Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Next Generation, Season 4: Legacy

The Next Generation, Season 4
Airdate: October 29, 1990
79 of 176 produced
79 of 176 aired


The Enterprise responds to a distress call from a Federation freighter. It is in trouble, breaking up over the Turkana IV colony - a chaotic war-zone that seceded from the Federation decades ago. Upon crash-landing, the freighter crew survivors are taken hostage by one of the warring factions. Things are complicated further by the revelation that the late Tasha Yar's sister still lives on the colony, and apparently wants to help the Enterprise rescue the hostages. Can they trust her?

Pictured: Ishara Yar's cameltoe sets off a proximity detector.


Matthew: I have some pointed editorial notes for the writer of this episode. Joe Menosky has demonstrated his ability to write a cohesive, dramatic story with a lot of punch and a good sci-fi hook. He wrote "The Nth Degree," for crying out loud! This story, however, is an unfocused mess. It starts with the poker game teaser - always welcome, but moreso if it actually ties in to the story at large. In it, Data takes all, and sees through Riker's bluffs and tricks. How exactly does this tie into the overall lesson of the show - don't trust a woman from the wrong side of the tracks? I'm having a hard time seeing it. But things proceed along their messy way, with the colony idea, gang warfare with proximity detectors, the hostage trope, and the "I want to join Starfleet" idea. There needed to be some editing here. The hostage element should have been cut. It adds nothing organic to the story, especially when it is stranger. Who cares about some random freighter crewmen? Not me.

Kevin: I don't really care about either the crewmen or the colonists. It's a very old TNG trap of centering the conflict around and about people I haven't met and don't care about. It really robs the story of a lot of impact. I agree on the teaser as well. I was trying to remember which episode that scene with Riker and the card trick was in and I couldn't figure it out until I sat down to watch this one, and that should say something.

Matthew: In some ways, you can see the strain to make the Ishara story some sort of "do over" for the way Tasha exited. I did like the commentary that the Ishara had on her sister and her leaving. But some of it did seem contradictory. Ishara goes from saying in one minute that Tasha was a coward to join Starfleet, to saying  that Tasha didn't abandon her in the next scene, and then back again later still. Which is it? And then Ishara wants to join Starfleet, the organization that mercilessly poached her sibling away from her? Also, I found Ishara's statement that this was the first time she'd felt friendship to be either a really inconsistent one (she is in a GANG, after all) or a silly and transparent attempt to curry favor. OK, all that said, I did enjoy the turnabout and betrayal at the end.

Kevin: The moments of the crew discussing Tasha were definitely the highlight of the show. The scene in the transporter room was also well done, but i want to credit the acting more than the writing there. Nothing about the set up or the pay off of the episode's plot was sufficiently developed to really make me care about anything that happened in this episode.

Matthew: The idea of a Federation colony sliding into anarchy is an interesting one. How could this happen, in a culture with nearly unlimited resources? How could an entire populace be convinced that this was a wise course? How could it stay so screwed up for so long? Interesting questions all. None of them get answered. The "proximity detector" idea is a symptom of this half-hearted exploration. When were these things implanted? Ishara says that the previous government created them to control the gangs. Well, OK... but then how do they keep getting put in people? That was 15 years ago, after all. Seems like you could have a bunch of babies and recruit them. And then, after the Enterprise crew surgically removes Ishara's implant, THEY LET HER GO, with no mention of it being placed back into her body. Uh... this seems like it's almost bordering on a Prime Directive violation.

Kevin: On some basic level, the colony set up just doesn't make sense. These are humans living in a staged reading of 80s cinema classic "The Warriors." It makes no sense when other species don't seem to want in on the Federation bandwagon, but it makes even less sense that humans don't. Tasha is really the only person who got out? The colony certainly doesn't have the means to carry out its threat to destroy visiting ships. Why not just sit there and beam up anyone who doesn't want to live in a dystopian nightmare? The betrayal is well done, but it's torpedoed by a crappy underlying story.


Matthew: Despite what seems to be an intention to make this a "Data show," there wasn't a whole lot for Data to do. Spiner did his best, keeping in character and delivering the lines. That said, the rest of the cast was shut out, for the most part. Troi got to sense deception, Stewart got to deliver a line about Tasha navigating a minefield, and Riker got to go "pew pew pew!" That's about it. This script didn't afford many opportunities for main cast to shine. And they didn't.

Matthew: So to me, this episode kind of lives or dies on Beth Toussaint's performance as Ishara Yar. And she turns in a competent acting performance. I believed her, even when the script was having her say contradictory things. She did a good job on the final confrontation with Data. It wasn't a knock your socks off performance, but it was competent, and maybe even a bit more than that. Now, Don Mirault as Hayne? Not so much. He looked and sounded like he stepped fresh off of the 80's cliche bus.

Kevin: You mean you didn't buy him just "trying to keep the peace"? Crazy talk. I agree Ishara had the basics of a good guest turn, but I never end up caring about her or her problems. Maybe when they establish all they do is shoot at each other steal non-essential supplies, it robbed her conflict of urgency. Ooooh...she's gonna go back to stealing brandy. That's so dramatic.

Production Values

Matthew: This episode featured a "lesser" Okudagram. The map of the colony was too small for the story's purposes, namely to point out corridors and attack targets. I thought the Turkana IV sets were pretty decent. They were reminiscent of "Too Short A Season," but had more texture, and some clever re-uses of same sets lit and dressed differently to indicate changes in location. Also, there were some nice phaser effects, especially the one where Ishara gets hit and falls down, while firing into the wall behind her. Very dynamic.

Kevin: I wasn't as enamored of the sets. They were dark and claustrophobic and not in a good way. I will say that I thought they did a good job making the tunnels feel expansive. Maybe it's a personal thing, but I just never really enjoy episodes that are so dark visually. They're not as much fun to watch on my tv screen.

Matthew: The costumes were pretty decent, having a very Terminator 1 look to them. The hairdos? Uh... I guess anarchic colonies become the Planet of the Greasy Mullets. They looked like they were extras from the Kim Wilde music video "Kids in America." Speaking of Kim Wilde... what in holy hell was Ishara wearing on the Enterprise? It looked like it was on loan from the Seven of Nine collection. Was Ishara trying to seduce the Enterprise crew with her muscular shoulders, giant busoms, and her cameltoe?

Kevin: Keeping it classy as always, Matthew.


Matthew: This is a 2 for me. It falls back into the traps that hampered Season One and Two shows. Conflicts between factions we don't know or care about.  Unfocused storytelling. 80s cliche characters, costumes and casting. It was redeemed, however, by a decent guest performance by Beth Toussaint, and a moderately enjoyable emotional conflict for Data and the crew. But overall, it's just kind of "meh."

Kevin: Yeah. Ishara did the best she could with what she had, but they didn't give her a lot other than a bizarrely tight jumpsuit. This gets a two from me as well for a total of 4.


  1. To me, this is a one. Frankly, I'd much rather watch an Angel One or even a Code of Honor. At least those have a so-bad-it's-good kind of quality. This is just painfully boring, and the characters feel neither real nor like caricatures. They're just there, and I don't care one little bit about them. Ishara is okay, but I don't totally buy her as Tasha's sister. Not that I don't believe her, just that it feels forced. Maybe a flashback scene or something of the two of them together might have helped. Or even a nice story from Ishara. I think part of what makes this colony seem unreal, apart from the totally unexplained nature of how they got to this point, is that the people's lives seem entirely centered around gangs and violence. Really? I mean, you have the advantage of knowing if your enemies are coming, so don't you occasionally have some kind of fun-- sports or entertainment or meals together or something? I would have liked to have seen something like that because otherwise I just don't buy that Ishara goes back to that when she could live in the comfort and safety of the Federation. Okay, done ranting, I just really dislike this episode!

  2. "It looked like it was on loan from the Seven of Nine collection. Was Ishara trying to seduce the Enterprise crew with her muscular shoulders, giant busoms, and her cameltoe?"

    Or... perhaps the outfit was actually the inspiration for Seven of Nine's wardrobe? Hmmm... food for thought.