Friday, July 9, 2010

Star Trek: The Next Generation - "The Arsenal of Freedom"

Geordi gets a taste of command, Picard & Crusher get some alone time, we get another saucer separation, and capitalism saves the day! (Even though capitalism caused the problem in the first place.)

This is actually a very nicely balanced episode, providing both phaser battle action and character development. Tasha finally gets a lot to do. LeVar Burton gives a great performance as Geordi being stuck in the captain's seat when things go wrong. We get a brief glimpse of Picard as the action hero he'd become in the TNG movies, but it's very brief, and soon he and Crusher are just talking to each other in their little underground hideaway. We learn a little about Beverly's past-- she was on a colony world with her grandmother that had a virus outbreak. This is one of things that one of the books expanded on and I hadn't remembered that it was originally mentioned in this episode, so I enjoyed hearing the reference here.

We also get Chief Engineer Logan, who's at least the second Chief Engineer during the first season, and the fourth lead Engineering character. Yeah, they definitely needed a regular character to be the Chief Engineer. I wonder if anyone's written a story on why they couldn't keep one in the first season? When they first gave the job to Geordi it struck me as odd, but in rewatching these first season episodes it's made a lot more sense. I've been noticing that in episodes where they didn't use an Engineering character, Geordi would be fulfilling the engineer's role anyway. (For example, he was the one showing the Klingons around Engineering in "Heart of Glory." And often he's the one suggesting technobabble solutions.)

The idea of a weapon system turning on its owners isn't really new, but the idea that the Enterprise is visiting the Planet of the Terminators gives it a darker edge in my mind than when I first saw it. And of course the fact that it all came from greed gives us a double moral. Greed is bad, War is bad, put the two together and you go extinct. It's kind of amusing that the way they finally shut the killer robots down is by agreeing to buy one!

And lastly, this episode gets bonus points for Most Obvious Stunt Double. Check out Data's 'fro!

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