Star Trek TNG - Season 5
- Q once said "Drink not with thine enemy" is a "rigid Klingon code". They appear to be doing that in great numbers in this episode.
- This episode marks the first appearance of a tachyon beam being used to detect cloaked ships.
- Kurn's trick causing a stellar flare to destroy his opponents.
- Riker accepting (temporary!) command of a ship!
- Data requesting command of a ship.
- Kurn celebrating the war.
- Data took command of a Nebula class starship. :)
- O'Brien as tactical officer! Woot!
- Gowron meeting the challenge to his authority and swiftly defeating it.
- I love how Guinan's race has something of a sixth sense, to see events across the timelines.
- Sela's story about what happened to the second Yar from TNG: Yesterday's Enterprise.
- The Duras sisters seducing Worf.
- Data (angrily?) yelling at his first officer.
- Data ignoring the Enterprise's orders.
- Data briefly revealing the Romulan fleet and forcing them to turn back.
- Data chastising himself for disobeying orders.
- Gowron giving the son of Duras' life to Worf and Worf sparing him.
While I found the prejudice against Data a little absurd, I enjoyed the explanation of why Sela more or less was Tasha. Connecting this episode with TNG: Yesterday's Enterprise is genius continuity. I love it. I also love hearing what happened to the second Yar from the alternate timeline. Finally, the way this episode ties Federation, Klingon, And Romulan politics together is just beautiful. An excellent showing.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-03 at 4:59pm:
- At the end of "Redemption," Worf was leaving to serve as weapons officer on Gowron's ship. Yet this episode opens with Worf serving under his brother Kurn on Kurn's ship. Did Worf get a demotion?
- Worf's brother claims that the bar is filled both with men loyal to Duras and those loyal to Gowron. At one point, men loyal to Duras attack Worf in the bar. They knock him unconscious and drag him out. Why doesn't anyone come to Worf's aid?
- Sela gives Picard an accurate recounting of the facts of "Yesterday's Enterprise." Specifically, she knows that her mother came from twenty-two years in the future. If the Romulans knew that Yar came from twenty-two years in the future, it is inconceivable that they would kill her. Yar was a tactical officer with in-depth knowledge of weapons systems. The Romulans had unlimited time to torture her until she cooperated. It makes no sense for them to throw away a resource like that just because she tried to escape.
- After the sisters of Duras fail to convince Worf to join their cause, Sela appears on a viewscreen and gives them new orders. Worf calmly looks at the screen before they lead him away. Is Worf still groggy from the beating in the bar? The viewscreen shows the face of a woman he called a friend - a woman he thought died years ago. His reaction should have been similar to Picard's: shock and amazement.
- Picard's entire plan for exposing Romulan involvement hinges on the successful detection of cloaked Romulan supply ships. The successful detection of the supply ships rests solely on the blockade using active tachyon beams. When the main computers on both the Enterprise and Sela's ship show the blockade, the graphics show lines connecting the Starfleet ships. If the Starfleet ships are using beams, they've got problems. The Romulans could detect the gaps and fly through them. To get the type of density they need, the Starfleet ships would have to be clustered very closely together. And if the ships are clutered that closely together, then the Romulans could simply fly around the blockade. Picard and the main computers on both the Enterprise and Sela's ship must be confused. The Starfleet ships must be sending out "waves" of tachyon emissions. This would fill in the gaps.
- At one point, O'Brien tells Picard, "The detection net is picking up activity from the Romulans ... fifteen cloaked ships spreading out along the border." O'Brien says this before the Romulans cross into Klingon space. If the blockade could only detect a cloaked ship when it crossed a "beam," how does O'Brien know that there are fifteen cloaked ships getting ready to cross?
- When Sela speaks with Picard, she asks why twenty-three Starfleet ships lie on the Romulan border. If there are twenty-three ships in the blockade, why do only seventeen show up on the viewscreens both on the Enterprise and Sela's ship?
- After the Romulans flood the border with tachyon emissions, Picard orders the ships to fall back. Data realizes that the Romulan ships might be detectable for a short time. He gets to work immediately, disobeying a direct order from Picard. Aside from the fact that everything in Data's programming supports his full compliance with orders from a superior officer - Data's disobedience is totally unnecessary. In the time that Data spends arguing with his first officer about Picard's orders, Data could simply say, "Data to Captain Picard. There may be another way to detect the Romulans. Stand by." Data's disobedience is simply a plot contrivance to add tension.
- Worf's resignation from Starfleet was a major component of the cliff-hanger of the finale for the fourth season. Then, just before this episode concludes, Worf turns to Picard and says, "Request permission to return to duty, sir." Picard says ok, and they leave together! That's it? That's all? A person can resign from Starfleet and all they have to do is say, "Oops, I've changed my mind," and everything's fine?
- From Bernard on 2008-05-26 at 8:09am:
I have to say that after such a great buildup in the first part in terms of klingon political intrigue what we get in this concluding part is an episode that deals mostly with a romulan/federation confrontation and a rather out of place storyline for data. Surely we're all thinking 'lets see klingons!!' all the way through the other scenes. Judging by the average scoring others no doubt disagree with me.
Solid episode, but such a disappointment for me considering how well the first part sets things up.
- From Jeff Browning on 2011-10-02 at 11:49am:
Problem: During the battle among the three Klingon Warbirds (one of which is commanded by Kurn, Worf's brother), Worf announces that the aft shields are gone. Immediately afterwards, the ship takes several direct phaser hits on the aft section. It would have been totally destroyed without shields. However, the shots are clearly deflected off the Warbird's aft shields. Which is of course inconsistent with the statement Worf just made.
- The Enterprise fired its phasers from the torpedo tubes...
- This episode is a candidate for my "Best Episode of TNG Award."
- Picard (and only Picard) gets a new uniform in this episode. Curiously after he ripped it, he's not seen wearing it in the final scene. Seems he couldn't be bothered to replicate a replacement...
- Data has encountered 1754 nonhuman races in his time with starfleet.
- The discussion of the Tamarians in the opening scene. A species which WANTS relations with the Federation, but communications could not be established. Excellent idea!
- The Tamarians and their unique language.
- Picard's confrontation with the Tamarian captain. He throws down the dagger rather than enter (supposed) combat, while his first officer risks combat with the Tamarian ship.
- The campfire scene with the Tamarian captain and and Picard on the planet.
- Troi and Data attempting to decipher the Tamarian language.
- Picard refusing to fight the Tamarian captain, not realizing it was an alliance he sought.
- Picard cracking the Tamarian language.
- Picard screaming "No!" when the Enterprise attempts to beam him up, away from the battle.
- Data and Troi cracking the Tamarian language and explaining it to Riker.
- Picard attempting to speak to the injured Tamarian captain using his language.
- Picard discovering why the Tamarian captain brought him to the planet to fight alongside.
- Picard telling the story of Gilgamesh.
- The Tamarian captain's death.
- Picard speaking the Tamarian language with the first officer of the Tamarian ship.
The most underrated episode in Star Trek history. We have two plot threads. First, Picard refuses to fight the Tamarian captain and vigorously attempts to understand his language. Second, Riker's attempts to rescue Picard at all costs and using violence if necessary. These two different approaches taken by Picard and Riker contrast each other beautifully. And ultimately it is Picard's cracking of the Tamarian language which saves the day. Regarding that, I absolutely love the way Data sums up this language barrier. They know the grammar of the Tamarian language, but not the vocabulary. Speaking in metaphors and saying only proper nouns holds no meaning to a listener who doesn't understand the reference. But in time, as Picard demonstrated, the language could be deciphered. A properly educated linguist and historian could adequately communicate with the Tamarians. I felt thoroughly bad for the Tamarian captain in the end. What a great man, who makes a truly noble sacrifice in the hopes to establish friendship with the Federation. To sum it up, this is an extremely intelligently written episode and one of the finest examples of what Star Trek really is all about.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Vlad on 2006-03-31 at 4:11pm:
When I want to introduce a non-trekker to the world of Star Trek I make them watch this episode. Isn't this a marvelous compliment? To me this is Star Trek at its best. The idea that we must find unity even if we must pay the ultimate price is extraordinary and oh so resonant in this day and age.
But the philosophy of the piece is really presented through Picard. On a personal level he makes a new friend... and loses him, but in the end comes to understand his sacrifice. As a Starfleet officer, he is given a tough assignment, but he manages to do what he does best - preserve the piece and help bring about mutual understanding. On a universally human level we are left to ponder a very difficult question: Would we do the same if we were in the place of the Tamarian captain?
Now, if only I could find the way to communicate to my mom just how good this episode is and make her watch it with me ;)
- From Pete Miller on 2006-04-14 at 3:24pm:
Problem: If the language is based solely on reference to myth and history, then how does a child learn what happened in these myths? The language can only be spoken by referencing to something that both communicating parties are familiar with.
A fine episode, but it just seems like speaking only in metaphor is an extremely improbable form of communication.
- From Bob Bracegirdle on 2006-08-04 at 6:10am:
I could never see why Picard deciphered the language but for years previously the Federation had tried without success. Apparently they never even got the idea of metaphor. Were they stupid? I jumped to that conclusion within seconds of hearing it at the beginning of the episode - clearly a greek myth allusion.
- From benq on 2006-12-05 at 2:53pm:
Darmok is another one of those episodes that reminds us that other races don't value life and freedom the same way we do. The language barrier is a poor excuse for the inciting incident of stranding Picard and the Tamarian captain on the planet with a disappearing beast, and even the explanation of the language barrier is dubious, given the historical overtones of every language. It has its place in the season 5 arch, but Darmok is probably one of the worst executed TNG stories that nevertheless touch us.
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-04 at 5:07am:
Data and Troi deduce that the Tamarians speak in metaphor when they cross-reference the proper names "Darmok" and "Tenagra" to a mythological account from one of the planets nearby. After they give this information to Riker, Troi claims that communication is hopeless, since all they know is that Darmok was a hunter and Tenagra an island. If they know that Darmok is a mythological hunter, doesn't it seem likely that they would have access to some of the stories about him? Out of those stories, they might find something they could use.
- From KStrock on 2009-01-27 at 9:55am:
How could they have cultural stories on file about a race with whom they have no prior relationship?
- From Wes on 2010-05-07 at 3:07pm:
You make a great point about Starfleet uniform code with Ro's earring and Worf's sash. Another interesting thing is that Mr. Mott said that he cut Commander Riker's hair a few days earlier. Look at Riker's hair. Sure doesn't look like he recently got a haircut. In fact, looks to me like he is due for one.
- From Vinny on 2010-07-29 at 4:41pm:
Call it absurd fanboyism, but the one thing I remember clearly from seeing this episode the first time is totally falling in love with Robin Lefler, the first on-screen performace Ashley Judd ever made. Ah, the agony... I would have SO traded places with Wil Wheaton in the episode "The Game".
- From tigertooth on 2010-10-20 at 5:53pm:
To me it seemed as if the Tamarians lacked verbs. They used nouns, prepositions, and adjectives, but I don't recall any verbs. That was kind of interesting.
But as a previous commenter said, the idea that they could speak only in references seems far-fetched.
- From Quando on 2011-08-12 at 6:20pm:
My question is this. How did a species with a language like this ever manage to develop the technology of space travel? I mean, how do you explain the technical specifications for building a warp core (or even a Model T) using only analogy to mythical figures? How would you even ask someone to hand you a tool? "Kinta, his 3/8" wrench open, his eyes red"! How do you talk about things like return on investment, varying interest rates, detailed medical procedures, etc. The whole language only seems suited to conveying basic ideas and emotions. It seems to me that a species with a language like this would never advance beyond the basic tribal hunter-gatherer stage.
- From Will on 2011-10-28 at 9:55pm:
The fact that you can rate this episode a 10 after all of the times you downrate episodes for bad science astounds me. As Quando and Pete have pointed out, the main premise of this story is scientifically implausible. I, for one, believe that the implausible is at the core of what science fiction should be, but based on your attitude toward episodes with such absurd science as this thus far, it seems unfair to be giving this episode a 10.
- From Kethinov on 2011-10-29 at 9:22pm:
There's nothing fundamentally unsound about a language arising in this way. The fact that it's extremely improbable is an asset to the story in that the universal translator can translate the literal meaning of the words spoken but not the true meaning of their metaphorical basis.
While I realize that it is hard to imagine a society being capable of functioning this way or developing advanced technology, I don't necessarily think it's beyond the bounds of realism, especially if you assume that the Tamarians have brains which more intuitively grasp metaphor or that there is a crucially emotive characteristic to the language.
For instance, how a metaphor is stated and what body language is used may be just as important as what metaphor was used. The episode itself concludes by acknowledging that further study of the language would have to be done to fully grasp all its nuances. Just because the episode doesn't give us all the answers doesn't mean that no answer is workable.
Since, in my judgement, the technical issues presented by the language aren't unworkable, the omissions of detail are not sufficiently distracting to the story, and the story itself is an outstanding piece of drama and science fiction, I stand by my classification of the episode's perfect score.
- From packman_jon on 2012-05-13 at 6:33pm:
Very good episode. Tough to really get into, but this episode really rewards the viewer.
- From RM on 2012-08-03 at 3:33pm:
This is one of the episodes that I like to watch even though they don't make terribly much sense. It is sufficiently suspenseful and has its good moments, definitely resulting in an entertaining episode that does more than show mindless battles.
On the downside, the presented concept of the language never seemed convincing to me. I don't refute the idea that a civilization might base many of its expressions on metaphors (you could say that so do we in some respects; think of expressions like "a Valentine to all fans"). When talking about complex topics without requiring infinite time, many of the metaphor references might have to be "compressed", but possibly what we saw in the episode was sufficient for efficient communication. Likewise, the problem of how to describe the meaning of a metaphor in the first place does indeed exist, but this might indeed be achieved with a limited vocabulary.
My two major gripes, however, were on the one hand how the language can possibly include references to off-world myths even for basic concepts. Does that mean the language only evolved after the Tamarians got in touch with cultures from other planets? Highly doubtful. On the other hand, I always wondered why the federation would be able to correctly translate prepositions and a few nouns when the meaning of the statements was unknown in the first place. How could a translator trying to figure out an unknown language (no matter whether it's a computer program like the universal translator or a living being doing that work) possibly know that in a sentence like "Shaka, when the walls fell." (note that what we see as English is actually incomprehensible Tamarian here) there's a proper name "Shaka" and four single words that mean "when the walls fell"? Wouldn't that translator recognize the same indicators used when deciphering other alien language that the topic is "failure" and then consider "Shakawhenthewallsfell" as one word, meaning "failure"?
As much as forgotten Earth colonies are a trope that should be avoided, I'm convinced that the language trouble would have been a great deal more plausible if the Tamarians had originally been from Earth. That way, they could have used English words while the meaning of the sentences still wouldn't have been clear.
- From TheAnt on 2013-11-02 at 3:33pm:
Cpt Picard on Forbidden planet.
This is indeed one excellent episode.
And even though Picard suspected that there would be a duel, I did assume that the alien indeed were proposing that they were going for a hunt as a means of building bridges between the two peoples.
I've never lost a limb on a mountainside and as certain as the bear crap in the woods there had to be a monster challenge - one that had me think of the invisible beast from Forbidden planet.
I found the comment by Pete Miller amusing since his name suggest he is from a culture that have a language that indeed use a lot of metaphors in daily use.
Even so both the British and Americans are able to learn their language - also myself. So I do not see any problem in that respect.
There's several examples on Earth of languages such as synesthetic ones, where the universal translator would be a lead balloon.
So why not for one completely different species that have grown up on one isolated planet.
And no actor but Patrick Stewart could have done the summary of the Gilgamesh epic as well as here. A solid 10 as certain as the pope wear a funny hat. :)
- From Axel on 2015-02-21 at 6:16pm:
This has to be one of the most innovative episodes in sci-fi TV history. I agree with above comments about this being ST at its best. However, I think a lot of the concerns about the Tamarian language can be explained.
In RM's case: consider that the Tamarian captain is best able to understand Picard when Picard is telling the tale of the Gilgamesh epic. It seems the Tamarian brain can process the language of other cultures through this narrative format, even if they don't yet know all the details of the story. This may be why Darmok, a mytho-historical hunter from Shantil 3, is part of the Tamarian linguistic database. Perhaps that legend became incorporated into Tamarian culture and language over time.
There are other concerns too. For instance, how do the Tamarians handle certain basic day-to-day tasks, like "Hey, can you see if the engine coolant levels are good to go?" One explanation is that just as humans rely on metaphor in rare situations, perhaps Tamarians use literal language only when absolutely necessary, such as explaining a technical concept. Another explanation is that Tamarians may have invented their own stories that correspond to mathematical and scientific principles, in the form of music, history, and mythology.
But this is all part of the fun. Star Trek presents us with an alien race that communicates through mythological and historical reference, and lets us fill in the blanks through our own imagination. Isn't that the whole point of sci-fi? A beautifully created episode, and a wonderful contribution to TV.
- From K on 2017-01-30 at 10:33am:
Regarding the phasers from the torpedo tube. I always thought they had purposely done that, as the modifications to do the needed damage required them to construct some sort of custom array that they mounted in the torpedo tube.
Alas I noticed on the re-mastered HD version that that scene has changed to have the phasers firing from the dorsal array.
- The Bajorans are often referred to as "Bajora" in this episode.
- Why is Worf's Klingon sash allowed but Ro Laren's earring not? Maybe because Riker felt like picking on her because of her history?
- Why does Ro wear her earring on the left when every other Bajoran wears their's on the right? Maybe because she follows the cult of the Pah-wraiths, or maybe because she's just being harmlessly rebellious?
- This is the first episode to feature a Bajoran, which will become a majorly important race on DS9.
- Picard avoiding the Bolian hair stylist.
- Ro Laren's arrogance.
- Picard offering the Bajorans assistance.
- Guinan confronting Ro.
- Guinan discussing her trust in Picard with Ro. More good continuity with the upcoming episode TNG: Time's Arrow. The details of Guinan's statement are revealed then.
- Ro's story about her father.
- Picard accusing the admiral of conspiring with the Cardassians.
- Picard confronting the admiral and exposing his foolish decision.
- Picard requesting Ro to join the Enterprise crew.
This episode is a starting off point to what will later become the epic story of the Bajoran people. We get great little details all over this episode. We're told the Bajorans are an ancient civilization that was more advanced than humanity for ages. We're told that they were conquered by the Cardassians 40 years ago. We're told that the Federation is sympathetic to the Bajoran rebelious cause. We're even introduced to their culture through a Bajoran starfleet officer and a visit to a Bajoran refugee camp. Unfortunately, this episode's primary story itself is lacking. Besides the technical problems, we have yet another corrupt starfleet admiral. How many is that now anyway? Whilst the Bajorans could have had a better opener, they only get better in the future.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-04-14 at 5:01pm:
The Bajorans. In my opinion a blatant manifestation of Israel in Star Trek. Forced off their homeland by the evil cardassians who actually have a legal claim to it. The federation is sympathetic to them, but there's nothing they can do to help even though they dislike the cardassians. It is so blatant it's almost corny. Bajorans=Jews, Cardassians=Arabs, Federation=America
- From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-05-07 at 7:36pm:
The high points of this episode are the excellent dialog between Guinan and Ro. In many ways, Guinan is a better psychologist than Troi, at least from what we see on the screen. Guinan's extra screen time in this episode was fun to watch.
Ro is a fresh character to bring into the mix, and a much more believable character than Wesley. The groundwork is also laid for future storylines on DS9. Nothing else regarding this episode is worth mentioning, which is why I gave it a 6.
- From ben on 2006-12-06 at 12:02am:
I disagree with the notion of a Jew/Arab metaphor as the situation appears to have more in common with a post WWII Jewish reconstruction, with Germany as the Cardacians.
I should point out further that while some of the continuity issues are laughable in retrospect, IMO this seminal Bejoran episode at least presented a decent human interest story having to do with the species, in contrast to nearly every Bejoran-oriented episode of DS9, in which the "epic" is unveiled. Not a clear favorite as a solitary episode, but still a solid link in the chain of events that make season 5.
- From benq on 2006-12-10 at 2:41am:
Cardassians are not Arabs, IMO, because the story is a metaphor for a post-WWII reconstruction, where Bajor is kind of like Israel, even if the Bajorans aren't exactly like Jews.
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-05 at 1:26am:
- Near the beginning of the show, Picard offers the admiral his aunt's cure for the common cold. The admiral replies that he doesn't have a cold, he has a Cardassian virus. Picard must have forgotten that people no longer suffer from the common cold in the twenty-fourth century. His chief medical officer, Dr. Crusher, said so in "The Battle."
- The graphics at the beginning of the episode - showing the Enterprise arriving at Lya Station Alpha - are used once again. It is the same sequence used for Starbase 133 in "Remember Me" as well as Starbase 74 in "11001001." (See comments for "Remember Me.") Wouldn't it have made more sense just to call them all Starbase 74?
- When Picard sees Orta's ships he realizes Orta couldn't have attacked the Federation colony. He tells the admiral that Orta's ships don't have warp capability and therefore cannot reach any other star systems. The star system he inhabits is outside Cardassian territory. Without warp drive capability, it would take his terrorists "forever" to get to a Cardassian planet and attack it. So why are the Cardassians so worried about Orta?
- From JRPoole on 2008-07-05 at 4:14pm:
This is one of my pet episodes, mostly because Ro is an interesting character and the Bajoran storyline, one of the best Trek ever did, gets started here.
- From Mark McC on 2009-01-06 at 3:22am:
I enjoy some aspects of this episode such as Ensign Ro's slightly rebellious attitude to authority, and the groundwork laid for future Bajoran stories.
I don't like the resolution at the end. No doubt the Cardassians had scanned the Bajoran ship for life signs and found none. They'd also been tracking the Enterprise's movement for some time and Picard had flown directly from the moon where the Bajorans were encamped. The Cardassians would have had no trouble tracking the Bajorans down and killing them.
Although since the Bajorans only had sub-light travel, restricting them to attacking targets within the solar system in which they were hiding, I can't understand how they managed to evade the Cardassians for so long.
Some good ideas, but poorly executed.
- From J Reffin on 2009-05-11 at 2:40pm:
The Bejora appear (in this episode at least) to be modelled on the Roma/Romany people (aka Gypsies). The dress, style and approach are also very similar to this group.
- From Mrugesh on 2009-09-14 at 8:36am:
Actually, I find the Bajoran situation much akin to India's due to the British occupation. Much if not most of it matches. The slavery, torture, underground movements dubbed as terrorists...
- From Yaspaa on 2010-06-08 at 7:06am:
Picard refers to the Bajorans as Bajarans twice in this episode and I'm sure the Cardassian Gul refers to his own race as Cardacian.
- From tigertooth on 2010-10-23 at 12:26am:
I think it's a mistake to try to look at the Bajoran/Cardassian thing as a perfect parallel to one situation in human history. The beauty is in finding various (imperfect) parallels to various situations.
I think the great thing to get out of this episode is how they made the Bajorans -- the terrorists -- the more sympathetic group here.
That's not to say that terrorism is a noble act. We all know it's quite the opposite. But it gives us an opportunity to see how good people could be motivated to do very bad things when they're put in very bad circumstances.
I suspect this kind of treatment of terrorism could not be made post 9/11, so it's nice that TNG beat the curve on it.
Another random thought (which involves a SPOILER for events that occur later in TNG): is it possible that one reason Picard embraced Ro was not only because he saw her value as an officer, but that he wanted to keep her out of the Bajoran terrorist movement? Surely after he heard Ro tell the story about witnessing her father's torture we can imagine that he would have feared that she was a prime candidate. And he was impressed by her, so that gives him all the more motivation to want to see her talents used for the proper purposes. We all know that's where she ended up (Picard failed to keep her from joining with the Bajoran terrorists), but maybe Picard was hoping to get her on the straight and narrow Federation path.
- From p@arallels on 2011-09-07 at 1:11am:
There is a much better parallel to be made between Bajorans and Palestinians than I think any of the other examples cited (good episode, BTW). Of course, the circumstances aren't identical, but I think it's a better parallel than the others.
The Palestinians were the ones expelled from their homeland almost 70 years ago, and they are the ones who live in poverty and in diaspora, many in refugee camps. The Palestinians are the ones who find themselves within the territorial borders of another sovereign state (Israel), and since their conflict is legally an "internal state matter" they have difficulties appealing for help. The Palestinians are the ones who have been forced, or at least compelled by circumstances into violence and terrorism. The Palestinians are the ones who are collectively humiliated, and have a troublesome national heritage (though of course the European Jews who founded Israel share this history as well).
It's the Palestinians who find themselves in the middle, worrying about "blankets," while other relevant parties - Israel, the U.S., Turkey, Iran, Persian Gulf countries, other Arab countries, Russia, etc - operate in a world of diplomacy, politics, stratagems, addressing the issue in their own ways and for their own purposes.
And finally, Israel behaves most like the Cardassians, doing everything it can to convince powerful "bystanders," like America, that its enemies are the world's enemies. I'm not sure that Israel would go so far as to carry out a false flag operation to drag someone else into their conflict and "do their dirty work for them,
but I wouldn't be surprised if there were some historical examples of just this sort of behavior, or at least proposals for such missions that perhaps were never carried out.
That's my two cents on the matter. Check your history if you strongly disagree. The Jews have their own history of exile, homelessness, and victimization, and their own real and present security issues, but Israel itself has gone berserk with a hard-line, far-right nationalist government that is aggressive, repressive, cynical, and deceptive.
I wish it wasn't true (my own family is Jewish, from the same Eastern European stock that founded Israel), but this conclusion is simply undeniable if you look into it.
- From Jeff Browning on 2011-10-22 at 4:01am:
I don't find the comparison of Bajor with the Jews and the modern state of Israel very persuasive, personally.
First of all, the Bajoran religion has pretty much nothing in common with Judaism. First of all, it's polytheistic. As the first truly monotheistic religion, I think most Jews would bristle at having their religion compared with one so obviously pagan as Bajorism. I mean, the Bajoran "prophets" are manifestly not even divine! They are limited in their location in space, for one thing. See my comment on DS9: Emmisary for more of my thoughts on the nature of the prophets or "wormhole aliens" (WHA). For whatever else you can say about it, Judaism is definitely monotheistic and the God of the Jews is (assuming you believe He exists) the God of the universe.
For another thing: Judaism, like Christianity and Islam, is firmly based upon a scriptural basis, the Canon of which is very well developed and established. We see none of this in Bajorism. They have a mystery religion very similar to Greek or Roman paganism. There religion is characterized by traditional practices combined with a continuously revealed set of prophecy, similar to the Oracle of Delphi, who was of course a "prophet" (in her case of the god Apollo).
I think the creators of Star Trek are too literate to ignore or miss these issues. In the end the Bajorans are simply a fictional people, with no parallels in our own history.
- From ChristopherA on 2012-07-01 at 5:21pm:
I like the basic concept that Ensign Ro has such a gigantic chip on her shoulder that she creates the very distrust and misunderstanding that she is bitter about. She gives other people no good reason to trust her – yet the hyper-perceptive Guinan senses that if you can trust her anyway, you will find she is a good person. And, of course, this introduces the whole Bajoran/Cardassian story arc.
- It was interesting how Ro reacts as if humans are so provincial that they couldn't conceive of a culture putting family name first. Of course, that is common with humans, at least in our time. Perhaps the point is that she is so obsessed with her persecution complex that she would rather get satisfaction resenting people for saying her name in the wrong order than tell them what the correct order is.
- Yes, another corrupt admiral – sigh.
- There is some weird stuff going on with the geometry of space. From the dialog in the episode, it sounds like the Cardassian border is 50 million kilometers from the moon, and thus runs right through the middle of the star system. This makes no sense, the distance is way too small. Planets would be crossing the border as they revolve around their sun. Any sensible border would be drawn through interstellar space, to make clear which star systems are on which side of the border.
- Guinan's role on the show, aside from counseling the main characters, is to tell them when they are misjudging people and clear away mistrust. It makes me wonder, does she ever do the opposite – warn the crew about people who look friendly but are actually malevolent?
- From Dstyle on 2013-08-23 at 11:11am:
This episode does not refer to the Bajoran people as the Bajora; the Bajora is the name of the terrorist group.
- Picard seems to have a new overcoat version.
- Riker seducing the colonist woman in the opening scene.
- The crystalline entity devouring Carmen.
- Dr. Marr's dismay that Picard will not outright kill the crystalline entity.
- Data indulging Marr's curiosity about her son.
- Dr. Marr murdering the entity.
- Dr. Marr: "It will never hurt anyone again..."
More Data hate at the beginning, which I was glad to see promptly disappear. While this episode is strong in its convictions and Dr. Marr's tragic character is acted nicely by Ellen Geer, I found this episode a bit distasteful. Just murdering the crystalline entity like that outright was just a sad waste of life. While I found the actions of everyone but Dr. Marr appropriate, it changes none of the consequences. To me this episode seemed short sighted, and I shared Picard's disgust in Dr. Marr in the end.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-05 at 2:36am:
- When Dr. Marr comes on board, Riker escorts her to a turbolift. When they reach it, Riker touches a control panel on the exterior doors and they wait for the turbolift to arrive. I believe this is the first time this happens in this series. For four years, no one has had to wait for a turbolift to arrive.
- In this episode, the Enterprise must use a pulsed graviton beam to investigate the "possibility of communication" with the crystal entity. In "Datalore," Yar opened a communications channel, and Lore simply spoke to the entity and it responded.
- At one point, Data and Dr. Marr head for a turbolift. Once in the turbolift, Dr. Marr asks for the bridge. When they reach their destination, the doors pop open and they walk out. The shot shows a section of hallway through the open doors of the turbolift. Didn't Dr. Marr say "bridge"? None of the turbolift entrances on the bridge has a section of hallway like the one shown.
- When Dr. Marr locks the graviton stream into a continuous mode, both Data and Geordi claim they can't stop her program. Why not just cut the power to the graviton emitters?
- From djb on 2008-03-23 at 4:54pm:
- The episode opens with Riker hitting on a woman-- by now hardly a rare sight. But what I like about this one was the twist that the woman gets killed within moments. This is sad, but it kind of makes Riker's seduction attempts seem childish and trivial in retrospect. I like, though, how Riker wants to include a personal message to her her parents.
- In response to our trusty resident fault-finder DSOmo, we definitely have seen people wait for the turbolift before, BUT, never have I seen someone have to push a button to summon it. Also, while they seem to exit the turbolift in a hallway, the next scene shows them on the bridge.
- I liked this episode's continuity with other episodes, but I was slightly disappointed that we didn't see Lore. I kind of assumed that if we see the Crystalline Entity, we'd see Lore too, but I suppose that's a foolish assumption.
- I love Dr. Marr's spectrum of emotion, especially her 180-degree attitude towards Data. First she distrusts him, then accepts him, then starts treating him as if he were her son! The progression from fascinated scientist to bereaved mother is also quite well done.
-"Avatar" comes from the Sanskrit "Avatara", meaning literally "descent of a deity in incarnate form". It has come to mean embodiment, incarnation, or personification. Here, clearly, the title refers to Marr's son being "incarnated," so to speak, in Data, who is composed of, among other things, silicon. Interesting title...
- From JRPoole on 2008-07-06 at 2:03am:
This one is a real stinker for me. While I share the disgust with just killing the thing, I also buy Marr's and Riker's justification. The news Data gives Dr. Marr at the end of the episode seems overly cruel and pointless as well.
- From KStrock on 2009-07-22 at 9:54am:
I really love Picard in this episode. It's great consistency with the character's respect for all forms of life.
- From Tallifer on 2011-02-21 at 5:46pm:
I could not fathom the reaction of Picard et alia to Mar's destruction of the Crystalline Entity: yes, it would have been nicer to learn more and even communicate, but it had murdered thousands of human beings: its death was deserved and necessary in the end.
- From Jeff Browning on 2011-10-02 at 2:56pm:
Sorry to be disagreeable, but I found Ellen Geer's performance terrible. It left me cringing at times.
- From Will on 2011-10-28 at 9:08pm:
Nothing about the review suggests a rating of 3. Could you explain that part further?
- From Kethinov on 2011-10-29 at 9:53pm:
In the review I mention finding the episode distasteful due to the plot's callous treatment of the crystalline entity. I felt like its murder was unnecessary and cheap storytelling. However, I do understand your desire for a more substantive analysis. Longer, more detailed reviews are coming. Revamped reviews are slowly trickling in, starting with TOS. Have a look at TOS seasons 1 and 2 to see what the new review format will be.
- From Jason on 2014-05-18 at 1:38am:
Problem: while in the cave conversing with data Dr. Marr's tricorder is upside down.
- Geordi says the cargo would be "sucked" out into space when they open the cargo bay doors. Doesn't he mean "blown" out into space?
- The scene where they depressurize the cargo bay is a little absurd. Shouldn't their bodies have exploded from the rapid decompression? Maybe the ship has some method of maintaining the pressure on their bodies whilist depriving the air from the room. It's a stretch though.
- O'Brien and Keiko arguing over names.
- Beverly trying to convince Geordi to sing in her performance.
- The chaos that ensued when the Enterprise was hit by the quantum filament.
- Picard being stuck in a turbolift with three crying children...
- Troi taking command.
- Ro dumping phaser energy to power bridge terminals and O'Brien freaking out at her.
- Data suggesting that Riker remove Data's head and take it with him...
- O'Brien arguing with Ro about what to do.
- Troi standing up to Ro.
- Data's detatched head guiding Riker.
- Worf to Keiko: "Congratulations, you are fully dilated to ten centimetres. You may now give birth."
- Worf to Keiko: "The computer simulation was not like this. That delivery was very orderly." Keiko: "Well I'm sorry!!"
- Worf delivering Keiko's baby.
- Troi insulting Riker's rank.
This episode is well conceived. I enjoy the way they wove Troi into the position of taking command. Two minor characters, O'Brien and Ro play important roles in the story, as well as Keiko. It was all very diverse and entertaining. It's also interesting to note that this episode takes place almost exactly nine months after TNG: Data's Day. It is logical why Keiko was having her baby now thusly. ;) A memorable and satisfying episode.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Rozenn on 2006-04-02 at 2:59pm:
I can't for the life of me remember where I read this, but I think the tensile strength of the body is enough to keep the blood in the veins from boiling. So no exploding bodies...
- From Pete on 2006-04-15 at 1:35am:
I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. Good acting by the kids, and Worf delivering a baby is priceless. However, I cannot tolerate Picard's overcoat. It's probably the single most annoying thing for me in the later seasons. Whenever I see it I get distracted and think about how much I hate it. I just don't understand why the directors feel like they have to change the uniforms up every year. I mean, the real Navy never EVER changes their uniforms. Starfleet changes them about every other year. It's extremely irritating, and Picard's overcoat is the worst. It makes him look extremely unprofessional. The only things I hate worse are the uniforms they wear in Nemesis.
- From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-05-08 at 8:27pm:
This episode works because there are so many interesting, tiny plots. They are skillfully woven into each other. The cargo bay scene is a very creative idea by the writers, and it does not seem implausible. Also, Riker taking off Data's head is one innovative, and hilarious concept. The three kids are not typical of the kinds of kids you normally see on Trek. These three were off the wall, and entertaining, except for the crying.
It would have been great to know what the final death toll was, since it can be assumed that people died all around the ship. Engineering was vacant. Where did everyone go? Either way, this episode deserves an 8.
- From Bob Bracegirdle on 2006-07-14 at 9:20am:
Decompression scene is ridiculous. Quite apart from the best policy being to totally EXHALE so there is no air in the lungs, the "holding" on to a frame would be impossible in an explosive decompression - you would be blown out with the cargo. You would have to tie yourself to such a frame.
Incidentally why is the recompression button so far from the decompression one?
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-06 at 1:36am:
- Troi asks what a containment breach is! At the beginning of "Contagion," the Yamato explodes when matter and antimatter mix uncontrollably. Troi is on the bridge at the time. Later, in the observation lounge, Geordi explains in great detail about the magnetic seals dropping and the catastrophic consequences of unregulated combination of matter and antimatter. Troi is also at that meeting. Why doesn't Troi know what will happen if the antimatter containment field goes down? How did she get a rank of lieutenant commander without learning about warp engines? No one expects her to be able to field-strip a warp coil, but antimatter containment seems pretty basic.
- When Picard and the children finally find a turbolift door they can open, Picard's waist is level with the deck floor. Picard heaves the top half of his body onto the floor and then yanks and pulls himself the rest of the way. Why is Picard going through all these gymnastics? The ladder goes all the way up the turbolift shaft, with the doors for each deck to his right. Why not just hop up a few more rungs with his right foot and then step off when his right foot is level with the floor?
- While Geordi tries to open the door manually, Crusher places her hand against a wall. She then tells Geordi the wall is hot, and Geordi says, "Where?" Where? Geordi can examine things thermally. He should be able to look at the wall and see the heat.
- From Fred on 2008-01-10 at 11:53am:
For anyone interested, a search on Google, and a wade through many less than useful posts like 'you suffocate and explode', it turns out that Dr Crusher and Geordie's experience was reasonably accurate... except neither of them lost control of their bowels.
In short, they would have survived, and Dr Crusher's summary of what would happen is largely accurate, according to research performed by NASA in the 60s. Our bodies would mostly hold us together, but the expansion of fluids and gases would be what kills you, starting from the outside working in.
One other interesting thing I read, was that if you model the human body as a black blob, it would take several hours for it to loose enough heat to freeze.
For more info, these site's give some good info: http://www.astronomycafe.net/qadir/q62.html
- From djb on 2008-03-23 at 7:03pm:
I used to watch this show when it was running, though it started when I was only 6. Many of them, though, I have no recollection of having watched before. This one I do remember. The main scenes I remembered were Picard with the kids in the turbolift, and LaForge and Crusher in the shuttlebay. It was a pleasure to see it again. As a funny little aside, I recognized one of the kids-- I used to go to school with him.
I wonder, if the results of hitting a quantum filament are so potentially severe, why a starship is so susceptible to them. Even if the likeliness of hitting one is low, you'd think there would be some kind of special protection against them, or increased ability to sense them. Since we don't hear from quantum filaments again, this falls into the AOTW category, except this time that stands for "Anomaly of the Week" instead of "Alien of the Week." The premise could have been better.
Seeing counselor Troi completely bewildered at the prospect of commanding the bridge is good for character development, but rather unrealistic. She's an officer, meaning she's been through four years of starfleet training. She holds the rank of Liutenant Commander, meaning she's supposedly quite capable. Wouldn't starfleet training and rank-advancement tests prepare one for this kind of situation? I will say, though, that I like how she gradually transcends the sense of being in over her head (it really doesn't become her) and takes to command quite decently. She's able to put Ro, quite a forceful personality, in her place, without being forceful back. This is a good example of Troi's "gentle-but-firm" personality.
An interesting thing to note here is how she is always wearing off-duty attire even while on duty, which helps lend an informal air to her in general. That is usually good, except in situations like this, where I suspect that she would have taken to command more easily if she were wearing her uniform. I certainly wouldn't want to take command of the ship in my sweatpants!
My two cents on the suttlebay decompression scene: I think it was slightly unrealistic, but not overly so. I doubt that the shuttlebay was 100% decompressed: while the majority of the air would have escaped immediately, I think enough would have lingered after the forcefield was re-activated to allow someone to live for a few more seconds. A total vacuum would have killed them pretty quickly. I think, though, that both LaForge and Crusher would have been severely bruised. What I don't understand is why the atmospheric controls weren't on the same console as the forcefield controls! Aren't these ships designed with tons of redundancy for this exact type of situation? Also, the main problem I had was how quickly the air was returned to normal compression. It should have taken at least a minute, and both of them should have fallen unconscious.
Despite all that, I like this episode a lot. I like the isolated subplots, and I like the interaction of the sub-groups of the main cast. I liked the birth scene, with the normally mild-mannered Keiko yelling at Worf. I liked seeing O'Brien on the bridge (again). I loved seeing the turboshaft; it definitely helps one to grasp how big the ship is. I also like how Picard is forced to learn how to deal with the kids he's stuck with.
- From Matt on 2008-04-24 at 8:49am:
No, they wouldn't "explode". Humans do not explode when in space :-)
Dr Crusher had it about right - the capilaries on the surface of the skin could burst and there'd be some bruising... but no humans exploding :-)
- From JRPoole on 2008-07-16 at 12:17pm:
This episode is a personal favorite. The Worf/Keiko interaction is great, and all the subplots--especially the Ro/Troi tension are handled very well. Like someone above, it also annoys me that there's never a mention of the death toll, but that's pretty minor. Good stuff all around.
- From paul on 2010-07-12 at 7:29am:
Technically, when you 'suck' in real life, you are creating a vacuum where your diaphragm was, so the air is blown into your lungs from the outside due to the pressure imbalance. So being sucked out into space is the same as being blown out
- From Jeff Browning on 2011-10-22 at 6:21am:
One glaring issue: in whose dreams would Captain Picard ever consent to giving a bunch of children a tour of the ship? It does not accord with his character at all! He would have simply delegated the problem to someone like Troi.
- From John on 2012-03-15 at 9:36am:
@Jeff: Picard would do such a thing if he felt it was his duty. No doubt Troi managed to convince him that it was part of his responsibility as captain, the same way she convinced him to do "Captain Picard Day" later on in season 7 ("The Pegasus").
That doesn't mean that he would enjoy it, just that he would force himself to do it and be a gentleman about it.
- From Trekkie on 2012-07-07 at 1:49pm:
Picard has never been one to care for and have children aboard his ship.I think this episode may have changed his output on that a bit.I liked this episode, yet it seemed a little rushed.44 minutes is not always enough time to fit all the details of the episode in.It should be more like 50, like TOS(51min)
- Boothby's second mentioning, by Wesley.
- Wesley and Data discussing the acadamy.
- Data mentioning Beverly's dancing skills. A connection with TNG: Data's Day.
- Geordi: "Tell'm to flip a coin!" Data: "A coin. Very good. I will replicate one immediately."
- Wesley mentioning Boothby.
- Beverly pushing the game on Wesley.
- Wesley and Lefler tinkering with the game trying to figure out how it works.
- Wesley in the turbolift with an addict.
- Data unbrainwashing everyone.
This episode has a number of problems at the basic level. Firstly, we never see Lefler again. Second, if brainwashing people is this easy, why isn't it done all the time? Third, who the hell are the Ktarians and why do they want to take over Federation starships? Fortunately we get to learn a little bit more about the Ktarians later, mostly thanks to Voyager. But still, this episode seemed wholly random and without much purpose.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-04-15 at 7:10pm:
This episode just plain sucks, and a 2 is way too generous. First of all, Wesley coming back from Starfleet academy to discover that his mother and everyone else he loves are basically heroin addicts is just ridiculously cruel. What a horrific welcome back episode. Secondly, the Lefler character is so charismatic, beautiful, and just damn likeable and they NEVER bring her back. She had the potential to be one of the best minor characters ever. Thanks Rick.
Thirdly, the premise is stupid. A game is just sooo addictive that everyone on the whole enterprise is seduced by it. I can buy Riker getting addicted, and maybe even Picard (although probably not), but WORF??? No way in hell Worf would ever play the game. For the sake of justification, perhaps Picard ordered him to play it. Either way, it's just stupid beyond reason.
Lastly, no one ever apologizes. Yes, I know that they weren't "themselves", but they seemed to remember what they did. Therefore, the idea that Wesley would leave without so much as an apology from anyone is completely absurd. Then again, this episode is completely absurd, and it pisses me off every time I watch it. The only thing saving it from a zero is that at least it doesn't break canon, and Lefler is a thoroughly enjoyable character.
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-06 at 4:47am:
- When Riker wants to introduce the game to Troi, he finds her in Ten-Forward. He finds her enjoying a bowl of chocolate ice cream. She proceeds to describe for him the ritual of eating chocolate. Isn't it a little late in the series for new expositional material between Troi and Riker? Riker acts like he's never seen Troi eat a bowl of chocolate ice cream before. She is doing it in Ten-Forward. Obviously this isn't a ritual she observes only in private. This is the fifth season, and Troi and Riker supposedly knew and dated each other before either joined the Enterprise. How could he never have seen this before?
- Picard tells Riker that Wesley will arrive by shuttle. Yet when Wesley does arrive, he beams in from a science vessel.
- When Robin tells Wesley he needs to calibrate the sensors manually, he balks. He then tells Robin that the computer must do it. Of course, she proves him wrong by marching over and demonstrating. Has Starfleet Academy ruined Wesley? This is the same guy who turned a tractor beam into a repulser beam in his head when everyone said it was impossible. This is also the guy who helped the engineers reroute power when an alien entity took over the ship. He did both of these things when merely a child, and now that he's in Starfleet Academy he doesn't know how to calibrate a sensor manually?
- Does it strike anyone else as odd that Picard will play the game but Wesley won't?
- When Crusher and Worf come looking for Wesley, they find Wesley and Robin on Wesley's bed, simulating the game-playing using mock-ups. Crusher and Worf leave satisfied. Wesley never puts the mock-up on again. Wouldn't it make more sense for him and Robin to continue to wear the game and fake the pleasure?
- While Wesley prepares to elude the crew, he tells Robin that he programmed a site-to-site transport program. This all makes sense because it would allow Wesley to beam from anywhere to anywhere on the ship. In the actual beaming, Wesley beams from a hallway to a transporter pad! That's not site-to-site, that's normal transport. In fact, because Wesley uses normal transport, Geordi can locate him, telling Picard that Wesley ended up on deck 6.
- From djb on 2008-03-26 at 3:43am:
For some reason, this is one of my favorite episodes. Probably has something to do with childhood memories.
The premise and ramifications of such a simple brainwashing device are a bit scary. I think they could have made it more believable with a few modifications. Also, it's good to see Wesley back for an ep, but sadly it's yet another installment in the "Wesley and/or Data save the day" vein, of which there have been far too many. Lefler is a great character (and Ashley Judd's looks certainly don't hurt), but it's a shame we don't see that character again. I guess we can add her to the long list of guest stars we'd love to see more of but we never hear from again, of which, there are, again, far too many. (Probably a budget thing.)
That being said, this episode has a lot of good moments. Riker's face when he first gets a hit from the game is great. Wesley flirting with Robin is great, but then again, I'm a romantic. Seeing all the characters brainwashed is a freaky sight! People we know and love and trust week after week, all turned into evil zombies. Contrived, but fun. Watching our cute couple figure out what the "Game" really does, figuring out what's wrong with Data, and pretending to be brainwashed, is fun and entirely believable, given how brilliant both of them are. I also liked the chase scene. It reminded me of The Hunted from season 3.
Data's coming on the bridge and snapping everyone out of it is a pretty badass moment. Even though Data saving the ship (yet again) is an old plot device, it is still believable, and fun to watch.
One little nitpicky thing-- when Worf and Riker force Wesley's eyes open. He blinks, indicating they haven't really got his eyes forced open. That's a pretty difficult thing to do; you pretty much need a speculum if you want to do it without actually touching/hurting the person's eyes (as in "A Clockwork Orange"). But they could at least have used a take where he didn't blink.
I'd have to agree with the problems in plot/execution that others have mentioned; taking all that into account I'd normally give it a 4, but tilt it up to 5 or 6 because... well, I liked it. Flawed in concept, but well-executed, and memorable.
- From Rob UK on 2014-02-02 at 11:47pm:
Sad to say i am also a hater of this episode but no surprise here it is for completely unusual reasons.
Firstly, the potential for drugs(or technology that alters the chemicals of the brain responsible for perception) that alter the mind in sci-fi is phenomenal (just look at farscape), it is totally wasted here with a lackluster effort, the crazy leaps that the viewer must make to understand how each character other than beardy Bill the sex fiend got tricked into playing long enough to get hooked, Bill was getting booty when he got hooked, be honest who hasn't been there in life more times than they care to remember, deviant sexual interest with a big bag of naughty that you promised yourself you were not going to have any of and definitely go to work monday morning?
I think you could call that a sidetrack, anyway where was i?
For me what made this episode the most painful was all the orgasms faces we had to endure as our crew 'score goals' in the game, Dr Krushers were particularly excruciating but i literally thanked the powers that be when we were spared Picard's 'jizzface' when he put the game on just after Wes tried to get a shipwide investigation going, just thank the heavens and the hells that he wasn't very good at it I say. Sadly i was not saved as i have a visceral imagination that has a mind of it's own and as the scene cuts away with Picard looking like he is gonna take a shit with concentration the minds eye continues the scene on until he gets his release, i apologise profusely to anyone reading this who also has a vivid imagination that can run away with itself visually and did with that imagery.
- From Mike on 2016-10-27 at 3:39am:
I was hoping that the ending of this episode would be Wesley waking up and realizing that this game business was just a horrifying nightmare, as it was for us, the fans. Only in a dream could the entire crew be reduced to worthless imbeciles while Wesley and a young Ashley Judd save the day.
This is the first of two episodes (the other being "Rascals") in which the Enterprise is easily taken over by buffoonery. Not proud moments for the Federation flagship.
- From Keefaz on 2017-01-07 at 7:31pm:
My girlfriend and I are watching through all the TNG on Netflix, and I think this is the first episode we really struggled to sit all the way through. 2 or 3 times we almost turned it off.
It is so bad, and all the creepy close-ups and orgasm faces are painful to watch. The Troi ice-cream scene is especially eye-numbingly terrible. The only saving grace is the cute romance between Wes and Lefler, and you're really clutching at straws when that could be a highlight.
- This episode lists Leonard Nimoy as Spock twice in the opening credits.
- This episode contained an in memory of Gene Roddenberry statement at the beginning as he had just recently died.
- The junk yard special effects are a re use of the ship graveyard from Wolf 359 in TNG: The Best of Both Worlds.
- I believe this is the first time we ever get to see the Romulan homeworld.
- Seeing Spock's face in the Romulan photo.
- Picard mentioning his mind meld with Sarek. Good continuity with TNG: Sarek.
- Picard's scene with Sarek.
- Picard badgering the Klingon diplomat.
- The Klingon captain attempting to intimidate Picard and Picard matching his arrogance.
- The Quartermaster of the supply yard. Such great indifference.
- Picard trying to sleep on the "shelf" (as Data calls it) while Data just... stands there... I love how uncomfortable Picard was with Data just... being there for seemingly no good reason.
- Picard accusing Data of looking at him, then Data slowly turning away.
- Riker accidentally destroying the contraband ship.
- Seeing Spock at the end of the episode.
Another episode with marvelous continuity. Continuity with TNG: Sarek regarding the mind meld and the continued involvement of the characters, and continuity with TNG: Redemption regarding the Klingons' appreciation of the Federation's help in Gowron's rise to power. Finally good continuity with TOS regarding Spock's appearance. I am, however, not fond of poorly done cliffhangers, and this episode features one. It's hard to pass judgment on an episode which hasn't concluded yet, so it will suffice to say that this episode nicely sets up the second part.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-08 at 12:14am:
When the quartermaster of the junkyard gives directions to the location of the T'Pau, he tells the helmsman the heading and the speed of 200 kph. Which is correct, since Star Trek uses the metric system. However, when the quartermaster makes small talk with Troi he tells her about a "fourteen-foot Caldorian eel." I suppose he could be referring to an eel with fourteen feet ;)
- From CAlexander on 2011-02-21 at 11:00pm:
This episode was generally entertaining, and I quite liked the scene between Picard and Sarek. But I found the setup quite contrived. Picard and Data leave their ship, call in special favors from the Klingon High Command, risk the lives of themselves and the Klingons for a dangerous mission into enemy space, and beam down into a situation with a high probability of capture. You would think they must be on some incredibly important mission for the survival of the galaxy. But no, they are just curious what Spock is doing on Romulus and want to have a chat with him. What? It was hard to be impressed by the drama when I kept wondering why they were doing all this. Talk about a dramatic turnaround from first season Riker's declaration about not letting the captain into dangerous situations. Why is Picard moonlighting as a Federation secret agent? He already has a job as a starship captain. Don't they have any real operatives on the payroll?
- From thaibites on 2011-11-19 at 7:49pm:
In answer to CAlexander's comment, I thought they made it pretty clear that this mission was of the utmost importance because they thought Spock had defected and would give all the Federation's secrets away to the Romulans.
The problem I had with the situation was that is was way too easy for everybody to do what they wanted to do on and around Romulus. For example, how did they get a picture of Spock on Romulus when it is located on the other side of the neutral zone? How did Tasha Jr. get a report that told her Picard was coming? How did the Klingon ship remain completely undetected? Picard and Data were going up and down from the planet so much, it was like they were using an elevator. It just seemed too easy. AND, if it was so easy, why didn't the Klingons just send a whole armada of cloaked ships to Romulus in the past. They could easily blow up the planet if it was so easy to move around in Romulan space.
- Troi mentions that there could be a cloaked Romulan base on Galornden Core but in TNG: The Defector Data says that a cloaked base on that very same planet would be visible due to distortions.
- Picard's meeting with Spock.
- Spock mentioning his involvement in the formation of the Klingon / Federation peace treaty. A reference to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
- Data masterfully convincing the Klingons to give him access to their ship's resources.
- Riker's conversation with the wife of the arms trader that Riker accidentally killed.
- Data's conversation with Spock regarding their personal strives to be more human or vulcan respectively.
- Worf having the wife of the arms trader that Riker accidentally killed play Klingon opera.
- Riker confronting the fat Ferengi.
- Sela's appearance.
- Sela describing her evil plan: conquest of Vulcan.
- Sela, in response to Spock's declaration of non cooperation: "I hate Vulcans. I hate the logic, I hate the arrogance--very well."
- Picard, Data, and Spock altering Spock's "speech".
- Data using the Vulcan neck pinch.
- Spock's mind meld with Picard.
Oh my god. Sela you idiot! You lock Data, Spock, and Picard in your office, complete with a holographic generator and don't expect them to attempt an escape? You fool. Oh well, that's not unrealistic, just stupid. And Sela seemed pretty stupid to me. Twice she attempted to exact an indirect conquest on the Federation and twice she failed. For some reason, she's never seen again after this episode. Perhaps she was executed for her failures. It was interesting to create the character of Sela and effectively turn Yar into an enemy, but the character was just used poorly again and again. I am happy to see her go but saddened by the missed opportunity to develop her character. Sela could have been the driving force between peace with Romulans and the Federation. She is a union of a human and a Romulan. Her very existence is proof of peace. Yet she became a radical Romulan military fanatic. Indeed a missed opportunity. But much more than that. This episode attempted to be epic. I say attempted because it largely failed. While Spock's cameo majorly enhanced the episode, virtually nothing was accomplished. No peace is established nor the groundwork of that peace laid and we learn next to nothing about Romulus' and Vulcan's paralleling history. This episode, while a good two parter, was largely a disappointment because it could have done so much more. As a result we get two loose threads. We never find out what happens to either Sela OR Spock. How annoying.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-04-15 at 9:12pm:
The continued failure of the Romulans is due in large part to their overwhelming arrogance. Sela's arrogance and hunger for power is a little bit ridiculous, even for a Romulan. It seems as if every other episode the Romulans have devised some new scheme for bringing down the federation, but their obsession with conquest is not realistic at all.
Despite the Romulan trickery cliche, I enjoyed the episode. Reminded me of Star Wars, what with the cantina scenes and all the hunting down of the rogue pilot, etc. Very starwars-esque.
- From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-05-09 at 5:26pm:
Just before Picard, Spock, and Data exit Sela's office, after putting her to sleep, you can see a cameraman's face in a glass jar in the foreground. He's chewing gum, too.
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-09 at 1:39am:
- The junkyard at Qualor II serves as a depot for all types of Federation ships, including ships with weaponry. For security reasons, doesn't it seem likely that the junkyard would be in an out-of-the-way and easily defensible location? Doesn't this make strategic sense? Yet in this episode, we find that Qualor II has a bar - a place that serves as a crossroads for every sort of riffraff, including arms traders!
- To create a diversion, Data programs holographic representations of Riker and two ensigns. Afterward, Picard comments to Data that Data didn't get Riker's hair quite right. It's a cute moment, but not believable. Data is an android. His memories are precise and accurate.
- After Spock sends the warning about the Vulcan ships, a Romulan warship decloaks beside them and destroys them. Geordi comments that there were more than two thousand Romulan troops on the ships. Troi adds that they destroyed their own invasion force. Doesn't an invasion force of two thousand troops seem a little small to conquer an entire planet?
- Galorndon Core seems to have changed color. When the Enterprise visits Galorndon Core in "The Enemy," every shot of the Enterprise in orbit around the planet shows a predominantly blue planet. In this episode, the planet is mostly yellow, gradually fading to blue at the very bottom. This is a case where the creators could have reused footage and yet didn't.
- From Rob on 2008-04-17 at 5:38pm:
Just as an aside: Sela is demoted due to her Intelligence service failures, if you follow the ST Novels (and I'm not getting into Canon/Fanon/blah-blah, I'm just throwing it out there). She's given a out-of-date starship and assigned to a first contact mission in which the Romulans and Federation are attempting to sway a border-world to choose their side to sign into a treaty with... the Romulans win out on that score. I wish I could name the novel now, but with all of the fan-sites, it shouldn't be hard to locate for anyone with more obsessive-compulsive tendencies than I ;-)
- From Kevin on 2008-05-20 at 11:49pm:
Couple of things I never understood about the 'Unification' episodes. How exactly were the Romulans and Vulcans to be united? Since Vulcan is part of the Federation, was Spock planning on Romulus eventually becoming a Federation member? Or, was he looking more towards Vulcan leaving the Federation and uniting with the Romulan Empire? This was never made clear. Also, I found it highly illogical (to use a Vulcan phrase) that 2,000 Romulans could take over the entire planet of Vulcan. Even if they did, wouldn't the result be an all-out war with the Federation?
Although I enjoyed the acting, Spock's cameo and the humour, the 'Unification' two parter was poorly thought out.
- From JRPoole on 2008-07-23 at 12:09pm:
This two-parter is a fanboy dream with the presence of Spock and the Romulan Tasha Yar, but it never really comes together for the reasons mentioned in the posts above. I wish that they would have decided to further this plot idea in the movies, as it would have been nice to have some closure, and it would have explained how the takeover was planned, etc., but as it is we're left with more questions than answers.
That said, this is a well-paced two parter, and the Sarek/Picard interaction was handled very well. Mark Leonard is a great actor, and it's rare when someone steals a scene from Picard, but he managed to do it.
I also liked that they had the 'junkyard' run by the Zakdorn, picking up an interesting race we've seen a little of before, rather than resorting to yet another alien-of-the-week. The Zakdorn administrator was a cool character. Too bad the bar scene in which Riker confronts the Ferengi is poorly done, though.
- From CAlexander on 2011-02-25 at 9:02pm:
I agree with Kevin that this episode is filled with things that are highly illogical.
- As he mentions, can 2000 troops really take over Vulcan? Especially when the Vulcans are prepared for them to be full of Romulans.
- Sela acts exactly like a campy supervillain. She explains her plan in detail, says "I have duties elsewhere", and leaves the heroes alone so they can escape her deathtrap. Except that she forgets the deathtrap part. This would be OK on the 60's Batman TV show, but seems out of place on ST:TNG.
- Sela mentions that she can't make the holo-image interactive. Romulan holo-technology must be pretty far behind the Federation. Maybe the Romulans are only humoring Sela and she can't afford sufficient troops or good technology.
- The capabilities of the Klingon cloaking device, on the other hand, are pretty scary. How can the Romulans survive a war if the Klingons can send a ship undetected to their homeworld and transport people (bombs, armed photon torpedoes?) down undetected? And the Romulans have the cloaking device, so why the ruse? Why not just send a few cloaked ships to Vulcan and send in the troops by surprise?
- From Quando on 2011-08-14 at 11:25pm:
For me the believability of the episode was shot by the set design of the Romulan Preator's office (is that what he's called)? I mean, this guy is the leader of the whole freaking planet - indeed, the whole Romulan star empire - and he has an office about the size of an IBM middle manager. The guy doesn't even get a window! Just a cheap glass desk and two guest chairs (even Picard's ready room on a starship had a couch). In fact, it appears that Sela got an office the same (pathetic) size. I know they were trying to save money on set design, but that is really weak. We have a two-parter about the Romulan home world, and all we get to see are a few matte painings of the city, a lame interior office, the inside of some nondescript caves, and a soup shop.
- From Mike on 2016-10-27 at 12:02am:
Yeah I agree with the issues that have been pointed out about this two-parter. Sela's boneheadedness is especially inexcusable since the writers had a built in way of getting Data, Picard and Spock free: they could've had Romulan dissidents pose as security guards, or maybe there are security guards that are secretly part of the dissident movement, perform that task. Anything would've been better than asking us to believe Sela would leave them alone in an office with access to a computer.
In "Face of the Enemy" we learn the Romulans are aware that the Federation has sensors and listening posts that would make it difficult for cloaked Romulan ships to operate very long in Federation space. Are we to believe the Romulans, who invented the cloaking device, don't have a similar setup given that they've been at war with the Klingons?
I think Spock should've known something was wrong when the Romulan proconsul said he'd support reunification. If the goal is for Romulus to give up its empire and become more like Vulcan, then this just seems ridiculous coming from anyone in the Romulan government. And if that's not the goal, why would most Vulcans, including Spock, ever agree to unify with anything resembling the Romulan Empire? Spock falling for all of this just makes him look extremely gullible and naive.
I can buy that Data successfully hacks the Romulan information net. But why didn't the Federation and Klingon Empire try this sooner? "You guys provide the cloaked ship, we'll provide the android computer genius, and we'll never have to worry about another Romulan surprise again".
All in all, a disappointing end to what began as a promising two-parter. Like the movie "Generations", I think the goal here was to dangle a TOS/TNG merger in front of us fans like a set of keys in the hopes that we wouldn't notice the gaping plot holes. They should've known better....
- Worf: "There were no phasers in the 22nd century." Uh, sure there were. Humans didn't have phasers, but Vulcans did, and so did Klingons. I guess Worf considers himself more human than he does Klingon!
- Why didn't the time travelers from the future just travel back in time and get their time ship back?
- Rasmussen's sudden appearance on the bridge.
- Data attempting to weasel information about whether or not he's still alive in the 26th century out of Rasmussen.
- Rasmussen to Geordi regarding his visor: "How do you like it?" Geordi: "It allows me to see. I like it just fine."
- Beverly's response to being seduced by Rasmussen.
- Picard asking Rasmussen to divulge the correct choice of action.
- The Enterprise being a lightning rod...
- Data: "I assume your handprint will open this door whether you're conscious or not.
- Picard to Rasmussen: "Welcome to the 24th century."
A man from the 2100s encounters a time traveler, steals his ship, and travels to the 24th century where he attempts to steal technology then return. Assumedly for the purpose of profit. We can assume this guy was in this business in the early 2100s before Archer's Enterprise was launched. There would have been much more motivation back then. Besides the obvious logical problem of how a 26th century time traveler could lose his vessel to such a primitive human or why the 26th century time travlers didn't seek the return of their vessel, Picard argues himself into a hypocrite in this episode. Granted an impression is given that retracts his argument (after he makes his "choice"), the hypocrisy is still there. Rasmussen was trying to do exactly what Picard was trying to do when their positions were reversed. Funny how the whole perspective changes when Picard's suddenly in the more advanced timeline position.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-04-15 at 10:10pm:
Worf: "I hate questionnaires"
I rather enjoyed Picard telling Rasmussen that he doesn't give a damn about his past.
I also enjoyed the end. "Oh professor: welcome to the twenty FOURTH century." Oh yeah. That's what's up, professor. You just got served. Picard style. Fun episode that I liked quite a bit.
- From Jeff on 2006-06-02 at 11:17pm:
After arriving on the Enterprise, Rasmussen informs the crew that he is from the late 26th century and has traveled some "300 years" into the past to visit the Enterprise. Well, if he traveled from the late 26th century back to the late 24th century, that's a span of only 200 years.
- From Sherlock on 2006-10-11 at 10:11pm:
This is another of those episodes were the logic of the plot is bizarre, as Kethinov points out in the comments, but I have to say that I liked Matt Frewer's performance. He's so goofy that it makes the episode fun to watch. And I love in the beginning how he tells Picard to move over! Classic!
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-09 at 3:17pm:
- Troi says that she only feels Rasmussen is hiding something. Why can't Troi sense Rasmussen's deception? In "The Battle," Troi sensed "considerable deception" from the Ferengi captain. Troi should be able to sense Rasmussen's deception, but if she did, there would be no show! Then again, why can't Geordi sense Rasmussen's deception? In "Up The Long Ladder," Geordi immediately spotted the deception from the prime minister of the colony of clones. In that episode, Geordi claimed that his visor allowed him to see the physiological changes that accompany lying. He said it didn't always work on other races, but when it came to humans, he had them "pegged." Rasmussen is human.
- During a conversation with Picard, Rasmussen continues to act out the part of a historian by measuring the width of the captain's ready room. He backs up against the door and methodically paces off the distance to the window. So how did the door know not to open? Rasmussen backs right up to it and it remains closed.
- During the drilling, Worf tells Picard, "Target fourteen complete, sir." This means there are at least fourteen drill sites. Later, on one of the workstations, Riker shows Picard a graphic of all the drill sites. There are only eight drill sites in the picture. What happened to the other ones?
- Rasmussen tells Data he intends to take the items he stole from the Enterprise back to the twenty-second century and "invent" them one at a time. Rasmussen's plan simply will not work. Suppose an inventor from the nineteenth century appears in our time and steals a laptop computer. He returns to his century - certain that fame and fortune await him when he "invents" this incredible contraption and markets it to the public. Let's say the "inventor" quickly learns how to operate it. Next, he disassembles the computer and confronts a very big problem. To him, the inside of the computer would be "magic." For the sake of argument, let's say that he figures out how the insides of the computer work. Now the "inventor" confronts an even worse problem. He has no way to manufacture the computer. An invention won't make you any sunstantial money unless you can mass-produce it. The infrastructure of manufacturing technology that allowed the creation of the laptop computer doesn't exist in the nineteenth century. The inventor has nothing more than an interesting artifact.
- One of the items Rasmussen stole was a Klingon dagger. Don't they have knives in the twenty-second century? ;)
- At the end of the episode, when Rasmussen begs to return to his own time in the twenty-second century, Picard won't let him. In fact, Picard asks Rasmussen a very peculiar question as Rasmussen continues pleading. Picard says, "Now, what possible incentive could anyone offer me to allow that?" Maybe Rasmussen is the great-great-great-great-great-grandfather of Riker. Maybe he helped Cochrane with a few conceptual ideas in the early stages of development of warp drive. Maybe he inspired a whole generation of leaders with his "fictitious tales" of life in the future. No one can know the impact of a single life. Yet Picard, with all his supposed knowledge of temporal logic, rips Rasmussen from the past by refusing to allow him to return.
- From Remco on 2007-11-10 at 2:37pm:
I'm not natively English speaking, so I could be wrong, but before the title sequence, Data says: "The odds are extremely unlikely." That's strange, because it's a contamination of "The odds are extremely against it" and "It's extremely unlikely". An android that doesn't produce contractions certainly shouldn't get creative with other parts of the English language.
- From JRPoole on 2008-07-31 at 4:14pm:
This one is entertaining if you don't think too hard about the ridiculous plot. Are we to believe that a 22nd century con man plans to steal items from the future by happening by the flagship of federation? Surely there's a better way to smuggle contraband back in time than screwing around with a starship. The post above that mentions the impossibility of "inventing" these types of items out of context is also right on, but maybe he just wasn't a very smart con man.
This one gets a couple of points for me because Troi is pretty badass for a change, and the humor actually works here. Matt Frewer plays Rasmussen well as well.
The thing that makes this ridiculous to me, and the reason I don't generally like temporal plots is that it's impossible to figure out the right course of action to keep history intact. What if, in the "real" timeline, many of the innovations common to the 24th century came about as a result of Rasmussen bringing them back?
Bottom line: utterly ridiculous, but thoroughly entertaining. This is a 3.
- From nirutha on 2010-09-29 at 12:11pm:
I think your too hard on Picard in what I consider to be the only redeeming scene of this episode.
The argument between Rasmussen and Picard spotlights the moral dilemma rather nicely and Patrick Steward delivers it very well.
He has broken the Prime Directive when the ends justified it, and he's also willing to use information from the future to save lives and possibly change the course of history - but to him, it's the future, and it has yet to be written.
I don't think it's hypocrisy at all, but it's up to the individual viewer to make a judgement. And I like that even more.
Apart from that, I found Rasmussen utterly annoying. Would anyone really believe that's how a historian from the future would act?
And then there's sloppy writing: All Troy can read is that Rasmussen is holding something back. And she really can't tell the difference between holding something back and outright deception - how convenient.
Then they try to fix the planet's cimate with a procedure that could instantly kill the whole population in a terrible firestorm? And the colony leaders are o.k. with that? Of course, everything works just fine and the huge risk Picard is taking is not really felt.
In the last scenes, Rasmussen is back in his ship, has taken Data prisoner and is about to return to his time - oh boy, how do we get out of this mess? Luckily, the Enterprise's computer could detect and disable all the equipment in Rasmussen's ship the second he opened the door, including the phaser he was pointing at Data.
A very, very poor deus ex machina ending, even for ST:TNG.
- From Doddzy on 2012-07-10 at 6:39pm:
wat about at the end, his time ships destination was 22nd centuary new jersy, woulnd'nt someone else find it and use it?
- The soliton wave is said to have 98% efficiency, 450% more than the Enterprise warp drive. This would give the warp drive an efficiency of about 20%. This is a problem because in previous episodes, Geordi has made claims to the warp drive having efficiencies in the 90th percentile. Maybe he was referring to some other part of the engine that does energy conversions...
- How could the soliton wave be increasing in energy as it traveled? Where the hell was all that extra energy coming from?
- Geordi's enthusiasm coupled with Data and Worf's sterile reactions.
- Worf's adoptive mother making a case to Worf to take back Alexander.
- Ms. Kyle interrupting Worf. Then Dr. Crusher interrupting Worf.
- Troi coercing Worf into getting more involved with the school.
- Worf's reaction to Alexander stealing.
- Worf's discussion about honor with Alexander.
- Worf discussing the incident with Troi.
- The test ship exploding.
- Worf silently proud of his son for defeating his training program.
- Troi carefully trying to convince Worf to embrace his son instead of send him away again.
- Worf and Riker attempting to save Alexander.
- Worf lifting the beam by himself.
I found the plot regarding Worf and his son vastly more interesting than the soliton wave. Mostly because the soliton wave involved quite a bit of bad science and just seemed a ridiculous concept. Yeah, warp without warp drive. Very cool. But I could tell the whole idea would flop from the beginning. Conversely, Worf's son's issues were interesting. Seems history is repeating itself and Alexander will grow up without a real family and end up being another truly unique Klingon. I like the way the two problems of the story are woven together in the end. It makes Worf's rescue attempt so much more vigorous and exciting to watch. An overall decent and memorable episode.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-04-15 at 10:58pm:
For some reason, I took quite a liking to the endangered species that Riker saved
- From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-05-14 at 9:55pm:
There is always a risk of bringing kid actors onto the screen. You never know how they are going to perform. For this episode I believe Worf's son was played well. The dialog between him and his dad was believable. Troi also has something to do in this episode. The conversation she has with Worf about the true reasons behind Worf's problems with his son is one of Troi's best speeches in the series. It is always a plus to see her do something involving because her character just seems tacked on to the episodes sometimes, with no real purpose.
The rest of the plot falls into the "We are helping a scientist try an experiment and it is working, but oh no, wait, something is wrong" cycle of writing. The fire at the end was a good piece of work, but it is hard to believe Alexander would survive after having metal fall onto him.
New Ground deserves a 6. It is well executed, but there is not much excitement. It is what it is.
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-10 at 4:14am:
- Several shots near the beginning of the episode show the Enterprise in orbit around the planet that serves as the origin point for the soliton wave experiment. It's the same footage used for Galorndon Core in the episode "The Enemy." I find it odd that sequences aren't reused when they could be. When revisiting Galorndon Core in "Unification II," the Enterprise flies around a completely different colored planet!
- Alexander's schoolteacher seems to have marital problems. When Worf refers to her, he calls her "Miss Kyle," but when Troi refers to her, Troi calls her "Mrs. Kyle." (I see in the Remarkable Scenes section above, "Ms. Kyle" is used) ;)
- Early in the show, Geordi raves about the soliton wave as a great improvement. He says that the soliton wave will allow ships to travel at warp speeds without bulky warp drives. Later, the head scientist of the project explains that a group of warp coils on a planet will generate the wave, which will push the test ship to the destination where another group of coils will dissipate the wave. How is this an improvement? What happens if you want to change course in the middle of the trip? How do you reach a destination "where no one has gone before"? On second thought, the better question is, How do you stop once you reach the place where no one has gone before? In addition, the soliton wave emits a great deal of subspace interference. To monitor the test ship's telemetry, the Enterprise must stay within twenty kilometers. In other words, without futher improvement, any ship traveling in a soliton wave won't be able to communicate with any ship more than twenty kilometers away!
- When Geordi recommends flying through the soliton wave to get in front of it, Picard asks why they can't fly around it. Data responds that the wave has increased in size and there isn't time to fly around it! Yet when a space scene shows the Enterprise chasing the soliton wave, the wave looks very flat. It sure looks like the Enterprise could just fly over it!
- From Krs321 on 2009-08-31 at 1:15pm:
"Early in the show, Geordi raves about the soliton wave as a great improvement. He says that the soliton wave will allow ships to travel at warp speeds without bulky warp drives. Later, the head scientist of the project explains that a group of warp coils on a planet will generate the wave, which will push the test ship to the destination where another group of coils will dissipate the wave. How is this an improvement? What happens if you want to change course in the middle of the trip? How do you reach a destination "where no one has gone before"? On second thought, the better question is, How do you stop once you reach the place where no one has gone before? In addition, the soliton wave emits a great deal of subspace interference. To monitor the test ship's telemetry, the Enterprise must stay within twenty kilometers. In other words, without futher improvement, any ship traveling in a soliton wave won't be able to communicate with any ship more than twenty kilometers away!"
I considered this problem while watching the episode. I think the explanation would be that they are simply testing the theory that A) soliton waves could be created/harnessed and B) that they would actually propel a spacecraft. I don't think the experiment was to be a finished propulsion system.
- From Mitch89 on 2013-03-24 at 5:36pm:
My favourite scene from this episode is at the very beginning, where Geordi likens witnessing the soliton wave test as a moment in history, equivalent to witnessing Cochrane engage the first warp drive. Little does he know in the future, he will be at that moment too!
- From Rick on 2013-11-26 at 12:55pm:
look at your problem from the reverse angle: 98% means 2% loss in the energy transfer. 4.5 times the loss of energy in the transfer would mean the enterprise operates at 91% energy transfer which is right around where you think it should be. hope that helps
- From Dstyle on 2016-09-16 at 2:01pm:
Worf's meeting with Picard is interrupted twice: first by Ms. Kyle and then, moments later, by Dr. Crusher. Worf looks annoyed, but seriously, when you think about the communicators for a second, wouldn't this happen all the time? How is it that the person on the receiving end of your communication just so happens to never be in the middle of an important conversation? Especially the senior level folks, you'd think they'd be getting interrupted all the time by the officers under them.
- In this episode, Data claims that the damage to the Vico might be indicative of Breen tactics. This is one of many times the Breen are mentioned before they are seen on screen.
- The special effects for the damaged Vico were well done.
- Data fastbuilding the sculpture.
- Timothy emulating Data's head movements.
- Data subtly convincing Timothy to slip out of his android fantasy.
- Picard, Troi, and Data confronting Timothy.
- Data ordering Picard to drop the shields. I love the look on Picard's face as he struggles to decide whether or not to trust Data.
A fine episode, albeit dull. It suffers from TNG attention deficit disorder; like many TNG eps, the guest character featured here is never seen again, and quickly forgotten making the whole episode inconsequential. As a stand alone episode it is successful, but frankly good television creates continuity and this episode simply doesn't. My rating is as such thusly.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-04-16 at 12:30am:
Overcoat appearance, I hate that damn thing. Also, it seems quite tactless of the producers to place two troubled-kid-that-doesn't-fit-in-at-school episodes back to back. It was a little irritating. Okay episode, though
- From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-05-16 at 5:34pm:
Two back-to-back children episodes -- that's odd. Two back-to-back children episodes where the kid gets stuck under ruble -- that's even more odd.
Besides the obvious similarities, Hero Worship holds up do to yet another kid who acts in a believable way. Having the kid believe he blew up the ship was a brilliant idea from the writers.
The science portion of this episode falls into the typical category. Once again, they crew must do the opposite to get out of a deadly situation.
Besides that, this episode is well executed. It gets a 5 due to the fact that it is not one you get out and watch over and over again. Watching a "kid" episode is not something the average viewer strives to do, especially back-to-back.
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-11 at 3:04am:
- When Timothy asks Data about his lack of emotions, Data replies, "My positronic brain is not capable of generating those conditions." Dr. Noonian Soong must have thought it was, because he created a set of emotional subroutines for Data in "Brothers." And Lore proved a positronic brain is capable of generating those conditions in "Datalore."
- The Vico must have a humongous computer core. While discussing the destruction of the Vico with Geordi, Picard punches up a side view of the Vico on a monitor. He indicates the midpoint of the saucer section with his finger and comments, "The boy was here." Geordi agrees, adding that Timothy was in the hallway outside the computer core. Geordi them points to the lower portion of the drive section to show Picard where the second away team found the body of Timothy's mother. He tells Picard she was in the computer core. Does the computer core on a research vessel stretch from the saucer section all the way through the yoke and all the way down to the bottom of the drive section?
- To test the effectiveness of the phasers inside the black cluster, Picard orders Worf to fire them at maximum yield. Picard gives a firing direction of 0-0-1 mark 0-4-5. So the heading Picard gives should be directly in front of the ship and raised at an angle of 45 degrees. The next scene of the ship shows the phasers firing twice. The first time the phasers fire they shoot directly ahead, a heading that would be described as something like 0-0-1 mark 0-0-1. The second time, the phasers finally approximate the right heading. Does Worf need a practice shot to figure out how to fire the phasers in the right direction?
- Under Troi's encouragement, Data visits Timothy. Of course, Timothy is alone in the room, but that's normal Starfleet procedure for a boy who's just lost his parents. (See comments for "The Bonding")
- From KingElessar8 on 2009-03-20 at 12:43pm:
"My positronic brain is not capable of generating those conditions."
I don't see a real problem here - he meant his particular positronic brain isn't naturally capable of generating emotions, not positronic brains in general (although the later could still well be the case). Dr. Soong had to write a specific program for him to be able to experience emotions, and I assume Lore had something similar, or (more likely) Data's brain was designed differently to avoid the problems Dr. Soong encountered by the more "human" Lore.
Overall, this is an ok episode. The scene that reveals that Data cannot taste food was taking Data as Inhuman Machine (which overall reached its bleakest point with "In Theory") a little too far. I thought the original idea was that Data would become more human as the series progressed, but that certainly isn't how it ended up working in practice.
- Keiko remembering her grandmother.
- Beverly trying to force Picard to accept memory retrieval.
- Riker talking to Troi whilst in a coma. He references the time she talked to him in TNG: Shades of Gray.
- Geordi investigating the cause of the comas and getting frustrated at the computer.
- Picard with hair in Beverly's flashback.
- Geordi and Data investigating the previous planets and discovering the Iresine Syndrome following the Ullians.
- Jev using his father to cover up his memory rape of the crewmembers.
- Data uncovering Jev's treachery.
Welcome back the Troi suffering cliche. Thankfully it plays a vital role in an episode that examines a very real moral issue regarding the concept of rape. This episode is one of many examples of how Star Trek examines a modern day issue using a SciFi plot device. I consider the approach elegant and realistic. Implied at the end of the episode is that rape is a forgotten crime on Earth (and the Federation at large) but as new abilities evolve into a species and new types of power and control can be exacted, will new forms of rape evolve as well? This episode examines that question well.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-05-17 at 11:38pm:
The best scenes in Violations are the actual mind rape scenes. We get to see Picard and Beverly together at the morgue, and Troi and Riker have a romantic encounter. These scences add depth to the characters and make them more lifelike. It is questionable that Jev would believe he could disable three crew members and not get caught. He must have been deeply in love with Troi. It is also surprising that he late Troi regain consciousness. Why not put her back in a coma to keep her off his trail?
The concept of telepathic historians is brilliant, and the female one really seemed like a real alien. There is just something about her. Anyway, this episode gets a 7 because of all the reasons stated.
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-24 at 7:14am:
- After Jev leaves the dinner because of his father's remarks, Troi follows. She catches up with him outside a turbolift. From the time Troi joins Jev outside the turbolift, until she departs, it is one continuous shot. When Jev and Troi get on the turbolift, the first two numbers on the door are "03." However, when the doors close on Jev at the end of the scene, the door once again begins with "03." Troi asked for deck 8 when they boarded the turbolift. It should have read "08" at the end of the scene.
- Toward the end of the show, Data and Geordi search medical records for comas on the planets visited by the Ulians. At one point, Geordi finds two cases of "Irisine syndrome" during the Ulians visit on Melina II. Geordi's computer screen shows the title "Melina II Planetary Medical Data Base." Data immediately comments on Geordi's success by saying, "Two cases of Irisine syndrome on Jarada III at exactly the time Tarman and his group were there." Jarada III?? The last comment Geordi made concerned Melina II, and his computer screen showed he was still working with the Melina II medical data base.
- From JRPoole on 2008-08-01 at 8:56am:
This is a solid, often overlooked episode. It's one of the best of the "real-world issue-exploring" TNG episodes. The sci-fi part this episode (the telpathic historians) is fascinating, and the mind rape scenes are genuinely creepy.
What's that on Picard's face in the morgue flashback? Some sort of medical device? Was Jean-Luc injured in the incident that killed Crusher? It looks like the aftermath of Picard's turn as Locutus, but that doesn't make sense.
- From Dstyles on 2014-07-12 at 10:43pm:
Ugh, I really don't like this episode, and I was surprised to see all the positive comments above. First, while the whole idea of mind rape is interesting, why must we see Troi remember an actual rape? Riker, you asshole, no means no. I guess in the 90s we didn't care so much if images of sexual violence triggered traumatic flashbacks among rape survivors. But go ahead, Picard, imply that rape is no longer a problem in the Federation. I guess date rape doesn't count.
Also, we knew from the very first attack who was responsible, so the dramatic tension was all about whether he'd get away with it, and obviously he wasn't going to get away with it. When Jev did the memory probe on Troi (and why, if they were suspects, were they allowed to do the memory probe? Surely there must be a crew member on board from another telepathic species--a Vulcan, perhaps--who might be able to help retrieve the memory?) and he "discovered" that his father was responsible, I thought, "wow, that would be a really interesting twist! What if the father was actually responsible but was disguising himself as his son in the memory so that if they woke up and remembered anything he'd still be safe?" But of course I knew that wasn't what was going on. I knew that it was actually Jev. And he obviously wasn't going to get away with it. Yawn. I rate this episode a 2.
- This episode nicely depicts the technology of the colonists. It looks just about correct for 200 years ago.
- I like how Geordi's blindness is weaved into the story indirectly as a solution to the problem.
- Geordi's supervisor whistleblowing to Hannah about her treachery.
- Picard counseling Troi regarding her behavior.
- Picard reexamining his decision in the end.
A fan favorite; this episode presents an interesting moral dilemma and an interesting question to reflect on in the end, but to me loses quite a bit of its profound impression because of the simplicity of the issue. Colony of selectively bred perfect people meets disaster. Enterprise averts disaster but contaminates colony. All of this could not be avoided. The question was what to do about it. Enterprise leaves and the colony remains "perfect", or Enterprise takes people and colony self destructs. Well, if the Enterprise leaves everyone there, the colony will just descend to chaos anyway as those who wanted to leave were denied permission to do so. And if Enterprise lets colonists come aboard, the colony descends to chaos too. I don't see how to come out a winner in this situation. The point is, Picard shouldn't be feeling sorry for himself in the end at all. If it weren't the Enterprise, something else would have shattered their fragile little bubble anyway. Such as that stellar core fragment. Or a hostile alien species. To me, this episode is little more than a slap in the face to conservatism and doesn't say anything that isn't largely obvious.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-04-22 at 7:55pm:
I don't see it as much a slap in the face of conservatism as a slap in the face of reason. All the arguments for preserving their "society" are flawed. The enterprise had to interfere, or else the colony would have been wiped out. So THAT wouldn't have helped them, to just fly away. And you can't just make the people stay on the colony if they don't want to. They have their basic human rights to choose freely, and who's to say that their path is not the right one for their society? The idea that the prime directive of the federation would support the abandonment of their "society" because it might "upset the balance" warrants a reexamination of the prime directive. Just what is the prime directive supposed to protect if not human rights?
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-25 at 12:08am:
- Geordi comments to Hannah Bates, "I haven't had any sleep in so long my eyelids feel like I have lead weights attached to them." Isn't this a rather odd statement for Geordi to make? First of all, Geordi is blind. Second, Geordi's visor pumps the information directly into his brain through little attachments near his temples. It doesn't matter whether his eyes are open or closed!
- I have read, the creators spelled the name of the actor who played Aaron Conor wrong when this episode first aired. In the credits he was listed as "John Synder." All subsequent reruns list the actor correctly as "John Snyder."
- From djb on 2008-04-04 at 2:41pm:
I thought this was a great episode for many reasons.
This episode is really a human-centered drama with a sci-fi backdrop, much like the series in general, to a certain extent. Fundamental questions about humanity are well-explored, and all of them come down to the basic concept of discovering what it means to be human, a discovery I don't think will ever end.
This colony and its founders have worked so hard to create a utopia, a perfect island amid the chaos of the universe, and this episode makes a very good case that this kind of endeavor is ultimately quixotic and unrealistic. To a large extent, the inhabitants of this colony have forgotten what it means to be human: it's true that the elimination of suffering is a noble undertaking, but at what cost? The drive to explore the unknown, the uncertainty about life, the challenges and struggles and setbacks that define and shape our existence, are all lost, and in my opinion, all but destroy the essence of the human experience. These people have become, for most intents and purposes, automatons.
What's more, the society is so rigidly planned that it's more delicate than a snowflake! The loss of just a small percentage of the population will supposedly upend their entire existence? Clearly, the founders of this colony didn't seem to regard adaptability as a very important aspect of their perfect humans.
This episode hearkened back to two other episodes that dealt with very similar scenarios: The Ensigns of Command and First Contact. The similarity with the former is obvious. A small human colony on a planet is in danger, and might need to evacuate. They are so attached to their way of life that some would choose a losing fight, or in this case, a devastating earthquake. Either way you're dealing with people so set in their ways that they'd choose the possibility of death over having to redefine their existence in a different setting.
The similarities to First Contact mainly lie in the character of Hannah, who, like Mirasta in First contact, is a brilliant scientist who has always desired something more. It was clear to me pretty early on that Hannah would want to leave the colony. Also, as in First Contact, there is an almost comically overdone opposition: first in Krola (who attempts to martyr himself to prevent his planet from making contact with aliens) and now in Martin, whose short-sightedness is appalling.
I don't mind these similarities at all; while it's true that in the setting of space exploration, one will find innumerable different situations, it's also true that a few similar themes will crop up from time to time. Permutations, if you will.
The only thing I didn't like at all was Picard's take on it at the end. This is either poor writing, or Picard acting strangely. His acting as if it were a Prime Directive issue is simply not correct.
Aside from that, I liked the little plot of Troi's tryst with the colony's leader; you can see her mixed feelings about it very well. Those Betazoid all-black irises are intense! I also liked that while there were numerous subplots, all of them were integral parts of the central plot.
One aspect of this show and many other sci-fi shows that I don't like is the mechanistic take on consciousness. This series doesn't do it nearly quite as much as many others, and there are a few examples where it breaks out of that paradigm a bit and explores the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there is more to a human than the sum of his/her DNA and upbringing. The soul, perhaps? I think this episode hinted at that subtly but nicely.
So, good show.
- From Neil on 2009-10-13 at 3:29am:
What ruined the whole episode for me was the protestations that losing 20 people would destroy a colony of thousands. It's patently absurd, that this 'designer' colony would be constructed so rigidly - are we to assume that a small meteorite that punctured the shield and killed 5 people would cause a catastrophe as well?
The original architects would have included *some* flexibility in people's choice of jobs and allowed them to cross-train just in case.
- From curt on 2010-04-05 at 11:26am:
Well I do enjoy reading you reviews, i just wonder if you even like the show at all? I have no problem with that or anything, but I think your way to hard in your reviews.
- From CAlexander on 2011-03-29 at 11:52pm:
An OK episode, but certainly not the best of its type. I wasn't that impressed with the dilemma of the colonists. They keep insisting they cannot survive change. But that is what all cultures say when they are afraid of change! Who knows what would really happen to them. And as others have commented, it doesn't make any difference, the Enterprise had no real choice about what to do.
In response to problems: I thought that Geordi said he was improving the efficiency by 300%. This doesn't violate the laws of physics, it simply means quadrupling the efficiency. Consider a modern car, whose fuel efficiency is measured in km/L. Say you have an old car which gets 5 km/L. Then you upgrade it to get 20 km/L. That is a 300% increase in efficiency.
- From Patrick on 2012-01-01 at 1:49pm:
Magnificent concept, only slightly less magnificent story-writing, barely competent execution in script and filming. Too bad. And that scene with the Chopin playing in the background as Troi and what's-his-name decide to taste forbidden fruit--UGH.
So much promise I wish someone would rewrite and re-film; yes, still using the Chopin prelude (what a great idea that was).
- From Keefaz on 2017-01-12 at 4:25pm:
Some of the worst dialogue so far.
- From Mike on 2017-03-30 at 3:10am:
I thought they were going to convince Hannah at the end there, but she stood her ground. I actually thought her scenes with Geordi were some of the best parts of the episode. Having her claim fake damage to the biosphere in order to get the colony to leave was a nice twist as well. Geordi and the Enterprise present her with a dilemma she's never had to face. Ever the scientist, she opts to leave. Her sabotage is a pretty extreme action, but then again she was bred to be a physicist, not a decision-maker.
As for Picard, I agree his reflections at the end are an odd way to wrap this up. There's no conflict with the Prime Directive here. And I thought Picard was the guy who shows some flexibility in applying it anyway, rather than being dogmatic about it.
Since the Eugenics Wars are part of this Star Trek timeline/universe, it may have been interesting to end it by making reference to the dangers of selective breeding and genetic manipulation. You'd think people in the 24th century would be influenced by that, and after Picard's initial reaction to their society, I thought that's the direction it was going. That way, it ends with questions about whether such a society is possible or desirable, not whether ending its isolation and taking a few people away from it will be ruinous.
- How could Data lose at chess? To Troi? I mean come on...
- Worf proclaiming himself captain.
- Data the bartender.
- Worf humbling himself.
- Ro Laren and Troi both pursuing Riker.
- Data speculating on his origins.
- Riker being confronted by his women in the end.
This episode doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If the alien memory eraser guy had such control over which information the crew could remember, had forgotten, and could retrieve, why didn't he just make himself captain? Or replace the entire bridge crew? Not that this story is technically impossible in the world of Trek, it's just absurd. I only give zeros to stories so impossible that they have to be dropped from canon. This story isn't anywhere near that bad, so it gets one point by default and an extra point for the excellent humor.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-04-22 at 8:50pm:
I didn't care for this one. I agree that it is absurd. And with all due respect to the writers, it's extremely predictable to the average trek fan. Once I saw the MacDuff character, I thought for a moment that it was some redshirt, but then the three pips on the collar, and the whole plot came into focus.
Also, it's very cheap that Guinan just happens to be absent from this episode. Judging from previous episodes, she would undoubtably know exactly what is going on. But then I guess there would be no episode :)
The one thing I did enjoy was worf and riker kicking that guy's ass at the end.
- From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-05-15 at 6:32pm:
Conundrum is classic Star Trek. The characters get to explore themselves in a way that has never been done. The enemy is powerful, smart, and desperate. There is fun too, as the crew tries to figure out who is in charge.
Unlike other episodes, it is hard to find problems with the science in this one. Everything seems plausible to an extent.
The only down part is that Riker comes across as a male pig. Regardless, this episode is a definite 9.
- From Wolfgang on 2006-07-11 at 8:28am:
It is unbelievable, that Data loses his memories as well and no single alien aboard the ship could retain its memories.
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-27 at 4:17am:
After the first encounter with the Lysians, Picard tells MacDuff his doubts about their mission. The fact that the Federation greatly outmatches the Lysians troubles Picard. Then, at the end of the episode, Picard seems to indicate that the Lysians and the Sartaaran have approximately the same level of weapons technology. If the Sartaaran are at that level, how could MacDuff so easily overcome the shields of the Enterprise? The entire episode gives us several hints that the Sartaaran are very powerful. At the end of the show, Riker expresses it best when he says, "With all the power that MacDuff had to alter our brain chemistry and manipulate the computer, it's hard to believe he needed the Enterprise." Very well said!
- From djb on 2008-04-06 at 10:23pm:
My reaction to this episode is twofold.
First, the scifi. It's not the best I've seen, and that's an understatement. Somehow a race who can't muster a photon torpedo can get around a starship's shields and cause its crew to lose their memories? AND falsify the ship's records? AND plant a spy on the ship, perfectly disguised as a human? I don't buy it. I also thought the resolution was rather abrupt; after the climactic scene on the bridge with "MacDuff" going nuts, all of a sudden everything's back to normal! That being said, I did like how MacDuff was introduced: no menacing music or evil glares (as in "Violations". Just another officer on the bridge, with (!) three pips? Hmm. I do like how the erroneous war plot kind of sneaks in on you; first we're just trying to recover from amnesia, then ! Who's this guy MacDuff? The federation is at war??! Slow down!
The other aspect of this episode, which I enjoyed immensely, was the character-driven aspect. As was first explored a bit in "Clues" (which also had some gaping holes in the plot), how do we act when we lose our memory? In this case, every memory of who we are or who others are?
This episode had so many interesting moments: Ro figures out she's the pilot, but I like how Picard doesn't assume command. True to how he acts normally, he accepts authority and wields it well, but doesn't crave it or flaunt it. Here, he doesn't assume authority until the computer tells them he's the captain. Worf, on the other hand, seems to have a desire for leadership, but also a strong sense of duty. He assumes command but immediately relinquishes it when he finds he's in error. He also is loyal to the captain even though MacDuff attempts to play on his warrior sensibilities. I found myself wondering which way he was going to go, which is consistent with his character. It turns out Riker and Ro have some attraction for each other under the "battle of wills" facade! Troi's "emotional memory" of her relationship with Riker is fitting, and the drastic difference in how she and Ro approach Riker is quite interesting. Poor Riker feels like an idiot at the end: Ro is amused, and Troi is pissed off (Sirtis plays that "pissed-off smile" extremely well), and it will always be the elephant in the room when the three of them are around each other again.
I can't help but wonder what I would do in such a situation; it would surely give me some insight as to what parts of my personality are more conditioned and happen naturally, without the aid of previous memories; and what parts are learned and kept in place by memories. Ideally, of course, the more desirable traits I try to engender in myself eventually become rote and would survive amnesia, but it's impossible to accurately tell unless amnesia or something like it actually occurs.
So, good character development, so-so scifi. I think the basic premise, mass amnesia, is plausible, so it's somewhat redeemed by that. I'd give it a 5 or 6.
- From JRPoole on 2008-08-06 at 11:06am:
Uggh. There are some redeeming points here. The Riker/Ro/Troi stuff is funny, Data's turn at bartending was cool, and the silent reactions of the bridge crew finally learning their names and ranks is well-acted and in character for everyone.
This is yet another episode in which Riker is revealed to be the complete douchebag that he really is.
- From 2 Of 14 on 2008-08-21 at 12:48pm:
Addressing the criticism that MacDuff could just have made himself captain, he might have thought it would look a bit silly having such a young person in command whilst the much older Picard was a lesser rank. More importantly, he would need to have removed Picard’s uniform or removed a circle from Picard’s collar to make it look convincing. As nobody was unconscious during the memory loss, this was not possible.
- From mem@who on 2011-09-19 at 12:13am:
Wow, I was surprised to see how low the reviewer scored this episode, but not surprised by the high fan rating.
I think the episode explores an interesting concept and does a fairly good job, with plenty of good humor, as mentioned. It's interesting how different some of the interpersonal dynamics were simply because of a different context - no established history, no prejudices, and only vague, tentative acceptance of rank and status. An interesting study, from a psychological/philosophical perspective.
On the other hand, the whole thing is definitely full of absurd elements. That the alien didn't make himself captain is the first and most serious, as the reviewer mentioned. The problems with Data are another. Besides losing at chess, which certainly raised an eyebrow, Data's probability calculations should've probably deduced exactly what the heck was going on. Everyone started getting suspicious when it was revealed just how selective the memory loss and computer failures were. Data should've been much more than suspicious - he should've presented the Captain with the low probabilities of this being a random bi-product of an alien attack, versus the high probability that they were being intentionally manipulated.
At this point it would've been reasonable to "break radio silence" and contact Starfleet, especially given the low level of resistance they encountered and the lack of any credible threat.
Those are the main flaws, and they are pretty serious.
I think it would've also been interesting to see the hidden desires of some of the other crew members. Ro Laren and Riker had a steamy affair. Data mused about belonging to a race and culture of artificial lifeforms. Troi pursued Riker. Wolf tried to assume command. Those were all interesting to watch. What about Geordi, Picard, Crusher...O'Brien? Would've been cool to see them act differently or express some latent desires.
So, not without its faults, some serious, but with plenty of redeeming elements. I'd give it like a 6 or 7, which is about the fan average.
- From philthy animal on 2011-10-17 at 7:03pm:
I really like this episode. There's some great character stuff in there that was allowed to be ecplored in a unique way due to the circumstances of the premise; for instance, Picard maintaining an air of quiet authority even as he seems to relinquish control to Worf. It's very true to his character in general and the point that the probe leaves the abiity to discharge one's duties in tact. In Picard's case, his leadership qualities.
Also the chemistry between Riker and Ro once their mutual animosity was removed was enjoyable to watch. And let's face it, we can all diss Riker as much as we like but who can honestly say they wouldn't relish two highly attractive women competing for their attention? Plus it's pretty well established if not ever directly stated, that Trek takes place in a future of great sexual liberation, free of the stigma of 'pigs' and 'sluts'.
Finally, and at the risk of being labelled a male pig, it would take a far better man than me to resist Ro's offer of a sleepless night...
- From Daniel on 2014-01-27 at 1:28pm:
First of all, to address your statement that Data could not lose at chess - to Troi - that is explained correctly by Troi when she says "chess isn't just a game of ploys and gambits, it's a game of intuition." As an empathic Betazoid, Troi must have a highly evolved intuition, whereas Data has not mastered human intuition. While I like the premise of placing the crew in a crisis situation after being stripped of their identities and memory to see how they might respond, I see a certain flaw in the story logic - aside from the many flaws already pointed out by other comments herein. The problem I see in this episode is the opening set-up; first, the green scanning beam affects Data, but not Troi or anyone else in Ten Forward. Troi can clearly see the scan and its effect, therefore, she should have immediately warned Picard. Then, another green scan sweeps over the whole bridge crew, and only then does Commander MacDuff appear on the bridge. Even if the ship's computer was affected by the scan, where it had no "voice interface", it still had the necessary data to manage all shipboard operations. Therefore, wouldn't the ship's computer have immediately recognized the presence of an alien crew member (MacDuff) and report it with some kind of warning? Even so, we know that, at least, Troi was not scanned or affected immediately. Perhaps, she could have warned the others of this scan, and she might have known MacDuff was not human (with her empathic abilities). But, the storyline dismissed her (and Data) from the rest of the story, focusing instead on only the bridge crew. If the computer could not display crew information, how did Worf (after assuming command) know to address Dr. Crusher as "doctor" when she came onto the bridge from the turbo lift the first time? Then, there's the whole premise of MacDuff... As pointed out in another comment here, it does tend to bring about the old premise that the crew member in the red suit is the one to die or be the alien. So, it was no surprise to any viewer that MacDuff was out of place... Especially if you noticed that his appearance on the bridge only occurs after the scan. It may have been a better episode if they had instead used a regular crew member and made the alien presence take over that crew member, similar to the episode in which the Romulans reprogram Geordi to act as an assassin, or in any other episode when an alien presence possesses the mind and body of a crew member. Though alien possession of a crew member has been done many times in Star Trek stories, it is a premise that works well, if written well. The trick is not to use a new and never-seen-before crew member... And not have that new crew member actually be the alien.
- From Kethinov on 2014-01-28 at 6:45pm:
Chess isn't about intuition. It's about math. That's why computers are now capable of defeating even the best chess players in the world. Data shouldn't be able to lose to Troi, period.
- From Axel on 2015-03-29 at 1:14pm:
I don't think it's that implausible the Sartaarans would be so advanced in manipulating brain chemistry but lack the technology to make a powerful starship. Technology is driven by a lot of factors. The Inca built one of the most advanced systems of agriculture in world history, but never came to invent the wheel. We think of the wheel as a simple invention, but the Inca simply never had the need for it to the extent others did. The medieval Japanese first acquired and then later abandoned gunpowder because it just didn't take hold. There are all kinds of reasons why a society might have huge gaps in levels of technology. This TNG episode is a bit of a stretch but I don't think it makes the episode unbelievable.
The premise still made for an exciting plot, and some humor thrown in as well. The main problem was the addition of another senior officer, which did make things a little obvious. I agree it would've been more interesting to see what would've happened if he made himself captain.
- The scene where lightning strikes down Riker, O'Brien, Troi, and Data was done with no stuntmen. It's been said that Troi hurt herself performing that scene.
- Data acting weird.
- Troi, Data, and O'Brien attempting to take over the ship.
- Data brute forcing the forcefield.
- Troi, Data, O'Brien shrugging off phaser hits.
- Data trying to get Worf to fight him.
- The attempt to disembody the spirits.
- O'Brien catching their shuttlecraft transporter trick.
- Data's obsession with Worf.
A decent hostage episode with a number of interesting high points. I was particularly fond of Data's obsession with wanting to kill Worf along with the game of misdirection that the bridge crew was playing with the aliens. Unfortunately, the cover story for the aliens was much more interesting than their real story. I would have liked to have seen the remains of a real Daedalus class ship and I would have liked to have gotten a look at a crew of that era. Nevertheless, the episode stands well enough on its own even if it doesn't reach its maximum potential.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-04-22 at 9:43pm:
GOD the phaser scenes in this episode are cool. I love seeing people fly across a room!
How hard is it for picard to restrict all access to the computer to himself and riker???
Data's inhabitant seems to be a very angry person
- From Dean on 2007-05-30 at 7:02am:
Why didn't Data simulate Riker's or Picard's voice, so they would have control over the ship?
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-28 at 3:44am:
- During the shuttle trip down to the planet, Troi sits in the back bench seat. After the crash, Riker blows an escape hatch from the back end of the shuttle, and they climb out. Evidently the designers put the escape hatch behind a wall that is blocked by a bench seat. Does this seem like a reasonable location for an escape hatch?
- Just after Troi, Data, and O'Brien leave the bridge, Worf traps them in a turbo lift. O'Brien helps them escape by accessing the main computer. He does this by using a panel inside the turbolift. It's amazing how these panels appear inside the turbolifts just when they are needed (see comments for "Brothers")
- After Troi, Data, and O'Brien take hostages in Ten-Forward, Picard tries to negotiate with them. After listening to Picard for a few minutes, Troi tells Data and O'Brien what the captain is trying to accomplish. She talks as if Picard cannot hear them. Picard tries to open a dialogue again. This time Troi talks and Picard can hear her. What's the difference? What indication does Troi give the computer that some of her statements are meant for her fellow conspirators and others are meant for Picard?
- During one rescue attempt, Geordi and Ro climb into an access tube and situate themselves directly above Ten-Forward. While they settle in, they discuss their strategy. Once they are in place, Geordi hits his communicator and begins whispering to the bridge. Why is Geordi whispering? He talks at medium volume the entire time they set up the equipment. If he was worried that the conspirators in Ten-Forward would hear him, wouldn't he whisper the entire time he was in the access tube?
- At the end of the show, the spirits release Troi, Data, and O'Brien because Picard threatens to detonate the cargo bay hatch. Picard claims this will kill all the spirits when everthing in the cargo bay is blown into space. In other words, the spirits need an oxygen environment to live?
- From Mark McC on 2009-01-22 at 1:33pm:
Regarding O'Brien transporting down to install the transporter signal booster, wouldn't it make sense for Starfleet to equip each shuttlecraft with those rods? Especially when 90% of shuttlecraft launches seem to end up crash-landing on a planet where the normal transporter doesn't work!
Why is Worf still in charge of security? Once again, the Enterprise's systems are effortlessly compromised by people hitting buttons on assorted control panels scattered throughout the ship. I can't see the rationale behind Ten-Forward and every turbolift having easily accessible panels where anyone can access vital command-and-control functions with no way for the bridge crew to shut them out.
- From Rick on 2014-03-11 at 12:44pm:
As other commenters have noted, the writing in this episode is ridiculous because apparently every bridge command can be overridden by tapping a few keys on any computer terminal on the ship. How tough is it to design a computer system that follows Picard/Riker's commands?
- Geordi uses his visor to cheat in poker. But only after the hand is over. ;)
- Worf asking Riker to kill him.
- Beverly and Russell discussing Klingon redundancy.
- Beverly and Russell discussing her experimental procedure.
- Worf: "No! I will not live like that. 60% of my mobility? No, I will not be seen lurking through corridors like some half Klingon machine! The object of ridicule and disgust."
- Beverly objecting to Russell telling Worf about her experimental treatment.
- Russell using one of her experimental treatments on a patient from the mine explosion, killin him.
- Picard trying to convince beverly to make an exception to the rule of her morals in Worf's case.
- Riker confronting Worf about his ritual suicide and informing him that after his studies, he's realized he is not allowed to kill him. That only Alexander is.
- Worf deciding to live and undergo the dangerous procedure.
- The operation.
- Russell: "That will kill him!" Beverly: "Looks like we've done a pretty good job of that already, doctor."
- Beverly's critical speech of Russell's methods.
An aptly named episode, this episode nicely deals with ethics, of a medical kind. It also deals with the ethics of suicide, in the ritual form. Only the premise of this episode is weak. Firstly, it seems unlikely that cargo containers that are so heavy aren't secured by something. This isn't necessarily impossible, but not caring for something this obvious seems like bad writing. A better premise would have been to say that the restraints broke on one of the cargo containers. Problem eliminated thusly.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-29 at 7:57pm:
- When the barrel falls on Worf, it ends up near his FEET. Another barrel follows it down, and when it hits the floor, the top pops off. In the next shot, Geordi runs up and pushes a barrel away from Worf's SIDE. Also, the second barrel suddenly has its top back on.
- During his first visit with Worf, Riker makes small talk by commenting that Worf looks pretty good for someone who's been eating sick bay food for three days. How can institutional food still have a stigma in the twenty-fourth century? Everything is replicated!
- When Worf dies at the end of the operation, Dr. Crusher uses a drug that under normal circumstances would kill him. Even after being taken completely off life support and giving flatline readouts on all the medical displays, Worf manages to come back to life! Dr. Crusher makes a comment that Worf must have a "backup for his synaptic functions." Even if Worf had a backup, wouldn't the lethal drug Crusher administered have killed that, too?
- Also, why didn't Worf's backup show on a medical scan? And why didn't the medical displays show the activity of his synaptic backup?
- From KingElessar8 on 2009-03-22 at 9:52am:
I like this episode, probably more than most. It's an unusual subject for Trek, and it always seemed to me like there was more character conflict here than is common for TNG, making this one a little sharper-edged and more personal than the usual "ship in peril" type plots we so often are given. I liked how Picard, Riker, Troi, Beverly and Worf each have a very distinct way of reacting to this problem, and in each case it is fully in character - but it was interesting to me that Data plays no real role in the story. What would Data's reaction be to Worf's desire to commit suicide? Accept it as logical, or does suicide run counter to his ethical programming?
- From MJ on 2011-02-13 at 12:06pm:
I think this is TNG at its finest, the real essence of the show that sets it apart from other shows. Here you have several different points of view, each of them with strong justification, and none of them able to be reconciled with the others. The solution is not easily found, and getting to it ends up straining some relationships along the way.
You have Crusher, who takes her usual cavalier attitude regarding the customs of her non-human patients. She's rigidly tied to her perception of good medicine and doesn't apologize for it. You have Riker, the chosen friend and honorable companion, who fought alongside Worf and loves him, but finds it difficult to abandon his human morals on this matter. You have Picard, able to see the Klingon perspective and, while certainly not wanting Worf to die, tries to give Crusher and Riker a new perspective. And then enter Dr. Russell, who practices a wildly different style of medicine than Crusher, who sees Russsell as being reckless and is thoroughly unimpressed by her. All of this makes for a fascinating work of TV.
In the end, things are more complicated than anybody might be willing to admit. Worf is confronted with a flaw in his plan. He is prepared to accept the Klingon fate for a crippling injury, but is unable to involve his son in the ritual, a flaw which absolves Riker of the burden he wrestles with. And while Crusher is disgusted with Russell's brand of medicine, the fact is, Worf represents the one type of situation where Crusher's do-no-harm, play it safe style simply doesn't suffice. Being risky might be bad medicine, but as Picard points out, it's exactly the type of medicine needed for a patient like Worf.
Underlying this episode, of course, is the euthanasia/assisted suicide debate. The old points of contention over sanctity of life, playing God, sparing suffering, and all the rest are brought to bear, but since it’s not a human patient, there’s a new twist: for humans, this particular injury would never call for assisted suicide. By exploring it from the point of view of another species for whom it does call for assisted suicide, however, we can ask the same types of questions in a more dispassionate setting.
- From Daniel on 2014-07-18 at 8:50am:
I like this episode for its examples of contrasting morals and ethics in the various characters. I also like it for its emotional impact. But, it brings up two general questions for me... 1. When the doctors perform surgery, why do they go to such lengths to cover their bodies to prevent contaminating the sterile environment, yet they don't wear face masks to prevent breathing germs onto the patient, as any surgeon would? 2. Aside from Geordi's blindness, why are there no handicapped people in Starfleet, on any ship, or any space station? If Worf were to be confined to a wheelchair, do you think they'd still let him do his duty as chief of security?
- From Mr. Awesome on 2016-01-11 at 4:08pm:
I have mixed feelings about this episode contrary to popular belief. While I do like the premise of this episode (any serious subject requiring lots of thought with no easy solutions are the most fascinating to me), there are numerous flaws, ranging from the practically absurd to intellectual inconsistency.
First, you would think that silly ailments like paralysis would have long been easily treatable by this time. In real life right now, as I'm typing this, medical advancements are being made with such things as stem cell research, nanotechnology, and bionics. You would think heavily advanced versions of these would be readily available. That's why it kind of irks me that La Forge would be blind, requiring a visor for corrective vision.
Secondly, it was mentioned that Klingon anatomy was still not fully understood. How is this possible so far on the future? How could you have members of Starfleet whose basic anatomy you still don't understand? How can Klingons have advanced technology allowing them to pursue interstellar travel, yet not have basic medical understandings of their own physiological makeup? Considering the fact that Klingons are now members of the Federation, this seems illogical.
Thirdly, my biggest gripe is with Dr. Crusher's hypocrisy considering her "holier than thou" attitude. She condemned Dr. Russell for testing new treatment methods on patients, which is understandable to a degree. However, wasn't Crusher the one who, in a previous episode, suggested, or even ordered, Captain Picard undergo a surgery to fix his heart, a surgery holding the potential of killing him? Also, as aforementioned, Crusher admits in this episode that her medical team lacked a full understanding of Klingon biology. As such, wouldn't ALL her treatment methods for Klingons be dangerous, seeing as how there's no telling what kind of adverse effects could occur from various treatment methods designed to treat human ailments? In addition, Crusher can't pretend as if she has a perfect track record when it comes to treating patients. Numerous patients have died under her care over the course of this show. On top of that, she condemns Dr. Russell for her failed treatments for the patients that died under her care, yet Worf dies after Crusher chooses to administer a drug that Russell claims would kill him. Furthermore, Crusher lectures Russell at the end about "conventional research/medicine", yet Crusher doesnt offer any kind of assistance to Russell in terms of developing and perfecting this new surgical technique to perhaps enhance Worf's chances of survival, which could be revolutionary for Federation medicine overall. On top of ALL of that, Crusher is willing to hold Worf hostage against his will in sick bay rather than respect his wishes to die or undergo a dangerous yet potentially revolutionary treatment that could help him regain his abilities. Wouldn't that violate the Hippocratic oath? I understand this episode was made around the time of the real life issue concerning Dr. Kevorkian and his physician assisted suicide methods, but one would think that hundreds of years from now, these types of ethical conundrums would have long been solved.
Despite these gripes, it's still a good episode. Obviously it's very thought-provoking, but I wish it could've been put together a little better.
- I find it hard to believe that Worf has recovered from his injury in the last episode so quickly.
- According to this episode, the Federation was founded in 2161.
- This is the first of only a few rare episodes in which Geordi has a beard.
- Soren's attitude changing when Krite entered the room.
- Soren discussing sex with Riker.
- Soren discussing the female gender with Beverly.
- Worf: "That's a woman's game. All those wildcards. They support a weak hand."
- Worf's chauvinist attitude.
- Soren coming out of the closet with Riker.
- Riker taking the fall for Soren and Soren refusing to let him.
- Riker rescuing Soren only to find out that she had already been treated.
A species without gender is an interesting concept and certainly well examined in this episode. I like the idea proposed in this episode that gender is primitive and that species will one day evolve into a higher form. However the real world issue this episode was attempting to examine appears to be homosexuality. This episode essentially flips the coin and puts the viewer in the sexual minority. This is supposed to stress a viewpoint of sexual tolerance. IMHO on that front this episode largely fails, because it is up to the J'Naii society to govern their gender. Ultimately I found the ending to be largely inappropriate. The episode should have been over when Soren was taken away.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-05-18 at 5:44pm:
The only flaw in this episode is the obvious recasting of the captain who dies in Yesterday's Enterprise. Couldn't she have used a different voice? Dr. Evil and Austin Powers had different voices. Other than that this episode represents all the things that Star Trek is about: the human condition.
The B plot about the shuttle stuck in a pocket in space was way off to the side in this episode. It should be, because it allows more depth for the rest of the show. There is also a very emotional ending where you really feel for Riker. Everything works really well. This episode gets a 9.
- From MGinevra on 2007-05-09 at 5:49pm:
This may sound melodramatic, but this is the only piece of television that I can say changed my world-view. I was a Mormon teenager when this episode aired, all I had ever been told was that gays were evil and unnatural. This was the first time I could look at the issue of homosexuality from a sympathetic viewpoint. I'm glad that this episode helped me to see the other side of things, which definitely helped me accept some dear friends who came out in the following years. Thanks to Star Trek for teaching a bit of tolerance.
- From James on 2007-06-29 at 4:26pm:
"On a planet full of butch lesbians, Riker falls for the femmist one."
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-30 at 1:35am:
Picard knew Riker would try to rescue Soren. Picard knew that was a violation of Starfleet code, but he quietly lets Riker proceed. Picard makes no effort to stop Riker. On the other hand, Picard severely reprimands Worf in the episode "Reunion" when Worf - acting within the bounds of Klingon culture - departs from the Enterprise and kills Duras. Doesn't this seem backward?
- From Fenix on 2010-10-17 at 3:41pm:
To respond to DSOmo, Picard might have similarly reprimanded Riker if Riker had succeeded in bringing Soren back to the Enterprise. As Riker left his meeting, Picard warned him not to risk his career.
Picard's respect for Riker allowed him to give Riker the space to make the decision for himself. If Riker had successfully chosen Soren over Starfleet Code I think Picard would be hard pressed to ignore it.
- From gopher on 2011-03-21 at 5:58pm:
Riker would never fall in love with a hermaphrodite. That he would is simply embarrassing, not to mention extremely contrived. Soren had no personality, no spark that Riker always finds attractive. They might as well have written an episode in which he falls in love with a penguin. Plus I doubt she had a vag. Did he do her in the butt or something?
- From CAlexander on 2011-03-30 at 5:46am:
This episode is basically 100% morality play, it has no substance beyond that. But I think it is a pretty good morality play, for the most part.
- You are absolutely right that the episode should have ended when Soren was taken away. I thought that when I was watching it.
- From tigertooth on 2011-08-18 at 11:36pm:
@DSOmo: Not sure why it would be backward that Picard would be more lenient towards an officer who is motivated by love than one who is motivated by hate.
Anyway, along the lines of what MGinevra said above, the following was posted on Andrew Sullivan's blog:
The episode is about a species without gender, that views gender expression as an abomination and an illness to be cured. It's powerful because there's nothing foreign about it. I was raised in a conservative, devout evangelical home with pretty standard anti-gay attitudes (hate the sin, love the sinner). I saw this at a young age. What I saw was Riker, a manly guy I respected and could relate to, falling in love with a woman (no learned moral outrage alarm bells there!) and losing her to the tragedy of an intolerant society.
I absorbed it as a tragedy, but didn't understand why a society would do that, even as I went to a church that behaved that way. The episode wasn't one of my favorites, and it perplexed me deeply. It was years before I made the obvious connection to homophobia and the ex-gay movement. That realization was profound, and it changed my life. My ability to judge and exclude and cast people out was cast down so completely I'm embarrassed to even talk about it in this anonymous email. The change was so complete and sudden, I almost literally felt as though scales fell off my eyes.
To this day, I don't think my parents have any idea the shape or size of the impact Star Trek had on my moral compass and political choices in this area and others. That's all to the good; they'd never forgive themselves for letting me watch it.
I found the episode kind of ham-fisted and unconvincing, but I'm glad that the episode moved some folks to think more deeply about an important topic.
- Kelsey Grammer plays Captain Morgan Bateson in this episode. Grammer is well known as Dr. Frasier Crane on the TV shows Frasier and Cheers. He also plays the voice of Sideshow Bob in The Simpsons.
- The opening scene. Wow! :)
- Data's fast shuffling.
- Riker and Worf's suspicions that Data is stacking the deck.
- Worf getting emotional at the Poker game.
- Watching the collision and the Enterprise explode never got old.
- Beverly, Worf, and Riker predicting the hand Data will deal.
- Beverly knocking over her wine glass over and over again serving as a bad omen.
- Data replaying recordings of the disaster.
- Data stacking the deck with threes.
- Data realizing Riker's suggestion is correct.
Dr. Frasier Crane is to blame when weird stuff starts happening to the Enterprise... This episode is a TNG classic and truly memorable. Some people object to its repetitive nature, but I think it was well done. Nicely repetitive but not overly so. The only improvement I can think of is to perhaps cut one of the repetition scenes so that some time could be spent exploring Captain Morgan Bateson and his crew's culture shock as they come back to their lives in the Federation. Saving that, an exceptional episode.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-04-22 at 11:38pm:
problem: How the HELL can casualty reports be coming in from all over the ship a mere 2 seconds after impact?? A little ridiculous.
Some of the stuff in this episode is just chilling. Like hearing Picard order all hands to abandon ship, while he's sitting there at the table
I love how they refuse to reveal the actual year at the end. Picard just craftily tells him to beam aboard, but doesn't say "well its actually ____ A.D." I thought I could finally know, but I guess we're just damned to deal with their stardates.
Wonderfully directed, Jonathan, wonderfully directed
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-30 at 3:15am:
- At the end of the show, Worf checks with the nearest starbase and discovers that the Enterprise has been stuck in the loop for more than seventeen days. If that is true, the crew hasn't been repeating the same fragment of time. If they were repeating the same fragment of time, the ship's chronometer would line up with the starbase's chronometer, since the entire universe would get reset at the beginning of each loop. Instead, the crew of the Enterprise must have been repeating the same actions, and somehow everything on the ship - including the crew's memories and the ship's chronometer - got reset at the beginning of each loop.
- The episode never adequately explains where the other ship came from. The show implies that the USS Bozeman has been caught in a loop for eighty years. If so, how did the Bozeman get started with its loop? According to Geordi, the Enterprise began its loop when the ship exploded. The captain of the Bozeman made no mention of any explosion before seeing the Enterprise. He simply said the time-space distortion appeared and was followed by the Enterprise. The Bozeman could have jumped forward in time eighty years when it entered the time-space distortion. It could have exited the distortion and collided with the Enterprise. That would explain the lack of explosion for the Bozeman. If that is true, Picard should be treating the Bozeman the same way he treated the Enterprise-C in "Yesterday's Enterprise." Just after the Enterprise-C came through the temporal rift, Picard realized that disclosing information to the crew of the Enterprise-C could fundamentally alter history if the Enterprise-C ever returned to its own time. In this episode, Picard's behavior is quite the opposite. He immediately invites the captain aboard for a conference.
- From djb on 2008-04-16 at 6:05am:
I love this episode, and always have, and the one thing I think that's lacking was already brought up: what the deal is with the other ship and why it's 80 years off, where the enterprise is only 17 days off.
- From online broker on 2009-10-04 at 5:17pm:
I love this episode, its my favourite of TNG, and has been since I was 12 and saw it on TV. I always thought it is called "Deja Vu"!
- From musterpuffer on 2010-03-04 at 4:11pm:
One of my favourite episodes ever, I love the repetitions which are slightly different from time to time. Jonathan Frakes is such a talented guy!
I think Data should have found the way out of the loop though: At one critical point they discuss whether to change course or not. Picard speculates that altering course might have caused the problem in the first place. But, the single reason the discussion arises is because they have become aware of the loop by now - hearing the echos etc. The very first time around there was no loop and no echos or other pointers so therefore there would have been no reason to change course. From which they might have concluded that there was no course change in the original timeline. But then the episode would have been a lot shorter so it's not meant as a criticism! Great stuff.
- From Jason on 2011-01-05 at 11:06pm:
My question: how can the crew program the number 3 (recognizing Riker to be correct in his strategy for avoiding the collision) when they have no tangible memory of these (for them) still future events? The crew has no idea what is coming through the rift and yet they retain memory of who had the correct strategy of how to avoid it? Seems far-fetched and certainly not adequately explained
Otherwise an excellent episode and a season (and series) highlight
- From CAlexander on 2011-03-07 at 1:27pm:
When I think of my favorite TNG episodes, this always comes to mind first. Really skillfully done.
In answer to Jason's question: Seconds before the Enterprise is destroyed the last time, Data realizes his strategy was wrong, looks at Riker's 3 rank buttons, and sends the message to the next iteration. This is clearly shown, but easy to miss since it happens so fast and with no verbal explanation.
- From Zaphod on 2011-04-12 at 9:27am:
I don't like this episode, not just because it indeed is very repetitive, but because of a couple of other reasons too:
1. Timeloops dont make any sense and the technobabble explaining them is complete bullshit, period.
2. Moreover there is no believable explanation for why they have memories of past runs through that loop. Dekyonparticles interfering with their brains or what? Where did I hear that before? ... Ah, that's it! I bet Geordi is wrong and the midi-clorians told them what happened last time! That's where the whispering came from too! Midi-clorians, Dekyon-Particles, both just pathetic excuses for magic mumbo jumbo, nothing more. Star Wars was about magic, at least before George Lucas screwed it, so at least they have an excuse.
Doesnt make sense at all. If I want to watch magic mumbo jumbo then Star Wars does a better job.
3. Why do they remember some unimportant things like the cards they got dealt but not important ones like using the tractor beam doesn't work? Very easy answer, plot convenience, that's why.
4. The story they repeat over and over again ... *headdesk* ... it's just boring as hell!
You might argue: "But the Enterprise explodes!"
Sorry, still boring, taking into account the poor special effects of that explosion and the annoyingly stupid explosion sound they play every f***ing time when a ship blows up in Star Trek.
- From Zaphod on 2011-04-12 at 9:57am:
Since CAlexander didnt really understand your question, here's the explanation:
They altered the dekyon grid last time they went throught the loop and that alteration manipulated Data (his Brain seems to be sensitive to these dekyon field emissions) into unknowingly placing that 3 everywhere he went this time.
- From Zaphod on 2011-04-12 at 12:20pm:
Sry, it's me who didnt understand Jasons question. ^^
He asked for the message, I explained the delivery method. CAlexander is right of course.
- From Robert Koenn on 2011-04-19 at 7:39am:
I only rated this a 6 as I found the episode beginning to get repetitive and a bit boring as a result. Certainly there were minor differences each time which managed to hold my interest a bit but I told my wife, one more repetition and I'm giving up on it. Now at the same time I did find the idea somewhat interesting although flawed a bit but then while being fairly good technically ST still deals with some of these things as magic rather than technology. The crew interaction was good and that also kept me from turning it off. Still, one more time through this loop would have been it for me.
- From Rache on 2012-05-03 at 4:29pm:
My favorite TNG episode too!
- From Keith on 2013-08-21 at 4:46pm:
Love the episode, but absolutely hate the poker. Once a pair of queens is showing everyone should have folded, looking at the cards there is no conceivable way that Worf or Data should have stayed in for as long as they did, that is lousy poker, and while Riker may have wanted to bluff Crusher should have bet whatever the limit is before the last card giving him a possible straight. Finally, poker in general in STNG is silly. Poker only works if there are stakes or consequnces to betting, i.e. losing money, if played for points nobody folds and it is just a silly game of luck.
- From Daniel on 2014-05-03 at 6:10pm:
This episode brought about two questions for me; one purely hypothetical. First - Riker orders all crew to be ready at the escape pods, then Picard orders all hands abandon ship. Now, admittedly, there is no time for anyone to actually escape the ship. But, suppose a few crew members did manage to escape in time. What would happen to them in the repeating time loop? Would they be out of the loop and adrift in their escape pods? (Just a hypothetical.) The other question for me regards the habit that Riker has of putting his foot up on the console and assuming a pose like that. Like when he is standing next to Data at the helm and props his leg up on Data's console. Is it okay for a Starfleet officer to use ship equipment as a footrest?
- Data claims to have graduated in the "class of 78." Since it is now 2368, as dated from "The Neutral Zone" in which Data says it is 2364, did Data really graduate ninety years ago?
- Robert Duncan McNeill plays Locarno in this episode. He later plays Tom Paris on Voyager. Just like how Marc Alaimo started off as a Cardassian Gul Macet and later went on to play a Cardassian Gul Dukat, why did they have to create a new character, with a nearly identical background, of the same species, played by the same actor? Twice? Because the name sounds cooler?
- Picard discussing the accident with Beverly.
- Boothby appearance.
- Everybody blaming the accident on Josh.
- Wesley having to listen to Josh's father apologize, further intensifying his guilt.
- The Vulcan guy proving that the team was lying.
- Boothby describing Locarno and his team to Picard.
- Picard discovering the cover up and yelling at Wesley.
- Locarno trying to convince Wesley to shut up about the truth.
- Locarno taking the fall in the end.
- Picard talking to Wesley in the end.
A fine story. Nice to see Wesley again, and definitely nice to see Wesley screw up. A good change of pace overall for TNG all things considered and I would definitely say this is Wesley's finest episode. This episode deals with groupthink and the concept of following a leader blindly. Locarno maintains his greatness throughout the episode. First as a charismatic leader trying to convince his team to help him graduate in style, then as an intelligent leader orchestrating a cover up, then as an honorable leader taking the fall for everyone. I only wish that they had used Locarno in Voyager instead of Tom Paris. At the very least to remove the confusion of two characters played by one actor.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-07-18 at 5:25pm:
Notice that the 'groupthink' episodes always involve the trigger happy cadets at starfleet academy
- From DSOmo on 2007-09-30 at 4:51am:
- When talking to Boothby, Picard claims to have graduated in the Class of '27. The episode "Encounter At Farpoint, Part 2" establishes that Data graduated in the Class of '78. In "Redemption II," Data states that he has had twenty-six years of experience in Starfleet. Let's suppose that Data's experience with Starfleet began with his entrance into Starfleet Academy. In "Datalore," Data tells Lore that he spent four years at the academy. That means twenty-two years have elapsed since Data's graduation. Since Data graduated with the Class of '78 and twenty-two years have elapsed, this season of Star Trek: TNG must be happening somewhere around the year '00. Now if Picard graduated in the Class of '27, seventy-three years have elapsed since his graduation. If Picard was twenty at the time, he must be over ninety years old!!! This all makes very little sense until you remember that Data quoted the year in the episode "The Neutral Zone" as 2364 (also mentioned in the Problems section above.) Evidently something is wrong in one of these figures.
- Starfleet Academy banned the Kolvoord Maneuver a hundred years ago due to a training accident. Yet Locarno convinces Nova Squadron to try it. What was he trying to accomplish? Did he think Starfleet wouldn't reprimand him if the maneuver was successful? A banned maneuver is a banned maneuver! But Locarno's actions are believeable. College seniors can do strange things.
- The dormitory doors at Starfleet Academy have regular door handles and hinges, yet every time someone opens one, the door gives a little "erp erp" sound. If the doors are human-powered, doesn't it seem like a waste of energy to have them "erping" every time they are opened?
- From djb on 2008-04-16 at 6:49am:
According to Memory Alpha, the reason they didn't use Locarno's character in Voyager was budgetary: the writers of this episode would have to have received royalties for every episode of Voyager. Presumably, this is a similar situation with Gul Dukat in DS9.
Responding to Dsomo's inquiry about dates, I would postulate that the only erroneous date mentioned would be Data's "class of '78" statement. This is especially likely since it was stated in the pilot. If the end of season 1 was 2364, then the end of season 5 should be around 2369. If Picard graduated in '27, that would place Picard's post-graduation service with Starfleet about 42 years, and make him about 64 years old. Granted, Patrick Stewart was only 51 when this episode aired, it's clear from Boothby's estimated age (something over 100) that the average human lifespan has been somewhat lengthened by the 24th century. Data's 26 years of experience as of the beginning of season 5 (2368 or 69) would place his graduation somewhere around 2346.
Also, about the doors: I presume that because Wesley had to get up and let people in every time they knocked (instead of saying "come in"), that the doors are locked from the inside and the only way to get in, if you don't have a key, is for someone on the other side to let you in. This is typical of dorm rooms. As for the sound, I can only guess that the door mechanisms are electronic; the sound we hear is the mechanism unlocking. The sound reminded me of the noise some apartment-building doors make when someone buzzes you in. Why use electronic door hardware instead of mechanical? Well, it's a few hundred years in the future! And, they're probably more secure. So, in other words, the door-opening mechanism isn't really human powered; the handle being pressed is what signals the mechanism to unlock, the sound of which we hear whenever someone presses the handle.
I liked the twist at the end where Locarno takes the fall for his team. His arguments against Wesley wanting to come forward with the truth are incredibly hypocritical, but he actually backs up his rhetoric of team members helping each other, and that saves his character from being a total jerk.
It was nice to see Wesley do something morally questionable for a change.
One thing, though: despite the troubled circumstances, wouldn't Wesley make a point of seeing his sort-of girlfriend, Robin Lefler? From "The Game"? I guess Ashley Judd wasn't available. What a shame... That character's involvement would have added a whole new depth to an episode that was already deep to begin with.
- From Rob on 2008-04-17 at 7:01pm:
As to what Locarno thought he was going to accomplish...
I imagine he expected to get an 'official reprimand' while everyone gave him a nod-nod, wink-wink at his audaciousness. The reprimand would be 'required' but would have no actual real-world impact on his service in Star Fleet and his 'made' reputation would probably even improve his prospects. It takes little imagination to guess how easily it would have been for him to convince the others that they could sail through the following three years at the academy as "living legends" and again, any reprimand would have no lasting impact on their assignments following graduation.
- From John on 2011-01-02 at 10:32pm:
All the scenes with Boothby are outstanding. Ray Walston was a great actor who never seemed to age. It's hard to believe he was nearing 80 when he filmed this episode. Perhaps it's because he's talked of so fondly by Picard, but he's always been one of my favorite characters.
The scene where all the team members blame Josh made me kind of sick, but this is the genius of Ron Moore. His writing takes you to the dark places you don't really want to go and forces you to think about a situation.
I like the "plant" of the Bajoran ensign, Sito Jaxa. Granted, she's not presented in the best light here, but she redeems herself in Season 7's "Lower Decks".
All in all, a fine episode, and one of my favorite of Moore's TNG scripts.
- From ADMK on 2012-07-19 at 2:06pm:
A great episode overall, contributing almost as much to Wesley's character development as all his previous episodes combined. Good to see a young Tom Paris (effectively) too.
My only problem is how Data misses identifying the likely cause of the accident. It doesn't take Picard very long to deduce that given Wesley's opening of the coolant interlock and the discussed reasons that one might do that (in particular, to purge the plasma exhaust), the team must have been attempting the Kolvoord Maneuver. So why does Data (or even the Vulcan) miss such an apparently straightforward deduction—that Wesley's otherwise inexplicable action correlates with a step required to complete this notoriously dangerous flight-team maneuver?
The Vulcan can likely be excused, but Data should have already had an encyclopedic knowledge of flight-team history, maneuvers, and incidents, or at least accessed such a database during the investigation. Surely in his millions of calculations per second he would have thought of the Kolvoord Maneuver as a possible, if not the most likely, explanation.
I wish instead that Data had come to the initial conclusion (in his usual emotionless, matter-of-fact voice), but then Picard could have fleshed out the tale of the banned maneuver and its history, sharing a relevant personal anecdote or other information that Data would have not known or omitted. E.g.:
DATA: Opening the coolant interlock while in flight is a required step in performing the Kolvoord Maneuver. But that maneuver has been banned by Starfleet for over one hundred years, sir. It is considered too dangerous.
PICARD: [Thoughtfully] Too dangerous … but perhaps not too dangerous for an Academy senior who had carefully cultivated a reputation for dancing with danger and escaping unharmed. Much like a young [blah blah blah, Picard tells a story].
GEORDI: [Dramatically] If the flight team was attempting the Kolvoord Maneuver, it's no wonder they act like they're trying to hide something.
[Dramatic music signals END OF SCENE, and then the rest of the episode proceeds normally.]
You get the idea. Anyway, still probably an 8/10 in my book!
- From ADMK on 2012-07-20 at 1:02pm:
P.S. Meant to add that in paragraph three of my review above I was trying to channel Riker from the episode "Future Imperfect." ("What's the matter, Data? What happened to those millions of calculations per second?")
- The Enterprise saving Tessen III from an asteroid.
- Worf and Alexander negociating their problems with the counselor.
- Lwaxana's appearance.
- Worf's spiteful greeting to Lwaxana.
- Lwaxana calling Worf "Wolf".
- Picard: "I will not have that woman continuing to use this ship for her convenience simply because her daughter is one of my officers."
- Picard: "Nothing would please me more than to give away Mrs. Troi."
- Lwaxana and Alexander on the holodeck.
- Worf smashing the clown ball.
- The replicator givng Lwaxana strangs sausages with her Tea.
- The scene is when Deanna, Worf, Alexander, Lwaxana, Campio and his assistant all encounter one another. They all have their own purpose for being there and no one reacts on anyone else's statements.
- Worf: "You're just supposed to sit here?" regarding the mudbath.
I would have liked to have known who the Enterprise was saving in the beginning. Anyway, Lwaxana's to be husband so nicely contrasts her personality. He's uptight and stuck on protocol and order. She's care free. It goes well also with the Worf vs Alexander conflict. The ending was appropriate. Lwaxana's lateness and nudity ultimately proves that the two could never be together. They're too unlike to relate to one another. Ultimately this episode serves little purpose but to develop the characters, which it does well. The B plot with the strange metal eating parasites was rushed and IMHO obtrusive, so I largely ignore it. An average episode.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete on 2006-05-03 at 6:41pm:
In my opinion, they feature Lwaxana troi waaaaaay too often on this show. Her character is NOT enjoyable dammit!!!
A really stupid episode
- From DSOmo on 2007-10-01 at 12:09am:
- Does it strike anyone odd that Troi - a person who has never had children and can't even get along with her own mother - is providing parenting advice to Worf?
- During Lwaxana and Alexander's first mud bath, an almost nude dancer entertains them. Is this acceptable entertainment for a young boy?
- After Geordi and Data discover the metal parasites, Data claims the sensors cannot detect the metal parasites. He also suggests a strategy to slow them down, but Geordi comments, "The problem is finding them." Why don't they scan the ship for nitrium, wait a few seconds, and scan the ship again? Wouldn't the parasites be wherever nitrium is disappearing?
- Just before the Enterprise flys off to the asteroid field, Campio and Erco board the ship. After Data successfully cleans the Enterprise of the bugs, the wedding proceeds. There is no mention that Campio departed and rejoined the ship later. Did Picard drag Campio and Erco all the way to the asteroid field with them? During the trip, life support is lost, and people started passing out. The structural integrity of the dilithium chamber decayed, and the entire ship almost exploded. Picard knew the danger involved, and he allowed a person of royalty to stay aboard anyway?
- As the Enterprise prepares to fly back to the asteroid field, Picard and Data board a turbolift for the main bridge. During this entire scene in the turbolift, Picard has only three pips on his collar.
- From Remco on 2008-01-22 at 4:25pm:
"During Lwaxana and Alexander's first mud bath, an almost nude dancer entertains them. Is this acceptable entertainment for a young boy?"
Lwaxana has no problem with nudity. It's even the preferred 'dress' to wear at wedding ceremonies. I suspect Betazoids are a lot less sensitive about their sexuality. And what else do you expect from the care-free holodeck people?
- From JRPoole on 2008-08-19 at 11:40am:
I generally like Alexander episodes, but this one is embarrassing. The wedding subplot is interesting (if you overlook the broadly-drawn Alien of the Week) but the whole holodeck thing is so stupid that it leaves a bad taste in my mouth for the whole episode. I can buy this as a holodeck destination, but I have problems seeing it as a real colony. Are there really that many lame performance artsts in the galaxy? this was absurd.
- From Mr. Awesome on 2016-01-14 at 2:57am:
Overall this episode was pretty weird. I like how it sort of predicts online dating. However, I don't see how in the world Troi and Campio's profiles could in any way be compatible, seeing as how they're completely different. Also, I have no clue why they would jump straight to marriage when they've never even met. I mean who does that? Also, why would someone who's supposedly royalty need to hook up with chicks online? Also, even though Troi's nudity is understandably surprising to everyone to say the least, I'm confused as to why Campio and his assistant were so appalled at her, with the assistant shielding Campio's eyes. If she is to be Campio's wife, wouldn't he ENJOY seeing her naked? I'm sure one doesn't choose to marry someone they don't find attractive unless some ulterior motives are at play.
Most importantly, I simply didn't understand the point of either plot. The whole thing about the ship's malfunctions wasnt really a big deal, and I'm confused AF about the whole Troi/Alexander relationship. I agree with Kethinov that this episode is mostly filler, serving only to develop characters, but I agree with Pete up above that Lwaxana's character is simply insufferable and featured WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY too much on this show! She's not funny or charming, simply annoying AF!!!
- Max Grodenchik plays Par Lenor in this episode. Didn't I just make a big speech about recycling actors but not characters a few episodes ago? Granted this one is easier to forgive than Marc Alaimo's and Robert Duncan McNeill's. Nevertheless, Max Grodenchik does play THREE DIFFERENT FERENGI characters on Star Trek. To me that's a little absurd. I can see reusing the actor to play a member of a different species. But three members of the same species? Come on!
- this is the first episode to actually show us Beverly and Picard having their morning meal together. Something that's been said they do every day.
- Riker: "Mr. Worf, escort our Ferengi guests to quarters. Not too close to mine."
- The Ferengi. So obtuse.
- Riker goes to the holodeck after meeting with Kamala. Gee, what's he gonna go do there?
- Beverly's objections to "conditioned prostitution."
- Picard dumping Kamala on Data.
- Everyone in ten forward pursuing Kamala.
- The Ferengi trying to bribe for Kamala.
- Kamala informing Picard that she bonded with him.
- Briam: "You had to work side by side with her for days. How could you resist her?" Picard: "Ambassador, have a safe trip home."
This episode is all about wanting something that you can't have. The story is slightly tragic in that both Picard and Kamala have to get over a great emotional loss. You are left with the feeling that Kamala can never be truly happy. But in one respect she's no different than anyone else. Picard can most certainly move on and learn to love another woman. I don't see why Kamala can't either. Thus I have little sympathy for Kamala and Picard in this episode. Picard should have maintained a more professional distance. Granted he tried hard to do so, in his position I would have stopped at nothing to maintain professionalism. I would not have listened to Beverly's objections at all. She just couldn't, and didn't understand.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-10-01 at 5:52am:
- Famke Janssen plays Kamala in this episode. She later plays Jean Grey in the X-Men movies (with Patrick Stewart)
- At the beginning of the episode, Briam asks Picard to declare Cargo Bay 1 off-limits. After the Ferengi come on board, one of them simply walks into the cargo bay. Why didn't Picard station a guard outside the cargo bay or at least lock the door?
- Picard and Alrik have a conversation in the observation lounge. In the shots showing Picard, the stars in the observation window drift slowly from right to left. In the shots showing Alrik, the stars remain still.
-The last scene shows the Enterprise and a smaller ship flying off in different directions. The footage comes from the end of "Suddenly Human," and the ship is Talarian, not Kriosian.
- From paul on 2010-07-18 at 10:07pm:
What's interesting, to add to DSOmo's point is that in this episode, Famke Janssen plays a mutant (her own words in the episode)! So we have another x-men relation!
- From CAlexander on 2011-03-15 at 8:16pm:
I quite liked this episode. It has a much more subtle approach than one might expect of Star Trek. Picard is trying to navigate between many conflicting demands. He wants to give her freedom. Then he finds he has to confine her. But she is a person who has done nothing wrong. He knows that she is dangerous. But to simply reject her as a threat simply because she is who she is would remove her fundamental right to interact with other sentient beings of her choice. And he's only human, and she has become the perfect woman to him, the most interesting person to talk to. It is a tricky situation with a poignant but not overdramatized resolution.
- From Mike on 2017-03-27 at 7:25pm:
Ambassador Briam: "Captain, may I ask that the cargo bay be declared off limits to all but the most essential personnel?"
Picard: "I can assure you, ambassador, that the only people allowed in that cargo bay will be authorized Starfleet personnel and one dimwitted, lustful Ferengi. Two Ferengi at the most. Beyond that, you have my guarantee that cargo is secure."
Briam: "Why, that doesn't sound good at all, Picard!"
Picard: "Look, ambassador, you have nothing to worry about. My security people are top-knotch. They'd never let this ship be taken over by a bunch of Ferengi. Can you imagine?"
Commander William "Intergalactic Playboy" Riker comes out a bit in this episode, too...when Kamala walks past him after emerging from stasis with his "awww yeah" look. And as hinted by the webmaster review, when he goes to the holodeck after visiting Kamala to do there for free what Quark in DS9 charges his holodeck customers for.
Joking aside, the concept of the episode was interesting and it explored some worthwhile themes. It does drag a bit slowly sometimes. But I like the way Federation values are once again contrasted fairly objectively with that of another culture. My sense is that most modern, Western people would react to arranged marriage much as Crusher did, with haughty ethnocentrism. It's a tough thing for post-industrial societies to tolerate. Picard is more reserved in his judgment about the marriage itself, but asks questions about her choices and preferences. In the end, he has to balance a unique challenge to his self-discipline, the interests of the peace process he is supposed to facilitate, and his own convictions about individual rights and sentient beings making their own choices. Despite the dull pacing, it's a pretty good episode. I'd give it a 6.
- We're told in this episode that Geordi's parents are both starfleet officers. His mother a command officer and his father an exobioligist.
- Watching the red dot thinger travel around through things. A nice bit of graphics work.
- Data and Guinan debating the image in the clouds.
- Guinan describing her Tarkassian Razorbeast imaginary friend.
- Isabella striking down Troi.
It's always nice to see Troi doing her counsellor job, which she does well in this episode. Beyond that this episode is largely unremarkable except in that it is the final episode of the season to deal heavily with children, a trend which was prominent in this season. In some ways I say good riddance. In other ways I think it was productive. In the first episode, Picard informed Riker to make certain that he was kept away from all matters that dealt with children as much as possible. In this season and especially this episode he seems to have finally lightened up from that.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-10-02 at 2:42am:
At the beginning of the episode, Clara states that Isabella has pierced ears. When Isabella materializes, her appearance exactly matches Clara's description, except Isabella doesn't have pierced ears.
- From djb on 2008-04-19 at 8:03pm:
This episode was largely a waste, except for a couple things:
Data says the "clouds" look distinctly like a bunny rabbit!
The girl who plays "Isabella" is delightfully freaky. She gives me the creeps!
- From curt on 2010-04-07 at 4:57pm:
DSOmo is that supposed to a plothole or something? Everything you identify as a problem is so ridiculously unimportant or not a plothole at all. You say it as if you've uncovered something amazing, and crucial to the episode.
- From CAlexander on 2011-03-26 at 12:43am:
The only part of this episode I liked was the end, where Picard figures out how to pacify the aliens and makes his little speech. I thought the idea of aliens judging humanity through children could have been the plot of an interesting episode." But not this episode, which was more of a children's story about how an evil ghost, who grownups don't believe in, gets you into trouble.
- From Bronn on 2012-12-01 at 2:21am:
Actually think there's some unintended hilarity in this. We know how Picard hates children (though this comes after episodes like "Disaster" where he starts dealing with them more prevalently).
When he hails Worf over the comm, asking for security to be on the lookout for a dangerous alien masquerading as an 11 year old blond girl, Worf seems to take it completely in stride. I had to laugh and imagine that it's not the first time that the Captain has asked for security to detain children that he didn't want to deal with.
- From Mike on 2017-04-23 at 3:13pm:
Well, hopefully Clara doesn't need too much therapy after this. I'm sure Ensign Sutter is happy that psychological treatment is free on a 24th Century Federation starship.
I'd put this one at about a 3. It suffers from the same problem as several of the more mediocre Trek episodes. The crew encounters an intriguing new phenomenon, alien, or problem of some kind which takes up about 45 minutes of the episode. It reaches the denouement and tries to wrap it all up in about 3-5 minutes, usually poorly. I liked Picard's confrontation with "Isabella" but it would've been nice to learn a little more about these life forms rather than spending so much time on Clara's imaginary friend issue. I get it, though. TNG did try at times to cater to the younger age group, so they occasionally have these messages directed toward kids. That's the only explanation I could come up with for why we have multiple scenes where Guinan talks about her own imaginary friend.
- At one point Hugh says "Do I have a name?" before he starts officially using the word "I."
- Picard's initial reaction to bringing a Borg on board.
- Picard conspiring to eliminate the entire Borg Collective.
- Picard, on the Borg: "They declared war on our way of life."
- Picard fencing with Guinan.
- Geordi talking with the Borg.
- Geordi having second thoughts about the plan.
- Guinan changing her mind about Hugh.
- Picard: "It's not a person damn it, it's a Borg!"
- Picard's scene with Hugh.
- The look in Hugh's eye as he transported when he returned to the Borg.
This episode is a fan favorite, though I found it all a bit naive. The opening logic of this episode ultimately prevails, the Borg must be destroyed. Can they be saved? Sure. But does it save more lives just to wipe them out? Yep. So do so. That's certainly the attitude most Borg episodes take. This episode is just far too high on its own morals. It makes sense to humanize a recovered Borg if you intend to keep it on the ship, like in the case of Picard, or later on Voyager with Seven of Nine, but to humanize Hugh then return him to the Collective? Idiotic. I would have explained to Hugh the benefit of the invasive program and asked him to sacrifice himself. Because "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Sherlock on 2006-10-13 at 12:18pm:
I just watched this episode again for the first time in years and found it better than I remember. I thought the plot centered on the same sort of argument that "The Measure of a Man" used. Do they have the right to sacrifice Hugh for the betterment of society, just as they wondered in MoaM if Data had the right to be sacrificed for the betterment of society. In that episode, Picard said that we (humans) would be judged on how we treated this new species, meaning androids. But here he lets his emotions get in the way, and doesn't care how humans will be judged.
The dialogue between Hugh and Picard is brilliant. I love how Picard tries to verbally force Hugh to 'help him assimliate the ship' and Hugh says 'I will not.'
This is my favorite use of the Borg other than the movie "First Contact."
I also think that Guinan is utilized well in this episode. I loved her fencing with Picard!
- From Shashank Mayya on 2007-08-16 at 11:19pm:
At the start of the episode, when they get the distress signal from the moon, Riker oders Dr. Crusher to meet him at the transporter room with a medical away team. In the next sequence, we only see Riker, Worf and Dr. Crusher beaming on the moon's surface. It appears that Dr. Crusher choose to ignore Rikers orders or maybe Worf persuaded her that he could perform medical duties as good as any of her staff?
- From DSOmo on 2007-10-03 at 3:21am:
- When recruiting an individual to write the "invasive" program that will destroy the Borg, Picard chooses Geordi. Wouldn't Data have been a better choice? Of course, if Data wrote the program, he would be the one to do the research with the Borg, and he wouldn't get all emotional and give the Borg a name.
- The invasive program will NOT work! The Borg will not just "fall down" because they are thinking so hard about the picture that was created. What if one of the Borg tried to find the square root of two - a number for which there is no final solution because the digits after the decimal point appear to stretch on forever - will the entire Borg consciousness crash? Of course not! If the Borg have the ability to recognize this sort of unproductive loop, then they can recognize when they can't fully analyze a picture.
- Picard wonders if Hugh's newfound independence might be the most invasive program of all. Haven't the Borg felt this concept of self-identity before? Every time an individual is assimilated, isn't their independence and self-identity felt by the Borg?
- Just before beaming Hugh back to the surface, Picard tells Geordi that the Enterprise will hang close to the sun to obscure their presence from the Borg's sensors. Why is he telling Geordi this in front of Hugh? Once Hugh is back into the Borg consciousness, they'll know exactly where the Enterprise is located.
- In this episode, Dr. Crusher balks at sending Hugh back with the invasion program. She "champions his cause." She asks for clarification on the term "total system failure," trying to make the point that they are contemplating destroying an entire race. Isn't this the same person who was shooting large phaser holes in the chests of the Borg during "The Best Of Both Worlds, Part 2"? Isn't she the same one who suggested using the nanites to invade the Borg ship and destroy them? What's the difference between using nanites and using a computer virus?
- In "The Best Of Both Worlds, Part 2" the crew couldn't isolate Picard from all subspace signals, because Picard would die if they cut him off from the Borg collective consciousness. So why didn't Hugh die when they isolated him from the signals?
- In "Q Who," the crew finds a world with great rips in the surface. Worf comments, "It is as though some great force just scooped all the machine elements off the face of the planet." A short time later, Q identifies the Borg as the ultimate users, seeking only new technologies to improve themselves. Q says they are interested only in the technology on the Enterprise. Then in "The Best Of Both Worlds, Part 1," the activities of the Borg change a little. Now they also assimilate people. By the time "I Borg" comes along, assimilation is the main activity of the Borg.
- From djb on 2008-04-21 at 1:08am:
The only thing that bothered me about this episode is how much of a bleeding heart Crusher was. She gets all broken up about the idea of using this drone to attempt to destroy an entire "race". The Borg are not a "race" or a "species". In effect, the best analogy would be that they are all diseased with an aggressive, incurable, malicious illness, for which the only way to prevent it from spreading is to euthanize those infected with it. When you think of the greatest good for the greatest number, attempting to destroy the Borg by any means possible is the only acceptable course of action. Crusher should know this and stop acting like they're committing genocide: in fact, they're attempting to prevent genocide! (Or, more specifically, geno-assimilation). It's kind of in line with Crusher's character to have reservations about it, but still, come on, Beverly! You're a commander, with, hopefully, the kind of discernment necessary to make these kind of decisions!
This is reflective of a tendency I find too much in Trek humans: putting themselves at too much risk to save a life, even an enemy's.
Anyway, not a bad episode aside from that.
- From JRPoole on 2008-08-25 at 2:51pm:
I think this episode is pretty strong. Although I agree in part with our host's feelings that this one is "naive," I think it does present a real conundrum, though the idea of asking Hugh to sacrifice himself seems a good alternative. This is the kind of thing Trek explores so well, and this episode is a gem, especially coming as it does in the midst of a string of less-than memorable installments. "Imaginary Friend, "Cost of Living," and "Perfect Mate" are all among the worst of the series, so this one couldn't come at a better time.
- From CAlexander on 2011-03-26 at 12:00am:
I enjoyed this episode from beginning to end, even when rewatching it.
- When I first saw the "invasive program", I thought just like DSOmo, that it didn't make sense. But it does make sense if you think of it as a computer virus. The Borg may be easily able to handle any unsolveable problems. But the Enterprise crew has found a bug in the Borg software, then crafted a very specific input, that would never occur by chance, which exploits the bug and causes the Borg software to operate in ways it was never intended to. Just like a real-life computer virus.
- Nevertheless, I found it impossible to believe that they could really be absolutely sure the virus would destroy the entire Borg Collective. Is the ultimate menace really so vulnerable and so easy to understand? I prefer to think they meant, "if it works perfectly, it will destroy the Borg Collective."
- I also, like DSOmo, thought it was odd that independence could be so disruptive to the Borg, since assimilating independence seems to be their primary purpose. But it is likely that the assimilation procedure destroys all independence before the new Borg is actually attached to the collective. For a Borg to develop independence after assimilation may be a totally different situation.
- DSOmo complains that Dr. Crusher was willing to kill Borg, yet balks at extermining them all. Destroying an enemy in battle is not the same as total genocide. Not even close.
- In response to the review, the fact that the wisdom of Picard's decision is debatable is part of the strength of this episode. You may not agree with the idealistic Federation philosophy, but it is a reasonable and consistent philosophy. There are many people in real life who would put morality above expedience. The episode makes you think about what you believe is best. However, I will say I found Picard's decision easier to accept if you assume that the computer virus scheme is far from certain to destroy the Borg Collective, and the "spark of independence" scheme had a reasonable shot at success.
- Common problem with these kinds of episodes... if Ro and Geordi can pass through things, how do they not fall through the floor?
- Ro, with regards to Riker's order to go to the Romulan ship without phasers: "This is not a bright idea."
- It's nice to see Humans, Klingons, and Romulans working together in this episode.
- Worf being concerned with giving the Romulans too much technology and Riker appeasing him.
- Geordi: "Are you saying I'm some kind of blind ghost with cloths?"
- Geordi trying to use his communicator to talk to Ro.
- Worf and Data discussing the funeral plans.
- Geordi and Ro figuring out why they're "phased".
- Ro running through people's quarters.
- Geordi and Ro trying get Data to expose them.
- Geordi and Ro returning.
A fine episode and certainly fun to watch, but the bad science drops its score quite a bit in this one. When everything happening doesn't make any sense, it drops the fun quite a bit. Honestly, this would have been a much better episode if it were centrally about the Federation helping the Romulans and not about some secret phased cloaking device. Oh well.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-10-04 at 3:04am:
-I can "live with" the fact that the floors are solid. Of course, there would be no show - or at least a much more expensive show - if the floors weren't solid. There were several "problems" concerning Geordi and Ro's ability to pass through normal matter that were avoidable: Geordi sits on a transporter pad; Ro touches her navigator's chair and terminal on the bridge; Geordi and Ro sit on benches in a shuttle as it travels to the Romulan ship; the phased Romulan sits in a chair; when the phased Romulan shoots Ro in the leg, she falls down, and a plant in front of her jiggles; Geordi and Ro dive behind a couch, and a bunch of balloons move from the air disturbance. If Geordi and Ro can really pass through normal matter, why did these events happen?
- Let's take this one step further. There are some other problems of being truly out of phase with normal matter. Geordi comments that he hasn't eaten in two days. That makes sense, he couldn't pick up any food. Along the same line, how can his lungs absorb normal oxygen? And how can they hear the conversations of the other crew members? Hearing comes from the impact of waves of air on the eardrum. Wouldn't the normal air molecules pass right through their eardrums, leaving them deaf?
- From Lyric on 2011-03-03 at 12:31am:
There is a scene in this episode that has bothered me since before I was able to pick up on the whole not falling through the floors problem - I was quite young when it first aired. That scene is the one in engineering where Geordi keeps putting his hand in one of the terminals in random places and then gets annoyed with Data, who was scanning the terminal for the anomalies that Geordi was creating, for not realizing that what he was scanning wasn't a random occurrence. Why wasn't Geordi trying to make signs in the terminal that didn't seem random like writing his name or initials or "drawing" with his hand? I suppose that was just too hard to show on t.v., but it still bothers me.
- From CAlexander on 2011-03-26 at 8:03am:
I love these science fiction episodes that take an idea and explore it. I found this episode really interesting to watch, to see how things progress. Not perhaps one of the very best episodes, but high up there in my mind.
- I was just as puzzled by the issues of not falling through the floor, but then I noticed the same issues DSOmo raised about other instants of not passing through objects, and I realized that actually solves the problem. It is clear that the out-of-phase individuals can choose to rest their hands, feet, or bodies on other objects. They just cannot move those objects, or resist being moved through. Apparently it takes a little extra force to move through solid objects, and the extra-thick tritanium floors may be even harder. It is unfortunate they do not explain this, but the instances of this happening are so clearly shown in multiple cases. Especially the way Ro very clearly places her hand on the instrument panel, and the way Geordi says it is "getter harder" to move his hand through the instrument panel after the anyon radiation, as if it was a matter of degree rather than an absolute. Cases where they move through solid objects, then, are either when they intend to, or when they accidentally try to apply force to the object and end up pushing through it instead.
- The issue with breathing oxygen and hearing sound, on the other hand, can't easily be excused. But that is so universal to so many depictions of intangibility in so many mediums that I don't really count it against the show. I just consider it part of the suspension of disbelief when watching a "soft" science fiction program.
- With respect to Lyric's comment, I totally thought the same thing while watching. I assumed the instrument Data was using wasn't calibrated precisely enough to recognize writing. But surely Geordi could have tried something clever by creating some pattern in the choice of items he was touching.
- From Robert Koenn on 2011-04-26 at 10:40am:
Well being an engineer for NASA I do like to see the science being at least fairly realistic. That is why I gave this episode only a three rating. There were simply too many inconsistencies and conflicts with the scenario. They can walk through walls but don't fall through the floor? They can hear and breathe. On and on with these type conflicts digresses rapidly into the writers simply writing a plot scenario as they felt like it creating a fantasy actually. The TOS episode where they went into a high frequency mode was more realistic. The characterization was good though but hardly near the top for episodes. I liked Data's reaction and Ro wanting to know what Riker was going to say about her. I guess I felt too much of the story was contrived and ventured far into the realm of fantasy.
- From Daniel on 2014-05-01 at 1:54pm:
I like this episode for many reasons. My only question is one of a technical detail; isn't the phase inverter system used to phase and cloak in this episode similar or the same as the mechanism used in the episode The Pegasus, in which the ship had a phased cloaking device? The devices in both episodes seem to have the same purpose and effect. I just wonder if the writers of the show created them as intentionally the same device or just coincidentally similar, since both devices were created by Romulan technology.
- This episode is a candidate for my "Best Episode of TNG Award".
- This episode won the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. This episode was the first TV show episode to be given such an award since TOS: The City on the Edge of Forever.
- Picard's reaction to his new location. "Freeze program! End program!"
- Picard talking to his "old friend" trying to get information about where he is.
- The revelation that the probe is making Picard live a completely new life and that for him, years are going by.
- Picard getting sick in his dream world thanks to the disruption of the beam transmission.
- Picard's wife's death.
- Picard's old friend returning from the dead to explain the probe to Picard.
- Picard having to rediscover who he is.
This episode is a fan favorite, and with good reason. The story that develops within Picards mind is captivating and just when it starts to seem familiar and warm, the characters explain to Picard what his new life really was. The idea behind the story is very simple. Picard is taken into a dream world by an alien probe in which he lives a completely new life. It's not the idea of the episode that is superb, but the execution. This episode features an absolutely stunning performance by Patrick Stewart as Picard. Arguably the best performance he's ever done. In the end, we're left with the tragic story of a civilization destroyed by their own sun going nova and a profoundly affected Picard. He will never be the same man again after this truly life changing experience. A TNG classic.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Rich Dixon on 2006-04-20 at 6:37pm:
Patrick Stewart never quite fully received the accolades and recognition from the Emmy's for his portrayal of Jean Luc Picard during his stint on TNG. The show as a whole was disregarded come Emmy time. We all know the reason why. It was a science fiction show, syndicated no less. In the early 90s, there was no way in hell a sci-fi show would be nominated for best drama on TV. Now in the 21st century, things have changed of course. Shows on Cable TV are routinely nominated. I still wonder if TNG and Stewart would garner nominations even still today. Not that the Emmy's are the end all to be all. My point is this. Somebody had to give this man an award! Stewart's performance in this episode was a tour de force. It was just stunning. The Inner Light although simplistic in its story telling, encompassed everything that Star Trek represents. The aliens in this episode will never be forgotten. At least not for Picard, who was controlled by an alien probe from a world long since vanished. During a span of 25-30 minutes, he lives a lifetime of another man complete with a loving wife and two kids. He watches them grow up along with the decaying of his planet. We watch as Picard stubbornly and defiantly refuses to play along with these people who seem to believe he's another man. Eventually, Picard assumes the life of this man and leads the life he never had and longed for. He has a family. He has a companion who is loyal, patient and nurturing. Picard's brilliant mind leads him to find ways to save his planet to no avail. Ultimately, the aliens reveal themselves and inform Picard the truth about themselves and their planet. This was their way of being remembered. What an effective way to let others understand who you are. Let them live a lifetime as one of you. One of the most moving and touching scenes came at the end, in Picard's ready room. Riker walks in and gives the captain the only contents that were found in the alien probe. A flute Picard learned to play as this other man. When Picard was first abducted, he didn't even know how to hold it properly. As Riker leaves the captain to his thoughts, Picard stares out the window. He begins to play it with a feeling and passion that conveys everything we need to know. These memories will stay with him forever. This is an excellent episode. It's the very reason why I loved this show.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-05-04 at 11:08pm:
Is it just me or does the second version of picard (aged once) look a hell of a lot like Jimmy Buffett?
- From Pete Miller on 2006-07-18 at 6:30pm:
Sorry to come back and post again, but after I finished the series I decided to award my personal Best episode of TNG award.
When I picked my "Best of..." episodes, I took into consideration what each series was really about. The Next Generation is truly about exploring the unexplored, discovering new people and cultures, and above all self-improvement. It is not like DS9, which focuses on more darker themes and contains more action. The Next Generation aims to paint an optimistic picture of the future, and to affect its audiences profoundly.
The Inner Light accomplished all of TNG's goals. It is a masterful story of the tragic death of an entire species whose sun went supernova. The culture is not lost, however, but preserved through the memories of Picard, who is a changed man. It is a story of life in general, and of growing old and losing loved ones. The bottom line, though, is that the future is a bright one, and those things that we may consider to be lost causes today may yet live on in the future.
This was a very moving performance by Patrick Stewart, the best actor to ever grace Star Trek. It was a perfectly written story, demonstrating the awesomeness of TNG's writers. I cannot subtract any points from anything, and the episode basically epitomizes TNG.
It is with all of these things in consideration that I bestow my "Best of TNG" award to "The Inner Light". As soon as I finish Voyager I'll re-evaluate all episodes to find the best overall.
- From DSOmo on 2007-10-05 at 3:29am:
This is one of my favorite TNG episodes of all time. That is not correct. This is one of my favorite Star Trek episodes of all time! Jean-Luc Picard is one of my favorite Star Trek characters (it doesn't hurt having an amazing actor like Patrick Stewart playing the part.) However, yes, I have even "discovered" a problem with this episode.
- This is a society with the technological level of midtwentieth-century Earth. It manufactured a device that can create an alternate reality within an unknown alien mind. Look at what this probe accomplishes. It scans the Enterprise and overpowers the ship's shields. It finds Picard and attaches an energy beam to him. This energy beam creates an alternate reality so complete that "it is as real as his life on the Enterprise." Does this sound like a project undertaken by a community who have just begun to launch missles? In the late 1950s, if the nations of Earth discovered that the Sun would soon explode, is it even conceivable that those nations would be able to build such a device?
- From baron on 2010-12-11 at 2:49pm:
After watching this I found the society that he lived in pretty unbelievable. All Picard seems to do is play his flute and look through a telescope. How did he raise a family just by doing that? Wouldn't he need a job and income of some kind? This isn't a futuristic society with food replicators and unlimited energy. They say they have to grow crops. Towards the end they say the crops are failing. Where are they getting their food from then? They say it takes a day just to send a message to the next village. It's pretty impossible that society could have built the probe in the first place.
In an earlier episode someone mentioned that it would have been to impossible for a time traveler from the past to take a phaser and try to manufacture it back in his own society. Since their society wouldn't have the infrastructure in place to be able to manufacture it. Perhaps a phaser needs a mineral from another star system but they don't have the ability to leave their planet. But yet in this episode a 1950's era society can make technology more advanced than the enterprise.
- From Autre on 2011-03-04 at 2:32pm:
They are aliens, and regardless if they are in a 1950's era situation they are much different from humans. Rather than creating atomic bombs or weapons to destroy one another they all banded together as a race with a single goal in mind.
If you were to take every scientist in the world and work them to one cause it is very likely something astounding would come from it.
But again, the main point behind this is that they are aliens, and TNG has many episodes with aliens that appear to not be advanced but turn out having technological marvels.
- From Robert Koenn on 2011-04-29 at 11:46am:
This was a very good episode but not nearly my favorite. In fact I rated it a 7. Stewart did do an excellent job of acting in the episode. But why I lowered my rating was that I did not find the scenario and the overall plot that exciting. While I could also say it was technically absurd, a race that seems to live a simple agrarian existence creating this marvelously advanced spacecraft that was launched on a very basic solid fueled rocket, that is not really my main complaint. It just wasn't that exciting or even enticing to watch Picard live this imaginary life. I am not a particular fan of massive doses of action or such but found this more of a soap operaish plot line. It appears I am the minority in this take on the episode but those were my thoughts while watching it. I found the interplay between characters much more interesting in the episode where Picard returns home and visits his brother.
- From Alvlin on 2011-05-26 at 11:45pm:
I agree with Baron. While this is a great episode both emotionally & executionally, logically it has a HUGE flaw -- there is no way that such a "technologically primitive" society could manufacture & launch a probe that would be able to pierce the defenses of a ship 1,000 years into the future, not to mention reach directly into Picard's mind and play out a scenario based on his own reactions. A real strech which unfortunately hurts the overall credibility of this one.
- From Bronn on 2011-09-25 at 1:33am:
I just want to comment on some of the scientific critique's of this episode. One of the reasons I can buy is that I don't necessarily think their technology had to evolve at a similar rate to ours. Just because they weren't advanced in the field of space travel doesn't mean they weren't advanced in other areas-they just may not have been interested in space travel. It's worth wondering how interested humanity would be in space travel if this planet had no moon. The extreme advance of technology during the space race is partly owed to the existence of an easily definable objective: Let's put a human on the closest celestial object. It helps also to have such a close orbit body to fuel the curiosity of planet-dwellers, to give them an actual urge to reach space.
What we see of the planet during this episode also represents a single agrarian community. It's not necessarily the best cross-section. If you visited 20th century Earth and all you saw was a farming community in Nebraska, you might not catch on that we can generate nuclear power, or that there is a laboratory in Geneva that can isolate atoms of anti-hydrogen. The native culture in this episode may have simply had some specialization in ways to affect brain chemistry, and this was a technology unique to their development.
"But how does it pierce the defenses of the USS Enterprise!?" Well it's just possible that the Enterprise's defenses aren't designed to defeat the specific thing that the probe was doing. The shields are designed to repel only specific types of energy, and presumably solid objects (there are many inconsistencies with THAT). The shields clearly allow certain types of energy to pass through-as evidenced by the fact that the crew can actually see out a window even with the shields are activated, so visible light is not stopped by the shields. The crew is also still able to use communication frequencies with the shields up, so perhaps other parts of the EM spectrum are not screened out. It's not like this beam utterly defeats the Enterprise, since it takes the crew a whopping 5 minutes to figure out how to interrupt it (if that)-they are only stopped because removing it nearly kills Picard.
Okay, so there's a little bit of a hand-waving in that the probe apparently "scans" the crew, or least has some method of identifying that there are life forms on board the Enterprise, and it manages to isolate one to communicate with, but it's not like we ever learn much about how the USSE itself scans for lifeforms. There's not really an issue with bad science in this episode, at least not enough to destroy willful suspension of disbelief, unless you're just looking for reasons not to like it.
- From Rob on 2013-01-27 at 1:05am:
I love this episode, it could be my own personal experiences that leads me to this but it seems to me to be an analogy to a psychedelic induced state of mind wherein the 'traveller' can experience an entire lifetime in the blink of an eye.
Once returning to their original understanding of their reality and normal perspectives there is a struggle, a conflict between the person they were before the event, the person they were during the event and who they need to be to move on from the event. Everything that took place was easily as real as the present and past to them, completely linked with emotions and feelings as real as any other memory in their mind.
The only way for the traveller to move on is to merge the persona they lived into their ego, challenge the resistance from the higher ego and accept that they experienced a true existence and that perception combined with perspective is all there is, we accept our current one as the only one in order to live.
This analogy would have been complete if after returning to the enterprise when Picard was given the flute he was able to play it as proficiently as he did in the mental projection.
- From skye_sken on 2013-03-27 at 8:31pm:
Just thought to comment on the allegations that a civilization such as theirs could not produce the technology needed for the probe to exist: I always figured the dreamworld that Picard experiences is rather an ideal representation of this people, or perhaps a "play" of a sort, rather than a full-on realistic portrayal of the advanced civilization they fostered just before the supernova event which eradicated it's people.
When you think of it, some might say that a fine way to express one's civilization would be through art. It can be argued that technology is kind of homogenic in the way that any alien species can produce the same quantative results and inventions, whereas art I would suppose is always subjective and thus unique. I mean, showing aliens a play by Shakespeare would cover an immense amount of human emotions, those we hold so dear to us, and in a way sleek the image of humanity for the alien specators (after all, not many of us would sooner paint impressions of war, rape, extortion and other realistic qualities expressed by mankind).
As someone before me noted, Picard doesn't seem to be doing any work, well, expect for his scientific research, which I guess many a folk do care for, and might deem important enough to sustain through their own labor. In the INNER LIGHT, art plays a key role in cultural preservation. In the dreamworld, we see art approached in the manner of the flute Picard gradually learns to play, the music of which in a way is a strong symbol of the lost people and a means to immortalize a part of their civilization.
While we're making assumptions, I guess it's possible that if Picard's dreamworld was indeed a play, it was not entirely truthful, and this civilization never actually disappeared in a super nova after all; Picard just became a buffoon of an elaborate cosmic jape. But that's not nearly as romantic an idea, so forget it.
- From railohio on 2014-07-27 at 11:03am:
You guys are forgetting that while the probe was advanced, it certainly did not overpower the enterprise. The enterprise could have easily destoyed it, or severed the link (which they did), but they wouldn't because it would have been fatal to Picard. Even before he was connected by the beam, the Enterprise's mission is to explore new life and civilizations, so they could not simply destroy it on sight.
As far as creating the probe in the 1st place. We can say the beginning of the episode took place somewhere in the 1950's. He lived almost a full life on Katan so it is feasible to say 40 years passed. That would put the society somewhere in the 1990s. With 1990s technology, it was seem like a far stretch to create such a device. However with the entirety of the planet working on such a desperate cause, one can conclude that it is somewhat possible to create something like this.
Overall I loved this episode, and found it extremely interesting. A solid 9
- From Axel on 2015-03-24 at 11:53pm:
I'm in the minority that didn't enjoy this episode, and it's not because of the technological issues discussed above. It's because I really can't believe Picard or anyone else doesn't give a second thought to the ethics of what the Kataan have done.
This probe is designed to take control of a person's conscious, force that person to relive a lifetime with the Kataan, and then awaken that person after making clear that this experience was just a recreation designed to keep the memory of their civilization alive. So twice you are confronted with years and years of your life being an illusion. The first time would be enough to make anyone question their own sanity. As for the second round of news at the end, Picard takes it pretty well. But the Kataan seem not to have considered (or cared) that others might not handle it that well. A person could leave this entire experience with serious mental and emotional problems rather than fond memories. Many might not have adjusted to living with the Kataan in the first place.
Maybe the Kataan think that the collective memory of their civilization is worth all of this. But that issue is never really explored. Instead, Picard is released from his fake probe life as a happy man with a flute, never once wondering about the roller-coaster the Kataan just put him through.
The acting in this episode is superb, not just Stewart but the guests as well. Still, the details of Picard's life with the Kataan isn't enough to redeem this one for me, nor was it interesting enough to put the episode's plot above average.
- From Harrison on 2016-06-25 at 7:50pm:
A dramatic masterpiece, by far the best episode of any of the Star trek series. Stewart's performance is simply magnificent.
Of course it is easy as pie to poke holes in the sci-fi logic underpinning the plot. That's true with any episode in the series, and it is hardly significant in light of the outstanding screenplay, character formation and plain old dramatic compulsion. A little suspension of disbelief won't harm you, and in the laws of the Star trek universe, there's nothing terribly difficult to accept.
- From dominic on 2016-06-26 at 1:11am:
The thought did cross my mind that such a primitive society shouldnt' have been able to build such an advanced piece of technology in the probe, but I was able suspend my disbelief and get over that.
What really bothers me about this episode is what Axel mentioned above. Surely the victim of this probe is put through an unfathomable amount of emotional trauma...not once, but twice. When Captain Picard "came back" and they asked him to go sickbay, I was totally expecting him to say something like "I don't need to go to sickbay. I need to see Counselor Troi." Not only did he not say that, but he didn't even see her. Was she even in this episode? Seems like a huge oversight to not have her play a more important role.
- Data trades his communicator for three silver dollars. He throws one dollar into the pot as his ante for the first game, but the ante was said to be four bits, which is 50 cents.
- The Frenchmen in this episode is played by Marc Alaimo, who later goes on to play Gul Dukat on DS9.
- Finding Data's head in the cavern.
- Riker: "Your head is not an artifact!"
- Data casually discussing the foreknowledge of his death.
- Troi quoting and imitating his definition of friendship.
- Picard trying to force Data to stay safe and cheat his "upcoming" death.
- Data in 1800s San Francisco.
- Data and the beggar.
- Data: "This is not sleepwear. And I do not have a missus. I am a Frenchmen."
- Data speaking French.
- Data playing Poker to get money.
- Data and the bus boy.
- Guinan making a special chemistry drink.
- Data pretending not to be able to lift the anvil.
- Data fumbling over the figures of speech.
- Seeing Guinan in the past.
- Guinan discussing the concept of alien worlds with Mark Twain.
- Data forcing his way into Guinan's house.
- Guinan's reaction to Data's entry.
An intriguing episode and certainly a memorable one. Though as a huge cliffhanger, there's not much to comment on. It's certainly fun to see Data interacting with 1800s Earth. It's also interesting to see that Guinan is apparently on Earth in this time period for reasons we're not given.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-10-06 at 3:09am:
- As the Enterprise warps toward Devidia II, Geordi tells Guinan about finding Data's head in a cave on Earth. Guinan replies, "That's why the Enterprise is being sent back to Earth." The Enterprise has already been to Earth. It is on its way to another planet when she makes this comment.
- When Guinan asks Picard if he is going on the away team mission, he replies that it is standard Starfleet policy for him not to go on away team missions. Starfleet policy must have changed. It is Riker, not Starfleet, who has made a unilateral decision that captains should not go on away teams.
- From CAlexander on 2011-03-30 at 11:45pm:
I liked Data's encounter with 19th century Earth. It plays out nicely. I also liked the mystery of Data's head, and the weird encounters with the phase discriminator. The one negative for me was that I felt everyone's reactions to Data's death were overacted.
- The ante seemed rather large compared to the size of Data's stakes. Doesn't give him much room to make decisions and use his poker skill. Was he fortunate, or did he cheat?
- From Cal on 2017-02-24 at 6:04am:
Starfleet had had the no captains on away missions rule for quite some time. Riker just enforced it more.