Monday, February 21, 2011

Star Trek TNG “Cause and Effect”

Star Trek TNG “Cause and Effect”
Think of this as TNG’s version of Groundhog Day. 
Cause and Effect is one of those Trek episodes that breaks out of the TNG format and completely goes with the concept all the to end.  And, I have to give the episode credit for that.  Before Brannon Braga ruined Star Trek, he was merely a writer on TNG that produced some interesting concepts with freaky science fiction. 
Basically, the Enterprise is stuck in a time loop.  In this loop, the ship ends up colliding with another displaced Starfleet vessel and repeats the loop over and over again.  Each time they go through the loop the crew vaguely remembers things from the other loops. 
The writing is very tight and it is a surprise given that this is Braga episode.  He layers the script with indications that the each loop has changed certain things.
I also dig the mystery aspects of the crew actively trying to figure out how to get out of the loop.  Plus, this is also a good episode for Dr. Crusher because she is the one that begins to figure out the loops.  She is the one that gets the ball running.   Braga has never been good at character development.  Give him a freaky concept and, he’ll run with it. 
Jonathan Frakes does a great job with the directing of this episode.  He shoots each repeat through the time loop differently. 
All in all, this is one of those interesting Braga concepts that worked.  It was just too bad Braga felt he could push it further with all the kooky episodes from VOY.  I highly recommend you watch this episode. 
Grade: B+
-I love the repeated Captain’s Log.  It was a brave move to keep repeating through the episode.  Basically, the episode is actually repeating itself too. 
-You actually can see Dr. Crusher get déjà vu during the first act during the poker game.  She actually knows that Riker is bluffing.  The twist is next time through the loop Riker will know that she will call his bluff. 
-Troi says “We need to get out of here.”  Thank you for stating the obvious, Deanna.  In each loop, that moment and Picard’s reactions are pretty much the same throughout the episode.  I bet Picard wanted to say, “Thanks for the non-information.”
-Braga throws in the broken wine glass that will always be broken no matter how much Crusher tries to avoid it.  That was a brilliant touch. 
-I love the ending with the displaced crew from the USS Bozeman.  It was nice to see Kelsey Grammar as the captain of the Bozeman.  Kirstie Alley was meant to reprise her role as Saavik in this episode as the Vulcan on the bridge.  I guess Alley was too busy with her Xenu studies.  (Plus, it would have been a nice little Cheers touch with the two actors.)
-Going missing for 80 years has to mess with your head.  This missing Starfleet vessel is a nice call back to Yesterday’s Enterprise.  This time around, the crew is forced to stay in the 24th century.  The Bozeman will be mentioned in the final episode of TNG and two of its movies.   

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