Star Trek: The Next Generation (1992) – Power Play, and Ethics

Captain’s log: stardate 45571.2

Brannon Braga, Herbert Wright and Rene Balcer penned the teleplay from this episode that first aired on 24 February, 1992, from a story by Maurice Hurley and Paul Ruben.

When the Enterprise investigates a storm-riddled planet for a missing ship, the away team, lead by Riker (Jonathan Frakes) returns to the ship carrying more than they bargained for. Troi (Marina Sirtis), O’Brien (Colm Meaney) and Data (Brent Spiner) are seemingly possessed by violent alien life forms.

Taking members of the crew hostage, including O’Brien’s wife Keiko (Rosalind Chao) and their newborn, they demand that the Enterprise move into a polar orbit. As Picard (Patrick Stewart) attempts to negotiate, the possessed crew claim to be the souls of the captain and crew of the missing ship, lost some two hundred years ago.

No one quite believes the claim, and when a way to oust the beings from the possessed crew is discovered, the crew put into action a desperate plan to inflict some pain.

Troi and her fellows threaten and manipulate the crew into moving the Enterprise into position, and soon, it is revealed what these life forms truly are! If the Enterprise doesn’t stop them, there could be trouble!

For a hostage story, it’s not as thrilling as one would hope, there aren’t any psychological moments, and you know the crew’s plans are going to fail until the last moment. And of course when you have two leaders butting heads, they should be able to go toe to toe with one another, and no disparagement meant to Sirtis but very few people can go up against Stewart and hold their own.

Not a terrible episode, I think I just wanted more from it.

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Captain’s log: stardate 45587.3

Assisted suicide. A controversial topic to say the least. And the centrepiece of this episode written by Ronald D. Moore from a story by Stuart Charno and Sara B. Cooper.

Airing on 2 March, 1992, Ethics is a Worf (Michael Dorn) story that sees the Klingon facing a fear, that of being injured beyond recovery. He is hurt while working in a cargo bay, and the security officer is paralysed from the waist down.

Unwilling to live with this shame, he reaches out to Riker to help take his life. While the First Officer wrestles with the request, which Picard points out is a matter of honour in Klingon society, a research scientist, Dr. Toby Russell (Caroline Kava) sees the opportunity to prove some pet theories and try out some new drugs and procedures.

This infuriates Crusher (Gates McFadden), rightly so, and she too gets drawn into a debate with Picard. The episode illustrates the differences between human and Klingon, or to put in more Earth-bound, different beliefs.

Worf pushes his son, Alexander (Brian Bonsall) away after losing face in front of him, and Riker doesn’t make things easy for him.

Of course, the risky procedure may pay off, and Worf will be fine in time for the next episode.

It’s an interesting episode, but does not take any side on the subject matter of assisted suicide, but it does raise a healthy debate about it.

The Human Adventure continues next week…

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