Sunday, May 14, 2017

Star Trek The Next Generation - Episode 105 (Disaster)

One of the complaints with Star Trek: The Next Generation was how often technology failed.  It was bad enough to have the captain trapped in a holodeck, but it would also happen right when he was needed for a key moment in a mission.  Here, the Enterprise is hit by something that causes the systems to go off line and the ship to compartmentalize.  Counselor Troi is trapped on the bridge with Ensign Ro and Chief O’Brien.  The bridge officer in command is dead, leaving Troi in charge.

Meanwhile, Chief O’Brien’s wife, Keiko is stuck in Ten-Forward with Worf, Riker and Data.  They can’t make it to the bridge, but they could make it to Engineering to regain control of the ship.  They leave Worf with Keiko to tend to the injured, as they’re also cut off from sickbay.

Captain Picard is stuck in a turbo lift with three young children, all of whom had won a science fair.  He was giving them a tour of the ship when the disaster hit.  His ankle is broken, making an escape difficult.  Add to this that Picard doesn’t deal well with children, especially when they’re all assuming the worst.

This leaves Dr. Crusher and Chief Engineer La Forge stuck in a cargo bay.  That doesn’t sound so bad except for the fact that a plasma fire starts, which is emitting enough radiation that it will become a problem if they don’t get out soon.  Add to that the fact that there’s some material in the bay that’s normally stable, but explodes when exposed to enough radiation.

Like most disaster movies/episodes, you have to assume that most, if not all, of the main characters will make it through.  There are several guest characters, but Keiko is the only one in any immediate medical danger, as she goes into early labor.  (She wasn’t due for a few more weeks, if I recall.)  As there’s no enemy for anyone to seek vengeance against later on, we can assume that everyone lives.

Mostly, it’s a matter of growth for several characters.  Picard has to get over dealing with children, which he does.  He even manages to earn their respect.  Similarly, Troi has never been in command before.  It’s revealed that she holds the rank of Lieutenant Commander, but she’s a counselor.  I’ve always gotten the impression that there aren’t even other counselors on board for her to manage.  You‘re maybe wondering where the suspense comes from.  Containment on the antimatter is falling. If it goes below 15%, the ship goes boom.  They have no way of knowing if anyone is in engineering to fix it.

The delivery of Molly O’Brien is played more for comedic effect.  It’s basically all of the jokes of an inexperienced male put on the spot because of an emergency.  Keiko is emotional and yelling at Worf, who has only a holographic simulation to go by.  (You’d think that they would have gone over a few common problems.  Worf has only a minimal idea of what he’s doing.)  When the baby is delivered safely, both are able to laugh about it.

The other two stories seem more like filler.  Data has to risk his life to get Riker past an electrical surge.  They make it to find engineering empty, which is strange.  They don’t even comment on finding dead people.  There should be at least one person there.  Even if there wasn’t, how is it that no one else was able to get there?  I get that the crawlways were blocked off, but you’d think someone else could have made it.  Oh, and remember how the containment on the antimatter couldn‘t go below 15%?  Guess when Riker and Data notice the containment failure.

As for the cargo bay, it’s like the writers needed one more story to round things out. You can’t have La Forge and Crusher just sitting there talking, now.  Can you?  Then again, why do they need two lethal problems to deal with in a way that doesn’t really make any sense?  Other people have pointed out that one panel is used to open the cargo bay door and another is used to shut the door.  For that matter, why not have it set up on a timer or something?  Set it for the longest that Crusher feels they can go without oxygen?

So far as I know, the only thing to come out of this is Troi eventually wanting to take the test to become a commander.  Worf delivering the baby is mentioned a few times.  Other than that, this is basically a throwaway episode.  I think the only thing that the episode was missing was an exclamation point at the end of the title.  (“Disaster!”)  If you’re watching it streaming on Netflix or get the season set, go for it.  If you’re paying by the episode, don’t worry about it.

IMDb page

No comments :