In "Lonely Among Us", the Enterprise is escorting delegates from two warring societies (the cobras and the goat... ish guys) to a neutral planet, but on the way to said planet, the ship passes through an energy cloud and picks up an energy being that transfers itself between crew members (Worf, Beverly, Picard) and the ship's computer in order to figure out how it can go back to the energy cloud where it belongs. This episode marks the first Sherlock Holmes/Data references, and they are just wonderful: Data chomping on a pipe, but not actually smoking it; talking about his deductions about things, and a shot of Riker with such a sweet/bemused expression on his face that I'm sure that the blooper reel includes at least one take where Jonathan Frakes totally lost it. OMG, I can't wait for costumes and Holodeck-inspired period drama now!
This episode gives all its characters neat things to do, and the actors all rise to the challenge. I particularly loved Gates McFadden playing the alien being possessing her; she had the perfect balance of still herself, but every so slightly off, so that I believed that no one would question her actions too much. There's also a really tense storyline that happens when Picard is possessed by the energy being thing, and the rest of the bridge crew has to decide whether or not to mutiny. (It's probably the only time I will ever say that hearing about Star Fleet regulations was interesting.) This leads to another fantastic scene where Crusher confronts Picard point blank about not being himself and asks him whether the original owner of the body is still around, and Picards replies, slowly, "He is here, too." It's a supremely creepy, excellent moment, and it's then that I think, YES, this is the show that I remember loving because it tells such arresting and thought-provoking stories.
But then the energy being wants Picard to beam out with it into the energy cloud, and it's there that the science gets really, super dodgy and confusing. Picard joins... I think merges with it or something, so that he can travel around the universe, but then he changes his mind and SOMEHOW the teleporter can still put him back together. That could have gone a lot differently, and sadly, we never get to hear about what it was like to be merged with an energy being because Picard says the teleported version of him doesn't remember. Bummer. That's a story that I would be really curious to read.
Still, though, I really like this episode, and it's a herald of the good stuff to come!
Unfortunately, that good stuff does NOT come with the episode entitled "Justice." Up until now, my notes for these episodes have been pretty legible, but I have to say that this episode's notes are filled with a lot of capital letters (DAT ASS), exclamation points (NO DUH!!), and frowny/flinchy faces.
The plot, in a nutshell: the Enterprise has just finished setting up a colony and the entire crew is exhausted/grouchy and wants shore leave. There's a nearby Class M planet that seems like a good place: the weather's nice, it looks like Southern California, and THE PEOPLE THERE LOOK LIKE THE MOST RIDICULOUS LINGERIE MODELS/HIPPIES EVER AND BEHAVE ACCORDINGLY. Their society is so ridiculous that their law is stupidly draconian and kills people who break any law in a randomly selected "punishment zone." (Can you imagine the morning news broadcasts for this place? "Today on the Southern California Cult Planet: We rescued a puppy from drowning; there's a brand crop of sexyfruit for sale; and if you break any laws in the marketplace today, YOU DIE. And now for the weather...") OF COURSE this means that one of our main characters will stumble into a punishment zone, and OF COURSE it's exactly the character you think it is. Meanwhile, there's a race of super-beings in orbit around the planet who watch over the Lingerie Models and are mad that the Enterprise is... existing or something, so they screw with stuff. Because they're Gods and they can. Whatevs.
I really have very little substantive to say about this episode other than it was a Cavalcade of Awkward. We got to hear about how Klingons have sex (it's rough); there is terrible, expository dialogue about the Prime Directive and Star Fleet ("I'm with Star Fleet; I don't lie."); and there are more than a few scenes where a lot of the Lingerie Models/Hippies just stand around awkwardly, doing nothing. The only really good thing I can say about this episode is the view of the future it presents, that there is no death penalty. Picard says that people finally realized it wasn't a deterrent to crime. If that's the future, sign me up! If it's lingerie-clad hippies, I think I'll stay home.
Signs that it's the FUTURE:
* Uhm... energy being? The idea of colonizing another planet is pretty standard sci-fi, so there's that, but, generally, both of these episodes would have worked out in non-sci-fi contexts pretty well.
Signs that it's NOT the FUTURE:
* Dude, why doesn't the Enterprise have a firewall? This is the third time where the computers have just shorted out and/or been vulnerable to alien attack. If the ship is so sophisticated, surely the engineers planned for the computers to be invulnerable, at least in most of the ways that it counts!
* Also, the lighting in these episodes is STILL SO WEIRD. Everyone in Engineering apparently works in total darkness OR with the help of one florescent lightbulb.
Unintentionally Funniest Lines:
* A possessed Crusher, on what had happened to Worf: "A temporary... mental aberration." (I love this excuse, and will use it from now on, as much as possible.)
* Picard, on uncertainties: "Why has everything become a 'something' or 'whatever'?"