Star Trek 282: Emergence

282. Emergence

FORMULA: Phantasms + The Big Goodbye + The Quality of Life + Elementary Dear Data

WHY WE LIKE IT: Data holding back a car.

WHY WE DON'T: The plot is pure rubbish.

REVIEW: How can an episode that starts with a bit of Shakespeare turn out so badly? I must say however, that Data's staging of The Tempest in the holodeck is a great idea. Has Beverly been wasting her time in her small venues, or is she a purist? But being on a holodeck means TNG can do one last holodeck malfunction story. Yay. And since everybody on the show has gotten a new family member already, it's the Enterprise's turn to have a baby.

As it turns out, the ship develops a kind of temporary sentience which manifests itself when it reacts all by itself to an invisible spatial anomaly that would have destroyed it - just the kind of anticlimactic pitfall I don't want in my ficitonal universe, even as something avoided. From there, a rather dense Geordi (check how he is always prompted like a school child to realize what's going on) and Data find some weird tubes in a panel and it's off to the races.

I suppose it's interesting enough to see the ship's psyche take form in the holodeck, though I'm not sure the allegory stands up to scrutiny. Sure, the knight represents the shields, but who's the gangster who ties up the weapon systems? Who's the hayseed? The train looks good, as does the whole tube design of the new life-form being created by the ship, but it's a bit like someone describing their dreams: a lot of interesting images, but it's essentially meaningless (and thus, a little boring) to you.

In the end, it's cooperating with the process that helps the "baby" survive (interesting resolution) and it's off into the great beyond, while the ship reverts to normal. Now, normally, this whole story should be attributed to some kind of virus or life-form that has infected the Enterprise (during the magna-storms mentioned), impregnated it, took over its systems and given birth before it expired. An unlikely type of life, but that's the proper explanation. Instead, Picard and crew are insistent on believing that the Enterprise itself became an intelligence, birthed a child that doesn't look anything like Federation technology, and burnt itself out, reverting to being an object. He even wishes the baby well, thinking that each member of the crew is part of that child through all the logs, etc. RIDICULOUS! And without any moral consequences whatsoever. If this were all true, then might the Enterprise actually still be sentient and you've enslaved her? What about other ships? Do we have the right to use these complex computer systems if they're gonna become PEOPLE? Even the ship procreating like an animal (rather than a sentient) would deserve some attention. I wish there were character moments of note to save this turkey.

LESSON: If my PC could birth hard drives, I could probably make a fortune.

REWATCHABILITY - Low: The ending is so frustratingly esoteric that it ruins any kind of brownie points its imagery might otherwise have accumulated.


Anonymous said...

On the other hand, going back to Moriarty, we already know that the Enterprise can be indirectly sentient just by asking it to be, so those questions are an even longer time in coming.

The new question is what moral responsibility should the crew have for its "child." If it's the child of the Enterprise, via the logs, as Picard says, then dumping it off at the salad bar while they go back to work isn't exactly upstanding behavior.

At least it wasn't another energy being mistaken for a ghost, though.

Anonymous said...

Well, there has been a long standing bit of hypocrisy in how they dealt with non-humanoid life.

And frankly there has always been a major re-set button when it comes to these sort of questions. They'll have an episode exploring something like this and this seem to forget it has ever happened before.

De said...

This episode was proof that Brannon Braga was running the show at this point - Piller and Taylor were busy with Voyager and Moore was committing more time to DS9.

There's never been a high concept that Braga didn't like and "Emergence" was merely the tip of the iceberg to the weird shit we'd see on Voyager when he got there.

Siskoid said...

Yeah, Braga's episodes usually turned out well because they were so off-beat.

By Voyager, they were the norm (so not off-beat) and hijacked the necessary character building stories that would have made the high concept stuff relevant.

As it was, they might just as well have been Twilight Zone/Outer Limits episodes.


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