"Coming of Age" (6/10)
Wesley works hard to achieve adulthood and justify his presence on a starship, while Picard deals with sudden continuity. A guy breathes out of a misty mouthpiece.
-- Next Gen decides that they need to establish a running narrative. Good on em! The best part is that Picard is taken to task for decisions made in previous episodes, so I know I'm not the only one who's being all 'Hey, wait a second,' although that means I sympathize with the spineless auditor we're all supposed to hate. Ah well, at least they didn't kill him off at the climax.
"Heart of Glory" (5/10)
Neutral zone adventures, Geordi's underwhelming eyesight, and Klingon racial stuff.
-- Manages a somewhat compelling situation while succumbing to cliches. The whole plot, even, is this well-mined conflict about a character making a choice between two opposing forces in his soul. And whatever. Just go watch Mamet's Homicide instead.
"The Arsenal of Freedom" (5/10)
Man, just as we were about to distance ourselves from the Original Series, this one catapults us right back into it.
-- A lot of miniarcs to deal with here. Picard and Dr. Crusher get closer, Geordi comes into his own as he takes command of a risky situation, Troi advises, the away team runs around on an obvious jungle set, and there's some arms dealer satire. Get pretty exciting at the end, though, so this one could have been worse. It also could have been better, without all that talkin 'bout theys feelings.
"Skin of Evil" (5/10)
And now, Drunken Blob satire. I hope Jonathan Frakes got a lot of money that day.
-- A very long hostage situation solved by some sleight of hand and exile (which always works). Seems like another unmade Original Series script, one that I would gladly take over "The Apple" and a lot of others... something about it all is very unsatisfying. That's it for Lt. Yar, huh? And we never got to find out what the rapegangs were, nor did Data get to avenge her. Hmmph.
Stupid Dummy satire now? Nope! Space drug dealers! Oh, and Tasha Yar is still alive, and very involved in the plot. Serves me right for reviewing by the production order.
-- In addition to the super cool concept concerning a virus where only its symptoms show up, I really enjoyed the fancy footwork around the Prime Directive, though which part of it allows starships to answer distress calls by civilizations they otherwise cannot interfere with? Ah well. Except for the super preachy scene where Yar explains to Wesley what drug addiction is, I mostly didn't want to kill myself! Higher five it goes.
"We'll Always Have Paris" (5/10)
Another weird, unfocused episode, I don't even fucking know anymore.
-- Such strange handling of what information the audience gets to have first, I actually thought the show was telling me that Picard had a homosexual fling in Paris. House of Cards style. But no, another jilty chick. The time manipulation in this, used sparingly because we have to be bored with a lazily tied-in subplot, was pretty fucking awesome. More of that?
John Carpenter directs an episode. AND LOOKS LIKE I SPOKE TOO SOON.
-- The return of some sentient worm things. If I remember correctly, the curative method is to let it eat its way through your brain until you scream in agony and it exits in a river of blood out your ear. This is totally survivable. Here, we close out the arc mentioned briefly in "Coming of Age" and solve that whole infiltration to the top levels of Starfleet problem. Easy, because it's like three guys. A fine episode if we'd had a longer time building towards it. As such, it's barely a six. Sheesh, I think I've calibrated these 5s already.
"The Neutral Zone" (5/10)
Not really what the title indicates. Are you CERTAIN you don't want to introduce the Borg instead?
-- An episode so incredibly close to the Original Series that it even mimicks its stupid wacky joke score. Now as I've stated before, I am all for the man-out-of-time-bespeckled-with-joy but not when he is insufferable and getting in the way of my Romulan negotiating! For nothing really happening except the promise of more things happening, it's... okay. Are these Dick van Winkles ever mentioned again? They're... silly.