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Cost of Living (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 20) Alexander’s Jolly Holodeck Holiday with Lwaxana

Rewatching ST:TNG Who’d love to see another whacky Lwaxana episode? Who can’t get enough of little Alexander? Who wants a Space Thing subplot that has absolutely nothing to do with the main plot? Because a cigar-chomping producer demanded an action sequence in the teaser, there’s tense music, a kinetic camera, and a photon torpedo kaboom in the first 10 seconds… and that’s about all the action for this episode.. The…

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The First Duty (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 19) Cadet Wesley’s Academy Crisis

Rewatching ST:TNG The Enterprise is en route to Earth so that Picard can give the commencement address at Starfleet Academy, when word arrives that Cadet Crusher has survived an accident that killed another cadet. When we last saw Wesley (The Game), he was cheerful and well-adjusted; however, Picard and Dr. Crusher are surprised he not only won’t open up to them, but politely asks them to toddle off when his…

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Cause and Effect (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 18) time loop. Ka-boom. The Enterprise is trapped in a

Rewatching ST:TNG A smart, character-driven story that follows the crew of the Enterprise-D through a short time loop (about a year before Bill Murray did something similar in “Groundhog Day”). After a chaotic teaser that ends with the Enterprise-D blowing to smithereens, we get a routine Captain’s Log, a relaxed poker game where Crusher impressively calls Riker’s bluff, a dizzy LaForge visiting sickbay, a humming Crusher hearing odd voices at…

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The Outcast (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 17) Genderless civilization oppresses deviance

Rewatching ST:TNG Members of a genderless civilization (portrayed by female actors with bowl haircuts and dour expressions) seek help from the Federation after one of their shuttles disappears in a Space Thing. The fact that Picard’s opening log goes out of its way to identify the J’Naii as “an adrogynous race” is a pretty obvious cue that this episode isn’t about the random space thing, it’s all about gender. After…

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Ethics (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 16) Leaky cargo barrel-1, Worf-0.

Rewatching ST:TNG Worf is paralyzed in a freak cargo bay accident. When visiting neurospecialist Dr. Russell suggests an experimental “genetronic replication” therapy, Dr. Crusher fears the risk is too great. A very composed Worf deals with his injury by asking Riker to assist him in a suicide ritual. Worf’s young son Alexander doesn’t share his father’s Klingon values, and Troi tries to mediate. With help from Picard, Riker must weigh…

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Power Play (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 15) Troi, Data and O’Brien Take Hostages

Rewatching ST:TNG The Enterprise follows a weak distress signal to a planet where a Federation ship crashed 200 years ago. After a tiny shuttlecraft (with seatbelts!) crashes because of the planet’s glowy storms, some glowy bits enter the bodies of Troi, Data and O’Brien, and before you know it, we have a Die Hard hostage situation, with intelligent and capable villains. Dialogue tells us that Troi is being controlled by…

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Conundrum (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 14) You Get Amnesia! And YOU Get Amnesia! EVERYONE Gets Amnesia!!!

Rewatching ST:TNG The Enterprise-D crew finds itself the victim of an amnesia scenario devised by desperate, shadowy figures known as “TV script writers,” who actually give Riker a line complaining about the feeble infodump that shows up in the denouement. Plot necessity provides this week’s baddies with the power to erase all the personal memories of everyone on the ship (including the android Data), and also the ability to erase…

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The Masterpiece Society (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 13) Space Thing Threatens Genetically Perfect Colony

Rewatching ST:TNG When a Space Thing threatens a genetically perfect colony, the wary inhabitants resist Picard’s offer to evacuate. Humans on Moab IV have for two centuries enjoyed a carefully designed society. The charismatic leader Conor speaks glowingly of fulfilling the role he was genetically engineered to hold, while the rigid traditionalist Martin undiplomatically scoffs at LaForge’s blindness. Conor is taken with Troi, who seems charmed by his attention. LaForge…

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Violations (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 12) Telepathic Memory Assaults Beset the Enterprise-D

Rewatching ST:TNG A small group of aliens (with bumps on the *sides* of their heads) demonstrate their ability to collect memories telepathically. The leader, Tarmin, helps Keiko recover a pleasant memory of her grandmother. After Tarmin offers to help Beverly remember more about her first kiss that she’s currently thinking about, his son Jev scolds him mildly for probing a memory without permission. Later while sharing his grandiose plans at…

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Hero Worship (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 11) Orphaned Boy Idolizes Data

Rewatching ST:TNG The Enterprise-D encounters the missing research vessel Vico, which was severely damaged while exploring a Space Thing. Various plot contrivances prevents all our favorite treknology from working the way they usually do, because life form sensors would take away the surprise of finding a young survivor; transporters would take away Data’s need to free by him by impressively lifting a beam; and computer records would easily fact-check the…

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New Ground (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 10) Worf’s Son Visits, Acts Out

Rewatching ST:TNG As LaForge nerds out over the Space Thing of the Week (a test of a new faster-than-light propulsion method), Worf receives word his mother and young son are coming on board for a visit from Earth. The big reveal is that tiny little angry Alexander thinks he’s not going back. Worf’s mother says Alexander has some trouble with obedience and honesty, and needs his father’s influence. Worf apparently…

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A Matter of Time (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 9) Smarmy Time Traveler Observes Crew

Rewatching ST:TNG An eccentric time-traveler won’t say why he’s shown up to observe events on board the Enterprise-D, but he’s giddy with fanboy glee to be in the presence of Picard. This week the writers decide that Troi, who when the script requires it can read specific thoughts from the mind of the captain of a passing starship, reports only that Rasmussen is hiding something. Clearly she and her colleagues…

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Unification, Part 2 (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 8) Spock Nurtures Romulan Peace Movement

Rewatching ST:TNG Beyond stating that he is on “a personal mission of peace,” the AWOL Ambassador Spock is reluctant to explain his presence on the Romulan homeworld. Referring to events depicted in the movie Star Trek 6 (which had not yet premiered when this episode first aired), Spock says he is reluctant to risk any one else’s life on yet another peace mission, but is personally committed to encouraging the…

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Unification, Part 1 (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 7) Picard Questions Sarek about Renegade Spock

Rewatching ST:TNG Informed that the venerable Ambassador Spock has vanished without a word and has been spotted on Romulus, Picard visits the ailing Sarek, who reports Spock’s optimistic hopes to reunify the Vulcan and Romulan people. This was an important theme in the early 90s, with the recent fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR. As a fan of Trek and good acting, I remember being…

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The Game (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 6) Cadet Crusher vs Fun Risian Gadget

Rewatching ST:TNG Cadet Crusher visits the Enterprise on a break from Starfleet Academy. He’s happy and doing well in school, and quickly befriends the happy and hyper-focused Ensign Leffler (Ashley Judd). The opening scene with Riker cavorting on Risa is just odd. Of course what he does when he’s off duty is his own business, but it’s certainly a clue to us when the bumpy-headed babe he’s chasing around a…

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Disaster (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 5) Picard Trapped in Elevator with Weeping Moppets

Rewatching ST:TNG A character-based bottle episode (no off-ship locations), in which the Enterprise randomly bumps into a Space Thing that gives the writers an excuse to force all the main characters into odd groupings where they must act against type. The grumpy captain is trapped in an elevator with weeping moppets; the warrior must deliver a baby; the optimistic counsellor faces a difficult pragmatic command decision; the doctor and the…

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Silicon Avatar (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 4) Grieving Xenobiologist Pursues Crystalline Entity

Rewatching ST:TNG Riker does some seriously exposition-friendly flirting with a civilian engineer whose fledgling colony turns out to be the next target for the Crystalline Entity, a big Space Thing that slurps up all life on a planetary scale. We spend just enough time here on Melona to care about the colony, which, fortunately for the on-location filming budget, is mostly a bunch of jumpsuited extras in park with random…

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Ensign Ro (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 3) New Bumpy-nosed Officer Is Stubborn

Rewatching ST:TNG Picard is ordered to accept a bumpy-nosed humanoid officer who didn’t want to be transferred to the Enterprise — but she admits the new assignment is better than prison. A complex plot introduces the backstory of Bajor, which will eventually be the premise for the spinoff series Deep Space Nine — an ancient and noble race of architects and philosophers was 40 years ago displaced by the militaristic…

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Darmok (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 2) Picard of the Federation, His Metaphors Timely

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation After an awkward encounter with aliens whose language is incomprehensible, Picard finds himself on a strange planet. The alien captain, holding two daggers, offers one to Picard, saying “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.” When I first saw this episode, as a young grad student in a crowded room full of my regular Trek-watching friends, of course I thought of the classic Star Trek episode…

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Redemption, Part II (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 1) Klingon Empire Wages Civil War

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation The teaser opens with Worf serving on Kurn’s ship, and being scolded for second-guessing his younger brother’s aggressive tactics. Picard convinces an admiral to agree to a blockade, to prevent or expose Romulan support of the Duras faction. LaForge’s new strategy for detecting cloaked Romulan vessels requires a network of many ships, but because the script requires it some of them are barely functional…