S2E9 - The Measure of A Man

Watch along and discuss a curated selection of episodes from Star Trek: The Next Generation and join for weekly watch parties!
Post Reply
dnaphil
Posts: 169
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:10 pm

S2E9 - The Measure of A Man

Post by dnaphil »

I selected this episode because this is considered by many critics, the first great TNG episode.

This episode is great. The writing on it is amazing, and as PK had mentioned to me after watching it, it is what TNG does best, Speculative Science Fiction in a 45 min episode.

The core question of the episode is in a way a story Arc for Data that spans the series and later the Movies. It is one of the things that, for me, makes Data such a compelling and interesting character.

In many ways Data fills a role in the show, similar to Spock in TOS, but unlike Spock, who just lacks emotion and the human perspective, Data gives us a chance to look at how diverse life can be. To expand on that, I will note a bonus show (no spoilers for our Ensign Trekers), The Quality of Life (S6E9). When we get into Season 6 I will note it as a bonus episode.

All in all, this episode is a great story and the acting in it is also excellent. One of my favorites.
User avatar
pksullivan
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:51 am
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Re: S2E9 - The Measure of A Man

Post by pksullivan »

The writing and acting in this episode are first rate. The look on Riker’s face when he formulates his plan - the change from exultation to horror - is pure gold. The only super awkward bit is when Riker is forced into being the prosecution. Like... really? That’s the regulation? They couldn’t have had Maddox prosecute his own position?

We get one of Guinan’s moments of guidance and insight. It’s played brilliantly where she neatly draws the line between Data’s predicament and slavery. Whoopi is fantastic.
User avatar
pksullivan
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:51 am
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Re: S2E9 - The Measure of A Man

Post by pksullivan »

Oh, jeez, there’s an intensely nerdy play on words here. “A single Data...”
dnaphil
Posts: 169
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:10 pm

Re: S2E9 - The Measure of A Man

Post by dnaphil »

Guinan actually sips tea after saying that to Picard. Sips. Tea.
dnaphil
Posts: 169
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:10 pm

Re: S2E9 - The Measure of A Man

Post by dnaphil »

Riker having to be the prosecution was a bit forced, but the emotions of the moment where he turned Data off, was visceral.
User avatar
RobAbrazado
Site Admin
Posts: 225
Joined: Mon May 06, 2019 10:52 am
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: S2E9 - The Measure of A Man

Post by RobAbrazado »

As I said elsewhere, this is one of my favorite episodes of the whole series. I am a sucker for pretty much any AI rights story.

I feel like it's actually come up a few times now over the course of Watch Club that something is out of character for Picard, and I got that feeling again in this episode. Besides the excellent scene with Guinan and slavery and the tea, let us not forget that Picard had be schooled about agency once before in the episode when Data pointed out to him that humans who join Star Fleet aren't all required to get their eyes replaced with Geordi's cyber-eyes. That was a good, solid zinger, but...even so, Guinan's "property" speech is still one of the all-time great scenes in this series. But ANYway...the number of times it's happened that we've said "that seems out of character for Picard" makes me wonder...maybe that just is Picard! At least at this point in the show. I guess I'd have to dive deeper to evaluate, but maybe he's just not all that until later on.

More importantly, though...if not a series first, then I think it's at least a Watch Club first that this episode also goes into my files under the TNG subheading labeled: Picard Fucks.

A small irony that pinged me on this rewatch was Riker being "forced" to act as prosecutor despite his not wanting to...on a trial about whether a being has the right to refuse instructions from Star Fleet. :lol:

Lastly (or actually firstly, in a way, since this is about the opening scene)... I don't much like letting my pet peeves hang out, but I will say: this episode reminds me that every time TNG does a poker scene, the poker is terrible. And, like...that's fine, I can let that go for the most part. But...Data is a literal supercomputer, and in this very episode he says he's read everything ever written about poker. But...he's super bad at it? And doesn't know what bluffing is?! My partner offered that maybe it's the future and people don't play poker anymore, so...maybe? But I dunno...I have my doubts. They play super 3-D space chess...they don't have regular-ass poker? And even so...that could explain why everyone is terrible and why they all think Riker is amazing. But Data? After reading everything written about poker? Nah. That's just a writers' glitch. :D
Need help with the Forums? Hit up the Questions and Feedback board!
Support Misdirected Mark Productions on Patreon!
User avatar
RobAbrazado
Site Admin
Posts: 225
Joined: Mon May 06, 2019 10:52 am
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: S2E9 - The Measure of A Man

Post by RobAbrazado »

dnaphil wrote: Sat Jun 13, 2020 11:30 pm Riker having to be the prosecution was a bit forced, but the emotions of the moment where he turned Data off, was visceral.
Real talk, though, that scene bumped me hard. It's like...wow, I didn't know in the future a prosecutor could just straight-up assault the witness to get his point across. I get the drama of it...it was a good TV moment. And, like...it was maybe as acceptable as...taking off Data's arm? (Which, btw...it's super telling that he had to ask the court's permission to do that but not Data's.) But really...if the witness was a human being, and Riker rolled up on a dude and just donkey-punched him and knocked him out, no one would be like "Huh, good point, well-made. You've really won this case now!" So, whatever, Riker. Perry Mason wouldn't be knocking out witnesses.
Need help with the Forums? Hit up the Questions and Feedback board!
Support Misdirected Mark Productions on Patreon!
User avatar
JimLikesGames
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:04 am
Location: New York
Contact:

Re: S2E9 - The Measure of A Man

Post by JimLikesGames »

This episode is so, so good.

"Starfleet was formed to seek out new life. WELL, THERE IT SITS!" I can't even type that without choking up forget watching it, it's waterworks every time I see it.

The way Data doesn't celebrate or cheer the way a person would but calmly stands and then politely tells Maddox to go fuck himself, perfect.

It's also super cool how Riker's line about "Pinocchio's strings have been cut" when he shuts Data off directly calls back to the very first time he meets him in Encounter at Farpoint. It's the dark mirror to Riker's clear sense of wonder upon meeting him for the first time (and one of my favorite moments from that episode, underlining boldly the humanism the show would strive for over the next 7 seasons, and putting a big old thumb on the scale for Riker as my personal POV character. He's how I'd want to experience the future.)
User avatar
Jared Rascher
Posts: 238
Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:45 am
Contact:

Re: S2E9 - The Measure of A Man

Post by Jared Rascher »

I can't really add to what anyone else has said. This is really one of the best early episodes of the series. It started to build on what the series previously established, even in an episodic format.

This is the second time this season Riker was put in a position where he had to act against either the whole Enterprise or a crew member in order to fulfill his duty. I don't think I appreciate how well Riker walked those lines when I saw these back in the day.

But, wow, was that a cold line when Riker summed up his argument.

No spoilers, but this is also really interesting to revisit in light of the Picard series.
Post Reply

Return to “Star Trek: The Next Generation Watch Club”