Monday, March 13, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 51 (The Survivors)

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

WARNING:  I’m going to give away major details of the plot.  If you don’t like spoilers, now’s the time to stop reading.

Star Trek: The Next Generation had 178 episodes.  That’s a solid five and a half days with the commercials removed.  I remember most of the episodes, having seen them during the original run from 1987-1994.  There are a few that I don’t remember as well as others.  One of those was Episode 51, “Survivors“.

The episode gets its name from the fact that only two people survived an attack on a colony of approximately 11,000.  What’s particularly odd is that their entire property remains intact, despite the rest of the planet being stripped bare.  This one plot is the only place to have any trees, grass or buildings.  The two survivors, Kevin and Rishon Uxbridge, claim to have no idea why they were spared.  They did nothing to aid the enemy.  Kevin Uxbridge says that he refused to fight the aliens.  He points out that as the aliens never beamed down, there’s no reason to assume that they’d know that he didn‘t fight.  Meanwhile, the empathic Counselor Deanna Troi starts hearing music from a music box on the planet surface.  (She’s in her quarters, so doesn’t realize where it’s coming from.)

The away team offers them a chance to pack their belongings, but the Uxbridges refuse.  This is their home and they’re staying, regardless of the fact that nothing is left.  (Even the ground water is contaminated.)  This seems odd.  However, a mystery ship arrives and leads the Enterprise away.  When the Enterprise returns, the Uxbridges are surprised to see the away team, but the couple still refuses to leave.  So, the mystery ship returns and chases the Enterprise away.

The couple is again surprised to see an away team beam down.  Captain Picard tells the couple that the only way he’s leaving is if the Uxbridges are dead.  So, the mystery ship comes back and destroys the Uxbridges’ home.  When the Enterprise attacks the ship, it’s easily destroyed, leaving the crew of the Enterprise to assume that there’s nothing left to protect.

The thing is that Captain Picard was on to them the entire time.  He takes the ship out a little bit and waits a few hours.  Wouldn’t you know it?  The house reappears.  Picard has the couple beamed to the bridge where he calls shenanigans on Kevin Uxbridge.  He admits to everything.  The planet was destroyed, along with Rishon, by a race called the Husnock.  Kevin is a member of a race called the Douwd.  He took human form and fell in love with Rishon.  His race believes in nonviolence, but he destroyed the attacking race in a fit of rage -- all of 50 billion them.  Not really knowing how to punish him, Picard leaves Kevin Uxbridge to live out his days with the memory of Rishon.

Now, here’s why I had to reveal the entire plot to go in to the episode.  I get why he brought back Rishon.  He loved the woman and wants to be with her.  However, why not bring back more of the colony?  Ok.  I get that it may take a lot of energy to create the house, but you’d think it would get a little boring.  You’d want some neighbors to keep you company.  I also don’t think they’d want to look out on land stripped of everything an be reminded of what happened.  If he can create an entire ship to deal with the Enterprise, he could do a little better than just one plot.

Also, I get that he’s a pacifist, but you’d think he could have done a little more to chase off the Husnock.  He had no problem creating a ship to fire on the Enterprise.  Couldn’t he have done the same to the attacking ship?  I find it hard to believe he did nothing to protect himself, his wife or the 11,000 other people on the planet.

The one thing that I find just a little strange is that Captain Picard is so willing to leave Kevin on the planet after he admits to essentially committing genocide.  Kevin Uxbridge is explicit in stating that he killed all 50 billion Husnock everywhere.  All of them.  Yes, I feel sorry for the guy.  He lost his wife of 53 years.  Yes, I realize that there’s probably not much Picard can do.  How do you explain to a judge that this guy just reached out and snuffed 50 billion living beings with his mind?

This is one of those episodes I don’t remember liking or even disliking when it first came on.  We’re introduced to two species that are never mentioned again.  We’re introduced to two characters that are never mentioned again.  The only reason I even remembered Kevin Uxbridge’s name was that the character was used for the Star Trek collectible card game.

Since I’m technically reviewing the VHS tape, I’m going to recommend against buying this episode.  It’s not really worth buying separately, even if you have a VCR and can get it cheap.  Instead, I’d recommend saving your money for the season-three DVD set.  (I was able to watch this streaming on Netflix, so that’s also an option.) 

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