Thursday, November 10, 2016

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 18 (When the Bough Breaks)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Throughout the original series, it was only ships that cloaked. During the first season of The Next Generation, we were shown a race that can make an entire planet invisible. The Enterprise is led to a location in space that seems empty until a planet appears. It turns out to be Aldea, a myth not unlike Atlantis. It’s the stuff of legends; it’s supposedly out there somewhere.

The Aldeans have a proposition for the Enterprise. They want the ship’s children and they’re willing to give up a considerable amount of information for it. They’ve become sterile over the millennia and they need the children to carry on their heritage. Picard won’t hear of it. He tells the Aldeans that the children are too valuable to their respective parents. Seeing that negotiation won’t work, the Aldeans simply take about a half dozen children and restate their offer.

When that doesn’t work, they push the Enterprise so far away that it takes them three days to get back. On the way back, the crew tries to find a way to get through the planet’s defenses. Once back, Captain Picard stalls long enough to allow Commander Riker and Lieutenant Commander Data to beam down and mess with the planet’s computers. Eventually, when the leader of the Aldeans realizes the game is up, he submits to Picard. By then, Dr. Crusher has had a chance to figure out what’s wrong with the Aldeans and has an idea for a cure. The children get to go home and the Aldeans have a cure, but can’t use the cloaking device or their shields any more.

The plot was seemed very weak. I don’t know if this was due to poor writing or simply time constraints. I think it has to due more with poor writing. The first thing I want to know is how the Aldeans can hurl a shop away, but never thought to look for a cure for sterility. Granted, they depended on a computer and its possible that whoever created the computer never foresaw the need for medical information. If this is so, why didn’t the Aldeans ask for the Enterprise’s help? It was obvious that Picard didn’t like the idea of giving up any children. (Picard could have insisted on helping to find a cure for the sterility.)

Also, why did the Aldeans kidnap so few children? You’d think that they’d want a bigger genetic base. It’s possible that there weren’t enough Aldeans left to care for a large population. (It was never stated how many were actually left, but there didn’t seem to be that many.) It’s also possible that the Enterprise didn’t have that many children onboard, but I doubt it. It’s been stated that there are about 1,000 people on the Enterprise. This isn’t all crew. There have to be more than six or seven children on the ship. The only thing that I can think of is that there were other groups of Aldeans and that other children were taken and sent to these groups and simply not talked about.

Speaking of which, why just the children? Why not just abduct everyone? The only thing I can think of is that it gives Wesley Crusher his first real ‘command’ situation. He is said to be something special and has great potential. However, I would still think that the writers could have done better.

The episode isn’t worth more than two stars. The acting is great and the set-up for Wesley’s development is there, but the plot seems too artificial and basic. It just doesn’t seem right. 

No comments :