By the third season of the show, they certainly had a better feel for what they wanted to accomplish with the characters and they also made sure to bring back Dr. Beverly Crusher after our year with Dr. Katherine Pulaski. She was gritty and very much like Bones of old, but that definitely wasn't what the show needed.
But now that the show was past its initial growing pains, what was next? Where was this little crew going to go with their very large ship? A lot of this season feels like their attempt to figure out an answer to this question as well.
Synopsis: Star Trek: The Next Generation is science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry. The show is set in the 24th century and was designed as a follow-up to the original Star Trek series from the 1960's.
The first half of this season felt rather lackluster to me. As much as the stories had their own nuances of interest, looking back at the plot lines do make you wonder what the heck the writers were thinking. Let's face it, kicking off the season with "Evolution" where the Enterprise is being taken over by a collective of nanites created by Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) was certainly a weird note to start things on. And you have the weird adventure of "The Survivors" where an entire planet seems to have a surface reduced to dust apart from a single homestead with just two people.
But even the first half of the season had memorable gems like "Booby Trap" where Lt. Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton) has to figure out a way to escape a starship snare but somehow manages to fall in love with a hologram in the process. And then of course there's "The Defector", where a Klingon officer tries to warn the Federation of an invasion by the Romulans.
But this season also includes some of my favorite episodes in the entire series. "Yesterday's Enterprise" gave us a glimpse of the Enterprise-C and somewhat redeemed the story of Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby). "Sarek" was a terribly moving episode that provided an interesting avenue for such a memorable Star Trek character to return to the series. And of course you have the big season ender and the first of many end of season cliffhangers - "The Best of Both Worlds - Part 1" featuring everyone's favorite bad guys, the Borg.
As much as I had my issues with the earlier part of this season, things really came together towards the end. When I think of TNG, I think of the sort of political dramas that unfolded over the course of the series and the complex relationships within the crew. And some of the more interesting sub-plots in the TNG space will always involve the Romulans for me, and so I was glad to have an episode as complex as "The Defector" and even the little survival piece, "The Enemy".
And as much as we all remember this season for the big things, there were also those weird funny moments that also helped things along. "Déjà Q" comes to mind as an especially ridiculous episode that actually involved Q being stripped of his powers. As much as he started the series as this imposing yet inconsistent nearly omnipotent being, he has definitely take on more human qualities over time. And how the writers exploited those human traits is really what makes episodes like this one so crazy fun. And you have other weird ones like "Hollow Pursuits," which introduces the concept of holo-addiction and of course "Ménage à Troi" which has everyone's every beloved Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett).
But yes, we still have to talk about the turning point that this season represents as they finally decide to end things on a cliffhanger. It can feel like a cheap trip and had the show been cancelled, we all would have suffered dearly. But it was really more a demonstration of trust in the show and faith in the support of fans and thus it all turned out well in the end. And as many Star Trek shows ended up following this format, we also got to experience some pretty big stories that felt like movies of their own thanks to the decisions made with this season.
Star Trek: The Next Generation will always be a classic in the science fiction community and this season is a great example of a lot of things that worked and a few that didn't. It still makes for quite the fun ride and I'm glad that the show continued on beyond this point - it all just kept getting better. Thus the season gets 4 creepy zombie-like Borg drones out of a possible 5.