Revisiting Star Trek TNG: The Enemy

Review James Hunt 11 Apr 2014 - 08:02

Another Geordi episode so soon after the last one? James' weekly look back at Star Trek: TNG's third season continues...

This review contains spoilers.

3.7 The Enemy

Riker, Worf and Geordi beam down to Galorndon Core, an inhospitable planet in the neutral zone in search of the source of a distress beacon. Naturally, they don't take any special gear or equipment, and stumble around blindly until Worf trips over a half-dead Romulan and Geordi falls down a hole. Worf, Riker and the Romulan return to the ship, leaving Geordi stuck underground. A successful trip all round then.

Back on the ship, Dr Crusher tries to stabilise the Romulan, Patakh, while Wesley (naturally) devises a plan to save Geordi: they'll shoot a probe to the surface with a neutrino beam only he can see. On the surface, Geordi MacGuyvers his way out of the pit using a phaser, some metal ore, a rubber band and an old carrier bag, and spots the neutrino beam. Things are going fine, when suddenly a second Romulan appears from nowhere and smashes him in the head.

On the ship, Patakh is on his last Romu-legs. Crusher needs to find a donor for some conveniently irreplicable Romulan bio-chemical to prevent his death, and finds a match in Worf. Unfortunately, Worf isn't keen, given that his parents were killed by Romulans. All Romulans, apparently. Riker attempts to shame him into it, but that doesn't work. Crusher makes him visit the patient, but that only makes things worse when Patakh says he'd rather die than take a transfusion from a Klingon. Picard tries to guilt Worf into agreeing to the treatment, but he refuses again. Everyone gets very angry and in the meantime Patakh dies.

Back on the surface, Geordi and his captor bond over a shared hatred of dying alone on some godforsaken rock. After earning his trust the old-fashioned way – saving his life multiple times over – Geordi convinces the Romulan to let him guide them home. But them the planet's poisonous environment makes him go blind. Impeccable timing.

Working together, Geordi and the Romulan (He's called Bochra. Apparently.) set off towards the probe using another MacGuyvered instrument as a Neutrino-probe "Geiger Counter" (one wonders how the universal translator explains "Geiger Counter" to a Romulan.)

Meanwhile, Picard is engaged in the kind of heated diplomacy with the Romulan commander Tomalak that makes Russia and the EU look like bezzie mates. Tomalak refuses to explain why their ship was on the planet and assures Picard that it was a one-man vessel. Though eager to avoid war, Picard finds himself staring down a Romulan disruptor when Geordie and Bochra reach the probe and signal the ship.

Picard sweet-talks the Romulans into not shooting them, then beams the pair up from the planet. He then informs Tomalak that he's unexpectedly found a second crewmen, which Tomalak explains as a mistake on his part. Bochra explains that they saved his life and he's returned to his ship. Riker wipes his brow, while Picard muses on the dangers of brinkmanship. And come to think of it, we never did find out what the Romulans were doing on Galorndon Core. Yay?

TNG WTF: Mighty convenient that the Romulan bio-compound is "too complex" to replicate. This may be the first and only time this has happened.

TNG LOL: Poor Chief O'Brien. Riker gets angry because he can't beam Geordi back. Er, remind us who was leading that away team, Riker?

Also: "Commander Tomalak. It would appear our away team has rescued a second man from your one-man ship."

Mistakes and Minutiae: Literally my favourite thing to find in an episode. A new phaser setting! Geordi sets his hand phaser to Smelt Ore. The complete list is now Stun, Kill, Cut Through Door, Heat Up Rocks, Head Explodey, Aqueduct Demolition and Smelt Ore.

Time Until Meeting: No meetings in this episode! Although thirty-five minutes in, Worf does get called up for a one-to-one with Picard, which sort of counts.

Captain's Log: Another Geordi episode so soon after the last one? Really? Okay then. At least this one finally gets some good use out of the Romulans, who were re-introduced to much fanfare at the end of Season One and have since appeared a grand total of once, if you discount sensor tricks and illusions by space-gods.

On the plus side, LeVar Burton has always been one of the more personable actors in the show, and his interactions with the crazy dying Romulan are brilliant. He's grumpy and confrontational, and yet still very Geordi-like. The general sense of ramping tension in the episode is good, and it's always enjoyable to see Picard getting snarky.

The Worf sub-plot is bizarre, though. Apparently it was added to remind viewers that Worf had different values and beliefs to humans. Which would be fine if people didn't refuse to participate in life-saving treatments all the time because of weird belief structures. As it is, it just makes Worf look like an anti-Romulan bigot, and by the end of the episode it's left hanging with everyone angry at Worf for his stubbornness. Not a very satisfying ending to that thread.

Watch or Skip? Watch.

Read James' look-back at the previous episode, Booby Trap, here.

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