Monday, March 13, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 55 (The Enemy)

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

WARNING:  I’m going to give away major details about the episode.  These are the kinds of details that will probably ruin the ending if you haven’t seen it before.  You’ve been warned.

One of the ideals put forth in the Star Trek universe is having a federation of planets where prejudice has either been eliminated or greatly reduced.  Sure, Doctor McCoy may make fun of Spock’s green blood, but it’s all in good fun.  They still work together as part of the same crew.  When The Next Generation came around, one of our enemies were now an ally.  We even had a Klingon serving onboard.  At some point during the intervening 70-80 years, we had made peace.  The Romulans, however, were still out there and were still a threat.

We had a neutral zone in place to act as a buffer.  Neither side could claim it.  Crossing it was considered an act of war.  Imagine the surprise when a crashed ship is discovered to be of Romulan origin.  The ship has had explosives applied to cover up the exact nature of the ship, but there is Romulan writing, plain as day.  Commander Riker, Worf and Geordi La Forge beam down to the surface of Galorndon Core and discover the wreckage and a survivor.  Riker and Worf are able to beam back up, but La Forge is left on the planet after he fell down a hole.  (There are severe storms, preventing the use of the transporter.)

Well, Commander Tomalak also received the same distress call that attracted the Federation.  He tries to send a message to the crew saying that he’ll be there shortly, but the only ones listening are the bridge crew of the Enterprise.  Picard promptly sends back a message, “Um…We don’t think so.  We know you‘re there and to prove it, we‘ll address you by name.”  Tomalak stays on his side of the Neutral Zone waiting for the Enterprise to extract Geordi.  The problem is that the Romulan survivor isn’t doing so well.  He’s dying and, as luck would have it, Worf is the only one that can save him.

You’re probably wondering what the big deal is.  All that’s necessary is a simple blood transfusion.  The problem is that Worf is that one Klingon and Klingons hate Romulans.  For Worf, it’s also personal.  Romulans attacked the outpost where he and his parents were living.  Both of his parents were killed in the attack, leaving Worf to be raised by humans.  The only way that the Romulan is getting the transfusion is if Captain Picard orders him to do so.  Otherwise, it’s sayonara for the Romulan.  (Not that the Romulan wants Worf’s dirty Klingon blood, anyway.)

You’re probably thinking that Worf will have some sort of last-minute change of heart or that he’ll be ordered to give blood.  After all, it’s supposed to be this enlightened era of peace and love for all, even if they are your enemy.  Besides, it wouldn’t look good if a Romulan died on a Federation ship, even if they were the aggressors here.  We can’t have random enemies attacking us, then dying when we could save them.  We have to be better than that.

Nope.  The Romulan dies.

As luck would have it, Geordi’s found another Romulan on the planet.  This one has taken Geordi prisoner, which is a shame.  Geordi has just found a beacon that he can modify to let the ship know that he’s ok.  When the next window opens, it will be that much easier to beam him back up.  Geordi offers to take the Romulan up with him, as the Romulan has no other opportunities and isn’t looking so good.  Geordi can tell all of this because he has prosthesis that allows him to see.  Without it, he’s blind.

Just as Centurion Bochra is about to trust Geordi, the VISOR goes out.  It’s a minor setback.  Bochra is able to convince Geordi that they can put the VISOR and tricorder together to get to the beacon, which they do.  They make it to the beacon and back to the Enterprise.  Bochra goes back to Romulus with Tomalak and Geordi stays on the Enterprise to fight another day.

There were a few things I found odd about the episode.  First, how is it that on a ship filled with about a thousand people, only one is capable of saving the Romulan?  Romulans and Vulcans have a common ancestry.  I believe there are Vulcans on the Enterprise, but a the Romulan has to rely on his sworn enemy.  Yes, it makes for an interesting story and some dramatic tension.  We get to see just how much Worf hates Romulans.  Those are some long odds, though.  Also, the Romulan did refuse.  Why didn’t Worf bring this up?

I also vaguely remember Geordi commenting on his VISOR to the Romulan.  Bochra commented that Romulan parents would not have permitted a blind child to live.  I seem to recall Geordi commenting that the Romulans would have missed out on better vision through technology or something.  It’s possible that my memory is playing tricks on me, but Netflix has 45-minute episodes.  I recall that some stuff has been taken out for subsequent (more commercial-laden) runs.  This is especially true of the original series.  I don’t know to what extent this holds true of The Next Generation.

I don’t think it was directly mentioned what the Romulans were doing so far in to Federation space.  I think the episode was meant to show that the Romulans were doing something and potentially setting up future episodes.  A few episodes later, a Romulan Admiral defects.  (I don’t recall how coincidental this is, but I’ll be rewatching the episode soon.)  Galorndon Core is also mentioned in later episodes, so there is a legacy here.

As with other episodes I’ve reviewed, this is a VHS tape that I’m talking about.  I have seen these on eBay, but you’d really be better off putting your money into the season-three DVD set.  It’s a good episode, but the problem with a TV series is that it’s hard to recommend just one episode.  Right now, I’m also able to watch episodes on Netflix.  If you have access to their streaming service, you may be able to watch the series online.  (Netflix seems to rotate their inventory, so I have no idea if it will be available when you’re reading this.) 

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