The Rewatch: 164: First Contact

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 4.15 First Contact (02/18/1991)
Rating: 4/5
Redshirt Status: 0/1/34

Notable Guest Stars:
Bebe Neuwirth (Lanel ) She is probably most known from her role on Fraiser (and earlier Cheers) She is also probably the most known of the actors on this list for just that.

George Coe (Arvel Durken)-  I know him best as a reoccurring character, Senater Stackhouse, on The West Wing. I loved him on that show, and his character in this episode is remarkable similar if younger and with more power.

Carolyn Seymour (Marista Yale)- Seymour has presented quite a list of credits, working both in live action and voice work.  She has contributed to both Star Trek, Star Wars and several video games such as Mass Effect.

George Hearn (Berel)- Hearn has several broadway credits, including playing Sweeney Todd with Angela Landsbury for a Showtime presentation (for which he won an Emmy).  He has also won several Tony Awards.  A more recent credit includes 1999’s Sarah Plain and Tall: Winter’s End, a direct to DVD sequal to Sarah Plan and Tall.

Michael Ensign (Krola)- Ensign would appear several times over the course of Star Trek, including in 2003 for the episode “Stigma”.  He also would have several Broadway credits, and like Carolyn Seymour, have several video game voice credits, including Bio-shock 2.

Sachi Parker (Tava)- Parker had a relatively short film career, with her last film being in 2010. She has gained notoriety because of her famous mother, Shirley MacLaine, and for writing an autobiography of her childhood.

Review:
 

This episode is interesting because it takes the First Contact idea and turns it around.  What if we were the aliens?  This is one of the few episodes where the POV is not maintained by those on the ship.  The entire time, the POV is those of the alien species, and on occasion, Riker who is trying to escape.

The episode begins with Riker, having been sent down to finalize retrieval plans with the observers on the planet.  However, he got caught up in a riot on the planet and gets beat up a bit.  At the very least (by what the phyiscans state) he has a severe concussion and a bruised kidney.  And since he’s not on the Enterprise, Riker’s in for a bad few days as he attempts to recover.

Meanwhile the planet’s chancellor, Avel Durken, is having a cabinet meeting with his security minister and his science minister as they fight over the direction of the space program.  Krola, the security Minister is anxious and does not like the idea of warp travel feeling that they are going too fast for the culture to be at the pace of the development.  He is very very Xenophobic as we learn later in the episode.

Minister Mirasta Yale however wants to go full speed and gets her wish.  And then gets susprirsed again when Picard and Deanna appear to start First Contact.  Which is my first issue with this episode.  I was under the impression, till now, that First Contact was to happen after a species created their first warp test not before.  But I regress. 

The rest of the episode is Picard arguing for Riker’s release and for friendships to begin, hwile Riker attempts to escape with a concussion and only makes things worse for himself.  At one point he gets into a fight and gets kicked around a bit, causing internal bleeding and other damage, worsening his condition to the point where he nearly dies

(Don’t worry, Crusher gets to him in time)

Overall this episode is pretty good.  The acting is great, and the story line solid for once.  In fact my only problem really was the timing of first contact.  The concept is interesting – what is it like to be on the other side of a first Contact.  Finding out another alien species is out there, that they have similarities.  But what if your planet wasn’t ready?

Let’s face it, if there is Alien life out there our planet is definitely not ready.  We still have people who believe the earth is flat, and that the color of your skin is important.  Also we still fight among ourselves over stupid crap (and some less then stupid crap).

For the overall arc of the show, this episode is not important.  I however do recommend watching it because its simply good scifi and a good episode.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Marc Scott Zicree, Dennis Bailey, David Biscoff, Joe Menosky, Ronald D. More, Michael Piller.
  • Directed by Cliff Bole
  • This episode had a long production process.  It was originally pitched for season three, but wasn’t made into a script until season four.
  • The episode is meant to homage The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • This episodes references “Family” where Picard is given a bottle of wine, which he later shares with Chancellor Durken.

Pros:

  • Its an interesting idea to play this on the view of the aliens being introduced to the Federation.
  • Some comedic scenes with Riker attempting to break out with a concussion and and an Alien groupie.
  • Great cast

Cons:

  •  Nothing stands out

Screencap via CygnusX1.net

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