The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: The Arsenal of Freedom

In search of the missing USS Drake, the Enterprise arrives at the planet Minos – a world whose inhabitants developed such advanced weapons that they managed to wipe themselves out. Unfortunately, whilst the people are long gone, the automated weapons systems are still active, and when the Enterprise arrives, a deadly demonstration of their capabilities begins.

After a run of decent episodes, I guess it’s no surprise that we’d run into a dud here, with quite a dull, disjointed episode that seeks to give most of the characters something to do, but results in all of it being quite underwhelming. A planet filled with alien weapons should push the limits of the imagination, offering an armoury worthy of the Ratchet and Clank game series, but instead we have to make do with a couple of increasingly annoying alien devices. It’s something of a relief when Picard saves the day in the last few minutes by offering to buy the weapons – let’s hope the automated systems don’t actually expect any money.

Character divisions

  • The first team on the surface is Riker, Yar and Data. Riker has to talk with a hologram of an old friend, which allows for a Good Ship Lollipop joke, but not much else.
  • When Riker is incapacitated, Picard and Crusher head down to the planet’s surface for some reason, only to fall down a hole. Crusher is injured, and Picard takes advantage of her has to tend to her wounds.
  • Geordi is left in command of the bridge, which should be a good character development moment, as he has to deal with both a saucer separation and Chief Engineer of the Week wanting to be in command instead. For whatever reason, I wasn’t really feeling it – it just felt superficial and on-the-rails instead of a proper chance to develop Geordi as a character with real human doubts and uncertainties.

Other observations

  • Data using a phaser to free Riker from the stasis bubble seems a bit risky – what if he vaporised Riker in the process?
  • Given that the first officer was incapacitated, what was gained from sending the captain down to the planet other than risking both their lives? Surely that was exactly the kind of situation when Picard shouldn’t have gone down – especially for all the good he did for most of the episode.
  • Cloth always rips so easily in TV shows whenever someone needs to make a tourniquet. Now, admittedly, I don’t go around aiming to rip my clothes up, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t be that easy for me.
  • I assume the universal translator was responsible for the Minosian automated weapons seller “the early bird that hesitates gets wormed” and “Echo Papa”, since these are clearly Earth-derived phrases and unlikely to have arisen naturally on Minos.
  • What is Picard doing to get through so many chief engineers?

Summary – The Arsenal of Freedom: Instead of sending main characters on dangerous missions, let’s just throw wave after wave of cannon fodder at the problem.

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