In the second episode of the first season ofÂ The Next Generation, Picard grapples with Qâ€™s demands and judgment as he tries to help his team solve the mystery of Farpoint. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watchÂ Star Trek.
I definitely think the second half of â€œEncounter at Farpointâ€ is a lot stronger than the first, but I also understand that this originally aired as one piece. Still, I got a better sense of who these characters are once I got to see them in action. Plus, I feel like the entire Farpoint storyline wasnâ€™t given much space to grow within the first half of this episode, though thatâ€™s a necessary aspect of this story. I donâ€™t know that I would have found the pilot as interesting as I did without the framing provided by Qâ€™s test of humanity.
Iâ€™ll touch on that at the end. We have a lot to discuss!
YES. Y E S. First off, the idea that theÂ Enterprise now has a counselor who can act as the shipâ€™s therapist is a BRILLIANT IDEA. Not only does it make sense in terms of organization and efficiency, but now thereâ€™s a character within the fabric ofÂ The Next Generation who can bring out any number of emotional storylines, andÂ yâ€™all know how much I love emotional destruction. Sheâ€™s also half-Betazoid, a species thatâ€™s new to the canon. (I think? I donâ€™t recall them being mentioned inÂ The Original Series.) So weâ€™ve got someone who is â€“ for lack of a better term â€“ empathic, able to determine the emotional state of any being in her vicinity. However, thereâ€™s one exception: she can speak telepathically with Riker, who she clearly had a relationship with, one that I imagine was strong enough to help develop this kind of connection. ITâ€™S AWKWARD. Uncomfortable!Â DRAMATIC. They donâ€™t hate each other, though, and I felt there was an affinity they felt towards each other. Thatâ€™s intriguing. MAY THEY RESUME THEIR RELATIONSHIP AGAIN?
WHAT! THIS MAY BE THE COOLEST TECHNOLOGY INTRODUCED IN THIS SERIES. Hell, even the science itself makes a lot of sense. If the transporters could reassemble matter in a way that made it possible to transport humans, then why couldnâ€™t you transport a forest? HOW MANY HOLODECKS ARE THERE? How many possible scenarios or locales are programmed into those computers? Are they limited to the size of the rooms? WHERE IS MY HOLODECK?
I found it fitting that within a setting thatâ€™s a version of reality â€“ as close to the â€œrealâ€ thing as possible within the space â€“ Riker meets Data and the two talk about authenticity. How â€œrealâ€ is Data if he is a programmed android? How much does that bother Riker? Riker might have felt disturbed by Dataâ€™s presence, but throughout this episode he sees how valuable and trustworthy Data is. Sure, Data might be aÂ reference to the dynamic that Spock had within the originalÂ Enterprise, but this episode makes it clear that Data is not at all the same. And I dig that.
To repeat what I said in the video for this episode, â€œEncounter at Farpointâ€ does a lot to show us that Picard is nothing like Kirk. His distaste for children feels like such a bold decision for the writers to make, and I am utterly and completely into it. Picard staggers between an almost regal authority â€“ IF HE YELLED AT ME I WOULD BE REALLY SAD â€“ and a self-aware sense of perpetual awkwardness. I love this dichotomy, I want more of it, and be prepared for me to shriek constantly about Patrick Stewartâ€™s face. (I just love that man so much, for reasons other than his acting.) I initially thought that his abrupt treatment of Wesley and Dr. Crusher was due to some weird romantic thing (like with Riker and Deanna Troi), but Iâ€™m guessing that Dr. Crusherâ€™s husband died under Picardâ€™s command. Does that make her presence strange on theÂ Enterprise? It does for Picard, who thinks heâ€™s doing the right thing by asking her if she wants to transfer. But Dr. Crusher, who may have her own reservations about being on a Starship again, deliberately signed up to work under Picard. Not only is that her choice, but she establishes very directly that she is here to do a job and do it well. THIS DYNAMIC IS ALREADY SO GREAT. Right off the bat, I feel like Dr. Crusher has a rapport with Picard that no one else does, and most of it involves her being assertive and able to make Picard endlessly uncomfortable and he just deflates around her and YES YES YES YESÂ YES.
Thereâ€™s a neat story within the Farpoint mystery, though I donâ€™t know if it would have been as interesting without Qâ€™s involvement. It felt like the kind of episode that fits right in with whatÂ The Original Series did, especially since it involved a previously-unknown species that were being exploited for personal gain. But itâ€™s the small details that made me want so much more from this iteration of theÂ Star Trek universe. This cast is FUCKING HUGE, and the â€œsideâ€ characters all have way more lines than the secondary characters did inÂ The Original Series. I love that the team that beams down to the planet isnâ€™t the Captain and his First Officer; it gives those other characters (like Geordi or Yar or Troi) a chance to get scenes. I like that, and I hope that is still the case in episodes going forward. Thereâ€™s an improvement in the technology, from the transporters that donâ€™t seem so stiff and unmanageable, to the BRILLIANT DECISION TO MAKE EVERYONE WEAR COMMS RIGHT THERE ON THEIR UNIFORMS, to the sheer efficiency of the crew working together. Thatâ€™s a difficult thing to communicate in just 90 minutes, but by gods, I already see it. While there are people in this crew meeting for the first time, you can also tell that many of these folks have known one another for some time. Itâ€™s fascinating! Itâ€™s good visual storytelling, too, you know?
And Qâ€¦ holy shit, yâ€™all. John de Lancie, first of all, is so unreal as this character. (Still gonna mention his greatness onÂ Breaking Bad.) PLEASE BRING Q BACK, Q IS SUCH A SMUG AND ENRAGING CHARACTERÂ AND I WANT MORE. Q is part of a species that is so full of themselves that they canâ€™t even admit to Picardâ€™s success; the test they designed wasnâ€™t difficult enough, apparently. Of course, the very notion that this one mystery could act as a representative for the entire human race is fucked up, but Picard didnâ€™t refuse to take part. Even when it did become challenging to determine a course of action that wouldnâ€™t harm the unknowing Bandi peopleÂ or the unnamed SPACE JELLYFISH, he still came up with a solution that provided the being with freedom from Zornâ€™s oppressive exploitation of it. The Bandi are not left hopeless and abandoned, and the SPACE JELLYFISH are reunited, all without displays of violence and force, aside from the freeing of the SPACE JELLYFISH, of course.
I suspect that wasnâ€™t good enough for Q. WHEN DOES Q COME BACK??? Donâ€™t tell me, oh my god. This was a decent pilot that has kept me interested in the show, soâ€¦ a success! ONWARDS I GO TO FIND OUT WHY EVERYONE LOVES THIS SHOW SO MUCH.
The video for the second half of â€œEncounter at Farpointâ€ can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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