10/16/13

Star Trek: Asterisk "First Contact"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S04E15
Air Date: February 18, 1991
Written by: Dennis Russell Bailey, David Bischoff, Joe Menosky, Ronald D. Moore and Michael Piller; and Marc Scott Zicree
Directed by: Cliff Bole

Premise
The Malcorians discover an alien in their midst! Riker was injured while undercover and now Picard has to get him back using his superpower of diplomacy.

Recap
Captain Picard looks into a mirror and what he sees is not himself. It's his face, but as he looks harder, a Borg implant emerges from his chee--... wait, hold on... *shuffles papers* I'm sorry, that was the movie First Contact. This is the episode... Let's start over.... A man is rushed into a hospital room unconscious. The Malcorian doctors an nurses work him over and find that he is not like them. His heart is in the wrong place, some of his ribs are missing... and his has fingers and toes! We finally get a good look at this strange alien being and find him to be familiar: it's First Officer Commander William T. Riker... with bumps on his forehead.

When Riker wakes up he claims to be a Malcorian from the southern continent which, unexplainably, has not been named. When the doctor challenges him on the surgical implants on his head, he claims to have had plastic surgery to correct a genetic defect and his doctor, Crusher, would know more about his condition, except she's on sabbatical. Clearly, he's trying to fit in, but ran into some bad luck. He can't leave the hospital until he's healed, but in that time they could very well find out who he really is. Meanwhile, the Malcorian government is planning some more space exploration, but is running into trouble from this guy:
The Worst Person in the Galaxy
His name is Krola and he hates new things. Mirasta, the space minister, says they can totally break the light speed barrier, but Krola's like "Whoa, dudes, we just started implementing new ideas and new economics and shit and now you wanna explore strange new worlds? That's not gonna fly with the conservatives like me." So the Prime Minister, Durkin, says Mirasta and do one last space flight, but after that we'll give it a rest for Krola's sake. Mirasta is pleased that she's at least allowed this one last time, but little did she know that as soon as she went back to work she would be visited by aliens!

Picard and Troi beam down to visit her and say they need her help. They bring her back up to the Enterprise to look around for a bit and then reveal their situation with Riker. That he's gone missing while gathering information on the Malcorians. Information they planned to use in first contact with them. Mirasta is ecstatic that the aliens want to help them on their journey into the stars, but she advises Picard not to tell Durkin about Riker yet, or else Krola will see him as a spy and a threat. Because Krola's a moron.
Krola!
Meanwhile, Riker just has to try and escape. He considers throwing a bench through a window, but then a delightful young nurse comes in and says, "You're an alien, aren't you? Make love to me!" After sampling the local fare, Riker makes an escape attempt with the nurse's help, but doesn't get very far. Unfortunately, all he did was bring up the alert levels around there. Krola will definitely find out. But not before Durkin makes a visit to the Enterprise. Picard shows him around and tries to bromance him. He breaks out the fine Picard vintage wine, makes a toast, waxes poetic about the stars and friendship and commonalities between alien species. Durkin says he speaks the language of diplomacy well, and that, in the end, he thinks it was a good day.

But that was before he knew about Riker. The Malcorians hold another meeting Krola brings up the fact that the humans have had spies on their planet for years influencing their young and corrupting... food pantries... or something, I dunno, Krola's a nut. But Durkin falls for it. While he talks to Picard about what's going on with Riker, Krola goes to Riker and attempts to interrogate him. The trouble here is that Riker is unconscious because of the wounds he accrued while trying to escape. In order to wake him up, Krola is going to need to use drugs that could kill him, and he's already in a bad way. But Krola being Krola, he uses the drugs and shows Riker that he discovered the phaser that he claimed earlier to be a "toy" is actually a weapon.
So firing at random objects should be cool.
Krola fires at some kind of medical stand and knocks it over, so he sure with that kind of stopping power it should be able to kill a man, right? He puts the phaser in Riker's weak hand and fires it on himself, hoping to come out a martyr in this situation. Instead, he comes out looking like an idiot. No doubt, the Enterprise tracked the phaser fire and Dr. Crusher beamed down immediately to save Riker and Krola. Although saving Krola was an easy task. The phaser was on stun. After all this mess, Durkin decides the Malcorians aren't ready to open relations with the Federation just yet. He says a regretful good-bye to Picard, but before the Enterprise leaves altogether, Mirasta makes a strange request. She wants to stay on the Enterprise. She wouldn't be happy with all the secrets she'd have to keep back on her planet... so she's going to be the first Malcorian in Starfleet.

Review
This was a pretty great episode if for no other reason than the fact that it was from the aliens' point of view. And because Krola was made out to be a complete buffoon in the end. It's a refreshing take on the classical alien on modern-day Earth story.

Commentary