Fasten your seatbelts – this week’s Craggus’ Trek Trek Phase II Omnibus (Vol.14) is a bumpy ride!

Here’s your weekly Omnibus Edition of Craggus’ Trek Trek Phase II covering Season 4 episodes 19 to 25:

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#StarTrekTNG S4E19 - The Nth Degree ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In which the makers of Star Trek The Next Generation miss an open goal of continuity which would have added a fun little connection to the original Enterprise crew's adventures. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When Reg Barclay (Dwight Schultz) is knocked unconscious by an alien probe during an inspection of the Argus Array, a federation deep space telescope, the crew are forced to destroy the probe lest it damages the Enterprise the same way it appeared to damage the array. However, the probe's energy pulse has dramatically enhanced Barclay's intelligence and he's getting smarter by the minute. So smart, in fact, that soon the Enterprise computer can't keep up and Barclay needs to take matters into his own hands. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It's another fun episode and a great showcase for Schultz as he gets to put a sci-fi spin on the old 'humans only use 10% of their brain capacity' myth. It's also a classic example of Trek's ability to tell a story where there is situational peril but no actual villain and to tell a 'bottle show' which still feels vast in scope rather than claustrophobic. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It's just a shame, though, that there's not even a little effort to link the Cytherians to the plot of #StarTrekVTheFinalFrontier with which this episode overlaps a lot. Both stories deal with people being compelled to bring starships to the centre of the galaxy through means never before discovered. I would have loved for there to be some reference to a Federation starship having been lured to the centre of the galaxy by a Cytherian renegade imprisoned on a planet some years before which piqued the Cytherians' interest and they have spent the past 80 years or so searching for the lifeforms which made that journey themselves. Anyway, that's my personal headcanon and you're welcome to it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #StarTrek #TheNextGeneration #thenthdegree #CraggusTrekTrekPhaseII #StarTrekTheNextGeneration #cytherians #dwightschultz #reginaldbarclay

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#StarTrekTNG S4E20 - Qpid ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ A follow-up to Captain's Holiday and a frothy, fun-filled romp, Qpid - aside from being a solid pun - ends up being one of the lesser Q episodes mainly due to the fact Q's not actually in it that much and when he is he doesn’t really get the opportunity to exchange the usual repartee. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Jennifer Hetrick is a welcome returnee as Vash and easily resumes the 1930s screwball comedy chemistry with Patrick Stewart and while the Robin Hood costumes and concept are fun as an idea, in execution they smother the story and it all feels a little too silly for this Enterprise crew. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Much of the comedy feels a little flat, mainly thanks to the humourless performance of Clive Revill as Sir Guy of Gisbourne (although Worf's protestations against being described as 'merry' is brilliant) and it has to be said that no matter how much Lincoln green you drape your cast in, the woodlands of California are never going to look even remotely convincing as Sherwood Forest. ⭐⭐⭐ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #StarTrek #TheNextGeneration #qpid #CraggusTrekTrekPhaseII #StarTrekTheNextGeneration #robinhood #johndelancie #q #jenniferhetrick

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#StarTrekTNG S4E21 - The Drumhead ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Star Trek has oft provided a good setting for some courtroom drama and this Jonathan Frakes directed episode is another prima facie case in point as an explosion aboard the Enterprise and the discovery of a Klingon spy leads to the launch of a formal investigation of the Enterprise crew. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The enquiry is led by retired Admiral Norah Satie, who we're told was responsible for rooting out the infiltration of Starfleet which Picard and co uncovered in Conspiracy back in Season 1. Would have been nice to have an episode or two on that, wouldn't it? Before Picard can hold a rally and yell 'witch hunt!', Satie begins to suspect conspiracy and treason at every turn and when her Betazed adjutant confirms that a low-ranking crewman is hiding something, her zeal to uncover a plot enters overdrive. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Jean Simmons (not to be confused with the lead singer of Kiss although what an episode that would have been!) glides majestically through the show, poised and styled in a way that's deeply reminiscent of the guest stars of the Original Series. It's a tense and uneasy episode as we see how quickly Worf gets caught up in Satie's seductive and selective prosecutions while Picard becomes more and more troubled. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The only thing which keeps the episode from being a five-star classic is that it feels like it just kind of stops because the episode has run out of time and everything has to be wrapped in a rushed and unsatisfying finale following Satie's explosive outburst in court. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It certainly sets the scene, though, for the coming season finale as it reminds us of the ongoing Romulan efforts to destabilise the Klingon/ Federation alliance and suggests that if Starfleet abandons its core principles, it may well destroy itself without the help of an outside adversary. ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #StarTrek #TheNextGeneration #thedrumhead #CraggusTrekTrekPhaseII #StarTrekTheNextGeneration #witchhunt #conspiracy #jeansimmons

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#StarTrekTNG S4E22 - Half a Life ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The tonal rollercoaster of TNG Season 4 continues with this powerful and poignant exploration of the arguments - both for and against - euthanasia powered by a incrediblely nuanced performance from M*A*S*H* alumnus (and first ever live-action J'onn J'onzz/ Martian Manhunter, trivia fans) David Ogden Stiers as 59-year-old Kaelon scientist Timcin and a transformative turn as Lwaxana Troi from Majel Barrett. Look out too for an early appearance by Ensign Ro-to-be Michelle Forbes as Timcin's daughter. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Although there's some technobabble MacGuffin around restarting a dying star to kick off the episode (they end up killing off a star, probably altering the course of the Nexus a bit and annoying Dr Tolian Soran wherever he is at this point) that's swiftly discarded as the episode focusses on the morality play of a world where suicide is definitely considered painless. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The episode's real triumph is in taking the somewhat pantomime dame character of Troi's mother and giving her depth, pathos and an existence beyond a flirty punchline. Barrett brings her a-game to the excellent script and although it ends on a sombre and downbeat note, it permanently changes the character of Lwaxana Troi for the better. ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #StarTrek #TheNextGeneration #halfalife #CraggusTrekTrekPhaseII #StarTrekTheNextGeneration #davidogdenstiers #michelleforbes #lwaxanatroi

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#StarTrekTNG S4E23 - The Host ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It's romance time once again, and the Doctor is in…for disappointment as usual. When Trill ambassador Odan comes onboard, Beverley finds herself Crushing hard but as their romance progresses, she's unprepared for his 'little worm'. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Just as their romance is blossoming, Odan is critically injured and, much to Dr Crusher's disappointment, it's Commnander Riker who ends up with Odan inside him. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Once again, The Next Generation introduces an alien race and a subject matter which Deep Space Nine would go on to handle much, much better. Yes, there's a doomed romance angle, but it's very much played straight and the twist at the end - where Odan is revealed to have been paired with a female body - prompts Beverly to react to the transgender development in a way which seems a little unenlightened now but nearly two decades ago was probably as progressive and inclusive as network TV would have allowed. It's unfortunate that Dr Crusher expresses her personal feelings as those of her entire species but then again this is the woman who easily believed the entire universe revolved around her only a few episodes back so what are you going to do? ⭐⭐⭐ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #StarTrek #TheNextGeneration #thehost #CraggusTrekTrekPhaseII #StarTrekTheNextGeneration #trill #transgender

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#StarTrekTNG S4E24 - The Mind's Eye ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Unrepentant sex pest Geordi LaForge is off duty and heading to Risa for what Picard has told him is a few days of R&R before an artificial intelligence seminar but I suspect is really a long-overdue intervention and emotional intelligence course run by Starfleet HR. Unfortunately his itsy bitsy teeny weeny shuttle is intercepted by a Romulan warbird where he's given the full Clockwork Orange treatment and becomes a Manchurian engineer as he's sent back to the Enterprise to assassinate a Klingon Governor and further foment discord between the Federation and the Klingons. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We're fully leaning into the season's arc now as we barrel towards the season finale and there's even a tease of a quasi-returning villain who remains hidden in shadows and uncredited here as the Romulans and their sympathetic Klingon faction plot their coup. ⭐⭐⭐ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #StarTrek #TheNextGeneration #themindseye #CraggusTrekTrekPhaseII #StarTrekTheNextGeneration #romulans #risa #themanchuriancandidate #levarburton #geordilaforge

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#StarTrekTNG S4E25 - In Theory ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The Next Generations follows up 'Data's Day' with Data dating as our favourite android decides to try his hand (and, I guess, other fully functional parts) at a relationship. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When Ensign D'Sora splits up with her boyfriend, she's hardly the first to seek temporary romantic solace with something battery powered but in this case, she rebounds straight into the positronic arms of Lt Commander Data. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When, to Data's surprise, she gives him 'a passionate kiss in the torpedo bay', it not only coins a new euphemism but also leads to Data deciding to create a new romance subroutine. Unfortunately, Data knows next to nothing about romantic relationships and demonstrates this by turning first to notorious strike-out king Geordi LaForge for advice before canvassing the rest of the main cast, including renowned horn dog Commander Riker and deciding to create an algorithm seemingly rooted in 1950s sitcoms. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Meanwhile, the rest of the crew eventually find themselves dealing with a random subspace nebula problem which opens up gaps in the fabric of space as the writers struggle to fill gaps in the running time of the episode. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In theory, this could have been a good episode but in practice, it feels like a hastily rewritten Wesley episode, pivoted to feature Data for more 'amusing' misunderstandings of human nature but by the end of the episode it hasn't made any difference to the character at all. The b-plot is so poorly developed it practically screams afterthought and is littered with carelessly apocryphal occurrences such as Picard for some reason being the one to pilot the shuttle which leads the Enterprise out of the dangerous nebula. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It would all be fine if this were a lightweight, inconsequential episode but the story kills a crewmember by phasing them halfway through the deck makes 'In Theory' a romantic comedy far too little comedy and altogether too much body horror. ⭐⭐ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #StarTrek #TheNextGeneration #intheory #CraggusTrekTrekPhaseII #StarTrekTheNextGeneration #data

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Tune in next week for the next Omnibus or follow @TheCraggus on Instagram to get Craggus’ Trek Trek Phase II directly in your feed. 🖖

 

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