Sunday, July 17, 2011

4-06. Legacy

Ishara Yar (Beth Toussaint)


The Enterprise receives a distress signal from a freighter in an emergency orbit around Turkana IV, the trouble home world of the ship's original security chief, the late Tasha Yar. They arrive to find the ship exploding, and an escape pod making its way down to the planet.

When they beam down to recover the survivors, they are met by The Coalition, one of two factions controlling Turkana IV. They are told that the two crewmen from the escape pod have been taken captive by The Alliance, the rival faction. The Alliance will hold them for ransom before killing them. On the theory that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," Hayne (Don Mirault), the Coalition leader offers the Enterprise his aid, along with assistance he believes they will surely trust: Ishara Yar (Beth Toussaint), Tasha's sister!


Capt. Picard: He doesn't trust Hayne or his offer, going along with the plan simply because there are no other viable alternatives. Once Dr. Crusher confirms that Ishara truly is Tasha's sister, and once Riker and Data invest more and more trust in her, Picard warms to her. But he never offers the same level of trust that his younger officers do, and at the end readily acknowledges that they were all too eager to see Tasha in this woman, to the point of reading qualities into her that she didn't necessarily have.

Riker: Picard talks with him after Riker takes unnecessary risks during an Away Mission with Ishara. Riker tells the captain that after losing Tasha on an Away Mission, he simply could not allow the same to happen to her sister. It's evident that Riker feels lingering guilt over that death, even though he must rationally know that there was nothing he could do about it.

Data: Of the Enterprise crew, he bonds the most closely with Ishara. Though this episode is marred by frequently heavy-handed dialogue, it does have a wonderful scene in which Data explains how he is capable of forming genuine friendships even without emotion. He becomes "accustomed to" certain sensory input patterns, to the point of anticipating them and eventually missing them when they are no longer there. He quickly becomes "used to" Ishara, and she responds to him as more than just a friend. But her upbringing has programmed her as surely as Data's computer chips have programmed him, and despite some inner conflict, she proceeds with her real mission. And Data, whose loyalty to Enterprise and Starfleet and their ideals has been proven time and again, barely hesitates in stopping her.

Troi: Retains her uncanny ability to detect the pitifully obvious. She is able to divine that Hayne is attempting to deceive and manipulate the Enterprise for his own ends - something both Riker and Worf had already picked up on. Despite being in the room with Ishara at multiple points in the epiosde, however, she never senses a hint of deception from her, merely a mild sense of inner conflict. In other words... Still useless.

Hot Guerrilla Babe of the Week: Ishara (Beth Toussaint) is Tasha's younger sister. She is resentful of Tasha's decision to leave, but she clearly enjoys the sense of cameraderie on Enterprise.  She is torn between the possibilities the ship and Starfleet promise and what she sees as her duty to her people. Ishara could be a compelling character... in a different script, one that didn't feel the need to spell out every character beat or treat Ishara's ultimate betrayal of the Enterprise as a surprise. Unfortunately, this overly-expository teleplay just isn't up to bringing a complex character truly to life, and Beth Toussaint is too limited an actress to play Ishara in more than two dimensions. I never really believed her bitterness toward her sister or her inner conflict. All I saw was an actress reading lines, which together with some poor dialogue and weak direction crippled what might have been a good episode.


As can probably be seen, I wasn't impressed with Legacy. It's not without merit. It offers Brent Spiner some more strong character beats for Data, which he makes the most of. It also continues what has developed into a running theme for Season Four: Family, both the bonds that tie families together and the way in which those bonds can be torn apart. This time, the family relationship is between the friends of someone who was lost, and their attempts to re-establish the same relationship with that person's sister. It revisits the death of Tasha, keeping her alive in the minds of the audience. The last time the series did this, the result was Yesterday's Enterprise. This time, the results are substantially less satisfying.

It opens well enough. There's a genuinely amusing poker table scene, in which Data picks apart Riker's card trick to declare victory. This is followed by a well-executed race against the clock, as the Enterprise attempts to reach the freighter in time to rescue the crew members, only just missing its chance.

Unfortunately, things go rapidly downhill once Ishara is introduced. Though I've critized Toussaint's performance, it's hardly all her fault. The pace grinds to a halt for the sake of scenes in which she bonds with Data. This could be interesting, but Toussaint lacks screen chemistry with Brent Spiner (a rare feat, actually), while the performances of both actors are hobbled by dialogue that makes text out of what should be subtext. A lack of subtlety plagues the entire episode.

There's even a tag in which Riker picks up the Picard Sledge-Hammer and whaps Data and the audience about the head with it, as he observes that "in all trust there is the possibility of betrayal," but that trust is still worth it for the sake of friendship and "the emotional bonds that make us who we are." The scene is entirely unnecessary, with Data's "energize" and the cut to the ship's exterior a scene earlier seeming a much stronger note to end the episode on. But it seems to be a truism that weak episodes never trust the audience members to understand the point themselves, even when that point was far from subtle already, hence a tag that makes sure to spell it all out for the sake of Cletus & company.

Cheap-looking, with weak and generic action, overly on-the-nose dialogue, and a bland guest performance by the primary guest star, this is probably the weakest Season Four episode thus far. If nothing else, though, it does keep Tasha alive in the viewer's mind, which will pay off with some stronger developments (that thankfully will have nothing to do with Ishara) down the road...

Overall Rating: 3/10

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