In the thirteenth episode of the sixth season of The Next Generation, I’m confused. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
So, I want to start this review off with a few qualifications before I get into the meat of it. I don’t think The Next Generation should be anything specific in terms of what kind of stories it tells. Part of the joy of watching this show is in experiencing moments when the writers do experiment with other kinds of stories! Thus, I don’t want to write a review that claims that The Next Generation can’t do a certain story. I think that if this show wants to do a morally-grey murder mystery with an open ending, then they damn well should. Often, I’m bored by meta discussions that claim that writers can’t experiment with certain tropes or genres, or that a show is betraying itself by doing things differently. (I’m seriously having flashbacks to my days in The X-Files fandom, where people freaked the fuck out over that show doing “funny” episodes. People thought it betrayed the theme of the show!!!)
I open with this because my criticism of this episode is not based in that. I’ve clearly got Deep Space Nine over there, which is a lot darker and much more morally complicated than The Next Generation. My problem here is that I’m just not sure what happened, nor am I certain I know what it was the show was going for. Which is unfortunate, because I think that Aquiel is one of the more compelling one-off characters we’ve ever had on this show. I love the idea that we get a murder mystery that centers on the fact that WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO GOT MURDERED. We get a portrait of Aquiel’s life from her logs, and it helps us to get a sense for who she might be. And who is that person? She’s creative, she cares deeply about her sister, and she’s got a desire to do something exciting and meaningful.
And then, the show twists that by revealing that Aquiel is still alive and that she may not be the person we thought she was. See, I would love a story about how we present a specific version of ourselves to different people. We thought we knew Aquiel from those logs, as did Geordi, but that’s not the case, is it? She was far more combative than we thoughtâ€¦ sort of? The thing is, “Aquiel” barely commits to anything it brings up. Was she insubordinate to Rocha, or was it justifiable since Rocha wasn’t really Rocha? Did her previous superior transfer Aquiel because she was a bad officer, and does that even matter in this conflict?
On top of that, the show tries to shove yet another instant romance in front of us, and not only is it unbelievable, IT’S CONFUSING. I thought she was trying to trick Geordi in order toâ€¦ do something? In hindsight, whatever theory I had didn’t make sense, either, especially since the “rules” of a coalescent organism meant that all it had to do was touch another organism in order to consume it. So she fell in love in likeâ€¦ twenty-four hours? If that?
But really, the ending is just one of the most ridiculous conclusions this show has ever given me. Did the writers not know how to solve this, and they just pointed at the dog and said, “WHAT IF IT WAS HER???” Because I don’t understand why this organism would just sit around until the last minute to attack Geordi. Geordi was alone with that dog for HOURS. Not only that, but the dog helped Geordi??? WHY WOULD THE CREATURE HELP GEORDI DISCOVER THE TRUTH ABOUT IT? Of course, as absurd as this all is, there’s one glaring problem here: WHOSE REMAINS WERE ON THE FLOOR??? If the creature became Rocha, then attacked Aquiel, who escaped before the process could work completely, then became the dogâ€¦ WE’RE STILL MISSING A BODY. Who shot the organism? Aquiel? If so, WHY WAS IT STILL ALIVE?
I don’t get it. At all. And I feel personally offended because DON’T DO THAT TO DOGS.
The video for “Aquiel” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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