Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 Archive & Reflection
Images Source: TrekCore
We are now three seasons into the rewatch and I'm still finding it hard to get a handle on the vibe of each season as a whole. Season 3 is packed with great episodes, but I found it took me a while to get the rhythm of the season and get to the episodes I loved. We start with 3.01 Evolution which is a 'it's all Wesley's fault!' episode where he accidentally creates a new species of nanites working together which is definitely a fun one and we get the whole Beverly is back now thing. But then we hit a bit of a dry patch of prime directive and/or centred on one-time seen alien culture episodes which I can like, but from this set not stand out as faves even though we get a good high creep factor in both 3.03 The Survivors with the music box music affecting Troi and 3.05 The Bonding with the appearance of a dead crew member who returns as an alien imposter to try and console (or steal!) her son.
There are always certain episodes I love each season with guest stars or fascinating ideas, what often keeps me coming back to the show is character development of the main cast. But even in these moments they are often challenging, or deal with loss or even betrayal. The big moments include Data choosing to procreate in 3.16 The Offspring and creating a daughter named Lal, which turns into another battle with Starfleet over android sentience. Riker is put on trial in 3.14 A Matter of Perspective and we have a holodeck recreation of the subjective events serves as evidence and honestly I found this one rather disturbing, but also was very impressed with Jonathan Frakes performance as it was quite subtle. Worf finds out he has a brother named Kurn in 3.17 Sins of the Father, however to provide the opportunity for their father Mogh's honour to be restored this is kept a secret from the Klingon High Council, and Worf himself accepts discommendation from his fellow Klingons.
On a bit of a lighter not we have some romance throughout the season including Geordi with a bumpy romance road starting on the holodeck with recreation of Leah Brahms in 3.06 Booby Trap and then finds more confidence later in the season from an energy surge from alien John Doe in 3.25 Transfigurations and starts going out with Christy. Beverly catches the eye of her abductor in 3.12 The High Ground, then has an (almost) romance with John Doe in 3.25 Transfigurations and then a positively gotcha! flirtation with an impersonator Picard in 3.18 Allegiance. Plus who could forget the steamy romance between Deanna and Devinoni Ral in 3.08 The Price. Wow. That being said, there wasn't much new developed in the relationships of the the characters on the show, but they are all quite settled into their lives together so perhaps that makes sense.
We also have new and returning characters too, with the introduction of Barclay in 3.21 Hollow Pursuits as one of if not the most awkward characters in the series but also a good reminder that not everyone fits the Starfleet mold. We get a continual presence of O'Brien in the season which is great and also the surprizing return on Tasha Yar who appears in an alternate present in 3.15 Yesterday's Enterprise, and casts one of the few arc-stones of the season.
One reason season 3 didn't super site well with me is I think there were way too many abductions. Riker and Troi are held hostage when they imposter aliens in 3.04 Who Watches the Watchers and they get abducted along with Lwaxana in 3.24 Ménage à Troi, which I'm sure is suppose to be a light/funny episode but the whole abduction thing makes it not really fun for me to watch. Then we have a injured Romulan who tries to keep Geordi at bay in 3.07 The Enemy, Data has an attempted being 'collected' abduction in 3.22 The Most Toys and then Beverly gets nabbed by rebels for her medical skills in 3.12 The High Ground where Picard is also eventually abducted too. Actually, Picard gets nabbed three times altogether if you add in both 3.18 Allegiance and the season cliff hanger finale of 3.26 The Best of Both Worlds (Part I). After seeing all these abductions it became clear that the Starfleet mandate is to attempt escape, but the guys were the only ones that acted on this and neither Deanna or Beverly attempted escape. That being said, the ingenious Lwaxana did engineer the opportunity to be rescued in 3.24 Ménage à Troi after she gets both Deanna and Riker released. Go Lwanana!
I did find it interesting to see the reoccuring theme of characters choosing to stay where they are over promotion/advancement with both Wesley missing his academy test in 3.24 Ménage à Troi which actually leads to him being promoted to full ensign. Riker also is offered his third ship to captain in 3.26 The Best of Both Worlds (Part I) which due to cliffhanger status it's literally left up in the air on what he'll do.
All that said I certainly did have favorites as well, especially the Worf-centric episode 3.17 Sins of the Father which has one of my favourite moments ever with the Klingon ritual where he is discommendated is very powerful. I also loved some of the guest star stories this season with the tragedy of a Romulan defector in 3.10 The Defector and the crumbling emotional control of Sarek in 3.23 Sarek. There were some fascinating ideas this season as well including conflict of a 'Perfect Weapon' being housed in an altered but base-line anti-violent man Roga Danar in 3.11 The Hunted. I enjoyed some of the lighter moments like the bizarreness of the impersonator Picard singing in Ten Forward in 3.18 Allegiance or the straight-up bar brawl in 3.23 Sarek. There were also some great guest stars and characters including Q's a stint as an mortal in 3.13 Déjà Q, the clever and playful Vash in 3.19 Captain's Holiday and the unique challenges of the hyper-sensitive empath Tam Elbrum in 3.20 Tin Man.
Season 3 also plays the arc game more than the first two seasons of The Next Generation. We travel to an alternate version of current day with 3.15 Yesterday's Enterprise where Guinan knows things are amiss. There are also several episodes that indicated that the big bad will be The Romulans, from enemies who try and warn The Federation in 3.10 The Defector of Admiral Alidar Jarok gives us some Romulan interaction as well as Romulans trying to kill a space creature and break into Federation Space in 3.20 Tin Man, plus a more positive interaction early in the season with 3.07 The Enemy. This feels like a bit of a rouse as by the season ender it's clear The Borg are the ones to worry about.
All that being said, the most confounding thing of the season for me was oddly Beverly hair. It goes from short to long to short to long. It always looks great though!
We are left with the cliffhanger of 3.26 The Best of Both Worlds (Part I) and Picard abducted and adapted to being the Borg Locutus. This is the first season-to-season cliffhanger, and it's about time I got back to watching to see how Season 4 turns out.
If you haven't heard, TNG is now available on Netflix.ca although I will be continuing to watch on Space which gets back to regular episodes as of Monday January 7, 2013.
Archive of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Three Posts
3.02 The Ensigns of Command
3.03 The Survivors
3.04 Who Watches the Watchers
3.05 The Bonding
3.06 Booby Trap
3.07 The Enemy
3.08 The Price
3.09 The Vengeance Factor
3.10 The Defector
3.11 The Hunted
3.12 The High Ground
3.13 Déjà Q
3.14 A Matter of Perspective
3.15 Yesterday's Enterprise
3.16 The Offspring
3.17 Sins of the Father
3.19 Captain's Holiday
3.20 Tin Man
3.21 Hollow Pursuits
3.22 The Most Toys
3.24 Ménage à Troi
3.26 The Best of Both Worlds (Part I)
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 in Pictures
Images Source: TrekCore