Sunday, May 14, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 120 (Cost of Living)

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

The start of this episode is somewhat confusing. All we see is the Enterprise destroying an asteroid just in time to save a planet. That’s it. After the theme, Worf and Alexander are in Counselor Deanna Troi’s office. The Klingon father and son are still arguing. Alexander is finally following Worf’s instructions, but is trying to get around them by arguing the letter of the instructions. Troi advises them to come up with a contract about what is expected by each from the other.

This scene is a set-up for the arrival of Deanna Troi’s mother, Lwaxana Troi. Lwaxana Troi, an ambassador from Betazed, tends to be the opposite of her daughter. She’s very free where Deanna tends to be disciplined. In other words Lwaxana and Alexander become fast friends leaving Deanna and Worf to try and rein them in. It turns out that the Enterprise is escorting Lwaxana to marry her future husband, who she has never even met and knows nothing about outside of a personality profile.

Soon, the Enterprise starts experiencing trouble. First, it’s the replicators. (When Lwaxana Troi asks for tea, she gets a cup filled with sausage.) Then, other systems start to fail. The crew traces the problems back to a parasite that apparently came from the asteroid that they destroyed. The parasite is feeding on a metal that is common to many of the ship’s components.

That basically sums up the three story lines that are present in the show: the conflict between Worf and Alexander, Lwaxana’s marriage and the problem with the parasites. The parasites are given a new home in an asteroid belt that has more than enough of the compound that they like. Lwaxana ends up not marrying the man that she had intended to, mostly due to personality differences that weren’t captured in the profile. As for Worf and Alexander, they go on to have other differences of opinion. However, the Enterprise is safe from trouble.

This is another one of those episodes where you have to have watched the show to fully understand. For instance, Lwaxana Troi is a force to be reckoned with. She usually knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to say so or simply go after it. Also, it seems that Worf and Alexander are always arguing. It isn’t until much later (after Worf transfers to Deep Space Nine) that they start to agree on anything. You’d really have to have seen a lot of the series to understand the entire history between Worf and Alexander and between Deanna and Lwaxana.

There are two things that I found odd about the episode. First, there’s a scene where Data opens the turbolift doors. The turbolift is the Enterprise’s elevator system. Most elevators have two sets of doors. One is the interior set, which is attached to the elevator carriage. The other set is the exterior set, which is attached to the walls that border the shaft and the hallway or room where the elevator exits. Data really should have had to open two sets of doors, but it looks like he only opens one.

The other odd thing had to do with the parasites. Why is it that getting rid of the parasites seemed to return all systems to normal? Granted, it was stated that repairs had to be made, but the lights shouldn’t have gone from flickering to full power. Maybe it’s just me.

Both of these points are minor and easy to overlook. I wouldn’t recommend this episode to someone who’s new to the series, but it’s definitely something to look forward to if you intend on watching the entire series. 

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