Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Another Hostage Situation In A String Of Politically "Heavy" Episodes With "The High Ground"

The Good: Character development, Use of the ensemble cast
The Bad: Plot, Acting
The Basics: Another politically-motivated plot brings this episode of Star Trek The Next Generation to territory that feels too familiar, even though it used an underused character.

In the third season of Star Trek The Next Generation, there comes a stretch of politically savvy episodes wherein the crew of the Enterprise must work out problems with wide reaching political implications. In "The Defector," (reviewed here!) they must evaluate a Romulan traitor's intelligence for the safety of the Federation, in "The Hunted" (reviewed here!) they wrestle with the problem of super soldiers. Here in "The High Ground," the crew must deal with terrorism and the plot seems a bit worn thin.

"The High Ground" finds Dr. Crusher captured by Finn, a terrorist on Rutia. Finn uses a device like an instantaneous transporter that allows him and his comrades to leap, steal, and leap back to a hide out. The problem? Finn's little device is killing those who use it. Slowly. Dr. Crusher is enlisted to save the terrorists and when Picard is abducted as well, he begins to believe she is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

The problem with "The High Ground" is that no one is terribly convincing. Finn is too well dressed, too clean shaven to be a convincing terrorist. He seems too "white bread" for the anger that terrorism evokes. In fact, his diatribes likening himself to George Washington and a patriot ring hollow. I blame Richard Cox, who portrays Finn. He plays Finn with too much swagger, too much arrogance that the desperate political fugitive must, by necessity, have. That is, Finn seems too much engaged in the ideology of being a dissident without the emotion of it. Finn lacks dissonance, a genuine grudge.

The plot seems excessively canned given the recent string of politically motivated plots. Add to that that the episode never seems to leave the root problems. Once Beverly adapts to being a hostage, Picard is taken prisoner and the cycle begins again.

Still, it's nice to see a Dr. Crusher episode. Gates McFadden generally does a good job playing Crusher as a hostage. The character here makes a little progress in becoming more rounded.

The only remarkable aspect of "The High Ground" is that it used the entire cast. It seems the entire crew has much to do. Riker and Worf seek answers the political problems and the police efforts to rectify the hostage situation. Data, Wesley and Geordi look into the technology of the leaping equipment.

In short, there's little here for the fans of Star Trek The Next Generation. It is probably a fine episode for those not keeping up with the series, but for those who are, this is tired. No one is giving outrageously good performances, the characters aren't progressed terribly far and after the first viewing, there's little to bring one back to this one.

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


For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, please visit my index page! That's here!

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

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