Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Yearly Tribute To Tasha Yar In Season Four Is "Legacy!"

The Good: Interesting story, Good acting, Competent character work
The Bad: Nothing beyond the obsession with a minor character and the limitations of episodic television.
The Basics: A fun enough episode, "Legacy" remembers Tasha Yar by introducing her sister and letting the crew have an adventure with her without bogging it down for non-fans.

Since her death in the first season, Tasha Yar has elicited more attention than any other character on Star Trek The Next Generation. By season four, one might figure that she was such a minor character that she would have been forgotten and we could all get on with our lives. Alas, the writers and producers of Star Trek The Next Generation would not let her rest. The season four tribute to the fallen officer is entitled "Legacy."

"Legacy" finds the Enterprise coming to the rescue of an escape pod that is in orbit of Tasha's home colony. There, the colonists have gone from complete anarchy to gang warfare underneath the remaining city. Unfortunately, the starship arrives too late and the pod crashes and its occupants are captured and held hostage. Then, one of the cadres hails the Enterprise and informs them they may be able to help in their problem. They assign a liaison to the Enterprise: Ishara Yar, Tasha's sister. Ishara boards the Enterprise and strategizes with its officers, leading them on a mission underground where she earns their trust. With Ishara's help, the officers are able to penetrate deeper and gain access to the trapped citizens. But, of course, Ishara is not all she seems.

"Legacy" works, when it does, on the acting of Beth Toussaint, who plays Ishara. Toussant makes Ishara both curious and confused and the unfortunate aspect of her performance is occasionally, it is unclear whether it is the character or the actress who is confused. In a scene with Data, for example, Toussaint stumbles over lines that are intended to be emotive and heavy and instead they come out as clumsy. She more than makes up for it in body language and in Ishara, we get the first in a string of Star Trek characters in a catsuit. Bully for the costuming department!

But the regular characters here suffer as a result of Ishara's presence. Data is unusually gullible, Worf lowers his suspicion and Riker . . . well, Riker is just Riker. Picard is, fortunately, guarded and cautious throughout. But the loss of Tasha years ago here affects the characters and their work and in the end, their development - or lack thereof - is not bad.

The acting of the regulars is fine as well. Brent Spiner plays Data with that strange emotive emotionlessness that he is beginning to get down. That is, he has the ability to say he's not emotional, yet do actions that are the result of great caring. By this point in the series, this dispassionate emotionalism is becoming Data's staple.

Jonathan Frakes does fine as Riker, as well. Opening the episode with a prankster gleam in his eyes, ending it with a sad truth. He plays the paradigm quite well.

In fact, the only real disappointment of the episode is in its necessary form. Because we know this is a one hour show and the characters are all struggling for airtime already, the intelligent viewer will know that Ishara is not going to stick around and thus it is predictable that she has some character flaw to keep from us.

On the plus side, the episode is accessible to all. Despite the allusions to Tasha Yar and her death, all avenues are covered in the episode. This makes for a very easy episode for non-fans of Star Trek The Next Generation to watch. In fact, it's pretty much the run through the halls, shoot them up action one might want for a rainy Sunday. There are several gun battles and tense chases through the underground mazes on the colony. The episode does not resurface the Geordi/Data tension over Tasha Yar. Instead, it's much more straightforward: woman comes, woman fights beside the crew, woman leaves. It just so happens she's the sister of someone who did it before.

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


For other Star Trek reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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