Star Trek #1611: Surrender

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Will Jack surrender to the changelings, and Data surrender to Lore?

WHY WE LIKE IT: Emotional beats! The crew is finally back together again.

WHY WE DON'T: Vadic, noooooooooo!

REVIEW: Ode to Vadic. What a great and super-cool villain. In charge of the Titan (starting on that great shot of her in the bubble window over the bridge), she locks everyone else out of the ship's systems and plays conductor to a symphony of massacre. She toys with Jack over the intercom, and knows how to play on the heart strings when she chooses which hostage to torture or kill. Asking someone not to identify themselves, but who loves them is deliciously cruel. Amanda Plummer has been rocking it since minute one, and so the character's death here is a great shame - even if she's the equivalent of a movie villain, and those habitually die at the end of the story. Except this ISN'T the end of the story, and both her and the Shrike are put to pasture (in cool moments, don't get me wrong) with two episodes to go. So what is an actual shame is that such a badass was a stooge to some OTHER villain. I've mentioned the show throwing red herrings at us. The biggest is without out a doubt using the Changelings as muscle. The big, complicated plan isn't theirs. Vadic seems to have too much of a stake for that. She is reduced to nihilism. Of course, that's a problem for the larger arc, not necessarily this episode.

The theme, as declared in the title, is surrender, but of various shades. Jack surrenders to Vadic, but it's a ploy to blow her out into space (why Seven needs to be present is a point made, but not very well - the Seven/Shaw conflict is the weakest part of the episode). More importantly, Data surrenders to Lore - it's also a trick, but a kind one. To wrest control of the ship back from Vadic, the crew needs a super-computer, and that has to be Data. Except he must win his mental struggle with his brother first. Now this, THIS, is the best part of the episode. In a white mindscape, Data keeps pulling souvenirs from his life and handing them over to greedy Lore. This manages a cameo for Tasha Yar and a touching moment for Spot (no, YOU'RE crying!), and though it's pretty clear what Data is doing - not giving up who he is, but turning Lore into himself (an early clue is Lore doing Sherlock lines) - it's still a satisfying outcome, played with the love that Data has always had (or kindness, if you will, since he didn't feel emotions per se) for his misbehaving brother. He comes out of it an integrated positronic human and it KICKS ASS. He's Data, but with a sense of humor, a biting wit and the ability to tell the Changelings where they can stuff their buckets. For me, he's the best thing about these last few episodes. He's asked the classic question - asked of Kirk in ST II, and of Spock in ST III, most famously - how does he feel. I love his answer: "I feel... I feel!" Brent Spiner is a treasure.

Meanwhile, on the Shrike, the Rikers surrender to one another. This too is touching. There could have been an extra beat (say, in the previous episode) where Will can't be sure Deanna isn't a Changeling, but since we WANT Deanna there, it's better that they skip it. Like Troi herself, Riker could probably have noticed right away for telepathic reasons. There's warmth and humor between them, but they also hash out what went wrong with their relationship, and the conflict feels true to the characters. After making plans for the future, they're rescued by Worf and Raffi, and some of the tension is relieved by Worf's really awkward declarations to Deanna - dude, think of Jadzia! - and off they go to kick some Changeling butt. By the end, we'll have the entire cast around the same table (at least those who were there on the first then final days of TNG), and who wasn't waiting for that moment? A bit cheesy, admittedly, but Worf is there to cut the cheese - so to speak! And we can't sit in the nostalgia too long because Jack must now surrender to the red door under directed counseling (Troi is more telepathic than she used to be) and though the episode has taught us to trust in surrender, it will turn out to be a costly mistake.

LESSON: We are the sum out our memories.

REWATCHABILITY - High: Yeah, it's got some writing problems - Jack's big speech about not being a Changeling hardly seems necessary at this point, to throw out another example - but the emotional moments hit BIG, and that's enough to carry it to the higher rating.