Mark Watches ‘The Next Generation’: S05E05 – Disaster

In the fifth episode of the fifth season of The Next Generation, this episode title could not be more apt. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

The Filament

I honestly don’t understand what a quantum filament is, and you know what? I don’t care. I enjoyed this episode so much that I’ll just let the science be what it is. As far as I’m concerned, the Enterprise hit a thing in space that drained it so wholly of its power that everything is a disaster. That’s good enough of me.

(As a side note, I feel like this episode was a precursor to “33” on Battlestar Galactica, no? Given that Ronald D. Moore worked on both shows, I’m now going to accept this as canon with literally no other support.)

Troi / Ro / O’Brien

I think the easiest way to talk about this episode is to split it up by the various plot threads, since each group deals with their own disaster on the Enterprise. This episode is a collection of vignettes more than anything else, and it’s why it’s so riveting. Instead of one story of the crew dealing with this conflict as a whole, the drama comes from everyone being splintered off. So! Let’s talk about the bridge scenes, which are FANTASTIC.

I was actually prepared to write a completely different review because Troi’s characterization annoyed me so much at the start of “Disaster.” It seemed particularly strange to me that Troi, who had to go through the same training as everyone else in the academy, would be so unknowledgeable about everything. I could understand her being rusty or not knowing the finer details of procedures she’d never come across, but initially, that’s not how she’s portrayed. She’s doe-eyed and eager to delegate tasks to anyone but herself.

I came to appreciate how she led her crew, though, especially once this became a much more complex situation. I think that each group had to tackle a problem that affected them locally and the ship as a whole, and trying to figure out how to balance those concerns was a challenge. In the case of the bridge scenes, I loved the dynamic between Ensign Ro, Chief O’Brien, and Counselor Troi. Ro’s aggression wasn’t downplayed; her concerns were very real! At the same time, there was still a moral dilemma at hand. Could Troi order the saucer to separate from the rest of the ship, leaving possible survivors behind? If she didn’t, she risked the entire ship perishing.

It made sense to me that Troi chose to delay the order. If anything, she’s the kind of character who would choose to give others hope, even in the most cynical situation imaginable. The risk was worth it to her because it meant that she could give someone a chance to save everyone else.

Worf / Keiko

Look, I definitely think their scenes were humorous, and the birth of a baby on the Enterprise is pretty cool. It’s a great character juxtaposition because they’re not two people you expect to interact much. But I gotta call foul on Keiko’s pregnancy for a couple reasons. First of all, when??? WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? Her last appearance wasn’t six or seven months prior to this. So… wait, what??? That came out of nowhere, so it felt like her pregnancy was introduced just to create drama. Which, by the way, is a very common trope used to heighten the risk of a conflict. (Sometimes, it’s referred to as Pregnant Hostage, I believe.)

I appreciated the story, and I’m glad Keiko and Miles have a child now! I just thought the set-up for it was kind of bogus.

Data / Riker

Each person has to overcome a horrible obstacle, and I struggle to think of something worse than having to deal with DATA REMOVING HIS OWN HEAD. Well… actually, I think you could argue that Picard’s situation is hellish, as was Crusher’s/Geordi’s. Bah, they’re all awful. But propers to The Next Generation for finding a way to have Data experience a high voltage blast and having his head taken off his body. FOR SCIENCE.

Crusher / La Forge

I don’t know that their story is all that scientifically accurate, as I’m uncertain they would have survived the airlock being opened. But hey, they certainly had the most terrifying sequence! Their situation, much like what the folks on the bridge were dealing with, concerned immutable obstacles that could easily destroy the entire ship. The radiation leak could have easily caused those barrels of… whatever that stuff was, it could have exploded. The whole airlock sequence was pretty thrilling and also utterly ridiculous. I enjoyed it, though. I think one reason this episode was so entertaining to me was that the writers paired up characters we rarely see interact.

Picard / Actual Children

Which means that Picard’s pairing utterly wins. Gods all bless this show for continuing to keep Picard’s hatred of children alive. It gives me life. It is why I get up in the morning. It is a reason for living. Someone on this show’s writing staff thought, “You know what would be hilarious? Picard stuck in an elevator with three children.” Then they made it happen.

But Picard’s scenes are so good for a different reason. HE’S ACTUALLY AMAZING WITH CHILDREN. It is an absolute treat to see him adapt to an admittedly awful situation while doing everything he can to keep those three kids safe, motivated, and as unafraid as possible. He doesn’t make fun of them, he doesn’t disparage them, and he treats them with respect. Note that he’s doing all of this with a broken ankle, and that even when he’s willing to let the kids live over him, he’s still not showing any fear or reservation.

When this show is good, it’s so good, y’all. I appreciate how willing The Next Generation is to change things up. If they’re going to do episodic fiction, then this is how you keep it interesting. YOU THROW EVERYONE INTO DANGER.

The video for “Disaster” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S. this summer and fall Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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