207
Episode

207

Power Play

It’s business as usual on the Enterprise until Troi, Data and O’Brien start taking hostages in Ten Forward. Could it be the “ghosts” of a long lost star ship crew influencing their actions? Find out when we put Power Play into the Mission Log.

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Discussion

  • Dave Steph Taylor

    Always enjoy it when Brent Spinner gets to show some emotion.

  • Roger Birks

    This is actually one of my favourite TNG episodes. It’s a fun episode.

    • Has an “Under Siege” “Diehard” feel to it

  • CmdrR
    • True story: my dad loved to inhabit his local bar. To the point that, I think, the second time he ever saw my newborn first son…was when we took him (briefly) into the bar for my dad’s birthday party. *shakes head* Not a moment I’m proud of. I kinda wanted him to see what he was missing outside the bar. We left about ten minutes in because we’d inhaled enough smoke.

      Anyway.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      To that sentiment, I always saw 10 Forward as a family friendly environment. The “real” bar is in 9 Aft.

      • lol, I remember some TNG book had a ship’s lounge as “Shuttle Bay 4”- when in fact the ship only had 3 shuttle bays….

        • Dave Steph Taylor

          Opps

    • And, technically, it’s not an unexplained overthrow of the bridge. It’s an unexplained overthrow of a BAR. It’s kind of like Roadhouse, but in space (c’mon, you know someone, somewhere has pitched that idea – “It’s like Ishtar! IN SPACE!”).

  • CmdrR

    I think you hit all the big points: Entertaining/Spooky — check; has no real substance — check; ship’s controls accessible from a bar — check. I enjoy this one for the atmosphere and pacing and the acting; I just wish it had a theme/message/moral/meaning I could grok. Ah well. Plenty o’ preachin’ next week in Ethics.

    • Wildride

      I can control my router and tv with my phone over the internet. They probably just installed the Bridge app on the 10 Forward computer.

      • CmdrR

        Begs the question of whether Treknology stands up to what we’ve learned in 30 or 50 years. If controlling the E is that easy, Data would have an app in his butt. Or maybe he is Otto Pilot. I do think the ship’s computer would do most of the work. If you’re going 10X the speed of light, depending on human reflexes would be downright dangerous.

      • yeah…the lack of video footage, body armor even classic guns w gun powder sometimes really would be more useful sometimes than phasers. The tech will obviously be different in the future, but I think some perennial classics will endure. The great advances, we probably haven’t even considered…

  • “Inconsequential” is a good word. Let’s go with that. Because it really is, overall, one of my biggest problems with TNG, a show which otherwise brings a lot of maturity and reality to the Star Trek universe.

    I can appreciate that the “[insert crew member here] gets taken over and behaves wildly out of character” stories give the cast something to sink their teeth into, but whether it’s unnerving (like this episode) or deeply touching (like, say, the next-to-last episode of the season being covered right now), the narrative reset button is always hit at about 42 minutes, leaving us a few moments to ponder, reflect, talk about how awesome we are in the future, aaaaaaaand executive producer credits. There really isn’t that much more internal continuity than there is in TOS for much of TNG’s run. And that bugs me, because these people get taken over a LOT. They get surgically altered and forced to do the bidding of the Borg, they get forced to act violently against their crewmates, they live an entire life and watch a world die in the space of minutes (whoops, spoilers!)…but hey, let’s get back to talking about socks. It’s the degree of inconsequential-ness that really bugs me about TNG, especially knowing that the franchise does better with that angle in its later iterations.

    I’m not asking for a soap opera where we’re traumatized about stuff for months, nor am I asking for “the Farscape effect” (not slamming the show, which I loved, but its story arcs became so “inside baseball” that they were impenetrable to anyone casually trying to jump in during later seasons), or you wind up handing about five minutes of a given episode over to flashback montages, a la Babylon 5 or Buffy (or you have to do a “catch-up” special, like they just had recently with The Walking Dead). I’ve gone into quite a bit of detail in the past as to why these things weren’t done – there was no guarantee that nightly strip-syndicated shows would arrive/air in the correct order – so TNG was far from the only show that falls under the “should have been serialized, but wasn’t” banner. But one wonders about how magnificently robust 24th century Starfleet’s mental health infrastructure is that everyone seems to frequently get over these presumably traumatic incidents without any further fallout. Because without any follow-up, you have to assume that this is what’s going on between episodes – what we refer to as a disturbing series of selective memory wipes and deprogramming and therapy, these guys refer to as “Wednesday”. Without it, poor Miles is gonna lapse into a PTSD fugue state every time he hears the words “lunch time”.

    Sorry, just not a fan of “[X] gets possessed this week!”. TNG, and later Voyager, fell back on that idea really hard.

    • Yes. The persistent failure of the show. So disconnected.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      I agree. The frequency of crew members going crazy or possesed is getting a bit out of hand.

    • Morgan Smith

      I can agree with you, but only to a small extent. As you mention, they do this better in later portions of the franchise (Voyager as TNG-redux not withstanding), but that is not TNG. It started as a sort of refresh of TOS, it was syndicated, expected to be repeated out of order, and wasn’t yet part of a continuous franchise (DS9 was only being created in Spring 1992 when this episode aired and long after it was written). For the most part, the episodes were meant to be standalones, with most things reset for next week. It was more about the adventure of the week and how our existing characters dealt with them rather than how the adventures affected our characters. To amplify this point, the show’s creators had to push to get “Family” made, to show consequences and effects of major events on one of the main characters outside of the original episode. But not every week was like that – an episode examining character effects. I am not saying they shouldn’t have considered the personal effects more, just that they didn’t and it wasn’t their intent.

      To fault a show for not doing something it was never intended to do is, for me, akin to faulting these shows for not being filmed and presented for HD. It was never the point. Was the story, as presented, well crafted, well acted, was it true to established characters, was it fun/impactful/scary/etc.? Those are the things i would say are accurate ways to judge the quality of TNG episodes. But that is my opinion.

      Now, by the time of Voyager (which often failed at this) and Enterprise (which largely succeeded at this, if little else), the TV landscape and Star Trek overall could demand character continuity and personal impact.

      Thinking about this more, I wonder, do people have issues with Kirk not being affected long term by being split into two halves in “The Enemy Within”?

      • I take your point on early ’90s TV being what it is, but there comes a point where the mind control thing is happening *so often*, and yet every time is as new as the first time, that it fails the smell test of reality. If I left the front door of my house unlocked repeatedly, and came home to find more and more of my belongings gone, there comes a point where I need to say “Hey, I’m doing something wrong here. Say, what’s this lock thing on the front door? OH.” …instead of continually saying “Well, THAT’S odd. Where’d my TV go? Third one this week!” The over-reliance on the plot point in question makes it a kind of accidental running theme – either it needs to be addressed (look, Data’s made all this great tinfoil origami headwear for us!), or credibility gets shaky. It falls to the showrunners and story editors to keep tabs on how often an element recurs, and either explain that recurrence narratively, or try to deploy it more sparingly. Not asking for Lost-style miss-two-episodes-and-you’re-screwed continuity, but rather common sense distribution of plot elements. Sort of like the mid-season spate of “kid” shows.

      • Roger Birks

        Nowadays people can binge watch everything. Personally I don’t… a binge watch for me is like… 3 straight episodes…

        I think watching an episode or two a days is a much better method as it keeps myself from fresh and fully interested in a series.

        My point is is that TNG was airing in a time before Internet and dvds. You had videos, but they had two episodes a tape; the tapes I believe were like £20 weren’t they! FOR TWO OR THREE EPISODES.

        • I remember renting VHS tapes from “The Wherehouse” and those tapes cost $90-100!! if you lost em or damaged…damn!! circa 1983

  • CmdrR
  • Roger Birks

    Off topic: I reckon at current release of mission log episodes we will have the release of All Good Things… on October 26th 2017. Over 3 years since you began TNG podcasts. You guys rey and champion are awesomely committed if you see it through to the end. Which is like in 2025 or 2026? Will you be bored of Star Trek? Burnout? Lol.

    • CmdrR

      That just means they’ll start STDISC in 2026, followed by ST CSI, and ST Night Stalker.

    • The power of math. Wow. Cant wait for DS9!!!

    • Yep – we figured it would take until 2026. The DSC was announced! And who knows if another series will come after that! Hope you all can stand us for another 10+ years…

      • Dave Steph Taylor

        I’m good. Got nothing better to do 🙂

      • wow…weren’t you just talking about a generational ship..? holy cow…what a commitment!

  • Konservenknilch

    It’s a fun episode, and seeing Spiner eat the scenery alive never gets old. If we would take it seriously though, as you mentioned, it gets really icky.

    What did the prisoners do? Maybe they were political prisoners, maybe they were in a (sorry for the Godwin) concentration camp. Maybe they were horrible people. And then, is this long a punishment really just anymore? In any case, living for centuries on planet hell would drive anyone insane.

    So the Federation should probably send a ship with their best therapists (under guard) there and see what’s the haps.

    Anyway, fun episode, well made and well acted.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      After the take over attempt, I think Picard was just, “get ’em off my ship.”

  • Troy Brooks

    Yes, when our people are dead they’re dead
    Unless they’re named Spock, or Kirk, or McCoy
    And in the Spock case he came back by possessing someone!

  • Matthew Carlson

    Replicate puppies for the prisoners to inhabit. Drop them off at a kennel planet. Problem solved.

    • Genius. ! Futurama!

    • Dude, no! That’s just wrong. Think of the replicator puppies. 🙁

  • Dave Steph Taylor

    1- The shuttle craft crash must have looked pretty good for 90’s TV. Looks a bit silly now. And yes, that full rotation really threw me.

    2- I thought the transporter was supposed to pick up on irregularities. I mean the transporter is supposed to completely tear down and rebuild a person. You would think it would pick up on stow away lifeforms.

    3- I always thought 10 Forward was more of a everyone is welcome, family friendly hangout. And where is Guinan these days. Two episodes involving 10 Forward and no Guinan.

    4- And yes, it is great to see characters we all know so well act so differently. I love the idea of Miles’ personality reinserting itself, that would have been great.

    • exactly!! re Guinan…..

      • Dave Steph Taylor

        She’s on leave 😉

  • https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bc42e4bd2c2cb7b3cd53463141def18b33169f82dc3099264dc68c373e93e973.jpg
    I always laugh at the Troi hip phaser shot. Looked really unnatural. Lol, acting w/o seeing stuff must be tricky.
    This episode did remind me of the 90s trope, “ship/building takeover”- a la DieHard, Under Siege, hmmm DieHard 2 and Under Siege 2? …dang, I feel like there’s been more. Terrorist type theme w body snatcher infiltration.
    The hard decisions of sacrificing life for the greater good was never really well done by TNG imo. They let “red shirts” die, but not a meaningful death. Would have been nice if one or two crewmen in Ten Forward fought back and got killed by Data or O’Brien and the ramifications of that afterwards…I for one fell for the death ghost concept when I first saw this episode.

  • Morgan Smith

    Just wanted to point out a couple of things (anti-nitpicks?).

    It isn’t necessarily that the cargo bay that Picard chose is the only one with a hatch, or that the other bays don’t have either hatches or transporters, Riker is comparing the choice of cargo bays versus transporter rooms – which don’t have hatches.

    I thought your critique of the ghost idea vs. science was good, but missed one point from the show. I always had the impression that the prisoners’ separation from their bodies was deliberate and done via technology by the jailers. Looking at the script (since I don’t have the show itself handy), I think my impression is more accurate than anything about a storm or other planetary conditions being responsible. Maybe the planet was supporting the continued existence of the lifeforms, but it didn’t cause them to be separated.

    Another minor, minor point: Keiko isn’t Starfleet so I think we shouldn’t just restrict the evolved “willing to sacrifice for others” mentality to Starfleet personnel.

    Sometimes I think you guys take it too far, and crush some of the life out of these episodes in your seriousness, but then again, I am refuting nitpicks from a Star Trek podcast, so I don’t have much room to critique.

    • Just wanted to point out that I really like the above point made about Keiko.

    • Keiko isn’t a Starfleet officer protecting a ship – she’s a mother protecting her baby. That’s the sense of sacrifice she’s expressing at the end of the episode.
      And yes, we do have a “mission” to analyze/pick-apart every episode of Star Trek, and we take that seriously. Except for all the other email we get that says we’re too funny and not serious enough.

  • Durakken

    I imagine the reason Worf was replaced with Data is because Data is stronger than Worf and so you can’t really have the overpower scene reversed.

    Ensign Ro being given command of killing people is a bit messed up considering the reason she’s on probation is because people believe that she made the call to let people die too soon…

    Did you guys forget that Picard has been non-corporeal at least once in the past… which happened in a space storm…In this case Picard is being stupid because he has experienced being incoporeal. What you call skepticism in this episode I see as secularism taken dogmatically. He’s not questioning and doubting things, but rather holding that they can’t be ghosts because they can’t be.

  • Derwood

    Banishment.

  • Jeff D

    uh, sorry to correct you guys, but “All Our Yesterdays” was the TOS episode where Kirk, Spock and McCoy went back into a doomed planet’s past; the episode you meant to refer to is “Return to Tomorrow”
    (neither of which should be confused with “Tomorrow is Yesterday”…or “Tomorrow’s Return to Yesterday” or “Yesterday won’t Return Until Tomorrow”)

    • Yeah, we know… we could have also slipped in “All Our Yesterdays are Tomorrow,” “Too Many Tomorrows, Not Enough Yesterdays” and “Thursday at 10:52am Was Friday’s Yesterday.”

  • Wildride

    You know, in our world, sometimes you get sick and have to cancel plans, or there’s a death in the family and you have to take the day off for the funeral, or you have a kid and your priorities change. Just normal stuff that happens, and people understand that it’s a fact of life and you just go on.

    In Star Trek world, maybe you get partially assimilated by the Borg, given godlike powers by Q, get aged near to death by a virus only to get restored, or taken over by an alien ghost. And that’s the normal in that world. It’s just the stuff you and your friends and co-workers have to cope with.

    Day to day life is a mixed blessing, I guess.

  • Daniel R. Przybylski

    I wasn’t sure if John’s discussion of gliding airplanes versus falling bricks was a reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (they hung in the air exactly the way bricks don’t) or to the Space Shuttle program where the Space Shuttle was often called a flying brick because it’s not only an unpowered glider on reentry into the atmosphere, but it’s not a very efficient glider.

    I’m reminded of a comment that Neil DeGrasse Tyson made regarding how many people were outraged that the Space Shuttle Enterprise would not go into space. But we knew how to get into space by that time. That wasn’t the challenge. The challenge at the time was getting something that big back down safely w/o just dropping it in the water. The Enterprise was invaluable for all the testing the reentry phase needed including making sure thermal tiles stayed in place. The Enterprise was not just some mockup boondoggle.

  • Matthew Saxon

    This could have been a TOS episode.