138: Manhunt (2.19)

Synopsis: Lwaxana Troi is so horny she falls for a holodeck bartender, Or: Where Tracy Tormé says ‘fuck it’ and combines all of his idea into one plot.

Memory Alpha Summary:  The #1 fact about this episode is that the writer used a pseudonym to protect his name.  That says it all.

Review:  This is one of the weaker scripts for Lwaxana, as she basically acts like a broken record, setting up jokes for the rest of the crew.  Data gets the best scene, as Picard encourages him to tell long, esoteric anecdotes to break up his ‘romantic’ dinner with Lwaxana.  It’s always fun when Picard plays on the holodeck, but in this script it’s just another way to set up more antics for Ms. Troi.

Wesley proves that he’s also racist, showing severe discomfort around the Antedeans because they’re ugly.  At this point I’m convinced all the writers hate Wheaton.

139: Final Mission (4.09)

Synopsis: Wesley’s gone!  Wesley’s gone!

Memory Alpha Summary: Don’t let the door hit you.

Review:  The team who wrote and produced this episode universally loved it (and believe me, they’re not afraid to bash their own work), and for the life of me I don’t understand why.   Almost exactly like Samaritan Snare, there’s a very contrived subplot with Riker at the helm that prevents the crew from helping out Picard and Wesley.  This episode is better, but not by much.  Dirgo’s idiocy is obvious and only there to contrast the level-headedness of our perfect ensign, so when he dies it feels gross.   And while Wheaton does a fine job in his last episode, I am just not feeling this fatherly relationship that Picard is supposed to have towards Wesley.  Finally, the fact that after four seasons they couldn’t give Wesley even a modicum of social skills—not even politeness—is maddening.

Picard’s last quote, to Wesley:  You will be missed.  To borrow a phrase from the year this episode came out…not!

In case you haven’t noticed, this is the first episode from season four on this list.

140: The Schizoid Man (2.06)

Synopsis:  Data gets his circuits raped by yet another maniacal scientist.

Memory Alpha Summary:  But he was asking for it

Review:  How come nearly every scientist in the Federation is a one-track minded crazy person?  Anyway, there’s not much to comment on for this episode.  It could have been really interesting, but the audience knows too much too soon and the crew avoids the obvious problem for too long.  Spiner is great, of course, as he gets to play a less violent, more whorish Lore for twenty minutes.  The best part is probably the final scene, as Riker messes with Data and his short-term memory loss.

141: Up The Long Ladder (2.18)

Synopsis:  Two human cultures (one techy, one Amishy) that separated 300 years ago are brought back together…both wanting some Riker DNA (chica-bow-wow)

Memory Alpha Summary:  Attack of the clones

Review:  Two pretty embarrassing episodes in a row.  I like this one better than Samaritan Snare because the plot isn’t as stupid and it’s occasionally funny, but it’s yet another statement episode (in this case, pro-choice).  Riker, who has matured since season one, slips yet again and decides the best course of diplomacy is nookie.  At least his prize this time is actually human.  Also, the Irish stereotyping goes just a wee too far.

One bright spot is (again) Pulaski, who is developing a strong bond with Worf that will unfortunately only get to last a few more episodes.

Have a good holiday weekend everyone.  I’m moving to my new house on Saturday, and hopefully will have new posts starting Monday.

142: Samaritan Snare (2.17)

Synopsis:  Picard sees the wizard for a new heart, and Riker helps a race that wants to make their ship go.

Memory Alpha Summary:  Rumors of a sensical plot within have been greatly exaggerated

Review:  This episode is an example of the tenuous potential that bridges seasons one and three.  The awkwardness (Wesley notwithstanding) is no longer there, but the strength of storytelling is still lacking.  For starters, how the hell does a race as stupid as the Pakled get into space in the first place?  They’re cunning only in the basest sense, but when the tables are turned on them they are too stupid to realize it.  The rescue plan is bloody hilarious, but it still doesn’t negate the ridiculousness of the trap.  On top of that, Troi, the only person on board who senses that the Pakled are up to no good, is conveniently not around until after Riker sends Geordi into the trap.

On the other hand, I love the Picard subplot.  And I love Pulaski.  When Crusher orders Picard to do something, he rebuffs her until she gives up, her loins aching.  Pulaski doesn’t take his shit for a second.  She’s the perfect complement to him.  And even though Wesley (who is traveling with Picard to take his exams) is again given the “Kick Me” sign again with asshole lines like “You’re not too comfortable with me, I understand sir,”  Picard handles it with grace and leadership.  We learn a significant part of his past, his run-in with the Nausicans, a part of him that will be revisited later on.  Unfortunately, the ending is contrived, with Pulaski having to save his life, but at least Picard gets to drop a Mark Twain quote at the end.

143: Interface (7.03)

Synopsis:  Geordi violates more protocols with his “mom” than he did with Aquiel, but for what it’s worth isn’t quite as unethical.

Memory Alpha Summary:  Unlike the reading rainbow, this interface cannot take you anywhere.

Review:  While I’m glad to see that Geordi finally has a family, this is just not a terribly interesting episode.  The “brand new” interfacing technology seems not all that fancy compared to what’s already on the Enterprise.  And I just didn’t get all that worked up about Geordi finding his mother.  Perhaps it was because I didn’t sense any chemistry between he and his mother.  It seemed Crusher family-like.

Also, Data acting unethically here by helping Geordi…I don’t buy it.  While it’s very human, I can’t imagine his ethical program allowing for the multiple loopholes in protocol that he exploits.

The only part I liked was the final scene where Picard disciplines Geordi for his actions, but then has the decency to apologize to Geordi that he couldn’t find his mother.

144: The Bonding (3.05)

Synopsis:  Worf wants to light candles and bond with a boy orphan.  Yeah, exciting shit.

Memory Alpha Summary:  Please sir, I don’t want some more

Review:  The first clunker of season three was the first episode written by Ronald Moore.  Jeremy Aster’s character is pretty bland, and the actor who plays him is fairly blah, even for a child actor.  Thus, I don’t really care about his fate.  Also, the episode finale is just endless talking, with the adults telling the children how they should feel.  It’s all very paternalistic to me, and I wasn’t moved at all during an episode I felt should have been moving.

Picard finally says that children shouldn’t be on starships due to fact that they haven’t “signed on” to the risks.  Valid point, sir.  However, I think the children who live on a starship would make the best officers.

And, lo and behold, Troi is quite useful as the counselor, giving some pretty decent advice to Worf…which he promptly ignores.

145: The Dauphin (2.10)

Synopsis:  Wesley almost gets lucky with a shapeshifter and then gets pissy about it.

Memory Alpha Summary: Duck!

Review:  This one is so bad it’s funny.  It starts out with a bang as Geordi gives Wesley the rest of the day off because he’s horny.  Then Wesley asks Geordi for girl advice(!).  Then Worf lets Wesley know that during the Klingon courting process, dudes read love poetry and ladies throw things.  Data relates mating to the histocompatibility complex of the cell membranes.

Then Wes makes his move.  He selfishly asks Salia to stay with him even though she is on her way to save millions of people from death.  Of course, it’s only because he fell in love in the span of about two days.  And then after he throws a temper tantrum when he finds out Salia is not humanoid, he brings her chocolate beans and tells her she now has a “taste to remember me by.”  Ewwww!

There were two non-silly highlights.  Riker and Guinan flirting hardcore in front of Wesley was grin-worthy and Guinan giving non-condescending advice to Wesley about love was a nice touch.

Survivor X, Challenge 9: Cliffhanger

The broad challenges tend to bring out the best writing, and this week was no exception.  Our job was to simply create a tense story with a cliffhanger, in 500 words or less.

Edward King’s father hadn’t beaten him in eight days. He wasn’t entirely sure why he counted. He did know that twenty-one more days and it would be a record. And maybe hope.

Sometimes Eddie wished he went to school in a bad neighborhood, where some kids were lucky if their parents chose to buy food instead of heroin. He could then fantasize his life as better than that of his friends. But every minute he spent away from home was a cold reminder that he didn’t have one.

What kept Eddie from deliberately working on an escape plan was Mom. She couldn’t protect him from his father’s “corrections” any more than she could protect herself. But he knew she cared, and that was enough. Eddie couldn’t wait until he was old enough to protect her. In nineteen days was his eleventh birthday. Almost an adult.

His birthday was one reason Eddie was sure he wouldn’t break his record. But his report card was another. It came today and his father knew it. And Eddie knew the only thing his father would care about was the B-minus in pre-algebra.

The harsh clanging of the garage door jolted Eddie out of his self-pity. Sitting down at the kitchen table, Eddie stared at the report card, hoping to get this out of the way.

His father came through the door and set his briefcase on the table. Eddie sensed his father looking at him, then the report card, then back. He tensed as his father’s hand came to his forehead. But his father simply ruffled his hair before silently walking towards the stairs.

Eddie couldn’t tell whether to be relieved or frightened, but goose bumps shot up his arms. Unfortunately, this debate would have to wait as a scream from upstairs broke his paralysis.

Normally, he would go outside so he wouldn’t have to listen. But this time something compelled him to walk up the stairs. As he did, Mom’s protests became softer but more desperate. Reaching his parent’s bedroom, he looked carefully around the door jamb. Then he took a step back.

Mom’s blouse was torn. Half-naked, she looked helpless on the bed as his father towered over her with his dick out, stroking it. Not knowing exactly what his father planned to do, but knowing it was bad, Eddie reacted. “Mom!” he shouted from the doorway.

His father’s glare darted from his mother to him. He expected shouting, but his father calmly pulled up his slacks. “Edward. Get the hose.”

Shaking, Eddie made his way to the garage. This task normally was humiliating, but right now he only felt fear, and rage. Pulling the hose off the far wall, Eddie considered destroying it, realizing that doing so would only make things worse. But then he noticed the adjacent cabinet was slightly ajar. His father’s .45 was lying on the shelf.

“Edward, you shithead!” he heard in the distance. “Get up here!”

Eddie closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Coming!”

Spooky: Yep, you had me skipping breaths here. It starts out sounding like an obvious and manipulative Lifetime movie, but it soon spirals into something much more interesting. Also, “His birthday was one reason Eddie was sure he wouldn’t break his record” is perhaps the greatest heartbreaking line I’ve ever read in this game. 5

I was hoping someone would comment on that line.  It’s probably my favorite.  It’s funny, though.  In Bantam Bulwyr when I used random names, you felt they were symbolic.  This week I was very careful about what name I picked, yet no comment :)

DK: Great, disturbing situation, and the tension is really palpable. I felt a few of the early sentence structures were a little awkward, but again I’m being really pedantic to force myself to find separation. I’m just finding this week really great overall. 4

When I finished writing this, I was at 587 words.  Most of what I chopped down was in the beginning, so the awkwardness is probably due to that.

I’m really pleased with these scores.  I didn’t feel I had a pure cliffhanger, as this story could end right here and be totally fine.  But the conclusion is not forgone, so there’s that.

The Vogons did not finish in first place for the first time, though our team still had an exceptional week.  The other entries were just that good.  Unfortunately, we had one more non-submitter from another team, so the voting is yet again a formality.  Fourteen players left!

146: True Q (6.06)

Synopsis: The hippie daughter from The Wonder Years runs away with Q

Memory Alpha Summary: Not that hard to resist, actually

Review:  The dullest TNG episode that starred Q, it recycles the plot from Hide and Q.  And it’s not executed well at all.  First we have this girl whose world has been turned upside down by learning she’s Q, which comes with a naturally heavy psychological burden.  So who counsels her?  Why, Crusher of course!  Troi is nowhere to be seen for the first half of the episode.

Q has some funny lines as usual.  Ripping on Crusher for becoming more shrill with every passing year and then turning her into a dog.  Snarkily criticizing Picard for his propensity to give speeches.  But it can’t save this weak story.  It ends with a fizzle as well, as Amanda joins the Q continuum because she wants to help people.  Does she ever come back to help the Enterprise again?  Not that we’re told.  Yawn.