Episode #104: Silicon Avatar

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Episode #104: Silicon Avatar

Post  BoG on Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:28 pm

SILICON AVATAR - episode #4 of 5th season / Air Date: 10/14/91
written by Jeri Taylor, story by Lawrence V. Conley; Directed by Cliff Bole

This one begins with a blast: we're on a peaceful planet of trees & grass where a new colony is just getting started; Riker, Data & Dr. Crusher are with the colonists while the Enterprise is a day away. Suddenly, the Crystalline Entity (last seen in Datalore, first season) shows up; it begins to ravage the planet. As I understand it, it shoots ray blasts which absorb all living matter, including humans; this is how it feeds itself. Most (not all) of the colonists and the crew make it into some caves and survive, but the planet is devastated.

These early scenes in the first act are pretty intense - Riker had just met a pretty colonist and it gets a bit personal for him. That's the gist of this one: you either take it personally - that this is an evil monster - or try a more dispassionate view - that it's a cosmic force of nature. Taking it very personally is Dr. Marr (Ellen Geer), who became an expert on the Entity after it killed her son on Omicron Theta 30 years ago. She comes aboard Enterprise-D to help track down the huge beast. She's hostile towards Data, at first (due to Lore being his brother - Lore had helped the monster), but soon changes her mind after Data helps figure out a clue.
There are some tricky things about human nature to juggle here and ponder: most of us would want to subscribe to the notion that revenge is to be avoided and we can relate to the frowns that the crew direct at Dr. Marrs. But, it seems very convenient that possible communication is suddenly a possibility near the end - sort of like ants suddenly finding a way to communicate with humans - and it's hinted that, what - that the Entity would no longer cause disaster after we speak with it? It's also human nature to think of justice for the dead, especially if a large number of them are killed for no reason; it's easy to think Marr is misguided in her actions at the end, but then you might want to replay the first act of the episode.
As usual, Picard is placed in the role of the 'enlightened' one - even Riker, as mentioned, leans towards less talk-more action, but Picard wants to try the pacifistic route first. I wonder, though, if it's just a matter of drawing a bigger line: Picard drew the line in regard to The Borg (I Borg and more, Star Trek First Contact) because it was personal for him; he can afford to be unemotional here, unlike Marr.
Just one other thing to note: in this episode, as with a few others, one guest cast member (Susan Diol) is
credited right after her character has been killed - a strange turn of events, as it happens.
BoG's Score: 7 out of 10

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TNG Trivia: in non-canon Trek fiction, the creature here was dubbed a "cosmozoan" and was one of a race - same with the huge entities in the pilot, Encounter at Farpoint. Other huge living creatures who travel through outer space were seen in Tin Man and Galaxy's Child.
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