Thursday, November 10, 2016

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 21 (The Arsenal of Freedom)

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

The U.S.S. Enterprise is looking for another ship, the U.S.S. Drake. The come across a planet called Minos, where the ship is likely to have last been. As they're assessing the planet, which seems to be devoid of animal life, they receive a hail. The hail is from an automated holographic salesman trying to pitch a weapons system. When a landing party beams down, they come under attack from a drone. The drone’s easily destroyed, but the landing party is on edge.

To make things more interesting, Commander Riker meets Captain Rice, who commanded the Drake. Riker soon figures out that what appears to be Rice is nothing more than a holographic projection designed to pump Riker for information. Another drone appears and is more difficult to destroy. Shortly after beaming down, another drone attacks the ship. It’s now apparent what happened to the Drake.

Also, with the shields up, those on the surface can’t be brought back up. The shields would have to be dropped, which would leave the ship vulnerable to attack. Geordi La Forge, who was left in charge of the ship, decides to evacuate rather than get pummeled by the drone. Chief Engineer Logan, who technically outranks La Forge, wants to take command, but La Forge won’t relinquish it.

In the end, Picard has to say that he’ll buy the system in order to get the demonstration to stop. That still leaves La Forge to deal with the drone in space. He’s able to send most of the people on the ship to safety with Logan in charge of that task. He then figures out a way to destroy the drone and beam back the people on the surface.

There are several things that I don’t get about this episode. First, Logan is the Chief Engineer of the week. Until La Forge takes over, I don’t think that one person ever played the chief engineer more than once.

Speaking of the chief engineer, Troi technically outranks both La Forge and Logan. I believe that it was established in the pilot episode or shortly thereafter that Troi holds the rank of lieutenant commander. She could have assumed control and maintained order. It’s too bad that the writers didn’t think of this.

The entire episode was about defending against the automated system. Those drones could have really hurt someone. They were attacking the landing party and even encased Riker in force field. For some reason, the entire thing seemed like filler. It was all action, but no real substance or plot. It’s enjoyable, but I don’t think that it would have much replay value. Watch it if it comes on TV or if you get it as part of the first-season set, but I can’t recommend buying the VHS tape of the episode.

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