Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Next Generation 5x24 "The Next Phase"

rating: **

the story: Geordi and Ro are presumed dead after a transporter accident.

similar to: "The Tholian Web" (original series), "Whispers" (Deep Space Nine), "Vanishing Point" (Enterprise)

my thoughts: This is another appearance from Ro, who like Alexander quickly became a victim to fairly pointless guest-star status after a newsworthy introduction.  As a member of the supporting cast, Ro became a fairly bland presence though certainly a notable one, especially in appearances like "The Next Phase," where her role could literally have been filled by anyone.

The story itself also squanders the Romulans once again.  For whatever reason, the series continually shifted from meaningful to pointless with them, too.  Here they, too, could have been replaced by any other species.

It is interesting, though, as Geordi and Ro attempt to prove to their crewmen that they're still alive.  Like Enterprise's later "Vanishing Point," it's far more interesting to follow the desperation of the missing characters than to see the reaction of their crewmates.  Data evoked far more sympathy in his various existential crises than these two manage, but maybe that's simply because the audience is in on it the whole time (Hoshi has a somewhat different experience, akin to O'Brien's in the Deep Space Nine episode "Whispers;" both of them are wondering if it's everyone else who has the problem).  It's certainly not like Spock and McCoy battling over command in "The Tholian Web," alas.

Still, you end up rooting for their cleverness as they figure out how to communicate.  It's a minor triumph, next exactly worthy fifth season material, but you can forgive the show for something like this.  It fits with the lesser efforts from the season, at least.

criteria analysis: franchise - series - character - essential

notable guest-stars:
Michelle Forbes (Ro Laren)
Susanna Thompson
Thomas Kopache

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