Straight into Star Trek The Next Generation, on Sky One, with Deanna Troi’s personal log. “My mother is on board.” Naturally, Picard isn’t overjoyed to see her.
He’s trying to prepare for first contact with a reclusive race. “Oh I adore diplomacy. Everyone dresses so well.”
David Ogden Stiers plays the representative of the alien race, Doctor Timotei. Or Timicin, possibly.
He’s developed a method of using a photon torpedo to revive his planet’s dying star, so let’s hope Lwaxana Troi’s romantic overtures aren’t too distracting.
They test the procedure on an empty star system, and whilst it looks promising at first, it didn’t produce a stable result. And Timicin tells Troi that he can’t try again, as, according to the customs of their culture, because he’s reaching the age of 60, he has to kill himself. Picard can’t help, because of the Prime Directive, but Lwaxana desperately wants to do something to help him.
It’s an interesting discussion, touching on rigid culture, and hinting at euthanasia. Timicin is persuaded by Lwaxana that he still has more to give, but his planet is rather wedded to its tradition, and if he chose to forgoe his death, he would be banished, and unable to complete his work, the main reason he wishes to continue living.
His daughter arrives and tells him she’s disgusted by his actions. She’s played by Michelle Forbes, who would go on to return to the show as Ensign Ro.
There’s no easy answer in this episode. Timicin returns to his home, and Lwaxana goes with him to be there for his ceremony. After all the comedy episodes featuring Lwaxana, it’s nice to see her get a dramatic episode, and this one really pulls at the heartstrings.
Before the next episode, there’s Sky News Headlines, with troubles in Bosnia leading the headlines.
In the next episode, The Host, Dr Crusher has fallen for an alien ambassador, Odan, but there’s something creepy about him. He’s got something living in his stomach.
But later, we learn he’s a Trill, which (having now seen Deep Space Nine) we know means they are a binary lifeform.
He’s definitely in love, and he asks Picard’s advice, which is an awkward conversation, particularly for the Captain.
But on a shuttle to a planet, for negotiations, they’re fired upon, and Odan is seriously injured, whereupon Dr Crusher learns the symbiotic nature of the Trill. The Host body is dying, but a new host will be sent from his home planet, and in the meantime, Riker volunteers to act as a host. This is awkward all over again, because now Riker is in love with Crusher, so now both Picard and Troi’s noses are out of joint.
The negotiations eventually complete successfully, but Riker is rejecting the symbiont. The new Trill host arrives, and Crusher is rather dismayed, as she’s not really her type.
So this episode is tackling transgenderism, which is fairly typical for TNG at the time.
God help me, I’m starting to be nostalgic for the old-style Sky One logos from when I first got a satellite dish. Shoot me now.
In the next episode, The Mind’s Eye, Geordi is en route to Raisa for an artificial intelligence conference, so he passes the time playing quizzes with the computer. I always liked Geordi. But as he’s distracted, there’s something creeping up on him.
Geordi is taken about a Romulan ship, and subjected to a bit of enforced viewing, as they play images through his visual cortex to stimulate a response. In the meantime they send a lookalike to Raisa so that he’s not missed. All this time, there’s a Romulan noticeably shrouded in shadow. I have a guess who that might be.
They’re doing a Manchurian Candidate on Geordi, it sounds like. In a simulation, he’s told to kill Chief O’Brien to see if the conditioning is working.
Meanwhile the Enterprise is getting involved in an insurrection on a Klingon colony. Some of the Klingons believe the Federation are arming the rebels. And Geordi is returned to the ship, telling everyone what a great time he had on Raisa, but when he deliberately spills a drink over Chief O’Brien, it’s clear that he’s being controlled by the Romulans.
Or is he? In a shock revelation, we learn that one of the conspirators is the Klingon ambassador.
You can tell when it’s approaching a dramatic point, and Geordi might be about to kill someone, as he’s being filmed with a very wide angle lens. A sure giveaway of psychological manipulation.
Luckily for all concerned, Data is investigating all the anomalies, and the strange transmissions they have detected, and manages to piece it all together before Geordi is able to kill anyone. And the show ends with Geordi and Troi trying to piece together his missing memory. I like it that the show isn’t afraid of leaving consequences for its characters.
The next episode opens with Picard getting a haircut.
This episode is Ensign Ro, and starts with Bajoran terrorism on the Cardassian border. There’s a very familiar space station model – the base from Star Trek II.
Picard is forced to accept Ensign Ro Laren, who has rather a dodgy record, and is not a welcome addition to the crew. “You’ve no idea what it took to get her out of prison” Picard is told by the admiral making the assignment. Ro is Bajoran, and the admiral thinks she will be useful in the negotiations.
But the admiral has his own agenda, and is working with the Cardassians to flush out the Bajoran terrorists.
Yet another political allegory, with hints of the Middle East. Although this episode also embraces the ‘False Flag’ idea so beloved of conspiracy theorists.
The next episode opens on a nice, green planet, where Riker is helping to plan a new colony for some settlers. He’s also chatting up Carmen, one of the settlers. But then, a huge crystalline structure appears in the sky above them, and they have to find shelter in nearby caves.
It starts blasting the surface of the planet, and, tragically, kills Riker’s new love, along with another settler.
This episode is called Silicon Avatar. We’ve seen this entity before – Data’s evil twin Lore was working with it when the crew discovered him, in a first season episode.
When they emerge from the caves, there’s not much left of the planet.
A scientist, Kila Marr, comes aboard the Enterprise to study the entity, She’s an expert on it, having studied other planets it has attacked, but this is the first time there have ever been any survivors. “Now why, I wonder, did it spare your group@ she asks, giving a pointed look at Data.
Her son was lost on Data’s home planet when the Entity was drawn there by Lore, so she believes that Data must also be controlling the entity. Their working relationship is frosty, until she finds out that Data’s mind was programmed with the records and some of the brain scans of the people on his planet, including her son. He’s able to tell her that her son didn’t resent being left there while she pursued her career.
The ship detects the entity, and follows it, trying to communicate with it. But Doctor Marr sets up a resonance in the entity which destroys it.
MARR (talking to her son)
You know, I did it for you. Because I love you. Because I wanted to give you peace at last.
I do not find such a file in your son's journals, Doctor. However, from what I know of him, by his memories and his writing, I do not believe he would be happy. He was proud of your career as a scientist, and now you have destroyed that. You say you did it for him, but I do not believe he would have wanted that. Yes, I believe your son would be very sad now. I am sorry, Doctor, but I cannot help you.
Another heavy emotional gut punch. The show really was working well during this era. All five of these episodes were good, with perhaps only The Mind’s Eye veering off a bit into some Klingon bollocks, but not too badly. These episodes come from the end of season four and near the start of season 5. A golden age.
- Kellogg’s Nut Feast
- trail: Sky Sports
- trail: WWF Mania
- Pedigree Chum
- trail: The Addams Family
- trail: No Defence Significance
- Coca Cola
- Bird’s Eye Fish Cuisine
- Rimmel Silks
- trail: King of the Ring
- trail: Code 3
- BT3 Share Offer – Mel Smith
- Carlsberg – Angus Deayton
- trail: True Identity