Star Trek: TNG Season 5 on DVD. Review by Violet Kane

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I have been re-watching the seasons of Star Trek on DVD, now over fifteen years since the original airing. Upon reaching Season 5, I realized that it contains some of the most memorable episodes in the series.

It's probably no wonder that Season 5 produced so many of the now-classic TNG episodes. After four seasons of storytelling, the characters and world of TNG were well established and the writing team had hit their stride. Perhaps the best remembered episodes from this season are "Cause and Effect," "The Inner Light," and "I, Borg." "Cause and Effect" is, of course, the episode where the crew of the Enterprise finds themselves stuck in an endlessly repeating time loop, doomed to repeat the same deadly course of events until they can figure out how to communicate with themselves in the next loop and avert their destruction. "The Inner Light" uses the storytelling possibilities of science fiction to offer a more philosophical reflection on life as an alien probe "borrows" Picard's conscious mind, having him experience a lifetime among a now-extinct people while only twenty minutes pass on the Enterprise. Emotion, intellect and instinct clash among the crew members in "I, Borg" after the Enterprise away team rescues a teenage Borg, the sole survivor of a borg-ship wreck; as he learns individuality and becomes more human while interacting with the crew, they struggle with the knowledge that he might be their best chance yet to destroy their deadliest enemy via a Trojan horse style computer virus attack on the collective.

While these episodes might be the most famous of Season 5, the episodesóboth well-known and lesser knownóduring that year truly explored the reach of possibilities established in previous seasons for the Star Trek world and its characters. Early in the season, the episode "Darmok" presents the crew with a new alien race whose language is so grounded in culturally-specific metaphor that even with the universal translator can't make sense of it. In "The Game," guest star Ashley Judd teams up with Wesley Crusher to save the crew from an addictive VR game that Riker picked up on holiday. The two part "Unification" explores the Romulan-Vulcan conflict while hearkening back to earlier days of Star Trek with guest stars Leonard Nimoy and Denise Crosby. In "Ethics," the show gets to delve further into the complexities of Klingon culture as Wolf weighs the possibilities of Federation medicine against the duties of Klingon honor after a debilitating injury. In "The Perfect Mate," Picard bonds unintentionally with a beautiful woman of a species born with the inherent ability and drive to change her personality to suite her husbandóthe problem is, she can only make the bond once, and she is promised to another man in a political marriage. Season 5 also saw the introduction of somewhat infamous fan favorite Ensign Ro as a semi-regular on the cast. Finally, the season ends with a Next Generation tradition as the cast gets to dress up in 19th century garb to go back in time to save Earth in the past from mysterious alien attackers in "Time's Arrow."

This season may be the best in all seven seasons of Next Generation; or at the very least it has the most episodes that exemplify classic TNG.


Violet "Violanthe" Kane is the Webmaster and Founder of ARWZ.com. She is an editor of ARWZ Literary Zine and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Medieval studies.