“Fallacies and falsehoods there were from time immemorial”: Justice, Angel One, When The Bough Breaks
Today marks a turning point for Vaka Rangi, at least in terms of its structure. With Star Trek: The Next Generation, we’ve entered the longest and most monolithic stretch of the entire Star Trek franchise. There is no point between 1987 and 2005 where Star Trek is not airing new episodes in some form or another, and this makes analysing and historicizing it the way I’ve been approaching it up ’till now unfeasibly difficult in any reasonable amount of time. Especially considering the fact that, to be brutally honest, not every episode of Star Trek from here on out is a historical milestone, and not every one really needs to be treated as such. Actually, I don’t even consider that to be true of the Original Series, but you could at least craft a somewhat compelling argument that this might have been true in this instance. For these shows, however, three of which were comprised of seven seasons of thirty episodes each and one of which was comprised of four, it’s really not plausible for me to tackle them episode by episode and expect to be done with all of this before Vaka Rangi itself becomes a historical relic.
So from now on, I’m going to start looking at whole sections of a season together in one essay instead of one at a time. I’ll group the episodes together around a central theme that I think characterizes each of them and, instead of going into elabourate detail for all of them, I’ll pull examples that support my thesis from each of them. Not every post will be like this; there are still a fair few episodes that I think warrant posts all to themselves, but this is going to become a regular feature from here on out. In particular, I simply can’t conceive of any other way to sanely cover the byzantine complexity of the Dominion War’s stubborn fixation on serialization *while also* writing about Star Trek Voyager at the same time. Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1 is the first moment I think the time is right to approach the critique this way because there’s a noticeable chunk of the year that’s quite frankly completely superfluous, mediocre and eminently passable. And, er, I’m afraid it’s this one. It wouldn’t feel right for me to skip over these episodes entirely, but there’s simply no way I can squeeze 1.5-2,000 words out of any of them, and I don’t want to waste your time with an entire day’s post that’s just like 500 words or so.
It’s not that any of these episodes are reprehensibly terrible; there’s nothing in any of them quite as ghastly as “The Naked Now” or “Code of Honor” (although “Justice” and “Angel One” have moments that push it). What they all are, however, is rote and forgettable, and in a very particular way. I have a distinct suspicion that when people malign the first season, it’s probably this crop of episodes they’re thinking of, and I’ve personally skipped over these episodes so many times during my past revisits of this year I actually barley remember them.…