Friday, March 24, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 80 (Legacy)

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

When Star Trek: The Next Generation first aired, I didn’t really start watching it regularly until the second or third season.  As a result, I missed out on certain things.  For instance, I didn’t see much of Tasha Yar, who died in the first season.  When the fourth-season episode “Legacy” aired, I was a little lost.  I knew who the character was, as I had seen some of the first-season episodes in reruns and whatnot, but there was a certain element that was lost to me.  On more-recent viewing, I’ve been able to pick up on more.

The story goes that a freighter is badly damaged while in orbit of Turkana IV, a former Federation colony that broke off relations over a decade ago.  This happens to be where Tasha Yar grew up.  Yar didn’t describe it as a happy place.  She was eager to get out of there.  She didn’t talk much about it except to say that it was horrible.  According to what information the Enterprise has, any Federation trespassers will be killed on site.  The Enterprise arrives just in time to see the freighter blow up, but there are two ion trails, indicating escape pods.

An away team is sent down to the surface, where they find that things aren’t that bad.  It doesn’t look like a vacation resort, but no one seems to pay them much attention until an alarm goes off.  They follow the group that happens to have set up the alarm back to Coalition territory to meet Hayne.  He explains that they sent a team into Alliance territory to steal some artificial alcohol.  Each side has a chip that prevents either side from doing serious damage, so it’s come down to minor skirmishes.

When Riker tells Hayne about the freighter crew, Hayne offers his help…for a price.  Riker doesn’t like the idea of giving weapons to Hayne, but Hayne claims that he’s just keeping the peace.  (The Alliance just found a stash of weapons.)  Before leaving, Riker mentions something about a former crewmember growing up in Turkana IV.  As it turns out, Hayne manages to find Tasha’s sister, Ishara, despite the fact that they shouldn’t have access to Starfleet records.

Hayne dangles Ishara in front of the crew and says that he’s decided to help them out of the goodness of his heart.  After all, he wouldn’t want the Enterprise giving his enemies even more weapons.  Everyone knows that Hayne is likely trying to pull one over on them, but they agree to go along with it.  It’s not like they have much of a choice.  Well, Ishara plays the crew.  It turns out that she wants to gain access to a reactor so that she can blow it up and allow thousands of Coalition troops in.  In the end, she’s left on Turkana IV, her plan having failed.

Several things bother me.  First, why can’t we have an episode where someone is genuinely trying to get out of a bad situation rather than trying to play someone?  Tasha got out.  Is it so hard to believe that Ishara might want to?  Also, I remember wondering why they’d send her back down having taken out the implant that alerts the other side to her presence.  Sure, she might not be able to get to the same reactor, but it does present an advantage.  (I always assumed that another would be put in when she returned or that perhaps the Enterprise did it without anyone saying anything.)

It does strike me as odd that the crew was so easily fooled, especially considering that their empathic crewmember points out that they’re lying, even if she’s not sure what about.  Then again, Ishara spends most of her time with Data, who, as an android struggling to understand human emotion, is the easiest to fool.  Data even visits Commander Riker at the end of the episode to discuss why people bother trusting at all.  Yes, you can get hurt, but there are good things about trusting.

Also, this is the sister of a dead crewmember.  Most of the crew mention that Tasha said nothing of having a sister.  I suspect that this was nothing more than a plot device to get a Coalition operative on the ship.  Beth Toussaint (Ishara) looks enough like Denise Crosby (Tasha) that you wouldn’t question that Tasha and Ishara are sisters.  It’s natural that people wouldn’t question her.  I’d think that the entire point of using Ishara is to play on that bond.   I’m not sure I’d act any differently in that situation.

On a side note, it’s funny how the two factions are The Alliance and The Coalition.  I’ve found it odd that shows so often use generic names like that.  I guess if you don’t plan on revisiting the planet, there’s no point in coming up with anything complicated.  After all, how many charitable organizations are little more than “Alliance for Something” or “Coalition to End Specific Disease”?  Still, I’d expect some modifier, like Northern Alliance and Southern Coalition.

Overall, it’s a passable episode.  I’m kind of on the border as to whether or not to recommend the episode.  Technically, I’m reviewing the episode on VHS tape.  In this case, I’ll have to recommend against buying the actual tape, but it’s worth watching if you get the DVD set or have streaming through Netflix. 

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