Posted 10 May 2013 - 05:52 AM
320: Tin Man
A Federation long-range probe picks up an alien spacecraft - apparently a living space creature - orbiting a star in a region the Romulans have claimed. The Enterprise takes on a Betazed expert in first contact situations and races to investigate, but finds that their expert may not be entirely up to the job.
A strong episode, notable for its haunting music and a solid (if slighlty whiny) central performance from Harry Groener. The premise feels under-explored a little with the idea of the Enterprise in a race to get to a prize being sold short, as is the sequences on the living ship itself (which are brief), but overall this is pretty solid stuff. My main complaint is that the episode seems out of sorts with regards to the rest of the series' technical limitations, namely that a single Romulan warbird can cripple the Enterprise with just a few shots even with its shields up (the Romulan ship is more formidable that a Borg cube in this sequence) and the Enterprise somehow beams Data and Tam to the living ship from many millions of miles away (when the transporters only have a maximum range of 40,000km). Even sillier, the Enterprise is blasted several light-hours from the exploding star at the end of the episode but somehow they see the explosion instantly.
321: Hollow Pursuits
LaForge and Riker have issues with a new engineering officer who is constantly later and too nervous to make a solid contribution to the team. LaForge discovers that Lt. Barclay has created a fantasy world on the holodeck and populated it with recreations of the bridge crew, to their disapproval.
A fun episode, notable for the first appearance of Lt. Barclay as played by The A-Team's Dwight Schultz. Schultz gives a nervous, on-edge performance which stays just the right side of irritating. The tech problem that nearly destroys the Enterprise (until LaForge and Barclay solve it) is a bit cliched, but most of the fun comes from the holodeck, particularly Barclay's representation of Riker as a short, whiny buffoon (which Frakes does a great job of selling). Overall, fun but not too deep.
322: The Most Toys
Data is kidnapped by a lunatic collector who also fakes Data's destruction.
Meh. Not a bad premise, but the execution is so-so. Brent Spiner's fine performance and the ambiguous ending (in which Data appears to decide to kill an unarmed being to prevent greater harm later on) add some interest to the episode, but it fails to adequately explore any of its ideas. The crew's surprisingly muted reaction to Data's 'death' is particularly unconvincing.
The Enterprise must transport the infamous Ambassador Sarek to a meeting with an alien race, a meeting he has been working on for over ninety years. Outbreaks of violence on the ship reveal that Sarek is severely ill and cannot complete the mission, forcing him into a dangerous mind-meld with Picard.
A powerhouse of acting, with both guest star Mark Lenard (reprising his role as Sarek from the original series and the movies) and Patrick Stewart firing on all cylinders, particularly in the mind meld scenes and their aftermath. It's a shame we don't get to see the unusual aliens (after all the fuss made over their goo-bath environment) but the episode benefits from its tight focus on Sarek. This is also only the second time an original Trek main castmember (Spock) is mentioned on the show (McCoy appeared in the pilot but was not named; The Naked Now mentioned Kirk).
324: Menage a Troi
Lwaxana Troi, Deanne and Riker are kidnapped by a Ferengi captain who has become obssessed with Lwaxana, as well as seeing the benefit of gaining control of her telepathic powers for financial gain.
A daft-but-fun episode with Lwaxana Troi matching wits with the Ferengi. The subplot with Wesley going to the academy-but-not (again) is a bit tedious, it has to be said, and Riker breaking free from captivity using a Ferengi officer's interest in chess is so predictable they don't even bother showing it on-screen. The episode is most notable for its insane ending sequence, where Picard vows to 'regain' Lwaxana by mauling Shakespeare and threatening to destroy the Ferengi ship (which actually should be a match for the Enterprise, so I'm not sure why the Ferengi captain bricks it instantly), which is entertaining.
The Enterprise crew rescue an injured alien who has no memory of who he is or where he came from. Shenanigans ensue.
Fairly standard Stark Trek guff, handled with competence but little flair. Mark La Mura is reasonably good as the mysterious alien and it's amusing to see Worf trying to tutor LaForge in the arts of seduction, but overall the episode is just...average.