The Next Generation (TNG) Season 5 Guest Reviews
Stardate 45122.3: Riker and an away team witness an attack of the crystalline entity that wipes out the vegetation of a whole planet and kills several people, including Riker's acquaintance Carmen Davila. Dr. Kila Marr, whose son was once killed by the crystalline entity when Lore lured it to Omicron Theta, comes aboard the Enterprise. She is very hostile towards Data, until she learns that he has the memories of all killed settlers and is even able to imitate her son's voice. When the Enterprise encounters the entity, Marr takes revenge by destroying it with a graviton pulse that was supposed to be a means of communication.
I've tried to watch this many a time. I really have. I swear I've seen the first twenty minutes of this episode about five times, and then I fall asleep. I then wake up just after Dr. Marr destroys the entity, to see her being escorted off the bridge looking sad.
My conclusion? This is a VERY BORING EPISODE. After the rather thrilling start with people being vaporised by the entity, the episode crawls to a near halt for thirty minutes. Then, after everyone's gotten bored, there's a one minute finale that I saw coming since Dr. Marr started acting hostile towards Data and went on her speel about how her son died.
This raises the question of how stupid the security measures of Starfleet ships are, in any case. Why, even after Picard even noted that her discomfort could affect her judgment, was she allowed to carry out the procedure? And how can someone like her simply "lock out" the controls to a major system of the ship?
Frankly, I'm glad I fell asleep every time I watched this. It was probably the boring actress they got to play the doctor. I can't stand her.
- Remarkable scene: Dr. Marr is seen holding her tricorder upside down in one scene in the caves.
Rating: 0 (Hon. David Kulessa)
Stardate 45208.2: Synopsis in main TNG listing
"The Game" was the first episode aired after Gene Roddenberry's death and is in many ways predicts the way later Star Trek will go. It is crude, with an rather poorly thought out idea--a game that gives pleasure (of a sexual nature, of course) that is addictive and used as a controlling device?--that should not have been seen on a Star Trek episode.
Still, it was saved from being entirely pointless by Wil Wheaton's acting as Wesley Crusher. As always Wil Wheaton does an excellent job and makes the episode almost worth watching for this alone.
And yet, the episode should have been turned down rather than being approved for filming. It is one of the many, many pieces of evidence showing Brannon Braga's complete inability to write anything that is truly Star Trek in nature, and was only saved from being completely stupid by Susan Sackett and Fred Bronson.
- Remarkable quote: "Would you like me to leave the two of you alone?" -Riker to Troi as she eats her chocolate sundae.
Rating: 2 (Matthew Carpenter)
Stardate 45208.2: Synopsis in main TNG listing
This episode has to go down as one of the worst of TNG and Star Trek as a whole. I have never been fond of alien takeover stories in general and this variant is utterly stupid. First of all, Riker has to play the fool who brings the game onboard. Why he fell for Etana in the first place completely eludes me. Secondly, it is very annoying that the entire Enterprise crew falls under the influence of the game. What about Worf? Who could force him, a Klingon, to play such a childish video game that looks extremely dated even by today's standards? Guinan seems to be on shore leave but I guess she would have realized that something is going on to soon. And finally, with Data incapacitated it is AGAIN up to Wesley to save the ship. I could give one point to this episode for the return of Robin Lefler but she alone does not save this example of bad writing and acting. Like I said, this is as low as Star Trek can go.
- Remarkable error: After Riker, Troi and Crusher have incapacitated Data, Crusher claims that Data came to sickbay and complained about a malfunction. Actually, Crusher called Data to sickbay with Geordi standing next to him. Geordi is listening to her explanation but apparently does not notice this error.
- Remarkable quote: "Your neutrinos are drifting." (Robin Lefler) -Now I hate it when THAT happens ^_^
- Remarkable ship: The Ktarian ship is an obvious re-use of the Zalkonian warship from TNG: "Transfigurations". The interior seems to have been stolen from a Romulan warbird, especially Etana's chair.
- Remarkable fact: The Enterprise is studying the Phoenix cluster in this episode... I wonder if they spotted Lt. Talby ^^
Rating: 0 (Timm)
Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing
The Enterprise receives a distress call from another starship, the Vigo, and finds it a wreck. Aboard the sole survivor is a boy, Timothy. The kid is traumatised and is fascinated with Data who he clings to and starts to imitate him, even down to his haircut which is curious to Data. Data also wishes to understand disappointment in his quest to become more human. Tim first tells them that they were attacked by aliens, but later admits he may have touched a console that caused it. In the end they discover its some gravimetric anomaly via shield harmonics that caused the Vigo's destruction.
Tim realises what has happened and stops imitating Data and become friends. And that's it. It gets no more thrilling.
I would like to add or say that there were some good moments, that there was any humour or something amazing, but no, what is read above is what happened and that’s the end.
Nothing new, exciting, or interesting.
- Remarkable fact: On the day this episode was filmed, the cast learned of Gene's death and it affected them.
Rating: 0 (Chris S)
Stardate 45494.2: The Enterprise encounters a probe that wipes out the crew's memories and changes the computer records, and adds a new first officer, Commander Kieran MacDuff. The crew then learns that their mission is to destroy the Lysian Central Command who have been at war with the Federation. While the crew tries to sort out their places and loyalties, the Enterprise easily destroys a Lysian warship and easily reaches the Central Command. After this seems all to easy to Picard and Riker, who also decide not to attack, MacDuff tries to attack himself, but Worf phasers him. It is learned that the Enterprise was "drafted" by the Satarrans, whom MacDuff is a member of, to attack their dire enemies, the Lysians, in an attempt to end the conflict.
Watching this episode again brought to my attention on how this same concept of drafting soldiers through mind control would be used again in the Voyager episode "Nemesis". Only in that case, it was not a whole crew, just an individual, namely Chakotay. It is also similar to the episode "The Hunted" when soldiers are enhanced through genetic engineering.
Another piece of information I noticed was that the model for the Lysian Central Command was the "God Ship" protecting the Edo on planet Rubicun III in the first season episode "Justice".
On more of a personal note, I found this episode fun to watch. I find it interesting that with their memories erased, the bridge crew, or maybe just Worf, decide to put Worf in charge because of his Klingon sash even though Riker points out that Picard has more rank pips than anyone else.
Another curiosity, with the ability to erase memories and the obvious ability to alter the Enterprise computers, is why did MacDuff not make himself captain instead of first officer? He wouldn't have to hope that Picard agrees with him and will just blindly follow orders even after it seems that the Lysians are no match for the Enterprise and for that matter the Federation. I also found it intriguing at how, with their memories erased, Ro and Riker got attracted to each other even though in reality they hate each other. It's also interesting that Ro accepted this occurrence so easily after their memories were restored, I mean she didn't even see to be embarrassed or disgusted.
"Conundrum" is an entertaining episode and a good story. It had an interesting concept and it proved once again how morally and intellectually superior this crew is to most other humans.
- Reused ship: The Lysian Central Command is a reuse of the model from the episode "Justice".
- Cool effects: I thought that the mind-wiping beam was cool and as always, the discharging starship phasers were impressive.
- Just weird: Riker, Ro, love, enough said.
- Amusing: The scene with "Data the Bartender" was funny.
Rating: 7 (Nathaniel Scripa)
Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing
A very interesting episode that in a way went to basics - and the net result was quite pleasing.
An ancient distress beacon from a long lost Star Fleet vessel encourages Picard to send Troi, Riker, and Data down via shuttlecraft to investigate - due to the turbulent storms of the world. However said storms force land the ship and the three are marooned. In typical style, the Enterprise finds a way to been through but to get back requires pattern emitters. Miles volunteers.
As they do so, a strange storm descends on them and all four are electrocuted; and possessed. This could descend into "typical mind control plot of the week", but it did not. Troi is possessed by the brains, the cool thinker who tries to lure Picard into getting the ship to the South Pole of the world. Her plans are scuppered by the being possessing Data - an inpatient thug. Data knowing his power, kicks in the crew and tries to take the ship, when that fails he goes all violent and fights it out in a brilliant sequence. Miles is the gormless follow on who does what he says because he's reliable.
What follows is an episode of good acting; the three are possessed by prisoner beings turned into spirits who want off world. It is all done with great gusto and drive, the three are allowed to act and they take it all the way with no slowing down. Cornered in Ten Forward, a tense hostage situation takes place. Picard's negotiation skills are rendered ineffective to Data's brutality, and on that, Data wanting to smash Worf in - even goading him. Brilliant.
It’s all resolved when the ship heads to where the aliens want them to go. In the showdown, the hostages are willing to die rather than let them allow the aliens to board and are willing to jettison the lot into space - with the hostages in tow. The aliens relent and warn them never to pass by their world again.
Its nice seeing Marina act with drive, Data showing his true strength, and a plausible smart alien foe they had to out think fast. And to think this was going to be a bottle episode!!
- Remarkable fact 1: The Captain of the Essex, one Bryce Shumar, was one of the first selected commanding officers for the first Daedalus class starship in the Star Trek novel - Star Fleet: Year One.
- Remarkable fact 2: The shuttle Riker and co take down is the only time we ever see seatbelts!
- Remarkable scene: Data smashing an LCARS and accessing it with his circuitry. POW!
Rating: 9 (Chris S)
Cause and Effect
Stardate 45652.1: The Enterprise is caught in a repeating time warp in which the ship is repeatedly destroyed. The crew finally escapes thanks in part to their déjà-vu and Data's programming.
Fantastic! Absolutely fantastic! By far the best non-two-parter in TNG. The story was incredibly well written and the acting was superb. The repeating poker game was a nice touch as well as the voices in Beverly's quarters. Data saves the day again with his programmable neural net. A must see!
- Kitbashing: The Soyuz Class is really a kitbash of the Miranda Class, with just a few minor changes to the rear.
- Effects: The special effects of the exploding warp nacelle and the eventual explosion of the Enterprise are absolutely breath-taking.
- Quote: "All hands to emergency escape pods!" -Riker to crew
- Another quote: "All hands abandon ship. Repeat, all hands abandon..." -Picard to crew, cut short by destruction of the Enterprise.
Rating: 10 (Nathaniel Scripa)
Stardate not given: The crew mollycoddle a teen Borg back to health. How cute.
Plot holes only.
Sisko went ape over a crashed Jem'Hadar ship in DS9: "The Ship". He explicitly stated that it amounted to possibly the greatest intelligence find in the past 10 years. In BoBW part 2, Data also points out the merits of preserving the regenerating Borg cube for the purposes of studying it.
So why isn't the Enterprise crew salvaging the scout ship and performing autopsies on the other four corpses?
Rating: 7 (Niall Johnson)
Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing
At the time when this was first aired, I thought it was a brilliant and clever episode, well acted, and quite moving in parts - especially the scene where Hugh decides to go back to the collective to spare the crew.
A ship is found on a world and the Enterprise is on the scene and goes to the aid of the wreck. To their horror - it's Borg. Plans are hatched to leave the survivor, an adolescent who they late christen "Hugh" to die but morality sets in, and so do the plans to defeat the Borg once and for all, but at the expense of morality. So he is beamed up to be 'treated' with the sub plan to use him as a Trojan horse to carry an 'invasive program' - or computer virus.
As for the arguments, here they were allowed to be and it worked because it was done well; In DS9 it's always black and white, with Sisko always being right, and in Voyager, many such things are done with such clumsiness.
The moral brick-batting by Beverly Crusher is the low point of it all - of course the ethics of wiping out another race is rather macabre, but where the enemy here has no hesitation in slaying them, where negotiation is non-existent, where the threat is merciless, and constant - what do you do? Guinan‘s clever act in the fencing emphasises the point.
The acting is great here, especially from Whoopi, Mr Stewart, LeVar Burton, and the actor who plays Hugh. You feel for all, everyone’s viewpoint is explored fairly and the changes come with equal passion: Picard and Guinan's prejudice is well founded because they were harmed by the Borg, Geordi and Crusher's open mindedness found because they did not suffer at their hands, and Hugh, confused, alone, powerless, maybe even naive, starts to think because he is away from the collective. His loneliness and sudden reluctance in what he is doing makes him question his role in all. He starts to change and in the process everyone starts to, including Guinan and later Picard, especially in his ready room.
Hugh is the base model of Seven of Nine no doubt, but somewhere in the mix, Hugh’s individuality is better done, and he was born into the collective! In ways its shows that the enemy has a face, a heart, and a chance to talk, that annihilation is not needed. This is Star Trek.
However looking at it now, I see it in a new, rather sad light. In the bid for a good morality play, they sacrificed a great idea. Its here that the Borg stopped being a phenomenon, the powerful menace, the great threat to all, and descended into being another enemy Starfleet would beat on a regular basis. The powers that be wanted the Borg back but not a repeat of "The Best of Both Worlds", and wanted to make this enemy stoppable for more encounters of this threat, but in the process of what they thought was good storytelling, they sowed the seeds of the destruction of a great enemy. They could have made them a one-off like the Planet Killer in "The Doomsday Machine", or a rare thing or a phenomenon like a hurricane, and show Starfleet having to adapt to beat them like an arms race.
Instead they weakened them, and like the Klingons and Ferengi, they are whipped out to keep the Trek core happy and the ratings up - look to Voyager to see the point.
Like with the Borg, Star Trek, the mighty, has fallen.
10/10 for the acting and idea, but -5 for the foundations this laid.
- Remarkable scene 1: The fencing between Picard and Guinan and the lesson learned.
- Remarkable scene 2: Picard and Hugh in the Ready room - and Picard's reaction to Hugh when he says "I"
Rating: 5 (Chris S)
The Inner Light
Stardate not given: Synopsis in main TNG listing
When I first saw this episode I had good mixed feelings for it.
It starts off like a typical Star Trek episode - Enterprise encounters alien probe (Think "Spectre of the Gun", "The Corbomite Maneuver"), said probe harms the crew.
The difference here is that the device harms Picard, and like with the aforementioned episodes, he is "taken" to another place. However, the difference here is that there is no hostility, infact as Picard carries on here, he settles into his way and lives the "new life". Only in the end is the truth revealed, and when it does its rather sad, infact moving. In ways it reminds me of Jor'el method of teaching the teenager who becomes Superman his origins.
The main success is down to Patrick Stewart who has transformed Picard into a great character - and more than that, thanks to his acting and charisma makes the story and conclusion moving and succinct. The end with the flute makes me sit in silence and appreciate the outcome.
I have not changed my mind about the performance nor the motive of the Kataans. It still moves me, and it's sad.
The gripes I have however come from the method - the device the Kataans use is rather stupid - making just Picard live their life is a poor medium = why him? What made him stand out? It is never explained. More to the point, the device itself - it burns out once it achieves its goal (I presume) and the records of the people are forever lost - except they are in Picard - so what happened if Picard say died? The knowledge would die with him and their culture, history, and existence is lost. Worse, only Picard can relate their existence to all. Why not share? More to the point, it violates Picard's right to chose to live this experience - similar VOY: "Memorial".
Had the device been a unit that activated gave all a glimpse of this society - say a holodeck of some kind, or something that happened to Picard but shared amongst the crew, and the perception was from each person, then maybe its more credible. Just sharing one message on the off chance that it maybe picked up by one who is worthy after a Millennium is ludicrous.
However I give it 6/10 for the acting and the performance of Pat.
- Remarkable fact: This episode won the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. It's the third of four Star Trek episodes to win the award. The others are "The Menagerie, Part I" and "The Menagerie, Part II" (with both parts combined), "The City on the Edge of Forever", and "All Good Things...".
- Remarkable fact 2: Rick Sternbach, scribbled the designs for DS9 on the script cover.
- Remarkable scene: Picard and the flute
Rating: 6 (Chris S)
The Inner Light
Stardate 45944.1: Synopsis in main TNG listing
What is that saying on the Internet? 'Lay Down. Try not to cry. Cry Alot'? Because that is a pretty apt description for this touching episode. The Enterprise happens upon a probe in deep space which scans Picard, knocking him out. Picard then wakes to find himself on a far off planet living the life of a man called Kamin in a rudimental civilisation. Over the course of the episode we see snippet of Picard as he lives out this life, watching his friends and loved ones come into his world and leave just as fluently.
Patrick Stewart really drives this episode with such a fantastic performance, of course his stubbornness and suspicion upon waking in this life if there to see, but through the course we see the relationship he has with his wife Eline, and friend Batai, and eventually fathering children Meribor and Batai. All the while there has been a drought on the planet and it becomes evident that nothing can be done to save this society despite the best efforts of 'Kamin'.
Back on the Enterprise the crew attempt to revive Picard and break the link, but to no avail as severing the connection nearly kills the Captain, eventually though, they trace the origin of the probe and set a course.
And finally, on the planet, Kamin, in very old age, is invited to the launching of a rocket into space, there he is greeted by his long dead wife and friend, informing them that the rocket is carrying a probe which will interface with a being, allowing them to live the life of one of their inhabitants, so that a record of their society may yet live on, long after the planet dies.
It's discovered the planet's star went nova 1,000 years prior.
Picard awakens from the memory and the probe shuts down, inside though is a box which Riker gives to Picard, containing a flute that Picard learnt to play during his life as Kamin. In solitude, Picard plays a tune he learnt in that time.
And that draws an end to an excellent, moving episode. I have to admit, I did get pretty emotional at it when Kamin's friend Batai and his wife showed up at the end, and Picard's realisation of what it all meant in how he arrived on the planet in the first plays. Margot Rose though was excellent in her role as Kamin's wife, bringing a warmth and sincerity to the role. But Patrick Stewart just steals the show, and you KNOW that this experience means so much to his character, especially in light of what later happens to his own family down the line.
If I were to have one gripe it would be the cut-backs to the Enterprise. I think they needed to have a way to break up the segments of Kamin's life, but to me it really robbed the episode of what made it all great, with a line of dialogue following Picard waking at the end, they could have summed up why they couldn't sever his connection to the probe, and the fate of the planet, but I can live with it. I have also read Chris S' review and do note the similarities to the atrocious Voyager episode 'Memorial' in so far as we have a device making a target relive memories from a previous civilisation, and questioning 'Why Picard'? I guess those are valid points and the Kataanians (?) programming the probe just to imprint this memory on one person does not make that much sense if they want to preserve their civilisation, but I think it would have been done intentionally for two reasons: 1. The Kataanians probably only wanted one person to relive this life, even if said person were to pass away they would still have that story with them, inside them, and could at least write about it in some way; and 2. The Kataanians also didn't seem very technologically advanced, their probe may only have had enough power to imprint onto one person, it happening to be Picard is just one of those thing we'll have to accept.
- Remarkable scene: Picard playing the Ressikan flute at the end.
- Remarkable fact #1: This episode was named for the George Harrison-penned Beatles song "The Inner Light".
- Remarkable fact #2: The flute Picard/Kamin played went to auction with a estimated sale price of $300, it eventually sold for $48,000.
- Remarkable continuity: Picard is seen playing the Ressikan flute again in "A Fistful of Datas". It plays a bigger part when Picard engages in a romance with a crewmember in "Lessons", where they pair perform a duet with their respective instruments, and it's final appearance was in a deleted scene of "Star Trek: Nemesis".
- Remarkable casting: Batai, Kamin's son, was played by Daniel Stewart, son of Patrick Stewart.
Rating: 9 (Cameron)