Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 154 (Liaisons)

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

First contact is a difficult business. It’s the first impression that a new species has of the Federation and of Starfleet. Lt. Worf is not comfortable with it and Cmdr. Riker has even less to look forward to. All Worf has to do is meet them. Commander Riker has escorting one of the aliens around to look forward to. When Capt. Picard, Riker, Worf and Counselor Troi meet the new species in one of the shuttle bays, we learn that two ambassadors are staying on the ship and the third is taking Picard back to their home world. Much to Worf’s dismay, the ambassador that’s supposed to be with Riker requests that he be with Worf during his stay. Worf wants to argue, but knows better than to go against a senior officer. The ambassador that’s supposed to be with Troi doesn’t seem to mind being paired with her.

The only thing that seems to bother Picard is the long trip to his destination. It’s going to be several days and the pilot doesn’t seem to be in the mood to talk. Before Picard can find something else to do, the shuttle crashes on a planet. The place doesn’t look that good. There are electrical bolts flying everywhere and the surface is barren of anything resembling plant life. To boot, the pilot is severely injured. Picard goes out to look for help, but is injured by one of the electrical bolts. We see Picard being dragged off right before the scene changes to the Enterprise

Troi seems to be getting along well with her ambassador. She’s showing him all of the food that the ship has laid out in a buffet. Worf’s ambassador is very bossy, insisting that Worf bring him food. Worf shows an incredible restraint, but does want to hurt the ambassador. Troi is enjoying the company of her ambassador while Worf is miserable.

Back on the planet, Picard finds himself in a crashed freighter. The only company he has is a human woman that crashed there seven years prior. She hasn’t seen anyone else in all of that time. She tells Picard that the pilot is dead and that the ship seems too badly damaged to be of much use. However, she volunteers to go back to get a communications console from the shuttle. When she returns with it, Picard notices that it’s too badly damaged to be of much use. She accidentally hit it with a phaser and destroyed the power cell.

Things start to come together, both on the ship and on the planet. The ambassador assigned to Worf continues to provoke him and the ambassador assigned to Troi continues to seek desert. Picard slowly comes to realize that the woman he’s with isn’t being truthful. Shortly after she runs out of the freighter, the pilot shows up, not as dead as the woman would have him believe. They both follow her out to a cliff, where they spit up. Picard is the one to find the woman. He then figures out what’s going on.

On the ship, Worf, Riker and Troi find out that the ambassadors are also not telling the whole truth. The ambassadors were sent to learn about different aspects of humanity. The one assigned to Worf was assigned to learn of aggression. The one with Troi was sent to learn of pleasure and indulgence. The pilot that was taking Picard to their planet was also actually an ambassador; his assignment was to learn of love and attraction. He had based the scenario on the logs of a real woman who had actually spent seven years on a planet until an actual man crashed and fell in love with her. (The shuttle wasn’t actually damaged in the crash, so they’re free to leave.)

The two story lines didn’t work that well. There was something about Picard’s situation that didn’t seem legitimate, even on the first watching. It just seemed too odd that Picard would crash on a planet that had a woman on it. Granted, it was based on a real scenario, but what are the odds? It also seemed like someone would come looking for him, especially considering that they knew his flight path. (I do have to wonder why no one came looking for the woman, considering that there were others on that ship.)

There’s also the problem of the two ambassadors onboard the Enterprise. Both of them acted in a way that I wouldn’t consider consistent with ambassadors. One acted goofy and the other acted rudely. I don’t think that these are two people I would choose to represent my species.

The biggest problem I had was that the species had to resort to trickery to learn of the Federation. Why not just open a dialogue like everyone else?

This is a two-star episode. While the acting was good, the story line and script were below par. 

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