ST:TNG Treadmill Review #48: The Wounded

The Wounded
Season 4 Episode 12
Original airdate: January 26, 1991

Netflix Synopsis

Capt. Picard races against time to find out the facts behind a Cardassian commander’s claim that the Federation attacked one of their outposts.

My Brief Review

I’m not a fan of the Cardassians (or the Kardashians), and have never really gotten into DS9 because of them. (OK, it’s mostly because of the Ferengi, but the Cardassians are annoying too.) Nonetheless, this was a pretty good, suspenseful episode, well acted by all involved, and it was most likely pivotal in setting up the dynamic between the Federation and the Cardassians that carries over into DS9. (That actually makes me a little less enthusiastic about it, because I feel like it kind of only exists for that purpose.)

The best part of the episode is the complexity of the final scene. Picard has removed Captain Maxwell and staved off outright hostilities, but he makes it clear to the Cardassian captain that he knows they were lying about the activities on the outpost Maxwell attacked. So, even though Maxwell was wrong to start hostilities the way he did, he was right that the Cardassians were preparing for war. Kind of a no-win situation.

Memorable Moment

Watching the long-range sensor projection of the Federation ship Phoenix attacking two Cardassian ships looks like something I would have thought was a pretty rad video game back in 1991.

Crew Rando

There’s a new nobody ensign at the helm, but the real rando is Captain Maxwell from the Phoenix, played by Bob Gunton… the warden from The Shawshank Redemption! (3 years before Shawshank, of course.) As soon as I saw him I knew there would be trouble. He was perfect in the role.

Distance Rating: 2K

IMDb score: 8.2/10

ST:TNG Treadmill Review #47: Data’s Day

Data’s Day
Season 4 Episode 11
Original airdate: January 5, 1991

Netflix Synopsis

Data tries to comprehend the complex emotions between O’Brien and Keiko, who are about to be married.

My Brief Review

This one gets fairly high marks from the IMDb crowd, but I don’t get it. I found it so contrived and tedious that I actually watched most of it at double speed with the subtitles on, just so I could get through it faster.

The conceit is that Data is making a log of his daily activities for Commander Maddox at the Daystrom Institute, but it’s so cornball that it’s hard to believe. As we’ve seen the advancements in A.I. in the first part of the 21st century, it is positively ludicrous that an android like Data, in the 24th century, would be unable to comprehend human emotions (I mean, after all, we’re pretty much specifically training A.I. to read human facial expressions right now), or even to use contractions. I recognize that I’m judging this show’s writing with 30 years of technological advancement coloring my perspective. But come on… if we’ve accomplished this much in 30 years, how could we not accomplish significantly more in 300?

The real problem here is that there are basically about four separate episodes happening at once, but none of their stories are developed enough to matter. The most interesting thread — which I really wish had been an entire episode on its own — involves a Vulcan ambassador and a strange rendezvous with a Romulan ship. Turns out the Vulcan was really a Romulan spy in disguise. Oh well! Not like it would be a major event for the Federation to have a trusted ambassador turn out to have been a spy for their archenemies all along!

Somehow all of that gets swept aside, because it’s much more important for us to see if Data will be able to dance with Keiko (he’s standing in as “father of the bride”) without crushing her waist or breaking her feet.

Memorable Moment

Data is a quick learner with Dr. Crusher teaches him to tap dance. Be sure to smile!

Crew Rando

Ahh, who cares?

Distance Rating: 4K

IMDb score: 8.2/10

ST:TNG Treadmill Review #46: The Loss

The Loss
Season 4 Episode 10
Original airdate: December 29, 1990

Netflix Synopsis

While the Enterprise struggles to contend with a mysterious life-form, Troi inexplicably loses her empathetic powers.

My Brief Review

“Empathetic”? Well, whatever. This is not a great episode. I have never really enjoyed episodes that explore Troi’s empathic powers. I’ve never found the idea of the empathic powers compelling, and the way Troi is written as a character is often not great. I do not blame Marina Sirtis for this. It’s the writers and producers. She was not given a lot to work with.

The idea of the two-dimensional beings drawn to the cosmic string fragment like moths to a flame is kind of interesting, and was very timely with the ongoing development of string theory at the time of the episode. I guess the past couple of decades’ failure of string theory to prove at all viable kind of sours me on this. (I was a big reader of popular writing about theoretical physics by the likes of Brian Greene and Michio Kaku in the ’90s.)

On top of what was already a bit of a throwaway episode (aired between Christmas and New Year’s when people were probably less likely to be watching anyway), this also proves to be the first episode in the entire season that isn’t about family in some way.

Memorable Moment

Honestly… not much? Troi comparing the beings to moths being drawn to a flame, I guess. This episode’s details are especially unmemorable, considering that I had actually just seen this one randomly on TV within the last year or so. I remembered that I had seen it, but very few of the details came back to me until moments before they were going to happen.

Crew Rando

OK, we get a serious crew rando this time around. Yes, Ensign Allenby is still at the helm, but we are treated to several scenes featuring Ensign Brooks, whose presence on the ship seems only to be relevant when we need to see Deanna Troi doing her job as ship’s counselor. (Which, strangely, she never normally has to make time for. She’s always on the bridge, and now suddenly she’s seeing patients?)

Distance Rating: 2K

IMDb score: 6.0/10

ST:TNG Treadmill Review #45: Final Mission (or Not)

Final Mission
Season 4 Episode 9
Original airdate: November 17, 1990

Netflix Synopsis

Before leaving for Starfleet Academy, Wesley Crusher accompanies Capt. Picard at the negotiation proceedings of a mining dispute.

My Brief Review

Of course this is not actually anyone’s final mission… except Dirgo, the shuttlecraft captain who meets his untimely yet well-deserved demise in this episode.

Wes is on his way to Starfleet Academy, so another scenario is contrived to allow him to be alone with Captain Picard, while the Enterprise races off to deal with a distant emergency… which only exists, on a practical level, to justify the situation where Picard and Wesley are forced to be together because the ship isn’t there to save them.

We never find out what the weird sentry is that’s guarding the fountain in the cave, or how Wesley destroyed it, or how it passes through his body like Voldemort in the first Harry Potter movie without harming him in any way. But does any of it really matter? We get affirmation that Captain Picard is proud of Wesley, which is pretty much the whole reason for this episode to exist.

Still, I actually did enjoy it. The scenes with Wesley and Picard are much more compelling than the side story about dragging a radiation-leaking garbage scow through an asteroid belt. Seriously. That’s the side story.

Does this episode carry on my observation that every episode of season 4 is about family? I would say yes. Obviously there’s Dr. Crusher’s interactions with Wesley after the rescue, but I’ve always felt that there was almost a father-son dynamic to Wesley and Picard’s relationship, and that definitely gets played up here.

Memorable Moment

The shuttle crashed in the middle of a desert, baking at 55ºC, Picard fashions a large arrow out of debris, pointing at the mountains where they’re heading for shelter, then proceeds to immediately walk off at a 10º angle from where the arrow is pointing. Oops. Also there are big looping tire tracks in the sand all around the shuttle craft. Maybe they just didn’t show up on a standard definition TV.

I have several other complaints about these types of details in this sloppy episode, but this IMDb review covers them all better (and more sarcastically) than I even could.

Crew Rando

A real crew rando! She has her name spoken several times and even has a few lines herself! With Wesley gone, we now have Ensign Allenby at the helm. (She appears in two other episodes, one of them uncredited.)

Distance Rating: 5K

IMDb score: 6.9/10

ST:TNG Treadmill Review #44: Future Imperfect

Future Imperfect
Season 4 Episode 8
Original airdate: November 10, 1990

Netflix Synopsis

Riker has to leave his birthday party early to head an away team after a Romulan secret base is found on a planet which was believed to be uninhabited.

My Brief Review

I thought from the synopsis that this would be the first episode of the season not to be about family in some way, but then, bam! Captain Riker wakes up 16 years in the future, with no memory of his son, Jean-Luc Riker. This is also another Twilight Zone-esque story, where nothing is as it seems.

I hate to spoil it, because I love this kind of episode, and even though it’s not the greatest execution, there are some fun “ah-ha” moments that are best left as surprises.

Memorable Moment

I won’t go into detail, but there’s a great moment where Riker realizes that all is not as it appears to be, which leads him to yell “SHUT UP!” at Admiral Picard.

Crew Rando

16 years is a lot of time to accumulate a new crop of randos, including a few who have lines. I’ll go with Ensign Gates, who’s operating the transporter.

Distance Rating: 3K

IMDb score: 7.9/10