Sunday, December 18, 2011

Encounter At Farpoint

*** (3 stars out of 5)

"Sounds like a fairly dull place," opines the Irish Conn Officer. And O'Brien's not far wrong.

The technical glories of "Encounter At Farpoint" and the effective introduction to my pretend friends and family for the next seven years sometimes make up for a multitude of sins.

Are humans a grievously savage child-race who must submit to the powerfully advanced but apparently sadistic Q?

Answer to be determined in a court of 2079's post-atomic horror that looks like Tim Burton's Sunday School. More cowbell!

Is the verdict in any doubt? These people are handsome, well-spoken, clever, polite, brave, resourceful and all of that. They are heroes, and more importantly, they are MY heroes.

What I noticed this time is that I connect with them best in this story when they show weakness and frailty.

Of course Captain Picard is compassionate and kind- but he can also be a stern, stiff ogre that women and children jump into turbolifts to avoid. He even has to make a point with his new first officer:

"Keep me from making an ass of myself with children. Since a Captain needs an image of geniality, you're to see that's what I project."

Commander Riker is immediately charming and friendly- but he screwed things up with 'Miss Right' when she came along back in the day on Betazed.

The half-Betazoid Lt. Commander Troi and the widow Dr. Crusher make an interesting contrast: career professionals, both healers. But where Crusher seems unhealthily cut off with grief, Troi feels so deeply that she gushes aloud even other people's emotions.

Crusher's son Wesley is eager & smart- but as awkward as any fourteen year old. Wes talks up his dad's corpse to a total stranger and he's still the luckiest kid orbiting Earth.

Security Chief Yar is strong & righteous with demons in her past and a hero-worship of everything Starfleet. A blazing temper gets her in trouble. She makes the Klingon guy look sedate.

Mr. Worf's courage is undercut by his inexperience- to the point that he nearly shoots the viewscreen when the enemy appears.

Technology has given a gift to Mr. La Forge that comes at a price. The blind man can see, and the headaches come free.

Speaking of technology, the sapient android Mr. Data is brilliant and virtually indestructible- with a desperate longing to be human. It's clear he knows envy and loneliness already, if only he recognized them as emotions.

Human Prejudice isn't dead, but it's on life-support. Riker frankly owns up to the idea that he's not comfortable working with a machine- then sets about making a friend.

Finally, there's the Admiral. Human frailty and human strength wrapped in one dog-ugly sweater. OF COURSE IT'S BONES! 137 years old. Bones is about all that's left. And it's as true today as it was then: McCoy is AWESOME.

Groppler Zorn is something of a Scooby-Doo villain. Yee, doggy, he caught hisself a matter transmuting space-jellyfish! Picard orders an illegal kidnapping of Zorn in an effort to prove he's not savage. The truth comes out, Farpoint Station goes home with its jellyfish boyfriend, Humans: 1, Q:0.

Picard orders Farpoint Station be rebuilt. For my money, it'll be two bricks propping up a plank. And it will take 14 years.

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