Monday, March 13, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 66 (Allegiance)

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

I started watching Fringe on Netflix.  After watching a few episodes, it occurred to me that I may be able to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation.  As it so happens, they have all seven seasons available.  My next thought was to check to see if there were any episodes that hadn’t been
reviewed.  I found one unreviewed episode: Allegiance.

The episode is from the third season.  The Enterprise has just completed a mission and is on their way to their next assignment.  Captain Picard is in his quarters when he nods off.  We then see some sort of domino-shaped thing hovering above him.  Picard is transported off the ship.  Ship’s sensors pick something up, but when a security detail gets down there, Picard answers his door.  Everything seems to be fine.

The truth is that Picard has been transported to a holding area and replaced with a double.  I’d say, “Let’s see if the crew notices,”, but the double makes it increasingly obvious.  He starts by diverting the ship to a star that has already been studied to death.  He asks the ships counselor, Troi, how far the crew’s trust for him goes.  He also wants the ship’s efficiency to be raised a few percentage points.  He later walks into Ten-Forward, the ships bar/lounge, and toasts the crew.  He sings a song, which further worries the bridge crew.

Meanwhile, the real Picard is trying to figure out why he and several other people have been abducted and held.  He meets a Starfleet cadet and a member of a race that’s submissive to any attacker.  A fourth person, who happens to be an anarchist, arrives later.  They’re given some sort of gelatinous disc that’s supposed to be food, but the anarchist can’t eat it, which poses a potential threat.

When the ship arrives at the star, the fake Picard orders the ship in way to close to be safe.  This is when the bridge crew finally calls him on the act.  Around this time, the real Picard calls his captors on what’s going on.  The real Picard is returned to the ship and the aliens explain that they come from a society that has no real authority.  They want to study people of different societies.  Picard then shows them what it’s like to be held in captivity and tells them to get lost.

I remember watching this episode when it first aired.  I didn’t like it because of how obvious the doppelganger was.  Upon rewatching the episode, my original opinion stands.   The fake Picard goes into sickbay to have a physical to establish that he’s really Picard.  This is, itself, odd since Picard usually needs wild horses to drag him in.  What’s more odd is that his results match the last results perfectly.  From there, he just continues to do things that Picard wouldn’t normally do, which is odd because he has all of Picard’s memories.  If I was going to go through the effort of replacing the captain of a ship, I think it would be easier to have the fake hold off and test this ‘authority’ thing gradually.

Even better, since the aliens can apparently access Picard’s memories and create a replica , why not just interview the replica?  For that matter, couldn’t they access the memories to start with, then decide if a replica is necessary?  It occurred to me that they had to know that the experiment would have to end eventually.  At that pace, it would have to end sooner rather than later.  It’s the same thing with the real Picard.  Eventually, that anarchist was going to get hungry and start eating the other captives.

This is one of those episodes that the more I think about it, the more my head hurts.  Technically, I’m reviewing the episode on VHS.  Since VHS is no longer available new, I doubt anyone will be paying retail for this.  Instead, you’ll probably be buying it as part of the third-season DVD set or watching it through a streaming service like I did.  Those are the only conditions under which I’d recommend watching the episode.  Don’t waste your time or money getting just this episode.

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