Monday, April 2, 2012

Power Play

*** (3 stars out of 5)
A distress call from within the electric whirlwinds of a moon of Mab-Bu VI matches the signal of the USS Essex under Captain Bryce Shumar which disappeared around here two centuries ago. Could it be...


A shuttle with SEATBELTS? What an innovation! Next they'll invent cup holders, GPS, and eight-track cassettes.

Despite the belts, Riker breaks his arm in the inevitable crash. He's a lot more blasé than I would be: "Yeah, pretty sure that's broken." (Poor Marina Sirtis was the one in real pain: she broke her tailbone on this set, which came to be known as Planet Hell.)

O'Brien makes the risky beam-down with pattern enhancers to help rescue the away team. He refrains from any commentary about exactly how often shuttles crash.

Struck by lightning and possessed by little 'Ian Andrew Troi'-style energy beings, Deanna, Data and Miles turn on their lies and charms to direct the ship to the south pole. When they sense the slightest hesitation, they launch an ill-prepared mutiny.

Worf and Babylon Five's licensed commercial telepath Lyta Alexander fail to stop the energy-based goons in a phaser fight. Hostages in Ten-Forward!

Troi's hosting the ghost of Bryce Shumar. Data and Miles, his underlings. They are desperate to escape the torture of the storm and rest in peace. The sneering specters behind friendly faces frighten Keiko and her baby daughter Molly. Villain Troi gets to chew some scenery.

La Forge and Ro creep into the service ducts. They deliver a painful plasma shock meant to drive the anionic energy beings out of the possessed trio. It misses Steve/Data, who seizes Picard by the throat until his ghost pals climb back aboard Troi and Miles. If only Venkman and Spengler were here. (They ain't afraid a' no ghosts.)

Turns out the 'ghosts' are really disembodied condemned prisoners, trapped here 500 years ago by the world of Ux-Mal. They attempted escape on the Essex back in the 2160's and only destroyed it. It was a foregone conclusion: the Daedalus-class starship was made of three toothpicks, three rattling cylinders, and a tennis ball. Seriously, it's a wonder any of them got into space. (Plus they melt if their wings get too near the sun.)

Hostages Picard, Keiko, and Worf are willing to die rather than allow the escape, so the prisoners grudgingly return to their cell in the storm cage. Shaking their anionic non-existent fists.

"Power Play" is tense action fun. No attempt at any deeper meaning, just a hostage crisis with SF trappings. Standard fare, yet well played. Really good phaser fight. Any resemblance to Star Trek V and/or 'The Lights of Zetar' is purely coincidental.

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