Star Trek The Next Generation: 11001001

"What's a knock-out like you doing in a computer-generated gin joint like this?"

Riker's search for a personality has finally come to a middle. It's almost as if the writers took all the traits they tried to use for his character in the first half of the season and then turned them down a few notches.

Riker likes jazz, and plays the trombone, and likes sultry brunettes. Which fits with the other important woman in Riker's life, although come to think about it Deanna isn't really sultry. She's more… exotic. And unfortunately, aloof. Perhaps that is part of the reason they aren't together, and perhaps that's why the writers came up with Minuet.

Minuet is totally a cipher, but for plot reasons she works. The whole time Riker was making his moves, though, I kept thinking that she's a program designed to accept his advances. At the same time, her total disappearance at the end of the episode means that at least she was unique.

Was her uniqueness real? Or was she just an incredible simulation? That's an interesting question, but I wonder if that's the right question. I think it's more important to ask, what does she mean to Riker? He has been shown to be repressing his feelings for Deanna, flirting with alien women, and generally living the bachelor's life with a very unfocused attitude towards his free time.

Take the first third of the episode as an example of how restless Riker is. He wanders from colleague to colleague, checking on what they are going to do with their 48 hours of free time. He doesn't make plans with any of them, he doesn't really show a real interest in joining any of them. So when he gets the idea to check the holodeck out, he immediately creates a woman to interact with.

Yet the way he doesn't interact with the rest of the crew is almost more telling than his interactions with Minuet. He treats each of his colleagues with at least some passing curiosity and casual humor, he's charming and seems to like them all. But he isn't engaged with any of them. Also, note the total lack of Deanna. I think she's almost too real for Riker at this stage in his life, literally.

Okay, onto the plot. The whole hijacking thing was interesting, but a little underdeveloped. I did like the Binars even though the makeup was awful. The idea that their entire society was linked through a form of cybernetics seemed neat, although the negative side of that kind of society is a bit mind bending to think about. Still, I think this was one of the best episodes so far this season.

Bits:

Picard showing up in the holodeck was a little odd, especially since he just walked in. A few minutes later and I bet Riker would've been exploring just how real Minuet truly was.

The opening shot was just gorgeous, especially in the new remastered version.

So this is the first time the ship has been back to dock since disembarking.

So puzzle me this; Riker sucks at figuring out how to spend his free time, but Picard has no trouble at all with it? That seems off to me.

And the winner of the incredibly ugly costume award is -- Tasha and Worf in their Parrises squares team uniforms. Though I think Worf takes it this time because blue doesn't go with his complexion. Also, those gym bags they were carrying looked incredibly awkward (hard shell cylinder-shaped bags) and would never work in real life.

The Enterprise computer's real voice finally showed up on the holodeck in this episode. It was as if the Binars finally gave the good ship her voice back. Majel Barrett was basically the voice of the computer. She was featured in every television incarnation of Star Trek, and five of the feature films.

Picard and Riker acted a lot like the Binars throughout the episode. They were both attracted to Minuet, they moved through the ship like the Binars, and their decisions were all made without much debate. Sure, that could've been done simply for time limitations, but it was an interesting parallel.

Riker flashed the Vulcan salute for some reason.

A 1958 New Orlean's jazz bar on Bourbon Street seems awfully specific.

The auto-destruct sequence was truncated quite a bit in this episode. There were only two officers required, and no code words. I guess it was refined in the time between Star Trek III and Next Gen.

Data acted so human in this episode. He made the right calls, and even expressed guilt for not being on the bridge. I like that Tasha came to his defense there, too.

Quotes:

Worf: "If winning is not important then, Commander, why keep score?"

Riker: "Think about it. A blind man teaching an android how to paint? That's gotta be worth a couple of pages in somebody's book."

Riker: "Blondes and jazz seldom go together."

Riker: "Gentlemen, if this is what you call 'enhancement', you have a gift for understatement."

Picard: "Why didn't they just ask for help?"

This was not only one of the first good episodes of the series, but it was also the first time I actually liked Riker as a character (despite his obvious flaws).

3 out of 4 Binary pairs of pink aliens.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Maybe not a great episode, but certainly one of the better first season episodes, and definitely the best so far. I remember that the first time I saw it, I was totally intrigued by Minuet's existence. It was also the first time I thought I could like Riker.

Great review, J.D. I liked the Firefly reference at the beginning. :)

drnanamom said...

Enjoyed the review JD and glad you picked up on the Binariness of Picard and Riker. It had to be intentional. It was just too perfect. This episode still didn't make Riker likable for me - a made to order woman is the one he can get connected to? Really? Still I guess that would be hard to resist.