Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 36 (The Dauphin)

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

It’s a shame to see an episode like this right after the previous episode. “The Measure of a Man” was such a great episode on all counts. This one, however, was probably one of the worst among a season that I felt was probably the worst out of the seven that The Next Generation ran. “The Dauphin” starts with the Enterprise picking up Salia and Anya on Daled IV. Salia is to be the ruler of a planet in turmoil; two sides are warring and Salia is supposed to bring peace. (Even Salia doesn’t know how this is to happen.) Anya is her caretaker, having raised Salia to the age of 16. Both have lived in isolation, fearing that someone might try to harm Salia.

Shortly after coming aboard the Enterprise, Salia meets Wesley Crusher. Every Next Generation fan knows and loathes this name. He’s another 16-year-old who always manages to save the day if some technical problem is involved. Early on in the series, Wesley Crusher was established as a boy genius. (His mother is Dr. Beverly Crusher, who was the ship’s chief medical officer during the first season. Fortunately, she’d return after the end of the second season and remain throughout the remainder of the series.)

Salia and Wesley are attracted to each other. Salia, not having met anyone outside of Anya, wants to get to know more about him. Wesley, rarely having noticed anything outside of engineering all his life, literally doesn’t know what to do with himself. The entire episode, Salia tries to sneak out from under Anya’s protective eye and Wesley asks for advice from various people on the ship. (The scene with Worf, a Klingon, is rather revealing of Klingon culture.)

Ultimately, both feel trapped, although Salia is trapped more in the literal sense. She is bound by duty to lead her people and Anya isn’t going to let anything happen to her. Salia is trapped both by duty and by physical restraint at one point. (A shield is put up in her room so that she can’t leave.) Wesley knows that this is a woman that he can never have. At one point, he is asked by Captain Picard not to see her.

Eventually, Salia is brought to where she has to be and is beamed down without Wesley. I don’t recall ever hearing of her again in the series, so I don’t know if she ever figured out what she had to do to save her planet. It would have been nice to know how it turned out.

At least we get to see that Wesley isn’t perfect. For once, he has to ask for help. The acting by the central actors was good; you really got the impression that you were dealing with 16-year-olds that were attracted to each other. The only weak point was Diana Muldaur as Dr. Pulaski. She was seen briefly and between her acting and the character, she just doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the show.

Also, the special effects were lacking in this episode. Both Salia and Anya are revealed to be shape shifters; the effect used when they morph is sub par for The Next Generation. Fortunately, the powers that be seemed to use shots that didn’t require the effects every time.

If you’re buying the episodes on tape, I have to agree with the other reviewers on Epinions: Don’t waste your hard-earned money on this one. This episode typifies what I didn’t like about the second season. 


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