Star Trek 157: The Ensigns of Command

157. The Ensigns of Command

FORMULA: Skin of Evil + The Paradise Syndrome + The Naked Now

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Sheliak. Data discovers music.

WHY WE DON'T: The badly written colonists.

REVIEW: Data's given a solo mission because of some radiation problems and has to face his misunderstanding of human nature. At least, that's the idea. Unfortunately, these humans are a lot more irrational than most thanks to a poor script. Gosheven is your standard bull-headed community leader who won't see reason no matter what, and the script helps him out, keeping Data from saying the things that would make a convincing argument. Ard'rian falls in love with the android for no better reason than to give him an ally and have him react to a kiss. It's all by the numbers, not very well acted, and also suffers from some obvious dubbing whenever there's running water in the scene.

Brent Spiner is so engaging as Data that he manages to redeem a lot of the planet scenes, and his final solution is a good one. It logically should have come a lot sooner however. Aboard ship, the android participates in his first concert (note O'Brien at the cello in the background), leading to an ongoing hobby for the character. It's all likeable, with Picard commending his creativity, and his colleagues derisively telling him he has no "soul". Glad to see the awkwardness between Picard and Crusher has been abandoned, as they are clearly on a date between friends here.

Perhaps the best part of The Ensigns of Command (what the heck does that title mean, anyway?) is the appearance of the Sheliak, very alien creatures that seem to be the lawyers of space. This gives Picard the chance to flex his lawyerly muscles, which he always does well. Troi's not useless here either, with an interesting discussion about language.

LESSON: Tell them about the orbital bombardment THE FIRST TIME!!!

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: The best scenes are all aboard ship, but unfortunately, that's not where most of the episode takes place.

6 comments:

mwb said...

"the appearance of the Sheliak, very alien creatures that seem to be the lawyers of space. "

Aiiieeee!

Run away, run away!

Siskoid said...

Truly, I don't know why these terrifying monsters didn't show up again, at least working for the Ferengi.

Probably all tied up with the long-running Cybermen vs. Borg copyright infringement suit.

PiFry said...

"The Ensigns of Command" is actually a poetic phrase made famous by John Quincy Adams. It means the trappings and indications of authority, both publicly recognized in form (like a flag or badge indicating authority) and recognized in one's character.

The title refers to the dual struggles between Picard and the Sheliak and between Data and the colonists--both involving a need to demonstrate the "ensigns of command" to make a case and win. Picard is seen to "jibber" at first, with an emotional appeal, but eventually rises to logically beat the Sheliak at their own game. Meanwhile Data's struggle is similar--he has trouble proving his case and authority, but needs to learn to deal with people less logical than he.

Siskoid said...

Wow PiFry, thanks for that! It has bugged me, well, since the late 80s.

And I like the title of your blog!

PiFry said...

Heh, thanks. It's bugged me too so I looked it up. And it's always nice to meet another Futurama fan.

LiamKav said...

The dubbing isn't just because of running water. Gorshavin is dubbed by a different actor every time he speaks. I have no idea why. That sort of thing never looks anything other than fake.

 

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