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Before I begin, a brief side note: last time I posted, foreverinasmile and I were talking and she graciously listed her 5 favorite episodes, and then asked me the same question. I suddenly realized that aside from "The Inner Light" (which is one of my top 5 science fiction stories EVER, which is why I know the name), I had almost completely forgotten the actual episode titles, but rather, the arresting plots and images that came out of some of my favorites. So, without any further ado, the things I'm looking forward to:

1) Holodeck episodes: Data as Sherlock Holmes and Geordi as Doctor Watson; Picard as a film noir detective.

2) Character development episodes/scenes: Crusher teaching Data to dance for Chief O'Brian's wedding; Data's daughter; poker games; Worf attempting to be a parent to Alexander; Spot, and Data's efforts to learn music; and that one where Picard and Crusher almost but not quite confront their UST because of some crazy alien hostage situation.

3) Crazy images: Cellular peptide cake (with mint frosting!), which is probably the most bonkers episode that stands out in my memory; that one where everyone de-evolves for some reason; Worf delivering Keiko's baby in a turbolift shaft; the Borg (all of the stuff involving the Borg); and the Cardassians (who I will hard pressed not to type up as Kardasians.)

Things I'm not looking forward to include: Barclay and the holodeck (*cringe*); the Cardassians (ugh, just thinking about that torture scene); that one where it turns out Starfleet Command has been infiltrated by mind control aliens and the plot line is never brought up again; that one where everyone is addicted to a stupid game except Wesley and some girl he has a crush on; and more Ferengi nonsense.

Speaking of Ferengi nonsense, let's get to the rewatch stuff, because the Ferengi figure prominently in the first episode! "The Last Outpost" is a really good example of an episode with an excellent first half and a lackluster second half. In the first half, the Ferengi are built up, and in a really fine fashion, too: no one really knows much about them, except they're sort of piratical uber-capitalists whose technology is mostly on par with the Federation's. Troi can't read their thoughts, which is interesting, and I wish had been more of a plot point; however, this does lead to Picard saying, at least twice, that he wishes he knew what they were thinking, so at least there's some second-hand appreciation of what Troi would bring to the table. Because of this doubt, and the situation that the Enterprise is stuck in (both it and the Ferengi ship, which looks like an angry, floating mushroom cap, are caught in an energy-draining beam from the planet below), we get to see more of Picard's leadership in action, and he's a very benevolent elected leader, asking for everyone's opinion, vetoing most ideas without being too much of a stone-cold douchebag about it. (He saves that coldness up for the next episode.) In the end, he goes for the negotiating with the unknown option.

When the Ferengi finally do appear on screen, it's first on the communicator screen on the bridge, and I love how the giant image is falsely familiar; even with all the so-called communication, the Ferengi are still a pretty unknown option, and their negotiation with Picard is tense and weird. Picard convinces them that both ships should send an away team down to search the planet and find out what's happening. When the Ferengi finally appear in reference to Enterprise crew in the second half of the episode, things begin to fall apart. Although they manage to knock out everyone except Yar (who appears, cavalry-like, to fairly dispense with these baddies), the Ferengi aren't really that threatening. They're short, cowardly, and ill-equipped to face real foes with their electric eel-like weapons. As the episode moves on, they start carrying themselves more and more like a Planet of the Apes audition gone wrong. Meanwhile, Riker and the crew square off against the guardian of the planet, an emissary from a long-dead empire who's been looking after the planet's defense system, which is what's draining both ships. Riker gets a Total Badass Moment when he faces the guardian dude in combat and doesn't flinch as the guardian threatens to chop off his shoulder with a naginata/halberd. In the end, it's Sun Tzu for the win on a classic, old-school Trek craphole planet made from props and dry ice. Not the best episode, but not the worst, either. Way better than "Naked Now."

Most awesome moment: I misheard Riker's line to the Guardian as, "The true enemy is beer." Oops, it's fear! Well, both are good.

Worst Moment: One of my most hated parts about the Ferengi is the way they pronounce the word female as "Fee-MAYL" in a tone of voice that 7-year-old boys reserve for boogers and slime. I counted Fee-MAYL five times in this episode, and that was five too many.

So, as a palate cleanser, "Where No One Has Gone Before" presents us with a smarter alien presence, and a much more interesting adversary: distance. An Arrogant Engineer Guy (AEG) and his Mysterious Assistant (MA) come to the Enterprise to "fine tune" its engines, having been successful twice before. Riker and the Chief Engineer are suspicious because the AEG's academic work is apparently jargony gobbledegook that means nothing. But because this is the plot and Star Fleet demands it, AEG and his MA are allowed to tinker with the ship's engines. The MA is so good at this that he takes the ship over 2 million light years away, and then, even farther again, to a place where thought and space become one. This effort is so taxing, though, that it nearly kills the MA, but not before everyone figuring out that the AEG is basically a fraud, and the MA identifying Wesley as Speshul. (More on that later.)

The place where thought becomes form is actually a really gorgeous image: creatures or beings made from tiny lights fly into blue waves as the Enterprise hangs, unmoving in space. It's really quite lovely, and it nicely sets the stage for what comes next: the crew's thoughts become real. Worf sees his beloved childhood pet; Picard tries to have a conversation with his French grandmother. Random crew members freak out over nothing, and Picard chews out one of them for not imagining a solution to imaginary fire quickly enough. (Chill, Jean Luc, this shit is crazy for everyone!)

This leads to Picard's discussion with the dying MA, who reveals himself to be an alien called The Traveller, who trades the use of the engines to get places in the universe in order to learn new things and find important people (Ahem, reminds me of a certain Time Lord, but...) And guess who's important?! Wesley Crusher, our most speshul of snowflakes. This particular plot point is annoying: it would be one thing if it were a revelatory payoff that explained things about a previous series of unanswered questions, but instead it feels false and rail-roady, as if the writers have a megaphone and are standing right next to me yelling, "HE IS SPESHUL AND IMPORTANT OK!" I would have preferred that Picard ask more questions about how the MA did what he did with the engines, or why he allied himself with the AEG, but this was the plot, and there's no arguing now. In the end, the MA dies, or phases out of our dimension, but not before Picard entreats the crew to lend him their mental strength, in a shout-out to Peter Pan (in which the audience is asked to "clap your hands if you believe in fairies!" to save Tinkerbell.) Thank goodness this isn't played for laughs, because it could be super-cheesy and awful. Instead, it's actually kind of sweet, and the relief on everyone's face when they get back to their own position in space is palpable.

Most awesome moment: Some random crew member, whose name we never learn, hallucinates himself into a chamber music ensemble in period clothing. Speaking as someone who imagines herself doing just that, and being magically awesome at the violin, I say PROPS to you, random crew member. He looks so disappointed when they disappear!

Worst moment: Yar references the rape gangs again, and because this is where thoughts become real, we actually sort of see one, although it appears to be dudes with flashlights. UGH. This idea is the worst, and I have no idea why it keeps coming up.

Signs it's THE FUTURE:
* Even though everyone references it, except for the Captain's Log, it appears that no one has to do any paperwork! Hooray!
* Engineering has barstools. Seriously. Hooray?

Signs it's NOT THE FUTURE:
* Aside from ragging on the awful sweater crocheted abomination that Wesley wears in the second episode, I've got nothing. Other than sickbay's bizarre lighting, these episodes manage to stay firmly in future tech territory.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
anagramofbrat
Feb. 1st, 2015 06:38 am (UTC)
lol FEEEEEEmailz. It's pretty common among young black boys/men to refer disparaging to girls/women as females, which drives me absolutely bugshit. I've been trying to break my nephews of the habit by pointing out that they sound like Ferengi and then mock them into shame by calling them "HEW-monz" whenever they do it. It seems to work, at least for a while.

That btw, should explain my Ferengi instagram from a few days ago. :)

Interesting aside, you're doing a rewatch of TNG, meanwhile I've started watching DS9 recently ostensibly as "research" (I'm in a Trek tabletop right now) but also since I've only seen a handful here and there. I don't think I'm up to posting about each episode, but I may do season recaps. So far I've been enjoying it, even though it's pretty obvious that they weren't quite sure where they were going with the show in season 1 and thus are throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. (Thankfully Q is something that didn't - I've been assured that his season 1 appearance is the only one for DS9's entire run.) It will be interesting when I do get to the episodes I have seen and finally be able to see them in context as opposed to randomly.
retsuko
Feb. 1st, 2015 05:15 pm (UTC)
I'd love to read your DS9 season recaps, and I'd completely forgotten that Q made an appearance on that show. I agree with you that the first season or so, the writers weren't sure what was going to happen. Fortunately, once they got their sea legs... er, space legs, it gets pretty dang awesome pretty quickly. :)

And props to you for trying to get your nephews to quit that annoying habit.
digitalemur
Feb. 1st, 2015 11:50 am (UTC)
Yay! We've both been watching TNG! Friday night I went to a friend's house to hang out and she's been rewatching while she's laid up with a broken leg. So we ended up watching "Cause and Effect" just because it's Groundhog Day before there was Groundhog Day, and it's still amazing.

She pointed out that Frakes (who was directing that episode) has a terribly bad back, and that's why Riker did all those weird, vaguely pompous positions where he stands one leg on the base of the conn and helm chairs or whatever and then leans on his knee: he could hold those for many takes without hurting his back.

Then we watched "Darmok," which believe it or not I had NEVER SEEN, and it was just as awesome as I was gathering from everyone else. Then we watched "Time's Arrow" because Data repeatedly claiming to be a Frenchman is always a riot, and Star Trek's love affair with San Francisco on display is always fun.
retsuko
Feb. 1st, 2015 05:16 pm (UTC)
Oh wow! I didn't know that about Frakes--ugh, ouch, that must have been annoying AND painful to deal with.

I cannot wait to get to these episodes. They sound awesome, and I think I've seen them before, but I can't remember, exactly.
foreverinasmile
Feb. 1st, 2015 03:09 pm (UTC)
Yuck, the Ferengi. Did not like them on TNG, and I could never like Quark on DS9. Something about them is slimy and ugh and I could never get into the episodes they were in.

I know that I'm in the minority, but I actually liked Wesley. Hey, I was a preteen watching a show that had one character close to my age. Watching TNG now, I see that he is problematic, and that there are many, many valid reasons why people don't like him. I did. Oh well.

I agree with all the fun things that you said that you were looking forward to, and there are so many other episodes that I really enjoy. It's tough to have a top 5 with this show, and that really speaks to how good it is and how well it holds up over time.
retsuko
Feb. 1st, 2015 05:21 pm (UTC)
I like Wesley, too, and when I was in JHS, I nursed a serious crush on Wil Wheaton, telling no one. Uhm, don't tell anyone! *shifty eyes*

That said, I do think the writers are being overly ham-handed with making him this Chosen One type character, but they aren't giving him the narrative opportunities to show himself to be awesome, and instead just telling us, over and over again. Poor kid.

I can't wait to make the final top fives! I'm so looking forward to some stuff coming up. :D
littleowl
Feb. 8th, 2015 03:59 am (UTC)
While I found the game itself to be annoying to look at, I really liked Ashley Judd as Ensign Lefler in that episode and the one or two others she did. I thought the back and forth between Robin and Wesley was amusing.
retsuko
Feb. 10th, 2015 03:24 pm (UTC)
OMG, I forgot it was her! Well, perhaps it will be better now that I'm seeing it from a different perspective... and, I think I have a long time to get there, too. ;)
pointytilly
Feb. 13th, 2015 02:46 pm (UTC)
...I know all the episodes you mean with those, pff. And they're some of my favorites too. I got tired of the Borg later on, but in TNG (especially the part where Picard gets captured) they were really good sometimes and I forget that and then watch those episodes again and ah, yes.

"that one where Picard and Crusher almost but not quite confront their UST because of some crazy alien hostage situation"

ah yes, aka young me's first introduction to "DAMN YOU, TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS, noooooo, I don't care if you have awkward issues with a mutual friend/dead husband, TALK" type issues in shipping. I think it gave me a bit of a thing for such setups :p. (think?)

"Cellular peptide cake (with mint frosting!), which is probably the most bonkers episode that stands out in my memory"

That one scared kid me for the bit with the mouth on the shoulder. In my defense, it was the middle of the night. But the cake bit is awesome. I think I saw some thing at some point talking about how they made that scene? Was it the Star Trek bit on Reading Rainbow or that special they aired before the ending episode or something else or...am I just remembering wrong?

"that one where everyone de-evolves for some reason"

oh lord the science in that one is so hilariously bad and SPIDER BARCLAY. It's funny bad, though.

"that one where it turns out Starfleet Command has been infiltrated by mind control aliens and the plot line is never brought up again"

I liked that one, but then they dropped the plot thread and that IRKS ME. They should have used it for one of the movies instead of what we actually got for TNG movies :p.

/late comment

...and The Inner Light is awesome, of course. One of the most...engrossingly pull you into the thing and effective narratives I've ever run into for a single-episode story. Something about it just...works, even without you knowing the Star Trek framing it.
retsuko
Feb. 15th, 2015 05:50 am (UTC)
Cellular Peptide Cake
I remember being scared of that episode, too, but I think it was a good type of scare. Around the time I saw it, I had just discovered surrealism, and interpreted the episode heavily through that lens. So I'm really curious how/if it will hold up!

Can't wait for Inner Light. Still have to get through 1st/2nd season stuff first.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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