Monday, March 13, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 49 (Ensigns of Command)

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

The Sheliac don’t think too highly of humans. Still, they give the Federation time to transport a group of humans off of a planet of theirs.  The thing is that it isn’t capable of supporting normal human life. The Enterprise goes there to find that there are, indeed, humans living on the planet. Data, an android, is the only one on the ship capable of surviving on the surface. He has days to convince the inhabitants to leave or be killed by the Sheliac.

The humans are the descendants of colonists that were bound for another planet, but crashed before they got there. It took a while, but the colonists figured out how to survive and set up a city. Their leader doesn’t want to leave, convinced that they can fight. Data tells them that the Sheliac are far superior and will probably destroy them if they don’t leave.

As if that’s not bad enough, the transporters don’t work given the presence of the radiation. Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge, Transporter Chief Miles O’Brien and Wesley Crusher are assigned to the problem, but can’t come up with a solution.

The only thing left to do is to call in a dedicated transport ship with enough shuttlecraft to bring everyone up, but it will be several weeks before one is available. Fortunately, Captain Picard is able to find a way to delay the Sheliac and Data is able to convince the people that they’re no match for the Sheliac.

It’s an interesting episode, but there are a few problems. First, When O’Brien and La Forge are transporting a test object, the Enterprise has to leave orbit. They still manage to transport test objects. Where are they sending them? While they were in orbit, it would have been very easy to find some remote spot on the planet to beam something down. That would have very easily simulated the radiation because it was present in the same levels as anywhere else in the area. After the ship broke orbit, they would have had to presumably beam the test objects to somewhere else on the ship. I don’t recall any mention of setting up a way to simulate the conditions that existed on the planet.

Also, I hate it when people get belligerent when they’re in a difficult situation. Granted, the people on the planet were being asked to leave their homes, but why does it take so much effort to convince them that the Sheliac will destroy them? It’s bad enough that they have to wait for a transport ship.

The good news is that Dr. Crusher is back. A lot of people didn’t like Dr. Pulaski. This episode and the next aired out of order, making “Evolution” the season premier. Not much was said about the return of Crusher and I don’t think anything was ever said about Pulaski’s departure. (I think in the rest of the series, Pulaski’s name was mentioned once.)

I’d give the episode four stars, but I can’t recommend actually buying it. I’d recommend renting it, instead. As good as the episode was, it doesn’t really hold up on repeated viewings. “Ensigns of Command” was another title that I didn’t understand. There’s got to be some reference that I’m missing. If you know what it means, please leave a comment. 

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