5/30/13

Star Trek: Asterisk "Allegiance"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S03E18
Air Date: March 26, 1990
Written by: Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Directed by: Winrich Kolbe

Premise
Picard tries to lead his way out of a paper bag.

Review
It starts off as a normal day with Picard in his quarters reading a book while General Zod's Phantom Zone hovers over him and beams him away. With an energy discharge sensed in his quarters, Riker sense Worf and a security crew to check it out, but a different Picard comes out of his quarters and assures them that everything is okay. So while this doppelganger is hanging around on his ship, the real Picard wakes up in a room with two other people: Mitena Haro, and Kova Tholl. Haro is a Bolian Starfleet Cadet and Tholl is a cowardly Mizarian. The most important thing they introduce to Captain Picard is food... in the form of a pink hockey puck.

On the ship, the fake Picard changes everyone's orders and puts them on course to visit a pulsar, for some reason, at warp 2 so it'll take forever to get there. He's acting really weird and everyone notices, but Picard confides in Riker that he may be giving strange orders, but to follow them anyway and trust him. Meanwhile, the real Picard works with Tholl and Haro to get out of the room they're in. Tholl warns him that the door is set to "punish" anyone who tries to open it. He's from a race of people who believe in peaceful non-resistance, so he'll go with the flow. And Haro is trained to follow Picard's orders.
SUDDENLY A MONSTER
Esoqq the Chalnoth arrives in the last of four beds that are in the small room. He's from a race of people who are anarchists. They live for themselves and don't take kindly to leadership. The stage is set. Now to try and escape. Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, fake Picard visits the poker table while the real Picard had never done that before. He asks about the efficiency of the engines and Geordi gives a report. Picard tells him to get them up to 95%, so Geordi up and leaves the poker game. It's okay; he was losing anyway. Then fake Picard gets a physical exam from Crusher only to find he's perfectly healthy. But while he's there, he asks Crusher on a date. Because it's always the imposter that gets the ship together.

In the holding cell, Picard, Esoqq, and Haro try to hack their way past the door and they are promptly punished just as Tholl warned. It doesn't take long for the four of them to start accusing everyone else of being party with their captors. And on the Enterprise, the crew are starting to worry whether their Picard is actually their Picard. Crusher mentions the romantic, yet strange date she had with him, and then he comes into 10-Forward and starts singing with the crew, celebrating that the engines are up to 97% efficiency. Well,that's about enough to prove to Riker that this is an imposter and he will mutiny as soon as he can prove it.
"My bear senses are tingling."
When they arrive at the pulsar, fake Picard tells them to get dangerously close and that's when Riker takes command. Picard is willingly putting the ship and its crew in harms way, and that will not stand. Fake Picard tells Worf to take Riker to the brig, but Worf stands his ground. With everyone against fake Picard, he stands defeated. But not the real Picard. The real Picard is putting everything together in the holding cell. While the other three battle over who's with the aliens, Picard figures it out. While defending Picard, Haro mentions missions about which she should know nothing about. And that's what tips Picard off. Their experiment spoiled, the aliens reveal themselves and Haro transforms into one of them. They explain that it was an experiment in leadership since they have no concept of it, being able to communicate telepathically.

Picard demands that the aliens return everyone to where they were, so, since they can no longer run the experiment, they do. Back on the bridge, the real Picard meets the fake Picard and the alien with him turns to the fake Picard and tells him the jig is up. Fake Picard transforms into an alien and the two aliens explain where they came from. During their speech, the bridge crew exchange glances and end up trapping the two aliens in a force field.
ECTOPLASM? NO!!
Picard tells him that even with their "primitive" vocal communication, a well-trained crew can communicate without words. And now they know how to trap the aliens, so they should think twice before kidnapping anyone again. Picard lets them go, the aliens leave, and everything is back to normal. Picard checks in with Riker, and Riker says the fake Picard was very convincing, but not perfect. Why? "Well sir," he says, "I find it hard to believe that you're that good a singer." And then Beverly walks in and things get all kinds of awkward.

Overall Thoughts
This was a typical Star Trek episode that explores a certain aspect of humanity. In this case it was leadership, and Picard seems to have passed with flying colors. I liked the message of the episode, but it lost me when the aliens were revealed. Terrible character design, in my opinion. This isn't an essential episode, but it certainly does say a lot for Picard's abilities, and I can appreciate that.