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Angel One (TNG Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 13)

The Enterprise visits a sexist planet run by women, where… well, that’s about it. There’s nothing particularly science-fictional about the plot, except that the Enterprise is tracking a space-freighter and looking for space-survivors who disappeared near this space-planet years ago. There’s nothing strategic about the planet, and the B plot about the crew coming down with a virus that makes them sneezy and the C plot about a crisis in…

Datalore (TNG Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 12)

In “Datalore,” an encounter with Data’s more human-like “brother” showcases Brent Spiner’s acting talents and the optical FX crew’s mad split-screen skillz. While I enjoyed the plot twists and character bits as they happened, as a work of science fiction this episode offers little beyond popcorn “evil twin” fare.

The opening captain’s log lampshades an unprompted, random visit to Data’s home planet. The “Data practice sneezing” scene is silly, but the character development subtly allies Data’s desire to be human with Wesley’s desire to be respected by adults. The scene also accustoms us to the idea that Picard uses Wesley to deliver in-person messages, which kinda sorta helps explain why in this episode Wesley ends up where he needs to be to witness just enough to suspect Lore, but not enough to prove anything to the dumb-as-a-fencepost adults.

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The Big Goodbye (TNG Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 11)

The first of (far too) many “trapped on the holodeck” episodes. Exhausted while preparing for a high-stakes diplomatic ritual, Picard takes a break in a virtual-reality simulation of a 1940s detective novel. I remembered enjoying Brent Spiner’s portrayal of Data adapting to the noir setting, but on my rewatch I was delighted by Gates McFadden’s physical comedy when Dr. Crusher joins the party. Picard dominates a staff meeting by enthusing…

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Haven (TNG Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 10)

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation after a 20-year break. This low-stakes, character-driven rom-com pulled off everything it set out to do — fill out the romantic backstory between Riker and Troi, showcase Patrick Stewart’s comic timing, and set up an apparently unrelated B plot as the surprise resolution to the A plot. In her first of many appearances as Troi’s mother, Majel Barrett Roddenberry not only delivers flamboyant and…

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Hide and Q (TNG Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 9)

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation after a 20-year break. The powerful, unpredictable Q conjures a Napoleonic scenario from Picard’s mind and takes the rest of the bridge crew there, leaving Picard on the Enterprise. Memorable not for the fuzzy-faced toy soldiers that get way too much screen time, but for a Shakespeare quote battle between Q and Picard, and Riker’s misplaced magnanimity when given the powers of Q. We’re…

The Battle (TNG Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 8)

A Ferengi set on revenge tricks Picard into lowering the Enterprise’s shields and unceremoniously beams him into space.

Uh, no, actually the Ferengi plan involves finding a derelict starship Picard abandoned nine years ago and slipping a beach-ball sized “thought maker” into his personal effects, so that when he stops by his old cabin and gets a headache he can’t finish packing, so his uninspected trunk is brought to his quarters on the Enterprise, where opening the lid tips over a bucket, causing a marble to flip a little man into a tub, in which Picard re-enacts the Battle of Maxia and triggers the jittery vengeful descent of a little plastic cage.