Sunday, August 06, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 145 (Lessons)

Throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation, it’s been said that Captain Picard is a very private man.  I suppose you have to.  As captain, he doesn’t have the luxury of getting too close to his crew.  He seems to do things, like attend plays or fence.  He was best friends with Jack Crusher, late husband or Dr. Beverly Crusher.  A romance between the two seemed off limits.  Suddenly, along comes Lt. Cmdr. Nella Daren.  She’s intelligent.  She’s attractive.  She even shares a few interests with the captain, such as music.

In fact, it’s after a concert that the two hit it off.  Pretty soon, they’re spending a lot of time alone.  Before they know it, everyone has noticed that they’re together.  It’s not hard to miss, as Picard is much happier.  In one scene, Picard is more playful with Commander Riker.  Riker isn’t quite sure how to handle himself in the scene.

Unfortunately, that starts to become the norm.  Daren is in charge of stellar cartography, meaning she has to run requests through Riker.  Many are legitimate requests, but he doesn’t want to appear to be doing favors.  On the other hand, does he necessarily deny her simply to save face?  Picard tells Riker to simply do his job.  It doesn’t take a regular Trek viewer to see where this is going.

The Enterprise is called to evacuate a planet facing severe weather.  Holding off danger requires several teams to beam down to the planet and Daren has to be one of those people.  She’s the most qualified to pull it off, so it only makes sense to send her to the planet.  She and a few others are forced to ride out the storm, putting Picard in the position of having to worry about her.

She doesn’t die, but it forces them to reevaluate their relationship.  They basically have two options.  One of them can resign and follow the other around or one of them can transfer and settle for a long-distance relationship.  Neither is willing to resign, so Daren agrees to transfer.

I’ve always hated stories that were fated to last one episode.  Crusher has a relationship with a character that leaves that same episode.  Come to think of it, Worf is the only main character to have a love interest return for a second episode.  True, Geordi La Forge fell for Leah Brahams, but the first time was a holographic version of her.  The real Leah Brahms shut it down pretty quickly.  The point is that Daren is going to leave by the end of the episode.  I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by revealing that.  The shame is that she’s never mentioned again.

It’s also kind of sudden to have Picard in a relationship that lasts only one episode.  If Daren had appeared in previous episodes, we could have a more-natural buildup.  Five seasons of nothing only to have a love interest drop by late in the sixth season.  Then, we’re thrown back to Picard not having much of anything.  He does show interest in Dr. Crusher in the seventh season, which makes me wonder if this was a way to build up to that.

On that note, I have to ask:  Am I the only person who notices a striking resemblance between Nella Daren and Beverly Crusher?  I think even Crusher noticed it.  In one scene, Crusher is treating Daren and has to restrain herself, lest her jealousy show.  It’s possible that this was a way of testing to see if a Picard/Crusher relationship would work without risking any awkwardness.  It’s also possible that it’s a coincidence or that I’m imagining things.  Seriously, though.  Has no one else noticed this?

Complaints aside, it is a good episode.  It was nice to see Picard get some romantic attention.  It seems like he’s the last bridge officer to have that.  (La Forge had become a running joke in that he couldn’t get a date to save his life, but at least he made attempts.)  It’s definitely worth watching.

IMDb page

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