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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

3 Comments

  1. Froborr
    December 5, 2014 @ 5:34 am

    I think what it basically comes down to is whether you find Okona to be a charming rogue or a self-centered, arrogant ass. I fall firmly into the latter camp, which makes this episode endlessly painful. It's not anywhere near as bad as the one-two punch of The Naked Now and (shudder) Code of Honor, but it renders the episode extremely difficult to watch and makes the entire crew seem like terrible judges of character, which I think is probably where the "Mary Sue" allegations are coming from. (Or not, it's such an endlessly mutable term as to be basically meaningless.)

    Also, none of the jokes in the Data plot are actually funny. Sorry, but I have to agree with the fan consensus on this one, albeit for different reasons: it's a stinker.

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  2. K. Jones
    December 7, 2014 @ 5:05 pm

    I love how Riker is used as a foil for Okona – almost as he's describing Okona's style to Wesley he's explaining that you don't have to take that lonely road – you can have your cake and eat it too, if you can become self-aware enough to know just where you want to be in life.

    But that's the thing about a foil – we see the twinkle in Riker's eye all the time and we know he's not so different from Okona – but he certainly reads as more mature. More self-aware. More centered. More interested in other people than himself. It's an important distinction – they are essentially the same archetypal character, but their primary motivations are polar opposite. Cavalier versus gallant. Charismatic versus genuine. Friendly versus a true friend.

    Riker, and particularly Frakes himself, really sells it as using Okona's presence as something of a teaching moment for Wesley, and the rest as well fall under this banner. It's a surprisingly good Picard episode. It furthers the continuing best-friendship between Worf and Riker in small but significant ways.

    And Guinan, yes Guinan. Part and parcel of the great regard I hold for TNG and DS9 is not just their superiority in concept, originality and well-roundedness but because of the emphasis on social gathering places, and bartenders in particular. Two of the great bartenders in all of fiction, actually. (Off-hand, it's kind of funny to think of Goldberg taking a role that's essentially a Sam Malone-type role during this time period as well.)

    Anyway, Guinan is so essential to this show not just for introducing a character who is essentially an "Immortal" (every fictional universe tends to feature a few of these archetypes), but Goldberg is so vital in every scene and brings everything home just right. Sometimes there's a perfect role, a perfect bit of casting for a niche that maybe nobody realized needed filling. This was an instance of that.

    The Comic stuff to me is unwatchably bad, though. It didn't even play that well for me as a kid where broader goofy comedy might have worked.

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  3. Daru
    December 11, 2014 @ 10:37 pm

    I didn't mind this when I watched it last – a lot of the time I am going to be going on memory with these episodes, as it has been some time since I saw them.

    It is odd the way that Okona is set up against the crew of the Enterprise, I didn't get it at the time. Maybe it was a device used to try to embed the feeling in the audience of the Enterprise crew's sense of permanence?

    I have to admit, I did enjoy the humour stuff with Data , as I generally loved witnessing his journey of discovery even when he met obstacles.

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