4 comments on “Lonely Among Us

  1. I guess the pointlessly combative aliens here feel kind of similar to the pointlessly combative Tellarites from “Journey to Babel.” More interestingly, this might be the first TOS/TNG diplomatic thing that *isn’t* the A plot.

    If you were really, really on the ball, in some of the shots in engineering I think you can spot the outer parts of the temporary wall they used to make the sensor circuitry room. (I was not on the ball. Saw them, but didn’t realize what they were for.)

    Picard’s comment about competing economic systems (just after the intro) dates TNG to the last years of the Cold War. I don’t know how to feel about the fact that both TOS *and* TNG are products of the Cold War; it’s hard to say how that affected the tone of the series. (The writers hit their stride about the same time the war ended, Roddenberry died, and they were gearing up for DS9.)

    I feel like this is the only time we get a shot of the conference room from the outside.

    Note to self for RPG: a “space legs” roll to determine whether the weirdness happening to your ship/character will be a recurring problem you need to flip your shit over, or if it’s something innocuous you can just ride out.

    Picard demanding answers from Singh is downright weird. Starfleet ships encounter so many phenomena they can barely recognize, let alone understand, that Picard should have known an explanation might not be achievable. Sure, it could’ve been meant as motivation instead of an ultimatum, but still, I have to wonder if the writers hadn’t yet settled on what a “typical” starfleet experience looked like. In hindsight, I like how Geordi and Worf fail to prioritize “why is this happening” due to not being privy to that conversation–it shows how important it is to get everybody on the same page, and justifies (most of) the conferences Picard calls throughout the rest of the series.

    It’s kind of amusing that the only character to treat Wesley like a person is the one character who dies. …Just like last episode. Come to think of it, before that, he almost got the whole ship killed; and next episode, he’s due for execution? Man, this Wesley kid is a death magnet.

    I think there’s a logic behind the security meetings: in the first one, the XO meets with the CO about the issue, and a nearby staff officer sits in informally; in the second one, the XO meets with the Chief of Security and the Chief of Operations, and since the Ops guy sat in on the first meeting, he’s naturally done more legwork. (The “Ops” responsibilities aren’t clearly defined at this point, which either justifies–or is justified by–the writers attaching Data to whatever is most interesting on any given day.) The tin lining to this cloud is that I can pretend Tasha was doing effective security things offscreen somewhere which kept her from also sitting in on the first meeting.

    Data was hiding the magnifying glass behind his back for a whole scene, which–if we ignore that it was scripted purely for a dumb visual gag–implies he knows he shouldn’t be doing this shit. So he’s, what, trolling them? Playing cute for Picard since Picard’s the one who mentioned Holmes?

    Riker’s and Crusher’s astonishing failure to remove Picard from command kinda reinforces the theory from TOS that Starfleet captains can get out of court martials (or other legal trouble) pretty easily. Combined with the next episode, it seems like they’re only subject to whatever rules they care to subject themselves to. Perhaps years of relative peace have let the “impeach the captain” powers grow as fuzzy as the Prime Directive has.

    I don’t know if I should be surprised or not that they needed both the transporter pattern and the Picard Energy Being to reconstitute a physical Picard. Actually, since the reconstituted Picard didn’t retain any memories, maybe they just needed *an* energy being, not necessarily the *right* one.

    Next ep preview: all the skin in “Justice” seems like it might be a callback to how Roddenberry wanted all the Earthicans in TMP to be walking around Earth nude. Probably the same “what is beautiful is good” or “too innocent to care” themes.

    • Ah, yeah. We were too busy grousing about stuff to catch the Cold War reference. That’s the kind of thing I want to mention. Yeah, TNG goes off the air in 1994 and slips into a Cold War cultural complacency pretty quickly. Granted, DS9 addresses that pretty quickly, but I haven’t worked through the whole theory yet.

      I hadn’t thought about Singh being nice to Wesley, maybe because I take for granted when people treat children like children instead of humanoid irritants. Good catch.

      I can only think about Data hiding the magnifying glass within the context of the shooting. Cliff Bole: “Brent, just keep it behind your back for continuity. You’re gonna use it on the fish tank at the end of the scene.” Patrick Stewart *Internally*: “Just relax. This will all be over in a year, Patrick.”

      With Picard allegedly returning to starship command after years behind a desk, The Traveler and Q taking an interest in humanity, and the Romulans coming out of isolation, this clearly represents a new era in Federation history. Even though they retcon an entire Cardassian War into this era, maybe some of these command structures and policies are a bit underdeveloped. At the very least, these characters get folded like lawn chairs after the fireworks and it’s disappointing. It’s a theory to keep in mind though.

      • Well, alternatively, I suppose the Cardassian War could have strengthened both the power of a Captaincy and the principles of non-interference. In any case though, the Federation can’t be good at removing captains from power, or the season finale doesn’t work as well.

        I was going to mention how evidence gained by telepathy isn’t admissible in Federation courts, but man, you’re right about how indefensible their spinelessness is. “Encounter at Farpoint” says Riker won’t compromise on Picard safety, and this ep doesn’t technically contradict that, but man, still… I guess their unwillingness to risk their careers is sort of in line with their sometimes extreme adherence to other Federation policy (ie, Prime Directive non-interference), and I guess later eps like “Pegasus” do use this issue into character development.

        It’s interesting that the Galaxy class evidently doesn’t (yet) have the same ubiquitous surveillance from “Turnabout Intruder.” I want to say TNG pays more attention to privacy concerns in general – entering personal quarters, locked doors in general, a couple of plotlines – but that might be my imagination.

        I wonder if Tasha’s ineffectiveness here, combined with Data’s enthusiastic quirkiness, led *directly* to DS9 giving Odo the opposite characterization.

        • I haven’t researched it, but I feel like Odo follows from the setting. The XO is an obvious Bajoran. Who else was around during the occupation, but on the other side? Operations guy? Security guy? Medical guy would be a fun one. Once you say “This security guy was around during the occupation and he’s still around,” his character is pretty damned narrow. Combine that with the fact that he’s the tip of the spear of DS9’s noir elements and you get Odo’s characterization, regardless of Data or Yar. Or so I’d think.

          Nothing in the Star Trek universe is more frustrating than the characterization of Riker’s obsession with/indifference towards his career. It had a lot of potential but generally shows up to do whatever the story needs. He should have been captain in season four.

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