Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Lame Captive, A Genuine Prison: "Samaritan Snare"

The Good: Acting in the Picard/Wesley plot, Character in the Picard/Wesley plot
The Bad: The supposed A-plot Geordi story
The Basics: An interesting, well acted Picard/Crusher story is underexposed by a Geordi hostage situation that never is compelling in "Samaritan Snare."

"Samaritan Snare" remains one of Star Trek The Next Generation episodes that does little based on its title and that whole plot line; it's a "Geordi gets the crap kicked out of him" episode. The b-plot is a far more meaningful and lasting.

This episode finds the Enterprise, minus Picard, encountering the rejects of the galaxy, known as the Pakleds. They have stolen their technology from various sources and upon encountering the Enterprise, they are broken down and need an engineer. Geordi goes over to their ship where he is promptly kidnaped and held hostage for technical aid. Meanwhile, Picard is headed to a starbase to have a new heart put in and Wesley Crusher is stuck in the same shuttlecraft on his way to StarFleet testing.

The b-plot, with Picard and Wesley is the real gem of this episode. It puts two characters who are very uncomfortable with one another in a tight situation where they are forced to interact together. Picard and Wesley have always had an uncomfortable relationship and this episode puts them in a long ride with one another. And when they are forced together, the episode works. It does something and it does something well. It has a real human element that works quite well.

The problem, then, is the amount of time and energy that the first plot is given. It's hard to care that Geordi is captured by a bunch of idiots when Captain Picard is dying. Go figure. And the villains aren't too terribly compelling. They are a bunch of simpletons capturing the least compelling character in the cast. It's a huge mistake as far as attempting to keep an episode interesting. There's no real threat from the Pakleds and it's hard to care about Geordi in this situation because he's been dealt a bad script.

That's not to say that the acting is bad. LeVar Burton does a great job, but he's playing with a poor hand. Conversely, Wil Wheaton and Patrick Stewart do a great job playing off one another as Crusher and Picard. They infuse genuine talent to a plot that could have been poorly paced and deadly dull. Instead, they breath life into the episode that was otherwise lifeless.

Unfortunately, even their talent isn't enough to save this poor episode. Too much attention and effort is placed in the wrong place: the Geordi hostage episode. And we know how that one will end, which further slows the episode down. And this is a belabored episode for too long.

While this sets up future episodes with Picard and Wesley Crusher, this episode is hard to swallow for anyone who is not a fan of Star Trek The Next Generation.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Second Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the sophomore season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek franchise reviews, please visit my index page for an organized listing of them!

© 2011, 2008, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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