Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Arsenal of Freedom"

3 stars

Air date: 4/11/1988
Teleplay by Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Story by Maurice Hurley & Robert Lewin
Directed by Les Landau

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Investigating the disappearance of the USS Drake, the Enterprise away team beams down to the remains of a destroyed civilization on the planet Minos to search for answers. Instead, they come under attack by an advanced weapons system that first employs deceptive intelligence-gathering tactics before turning to simple but unremitting brute force. When Riker is incapacitated by an energy field, Picard beams down, leaving Geordi in command of the Enterprise.

Here's an episode of TNG that drops all pretense of significance and simply exists as action and watching the characters work the crises. The results are pretty good; it's one of the season's better outings, and certainly one of the best-paced. The weapons that attack the away team are like levels in a video game, where after you destroy one, another comes 12 minutes later, except this time stronger and smarter. The episode benefits from its three-pronged plot approach. Riker, Data, and Yar must play infantry in fending off the weapons on the surface; Picard and Crusher fall into a deep hole and the captain must treat the injured doctor as a patient; and La Forge gets his first big test in command when the Enterprise is attacked by an invisible weapon orbiting the planet.

All the plot threads work, but the most interesting is Geordi's on board the Enterprise. He must assume big responsibilities and make tough calls in a dangerous situation. All the while he must put up with Lt. Logan (Vyto Rugins), the Enterprise's chief engineer (or should I say this week's chief engineer, since there's a different one nearly every week on season one), who outranks Geordi and tries to bully him into ceding command to him. If the episode has an evident flaw, it's that Logan is too much of an obvious progress impediment in needlessly challenging Geordi. Someone needs to tell him that instead of repeatedly coming to the bridge he needs to be doing his damn job. And I tend to grow impatient with any scene where Troi counsels the commanding officer with compliments and suggestions, coming off like a kindergarten teacher. Just imagine that in the current-day military.

The episode has some nifty set-pieces, including a prudent saucer separation and the ensuing tactical action. The solution to the problems on the surface are handily wrapped up with what on TOS would be Kirk Outsmarts the Computer™ — except in this case it's Picard and the computer is designed to be outsmarted in this way.

Previous episode: Heart of Glory
Next episode: Symbiosis

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71 comments on this post

Sun, May 6, 2012, 11:38am (UTC -6)
"No. The name of my ship is the... Lollipop. It's just been commissioned. It's a good ship!"

Sun, Aug 5, 2012, 2:56pm (UTC -6)
"Someone needs to tell him that instead of repeatedly coming to the bridge he needs to be doing his damn job."

Logan only came to the bridge twice, once on his own initiative at which time he was sent packing, and once invited by LaForge to take command of the saucer section.

"The solution to the problems on the surface are handily wrapped up with what on TOS would be Kirk Outsmarts the Computer [TM] — except in this case it's Picard and the computer is designed to be outsmarted in this way."

It was Beverly Crusher's key comment that saved the day when she told Picard to simply turn off the machine.
Sun, Aug 19, 2012, 2:31pm (UTC -6)
I was also bothered by Logan's visits to the bridge. Unnecessary when they could have used the com and I think it would have been more meaningful visually if a larger-than-life Logan appeared on the viewscreen to challenge Geordi.

Anyway, other than that this is an enjoyable episode with some really fun moments and some good stuff with Geordi.
Tue, Sep 25, 2012, 6:44pm (UTC -6)
This is my favorite episode of the entire season. It's not preachy, doesn't have unintended sexism and the 3-ways story is just fun. I like it because it is like an adventure. Not too dark, not too stupid either. And there are some very good lines (recalling from memory there was 'making superior firepower'and the aforementioned 'lollipop' ship). Even the guest star was perfect for his role. A Really good ep, for sure.
Mon, Nov 5, 2012, 3:14am (UTC -6)
The projection impersonating Drake's commander was rather spooky and creepy. Nice acting :)

A good episode, loved the scenes between Geordi and Logan. But the firing scenes were kinda slow paced.

And I have to say that the Enterprise without its saucer looks pretty ugly.
Tue, Nov 13, 2012, 8:49pm (UTC -6)
One of Yar's better stories, it's a tad cheesy but not in a bad way. It's engaging, entertaining, and the saucer separates.

Loved how Crusher (not WESLEY WONDERBRAT) tells Picard just to shut it off.

And why the remaining weapon still fires on the Enteprise after that when a simple edit to deal with the Enterprise finishing off the weapon before Picard shutting it all off would have perfected that bit...

Loved the Geordi/Logan bits as well.

3 of 4 stars
Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 4:41pm (UTC -6)
The social commentary of arms dealing wiping out a planet seems as relevant tpdya as ever, I liked it. Very different to see LaForge command the ship, I believe the only time, even though he later got promoted twice. The epispode operates an an adventurous and large scale as many ssn 1 eps do, a p[lus. Creepy scene with Riker former acquaintance. The only thing I didnt like was the unconvincing foret planet set. 3 stars
Fri, Apr 5, 2013, 11:28pm (UTC -6)
"...what on TOS would be Kirk Outsmarts the Computer [TM]..."

Would you believe this was the *only* TOS-style "computer gone mad" story TNG ever did? (Not counting holodeck malfunctions, rogue androids, or artificial lifeforms.) Kirk would've been bored in this century.
William B
Sat, Apr 6, 2013, 6:01pm (UTC -6)
This is certainly one of the more watchable S1 outings. I like the arms deal bit -- it reminds me, oddly, of _Robocop_ (the early scene where a machine is introduced which accidentally kills most of the conference room). I do wish that Picard or one of the crew had come up with the ultimate solution of "buying" the tech rather than having the tech's avatar suggest "Oh, so you want to buy this?"

I wasn't that enamoured with the Geordi material for whatever reason -- his inspirational speech at the end didn't feel all that inspirational to me, though perhaps realistic of what a guy without any such experience could give.

One of the funniest moments in s1 for me is when Crusher says she needs to stay warm and asks if there are any blankets, and Picard says there aren't any and then wanders off to check out the computer. Talk about not taking the bait -- Picard will NOT let any UST onto his ship!

This is the first of three consecutive episodes which feature "Riker in stasis" -- in "Symbiosis" we get the infamous, hilarious shot of him being held by that energy thing, and in "Skin of Evil" we have Armus.

Anyway it's an episode with some good points and almost none of the ep outright bad -- which for s1 is a home run. Still, only 2.5 stars from me.
Mon, Jun 17, 2013, 9:44am (UTC -6)
I enjoyed Geordi getting some good command time.

However, while I fully enjoy sacrificing reason in the name of interesting narrative, this particular episode had me crying "why didn't the natives just turn it off" for most of the last half of the episode. It was *too* much sacrifice I think.
Wed, Jul 3, 2013, 11:34am (UTC -6)
@AJ: Probably the natives couldn't GET to the room where the hologram would allow you to buy the system. E.g., they were killed before they could get there, or on their way there. You'll note that Tasha, Data and Riker were never given an option to turn the system off.

While the show didn't say, it seems unlikely that a single system wiped out all intelligent life, there are probably many more spread throughout the planet and perhaps they have different problems. And since the episode doesn't say specifically, for all we know some virus wiped them out - they didn't actually show any Minosian bodies so that we can make conclusions on this topic.

I enjoy this episode and never skip it when re-watching TNG - 3.5 stars from me on the Jammer scale.
Sun, Sep 1, 2013, 8:38pm (UTC -6)
Wow, three good episodes in a row, and ending with the best episode since 11001001. Like many 1st season episodes, it has an intriguing high-minded sci-fi concept (albeit in this case a bit cliched): a super powered weapon that wiped out its creators and now is running amok. Unlike most other 1st season episodes, the execution of this concept is consistent and solid.

For one, nobody (except engineer-of-the-week Logan and, to a lesser extent, Picard) grabs the idiot ball in this episode. Everyone behaves believably as highly trained quasi-military space explorers here. Even the Capt. Rice(? I think that was his name...) illusion scene worked well. It's believable that Riker would immediately be happy to see him and quite trusting. However, it was clear that he was already getting suspicious before being contacted by the Enterprise, and his decision to run with it to try to gain more information was clever as well. LaForge proved to be quite adept at commanding the ship and dealing with the situations that were brought up while still acting reasonably like a junior officer. Even Troi's scene wasn't cringeworthy. And for once, Tasha was given something to do and handled it quite well.

Sadly, Picard once again was the only foolish one. He beamed down for little to no reason (it's a hostile situation, Data is perfectly capable of commanding the away team, and he had no actual skills of use down there). It then looked like it was his fault that they fell into the hole, and he had to be told by a non-command officer who is going into shock that he should try to turn it off. I still cannot get over the fact that the writers are handicapping the main character in this way. Just compare this Picard to a season 3 episode; it's night and day.

But really, that's my only complaint. I can live with the coincidence of falling down the hole that contained the main computer. I can live with the "used car salesman" character. The plot was tense, action packed, and contained quite a few good lines (the good ship Lollipop was a classic). Even Gates McFadden's acting is improving.

As a random aside, I find it interesting that the first season was propping LaForge up to being command material, more so than Worf (the other junior officer in the show). And yet, later on it's Worf that seems to be more command oriented than LaForge. Data made Worf first officer in Gambit, Worf is the first officer in one of the timelines in Parallels, and of course he seems to be command-oriented in DS9. Not sure why the change was made. It's pretty obvious in the first season that LaForge was also the "technical" one, and was an obvious fit to become the Chief Engineer in season 2. But there's no reason he couldn't also be command oriented as well. Scotty, Data, Dax (Science rather than Engineering, but still more technical oriented) all worked as half-technical, half-command type characters, so he could have continued down that path.
Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 4:38pm (UTC -6)
Ditto the above positive comments for Geordi in this episode. Geordi comes off as well-suited to command, leveraging his technical acumen that would later lead him to Engineering. And Levar Burton plays it believably. The final tactic of entering the upper atmosphere to make the cloaked robot visible was clever and had an effective triumphant payoff.

In the same way that it makes eventual sense that Sulu ended up with his own ship (Sulu always comes off as competent and well suited to command in TOS, and then gets Excelsior in Undiscovered Country), so it makes sense when we finally see Geordi as a captain during his Cameo in the Voyager episode "Timeless".

I wonder why the writers decided to have no consistent Chief Engineer in season 1 of TNG? Given how prominent a character Scotty was in TOS, you'd think they'd have prioritized the position in TNG. Seems odd that engineering has a random Lt. manning it all the time. They obviously fixed it in Season 2. Still odd that they didn't keep a prominent character there in Season 1.
Fri, Sep 12, 2014, 11:24pm (UTC -6)
I watched this one today on Netflix! When I was really little I taped this episode and watched it whenever I wanted to see Star Trek. It's probably my most-seen episode of the entire franchise.

Right now I'm part-way through season 5 of my DS9 re-watch, so I was a bit nervous when I got the urge to watch an ep from TNG's (notorious) first season.

But it holds up! It's fun! All three plots work! That shot of the stardrive section pulling a U-turn while the saucer zooms off is still awesome all these years later! 3 stars, hurray!
Fri, Mar 6, 2015, 5:02am (UTC -6)
I thought it was strange that Logan was initially demanding that Geordi get them out of there immediately, but later when Geordi does decide they must leave Logan jumps all over him for leaving the away team. Isn't that what he wanted to do in the first place?

I also thought it was awfully darn convenient that there just happened to be a particular type of roots growing in that cavern that could stop Beverly's bleeding and that she just happened to know about them.

All that aside for season 1 I thought it was a pretty good episode.
Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 5:19pm (UTC -6)
During its original run I was starting to lose hope that this show would have any staying power, and then this episode restored my confidence. In a word, it's just plain "fun"!
Sun, Aug 2, 2015, 2:33am (UTC -6)
I like the episode, although both of thackerzod's points are spot-on.

Also, Troi accosts Geordi with her typically useless sh-t at the worst possible moment. Yes, it's a minor footnote in this particular episode - but it just reminds me that when the series was in its first run, Trekkers loved bitching about Wesley. But watching the re-runs, I'm far more irritated by Troi. Her character is just useless.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Aug 20, 2015, 3:42pm (UTC -6)
As noted above, this one concentrates on action over all else and makes for an entertaining, if relatively lightweight, watch.

The main theme of Geordi facing up to command is well handled, although by bringing in a raft of new characters in Logan, Solis and T'Su you do lose something. And Troi's psych assessment does seem to be particularly poorly timed, as others have noted. And we're still teasing the Crusher/Picard relationship without taking it forward.

Just as an aside, you have to wonder if the money was starting to run low on this one as the VFX are uniformly terrible, and the planet surface represented by a few pot plants in the studio is resolutely underwhelming. Perhaps the saucer separation shots broke the budget... Big dumb fun, 2.5 stars.
Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 4:34pm (UTC -6)
At the end, when the ensign says "sickbay reports that Crusher will be just fine"...did Beverly have to treat herself? When LaForge separated the ship, he oprdered three crew, Worf, Su, and Solis, to the battle bridge, and they're all on the battle bridge. They didn't bring a doctor.
Jason Ra.
Mon, Dec 14, 2015, 8:38pm (UTC -6)
"But watching the re-runs, I'm far more irritated by Troi. Her character is just useless."

Here here. Wesley gets alot of flack for being a blatant Mary Sue, but the way I see it Troi's character is just a variation on that theme. For whatever reason, Roddenberry seems to have had some bizarre reverence for psychotherapy, to the point where he seats the ship's counselor directly to the Captain's right, like she's equal to the first officer or something. To add insult to injury, in every episode she's throwing out her insipid, useless psychobabble right and left, and poor Picard has to pretend to listen to it. For all we know, if he doesn't humour her she can get him relieved of command or lobotomized or something. They couldn't show Roddenberry the exit fast enough with this series.
Sun, Jan 31, 2016, 11:18am (UTC -6)
Logan may very well be the worst written and acted character in the history of star trek,
i liked the lollipop comment by Riker and it was nice to see a bit of action but other than that i thought the episode was just alright.
Tue, Feb 2, 2016, 5:55pm (UTC -6)
I will never get over how such advanced automated weapons drones could be such utterly lousy shots.
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 12:20am (UTC -6)
This Logan character was a goof

Picard gives Geordi command so he comes in dick swinging as a higher ranked Lieutenant; trying to blatantly over rule Picard's decision and put the ship in jeopardy by trying to blow up the chain of command?

Did he not think what would happen to him when Picard returned and he found out Logan pushed LaForge out of the Captain's Chair after ordered there by Picard?

I know this Logan fellow is a one-off , but they should have had LaForge relieve him of duty or something. I hated how they wrote this guy.
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 12:05pm (UTC -6)
I hated Troi in the entire season. But her line i take great excemption, justticked me off. Why isca counselor on the bridge anyway. She's more annoying than when those special ambassadors show up just to bug Kirk.
Trek fan
Tue, Oct 11, 2016, 4:51pm (UTC -6)
Classic example of an episode that played much better when I was 10 years old, mostly because there's a space battle and some phaser stuff I enjoyed at that age. Today I re-watched it and found it to be a disappointment. Like many early TNG episodes, this is basically a formulaic remake of a TOS episode ("That Which Survives") that I now think is better than the TNG version, although neither are excellent Trek stories. Essentially, we've got a planet-side phaser battle featuring Riker and Data and Yar against flying orbs that feels repetitive, a subplot of Picard tending the injured Dr. Crusher in a cave that feels pedestrian at best, and a space battle where the Enterprise separates its saucer to defeat an attacking ship. This last plot thread proves to be the most interesting, as it gives La Forge his "first command," and it's neat to see LeVar Burton sitting in the captain's chair as he leads a battle bridge crew of junior officers in a desperate struggle. Unfortunately, there's not much to the rest of the story, and the whole idea of a computerized defense system being left in place on a planet by a dead people felt more mysterious in the TOS version where Losira (Lee Meriweather) proved to be the image of a long-dead Alien commander. Anyway, "Arsenal" is not a terrible TNG episode, but it's derivative and routine at best, and I would give it 2 1/2 out of 4 stars.
Fri, Dec 16, 2016, 4:24pm (UTC -6)
I so thought I would dislike this episode knowing it was coming up and having the vaguest recollection of the attack drones but on watching it after all those years I liked it.
It has a very old school SF short story feel-falling down hole in ground and uncovering the lost civilisation's secrets eg and it is fun.

In a more militaristic setting ( David Feintuch's Seafort Universe eg) Logan would at least have been arrested but Geordi should probably have spaced him for insubordination.

Looks like Gene Rodenberry's conflict free future doesn't work for everyone
Fri, Jan 20, 2017, 3:23pm (UTC -6)
Aww, I still like this one.

The face-off between Riker and the false Drake captain ("what's your ship's weaponry?" "Ten." "What?"
"six!") was a delight and has aged without a wrinkle.

The first season ranged from decent to embarrassing. This was a high point.
Tue, Mar 28, 2017, 10:43am (UTC -6)
I too, like J, was confused about a supposed planet killing weapon that could never hit its target. It missed every shot, except the stupid energy field that trapped Riker. And they just guess that it's saving him for questioning later or was that just the writer's way of saying it could actually hit something? Was the thing programmed to fire warning shots first? Did it intentionally miss so it could give chase, for fun? Not a very efficient demonstration of a weapon you're trying to sell people.
Jason R.
Tue, Mar 28, 2017, 10:49am (UTC -6)
Looks like to planet's inhabitants preferred extermination to purchasing such shoddy merchandise and giving that holographic a-hole the satisfaction.

Which got me thinking, did they ever bill Picard for his purchase? Too bad he skipped out because a few of those drones might have come in handy against the borg.
Tue, Mar 28, 2017, 9:08pm (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone

I always thought the machine started at its lowest level when against a newer foe. It had to learn their strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities, then would level up in a appropriate manner. If the Ferengi had landed, it would have started off the same, then gone off in a different direction. Same with Klingons or Romulans. It would eventually decide how much power was needed to defeat/kill the newcomers, and used no more than that.

No matter how smart Geordi and the Enterprise got in defeating one of the weapons in orbit, the machine would just program another machine to defeat them the next time, or come close to it. Then a better weapon would appear based on the information from the previous one.

If our intrepid band of heroes hadn't told it they were intent on buying one, it would have continued to display its weaponry and destroyed them all. The hologram did say it was a learning machine.

Actually, I'd have thought this would have had the weapons designers of Starfleet salivating for years. With just a few tweaks (don't kill the folks that designed you), something like this would be able to defend just about any Federation planet from invasion, forever. And for the larger/more important planets (Earth, Vulcan, etc.), they'd just give it more power to do whatever it wanted/needed to do. Of course, it might have destroyed the solar system to defeat the Borg, but what a show it'd have been...

Too bad when one of the shows went back to Earth, on a somewhat war-time footing, they didn't show a few of them floating around in the background, on partol at Starfleet...

Regards... RT
Peter G.
Tue, Mar 28, 2017, 11:35pm (UTC -6)
@ RT,

Frank Herbert wrote about something like this in the Dune series. Basically, by even creating a self-programmable AI killing machine one literally risks the annihilation of all life in the universe. If you've seen The Lexx there's a similar theme there. I don't know if there would have been an upper limit to what this thing would do. Maybe it would have realized at a certain point that it needed to assimilate new technology in order to improve itself and become a new Borg race.

My take on the uses of such technology is that it's better not to use them, for any reason.
Wed, Mar 29, 2017, 10:08pm (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone!

@Peter G.

Well, perhaps I was being a bit flippant about seeing them floating around at Starfleet, because I totally agree with you. That doesn't mean the weapons folks wouldn't still be salivating over this technology, just that they shouldn't use it. :)

In a way though, and it's been discussed before for many different episodes, they seem to find some new breakthrough, or weapon system, that should/could make the Federation nearly invincible (at least to their peers in the galaxy), and we never hear about it again. While things might be going on in the background, I wish they'd brought some of that to the forefront a bit more, especially if/when they seemed to be on a war footing.

But agreed, some of the things should never be used. Doomsday Machine comes to mind. :)

Regards... RT
Fri, Mar 31, 2017, 8:36pm (UTC -6)
On level 4 it still missed its opening shot against Yar and Riker. Giving them time to run and avoid death. They were standing still. Why not actually hit your target the first time? Level 1, 2, 3, or 1,000,000,000 shouldn't matter. Each miss gives your opponent opportunities to learn your weaknesses as well. Like I said, it missed every shot, except the energy field for Riker. If you're trying to sell a 'super' weapon to random folks, you might want to work on the targeting system. I'd be like, "so you missed the first time, why? So you can better learn how not to hit them the second time and third time?"
Jason R.
Fri, Mar 31, 2017, 10:03pm (UTC -6)
"In a way though, and it's been discussed before for many different episodes, they seem to find some new breakthrough, or weapon system, that should/could make the Federation nearly invincible (at least to their peers in the galaxy), and we never hear about it again."

It was always antithetical to the way STNG was written that there be continuity between episodes and even seasons. That was really a shame, because as a viewer, I always felt immensely rewarded when TV shows would reference or even integrate things from previous episodes into later ones. Even something as trivial as the Enterprise using that deflector dish trick in Night Terrors, or Picard playing his flute from Inner Light, was awesome.

I am not sure why the show's writers were so resistant to that sort of thing.
Peter G.
Fri, Mar 31, 2017, 10:12pm (UTC -6)
"I am not sure why the show's writers were so resistant to that sort of thing."

Network pressure. They had to avoid too much obvious continuity like episode arcs and recurring references to other episodes. They did squeeze some of it in, such as the Klingon arc and occasional references to key episodes like Best of Both Worlds, but overall I suspect it was like getting past the censors.
Sat, Apr 1, 2017, 10:01am (UTC -6)
Peter G.'s right, TNG could not get any major network to pick it up for a season so it ran as a syndicated series on local networks. Consequently, the producers could never count on a consistent air schedule so continuity that would be lost on first-time viewers was purposefully avoided.

TNG was a huge success by the time DS9 came around, so DS9's producers could count on a regular audience they could craft story arcs for.
Tue, Apr 11, 2017, 2:48pm (UTC -6)
An improved twist on TOS's "That Which Survives". Funny how the solution is Crusher suggesting they turn off the machine.
Seems many other commenters feel this is one of the better Season 1 episodes of TNG - which would make the season as a whole rather mediocre.
Best part was seeing LaForge taking command and fending off Logan who was the low-point of the episode.
I actually enjoyed "That Which Survives" and I did enjoy this episode slightly more though there are the customary gripes which other commenters have mentioned: how the drone kept missing, Picard's decision beam down the planet (dumb decision), just buying the defense system and turning off the demonstration. I rate this a strong 2.5/4 stars.
Ben S.
Mon, May 22, 2017, 8:50pm (UTC -6)
As much as I enjoyed this episode, the gaping plot hole in the center of the story must be obvious only to me, given that no one else has mentioned it.

The Enterprise went to the planet to find out about the missing ship, the USS Drake, and Riker even seemed enthusiastic that the ship might still be around after encountering a fake version of his friend.

By the end of the episode, however, this plot point seems to have been completely forgotten. There is no mention of trying to find the USS Drake or ever returning to see what happened to them. In the end, it served as nothing more than a convenient carrot to lure the crew into the plot.

A good episode, but some closure to all the given plot pieces might have been nice.
Mon, May 22, 2017, 11:01pm (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone!

@Ben S.

I'd thought about that a time or two. I always figured the machine destroyed the Drake. And since they found no wreckage, I can only surmise the machine also cleans up after itself, using whatever it finds in the wreckage to further the machine. Heh, I have to think that, since it was never mentioned.

A good point though, and it should have been addressed.

Regards... RT
Daniel B
Mon, Jul 17, 2017, 1:16am (UTC -6)
Yeah, I think the weapon starts off lame because it's how they make sure they don't sell "too good" of a weapon to a buyer based on their tech level (presumably the test was originally supposed to be non lethal). A lower tech race will succumb pretty quickly, a higher tech race will make the weapon get really good - either way, everyone is getting a new weapon system "just better enough" than their own abilities.

{ And I have to say that the Enterprise without its saucer looks pretty ugly. }

I think that may, as much as time/pacing, been one reason why they only ever separated the ship 2 more times after this one.
Sat, Nov 25, 2017, 1:40pm (UTC -6)
I still think this is the best episode of the first series. If it had come earlier in the run I wonder if Denise Crosby might have though differently about quitting as this was one of the few episodes that gave Yar something meaningful to do.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Tue, Dec 26, 2017, 3:24pm (UTC -6)
Good show. Great show by Season 1 standards.

The weakness was Logan and the way he was hostile when Geordi stayed and then hostile when Geordi left orbit. They should have written better and consistent motivations for challenging Geordi.

I liked the arms planet theme. I wish they had kept the two junior officers on the battle bridge around as extras for other shows or either had one of them not be human.

I loved Picard's gruff-on-the-outside-but-proud-on-the-inside order to Geordi to return command of the bridge AFTER he delivered the ship in one piece.
Tue, Jan 16, 2018, 10:23pm (UTC -6)
I like the resemblance of the robot weapons to the "M-4" robots from Requiem for Methuselah, as well as resembling a tiny version of Nomad, as well as to a fancy electric razor.

Vincent Schiavelli, the actor that played the salesman was a great character actor and it was great to see him cast here.

I kind of love that the answer to the riddle is ridiculously simple, but it seems more like extortion than a hard sell!
Sun, May 13, 2018, 11:29am (UTC -6)
The Drake is completely forgotten about pretty quickly. That was the whole point of visiting the planet, hello?!

Hurry up and kill Yarr already. Let her go cry in the penalty box in Hell.
Sat, May 19, 2018, 6:18pm (UTC -6)
This was one of season 1's highlights; which isn't saying much
Tue, Jul 3, 2018, 5:31pm (UTC -6)
I think this episode should have been the one where Tasha dies. The teaser could open with part of the wake from Skin Of Evil and then flashback 24 hours without us knowing who has died. As the episode plays out, the viewer will think it's Dr Crusher, but then one of the drones manages to hit Tasha in the last few moments. I think it would have been a much more fitting departure for Tasha to die in combat rather than by some slime monster for no apparent reason.
Wed, Dec 12, 2018, 1:07am (UTC -6)
2.5 stars

First half slow and boring. The second half the episode picked up and my was re-engaged with Geordi in command, the saucer separation and the discovery of the computer. I also liked the little humanizing tidbit about Crusher and herbs

I did think the drone weapons were pretty cool
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 11:06am (UTC -6)
solid 7.5/10

A good Geordie episode. Also I liked Troi`s role here. She does have inside information that today`s military leaders don't have: the emotions of their underlings. And I thought it put her role as counsellor to good use. No teary eyes or expressions of feeling great pain from some creature.

I liked the funny weapons shill. It added a bit of levity.
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 12:23am (UTC -6)
I said earlier that I thought Home Soil was my favourite Season 1 episode - I have to take that back and give this one the credit.

Highlights for me are:

- An interesting premise (and may be a bit cliched now, but was novel-ish at the time)
- Seeing what they did with Geordi's character. It's interesting that the writers seemed to have command aspirations for him before settling him down in Engineering.
- Character development between Picard and Crusher
- Data jumping 11.75 meters down a hole

In regard to the comments about Troi: I always got the impression that in the first season, she's not meant to be a literal psychological therapist, but is instead supposed to be a diplomatic advisor. Similar to how kings kept "counsel" - that is what I believe her role was meant to be, until it got morphed into a literal armchair "counselor" in later seasons. Her role and position on the bridge make a lot more sense when seen from this perspective.
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 12:34am (UTC -6)
To support my comment above, you'll notice that in Season 1, Troi does not do therapy sessions with anyone on-screen. Her commitment is completely to the Captain (or whoever is in charge). I really think her shift into a literal therapist who keeps office hours and meets with crew members was not the original intent for her role.
Dan Bolger
Tue, Mar 5, 2019, 4:19am (UTC -6)
It's funny how many alien races look almost entirely humanoid.
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 4:37pm (UTC -6)
As others have said, this is a heavily flawed but fun episode, and arguably one whose title is a jab at warmongers who associated military hardware with freedom.

Picard's choice to beam down to the planet full of unhinged weapons, always seemed silly to me. What could he possibly hope to offer the away team?
Sat, Mar 30, 2019, 11:41pm (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone!


That is an interesting take, where they changed their definition of counselor. I hadn't thought of it that way. If that is the case, they might have done it to give her more to do than just be on the bridge telling the Captain what her impressions were. Also, Yar was supposed to be the, for want of a better term, babe of the show, and after she left, they wanted to spruce up Troi a bit and, once again, get her more screen time.

Thanks for the thoughts... RT
Thu, Aug 1, 2019, 10:49pm (UTC -6)
Didn't really like this one. Somewhat dull. Some good character development got Geordi and the Picard-Crusher thing.

The whole arms merchant plot just bored me. Could not get into it, had trouble keeping my eyes open.
Mr Peepers
Fri, Jun 5, 2020, 9:57pm (UTC -6)
How many jobs has Geordi had on the Enterprise? He starts out as Coffee Boy 1st class where he talks down to the Chief Engineer, to him becoming the Chief Engineer himself and expert of everything Tachyon. Don't you have to go back to the Academy to learn ships systems and the technobabble? He needed that to impress Dr. Braum's.

I was turned off when he took the ship into the atmosphere to make the invisible ship visible, while shields were at maximum to keep the ship from burning up. But as soon as they destroy the invisible ship, he tells the navigator to shut down the shields while they are still in the planets atmosphere. Gotta save those shield batteries.
Mon, Oct 26, 2020, 1:19am (UTC -6)
Picard beaming down was extremely inappropriate, though it was slightly amusing— and 100% wrong— to override Troi’s advice.

The engineer showing up on the bridge because he had a higher rank? That was INSANELY insubordinate.

INSANELY INSANELY. That guy should have been court martialed, full stop.
Tue, Feb 2, 2021, 1:51am (UTC -6)
I read this review and remembered that this episode is really good, and has Vincent Schiavelli (The "GET OFF MY TRAIN" guy from Ghost), who is excellent, but started watching the teaser and instantly ran into one of my favorite Counselor Obvious lines:

"What happened to all the people?"

I swear Marina Sirtis has a poker face carved in stone, cuz it's like "oh you sweet innocent summer child. Well... Counselor, I'm sorry, but... they're dead." xD

Just ... the delivery is so childlike that it borders on ridiculous. I get the sense that Sirtis was heavily overdirected during the first/second season, because she improves drastically the moment they stop doing her hair up in ludicrous 80's "Future Fashion."

Other than that, yes this episode is quite good, and the one my dad (and Ad Copy Writer) referred to (and continues to refer to) as "The Killer Advertising Episode."
Mon, Feb 22, 2021, 5:16pm (UTC -6)
Perfectly fine episode, a little simplistic with its trope-y message about the weapon dealers killed by their own weapons. Judged against the times it was a positive and progressive message. It just seems really simplistic and on the nose 3 decades later.

My main issue is the Chief Engineer. I've read that Roddenberry didn't want there to be friction between the crew of the Enterprise which is childish in my opinion.

The friction here is incredibly clumsy with confrontation between the new Chief Engineer and Geordi. Reasonable, well-intentioned people can disagree without one of them having to be a bad person. Here's the first significant disagreement I can recall in TNG and one of them is LaForge, portrayed by one of the nicest people on earth, and the other is a huge douchebag who is overly aggressive and as close to being a 'bad person' as you can get without being a villain of the episode.

Disagreements between well-intentioned people on the same side is good TV and excellent fodder for character development but not when done like this.

As far as season 1 goes it's a pretty good little episode with minimal other issues.
Bob (a different one)
Mon, Feb 22, 2021, 6:47pm (UTC -6)
I agree with you Crobert, but I think I like this episode a little less than you do. It's ok, but it feels like (several) missed opportunities. Lots of good ideas badly handled.

1) Vincent Schiavelli: When Trek has a good guest star you really need to take advantage of it. Particularly in season one where the regular cast is still so raw. I wish he had had a bigger part to play. I hate that "gets worms" line, too.

2) Picard & Crusher: The hurt/comfort trope is one of the oldest in existence, mainly because it's a very easy way to get audience sympathy and create character chemistry. It completely falls flat here. They go through the "caring for an injured person" part but seemingly forget that they're supposed to work on the chemistry part of the trope. A vet working on a kitten would have been more involving than what we got here.

3) Riker & Tasha: The action plot. Should be good, but it's poorly directed. The Good Ship Lollipop bit goes on forever; he's not the real Captain Rice - we get it. Riker gets it. Everybody gets it. But they just keep stretching it out. The actual action scenes are a little better, but the effects make the bots seem so slow that it robs them of a lot of their menace.

4) Geordi: This is my favorite part of the episode. I think Burton is an underrated actor; he always seemed more "natural" than many of his co-stars. He gets a shot at the spotlight here, but as you said, the conflict between him and lead engineer seems incredibly forced and over the top. How many times was this plot reused on TNG?

Not a terrible episode, but I think it had the chance to be a really good one. If it had succeeded we would have had the first TNG episode with real conflict among the crew, a deeper understanding of the Picard/Crusher relationship, some exciting action scenes, and a chance to see one of the most memorable character actors of the 1980s leave his mark on Trek history.

Instead we get an episode that is just "fine."
Thu, Mar 4, 2021, 8:52pm (UTC -6)
"Mister Logan, you are going to take command..." - WOO-HOO!
"...of the saucer section." - D'oh!
Tue, Mar 30, 2021, 1:50pm (UTC -6)
Geordi's inspirational speech was lousy, but that was good writing and acting. He's never done it before but tries it. Probably he fooled nobody on that bridge.

I don't think there's any mention on screen, but perhaps this experience was why he transferred from command to operations, then ultimately Chief Engineer. He tried command but didn't really like it.
Sat, May 29, 2021, 11:04am (UTC -6)
For those wondering why there was no consistent chief engineer in the first season: it all comes back to the 24th century Ent-D being less of a military battleship and more of an exploratory cruise ship.

On such a vessel with civilians, families, and children, the counselor would be more important role than the mechanical workings of the ship.

Thus, the symbolic shift from Scotty as third in command of the TOS ‘Prise to the ship’s psychologist getting equal standing with the CO and XO on the bridge.
Fri, Jun 18, 2021, 2:05am (UTC -6)
A Story:

An almost typical TOS setup, especially the planet set, rather cheaply done on a budget. The programmed salesman was a clever and entertaining device, especially the way he went from recorded message to the ability to answer questions.

B Story:

Nice interlude with Picard and Crusher, perhaps the first time we’ve seen her in a role that’s not either bland doctor or over-protective mother. Some back story about her upbringing and family.

C Story:

The strongest element I believe, was how they developed Geordi’s character into effective command role, with Troi also given a strong part for a change. The only thing I found absurd was yet another Chief Engineer (Logan) whose presence was presumably only to test Geordi’s ability to make strong decisions. Will we ever see Logan again? I can’t remember so even if he does, it couldn’t have been earth-shattering.

Footnote: good to see Sulu’s granddaughter Su in his seat! (Joke...)
I’d give a strong 2.5 stars, but it would have been 3 if the A Story was handled better.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 2:28am (UTC -6)
Lol I guess it's inevitable that I wouldn't agree with all these reviews. I find this episode unbearable to sit through. The dialogue is terrible. The action scenes don't make any sense and it's just a lame premise. Then you have Dr crusher and Picard on a never before visited planet and she's like taste this random vegetation that we couldn't possibly know anything about, is it bitter? Ok great, since there is only one bitter root in the entire universe it had to be perfectly safe to use as medicine. Geordi in command could've been a decent storyline but the dialogue there too is so terribly written. This episode is AWFUL lol
Fri, Apr 8, 2022, 2:14pm (UTC -6)
Aight. So, you happen upon a weird planet where spooky, unexplained stuff is happening even before you set foot on it. The most sensible thing to do, but naturally!, is to send three of the most senior officers--after the captain--down to check it out. When they get in trouble, an even more sensible thing is to beam down the captain himself as well as the ship's chief medic, leaving a young greenhorn in charge of said vessel with several hundred people on board.


Seems legit!
Sun, May 15, 2022, 6:10pm (UTC -6)
"The lollipop". It is a good ship. It rare this show makes me hoot outloud!
Wed, Jun 1, 2022, 4:47pm (UTC -6)
You have to love these cheap season one sound stage sets, hardly better than what they had on TOS. Where are all the cities, towns, even houses? This was supposed to be an advanced civilization, I find it very hard to believe they all lived in the forest like Ewoks.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 1:10pm (UTC -6)
@Squiggy fair enough, and a matte painting would certainly have helped establish it being in a more technological setting. That said, it wouldn't take long for even a rather close-in industrial plot of land to look like this, never mind a leafy suburban office park. Being a weapons depot, I'd imagine this was in a more out-of-the-way location.
Peter G.
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 1:56pm (UTC -6)
@ Squiggy and Jeffrey,

Even if we're to understand that the population of the planet was decimated, it still stands to reason that the weapons testing area would be in a remote unpopulated zone anyhow, rather than near a city center. Since their apparent method of selling merchandise is to let the buyers roam free hunting the drones, I imagine they would require a very large and remote piece of land.
Fri, Apr 28, 2023, 8:43am (UTC -6)
@Tidd wrote: "good to see Sulu’s granddaughter Su in his seat! (Joke...)"

Yes. An extremely little joke.

Learn to tell the difference between Japanese and Chinese.
Wed, Aug 16, 2023, 5:16pm (UTC -6)
I like that scene between Geordi and Troi - he was nervous and needed that reassurance and it came off as very sincere. This is a nice ep

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