Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Star Trek The Next Generation (Season 7b)

<--Season 7a

Episode 14: “Sub Rosa”

This is a pure “guilty pleasure” of an episode. Either that or people hate it. It shows the silly side of gothic fiction that always emerges when things are played for romance rather than chills. Of course these days we get so much of this in “Twilight” and the like that it is hard to have patience for it.

Episode 15: “Lower Decks”

This low key, quiet episode is not typical Trek, but it is one of the best episodes of the series. It is all about relationships and duty. It is interesting to see how a story revolving primarily around characters we have never seen before can evoke such emotion.

Episode 16: “Thine Own Self”

This is a good, if minor Trek story. It takes a good look at the limits of scientific understanding and the way that, as understanding grows, old science begins to look like superstition. Also, that older “science” is afraid of the unknown, and science today is not much more developed in that regard. Anything that cannot be explained or understood—any questions of the status quo—is quickly rejected.

Episode 17: “Masks”

This is a mess of philosophy of religion and “The Golden Bough” that frankly, does not make sense. I still sort of like it.

Episode 18: “The Eye of the Beholder”

Another episode that ultimately never happened outside the mind of t=one of the characters. These seem to happen a lot in this series.

Episode 19: “Genesis”

This episode is a straight comedy. I just hope it was intentional. Of course it has to be. Otherwise the moment where a house cat “devolves” into an iguana would be even more ridiculous than it already is. It has to be played for laughs, surely.

Episode 20: “Journey’s End”

This is one of the… preachier episodes of Star Trek. Placing Native American colonists into the future largely unchanged in 700 years of cultural evolution is a bit heavy handed. The message is fine; it is just all so… smug. The thing that this episode is most remembered for, however, is the revelation that Wesley Crusher is humanity’s next evolutionary advancement. It is not a coincidence that this episode, dealing with evolution the way it does, is also one of the most religious episodes in the run of the series. Whether people want to accept it or not, the Theory of Evolution is a bit more dogma accepted by faith than scientific fact demonstrated through observation and experimental testing.

Episode  21: “Firstborn”

As is often the case with stories involving the plot device here, everything falls apart under any scrutiny. There is an interesting moment, however, when K’mtar tries to teach Alexander the meaning of the Klingon religious stories. We know from what we find out at the end of this episode that he is not interested teaching but rather manipulating. This is unfortunately a common approach to theological education. Instead of “faith seeking understanding” we cultivate rote repetition of other’s ideas.

Episode 22: “Bloodlines”

Ehh… I think I vaguely remember something about a Ferengi being mad at Picard, but this episode will hardly be any more memorable.

Episode 23: “Emergence”

The collective experiences and adventures of the Enterprise—the show in effect—produces a new intelligent life form. This is what you get when a bunch of storytellers begin to get nostalgic about their efforts of the past seven years.

Episode 24: “Preemptive Strike”

This is a good Trek episode, not pulling any punches and providing characters with some really tough choices and giving viewers a bit of an unexpected outcome. It does seem like a strange choice for the penultimate episode.

Episode 25: “All Good Things”

It has to be said right from the start that this is yet another episode telling a story that never happened. It all might as well have been a dream that Picard had. That being said, it is a well executed emotional send off for a show that had had a great seven year run.

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