Weekly Links - The Triumphant Return Edition


19-04-14 Weekly Links


Star Trek TNG - Season 4

Best of Both Worlds, Part II - This is one of the most famous episodes and deserves its reputation. Not much to say except it was great how they turned Shelby and Riker from bitter enemies into an excellent team, and it's crappy how we then never see Shelby again. It also wraps up a little too nicely, but that ends up being a fake out. - 5/5

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Family - They decided a good epilogue to their cyborg war storyline would be a slow-paced agricultural family drama, and they pulled it off. Kind of seems like showing off, really. - 5/5


Brothers - Data's single-mindedness makes him a scarier villain than Lore. I have to give this episode credit because every time I watch it, partway through I stop thinking about the fact that they're all the same actor. - 4/5



Suddenly Human - This one takes on a large number of controversial topics, and gets tangled in its own thematic web. It's extremely clumsy but I've always liked it. - 4/5


Remember Me - McFadden and Stewart do an excellent job of balancing frightening and hilarious. The good parts are as good as the Wesley parts are bad, which in some way is the highest praise you can give a TNG episode. - 5/5



Legacy - When an enemy approaches one of the faction members, a light starts blinking on their chest as a warning, basically turning their heart into a bright, shining target in the dark. And it explodes if you try to remove it. They voluntarily have these planted under their skin as a sign of loyalty, even though their enemy sensors can detect these devices from miles away. I know Star Trek invented cell phones and pads, but wow did it have some bad ideas as well. Also, when the Enterprise crew members first go down to the planet, there's a man who is flexing so hard that he starts to get confused. - 2/5


Reunion - It's a slow starter, but ends up being a solid Klingon politics episode. Also, they show the Enterprise bridge from an angle you don't normally see, and you really get a sense of admiration for its nice carpeting. - 5/5



Future Imperfect - The first half is reasonably good, although it treads over pretty familiar territory. The second half just keeps getting wackier and wackier. I'm no stranger to tomfoolery, but this was just a bit too much for me. On the other hand, I really liked the extra-futuristic communicators and hairstyles. - 2/5


Final Mission - Wesley insults and smugly second-guesses an innocent Zelda fan into suicide. This is the last episode with Wesley as a regular character, and they made him extra-annoying just to make sure no one would miss him. - 2/5


The Loss - One of my favourite "Diana Gets a Headache" episodes. The writing is sharp and character-focused, and I really appreciate how they tie the a-story and b-story when Diana is speaking alone with Riker. - 4/5



Data's Day - Part of me thinks this episode is a little to cute for its own good, but it is really enjoyable throughout, and Keiko's introduction is hilarious. - 5/5


The Wounded - Every time I've watched this episode, since I was a little child, I was really on board till the last ten minutes, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's Picard letting the clearly unbalanced civilian-killer free to go home with dignity. Maybe it's the fact that we never see any of the complicit crew members. O'Brien would have walked right by them, right? Nonetheless, this episode has excellent dialogue and excellent performances, and I can say from experience that it is an extremely accurate portrayal of food politics in an intercultural marriage. - 4/5


Devil's Due - Watching it just now, it felt like this episode was made for Captain Kirk, except for the hilarious data parts, which were the clear highlight. It's watchable, but cheesy and out-of-place for sci-fi, and Picard is slightly out of character. I looked it up, and it turns out it was a reworking of a script made for a failed 1970s Star Trek revival. - 3/5


Clues - Data always makes an excellent villain, but Diana sure doesn't. - 4/5



First Contact The Episode Not The Movie - A great idea which Star Trek made great use of again and again. The specific details of the plot are a bit convoluted, but the overall story is really engaging. They also brought in a lot of great character actors, including Lilith from Cheers (in a role that seemed hilarious 30 years ago, but is kind of creepy today), Dr. Chakwas as the hero, and a man who distractingly sounds like the guy from Unsolved Mysteries. - 5/5


Galaxy's Child - Geordi has an office? Why the hell do we never get to see Geordi's office? - 2/5



Night Terrors - The beginning is extremely tense. It's fun to see everyone exhausted out of their minds. Something about the ending is completely unsatisfying. If the aliens can convey words/concepts like moons and eyes, why not just say 'hydrogen'? A lot of people complain that the special effects are bad, but did we ever watch Star Trek for the great special effects? - 4/5


Identity Crisis - THAT BEING SAID, some of the bad special effects are made even worse in HD, and this one crossed a line for me that it didn't during its original TV run. It's a common theme with these season four filler episodes, but this one has a lot of potential and then just crashes. When Geordi was reconstructing things on the holodeck, I was glued to the screen. A few minutes later, then the women was giving her impassioned speech, I was close to throwing up. 3/5


The Nth Degree A.K.A. Flowers for Barclay A.K.A. The Barclaymower Man A.K.A. Smarclay - My favourite part about the Barclay episodes is all the knowing looks of frustration/embarrassment/confusion between crew members.- 5/5


Qpid - In many ways, it's extremely stupid, but it's main purpose is comic relief and it's hilarious enough to get a pass. - 5/5



The Drumhead - Extremely creepy in the best way possible. It's a tad heavy-handed towards the end, but a good reminder how easy it is to make someone look guilty when you're holding the cards. - 5/5


Half a Life - It's great to seen Winchester in anything, and Majel Barrett give the performance of her life. It's treatment of cultural relativism is a lot more subtle than what you'd typically expect from Star Trek. - 5/5


The Host - "I do like to go into a situation as well informed as possible, and I must say that your staff has been quite helpful in briefing me." More like debriefing wink wink wink.

Anyway, the ways that they rewrote the trill after this episode ruined this one a bit in retrospect. DS9 trills are just more interesting, and all the changes go beyond simple continuity errors. I like the theme, but it was handled clumsily. On the plus side, Jonathan Frakes does get to flex his acting muscles here by proving that he can play a character more smug than Riker. - 4/5



The Mind's Eye - The Geordurian Candidate. The Romulans brainwash Geordi by showing him countless scenes of unbearable 'horror' offscreen. This was made before the web so they didn't realize how blasé you could become to horrifically shocking images after a while. - 4/5


In Theory - A kind of-funny/kind of-sad woman dates Data for a while. There's also a b-story where the ship is almost destroyed or something. - 4/5

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Redemption Part 1 - This is some pretty solid Star Trek, but the last season's closer and the previous Klingon politics episodes were all so strong that this is a bit disappointing by comparison. - 4/5


The overall average score is 4.04, rounding up to a perfect 5/5.



Three Riker Picard


Star Trek TNG - Season 3 Megareview

In season 2, TNG was a bad show with a few good episodes. By season 4, it had become the finest science fiction show ever made. This is the transition season, and is so all over the map that it's impossible to summarize.



Evolution - Actually not awful for a Wesley episode. Extra two stars for bringing his mother back, minus one star for her going on and on about her son. - 3/5


The Ensigns of Command - Watching Data trying to figure out mob psychology is pretty fun. In 2018, watching a group of opinion-sharers sabotage itself out of sheer tenacity isn't the subtle analysis of human behaviour it once was. - 5/5


The Survivors - A personal favourite of mine, not just for the ending, but for the image of a well-manicured lawn and cozy house in the middle of a genocide-scared wasteland. - 5/5


Who Watches the Watchers - What's a "proto-Vulcan"? Are they going to go back in time and become the Vulcans?- 4/5


The Bonding - The concept is clumsy, but the beginning and ending are actually pretty moving. - 4/5



Booby Trap - The Geordi parts are good, although "Geordi is the only one who can't get laid" is a pretty weird series-long character arc. A lot of reviews say it's creepy, although let's not pretend we all don't know what the hollodeck would be used for. The moral of the story is that humans don't need to worry about computers, because computers will never have gumption, or mojo, or chutzpah, or whatever. Not only is that hacky, clichéd sci-fi, but in the real world, thousands of physics undergrads have programmed the sort of gravity simulations the computer is not supposed to be able to handle, in their free time. - 3/5


The Enemy - Geordi is good in this, and the Worf subplot is so bold that I can't give this episode a low rating. - 4/5


The Price - One of many "Diana gets a headache" episodes. Nothing spectacular. In the end, the Feregis get stranded alone, forever, with not hope, and they play it up for laughs. I've always thought it was extremely disturbing, and a disproportionate punishment for characters that were scoundrelly-at-worst. But, of course, about half of us mainly remember this for one specific scene. - 2/5


The Vengeance Factor - Not a bad idea, but the execution is extremely boring. - 1/5


The Defector - Solid military thriller - 4/5



The Hunted - Another episode that's a nice idea, but a bit dull in practice. - 3/5


The High Ground - This is so boring that I stopped watching the show for eight months. - 1/5


Déjà Q - This is the legendary facepalm episode. - 5/5


A Matter Of Perspective - Passable Rashomon knockoff. - 3/5


Yesterday's Enterprise - Even the best episodes of season 3 can feel pretty rushed and low-budget. Except this one, which is so well-crafted, and done with such a deft touch, that it's hypnotic. - 5/5



The Offspring - I hope you like emotions because prepare to have a lot of them. - 5/5


Sins Of The Father - As I kid, I was never crazy about the Klingon politics episodes, so watching this one as an adult I was kind of surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Like 'The Defector', it is basically a very good paperback novel that's incidentally also a Star Trek episode. - 5/5


Allegiance - The parts with real Picard are good fun, and the parts with fake Picard reminded me of Uncle Jesse's Diary. - 4/5



Captain's Holiday - There've been a lot of schlocky scripts in Star Trek's history, but this is like a bad fanfic. It seems to be a find-and-replace-all Indiana Jones story, except with unmovtivated time travellers who give up easily, and don't mind standing around waiting. At one point, Picard goes on a weird, random, racist tirade for no real reason. Right after the dramatic climax, Picard explicitly points out the gigantic, stupid plot hole the entire episode is built around. In the last scene, he blatantly orders Riker to have sex with him, which gives Riker a weird, goofy smile. - 1/5


Tin Man - Tired episode made better by Brent Spiner, in spite of not much screen time. It's easy to forget what a subtle actor he is. - 3/5



Hollow Pursuits - One of the funniest Star Trek episodes, and one of the best of the series. In spite of the comedy, it's tactfully done at a time when most shows were still doing clumsy Very Special Episodes. This is also the episode where Wesley goes from being annoying to being some kind of ascended smugness demigod. - 5/5


The Most Toys - This is one of my favourite plot fake outs. It starts out as a wacky comic relief episode, and smoothly shifts into something creepy and disturbing. - 5/5


Sarek - I like this episode for the little details, like Sarek having a type, or some of the windows in an Enterprise corridor having cheap Venetian blinds. - 4/5


Ménage à Troi - Weirdly a lot of rape jokes for a family-friendly show. Wesley is going to leave the Enterprise forever, but decides not to so that he can save the day, again. - 2/5



Transfigurations - Beverley falls in love with a foldy man, and then he turns into a glow stick. - 2/5


The Best Of Both Worlds: Part 1 - I like that fact that they wrote an extremely tense body horror/military thriller, seemingly spent more money on it than on all of the other episodes combined, and pivoted the whole thing around catty office drama.


I haven't mentioned it before, but it's worth saying that Whoopi Goldberg could make even a good episode ten times better. What would this have been without her bleak attempt at a motivational speech and knowing look of pity? I kind of forgot this, because I was just a little kid, but at the time Whoopi Goldberg was mainly a hip stand up comedian. - 5/5


The overall average score is 3.577, rounding up to four.