Sunday, May 14, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 122 (Imaginary Friend)

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

It’s amazing how often the Enterprise finds trouble. Occasionally, trouble finds the Enterprise, but the Enterprise is usually putting itself in harm’s way. In this case, the Enterprise is exploring a strange part of the galaxy. Some mysterious energy-based life form comes on board and starts scanning equipment and crew members. It comes across Clara, a child who’s working in the ship’s arboretum. The life form scans her and finds Isabella, Clara’s imaginary friend. (Clara’s developed an imaginary friend as a result of her father, an ensign in Starfleet, moving around a lot.) The life form takes on the appearance of Isabella to interact with Clara. She seems surprised to actually see Isabella at first, but eventually accepts it.

Isabella prods Clara to do things that she shouldn’t do in hopes of finding out more about the ship. Isabella makes a habit of disappearing when adults are around, the only exception being Worf. (The two literally run into him in one of the ship’s corridors.) Clara finds a lot of resistance from adults, the only exception being Guinan. (Guinan runs Ten-Forward.) When Clara enters, Guinan welcomes her and Isabella.

The ship is experiencing drag, which they can’t explain. Eventually, Chief Science Officer Data and Chief Engineer La Forge find a web that’s normally invisible, but that seems to be reacting to the shields and keeping the ship from moving at the speed that it should be.

It isn’t long before the two stories come together. It turns out that the life form impersonating Isabella is trying to decide if the crew of the Enterprise should live or die. The net is an attempt by others of her species to drain energy from the ship. Eventually, Captain Picard talks to Isabella and the two come to an understanding. Isabella realizes that there’s more to the Federation than what a child sees and Picard decides to release some energy for the life forms to feed on.

The episode primarily seems to deal with life as a military brat. It’s not easy having a parent that moves around every couple of years. Clara’s father even talks to La Forge about it. (Both of La Forge’s parents served in Starfleet.) Troi tells Clara’s father that Isabella will ‘go away’ when Clara makes friends. (Troi and everyone else keep dealing with Isabella as imaginary until Isabella eventually attacks Troi.) Isabella, played by Shay Astar, comes across as very creepy. Isabella had very little apparent emotion, even Clara pointed out that she never smiled. It was a great acting job.

Overall, the episode was good until the end, when it came off as being a little too preachy. It seems like I’ve been using that word about too many episodes, and in such a short period of time, but Picard basically lectures Isabella on why a child’s perspective is skewed and how it isn’t fair to judge the ship’s crew based solely on that.

I have to go with three stars on this one. Had it not been for the ending, I would have gone with four. I think that the writers could have done a little better with it. 


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