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The Trek Nation - Legacy

Legacy

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at December 5, 2008 - 10:07 PM GMT

See Also: 'Legacy' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: Riker is called away from a poker game with Data when the Enterprise receives a distress call from a freighter at Turkana IV, the birthplace Tasha Yar. By the time the ship arrives, two crewmembers from the freighter have crashed on the planet and are being held by the Alliance, one of two factions on the planet. Picard seeks help from Hayne, the leader of the rival Coalition. When Hayne discovers that the Enterprise crew knew Tasha, he asks his fellow Coalition member Ishara Yar - Tasha's sister - to help the Enterprise recover the missing freighter crew. Ishara offers to lead an away team to where the Alliance keeps its hostages and explains that Alliance members can always tell when a Coalition member is approaching because of a subcutaneous detector that sets off alarms when they enter rival territory. She volunteers to act as a diversion so the Enterprise can recover the missing crewmembers, but she is badly wounded before the mission can be completed. Data, who grows close to Ishara by sharing memories of Tasha, suggests that Crusher remove her implant so that Ishara can lead them directly to the missing men, and though Picard has concerns about Ishara's seeming contempt for Tasha, he agrees to the plan. Ishara leads the Enterprise crew to the hostages from the freighter but then sneaks off to overload the Alliance's defensive network. When Data discovers what she has done, she admits that her assistance was offered only so she could bring down the Alliance, since the Coalition is waiting for her signal to send in an attack force. Riker distracts Ishara so that Data can knock her out, then restore the Alliance defensive network and the balance of power on Turkana IV. Hayne demands that Ishara be returned, and Picard reluctantly agrees, while Riker tries to help Data accept that Ishara abused their trust.


Analysis: "Legacy" isn't a great episode, yet it's a very good episode. The storyline has a lot in common with numerous original series and Next Gen installments about rival factions trying to trick Starfleet into taking their side and changing the balance of power on their planet (and you'd think on planets large enough to support humanoid life, sometimes there would be three or even four rival factions). Hayne is an utterly forgettable gang leader, and even though Tasha Yar grew up on Turkana IV, we see absolutely nothing there to make us interested in that world. Gone are the rape gangs she described, the dangerous streets where children had to learn to defend themselves. Given the way she described her childhood, the current civil war seems relatively civilized; the Alliance and the Coalition each appear to take care of their own and violence is kept to a minimum since members of each are scrupulous about honoring the agreement to wear proximity alarms that are fatal if tampered with. (You'd think, too, that there would be efforts either to train agents who haven't officially joined a side or to steal the technology that allows Crusher to remove the implants, but the unimaginative Hayne doesn't seem to have thought of either.)

What makes "Legacy" interesting is Ishara herself and the relationships she develops on board the Enterprise, primarily with Data, but also with Riker, Worf, and the others. Riker has always seemed to feel a certain amount of guilt that Tasha died on his watch, while trying to rescue his beloved Troi, although he's well aware that security was her job and she fully accepted the risks. And Worf admitted recently that he feels a responsibility to honor Tasha's legacy because he inherited her position. But Tasha's role in Data's life was unique: she was the only human with whom he had been intimate, and her death was his first significant experience of human grief. He has an almost childlike eagerness to persuade Ishara of Tasha's courage and strength, coupled with an almost parental hope that Ishara will choose to follow Tasha into Starfleet. More than any of the others, he is willing to be deceived about Ishara's motives, though really every crewmember - even Troi - allows sentiment to cloud a clear-eyed sense that Ishara is hiding a great deal from them. As viewers, too, we're emotionally involved: we want Ishara to be telling the truth, not just so the mission succeeds, but because this is the closest we can come to having Tasha back.

I'm sorry that the episode chooses to play its hand early; since it starts with a poker game and a discussion of poker as metaphor, it would be much more interesting had the storyline echoed Data's understanding of the competition, keeping Ishara's bluff a secret until the crew and audience together discovered that she'd won the jackpot based on deception. Instead, we find out as soon as she talks to Hayne that they're hatching a secret plot, so we don't let ourselves fully like and trust her the way the Enterprise crew begins to do. I think the ending would be stronger if the audience felt the same kick in the gut that Data and Riker do when they realize they've been played. It's not really unpredictable that Ishara would choose loyalty to the people who've kept her safe for most of her life than to the organization for which Tasha abandoned her, but she conveys a wonderfully subtle sense of wonder and divided loyalties, as well as appropriately conflicted emotions regarding a sister who wasn't really there for her. (Beth Toussaint couldn't have been better cast; she looks like a cross between Denise Crosby, who played Tasha, and Linda Hamilton, who starred in the original Terminator.)

Ultimately, though, the ending is powerful even if it's telegraphed early. Picard doesn't look overly silly because he's wondered all along whether they can trust Ishara, while Riker's early admiration for her courage remains justified and Data's sense of betrayal is movingly explored. Ishara seems more aware than Data that he's wrong when he says he can't be injured by having his feelings hurt, and she's as believable telling him that her time spent with him was the closest thing to friendship she has known as she is trying to persuade him to leave so her scheme won't get him killed. How interesting that Data goes not to engineer LaForge or counselor Troi to discuss what he describes as an obsession with Ishara akin to a feedback loop, but to Riker - the master of the poker bluff, a form of deception that is no simpler for Data to grasp. When Data says he can't understand how Ishara misled him, Riker says, "Make that 'we.'" Data expresses aloud that perhaps he is fortunate to be spared the emotional consequences of trust and its violation, but though Riker says perhaps, it's clear that he doesn't believe it; he'll choose friendship and intimacy every time.

I never thought before about all the ways in which Riker is a role model for Data - Riker's not an authoritative leader in the same manner as Picard, he's not a scientific expert like LaForge or Crusher, he can't usually read people as well as Troi, he's not as tough as Worf or Tasha, but he's a deeply loyal friend, an irrepressible extrovert, and a person who has no problem articulating his mistakes, concerns, and failures. Riker isn't beating himself up for having trusted Ishara, and the lesson he suggests to Data is that trusting was the right choice, no matter the outcome.


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green is a former news writer for TrekToday. An archive of her reviews can be found at The Little Review.