Overall Ep :
First Aired :
29 Oct 1990
Season Ep :
When the Enterprise crew first beam down, Worf worries about Crusher's safety and Riker counters that the hostages may need instant medical attention. So when they actually get around to rescuing the hostages near the end of the episode, why does Crusher stay behind on the ship? Surely the same reason for taking her would still apply?
Great Moment :
Beth Toussaint's performance as Ishara Yar. She's an excellent guest star and does really well in the role.
Body Count :
Several people stunned during the away missions
The underground Turkana colony is actually a redress of the Borg ship sets used in Best of Both worlds.
Depending on whether you count "Encounter at Farpoint" as one or two episodes, this or "Reunion" would be episode 80 - an important number because it marks the point at which the Next Generation episode count exceeded that of the Original Series. The episode title is partially a reference to this fact.
This is the first Star Trek episode written by Joe Menosky, who would go on to write thirty eight more afterwards.
Director Robert Scheerer knew nothing about Tasha Yar, and watched her episodes from season one as part of his preparation for this episode. He was also the one who suggested Beth Toussaint for the role of Ishara Yar, having worked with her previously. Toussaint's performance was cited by Michael Piller as a reason why the episode worked so well.
The Enterprise is responding to a distress call from the Arcos, a Federation freighter which is in trouble near Turkana IV – the home planet of the late Tasha Yar. Although they race to the scene at high warp, the freighter explodes just seconds before they reach transporter range. However, the ship detects an escape pod landing at the colony on the planet. This is problematic given the lawless nature of the planet - Yar describe chaos there, with roaming rape gangs preying on women. The last ship to visit, the USS Potemkin in 2361, was told that anybody beaming down would be killed.
Nevertheless, Picard sends down an armed away team to look for the pod. Riker is surprised to find the underground colony quite orderly, with no violence offered to them. An alarm sounds, and an armed gang suddenly appears. They hurry the away team away, explaining that a rival gang will soon attack if they remain. Once in a safe place, the gang leader, Hayne, explains that the chaotic conditions on the colony are largely a thing of the past. Now the place is divided between two factions, Alliance and the Coalition. Hayne leads the Coalition. In order to keep the two apart as much as possible, all members of the gangs have an implant which will trigger proximity sensors in the other's territory. Hence, both sides are limited to quick small-scale raids. Riker heads back to the Enterprise to update Picard on local conditions, taking a bottle of Telluridan synthale as a gift to the Captain from Hayne.
Hayne calls the ship, introducing the crew to a woman he claims to be Ishara Yar, Tasha's sister. Hayne states that he wants to help Picard rescue the captives from the Alliance, fearing that the Federation might trade weapons for them. Picard accepts his help, although sceptical, and Ishara is sent to the Enterprise as a liaison. Data greets her, and the two discuss his friendship with Tasha. Ishara is obviously bitter at Tasha's choice to leave the colony, feeling it cowardly. A DNA test is performed on Ishara, proving that she is indeed Tasha's sister.
A transmission from the Alliance is sent to the Enterprise, informing them that the hostages will be killed in twenty hours unless reparations are paid. Ishara tells them that the threat is genuine, and provides the crew with information on the structure of the colony. La Forge suggests using the escape pod's myographic scanner, a system which monitors the vital signs of the people who use the pod. But it is a short range system, and an amplifier will have to be installed to make it work. Ishara tells them the likely location of the pod and offers to be beamed into the Alliance territory, triggering the proximity alarm and so creating a diversion. As the mission is prepared, Ishara and Data talk more, gradually becoming friends.
The mission procedes, with Ishara successfully providing a diversion. However, the modifications to the pod sensor takes longer than expected, and attempts to beam Ishara back up fail due to interference from a nearby transformer substation. Riker races to the rescue, though Ishara is wounded before he can get to her. He grabs her and makes his way to a beam out point, where both can return to the ship.
Picard gently chides Riker for taking unnecessary personal risks on the mission, but Riker states that Tasha was lost on an away team under her command, and he couldn't bear the same thing happening to her sister. Picard understands, but notes that they can't afford to let such personal emotions affect their performance.
Ishara learns more about Tasha, both from Picard and Data whilst Geordi scans for the hostages. He locates them, but they are deep underground where the transporters cannot reach. However, he suggests using the phasers to drill a large hold deep into the ground, reducing the volume of rock the transporters would have to reach through and making beam-down possible. Ishara offers to help on the recovery mission, though her implant would trigger the proximity sensors the moment she beamed down. Although removing the device usually triggers a lethal explosion, Data explains that Federation technology is equal to the task. Since undergoing such a procedure might be taken as quitting the Coalition, Ishara takes a little time to think it over. She discusses it with Data in ten forward, telling him that she finds the idea of a life in the Federation, working in a positive and supportive atmosphere of friendship and comradeship, quite appealing.
Ishara procedes with the removal of the implant. The crew wonder if she is truly ready to turn her back on the colony; Troi senses divided lotalties in her, whilst Data expresses trust in her intentions since the two have become friends. Ishara is allowed a private communication with Hayne to explain her decision to him. However, once given her privacy all she says to him is that "it's working."
The implant is removed from Ishara and rendered inert. She gives it to Data as a keepsake before the mission procedes. The away team beams down, finding no resistance since they are deep into safe Alliance territory. They soon locate the hostages and start to take them back to the beam-out point. However, Ishara slips away from the away team unnoticed. She stumbles on an Alliance member and the two exchange fire, activating an alarm. Worf wonders if perhaps she is trying to draw Alliances forces away from the away team. Riker and Data go looking for her whilst the hostages are extracted. Data finds her at the Alliance's main fusion reactor, which powers their defence system. She is attempting to overload it, destroying their defences and allowing the Coalition to attack. Data surmises that her entire participation in the hostage rescue effort has been a sham, with her friendship with him just part of the lie designed to win his trust.
Although Ishara seems upset at the accusation, she continues her efforts to overload the reactor - and attempts to shoot Data with her phaser when he intervenes. He is too quick for her, however, and uses his weapon to stun her. The reactor is restored to normal function as Riker checks Ishara's phaser and notes that it was set to kill. The two return to the Enterprise with the unconscious Ishara.
On the Enterprise Picard confronts Hayne, who is entirely unapologetic for the deception. Although Riker is angry about the situation, Picard sees that there is little point in arguing about it since the hostages have been rescued successfully. He orders Data to beam Ishara back to the surface so the ship can depart. In the transporter room Ishara tells Data that although she decieved him, her feelings for him were the closest thing to genuine friendship that she had ever experienced. Data gives no response other than to order the transporter engaged.
After their departure Data talks to Riker about the experience, noting that he is dwelling on Ishara's memory. He is curious by how easily Ishara misled the crew. Riker explains that risk is inherent in all trust, but that there would be no friendship unless people were willing to accept that risk, and so the inevitabilitiy of being hurt sometimes. Data accepts this, and on leaving Riker's quarters stops to look thoughtfully at Ishara's implant crystal.
A good solid episode, this. The hostage rescue scenario is a good driver for the plot, and Tasha's sister showing up is a good hook to get both the characters and audience interested in what's happening. As noted above, Beth Toussaint does a great job as Ishara. You genuinely think she's willing to leave the colony and become part of the Federation, since that's what her sister did. The twist of her working her own angle all along isn't exactly shocking, since we don't have all that much time to get to know her as a good guy. Still, it is a good turn in the plot because it's one we can believably see the crew falling for. As Picard notes himself, they wanted
Ishara to essentially be Tasha Mark 2 - and it's often easy to lie to people when they genuinely want the lie to be true.
I wouldn't claim this as a really great episode, but it's an all around solid one, very enjoyable, and well worth a watch.