Viewing posts tagged TNG Season 7

“I Can't Drive Warp 5”: Force of Nature

Now this one is interesting to me because it's an episode that's always been very memorable to me, but also one that's sort of bad, however, it's not memorable to me because it's bad.

For some reason, the Warp 5 speed limit is a concept that really stuck with me. I have no idea why, it's no less outlandish then some of the other artificially out-there concepts this franchise plays with on occasion, but for some reason this one connected with me. When rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation's earlier years back in the day I would *always* self-correct whenever Captain Picard had the Enterprise go somewhere at over Warp 5: “Well, they didn't know any better at the time”, I kept telling myself. For some reason. Because, famously, this is a plot thread that is pretty swiftly abandoned and the speed limit is a rule that has more exceptions and gets broken more frequently than the Prime Directive. I would always let this one through in my personal headcanon ...

“Unloved”: Attached

Could it ever have worked?

That's a question failed romances and failed engineering projects seem to get asked all the time. There's an allure to the counterfactual, the idea that had just a few things happened a bit differently, than all our lives would have ended up immeasurably better as a result. When confronted with a failure, or a perceived failure, it's perhaps only natural that we would pick through the rubble and self-reflect after the fact. Sometimes we say things like “it was doomed from the start”. Hindsight, of course, is always 20/20.

In reality, no endeavour is ever “doomed from the start”. At the outset, each project has just as much potential for success, or for failure, as any other. Technology must always start as a fiction, and every fiction is equally real. What governs the success or failure of a technology is whether its constituent human and nonhuman actors can work together to keep it alive throughout the process of reification. It requires a sustained loyalty and commitment from all given players, and this is what we mean when we talk of love. Because that ...

“...which opens to that primeval cosmic night”: Dark Page

Memory Alpha is *really* letting me down in terms of screenshots.
The first thing that struck me upon rewatching “Dark Page” was the Cairn. In prehistoric times, a “cairn” was an artificial stone pile structure used as a trail marker or burial mound, or in ceremonial astronomical rites. Some cairns, especially in German, Dutch and Inuit territories, were considered totemic figures: They were known as “imitation people” or “stone men”, and considered effigies and representation of human forms.

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Cairn are a telepathic species who communicate purely on the level of images. It's an elegant and holistic form of communication that engenders a sense of cosmic oneness, and the show understands the real ramifications of this. The Cairn find verbal communication awkward and limiting, and the show makes no attempt to refute this assertion because it's true. Language is built around artifice, an inaccurate facade constructed to represent and stand in for the ineffable whose only hope for success is to convey a general idea for a concept through simile, metaphor and mimicry. The true nature of reality is that great cosmic interconnectedness of ...

“The register of machined-being belongs to the milieu of dream logic”: Phantasms

Warning: Star Trek: The Next Generation is going to resist you.

An alarm sounds. Dare you answer? 
Hello, Sil. 
“Do you ever have nightmares?” 
“I have them. I think they tell me who I am.” 


Do you think Star Trek: The Next Generation is afraid of something? This is my diagnosis: A show haunted by the spectre of technocracy. Data was created as the ideal technoscientific glorified body: A sublime machine Vitruvian Man, a posthuman figure with no humanity. And this is what Data fears might be the sum total of ...

“A pirate's life for me”: Gambit, Part II

Last time on Star Trek: The Next Generation...
“I suppose it's worth pointing out the possible significance in the fact that the first few acts of “Gambit” chronicle the crew's search for Captain Picard, missing and presumed murdered, and their efforts to discover the identity of his would-be killer and bring them to justice.” 
“It's exciting to watch Captain Picard, Commander Riker and Data all try to think around each other and anticipate each other's moves so as not to put the undercover operation with the pirates or their safety in jeopardy. Pulling it off requires them all to have an absolutely peerless level of intimacy with each other, so this is a really fitting test to give to this crew, especially at this stage in their career. It's especially noticeable and interesting with Data, who is forced to apply everything he's learned about human(oid) behaviour and culture in order to ensure he doesn't let the Enterprise down during his first real stint as acting captain.” 
“There are ...

“Yo ho, yo ho”: Gambit, Part I

I suppose it's worth pointing out the possible significance in the fact that the first few acts of “Gambit” chronicle the crew's search for Captain Picard, missing and presumed murdered, and their efforts to discover the identity of his would-be killer and bring them to justice. I will still stubbornly maintain that Star Trek: The Next Generation can't live without Captain Picard, and the symbolism behind a plot twist like this to me seems obvious. A Star Trek: The Next Generation without anyone would be unthinkable, but especially him, the public face of the series to millions. The only other character whose death would be more openly and visibly catastrophic to the show's continued existence would be the Enterprise itself.

Ironic then how “Gambit, Part I” is the moment where this season finally gets its act together and stops faffing around. Not that this show has ever been terrific at season openers, mind, but the one-two punch of “Liasons” and “Interface” was excruciating in a way we've really not seen in ...

“Virtual XI”: Interface

Is it bad I can't remember what this episode is called? I've literally had to go look up how the title is spelled three times since sitting down to write this.

Over the course of this project I've noticed Star Trek: The Next Generation takes a roughly annual delight in a sub-genre of story I've decided to call “Let's Torture Geordi”. Ever since the third season (hmmmm) the show, for want of anything better to do with Geordi La Forge, decides to put him through an increasingly mean-spirited and downright ludicrous series of wringers more or less because they can. This team has, in turn, given him a neurotic complex he never had before, turned him into the creepiest human being imaginable by having him get it on with pretend women, forced him to mutate into a neon sea slug and had him brainwashed into a killing machine by his batshit insane murderous alien ex-girlfriend. Even Michael Jan Friedman is not immune to the fun, writing the two-part story “Seraphin's Survivors”/“Shadows in the Garden” about Geordi acting uncharacteristically defensive and oversensitive when his childhood friend ...

“Misery Loves Company”: Liaisons

There's a scene near the beginning of “Liaisons” that kills the entire episode for me. It's where Worf and Commander Riker are putting on their dress uniforms and Worf grumbles about the outfit being “too feminine”. This earns him a deserved reprimand by Riker, which I still hate for two reasons. One, I hate any scene like this where one character upsets another, especially a friend. Two, it's impossible for me not to read the narrative as siding with Worf: Worf is manly and grumpy and the writers love him because of that, and they hate this lame stuff about “utopianism” and “equality” that constrains their beloved “conflict”.

You know what? Fuck off. This one scene is emblematic of absolutely everything that has ever been wrong with Star Trek: The Next Generation since these guys took over in 1989.

I'm really not motivated to look further into the episode after that, frankly. It's not like “Liaisons” is a particularly beloved episode and it's not like I'm missing a whole lot: The entire premise of “alien dignitaries trying to experience strange and unfamiliar human emotion by ...

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