Star Trek: The Next Generation (1994) – Lower Decks, and Thine Own Self

Captain’s log: stardate 47566.7

Rene Echevarria pens the teleplay for this superior episode from a story by Ron Wilkerson and Jean Louis Matthias. It first debuted on 7 February, 1994.

This episode is delightfully unique in that the major characters of the series play supporting roles only. The heart of the tale centres around a group of junior officers, Sam Lavelle (Dan Gauthier), Sito Jaxa (Shannon Fill – a returning role from her appearance in First Duty), Taurik (Alexander Enberg) and Nurse Ogawa (Patti Yasutake) who are up for promotion.

The young crew members are on the edges of a mission that finds the Enterprise near Cardassian space, and one that may affect their futures.

There are some nice point and counterpoint scenes as we join our regulars at their poker game, and the junior officers in their own, both talking about their futures.

When Sito is selected for a special mission, the others can’t share what they know about it, their duty outranking their loyalty to one another, and the young officer finds herself working with a Cardassian… but will the escape plan work?

And how will it affect those awaiting their evaluations, promotions, friendships, and Starfleet obligations?

This is a powerful episode that did something unique, letting unknown characters take a leading role and exploring the relationships and work life of the Enterprise. This one is fantastic.


Captain’s log: stardate 47611.2

Ronald D. Moore pens the teleplay for this Data (Brent Spiner) episode that came from a story by Christopher Halton. Debuting on 14 February, 1994, the episode follows the android officer who is on assignment following a crashed probe.

Unfortunately for Data, he crashes on the same planet, and suffers from a form of amnesia.

The b-story follows Troi’s (Marina Sirtis) pursuing a promotion of her own to become a fully certified bridge officer, something which she discovers the need for when she has a conversation with Crusher (Gates McFadden) who is serving as watch commander on the bridge night shift.

Data, meanwhile, becomes involved in the lives of the inhabitants of a small town he wandered into into, and the adverse effect he has on them because of the radioactive material he is carrying.

Of the two stories, I actually prefer the Troi story, because, once again, it gives us a look at life and procedures on the Enterprise.

It remains a strong episode, and yet another example, much like Lower Decks of a story that wouldn’t be done in earlier seasons. The show had to establish itself before it could tell the types of stories this week’s entry consisted of.

The Human Adventure continues Thursday when I travel to Deep Space Nine!


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