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Knowing When to Stop
In "The Prime Mover" a gambling addict learns of his friend's telekinetic ability and uses him to win lots of money in roulette and dice games. But when he's left by his girlfriend and starts gambling with big time gangsters, we find out he may have taken it a bit too far.
This episode is pretty par for the course. The effects used to portray the telekinetic abilities isn't bad. The ending of this you can see coming from a mile away but the acting is good enough to keep you entertained throughout. Not a hugely memorable episode but not as bad as a few of the recent ones we've gotten.
The Twilight Zone: Static (1961)
Remembering the Good Old Days
In "Static" an old man with a penchant for the past finds an antique radio that airs radio programs from his youth, causing him to reminisce about the good old days.
I kind of hate TZ episodes like this, where the plot centers around someone's nostalgia for the past. I find this type of escapism to be the most irksome. This episode benefits from the fact that the main character's reasoning for delving into the past is that of lost love and not of lost youth. But this being shot on videotape makes it look completely awful. The script is also pretty slow moving. Very forgettable...
Worf Gets the Cold Shoulder
In "Sins of the Father" the Enterprise takes part in another officer exchange program. This time it's a Klingon coming aboard as acting first officer. There's a big culture clash between the Star Fleet crew and this new arrival. Surprisingly the most animosity is between this new Klingon Kurn and Worf. But it is soon revealed to Worf and the audience that this has all been a test and Kurn is Worf's little brother. Their father has been recently disgraced by the Klingon high council and blamed for the slaughter that killed Worf's parents. The two Klingons dad is now labeled as a traitor. Worf must go to Qo'noS and clear his father's name at any cost.
This has been the best Worf-centric episode we've received thus far. He's a Klingon with a bit of an optimistic view on Klingon culture (as he's mostly viewed it from afar) and this episode changes that a bit. He realizes that honor only matters when it's convenient. Here his brother and him are up against the upper class who are able to dictate the narrative of past history.
Even so, Worf sacrifices himself for the Empire. With his excommunication, Worf is no longer welcome here. The final scene of all the Klingons ceremonially turning their back on our favorite security officer is absolutely brutual and one of the most powerful scenes in the show's history.
In "The Offspring" after returning from a conference, Data creates an android using part of his own hardware. He names his offspring Lal and begins to introduce her to the ship and how humans work. But when Star Fleet gets wind of this new lifeform, the head of R&D shows up wanting to take Lal away for their own purposes.
While this is a well made episode, I find a lot of this to be a boring rehash of "The Measure of a Man" which covered this ground better. The slight difference is the inclusion of Data as a father figure instead of the focal point of the issue. Star Fleet arguing to take Lal away really doesn't make sense due to the precedent set by Data's court case. How and why this is even an argument is a bit puzzling.
But this is a bit of a curio just because it is the first time we get Frakes behind the camera. He shows himself to be a steady hand and will go on to make many more episodes as a director.
The Return of Yar
In "Yesterday's Enterprise" the Enterprise encounters a strange wormhole with what seems to be a Federation ship exiting out of it. Suddenly the audience is thrown into an alternate timeline in which the Federation is at war with the Klingon empire. Only Guinan seems to be aware that something is not how it is supposed to be. The Enterprise rescues the Enterprise C (thrown 20 years into the future) and mends the ship and its crew. Yar starts to fall for one of the ship's officers.
Guinan convinces Picard that this timeline isn't right and that they must send the Enterprise C back through the wormhole to its own time, even if that means their demise. Them being their to aide the Klingons in their fight against the Romulans might be enough to band the two sides together in a pact that holds. The Federation is in a losing battle against the Klingons and can't hold out much longer. The C crew agrees to head back. By this point Yar has figured out she should be dead in the original timeline (through talking to Guinan) and heads with the Enterprise C to battle the Romulans 20 years prior. The timeline snaps back to normal and the crew of the Enterprise D travel on none of the wiser to what the audience just witnessed.
This episode is a fan favorite (and with good reason). It's one of the more exciting time travel episodes and it reintroduces Tasha Yar after her untimely demise two seasons ago. The acting is good, the pacing is good, the action is exciting.
But all that being said, I don't love this episode as much as your average Trekkie. The love subplot between Yar and Shooter McGavin seems tossed on haphazardly to me. I don't buy it and I don't need it. It's inclusion adds zero value to the plot itself.
That's really my main gripe with the episode. If it only took up a minute or two it wouldn't bother me so much but it is a major chunk of this episode! Replace that with some other scenes and this is a 10/10 for me.
I'm also thankful the writers didn't try to shoehorn Worf into this somehow. I'm glad they resisted the urge to make him the captain of some Klingon ship that shows up. That would have been real dumb.
My favorite part of this though is how much Guinan we get. Every episode I see makes me love Whoppi's character a little more.
Narcos: Mexico: 881 Lope de Vega (2018)
Plot Arcs Beginning to Wrap Up
In "881 Lope de Vega" the DEA scrambles to find where Gallardo is keeping Kiki. They bring agents from all over the US to help. Meanwhile Rafa and his girlfriend flee to Costa Rica as Gallardo tells Rafa that he would end up being the fall man if he stays. But when the DEA and local law enforcement start putting the squeeze on his operation, Felix puts in an anonymous tip as to where they can find Rafa.
Meanwhile Kiki continues to be tortured but can't give any answers as he doesn't know as much as they assumed. They bring in a doctor to keep him alive and conscious as they interrogate him. Rafa ends up getting tortured a bit himself. He gives them am address that turns out to be empty...
I thought this episode was really well done. All the acting is great. And it really walks a thin line with the torture that is hard to do: show us enough to make us uncomfortable and empathetic but not showing us so much that it just turns into a gore-fest that makes me turn off my mind and my TV.
The actress that plays Mika has to do a lot of heavy lifting on screen in this episode and I think she does a fabulous job. It's really her front and center here for the first time. The show uses her as the emotional weight to Kiki's disappearance (which makes sense) and she's able to pull it off. Solid ep.
What Really Happened in That Lab?
In "A Matter of Perspective" Riker is accused of murdering a scientist whose wife he was possibly involved in a romantic tryst. Before extraditing Riker to the planet for trial, Picard requests an inquest on the holodeck, where the computer programs the scene of the crime. We watch every witness' own take on the events that transpired. But whose telling the truth of what happened?
Using the holodeck for this purpose sounded interesting off the bat but I quickly realized it's basically pointless. It's like watching a recreation on a real crime show. It doesn't add anything to the testimonies that you can't read off of a transcript. If anything, it adds an emotional aspect to it when you watch holodeck Riker sexually assault Manual. But these kind of visceral emotions have no place in a trial.
Speaking of that scene, we get no conclusion to that little thread. That's odd isn't it? Troi says they're both telling the truth but that doesn't make any sense. Nor is it explained away by memory loss or anything of that nature. Did Riker assault this woman? It's odd that Picard wouldn't want this issue settled. I wouldn't want any doubt to be left in my mind about my first officer.
But this episode is pretty slow besides all of this. We watch the same scenes get reenacted multiple times with small tweaks to them. It's fairly boring watch Riker watch himself on the holodeck. The most interesting tidbit to me was how the holodeck accidentally recreated the scientist's experiment and almost blew the Enterprise sky high.
One of the season's duller episodes.
A Better Q Episode
In "Deja Q" the Enterprise is on a mission to save an inhabited planet's moon as its orbit degrades and it risks crashing onto the planet's surface. The force causing this degradation is unknown. But the answer may be found when a naked Q appears on the bridge of the ship. The Q Continuum has stripped Q of his powers and left him in a humanoid shell. Q asks for asylum but is instead thrown in the brig. Q must deal with his new corporeal form while also helping Geordi and Data stop the spiralling moon. This becomes more complicated when a race known as the Calimarane show up to seek revenge on the now mortal Q.
I have mixed emotions on our old pal Q. Sometimes I find myself hating him as a god-like figure that is a quick fix to any open-ended plot device. Other times I find him charming, his interactions with Picard and Guinan being a real highlight.
I do enjoy this episode. Probably not as much as other people based on the rating but I thought it was a good one. It was interesting watching Q grabble with his own mortality. His scenes with Data as they discuss the illogically minded human race make for the best ones of the episode. I could probably do without his back ache and his hunger (your omnipotent Q, you should know what hunger is!). But these are minor squabbles.
I wouldn't put this one down as a classic (or even a great) episode. I do find it enjoyable though.
Too Good to Be True
In "Mr Dingle, the Strong" a bumbling vacuum salesman unwittingly becomes the test subject of a Martian experiment giving him unbelievable strength. The aliens are curious to see what he does with his newfound powers, only to be disappointed when he just turns it into a circus act.
These are some comically bad alien costumes we get in this episode. It looks like a Halloween costume made for a set of 8 year old twins by their mother!
Beyond that note, there's not too much too add here. This is one of those Twilight Zone comedic episodes that I'm typically not fond of. This one isn't as bad as a lot of them but it's still not great. Half the episode is just us following around Dingle as he picks things up and tears them in half. It's all fairly uninteresting.
A Dr. Crusher Focused Episode
In "The High Ground" Dr. Crusher is kidnapped while on a humanitarian mission to aide a world coping with a faction of terrorists vying for independence for their continent. The separatists' leader implores Crusher to help the ill in his faction. They have been inter-dimensionally traveling to infiltrate government compounds, but it is slowly killing them, causing their cells to deteriorate. When the guerillas attempt to blow up the Enterprise and end up capturing Picard instead, it's up to Riker and the planet's security chief to find the hideout and rescue the two Federation hostages.
The guest actors here are probably some of the worst we've seen on the show in a while. The two main ones can't really hold their own and this episode asks way too much emotional heavy lifting from Gates McFadden. She's not the greatest actor on the show and this is not her fine hour.
The plot is pretty simple when you get right down to it. There's no nuance, no deep-thinking required of the viewer. The concept will always be interesting (as we'll always have warring factions such as these unfortunately) but the show's writers don't really do anything thought-provoking or exciting with it.
While not as bad as say "The Price" this has to be one of the bigger misses of Season 3.
Narcos: Mexico: Just Say No (2018)
An Awful, Awful Action Scene Ruins a Decent Episode
In "Just Say No" the DEA leads a bust on Rafa's massive weed field, getting the largest bust in DEA history, sending Rafa into a downward spiral. This angers Felix's partners and he must back them down from retaliating against the DEA. Meanwhile Kiki and Jaime meet representatives from Congress doing their own investigation into what's going on down in Mexico. Kiki plans his relocation to San Diego but is kidnapped by Rafa and Azul beforehand. They want to know everything the DEA has on them. The episode closes with Felix giving them the nod to interrogate Kiki.
We've been building up to this point ever since the season teases this in the premier's cold open. Kiki has fallen into the cartel's clutches and who knows where we go from here?
While the ending was quite exciting, that initial action scene of the bust has to be one of the worst scenes of the show's history (including the other seasons of Narcos). It's shot like a straight-to-streaming Nic Cage action movie and looks like complete garbage. I couldn't believe my eyes. This director has no idea how to shoot realistic or even exciting action scenes. It sort of ruined everything that came after it, even when the quality improved.
Narcos: Mexico: Jefe de Jefes (2018)
The Boss of Bosses
In "Jefe de Jefes" Miguel start moving cocaine through his network, putting weed on the back burner and angering Rafa. Don Net grieves after his son his killed in a bar fight. Kiki gets relocated to San Diego but has one more go at stopping Miguel by partaking in an unsanctioned flyover of the weed fields with cameras and leaking it to the State department. Marìa begs Miguel to go back to Sinaloa but he refuses, instead casting his wife out. He has a big meeting in which he reassigns tasks of his underlings, much to Isabella's chagrin as she remains without any control or territory. Miguel kills Nava for going too far with his bribe requests. A pair of American tourists get mistaken for DEA agents and are killed for walking in on a private Narcos party.
This was a very plot heavy episode with a lot of different storylines taking place. Miguel has turned the corner a bit here and seems to be a lot more cold-blooded. He went from being portrayed as almost a sympathetic character organizing a business into the power-hungry, filandering murder that we have now. Rafa has gone completely off the rails and I'm not even sure what he's contributing anymore. Kiki doesn't really want to leave with things the way they are. Back in the season premiere, we got that foreshadowing of him being kidnapped in the cold open. That's now happened so we know there's more to come with him...
A Refugee with a Complicated Story
In "The Defector", fearing the Empire is attempting to start another war with the Federation, a Romulan officer defects. He flees into the Neutral Zone where the Enterprise is there to rescue him. But not everyone aboard is buying his story. Is he actually telling the truth about secret military bases in the Neutral Zone or is this just another ploy by the Romulans to provoke the Enterprise?
This is the best episode of Season 3 up to this point. A lot of this has to do with the heavy lifting that guest star James Sloyan does. Scenes with Picard and Setol sparring off are absolutely wonderful. The script is very good as well, with no fat to trim off of the edges. The ambiguity of what Setol's true intentions are throughout this episode really keeps the watcher engaged. The undercurrent of Worf's hatred for all things Romulan can be felt here as well. It's a nice touch. I also love the Klingons showing up at the end (which was foreshadowed throughout the episode). Very cool to see them assisting the Federation in their fight against the Romulan Empire.
The ending (while tragic) is a suitable ending for the Romulan officer. A race with a culture so jingoistic and militaristic can't really escape your veigns. To Setol, he has betrayed his family and his people. He only hopes of a day in which his letter can be delivered in peace...
An Applicant with a Dark Past
In "The Hunted" the Enterprise visits a planet on a diplomatic mission to review and report on Angosha III, a potential Federation planet applying for admission. Whilst there, the government asks them to apprehend an escaped prisoner who broke out of Angosha's orbiting penitentiary. After a big ado, they're able to man the man and lock him up. They soon learn the truth of the matter: that this world has locked up its super soldiers it created to win a previous war. Now they've tossed them aside because they couldn't integrate them back into society. This perturbs the crew of the Enterprise who want to help but whose hands are tied. Can the two sides find peace?
This was pretty clearly a ln allegory on the tales of soldiers returning home and the US not properly assisting them. Many Vietnam vets now live on the streets and suffer from mental illness. The episode does a pretty good job of telling this story without spelling it out for the audience... Unfortunately it kind of holds our hand across the finish line as we get a really preachy final scene. It was doing just fine before that but then it feels it necessary to spell it all out at the end in case we missed anything.
This episode is pretty middle of the road for Season 3. We get a fun little guest appearance from James Cromwell which I'll never complain about. We get to see this super soldier beat up the entire crew of the Enterprise which is amusing. You'd think the Federation's superior technology would be able to thwart his escape plans but apparently not...
A Flight Far Too Ahead of Schedule
In "The Odyssey of Flight 33" a transatlantic flight is caught in a wind current, increasing to unheard of speeds and discovering itself thrown into the past to the time of the dinosaurs. They must figure out a way to get themselves back to present day or risk being stuck in the past forever.
This was a really strong episode. It's a quiet one, we're in the cockpit for most of the runtime, but it has a palpable tension throughout. The acting is really good and even that claymation dinosaur isn't half-bad for the era.
I love that it ends on a cliffhanger too. We don't know where this plane ends up. It could still be flying around the Twilight Zone to this day...
The Last of the Tribal Wars
In "The Vengeance Factor", after the Enterprise discovers the remnants of a raided Federation outpost, Captain Picard attempts to reconcile a home planet and its wayward guerilla faction who have been at odds for centuries.
I don't really have much to say regarding this one as I found it a bit bleh. The premise is not bad. This is the type of mission Star Fleet should be running out in space. Picard is a good arbitrator, so all this makes perfect sense.
Even the negotiation scenes are salvageable. Chorgan and the Sovereign's conversations can almost be classified as interesting. What I can't get by is the big reveal that Yuta is actually like an 80 year old wizard. The writers wave a magic wand and don't really explain how her tribe compiled their life forces and created some Ubermensch that doesn't age and has the magical ability to give men heart attacks with her mind. No one else of her race seems to possess any powers or abilities near what she has. They could have at least set up this premise a bit better.
Riker killing her isn't bad... But after such a confusing explanation and scene that occurs beforehand, I was still reeling and really couldn't pick up any of the emotional weight of Riker blowing Yuta away.
While not as bad as the previous episode, this is back-to-back misses for TNG here in Season 3.
Miguel Makes More Moves
In "La Última Frontera" Miguel tries to broker a deal with the government to protect the cocaine agreement he made with the Colombian cartels to transport the shipments through Mexico. Kiki and the DEA come up with a sting operation to lure Miguel into the United States so they can arrest him.
Maria discovers that Miguel might have mistresses all over town. Rafa and Falcon square off over the confiscated truck of weed, trading blows as the two sides hire bigger and bigger armies to gain control.
Narcos is almost always solid and this episode is no exception. I think the weakest part for me was the subpar action set piece of Falcon's men retaking the weed from Rafa. It all came across a bit sloppy. I'm also unsure of where Maria stands in all of this. Up to now, she wasn't really a central character in all of this but here we dedicate a lot of screentime to her. She's a good actress and I wouldn't mind seeing more of her.
How to Buy a Wormhole
In "The Price" the Federation attends negotiations for the control and access of a "stable wormhole" that would allow them to travel to a distant quadrant that would take 90 years to reach otherwise. But other cultures are interested in this wormhole as well, notably the Ferengi, and two other races with scientific interests. A human negotiator representing the Chrysalians shows up on the Enterprise and quickly woos Troi. She soon finds herself with a conflict of interest when she learns the man is part Betazoid and uses his powers unethically during negotiations. Meanwhile Data and Geordi take a pod into the wormhole with some Ferengi to make sure it really is stable.
The main storyline here is the romantic intrigue between Troi and Ral. I don't think they get the tone quite right though and it makes for the episode's most boring scenes. And to make matters worse Ral's "courting" of Troi is entirely misogynistic. The writers turn this three dimensional empathic character into a sex object for their male gaze. It's uncomfortable.
Watching Ral negotiate with other races and his showdown with Riker are probably the best scenes. The big finale scene leaves a lot to be desired. The only thing of real importance here is the two Ferengi that get left on the opposite side of the wormhole.
I also like the shot of the Ferengi flirting at the bar...
Back-to-Back Geordi Episodes
In "The Enemy" Geordi finds himself stranded on a dangerous planet's surface with a Romulan who is there on an unknown mission. The Romulan ship had crash-landed on the surface. The Enterprise is unable to locate them and beam them up. Meanwhile another Romulan sits in Sick Bay needing a transplant and the only possible donor is a reluctant Worf. Picard communicates with a Romulan captain who is bringing his ship across the Neutral Zone in order to retrieve Romulan survivors, much to Picard's chagrin.
I'm a big fan of this episode. I love Geordi's interaction with his enemy-turned-ally in that Romulan. Worf's decision not to be a donor for the Romulan was actually a twist I didn't see coming. I assumed either Picard or Riker would be able to convince him otherwise but he stood his ground in his racist beliefs. While not out of character of Worf, it still took me by surprise. Picard's rivalry with the other captain is pretty solid too.
This is an all-around good episode. I wouldn't put it on the "absolute classic" level but this one's definitely rewatchable.
We Focus on Geordi
In "Booby Trap" the Enterprise is lured into a snare when responding to a centuries old distress signal from an extinct race. It's up to Geordi and a holodeck woman he's created from an old Enterprise designer to come up with the solution before all the ship's power is drained and the radiation kills the whole crew.
This is the first Geordi-centric episode we've really gotten and it sort of introduces his character traits of being super weird around women. Lots of people hate this about the chief engineer but I find it a bit hilarious. He becomes the second crew member so far to fall for a fake woman from the holodeck.
I like Picard in this one and is fascination with this pristine "ship in a bottle". He's really giiddy about the whole thing until they're put in danger. The plot doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me though and that's why I rate it a bit lower than most. Like why is Geordi the only one on this entire ship working on this problem? Why isn't Wes and Data helping them? Or their entire staff of engineers? It's makes no sense.
And then I don't really understand the resolution. They couldn't get out of this web before so now why does a burst of power (similar to what they've already tried) suddenly free them and allow them to coast out of here?
There's a lot of technobabble (which I'm a sucker for) but I couldn't make heads nor tails of how they got out of this predicament.
The Crossover Episode
In "The Colombian Connection" Miguel heads down to Colombia for a business opportunity: the chance to transport the cartels cocaine through his transportation network. This angers Falcón in Tijuana. The Guadalajara DEA branch gets a wiretapping system at the hotel headquarters set up and soon has a treasure trove of information relating to Miguel's empire. They soon publish a report to Washington with their findings, only for it to be ignored.
The cops get their hands on it and assassinate the wiretapping phone company employee and threaten one of the DEA agents, causing him to move him and his family. Kiki devises a plan to get Miguel across the border so they can arrest him on US soil.
The obvious highlight of this episode is the cameo from the headliners over at Narcos. Specifically seeing Pablo again was a bit wild after his demise on that show but we got to remember the time jump here. Moura's such a captivating actor, he's almost too good in his role. It was nice seeing him back for that brief scene. Him and his cocaine hippos were definitely the best scene of the episode.
Even beyond the cameos, I thought this one was really strong. All the acting was really good, we had some fun cat and mouse scenes with Kiki. It's all coming together.
Worf Adopts a Kid
In "The Bonding" an away mission gone wrong leaves the Enterprise with an orphan and Worf with a guilty conscience for the death of the boy's mother. Worf attempts to bond with the boy while Geordi tries to figure out what causes the explosion on the planet's surface. Soon an energy being from the planet takes the form of the young boy's mother as a show of comfort, complicating his mourning. Picard and Wes must step in and set the boy and energy being straight, no matter how painful the truth is...
This one is fairly slow. The entire episode takes place on the ship, we never get to see the planet's surface (budget constraints I assume). The B plot of who planted the bombs is underdeveloped so we're left focusing on this terrible child actor and his ghost mom. I like how much Worf we get here but in the end it's Picard and Wes that cause the resolution. We're supposed to get this big parlor scene where Wes pours out his heart about his dad's death but Wheaton isn't a good enough actor to make it resonate. It's a really underwhelming end to a fairly average episode.
The Twilight Zone: Twenty Two (1961)
I Wish They Shot This on Film...
In "Twenty Two" a dancer experiencing a mental breakdown keeps having repeated dreams of a creepy nurse inviting her into the morgue of the hospital she is currently in. Despite her doctor and agent's assurances, she can't help but feel it's real. When she is released and tries to board an airplane, she finds the nurse in real life as her flight attendant on a doomed flight.
The twist at the end of this is really great, one of the most memorable moments in Season 2. However, a lot of the other stuff here don't work for me. The videotape they used for this episode makes it look like utter garbage. I'm also not a huge fan of any of the actors they hired for this one. The plane scene really saves this one though. If they would have hired better actors and shelled out for a good camera, this might have been one of my favorite episodes of The Twilight Zone ever.
A Bit Heavy-Handed but Not Bad
In "Who Watches the Watchers" the Enterprise shows up to service a scientific team on a developing planet who are secretly observing a Vulcan-like race as their civilization progresses. A malfunction causes an explosion in their "duck blind", killing members of the expedition, exposing the team to the native inhabitants, and causing one member to go missing. A curious native gets hurt and beamed aboard the Enterprise. He mistakes Picard for a god and soon has his people worshipping "The Picard". Riker and Troi go down in disguise to find the missing scientist and talk down this newfound religion, only making things worse. Picard is forced to head down to the planet to save Troi from being sacrificed.
I was a bit surprised this episode was so highly regarded when I logged onto IMDb. I thought it was fairly middle of the road as far as TNG is concerned. This ep is apparently a but polarizing for some because of its atheist theme. This surprised me as well; even TOS has atheist themes, this isn't anything new for Star Trek. I'm not sure why we're still arguing about this. It's kind of the point of the whole episode?
We get some fun guest appearances though, most notably Ray Wise as the troublemaker that started this all. The alien species design was actually a bit unsettling to me, really odd looking faces. The plot is fine enough without being profound, they do lay it on a bit thick though. A solid 3/5.
Timid Man Grows a Backbone
In "A Penny for Your Thoughts" a bank employee miraculously lands a penny on it's edge while buying a newspaper, resulting in him gaining the ability to read people's minds. But soon he discovers that it maybe more of a blessing than a curse.
This episode is a bit slow in parts but has a cool concept and a little twist towards the end when Hector's new ability actually leads him astray. All in all, Hector does learn an important lesson from this brief day of mind-reading and he gets a promotion, some self-confidence, and a girlfriend out of the whole thing. Not bad for a day's work!