Wednesday, June 8, 2011

TNG Ep. 24: We'll Always Have Paris

Investigating a time-loop phenomenon rippling through the galaxy, the Enterprise seeks out experimental scientist Dr. Manheim. Upon locating his facility in the Vandor system, the Enterprise discovers the doctor in distress and beam aboard the only occupants, Dr. Manheim and his wife. His wife, Jenice, turns out to be an old flame of Picard's that Picard stood you before leaving for the Academy. Dr. Manheim is dying due to a partially successful trans-dimensional experiment, which is also causing time "hiccups." Dr. Manheim explains how to enter the high-security facility to shut down the experiment, which Data promptly does. Meanwhile, Picard basically apologizes for being a jerk and he and Jenice resolve their past. Jenice stays with Dr. Manheim, back on the facility, and Dr. Crusher is relieved.

Ok, I have to admit. The more I learn about Captain Picard, the more I like his character. This episode, once again, makes him seem more human, and emphasizes that he's no spring chicken with a blank slate. Emphasizing his age helps justify his title as captain and allows the writers to utilize plots that just wouldn't be possible for a younger character. If Riker met a woman he'd spurned on Earth, the wound would still be raw and she probably wouldn't have married yet. Plus, it's Riker, so you'd expect him to handle the emotional situation badly. With Picard, the story can have a much different feel in large part because of his age. It's like learning about the girlfriend your dad had before he married your mother.

Dr. Crusher also handled herself maturely, even though she's shown that she can be quite the firecracker if things don't go how she thinks they should. Between her and Picard, the episode avoids being a terrible soap opera and instead has the realistic feel that people aren't perfect and life isn't perfect. Best of all, you get the sense that Picard has matured since he joined Star Fleet. Back then he abandoned the woman he loved - now he's reassuring her husband that she's faithful to him out of loyalty and love, not because they live in the middle of nowhere.

And, most importantly, the universe doesn't tear apart or implode or whatever. Interestingly, this threat is present, but overshadowed by the character development. Data gets to show off again, so it's all good. Seriously, if I had a super strong android on my crew, I'd send him on missions like that, too. He's simply the most capable when it comes to remembering all those codes and dodging lasers. Lasers! Weehee!

Lasers, beautiful women, and saving the universe. Obviously this episode has it all.

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