Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, April 24, 2017

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Fourteen "The Icarus Factor"

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Fourteen "The Icarus Factor"
Production Order: 40
Air Order: 40
Stardate: 42686.4
Original Air Date: April 24, 1989

Picard's Log, 42686.4: "We got minute anomaly readings on some stuff, so we're gonna go to Starbase Montgomery to have it checked out."

Riker, Picard, Geordi and Data are all down in Engineering, discussing whether they should actually go to the starbase to have their ship looked at.
Data tells Riker that he would "consider them insignificant."
Riker: "What if you're wrong?"
Data gives him some side-eye that clearly says, "Bitch, I'm a walking computer. What are the actual fucking odds that I'm wrong?"
Riker immediately realizes what he just said and replies, "Sorry."
Data thinks it's not necessary to have someone else rummage around in their shit, but Geordi and Picard would rather get a second opinion.
"We're going there, anyway," shrugs Picard. "We have a personnel change, priority status, at the starbase, and I think we could use a twelve-hour layover."
Picard gets paged to the bridge because they've approaching the starbase, and asks Riker to join him in the Obs Lounge when he's done working in Engineering.

Riker joins Picard.
"So hey," says Picard. "I don't think I ever told you what a good job you did when I had you do that bitch task of manually docking the two halves of the ship, way back in the first episode. That was pretty cool. Also, the captain of the Ares is retiring, and they want to promote you to captain to take over. Congrats."
"The Ares is in the Vega-Omicron system," muses Riker. "It'll take me months just to get there."
"Yeah, they're looking for new life," adds Picard. "You may spend all that time getting out there, and then find nothing. Pretty sweet, huh? They want you cuz you're an explorer and a diplomat. You have twelve hours to think it over. Congrats, again."
And he leaves Riker to think about possibly changing the entire direction of his life in twelve short hours.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

On the bridge, Picard tells Riker that a civilian specialist will be coming on board to go over Riker's new job with him. Riker remarks that he hopes the briefing will be thorough, because he'll probs base his decision on it.
A transporter chief cuts in on the comm to say that the civilian is beaming up, so Riker heads to the transporter room.
"Enjoy," calls Picard as Riker gets in the lift. Riker flashes him a WTF? face, because that was a weird thing of Picard to say.
When he reaches the transporter room, a surprise beams up...

...but not a welcome one.
"WTF are you doing here?" asks Riker. "Are you the civilian attache?"
"Yep," says Kyle Riker. "I asked Picard to keep it a secret. This is a great post, first officer on the flagship, and now you'll get your own ship."
"I work hard," says Riker defensively. "And you abandoned me fifteen years ago. I don't have time for your shit. I have other things to do." He turns to the transporter chief. "Get this guy a security escort to his quarters."
And Riker bails, leaving Kyle looking awkwardly at the transporter chief.

Worf is stalking the corridors when Wes appears from nowhere in full gossip mode.
"Ermahgerd, Worf! Did you hear that Riker is getting promoted, and the guy who came to talk to him about the job is his dad? He didn't know!"
"So fucking what?" growls Worf.
"Well, wouldn't you be surprised if it was your father who showed up?"
"Yeah - I never knew my father!" barks Worf.
It's clear that Wes is pissing him off, but Wes is feeling all bubbly and good-natured (and like, 8 years old?), so he just continues.
"I don't remember mine, because he died when I was little," says Wes cheerfully.
"STFU!" Worf roars, and he walks away, leaving a bewildered Wes in the corridor by himself.

Wes goes down to Engineering, where he finds that Geordi is now regretting his insistence that Starbase Montgomery take a look at the ship and check out that knocking noise the warp-core is making. Engineering is now flooded with gold-suited workpeople, all riffling through his shit, just like Data said they didn't need.
"Something wrong, Wes?" asks an irritated Geordi.
"Yeah, Worf yelled at me."
"He's Worf, what's new?" replies Geordi.
"Naw, he's acting weird," insists Wes.
"Maybe he's pissed that Riker is being promoted to someplace else. I know I am."
"Well yeah, me too," Wes admits. "But I think this is different."

Riker and O'Brien are sitting at a table in a crowded Ten Forward. Riker is staring off into space, which is pretty impressive, considering that he's not even facing the window.
"Girl?" asks O'Brien.
"Career?" Riker doesn't respond the first time, so O'Brien says "career?" again.
"No, family."
"There's a crapshoot," replies O'Brien.

The door opens and Kyle Riker enters. Several people in here just randomly know who he is, and they greet him or rush forward to shake his hand.
Pulaski sets her drink on the bar in surprise, and approaches him.
"You're here!"
"So I am," he smiles. "How about a drink?"
"How about a kiss?" she counters.
They kiss, but it's like a platonic kiss, followed by a laughing hug.

"They know each other," says Riker in surprise.
"No shit," replies O'Brien. Sassy Moment: "I know her too, but we don't do that."
Pulaski and Kyle sit down at a table to catch up, while Riker watches them and strokes his beard thoughtfully, like a villain plotting to kidnap them both.

Wes is still in Engineering, pestering Geordi about Worf, but this time, he's also talking up Data. He thinks that Worf is acting oddly, but not because of Riker leaving. They all agree that Worf should be watched, to see if he's acting strangely and why.
"Great! When we start?" asks Wes.
"What's this we business?" counters Geordi. "You found the problem, you solve it. We'll help if you need it, but this is your project."

Riker finally decides to go over to the table where his father is talking to Pulaski. He starts out cordial.
"I didn't know you knew my father," he says to Pulaski.
"Wasn't a secret," she shrugs. "Just never came up."
"You should join us," suggests Kyle.
Nope, too much for Riker.
"Let me know when you're ready for that briefing," he says coldly, and walks away.
Kyle looks sad.

Sad music... commercial break...

Later, Pulaski and Kyle are still catching up, and people keep dropping by their table to chat with Kyle and shake his hand.
Pulaski Sassy Moment: "Are you running for mayor?"
"Meh," he responds. He explains that he meets a lot of people because he does a lot of stuff for the Federation. He was apparently working in Japan for a while, but is now working freelance for Starfleet again.
"We could have been great together," he says to her.
"Maybe," she accedes.
She reveals that she's been married three times, and that she's still good friends with all of her ex-husbands.
"Like us?"
"Maybe," she says again. "They were all a little more in touch with themselves."
Wow, new the count, and already two for the Sassy Moments!
"Ouch," mutters Kyle.
"You're a tough guy at work, but underneath it all, you're okay. Some of us love you. Except maybe Will."

We switch over to the other side of Ten Forward, where Data and Geordi are standing near the bar, watching Worf stare out the window.
"Why the fuck are we doing this?" asks Geordi. "This is Wes' project!"
"He needs his study time," answers Data.
"I can't believe you fell for that," Geordi replies.
Dude is an android. He falls for a lot of shit.
"He looks fine," says Geordi.
"There's nothing to observe when he's alone," Data says.
Geordi Sassy Moment: "Good point. Let's not tamper with the status quo."
"Naw, he's just lonely,"
Data walks up to Worf and asks him if he's lonely, and that if he is, this is okay, because he has friends who care about him.
Aww, Data. You're so charmingly After School Special sometimes.
Worf is done. "With all due respect... BE GONE!"
Then he remembers that Data outranks him and adds,".... sir."
Data returns to the bar and Geordi.
"He seems quite sincere in his desire for solitude."

Riker is in his quarters looking at photos of his childhood in Alaska. Worf stops in and asks if those are pictures of him fishing. The photograph that is up on the screen is of a 9-year-old Will, holding a fish.
"Did you catch that?" asks Worf.
"No," answers Riker. "I hooked it, but my father took the rod away and reeled it in, because he was afraid that I would lose the fish."
"You don't like your father?" Worf guesses. He plugs on. "You're leaving to accept a new command. I want to go. It will be dangerous, and there will be more opportunity for combat."
"That's not the point of the Ares' assignment," says Riker.
The argument gets slightly heated, with Worf insisting that Riker will need him out in BFE, Space, and Riker insisting that it won't be as dangerous as Worf thinks it will be.
"Anyway," says Worf, heading for the door, "do the right thing."

Riker meets up with Kyle in the Obs Lounge.
"Alone at last," says Kyle, which is a touch on the creepy side, but okay.
"I'm here for the briefing," says Riker formally.
Kyle drops what is basically a 24th-century USB on the table. "Everything about the mission is on that."
"Then why the hell are you here? They could have transmitted these," says Riker, taking the USB.
There's a pause, and you know that Kyle is going to drop some bomb, like he has inoperable cancer or something.
"I... I wanted to see you, because where you're going could be dangerous," Kyle admits. "I'm proud of you."
Yeah, alright. I guess that works, too.
"You haven't bothered to say anything in the meantime," Riker replies in a hostile tone.
"Yeah, well, parenting doesn't come with a tech manual," shrugs Kyle. "So, about when your mother died..."
"Bye," says Riker flatly, exiting the Obs Lounge.
Kyle looks sad again.

More sad music... commercial break...

Kyle is in sick bay chatting with Pulaski while she treats some dude with the flu. (Somehow, anytime anyone is in sick bay with an illness, it's "[alien-sounding name] flu.") She tells him that she's giving the patient "tryptophan-lysine distillates" and her own recipe chicken soup. Sooo, medicine to sleep and cure his herpes, and also, chicken soup? WTF kind of flu is this?
Troi comes in, and introductions are made.

"Deanna is ships counselor. I thought you guys should meet," says Pulaski. "Her job is to keep us from deluding ourselves."
Daaaamn. Kyle doesn't even notice the insult cheerfully handed to him by Pulaski. She then excuses herself to do "lab work."
"That felt like a set-up," says Kyle.
"It totally was," smiles Troi.
She then says that she senses that Kyle wants to be closer to Will.
"Oh, I don't know. We both have pretty good taste in women, wouldn't you say?"
Okay... creepy, Kyle. Also, a complete non-sequitur. She didn't ask if you were alike. She suggested that you want to be closer to your son. He's trying to be charming, and she isn't taking the bait.

"I'd like to help you reconcile with Will," she offers.
"Yeah, well, I'm reaching out, but he isn't doing the same."
"You're proud of him. Do you want him to be proud of you?"
"I don't really care," he shrugs.
"Why do you covet his success?" she drops on him.
He splutters angrily. "He'd be lucky to have my career! I may have something of a reputation for excellence."
Troi: "And false humility."
Daaaamn, another one.
Kyle is pretty pissed now. "Bet he really likes you. Candor seems to be a trait he admires."
"He admires honesty most." Then she drops a third bomb: "You should probably think about why you're so competitive with your own son."
"Maybe I was competitive with him before," he objects. "But now I'm just here to help him prepare for his new assignment as Captain."
"It's dangerous," says Troi. "Maybe he won't take it."
"Yes he will," says Kyle. "He'll take it simply because it's dangerous. That's what I would do, and we're actually a lot alike."
He turns and stalks out of sick bay.

Riker is in his quarters reading the mission dossier when Picard enters. He's pleased to see that Riker is keeping on top of things and asks if he has any questions. Riker asks about the Ares' first officer, who speaks 40 languages. Picard confirms this information, and says that this man's abilities will come in handy in the Vega-Omicron system. The doorbell-chime thing rings again, and it's Kyle. He and Picard share some pleasantries, because I guess everyone on the ship but Picard knows that Riker hates his father. Picard still seems to think that this is all some fun surprise for Riker.
Riker, for his part, was enjoying his conversation with Picard, but rolled his eyes hard when Kyle came in.
Picard leaves so the two Rikers can talk in private, and Will tells his father that he isn't getting pushed into this decision.
"You don't think you're ready?" demands Kyle.
"Starfleet does."
"You're a good candidate for the job. You don't think you can handle being on your own?"
"I've been raising myself since I was 15," snaps Riker.
Kyle walked out on Riker at fifteen?
Are you shitting me, Kyle?
And before you were all, "Parenting doesn't come with a tech manual." No, but it requires common sense, and part of that common sense is that you don't leave a teenager to raise himself.
Then, just to shred any vestiges of pity I might have had for Kyle, he spouts this shit:

And suddenly, his face looks a lot more punchable.

Seriously, fuck you, Kyle.
I wouldn't talk to you for nearly twenty years, either.
He leaves.
Good riddance.

Geordi and Data are down in Engineering again, talking about how Geordi might have missed what was going on with the Enterprise.
Wes rushes in. "I know what's wrong with Worf!"
"You talked to him?" asks Geordi.
"What? No, I Googled Klingon stuff." Wes is all excited. "It's the tenth anniversary of Worf's Age of Ascension."
He basically goes on to describe what is a Klingon bar mitzvah.
"Okay, and...?" asks Data.
"So we need to throw him a party," says Wes. "That's what they do. But his friends and family need to attend, and we're his friends and family, but we're not Klingon."
"We could program the ceremonies and Klingons into the holodeck," suggests Data.
"I'd go to that," says Geordi, hesitantly.

Riker goes to sick bay and apologizes to Pulaski, saying that her personal life really wasn't any of his business, even if it involves his father.
She tells him the story of how they met - twelve years earlier, he was working strategy for Starfleet concerning the Tholians, and the starbase he was working on was attacked. No one survived but him, and he apparently fought hard to stay alive. She developed Florence Nightingale Syndrome over Kyle, and he fell for her as well.
"Marriage was out of the question. He had other priorities," she tells him.
"Career?" he snarls.
"If I were you," she warns him, "I'd get rid of the emotional baggage before going out on the Ares."

There's another short scene in Engineering, where Wes describes the Klingon party and rituals to Data and Geordi. Data says they'll need to get some Klingon painstiks, as the spiritual system relies on injuries.
"Damn, he has to be ritually injured, and we have to watch?" asks Geordi.
"We are his family," Data points out.
Wes nods like a Wil Wheaton bobblehead.

Riker goes to see Picard in the ready room.
"Would I be a fucking moron not to take the Ares?" he asks, point-blank.
"Dunno," says a surprised Picard. And in Picard fashion, he lays out the pros and cons of each:
On the E, he's the second in command of the flagship, and that gives him an awesome prestige. But... he's still second in command.
On the Ares, he'll be the captain of an obscure ship, in an obscure sector... but it will be his ship.
"You know," says Picard, literally putting his finger to his lips to indicate a secret, "there really is no substitute for holding the reins."
You can see the wheels turning in Riker's head. "I need more time," he finally says, leaving the ready room.

O'Brien catches up with Geordi and Data in Engineering.
"Did they find anything?"
"Fuck no," mutters Geordi.
"Better to check and find nothing, I guess," consoles O'Brien.
Geordi isn't having any of it. "Oh, yeah? How would you like it if they started poking around in the transporters?"
O'Brien gets defensive. "Fine by me! My transporters are ship-shape!"
Geordi deflates. "Man, it's just the thought of them actually finding a malfunction, you know?"
Data attempts to cheer up his friend: "If I were not a consummate professional, and an android, I would find this entire procedure insulting."
"Thanks, Data," mumbles Geordi.
On his way out of Engineering, Wes catches O'Brien and asks if he will come to a surprise party for Worf later. O'Brien seems kind of jazzed about the thought of a surprise party for a Klingon.

Riker steps into a room, but we don't know which one. But we now know that he's decided to take the promotion.
"I didn't want to leave without saying goodbye."
Surely, not Kyle...
No, not Kyle.

They do formal goodbyes with ranks and titles.
"I'm... supposed to know how everybody feels, but I'm having trouble reading you," she admits.
"Are your own emotions getting in the way?" he suggests kindly.
Troi: "My job is to help others sort out their own feelings. My feelings are beside the point."
Riker: "Not to me. Our feelings are what make us all human."
Troi: "Are you feeling sad?"
He goes to hug her. "Yes, I am."
She hugs him and cries. "So am I."
Now I am too!
Fucking ninjas...

Kyle is waiting outside Riker's quarters when he approaches. Riker motions him inside. Once the door closes, the son lets the father have it.
"I've practiced my best Academy courtesy. Time for you to GTFO."
"Too bad there's no anbo-jyutsu ring on this ship," spits Kyle. "We could clear the air."
"Really? Because there's one in the gym," snarls Riker.
"Fucking fine by me!"
"You're on!"

Concerned music! Commercial break!

Kyle shows up at Pulaski's office after she calls him there.
"WTF?" she demands. "Will is going to kick the shit out of you!"
"Oh, you heard, huh?" He tries to haul out the charm again, but it doesn't work on her, either. "At least if one of us is injured, we know where to find a good doctor."
"Will is in his prime," she protests.
"Yeah, yeah, and I'm an old guy. Whatever. We've been playing anbo-jyutsu since he was 8, and he has yet to beat me. It'll be fine."
Pulaski is unconvinced.

At 1700 hours, Pulaski goes to the holodeck with Geordi, Wes, Data and O'Brien. They enter the holodeck to find it dressed like a Klingon hall. Data asks for the warriors, and eight Klingons with painstiks appear. O'Brien describes how he once saw a group of Klingons take down a large animal with these weapons, The animal's head exploded.
"Dude," Pulaski says to him.

Troi walks Worf through the corridor.
"What's this about?" he demands.
"The anniversary of your Right of Ascension," she says. "We all know about it."
"Wait, that's supposed to be a Klingon secret," he objects.
"Not to Google or Wesley Crusher," she says cheerfully.
She drops him off at the holodeck, but doesn't go in.
He opens the door.

Damn, fam.
"Happy anniversary," says Geordi.
Worf steps onto the raised stage area between the first two Klingons, and says something ritualistic in Klingon. He then repeats it in English, or whatever these humans speak. Stuff about being a warrior. Then the first two Klingons lean down and tase him, bro.

He yells and his knees buckle, but he proceeds to the next pair. Each time he reaches a new pair, he says something in Klingon, repeats it in English (or whatever), and the next set of Klingons tase him. Repeat, repeat. Bile of enemies flowing over his hands. Knowing all about being a warrior and staying strong. Data whispers to the others that Worf needs to get all the way to the end, getting tased and yelling truths about his spirituality, so that the rites are completed. He starts to collapse after the third pair, and Pulaski steps forward, but O'Brien holds her back. The last pair tag him twice, and he almost falls off the platform.
When he catches his breath, he thanks his friends, who are super-baffled as to why they are being thanked for allowing him to get the crap beaten out of him.

Troi is staring out the window of the Obs Lounge when Pulaski comes to find her.
"Worf is injured, but happy," she reports. "It was weird. I don't like violence. I didn't stick around for long afterward. Glad humans don't do that kind of thing anymore."
"They don't?" asks a cynical Troi. "What about the Rikers? They're gonna beat the hell out of one another now. I feel like humans have evolved somewhat, but some things are still wrapped up in gender."
"Um, you think they're gotta beat the shit out of each other because they're guys?" asks Pulaski.
Oh, hell no. You are not going there, Troi. Do not play Boys Will Be Boys.
But she goes a different route, complaining about how masculinity leaves guys with this crappy cycle of "fathers treat their sons like children, and grown sons butt heads with their fathers' expectation of them."
"They never really grow up, do they?" smiles Pulaski.
"Perhaps that's part of their charm, and why we find them so attractive."
They smile at one another, then agree that they hope the boys don't hurt one another, and...
...this conversation is skewing kind of sexist.
Let's be straight-up here: females are not more evolved than males. You can't claim Boys Will Be Boys, because that lets males off the hook, while not acknowledging that females can be just as violent. And they're infantilizing both Will and Kyle here. Just... this convo is starting to look super dated to me, and it's way more complicated than just two women lamenting that the men they care for can't settle out their relationship without duking it out. It's attempting to simply unravel millennia of male psychology and complicated parent-child relationships, and that's not do-able in a few minutes' time.

We skip over to the anbo-jytsu ring, where Kyle and Riker are both suited up and holding weapons that look like lirpas without the fan blade on one end, or possibly Klingon painstiks with Q-Tips on the end.
Kyle simultaneously explains the concept of this activity while talking shit about Will: anbo-jytsu is "the ultimate martial arts," and there are weapons, and you work blind. he says Will could never get used to losing, but Riker points out that he's had fifteen years to practice. So they lower their visors, turn on the weapons, and dance around the ring. Riker gets in a few good hits, then knocks Kyle out of the ring.
"You should have been the one to die, not her," says Will out of nowhere.
Kyle gets back up. "Good, get it all out."
They begin sparring again.
Kyle knocks Will down. "You were too young to understand, and I was too hurt to explain. She was your mother, but she was my wife. And maybe I'm no father, but you're no son. Maybe this fight is all we have left."

They fight again. Will is clearly doing better, knocking Kyle down several times, but then Kyle gets up and knocks Will down by smacking him across the back of the knee.
Will calls for a time out.
"WTF? You can't do that! That's an illegal move!"
"Are you serious?" asks Kyle.
Then it dawns on Will that he always loses because Kyle always cheats.
"Well, yeah, I had to cheat," says Kyle, as though that's a valid excuse. "You could beat me by the time you were twelve, so I had to cheat to keep you interested."
"Asshole," says Will.

"Look," says Kyle. "I was too hurt by your mother's death to be able to talk to you, and the wall grew up between us, living there together. It just got bigger, and I didn't know what to say. I can talk to a whole room full of admirals, but I couldn't talk to you about how I feel."
"... how do you feel?" asks a wary Riker.
"I love you," says Kyle. And because this is too much feels, he adds, "I need to get back to the starbase."
"I'm glad you came," says Riker, in what is probably the world's quickest messy-relationship clean-up.
They hug it out.

Picard enters the bridge.
"Everybody from the starbase beamed back down," Worf tells him, "including those people in Engineering."
"What did they find?" asks Picard.
"Fuck-all," replies Geordi. "They recommend that we put a piece of tape over the Check Engine light, which is what Data suggested we do in the first place."
Sassy Data Moment where he perfectly mimics Picard's shrug: "You don't say."

Riker unexpectedly enters the bridge. "Screw the Ares. Gonna hang out here a while longer, cool?"
"Cool," says Picard.
They all sit down, and Riker tells Wes where to go and how fast to get there.
"How come you decided to stay?" asks Picard.
"Motivated self-interest," admits Riker. "I just kinda feel like it."
"Alrighty," says Picard.

This episode wasn't awful. We get some character development and backstory (always favorites of mine), and our B-plot involved Klingon ritual (never something that I turn down). There are some bumps in the road, though, concerning the handling of emotion. Director Robert Iscove wanted to really explore the emotion behind the facts that Kyle abandoned Will for nearly twenty years, then comes back looking to patch things up. But Gene Rod was set against too much emotion, as he had decided with TOS that humanity had moved away from that kind of pettiness. Rick Berman and others agreed with Iscove, but Gene got the deciding vote, and the emotional aspect was downplayed. As a result, this was the only Star Trek episode that Iscove directed. The funny thing is, Iscove had been attracted to the project because he had been a TOS fan, and TOS was no stranger to emotion. But in Gene's mind, there couldn't be too much emotion, so things were toned down.
There were also some bumps connected to callbacks - specifically, in "A Matter of Honor" where Riker gets on the case of a Klingon officer for cutting his father out of his life. Not only is that iffy because Riker is trying to impose his own values on someone else's culture, but because this new canon makes him a huge hypocrite. HOWEVER, he's kind of getting a big pass here because "A Matter of Honor" was written and filmed before this was canon. The second callback here was one from last week ("Time Squared") and is not actually my complaint, but that of someone who contributed to Memory Alpha. This person claims that it ruins continuity when Pulaski asked about the Riker's cooking skills during the omelette scene. Riker mentions that he learned to cook because of his father. "Your father?" asks Pulaski in surprise. "Your father liked to cook?" Whoever wrote that particular entry seemed to think that it established that Pulaski did not know Kyle at all, when in fact she was well-acquainted with him. But I feel like her tone there doesn't give it away in either case, for  knowing or not knowing. She's just surprised. That could be a thing she's surprised about because here's something she never knew about a guy she wanted to marry.
So this one isn't half-bad for building some character canon, which will come in handy for later episodes, both A- and B-plots.
The other problematic issue here is that conversation near the end between Pulaski and Troi. It borders on discussing outdated patriarchal problems and toxic masculinity, both of which are harmful to males. However, that's a much larger discussion than a write-up at the end of one review blog, and one that I'm not especially qualified to write about, as I am neither male, nor anyone's son.
The last theme to deal with here is that parent-child dynamic, which is also incredibly difficult to cover simply, but did present with some points in this episode. Now, I'm not going to say "ditch your crappy parent always," because that isn't always the correct path to take. I myself had one parent who was pretty craptacular when I was little, but who turned out to be a great parent to adult children. But I will say, if you've tried several times to reconcile, and that parent can't seem to grow the fuck up and be a parent, drop them like a hot potato. If your parent(s) was/were abusive, fuck 'em. That's toxic, and you have every right to walk away. Was that the case here? Should Riker have walked away from Kyle? I mean, the cards are stacked against the elder Riker: he abandoned his kid at 15, pretty much never checked in with him, and when his efforts to reconcile were rebuffed, he gaslighted Will. HOWEVER, he did seem pretty freaking sincere about putting petty crap behind them and starting over. I guess time will tell. It's too bad that it wrapped so nicely and neatly, though. Real relationships aren't repaired after one sparring fight, but unless you're developing an arc over an entire season, and have the resources to devote to that story, then you have to put a bow on it by 45 minutes in. That's television for you.

Red deaths: 0
To date: 2
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Geordi moments: 1
To date: 5
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 3 
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date:11
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Data Moments: 1
To date: 5
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 1
To date: 1
Sassy Pulaski Moment: 2
To date: 2
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 1
To date: 18
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 3
To date: 17
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 1
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 12

Episodes Left Until We Get Rid of Pulaski:

Fun Facts:

- I keep forgetting how many crew members had no father/strained father relationships on this crew: Riker (abandoned at 15), Worf (parents killed when he was little), Dr Crusher (orphaned and raised by her grandmother), Wes (father killed in the line of duty), Tasha Yar (orphaned), Troi (father died when she was young), Data (now there's a mess). Picard's father hated the fact that he joined Starfleet, as did O'Brien's.
- Amongst the homeopaths, lysine is taken to prevent the flu, rather than treat it. I guess it's so-so legit that Pulaski would give it to a patient, like maybe they've figured out how to make it work after the fact. But every application I've ever seen it used for was herpes. Just... that's a pretty tenuous connection.
- For showing in the UK, the painstik Klingon ritual was heavily edited, because they were showing it at 6 pm, and thought they would get complaints from parents. It has since been restored for UK viewings.
- A deleted scene featured the moment when Wes convinces Data and Geordi to watch Worf, because he "had to study."
- This is the first time we see Troi's office.
- Two of the Klingons are wearing gorilla boots from the Planet of the Apes franchise, instead of Klingon boots. A lot of the Klingon costumes were tied up in the production of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and could not be spared for this TNG episode. Which is funny, because STV had finished filming in December, and this episode was filmed in February.
- A number of anime references are made in the design of the anbu-jytsu set.
-The making of this episode was featured on the television magazine show "Entertainment Tonight." Host John Tesh, a big Star Trek fan, was featured as one of the Klingons, and his filming was used as "behind the scenes" footage on ET. As an homage, the Star Trek Customizable Card game identifies his character as K'Tesh.

- This is the second episode to feature Riker being offered his own command. (The first was The Drake, offered to him in season one's "Arsenal of Freedom.")


Monday, April 17, 2017

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Thirteen "Time Squared"

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Thirteen "Time Squared"
Production Order: 39
Air Order: 39
Stardate: 42679.2
Original Air Date: April 3, 1989

Our cold open for this week starts in Riker's cabin, where he's preparing a dinner party. (At least, I think it's dinner. This ship runs on three eights, so who knows?) He cracks some eggs in a bowl and whisks them. His guests arrive: Data, Geordi, Worf and Pulaski.
Pulaski has brought a kind of ale to go with the eggs, so I guess maybe it is dinner? You don't drink actual alcohol with breakfast unless you work overnights or are having brunch. Actually, I looked up whether or not beer goes good with eggs, and the article I read recommended a light wheat beer, or coffee stouts, and I don't freaking know, I end up looking up a lot of weird shit in the course of writing this crap, so maybe I should just go with it.
They're having eggs and ale.
Data tells Riker that cooking the eggs himself is inefficient, and Riker agrees that the replicator would have done a fine job, but doesn't allow for nuances of fine cooking. Pulaski puts in that "breaking bread together" as a form of comradery and socialization is something they've gotten away from in the 24th century.
Riker starts to cook the eggs, and even though Pulaski mentioned that they were having omelettes, he scrambles them on a little electric skillet thing. They get to talking, and Riker says that he owes his cooking skills to his father, as his mother died when he was little, and his father hated to cook. Character development: score!
Geordi looks unconvinced that the meal he's about to eat will be any good.
"Where'd you get these eggs?" he asks warily.
"At the last starbase we stopped at," Riker replies. "They're 'Owon eggs."
And apparently, they suck. Everyone takes a No Thank You bite, makes a face, and puts down their fork. Except Worf, who inhales them, and then looks up in surprise.
"They're delicious," he says.
Is the joke that Worf just randomly likes what the others don't; that the Klingon palette is different than the human palette (or the android palette); or that Klingons enjoy gross food?
I dunno.
Riker smiles, clearly not put off by the fact that so many thought the eggs were nasty.
But it doesn't matter, because Picard calls Riker, Data and Worf to the bridge.

Seems Picard has found a shuttlecraft out here in BFE, Space, and there's one humanoid on board. The shuttle has no power, so they'll have to go out and get it to ask whoever that is in there just what the hell they're doing.

Dramatic music! Opening credits break!

Picard's Log 42679.2: "Some rehash, for peeps who got here late and need to know what's going on."

They put the shuttle on-screen when they roll up on it, and it's just out there tumbling in space. They tractor it in. Riker, Worf and Pulaski go to shuttle bay 2.
Riker and Worf make it first. They discuss how a shuttle could be so far out, away from any Federation starbases or ships. Then they read the craft's markings: NCC 1701-D USS Enterprise, Shuttlecraft 05.
The fuck?

Pulaski and her team open the shuttle, and she calls to Riker.
The fuck?

"Captain?" asks Riker.
His comm badge channel opens.
"Sup?" asks Picard, on the bridge.
"Um, get down here," advises Riker. "Also, bring Data, because... I don't know why. Just bring Data."
So Picard comes down with Data and also Troi.
"The fuck?"

Picard looks at Pulaski, who is taking scans.
"What's wrong with him? Why is he unconscious? What's the deal?"
"Dunno," she replies. "Like, his heatbeat is good, but everything else is weird and... off. He's out of phase or something."
"Is he non-human? Artificial?"
"Nope. But I won't know much until we get him to sick bay," she answers, and she and her team hoist the other Picard onto a medical gurney and take him away.

Picard pulls Troi aside.
"Okay, who the hell is that?" he demands.
"You," she says simply.
The look on his face says "cut the shit."
"No, for serious, that's you. My readings are all as messed up as Pulaski's, but it's super you."
Picard instructs Data to get the logs off the shuttle, but Data has no access, because the shuttle has no power. He has to plug it into the E and charge it or something.
Riker smacks his comm badge. "Geordi, get the fuck down here."
"Okey-doke!" replies Geordi.
Then Riker points to what looks like a smear of dirt on the side of the shuttle. "That warp core explosion damage?"
No, it's a smear of dirt.

"Yeah," says Picard. "But like, from far away? Just out of range to take actual damage?"
"LOGS!" Picard barks at Data.
Everybody else leaves as Geordi comes in to join Data.
As Riker passes Geordi, he simply says "lieutenant," but you know he wants to says, "Dude, some shit going down in here!"
Riker and Worf return to the bridge, and Riker tells Worf to put the scanners at max range. He plops down in the captain's chair.

"Man, what the shit?"

Geordi and Data hook the shuttle up to the E, but the shuttle tries to tase Data when he attempts to turn it on.
"It's hooked up right," says Geordi, at a loss.
"Naw, the polarity is all wrong," replies Data.
"What's going on?" wonders Geordi.
"Dunno," Data answers.

Down in sick bay, Pulaski still doesn't have any clue what's going on. She tells Picard and Troi that everything is out of wack.
"Can you wake him up?" asks Picard.
She shoots Other Picard with a stimulant, but it basically kills him. She gives him a sedative instead, and his vitals all go back to the "alive" setting.
"That's fucked up," she remarks.

Data and Geordi have hooked up the shuttle in a way that should blow all of the circuits, but instead, everything turns back on.
"Whoooaaa," says Geordi. "Check out the stardate. It's like, six hours ahead of us." He calls Picard in sick bay. "Dude, the shuttle is six hours ahead of our time. That means Other Picard is too."

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "The shuttle and the Other Picard are from six hours in the future. This is hella messed up."

Picard asks Pulaski to wake up Other Picard again. Other Picard wakes up, looks around in terror, but makes no noise or any sign that recognizes anything. Pulaski tries to knock him out again, but Picard asks that she let him stay conscious.
"This is so fucked up," says Pulaski. She looks at Picard. "You okay?"
"Yeah, fine," he replies, unnerved. "Staff meeting in five minutes."
Pulaski says she'll keep her comm open and listen in from sick bay.

At the staff meeting, Geordi announces that he and Data have managed to get some of the logs off the shuttle, and wouldn't you know it, it's not enough to really solve the whole thing... just enough to keep them guessing. Geordi warns them that the first log they have is visual, that it's somewhere in the middle of that six hours, and the video is wonky because they had to get it using a phase inverter.
The video shows footage taken from the back-up cam in the shuttle, of the bay's doors opening, and showing some kind of gaping thing in space. Then we switch back to the drivers seat POV, and see Riker standing in the shuttle bay as it leaves the Enterprise. Then we switch back again, and the video shows the E in the gaping thing, followed by some lightening or something, and the E exploding.

Now Geordi plays the audio of the last log.
"Picard's Log, supplemental: Just watched the E blow up. Everyone who was on board is dead, except for me."

The time stamps are from a little more than three hours in the future, which means the shuttle then moved in the direction of the current E for a little more than 2.5 hours.
"So in about three hours, the E blows up, and we die, and for some weird-ass reason, the captain abandons ship, but not the rest of us," summarizes Geordi.
"Yeah, that's weird," agrees Worf. "Why the hell did he leave?"
"Yeah," says Picard, who looks to be clinging to this one bit of info like it's the one thing that makes sense. "So what's the deal?"
"We're supposed to be in the Endicor system in three days," says Riker. "And there's nothing threatening between here and there."
"There are no other ships, friend or foe, in this area," says Worf.
"I got nothing," shrugs Data. "Not enough info to even guess."

Now comes the part in time-travel shows that I hate: trying to figure out WHEN you are, and what to do about it.
"If there's something between now and then, maybe we should just stop here," suggests Geordi.
"Can't," replies Riker. "We already took the Other Picard and shuttle on board, so we're committed to this sequence of events."
Picard agrees, and Worf brings up Moebius strips. God, what a headache. Please don't be a fucking Moebius strip.
"So we're gonna meet this thing, get blown up, and then the Other Picard in the Other shuttle will get picked up by us six hours later, and we start all over again. Sounds like someones idea of hell to me," puts in Geordi.
Yeah. It's mine. Why the fuck am I watching this episode?
"Okay," says Picard finally. "We can't avoid the future, so we'll just walk right into it. At some point, we'll make a decision that will seem like the right one, but isn't. So we need to watch out for that, and not make the same mistake... once." He flashes a tiny smile.
Riker also flashes a tiny ICWYDT smile.
"Okay, let's figure out what's waiting to kill everyone, cool?"
They all get up to leave.

Riker and Worf return to the bridge. Riker takes the captains chair and looks like he'd rather not.

Picard and Troi return to sick bay.
Pulaski says that she never really noticed how much the body relies on its own internal clock until now, then reveals that the closer they get to aligning to Moment Zero, the better aligned Other Picard's body becomes.
"Sooo... when that happens, there will be two of us?" asks Picard.
"Yep," says Pulaski.
Suddenly, Other Picard starts thrashing violently. Troi does as well.
"He's desperate to leave the ship!" says Troi.

Extremely dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Two hours from meeting up with... us."    

Everyone is on the bridge when Pulaski calls Picard to say that Other Picard is slightly more lucid. He leaves to go to sick bay, and the camera focuses in on Troi, who looks unnerved. After a bit she gets up and follows.
Picard arrives in sick bay. Other Picard looks the same.
"He's better balanced, but I doubt he knows who we are or where he is," says Pulaski.
Picard is angry that Other Picard has no answers for him. He starts yelling at his doppleganger to tell him what mistake he made.
Troi enters. "Quit yelling at him! He won't have your answers. It's like he's looking at us from the other side of a huge chasm."
"This is bullshit!" says Picard. He points at Troi. "Stay with him. You can communicate with him before the rest of us."
He leaves, and Pulaski and Troi argue about how Picard is handling the stress. Troi thinks he's handling it very well, Pulaski not so much. Troi says that Other Picard represents doubt, and hesitating because of that doubt, which she thinks is a healthy thing to worry about, as the captain of a large starship. Pulaski says she's going to watch him, because if it all becomes too much, she has the authority to relieve him. (Technically, Troi has this authority as well.)      
"Bitch, you better not," says Troi.
"I don't wanna, but I may have to," answers Pulaski.
Troi stalks out of sick bay, despite Picard ordering her to stay behind.

There's a brief scene where Picard just goes into the shuttle bay to scowl at the other shuttlecraft for several seconds.                            

Later, Picard and Riker are in the ready room, trying to figure out what the deal is, and how the shuttle ended up back in time six hours. They discuss that slingshot theory that I hate so much, but recall that the shuttle doesn't have warp capabilities, so going beyond warp 10 is not an option here. They bring up The Traveler, and Manheim's experiments with time, but reject both as possibilities. Picard is frustrated. Riker gives him a compliment sandwich.
"Your deal is that you can look at a situation, size it up, then make a preemptive strike," says Riker. "But you can't do that this time, because we're dealing with time instead of a person or thing."
Picard Angry-Sarcastic Moment: "You're saying I should just sit down, shut up, and let it happen."
Riker (smiling): "I wouldn't exactly put it that way."
But they won't have to wait after all, because the ship rocks then, and Worf pages them to the bridge.
"An energy vortex opened beneath us without warning," says Worf.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "I guess I should say something here, but really the only thing to say is that some thing grabbed us."

"The thing is holding us with like, a tractor beam on steroids," says Data at the science station.
Geordi calls to say that engines are holding them in place and trying to keep them from being dragged down, and they're at 30 % already.
"Get up here," Picard answers.
Troi approaches them. "So there's a consciousness here, not like intelligence, but instinct, maybe? It's trying to figure out if we're a life form."
"Let's investigate," announces Picard.
Riker agrees.
"Wait, what if that was where we fucked up all of the shit?" backtracks Picard.
He and Riker go back and forth as to which decision is the better one.
Geordi arrives, and Picard tells them that they need to get the hell out of Dodge, like yesterday.

Geordi puts the pedal to the metal, but they go nowhere. They all listen to the engines fighting the whatever-it-is, but nothing doing. Geordi reports engines being at 90%, and Riker reminds Picard that the ship can't take that kind of pressure. They shut the engines down, and get slowly pulled in backward. Geordi turns the engines back on, but has them running at warp seven to keep them from getting sucked in completely.
"Let's launch a probe," says Picard.
They do, and some lightening bolt inside the thing shoots it down.
And oops, now the thing sends a lightening bolt to zap both Picards at once.
"Ow," says Picard, getting up.
Riker orders Worf to arm the torpedoes, but the thing zaps Picard again.
"It was focused on the whole ship before, but now it just wants you, soooo..." Troi tells Picard.

"What if I get in a shuttle?" Picard asks. "Will it go after me and leave the ship alone?"
"I think so," says Troi.
Picard heads for the lift.
"You're leaving?" demands Riker.
"Might be a Moebius strip," says Picard. He leaves the bridge.
Troi follows.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard goes to sick bay.
"I need to leave the ship," says Other Picard.
"Okay," says Picard. He instructs Pulaski to lift the restraints she's placed on Other Picard, then gives the order for all personnel to leave shuttle bay 2.
Picard follows Other Picard down the corridor, asking him questions. Other Picard basically tells him over and over again that the vortex thing wants him, and that there isn't another way to do this - he has to leave the ship.

"But you had another choice," Picard insists. "What was it?"
"It would never work."
They reach the empty shuttle bay, and Other Picard opens the doors so he can leave.
"What was the choice?" Picard demands. "We can't go forward. It would destroy the ship."
"No," agrees Other Picard. "We can't go forward."
He goes to get into the shuttle, and Picard calls his name so he'll turn around.
"Before we can go forward, the cycle must end." And Picard shoots Other Picard square in the chest.

Then he calls Pulaski to to the shuttle bay and leaves.
Pulaski and O'Brien show up. they see dead Other Picard and Pulaski does a quick scan. She then turns and just... leaves, leaving O'Brien there by himself.

Picard returns to the bridge, where he says that trying to escape is just draining energy, so they need to turn and fly straight down into the center of the vortex.
They all kind of turn and look at him, because why the hell would that be the answer?
So they fly down the center, and for some reason they get spit out the other side.
I... hello? Science?

O'Brien calls the bridge to report that the body of Other Picard and the other shuttle have vanished right in front of him.
"Cool," says Picard.
He leaves Riker in charge and takes off.

A few minutes later, Riker goes into the observation lounge after him.
"What the hell was all that?" Picard asks after a moment of silence.
Riker suggests a solipsistic illusion.
"Maybe he went back in time so we could choose another path," says Picard. "They say if you travel far enough, you'll meet yourself. And now I've done it, and I really don't want to do it again."
Riker smiles, and says he'll be on the bridge, leaving Picard to stare out the window.

Okay, so here's the thing about me: I like time travel stories, but only the ones that are straight-forward. Back to the Future is pretty straight-forward, as is the third installment of that trilogy. BTTF 2 involves back and forth, so not my favorite. Doctor Who is a winner because they go someplace and stay there, have an adventure, then go home. Basically, I don't want to have to take notes on when you are in the timeline, and how many other yous are running around because you yourself can't keep your shit together.
City on the Edge of Forever: A +
Times Squared: C at best.
Along with my personal complaint about time-stricken dopplegangers and crossing timelines like Crossing the Streams, there are some more problems with this episode.
Firstly, nothing happens. Like, they take on an extra shuttle and Picard, but then they spend all episode trying to figure out what's going on and what to do about it. There are no actions taken until the last five minutes. While I have no problem with a talkier episode, they just keep having the same convos over and over here for 45 minutes. "What's going on?" "I don't know."
Secondly, why the fuck would flying through the vortex be the answer? It feels like they pulled that solution out of their butts and it just conveniently worked... because that's exactly what happened. This episode, like "Conspiracy" and "The Neutral Zone" was supposed to lead into another episode, in this case episode 16, which features Q (sorry, spoilers). Maurice Hurley indicated that he meant for Q to have caused them to get stuck in the vortex, but Gene Rod didn't like that, so they turned the ship, and flew straight through the vortex to the other side. Hurley himself admitted that that ending made no sense without Q, but it wrapped up nicely, so it stayed.
Just... this episode is pretty forgettable. It's not fun or funny, and the science doesn't work, and they just keep talking about the same stuff over and over again.
No thanks.

Red deaths: 1 (Featuring Picard as Schrodinger's cat!)
To date: 2
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 11
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 4
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 17
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 1
To date: 14
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 1
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 12

Episodes Left Until We Get Rid of Pulaski:

Fun Facts:

- The original title for this episode was "Time to The Second" (or written mathematically with Time and that little 2 that I can't figure out how to type on here). The original title and the one used here both refer to the fact that there are two Picards.
- "Why go back six hours?" Riker asks at one point. "Why not a day or even a year?" Because writer Maurice Hurley was interested in exploring six hours versus the longer period of time that time travel typically encompasses.
- A cut scene at the end featured Riker serving "Alaskan stew" to his dinner party friends, and guess who hated it?
- This is the first time we see the Enterprise-D destroyed. Oops, spoilers.

- The okudagram used in the shuttle was a re-use from the Yamato logs, but the pertinent information was carefully edited into the Blu-ray release version.
- The shuttlecraft is named El-Baz after geoscientist Farouk El-Baz. Rick Sternbach picked the name, not knowing that Rick Berman had worked previously with El-Baz, and the name was approved immediately. Supposedly, El-Baz's kids happened to be watching this episode when it came up and excitedly yelled to their father that the shuttle on Star Trek had the same name as them.
- The El-Baz was the first Type 15 shuttlecraft seen on TNG.