Thursday, July 27, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 134 (A Fistful of Datas)

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

The Enterprise has 48 hours to wait for another ship. During that time, the crew has some time to relax. Picard is playing his flute. Lieutenant Commander Data and Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge want to see if they can use Data as a backup for the ship’s systems in the event of an emergency. (For those that don’t know, Data is an android.) Worf is trying to give himself more work. Picard advises him to take the time off, which he reluctantly does.

Worf goes back to his quarters to tell his son, Alexander, that they will be able to go to the holodeck together. Alexander has this Wild-West program that he wants to try out with his father. Troi shows up a little later. Meanwhile, the experiment with Data seems to be going well until there’s a power surge somewhere in his positronic matrix. He and La Forge have to end the experiment.

That’s where things get interesting. At first, it’s small stuff. Picard is listening to music when the computer suddenly switches the song without acknowledging it. (It turns out that the second song was one that Data was studying.) Commander Riker is reading lines from what he things is a play, but is actually Data’s poetry from a few episodes ago. They also discover that all of the food replicators are only giving out a cat food that Data created. Notice the connection?

Unbeknownst to the rest of the bridge crew, Worf and Troi are stuck in the holodeck. Even they don’t figure it out until various characters take on Data’s appearance and abilities. Also, the mortality failsafe isn’t working. When they try to shut down the program, the computer doesn’t respond. Amazingly, there’s a simple solution. La Forge is able to purge the memory of both Data and the ship’s computer. All Worf, Troi and Alexander have to do is wait it out safely, if they can.

It seems like whenever something goes wrong, there’s usually some other problem that’s made worse by the first problem. In this case, Worf has to face bad guys in the holodeck program. Since his life is at risk, Worf has to figure something out. For some reason, the ship’s malfunctions didn’t really seem that drastic. It was more comedic than anything else. The replicators replicating cat food? I don’t really think of that as life threatening. I suppose that the writers didn’t want to have too many problems at once. It’s bad enough that Worf, Alexander and Troi are at risk.

The best part is the acting. Troi and Worf get to try something new, but Brent Spiner steals the show with five or six characters. Not only does he play Data, but he gets to play the villains in the holodeck, which he did very well.

I feel that the episode is worth four stars. It’s easy to understand for fan and non-fan alike. There is a lot of continuity in this episode. Like I said, we get to see Data’s poetry and Picard was playing the flute he got in Inner Light. Fans will appreciate the continuity, but non-fans will probably think nothing of it.

IMDb page

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