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Joel Gray appeared on this show a few times, usually playing some really eccentric character. In this one, he is the sad victim of bad karma. His wife and son were killed in a car accident and he managed to input his son's personality and knowledge into a computer. He was not able to do this with his wife. He has become obsessed with reproducing his son by stealing circuitry from his workplace. His boss is getting suspicious of all the stuff that has been disappearing. I have to say that the physical appearance of the techno-tyke he has produced is nightmarish. He is half human and half machine and he has these big ears sticking to the side. Gray's only outside contact is his niece Zoe who finally discovers what is going on. She loves her uncle but quickly realizes he has several loose screws. At one point the little robot decides to pet the cat but accidentally rips the skin right off the unfortunate creature. There is also a really spooky scene where Gray and his offspring go to a carousel, paying for exclusive use, and ride the horses. The "kid" starts to get more and more demanding and this puts pressure on Gray who could lose his job. When he asks Zoe to "babysit," the thing attacks and almost kills her. This series made me uncomfortable many times and this may be the master of all.
A young woman who has lots of issues (she can't figure out which bed to sleep in) believes some genetically engineered corn is killing people in a small town. Sadly, the town almost died before the big seed company came in and begin to produce this super corn. It's the classic battle with the big company and the towns people. Both would like her to keep her mouth shut. To complicate things, she is having an affair with a lawyer for the company. Her connection to this guy causes her marriage to start falling apart. She is also caring for a young, mentally challenged boy who, unfortunately, succumbs to the awful affliction (people get huge growths on their bodies and expire shortly thereafter). This isn't so much science fiction than an environmental catastrophe. The interest lies in her butting heads with the powers that be. One issue for me was that her husband was never portrayed as a bad guy leading us to question he dalliances (they do try to show how as a child, she watched her wicked mother go from bed to bed and abuse her between trips). Anyway, it's a tenuous premise.
I finished watching this and was astonished at how silly it was. Then I started second guessing things because the recent episodes have been so good. Now, after reading other commentaries, my suspicions have been confirmed. This is a sophomoric plot with enough idiocy to fill its own book. I won't go over all the problems. The two most basic to me are Wesley and Picard being picked up by some ne'er-do-well captain of a rickety shuttle. I suppose the Enterprise shuttles were leased, and they didn't want to put any more miles on them. Then we have the ridiculous scow, floating around in orbit. Unless, I lost all my knowledge of physics, when you reach a point where the gravitational pull is unable to sustain itself, the object floats away. This should have happened a few minutes after the tractor beam got hold of the big piece of junk. I won't even go into the tawdry junk that goes on after the crash. It is embarrassingly syrupy and precious and so unlike something that would represent Picard in this series. Perhaps the script was the prize winner in a junior high creative writing contest.
This is one of those episodes that keeps us engaged all the way along. I have to say that I am bothered by how it ends (but I won't spoil that). This is a case of parry and thrust throughout. Riker is on a planet where suspected Romulan shenanigans are going on. The away team is overcome by heavy methane gas and pass out. When Riker wakes up, he is on board the Enterprise, but the crew (except for Data) have grown older. He, himself, has wrinkled skin and a bit of gray in his hair. Beverly looks older. He is told that he has been leading a life on board the ship, but has had a recurrence of a fever. He has lost sixteen years of his life. He can only remember that which happened before they went to that planet. It turns out he has a son and had a wife who died. The Romulans have become allies with the Federation and are kindly and outgoing. Something is wrong. There is a touching scene where he meets his son and tries to bond with him. Unfortunately, nothing brings back a single memory. Fascinating effort.
Worf has a son. His tryst with the visiting ambassador has produced a little boy, Alexander, and has really complicated the big guy's life. The main plot here is that the head of the Klingon High Command has been slowly poisoned and is not going to live long. He enlists Picard in choosing the future leader. Whoever did this has no honor. Both of the finalists are a couple slime balls, one is the accuser of Worf's father in the incident with the Romulans. He is also the only one that, for now, can clear Worf's name as the son of a traitor. Worf's mate (Alexander's mother) is killed and Starfleet restraint is out the window. Worf, who is shunned like the classic leper, acts out of revenge. The business with his son is now brought to the fore. There are more complications ahead. Characterization of the Klingon's and other species is becoming much more masterful as these episodes unfold.
In an effort to save a couple crewmen from a fellow Starfleet ship that has become involved in a civil war on a planet that turns out to be the birthplace of Tasha Yar. The civil war has led to great violence, including the slaughter of trespassers. One group, the Alliance,has held the other at bay. It turns out that Tasha Yar's sister is an insurgent rebel. She is brought on board the Enterprise and joins them in rescue efforts to save the two men trapped below the planet. The leaders of the alliance give an ultimatum and the Enterprise must act. Ishara Yar masterfully gains the trust of the crew and is given great latitude in the rescue operation. During this time she is very critical of her sister. Data informs her of Tasha's great character and bravery. It seems the war on the planet excludes any sisterly affection and Ishara felt that Tasha took off rather than fight. I really believe that the show went for more believable encounters and actions. This is one of those that shows us that the writers were really gaining steam.
Though I was pulling for Beverly Crusher to solve her problem, I never quite figured out what led to the problem. Another one of Wesley's experiments as gone awry, and, as his mother stands aside in engineering, she is swept into some kind of space bubble. That bubble keeps getting smaller. She sees the same people on board the Enterprise as when she left, but as time passes, they begin to disappear. This would be disconcerting enough, but those who remain have no memory of the disappeared. Beverly, of course, is seen as a nut case, but the respect they have for her allows her to get her way and have them run some tests. While she tours Wonderland, Geordi and Wesley work to try to figure out what happened. They know Beverly has disappeared and something weird happened. They must use everything within their power to give her a pathway back into her own time outside the bubble. All this is fine, but I don't have a clue what actually happened to her, what the experiment was, and what they did to make escape available to her. Somehow, they must all be on the same page of a book that is in two different dimensions. Still, it's a good story.
When a disabled ship's tiny crew is brought on board the Enterprise, they assume they have been kidnapped and mistreated. They are Talarian's except for one, a handsome, blonde teenaged boy. He considers himself one of them and fears the crew. It turns out that when he was a little boy, the Talarians killed his parents. His only living relative is his grandmother who happens to be an admiral in Starfleet. He is put in a different setting than his crewmates and Picard, reluctantly, becomes his mentor. It is eventually revealed that the Captain of a Talarian vessel adopted him after the fatal battle. He wants his son back. The issue becomes, how do we treat someone who has only known one way of life. The initial effort is to return him to his childhood roots. He understands this but it miserable with it. He is also expected to act as those on the Enterprise do. The alien Captain gives Picard an ultimatum. Give the boy back or face all out war with heavy casualties. An interesting dilemma and worth a look.
Once again, a group of researchers turn out to be bad guys. The central character has been blind since a plane crash which killed his parents. He is a college English professor who announces to his class that he is going in for experimental surgery that may return his eyesight. We cut to the bandage removal. He is thrilled with seeing the faces of the doctor as well as a pretty psychologist who has been assigned to him in case he faces some difficult transitions. Suddenly, he looks to the ceiling and sees a figure, bathed in light, a mysterious female face coming out of the wall. As he recovers, he is haunted by this figure. It seems to be haunting him and wanting to make a connection with him. Finally, she is able to create a kind of written display that tells him that she needs him. Eventually, a sort of electric charge is sent into him which allows him to cross some kind of barrier and have physical contact with her. He is immediately in love. Of course, nothing like this is that easy. The people who restored his sight know that this experience could happen and they have been leading him down a road where he could betray the magical woman to them. This is a better episode and well worth a look.
I'd swear that some of the people who produced this show are about as cynical as it is possible to be. This is probably the fifth or sixth episode where a scientist who has made amazing discoveries is about to get the financial plug pulled. He has been working on time travel and is not being allowed to continue, even though he believes that he is on the brink of something great. Well, we know what's going to happen. He hops in the device and finds himself a couple days ahead of the date he entered. He goes home to his wife (an edgy, somewhat combative woman, quite beautiful) and finds her dead on the living room floor with a bullet hole in her chest. He doesn't know the cause but is afraid he may have been responsible. He hustles back to the machine and returns to the time he left. Now he has knowledge of the death and has decided to try to intervene. Of course, his wife thinks he is nuts. Since he has been fired, this adds to his image of instability. It is also obvious that their marriage is on the rocks and he frightens her. The fact is he has not been there for her and she is tired of it. She even calls his co-worker, who, of course, quotes the company line on the project. One other kicker is that our boy is incredibly jealous. One little problem is the awful security at the plant. Any dodo could break into the facility. Anyway, I won't inject any spoilers but wait for the finish and then look up the word "kismet."
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