Star Trek The Next Generation: Power Play

“Someone’s down there… alive.”

There was a neat premise here, subverting the typical hostage episode with a sci-fi twist. But it wasn’t perfect.

First off, gold stars to Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner and Colm Meaney, who all completely transformed themselves into unrecognizable monsters. In fact, almost everyone in the episode did a good job performance-wise. Rosalind Chao didn’t have much to do besides looking frightened, but she managed to show the conflict and confusion that would come with a situation as bizarre as this one.

How Miles acted towards Molly was a good clue as to what was really going on. He wasn’t acting like a Starfleet officer, he was acting like an alien impersonating a Starfleet officer. Although the lack of understanding of what a baby was did poke a few holes in the logic of the possession. The aliens managed to glean enough from their hosts to gather names, knowledge and even some memories, but not a big important detail like Miles' own daughter?

The rest of the episode, however, was tense despite the whole infamous reset button. Worf got to interact with the aliens with a bit of fun dialogue. I especially liked Data’s antagonism, because it was so much of a shift from Data’s relatively pure soul. But really, it was Deanna’s episode. She was the main antagonist and she carried it well. Her lower vocal register, deadpan expressions, and quick temper made her an effective villain.

I did also like the whole idea of disembodied spirits living forever as a form of punishment. Literally a penal colony of ghosts, it’s a creepy and wonderfully supernatural idea with spooky science fiction at its heart, akin to Doctor Frankenstein’s monster, or possibly the Phantom Zone. In a way, it’s classic Trek, even though the characters had to do some logic gymnastics to get to the final resolution.

Speaking of resolutions, I thought it was pretty fitting that sacrifice was the ultimate way of winning the day. Picard, Worf and even Keiko were willing to die so that those prisoners couldn’t take over the ship. And what a horrible thing that would have been, a galaxy class ship in the hands of monsters. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine where they would go, although I wonder if a civilization with the power to remove a consciousness from a body might have more advanced technology than the Federation.

Bits:

The USS Essex was the source of conflict in this episode, with the aliens posing as the lingering spirits of the Essex’s crew.

Daedalus-Class ships like the Essex were a little unusual because they had a spherical main hull instead of a saucer.

According to Memory Alpha, pattern enhancers were introduced in this episode. I had no idea they were introduced this late in the series, since it felt like they were used before.

Ensign Ro had a big part in this episode as well. I'd forgotten how much the character was featured throughout season five.

Overall, this was a pretty good episode.

2 1/2 out of 4 impostor alien spirits.
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J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

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