Descent was TNG's best 2-parter

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by TroiFan4ever, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I raised an eyebrow when I read this thread title.

    But reading through it got me asking myself, "did I always hate it?". I think I loved the part I when I first saw it but part II lets it down so horribly that I can never watch this or I, Borg again.

    (Of course I will watch it again when the blu-ray gets released)
     
  2. sadsquid

    sadsquid Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    All Good Things...
    Best of Both Worlds
    Chain of Command
    Time's Arrow
    Redemption
    Gambit
    Unification
    Descent
    Encounter at Farpoint
    Birthright

    I really enjoyed all except Farpoint and Birthright (and even they were watchable at least). The two-parter I think is underrated is Gambit. I just don't understand why it's viewed as weak. I thought it was a fun show (watching Picard blending in as one of the crew, hating Riker and stuff was pretty funny).
     
  3. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    TNG writers really had a problem doing good two parters during the later years of the series. Most of those episodes would have been fine as one episodes instead of being dragged over two episodes.
     
  4. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    I won't speak for anyone else, but for me the bad part about TNG: Gambit was the following.

    In TOS: The Savage Curtain, Surak was described as the savior of Vulcan, because he led the development of their philosophy of peace and reason which in the end won out over violence. From http://www.chakoteya.net/StarTrek/77.htm:

    Now, before you say that that wasn't the real Surak, from the same episode:

    It is certainly true that the image of Surak was true to how Spock understood Surak to be. I'll take Spock's opinion as about as authoritative it gets in-universe in Star Trek. Therefore, the image of Surak's description of Vulcan history was accurate.

    So, what's wrong with TNG: Gambit is that it betrayed and cheapened this view of Vulcan history. Instead of Vulcans taming their animal passions with reason, the need to adopt logic was reduced to rendering inert a random artifact-of-the-week that mattered neither before nor since in on-screen canon. It was embarrassing.
     
  5. Praetorian

    Praetorian Captain Captain

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    As far as I remember, and Memory Alpha seems to support it, the need to adopt logic had nothing to do with the weapon! The episode simply stated that the weapon became useless once Vulcans started to adopt Surak's teachings, because the emotions necessary to make it work were mostly eradicated. Avoiding the effects of the weapon was not the basis of Surak's teachings, but instead a consequence of it.
     
  6. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, you're going to have to quote something specific to back up what you're saying, because I'm not buying it at this juncture.

    First of all, Gambit itself doesn't even mention Surak, in either part.

    Second of all, here's what Ron Moore (teleplay author) had to say about it, from http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Gambit,_Part_II_(episode)#Story_and_production:

     
  7. sadsquid

    sadsquid Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Huh, interesting. I never really payed much attention to the back-story of the artifact, so I didn't pick up on that. I always just assumed what Praetorian said. Never even occurred to me that the weapon might have been the catalyst behind the switch to logic. If that really is the case, then yeah, it's a bit dumb. But I do think the rest of the show is a lot of fun.
     
  8. Praetorian

    Praetorian Captain Captain

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    Well, let's see:

    TALLERA I am sure you are familiar with the ancient history of my people... before we found logic... before we found peace. PICARD You were much like my people once were... a warlike, savage race... TALLERA There was even a time when we used our telepathic abilities as a weapon... a time when we learned to kill with a thought.

    And then:
    PICARD As I recall the legend, the Stone of Gol was destroyed by the gods when the Vulcan people found the way to peace... TALLERA The resonator was believed to have been destroyed during the Time of the Awakening. Only one piece was known to have survived and it was placed in a Vulcan museum under heavy guard.

    Also:

    PICARD Think, Tallera -- two thousand years ago, your people were being consumed by war... then they found the way of peace and logic. During the same period, the resonator was dismantled... don't you see the connection? (beat) When peace came to Vulcan, the resonator became useless. That is why it was dismantled.

    All of this corroborates what I said. And there's nothing that implies the adoption of logic and pacifism, proposed by Surak, came to be due to the existence of this particular type of weapon, as opposed to the generalized violence present in Vulcan at the time.

    Now, it is true that, thematically, the weapon and Surak's teachings are intertwined:

    PICARD (quiet) You were right... the resonator cannot be stopped with phasers or shields. But like every other form of violence... it can be stopped with peace.

    But there's no apparent cause and effect here. I guess it could be argued that Surak was influenced by the weapon, and how it could be defeated by eschewing violent thoughts, and decided to apply this notion to all kinds of violence. But the episode doesn't say this directly, and the evidence is, at best, circumstancial.

    Moore's quote seems to be from a storytelling point of view, not a continuity one, since having a weapon that can be neutralized by "thinking happy thoughts", with the weapon itself alluding to this very fact, is somewhat silly. However, thematically, it kinda fits, hence my appreciation for it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  9. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    Where are you getting that dialog? That's not accurate according to http://www.chakoteya.net/NextGen/episodes.htm.

    From http://www.chakoteya.net/NextGen/257.htm:

    I read all that as corroborating what I said, that peace was achieved in order to defeat the resonator. So... we're not getting anywhere. I've highlighted what I see as the key passages that support my perspective.

    Moore's opinion that the story did not really fit in well with TOS Surak, and that it just didn't really work period, is pertinent.

    ---

    Anyhow, lurching back towards being on topic, Gambit, for all its shortcomings, is certainly better than Descent in my book.
     
  10. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    If Surak's peace and serenity-through-logic was motivated by a desire to avoid war, then the psychic resonator was just another weapon that needed to be defeated through pacifism. I'm not seeing the problem with this scenario; the resonator was defeated by the new Vulcan peace movement in the same way nuclear weapons were - the motive to use them was removed.

    I doubt the wholesale reformation of a society was motivated by the desire to disable just one weapon. I can believe it would be due to the desire to disable all weapons, though.
     
  11. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    I would buy that more easily, were the symbol for peace not a part of the resonator itself. But the fact that the peace symbol was on it suggests to me that the intention was that the resonator had a special role in spreading peace, more so than all the other non-psionic weapons. The three symbols on the resonator itself summarize both the cultural dilemma in Surok's time and the resolution: war, death, and peace.
     
  12. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Symbols are too easily misinterpreted. A peace symbol on a weapon - well, peace is spread by victory, isn't it? The wielders of the resonator wanted to win and achieve their peace. Why not put their peace symbol on it?
     
  13. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    I don't see my mind being changed on Gambit.

    Anyhow, thanks for the off-topic sidebar, but I'm done with that.

    Main point for this thread is: I think Gambit is better than Descent.
     
  14. Praetorian

    Praetorian Captain Captain

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    I think Moore was saying that the concept of a weapon that comes with instructions on how to render it completely useless, with those instructions being: "Think happy thoughts", was "gooey", hence his use of the term "gooeyness".

    gooey [ˈguːɪ]adj gooier, gooiest Informal1. sticky, soft, and often sweet
    2. oversweet and sentimental gooily adv

    Oversweet and sentimental, I think that's what he meant. Though my knowledge of english might be not be the best. So he didn't say that the story didn't fit with Surak's.

    I do think Pavonis analogy is quite interesting. Psionic ressonators could have played a similar role to nuclear weapons. An extremely powerfull weapon whose very existence was a strong argument in favor of peace, but not the sole cause of it.

    I got my transcript from here http://tng.trekcore.com/episodes/scripts/257.txt. I think its content is the same as your source.

    Anyway, extrapolating that the presence of those symbols on the weapon means that it played a pivotal role in the pacifist/logic movement is exactly that, an extrapolation. No character states that. On the other hand, the characters do state the weapon became useless once logic was adopted, without any mention of this adoption being caused by this particular weapon.

    The symbols do raise the question of why they were put there in the first place... Did someone created the weapon in order to blackmail Vulcans into following peace and logic, or else they would be at the receiving end of it? Or, were the symbols put there in order to make it possible for Picard to understand its functioning and save the day...? :p

    In any event, I do agree that Gambit is better than Descent.
     
  15. TroiFan4ever

    TroiFan4ever Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I agree. "Gambit" wasn't a bad story at all. It has its flaws and this episode's author could've done better but "Gambit" was pretty good.

    For example, a better way of concluding the first hour would've been nice -- OK, Picard/"Gaylynn" firing on his OWN ship was one thing but put some more OMMPH in it.

    To whoever said "Gambit" could've been a one-hour episode, I disagree. It would've been rushed. Hell, its writing already needed work.

    If there is one one-parter that I could stretch into a two-parter, it would be "Timescape". I liked the plot of "Timescape" but it felt a bit rushed and a smoother pace would've made it work even better.

    Only thing though it would've been weird as "Descent" came right after "Timescape" so to have two two-parter eps back to back probably would've been ackward, to me anyway. But I would've liked to have seen an elaboration in "Timescape".

    I could see "Birthright" being just one-44-min episode but I guess they felt the need to divide in into a 2hour episode because of the TNG/DS9 crossover, for which in such circumstances, I understand.
     
  16. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    "Galen". Picard took his alias from his mentor's surname, Professor Richard Galen.
     
  17. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I've watched this show so many times, but I didn't pick up on that connection. Duuuuuuuh.

    One positive from this episode is seeing Robin Curtis again, and she gets a meaty role this time. Her Saavik was unfortunate, but it wasn't her fault. Harve Bennett felt the need to make Saavik flat and remove any trace of emotion.