Plot Synopsis: The survivors from a doomed freighter crash-land on Turkana IV, Tasha Yar’s homeworld, and are taken hostage by a dissident faction. When the Enterprise moves to intervene, they are joined by Tasha’s sister, Ishara.
Plot A and B Analysis: The teaser is one of the longest yet and opens in one of the best ways possible: with a poker game! It’s a great scene, and unfortunately it’s also probably the best scene in the episode. The Enterprise is racing toward a Federation freighter who’s facing a warp core breach close to Turkana IV. They almost make it, but the ship explodes and the escape pod is headed straight toward the nightmare colony where Tasha Yar grew up. Plot A is about Ishara and recovering the colonists, there is no plot B. Turns out the colony is divided into two main factions (gangs, really) and wouldn’t you know it, the one we’re talking to doesn’t have the freighter crew! The factions hate each other but can’t mount significant attacks because of the Lite Brite’s–er, proximity detectors–everyone has. The faction the Enterprise communicates with present Ishara Yar–Tasha’s sister, who doesn’t believe in bras–as a liaison to mount a rescue mission. Plot A divides time between planning the rescue attempt and the crew, who appear to be considering falling in love with Tasha’s sister. Both are of approximate quality, which is to say somewhat lackluster. Things are vaguely interesting I suppose, but this is a pretty predictable episode and doesn’t really have the emotional impact it intended.
Favorite Scenes: As I’ve said, the poker game is a highlight here. Picard talking about meeting Tasha was ok but could’ve been better. The only other scene I liked was at the end. Data comes to Riker’s quarters to discuss his betrayal. Riker gives feedback that’s good advice for all of us:
Riker: In all trust, there is the possibility of betrayal. I’m not sure you were prepared for that.
Data: Were you prepared, sir?
Riker *shaking his head*: I don’t think anybody ever is.
Data: Hmm. Then it is better not to trust?
Riker: Without trust, there’s no friendship, no closeness. None of the emotional bonds that make us who we are.
Data: And yet you put yourself at risk.
Riker *smiling*: Every single time.
Use of Cast/Characters: Wil Wheaton had this episode off. Picard is here and makes some good decisions, but he’s not in a whole lot of the episode. Riker is, and we see him warming up to Ishara and as an effective field commander. Then he loses control of himself a bit at the end; understandable, but to me it undercuts him. Data is the cast member at the heart of this episode. We see him taken in by Ishara and then is betrayed, and Brent does a fine job with it, but I don’t feel much emotional pull by the events here. Maybe it affected me more when I first saw it at the age of 15, I don’t recall. Worf is underused. We could have seen him sharing some experiences with her, but he doesn’t do much except stand there and look at her. Troi is the only one in this episode who isn’t taken in, so I give her credit for that, but she and Geordi don’t really have much to do. Tasha Yar–who’s dead!–gets some character development here. We learn more about her past, including the death of her parents, and why Picard chose her to be his chief of security. It’s nice. Beth Toussaint plays Ishara–whom the entire episode revolves around–doesn’t have good writing in her favor, nor does she give a memorable performance. I think she was intended to be this tough but wounded character that the audience sympathizes with, but who can see the betrayal coming, and the fact that Data can’t was supposed to bring the emotional punch. It just didn’t work out that way for me, and the way the episode telegraphs her betrayal (when she reports to her boss) weakens the impact. On top of that her acting was barely competent. Don Mirault plays Hayne, and his acting was no better.
Blu Ray Version: The first shot of the Enterprise flying toward us at about 3:25 is really blurry. This is because the staff remastering this episode couldn’t find the original footage. In the regular version at about 5:15 there was a boom mike in the shot but it’s been removed here. Thank you Blu Ray team!
Nitpicks: I guess the proximity detectors make some sense, but if these ‘factions’ aren’t much more than gangs who have law enforcement powers, why would they let the government do it? Picard begins to tell what I think will be a great Tasha Yar story, about how they met, but I feel shortchanged by it. I wanted more. Also, I’m not sure why in the 25th minute Ishara changes clothes–there’s no need for it and no explanation. Maybe to make us think she’s leaving behind part of her identity as a colonist? And again, what is it with the women of this colony not wearing bras?
Overall Impression: Watching it now, this episode seems like a throwback to the second season. The costumes (ugh), the acting, the plot, none of it seems up to the standard of the third or fourth seasons. It all just comes across as weak sauce, and my suspension of disbelief can’t hang on to it. We return to the theme of family after a break from it last episode, and this time the ghost of Tasha Yar is invoked–lost family. This is the first episode Joe Menosky wrote and it’s a disappointment, except for the poker scene. The subtext of this episode is gang warfare, but the viewer really doesn’t need a reminder that it’s bad, and it doesn’t contribute one iota to the lackluster quality of the episode. Watching Legacy from a psychotherapist’s point of view, I will say the discussion of friendship and betrayal is deeper than it seems, and Riker’s approach is one of the healthiest ones to adopt. Overall, however, I can’t rate this episode higher than 2 out of 5 stars. If you think I’m being too harsh let me know.
Behind the Scenes/Trivia: Picard’s order for the ship to go to warp 9.6 is about as fast as the Enterprise ever goes, at least until the series finale. Joe Menosky would go on to write over a dozen TNG episodes and a ton of Voyager episodes, but he just doesn’t stand out as special. All of the underground sets for the colony are redresses of Borg ship interiors. The freighter Camus II is a reference to the planet from Turnabout Intruder, the final Original Series episode.
A word about the numbering of this episode. This episode was named Legacy for two reasons: one was Tasha Yar’s legacy, certainly, but the other is because this is the episode that surpassed the total number of Original Series episodes: TOS had 79. But wait, I’m numbering this episode 79, not 80? Here’s the thing, every hour of television produced is given its own production number. That’s fine except the pilot episode, Encounter at Farpoint, was 2 hours long. It’s one episode, but was given two production numbers–thus the second episode, The Naked Now, was production episode number 3, and so forth. So is it episode 79 or 80? Here’s how I reconcile that: this is the 79th episode (thus my numbering), but the 80th hour of TNG. This way both interpretations are valid. The final episode is also two hours, so added up we have a 178 total hours, but 176 total episodes.
Missable/Unmissable? This is a missable episode, don’t feel guilty about skipping this one. The next one is the actual episode that passed TOS, which is good because it’s a much better episode.