Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Next Generation 4x8 "Future Imperfect"

rating: **

the story: Riker wakes up sixteen years in the future, but discovers all may not be as it seems.

similar to: "The Corbomite Maneuver" (Original Series), "All Good Things..." (Next Generation), "Child's Play" (Voyager)

my thoughts: This is a fun episode that plays with the viewer's knowledge of the series, bringing back characters like Minuet ("11001001") and the Romulan Tomalak while presenting a possible future.  It's most fun as a Riker episode, of course, and possibly the most fun Riker episode of the series (for such a fun character in general, it's odd to admit that so few of his episodes were fun).

By the time you realize what's really going on, it's the end of the episode, and it's a kid who's been abandoned by his parents and forced to make up his own reality.  There are countless episodes like that throughout franchise history.  It's one of the better examples, to be sure, because at least most of it is spent with everyone being able to enjoy the experience, because the alternative can be grim on all scores, or sometimes just for the characters (in a very roundabout way, Icheb's experiences in "Child's Play," where we discover how a different set of parents basically made their own child's life a living hell to escape a bad situation...). 

Alternate futures and/or timelines have an equal mixed bag in franchise history.  "Future Imperfect" has better footing for happiness than most of those, too, except maybe Worf's odd adventures in "Parallels," where he explores dozens of different versions of how things might have turned out differently for himself and the crew.

The somewhat more hackneyed part of it is the Romulan subplot.  The series pressed the Romulans so much and yet only occasionally got something good out of them.  Their presence here is more of a red herring than anything, which is a good thing. 

In the end, relish the good in this "Imperfect" episode, and never mind the rest.

criteria analysis: franchise - series - character - essential

notable guest-stars:
Andreas Katsulas (Tomalak)
Carolyn McCormick (Minuet)
Patti Yasutake (Nurse Ogawa)

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