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Lunch » Tags » Tv Shows » Reviews » Star Trek - The Next Generation, Episode 21: The Arsenal Of Freedom » User review

Points of absurdity make the episode weak

  • Oct 11, 2004
This is another one of the "technology gone wild" episodes of Star Trek. It is no better than the others are, as there are several points of absurdity. The Enterprise is sent to investigate the disappearance of the USS Drake and finds the planet Minos inexplicably devoid of intelligent life. The inhabitants of Minos are well known as arms merchants, willing to sell anything to anybody possessing the means of payment. When the Enterprise arrives, they receive an automated message extolling the virtues of the weapons for sale.
Riker, Data and Yar beam down and find weapons everywhere covered with vegetation. Suddenly. Riker appears to encounter the captain of the Drake, who is an old classmate. What he sees is nothing but a projection, sent to seek information about the military capabilities of the Enterprise. The segment after Riker realizes this is the highest point of the episode. Riker then says that his ship is the Lollipop and "it is a good ship." Suddenly, an automated weapon that encases Riker in an energy field attacks the away team. The field is designed to hold the prisoner until they can be further interrogated.
The weapon is easily destroyed and Data attempts to free Riker from the field. This leads to the first point of absurdity, when Captain Picard beams down to the surface, accompanied by Dr. Crusher. Counselor Troi takes extreme exception to his beaming down, but no one else raises an objection. Before leaving, Picard places Geordi in command. Shortly after Picard and Crusher arrive, a new and more efficient weapon arrives and it is not so easily destroyed, although Tasha and Data manage to do so. However, in fleeing the weapon, Picard and Crusher fall into a pit, where Crusher suffers some broken bones. Of course, her medical kit is lost and the communicators quit working.
Riker is freed and they begin searching for Picard and Crusher. Once again, they find it difficult to find them, even though the trail they left when fleeing the weapon should have been obvious to a first year boy scout. Meanwhile, the Enterprise is under attack and Geordi is under pressure to respond. The chief engineer outranks him and tries to relieve him, but Geordi refuses. He then leaves the planet, separates the saucer section and returns in the battle bridge and with a battle plan.
Back on the planet, Picard struggles to keep Crusher awake and Riker, Data and Yar finally find them. After searching the pit, they encounter a terminal linked to the computer that is controlling the weapons. At this point, we learn something that everyone could have figured out ten minutes ago. The weapons sold by the Minotians grew so powerful that they killed all of the inhabitants. Picard asks the terminal whether they can shut it off and the answer is yes. This is absolutely ridiculous. How could a weapon system kill all the inhabitants when even a person alien to the planet can shut off the system with a verbal command? The Enterprise battle bridge returns to the planet and by entering the atmosphere, it is able to see the attacking weapon and destroy it.
While this episode is predictable, that is not the major problem. There was no reason for Picard to beam down to the surface; it violates the fundamental principles that the Captain does not leave the bridge in a potential combat situation. However, the worst point of ridiculousness comes when Picard is able to turn off the weapons system by a simple verbal command. The only way that such a weapon system could destroy all the inhabitants would be if the off switch didn't work. I cringed when I realized that Picard could simply turn it off, it turned an OK episode into a bad one. It is one of the weakest episodes in the series. The only positive point is that it gives Geordi an opportunity to show his skills as a commander.

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Charles Ashbacher ()
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Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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Investigating the disappearance of the USSDrake, theEnterprisereceives a message from a seemingly uninhabited world. It turns out to be nothing more than an ancient, prerecorded sales pitch (delivered with sleepy enthusiasm by long-faced character actor Vincent Schiavelli) welcoming visitors to Minos, the arms market of the universe. Beaming down to the planet, Riker, Tasha, and Data wander about a lush forest before encountering a series of flying sentinels (vaguely resembling outboard motors minus their propellers), the first easily destroyed by phaser fire, but subsequent incarnations adapting themselves to the crewmembers' attacks. Meanwhile, Picard and Dr. Crusher also go exploring, finding themselves trapped in an underground cave where the captain must tend to the doctor's broken leg. With both Picard and Riker on the planet, La Forge finds himself in command for the first time; he's not the only one questioning whether he's ready for the job. Though the situation is old hat and unfolds with a certain tattered predictability, this is one of the better outings ofThe Next Generation's first season. The characters are fleshed out without resorting to too much overdrawn dialogue (even the usually aggravating almost-romance between Picard and Crusher is subtly drawn); in particular it's Geordi's day to shine, and LeVar Burton brings a nice self-confidence to the heretofore submissive engineer. Overlooking the studio-bound landscapes typical of earlyStar Trek, the episode ...
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Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: Paramount

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