It's always a risk that when new characters are introduced well into a series run that it can be a benefit or a hazard. Today's episode, "The Defector" introduces TNG to a new character that will continue to plague the series all the way to the series end. I am of course talking about the introduction to the now infamous 4-ft model of the Enterprise D.
The 4-foot model was made to fix a number of issues that the effects crew were having issues with. The 6-ft model had little to no detail, you weren't able to shoot further away from it and it was too large and heavy to work around in a timely manner. But instead of going to ILM, the effects crew at the studio decided to make the model themselves. The results are....well,
I think the guys behind the BluRay restoration said it best at Comic Con last year. You could easily distinguish these two models as you would distinguish two genders. The 6-ft model is sleeker, curvier, smoother and shapely, while the 4-ft is bulkier, thicker, more rounded and has a lot more muscle tone. Now I'm not trying to say that the 4-ft model itself was a mistake since there are some great visual moments where the model was used that are very well done. It's that the model itself doesn't hold up well to forward close ups due to the thicker saucer section edge and the completely different shape deflector dish. Some close up shots make the ship look like a toy rather than a filming model which is sad when you realize that A LOT OF NEW FOOTAGE focusing on close up shots of the Big D will be of the 4-ft model instead of the 6-ft one.
I know that has nothing to do with the context of the episode, but if character are important, their first impressions are too. And like a bad character, the 4-ft model was something we didn't want to see when there were other good characters to spend time with.
The episode itself is alright. You have a Romulan named Jarok who wants to defect to to the Federation because he believes that the Romulans are planning to attack Federation stations that will no doubt result in an all out war. The problem is that this whole scenario was a fluke instigated by the Romulan Empire to weed out potential traitors. It's an interesting idea but unfortunately never lives up to it's fullest potential since no one really follows up on what the Romulans did. It's all played out as though Jarok was fooled and that's that. What about the idea that what he did was less about betraying the Empire and more about preventing the Empire from engaging in a war that they could lose? It's an interest subject for debate that never gets brought up.
Also, is it really "impossible" to send his message to his family on Romulus? I know the Romulans don't want any Federation ships entering their space, but are they really into complete and total isolation that they don't allow ANY ship that isn't a part of the Romulan Star Empire permission to enter their space? Star Trek 2 established that border ships could come and go as they please, so why not just send the data that way? Or better yet, transmit the message to his family? If I knew I was never going to see my family again and I could only write them one letter, the first thing I would do is figure out a way for this letter to get to them before I bite the dust. The whole message at the end about how maybe when we're finally at peace with the Romulans just rings hollow since this series seems to have little interest in bringing about galaxy wide changes. Thankfully, there are other series that do just that.
With the introduction of the 4-ft, TNG just got a bit uglier. While the story of Jarok is a good one, it felt a bit stretched out in the middle with nothing really happening and the conclusion being handled a bit too quickly. In the end, the death of Jarok felt more like a tragedy in the writing sense than a story sense because it just felt like a quick way out when it could have been the start of a long running arc regarding the Federation/Romulan conflict, much like the Klingon Arc that we'll soon get into.
*You're goofy Drex