Throwback Thursday: Next Generation’s Darmok Review (Season 5, Ep 2)
Darmok is one of Star Trek: Next Generation’s most beloved series, but does the episode pass the test on this Throwback Thursday review?
We start with Star Trek: Next Generation’s Darmok (S5, E2). The episode opens with Jean-Luc Picard wearing his most Saved by the Bell jacket that he owns, introducing the audience to a race called the Tamarians, or the Children of Tama. The race looks more like Mordant from the Power Rangers movie, which already has me wanting to see Ivan Ooze deal with Picard. This race of aliens also speaks in nonsensical Veggie Tale versus it appears.
Is it too late to make Ivan Ooze the new Q?
The show pivots to the planet after Picard is beamed down and the best episode of Perfect Strangers begins. It’s an entire back and forth of misunderstood actions and an inability to understand one another. Picard eventually figure out what the crew of the Enterprise figured out in the act prior; this alien race speaks in metaphors. The alien captain wanted to hunt an alien creature with Picard but is attacked and mauled by it before the two could partner up. Picard is eventually rescued after the other captain succumbs to his injuries. Picard brokers a peaceful departure with the Tamarians as the two sides mourn the same man.
The episode really does a great job establishing the bond the two captains have, despite their minimal ability to communicate. That’s not to say the episode isn’t without flaws. Picard early on in the episodes boasts fo his crews “patience’, for only 30 seconds later Picard to be standing on the bridge with his face twisted in annoyance.
Classic Picard, “Do as I say, not as I do”.
Will Riker also comes off a bit on the short-sighted side. Riker tasks Geordi La Forge to figure out a way to get Picard off the planet by punching through the barrier the aliens created around the planet. La Forge figures out how but needs several hours to be able to do it right. Riker is told rushing the plan will ensure it fails but Riker tells La Forge to do it anyway even though it’s not done because that makes sense? The plan that was going to fail obviously ends up failing since La Forge said it was going to fail and I’m left wondering who thought Riker was a good command choice.
So why did Riker rush what would’ve been a successful plan? The beast. It was basically an invisible alien triceratops with Predator powers that stalked the two captains. The budget for these shows was small, so admittedly anything more than that seemed unlikely but I’m still left wondering what the creature looks like.
We’re breaking the episode down five categories, and then I’ll grade each category out of five.
Acting: They’re all trained stage actors. It’s hard to ever say Star Trek had “bad acting” unless you’re talking about some scrub extra.
Writing: The idea, the dialogue, and the overall execution were really good, but odd script choices to have Riker running around making dumb choices, ignoring Worf, and forcing La Forge to do rush something that was doomed to fail was a mistake. Bad form making the look incompetent.
Design: Overall the design for the Tamarians could’ve been more Star Trek, less Pigs in Space. It had to be hard to deliver a performance when you look like the adult version of Baby from Dinosaurs. Thankfully the alien captain was killed off at the hands of Bradley P. Richfield.
Special Effects: It was a sci-fi show in syndication. It was as good as it was ever going to get. We’re not going to compare it Independence Day or even the Trek films. Just prior Next Generation episodes. So this episode looks really good in comparatively.
Enjoyability: I highly recommend this episode, if the nonsensical actions of Riker and Picard’s quick about-face don’t detour you too much.
Overall: 20/25 (80%)