Wednesday, May 18, 2011

TNG Ep. 21: The Arsenal of Freedom

The Enterprise investigates the disappearance of the USS Drake on their survey of planet Minos. Minos used to be run by an advanced weapons-selling race who are mysteriously all dead now. A holographic salesman greets the ship upon their arrival, but he's not a true AI and can't answer their questions about the Drake. Picard sends an away team which encounters another holographic projection, this one designed to lure them in and freeze them in place. Riker is frozen; Picard and Dr. Crusher join the away team to restore Riker. During the battle with the machine, Picard and Crusher fall into an underground cavern where they find the master machine trying to kill them, as well as the first salesman holographic projection. Picard learns that the machine killed all of the native inhabitants and probably the crew of the Drake. The away team tricks the machine into letting them off the planet by telling the salesman that they'll buy the darn thing. Congratulations, your demonstration was effective.

It makes me cranky any time an episode is saying "war is bad," but this one wasn't too obnoxious about it. And really, who can resist the good ole plot of "makers killed by what they made." I just prefer the made thing to be an AI, like Lore. Oh! When do we get to see him again?

And, of course, having the doctor be the one that's hurt was a nice subplot. Her knowing about the roots was a little kooky, but at least we finally got to learn more about her origins. In fact, none of the character interactions struck me as off like they have in other episodes. Tasha even acted like head of security and outwitted that second doohickey that was shooting at them. Even Tasha was not the weakest part of this episode, not this time.

No, the weakest part of this episode was the fact that the ancient race who built the killing computer didn't think to, you know, lie to it. Or include a master off switch. For goodness sakes. We have master off switches on our PCs. You know, that big green button on the tower? Press it long enough and the computer shuts off. What if the giant killing machine had gotten some kind of blue screen of death? How would they reboot it, then, without an off button? Pft. Lame.

I mean, maybe a master off switch would have still been useless. Maybe the machine would have fired on anyone who came near it. Still, its inclusion in the plot would have made the dead alien race - and the USS Drake - sound that much less dumb. To me, it's scarier if the dead makers actually took reasonable precautions, and were still foiled. That makes it sound more like it could happen to us. Like... Lore. Lore has an off switch, for goodness sake.

I didn't hate this episode. I just wasn't impressed. Neeeeeext.

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