Yesterday on sci-fi’s TNG block I caught the ending of Yesterday’s Enterprise, which was then followed by The Offspring. These are two of the best TNG episodes ever. It struck me that TNG as a series remains unmatched even by DS9 in terms of how many truly great episodes there were that really explored the human condition in such powerful ways.
Yesterday’s Enterprise handled Trek nostalgia brilliantly though subtly – the uniforms worn by the Enterprise-C crew were directly taken from the Trek movies from Khan onwards, for example, and the shape of the Enterprise-C was far more evocative of the iconic Enterprise from TOS than the Enterprise-D (I always felt that the Enterprise-D was flat and curvy in exactly the wrong places). But the way the story retconned Tasha Yar’s character was the real lodestone – and the scene with Picard where she argues to be transferred to the doomed ship was perfection, especially Picard’s final almost-refusal resigned-approval. Plus Castillo’s simple statement, “I don’t want you here.” – superb.
The Offspring, meanwhile, is remarkable for how it explores father and daughter love, using emotionless androids, and manages to convey the essence of that relationship in a simple scene where Data and Lal hold hands. This is the fundamental purpose of science fiction – to explore the human condition by using non-humans, and Data is the personification of science fiction itself, making the literary genre a character in its own right. The final scene with Lal and Data, where she tells him she will feel for the both of them, is one that moves me every time. And the scene with Riker in Ten-Forward never fails to make me laugh out loud.
There’s no way around it – I need to get myself a full set of these as soon as possible. Even Firefly can’t match TNG as far as its literary science fiction credentials go – and while I wish the new Trek movie franchise all the best, the Star Wars-ification of Star Trek is not science fiction anymore, but just space opera.
If anyone has a favorite episode of TNG to share, please comment! lets get sentimental.