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

Monday, August 22, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Twenty "Heart of Glory"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Twenty "Heart of Glory"
Production Order: 20
Air Order: 20
Stardate: 41503.7
Original Air Date: March 21, 1988

We start out this week with serious music, and a serious tone. We're headed towards a fight. Worf reports that Starfleet has sent a message about something to do with skirmishes in the Neutral Zone, but no one knows who is involved. They want the E to investigate.
Right away, Riker is suggesting that they separate the saucer, before they've even found out what's going on, if anything actually is going on.
So they jet off to the Neutral Zone, and scans there show some kind of battle activity. Data shoots down Riker's theory that it could have been Ferengi, but then suggests Romulans. I instantly fall asleep.
Please God, not fucking Romulans. Romulans are the Daleks of Star Trek: some ubiquitous Big Baddie that's always lurking somewhere, supposedly ready to strike, that mostly just gets talked about frequently by the on-screen characters. When they actually do show up, the episodes aren't terrible, but it feels like a lot of hype for the pay-off we get. We've already been subjected to the Mysterious Activity in the Neutral Zone B-plot, and it felt slap-dash and annoying at best. All throughout this series, we're gonna get the same thing: mentions of "stuff happening" near or in The Neutral Zone, or the E is going to show up there and have accusatory conversations with other ships that basically boil down to both sides asking, "What are you doing in the Neutral Zone?"
We get it: the Neutral Zone is like a 7-11 parking lot at 2 am - even if you have a legitimate reason for being there, you still look suspicious.
So we finally arrive, and they find a Talarian freighter adrift in space.

Life support failing, ship in bad shape. Riker suggests that lack of another ship doesn't mean that Romulans couldn't be cloaked nearby.

Dear Riker,
I've watched this episode. It's not Romulans. Stop saying Romulans.
No Romulans in This Episode

Worf says he thinks there might be some life signs on board the other ship, but there's a ton of interference because the ship is going to explode soon, so he can't be certain.
"Okay, let's do an away team," says Picard. "Yar, you need to stay here, because you get a maximum number of lines each week, and I don't want to blow them all in this early scene."
Honestly, I can't tell if this reaction from Denise Crosby is just her reacting to this news on her own, or her reacting as Yar. Either way, someone in a gold uniform is sad about being Set Dressing.

That Red back there knows what's up.

So we get some dramatic music and the opening credits, and we come back.

Picard's Log 41503.7: It's just a recap from the cold opening.

There's a tiny scene next, where Riker, Geordi and Data are about to transport over, but first they pause to talk about this new device that Geordi and Data have been working on. Basically, they hooked up a GoPro through Geordi's VISOR. It'll transmit everything he sees straight to the viewscreen on the bridge. It's still experimental, and has limited range, but Picard is eager to try it out, so they'll switch it on for this away mission.
They beam over with stun-set phasers.

Geordi switches on the GoPro. So it's not just a camera that they attached to the VISOR, they're actually running the visuals through the VISOR, so what's being piped back to the viewscreen is actually what Geordi sees.
The bridge crew are kind of speechless when they see what comes through. Picard murmurs something about "finally understanding" Geordi. 
He asks Geordi to look at something that caught his eye, and Geordi laughs. "That's Commander Riker!"
(Technically, it's Jonathan Frakes' photo double, but close enough.)

Picard asks Geordi how he makes heads or tails of all of the information he gets, and Geordi explains by asking Picard how he picks out one voice in a noisy room.
"Something you've learned, " guesses Picard. "Now look at Data!"
It's becoming a bit of a toy now.
"Data has a weird aura around him!"
"That's because he's an android," Geordi replies.
"You say that like everyone sees that aura," Picard protests.
"Don't you?" asks Geordi.

Also Brent Spiner's photo double.

"Um, this is fun and all," says Riker, "but life signs? Ship blowing up soon?"
"Oh, right," replies Picard. "Yeah, get on that."
So our boys pick their way through a half-destroyed ship, following their scanners, and Data reports the way ahead is pretty dangerous.
"Is there a way that's not dangerous?" asks Riker.
"Which way is the least dangerous?" asks Geordi.
There's goofiness here, where Riker and Geordi want to know which is the safest route, and keep asking that question in different ways. Data keeps replying that they're about equal. He finally gives them the non-frustrated android version of, "Just pick a fucking route!" and the audience is relieved that we're done with this conversation.
Geordi locates a spot in the bulkhead that is breaking down. Riker can't see it with his naked eye, but Picard can, as he is watching the footage on the E of Geordi's GoPro thing. Geordi guesses they have five minutes or less to find the mysterious life signs and haul ass out of there before the hull ruptures.

The camera thing cuts out, so now Picard only has audio of the away team. The team goes around a partially-ruined warp core, and find that the life signs are at the back of engineering, behind a jammed door. Riker rather foolishly pulls out his phaser to open the door, and Data reminds him that, hello? Gas build-up? Volatile environment? Instead, Data lifts the heavy-ass portal.
Guess what's behind Door #1?

"What's going on?" demands Picard.
"Klingons," replies Riker.
His tone of voice doesn't quite have an "ugh!" component to it, but there's a bit more disgust than the first officer of the Starfleet flagship should have when encountering a race with whom they've signed a peace treaty.
Suspicious music! Commercial break!

When we return, Data rushes off from some tiny errand and says he's found a quicker way away from engineering, then he scans an unconscious Klingon on a table. The man is barely alive. Korris, the Klingon leader, says he will carry the injured man, and they rush away from engineering.
Picard orders Yar to the transporter room, and she gets thrown a screentime bone by being able to run the transporter while the chief looks on in the background. That makes no sense, but she gets a few lines about how the interference is too great for the transporter to work, so I guess the writers are putting forth the effort to work her in. The away team and the Klingons stop and assemble, and Yar attempts the transport. They appear partially on the pad, then fully back on the freighter ship. Everything is going critical. The ship explodes, and all is thought lost, but then a moment later, the patterns reappear on the transporter pad, followed by fully-formed people.

Riker calls a relieved Picard to say that they are taking their Klingon guests to sick bay, and Worf excitedly requests to go along. Picard agrees.
The injured Klingon is not doing well, so Picard leaves Crusher to it and introduces himself to the other Klingons. Korris introduces his first officer, Konmel.
"Soooo, you were in the Neutral Zone, on a Talarian freighter," begins Picard.
"Okay, so, it's like this," says Korris. "We were hitching a ride on this freighter. They were taking us to this outpost, and we were in our quarters when we were attacked by a Ferengi cruiser. The battle must have pushed us into the Neutral Zone by accident. Anyway, the Talarians are not good fighters, and that first attack nearly took us out, so they allowed us to take over. We had the Talarians call the Ferengi and agree to surrender terms. Then, when their shields were down, we blew them out of the water."

"Cool story, bro," says Worf. "But those weren't Ferengi weapons."
"What's your name?" asks Korris, deflecting.
"Lt Worf."
"You serve on this ship?"
"You're right. We were attacked by Ferengi, but they were using Klingon weapons," says Korris smoothly.
Ugh. I wanna call bullshit on this, but remember in season three of TOS when somebody stepped on the Warbird model and the show had to make do with using Klingon cruisers, covering the weirdness by saying that the Romulans were using Klingon ships now? Yeah. So we gotta believe that, even though this sounds fishy as hell, there's already been a precedence set that frenemies of the Federation share technology, and that this excuse is completely legit.
"There's some stuff I'm not clear on..." starts Picard.
"We're hungry and tired," says Korris, deflecting again. "We can answer questions later."
He'd really like to sit down to a nice meal with Konmel and get their story straight.
"Cool," says Picard, who is pretty sure that Korris is full of crap.
Worf offers to show the pair to quarters, and they leave.
Riker approaches Picard. "Well, that was shady as fuck."
"Yeah, it was," agrees Picard."Contact Starfleet and see what they know about Korris & Co."
"It'll take 48 hours to get a response," points out Riker.
"Meh. They'll be with us for a bit," Picard shrugs.

Korris and Konmel invite Worf to eat with them in their quarters, and of course Worf agrees to it. Why wouldn't he? Worf wants to know what the hell is up with these super-sketch Klingons, and they want to know why he's serving in Starfleet.
Right out of the gate, Korris is kind of a dick. "What's it like for the hunter to lay down with the prey?"
Konmel jumps in, and together, they make Worf out to be some prissy little girl with ribbons and curls who is afraid of spiders.
"WTF is your problem?" demands Worf, who is clearly pissed off.
"We just want to see if it's still possible for you to get angry," says Korris smoothly.
"It is," growls Worf.

Picard calls them to let them know that their buddy is dying, and they better hustle it back to sick bay. When they get there, dude is taking his last few rattling breaths, and Korris forces the guy's eyes open. Korris, Konmel and Worf all start making this growling sound, then turn their faces to the ceiling and let out this howling scream. Then Konmel takes a spike from the dead guy's boot, like a memento, and they start to exit. 
On their way out, Crusher asks what they would like to have done with the body.
"It's an empty shell now," replies Korris. "Please treat it as such."
Crusher nods and I briefly wonder what other cultures might have that same thought process toward death.

The three Klingons walk back down the hall. Everyone is giving them a wide berth and some side-eye.
Konmel remarks that it sucks that their friend died in another way other than at the hands of an enemy, and Worf demands to know what the deal is, because weren't they attacked by "an enemy"?
Korris deflects again, which seems to be his second-greatest character trait, right behind Shady as Fuck.
"How did you end up in Starfleet?"
And now, twenty episodes in, we finally get Worf's backstory:
The Romulans attacked the Khitomer Outpost, and everyone died. Worf was buried in some rubble and left to die. A human Starfleet officer found him, and took him to Gault, telling his wife to raise Worf as a son.
Konmel asks how old Worf was at the time.
"Before the Age of Inclusion," Worf replies. 
He then explains that when he and his foster brother were old enough, they enrolled in Starfleet Academy. His brother hated it and left, but Worf stayed. Konmel, who seems way less judgey about this than Korris, asks how much time Worf has spent among Klingons.
"Almost none," replies Worf.
Korris and Konmel decide to manipulate Worf, playing up on the fact that he is different than the people who surround him, and guessing that he was treated differently because of it. They go with the "no one understands you" tactic. Worf agrees that he still has feeling of that nature, the more primal Klingon instinct, but adds defiantly that he does not let those feelings dictate who he is or what he does. He drops the mic and makes to leave, but Korris stops him.
It seems that Korris and Konmel have decided that he isn't a prissy little girl, and that he's actually pretty awesome.
They give him the low-down: they commandeered that freighter, ditching the crew someplace else, and went off in search of a place where they could be warriors again. Apparently, the peace between the Klingon Empire and the Federation is driving them nuts, and they really just want to run off and play Lord of the Flies somewhere. There was no Ferengi ship. They destroyed the Klingon cruiser that was sent to bring them back to their homeworld.

Worf is incensed that they would blow up a Klingon ship, but Korris protests that he didn't want to do it. He's just frustrated that the Empire has peace and he has nothing to do. He thinks that he can no longer be a Klingon warrior with no one to battle. He then asks if Worf is able to show them around the ship.
"Of course," Worf replies, and they follow him out the door.
Really, Worf? Really? Dude just admitted to blowing up a ship of Klingons, and he's probably going to commit treason, if he hasn't already, but sure. Show him around the flagship of the Federation. That sounds like a great idea.

Up on the bridge, Picard tells Data and Riker that it was strange to see Worf participate in the Klingon death ritual, that it was like looking at someone he had never known. Data says that he's pretty sure that that was the first time that outsiders had been witness to that ritual. Picard says he thinks he understands the significance of looking into the dying man's eyes, but he does not understand the howling. Data explains that the howling warns the dead that a Klingon warrior is about to join them. Picard and Riker look a bit disconcerted, but that makes perfect sense to me.

Worf takes Korris and Konmel down into engineering. They comment on what awesome battles they could fight.
"You know, nobody thinks like that anymore. You guys are relics," replies Worf.
Not to be outdone, Korris answers, "Maybe you don't think that way because living with weak-ass humans has turned you into a giant pussy."

Back on the bridge, a ship has been detected, heading for them. What kind of ship, you ask?
"Klingons," sneers Riker. This time he does not try to disguise the disgust in his voice.
I realize that old habits die hard, but that treaty wasn't signed five minutes ago. At least, I don't think.
So the Klingon commander K'Nera comes on the main viewscreen, and we get the same old convo that we always get in this situation ("What are you doing in the Neutral Zone?"/ "What are you doing in the Neutral Zone?").
Then Picard explains that they were just checking out the remains of a battle, and they picked up three Klingon survivors.
"Damn, that was all that was left of the Klingon cruiser?" asks K'Nera.
"What Klingon cruiser?" asks Picard. "We got three Klingon survivors from a Talarian freighter. The captain is named Korris."
"Oh!" yells K'Nera. "WTF? That guy is still alive? He's a criminal! Okay, hang tight. We're like, one hour out, we'll come and collect them from you."

Wow, K'Nera is rocking some serious 80's hairband hair here. It's like he called
Picard in between applying layers of Aquanet while getting ready for prom.

It's interesting to note the insignia on the wall behind K'Nera: the stylized triangle that represents the Klingon Empire, and the star-filled circle with the wreath-thing around it that represents the Federation. The Klingon Empire is all in. What's more, this'll play out in the scenes that follow.
K'Nera signs off, and Picard turns to Yar.
"Where are they now?"
"Near the Battle Bridge."
"Okay, that could suck for us," decides Picard. "We need to put together a security team."
"Should I get some lines and screentime, or stay here and pretend to push buttons?" asks Yar.
"Girl, go get you some lines," says Picard.

Worf is in the corridor telling Korris and Konmel about saucer separation when Yar and a team of four Golds roll up armed with phasers. Korris immediately guesses that they have come for him and Konmel. Yar explains to Worf that Picard wants the others taken into custody, and to stand aside. Korris begs Worf to join them. Korris and Yar are literally standing at opposite ends of a corridor, calling to Worf like a puppy.
Worf is uncertain.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

When we return, the tension is broken by a nearby lift opening, and a mother and daughter stepping out. The little girl walks up to Korris, who picks her up. Yar calls the bridge to report a hostage situation. Korris grins and hands the kid to Worf, who gives her back to her mother. They exit quickly. The golds take Korris and Konmel away.

After they're hauled off, Yar confides to Worf that she thought Korris was actually going to take that kid hostage.
"Cowards take hostages," says Worf flatly. "Klingons do not."

Worf enters the bridge and Picard tells him that a Klingon vessel is here to haul off the pair in the brig. Worf protests that they will be tried and executed if turned over, and Picard replies that he knows.
"This situation sucks," he tells the lieutenant. "It must suck doubly for you."
"It does," Worf nods. "There are no other options?"
"I don't think so," says Picard. 
Worf returns to his station. But when K'Nera requests to speak to Picard, Worf asks if he can talk to K'Nera. Picard gives him permission.
"I want to plead for leniency here," Worf tells K'Nera.
"Can't do it," K'Nera replies. "They're going to fuck up all of the shit between the Federation and the Empire. Gotta punish 'em."
"Well, yeah, I get that," argues Worf. "But what if we punish them in some other way than by executing them with dishonor?"

"Why do you care?" asks K'Nera.
Did I miss something? Is it Deflection Day, or something?
"Look, they're warriors," says Worf. "They're not doing well with this peace thing, and it's driving them nuts. I totally sympathize, because part of me feels the same way. Instead of executing them, send them to some remote planet where they can die like warriors, defending themselves."
"Dude, I'd totally do that if I could," K'Nera replies. "I don't want to execute them any more than you do. I'm also struggling with this peace thing. But I don't have a choice. The Powers That Be say this is how we have to do it, and I'm not allowed to question that. Send 'em over."
He signs off, and Picard tells Yar to escort the prisoners to the transporter room.

Meanwhile, Korris and Konmel are sitting in the brig furiously assembling a phaser-thing from parts of their armor, including the spike that Konmel took off the dead guy's boot. This was planned pretty meticulously, so I guess they figured something like this might come up. 

Korris shorts out the forcefield and Konmel zaps the guard, but not before the guard calls for back-up. Konmel then gets into it with another gold in the corridor, but this one is able to get some shots in. Three shots and Konmel goes down. Korris, in the meantime, grabs the phaser of the downed gold, kills the one in the corridor with it, then takes off down the hall with the phaser-thing that he and Konmel built.
Yar gets there in time to check the still-smoking body of the gold in the hall, calling back to the bridge that Konmel and a gold are both dead.
Picard calls K'Nera to report that Korris has escaped.
"He's a tough mofo," says K'Nera. "It wouldn't be considered weak of you to ask for our help in catching him."
"Bitch, did I say we needed help? No. It's just gonna take a few minutes for us to get him." Picard signs off.

Korris books it to main engineering. He climbs the ladder to the second floor and aims the weapon at the dilithium chamber of the warp core.
Yar calls Picard to report in. either Korris can hear Yar's comm badge, or Picard puts himself on PA in engineering, because he addresses Korris:
"This is really not a good idea, you know. You really can't win."
Korris yells back that he's only going to speak to Worf.
Worf asks for permission to leave the bridge and Picard says they'll both go. They get into the lift.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Worf and Picard high-tail it to engineering. Yar says no one has a clear shot on him, so she recommends waiting him out.
"No way," says Worf. "He's only gonna wait until he thinks he no longer has an advantage, then he's gonna fire that thing into the dilithium crystal chamber."
"That would blow us all up, and him, too," says Yar.
"Yeah, he knows," replies Worf. "Lemme talk to him."
Picard lets Worf take a crack at it, and Worf climbs the ladder to the second level.
"Sweet!" says Korris when he sees Worf. "We'll be comrades in arms. You tell Picard to give us the Battle Bridge, and we'll separate from the saucer section, and go live as warriors."
"Nah," says Worf. "Picard won't agree to that."
"He has to," argues Korris. "He has to, or I'll blow up his ship and everyone on it."
Worf pulls his phaser. "Dude, put your weapon down."
"Bro, are you serious? You've lived with humans too long! You've been corrupted by them, and now you're soft!" Korris is clearly losing his mind. He's out and out screaming at Worf now as all of his plans go up in smoke. And the actor playing Korris is totally getting into it, because he's burst a blood vessel in his eye, which makes Korris appear all the crazier. He appears to be channeling Lenore Karidian at this point. 

Korris finishes with, "YOU ARE NO KLINGON!"
"Perhaps not," deadpans Worf, and he shoots Korris.
Korris falls forward through the glass walkway of the second level, hitting the glass walkway on the first. 
They got some pretty epic shots for that.

Worf climbs down and turns Korris over just in time to catch his last breath, and perform the Klingon death ritual for him. 
Again, some more great shots.

Picard and Worf make their way back to the bridge, and this part is a bit awkward. Like, Worf killed a guy... just now. Then he performed the death ritual... then he and Picard rode the lift back up to the bridge, like it's business as usual. I guess they needed something to bridge the gap, but it's a bit weird.
Picard opens the channel to K'Nera and tells him that both Klingons are dead, K'Nera asks to speak to Worf.
"How did they die?" K'Nera asks.
"Well," says Worf simply.
K'Nera pauses, then tells Worf that when his tour with the E is over, it would be awesome if he would come and serve with them, because K'Nera feels like Worf's experience would be a great advantage to their fleet.
Worf is super flattered and says he also thinks that would be awesome. K'Nera signs off. Worf begins to return to his station. he feels a lot of eyes on his back, and turns.

"I was just being polite, sir."
"Ah." That's all Picard can muster. "Commendable."
"No, really," insists Worf.
Lawl. Worf, you liar. You know that's a sweet-ass assignment.
"I have no desire to leave the Enterprise," he persists.
"Okay, that's good," agrees Picard.
"The bridge wouldn't be the same without you," he adds.

I feel like this is one of the better episodes of season one, for three really excellent reasons:
Firstly, the beginning scene with Geordi's VISOR GoPro-thing was fantastic. This episode was primarily about Worf, but we started out with a quick bit about Geordi. Picard's remark about "understanding the man" extends to Worf as well later, but in our early scenes, we get to know Geordi better by seeing as he sees. It's not just that he's blind, it's that the equipment he uses to help him see give him a completely different view of the world. This comes with both advantages and disadvantages - he sees the metal fatigue in the hull of the freighter, signalling that they have less than five minutes to perform a rescue job and leave; but he also is not able to see the world as everyone else sees it. He misses things. These are things that he mostly doesn't realize he's missing, because they've never existed in his world, but recall that Riker the Q gave him perfect eyesight as a gift in "Hide and Q." He's very briefly seen what things look like to other people, and requested his blindness and VISOR back. We get to know Geordi a little better in this opening scene by seeing what he sees, and knowing that he knows what he's missing.

Secondly, we got Worf's backstory here. It seems so odd to just plop a Klingon on the bridge of the Enterprise and not say anything about it. Are we allies with the Empire now? Did Worf defect? Is he just some random Klingon? It took us twenty episodes to find out, but it actually seems worth it, because we also got a Worf-centric episode, and the backstory is actually pretty killer. It makes me wonder if the backstory was original to Worf's character bible, or if Maurice Hurley simply wrote it as canon, and it stuck. If it was original, were the writers simply looking for the perfect script in which to reveal it? It's interesting to see which characters we have backstories for, and which ones are a bit incomplete. Worf and Data now have well-rounded backstories, and we have most of one for Tasha Yar. We have bits and pieces for the Crushers, a little about Troi, and almost nothing for Picard or Riker. Having a backstory is great, because it means having a base from which to build character, an excuse to ask the question, "how did this affect this person years later?"
Speaking of which, third: character development. Even sans backstory, the character development we get here is amazing. Set-up: two renegade Klingons can't deal with living in peace, so they decide to break away from society, and they encounter Worf along the way. Worf, who has lived with humans for most of his life, and Worf, who admits to having to 'reign it in' to get by. The others attempt to stoke the fire inside by encouraging him to join them, and Worf is forced to make a choice between straddling the human-Klingon world, or giving in and joining them. You can see his dilemma: he feels for them, understands their frustration. He toys with the idea of going with them, despite the fact that he knows that they are probably criminals. Then, when talking with a crazed Korris on the second level of engineering, he tells the other Klingon that the true battle of a warrior lies within, not without. This actually ties nicely back in with what he told Wes last week, about how he struggles still to be reliant on others for his safety. I don't know if Maurice Hurley had read that script and incorporated some of those feelings, but both point to a man who battles inner turmoil on a daily basis.
That brings us to our Bonus Round. Korris and Konmel's story is that of the soldier who returns home from war and finds it impossible to reintegrate. It's a bit different here, as they weren't "missing" one war specifically, but the act of being war-like. Both Worf and K'Nera agree that they feel the same way, but have decided that putting those feelings aside is allowing the Klingon race to continue to grow and survive. Korris and Konmel cannot find their way to this new way of thinking, and go for option B: running away. How often does the wayward soldier do the same when he finds reintegration impossible? It isn't touched on too much in this episode, but just enough to give one pause, and to recognize that this happens in today's day and age as well.

Fun Facts:

- This is the only time when "Age of Inclusion" is used to describe a Klingon coming of age ceremony. In future mentions, it is referred to as "The Age of Ascension" and the ceremony generally takes place before the age of 13.
- This episode establishes that it takes three phaser blasts to kill a Klingon.
- Korris' death was originally supposed to take place on the ground floor of engineering, but they had never shot upward around the warp core before, and thought it might make some cool shots.
- Korris refers to the Klingon homeworld as Kling, as it had not yet been established that the Klingon homeworld is called Qo'noS. The Star Trek Encyclopedia then tried to make "Kling" the name of the First City, but because it's never mentioned again onscreen, it isn't considered canon.
- All of the footage of the Klingon cruiser is lifted from the first movie.
- In sick bay, Picard refers to the freighter as being Tarellian rather than Talarian. Remember the Tarellians? There actually appear to be multiple species in the Star Trek universe with that name, all spelled differently. As this is the earliest known species in this series with that name, I have to assume that this is the name Patrick Stewart tripped over when he meant to say Talarian.
- This is the first time we hear about the Talarians, but we won't actually see any of them until season four.
- The script for this episode was written by co-executive producer Maurice Hurley over the course of two days.
- There's a matte painting in the freighter that was re-used from the first movie.

Red deaths: 0
Gold deaths: 2 (One officially declared, but I think it's safe to say that the one in the brig died as well.)
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
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: 1
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 0
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: Pretty much the whole first part of the episode, but it was one scene, so I'm counting it as one.

Dragon or cat?