Ah, the memories I have of this episode. I remember watching it for the first time when I bought the season one set a decade ago and thinking "For a first seasoner, they sure did a lot of stuff effects wise".
Granted, the effects aren't all that good. One moment you're trying to get passed this drone thing, and than you're scratching your head at Riker being trapped in the Stasis Field which does nothing to hide the fact that all he's doing is standing still. I have this strange love/hate thing going on towards the design of the drone. I like it's simple smooth design and how it chirps around, but the movement animation just completely botches the effect.
Character moments as expected for a Gene Roddenberry run show are what you would expect. According to memory alpha, the scene with Picard and Beverly trapped underground was supposed to have been reversed with Picard being injured and Beverly desperately trying to keep him alive. This was supposed to bring out the feelings the two characters had for each other, but the great bird of the galaxy apparently ditched the idea in favor of total boredom instead. The only redeeming part when it comes to the planet story is seeing the late Vincent Schiavelli acting as a totally oblivious hologram arms dealer.
Where this episode really gets things right is when we're with Geordi commanding of the Enterprise. It's nice to see someone unexpected taking command in a competent way and having a new set of crew members fill in for everyone else. It really helped establish the Enterprise as a ship that can get a lot of things done even when the assigned crew members are away from their stations. And for a first season episode, I thought the strategy of destroying the cloaked drone was very clever and was executed very well. Even for all the stock footage of the Enterprise D we've been getting accustomed to in season one, I was not expecting this kind of effect sequence.
Arsenal of Freedom also has my #1 favorite season one moment in the form of the Enterprise firing all weapons. Everything about it works. The charging noise of the phaser, the single photon torpedo being fired and than bursting into several other torpedoes was a scene I replayed over and over again on my BluRay player. Even if the Enterprise didn't hit anything, I still get a thrill out of watching it.
Indeed, Arsenal of Freedom has a lot of rough edges with a good chunk of character material that could have been better, but when it comes to putting characters into new situations and showcasing what the Enterprise can actually do, it's a real highlight.
"What's the armament on the Lolipop?"