Sunday, May 14, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 115 (Power Play)

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

The Enterprise encounters a distress call that's apparently been transmitting for over 200 years. They're able to identify the ship and realize that it must have crashed there. The bad news is that it's on a planet that couldn't possibly support humanoid life, so Captain Picard is ready to make a note in the history books and leave it at that. However, Deanna Troi, the ship's empathic counselor, senses life on the planet and a lot of it. Troi, Commander Riker and Lieutenant Commander Data take a shuttle down. Unfortunately, the shuttle crashes, leaving Riker with a broken arm. Transporter Chief O'Brien is able to beam down with a pattern enhancer and rescue his crewmates. Before they can beam up, all four are knocked unconscious; three of them have a small blue energy sphere enter their bodies. (One approaches Riker, but turns away at the last moment.) Riker is able to activate the last of the pattern enhancers and the ship is able to beam them up.

With the exception of Riker's broken arm, all four of them check out in sickbay. They all return to active duty. Shortly after arriving on the bridge, Troi, Data and O'Brien try to take over the ship. Riker sits in his normal seat the entire time. It's apparent that three of the people beamed up have been taken over. (Checking the transporter logs confirms this. The only hypothesis as to why Riker wasn't taken over is that his broken arm provided some sort of protection.)

The entities that have taken over the crewmembers have access to their respective hosts' memories and talents making it easy for them to mess with the ship. O'Brien's entity is able to raise shields and put the transporter in a diagnostic mode, making it impossible for anyone to beam them off the ship. Troi's entity has access to her empathic abilities. Data's entity has Data's superhuman power and resistance to most things that would kill or injure a human.

The three entities claim to be survivors from the shipwreck; they are the crew's spirits, separated from the bodies miraculously. Troi's entity claims to be the captain and is able to give Picard information that a captain would know. The entities want the ship moved over the southern polar region so that their remains can be beamed up and properly buried. It turns out that they are actually criminals deliberately left there as punishment. (At leas one of the entities must have been able to access the memories of the shipwrecked crew.) The plan is to beam up the others so that they might be able to use the bodies of the rest of the crew, or at least use the ship to go to some other planet.

"Power Play" isn't an exceptional episode, especially since we had another take-over attempt in the previous episode. (It seems like I was just saying that The Enterprise had this really creative way of taking over a ship and here they go using a more conventional method. Granted, there are unconventional aspects to it, but still…) It's also one of the more violent episodes. Upon entering 10-Forward, the possessed crewmembers open fire and injure five people. It looks like they just want to lay waste to the entire room.

The episode was more of an opportunity for the three actors to act a little differently. Brent Spiner's role as Data was probably the biggest change of character. He had played the part of Lore, Data's evil ‘twin', but Lore was condescending. Data's possessor was more maniacal. It was a much bigger departure. The sad part is that once the entities leave their respective hosts, Troi is the only one to make mention of what it was like. O'Brien and his wife talk about it a little and Data merely apologizes to Worf for his behavior. Apparently, Data was aware of what happened, but made no mention of wanting to learn from it or forget about it. No matter how negative experience, Data could have used it to his advantage in his quest to learn what it is to be human.

Those that don't watch the show regularly might be a little lost. If you're willing to put aside any questions that you might have, you should be able to enjoy it. The story relies a lot on stuff presented in the episode. However, I think that regular viewers will get more out of it.

On the whole, it was a disappointing episode. The alien entities seemed to give up too easily. Once they had been stopped, they just left their hosts and allowed themselves to be beamed back down to the planet. (Then again, Picard was threatening to blow them out of a shuttle bay door if they didn't.) It just seemed too easy after all that work. 

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