Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Next Generation 4x5 "Remember Me"

rating: ****

Memory Alpha summary

via Planet Shannon
"Do the Crusher," alas,
fails to catch on either
as a pop song or a dance,
the latter being far crueler
to our dear light-footed doctor
Arguably the best Dr. Crusher episode and one of the best concept stories of the franchise, reminding everyone that Star Trek is science fiction not just because it's set in the future, but because it can execute some cool ideas when it wants to as well.

As a Crusher episode, "Remember Me" is crucial to the character's legacy.  Easily the weakest of the Next Generation ensemble, dropped for an entire season (the second), Crusher was eventually a near-complete non-factor in the movies, and in the series was mostly interesting either as a mother (to Wesley) or sometimes-lover (Picard).  As a doctor she could be shrill ("Ethics") and even surprisingly close-minded ("The Host"), putting her at the bottom of the profession in the franchise as a whole, too.

All of that meant that she was a hard character to write for, receiving the minimum of spotlight episodes throughout Next Generation's run.  So to make her shine, considerable effort had to be made, and on this occasion, the writers truly went above and beyond.  This is the episode that includes the classic line: "If there's nothing wrong with me, maybe there's something wrong with the universe!"

Think of it as kind of the inverse of Deep Space Nine's "The Visitor," which was an episode about Jake Sisko dealing with the loss of his father to a freak anomaly.  Here it's Crusher attempting to reconcile the loss of, progressively, everyone!

The big payoff for the whole experience is that it becomes part of the Traveler cycle, which was kind of like Next Generation's version of the later Enterprise Temporal Cold War, something neat that popped up every now and then but never really got the focus it needed to leave the lasting franchise impact it deserved.  Which also means that this is the only time Crusher is relevant in her son's biggest arc.

The only other time Crusher has an episode nearly as compelling is "Suspicions," which in fact seems designed to try and recapture the magic of "Remember Me."

four quarter analysis
franchise * series * essential * character

notable guest-stars:
Eric Menyuk
Colm Meaney

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