Sublime Star Trek episodes: “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “The Offspring”

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.

2 thoughts on “Sublime Star Trek episodes: “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “The Offspring””

  1. There really are too many great episodes to count. “The Measure of a Man” where Picard and Riker debate Data’s sentience in court always stands out for me (a sorta Tasha retcon comes up there as well – it’s presumably referencing an earlier episode, but I always liked the idea that Tasha and Data’s relationship went further than was displayed in the series).

    The Best of Both Worlds episodes are still among the best. The Borg was always a compelling villain, but they never quite lived up to these episodes.

    The episode where the Romulan was trying to defect, but it was all a ruse (don’t remember the name) also sticks out in my mind, mostly for the fantastic ending.

    I’m consistently reminded of individual episodes when similar situations arise. For instance, reading Malcolm Gladwell’s recent article about underdogs (and the ensuing debate about the viability of the full court press that completely missed the point, which was that underdogs should use unconventional strategies that play to their strengths rather than their opponents’), I was reminded of a subplot in the episode “Peak Performance” in which Data plays some strategy game with an arrogant alien… and loses (multiple times!) Data is very upset and confused about this, but at the end of the episode, he wins by using a completely defensive strategy, which ultimately frustrates his opponent. In essence, Data played to his strengths (inhuman patience) to win.

    I could go on and on. I like several of the Q episodes (including the one where he’s banished from the Q continuum), the Negelam (sp?) episode, and probably dozens of others.

  2. Star Trek plot generator flowchart

    I had fun looking at this.

    My favourite episode is the one Where, on encoutnering an alien artefact, Picard finds himself on an alien world, with no hope of escape he settles, marries, has children and grows old, eventually dying, he finds himself back on board the enterprise with only a few minutes passed.
    Ah here it is – The inner light

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