Star Trek 158: The Survivors

158. The Survivors

FORMULA: Requiem for Methuselah + The Ensigns of Command (already!) + The Royale

WHY WE LIKE IT: I'd forgotten how effective those scene with Deanna going out of her mind were. The scope of Kevin's crime.

WHY WE DON'T: Picard's prescience.

REVIEW: The Survivors offers a fair mystery between the appearance of two elderly survivors from an alien attack, a warship that appears and disappears, and a song driving Troi insane. The performances are good, the effects pretty interesting, and you really do wind up feeling a lot of sympathy for Kevin Uxbridge. So why doesn't it quite work?

I think chief among the reasons is that Picard not only guesses the mystery's solution, but from then on is as good as a chorus, explaining everything as if he's read the script. The original leap of logic is believable (though rather risky), but after that, it seems highly improbable that he would have all the facts right. A case of our being told the story rather than seeing it. Still, Kevin gets the final reveal, the scope of his crime a true shocker.

Another good element is Troi being driven batty by the music box. Those scenes are very well directed, with all her anxiety coming across quite well through sound design, lighting and camera moves. Oddly, it's the one aspect of the episode I'd totally forgotten about. Glad to have it back in my memory at any rate.

LESSON: Only divine intervention can get that tune out of your head.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: A worthy story, even when you know what's really going on, but the script is a little lazy in how it chooses to reveal all the information, leading to a talkative last act.


Dan said…
This episode is watchable just because it contains one of Worf's best moments ever -

Worf: Attempting to threaten the away team with a non-functioning phaser was an act of tremendous gall.
Kevin: Didn't fool you, did I?
Worf: I admire gall.

Pure gold, I tell you.
Ami Angelwings said…
Worf had SO many good lines in Seasons 2 and 3 when he was a lot gruffer and more sarcastic/snarky XD

I always just took it in stride that Picard figured it out b/c he's been a starship captain for over 20 years and in Star Trek's universe, his idea of normal logical thinking has to be different than ours. xD

If he sees a person with slightly weird hair, he's prolly alrdy thinking about the possiblities of this being alien influence, or superbeings being involved xD
I love "The Survivors" -- and I am truly impressed by the acting skills of Marina Sirtis! It is truly rare to see a decent portrayal of such telepathic torture!

However, I have two minor grievances against this episode:

1. The lighting in Deanna Troi's quarters. I know that Troi probably wanted to get some "peace & quiet" near the middle of the episode, but the room seemed much too dark for the audience to get a decent view of her progressing agony. After all, it is difficult to appreciate a dramatic performance in a scene with terribly poor lighting.

2. William Riker's positioning in the "conference room" (for lack of the proper term). While Riker is briefing Picard about the findings of the Away Team, he ought to be facing Picard; instead, he is staring at Troi for no apparent reason. One gets the impression that the television crew chose to rely entirely on a single boom microphone that happened to be closest to Marina Sirtis, thus compromising the performance of the formidable Jonathan Frakes.

As they say, "you can't win them all!" :-)
LiamKav said…
Having just rewated the episode, I have two comments on the above two points:

1. This is a lot better on the blu-ray/HD version. As with lots of other episodes with dark bits (such as "The Enemy", the improved transfer really makes things clearer without making it too bright.

2. I get the impression that Riker is staring at Troi out of concern. I refuse to believe that his positioning in that shot is accidental. Troi had just given a very short and stumbling answer to a question, and appeared to be distracted. I think it makes total sense for Riker to stare at her while giving information to Picard. I'm sure the first officer of the Enterprise can multitask. (And he does glance back at Picard a couple of times.)

Also, in my vote for "good Worf lines":

"Good tea. Nice house."
LiamKav said…
Oh, and one more thing: This is one of the very, very few times the Enterprise actually uses it's considerable weaponry in a way that makes sense. Normally a TNG battle goes like this.

Picard: Adjust heading to 123 mark 23, half impulse

Picard: Ready phasers

Picard: On my order...

Picard: Fire the phasers.

*Enterprise fires*

*Enemy ship returns fire several thousand times*

Picard: Damage report.

Worf: Shields are down to 60%

(repeat from beginning)

In this episode, Riker orders fire of all weapons, and the Enterprise just lets rip with repeated phaser shots and torpedo volleys. Apparently the only enemies that can get them to do that are imaginary ships and the Borg. Everyone else gets a phaser blast every 10 minutes.
Siskoid said…
Yes, I agree, concern. Also, space battles in Trek are frequently terrible, because as you know, they're not a military unit!
LiamKav said…
They do get better, generally as the SFX gets better. I think the problem comes from the "Captain has to be good at everyone" syndrome that Star Trek often has. It would surely make most sense to just give a generic command, like "Worf, attack the vessel, aggressive posture, try and disable them" and then let Worf do the actual tactics. The only real time having the captain give direct orders during a battle works is when the whole thing is played at a move/counter-move chess-type level, such as in "Balance of Terror" or "The Wrath of Kahn". Othertimes it just looks silly. As (I believe) was pointed out in a Nitpicker's Guide, so what if the 50 year old Bird of Prey can penetrate your shield? Your firepower is still ten times better than theirs! Lay into them with every weapon you have. Don't just fire once and then sit there getting shot oh dear now Deanna's gonna have to crash the ship on a planet somewhere.