fourth year in command of the Enterprise
is a time of reunions, including the return of Lore, the Traveler,
K'Ehleyr, Vash, Kurn, and others. It is also a time of instability
within the Klingon Empire and of increasing activity by the
4 sees an increased level of inter-connection between episodes.
Up until the end of Season 3, the majority had been stand-alone
episodes, as was preferred by American television networks.
But from this point on, events in one instalment start to
have consequences that will affect future ones. It begins
in earnest with Family, which deals with Picard's (Patrick
Stewart) emotional trauma following his abduction by the Borg
in The Best of Both Worlds and the ejection of Worf
(Michael Dorn) from Klingon society in Sins of the Father.
the season, and particularly towards its climax, we also witness
events that culminate in a conflict involving both the Klingon
and Romulan Empires. Such "story arcs" are not as complex
or as well developed as those that would subsequently become
integral to Babylon 5, but nevertheless the Star
Trek franchise has never looked back in terms of its storytelling
also a thematic consistency to this season, with many episodes
concerning themselves with issues of family. Apart from the
blindingly obvious examples - Family and Brothers
- Suddenly Human deals with an alien's adoption of
a human boy "kidnapped" from a battlefield; Legacy
features the sister of the late Tasha Yar; Future Imperfect
presents Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) with the prospect
of having a son of his own; Data's Day sees the marriage
of Miles O'Brien (Colm Meaney) to Keiko Ishikawa (Rosalind
Chao); and Reunion introduces Worf's son, Alexander
(Jon Steuer). It would appear that Klingon children grow very
rapidly, because in the year and one-third since he was conceived
in The Emissary, Alexander now looks like a boy of
three or four in human terms. And by the time he appears in
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's sixth season, he appears
to be a teenager!
episodes feature return visits by characters from previous
seasons. The series truly cashes in on its well-established
mythology with the return of characters such as Data's twin
Lore (Brent Spiner) in Brothers, the Traveler (Eric
Menyuk) in Remember Me, Worf's ex-girlfriend K'Ehleyr
(Suzie Plakson) in Reunion, and both Q (John de Lancie)
and Vash (Jennifer Hetrick) in Qpid. Riker's holodeck
dalliance Minuet is mentioned in a pivotal scene in Future
Imperfect, while the appealing character of Reg Barclay
(Dwight Schultz) puts in his second appearance, in what becomes
an annual tradition from this point, in The Nth Degree.
Another annual fixture is, of course, Lwaxana Troi (Majel
Barrett), who returns in the surprisingly moving Half a
Life. The season concludes with the opening instalment
of the two-part Redemption, which features not only
Worf's brother Kurn (Tony Todd) but also another blood relation
of Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby).
me, the best "returning" character of them all is engine designer
Dr Leah Brahms (Susan Gibney), a hologram simulation of whom
Geordi La Forge (Levar Burton) fell in love with during the
previous season's Booby Trap. Dr Brahms is suitably
freaked out when she discovers Geordi's holodeck program in
Galaxy's Child, an aspect that rescues this often rather
sickly-sweet tale about a helpless space-dwelling life form.
terms of quality, this season may not be quite as strong as
the previous one, but then Season 3 was a particularly hard
act to follow. Unlike the third season, this one includes
a truly bad episode, the tedious The Loss, in which
Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) loses her empathic abilities
and bemoans the fact annoyingly and repeatedly. Qpid
isn't great either - although it is clear that the cast and
crew had a whale of a time making it, the episode isn't as
funny as it thinks it is. Final Mission looks fantastic
in terms of production, but the "fountain puzzle" that the
departing Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) has to solve is nonsensical
- why is it there?
cliffhanger ending to the previous season, The Best of
Both Worlds - Part One, was also a hard act to follow.
Although the follow-up doesn't quite live up to expectations,
it is not nearly as disappointing as some harsh critics have
suggested. On the contrary, The Best of Both Worlds - Part
Two is a logical extension of its predecessor, and makes
a spectacular opening to the season. Its plot contains an
ingenious degree of symmetry: the first part dealt with the
Borg capturing Picard; the second part has the Enterprise
crew in turn abducting the assimilated Locutus and using him
to their own advantage.
the standard of this season remains very high. My favourite
episodes include Brothers, which features an excellent
triple performance by Brent Spiner. Future Imperfect
boasts the irresistible notion of Riker waking up 16 years
hence. Despite ripping off its central concept from the
Red Dwarf episode Thanks for the Memory, Clues
is a clever and entertaining mystery. First Contact
sets a precedent by telling its story from the point of view
of the aliens rather than the Starfleet crew, and is an excellent
pastiche of 20th-century alien/UFO paranoia. The Drumhead
is an unsettling courtroom drama, featuring a chilling performance
by Jean Simmons. In Theory is a quiet and charming
tale (but with one truly horrifying moment) in which Data
experiments with romance.
of note are the episodes The Wounded and The Host,
which introduce the Cardassians and the Trill respectively,
races that would eventually become pivotal ingredients of
Deep Space Nine. It is interesting to note, however,
that the Trill of Deep Space Nine look and behave quite
differently to the ones that feature in The Host. One
must assume that there are at least two different species
of humanoid host on the planet Trill, whose personalities
are affected to differing degrees by their joining with symbionts.
the extra features of this box set, we get more interview
material than we've had before, coming to a total running
time of around 100 minutes. In addition to material specific
to the fourth season, there are also some thematic discussions
concerning the entire series, including the design of alien
life forms and architecture.
although the episodes contained herein are not quite as great
as those of Season 3, this is still an excellent collection.
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