“Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” (1984)

[first lines]

[Spock’s dying words, repeated from the previous film]

Capt. Spock: Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh…

Kirk: …the needs of the few.

Capt. Spock: Or the one. I have been and always shall be your friend. Live long and prosper.

Spock died (in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). We cried- hey, it was really emotional. Then we learned that Spock could be alive- whoa! In the opening credits, there is an extra long pause between Shatner and Kelley’s names, where Nimoy’s name would normally be. Nimoy takes on the role of director; Nicholas Meyer (who directed the previous 2 films) refused b/c he thought that Spock’s death should’ve remained final. (Meyer would return to direct Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country).

[their first look at the USS Excelsior]

Uhura: Would you look at that.

Kirk: My friends, the great experiment: The Excelsior. Ready for trial runs.

Sulu: She’s supposed to have transwarp drive.

Scotty: Aye. And if my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a wagon.

Kirk: Come, come, Mr. Scott. Young minds, fresh ideas. Be tolerant.

Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) and the Enterprise crew return to Earth for some essential repairs to their ship. When they arrive at space dock, they’re shocked to discover that the Enterprise is to be decommissioned. Dr. McCoy (DeForrest Kelley) begins acting strangely. Scotty (James Doohan) is re-assigned to another ship. Suddenly, Ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard) comes to visit Kirk to see if he holds Spock’s spirit (katra). Once Kirk realizes that McCoy hold the katra, he decides to steal back the Enterprise and travel to the Genesis planet to retrieve the body of Spock. The body must be taken to Mt. Seleyah on Vulcan so it can be joined w/ its katra. Meanwhile, some Klingons are planning to steal the secrets of the Genesis device for their own deadly purpose!

Kirk: You’re suffering from a Vulcan mind-meld, doctor.

McCoy: That green-blooded son of a bitch! It’s his revenge for all the arguments he lost.

The film’s villains were intended to be Romulans, but the studio wanted Klingons to be used (as they were better-known aliens). The Romulan warship was already built and they didn’t want the expense of replacing it. Since TOS had established that Klingons and Romulans had shared tech/ships (for real-world cost-cutting reasons), the idea of Klingons using a Romulan warbird wasn’t a problem. Edward James Olmos was Nimoy’s first choice for the role of Kruge; producer Harve Bennett preferred Christopher Lloyd. Nimoy cast Lloyd b/c he came across as more operatic and physically intimidating. Of course, this could be funny to those who know Lloyd as Doc Brown in the Back to the Future movies. We also see John Larroquette as Maltz, the quiet/thoughtful Klingon.

Kruge: I’ve come a long way for the power of Genesis, and what do I find? A weakling human, a Vulcan boy, and a woman!

Saavik: My lord, we are survivors of a doomed expedition. This planet will destroy itself in hours. The Genesis experiment is a failure.

Kruge: A failure? The most destructive force ever created? You will tell me the secret of the Genesis torpedo.

Saavik: I have no knowledge.

Kruge: Then I hope pain’s something you enjoy.

Production was endangered by the large fire at Paramount Studios. Shatner helped fight the fire and rescue a crew member before firefighters arrived- wow! Shatner said he was concerned re: staying on schedule, as he also had to shoot his TV show- T.J. Hooker. The quiet (yet powerful) scene in where Kirk stumbles back into his captain’s chair after hearing of the death of David was an improvisation by the actor. Shatner was told by Nimoy to do whatever reaction he wanted to do. It’s too bad that Kirk (and we) didn’t get to know David much.

[Kirk and party have commandeered Kruge’s Bird-of-Prey]

Kirk: [to Maltz] You! Help us or die!

Maltz: I do not deserve to live!

Kirk: Fine, I’ll kill you later!

[later, once safely in warp speed]

Kirk: Take care of the prisoner.

Maltz: Wait! You said you would kill me!

Kirk: I lied!

There are some light/humorous scenes in this movie. We learn that Scotty always exaggerated how long it’d take to repair something on the ship. And who didn’t laugh when McCoy tried to do the Vulcan nerve pinch at the alien bar? Scotty told off the talking transporter on the Excelsior. Sulu (George Takei) gets to beat up a (big) security guy. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) pulled a phaser on the young lieutenant who’d made ageist comments (Mr. Adventure), then she transported her crewmates away.

Sarek: Kirk, I thank you. What you have done is…

Kirk: What I have done, I had to do.

Sarek: But at what cost? Your ship. Your son.

Kirk: If I hadn’t tried, the cost would have been my soul.

The dramatic finale on Vulcan really makes this movie! Judith Anderson was 87 y.o. when she appeared as the Vulcan High Priestess; she was encouraged to take this role by her nephew (who was a big fan of TOS). The scenes on the Genesis Planet were shot on the same soundstages used by Cecil B. DeMille in  The Ten Commandments (1956); Anderson played the slave who knew the secret re: Moses’ heritage.

[1] Leonard Nimoy takes the director’s helm and while he does a competent job it is somewhat workmanlike and his experience in TV and not-so-much-experience in feature films shows, loved the focus on the characters and their relationships but it could have been more expansive.

The music by James Horner… It is bombastic and rousing at times but also swelling in romance and sensitivity and beautiful orchestration, the heavy representation of the percussive and dissonant theme for the Klingons was also effective.

‘The Search for Spock’ does have an intelligent script that develops the characters very well indeed…

[2] It seems a lot of people are split on Lloyd but I thought he was pretty good here. I liked seeing him under all the make-up and thought he did a good job even if the role itself wasn’t the greatest. The special effects here are certainly a step up from the previous movie and I’d also say that battle sequences are much better directed.

[3] …I put “The Search for Spock” on a par with my favorite episode of the original Star Trek TV series. That would be ‘Amok Time’ which examined Vulcan rituals and customs, and interestingly, pitted Spock (Leonard Nimoy) against his captain and best friend, James T. Kirk (William Shatner) in a battle to the death. The return to Spock’s home planet in this film was a cool way to bring the story back around to his Vulcan roots and add to the mythology of Star Trek by introducing such concepts as the Fal-tor-pan (the refusion of Vulcan legend), and the soul essence of Vulcans called the ‘katra’.

The battle of wits between Kirk and Kruge brought to mind another favorite TV episode, ‘The Corbomite Maneuver’, a story in which Captain Kirk seemingly made up all that business about a destruct sequence to thwart an overpowering enemy. Apparently it was a good enough idea to incorporate into Star Trek lore as a legitimate way of dealing with an enemy who got the upper hand.

-Excerpts from IMDB comments

“Star Trek: DS9” (Season 3)

Introduction

This season is a must-see for fans of Trek (Trekkies, Trekkers, or whatever you prefer)! S3 has some of my fave eps of the entire series (so far I’ve watched 6 seasons). When DS9 originally aired, I saw most of the eps in S3; my faves then were Bashir (Alexander Siddig) and Dax (Terry Farrell). Now, I’d say that Odo and Kira are my faves. There are a few eps which you can skip (check out the IMDB ratings), but this is the transitional season which will lead us to the (exciting) S4.

Episodes 1 & 2: “The Search, Parts I & 11”

Episode 3: The House Of Quark

Quark: Now I know we’re doomed.

Rom: Why, brother?

Quark: Rule of Acquisition 286: When Morn leaves, it’s all over.

Rom: There is no such rule.

Quark: There should be.

“War is good for business” is the 34th Rule of Acquisition, but the bar is almost empty; people are leaving b/c they fear the Dominion. A drunk Klingon, Kozak, refuses to pay, assaults Quark (Armin Shimerman), and dies falling on his knife! When Quark sees curious crowds outside the bar, he decides to tell everyone he killed the Klingon to increase business. He soon gets a visit from Kozak’s brother, D’Ghor, seeking confirmation he died an honorable death. Quark has to tell the truth to Kozak’s widow, Grilka (Mary Kay Adams); she kidnaps him and forces him to marry her to save the House of Kozak. Keiko has to close the station’s school b/c all the kids left.

[Quark is looking over the financial records of Kozak and D’Ghor]

Quark: Very clever… Very clever, indeed… D’Ghor has manipulated your family’s holdings, devalued the lands you hold… and he is the principal creditor on Kozak’s outstanding gambling debts. It’s no accident that your family is getting weaker and D’Ghor’s family is getting stronger, he has been systematically attacking your family’s assets for over five years now.

Grilka: [outraged] You mean D’Ghor has been scheming and plotting like a…

Quark: …Like a Ferengi.

Stephen Hawking visited the set during the filming of this ep. We see the Klingon homeworld (Qo’noS); Chancellor Gowron (Robert O’Reilly) appears for the first time in this series. Veteran ST actor Joseph Ruskin plays another Klingon- Tumek. Some astute viewers will notice that the scenes in the Great Hall echo the TNG ep Sins of The Father (1990), but w/ a comedic twist; Ronald D. Moore also wrote the teleplay for that ep. This is a fun ep, which is must-see esp. for those who are fans of the Klingons!

Quark [facing a fight to the death w/ D’Ghor]: Having me fight D’Ghor is nothing more than an execution. So, if that’s what you want, that’s what you’ll get – an execution. No honor, no glory. And when you tell your children and your grandchildren the glorious story of how you rose to power and took Grilka’s house from her, I hope you remember to tell them how you heroically killed an unarmed Ferengi half your size.

Episode 5: Second Skin

Kira (Nana Visitor) is contacted by a Alenis Grem from the Bajoran Central Archives, who’s doing research on the former Elemspur detention center. Grem has proof Kira was once detained there; also, the last remaining former inmate recognizes her, so Kira decides to travel to the Archives. She never arrives, but awakes on Cardassia looking like her enemy! She is told that she was sent as a spy to Bajor many years ago; her long-term memory was altered to avoid being found out. She is called Iliana Ghemor, daughter of legate Tekeny Ghemor (Lawrence Pressman). Though Kira rejects all this, she starts having serious doubts when Entek (Gregory Sierra) from the Obisidian Order provides convincing proof.

Garak: I’ll go along on your fool’s errand, but I want one thing to be perfectly clear: I have no intention of sacrificing my life to save yours. If it looks like we’re in danger of being captured, if there’s any sign of trouble at all, you’re on your own!

Cmdr. Sisko: Mr. Garak, I believe that’s the first completely honest thing you’ve ever said to me.

The teleplay is by Robert Hewitt Wolfe (I wrote to him on Twitter- he replied), who came over from TNG. Wolfe started writing on DS9 at age 31 (as he said in an interview on The 7th Rule YT channel); he also served as a producer. I think this is one the the best eps of S3; it’s intelligent, mysterious, and touching. We get to learn more re: the Cardassians (considered to be one of Trek’s most interesting/well-developed aliens). Garak (guest star Andrew Robinson) plays a pivotal role. There is the father-daughter story, which is very well-played by Visitor and Pressman (a veteran character actor). For perhaps the first time in her life, Kira sees that NOT all Cardassians are evil!

Episode 6: The Abandoned

Quark buys the rights to a ship from the Gamma Quadrant; a crying baby is discovered among the items! Bashir notices the boy has a V fast metabolic rate, so is growing quickly. In a few hours, he’s a teen who starts fighting on the promenade. Odo (Rene Auberjonois) is the ONLY one who is able to calm him down; Jadzia realizes he’s Jem’Hadar! When Odo hears the boy is to be examined in a Federation lab, he convinces Sisko to let him be in charge of the young man. Odo wants to try to change his nature, so he can live as a normal humanoid. Meanwhile, Sisko (Avery Brooks) invites Jake’s (Cirroc Lofton) girlfriend, Mardah, over for dinner. Since Mardah is 4 yrs older than Jake and works as a Dabo girl at Quark’s bar, Sisko is opposed to their relationship.

Director/actor Brooks saw this ep as something of a metaphorical study of racial tension and gang culture: “For me, it was very much a story about young brown men, and, to some extent, a story about a society that is responsible for the creation of a generation of young men who are feared, who are addicted, who are potential killers.” This is the first ep to refer to Jake’s literary talents; this is also the first appearance of Ketracel-white (the “missing enzyme” to which the Jem’Hadar are “addicted”). Some viewers were reminded of Hugh who had been separated from the Borg collective on TNG. I thought the A story w/ the Jem’Hadar was rather engaging; I liked the alien make-up and the action scenes.

Episode 7: Civil Defense

Rule of Acquisition #75: Home is where the heart is, but the stars are made of latinum.

O’Brien (Colm Meaney) and Jake (who has been assisting him w/ Engineering tasks) are preparing one of the ore processing units to convert it into a deuterium refinery. Sisko checks up on them, just as Jake finds a strange file in the database which can’t be deleted. O’Brien accidentally trips a Cardassian security alert, and must enter a password, but fails. Suddenly, the room’s locked down, and a recorded message from Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) appears on view screens, warning the “Bajoran workers” to surrender! This resembles the VOY ep Worst Case Scenario (1997); in both stories the crew trigger a computer program which they can’t to shut down which proves life-threatening.

We see Dukat express a desire for Kira, something that would return many times in the future. Here his attempt to impress her is treated as comedy. This is something which displeased Nana Visitor, who commented: “I would have liked my character to make the point that only a few years earlier, Dukat’s wanting me would have meant that he could have had me, and I wouldn’t have been able to do a thing about it. So it shouldn’t have been seen as a ‘cute’ moment. It was actually a horrifying moment, one that would make Kira feel disgust and panic. To Kira, Dukat is Hitler. She’s not ever going to get over that. She can never forgive him, and that is important to me. Kira may have started to see Cardassians as individuals, but she will always hate Dukat.”  

We also hear the first mention Quark’s cousin, Gaila (Josh Pais), who Quark is always jealous of for this wealth/status. This ep also builds upon the antagonism between Gul Dukat and Garak which was first hinted at in S2 E5 (Cardassians).

Episode 9: Defiant

Riker: Looks like you got your evening all planned. Hope you’ve got room for the unexpected.

It’s V busy on the station and Kira hasn’t even got time to read reports. Then, Starfleet requests a complete report on the computer calibration subroutine. When Bashir asks for a runabout to get medical supplies, she snaps! Bashir says Kira is overworked and orders her to rest. At Quark’s bar, she meets Cmdr. Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) who is on his way to the pleasure planet (Risa). They chat and she seems to like him. At the end of the next day, she runs into him again; Riker asks to have a look at the Defiant. Sisko assists Gul Dukat on Cardassia Prime to prevent the ship from entering Cardassian territory.

If you’re a fan of Riker (like me), this is the story for you; even if you’re not, it’s a compelling story (written by Moore). It turns out that this is Thomas Riker; he quickly/cleverly takes over the warship! Romance (potentially) wasn’t only in the cards for Kira and Riker; two of Maquis crew- Kalita (Shannon Cochran) and Tamal (Michael Canavan) met on the DS9 set and got married a few years later. Cochran played Gen. Martok’s formidable wife (Sirella) in S6, E7 (“You Are Cordially Invited.”) TNG fans may also recognize the Obsidian Order officer Korinas (Tricia O’Neill); this actress played Capt. Garrett in S3, E5: “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” I liked how Korinas swiftly cut down Dukat. This ep really builds up tension well; we get to learn more re: the Cardassians.

Episodes 11 & 12: “Past Tense, Parts I & II”

Episode 14: Heart of Stone

Olivia [to Viola disguised as Sebastian]: I have said too much unto a heart of stone. And laid mine honor too unchary on ’t. There’s something in me that reproves my fault. But such a headstrong potent fault it is, that it but mocks reproof. -Twelfth Night (Act 3, Scene 4)

Kira and Odo are returning to DS9 in a runabout. They are coming from Prophet’s Landing (a colony close to the Cardassian border) to review security procedures. They receive a distress call from a Lissepian supply ship that was attacked by a Maquis vessel. They start to follow the Maquis; the ship lands on a moon and Kira and Odo follow the man into a V unstable cave. Kira’s foot gets stuck inside a strange crystal. While the crystal slowly encapsulates her, Odo tries to free her. Meanwhile, Nog makes a special request to Sisko. As an adult, he is compelled by Ferengi by-laws to purchase an apprenticeship from a role model. Nog wants to be the first Ferengi in Starfleet, so he asks Sisko to write a recommendation for Starfleet Academy.

I think that was an interesting direction. Somehow, Captain Nog sounds cool. -Ron Moore

Rules of Acquisition #18: A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all.

It is revealed that a non-Federation citizen, in order to be admitted to the Academy, needs a reference from a command-level officer. This is the first ep in which Rom openly defies his brother Quark; this would continue in S3-4. We learn the origin of the name “Odo;” this is also the first time that he is seen handling a weapon. The ep title is taken from the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night, which also has themes of disguise and mistaken identity. Odo’s revelation that he loves Kira had been hinted at in several eps (The Collaborator and Meridian); Lwaxana Troi (who is Betazoid and telepathic) had guessed it in Fascination. Odo himself had never admitted it before! Both the A and B stories are terrific; I think I’ve seen this ep (written by Behr and Wolfe) 3x so far. I always liked the chemistry between Odo and Kira; the actors had much in common and became close friends while working on the series.

Episode 15: Destiny

A team of Cardassian scientists (incl. Tracy Scoggins; one of top contenders for Capt. Janeway on ST: VOY) comes to visit DS9 to help set up a subspace communications relay in the Gamma Quadrant. Suddenly, Vedek Yarka (Erick Avari), wants to speak with Sisko; he has a warning from the prophets. According to Trakor’s 3rd prophecy, 3 vipers (Cardassians) will return to their nest in the sky (DS9) which ultimately leads to the destruction of the Celestial Temple (the wormhole). Sisko and Kira dismiss it at first, since only 2 Cardassians scientists are coming. But, when a 3rd scientist arrives, Kira begins to worry. With more predictions coming true, Sisko must make a choice: between his Federation duties and his role as Emissary.

Gilora: It has been my experience that it…

Chief O’Brien: What? That Humans aren’t good engineers?

Gilora: No, not Humans. Males.

Chief O’Brien: I beg your pardon?

Gilora: Men just don’t seem to have a head for this sort of thing. That’s why women dominate the sciences.

Chief O’Brien: Maybe on Cardassia. But on this station, this man is Chief of Operations, and I know more about these systems than anyone, including you.

Sisko is (once again) tackling two roles- Starfleet officer and Emissary; he is not yet comfortable being a religious figure. This is the ep where we get to see “regular” Cardassians out there; two of these women (Ulani and Gilora) are scientists- professional, friendly, and have distinct personalities. The third woman (Dejar) is tough and judgmental to the others; she’s a member of the secretive spy group- the Obsidian Order!

Episode 19: Through the Looking Glass

A man looking exactly like O’Brien suddenly pokes a phaser in Sisko’s back and disappears w/ the captain through the transporter. He is taken to the Mirror Universe, where Kira and Bashir got stuck in S2. O’Brien (AKA Smiley) tells how the Mirror Sisko was the leader of a rebellion against the Klingon-Cardassian-Bajoran alliance, but he recently died. Sisko tells Smiley he’s not interested in replacing him, but his interest is piqued when he learns that a “Jennifer Sisko” (Felicia M. Bell) is alive and working for the alliance.

[Mirror Jadzia kisses Sisko]

Mirror Jadzia: That’s to let you know I missed you. [slaps him] And that’s for letting me think you were dead!

As fans know, in the Mirror Universe, clothes are more risque, the acting is over-the-top, and violence can break out anytime. Brooks was esp. happy when he read the teleplay, b/c Sisko has sex for the first time since the show began (w/ Mirror Dax and The Intendant). However, this is problematic (to our modern sensibilities) b/c Mirror Dax doesn’t know that he is a different man than her Sisko!

The raider’s corridor, transporter room, and turbolift, are redresses of the USS Defiant sets, using computer graphics from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The lighting department had a harsh red light to make contrast to the bright white lights of “our” universe. The raider’s bridge was a redress of the runabout cockpit which served as the Maquis raider Val Jean in VOY series pilot (Caretaker). This is the second role for Tim Russ on DS9, the played the Klingon, T’Kar, in Invasive Procedures. His character role of Tuvok is a crossover from the role he played in VOY.

Episode 20: Improbable Cause & Episode 21: The Die is Cast

Garak: Never tell the same lie twice.

Garak’s shop explodes, but the tailor isn’t hurt badly; Odo immediately expects foul play. Odo asks Garak if he can think of possible suspects, but the Cardassian seems uninterested, and frustrates Odo’s investigation. Evidence of a pheromonic sensor in the bomb is found; this is a method favored by Flaxian assassins. A Flaxian had just arrived on DS9 prior to the explosion, so Odo decides to interrogate him.

Cmdr. Sisko: The question still remains, why would the Romulans want to have Garak killed?

Odo: I don’t know. Considering those uniforms of theirs, you’d think they’d appreciate a decent tailor.

I loved this joke from Odo, didn’t you? We see a new style of Tal Shiar uniform; this was Moore’s idea. After Visionary, Moore came to feel that the old style Romulan uniforms were unacceptable; he had Robert Blackman (costume designer) give the design an overhaul. Moore said: “I hated, underline hated, the Romulan costumes. Big shoulder pads, the quilting, I just loathed it. I begged, insisted, screamed, pleaded.” This was the first Star Trek two-part ep w/ different names for Part I and Part II. (There had been a 3-parter with different titles: The Homecoming, The Circle, and The Siege.)

Informant: Garak isn’t the only former operative in the Order who had an “unfortunate incident” yesterday, but he’s the luckiest. The other five didn’t survive.

Odo: Five operatives were killed yesterday?

Informant: Killed? No. Three died from “natural causes”, the other two perished in “accidents”.

Odo: Quite a coincidence.

Informant: If you believe in coincidence.

Robert Lederman and David R. Long’s original idea for this ep revolved around the punishment exacted upon Garak by the Obsidian Order for his killing of Entek in Second Skin. Garak realizes that someone is planning on assassinating him, so he blows up his own shop to ensure Odo gets involved. The producers decided to connect the ep to Defiant (to reveal what the Obsidian Order was up to in the Orias system). Joseph Ruskin (who plays The Informant who meets w/ Odo) has played the roles of Galt in TOS: The Gamesters of Triskelion, Tumek in The House of Quark and Looking for Par’Mach in all the Wrong Places, a Son’a officer in the TNG movie Star Trek Insurrection, a Vulcan master in VOY: Gravity, and an alien doctor on ENT: Broken Bow. Another veteran actor (Paul Dooley) plays Enabran Tain, the former head of the Obsidian Order and a mentor to Garak.

Enabran Tain: Always burn your bridges behind you. You never know who might be trying to follow.

The (imposing) joint Romulan-Cardassian fleet approaches DS9; Sisko is ready for a fight, but the fleet flies goes through the wormhole. We meet Col. Lovok (Leland Orser); he doesn’t seem to respect or fully trust Tain. The Tal Shiar and Obisidian Order ships are on a renegade mission to destroy the Founders’ home planet! Sisko (perhaps taking a cue from Kirk) decides to pursue them, defying Adm. Toddman’s (Leon Russom) orders to guard Bajor. Tain gives Garak his first assignment: interrogate Odo to find out more re: the Founders. Garak is given a device created by the Romulans which prevents Changelings from altering their form (yikes)!

Garak: We both value our privacy, our secrets. That’s why I know there’s something about the Founders you haven’t told anyone, something you didn’t even share with Starfleet and Commander Sisko. Hm? But you are going to tell *me*, Odo.

There are references to ancient Roman dictator Julius Caesar in this ep. The title The Die is Cast is taken from the words reportedly said by Caesar in 49 BC, as he led a legion of troops across the Rubicon River (an illegal act that started the Great Roman Civil War). Garak also quotes Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to Tain (“I’m afraid the fault, dear Tain, is not in our stars but in ourselves”). The Changeling says to Odo at the end that the Dominion already has plans for the Klingon Empire and the Federation. This line is foreshadowing of the story arc in S4.

Odo: They’re still my people. I tried to deny it, I tried to forget. But I can’t! They’re my people, and I want to be with them, in the Great Link!

E21 is the first w/ Behr as EP; one of the major changes he made to the show was in action sequences. Space battles had to be shown onscreen more, not just referred to (as TNG had repeatedly done). We see the most number of ships (so far) in any of Trek. We see (again) that Garak isn’t a typical good guy; he’s capable of shady deeds (incl. torture). We see another side of Eddington (who reports directly to Toddman, not Sisko); he sabotages the cloaking device! The stakes are high here, the writing is very good, and also the directing is interesting (w/ some shots reminiscent of film noir).

Lovok: [just as Odo and Garak are to make their escape, Col. Lovok arrives armed with a disruptor, but he then hands Odo a PADD] You will need this in order to gain access to your Runabout.

Odo: [surprised] Why are you doing this?

Lovok: Because no Changeling has ever harmed another.

Episode 24: Shakaar

Odo: It has been my observation that one of the prices of giving people freedom of choice… is that sometimes, they make the wrong choice.

Sisko gets an urgent message from Bajor and delivers some bad news to Kira. Kalem Aprem, First Minister of the Provisional Government, has died from a heart attack. Kira is V upset to hear spiritual leader Kai Winn (Louise Fletcher) has already been appointed as successor. Kira can’t shake the feeling that giving Winn control is a mistake. Suddenly, Winn visits the station to see Kira; she has a favor to ask. Shakaar (Duncan Reghr), the leader of Kira’s resistance cell during the Cardassian occupation, refuses to return some government-loaned soil reclamators (used to detoxify soil poisoned by the Cardassians). Winn wants to use them in the Rakantha province, which was once Bajor’s most productive farmland. She thinks this will once again make export possible, increasing Bajor’s chances of being accepted into the Federation. Kira agrees to talk to Shakaar, who is now a farmer.

Shakaar: I didn’t fight the Cardassians for 25 years just so I can start shooting other Bajorans.

This ep serves as a sequel of sorts to Life Support; it contains references to the death of Vedek Bareil and the signing of the Bajoran-Cardassian Treaty. We meet Kira’s friends Furel (William Lucking) and Lupaza (Diane Salinger) for the first time; they have also become farmers and jokingly bicker like a long-term couple. We also see the Bajoran phaser rifle for the first time. Lenaris Holem (John Doman) is a leader in the civil police; he was also a freedom fighter in his day (and doesn’t want to fire on his own people).

I have met people who are obsessive and I find it fascinating to watch Kia Winn throughout the DS9 run. Her obsession over power is a cautionary tale about the power of fanaticism and watching her slow march into insanity is intriguing. -Excerpt from IMDB review

Episode 26: The Adversary

Major Kira: Well, now that you have another pip on your collar, does that mean I can’t disagree with you anymore?

Capt. Sisko: No. It just means, I’m never wrong.

Major Kira: Ah – we’ll see about that.

Sisko is (finally) promoted to captain; we see him for the last time w/ a full head of hair! We have the first appearance of several new sets on the Defiant, incl. main engineering, the mess hall and the extended corridor. This ep also has the first mention of the Tzenkethi, who fought a war against the Federation that Sisko participated in. They’re mentioned again later, but never seen onscreen. Sisko takes the Defiant to Tzenkethi space to prevent a coup-de-etat, which Ambassador Krajensky (Lawrence Pressman) said could be problematic. While working on the ship, O’Brien hears strange sounds; soon, breakdowns and mishaps start occurring. Sisko believes someone on-board is the cause of these acts of sabotage. This ep is the last time Alexander Siddig is credited as Siddig El Fadil as an actor.

Before things get quite serious/risky, I liked the light-hearted scene where Dax playfully questions Sisko re: Kasidy, who he recently met and went on a date w/ (thanks to Jake). Suddenly, there is a message (w/ heavy static) from a planet (Barisa Prime) saying they are under fire; Sisko assumes that war w/ Tzenkethi has broken out. They try to contact a nearby Federation ship (USS Ulysses), but it turns out that the communications relay isn’t working. O’Brien and Dax find parasites (w/ force fields protecting them) growing inside all the major systems of the Defiant.

Moore really liked this story b/c he considers it to be very un-Star Trek. Krajensky morphs into his true form as a Changeling and escapes into the conduits! You can’t trust anyone, since the enemy could be disguised as anyone. The non-essential crewmen are locked into their quarters. Then, Dax is knocked out, so O’Brien has more work to do. Control of the ship is gone; it’s cloaked, armed, and flying to the Tzenjethi border at high warp. Sisko declares to Kira that if O’Brien can’t regain control, he’ll have to destroy the ship (to prevent a war)!

Odo: [on using a phaser on a fellow Changeling] In the history of my people, no Changeling has ever harmed another. I’d hate to be the first.

Eddington: Apparently that Changeling doesn’t feel the same way. If we don’t stop him, no one on board will escape unharmed, including you.

Odo: You may be right. But I’ve been a Security officer most of my humanoid existence; and in all that time, I’ve never found it necessary to fire a weapon, or take a life. I don’t intend to start now.

They break off into teams of 2, armed w/ phaser rifles (modified NOT to damage equipment), and sweep the ship. The Changeling attacks a security officer (stunt coordinator Dennis Madalone) and strangles him inside a Jeffries tube! Sisko tries to follow it, then comes across a stand-off between a Bolian security officer and Kira in the corridor. Odo and Eddington come upon the scene also. Odo punches out the Bolian who was refusing to drop his phaser. Sisko decides that Bashir will test everyone’s blood to reveal who is the Changeling. Unlike humanoids, they revert to their natural gelatinous state when injured. Though we think Eddington is the one, it turns out the Changeling has morphed into Bashir (trapping the real doctor in the brig)! The Changeling escapes again inside the conduits- Odo follows him.

We learn that the ship has changed course and it heading to a Tzenkethi colony just 12 mins away. On the bridge, Sisko initiates the auto-destruct sequence, then Kira follows up; it’s set to a 10 min. counter. While O’Brien and a crewman work to get the force fields down around the Changeling, two versions of Odo appear in Engineering! Kira says that shuttlebay doors are closed and evacuation pods are locked also. Whoa, this is as tense as things can get!

The fight between Odo and the Changeling was very complicated to put together b/c of many morphing effects. There were more morphing effects in this scene than in the the rest of S3, producer Steve Oster noted. The writers decided to use the line “no changeling has ever harmed another” as an important element; this line had been heard before (The Search, Part II, Heart of Stone and The Die is Cast). Odo is very affected by the other Changeling’s death.

Odo: Captain, there’s something you need to know. The Changeling, before he… died – he whispered something to me.

Capt. Sisko: Go on.

Odo: He said…”You’re too late. We are everywhere.”

[1] This is a very tense episode with lots of surprises and twists. I also appreciated the ending when you see Odo do something you’d never expect! All in all, one of the better episodes- which is true of all the Changeling episodes.

[2] As the crew start to distrust each other and the sense of paranoia increases the atmosphere becomes more tense.

[3] Good story, good action, and good performances combine to make an open-ended season finale without a contrived or over-the-top cliffhanger.

Deep Space Nine can be great Trek when it wants to be…

-Excerpts from IMDB comments

“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982)

In the 23rd century, Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) is an instructor at Starfleet Academy. Kirk is feeling old; he now needs reading glasses, which are given to him by Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley). The prospect of going on his ship (USS Enterprise) on a 2-week training mission doesn’t make Kirk feel any younger. Soon, the ship faces possible danger, when the genetically engineered Khan (Ricardo Montalban) appears after years of exile on a secluded planet. Khan wants to capture Project Genesis (a top secret device holding the power of creation itself) and kill Kirk!

[On whether Kirk should assume command from Spock]

Spock: If I may be so bold, it was a mistake for you to accept promotion. Commanding a starship is your first, best destiny; anything else is a waste of material.

Kirk: I would not presume to debate you.

Spock: That is wise. Were I to invoke logic, however, logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Kirk: Or the one.

Spock: You are my superior officer. You are also my friend. I have been and always shall be yours.

This the Trek film that will appeal to BOTH long-time/newbie fans and casual viewers alike! So far, I’ve watched this 3x in the last 6 yrs. The acting is good from all involved, the directing is not flashy (yet tells the story effectively), and it has a few very emotional moments as well. Do you have to be middle-aged to appreciate it fully? Hmm… I’d say no, but it does help!

Executive Producer Harve Bennett was known for being able to make films w/ low budgets; Paramount Studios wanted him to make this film for under $45M. He’d never seen any of TOS; he viewed all the eps and chose Space Seed as the best candidate for a sequel. Bennett realized that one of the problems w/ the Star Trek: The Motion Picture (ST:TMP) was the lack of a strong villain. Gene Roddenberry stayed on as “creative consultant” position. On ST:TMP, Paramount blamed the constant production delays and budget overruns on Roddenberry’s constant meddling and slow script rewrites. This is the first time a feature film was made as a sequel to a specific TV ep.

My intention with Khan was to express the fact that they had been marooned on that planet with no technical infrastructure, so they had to cannibalize from the spaceship whatever they used or wore. Therefore, I tried to make it look as if they had dressed themselves out of pieces of upholstery and electrical equipment that composed the ship. -Robert Fletcher (costume designer)

Director Nicholas Meyer (just 36 y.o.) hadn’t seen any of TOS either; this was only his 2nd movie! Meyer, Bennett, Jack B. Sowards, and Samuel A. Peeples all worked on the screenplay. For the musical score, Bennett chose James Horner (only 28 y.o.) He adapted the opening fanfare of Alexander Courage’s TOS theme; he created several themes and motifs (shorter pieces) which have become iconic. Although Gene Roddenberry TOS w/ a military structure, he avoided “excessive militarism” (his words). However, Meyer decided to further expand on this, making the uniforms/insignias more military in style. He also added a ship’s bell and boatswain’s whistle; he wrote the dialogue to reflect naval protocol. Such details greatly influenced the later films and spin-off TV series, as long-time fans will note!

I’m sure that I was influenced by Goldsmith’s large orchestral scores when I started out, and that was because the people who employed me wanted that kind of sound. I wasn’t in a position to say “Go to hell!” -James Horner (composer)

Some TOS fans and media critics have often wondered re: Marla McGivers (the Starfleet officer who fell in love w/ Khan). On the Star Trek: The Pod Directive podcast, I learned that actress Madlyn Rhue was to reprise her role. However, she had suffered w/ multiple sclerosis, so was using wheelchair. Marla was written out, explaining she’d been killed by the vicious eel creatures. Montalban said in interviews that “Khan loved his wife passionately, and blames Kirk for her death.” The actor realized early on in his career that a good villain doesn’t see himself as villainous; he’s the hero of his own story. In the mid-1980s, James Doohan (Scotty) stated that he felt that Montalban should’ve been nominated for an Academy Award for his role.

She was getting advice from all sides, and the studio kept trying to make it more of a ‘tits and ass’ performance. I said, “No, no, no. That’s real. You’re in the Navy. You’re a pro. Just do your job. You’re good. You’re at the top of your class there.” -Meyer re: Kirstie Alley’s character (Lt. Saavik)

A woman who was beautiful and looked like she could think. A woman who was attractive enough, that you could see why Kirk would fall for her, and at the same time somebody who could keep up with him. -Meyer re: Bibi Besch’s character (Dr. Carol Marcus)

This is the film debut of Kirstie Alley (who loved TOS), who plays Spock’s young/ambitious protegee- Lt. Saavik. When Syfy aired this film on TV, Leonard Nimoy appeared during commercial breaks, sharing various memories/trivia. One of the items was the character backstory of Lt. Saavik, who was supposed to have Romulan/Vulcan heritage, which was why she was more emotional than a pure-blooded Vulcan. There are hints re: this all through the film: she once exclaims “damn” after failing the Kobayashi Maru test, she gasps in shock seeing the dead body of Midshipman Preston, and gets teary-eyed during Spock’s funeral. When they speak to each other in Vulcan, Nimoy and Alley actually spoke in English, and then the sound people (w/ feedback from linguist Marc Okrand) created the Vulcan words to match the movements of their mouths, which they later overdubbed.

Joachim: We’re all with you, sir. But, consider this. We are free. We have a ship, and the means to go where we will. We have escaped permanent exile on Ceti Alpha V. You have defeated the plans of Admiral Kirk. You do not need to defeat him again.

Khan: [from Melville’s Moby Dick] He tasks me. He tasks me and I shall have him! I’ll chase him ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares Maelstrom and ’round perdition’s flames before I give him up!

As fans are bound to expect from the world of Trek, there are several literary references here. Kirk gets the novel A Take of Two Cities from Spock as a birthday gift. Khan’s bookshelf contains a few books, incl. Paradise Lost, Moby DIck, and King Lear. The phrase “to the last I grapple with thee; from Hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.” is taken from Capt. Ahab’s speech in Moby Dick. Kirk’s apt. in San Fran was filled w/ antique collectibles, revealing his attachment to the past.

The battle of wits between Kirk and Khan inside the Mutara Nebula was inspired by the one between destroyer captain Robert Mitchum and U-boat commander Curd Jürgens in The Enemy Below, which was also the inspiration for (much-loved) TOS ep Balance of Terror. Another movie connection is Run Silent, Run Deep, where rival U.S. and Japanese submarine commanders both went to full stop in their underwater duel, in very close proximity, to avoid giving away their positions and to try to figure out what the other sub was doing.

The model of the USS Reliant (a Miranda class starship) was designed so that the warp nacelles hung below the fuselage, so audiences wouldn’t confuse it w/ the Enterprise (particularly in the action sequences). The computer simulation of Genesis transforming a dead planet is the 1st complete computer-generated sequence ever used in a feature film- wow! The graphics divisions of Lucasfilm worked on the visual effects for this movie; they also worked on Star Wars.

[1] Not only is this movie loaded with the original characters from the series, it also touches on such subjects as revenge, family, duty, age and, of course, sacrifice. That was the best thing about the series – that it touched on topics that were (pardon the expression) universal, no matter the species.

[2] The Wrath of Khan isn’t a science fiction film as much as it’s an old-fashioned adventure story dressed up in vintage science fiction tropes.

This tension, between life and death, immortality and mortality, success and failure, is epitomised by the Genesis device, a super weapon in the film which has to power to both create and destroy.

[3] William Shatner, after the stinging reviews of his stilted performance in ST:TMP, needed a strong script to provide ‘damage control’, and he got it. In perhaps his finest performance, he dominates the screen… Both decisive and likable, Shatner’s Kirk is the glue that holds ST:TWOK together, and he is brilliant.

Leonard Nimoy, getting every actor’s dream, a chance to die onscreen, gives Spock a poignancy that is, ultimately, heartbreaking; DeForest Kelley, excellent as Dr. McCoy, not only offers righteous indignation over the implications of the Genesis Project, but projects such an obvious affection for both Kirk and his “sparring partner,” Spock, that, far more than in the first film, you can see the nearly symbiotic link between the three leads. The rest of the original cast, despite small roles, still have far more to do than in the first film…

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Star Trek: Voyager” (Season 6)

Introduction

Long-time fans consider S6 to be one of the strongest of the series, along w/ S5. We get to see TNG characters- Barclay and Troi. I didn’t think the Borg children (aside from Echeb) were developed well; I wasn’t impressed w/ any the eps focused of these kids. It seems like the producers/writers just didn’t know what to do w/ them. As I’ve noted before, Trek doesn’t usually do very well w/ romance or children (aside from a few exceptions). The season finale is lackluster (if I’m being nice). As we’ve seen before, new aliens are introduced who could’ve been interesting villains (but then are never seen again). I liked the eps where the show makes fun of itself; VOY should’ve leaned on comedy more (as Robert Duncan McNeill commented on The Delta Flyers podcast). Oh and who could forget the famous fight (re: creative vision) between Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore!?

Season 6: Selected Episodes

Episode 1: Equinox, Part II

Cmdr. Chakotay: I don’t blame you for being angry, but you can’t compromise the safety of this ship to satisfy some personal vendetta.

Capt. Janeway: I appreciate your candor. Now let me be just as blunt: you’re right, I am angry. I’m damned angry. He’s a Starfleet captain, and he’s decided to abandon everything this uniform stands for. He’s out there right now, torturing and murdering innocent life forms just to get home a little quicker. I’m not gonna stand for it. I’m going to hunt him down, no matter how long it takes, no matter what the cost. If you wanna call that a vendetta, go right ahead.

Temporarily shielded from alien attack, Capt. Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) orders that their first priority is to find the Equinox, arrest Capt. Rudy Ransom (John Savage) and recover Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). Cmdr. Chakotay (Robert Beltran) disagrees, but goes along w/ her plan. Janeway’s obsession to stop Ransom has been compared by long-time fans and critics to Capt. Picard’s obsession to stop the Borg in the TNG movie- First Contact. Janeway’s arguments w/ Chakotay really made me take notice; it’s been a while since a memorable interaction between them (as captain and first officer facing a problem).

The action and directing (by David Livingston) keeps things at a good pace. As many viewers thought, it’s a bit troubling to see Federation starships firing at each other. After the Voyager crew captures two of Ransom’s away team on a planet, Janeway brings Crewman Noah Lessing (Rick Worthy) into a cargo bay for questioning. She wants to know Ransom’s tactical status; he refuses to talk. Janeway threatens to lower the shields and turn the aliens loose on Lessing. Chakotay stands by for a while, thinking that she’s bluffing. Nope- she has become scary (no joke)!

“What’s happened to you, Kathryn?” Chakotay asks at one point. I wanted to ask the same question. I haven’t seen this Janeway before. She doesn’t answer to anyone. With no Starfleet watching over her shoulder, how could she be stopped if she continued down such a dangerous path?

…although Janeway pushes the envelope of her authority oh-so-far (as do the writers, really), there’s an awareness buried somewhere beneath Janeway’s madness- she simply wants what’s just. Unfortunately, the price is too high and she almost completely loses Chakotay’s confidence in the process.

-Jammer’s Reviews

The Equinox EMH (posing as The Doctor) keeps in contact w/ Ransom. The Doctor (Robert Picardo), on-board the Equinox w/ his ethical subroutines disabled, begins surgery on Seven to will extract info (which will destroy her brain). Ransom doesn’t want to do it, but says he has “no choice.” He already devalued the lives of aliens, but can he let a fellow human die?

Janeway finds the Ankari (the alien race that can summon their “Spirits of Good Fortune”), makes contact w/ the spirit-aliens, and agrees to turn over Equinox in exchange for her ship’s safety. (Sadly, the CGI used on these creatures has not aged well.) Tuvok objects, saying it will mean certain death for the Equinox crew. Janeway coldly replies: “I’ve already confined my first officer to quarters. Would you like to join him?” Wow, I was not expecting that!

Ransom decides to surrender to Janeway, but Lt. Maxwell Burke (Titus Welliver) stages a mutiny. In Part I, Burke had some interesting scenes with Lt. B’Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) which made him seem like a 3-dimensional character. Here, he just serves the plot and comes off as a sociopath. Burke and a few others are killed by aliens while trying to reach the shuttle bay. Ransom is killed when ship (heavily damaged by spirit-aliens) explodes. Five of his crew are brought aboard Voyager (incl. Lessing and Ensign Marla Gilmore- she helped Ransom after the mutiny). They’re stripped of rank and will get limited privileges, until they can prove themselves to their new captain/crew.

This was the first ep on which writer Ronald D. Moore worked, having transferred to the writers’ room after the end of DS9. He’d later rework this concept into Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus. While working on this ep, Moore had asked: “Is Janeway going to be captain forever, like a dictator? They should’ve put Janeway on trial.” The producers, incl. his friend/showrunner Brannon Braga, didn’t want to explore this issue. That’s why we get the reset button, not character continuity (as Moore wanted). The final scene on the bridge shows us that Janeway regrets how far she crossed the line. She admits quietly to Chakotay that he might’ve had good reason for his own mutiny. There is some nice symbolism of the fallen plaque; Janeway almost “fell down” herself in this story.

[1] In a way, “Equinox” is a comment on the entire series of Voyager itself. UPN and Paramount chose NOT to have Voyager become this “Lord of the Flies” in space. They chose NOT to make Voyager believe their own premise. Equinox is kind of like the Voyager that could have been…

[2] …if you remove the Doctor’s “ethical sub routines” surely he still retains friendships, loyalties and so on. Look at Equinox’s Doctor he stays loyal to his crew to the end. All too simple.

[3] I caught Janeway and Chakotay’s bust-up in the briefing room… It’s a great scene, and yet it signifies everything that was wrong with Voyager.[…] At the end of the episode, it’s all forgotten. Janeway offers no apology, and Chakotay doesn’t show even a small amount of resentment. Something that could have divided them for a few episodes, maybe even the entire season, was quickly glossed over.

-Comments posted on Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 2: Survival Instinct

Janeway: [reading the morning’s Security report] Hmm, some of these incidents ARE a little more serious, but on balance, I still think we did the right thing.

Tuvok: There is a third page.

Chakotay: Come on, Tuvok. After all the xenophobic races we’ve run into, don’t you find it just a little refreshing to meet some people who value openness and freedom?

Voyager docks at a space outpost with a variety of Delta Quadrant species. Eager for cultural exchange and friendly interactions, Janeway grants leave to the crew and the rolls out the welcome mat for visitors. Despite a few minor incidents, all seems to go well, until an alien approaches Seven holding Borg synaptic relays from her original unimatrix. Seeing them overwhelms Seven w/ images and memories of when she was last in contact with these items. This is the first of two eps written by TNG/DS9 writer by Moore.

Marika: I can’t wait to use my real name again.

Seven: There is nothing preventing you from doing so.

Lansor: Except that most of the time, I don’t know whether my name is Marika, P’Chan or Lansor. The names, the memories…

P’Chan: …the memories, even the thoughts flow from one to the other.

Marika: I can’t love or hate, or laugh…

MarikaLansor: …or cry without sharing it with them.

This ep is like a breath of fresh air- we see dozens of new aliens/costumes, three guest stars, and learn how assimilation (a traumatic violation) has affected them as individuals. The alien who brings the suitcase of Borg attachments is one of the MVPs of Trek- Vaughn Armstrong. The Bajoran woman, Marika Willkarah (Bertila Damas), served on the USS Excalibur– the ship was commanded by Riker in TNG: Redemption II (written by Moore). The youngest of this group, P’Chan (Tim Kelleher), is soft-spoken man who used to be caregiver for parents. In flashback scenes, we see Seven and these three Borg when they were separated (temporarily) from the Collective. While these Borg reflected on their previous lives, Seven got scared and told them to stop, as they were all Borg now. These three aliens (unlike Seven) were assimilated as adults.

Episode 4: Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy

[The Doctor has filed a formal grievance, along w/ a request to be made captain in the event of a catastrophic emergency]

Janeway: I don’t want anybody to be uncomfortable on this ship. I guess we should all try to be a little more considerate of his feelings.

Tom: Captain, he does it to himself. He’s Chief Medical Officer. Is it our fault that’s not enough for him?

The Doctor’s experiment with daydreaming gets out of control when an alien race compromises his program. The aliens consult their command (The Hierarchy) before attacking any passing ships. One of the aliens, mistaking the daydreams for reality, gets permission to attack. Upon realizing his mistake, he offers to help Voyager, but only if The Doctor is in command. 

The Doctor [in one of his daydreams]: Thank you for this opportunity, Captain. All I’ve ever wanted was to live up to my full potential, to hone all my skills, expand my abilities, to help the people I love.

This is just a funny/highly-rated ep w/ a core of seriousness (The Doctor, who is a hologram, wants more responsibility on the ship). Picardo gets to wear the command uniform (red color) and gets four pips on his collar. The Doctor can wow the crew w/ his singing and also save a life. All the women in the main cast are interested in him- LOL! We see a homage to a scene in Titanic (the hit movie that came out a year before) where The Doctor is painting Seven. This ep was written by Trek veteran Joe Menosky.

Episode 7: Dragon’s Teeth

Chakotay: [on seeing the hundreds of stasis pods of the Vaadwaur] Dragon’s teeth.

Janeway: “Dragon’s teeth?”

Chakotay: An old Greek myth. After a dragon was killed in a war, its teeth were spread out over the battlefield. They took root, and warriors sprung from the ground to continue the fighting.

Voyager is pushed into a sub-space corridor by the Turei (a xenophobic alien race), who claim ownership of this part of space. After refusing to allow the wiping of data re: the corridors, the ship lands on a nearby planet. Here (almost 900 yrs ago) the Vaadwaur (another alien race) sought shelter from a nuclear war by going into stasis pods, intent on waking up 5 yrs later. This ep may remind viewers of the premise of TOS: Space Seed; it was written by Michael Taylor.

Gedrin: I’m curious. Have you heard of us, the Vaadwaur?

Neelix: Um, I’m afraid there aren’t many records from that period, but “vaadwaur” is a word in the Old Tongue; it means, uh… “foolish.”

I thought the Vaadwaur makeup was unique/intricate; the costumes looked futuristic (but not in a hokey way). Seven wakes Gedrin (Jeff Allin), but his wife (sadly) lies dead in her pod. Gedrin seems like a good guy (but we can’t be sure); he says that his people traded and traveled great distances. Soon, more of the Vaadwaur wake up, incl. a warrior named Gaul (Robert Knepper); he was seen in TNG: Haven as the doctor who almost had an arranged marriage w/ Troi. The Vaadwaur claim they are the true owners of the corridors which they used for trade; the Turei attacked them so they could gain control.

Gedrin: You are not at all like the Borg I knew.

Seven: As a drone, I helped assimilate many civilizations. Now I have the opportunity to help reconstruct one. I find the experience… gratifying.

Neelix (in an useful role) remembers that the Vaadwaur were mentioned in ancient Talaxian legends; he does some computer searching and discovers that they were a race to be feared. These legends also match information Seven finds in the Borg database. Janeway has to decide which of the two aliens represent the greater threat, if the crew are to get off the planet. The Prime Directive is ignored and not even mentioned at any point. Some noted that the action scenes don’t make sense (but I’m not an expert in that area of Trek).

Episode 8: One Small Step

Janeway: As a Borg, you didn’t study the past- you ingested it. You’ve never really developed an appreciation for humanity’s history. Maybe this is an opportunity for you to do some exploring of your own.

Seven of Nine: Are you ordering me to join this mission?

Janeway: Let’s just say, I’m encouraging you to volunteer.

Voyager encounters a graviton ellipse, a phenomenon that emerges from subspace on rare occasions. The anomaly engulfed a vessel during a Mars mission in 2032; Chakotay is determined to retrieve the debris. Chakotay, Paris, and Seven take the Delta Flyer in, but when an asteroid strikes, Chakotay (obsessed with retrieving the module) disobeys Janeway’s order to leave. The Flyer is flightless as the ellipse prepares to return to subspace. This ep was written by four different people, incl. Bryan Fuller and Michael Taylor.

The Doctor reminisces about Arrakis Prime; Arrakis is the spice planet from Frank Herbert’s Dune novels. Buck Bokai, mentioned in one of the baseball discussions, is the fictitious baseball player best known in DS9. Guest star Phil Morris (who plays astronaut John Kelly) has literally grown up with Star Trek, and has played several supporting roles throughout his life, including one of the children in TOS: Miri, a Starfleet cadet in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, a Klingon bodyguard in DS9: Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places, and a Jem’Hadar soldier in  Rocks and Shoals. Beltran stated in an interview (on his website) that he was looking forward to filming this ep, as it provided a rare development of Chakotay’s character. His excitement turned frustration when the majority of the ep was given over to Seven’s character development.

Janeway: Space. Literally it means ‘nothing’ – a vacuum between stars and planets. But by the same token, it means everything. It’s what connects all our worlds – Vulcan, Qo’noS, Talax, Earth. Centuries ago, mankind sent its first wave of explorers into that void – astronauts like Mr. Kelly. They paved the way for the first colonies, the first starships, for those of us who’ve made space our home. We commend the spirit and the bravery of Lt. John Mark Kelly, as we commit his body… to space. He will not be forgotten.

As Seven listens to Lt. Kelly’s tapes we see her gradually change her attitude. …Seven begins to understand the concept of what it meant to be a true explorer and hero. She comes to appreciate sacrifice and selfless dedication exhibited by Kelley, as he states his mission isn’t a failure and continues to explore, with the clear realization the fruits of his labor would never be seen… She comes to realize that Kelley was an individual that chose to take this risk for the betterment of humanity.

-Excerpt from IMDB review

Episode 10: Pathfinder

Barclay: Ever since I… I left the Enterprise, things haven’t… haven’t been the same. It’s as if… I lost my family.

Lt. Reginald Barclay (Dwight Schultz) has found a new obsession- returning Voyager and her crew. When Enterprise visits Earth, Barclay reunites with his counselor/friend, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), recalling the events leading up to his dismissal and ban from the research (The Pathfinder Project). This ep was written by David Zabel (a veteran of TV) and Ken Biller (writer/producer). This is the first of several eps featuring Barclay and Troi; many viewers commented that they had better story arcs in this series than on TNG!

Barclay: You know what I am always saying: If you can’t stand the heat…
Kim (hologram): Get out of the warp core!

Although Starfleet has adopted their new-style uniform for 3 yrs during the time, people can be seen outside Starfleet HQ wearing the older uniforms; it’s a recycled shot from DS9: Homefront. Richard Herd (who passed away in 2020) has played the recurring role of Adm. Owen Paris; he also played the Klingon L’Kor in TNG: Birthright. A shot of McNeill as Nicholas Locarno from TNG: The First Duty was used as the photo of Paris on Adm. Paris’ desk. Barclay’s holographic imagination of the main characters is based on how they looked before leaving the Alpha Quadrant. Janeway has her original (“bun of steel”) hairstyle, Chakotay and B’Elanna Torres are wearing Maquis leathers (not Starfleet uniforms). Neelix and Seven, who were added to the crew in the Delta Quadrant, do not appear (though Barclay’s cat is named Neelix).

Adm. Paris: Why the long face, Mr. Barclay?
Barclay: Because… because, it’s over, sir.
Adm. Paris: No, lieutenant. I’d say that Project Voyager is just beginning. Thanks to you.

This is a fun ep where we get to see Barclay as a hero- who would’ve imagined!? It’s important to the series (as a whole) b/c Voyager finally gets to talk to Starfleet- YAY! I like the relationship between Barclay and Troi; they are friends, but she also serves as a counselor to him (as on TNG). I liked the design of Barclay’s apt. in San Fran; he just needed to spend some time on decor. Troi still loves chocolate (Barclay offers her ice cream).

It is Broccoli’s multiplex infirmities that brought TNG to level human ground, in that he was probably the most realistic human character of that whole show- and his insecurities mix with his imagination to reveal a complex person. And in true Broccoli style, Schulz slams a home run in this Voyager episode. But there can be no Barclay episode without Counselor Troi, and her ability to set Barclay back on his feet.

-Excerpt from IMDB review

It was surreal, really weird. I didn’t get to work with any of the Voyager cast because all my scenes were on Earth with Dwight [….] The [production] crew was virtually the same as we had for two or three seasons, so I knew everybody and everybody knew me. And with Dwight, I was working with someone from The Next Generation, so it was almost as though I’d gone back in time. It was so strange, but so much fun. Of course, I got all depressed when it was over and I had to leave! [….] The crew on Voyager […] said to me, ‘We really miss you guys.-Marina Sirtis

Episode 12: Blink of an Eye

Chakotay: If there’s an intelligent species down there, we’ll be able to track their development, not just for days or weeks, but for centuries.

B’Elanna: Watch them discover new and better ways of beating each other over the head.

Chakotay: They won’t necessarily follow the Klingon model.

B’Elanna: As opposed to the human model?

Voyager is trapped in orbit above a strange planet where time passes thousands of times faster than in the surrounding galaxy. As the population of the planet evolves, Voyager becomes an integral part of their culture. Eventually, they develop technology that allows them to send someone to the “Sky Ship.” This ep was written by Joe Menosky from a story by Michael Taylor. TOS had an ep entitled Wink of an Eye where Scalosians, moving too fast to be seen or heard (other than a faint buzzing sound), board Enterprise and abduct Capt. Kirk.

Gotana-Retz: [singing a childhood prayer-song] Star of the night / Star of the day / Come to take my tears away / Make my life always bright.

This is listed as one of the “Ten Essential Episodes” of Voyager in the 2008 reference book Star Trek 101 by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann. The storyline is largely the same as the plot of the 1980 novel Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward, with some minor variations (EX: the lifeforms were on a pulsar, not a rapidly spinning planet, and the time differential was much greater). Obi Ndefo (Kelemane- the protector) previously played Drex, son of the Klingon warrior Martok, in DS9: The Way of the Warrior. The tall/handsome Korean-American actor, Daniel Dae Kim (DDK), plays astronaut Gotana-Retz; he’d later play the recurring role of Corporal Chang in Enterprise.

Gotana-Retz: Without the Sky Ship up above them, my people might lose interest in progress. There wouldn’t be anything left to reach for.

Seven of Nine: Perhaps they’ll miss Voyager so much, they’ll do everything they can to follow us.

I loved this ep- it was interesting, intelligent, and touching! I liked the varied settings, costumes, and set design (as the planet progressed). DDK gave a fine/memorable performance; some of you may know from Lost or the rom com 2019 Almost Be My Maybe (starring Allie Wong and Randall Park). I esp. liked DDK’s scene w/ Mulgrew in her ready room; they had some good chemistry. This was the only ep directed by Gabrielle Beaumont; she went on to do 7 eps of DS9.

[1] ..this was my favorite Voyager episode ever made. The story was perfect for an episode of Star Trek and the only thing disappointing about it was that it should’ve been a two-part episode giving more time to focus on the inhabitants of the world as they worship the “Skyship.” At times I even think this could’ve passed as a Star Trek Movie plot. […] This episode also should be noted for it’s greatness because although there was a small bit of conflict at the end, this episode focused more on problem solving rather than space battles. Also it didn’t rely on the return of old favorites (Borg, Q, etc.) to make it good.

[2] Fans of The Doctor will get an especially good kick out of this episode as he achieves some sort of humanity. It’ll give you a warm smile, much in the way Data’s quest for humanity did for many TNG fans.

For me, the ending is the best part of the episode. It’ll make you feel warm, happy and sad. An extremely great story that manages to put itself among the best of the Star Trek episodes.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Episode 20: Good Shepherd

Chakotay: There are always a few who don’t make it past their first year on a starship. Normally they’re reassigned, but in our case, maybe we should relieve them of duty and let them pursue their own interests. It certainly wouldn’t hurt general efficiency.

Janeway: They aren’t drones, Chakotay. We can’t just deactivate them.

In Seven’s report on ship-wide efficiency, she brings to the captain’s attention 3 “black sheep” crewmen who’ve slipped through the cracks. Mortimer Harren (former child actor Jay Underwood) is an overqualified/unenthused engineer, Tal Celes is the Bajoran w/ no confidence in herself, and her pal William Telfer is a hypochondriac. Seeking to guide her strays back to the flock, Janeway orders them to join her on an away mission to a Class T nebula in the Delta Flyer. Anxiety strikes when the know-it-all Harren gets sensor data wrong, Tal is plagued w/ worry, and an intrusive alien gives Telfer a real medical emergency.

Janeway: That’s the nature of space exploration. It’s unpredictable.

Mortimer Harren: Which is why I don’t like space exploration. Stumbling from star to star like a… a drunken insect careening toward a light source is not my idea of a dignified existence.

Some viewers compared this ep to Lower Decks on TNG (one of the few TNG eps I haven’t seen yet). While the Enterprise D ((TNG) was filled w/ the best and the brightest, not all the crew on Voyager come from the top of Starfleet Academy. Don’t’ forget that about 1/3 of them are former Maquis, too. Several viewers found Harren unlikeable, esp, b/c he acts disrespectful to Janeway; the actor did a fine job.

Episode 21: Live Fast and Prosper

Tom: Why didn’t we see this coming?

Neelix: Orphans! It’s the oldest gambit in the book!

Tom: I-I mean, if it’d been Harry, I could understand it, he trusts everybody; but you and me?

The Voyager crew is the victim of identity theft. A clever trio of con artists (claiming to be Janeway, Chakotay, and Tuvok) are making trades all over the quadrant and giving Voyager a bad name. When they skip out on the bill, the collectors demand payment from the real Voyager. Once Janeway has her doppelganger in custody, Neelix “accidently” lets her escape, allowing the real captain to run her own double-cross. 

Dala: The great Captain Janeway. Somehow I expected you to be… taller. I make a better you than you.

This is one of the few LOL eps of the series! The con woman, Dala (Kaitlin Hopkins), does a great impression of Janeway. I learned that Hopkins is the daughter of veteran actress Shirley Knight (wow)! Mulgrew and Hopkins have great chemistry in their scenes. This ep is directed by LeVar Burton- another reason to check it out.

Episode 22: Muse

Crash-landed on an alien planet while scouting for dilithium, B’Elanna finds herself held captive by Kelis (Joseph Will), a poet who believes her an “Eternal” sent from Heaven to be his muse. As she lay unconscious for days from injuries, he took her logs and wrote a (Greek-style) play- “The Away Mission of B’Elanna Torres,” which his starving acting troupe performed before a patron who wants more (in a week). B’Elanna strikes a deal: if he will retrieve some “winter’s tears” (dilithium), she will tell him more stories about “Shining Voyager, Far From Home.”

Kelis: [about the types of artifice in theater] Mistaken identity – a character who is someone else. Discovery – the moment when that identity is revealed. Reversal- a situation that turns from good to bad in a blink of an eye.

Chorus #1: [entering] Find the truth of your story, and you won’t need all those tricks. [to Torres] I don’t know how things are done across the Eastern Sea, but here, poets have become lazy. They rely on manipulation to move their audience. It wasn’t always that way.

This was one of my fave eps of the season; I’m surprised that many don’t like it! The teleplay was written by Menosky; I usually enjoy his work on Trek. Kelis’ theatre is based on a 5th c. BC Athenian theatre. The masks the actors use are really made to look like their characters. Veteran actors Tony Amendola and John Schuck (who appeared in TOS movies, DS9, and Enterprise) are part of the chorus seen mainly in the background. I’m sure they were quite impressed w/ this script (to take such small roles). Here is my fave scene below!

Kelis: Today, audiences want excitement… passion! Let me show you what I’ve done with Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay. [to his troupe] Let’s make a good impression on our visitor. [Tanis and Jero run through a scene]

Tanis: [as Janeway] Chakotay, why must I be denied what every other female officer on this ship can have?

Jero : [as Chakotay] Captain?

Tanis: The privilege of your touch. [they kiss; B’Elanna, aghast, doesn’t know what to say]

Episode 24: Life Line

Seven: [looking at Dr. Zimmerman’s profile] You bear a striking resemblance.

The Doctor: He used his own physical parameters as a model for my matrix. Can’t say I blame him. A doctor needs to inspire confidence in his patients. Compassionate eyes and a strong chin can go a long way.

The Pathfinder Project makes use of a pulsar and the MIDAS Array, allowing a data stream to reach Voyager (and Voyager to reply) every 32 days. Lt. Barclay sends a letter to The Doctor asking for a second opinion on Dr. Lewis Zimmerman, the eccentric genius who created the template for The Doctor’s program and is terminally ill (w/ no known cure in the Alpha Quadrant). After reviewing the medical record, The Doctor believes he can cure Zimmerman and convinces Janeway to risk sending him through the data stream. However, The Doctor finds his maker to be his most difficult patient, insisting The Doctor’s program is obsolete. Barclay recruits Troi to counsel them before Zimmerman’s time runs out.

Zimmerman: Reginald was right about you. You HAVE exceeded the sum of your programing. You’ve accomplished far more than I would have ever predicted but, let’s face facts, you never overcame the inherent flaws in your personality subroutines. You’re arrogant, irritable – a “jerk,” as Counselor Troi would say.

The Doctor: I believe she was describing YOU as well.

Zimmerman: Don’t change the subject.

This is another ep w/ Zimmerman, Barclay, and Troi (always like seeing her). Many viewers found it both humorous and touching, as we see Picardo does well in dual roles and we face w/ a serious issue (death). The almost father-son dynamic between Zimmerman and The Doctor comes off as natural (not annoying).

Episode 26: Unimatrix Zero, Part I

Simultaneously, as Voyager nears an alien outpost decimated by the Borg, Seven begins to dream vividly of an idyllic sanctuary where a few Borg can gather subconsciously- Unimatrix Zero.

[Janeway plans to save the drones in Unimatrix Zero]

Janeway: Chakotay… we’ve had our disagreements – and there have been times when I’ve chosen to proceed without your support – but this can’t be one of those times. I won’t do this without my First Officer.

Chakotay: The way I see it, risking the safety of Voyager is a small price to pay. We help these people, this could be the turning point in our battle against the Borg.

Janeway: I’m glad we agree, because I almost talked myself out of it.

Chakotay: Somehow I don’t think you were ever in danger of doing that.

Um, yeah, this IS the season finale! When I first saw it, I was disappointed (and a bit bored); on rewatch, it didn’t come off any better. The love interest for Seven, Axum (Mark Deakins), was so bland and boring! There is zero chemistry between Axum and Seven (who has thus far avoided romance). Several viewers joked that they’d seen more realistic/scarier Klingons doing cosplay than Gen. Korok (Jerome Butler). This is one of the cases where you have to wonder: “Do these actors you have a back-up job?” Also, how does Gen. Korok have a weapon (bat’leth) in this dream world? It doesn’t make sense; there are other goofs in this ep (which you can see for yourself).

“Star Trek: TNG” (Season 1) – Top 5 Episodes

Introduction

S1 of the American sci-fi TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) started airing in broadcast syndication in the US on September 28, 1987, and concluded on May 16, 1988 (after 26 episodes were broadcast). Set in the 24th c. the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Starfleet starship Enterprise-D. It was the first live-action TV series in the franchise to be broadcast since Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) was cancelled in 1969; it was also the first to feature all new characters. Paramount Television eventually sought the advice of the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, who set about creating the new show w/ mostly former TOS staff members. An entirely new cast were sought, which concerned some members of TOS crew, as Roddenberry did not want to re-tread the same steps as he had in the first series. Aliens such as Vulcans, Klingons and Romulans were banned at first.

The characters in the series gradually changed during preproduction, with adjustments made to the names, genders and ethnicity. When the cast was announced at first, LeVar Burton was the main actor highlighted because of his work on the Roots miniseries; his character, Geordi La Forge was named for a disabled fan. Although the casting was managed by producers Rick Berman and Robert H. Justman, Roddenberry intervened to switch the characters assigned to Marina Sirtis and Denise Crosby. Sirtis took over Crosby’s role as Deanna Troi, and Crosby became Tasha Yar (previously named Macha Hernandez). Michael Dorn (who came from a musical theater background) played Lt. Cmdr. Worf- the first Klingon in Starfleet. Worf would go on to be developed more in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as would transporter chief Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney).

Behind the scenes, the writing team became chaotic; Roddenberry’s insistence on re-writing scripts and other behavior alienated some staff. Longtime contributor D.C. Fontana quit, filing a claim with the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) as she had been acting as story editor (but was unpaid in the role). The series had a problem recruiting potential writers; by the end of S2, all the writing staff recruited during S1 (except for Rick Berman) had quit. While highly anticipated, initial reviews other than for “Encounter at Farpoint” were poor. The second episode, “The Naked Now” had fans and critics concerned that TNG would re-hash plots of The Original Series; “Code of Honor” was seen as racist.

Episode 1: Encounter at Farpoint

They bloody hated us. -Marina Sirtis recalled (in 2002, while doing publicity for Star Trek: Nemesis) re: critical reception to TNG debut

Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) assumes command of the Federation’s flagship (the U.S.S. Enterprise), and its new crew w/ both humans and non-humans races. On the way to Farpoint space station on the Bandi planet, they come under the control of Q (John de Lancie), an alien from a superior civilization. Q calls humanity backward savages and puts the crew to a test. The Bandi leader, Zorn, offers use of the facilities, but no answers to how the station was built and what are the troubling feelings Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) is picking up.

I think the Q thing did come out of a time requirement, but there isn’t any question in my mind that the best thing in the show is that Q story. If it had been only that other story, it would have been a disappointment. The other thing that comes out of ‘Farpoint’ is a vision of Roddenberry’s where we have Picard arguing for the future of mankind, representing the advocate of humanity to this Q who puts humanity on trial. That’s an extraordinary, philosophically ambitious idea, and it really helps to define why Star Trek is what it is. Without that, it would have been spaceships and monsters and special effects. -Michael Piller

Jonathan Frakes wasn’t the first choice for Riker; Rodenberry preferred Billy Campbell (see S2, E4: The Outrageous Okana). The producers liked Frakes better; Christopher MacDonald (see S3 E15: Yesterday’s Enterprise) and Jeffrey Combs (who became a frequent ST character actor) also auditioned for Riker. The intro scene of Riker and Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis), as well as subsequent follow-up dialogue, was almost identical to that of Decker and Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In the second half of this ep, after Riker thanks a female ensign for helping him locate Lt. Cmdr. Data (Brent Spiner) and walks away from the computer panel, she does a (very obvious) downward glance at his butt (checking him out).

DeForest Kelley’s cameo (the actor’s final role) as Admiral McCoy was a late addition to the script devised by Roddenberry. Producer Robert Justman (who also worked on TOS) noted that Kelley was honored and refused more than SAG scale salary. This ep is the first mention of the “Ferengi Alliance” who are hinted at being an enemy of the Federation; they were intended to be the new villains (b/c peace had been made w/ Klingons). This idea was eventually abandoned after the Ferengi made their appearance and weren’t taken seriously (by actors and writers). This marks the first time that a saucer separation is seen onscreen; the reason why it was so rare to see the Enterprise-D separate is b/c writers found out it slowed the story down. At one point, Picard gives an order for Worf to raises shields. A “shield raising” sound effect is heard for the only time in the series. Also, Picard orders “print outs,” which are never seen onscreen or mentioned again.

The teleplay was written by Fontana and Rodenberry (“he added all the Q stuff,” Fontana explained). Fontana’s first story “Meeting at Farpoint” had several different storylines and names. The Enterprise-D had just completed a successful mission. The captain was named Julien Picard, the first officer was Kyle Summers, and security chief was Macha Hernandez. Summers was promoted to captain and was up to take command of the science vessel (Starseeker) at Farpoint Station. While in orbit of the station, crew transfers included Lt. Cmdr. William Riker, Lt. Cmdr. Data, Dr. Beverly Crusher and her 15 y.o. old daughter Leslie. Riker and Data share a deep friendship. An alien vessel appeared and sent a message that all personnel had to beam to the planet or die. The captain of the Starseeker fires photon torpedoes at the vessel resulting in the destruction of his ship. At Picard’s orders, the crew of the Enterprise-D beamed to the surface and made contact to their enemy, the Annoi, an ape-like species w/ superior technology. The Annoi made the crew and the inhabitants of Farpoint their slaves to mine a mineral- Balmin. An away team incl. Data, Riker, Troi and Hernandez get aboard the Annoi ship w/ the help of Leslie Crusher’s knowledge about the ship’s layout. Troi then learned that there is no engineering room aboard, as the ship is a lifeform. This lifeform was enslaved by the Annoi and needs Balmin to survive.

Episode 5: Where No One Has Gone Before

Lt. Commander Data: Captain, we’re here. Why not avail ourselves of this opportunity for study? There is a giant protostar here in the process of forming. No other vessel has been out this far.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Spoken like a true Starfleet graduate.

Riker considers Federation scientist Kosinski’s (Stanley Kamel) project to boost the ship’s propulsion absurd, Picard obeys the Admiralty’s orders. Kosinski never wears a communicator, even though he is in a Starfleet uniform. This is unusual, but many details indicate that Kosinski is a civilian (the insignia, being called an “expert” or “Mr.” Fascinated by this process, Wesley sits w/ his alien assistant (Eric Menyuk) and they become friendly. The results jump the ship into a galaxy millions of light year away! Deciding against immediate study, Picard orders Kosinski to get them back. Only Wesley notices that his assistant, who “fades” supernaturally, is the real key. The next jump brings them to a place everyone’s hopes or fears come to reality. The alien assistant grows weak and and reveals his “Traveler” identity. Wesley is rewarded w/ the role of acting ensign; he can come on the bridge and will study for the Starfleet Academy entrance exam. This ep is considered by many to be the original premise behind the series Star Trek: Voyager.

Riker: Then why, in all of our history, is there no record of you or someone like you ever having visited us?

The Traveler: What wonderful arrogance! There is no record because we have not visited you before.

Riker: Why not?

The Traveler: Well, because, up until now – if-if you’ll forgive this – you’ve been… uninteresting.

Justman said that hiring 27-year-old Rob Bowman to direct was one of his proudest achievements on the show. Bowman went on to direct 12 more eps of the series. Bowman remembers: “It was a very enlightening script, the likes of which you don’t very often see on television. I felt very fortunate that it was such a great script, but, personally, I was terrified because it was my first episode and I wanted to make a good impression. I worked on that show every day I had the script, which, including the shooting, was like 20 days for me.”

While shooting the scene in this episode where Riker tells Picard “It wasn’t him, it never was. It was his assistant”, Frakes had some difficulty saying the line and eventually could not say it w/o breaking into a laugh. According to Stewart, the event soon spread “like a bushfire” on the set; even the sound mixer (Alan Bernard) had to wheel his sound cart off the set as he also couldn’t stop laughing.

This is a personal highlight from a season with little to have a song and dance about. […] It’s a superb episode which shows the strength of the main cast as well as displaying some great guest performances…

This episode marks the first glimmer of what this series would become and why I love it: a great mix of fantastic storytelling, science fiction and philosophy.

-Excerpts from IMBD reviews

Episode 12: Datalore

Picard: You’ll feel uncomfortable about aspects of your duplicate, Data. We feel uncomfortable too, and for no logical reason. If it feels awkward to be reminded that Data is a machine, just remember that *we* are merely a different variety of machine – in our case, electrochemical in nature.

The Enterprise visits Data’s planet (Omicron Theta) to learn more about his somewhat mysterious beginnings. The small population of the planet died of unknown reasons 20+ yrs back; Data was found around that time. The away team find an underground complex and a disassembled version of Data! They rebuild and activate him; this is Lore, a supposedly earlier/ superior version of Data. Lore is a word which means “The body of knowledge”. He claims he was disassembled b/c he was so human-like that he frightened the local population. Lore even has the ability to call upon a crystalline entity w/ great destructive power (which destroyed the planet and killed its inhabitants).

Lore: Dr. Soong made me perfect in his first attempt. But he made me so completely human, the colonists became envious of me.

Data: You lived with the colonists?

Lore: [nods] Until they petitioned Soong to make a more comfortable, less perfect android. In other words, you, Brother.

This was the final ep written by Roddenberry before his death on October 24, 1991. Spiner suggested that Lore be made Data’s “Evil Twin.” Initially, Lore was to be neither evil nor a lookalike of Data; Lore was first created as a female and a potential love interest for Data. Bowman credited Spiner for making the ep work, giving one example, “He did the one scene in his own office with Brent sitting down and Lore discussing what it’s like to be human. He did one side, we shot through a double, then turned around, read it the other way and shot the other half of it. Those two characters in those scenes are different people… he really painted those characters differently.” The line “Shut up Wesley!” spoken by both Dr. Crusher and Picard has become a popular catchphrase for fans to express frustration w/ Wesley (LOL).

Episode 25: Conspiracy

Picard: [after meeting with Keel about a possible Starfleet conspiracy] Friends, close friends, few and far between. Two of the oldest and closest were Jack Crusher, may he rest in peace and Walker Keel. Before various missions split us up we were virtually inseparable. I trust Keel completely. If he felt it necessary to violate regulations he must have had a very good reason.

Troi: But you’re putting your career at risk for him.

Picard: Friendship must dare to risk, Counsellor. Or it’s not friendship.

Capt. Walker Keel, an old friend of Picard’s, uses a top-secret frequency, to summon him to a top-secret meeting w/ two other captains. There is vague innuendo about a plot to take over the Federation by replacing Starfleet officers; this doesn’t impress Picard, but he reconsiders after Keel and his crew die in an explosion. Picard decides to visit Starfleet HQ w/ where he’ll be dine w/ some admirals. Riker will keep an eye on Admiral Aaron (who insists on visiting the ship) and is carrying an alien brain-parasite in a briefcase!

Roddenberry originated the idea for the ep in a single-sentence proposal entitled “The Assassins”. Robert Sabaroff expanded this idea to 30 pages, but his version was seen as too expensive. Tracy Tormé was then given the job of rewriting it, but some producers thought the new version was too dark (until Roddenberry read and endorsed it). Wired magazine has suggested that the premise was based on the Iran–Contra affair. In 2019, The Hollywood Reporter listed this ep among the 25 best eps of TNG. In 2020, GameSpot noted this episode as one of the most bizarre moments of series, the startlingly graphic explosion and melting of a parasitic alien and host.

Episode 26: The Neutral Zone

Data: They are the most unusual humans I have ever encountered.

Riker: Well, from what I’ve seen of our guests, there’s not much to redeem them. Makes one wonder how our species survived the 21st century.

While Picard is away at an emergency Federation conference, the crew discovers an ancient space capsule from Earth. Inside they find three humans in cryogenic chambers. Data asks to move the chambers to the Enterprise and Riker agrees. Picard returns and orders the ship to the Neutral Zone, as several Federation outposts near the edges of the zone have not responded to communications. He explains that the conference was about the potential threat of the Romulans, who haven’t been seen for decades. As Data and Dr. Crusher work to thaw the cryonically preserved humans, Picard admonishes Data for bringing them aboard during a crucial time. Picard and puts Riker in charge of looking after them.

Data: [on the Human female] Her name is Clare Raymond. Age: 35. Occupation: homemaker. Must be some kind of construction work.

The survivors—Claire Raymond (Gracie Harrison), a housewife; Ralph Offenhouse (Peter Mark Richman), a financier; and L. Q. “Sonny” Clemmons (Leon Rippy), a musician—are from the late 20th c. They all died of incurable illnesses and were placed in cryonic suspension after their deaths in the hope that cures might be found in the future. Dr. Crusher easily cures them of their illnesses. They have to cope w/ the culture shock of awakening in a distant future with the realization that everything they knew and had are now gone. Clemmons seems to fare the best and befriends Data. Claire is distraught at the thought of losing her children, so Troi suggests searching for her descendants. Offenhouse is irritated by the lack of access to news or other information; he uses the comm unit to disturb Picard on the bridge. Picard assures everyone that all questions will be answered, but that the ship’s mission requires his full attention.

Picard: This is the 24th century. Material needs no longer exist.

Ralph Offenhouse: Then what’s the challenge?

Picard: The challenge, Mr. Offenhouse, is to improve yourself. To enrich yourself. Enjoy it.

The Enterprise reaches the Neutral Zone and confirms that the outposts have been destroyed. They are soon met by a Romulan Warbird; Cmdr. Tebok (Marc Alaimo) questions why the Enterprise has approached the zone. As Picard tries to explain his actions, Offenhouse arrives on the bridge and threatens to disrupt the tense situation, though he correctly guesses that the Romulans are also seeking answers. Picard and the Romulans agree to pool their resources to discover the culprit. Picard later comments that while the encounter went favorably, the Romulans may be a significant threat in future engagements. Picard arranges to transport the 20th-century humans to Earth.

Commander Tebok: Your presence is not wanted. Do you understand my meaning, Captain? We… are back!

[The Warbird departs]

Picard: I think our lives just became a lot more complicated.

This ep introduced the redesigned Romulans, w/ prosthetic forehead pieces (designed by makeup supervisor Michael Westmore). This also the the first appearance of the Romulan Warbird (created by designer Andrew Probert). Due to the impending WGA strike, writer/co-EP Maurice Hurley developed the teleplay in a day and a half from fan fiction by Deborah McIntyre and Mona Clee. Due to the WGA strike, certain story ideas were removed from the plot incl. the first appearance of the Borg, which was delayed until the S2 ep “Q Who.” “The Neutral Zone” was originally intended to be the first of a 2-part episode, but due to the strike there wasn’t enough time to write the second part and so the story was shortened.

In the writers and directors’ guide for the series, written by Roddenberry prior to the first season, Romulans were covered by one of the main writing rules: “No stories about warfare with Klingons and Romulans and no stories with Vulcans. We are determined not to copy ourselves and believe there must be other interesting aliens in a galaxy filled with billions of stars and planets.” Following the failure of the Ferengi as the main villains of TNG by the producers, the Romulans became the main villains during the early years of the series (besides the Borg).