Two races, the Selay and the Anticans, board the Enterprise; their hate becomes the background for an investigation of the crew when a mysterious alien is accidentally picked up by the Enterprise.
It would be tough to beat the last episode in terms of external exploration: what can top going to the ends of the Universe? So, perhaps wisely, the TNG writers have switched to an episode which gives us more internal exploration, and some new aspects to our characters appear for the very first time. When the ship, carrying two potential new members of the Federation, starts experiencing equipment failures, suspicion and confusion reign–and these are great for showing character, and character flaws.
Let's start with Tasha Yar. She's pretty snobbish to the less-sophisticated Selay and Anticans… but in the previous episode we saw flashbacks revealing the poor, crime-filled background Yar herself came from. And how about Data, kindling the connection to Picard over mysteries and a clear interest in LARPing, complete with props–but as usual, never knowing when he's taken things too far? But there's another character who also deserves some notice here. I often think Deanna Troi and Marina Sirtis don't get enough respect.
|Worf discovers the body. Does he realize this |
coulda been him?
Throughout the episode the aliens are played for laughs. They eat giant, living animals. They hunt each other with lassos and non-weapons. Riker is accidentally captured. I suspect they found two races of teenagers, but it actually does provide some moments of relief from the tension.
At the end I was left wondering how much control that alien had. From the experiences of Crusher and Worf, total control, but is it possible the alien learned enough to let Picard have some say? That the alien wasn't lying, and Picard wanted to go? From the previous episode, we know how much of a temptation exploration is. Or did he sacrifice himself for the ship? We'll never know: he was restored to an "earlier Picard pattern" and doesn't have those memories anyway. It was a relief when Picard got back on board. I had a horrible vision of his consciousness left wandering in purple nebulae for eternity. Not fun.
Bits and pieces
--You can remove a Captain through the actions of the First Officer or the Chief Medical Officer.
--Wesley still has the same weird orange anorak that he had last episode. Did Wil Wheaton anger a costumer somewhere?
--The dress uniforms are marginally better, but look kind of like... spandex. Hopefully they improve.
--Can the Federation track consciousness separately from bodies? Does that explain some of the transporter dialogue here?
--I'm a Sherlock Holmes lover. The precise quote uttered by Data comes from "His Last Bow," a collection of short stories.
--Death is not serious in Trek. Did they have a service for Singh? How about some love for the dead peace delegate? But I guess when your consciousness has just been rescued from dispersal in interstellar space, you get some slack.
Tasha: "One thing is clear. Almost all of the peace delegates answered our questions with lies."
Data: (smoking pipe with what looks like actual tobacco) "Imprecise, Lieutenant. They omitted certain truths, which in itself tells us something."
Tasha: "We can learn something from non-disclosure?"
Data: "Indubitably, my good woman."
(during a staff meeting, the crew turn to Data, who is still smoking the pipe.)
Picard: "Data, let's proceed without the pipe."
Picard: "What the devil am I doing here?"
Riker: "Sounds like our Captain."
Three out of four sentient energy patterns. A solid episode - doesn't quite reach the dramatic heights we know TNG can get to, but great plotting, reasonable character development, and Riker with a lasso around his neck isn't a bad visual.