Attempting to rescue two stranded Federation crew members, the Enterprise travels to Turkana IV, the homeworld of deceased crew member Tasha Yar. There they meet Tasha’s sister Ishara, who promises to help rescue the crew members from one of the two major power factions on this anarchic world. She becomes close to the crew, especially Data. However, it turns out that Ishara is using the Enterprise on behalf of the other major power faction to get the advantage over their enemies, even attempting to kill Data and Riker to do so. She is stopped, and the crew members are rescued.
Written by Joe Menosky . Directed by Robert Scheerer.
Completely aside from its merits as a story, Legacy is a landmark episode for Next Generation as it was the 80th installment of the series, putting it ahead of the original series in episode numbers. There is a sly wink to this at the opening of the story, when Picard’s log entry states that they had “bypassed Camus II”, the world where the final Original Series episode Turnabout Intruder took place (something, incidentally, that I read about rather than figured out).
Aside from this little Easter egg, Legacy (a title that really doesn’t make a lot of sense, except for to acknowledge the milestone) is a strong episode, with good pacing, compelling character work, and a decent amount of exciting action. The standout performances are from Brent Spiner, who really headlines the story as Data, and guest star Beth Toussaint as Ishara Yar. Spiner once again imbues his performance with lots of detail and moments that we can connect with, giving tremendous life to his supposedly emotionless character.
Ishara is also well done well, displaying a believable mix of bitterness, irreverence, sensitivity, and starstruck wonder. Only her desire to join Starfleet rings false, but since this turns out to be a deception anyway, that’s just fine. Aside from that, we in the audience join right in with the crew in wanting her to be like her sister (even if I was not a huge Tasha fan anyway), and we feel their disappointment and betrayal.
A nice thing about the episode is the way in which what is at risk seems actually quite small. Picard and the crew are attempting to rescue just two crew members, it’s only the fate of one “backwards” planet that’s threatened, and aside from the Away Team, the Enterprise crew is never in any peril. Still, the story is deeply meaningful because of the personal connection with Tasha Yar. This raises the emotional stakes for both our heroes and the audience, and makes all of us more involved when it is realized that what’s really under threat are the ideals and reputation of the Federation itself.
Shout Out to the Past:
Of course, there are all the references to Tasha, including her death in Skin of Evil. Her homeworld was also glimpsed in the series once before, in Where No One Has Gone Before.
Beth Toussaint, who plays Ishara Yar, was Anna Sheridan on Babylon 5 for one episode, before she was replaced by Melissa Gilbert for other appearances later.
• We have the first Poker Game of the season, with Riker, Data, Worf, and Troi all participating. As Riker points out, Data has definitely improved his game. I’m not sure where this game is happening – it’s not in someone’s quarters. Maybe it’s a room off of Ten-Forward? Is that where they have always been?
• Some funny Data moments during the poker game – “It will cost you 20 to make that determination,” he says, and he “throws away” some of the cards.
• Wesley does not appear in this episode.
• Interesting to see the away team hold a defensive posture as they beam down.
• There are a lot of phaser battles in this story.
• Picard first met Tasha crawling through a mine field trying to save someone – I didn’t remember that. Is that consistent with their appearance together in All Good Things?
• Ishara kisses Data! On the cheek, anyway.
• At one point, Data flips his phaser back into his pocket – pretty cool.
• Picard is cool as he cuts Hayne off toward the end.
• I like Data’s interpretation of his challenges with losing Ishara: “It has been days since Ishara left, and yet my thoughts seem to dwell on her. Almost as if I were experiencing a feedback loop in my mnemonic network.”
• Nice at the end, with Data looking at the explosive.
• It’s an indication of how far the series has come that this episode is really my second favorite Tasha Yar episode, after Yesterday’s Enterprise.
Crazy Talk: Captain Riker (Huh?)
This episode could have been adapted to feature Captain Riker and Commander Shelby with almost no adjustments at all. It’s even Riker, rather than Picard, who gets to have the final conversation with Data. Worf’s protest about Dr. Crusher joining the Away Team might have required a little tweaking if it Shelby (another woman) leading the group, but other than there would have been basically no changes at all.
Dialogue High Point
There’s an excellent scene between Data and Ishara talking about the nature of friendship that I especially like:
DATA: As I experience certain sensory input patterns, my mental pathways become accustomed to them. The inputs eventually are anticipated, and even missed when absent.
ISHARA: Like my sister.
DATA: Yes, like your sister.