Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, May 16, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Ten "The Battle"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Ten "The Battle"
Production Order: 10
Air Order: 9
Stardate: 41723.9
Original Air Date: November 16, 1987

RAWR. So, this is out of order. I actually wrote this review and set it to drop last week before last, but forgot to hit the button that okays the drop in the blogger program. Or rather, I hit the wrong button.


See how "publish" and "save" are right next to each other?
Yeah, I hit save instead of publish last week, resulting in a review that sat queued and never went anywhere, as I didn't realize that the new post had not dropped. 
This is not the first time I've mixed up those buttons. You may have seen that as well. More than once, I've hit publish instead of save on a partially-completed post, and it showed up on the feed for hours or even days before I realized it and pulled it down.
Anyway, I'm sorry that happened, and that I managed to miss all the signs that said that nothing new had gone up that week.
I'll try to watch out for that in the future.

*******






Picard's Log 41732.9: "So these Ferengi requested a meeting, and we met up here three days ago, but when we tried to get a hold of them, they just texted back, "hang on, doin' something." I don't know why they think it's okay to yank our chains for three freaking days, but whatever."

Picard is in his quarters reading when Crusher comes in. He has sent for her, and starts telling her that he's been feeling strangely lately, and Oh God, is he going to awkwardly ask her about erectile dysfunction? Is this episode going to end with him and Crusher holding hands while sitting illogically in matching bathtubs, staring at some alien landscape at sunset?
He says he has a headache. She's taken aback because, as she soon exposits, no one gets headaches anymore. Yes, we get it Star Trek: you have transporters and warp drive and replicators, and you've cured headaches and the common cold, and the time frame in which we live is not as good as the twenty-fourth century. Screw you and your lack of headaches. At least you guys have that illness that makes you act like drunken douche bags.
Picard is bitchy about the Ferengi making him wait. Crusher tells him he needs to come to sick bay, but then Riker calls to say that the Ferengi want to talk. Picard goes to the bridge, and Yar reports that the Ferengi are willing to communicate on visual frequencies. The dude Picard will be talking to is DaiMon Bok.
Bok tells Picard that he wants to discuss a mutual problem, but not over the airwaves. He wants to meet in person, and asks, "Your ship or mine?"





THEIRS! THEIRS! GO TO THEIRS! Show us some Ferengi ship interior!
Troi makes a slashing motion in front of her throat at Yar, who shuts off the sound to the transmission.
"This dude is a creeper, and he's hiding something," she tells Picard.
Yeah, you just described "Ferengi," Troi.
"Invite him here to keep an eye on him," suggests Riker.
Picard agrees, and I am disappointed. I guess they didn't have the money for another set build. Where the hell is the budget for this show? Oh, yeah. I forgot - it's in The Shat's pocket.
Picard invites Bok to the Enterprise, and Bok is all "Blah, blah, peaceful cooperation lip service."
They agree to meet in one hour. Worf is pissed that the Ferengi are coming aboard the ship.
Dramatic music! Credits break!





Picard is in sick bay getting his head examined. Crusher goes on and on about how the brain has been charted, and they've cured the common cold, and now they understand how pain works. I'm getting more annoyed with this show every time Crusher opens her mouth to talk about shit that they've already dealt with completely. I know a lot of scientists grew up with these shows and were complete Star Trek fangirls, so they're striving at all points in time to make Real Life match Star Trek, but sometimes when this show lists all of the accomplishments they've made,  it makes me want to kick a puppy.
"Oh, I have this rare, ancient Earth thing called a headache," whines Picard, while I watch Star Trek in the dark, through sunglasses, because this damn migraine has instructed my left eyeball to explode.
Anyway, she gives him a shot that instantly makes the pain go away, and when he's astonished, she says it's "medical fakery" and that the shot just "cloaked" the pain.
I... just... no. Just... no. Leave sick bay, please. I'm going to slap one or both of you soon.


Look at that sexy-ass sick bay set! Yowza!



Picard goes back to the bridge. Wes enters just before him and announces to the bridge crew that the intruder alarm is about to go off.
Oh, Wes is prescient now. Riker is annoyed, because how does Wes know that, but then the intruder alert goes off, and Wes says that he doesn't know anything special, he was just messing around with boosting the long-range sensors down in Engineering, and saw a Constellation-class ship headed this way under impulse power.
Data sits up like he just heard some hella-good gossip about Riker and Troi, but then he tells Wes that he wants to hear all the hot talk about long-range sensors later.





So Wes got a new uniform, and it's... kinda spiffy? It's official, anyway, and not orange. I've been watching this show for 15+ years, and it took me until last year to figure out that the stripes on his tunic are supposed to represent Command, Ops and Science. When I posted this revelation to Facebook, one of my friends replied, "Oh... I thought he was gay, and that it was some Pride thing."
Picard tells Wes that he should have just called the bridge to tell them about this new ship, rather than running up there himself, and accuses the kid of wanting to be there when the Ferengi beam over.
Wait... what? Why are the Ferengi not beaming into the transporter room? And why in Ceiling Cat's name are they beaming onto the bridge? Picard won't let kids of crew members onto the bridge, but unknown members of a suspicious alien race are perfectly okay?
The Ferengi beam over, right in front of the viewscreen, and Bok introduces his first and second officers. Picard does the same for Riker and Data. Bok & Co kind of leer at Troi (clothed females, remember?), and then they ask "how much to buy the android?" Picard struggles with a response that won't offend either Data or Bok, and then Riker laughingly tells Bok that Data is "secondhand goods."





Yar alerts Picard to the approaching Starfleet ship, and Bok says that it's in his control, and is a gift for "the hero of Maxia."
"Who is that?" asks Picard.
Data fills in by saying that Bok is referring to a time nine years earlier when Picard got into a fight in the Maxia Zeta system and blew up a  Ferengi ship that attacked them. Bok gets irrationally angry when Data calls the Ferengi ship "unidentified." But then he's all smiles again when he explains that they found Picard's old ship, the Stargazer, adrift in this system, and decided to give it back to him as a gift.
"You can download all of the logs from that ship onto this one," he suggests toothily.
Picard suddenly gets a nasty headache again, and Troi says she feels it too.
Bok's officers are scandalized that Bok is giving away the Stargazer for free.
Dramatic music at a weird time! Commercial break! Ferengi scandal! Lack of money exchanging hands! zomg!





Picard's Log, supplemental: "The Ferengi went back to their ship. Looks like we're taking a derelict starship home with us."

Picard goes to sick bay because of the continuing headache, and Troi is there, saying that his thought at the time of the headache attack was "like a thought, only mechanical." Picard says he remembers the battle Bok was talking about, and that he smells smoke now. He panics, but Crusher says nothing is on fire. They go to the briefing room to talk about the situation with the senior officers.
Picard tells the others about the skirmish - how the other ship jumped them from out of nowhere and refused to identify itself.
"Have you figured out who it is, Vigo?" Picard asks the table of senior officers.
When Riker asks who Vigo is, Picard replies that Vigo is his weapons expert on the Stargazer. Then he seems to shake himself, because he's getting into this a bit too much.
Anyway, he explains how he did this one move - now famously called The Picard Maneuver - and it made it look like the Stargazer was in two places at once. The Ferengi fired on the wrong Stargazer, and the Stargazer fired on the Ferengi ship, destroying it. But the Stargazer was toast, and they abandoned ship, limping home in shuttles.
Riker tells Picard that he can go over there, just as soon as some security people check it out and declare it safe.



In the next scene, all of the senior officers check out the Stargazer before calling Picard over. You know that nothing bad is going to happen, because they didn't bring any Ensign Expendables; nevertheless, we've already established that it's dumb to have all of your senior officers in one place. Picard beams over with Crusher, and that's the entire upper echelon of officers on the E. Did they tell Wes to hold down the fort for a few while they popped over to see if this thing would blow up?
Picard walks around on the bridge, and we get a bit of the slow, nostalgic-sounding music that came from movie #1, and which was then re-used as the theme for TNG. We're being manipulated, friends - we've never seen the Stargazer before, but they want us to get the warm fuzzies for it, and to understand why Picard already has them.
Data reads off the last log entry - made by Picard - about how they're abandoning ship.
Picard asks Tasha to check the Stargazer for structural integrity, so they can tow her back into Federation space. Then he announces that he's going to look at his old quarters.



In his old fire-damaged quarters, Picard picks through stuff he used to own, including a footlocker with some old clothes in it. There's some kind of sphere that lights up, and he doubles over, holding hid head.
You guys, look! Ferengi ship interior!
Apparently, the sphere belongs to Bok, because he has another one on his ship, and he makes some kind of sarcastic remark about "the hero of Maxia" before cranking the sphere up to ten.
BWAHHAHAHAHA!



Crusher rushes in and sees Picard having some serious migraine issues, and she says he needs to go back to the E, and that she'll have his old stuff sent to his current quarters.

Back on the bridge of the E, Riker officially takes possession of the Stargazer over the viewscreen from Bok's first officer. He kind of dickishly taunts the guy about how they're getting the Stargazer for the bargain-basement price of free, and the first officer growls at him, which I guess is Ferengi for flipping someone off.
Picard enters the bridge. They're gonna tow the Stargazer to some rendezvous point, then a tow ship is going to take it to a starbase. Riker asks Picard how it was being back on his old ship, and Picard says it was weird. Then he leaves, because his left eye is going to explode, and now he knows what it's like to be stuck in the twenty-first century with a fucking migraine. Troi tells Riker this whole thing has her baffled.
Picard goes back to his quarters to lie down. The footlocker is nearby in the next room over. We keep flashing between it and Picard while he hear snatches of long-lost conversation from nine years earlier, people yelling about fires, and torpedoes being armed, and not being able to see who is attacking them.
Riker is in the ready room when Data comes in. Data seems as troubled as Data can be for an android with no emotions. He says he downloaded all of the Stargazer's logs and went through them, but on these logs, Picard confesses that he attacked the Ferengi ship while the Ferengi's were under a flag of truce.
"Would you like to hear them, sir?... sir?" asks Data, as Riker affects a serious pose.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!



Picard and Riker listen to the log entry in Picard's quarters.
"That's not fucking me!" says Picard.
"Yeah, I think the Ferengi used your voice to make this," Riker tells him. "I'm having Data analyze it."
"This sucks," Picard laments. "You have to report me to Starfleet. It'll take two days to get there and back with their response, so we have that long to figure this out. They might take my command. Right now, I look like Captain Asshole because the Ferengi are coming to us with gift baskets, and it looks like I blew up some innocent ship a decade ago."

Riker goes to the ready room and barks at Geordi on his way through the bridge to open a secure channel in there.
"Secure, sir," mutters Geordi, punching in his console.
Riker calls Kazago, the Ferengi first officer.
"I got a question for you," says Riker aggressively.
"As you humans say, "I'm all ears"," Kazago replies.
Ba-dum-tisssss.
Kazago says that Bok told him about the Battle of Maxia, and that Picard is a criminal. Riker demands to know why, if they knew that Picard had done this, they would return the Stargazer. Kazago tells him to go fuck himself. Riker accuses the Ferengi of creating a false log entry implicating Picard. Their exchange is short, and they keep calling Bok "captain," which I think may have been a slip-up in the writing.



Crusher goes to Picard in his quarters, and he tells her that headaches are worse. When he refuses her cloaking hypo-thing again, she says he should talk to her about what's bothering him, especially because Riker already told her about the fake-ass log. He starts Hamletting about how he doesn't know his ups from his downs at the moment, and he keeps re-living these scenes in his head, and the guilt of destroying an entire ship and its crew is just killing him. She gives him a shot in the arm, and when he asks what it was, she says it was a sedative. Umm, I don't think it's good doctoring to just give somebody a shot of something without talking to them first. Anyway, she puts him to bed and sticks these little medical things on his eyebrows.
Bok, on his ship, cranks the sphere to ten again and laughs evilly.
Picard, asleep in his quarters, sweats profusely and tosses on the bed, hearing the battle scenes again.
Then, in his mind, he enters the bridge of the Stargazer and sits in the command chair, surrounded by flames and ghostly crew members. He gives the orders to fire.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!



Riker and Geordi are in the ready room with Data.
"I have proof," says Data, "that that was a fake-ass log. It's different in just enough ways that it's obvious when you look at them."
Picard comes in, all smiley-smiles, and they tell him that the log entry they found on the Stargazer is as fake as Rand's hair.
Then Crusher enters. She calls Riker "Number One" which is freaking weird. I'm just used to Picard being the only person to call Riker that. I'm also used to Future Crusher, who calls everyone by their first names. I have no idea when she makes that switch, though. Guess we'll find out. Anyway, she wants Riker to look at some brain scan results, which is odd, because he not even close to being a medical professional, then she stops short, because she sees Picard here in the ready room and not asleep in his quarters.
She asks what he's doing there, and Picard gets his own sassy moment:
"I thought I was captain."
"You are."
"Thanks for the confirmation."
Then he boots everybody but Riker. He wants Riker to release the tractor beam that's dragging the Stargazer. When Will questions it, Picard questions his knowledge of tractor beam inertia, and insists that the Stargazer will coast along with them.



Troi and Crusher are in sick bay discussing Picard's weird behavior. Crusher knows that something is off, but can't put her finger on it. Troi is also aware of something being wrong, as if she senses two different thought processes from him, but they're both his.
I'm getting deja vu here. Didn't they have this same discussion a few episodes ago in "Lonely Among Us"? "The captain has two thought processes, and we may have to surreptitiously relieve him of command!"
Wes comes in. Crusher tells him to bug off, because she's doing grown-up shit, but he says he has something important to say. He says he doesn't know anything about brain scans, but he kind of noticed when glancing at them earlier that they looked like some kind of low-intensity transmission from the Ferengi ship that he noticed in engineering, and he hasn't seen those results in engineering before. Crusher and Troi decide that this is troubling, but that they can't trust Picard, so they should go to Riker with this info.
Now, some people find this incredulous, that Wes, who has no medical training, can find correlating patterns in brain scans and results he was seeing in engineering. I don't think that part is unreasonable at all. Anybody can spot patterns, especially if he sees one thing in sick bay, and the same thing down in engineering, but no one else from sick bay has been in engineering lately. He'd be the one to spot it, since he'd be the one going back and forth between those spaces all day. And frankly, he was pretty humble when explaining the matching patterns as well, pointing out that he has no medical training, and doesn't know if it means anything, but that he brought it to them, because he thought it might.
I don't take issue with that part. What I do take issue with is what everybody else takes issue with as well: Wes' reaction to their reaction. Crusher and Troi decide that they need to see Riker with this info, and rush out. And what does he say to their retreating backs?
"You're welcome, ladies." Then he scoffs: "Adults."



So there we have it, friends: Wes' first dick move. And it was totally unnecessary. Writers, you can absolutely make a wunderkind that's likable, humble and uncertain of things while still being hella smart. Her name is Hermione Granger. Look her the fuck up. But here they have Wes deliver the information in a humble way, then slap some attitude onto the back of the delivery. WTF, Star Trek? Did someone on the writing staff secretly hate Wil Wheaton? This is actually the moment that Wheaton pinpoints as the fans staring to hate the character of Wesley Crusher. Does the attitude pop up constantly? No. There are still moments when he goes to the adults and gives them info that saves their skins, and he isn't a giant douche bag about it. But the attitude crops up just enough that the fans will begin to love to hate Wes, and that's sad. He's a character with good potential, but if you're going to squander it by making him act like a dick, then why even bother to have him?
Crusher and Troi rush to see Riker on the bridge. He tells them Picard is resting in his quarters again, and they rush out what Wes told them about the transmissions from the Ferengi ship and Picard's brain scans. Then we get a quick succession of reveals: Picard is in the transporter room; there's a low-intensity transmission coming from the captain's quarters; the captain has beamed over to the Stargazer; Worf transferred a heavy chest of stuff from the Stargazer into Picard's rooms.



Picard beams onto the bridge of the Stargazer. Bok is there with the other sphere from his ship. he starts monologing: he was totes rich, but he spent all his money on these two spheres that would break into Picard's mind and mess with him. Turns out, his son was DaiMon of the ship that Picard destroyed nine years earlier, and it was that kid's first command. No explanation as to why the Ferengi ship ambushed the Stargazer, but whatever. To get revenge, Bok is going to make Picard relive that battle, but it's going to kill him somehow. He has the Stargazer raise shields so that no one from the E can beam over and help Picard. Bok cranks the sphere up to fifty, then beams off the ship, because apparently, Ferengi can beam through shields.



Riker's Log: "Um, Picard is on the Stargazer, and it's circling back around to us."

More quick reveals here: Geordi, who has the sphere from the captain's quarters, says it's some kind of mind-altering thing; Yar tells Riker that the Stargazer is in good working order, and has it's full complement of weapons, minus the torpedoes lost when battling the Ferengi all those years ago.
Riker calls the Ferengi ship and Kazago picks up. "What the fuck is this?" Riker asks, holding the sphere.
"That's a mind-altering machine, and it's forbidden to have," says Kazago. "If that belongs to your captain, then he's totes a criminal."
"Cut the crap," says Riker. "This came from your ship."
Kazago falters. "It's not good form to question your DaiMon."
Picard calls the E, and Riker switches over to him. Picard is on the bridge of the Stargazer, and he yells at the E to stop firing and identify themselves.
Troi tells Riker that Picard is angry, and Geordi guesses that he's reliving the "Battle of Maxia" via the sphere thing.



Riker asks Data to come up with a defense against the Picard Maneuver, even though there technically is none. Picard is seeing fire and ghost crew again, and when he orders the shields up, the E loses contact with him.
Kazago calls in. Riker tries to cut him off, but he gets out what he wants to say:
"This is clearly a Federation matter, and we don't want to get in the middle of it. Beeteedubs, Bok is no longer DaiMon. The first officer confined him to quarters because this mission was unprofitable." Then he adds, "Good luck, Riker," before signing off.
I don't think that qualifies for a "good guy Kazago" label, but it's interesting to note that Ferengi can mutiny based on whether or not the mission they are on is profitable.
Data has come up with a plan to counter the Picard Maneuver: the E can detect certain things that happen in deep space with gases or some shit, and they can figure out which Stargazer is actually sitting right on top of them, and which one is not. They can then grab the correct Stargazer in a tractor beam, which will render that ship's weapons inoperable.
They put the plan into action quickly, and the E snatches the correct Stargazer out of the air as it finishes the maneuver. Riker calls Picard.



"Hey! Yo! Captain! It's Riker! Look for a sphere - it's controlling your mind! Destroy it with your phaser!"
Wait - why does Picard have a phaser? Did they know he had picked one up on his way over to the Stargazer? How? Or if he had one on him previously, why? Why would he have been walking around with a weapon on him? It isn't actually explained why Picard would have a weapon on him.
Anyway, for some unknown reason, Picard has a phaser, and Riker knows this, so Picard locates the sphere and eventually blows it away. Unfortunately, it almost blows him away. He's thrown across the deck, and Riker frantically calls to him to see if he's alright. Picard gets up slowly, the fog clearly from his mind.
"Number One, where the fuck am I?"
"On the Stargazer. You tried to blow us out of the water because that dumb sphere was telling you this was nine years ago, and we were a Ferengi ship."
"Oh, shit!" says Picard, remembering. "Where is Bok?"
"His crew mutinied," replies Riker. "There is no profit in revenge."
"Meh, there never is," mutters Picard.



He gives us our Hmmm Moment for this episode, which is, "Let the dead rest, and let the past remain in the past." Then he beams the hell off of the Stargazer.
The E tows the derelict ship away as the credits roll.



So this episode is okay - not fabulous, but not awful, either. I think it's weird that we seem to keep switching back and forth between Wes-heavy episodes, and Picard-heavy episodes, though. The other characters in this ensemble have interesting stories to tell, but we haven't really heard from them yet. I made sure to include a screencapture of Worf this time, as he shows up in most episodes, but rarely has more than one line. Worf is the Christine Chapel of Season One TNG, and that's sad. We've gotten one episode each on Troi and Yar (and Yar's was a complete dog of an episode), but nothing much on Geordi, Data, Riker or Crusher. There are basic outlines of the characters, but not much else thus far.
As far as good sci-fi goes, this episode falls somewhere in the middle. It's your basic revenge-plot-with-frame-up, which is okay, but it rather closely follows "Lonely Among Us" and TOS' "Turnabout Intruder" in that the captain of the ship is possessed by some kind of alien or alien tech, and must carry out their plans while convincing the crew that they are the same old captain. I figure that the episode similarity equation should be that if your episode is similar to one other, you can still make it work. It can still be considered coincidence. But if you can point to two or more, that's when you get patterns and fall into ruts, and you're retreading the same water. This episode is similar enough that you can make connections, but not so much that you can call them the same.


Counts:

Red deaths: 0
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 1
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0 (When he enters the bridge to say that the Stargazer is approaching, they question him, but don't tell him to shut up. He gets a lecture on protocol, but that was justified.)
Sassy Geordi moments: 1
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 1
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 3


*******

So this is the last bottle of Third Street Tea that I picked up. It's the slightly-sweet Green Tea, and I was looking forward to it, because I really like greens. But this had a different flavor that I didn't care for. Like a white grape juice without the grape juice tang...? I was disappointed to say the least. I guess this is okay, because that tea was kind of pricey at $3.99 a bottle, but then it's canceled out, because I really liked that slightly-sweet Black Tea from last week. Ah, well. It looks like this company is mostly known for chais, and I didn't see any when I was shopping at Whole Paycheck, but if you're into chais, they might be a good bet for you.








*sigh* It is Kitten Season again. Please freaking spay your cats, okay?




2 comments:

  1. Good catch on the colors on Wesley's uniform. I'd never realized it. Then again, I probably paid as little attention as possible to his uniform.

    Why did Picard raise the Stargazer's shields if Bok had already raised them?

    How does grabbing a ship with a tractor beam render its weapons inoperable?

    I have two cats, and both are neutered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *high-fives Mark for stoppering the flow of kittens*

      Delete