Star Trek 173: Allegiance

173. Allegiance

FORMULA: The Empath + What Are Little Girls Made Of? + Lonely Among Us

WHY WE LIKE IT: The faux-Picard is very entertaining whether wooing Beverly or singing songs. The unusual direction.

WHY WE DON'T: Plot holes aplenty. The aliens are not credible.

REVIEW: Picard is kidnapped at the start of Allegiance, and his efforts to escape his cell take up most of the episode. Unfortunately, it's all pretty insubstantial, and we've seen this lab rat scenario before, and done better. Which doesn't mean there aren't some interesting things in this episode.

On the contrary, the best part is probably Picard's replacement putting the moves on Beverly, singing songs with his crew, crashing the ol' poker game and generally being very entertaining and pleasant. Since a telepathic scan seems to have been used to create this copy, it would seem that a measure of wish fulfillment was included. After all, this isn't Picard, it's really Picard's idea of himself. Patrick Stewart seems to relish the chance to play a subtly different Picard, not as stuffy, and even genial. It leads to such great scenes that you almost wish they'd happened for real. I also like the change of tack for Beverly, since I found her pursuit of Picard to be rather sappy.

The runaround being given Picard and his cellmates is less interesting, dealt in obvious reversals, but nonetheless, Esoqq the Chalnoth makes for an interesting character. Kova Tholl is less entertaining though. Picard is smart enough to figure it all out of course, leading to the introduction of the previously unseen aliens. And that's where I start to lose interest. Their not understanding certain concepts strains credulity, especially if they are telepathic, can create convincing copies of people (how about using the copies for study then?), and even had a plant in the room spouting the morality they're not supposed to understand. It doesn't work, and is further marred by some very silly technobabble about reproducing people via transporter technology, etc. The final solution with the intruder forcefield is well played, but unfortunately, this is the first time the crew is ever shown so in tune with one another, and the first time such a gadget is used on the bridge... and the last.

A lot of that material is saved, however, by some very cool direction. The weirdness of the faux-Picard and of real-Picard's situation is highlighted throughout using high camera angles and extreme close-ups. It really gives the episode a distinctive look. Also of note is the Lonka Pulsar, a very nice effect, translated well by lighting on the bridge.

LESSON: Picard's always wanted to renounce his winery origins by downing a stout mug of ale (if not a mug of stout ale).

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Inconsequential fluff. Quite amusing when it wants to be, and everyone involved does the best they can with a problematic script.

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