Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Next Generation 2x17 "Samaritan Snare"

rating: ***

Memory Alpha summary

via Star Trek
Geordi and friends!
Let's just get this out of the way: the idiotic Pakleds are all but Next Generation acknowledging and apologizing for how poorly the Ferengi turned out in the first season.  And in their idiotic way, they're brilliant.  A species that gleefully steals everything they have, it's genius.

And to watch La Forge interact with them, it's kind of the beginning of the series realizing he works best when he's immensely frustrated.  Frustrated La Forge is different from how virtually any other character would be.  He doesn't get angry.  He works around it.  In fact, it's strong motivation for him.  And it proves that you don't have to be a miracle worker to be a great engineer.  (Although to be fair, in contrast to the Pakleds, anyone would be a great engineer.  Or a miracle worker, for that matter...)

Putting all that aside, however, this episode ought to be known for one thing: the big reveal concerning Picard's artificial heart.  Later (in "Tapestry") we get a vivid look at how exactly that happened, but like La Forge among the Pakleds, this is a major character breakthrough as well, another sign that the second season really was the turning point of the series, where the pieces began to fall into place and greatness began to enter the discussion.

What's great about Picard's dilemma is that it's also good for Wesley, putting him into a new and better context as well, not to mention the moment where Picard and Wesley finally move past that whole awkwardness of Picard not exactly being comfortable with someone so young being around.  And it's not just Wesley who benefits from the events of the episode.  In fact, it nicely contextualizes Picard's relationship with the whole crew, something the whole series had been waiting for since the start and possibly very necessary indeed (right up until "Best of Both Worlds" it's entirely conceivable that Next Generation actually had Riker around as a kind of backdoor option).  This is to say nothing about Patrick Stewart but rather the character as it had been used to this point.  Finding a reason why he behaves the way he does, not just that he's the opposite of Kirk but why and why that's not a bad thing, is the first step in what then amounts to a very short journey.  Because as of the third season, with Picard finally in shape, the rest of the series is, too...

four quarter analysis
franchise * series * essential * character

notable guest-stars:
Diana Muldaur

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