Star Trek The Next Generation: Relics

"Just 'cause something's old doesn't mean you throw it away."

The Enterprise-D gets a visit from a very special guest and season six delivers its first classic.

'Relics' was the fourth (and final) episode to bring back a famous character from the Original Series. It is also, as far as this humble reviewer is concerned, the best. The whole thing is a touching love letter to the Original Series and the character of Montgomery Scott, arguably the show's most beloved character after the central trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. You can tell Ron Moore, unquestionably the biggest Trekkie amongst the Next Gen writing staff, had a lot of fun writing this episode.

This episode could've so easily been nothing more than a exercise in hollow nostalgia where Scotty showed up, said some funny lines, mentioned his old shipmates, helped save the Enterprise from certain disaster, and then flew off into the sunset. But Moore takes full advantage of this opportunity to do something that the Original Series and movies never really made time for and that's explore Scotty's character and see what makes him tick, allowing James Doohan (wonderful as ever) to really stretch his acting muscles.

Scotty has always been defined by two things 1) his almost aggressive Scottishness, and 2) his skill as an engineer. I doubt there is another Star Trek character who lived for their job as much as Scotty did. Being an engineer was everything to him. This is a man whose idea of relaxing was to sit and read tech manuals. So it is understandable that once he is beamed out of the transporter buffer and brought aboard this swanky new Enterprise he'd want to help out. He may be pushing 150, but Scotty's mind is still sharp and his body is willing. He doesn't want to just sit in his spacious quarters twiddling his thumbs. He wants to help out, he wants to contribute, he wants to be useful. But the Enterprise, this Enterprise, has no use for him. His knowledge is out of date and his unorthodox way of doing things is no longer suitable for the modern Starfleet, where engineers are not miracle workers, but professionals who always tell their captains exactly how long a job will take.

And so he is cast out of engineering, his spiritual home, by its current master for being a bit of a nuisance. As much as Geordi admires Scotty's technical ingenuity, he's got a job to do and doesn't have time to babysit this old timer. It is heartbreaking seeing Scotty like this. Depressed and feeling like the embarrassing relative everyone avoids at family gatherings. It's no surprise that he'd seek comfort from the Ghost of Starships Past. The scene on the holodeck between him and Picard, where these two Starfleet veterans sit on the bridge of the original Enterprise drinking whiskey and reminiscing about the ships they'd both loved and lost, was the highlight of the episode and probably one of my favourite Next Gen scenes.

I'm really glad that they didn't drag out that antagonism between Scotty and Geordi. I for one didn't want to watch an episode where all they did was argue all the time. Yeah, it is a little hackneyed that they ended up separated from the ship and had to learn to work together to save the day. But that's exactly what I wanted from this episode. I wanted to see the franchise's two most famous engineers hanging out, geeking over each other's engineering skills and parting as not just respect colleagues, but friends. 'Relics' gave me all of that and more. It wasn't perfect. The Dyson sphere was sort of wasted and really deserved an entire episode devoted to it. But that's a minor quibble, and doesn't stop this episode from being a touching passing of the torch from one generation to another and a fitting farewell to a Star Trek legend.


Notes and Quotes

--Scotty mentions the events of 'Elaan of Troyius', 'Wolf in the Fold', and 'The Naked Time'.

--There was meant to be a scene where Deanna goes to counsel Scotty, but it was cut for time.

--Loved that they used the old transport effect on the Jenolen.

--Freeman Dyson actually saw this episode and while he found the science suspect he rather enjoyed it.

--Scotty and Geordi are beamed off the Jenolen while its shields are still up. How?

Scotty: "Starship captains are like children. They want everything right now and they want it their way. The secret is to give them what they need, not what they want."

Scotty: "What is it?"
Date: "It is... it is... it is green."

Geordi: "The tank can't handle that much pressure."
Scotty: "Where'd you get that idea?"
Geordi: "What do you mean, where did I get that idea? It's in the impulse engine specifications."
Scotty: "Regulations 42/15: 'Pressure Variances in IRC Tank Storage'?"
Geordi: "Yeah."
Scotty: "Forget it. I wrote it. A good engineer is always a wee bit conservative, at least on paper."

Scotty: "When I was here, I could tell ya the speed that we were travelin' by the feel of the deck plates."

Scotty: "A good crew... and a fine ship, a credit to her name. But I've always found that a ship is... only as good as the engineer who takes care of her. And from what I can see, the Enterprise is in good hands."

Four out of four bottles of  Aldebaran whiskey.
--
Mark Greig is off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz More Mark Greig

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

What an absolutely lovely episode, and a perfect send-off for Montgomery Scott.

And a lovely review, Mark.

drnanamom said...

I loved this episode and I loved the review. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Scotty.