Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, August 29, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Twenty-One "The Arsenal of Freedom"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Twenty-One "The Arsenal of Freedom"
Production Order: 21
Air Order: 21
Stardate: 41798.2
Original Air Date: April 11, 1988

So I was taking a survey today, and they wanted to know what kinds of beverages I drink every day. I check off the ones I drink most frequently, and scrolled down the list to see if I missed anything. I almost missed that the survey writer had included raktajino (Klingon coffee).

This survey was either written by Quark... or some huge Trek nerd who figured nobody would notice.


Picard's Log 41798.2: "Checking on this one ship, the USS Drake. The Drake disappeared while checking out the planet Minos. I guess the scanners indicated that there was no intelligent life on Minos, which is weird, because we know from previous records and stuff that there used to be."

The bridge crew gives some exposition through conversation here: Worf says the Drake disappeared after checking in near Minos. Data gives the background that the Minosians were basically fancy arms dealers, providing weapons to both sides of the Ersaltrope Wars. Riker says that Paul Rice, captain of the Drake, was at the Academy with him, and describes a guy who is smart and quick on his feet. He talks about Rice pulling a bit of a Kirk during an exam, though Rice did it honestly: he rejected the three options given to him on a test, selected a fourth, passed with flying colors, and the test was rewritten to include that fourth answer as well.
Worf then points out that Riker had turned down the opportunity to captain the Drake, and Riker pretty much shrugs, because he thought doing a tour on the E would be more beneficial.

Data confirms that there is only vegetation and insects on Minos, and they all speculate what might have happened to the people. Each of their suggestions end with some kind of mass extinction rather than an exodus, and I can't tell if that's supposed to say something about the characters themselves, or if it's just the script for this episode leading us in one direction or another. I mean, I know it's the script, but no one even suggests that the Minosians left. Among answers of war and disease, Geordi sneaks in a Sassy Moment:

"Um, we're being hailed?" says Data. 'The planet scanned our language banks, and now someone is hailing us."
"By whom?" demands Picard. "There's no one there! Put it on the viewscreen."
And hey! It's that guy! That one guy, from everything! (No seriously, Vincent Schiavelli was in everything. You've probably seen him in multiple places.)

Picard tries to find out who this guy is, but the dude just talks over him, stating that the Minos is "the arsenal of freedom" and that their motto is "peace, though superior firepower." After struggling to get some answers and only getting descriptions of weaponry, Picard figures out that he's trying to talk to a holographic ad, automatically triggered when they approached the planet. He cuts it off.
"I think we should check this out," says Picard. "If this ad thingy still works, it's possible that other stuff still works, and that weapons may have killed the population by accident. Let's do an away team without scanning the surface to see what stuff we can find out besides a lack of higher-order life-forms."
Riker tells Data he wants to take him and Yar along to the surface.
Dude, Yar gets lines here! Not only lines, but a chance to show off her security chief chops!
"I think we should do a really small complement right at first," she says. "Give us a chance to figure out what's going on, then we can call for more people as needed. If it's something really awful, we'll have put fewer crew members at risk."

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Recap, because some of you got home from soccer practice a little late."

We go to the surface and yaaaaayyyy, they're on location on the lot again. I know it's cheaper and easier to shoot in these man-made landscapes, but holy crap, are they fake-looking. Also, our intrepid trio has beamed down into some shallow water, and I wonder how often that happens. Are the transporters savvy enough to try to make sure that doesn't happen? Like, does it know to avoid the really deep water? Or differing kinds of quicksand or other unstable terrains? I know I've definitely seen it before, where they re-materialized in very shallow water (or, in the case of TAS, where Bem fucked with the controls, and half of the landing party transported to a cliff and the others reappeared in thin air, falling quite a ways to the water. Fucking Bem).

Right away, Data says they're being tracked. Riker opens his comm channel and Picard requests leaving it open. A few moments later, they stumble upon some melted metal thing in the jungle, and Yar says whatever caused the damage is way beyond their own tech. Data uncovers this huge cannon thing, which they guess must be what caused that damage. They guess that the thing might be a display model for potential weapons clients.

Riker is wandering around by himself on the surface when he is approached by Paul Rice. You know how aliens act when they take over a human body and must now pretend to be human, especially with a human that knows the human that they killed to get the meat suit they're currently wearing? Yeah, that would describe Paul Rice's behavior here.
Riker is happy to see Rice, and asks where his ship and crew have gone.
Ensign T'Su, the chick at Ops, calls Riker to let him know that she's getting low-level energy signals near him, but that the only life-signs are from the away team. A-ha.
"You look weird," Riker tells Rice.
"I was injured," Rice replies.
Data and Yar show up. Data scans Rice from afar and tells Riker the same thing that Ensign T'Su just told him.

"Who sent you here to look for me?" Rice asks.
"Yo mama," replies Riker.
"What ship are you with?" demands Rice. "It's the Enterprise, right?"
"Naw, it's the Lollipop," says Riker.
Yar looks mildly surprised.
"I don't know that ship," says Rice.
"It was just commissioned. It's a good ship," Riker adds.
You know... that wasn't really a Sassy Moment, but Riker but just fucked with a decoy by quoting Shirley Temple. I'm calling Sassy Moment on that shit.
Riker and Rice try to suss out what the other is thinking, with Rice trying to glean information on the E, and Riker trying to figure out what happened to the Drake. Rice ends up telling Riker that the top speed of the Drake is warp three. Sooooo, the slowest ship in the fleet? What, did you crawl to Minos? Shit.
"What is the armament on the Lollipop?" Rice asks.
"Ten," growls Riker. He's realizing that his friend is probably dead, and he's pretty pissed about that.
"Ten what?" asks Rice persistently.
"Six," answers Riker. Then: "We're such good friends - what's my first name?"
Rice is silent.
"What's my name, bitch?"
Oh, I know this one!

Instead of trying to guess, Rice disappears and the reappears as some kind of weird floaty robot thing. The floaty robot shoots some kind of laser that puts Riker in a stasis field.
"Dude, what's going on?" demands Picard.
"This thing put Riker in a force field," reports Data.
"Is he alive?" asks Picard.
Data scans Riker. "Dunno."
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Recap."

Data and Yar theorize that the force field thing is for storage, and sooner or later, something will come to collect Riker. Picard asks the transporter room if they can get a lock on the away team, but whoever is running the transporters replies that he can get locks on Data and Yar, but not Riker. Picard decides to go down with Crusher to check it out.
Troi protests, because Picard's plan is completely illogical. He ignores her, and puts Geordi in charge. Troi tries one more time to protest, but he just walks out.

Picard and Crusher beam down, and relay that they need to get the force field off in order to beam Riker back up. In the few moments since they last spoke, Data and Yar have somehow learned that the floaty robot was probably designed for the Ersaltrope wars. It selects a target, projects an image of a person that the target trusts, and then uses that trust to gain information about the enemy. If the robot is found out, it encases the target in a stasis field to collect later for further interrogation. I have no idea how they found all of that out, or if it's just pure speculation. Anyway, Data says he can get rid of it if he shoots the field with his phaser, but he has to find the right frequency first, and it may take a while.
Upstairs, Worf has found energy readings in the vicinity of the away team. Geordi relays that back to Picard as the creepy floaty robot reappears.

It starts shooting. Yar runs one way. Picard and Crusher run in another. Data, who has no fucks to give, continues to work on his phaser-force field problem like it ain't no thang.
Picard and Crusher dash through the undergrowth. Crusher, who is a little ahead, misses the fact that there is a giant hole in the ground, and starts to fall in. Picard reaches out to grab her, but they overbalance and both go in. They wake up at the bottom of a cavern of some sort, and it's clear that Dr Crusher is badly wounded.

Back at the Riker statue, Yar has returned and is now doing battle with the floaty robot while Data still messes with the frequency on his phaser. The security chief has noticed that the robot is different now, that it's anticipating where Yar will move and fire next, and is moving to avoid it. She comes up with a plan to destroy it, and when she fires to the left of the robot, Data fires directly at it using his kill setting. She then moves her fire over on the same setting, and the robot explodes.
"Yay, we did it! Oops, where's everybody else?"
They try calling the captain on their comm badges, but only get that "I'm broken" beep that the comms use. So far, we've Disabled the First Officer and Disabled the Comm Badges. Yar decides to look for them while Data continues to work on the Riker problem.
Down in The Hole, Picard has discovered that Crusher's arm is broken, among other things. He rips the arm off her lab coat and uses a stick to make a splint. She tells him that she needs to stay conscious. They both discover that the comm badges are not working.

Data has figured out the frequency that he needs, and is able to shut down the force field. A quick scan determines that Riker is fine. 
"Good, now Geordi can beam us up," declares Yar, who seems to have forgotten that nobody's comm badge works.
You got rid of one Disabling, but you still have the other, and because there's still another 28 minutes left of this episode, you'll either spend the rest of your time getting your comm badges to work, or you'll receive another, different Disabling.

Upstairs, T'Su says she's getting all life signs, which means that they freed Riker. But before they can beam up the away team, Worf announces that the shields just went up, and they are fired upon by some invisible force.
What, how did the shields go up without anybody raising them? Does the E have preemptive shields now? They didn't even know there was anything out there until it fired on them.
"We can't beam up the away team with the shields up!" says Geordi.
Ah, there's that other Disabling. That didn't take long. All you have to do is make that window too small, too short, and you can trap your protagonists on the surface until the clock runs out.
Worf attempts to lock onto the object and fire phasers at it, but it just fires and disappears, making it impossible to catch and take out. Ensign T'Su yells that their shields won't withstand too many more hits. The thing disappears again.
Chief Engineer Logan calls the bridge and demands to know if they're breaking orbit. "I need to know. Now!"
Dramatic music for some reason after Logan's demand! Commercial break so you can ruminate over this guy angrily calling the bridge when everyone is busy dealing with a threat!

Ship's Log, supplemental: "Geordi here. I can't beam up the away team because some unknown thing is attacking the ship. Also, the engineering chief is coming up to yell at me."

Logan is a piece of work. He looks like the kind of guy who would push you down at the Academy and take all of your lunch credits. I bet he spends a lot of time in Troi's office for anger management issues.
"Why the hell are we still in orbit? We're getting our asses handed to us."
"If we can disable whatever the hell that is, we can drop the shields and beam the away team back," explains Geordi reasonably.
"Gimme command of the ship," demands Logan. "I outrank you."
"Fuck you," replies Geordi. "I was left in charge by the captain."
"He didn't anticipate an attack, which is why he left you in charge," says Logan smugly.
"If he'd known we were going to be attacked, he wouldn't have left!"

So here's the thing: Logan does indeed outrank Geordi. He's got two pips, Geordi has... let's call it one and a half, because I don't know the correct terminology for that black pip. Geordi is not actually disputing rank. He knows Logan outranks him. But Picard put him in charge. Now, Picard knows that putting someone else in charge is always going to be risky. He figured nothing would happen while he was away, least of all that the E would be getting attacked while he was trapped in some hole with Dr Crusher. But he trusted Geordi enough to let him sit in the Big Chair, and it's the second time that Geordi has been in command (the first being "Angel One"). No, you know what makes Geordi right here? The fact that they're in the middle of a crisis, and Logan feels the need to run upstairs and start shit now. Like Remmick. Or Q. Or every time there's a fucking admiral or commandant on the bridge.
 What the hell is wrong with all of these aggressive dillholes bursting onto the bridge to yell at whoever is in charge, right when some enemy is about to punch a hole through the shields?
They take another hit, and T'Su says the shields are weakening. Logan wants them to break orbit and leave. And then what, motherfucker? The away team is still trapped. You want to just cut and run? You think that thing won't be here when you get back?
Geordi asks Worf to analyze the firing patterns of the unknown thing and see if they can anticipate it.
Worf comes up with a plan of attack based on this suggestion.

Logan tries to start shit again. Recognizing perhaps that this is the worst possible time, he tries to be kind of manipulative about it, and gently tells Geordi that he knows that Geordi only wants what's best for the ship. Geordi shuts him down.
"You're ignoring my greater rank and experience!" shouts Logan, getting angry because his ploy didn't work.
Bitch, you have two pips. Your "greater rank and experience" ain't all that much.
Geordi assuages Logan's ego by stating that he's actually counting on that greater experience to help out in engineering, because he needs Logan to go back downstairs and put up the power to the shields. It's a nice way of dismissing the guy, but Geordi has to turn around a moment later and reinforce it.
"Now, Mr Logan."
Logan finally fucking leaves, and Troi makes a note of how agitated Geordi is now.

Downstairs, Riker and Data have joined Yar in the quest to find Picard and Crusher. But their little floaty friend returns in the process. Yar and Data attempt the same trick as before, but it doesn't work this time. The damn thing has evolved a shield. It takes all three of them firing on it for an extended amount of time on the highest setting to finally blow it up. Data remarks that it seems to be getting more clever with each pass, and that each pass comes approximately every twelve minutes.

Back in The Hole, Crusher keeps drifting off to sleep. Picard wakes her up, and she reveals that she's lost a lot of blood, probably through another wound that he didn't know about on her leg. he admits that he can't find her med kit to get the clotting agent. She tells him to break off a specific root nearby, to taste it but not swallow, and to rub some on the back of his hand to check for color change. When she figures out that that's what she needs, she has him rub it in her leg wound.
He needs her to walk him through the process, and she tells him that she's going into shock. After doing all he can for her, he decides to look around and see if he can find a way out.

Upstairs, Geordi is planning to put things into action. Ensign T'Su says she can't seem to find the pattern on her equipment. Geordi reaches down and taps a few buttons on the console, locating the information she needs.
"Sorry, I should have seen that," she says quietly.
"You're doing fine," he assures her.
The thing comes back. Geordi has everyone take their places, but when they fire with both torpedoes and phasers, it just flies off into space.
"We missed!" roars Worf, smacking the console.
T'Su reports that her back-up systems are failing, and you can hear that she's starting to panic a bit. Logan, whose radar is set to Worst Fucking Time Possible, calls the bridge to yell at Geordi again.
Geordi, sounding a bit unsettled, yells at Logan to report to the bridge.
There's a pause, and you know Logan is down in engineering, silently punching the air and mouthing the words "vindication!" at his shipmates, before answering "on my way" in a smug-ass voice.
The others look at Geordi uncertainly, and we get this cool overhead shot.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

 When Logan comes up, Geordi has Solis, the guy at the conn, set some new coordinates and input the speed at warp five.
"You're leaving them on the planet," says Logan in an accusatory tone.
Fucking excuse me? You got something to say, hypocrite? Because you were just up here talking about how the E needed to leave orbit right the fuck now.
Geordi has Solis take them out for 28 seconds, then come to a full stop. He tells Logan that he has a responsibility to the more than 1000 people on this ship, and that he might have gotten those people killed if he stuck around to fight that invisible thing.
"What about the responsibility to the away team?" sneers Logan.
Can I scratch his eyes out? I'd like to reach through the screen and scratch his eyes now.
"Yeah, them too," replies Geordi calmly. "Mr Logan, you are going to take command..."

"...of the saucer section."

BAHAHAHAHAHA! FUCKING SUCK IT, LOGAN! I mean.. shit, dude. The smug on that guy's face, then suddenly he's rocking the Petulant Child look.
"But I don't WANNA take command of the saucer section! Waaaahhhh!"
When he gathers his thoughts, Logan tells Geordi that trying to fight something he can't see is risky.
"That's why we're separating, dumbass."
Then he orders the back-up crew to the main bridge, and tells Worf, Solis and T'Su to meet him on the Battle Bridge. He escapes into the ready room for a moment. Troi follows him. He guesses that she knows how stressed and nervous he is at this moment.
"No, that's fine," she answers. "You're actually handling the stress really well. The thing is, T'Su and Solis are not."
He jumps to their defense. "Hey, they're good officers!"
"I didn't say they weren't," she replies. "But they don't have a lot of battle experience. They need you to tell them when they're doing a good job."
"Okay, I will," he promises.

Geordi goes to the Battle Bridge, where Worf, Solis and T'Su are waiting. They separate without issue, then turn the stardrive section back toward Minos.

Picard is wandering around the overgrown vines and destroyed metal bits in the cavern, looking for a way out. Crusher keeps trying to drift off to sleep, so he starts asking her questions to keep her awake.
She tells him that she knew that the roots in the cavern had medicinal value because of her grandmother. Crusher says that her grandmother helped to colonize Arvada III, and based on Picard's reaction, it was a pretty crappy situation. She goes on to say that when the medical supplies ran out, her grandmother taught herself about roots and herbs to make do, and taught them to a young Beverly as well. Picard is surprised. He didn't know Crusher was part of that colony.
"There must be a lot of things I don't know about you," he remarks.
"Quite a few," she says quietly.

We're sharing a nice moment here. We're getting some of Beverly Crusher's backstory, Picard is feeling empathy toward her, and then... we're interrupted by plot.
Picard finds something interesting in the broken-down rubble on the other side of the cavern. It's a lighted button, and when he pushes it, a whole wall of viewscreens lights up in front of him. He says it looks like the wall is tracking the away team. Something clicks on. It's That Guy again.
"Isn't it awesome?" The script and Memory Alpha refer to this guy as The Peddler, and I like that, so I'm gonna call him that also. "That's the best part of the whole system."
"Who's that dude?" asks Crusher, who wasn't there when the Peddler's ad came on before.
"An ad," says Picard.

"What system are you talking about?" Picard asks the Peddler.
"The Echo Papa 607," says the Peddler proudly. "It can track enemies and gather intelligence and even shoot down starships."
"Hold up," says Picard. "Are you shooting at my ship?"
"It's state of the art. I can answer all questions you might have about it, like delivery or billing."
"Dude, it's not going to answer regular questions," Crusher calls to Picard. "It's just gonna try to sell you that thing."
Picard keeps trying. "Where are the builders? The people of Minos?"
"Once activated, it's invincible," the Peddler replies in an answer that's not an answer, but actually is.
"It killed it's own people," Picard guesses.

The machine makes a weird noise, and Picard asks The Peddler what's happening.
"It analyzed some stuff and is making a new weapon for it's last attack," the Peddler answers. "It's gonna kill the people on the surface."
"No, stop!"
"How come?" asks the Peddler sadly. "Don't you want to see the demo until the end?"
"Fuck no!" yells Picard.

On the surface, Data has used his tricorder to scan for life-forms, and the away team has discovered the hole that leads to the cavern. Yar tells them they only have two minutes until the Echo Papa floaty robot comes back. They call down to Picard and Crusher.
"We're here!" Picard yells back. "Dr Crusher is badly injured, and our comm badges don't work."
They all exchange information, and it turns out that everybody is already on the same page. There's no way for the away team to get down there, though. The drop is about 35 feet.
"I think I can do it," says Data. "I'll jump."
They try to talk him out of it, but he insists.

He jumps, landing on his feet. Yar and Riker decide to take cover before the EP robot returns.
Lightly dramatic music, because this isn't a high-drama moment! Commercial break!

Ship's Log, stardrive supplemental: "Geordi here. Going back for the away team. Gonna do a thing. Hopefully it works."

Geordi tells T'Su that her one job is to find the away team and beam them up when the shields drop. T'Su nods. He then tells them that this next part could suck, but that he believes in them, and that they've earned the right to sit in those chairs.

Down in the basement, Data takes a look at the EP 607 machine.
"Can I see a schematic?" he asks.
"Totes," says the Peddler.
A schematic appears.
"Can we reset it to target something else?" Picard asks.
"Yep," replies the Peddler.
"Cool," says Picard. "Let's set it destroy itself, it's power source, anything like that."
"No way," says Data. "The whole cavern would blow up, and us with it."
"Well, shit," says Picard.
"This is the fun part!" says the Peddler excitedly. "It's going to launch again!"

On the surface, Yar and Riker quickly discuss options and realize that they don't have any. The EP robot appears and starts shooting. They dive for cover.
No more time. 
Down below, Picard asks Data for any available options.
"Just shut it the fuck off!" Crusher yells from across the cavern.
Lawl. Did you try turning it off, and then never back on again?
"Oh." Picard is stunned that he didn't think of that. "Can we do that?" he asks the Peddler.
"Yeah, but that's lame," the Peddler replies. "And this is the good part, too."

"Off, off, off! Turn it off! We've seen enough!"
The Peddler looks sad momentarily, then brightens. "Oh! Does that mean you're going to buy one?"
"Yes!" shouts Picard. "I'll buy this, any Amway shit you're selling, and whatever you've got that makes julienne fries! Turn off the ducking femo!"
"Cool," says the Peddler.
He disappears. The EP robot does too.
And now they have their comm badges back.
Picard calls Geordi to tell him the good news, but apparently part of the EP 607 system never got the memo, because it's still shooting at the stardrive section.

Geordi gives Solis some new coordinates, and Solis points out that those coordinates will put them in the atmosphere. Worf guesses that Geordi's plan is to get the invisible robot to follow them, then fire on it when in heats up and becomes visible. 
They go in. T'Su reports on the turbulence in the atmosphere, meaning the robot is there, Worf locks his phasers at that spot. The robot appears. They fire. The robot blows up.

Geordi orders shields down. T'Su locks in on the away team, and they move out of the atmosphere.
Once in orbit, the away team is beamed aboard. Picard and Riker enter the Battle Bridge.
"I'm relinquishing command," says Geordi.
"Fuck that shit," barks back Picard. "I left you a whole damn ship, and you only return half? Not a chance. Get us back to the saucer section and reconnect it before you leave the Big Chair."

"Okey-dokey," replies Geordi.
Solis plots a return course to the saucer section. T'Su says that sick bay reports that Crusher will be fine.
Geordi drops back into the Big Chair.

I kind of go back and forth as to whether or not I like this episode. Sometimes, after reviewing an episode, I find more things in it that I liked than I did initially. My problem with this episode at the outset was that the sci-fi elements were not quite "sci-fi enough." Basically (and this not great criteria), I was feeling that if one could make a small change to a story to make it not sci-fi, then it wasn't sci-fi enough. Maybe you can already see the flaws in this logic. But my complaint was that, by changing Minos from a remote planet to just a remote location, you could actually set the story in the present. This story would not be out of place on the show Archer, which is about espionage. The issue with my reasoning here is that good sci-fi is not necessarily about robots, technology, or the future, but about how the human spirit continues on in those conditions. It doesn't matter whether or not one could adapt this episode to Archer. It matters whether or not interpersonal relationships could still survive in a futuristic, automated arsenal.

My next train of thought on this episode concerns differences between TOS and TNG. Sometimes the differences are glaring, and I feel the need to comment on them. TOS (much like Archer) played up their genre, sometimes to an absurd level. Going out into unexplored space was dangerous, yes, but I counted a solid 50 crew deaths over the course of three seasons.  Had this episode been TOS, the initial away team would have been larger and included several security golds/reds, who would have died at the hands of the Echo Papa 607. Here, no one dies.
There's also the question of "how do we stop the crazy computer from further fucking up all of the shit?" Kirk's answer: give the computer an existential crisis, by telling it that it isn't fulfilling it's primary function. Picard's answer (or rather, Crusher's): turn it off. Unplug that bitch and don't turn it back on again.

So let's talk about that cavern scene.
Last week, reader Naked Bunny With a Whip linked me to the character bible for this show, which turned out to be eye-opening. Amongst other things, I learned that the "will they, won't they?" relationship between Crusher and Picard was written about from the very beginning, and did not just occur at some point in the show's history. There's was always supposed to be an underlying possibility of them getting together. Reading the bible, writer Robert Lewin decided that the cavern scene was the perfect time and place to strike up that romance, or at least give it a good push in that direction. In the original script, Crusher nurses Picard after he is the one who is injured. But post-rewrite, the roles are reversed, and Crusher, after being cared for by Picard, teeters on the edge of telling him about her feelings for him. But I guess Gene decided that it was too early to push that story line, and Maurice Hurley, who did the rewrite, watered it down a bit, and has the mood shift when Picard discovers the blinking light on the front of the EP 607 machine. Nobody was really pleased with the way the rewrite eliminated the possibility of budding romance between Crusher and Picard... not the fans, not the actors, and not some of the writers. Robert Lewin did not write for TNG again.
I'm gonna plug this one in as "not too shabby." I'm still a sucker for the "lost civilization leaves function technology behind" story, and this one works that way. This episode also features more lines and screen time for Tasha Yar, who has still been getting the shaft on both of those counts. I'm not going to count the fact that this could be an episode of Archer against it, as lots of stories can be adapted to one another with a small amount of effort. I've never cared for the fake landscape that's so often employed by television shows and Star Trek in particular, but sometimes it's necessary because certain elements are needed, or because it's cheaper to build a set than to scout out a location, and pay to film there. So, a few little nitpicky things on my part, but mostly those are things that don't matter.  
tl;dr: it's pretty good.

Fun Facts:

- The cannon that the away team finds in the jungles on Minos is a rented prop. It'll show up again in an episode of Enterprise.
- Julia Nickson, who plays Ensign T'Su, will appear again in an episode of DS9. More fun facts: she was considered for the part of Tasha Yar, and was beat out by Denise Crosby. She was also briefly married to David Soul, who played Makora on TOS' "The Apple."
- The cavern used as the command center of Minos was infected with fleas.
- Logan marks the third engineering chief we've met this season.
- The scene that features the saucer separation was pieced together from footage of "Encounter at Farpoint."
- This is (surprisingly) the last time that Geordi is left in charge of the ship.
- This marks the first time that we see Worf working at tactical.
- The model for the Echo Papa 607 drone was made by visual effects supervisor Dan Curry, who used a shampoo bottle and a L'Eggs container to make the round parts. (For those of you not in the know, L'Eggs is a brand of pantyhose that used to come in plastic egg-shaped containers.) Here's Dan's kid holding the original model:

Red deaths: 0
Gold deaths:
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 1
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
Sassy Riker Moments: 1
Sassy Yar Moments: 0
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 1
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0

Cozy Curie


  1. Regarding the transporters, they must be hella accurate, but what happens when people materialize in water? Do the water molecules mix with their feet and shoes? Does the sand from the planet's surface ever end up in their shoes? And what about the air molecules in the beam-down spot? What about the random flying leaves that the window might blow in their path?

    How can sickbay have checked out Dr. Crusher? Isn't that in the saucer section? Or does the stardrive section have its own back-up sickbay?

    Curie looks like my Kiciu: https://www.facebook.com/Kiciu-1448485342119704/?fref=ts

  2. I assume the transporter beam includes a low-power force field that pushes fluids out of the way when a subject materializes, so it doesn't get mixed in with its surroundings. But it must have limited abilities, so you can beam into a puddle but not deep under the ocean; or it could swoosh the sand of a beach away from your shoes, but it couldn't move enough sand to materialize an object into a void entirely under the beach. So no beaming your treasure chest straight underground, yarr.

    The stardrive section is the portion of the ship that's meant to fly into combat (hence the Battle Bridge), so I'd expect it to have its own sickbay. It's basically a whole separate, self-contained ship, complete with shuttle bays, crew quarters, and recreation facilities. Just not civilian-oriented stuff like schools, presumably.

  3. I should like this episode more than I do. It's got lots of gadgets and ray guns and intermittent space battles. But it feels like a mixed bag.

    It seemed weird that the combat on the ground slowly escalated, to give our heroes time to deal with it, while the space-based component of this defense system immediately went for the throat. I know you could rationalize an explanation for that, based on the Drake's earlier visit and the system working economically, but it comes across as being too contrived. On the positive side, it gave us a chance to see Tasha being tactical and analytical.

    I thought the cavern sequences were a little dull, but that's probably due to the watering-down you mentioned. Ultimately, there was no real character development, and all we got was another hint about Picard and Crusher's secret feelings, which we'd already seen more of way back in the second episode.

    Then, we find out that this is all a demonstration of a weapon system. A fully armed demo. And that, while this weapon system was destroying a civilization of probably billions of people, nobody even tried saying, "Yeah, thanks, that's good enough." It's hard to sympathize with a species that sounds too stupid to live. (I'll just avoid looking at the news for the moment.)

    The best part of the episode was Geordi in command. Once you get past the insufferable Logan -- who seems to have experienced a broken rewrite -- these scenes played very well. We got several sympathetic non-regulars with lines, Troi got a positive and useful contribution, Worf got stuff to do (without taking it away from Tasha), and Geordi demonstrated his leadership with modesty, firmness, and thoughtfulness. And nobody had to die! This episode, combined with the previous episodes where I joked about calling the ship's pilot down to fix engineering problems, was what made Geordi's reassignment in the next season seem like a reasonable transition.

    So, yeah, a mixed bag. The surface scenes started off okay, but got bogged down, and were ultimately resolved too easily for my taste. I enjoyed watching Tasha getting things to do, and I liked the change where Crusher is the one who was hurt and had to walk Picard through the nurturing, but that character thread fizzled when Picard found a glowing button. (How convenient that they stumbled across a control system.) The space scenes were the opposite, being bogged down at the start with too much Logan head-butting, but picking up later. On the whole, I'm glad that we got both long-term character development out of it (albeit less than we should have) and a rare chance for everyone our ensemble to be useful.

    (Thanks for the hat tip.)

    1. It kills me that the Picard-Crusher thing is in the bible, and Lewin tried to include it, but we get a bit of a tease instead. Then they drag out the "will they/won't they" thing for another six seasons before either of them says it in plain English (or whatever the hell language they speak in the future that is conveniently translated into English for the viewers).
      "(Thanks for the hat tip.)"
      And thank YOU for that link! Character bibles are such weird creatures. It's interesting (and eye-opening!) to see the direction the showrunners thought the show might take from the out-set, and what it is that they ended up getting instead. I'm only about a quarter of the way through it, but already wondering if I shouldn't do a kind of bonus post for bibles, just to denote the differences.

    2. It is English. That much is certain. My question is what are all of the (regular or semi-regular) alien characters supposed to be speaking? Worf likely knows English and whichever language that his adoptive parents speak. Troi should know English as well. But things get murky when humans and alien characters are apparently speaking English (or the UT translates the aliens into English), and then a random alien word or phrase gets thrown in.

  4. Naked Bunny is correct. The stardrive section has a tiny, less well-equipped sick bay, probably because it's meant for short-term use. I do wonder, though: when a separation is called, do a few members of sick bay currently on duty pack up and staff the stardrive section? Or do they pull medical staff from another rotation? Are there on-call medical staff that they can pull from? It's a mystery to me, because I don't think that smaller sick bay is manned all the time. Or maybe it is...

    1. We don't ever see this smaller sickbay, do we? At least, I don't recall seeing it.

    2. I feel like we see it once, very briefly, in a later season.

  5. Naked Bunny with a WhipSeptember 5, 2016 at 10:45 AM

    Honestly, it seems like the stardrive sickbay should be available at all times, if nothing else because it's by far the closest to engineering. But injured engineers are invariably taken to the main sickbay 30 decks up and half a kilometer away, so I guess not.