Viewing posts tagged TNG Season 7

“The Face You Wear”: Masks

Does a mask hide a person's identity or bring it out? Perhaps it does a little of both; emphasizing certain states of being while keeping others hidden.

We all wear masks. We switch between them every day as we go about our lives, putting on different face and playing a different role for everybody we meet. Rarely, if ever, do we find someone with whom we can share the full multiplicity of people inside us. Instead, we wear the mask appropriate to the encounter. I'm wearing a mask right now for you all: This is the mask of Vaka Rangi, which has come to symbolize certain familiar behaviour traits and tropish signifiers that you have come to expect following this blog for a number of years. As personal as I try to get in my writings, Vaka Rangi is not, has never been and cannot ever be a complete encapsulation of my feelings and my identities for many different reasons. It's a caricatured facsimile meant to stand for specific aspects of it I felt were appropriate and workable enough to weave into a multi-threaded series of narratives.

(This is ...

“Truthfully”: Thine Own Self

Sometimes I wonder why I do this.

This is another episode I have vivid, fond memories of that left me sorely disappointed. It's not that I think “Thine Own Self” is particularly bad, and in fact I'd go so far as to say there's a lot to recommend in it. But it couldn't live up to the position it had in my memory, and there's some writing decisions made in it I'm pretty vehemently opposed to. I mean, just look who wrote the teleplay: I should have known. A lot of this season has surprised me by how little enthusiasm I can muster for it, especially on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where we're at the tail end of a stretch of episodes that are all peerlessly iconic to me, but which I wound up writing some fairly mixed things about after I sat down with them again this time. This should be my absolute favourite era, and while there's a lot of it I do like, there's just ...

“The Handbags and the Gladrags”: Lower Decks

This is the one episode that seems to unite all sides of the fanbase. In a rare moment of nonpartisan respect and consensus, hardcore Star Trek fans and the more heretical voices who have been raising their tone in the discourse for the past few years both unanimously agree that “Lower Decks” was A Good Idea. So naturally, I'm going to be the contrarian dissenter who casts doubt on that assumption.

It's odd, if you think about it, that this would be the one episode from this season that would be universally beloved because it's so drastically different from everything the party line says is good about Star Trek: The Next Generation. It has next to nothing to do with any of the regulars, and hangs the entire dramatic crux of the story on a bunch of one-shot guest characters (excepting Alyssa Ogawa), including one character who only showed up once in a episode three years ago. Indeed that Michael Piller greenlit this story in the first place earned him more than a few double-takes from the writing staff because it flagrantly violates the first hardline rule he established ...

“Wuthering Heights”: Sub Rosa

“Sub Rosa” is a fucking triumph, and I'm not at all ashamed to say so.

One of the most reviled entries in all of Star Trek: The Next Generation and a frequent sight on various “Worst Star Trek Episodes Of All Time” lists, like most stories in its class the reaction to “Sub Rosa” says more about the fandom at large than it does about its own textual quality. As is usually the case with these types of episodes, I enjoy “Sub Rosa” considerably more than the kinds of people who typically critique and review Star Trek episodes, but this time I have a bit more of a chip on my shoulder than I normally do for this sort of thing because the split in fandom is *so* blatant and explicitly defined the contrast couldn't be drawn any clearer. If you're looking for a microcosm of the schism in genre fiction circles that led to the rise of master narratives, you actually can't find a better example than “Sub Rosa”.

Men hate it. Women love it. That's what it comes down to, plain and simple, and that ...

“ ”: Homeward

I cannot remember “Homeward”.

I don't just mean that I didn't watch it during the original run, or missed it on reruns, or that it never left a meaningful impression on me. I literally cannot remember this episode exists: Every time I rewatch this show, I forget that “Homeward” is part of the filming block. I can't remember what “Homeward” is about, or even that there is in fact an episode called “Homeward” at all. Every time it's brought up to me I have to look it up, because the title draws nothing but an empty, blank vacuous absence of meaning. I have friends who were watching Star Trek: The Next Generation along with this blog and, given the schedule I write under, eventually they got ahead of me. They liked to chat with me about my rough thoughts on upcoming episodes, and just a couple of months ago as of this writing they got up to the seventh season. When they asked me about my feelings on “Homeward”, I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about and had to turn to Memory Alpha. When I ...

“Reclaim Your Gods”: These Are The Voyages...

So let's make a pronouncement right off the bat, shall we? “These Are The Voyages...” is not a series finale. Yes, it's the final episode in the final filming block of the series, but if you're looking to it to resolve the show's final story arc you're going to be incredibly disappointed. It's far more satisfying and sensible both to grant that “Terra Prime” was that and that this is a bonus episode. In fact, a lot of the this last season is really better seen as a handful of assorted specials anyway; Think about “In A Mirror, Darkly”: That had nothing to do with anything that came before and anything that came after, and so does this episode. So let's just dispense upfront with the notion that this is Enterprise's series finale, because it's going to save us a lot of undue aggravation as we go along.

As absolutely everyone who has ever commented on this episode has pointed out, it plays out far more as a Star Trek: The Next Generation story than it does an Enterprise one. Which is fine ...

“Unbound”: Parallels

And this is it. We've arrived: The greatest episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation ever. Not necessarily in terms of abject quality, though “Parallels” is definitely one of the best outings of the year, and of the series in general, on that front as well. The reason this episode is the show's finest hour is because of the repercussions the events of this story have on all of Star Trek.
“For any event, there is an infinite number of possible outcomes. Our choices determine which outcome will follow. But there is a theory in quantum physics that all possibilities that could happen do happen in alternate quantum realities.”
What “Parallels” does is establish the world of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and whatever else you want to attach to it by association, as a quantum multiverse of literally infinite possibility. This is the actual plot of the episode, with Worf shifting between one reality to the next, each different from the other in ways both negligible and profound. It's textual on such a level ...

“What Are We?”: Inheritance

Last week on Star Trek: The Next Generation we talked about the counterintuitive reality that Star Trek is at its creative peak, yet has also run out of ways to tell Star Trek stories. And last week on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine we talked about how I've reached a critical impasse with accepted discourse surrounding the show. What I want out of Star Trek and what other people seem to want out of Star Trek are two completely different things, and it's this episode that finally clarified it all for me.

Basically, I seem to like Star Trek best when it's being anything other than Star Trek. “Inheritance” is not a Star Trek story, not really, but it's exactly the kind of story this show should be doing.

Near as I can tell, “Inheritance” has a reputation 'round about that of “Dark Page”. That is, everyone hates it except me, and I naturally love it. “Inheritance” seems to get a lot of the same criticisms levelled at “Dark Page” too, namely that the story is predicated on a heretofore unknown bit of backstory for one of the ...

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