***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***
SERIES: Star Trek: The Next Generation
TITLE: S1.E13. “Datalore”
STARRING: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Will Wheaton
WRITERS: Robert Lewin, Maurice Hurley, Gene Roddenberry
DIRECTOR: Rob Bowman
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: January 18, 1988
SYNOPSIS: The Enterprise visits Data’s home planet, and discovers his lost “brother.”
By Rob Siebert
So Data was found, not built? Huh. That’s interesting. Two decades of The Phantom Menace trained me to believe he’d been built by Wesley…
What we have here is essentially your standard evil twin story. The Enterprise travels to Data’s home planet, finds another robot like him, he turns out to be evil, the other crew members mix them up. Pretty paint-by-numbers stuff.
While Data is our central character, the young Wesley Crusher character is also front and center, and is ultimately responsible for saving the day. And not for the first time.
The term “Mary Sue” gets tossed around a lot in this day and age. In fact, Wesley Crusher is often cited as a textbook Mary Sue. But what the hell is a Mary Sue, anyway?
Urban Dictionary defines “Mary Sue” as, “a character who is so perfect that he or she warps the world around them to display their perfection,” and who “forcibly make the world and people around them defy logic to simply display how amazingly radiant they are.” In other words, a character that is illogically infallible. Go to the Wikipedia page for “Mary Sue,” and the cited characters (in addition to Wesley) include Arya Stark from Game of Thrones and Rey from the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Fittingly enough, the term dates back to a Star Trek fanzine published in the early ’70s.
Apparently, Gene Roddenberry was the one who pushed for the Wesley character. And as his involvement with the show decreased after season one, so too did Wesley’s relevance on the show. Personally, I don’t hate Wesley. Nor do I mind the inclusion of a younger character in general. It offers a different perspective on the Star Trek Universe that we never had on the old show. It might have even been interesting to watch Wesley grow and mature over the course of the series.
I do, however, find the role young Wesley often plays among the crew to be highly illogical. Indeed, Spock would not approve.
Though he secretly has a heart of gold, Captain Picard is strict to the point of coming off short-tempered. You don’t mess around on this guy’s ship. In “Encounter at Farpoint,” the guy was hard-pressed to even let Wesley set foot on the bridge. And yet now he’s an acting ensign who’s regularly performing duties on that same bridge? What gives?
The “Wesley problem,” as D.C. Fontana once put it, will seemingly be less and less prevalent as we get into subsequent seasons. But I’ll maintain that the character itself, despite becoming a Mary Sue, wasn’t bad from conception.
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