Star Trek The Next Generation: Descent, Part 2

"I now realise that my life aboard the Enterprise was a waste. My quest to become Human, misguided. An evolutionary step in the wrong direction... I am not your puppet anymore!"

It's the beginning of the end for the crew of the Enterprise-D.

‘Descent, Part 2’ kicks off Next Gen’s seventh and final season. It starts as it means to go on, by reuniting a main character with a long lost family member. Seriously, this happens so often over the next 26 episodes that season seven has unofficially become known as the “family season”. I think Riker's the only one who doesn't run into a family member or an alien pretending to be a family member or an alien possessing the dead body of a family member they were previously having freaky ghost sex with. You have no idea how happy I am that I get to review that episode.

Anyway, on to 'Decent, Part 2', the answer to the question "What if 'The Best of Both Worlds' was crap?" Okay, that might be a bit harsh. As Next Gen two-parters go, this isn't all that bad. It's better than some of the horrors this season inflicts upon us. But compared to what came before it I can't help but feel like it's a massive letdown. The return of the Borg turns out to be a complete non-event. Without their unity or adaptability, they are nothing more than a bunch of goons for Lore to boss around. Since we last saw him, Data's big bro has decided it isn't enough for him to just be an evil twin, he's got to be a cartoon supervillain as well. A really boring cartoon supervillain who likes to make a lot of dreary speeches.

Unsurprisingly, he's the one responsible for Data’s sudden personality change. According to Geordi, Lore was sending a carrier wave that was flooding Data with negative emotions and overriding his ethical subroutine. Everyone calls this manipulation, but it sounds a lot more like brainwashing to me. Lore's basically turned Data into a copy of himself. Weirdly, the writers portray it more like an addiction. Data as a junkie hooked on Lore’s emotions.


Honestly, though, it really seems like the writers didn't have a clear idea what they were doing with evil Data. As J.D. said in his review, it feels like they were just trying to duplicate 'The Best of Both Worlds' and wanted another shocking cliffhanger where one of our heroes is turned against their shipmates by the Borg. I might've been able to forgive this lack of originality if the creative team had at least taken the time and care to make Data's turn to the dark side somewhat believable. But that didn't happen. He went bad because someone literally flicked a switch and was turned back just as easily. Everything he did is just quickly forgiven and forgotten, even the fact he spent most of this episode torturing Geordi.

While everyone else is stuck on the planet being more or less useless, Beverly is back on the ship kicking Borg ass and taking names. Really was a shame we didn't get more Captain Crusher episodes before the series ended. That said, there are still things about this plotline that bother me. Why was the skeleton crew left on the Enterprise made up of people neither trained nor experienced for the jobs they'd been given? It made no sense for Taitt, a junior science officer, to be made tactical officer. You don't give such an important role to someone who doesn't even know how to return fire.  

Notes and Quotes

--Lt Barnaby saying he knows about the metaphasic shielding technology is a little inside joke since actor James Horan also played the guy trying to steal that tech in 'Suspicions'. He's also had roles on Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise.

--This was the first (and only) season to score an Emmy nomination for Best Drama.

--In early drafts of the script, Barclay was meant to be acting tactical officer. Due to availability and cost issues, he was replaced by Taitt. Still makes no sense why Reg, an engineer with no combat experience, would be tactical officer.

--Data uses a phaser when he tries to destroy the emotion chip, which seems a little extreme. It's like using a revolver to destroy a sim card.

--Picard and Troi need to work out the kinks in their "Get Help!" routine. Next time, Deanna, try throwing him. It works for Thor.

--Jeri Taylor took over as showrunner from Michael Piller for this season.

--What the Roddenberry is with those stair chairs the Borg have?


--The Shield's Benito Martinez has a small role as the transporter chief.

Troi: "Data, all I'm sensing from you is anger and hatred. Have you felt any other emotions?"
Data: "There are no other emotions."

Lore: "The reign of biological life forms is coming to an end. You, Picard, and those like you... are obsolete!"

Barnaby: "We can enter orbit while they're on the far side of the planet. And if we delayed dropping out of warp until the last possible instant, we could gain a few more seconds."
Taitt: "If your calculations are even slightly off, we'd hit the atmosphere!"
Barnaby: "I'll just have to be sure my calculations are accurate, Ensign."

Taitt: "I've already configured the tractor emitters to create the particle beam, and I've located the target point on the surface."
Barnaby: "If her calculations are off, that eruption could encompass us!"
Taitt: "Well, I'll just have to make sure my calculations are accurate, Lieutenant."

Two out of four inexperienced acting tactical officers.

Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig

No comments: