Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Desperate To Keep Allies On Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Allegiance" Fizzles.

The Good: Moments of acting
The Bad: Ridiculous plot, Absurd character work, Ultimately juvenile.
The Basics: Plagued by already used humor and a weak script, "Allegiance" replaces Picard with an alien imposter who is impossible to stomach.

"Allegiance" is one of the weirdest episodes Star Trek The Next Generation ever did in that it offered a few of the actors, most notably Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden, a chance to step outside their roles and expand their characters. The problematic aspect of the episode is that there are no consequences to the actions detailed in it and that seems odd given the magnitude of some of the occurrences.

At the start of the episode, Captain Picard is abducted by an alien probe and replaced with a replica. While Picard remains imprisoned in an undisclosed location, the replicant runs the ship. And he's running the ship into a pulsar. As well, he begins to act irregularly, dating Dr. Crusher and singing in Ten Forward. In the room where he is being held prisoner, Picard begins to work with a pacifist, an anarchist and a StarFleet Cadet to solve the mystery of their unseen assailants and get themselves back where they belong before they starve to death . . . or kill each other.

The only thing that was done completely right in "Allegiance" is that Guinan is not in it. It's frustrating to watch the crew react to Picard for quite a bit of time before actually believing something is wrong with the Captain. These are intelligent people and long before Picard is singing in Ten Forward, his behavior is questionable. It would have been absolutely unforgivable had Guinan been present and not recognized the doppleganger for what it was.

Fortunately, that's not the case. Unfortunately, that's the only thing the episode gets right. When it comes to the characters, the episode blows it. After all this time with being detached from one another, the methods the replicant uses to try to woo Beverly are idiotic. On a character level, she has been portrayed all along as too smart and too self confident to fall for the replicant's slick b.s.

Add to that that the plot is just silly. Especially with its ultimate resolution, the plot makes little sense. Picard's abductors have little sense of a culture and the debating that goes on in the jail cell between the four captives is drawn out and pedantic. It's painful to watch.

Even the actors cannot salvage much out of this one. Patrick gives a good run of playing his loopy, inconsistent replicant, but the dialog he is given is so weak that even he is not able to save it. Similar problems plague Gates McFadden. She's doing the best she can with what she is given, but you can't make gold out of garbage. I blame the writers.

In the end, the purpose of the experiment and how Picard stumbles upon the truth seems odd. The observer in the cell makes sense, but that a culture that could abduct the specific people it does capture would not know the fundamental clues that the doppleganger gives away is sad. It's shabby writing.

Completely inaccessible to those who are not fans of Star Trek The Next Generation for the simple reason that it is overphilosophical on the Picard plot and insulting the viewer's intelligence on the Replicant plot, "Allegiance" is a big disappointment to those who are fans of the series. There's too much talk in the Picard sections and not enough thought on the Enterprise.

Not worth your time, "Allegiance" tells a convoluted story without having any real lasting impact on the characters.

[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 franchise reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

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

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