeshift mold out of rock and mud, uses his phaser to melt netallic rock into a couple of climbing picks, and scales a rock face with them. Truly an engineer.
They can’t use regular communications to contact Geordi, but Wesley comes up with the idea to launch a neutrino beacon, which will fire pulses that Geordi’s VISOR can pick up so he knows they’re still looking for him. But they have other problems to deal with. The Romulan beamed aboard is suffering neurological damage from the effects of the storms on the planet. He needs an infusion of ribosomes from a compatible donor on the ship. After getting a sample from everyone on the ship, Dr. Crusher determines that the only match for the ribosomes is Worf. But considering Worf’s family was slaughtered by Romulans he has no desire to be a donor for one.
On the political end, a Romulan ship is about to cross through the Neutral Zone to rescue the Romulan, despite him being within Federation space. Picard hails the ship and meets Commander Tomalak, a recurring Romulan in the series, played by the marvelous and late Andreas Katsulas. You may remember him as the Vissian captain from the Enterprise episode “Cogenitor,” or as Citizen G’Kar from Babylon 5. But here, he is the thorn in the side of the Enterprise. Picard demands that he remain out of Federation space while they tend tot he Romulan, and once he’s been treated they will meet Tomalak’s ship in the Neutral Zone to transfer him. But Tomalak grows impatient, and Dr. Crusher’s patient comes closer and closer to death as Worf refuses to do anything to help, despite the best pleas of both Crusher and Picard.
269. [TNG] Booby Trap
SCORE: (3/5 stars)
The Enterprise trips a thousand-year-old booby trap, and Geordi figures out that he doesn’t need to take girls on dates in the holodeck when he can just have dates with girls on the holodeck. With that snark summary out of the way… Geordi’s struck out with a girl on the holodeck and is all mopey to Guinan about it. Meanwhile, the Enterprise has picked up a distress signal from a thousand year old ship while investigating the shattered remains of a planet torn apart by an ancient war. Picard’s archaeological leanings kick in and he insists on going on the away mission himself, despite Riker’s protestations. “It’s a thousand year old ship that never got a response to its distress call, I’m sure the air is breathable!”
Picard marvels at the ancient technology aboard. They find the remains of the crew dead at their posts (which Worf finds admirable), and play back the final captain’s log where he takes full responsibility for the predicament they find themselves in. Not much more information is gleaned from the trip, so they beam back and prepare to leave… but they find themselves suffering from a massive power drain. The more they use, the worse the drain gets. There’s a booby trap in this debris field. LaForge gets to work on finding a solution, and pulls up some files on Galaxy-class propulsion systems authored by a Dr. Leah Brahms, one of the designers of the Enterprise. He creates a simulation on the holodeck to work in her office and inadvertently gets the computer to create an avatar of Dr. Brahms herself. She’s initially little more than a robot with a face, but with some tweaks, she becomes very warm and personable…
I want to point out how freaking creepy this whole situation is. Geordi’s created a facsimile of a real person, and he begins basically flirting with her. (They kiss at the end, but you know Geordi’s saved the program for some “later activities.”) They come up with a solution where, since using more power drains the ship faster, they can maneuver out of the debris field on inertia and minimal thrusters. Leah wants the ship’s computer to be the pilot, but in simulations its success rate is not promising. When Geordi pitches the plan to Picard, he accepts it with one minor tweak: he will be flying the ship himself. (He’s feeling very hands-on today.) He successfully navigates out of there, using a sneaky trick of using a larger asteroid’s gravity well to slingshot out of the field. All is well! And Leah tells Geordi that every time he’s touching the ship’s engine, he’s touching her… make innuendo about that as you will.
268. [TNG] The Bonding
SCORE: (4/5 stars)
When an away team led by Worf encounters a proximity mine on a dead world, Troi senses it from the ship and orders them beamed up immediately. Unfortunately, they were too late to save the ship’s archaeologist, Marla Aster. She is survived by her 12-year-old son, Jeremy. Poor kid. Worf feels a sense of responsibility for the orphaned child. He too is an orphan, and he wishes to perform the Bonding, a Klingon ceremony that would make them brothers. Troi warns Worf that attempting to enter into Jeremy’s life too soon will be problematic. She spends a lot of this episode warning people about how to handle Jeremy now that he’s orphaned… and not a lot of time actually being with Jeremy to help counsel him through this loss.
That is, until Marla Aster reappears in her quarters, telling Jeremy that it was all a misunderstanding and she’s alive… and it’s time for him to come with her down to the dead world where they’ll live for the rest of their lives. Of course, a dead woman walking isn’t going to go unnoticed on the ship and the crew make sure to stop this intruder in sheep’s clothing, but it’s proving very difficult. She appears to be an energy being, and she’s not going to give up after one rebuffed attempt. She converts her quarters to the Aster’s old house on Earth, and Jeremy is torn between wanting to live the fantasy and coming to terms with the truth (while Troi stays there to help him stay grounded).
“Marla” eventually explains that the planet below once had two species, a corporeal and an energy-based. The corporeal species killed itself off in senseless wars, and the energy beings have vowed to do whatever they can to prevent death and suffering. Marla isn’t sinister… she’s doing what she genuinely believes to be in Jeremy’s best interests. But she doesn’t understand human nature and she hasn’t thought it through. And finally, Jeremy, who’s kept a stiff upper lip this whole time, has his facade broken when Wesley Crusher expresses how he felt after Picard brought his father’s body home. He wants to know why his mother is dead, but Worf lives. Worf can’t give him that answer, but together, they can help make his mother’s death have meaning. “Marla” leaves, and the two orphans join together in the Klingon ritual of bonding. They are now family. Well, until Jeremy leaves for his real family on Earth and we never see him again.
267. [TNG] Who Watches the Watchers
SCORE: (5/5 stars)
A research team studying a primitive civilization suffers a rather large explosion at their base, hidden inside Kirk’s Rock and disguised by a holographic barrier. The Enterprise arrives to give aid to the scientists and to repair the systems of the observation post, but unfortunately for them, some local Mintakans coming to check their sundial notice the loss of the duckblind. A man named Liko climbs the rock and observes as rescue workers beam the scientists up. When Data notices him, he slips and falls many dozens of feet, suffering severe injuries as he lands on bare rock. Dr. Crusher lets her medical ethics override the Prime Directive and beams the Mintakan to sickbay. Picard’s none too happy about this violation and orders his memory wiped, like Pulaski did for the little girl who was Data’s penpal.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t take. He was lucid aboard the ship long enough to see Picard and hear his name, and while the Mintakans are by all accounts a rational people who don’t hold to superstition or religion, he believes he has been brought back to life by the Overseer, a myth of their ancestors, and he has heard the Overseer’s name: The Picard. When Picard realizes he will tell others, he has Riker and Troi beam down disguised as Mintakans to attempt to diffuse the situation and discredit him. This works for all of two seconds, as the Mintakans find one of the missing research scientists unconscious, and he’s clearly not Mintakan. Riker and Troi work to rescue the scientist, but suspicions are raised to the point that Troi is held captive when Riker makes off with the scientist.
Dr. Barron, the head researcher, suggests that since the Prime Directive has already been violated and these people are now developing a religion based on The Picard (and since they’re down there debating whether they should sacrifice Troi to The Picard), that he should play the part of God and give them appropriate commandments. Picard won’t allow one breach of the Prime Directive to dictate another and cause these people who in another life would have been posters on /r/atheism to fall back into religion and superstition. Instead, he concocts a plan to beam up the leader of the village, a woman named Nuria, and explain to her that he is not a god.