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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old December 18 2012, 10:13 PM   #1
Captrek
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Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

The Arsenal of Freedom

This is probably my favorite episode so far, and surely the most exciting. It has the rare distinction of making effective use of almost every member of the regular cast (except Wesley) and even the Enterprise (taking advantage of the rarely seen saucer separation). It's a good story that would have been right at home on TOS. In particular there are similarities to The Doomsday Machine and That Which Survives, but it's original enough not to be a retread.
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Old December 18 2012, 10:59 PM   #2
Jeyl
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

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.

Stinger: "What's the armament on the Lolipop?"
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Old December 19 2012, 06:22 AM   #3
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

The revolving door of chief engineers got really irritating at this point. Logan was a prick and anytime he was onscreen or over the comm, he dragged the episode down. Thankfully they jettisoned him with the saucer, allowing the episode to improve greatly.

Schiavelli was a welcome guest star. I recognize the girl from Rambo 2.

But after having watched it, I can't help but wonder why Picard didn't ask the demonstration to end sooner. Also, why was the weapon in orbit still attacking the Enterprise after the demonstration was ended on the planet?
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Old December 19 2012, 09:42 AM   #4
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

This was one of my favourite episodes of Season 1. I enjoyed all three parts to it. Picard and Beverley in the cave was carried purely by the acting, the away team facing the probe was fun, and Geordi taking command and seeing how he dealt with both the weapon and Logan was cool to see. Good episode, especially for Season 1.
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Old December 19 2012, 10:23 AM   #5
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

A highlight, if not the best of season 1, agreed.
Sometimes I think it might have been interesting had they chose to continue to separate the ship more often and for more frivolous reasons. So long as the saucer didn't need FTL travel or protection with weapons, why not?
Very well balanced with action scenes and paced with character development.
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Old December 19 2012, 02:46 PM   #6
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

Random observations:

I think this was the first episode where the ship fired phasers in anger - and they missed!

It's all well and good to know herbal medicine and roots and poultices and such - but how the hell does such knowledge apply to a totally alien planet with totally unknown ecosystem, chemistry, biology... ? Seems a likely outcom of even "taste but don't swallow" could have been instant death. And smearing unknown alien vegetable matter on an open wound? People have mutated into alien monsters from less.

Julia Nickson at the helm (later to be Sinclair's girlfriend on Babylon 5). OH, I love that woman's beautiful eyes.
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Old December 19 2012, 03:00 PM   #7
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

the movement animation
This was supposedly done in live action: the planetside drone was a puppet operated in real time...

The revolving door of chief engineers got really irritating at this point.
Interesting how Logan got promoted to Chief Engineer only in the final script revision. Looking at the earlier version at Trekcore, there originally was nothing particularly Chiefish about the character, which was odd as such: why would an underling from Engineering come to challenge LaForge? And why wouldn't a senior officer from one of the supposed "fighting departments", Tactical or Security, be introduced here instead? It wouldn't have been difficult for any character to outrank LaForge at this point...

Oh, well. I would have settled for a more captivating actor for the role of the annoying Chief Engineer.

So long as the saucer didn't need FTL travel
...The funny thing is, the saucer very much did need to travel FTL in order to reach safety in this episode. Had LaForge's plan backfired, the evil probe would quite probably have come after the saucer unless said section were capable of fleeing towards the nearest starbase at a respectable speed. Say, at the same high FTL speed the saucer had used in the pilot episode already!

Speaking of LaForge's solution to the tactical problem, the episode really suffers from plot logic shortcomings there. Picard had already shut down the system that kept the demonstrations going, so the assailant threatening the starship should have vanished as well. OTOH, if the orbital demonstration did not end when Picard bought the planetside version, then a second and even more powerful starship-killer should have popped up right after LaForge managed to blast the first one!

how the hell does such knowledge apply to a totally alien planet with totally unknown ecosystem
It would explain a lot about Star Trek in general if our heroes already recognized that most of the Earth-like planets out there were in fact copies of Earth (or Earth was a copy of one of them), terraformed by mighty ancient cultures. The sharing of a few key species between the terraforming projects would make sense...

Timo Saloniemi
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Old December 19 2012, 03:18 PM   #8
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

Definitely one of S1's best, along with "Conspiracy." The perfect blend of action, drama, and cool effects. I can watch this one and never get sick of it. The saucer separation makes it feel like "an event" that is more than a typical episode.
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Old December 19 2012, 04:19 PM   #9
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

Not a bad episode. Gradually continued the mutual attraction of Picard and Crusher. Gave LaForge some experience in command. Troi's advice was actually worthwhile for once and the episode gave us a break from Wesley for the most part. Upper tier first season episode.
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Old December 19 2012, 05:21 PM   #10
Jeyl
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

Timo wrote: View Post
Speaking of LaForge's solution to the tactical problem, the episode really suffers from plot logic shortcomings there. Picard had already shut down the system that kept the demonstrations going, so the assailant threatening the starship should have vanished as well. OTOH, if the orbital demonstration did not end when Picard bought the planetside version, then a second and even more powerful starship-killer should have popped up right after LaForge managed to blast the first one!
I just wrote that off as either the drone malfunctioning or not receiving the termination signal due to atmospheric interference. That kind of stuff happens all the time in Star Trek. But yeah, it would have been nice if the episode acknowledged that.
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Old December 19 2012, 08:34 PM   #11
Captrek
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

Forbin wrote: View Post
It's all well and good to know herbal medicine and roots and poultices and such - but how the hell does such knowledge apply to a totally alien planet with totally unknown ecosystem, chemistry, biology... ?
How is it that humanoids that evolve on totally alien planets look just like humans with latex bumps on their hand and can successfully mate with humans? In the Star Trek universe, alien ecosystems are not very alien all.

Jeyl wrote: View Post
Timo wrote: View Post
Speaking of LaForge's solution to the tactical problem, the episode really suffers from plot logic shortcomings there. Picard had already shut down the system that kept the demonstrations going, so the assailant threatening the starship should have vanished as well. OTOH, if the orbital demonstration did not end when Picard bought the planetside version, then a second and even more powerful starship-killer should have popped up right after LaForge managed to blast the first one!
I just wrote that off as either the drone malfunctioning or not receiving the termination signal due to atmospheric interference. That kind of stuff happens all the time in Star Trek. But yeah, it would have been nice if the episode acknowledged that.
I have a theory on that. Note the following exchange:
SALESMAN: Why, the Echo Papa Six Oh Seven. Our proudest achievement. The ultimate in weapons system technology.
PICARD: Is that what's behind the attack on my people?
SALESMAN: Impressive demonstration, isn't it?
PICARD: Demonstration? It tried to kill us.
SALESMAN: Versatile, powerful, and easy to use. The Six Oh Seven does it all. Its various modules can gather information, neutralise ground personnel, even destroy enemy space vessels.
PICARD: The Enterprise. Is one of those things after my ship? Tell me.
SALESMAN: Of course I can tell you. I am programmed to answer any and all questions about the unit. I can talk terms, arrange for delivery, whatever you need.
CRUSHER: It doesn't understand anything other than what it's peddling.
SALESMAN: The Six Oh Seven represents the state of the art in dynamic, adaptive design. It learns from each encounter, and improves itself.
PICARD: So what went wrong? Where are it's creators? Where are the people of Minos?
SALESMAN: Once unleashed, the unit is invincible. The perfect killing system.
PICARD: Too perfect. You poor fools, your own creation destroyed you. What was that noise?
SALESMAN: The unit has analysed its last attack and constructed a new, stronger, deadlier weapon. In a moment, it will launch that weapon against the targets on the surface.
PICARD: Abort it!
SALESMAN: Why would I want to do that? It can't demonstrate its abilities unless we let it leave the nest.
The Salesman doesn’t seem to understand the connection between the ship in orbit and the people on the surface. When Picard refers to the Enterprise as “my ship,” the Salesman’s response is a non-sequitur.

I think the system is conducting two separate demonstrations for what it perceives as two separate customers. The weapons on the planet’s surface appear at 12-minute intervals, not accounting for the one in space. When Picard tells the Salesman he has decided to make a purchase, it terminates the demonstration that’s being conducted for the party on the surface, but the other demonstration for the other customer continues. After the Enterprise destroys the weapon that’s attacking it, an improved one should appear 12 minutes later, but by that time the Enterprise will have either left the area or hailed the Salesman and agreed to a purchase.
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Old December 19 2012, 09:21 PM   #12
MikeS
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

A great episode in which Geordi, especially, shines. Finally something for Troi to do too. Great exchanges between Riker and Rice on the surface.
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Old December 20 2012, 01:46 AM   #13
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

It always bugged me they used the shot of Riker with fake-Rice in All Good Things.
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Old December 20 2012, 01:48 AM   #14
Dream
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

I wonder if the writers were starting to have the idea about making Geordi the Chief Engineer after this episode?
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Old December 20 2012, 05:35 AM   #15
jimbotron
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Arsenal of Freedom

Dream wrote: View Post
I wonder if the writers were starting to have the idea about making Geordi the Chief Engineer after this episode?
I wonder why the show didn't have a principal cast member as chief engineer from the beginning. It's not like TOS marginalized the role. Scotty was very popular.

And speaking of TOS to TNG, what happened to the science officer role?
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