Philip Waller (Harry Bernard)
Amy Wheaton (Tara)
Jeremy Wheaton (Mason)
Jandi Swanson (Katie)
McKenzie Westmore (Rose)
Vanessa Bova (Alexandra)
Jessica Bova (Alexandra)
Michele Marsh (Leda)
Dierk Torsek (Dr. Bernard)
Writer: Hannah Shearer
This is another extremely clunky episode from this very very average first season of The Next Generation. A planet called Aldea (which is a myth rather like Atlantis) appears out of nowhere – it seems that they have hidden behind a cloaking device. Now, they are ready to be found as they cannot reproduce anymore and they want the help of the Federation.
Rather than asking for medical help though, they decide to just take a selection of children from the Enterprise, including Wesley Crusher. They are not cruel to them (apart from the fact of their kidnap) and they want to nurture their latent talents (one finds out that he has a gift for art, another for music and so on).
The problem with this episode is that there is no real threat. The Aldeans are not nasty people, just deperate, and you know that at some point everything would get sorted out. So when you watch this you don’t really care because you know exactly what is going to happen. Even when they throw the Enterprise across space as a minor demonstration of their power you know by the end everything will be okay.
Add to all of that, you have “The Custodian”. The whole planet is run by a computer, so the citizens of the planet don’t have to do anything. It is not all powerful and it does not rule them, so it is not quite a crappy classic Trek supercomputer. And by the end we find out that the shield that has protected them is what is causing them to be sterile, and the Enterprise children will also be unable to reproduce.
Also, this is the first of a handful of appearances by Jerry Hardin (Deep Throat in various X-Filesepisodes) and I also noticed for the first time that two of the other Enterprise kids are played by the younger siblings of Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher). None of this makes the episode any better though!
Everything gets talked down nicely and the Enterprise gets their kids back, including Wesley.
Very poor and rather dull.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
A warp engine specialist (Kosinksi) and his colleague (The Traveler) board the Enterprise to do some adjustments to the warp engines to make them more efficient. Wesley watches the Traveller work and suggests some amendments to the warp field settings. When the ship goes into warp they travel 2.7 million light years in a matter of moments. Wesley comments to the Traveller, saying that the equations suggested that Space and Time and Thought were not the separate things that they were understood to be. Kosinksi is not able to explain why it happened, and when they try to go back they end up somewhere so far from conceivable space it is not even charted – Picard says it is over a billion light years from our own galaxy!
Everyone soon realises that the speed was more due to the Traveler than Kosinksi (the fact that he almost phased out of existence) – the Traveler has the ability to use the power and energy in thought to help them travel. They are in a place where thought shapes reality – Yar sees her cat, Worf his Targ (vicious Klingon Dog thing) and Picard his mother. So the return journey is simple provided that everyone thinks of home, and they make it back easily even though the Traveler phases out of existence.
This is the best episode yet – Menyuk is very good as the Traveler, and Wesley is actually not irritating. It turns out that The Traveler travels to meet geniuses – and Wesley is one such, with the knowledge of time, energy and propulsion. He tells Picard this in confidence, and that this talent needs to be nurtured, which means that Picard ends up making him an acting Ensign with bridge duties.
This is a bottle show (I don’t know if it was done to save money) but it works rather well. We spend quite a lot of time in engineering, and we introduced to, and I quote, “one of our chief engineers” – a line presumably added to cover the fact that we have a different Chief to three episodes ago. This is Chief Argyle (it was nice to hear a Scottish lilt in the voice of the Chief Engineer again) but at this point it must have been obvious that at some point they were going to have to put a permanent character down there.
It is also obvious that we will see the Traveler again at some point – not that that is a bad thing, but I remember being suprised that it was not until season four. Oh, and nobody has died yet!
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 0
Oh God. Another really bad episode. I almost can’t be bothered to go into detail, however…
Kirk, McCoy, Sulu and D’Amato beam down to investigate a very new planet. The Enterprise is then thrown almost 1000 light years away from the planet. Then a mysterious female appears to people both on the planet and on the Enterprise, and the result is the same on both: the person she picks on (male) dies. First the transporter technician on the Enterprise, then D’Amato, then one of the engineering crew, then Sulu. Luckily Kirk intervened when she went for Kirk so Sulu didn’t die, but the other three do.
The Enterprise heads back to the planet at maximum warp, lots of silly stuff happens (the ship is sabotaged to it won’t slow down and will warp itself into destruction, but as you can guess, they fix it before that happens).
This is another cheap episode. As well as the Enterprise set, they use the standard soundstage of a crappy rocky bouldery planet (there is an awful moment in the early part of the episode when there is a quake, and clearly different bits of the set are put on a gimble, but they shake in different directions and it just looks highly shit.
Eventually, the crew on the planet go into a cave thing. This happens far too far into the episode for you to really care – we are into wrist slitting territory here. Even the sequence where Scotty has to repair the ship against terrible odds, you know that he is going to manage, there is no tension at all (despite that dreadful bit of reused incidental music that desperately tried to ramp up the nonexistent tension).
The only good thing about this episode is that, in terms of my crew death count, this episode is a veritable bloodbath! Three whole members of the crew! In fact, this season has been quite reserved about killing the crew – it was getting a bit silly at one point, even now Kirk has lost over ten percent of his crew in less than three years!
Oh, and for the record, the women who killed the crew were controlled by another super computer. And the original inhabitants of the planet have all died of a disease. Another pair of cliches in a totally crappy episode.
PS The only good bit was the second and final appearance by Doctor M’benga. But that doesn’t make up for the rest of it.
Crew Deaths: 3
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 49