Season Seven, Episode 23
Teleplay by Joe Menosky
Story by Brannon Braga
Directed by Cliff Bole
Main Cast:
Patrick Stewart as Capt Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes as Cmdr William Riker
LeVar Burton as Lt Cmdr Geordi LaForge
Michael Dorn as Lt Worf
Gates McFadden as Dr Beverly Crusher
Marina Sirtis as Counsellor Deanna Troi
Brent Spiner as Lt Cmdr Data

Guest Cast:
David Huddleston as Conductor
Vinny Argiro as Hitman
Thomas Kopache as Engineer
Arlee Reed as Hayseed

The crew discover a network of sentient energy nodes appearing across the ship, taking over ship functions including the holodeck, which takes on a life of its own. The mysterious nodes take control of the ship, jumping the ship to warp speed and evidently forming a neural web, much like Data's positronic brain. Realising that the answer to the puzzle must be in the holodeck, which is playing a combination of several different programs at once, Picard sends Troi, Worf and Data to try and regain control of the ship. Meanwhile, a strange life-form is evidently "growing" in the cargo bay, evidently being protected and nurtured by the ship which arrives at a white dwarf star to provide the "baby" with necessary vertion particles. When the process fails, the crew must intervene to save the life-form which then departs, returning ship functions to normal.


I hope you all appreciate just how difficult it was to write the above synopsis. Why? Because the whole bloomin' thing makes about as much sense as...well, anything from the pen of Brannon Braga, I guess. Emergence is perhaps best summed up as Masks, Mark Two. Both episodes are handsomely produced, well acted and boast terrific production values. Yet both episodes are seriously undermined by ludicrous plots that seem designed, not to make any sense, but to revel in their own incoherent, disjointed weirdness. One can only but imagine what the Paramount dinnerladies were putting in their sandwiches back in the months between Sub Rosa and Emergence. Illegal substances, methinks.

Anyway, the holodeck malfunctions YET AGAIN (it's a wonder Picard hasn't filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers by now) and strange "nodes" start appearing in key systems across the ship, evidently giving the Enterprise a mind of its own in preparation for its imminent pregnancy. Yes, the Enterprise has a baby! Gooooo figure. :-{ Incidentally the baby in question isn't one of the show's more convincing creations. (It reminded me of this kid's toy that used to be on the market -- some kind of day glo straws that you joined together to build things) Evidently the whole thing was triggered when the ship passed through a plasma storm. Ahhh, that explains a lot, doesn't it? No. For some reason the holodeck has amalgamated several programs into one with various holodeck characters representing different parts of this intelligence and the program itself contains symbolism and clues. Make sense now? No and no.

But then Emergence is not an episode that bothers itself with making even the vaguest sense. Braga and Joe Menoksy seem to be of the woefully mistaken impression that cheap gimmicks, holodeck anarchy and weirdness by the bucketload is enough to sustain an hour of television. I think they would both do well to remember the basics of storytelling -- specifically, a story with a POINT TO IT, a plot with a beginning, a middle and an end that drives the story using relevant, meaningful characterisation. Emergence has precisely none of those things. It's just a meandering, utterly pointless and meaningless mess.

As I said, however, everyone else involved tries their best to make a silk purse out of this sow's ear of a script. Cliff Bole does an above average job behind the camera, it's nicely scored and features some absolutely amazing sets. The lavish interior of the Orient Express is quite stunning and Paramount's New York street backlot is used to good effect. As a result, the holodeck scenes are actually rather fun to watch. But fun just isn't enough when a script is this bad. As I keep saying, with the finale imminently looming on the near horizon, why did the writers insist on wasting what little time they had left?

Rating: 4

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