Star Trek: The Next Generation (1991) – Ensign Ro, and Silicon Avatar

Captain’s log: stardate 45076.3

Michelle Forbes returns to The Next Generation this week. This time, she is playing the fan favourite character, Ro Laren. In this episode we are introduced to the Bajorans, their conflict with the Cardassians, and planting seeds for the upcoming series, Deep Space Nine.

Airing on 7 October, 1991, this episode was written by Michael Piller and Rick Berman.

Ro Laren is a great character, she’s rebellious, smart, and shakes up our Starfleet characters a bit. She’s brought on board to help settle a dispute and a terrorist attack on the Federation-Cardassian border involving Bajorans.

Ensign Ro had to be released from prison to join the mission (another theme that will be revisited in a later series) and there are misunderstandings between her and the crew of the Enterprise. She chafes against Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Riker (Jonathan Frakes) when orders and decisions are made, but through the course of the episode, there are connections and understandings made.

And Picard, Laren and the rest discover what is really going on…

This is a great episode, and helps build and fill out the Trek universe a little more. As stated this was an intentional move by Piller and Berman as they laid the groundwork for DS9. Unfortunately, despite her select few appearances on Next Generation, Forbes wasn’t interested in playing her character as a regular on the soon to be a reality television series, and another Bajoran character would be introduced in her stead.

Still, it added a shift in the reality of the Trek Universe – not everything was perfect within the Federation, not everyone could be trusted. It’s not a Utopian future, just a better world than we live in now, but with problems that have endured.

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Captain’s log: stardate 45122.3

Airing on 14 October, 1991, this episode, written by Jeri Taylor from a story by Lawrence V. Conley, Silicon Avatar saw the return of the crystalline entity last seen in the episode Datalore.

After a blossoming colony is wiped out by the return of the crystalline entity, the Enterprise is assigned the mission of seeking it out, and stopping its path of destruction, peacefully if possible.

Joining Picard and his crew, is Dr. Kila Marr (Ellen Geer). Trained as a xenologist, she seems like the perfect choice for the assignment.

However, it is revealed that her son was on Data’s (Brent Spiner) homeworld when it was wiped out. Through the course of the episode, she develops a relationship with Data, who carries some of her son’s memories, and is now on a mission of vengeance.

A mission that is in contrast with the mission Picard and his crew have undertaken.

How will things play out, will the creature be destroyed, will Marr find peace, and what cost vengeance?

This is a solidly written episode that shows that the series can do callbacks, and sequels that actually expand on the original episode. And just like that earlier episode, the android, Data, plays a large part in its resolution, allowing Spiner a chance to shine.

The Human Adventure continues next week…

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