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YMMV / Star Trek: The Next Generation S5E4 "Silicon Avatar"

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  • Broken Base:
    • Whether Picard was right to pursue attempt to communicate with the Crystalline Entity or whether he should have destroyed it at the first opportunity is one of the more contentious issues in Star Trek fandom. What really complicates the issue is the Entity's first appearance in "Datalore"—were this a stand-alone story then Picard would clearly be in the right, but that episode has Lore seemingly communicating with the Entity without major difficulty and even describing humans in ways that should clue the Entity in that humans are actual sentient beings. And that's before you get to the comparisons to how Kirk handled similarly destructive aliens in the TOS episodes "Obsession" and "The Immunity Syndrome", and the TAS episode "One of Our Planets is Missing".
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    • Showing how deep the divide goes, no representation of the Crystalline Entity in the Expanded Universe has agreed with Picard's interpretation that the Entity could be communicated with like a sentient creature. The novels portray it as being of animal intelligence (roughly comparable to a starving wolf), and that the best that could be done without destroying it is possibly "herding" it away from populated planets. Star Trek Online continues to portray it as a marauding force of nature roughly on par with the Borg for being able to bring together disparate factions to fight against it.
  • Designated Hero: While Picard's desire to avoid potentially killing a creature that doesn't know it's doing anything wrong might be admirable in theory, in practise he seems completely unwilling to even consider the possibility that they might actually have to kill the creature, and is very dismissive towards Riker and Dr. Marr when they suggest said possibility. He tries to justify his stance by saying that the Enterprise crew aren't hunting or out to seek revenge — except in real life the authorities do take steps to hunt down and kill dangerous animals that have killed people and pose a serious risk of doing so again (which might be intended to hint that 24th century humanity is more enlightened in this regard, but it isn't explained very well).
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  • Jerkass Woobie: Dr. Marr spends the first portion of the episode making Dr. Pulaski look downright angelic. Yet, as she slowly warms up to Data and opens up more, it becomes quickly apparent that her psyche is just a grief-stricken mess.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Yes, Dr. Marr is motivated in large part by revenge, but she rightly points out that this entity has slaughtered millions of people as well animals and plants, making it very dangerous. Riker shares her concern, fearing they will lose their chance to stop it if the peaceful option fails.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Most fans will agree that the episode's basic concept is a sound one, but would perhaps have worked better with a threat other than the Crystalline Entity. On top of that, a common complaint is that the episode is completely one-sidedly in favor of Picard's argument, and that Dr. Marr's and Riker's arguments are only there to be dismissed as the result of irrational anger toward the Entity.
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