Monday, March 13, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 57 (The Vengance Factor)

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

Warning:  I’m going to give away major details including the ending.  If you’re not into that, you might want to stop reading.

There were a lot of episodes of the various Star Trek series that I could tell had some sort of point.  It was showing the horrors of war or how ridiculous racism was.  Some seemed kind of pointless.  They seemed to be little more than filler.  They may have moved some of the characters along, but weren’t that memorable.  “The Vengeance Factor” is somewhere in between.  I get what they’re trying to say, but I’m not really sure why.  It was one of those sort of memorable episodes that you don’t remember much about until you start watching it again.  Then you remember why you didn’t remember.

The story goes that a Federation outpost has been attacked.  Blood analysis shows that it has to have been Acamarians who attacked.  The Enterprise is off to Acamar III, where they’re told that it was The Gatherers.  You see, a century ago, Acamar was very tribal.  Most of the tribes made peace, but some tribes wanted none of that.  They decided to leave the planet. And live off of whatever they could steal…er…gather.

Captain Picard is able to get the Acmarian leader, Sovereign Marouk, to talk to the Gatherers.  At first, they seem resistant.  They’re sort of a wild bunch, doing as they please and answering to no one.  One may be persuaded to listen to reason, though.  Of course, it’s not that simple.  One of Marouk’s assistants, Yuta, kills one of the Gatherers.  It looks like a heart attack, but Dr. Crusher realizes that it’s the work of a biological agent that is too coordinated to be random.

After doing a little research, Yuta is discovered.  It turns out that she had some genetic modifications made so that she could take out the remaining members of a clan that all but wiped out her clan.  Riker makes several attempts to keep her from killing the Gatherer leader.  Unfortunately, he has to kill her to stop her.  This leads the Gatherers to rejoin Acamarian society.

Part of the episode’s weirdness is that it didn’t seem to present like a morality play.  You didn’t seem to have a clear-cut presentation of something you’re not to do.  Yes, the Gatherers are these biker rejects that steal, but we don’t really get into how it’s wrong or if they’re justified.  We have this vengeance story, but that’s not really played up, either.  In the end, we see Riker upset that he had to kill someone, but did he really?  No attempt was made to restrain her, despite there being several people that could have done so.  Yuta could have been beamed up to a holding cell.  Her death was unnecessary.

I don’t really get the sense of learning anything about a culture or feeling anything about the characters.  We don’t add anything to the mythology   It’s another race (and another episode) that will fade off into the background.  I’d say to watch it if you get it streaming, but you could very easily skip this episode and not miss anything.  Had it not been produced, I don’t think there would have been any effect on subsequent episodes.  In the end, I’d say skip it unless you’re a die-hard fan. 

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