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The Next Generation (TNG) Season 3 Guest Reviews

Season 1 - Season 2 - Season 3 - Season 4 - Season 5 - Season 6 - Season 7

 

Evolution Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

Once again an episode that starts off with promise but becomes routine and ending obvious, like so many of TNG.
The start is good - looking into a stellar phenomenon. However, it all falls apart when we are introduced to the character of the week - Dr Stubbs - again a typical self obsessed, obnoxious person who you know WILL do some harm to the Enterprise and rouse the wrath of Picard and crew. This is a common theme that blights too many stories with great promise and potential - I mean, why must literally EVERY guest who comes onboard the Enterprise HAS to be snotty, devious, or hiding a sinister motive? If its to encourage drama, it is a woeful tool belonging to people with very little imagination.
Of course, something does go wrong, and it's found to be "Nanites" enhanced by wizzkid Wesley. As expected Stubbs gets in the way and earns the wrath of not just Picard but also the Nanites in a way we have seen before - near similar motives done by the Crystal beings in the earlier TNG episode "Home Soil".
In short - another rehash.
The solution is equally simple, the crew find that they want to talk and they do so through Data. Always Data - I mean what would the crew do without him? I would like to see a different spin on that. It all ends typically Star Trek and that's it. Considering that Hollywood and Star Trek has "teams of writers" is this the best they can come up with?
Poor.
Remarkable quote: "You will never come up against a greater adversary than your own potential..." -Stubbs to Wesley - I so agree - this is one of the few saving graces of this episode. Hence one point to this episode.
Remarkable scene: The red dwarf and the neutron star. Considering the SFX at the time, its well executed. That's the other point earned.
Remarkable fact 1: This episode also marks the first appearance of the new opening credits, featuring the typical "blue nebula" in which the camera enters in the first seconds of the opening credits. The score was altered again, becoming the show's final version of the famous Star Trek theme.
Remarkable fact 2: Michael Piller saw this episode as a "B-episode" pointing out that it did not come off the way he wanted but was proud of what came to pass - equally ambivalent, Winrich Kolbe liked the idea of the ego of Dr Stubbs and his arrogance and pushy nature and the ramifications that come from such behaviour but the way it was done did not treat the issue seriously.
Remarkable fact 3: The new Starfleet uniforms made their debut here because the earlier ones were uncomfortable, especially to Patrick Stewart who was complaining of back problems.
Remarkable fact 4: Michael Piller saw this episode as a chance to evolve the character of Wesley via Dr Stubbs because if he carried on the dedicated science course he could end up like Dr Stubbs and lacking a normal childhood, something enhanced by the feelings of his mum and support of Guinan. This is also the episode Gates McFadden returns.
Rating: 2 (Chris S)

Evolution Stardate 43125.8: Synopsis in main TNG listing

The third season of TNG kicks off with Evolution a rather ho hum story that is reminiscent of the previous two seasons and not of (most of the) seasons to come. The episode has the usual mad scientist rattling on about his life's work at the expense of everything else, the life of the nannies and the crew included. Yawn. It is a predictable story with a predictable ending. The story of Wes growing up as a normal teenager could have been better but seems bogged down within the main story. Troi also gets the usual palm off too on more than one ocassion. And the usually great Ron Jones provides a score that jars against the story and the ears (just wait until Jay Chattaway arrives!) Usually music should support the acting and the scene. Here it distracts and annoys.
The episode is important for the changes that occur with the season opener. New titles for a start, although personally I prefer the solar system walk through. Then the return of Dr Custard replacing Pulaski. Many fans liked this change back, but Custard always is so bland and mono-tone and always seems to be bored no matter what in most episodes. We get new uniforms too this season for the main cast (but not the background crew yet) which are an improvement over spandex. Poor Wes is still in PJ's though...The sets are better lit this season which makes a marked difference to the appearance of the show and really gives it a more polished feel.
The special effects are also better and cleaner in appearance (even before the HD remastering) although some shots still look like a model ship is used. The CBS remastering also brings things nicely in to the 21st century with better stronger colours and sharper picture quality.
Overall not a bad start as you get to see lots of changes in style in the show to make you hopeful that the stories to come will be better, which they will be.
Remarkable quote: Picard to Crusher: "It must have been a difficult year."
Rating: 4 (Simon)

The Survivors Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

The early eras of TNG show the struggle to come up with stories to wow the audience and keep the attention of the Trek Core. This is a prime example - very reminiscent of TOS ideas but with a TNG spin.
The plot poaches so many bits of classic Star Trek - colony sends out a distress call ("Arena", "Datalore"), the Enterprise arrives to discover the place wiped out save for one or two survivors, then the moment they beam down, you know that the survivors are somewhat involved ("Datalore", "And the Children Shall Lead"). After the ubiquitous interrogations, cue the arrival of the menace ("Doomsday Machine", "Datalore"), and the ensuing battle where it is resolved in an "intelligent" manner. The reason is then forced out and the cause is revealed in a "shocking twist" ("The Lights of Zetar", "The Empath", "Metamorphosis").
The revelation of the godlike being emphasised how poor this episode is - watching it again is a chore, and I only watch it just for a couple of scenes. What puzzles me is HOW did Picard deduce that it was Kevin behind all of this? I listened to the dialgoue and looked for clues but I cannot see where it twigs - or what gave it away. Also if Kevin is so omnipotent, how can he carry on with a fake Rishon? More to the point, no one else has comes across him, or interferes, so is he on the planet waltzing with his imagination?
Once again a poor written sloppy episode with no consequence.
Remarkable fact 1: John Anderson who played Kevin, had lost his own wife shortly before appearing in "The Survivors", and said that the subject matter made it one of the most difficult of his career.
Remarkable scene: When the Enterprise gets walloped and the blast on the bridge - I enjoy that shot everytime. One point for that.
Remarkable sight: Riker being catapulted in a trap! The other point earned.
Rating: 2 (Chris S)

Booby Trap Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

What a bumpy ride - sort of like the story itself.
It starts off well as another space exploration scenario classic - the discovery of a derelict ship - a Promellian vessel. Boarding the ship is done in a rather stupid manner - no EVA/Hazard suits = they just check sensors and stroll aboard. Sensors can miss something.
After the inspection, the Enterprise tries to leave but is found not only inert but also gaining radiation levels, they find that ANY energy use including propulsion, life support, and shields reflects on them and will kill them soon. To their horror, they discover they have fallen into a booby trap which snared the Promellian vessel 1,000 years ago.
To find a way out Geordi runs a holo program - and this is where it becomes both laboursome and stretched - he conjures up the designer of the Galaxy class warp drives who turns out to be a woman and after a few moments, he is smitten - smitten with a HOLOGRAM!! EVERYTIME! Whatever they are doing, wherever they go, someone onboard at some point MUST get hot, have to fall in love, or get jiggy! Also he is worried about a date!! So the fact that the ship is in jeopardy is the least of their problems eh?
To stretch a short story long, Geordi finds the obvious solution - to use a blast of minimal impulse power with well times thrust blasts on inertia will get them out. This is where it gets very impressive and shows that Captain Picard has earned the right as a commanding officer - he takes the Conn, uses his vast years of experience, and navigates through the belt in an excellent executed SFX sequence with superb background music to emphasise the mood. At the final hurdle, he uses the largest asteroid's gravity field to pull them out and escape. Brilliant.
I can understand that there had to be something filling this point, and I have no qualms in Geordi working with someone to help the crew escape, but he has a whole load of engineers with him, so why did he and that lot come together and figure out a plan? What the heck are they doing all the time? That would have been better. Its for that reason in the holodeck I downmark this episode. Shame.
Remarkable quote: "You have used the asteroid's gravitational pull as a slingshot. Excellent!" - Data to Picard after he uses a large asteroid's gravitational field to pull them out of the trap
Rating: 6 (Chris S)

The Price Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

An episode designed for no reason except to emphasise Deanna, one of the most useless crewmembers afloat, that she is more than a pretty face.
Another romance; again falling for some guest of the week with a hidden agenda; not telling the Captain because she is sooooooooooooo in lurve. Cue scenes of sensual making out, pillow talk, and utter pointless "romance" that served no purpose except to show Deanna is more than a ship's counselor and that she does have more than two dimensions despite the fact she is still flat as a biscuit with as equal amounts of charisma.
The story was about a wormhole, and that some people were debating trade rights over it with the usual suspects etc etc etc. However, as the template of Trek goes - nothing is EVER superior to the warp drive, so you know it was going to come a cropper. With the Ferengi featured here, the failure was going to involve them at some point too; after all they are idiots.
As expected Deanna (surprise surprise) discovers that her lover is up to something and he plans to jeopardise the negotiations - so she has to make the pointless choice of career or love. You know the one she chooses, and when her lover asks her to come with him, she decides to stay as ship's counselor. She realises her moment of weakness - and a VERY bad moment to boot - and finally realised her mistake, place and purpose.
So? Are we suppose to be impressed? Applaud? Admire her Star Fleet spirit? Yell "You GO GIRL!!"? Really who the F*** Cares?
It is a pointless episode with all the romantic clichés of a crap sex/porn novel served with a garnish of stale sentimentality and a romance so cold it made defrosted leftovers feel like a three star Michelin banquet. Just shove this in the bin.
Remarkable fact: This episode marks the first appearance of the Barzan Wormhole. USS Voyager subsequently encountered one of its exits in the Delta Quadrant in 2373. Arridor and Kol were found posing as gods on Takar II. (VOY: "False Profits")
Remarkable sight: Troi and Crusher in leotards!?!?!? The exercise room is a redress of a part of main engineering, the "pool table" was removed and mirrors were erected, one to hide the master systems display and the other at the opposite end of this part of the engineering set.
Remarkable fact 2: Prior to the airing of this episode, there was much hype about the scene in which Troi beds Ral. Michael Piller commented, "It was never meant to be outrageous television. We got quite a few letters from outraged people before it aired, but nobody wrote after it aired. I listen very carefully to those complaints."
Remarkable gaff: It is established in the TNG episode "Ménage à Troi" that the Ferengi brain cannot be telepathically read by Betazoids. However, in this episode, Counselor Troi declares that she can "sense Daimon Goss' deception." Whoops again!
Rating: 0 (Chris S)

The Vengeance Factor Stardate 43421.9: The crew of the Enterprise traces an attack on a Federation science outpost back to gatherers from planet Acamar III. Picard then decides to end the split between the gatherers and the rest of the inhabitants of Acamar III. At this point, Riker then falls for the leader of Acamar III's chef, Yuta. Unknown at this point, Yuta is a member of a presumed long dead clan who was genetically altered to kill all members of a rival clan, whom the leader of the gatherers is a member of. When Riker discovers this, he has to beam down in the middle of the peace talks and vaporizes Yuta with a phaser to save the gatherers' leader. The peace holds and the Enterprise continues her mission.

This episode was another TNG effort at an action/adventure/mystery. It was well done. The phaser scenes were cool and the sequence when Yuta was vaporized was awesome, not that death is ever awesome. This scene seemed to be very painful for Will Riker. It was quite obvious that he was disturbed at having to kill a pretty woman he had feelings for.
The gatherers' phaser beams were purple and Data said they weren't very powerful, although Riker noted they were "powerful enough". This episode also gives us another example that proves Data is indeed stronger than Worf: Worf struggles with a jammed door while Data seems to open it with relative ease.
If I'm not mistaken, the gatherers' ship was either already used or would be used again, but most likely both. I also found out through a little more research on the episode that one of the non-speaking gatherers was Marina Sirtis' then boyfriend and now husband, Michael Lamper. I also learned and observed that the fusion reactor was the same one used in "Who Watches the Watchers".
This episode was a good thriller that is fitting for the series, although my favorite action episode is "Starship Mine". This is a fun episode to watch and is full of interesting trek trivia. Watch it and see if you can catch something I missed.
Series continuity: We learn from this episode that Data is indeed stronger than Worf.
Phasers: I think this episode depicts the first person to be vaporized by a Starfleet phaser, although Riva's chorus was vaporized by an alien weapon earlier in "Loud as a Whisper". We also see that a standard Type-Two Starfleet phaser has sixteen settings.
Riker Alien Girlfriend Count: Riker yet again falls in love with an alien woman he cannot have. By series end, he would almost have as many as Kirk did.
Data: Yet again Data finds the key to solving a mystery by sifting through more data than a non-android could. He finds a picture that shows Yuta looking exactly as she does now even though the picture was taken 52 years ago. He also finds the whole clan affiliation data on Yuta and the gatherers' leader.
Rating: 7 (Nathaniel Scripa)

The Defector Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

An interesting plot that again takes a turn for the bewildering and daft.
A defector from Romulus crosses the Neutral Zone and is crippled on the Federation's side of the border. As expected they do not trust each other, the defector Jarok will not divulge secrets, is vague, but came to warn the Federation that his government are up to something. That they are building a secret base in the Neutral Zone on the world of Nelvana III.
What is brilliant here is the stubbornness of Jarok - he believes in the better but at the same time is proud of his nation and its accomplishments - he knows that his government are up to no good but they should be exposed to prevent a war and death but at the same time not to jeopardise the sovereignty and strength of the Empire.
Thankfully despite his stubbornness, Jarok does not turn into nauseating idiot/visitor of the week, but a man with good intentions but badly handled - like a burger van serving luke warm meals.
As expected the Enterprise enters the Neutral Zone and discovers the info supplied is a fake and the planet untouched, they withdraw and fall into a trap laid by the Romulans. Their ship is about to be taken and hauled over to Romulus.
This is when it all goes south - when Picard springs a trap of his own, it's with Klingon ships. Problem is that they are TITANIC birds of prey!! Ships bigger that a Romulan Warbird! No explanation is given or made about them, nor do we ever see them again except POSSIBLY as K'Vort cruisers in "Yesterday's Enterprise". The Romulans then just walk away...
It's not a bad episode, but could have been done a lot better - or if they have to cut corners of such magnitude - maybe not at all....
Remarkable fact 1: The plot was originally from the aborted Star Trek Phase 2 series, and Jarok was originally planned as a Klingon defector.
Remarkable ship: The Romulan scout - was expecting a BoP due to the story surrounding the origin of the Bird of Prey from the Klingons. Good scout design but would never be seen in its original form again.
Remarkable gaff: The Giant BOPs - what happened to them? Were they ever used in the Dominion War? No excuses were made for this blunder. This ruins the credibility of the episode.
Remarkable fact 2: Ron D Moore based this episode on the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Rating: 4 (Chris S)

The Hunted Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

The story is a simple prisoner on the run idea and a typical new nation wishing to join the Federation with a sinister secret. 
What stops this episode being another yawn is that they showed balls in invention, especially with the guest of the week. You know you are in for a treat when he is beamed aboard and gives Riker and the security team a good kicking. 
From then on he exchanges words with Troi, a rare moment where she has a significant use and allowed to be. It could have turned into a naff "romance of the week" but instead it does not and that Roga is allowed to be more. Jeff McCartney breathes life into the character and makes him have some substance, and he challenges Deanna instead of warming or wishing to bed her.
The breakout from the transporter beam is the start to the tremendous escape that follows. Despite Star Fleet's training, not only does he elude them, he sets traps, false trails, and takes on the security forces with no hesitation. Hell, he even gives Worf a beating, and the aftermath in the engine room shows what a tough cookie he is. Yet during all of this he does not come across as a hard man, he is more of a desperado with a streak of defiance, courage, and gumption which makes me warm to him.
The final scene reveals Roga's true motives and this is where Star Trek done right shines. Roga and his soldier friends want to go home, and adjust, not be treated like discarded ammo canisters. The ending and executions feels right, and plaudits to all concerned.
This is a good effort and an episode I can watch again and again. It's sad that future Star Trek ideas are not as ambitious.
Remarkable fact 1: This episode was an allegory to U.S. veterans of the Vietnam War, integrating back into American society. Michael Piller remarked, "The whole theme of the show was let's look at how society treats its returning veterans. I thought from a conceptual level we handled that well, and we came up with good science fiction to make it interesting."
Remarkable fact 2: Piller also points out some writers were not happy that Roga can dodge the technology of the Federation "There's some argument that the best soldier ever created bringing the Enterprise to its knees is a little hard to believe, and that might have been the weakness of the show. I enjoyed it, and was not ashamed of the show." I so agree - this is what made the episode brilliant.
Remarkable set: This is the only time the Jefferies Tubes can be walked through - and not crawling around like an obstacle course.
Remarkable fact 3: The original ending was going to be a shoot out but time and budget restraints knocked that idea on the head. Even now there are some who think it should have been a shoot out.
Remarkable fact 4: Jeff McCarthy was the original doctor who died in Voyager's pilot.
Remarkable fact 5: In TV Zone Magazine, Rick Berman regards this episode as one of the finest examples of Star Trek's moral playing and about tackling issues of the day.
Rating: 9 (Chris S)

The High Ground Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

Contrary to popular belief, Germany was not the only nation to which Star Trek fell foul to its laws. When this came out, it was at the time of the IRA bombings the UK mainland, Sinn Fein being seen as evil, and the terrors they committed provoking revulsion. This episode got banned in the UK because of the obvious parallels to the Northern Ireland conflict.
Learning of this and watching the lifted banned episode years later resurrected such memories for me of that time in England with the resentments the Irish community got, the dubbing of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness’ voices whenever they were interviewed, the massacre at Enniskillen, and the tough line Thatcher’s government had on the IRA.
Of course, things have thankfully moved on via the Good Friday Agreement; the IRA cannot afford to go back to terror; people have embraced the peace like a long lost lover, and there has been a feeling of betterment for all. Now seeing this episode I personally I cannot see what all the fuss is about, for what was banned is a rather clumsy, predictable, story that has moments of cleverness but not enough to save this.
The Trek story is sort of along the lines but at the same time miles off. The Terrorists/Freedom fighters (take what side) the Ansata, have been waging a war to gain independence for their province etc on Rutia IV and the bombing sequences and references to ‘blowing up transports full of children’ revert back to those thoughts.
So when in one bombing Dr Crusher, defying orders, goes to help an injured civilian, she is captured by one of these terrorists. In the process the Enterprise crew try to locate her by working with the authorities, which makes the Ansata assume that Star Fleet are in cahoots with them and thus launch an attack on the Enterprise itself.
This episode however was claimed to have been done "for more action"; by having a group of people waging war so to set up a series of action sequences - and part of that relied on a McGuffin called a untraceable dimension-shift transporter; this teleported people ten times faster than the standard transporters allowing them to get in, do their dirty work and be out in a blink of an eye. It is also effective enough to get through shields because of harmonics etc. Of course to prevent it from being superior to the transporter, it has a flaw of destabilizing the molecules in the bodies of those who use it.
So when they attack the Enterprise, they use this mechanism as a writer’s excuse to get through their shields and kill various members of the crew, and plant a bomb on the warp core. The action sequences are well executed, but very indiscriminate.
The mission is a minor failure but in the process, the terrorists capture Picard, hold him hostage, make demands, and so on. It takes a predictable raid, obvious superior use of fed tech to track down their super transporter, and a sort of shoot out to finally get the terrorists and rescue Beverly and Jean-Luc.
Although the nature of terrorism is explored its done in a hands-off jittery manner with thrown in clichés combined with a clumsy and mundane feel to it all; the nauseating spectacle of Finn’s drawing of Beverly; it feels thrown in to show that he "has a heart, has feelings" (thankfully Beverly does not fall for his charms); the predictable explanation of what justifies his attacks, the fact there is an ‘Irish-ness’ to him especially in his motive, ‘charm’, and name makes it very pantomime. Yet he is a stoic narrow minded individual who cannot see beyond violence and any sympathy is long dead making him an unconvincing character and enhancing the untidiness of this story.
Then there is the discussion about Terrorism by Star Fleet crews – especially Data. Its not as bad as the overt preachy anti-drugs message in TNG’s "Symbiosis" but it felt like the writers planted this in so they can say something but ended up coming to no conclusion at all: ‘Terrorism is bad, but...’ The half heartedness to the overall thing is also possibly because it was based on the IRA conflict – and as we know, the Americans are very bias about that issue; thus the end result is the limp feeling of this overall episode. Strange, had this happened after 9/11, the issue would be dealt very differently.
Picard rightfully gives Beverly a tongue lashing when she insists on obeying "the right orders" which got them into this mess. However I am just amazed that she is not given more of a rebuke by putting all her mates and the ship into unnecessary harm.
The ending however tries to be thoughtful – at the end of day, it’s the next generation (no pun intended) that has to make the choice – terrorism, or talk. This just saves this overall episode. It’s not bad but not brilliant – then again terrorism is never an easy subject to do.
4/10 for the action sequences.
Remarkable scenes: The boarding of the Enterprise by the Ansata, the shoot out, and the attempt to blow up the ship - and Worf getting shot.
Remarkable fact 1: This episode was banned due to the reference and notion of a United Ireland in 2024 achieved by terrorism as well as the obvious references to the Northern Ireland conflict; an idea inconceivable by the British Government - even now. Same with the collapse of the Soviet Union and Communism. Only in 2007 has the episode been finally shown in the UK.
Remarkable fact 2: Many of the writers were not happy with the overall story - dubbing it "the terrorist episode". Ron Moore described it as "an abomination" and "it had nothing to say about terrorism". Michael Piller also slated the episode because "it made no statement". He also pointed out the validity of the ending but "it was not enough." Brandon Braga believes the show was a flop because they thought of it in basic terms and not as a science fiction show. This explains the overall weakness of the show.
Remarkable fact 3: Melinda Snodgrass wanted the episode to reflect the American Revolution where Picard was Cornwallis and the Romulans were helping this planet split from the Federation, in the form of the French during America's history; alas the producers wanted what she called "Breakfast in Belfast".
Rating: 4 (Chris S)

Déjà Q Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

This episode has no purpose except to highlight humanity. Q is dumped starkers on the Enterprise, made to suffer for his actions by the Continuum and to learn how it is to be human - to show his limits etc, etc, etc.
Some may find this fun, seeing John de Lancie being "great in this role" but I thought it was a yawn fest.
On top of that, the Enterprise is sent to "move the moon" of some planet to prevent a disaster - cue whimpering, panicky, semi-proud and semi ungrateful aliens who have no tech to avert this disaster and ask the Federation to help and are snotty about it. Reading Bernd's reviews of all the franchises of Trek, I can only assume this is a swipe to countries who ask US help but whinge about their policies.
Q is then hunted by aliens peeves at him over his abuses, this jeopardises the Enterprise (again), and he is nearly done in if it was not for Data, who gets damaged because of his intervention. So in hindsight, Q leaves the ship via shuttle - somehow perplexing that he a mere human now can get into the shuttle bay and escape - where is security? - to face the wrath of the aliens when he is rescued by another Q in a scene that is quite comical.
If this was in Red Dwarf, this would be funny, but I hate humour shoved into something for humour's sake. Especially when Q gets his powers back and boards the Enterprise with a Mexican band. That is suppose to have us in stitches? Sorry, my sides are still intact.
So the moral of the story is what? Humanity prevails? That his selfless act is the first path to "humanity?" This is typical of the Great Bird of the Galaxy - Gene thinks that Humanity will leave behind all its pettiness and selfish goals and become better.
What Gene fails to realise is that those dark parts of us are as essential as the best bits. Ambition can get out of hand as well as guide us forward, but equally so can compassion lead to self righteousness and that in turn can blind us in doing the wrong things. 1/10.
Remarkable SFX: The Enterprise using its impulse engine and near fall into orbit. One point for that.
Rating: 1 (Chris S)

Yesterday's Enterprise Stardate 43625.2: A temporal rift throws the immediate predecessor to the Enterprise D, under the command of Capt. Rachel Garrett, 22 years into the future, altering history. When Picard is advised by Guinan that an egregious alteration to current events has occurred, Picard faces the unenviable decision of asking the Enterprise-C to return to their own time, and face certain destruction at the hands of the Romulans in order to repair the timeline.

This episode ranks right up there with TOS's "The Doomsday Machine" as one of my all-time favorite episodes. There are so many bold differences in the look between the Starship Enterprise D, redressed as the Battleship Enterprise-D, that it really does give one a sense of vertigo. The tension is high, and most of the characterizations are inventively altered to a very subtle degree. I found it especially interesting that, in this new version of reality, Picard and Riker have a somewhat more adversarial relationship.
It is a bit distracting that the romance between Tasha Yar and Lt. Costello seems to take such an abrupt jump to center stage. The relationship between them was a nice touch, and helped intensify the feeling of tension to a degree, but it was so heavy handed, it was almost screaming "New Upcoming Plot Twist!!!"
A few minor quibbles; The plot seems rushed throughout. I honestly think this episode may have been served better, from a dramatic standpoint, as a two-parter. Besides the obvious guilty pleasure of granting viewers the opportunity to explore more of this alternate universe, it would have made the numerous events in the episode feel less rushed and contrived.
Nevertheless, this is a beautifully executed story, both dramatically and visually!
Nitpicking: At the end of the episode, when Guinan is talking to Geordi in 10 Forward, he still has black cuffs on his sleeves, consistent with the uniforms in the alternate universe.
Remarkable ship: The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-C. I thought the design was very clever, especially seeing as how, when glimpsed briefly during the previews the week before the episode premiered, the angle shown almost made it look like the TOS Enterprise. Way to get a fan's heart racing there, guys!
Remarkable set: The Bridge of the Enterprise-D sported several exciting differences, including a single command chair, instead of a "committee" row of chairs. Also, the first (and only) appearance of addition tactical/systems bridge stations along the sides of the main bridge on the Enterprise D on the series. This expansion would be seen again in "Star Trek: Generations".
Nitpick #2: I was a little disappointed that, just for added effect, they didn't make Worf the captain of one of the Klingon BoPs. There are probably continuity reasons for this, but it still would have been a nice touch.
Rating: 10 (E. Adam Thomas)

Yesterday's Enterprise Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

When time travel themes are explored its rare they are brilliant to me - the best example are "Back to the Future" and "The Time Machine".
Alas the worse are ones used to find a way to come up with lame "what if" plots, reboots, interesting ideas without hurting the cast we know and love - or to re-introduce those lost but needed to be brought back by popular demand.
Unlike other genres, Sci-Fi can explain the idea with technobabble - ordinary dramas have to rely on identical twins, over the top ways out of way that common sense tells cannot happen except with the RAREST of moments, or the infamous "Bobby Ewing" dream sequence.
However time travel plots are stinkers like the above to me - rare is the exception. "Yesterday's Enterprise" is that rare exception - a very good time travel story.
Many times its the future coming into the past for reasons as long as a piece of string in a vain attempt to either save the future or preserve the past thus doing the aforementioned. Examples - "Star Trek IV", TOS: "The Guardian of Forever", and so on and so forth.
"Yesterday's Enterprise" is a clever spin on that - the past entering the future - and raises a remarkable effect - by the past entering the future, the future has to change!
This is brought home most effectively when the Bridge of the Enterprise D changes and no one notices except Guinan. Worf and Deanna are not there, but Tasha Yar is. The atmos also changes, and so does the destiny of the Federation - it's brilliant!
From then on there is a sense of foreboding because we (the viewers) know that this is the Federation that we do not know or love and that means it will not last. From that the tension goes up and up until the fateful choice and the inevitable fight. When the C returns and the "redo" sets in, I did not mind because it makes sense - it's a need - and it feels right.
It's a great episode because it also stands alone and trails nowhere per se - although there will be references in the future, they are insignificant.
It's a great episode.
Remarkable ship: The Ambassador Class Enterprise C - we see where the D's heritage comes from.
Remarkable cop out: The K'Vort cruisers - giant Birds of Prey? Talk about saving money!!! Apart from "The Defector" these ships have never been seen since....so what happened?
Remarkable fact: This episode was done to primarily bring back Denise Crosby AKA Tasha Yar.
Rating: 10 (Chris)

Yesterday's Enterprise Stardate 43625.2 (Military log): The Starship Enterprise-C, under command of Captain Rachel Garret, travels through a temporal rift 22 years into the future, escaping from a crucial point in history, and triggering a war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire in the alternate timeline. The original timeline is restored, however, when the vessel returns to its previous point in time, facing a hopeless battle with the Romulans, with the alternate Tasha Yar aboard, who volunteered to bolster the ship's skeleton crew.

Well, this episode has received extremely high ratings in fan reviews on this site, which it does not deserve in the least. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, it is time to provide a more realistic and objective perspective on this extremely overrated episode. First of all, the premise that the Klingons would declare war on the Federation because one of its starships mysteriously disappeared while defending a Klingon outpost from a Romulan attack is absurd on the face of it! Why didn't they declare war on the Romulans? After all, they attacked the outpost, and the Federation was trying to DEFEND it! Logic, anyone!?! And, of course, it would not be the first time the Romulans launched a sneak attack on a Klingon outpost (Khitomer massacre, remember)! For some reason that eludes me completely, the Klingons did not declare war on the Romulans after such an outrageous incident, but they DID declare war on the Federation because the Enterprise C disappeared while defending their outpost FROM THEM!
With over 40 BILLION Federation casualties, over half of its territory conquered, and half of Starfleet lost?!?! And no mention made at all how much have the Klingons lost? IF ANYTHING?! (because from the dialogue in the episode, I got the distinct impression their losses were negligible)! The term "OUTRAGEOUS" does NOT cover it!!! NIL POINT.
And finally, let's move on to the final battle between the Enterprise-D and the trio of K'Vort class destroyers (the episode refers to them as battlecruisers, a classification for which they are neither large nor heavily armed enough, and anyone who has played Starfleet Command 3 knows that K'Vorts are destroyers, one step up from a lowly B'rel). More to the point, to the abysmal performance of the Enterprise and its crew. I think the best way to showcase their incompetence would be a real-time commentary of the battle: PHASE1 - three K'Vort class vessels revert from warp and within 2.5 seconds begin continuous fire on the Enterprise. They maintain their fire for 8 seconds, during which time the Enterprise (a Galaxy class vessel equipped with 10 type X phaser arrays and two torpedo launchers capable of firing 10 photon torpedoes simultaneously every 5 seconds) does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING but hold position and absorb their fire. Reaction time NIL! PHASE2 - On the Enterprise bridge, Picard gives an incomprehensible command...
The only bright side of this pointless, infuriating and outright absurd episode is the beautiful Denise Crosby's performance as the alternate Tasha Yar, and the only reason why I will give this utter debacle of an episode one point!
Rating: 1 (Darko)

Yesterday's Enterprise Stardate 43625.2: An Enterprise from the past mysteriously appears.

As I write this, there are over 700 episodes of Star Trek and eleven movies, and "Yesterday's Enterprise" still stands as my favourite episode of all time, twenty years after it first aired on television. To me, this episode is a perfect representation of what Star Trek is about: hope for the future. In this timeline, Picard is still as loyal and reflective as his normal counterpart, but he's a man who's been turned bitter by decades of war. I love seeing his slow turn from stubbornly refusing to sacrifice the Enterprise C ("Every instinct is telling me that this is wrong, it is dangerous, it is FUTILE!") to slowly realising that Guinan has introduced an incredible idea: that this ship has altered history - badly ("I've weighed the alternatives. I will follow Guinan's recommendations").
Ultimately, Picard puts the needs of the many (the billions lost in the way) above the needs of the few (the crews of the Enterprise C & D). It's Star Trek at its very best. The fact that the crew all accept this is just beautiful - there's no dumb mutiny by a character who's looking out for his own skin, everyone realises that by sacrificing themselves, they are saving billions of lives and creating a brighter future for humanity. Even in this dark version of the future, the crew stays true to Roddenberry's vision of a united humanity. Even Riker, who clearly disagrees with Picard's decision, speaks to him with respect and once Picard makes his decision, that's it.
What truly makes this episode so perfect, though, is the performances. As I've already mentioned, Patrick Stewart is in fine form, as are all the other regulars. Tricia O'Neil gives Captain Garrett a tough, strong personality without ever making her annoying. Whoopi Goldberg is suitably spooky, yet Denise Crosby steals the show by giving Yar the send off she deserved - particularly the scene where she requests the transfer to the Enterprise C. Seeing her explain to Picard that she's "supposed to be dead" always moves me.
Of course, I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the space battle, which to this day is impressive to look at, hardly aging at all. I love how the ultimate fate of the Enterprise C - it's final stand and it's destruction by the Romulans - is left to our imagination.
I've heard others complain that it should have been a two-parter, or that Worf should have been on board the Klingon battleships, but I disagree. Having only one episode gives it a quick, almost panicked pace - after all, the Klingons are on their way! And we don't need to see the Klingons, or Worf, or any other part of this dark world, it's so much more interesting to see the story at the intimate level of just one starship. Often the best way to tell a large story is to just tell a small part of it.
"Yesterday's Enterprise" is Star Trek at its best. My favourite episode of not only The Next Generation, but all of Star Trek. Bravo.
Remarkable ship: The Ambassador-class Enterprise C - a lovely design that should have been used more often!
Remarkable music: The music during the battle with the Klingons makes it seem as if the whole galaxy is at stake (and well, it almost is).
Remarkable dialogue: "Captain, you need at least another twenty-four hours..." - "Nonsense. Doctors always over-protect their patients." - "And captains always push themselves too hard." (Crusher and Garrett)
Remarkable dialogue: "Federation ship Enterprise: surrender and prepare to be boarded." - "That'll be the day." (Klingon commander and Picard)
Remarkable quote: "Let's make sure, history never forgets the name... Enterprise." (Picard)
Rating: 10 (Sean)

Allegiance Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

Here we go - Picard abducted, fake one gets to go around the ship, trying it on with Bev, he sings, acts weird, the crew mutinies (well Riker and Worf) and the real Picard appears to capture his abductors.
Okay, maybe a harsh assessment, but what always irks me with these things are the mutiny bits - Riker does not quote any safety regulation or are shown orders to turn such matters over. He just decides that the ship is in jeopardy and that is that. Considering the amount of dangers they have faced many unknown, why the sudden "Whoa!" moment? Curios that Riker knew he was right - I mean what if he was wrong and it was a test to see loyalty? He would look a fool.
However this is typical clichéd writing showing how the crew knew that he was a fake. According from the writers, it was an episode about Picard - nooooooooooo kidding!
Strange, considering they knew there was an energy surge, past explorer's encounters of crew abductions, not to mention the previous TNG episode "Time Squared", I am amazed they did not work it out a lot sooner and had evidence to back it up to isolate the fake!
In addition, the Real Picard's ordeal is similar to another TNG Episode - "Where Silence Has Lease".
Sorry, not good enough.
Rating: 0 (Chris S)

Captain's Holiday Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

Lord. So many elements in this episode that I despise: The crew ganging up on the Captain so he can have a holiday; Risa made out to be like a PC version of Thailand/the Philippines where sexual ideas can be granted providing you hold up a Horga'hn - a symbol of fertility and sexual nudge nudge wink wink; sexy woman kissing the Captain OUT of nowhere; really dodgy looking aliens after some artifact; Ferengi = idiots and comedy relief; said captain first despising such woman then getting it on with her. Loads of ladies in skimpies - err thought we were in a future that suppose to have none of that about?
Why do they ALWAYS do someone in the crew getting involved in a romance!?
It's a boring episode - for a start the plot - aliens want to get their hands on a device from the future that always has destructive powers, not because it should not be in the past, or that its important - it has to be deadly - boring.
Characters - Picard acts first like the Captain but then melts into a tourist and is easily seduced by a woman he does not know - err considering his position is that a very good idea? Vash is a typical "sexy over self-assured hot smart woman" who the Captain cannot resist. The fact most times she is in a bathing suit or "sexy clothes" emphasises that point; why cannot she be smart without the enforced sex appeal? Scully was more sexier because she was just smart. The Ferengi is just there to be a punchbag and a joke d'jour, and the Vorgons are just routine "devious alien of the week". Had they worked better on this, or say Vash was more noble, the aliens not so obvious, the setting more mundane, or had made it a tad crude, maybe it would work, but this has the hallmarks of a bad romantic comedy.
No thanks.
Remarkable fact 1: According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, the story grew out of Patrick Stewart's desire for more "sex and shooting" for Picard.
Remarkable fact 2: After writing this episode, Ira Steven Behr told himself he would never write another episode featuring the Ferengi. This turned out not to be the case, and Behr went on to write many episodes featuring the Ferengi in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He would also use Risa in future DS9 episode Deep Space Nine episode "Let He Who Is Without Sin...", in which Worf, Jadzia Dax, Quark, Julian Bashir and Leeta visit Risa. The script notes that Worf and Dax's room is similar to Picard's here. The script also tells the production staff to "please lose the ceiling fans", that were seen in this episode.
Remarkable scene 1: Deanna convinces Picard to have a holiday by lying to him that her mother will be at Starbase 12 - the moment Picard legs it to his room with Riker in Tow, Deanna claps her hand in joy! Point 1
Remarkable scene 2: On the side of the Vorgons head is a square - and if you look close you can see LCDs moving up and down it.
Remarkable scene 3: Riker's consistent reference to the women on Risa, which is them brought down by Deanna's gnarly reference to his continuous reference to them. MEEEOWWW!! Point 2!
Rating: 2 (Chris S)

Tin Man Stardate 43779.3: Synopsis in main TNG listing

I don't really like this episode for several reasons. First, Tam Elbrun is a very annoying guest character. Granted, his condition is far from being easy and must cause him severe stress but since negative thoughts and emotions are even more distressing for Betazoids (as we know from Deanna) why does he act in such an unpleasant manner? By that he just provokes more and more negative thoughts about him. He enjoys Data's company (for obvious reasons) but even Data cannot really figure out Tam's character. The second annoyance in this episode are the Romulans. After their impressive re-introduction in TNG: "The Neutral Zone" they are reduced to nothing more than stereotypical villains in this episode. Their whole behaviour reminded me a lot of the one-dimensional Klingons we saw so often in TOS. The third thing is Gomtun itself. Do not get me wrong, the idea of a race of living spaceships that live in symbiotic relationship with their crews is very interesting but in this episode it is entirely wasted. If the Romulans would have been absent from the script and Elbrun would have been a more likable character it might have worked but as it is this episode is way below average.
Remarkable error: Data and Elbrun are beamed over to "Tin Man" although dialogue has established that the Enterprise is 18 minutes away at full impulse. That is roughly equal to 81 million kilometres - way beyond transporter reach.
Remarkable quote: "The Romulans claim anything that is in their field of vision." (Worf)
Remarkable scene: The supernova looks the same like the one in TNG: "The Naked Now".
Remarkable ship: Gomtun aka "Tin Man". I especially liked the sounds inside the ship and its energy wave weapon.
Remarkable fact: The Romulans are monitoring the telemetry of Federation probes... what happened to encryption protocols and codes?
Rating: 3 (Timm)

Tin Man Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

A great episode and one with no silly side plot or B-story.
The story is done in the same way as previous ones, secret mission and dodgy assigned expert, difference is, that Star Fleet has informed the crew partly (unlike the TNG ep: "The Emissary") who is coming and why there is secrecy.
Tam Elbrun is the specialist and it goes down the "arrogant visitor of the week" routine. The difference here is what the mission entails - and the thing that makes Star Trek rise above the routine sci fi dramas - the discovery of the unknown, and as Data says - astonishing. It concerns the discovery around a dying star in the Beta Stromgren system - in orbit is a ship unlike no other - one that is purely organic and way beyond ANYTHING they have ever encountered. They have to get there first because the Romulans are very interested. Tam is not liked not just because of his manner, he is also famed for the Ghorusda disaster, where 47 Star Fleet personnel died in a botched first contact operation.
As they head off, Deanna and Tam chat and learn that he is slowly getting in contact with it. Of course by the time they arrive, the Romulans arrive too and speed off to intercept - when their hails fail, they plan to kill Tin Man, and Tam warns it - Tin Man obliterates the Romulan ship in a fantastic display of power, crippling the Enterprise in the process. Of course it is resolved with Tam going there and in turn uses Tin Man to save the Enterprise and even the Romulan support ship. 
What I like is the idea of a discovery, the finding of the unknown - something that lacked a heck of a lot in DS9 and mostly in Voyager. I liked how Tin Man or Gomtuu was designed - a real alien ship with a way we cannot begin to fathom. Its design is so simple and crass but brilliant and amazing - lets be honest - alien tech of that nature WILL be different from the Enterprise. There are no anomaly stories, silly romance, or comical detours - this is a PURE science fiction story, and emphasising the keystone of Star Trek - to seek out new life.
Its refreshing to watch again, especially when Gomtuu uses its powers, the pain it feels and you sympathise with Tam and Gomtuu. This is Star Trek at its best me thinks.
Rating: 9 (Chris S)

Ménage à Troi Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

Lwaxana Troi strikes again! In this episode Majel Barrett shines as Lwaxana, Deanna, and Riker are captured by DaiMon Tog and his crew. In my eyes, this episode is quite funny. What endeared me to this is Deanna's and Riker's reactions to Lwaxana saying, "This is a nice spot!" Troi and Riker proceed to give us an "Oh, God! Not again!" reaction. 
Funnier still is Lwaxana's reaction to what "Oo-mox" is. Tog: "Ahhhh...no one has given me oo-mox like that in years..." - Lwaxana: "Oo-mox?" - Tog: "There's no translation. But, our ears are one of our most...erogenous zones.." Here, Lwaxana's eyes widen so much, it's hilarious. 
This episode is also an example of what the Trekker's Guide to TNG calls an example of "Wesley Saves the Day". Wes gives up a chance to go to Starfleet Academy to save the Trois and Riker. In return, Wes gets a promotion-YAY!! Riker's communication hack is pretty damn ingenious in my book. Another endearing thing about this episode is Picard's Kirk-esque bluff to get Lwaxana aboard the Enterprise! Patrick Stewart shows off his Shakespearean acting expertise here to great effect. Both dramatic and humorous in Tog's reaction to Picard's bluff.
Rating: 6 (Xterra)

Transfigurations Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

I do not know what people make of this episode - but I love it.
In a nutshell, it starts off about Geordi wanting to take some lass out but not having the guts, much to an unimpressed Worf. All that changes when the Enterprise answers a distress call and discovers a wrecked ship on a moon. All but one of the crew are dead, and using some innovative medical technologies, Crusher makes Geordi a human "crutch" for the survivor. In the process a burst of energy enters him with no apparent effect.
On board, they treat the alien - dubbed John Doe - to get him to live, and here a lot of radical medical ideas are put forward, not the typical hypospray concoction that Voyager keeps whipping up. Here we can see Beverly trying to make John live.
She succeed and discovers that John's DNA is going under a rapid change. This has all the hallmarks of say "Charlie X" or the Space 1999 episode "End of Eternity". However, he recovers far better than expected and through some well paced scenes he slowly recovers. Alas his memory does not.
However, John starts to do amazing things aboard ship out of instinct - the healing of Miles's arm is the start. Geordi's confidence, and Beverly's warming to him, further examples.
The Enterprise learns of John's possible origin in a very well executed manner. John insists that he must not go back. When the Enterprise crew encounters John's race - the Zalkonians - they demand his return. As a result, John tries to escape but his body is breaking down as his DNA evolves further. In the process, he accidentally kills Worf, but in that Star Trek way, John brings Worf back to life.
When the Captain tells the Zalkonians about John's changes, they retaliate by suffocating the entire crew.
The entire episode is a well crafted piece - one has no idea of John's intentions, or origins, but for once he comes across as a gentle soul, a person lost. Its not a surprise Beverly warms to him, because there is a genuine sense of benevolence. A real good person.
The death/resurrection scene of Worf is a great moment, again showing the benevolent intent of the guest of the week - not out to kill, cause trouble or deception, just a being with good intentions but bad timing issues.
The final scene when John realises who he is, who is meant to be and what he must do is a triumph; he saves the ship, he captures the Zalkonian Captain but causes no harm, and his wonderful speech about the oppression of the Zalkonian government over their species’ evolution and the help by "kind gentle people" of the Enterprise and that "we could learn from them" brings a lump to my throat. When Picard says of his pride and honour in seeing the evolution of a new species, and the farewell to Beverly, I well up.
When he flies away, I smile and wish him well.
No malice, no hypocrisy, no politics, no ramming down the throat morality or preaching; just a strong story with great supporting acting and a lead who plays John as a person you wish well, with the right sense of charisma and warmth that makes you want to help. There is a good message here too; that kindness rewards, benevolence is powerful, and to wish well a good friend on a journey and to smile to yourself that you helped.
When Star Trek is done bad, it becomes the source of jokes, resentment, and mockery. However, when Trek is on fine form like this - its moving, thought provoking, and indestructible. 10/10
Remarkable scene 1: The panning shot of Riker, Picard, and Beverly as John explains his destiny. You can see pride, joy, and respect. Picard's speech in being proud of John's evolution and the respect - stirring stuff.
Remarkable scene 2: When Worf is killed - and John resurrects him. Classic Star Trek.
Remarkable scene 3: When John leaves - you can see how big a human shape is to the Enterprise - she is MONSTEROUS!
Remarkable fact 1: Michael Piller wanted to do a show that highlighted medical technology, he also wanted to how advanced the stuff was by literally putting john Doe back together.
Remarkable fact 2: The story was created by René Echevarria but polished by Piller. The story talked about the evolution of a being to a better form of life, a story idea later done in Babylon Five and Stargate SG1
Remarkable technology: The storage device recovered from John's ship has biological properties - a technology that would later become the gel packs aboard Voyager.
Rating: 10 (Chris S)

The Best of Both Worlds I/II Stardate 43989.1 to 44001.4: Synopsis in main TNG listing

Probably the best in the entire TNG series except for a few others. The tension was great. I had goosebumps when the Borg abducted Picard. One of my favorites of all the episodes I have. The big explosion at the end is #4 on my Favorite Big-Ass Explosion list. Great episode.
Errors and nitpick: When the away team beams down at the beginning, they are standing around the big hole, but O'Brien says they are in the center of town when Riker asks about it. Shouldn't he say the outskirts? -- When they are blabbing in the observation lounge, look at the screen on the wall. If you notice, the little control thing keeps moving around. -- If you watch the Borg deaths carefully on the Borg ship in Part Two, they are the same as the ones in Part One.
Rating: 10 (R. Baker)

The Best of Both Worlds I/II Stardate 43989.1 to 44001.4: The Enterprise is sent to investigate what appear to be Borg attacks on Federation outposts. Lt. Commander Shelby joins the crew to investigate. After it is confirmed that the attacks were indeed caused by the Borg, a cube shows up and chases the Enterprise into a nebula. Around this time Picard is abducted and assimilated by the Borg. Commander LaForge then comes up with a weapon that could destroy the Borg using the main deflector dish, but the Borg cube has to be out of warp, which is difficult because the cube is on a high warp course for Earth. Shelby then leads an away team to the Borg cube which includes Data, Worf, and Crusher. The mission is to drop the cube from warp and to retrieve Picard. They are successful in stopping the cube but not rescuing Picard. The Enterprise then receives a message from Locutus, the borgified Picard. Riker decides he has to use the weapon now, so he orders Worf to fire. The weapon is ineffective and the cube continues on to Earth. The Enterprise is crippled and can't pursue. When the Enterprise resumes course for Earth, they come across the remnants of eleven wrecked starships at Wolf 359, destroyed by the Borg. The Enterprise catches up to the Borg and the crew is able to recover Picard. Using Picard's links to the collective, Data is able to order the Borg to "sleep', then the Borg cube explodes. The Enterprise saves the day, again. Crusher then returns Picard to normal.

"The Best of Both Worlds" is the best two-parter in TNG. The famous line spoken by Locutus still gives me chills. The first part was beautifully written, but part two did not live up to its hype. Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes did a spectacular acting job. I again suggest these episodes to everyone. For those of you who haven't seen it yet, you don't know what you're missing.
Quote: "I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been is now over. From this time forward, you will service...us." -Locutus
Another quote: "Mister Worf...fire." -Riker
Rating: 10 (Nathaniel Scripa)

The Best of Both Worlds I/II Stardate 43989.1 to 44001.4: Synopsis in main TNG listing

If this two-parter was never made, TNG would have died by then, however like with "The Wrath of Khan", "The Best of Both Worlds" shows that a great story can save Star Trek.
It has everything I want in Star Trek and Sci Fi but more. It has a simple but effective plot, a gripping paced drama, the right use of characters, a well crafted story, well executed special effects, and tension galore - when I saw this, I was literally on the edge of my seat with my heart in my mouth.
How is this when we all know the outcome? Two reasons - Star Fleet is portrayed as an invincible force yet they are up against a real unstoppable enemy that is both omnipotent AND intelligent, and that is winning! The second is we know they will fail - but by what means and how far before it comes to pass? With these ingredients we had an epic adventure on our hands - one that can be watched again and again - one up there with "The Doomsday Machine" and "The Wrath of Khan".
It grips you, you ride the stallion of thrill, suspense, drama, and despite your gut feeling to get off - you don't want to! It has genuine surprises and twists, and they are executed perfectly. To me THIS was TNG at its height.
The Borg were portrayed as a real threat up to here - alas after this they became embarrassing mecha zombies - especially during the Voyager series with Seven of Nine.
Shame also that after this two-parter, TNG and the franchise slowly got worse towards the inevitable reboot that came this year.
Having said that, its one of those episodes I would gladly make time to sit through.
Remarkable scene 1: The aftermath of Wolf 359, seeing all those desolate wrecks made my jaw drop! It was a visual masterpiece and one up there with the Mutara Nebula, and the V'Ger cloud.
Remarkable scene 2: Picard Abducted! Picard Borged! There was a twist!
Remarkable quote: "Resistance is futile." -like "Revenge is a dish best served cold", that phrase has transpired into the social consciousness.
Rating: 10 (Chris)

The Best of Both Worlds I/II Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing

When I originally reviewed this, I gave it a basic but positive feedback. Watching it again made me want to rewrite the previous and give a better descriptive report on this two part story that saved Star Trek: The Next Generation.
It is the conclusion of "Q Who" and "The Neutral Zone" that builds up to the best two part story of the franchise – the aptly titled "The Best of Both Worlds".
The moment the teaser opens with the away team on New Providence, a world with EVERYTHING rest asunder, you know this was going to be an episode of epic proportions. After the discovery, the Enterprise is visited by Admiral Hanson and his protégée Lt. Commander Shelby, and assess if all they see is what they fear it to be – and also how far Star Fleet is ready to deal with a foe that not only they know they will have to face but knows that will come. The news is bleak; they are just not ready.
The story however is not just about Star Fleet vs the Borg, it is also Riker and his destiny – especially being cajoled by all concerned – from Admiral Hanson who whinges that Riker shows no backbone to take command, to Picard mocking him why he is still here, and to the blatant and disrespectful moves by Shelby who wants the Commander’s chair. At first she is rightfully impetuous making sure that they are right about the Borg footprint on the world. However she ups her game by going over Riker and seeing Picard over ideas and plans to prepare for the conflict to come. In a heated exchange, Riker tries to put her in her place, but she shows him where he stands. He is slowly becoming as she puts it "being in the shadow of a great man".
The first part is good build up; the Admiral relays a sighting of a cube shaped vessel – then the actual confrontation with the Borg. The score over the encounter is utterly chilling here; it gives a feel of dread, horror, fear, omnipotence, terror, and hopelessness; that Star Fleet has met maybe its end. The initial battle is a failure as the Enterprise fires ALL its forward armament with no effect.
However, Shelby eager to prove her metal tries out tactics involving changing the harmonics of the phaser weapons. It works. With it Star Fleet now has a fighting chance. With it they board the Borg ship to explore and do damage – and it appear to succeed. Star Fleet appear to be on a winner and regard the Borg as a threat akin to the Klingons or Romulans. Despite the pursuit of the Cube, the chances of victory seem more feasible; none more so than the development of a superweapon via the navigation deflector; one that will kill the Borg ship but may also destroy the Enterprise in the process. The price is worth it due to the threat they face. Hopes are high. I will admit that sequence of events bored me because it came across as the Borg was easy to beat.
All of that comes crashing down, when the Borg flush the Enterprise out of a Nebula, corner the ship, and board her. Their weapons are useless and the crew are beaten – but worst of all, Picard is abducted, their prime target mentioned numerous times. Despite protocol, reason, and such, the crew give chase and board the Cube to rescue Picard – only to their horror they find out why the Borg want him; he is now assimilated, and worse is no longer Jean-Luc Picard – but Locutus of Borg.
Despite their failure to capture him, Riker orders the superweapon fired, with Picard/Locutus on board the targeted Cube. To their dismay it fails; even worse, the Enterprise is crippled in the process and cannot immediately pursue.
The second part of this changes the dynamics of the entire story; not only are they dealing with an omnipotent threat, but they are also faced with a very intelligent one. In addition Picard, now a Borg which means all his knowledge and experience is known to the Cube crew and will be put to use. Despite that warning by Shelby, the Admiral not only spearheads a massive fleet of ships at (the soon to be infamous) Wolf 359 to stop the Borg, but also ignores her advice and puts her in her place about Jean-Luc by rebuking her – a fatal mistake.
Aside of the terror up scaling, this is where the crew and Riker in particular come together as the cast we know and respect. Rather than enjoy seeing Shelby humiliated, Riker takes her under his wing, he respects her and puts aside his differences to her. He also needs her help and gumption. She joins willingly and not as the reluctant or sulky guest of the week. All know what to do, but Riker still hopes that Picard will come back and is reluctant to take the chair.
In that clever side acting of excellent nuances, Jonathan Frakes plays a man who has been in the shadow of someone greater and is damn reluctant to admit him lost. A fact further revealed when Guinan enters the room and chats about letting Picard go, that holding onto him will lead to failure, and so on and so forth. Riker correctly points out that he went ahead to blow up the Cube with him on it, but the argument is not of malice – its out of fear; fear of losing not just their captain but their friend.
However, when they learn that the task force has engaged the Borg, they prepare to join the battle. It’s when they do (too late I may add) that the true terror of the Borg is shown in the superb scene of wrecked ships left adrift and burning after the battle of Wolf 359. This is the ultimate mark of when one throws everything including the kitchen sink at them and nothing works, and asking that terrible question to oneself: what the hell do you do next?
Irony of ironies, it’s Locutus who is the weakness to the Borg plan. In a bold move, Riker comes up with a scheme to rescue Picard, but below it lays a more potent motive. They know from previous experience that when a Borg dies, a few bits are removed and the drone disintegrates; capturing Picard maybe the key to unlocking a weakness. In a fantastic executed plan, the crew led by Data and Worf undergo this task with superb special effects executed perfectly in the backdrop – and succeed in a very clever manner.
Despite this, the Borg head off to their prime target – Sector 001=Earth. Tension here goes through the roof and when I saw this for the first time my heart was racing like hell; the heroes race after the Borg, hoping to get to Earth, and hope by that time they have either found a weakness or die trying to stop the Borg. 
Star Fleet and the Enterprise have fought this one cube and NOTHING works; they appear unstoppable, lethal, terrifying. Of course you know that the heroes will win in the end – the questions are how, and at what price? In the end they do succeed but I will not give away that to those who are novices to this. All I will say is that Picard/Locutus is the linchpin.
After the Borg defeat, one feels sharing the sigh of relief with the crew, but there is more; Riker and Shelby more than respect each other, they have gained a friendship, and more importantly Riker has more than proven his salt here. He can command, he can take the reigns, but he is not a career minded opportunist nor does he have to show to others that he is a captain to be. He can do the job but as he points out, it’s his choice and his alone. Lets be honest, if you like working where you are, why change?
The final part is the most thought provoking; Picard is rescued, and is back as the Captain of the Enterprise – hell, even jokes about the situation. As he stares out into space however, the truth is shown; in reality, it’s all nonchalance; it’s the brave face covering the trauma; something that is explored in the next episode.
So why does this two part story work so well?
First off I believe it treats its audience as people – not die hard fans or idiots. They invite you in to this story without once alienating the outsider. Here is a story very well written, solid, intelligent, strong, and most important of all – brave. It lets people watch a story of terror, heroism, dare, bravery, fear, and disaster unfold, not once diverting from the path. The best thing is that is does not delve into the Trek way in any sense – it becomes a solid straight down the middle drama. It is about hero meets threat, threat is stronger than thought, hero is beaten, hero needs to rethink, hero meets threat again, and threat finally beaten but not easily; that I feel is the success here.
Second: the threat itself.
We have seen and will see numerous threats come to Earth – from V’ger, the Whale Probe, to the Dominion and the stupid Xindi. Heck, even in the last film, Nero was there – but none, NONE have ever captured the terror and fear of the Borg here, in orbit. Not even in First Contact. That may sound a glib statement but look to the evidence. When the Borg is first encountered, they broadcast a terrifying message about themselves.
This is where the two part story accelerates to terrifying, roller coaster riding proportions and why the Borg are feared here. The Borg just do not conquer, they consume EVERYTHING - including the soul. There are no prisoners, no rules, no rights, not even existence – one becomes a cog in the great Borg Machine, to be used at the Borg’s expense, and to be discarded if need be. Even worse, with the absorption, they learn, adapt, and become indestructible. As they say – "Resistance is futile, death is irrelevant". In short – the Borg here are the Anti-Christ.
From this, the crew realise they are now dealing with a powerful intelligent foe, not a weakling in any sense, or a threat that they can understand. Nor do the Borg’s power fades or is easily rendered. Some exec said that the Borg needed a lead in "First Contact", which the robot-zombie concept here cannot work on the big screen. Rubbish! This is what makes the Borg so chilling – there is no leader, no culture, no reference of understanding; The Borg are like an incoming disaster, like a hurricane, a pandemic, or tsunami – it crushes and consumes all and shows not even thought in the process of their consumption. Here the heroes have no quick solution, no neat fix. It’s a race against the clock, they are weaker than the Borg and you can feel it and more importantly wonder how they will beat them.
It is a shame thanks to First Contact and other executive decisions that the Borg would become mundane enemies. Here they were a phenomenon.
Third are the writing, acting, and characters development. We see Riker having no choice but to evolve and it shows; we see Shelby the uptight impetuous ambitious officer realise that career and selfish ambition is nothing when facing an immense foe, and realising that working as a team gets greater results; and Guinan – a civilian – coming up to Riker to remind him his role but also respect him. In short we the audience understands. However there is more; here we see the cast and the show at last find itself. Prior to this, it was living in the shadows of the original series, ripping off its predecessor every which way it can, and being mocked and ridiculed for it. After this, the show would find its own identity and forge ahead. Everyone in the show from cast member to producer declared it so.
Fourth, the overall treatment of the story; like with "The Undiscovered Country", and "The Wrath of Khan", its simple, sensible, and solid; there are no silly gimmicks, no alternate plot paths, no cop outs, no cartoon law, or cowardice. Like I said, this is brave and it shows it – the helplessness of Star Fleet, the deaths and destroyed at Wolf 359, that the optimistic nature of Trek is null and moot here, that there is no time travel, convenient loop hole, or sudden secret super weapon that comes out of the hat and saves the day. The abduction of Picard is the major point. The other shows never put their captains in such danger, peril, or terror. This makes the show very mature.
Finally the victim: Picard.
Yes, there are those who died on New Providence, and the starship crews, but Picard is the victim here. Not only was he abducted, he was (put it bluntly) gang raped, tortured, abused, mutilated, absorbed, smashed, used against his will; and said will was crushed to dust by the immense machine of the Borg. He was utilised to kill colleagues and friends, assisted a threat’s attempt to wipe out his species, his soul sucked into the collective, and worse he was powerless to prevent it. Who would not be traumatised by such a series of events? Despite years after, this event will still haunt him, even blind his judgement; such terrible events do this, and this is a good thing to show and not bury it in typical optimistic crap.
This also shows the great gulf difference of this show to the others; look to VOY’s "Scorpion" to see how clumsy that is with its ineffective cast and how swift they came up with a way to become immune to the Borg, or how easily it is for said crew to treat assimilation like it’s a case of interstellar gonorrhoea with no side effect or trauma in "Unimatrix Zero". Or how the terrifying Dominion loses its abilities and gets weaker. Said shows may have had better effects but they dominate not assist like here.
To sum up, this is Star Trek in general at a peak that is just perfect. It is the best two part episode ever made; far superior to the rest that come up in TNG, far superior to DS9's "The Way of the Warrior" or any of the battles with the Dominion, way superior to anything Voyager came up with, and I will go further in saying it is the best thing Trek has ever done. "The Wrath of Khan" is just better by a whisker.
Having said that, if this two parter was made into a film as it is, it would be the best thing Trek had ever made.
Never has a title ever been so apt.
10 plus; for BOTH episodes.
Remarkable fact 1: The first episode won Emmy Awards for "Outstanding Art Direction for a Series" and "Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series".
Remarkable fact 2: The storyline appeared in TV Guide's "100 Most Memorable Moments in TV History" (July 1, 1995) and ranked #70 on the "100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time".
Remarkable fact 3: In 2008, Empire magazine rated Star Trek: The Next Generation 37th on their list of "The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time" and cited "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" as the show's best episode. The episode was ranked #36 on TV Guide's list of "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time".
Rating: 10 (Chris S)

 


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