‘THE NEUTRAL ZONE’ (TNG)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
‘The Neutral Zone’ is the finale to Season 1 of ‘TNG’. I enjoyed this episode, as it features the return of the Romulans who become prominent recurring enemies of the Enterprise in the ‘TNG’ TV series.
However the episode doesn’t focus a lot on the Romulans. The Romulans appear at the end when the Enterprise makes it way to the Neutral Zone to find out why Federation outposts are destroyed.
Most of the episode focuses on a subplot that deals with three surviving humans of the 20th century that slept in cryogenic-stasis tubes. It’s an interesting subplot, but I would have preferred the Romulans.
In the episode, the Enterprise comes across an ancient space capsule from Earth. Data and Worf beam over to find the three surviving humans in the cryogenic stasis tubes aboard the space capsule.
Data requests for the three humans to be beamed over to the Enterprise. This is done before Captain Picard returns to the Enterprise and orders for the ship to set a course for the Neutral Zone.
It’s suspected that the Romulans are causing trouble by destroying Federation outposts close to the Neutral Zone. The Enterprise is sent to investigate and discover why the Romulans have re-emerged.
This ‘Star Trek’ episode isn’t the most exciting to end Season 1 of ‘TNG’. There is a lot of social interaction scenes involving the three surviving humans where there could have been action scenes.
The three human survivors from the ancient space capsule are as follows. There’s Leon Rippy as L.Q ‘Sonny’ Clemonds; Gracie Harrison as Clare Raymond and Peter Mark Richman as Ralph Offenhouse.
‘Sonny’ Clemmons is a musician who has a broad American accent in where he comes from in the 20th century. He doesn’t seem to be phased by being in the 24th century and is content living there.
Clare Raymond is a housewife who was put in cryogenic stasis by her husband in order to survive. She gets worried about what happened to her kids, as Counsellor Troi helps with finding her history.
Ralph Offenhouse is a financier who seems impatient and anxious to contact his business. He doesn’t appreciate how much time has passed and even interrupts Picard during a meeting on the intercom.
It’s intriguing how these three humans died at the point of death with incurable diseases when they were put into cryogenic chambers. Beverly Crusher restores them to full health once they are alive.
As I said, the episode features the Romulans appear at the end of the episode when the Enterprise encounters. This includes the first appearance of the Romulan Warbird in the ‘Star Trek: TNG’ series.
I like how ‘TNG’ has redesigned the Romulans and made them more menacing compared to ‘The Original Series’ since ‘Balance of Terror’. They’ve become more militaristic and devious than before.
I’m not sure about the new head design they’ve come up with for the Romulans in the ‘TNG’ show. It is supposed to make them more distinguished and less Vulcan-like, which is something I don’t prefer.
Marc Alaimo guest stars as Tebok and Anthony James guest stars as Thei, the two Romulans who appear at the end of the episode. Marc Alaimo later played Gul Dukat in the ‘Deep Space Nine’ series.
The two Romulans don’t do much in the episode itself, apart from saying “We’re back!” at the end. There’s a threat that the Enterprise and the Romulans seem to be unaware of, but what could it be?
During the mission, Ralph Offenhouse gets onto the Enterprise bridge to see the action of what’s going on with Picard. Understandably, Picard and the others are annoyed by Offenhouse’s presence.
It also gets revealed that Worf doesn’t like the Romulans very much. Apparently his parents were killed by Romulans during an attack on a Klingon outpost. This gets mentioned again in the ‘TNG’ series.
‘The Neutral Zone’ isn’t the most exciting episode to end Season 1 of ‘TNG’ in ‘Star Trek’. But it’s great the Romulans have returned in ‘Star Trek’ and it’s promised they will return in the ‘TNG’ series.
Season 1 of ‘TNG’ isn’t great, as it has a mixture of average episodes throughout. But it does set ‘TNG’ off on a good note and it guaranteed for a second season, which I looked forward to seeing on DVD.
On Disc 7 of the ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 1’ DVD, there are four Mission Logs, which are behind-the-scenes documentaries on the making of Season 1 of ‘TNG’. These include ‘The Beginning’; ‘Selected Crew Analysis’; ‘The Making of a Legend’ and ‘Memorable Missions’.
‘The Neutral Zone’ (TNG) rating – 7/10
‘Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 1’ DVD rating – 7/10
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