Star Trek TNG - Season 6
- Why was Geordi wearing his visor in the hospital for anyone to see?
- Premonitions of this episode can be found in TNG: Booby Trap, where Guinan makes a statement about a bald man coming to her aid a long time ago, and in TNG: Ensign Ro, where Guinan explains to Ro that her trust in Picard runs deep for special reasons.
- The landlady calling Picard "Mr. Pickerd."
- The Revelation that the bus boy was Jack London, the young self-taught writer of over 50 books.
- Mark Twain freaking out over Data and Guinan's activities.
- The crew escaping the hospital with Data.
- Mrs. Carmichael being manipulated by Picard.
- Data's death.
- Mark Twain's reaction to being transported.
- "Wearwolf..." Mark Twain's reaction to seeing Worf.
- Mark Twain's discussion of government with Troi.
- Mark Twain's realization that he's "misjudged many things."
- Data interpreting Picard's message.
- Guinan, Picard, and Twain just before Picard returns.
If you read the factoids section of my reviews, you'll see that this episode was "supposed to happen". Twice through the show we were given direct evidence that "a long time ago" Picard came to Guinan's aide. Now we know what she was talking about. This long-term character development of Guinan is wonderful writing. One nice thing about the plot is that this Guinan business seems to be just a minor plot thread, as well. We're given a much more dominant plot regarding Mark Twain, Data, San Francisco, and these soul sucking aliens. I'm usually not fond of endings where everything conveniently works out in the end, but this episode wrapped it all up so nicely and neatly as well as stylishly that I forgive it. Time's Arrow is not the best season finale / premiere to grace Star Trek, but it's definitely a great showing for a TNG fan.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Shashank Mayya on 2007-08-30 at 3:14am:
The Bell Boy and Data's errand lad goes on to become the famous writer Jack London who wrote the "Call of the Wild".
- From DSOmo on 2007-10-08 at 3:53am:
- The away team establishes a base of operations in a boardinghouse. One of the lighthearted bits of the episode has Picard trying to squirm his way out of paying the rent. However, the second time the landlady comes to collect the rent, Data is with the group. Doesn't Data have money from his winnings in poker?
- Troi takes Clemens to visit Geordi as Geordi works on reconnecting Data's head. After entering the room, Clemens sees his watch on a table and grabs the watch. Doesn't it seem likely that a watch from the nineteenth century would be on its way to a museum instead of lying on a table in Geordi's lab?
- While trying to reattach Data's head to his body, Geordi finds a metal file at the base of the opening in the back of the head. Why didn't Data discover the metal file when he examined the head earlier?
- Before departing for the nineteenth century, Clemens states that he wants to go back because he has more books to write. Later, while preparing to fire the torpedoes to destroy the aliens' origination point, Riker expresses concern that Picard should have gotten back already if Clemens had returned to the nineteenth century. Worf then says, "We have no way of knowing if Mr. Clemens was successful." Can't they check their historical data base to see if Mark Twain wrote any books after August 1893 (the time frame for this adventure)?
- At the very end of the show, Clemens instructs the medics who carry Guinan off on a stretcher. Do the doctors of nineteenth-century Earth really have the medical knowledge to help a woman whose physiology is so different that she lives at least five hundred years?
- Phasers reacquire the ability to be tuned to different frequencies in this episode. Originally, phasers had this capability, as demonstrated in "Arsenal Of Freedom." Then phasers lost the capability in "The Best Of Both Worlds."
- Picard sends a message to Data by tapping on the back of his head with a metal file. After Data comes to life, he tells Geordi that he is processing a binary message from Picard. A binary message? Do you know how many 1's and 0's Picard would need to send to create a message that Data could understand?
- From thaibites on 2012-04-05 at 9:20pm:
This episode really pissed me off! I waited a couple decades to see what finally happened to Data's head, and all I get is the WORST character in the history of Trek - Mark Twain. This guy was more obnoxious and unlikable than Dr. Pulaski! Plus, he never shut up. I wish Data would've popped his head like a big zit.
I think the creative team really dropped the ball on this one because they wasted all that time on Twain and never really delved into these mysterious aliens that occupy the same space as us, but are out of sync with our time. It's a fascinating concept that could've led to many wonderful revelations about reality and quantum physics, but all we get is some miserable, old moron prattling on and on and on...
This episode suffers from too much padding, too much comedy relief, and much too much Twain.
- From Dys on 2012-08-10 at 2:11pm:
This episode looks like some 2005 Doctor Who's episodes (and surely old doctor who too?), with disguised aliens commiting some machination at differents periods, in costume s'il-vous-plait, guests historicals characters, and of course time travel.
For me it doesn't fit correctly in the star trek mythology and let me a disappointing feeling.
- From Quando on 2014-07-28 at 9:07pm:
I just re-watched this episode last night, and I had a couple of thoughts.
First, when Guinan is brought back to the hotel and is with the rest of the crew (Riker, Crusher, La Forge) for the first time, nobody even says anything about it. Like how about, "what's Guinan doing here?" They all just act like she came with them in the first place.
Second, I thought the whole "zany" side story about pretending to be putting on a play to get out of paying the landlady was incredibly lame. Based on what they found in the cave at the beginning of the episode, they knew in advance that they were going back in time to late 1800s' San Francisco. Picards' group may have even brought appropriate costumes with them (they don't otherwise explain where they got those perfectly appropriate clothes, including a police uniform and a nurse's uniform). So before they left, why didn't they just replicate a bunch of currency from that time period?
Third, I was rather skeptical that they could take Data's 500 year old head and just hook it up to his body and have it work fine like nothing ever happened. I guess that also means Data will have to live the rest of his life with a head that is 500 years older than the rest of his body -- kinda creepy.
Finally, the climactic scene in which they beam Picard out just in the nick of time was not believable. Remember: Worf fired the photon torpedoes, shortly thereafter there is a report that sensors have started to pick up Picard's life signs in the cave, Riker calls the transporter room, and then the transporter guys lock on and beam up Picard, all in the time it took for the photons torpedoes to travel from a ship that is in orbit of the planet down to the cave. Those are some seriously slow torpedoes. I know they wanted to manufacture some tension, but they could have come up with something better than that.
- From Axel on 2015-03-01 at 4:43pm:
This is the only TNG two-parter I didn't like. It was stretched out longer than it needed to be. There is too much filler, mainly involving the Twain and London characters. It feels like there was such a need to force them into the plot and make the audience aware of their presence, that the main storyline involving the Devidian aliens never gets developed as much as it should. The Guinan subplot was a nice touch, but it too gets convoluted by the overall mishandling of the episode.
It was a nice episode for the Data character. Along with "Measure of a Man" and several other episodes, it's clear the Enterprise crew has become very protective of Data and see him as much more than an android.
Still, I'd give this a 4 ranking. Not much of a cliffhanger, on top of everything else.
- From Keefaz on 2017-01-29 at 4:34am:
Mark Twain almost single-handedly ruins this episode. Like a squawking bird right up in your ear for 90 minutes.
- From Cal on 2017-02-24 at 10:31am:
I love this finale. I love the setting, I love Clemens and his reaction to Worf and the Bolian. I love the continuity, I love the way Data turns up in a getaway coach. There's lots to love. Allthough I still don't know what Data says when he's speaking French.
I recognised the young reporter's voice talking to Clemens, turns out it's Ensign Taurik from Lower Decks and later Ensign Vorik from Voyager. Loving these blurays.
- From Rick on 2017-03-27 at 9:24pm:
To the poster above, Data says something along the lines of "we are almost brothers, nice to make your acquaintance"
- O'Brien's been transporting people for 22 years.
- Each transporter pad has four redundant scanners to prevent losing people.
- There hasn't been a case of transporter psychosis in "over 50 years"
- Transporter psychosis was first diagnosed in the year 2209
- Barclay trying to avoid the transporter.
- Barclay's reaction to O'Brien's description of the "bumpy ride".
- Barclay chickening out.
- Troi introducing Barclay to plexing, which will become a nervous habit he practices for the rest of his life...
- O'Brien describing his arachnophobia.
- Barclay facing the transporter.
- I like the inference that Cardassians are responsible for the attack on the ship. It shows nice internal continuity with previous and future episodes dealing with an ever aggressive race.
- Barclay seeing a creature in the matter stream with him.
- Barclay self-diagnosed transporter psychosis.
- Data noticing Barclay's odd behavior.
- Barclay trying to convince everyone he's not going insane.
- Barclay grabbing for what was in the matter stream with him.
An episode that deals with transporter phobia. A great topic for an episode, seeing as how many fans of the show have voiced their displeasure with the idea of being taken apart molecule by molecule. At the same time, the episode's topic is analogous to modern phobias with things like air planes. Barclay is reintroduced into the fold once again seamlessly and appropriately. Every Barclay episode has been a pleasure to watch because of the genius behind the actor. Not that the character is all that stunningly great, but Dwight Schultz puts on a really good show as him. I'm also fond of O'Brien's key role in the story. Overall, a slightly above average episode.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-10-09 at 2:15am:
- Doesn't it seem as if Barclay is staying conscious for a long time through his process of molecular deconstruction?
- The away team finds a Lieutenant Kelly dead and covered with second and third degree burns, on the USS Yosemite. Crusher states that he did not die from the burns. But the episode never says what Lieutenant Kelly did die from.
- It appears the crew of the Yosemite ran their plasma tests with the comtainer still on the transporter pad. Don't they have a lab for this type of activity? This is a science vessel.
- If the worms in the transporter are members of Starfleet, aren't they behaving rather strange? One did bite Barclay's arm.
- For the past five seasons, the doors adjacent to the center island in Main Engineering have led to turbolifts. In this episode, Barclay opens this same door and the turbolift is gone! Now it's some kind of auxiliary engine room.
- When did O'Brien get demoted? At some point he got busted back down to ensign! He takes a direct order from Barclay. I thought both Barclay and O'Brien were lieutenants. However, in this episode, O'Brien is wearing only one black-centered pip.
- After discovering the life forms in Barclay's arm, Crusher gives him an armband monitoring device. She says it will tell her if "there is the slightest sign" of the life forms increasing in his system. Later, in Engineering, Barclay collapses as a blue glow erupts from both arms and his neck. Oddly enough, the monitoring device attached to his arm doesn't seem to inform Crusher of this development.
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-08 at 9:38am:
I'm fond of this episode, like I am of most Barclay episodes, but the premise here is borderline ridiculous. I don't mean the existence of the matter/energy microbes in the plasma stream. I don't even mean the idea of the crew members trapped in the energy stream.
But how does Barclay "see" these entities? I can buy that there's a moment or two when the transporter process first begins where it's possible to see the world around you swirling through all the phased matter. But it's ridiculous to think that you can reach out and grab something sharing the stream with you and simply bring it back with you. Reach out with what? You don't have arms (or eyes, or legs, or teeth, or hair). You exist as a pattern of energy.
I'm usually willing to overlook questionalble science (except when it's REALLY bad, as in the upcoming "Rascals" episode) but this is pushing it a little for me. Although I believe this episode is well paced and interesting, this terrible science drops it down a bit.
- From Drake on 2010-11-08 at 2:10pm:
Barclay is such a terrible character. One of The worst episodes of the 90's.
- From Sanduzzo on 2014-02-06 at 12:03pm:
Any episode with Barclay is both boring and annoying to watch.
- From Rob UK on 2015-02-23 at 12:12am:
Goddammit i hate the character Barclay, annoys the shit out of me in so many ways, what a twat, how the hell this supposed character ever got into Starfleet beggars belief, he gets even worse when they regurgitate him in Voyager.
Dwight Schultz should have retired from acting after playing Murdoch in The A-Team as it was the only character his stupid face fits.
Even Neelix is less annoying than Barclay
- From Bronn on 2015-07-01 at 6:16pm:
Don't get why this episode is voted so low. Love Barclay, unlike the other commenters, and think he's a delightful addition on the show. Dwight Schulz nails this character, and honestly, this episode really addresses the elephant in the closet: transporters are scary, when you consider the implications of them.
- How is Troi's aging magically reduced?
- There's an "Ensign Janeway" in this episode. No relation, I'm sure... ;)
- Worf directing a martial arts class. Cool!
- The old woman: "Have you mated with him yet?!"
- Troi being life-force raped.
- Troi toying with Riker.
- Troi being mean to Ensign Janeway.
- Beverly performing an illegal autopsy.
- Beverly faking Troi's death.
I like the impunity the ambassador had throughout the episode. It shows us that sometimes people just get so famous and important that even haneous crimes they commit seem to be overlooked. The ambassador reminded me somewhat of OJ Simpson, except in this case getting what he deserved in the end. Despite the fine story idea, the execution was rather drab. The story was caught up in Beverly's medical mystery, the conclusion of which was obvious. The only interesting part was the climax, in which it's fun to watch Picard and Beverly manipulate the ambassador. His death was fitting, albeit a bit convenient. My main problem with this episode is the number of TNG cliches. A diplomatic mission, a mystery guest star with a secret, and more Troi suffering scenes. I've thus marked it down a bit.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-10-09 at 3:56am:
- When Crusher proposes to kill Troi so Alcar will break his link, Riker reacts immediately. Crusher responds that she will be able to revive Troi as long as thirty minutes do not elapse before resuscitation. Why thirty minutes? In "The Neutral Zone," Crusher revived humans who had been frozen for hundreds of years.
- After making a scene in Ten-Forward, Troi gets escorted out by Riker. They board a turbolift and the doors read "08 Turbolift." Ten-Forward is on deck 10, not deck 8.
- At the end of the show, Picard predicts that Alcar will attempt to find another person as soon as Troi dies. To protect Alcar's intended victim, he contacts Transporter Room 2 and tells them to lock on to the female in Alcar's quarters. But when he wants to beam her out he says, "Picard to Transporter Room 3. Energize!" How does the transporter chief in Transporter Room 3 know what to do? Picard gave his instructions to Transporter Room 2.
- From Rob on 2008-04-17 at 7:50pm:
The only scene that is really worth watching more than once to me is Troi cutting down Ensign Janeway... I laugh every time.
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-07 at 12:49pm:
Mind rape in various forms is getting to be a little ho-hum aboard the Enterprise. It seems like something similar comes up at least once a season.
What we get here is little more than another Troi-in-mental anguish episode. This one gets marked up a little because Marina Sirtis gets to walk around in sexy dresses and she does a great job acting, especially in the scene someone mentioned above where she breaks it off in Ensign Janeway, who probably needed to hear that anyway.
This one loses a couple of points, however, when Troi transforms back in to her old self. I just can't buy that she's instantly back to her regular appearance as soon as the mind lock is severed. The tissue changes (wrinkles, discoloring, gray hair) aren't going to disappear instantly. I know this is minor and mostly cosmetic, but it irked me. Still, not a terrible episode. I give i a 3.
- From Will on 2011-10-26 at 10:01pm:
I just want to point out that OJ was not acquitted simply because he was famous, he was acquitted because he was black and famous.
- From Dstyle on 2015-09-21 at 1:35pm:
I just want to point out that OJ was not acquitted simply because he was famous, he was acquitted because the prosecution monumentally bungled the case, leaving A LOT of room for reasonable doubt. The only folks who think otherwise either didn't follow the trial or already wanted a guilty verdict before they heard any of the evidence presented. Our previous commentor--who I assume managed to post from an alternate universe--seems to be laboring under the misapprehension that being black is somehow a "get out of jail free" card in the American judicial system. Don't worry! America still puts a lot of black folks behind bars (or worse)!
A much better comparison could be made between the ambassador and Bill Cosby, although Mr. Cosby's long string of crimes had not been widely publicized at the time this review was written.
- The Enterprise beamed Geordi and Scotty through the old ship's shields. Maybe they were weak enough or something.
- The Dyson Sphere concept is based off of a non Trek related SciFi idea, named after its creator, Dyson.
- According to this episode there have been "5 Federation ships" by the name Enterprise.
- The sight of the Dyson Sphere.
- The sight of a TOS transporter rematerializing Scotty.
- Scotty not aware of how much time had passed.
- Geordi, regarding rigging the transporter to survive: "That's brilliant!" Scotty: "I think it was only 50% brilliant. Franklin deserved better."
- Beverly, on Scotty's health: "I'd say you feel fine for a man of 147."
- Scotty fumbling over the new technology.
- Scotty: "I was driving starships when your great grandfather was in diapers!"
- Data explaining synthehol to Scotty.
- Scotty: "Synthetic scotch. Synthetic commanders."
- Scotty: "What is it?" Data: "It is... it is... it is green." A reference to Scotty's famous line in TOS: By Any Other Name.
- Scotty: "NCC 1701, no bloody A, B, C, or D."
- The original Enterprise on the holodeck.
- Picard: "Aldebaran whisky. Who do you think gave it Guinan?"
- Picard and Scotty discussing the ships they miss.
- Scotty, with regards to the holodeck: "Computer, shut this bloody thing off."
- Geordi trying to cheer up Scotty.
- The old ship holding the Dyson sphere open with its shields.
- Geordi discussing his adventure with Dr. Brahms with Scotty.
The simplistic plot is perfect because it allows us to spend more time on Scotty and less time on SciFi concept of the week. The greatest thing about it though was the SciFi concept of the week was a wonderful idea. So the whole plot just wove together into to an impressions show. Everything in this episode was geared toward impressing the viewer. Especially if the viewer was a longtime Star Trek fan. Yes, this episode is completely fanboyish. Oldschool TOS character returns and an obscure but well documented SciFi concept given a cameo as well. This whole episode seems to be a cameo. But it couldn't have been done better and I enjoyed it greatly.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-10-10 at 4:49am:
- When the Enterprise first discovers the Dyson's sphere, Data states it is 200 million kilometers in diameter. Riker responds, "That's nearly as large as the Earth's orbit around the Sun." The Earth's orbit around the Sun is approximately 297 million kilometers. I leave it for you to decide if a difference of 97 million kilometers qualifies as "nearly."
- When Scotty rematerializes, his arm is in a sling. Later, Crusher states that he has a hairline fracture of the humerus - the long bone of the upper arm. Surprisingly, Scotty seems to feel no pain as Geordi bumps the arm several times and gives it a good whack right where the injury is!
- When Data discovers Scotty doesn't care for the taste of synthahol, he tells Scotty that Guinan keeps a store of true alcoholic beverages and proceeds around the bar to fetch some. Can anyone just help themselves to Guinan's provisions?
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-06 at 9:30pm:
I agree with everything here. One nice touch to this episode is Scotty's relationship with Worf. He refuses to shake Worf's hand at the end of the episode. I like this because it's true to his character and it's not a pollyanna feelgood ending, as some things never change.
- From KStrock on 2009-01-23 at 8:43am:
In reference to DSOmo and the alcohol.
In Season 2's episode "Up the Long Ladder", Worf states that true alcohol can be replicated. Although then we would't be able to reference the "It is...green" scene.
- From Ali on 2009-03-22 at 2:04pm:
When Scotty is first brought back, and Riker tells him he is from the Enterprise, Scotty assumes Kirk is commanding it, and Riker has to explain the time passage, etc.
But Kirk is dead at this point (or believed to be by the world). According to the Generations movie, he was picked up by the Nexxus, and Scotty is one of the first ones to find out he is gone.
So, did Scotty forget this? At first, I thought maybe Scotty had been placed in this beam before the Kirk incident, but then Scotty never returns to the earlier time from whence he came, so Kirk's death must have happened beforehand.
Someone tell me if I am missing something here!
- From Someone Else on 2009-05-03 at 9:11pm:
No, you're right, and this is the main problem with this episode - however, bear in mind that this episode was filmed a considerable time before Generations. And, who knows? Maybe being stuck in the transporter buffer for half an aeon can lead to temporary amnesia or something.
- From Daniel Blessing on 2009-09-16 at 5:30pm:
Beamings happen all of the time between Federation ships while shields are active. I am surprised you have not mentioned that as a problem in more of your episodes.
My only reasonable explanation for these occurrences is that the Federation ships are all provided with either a universal transponder code, or they are provided with every commissioned ships transponder codes, including old, lost, and out dated ships. This could explain how they were able to beam the two of them out while the shields were up. They also are able in certain episodes to beam people aboard while their OWN shields are active... This could be a bit harder to explain, unless again, my theory is applied? They are able to beam thru the shields if they are aware of how to "penetrate" them.
- From direktbroker on 2009-10-06 at 8:13am:
Nice thought,but no good Daniel, just think of all the times they could not bring back their own teams because their own shields are up due to some terribly artificial threat in orbit.
- From rpeh on 2010-07-19 at 7:21am:
I may be an old softy, but the bit on the holodeck where Scotty raises a glass to his all crew and toasts them with "Here's to ye, lads" always brings a tear to my eye.
Of course, Bones was still alive in the very first episode and Spock's still around too, so it's not totally impossible that he could catch up with two of his best friends from the old Enterprise.
- From Jadzia Guinan Smith on 2010-08-18 at 12:22am:
The Dyson Sphere, although a popular device in sci-fi, is not a "sci-fi concept"; it's a hypothetical structure proposed by the very real and very brilliant theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson.
Good review, though and a fantastic site overall. Count me as your newest fan!
- From Zaphod on 2011-04-13 at 9:05am:
Dyson himself refered to that idea of him as a joke btw.
I nevertheless wished they would have concentrated more on it and even the slightest bit on its creators and less on Scotty. I really like him but using such a wonderful idea as the Dyson Sphere only for the usual Star Trek problem of the week is a waste. So for me it's just an okay episode, way above the crap u would expect from a TNG episode though.
- From John on 2011-08-29 at 11:53pm:
Once again, DSOmo proves that he does not understand the concept of narrative writing. He also proves his desire to tear down things other people in enjoy with petty nitpicking.
Riker's statement that the diameter of the Dyson sphere is "nearly the orbit of the earth around the sun" is meant to to fire the imagination of the viewer by planting the idea that the sphere may be habitable. We find out later that it is (or was). Perhaps it's not close enough to the mean orbital diameter of Earth to qualify as "nearly", but who cares?
- From Will on 2011-10-29 at 9:41pm:
Earths orbital radius may not be the same in 300 years for all we know.
- From Inga on 2012-01-12 at 7:51am:
I really wish they would explore the Dyson Sphere more, though.
Also, maybe I just missed something here, but how did the Enterprise get free from the pull at the end of the episode?
1. The helmsman said they've lost main power and the auxiliary power is down
2. Then she stated that they were still being carried by the initial motion of the tractor beam and that the impulse engines were offline. She also said "I can't stop our momentum."
3. They couldn't use the maneuvering thrusters, until they diverted the remaining auxiliary power to them.
4. Then, they achieved orbit, yet it seems they couldn't escape it (?). I mean, why else would they wait until their shields went down and the solar flares would burn them up? Couldn't Picard order Data to scan for another exit from a safer location?
5. So when Geordi contacted the Enterprise, how did they manage to escape?
I feel like I just missed or misunderstood something, though :/
- From railohio on 2014-06-03 at 7:00pm:
If anyone is disappointed by this episode, he should read the novel "relics." On top of including every single part and line of the episode, the book adds a whole section of information. In the novel, they actually send an away team down to the planet before making their escape through the jammed doors. The book goes through a great depth of description of the surface inside the sphere, as well as a deeper exploration of Scotty's inner consciousness. Even if reading is not your thing, I strongly recommend reading the novel based on this fantastic episode
- From Jadzia Guinan Smith on 2015-06-01 at 11:26pm:
@Zaphod: the Dyson sphere concept was published in an academic paper in the journal science and it was definitely NOT a “joke”. What Dyson did say was that he was not “serious” – not in the sense that he was “joking” but in the sense that he didn’t think it was ever going to be a plausible technology for anyone to find useful. But he DEFINITELY thought such a sphere was technically possible. HOWEVER, his version of the “sphere” was not a solid structure like the ones you see in sci-fi, but rather, a collection of structures spread out over a region of space constituting a “sphere”.... so I guess, in way, we’ve come full circle and our host is (in a limited sense) correct in describing the star trek version of the sphere as a “sci-fi concept.”... touché...
- In this episode it is said that cargo bay 4 is on deck 4. But the big schematics on the wall say it's on deck 10. And in TNG: Power Play it's said to be on deck 18...
- There is a moment of unintentional comedy when Troi says: "Computer, make this a metal table." The innocuous wooden table then suddenly transforms into a scary metal torture table with no additional input or context given!
- Riker's hair at the beginning of the episode and his fatigue and behavior at Data's poetry reading.
- Data's Ode to Spot...
"Felis catus is your taxonomic nomenclature,
an endothermic quadruped, carnivorous by nature.
Your visual, olfactory, and auditory senses,
contribute to your hunting skills and natural defenses.
I find myself intrigued by your subvocal oscillations,
a singular development of cat communications,
that obviates your basic hedonistic predilection,
for a rhythmic stroking of your fur to demonstrate affection.
A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents.
You would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance,
and when not being utilized to aid in locomotion,
it often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion.
Oh Spot, the complex levels of behavior you display,
connote a fairly well developed cognitive array,
and though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend,
I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend."
- Worf freaking out at the Bolian hair stylist.
- Everybody collectively remembering weird crap, then going to the holodeck to reconstruct it.
- Riker kicking some goblin ass.
This is a skillfully written episode from beginning to end. Everything from Data's poetry to the gradual building of suspense to the climax at the end was intelligently written. The episode was captivating and easily kept my interest all the way to the final moments. The holodeck scene in particular is one of the most memorable scenes in all of Star Trek. It's fun to see them use the holodeck as a tool, and not as a fantasy, or a place where things are always going wrong. The only failing in this plot is that in the end, we're left with a clear impression that these aliens would return. But they never do. You'd figure the writers would have learned from their mistake with TNG: "Conspiracy" by now. Oh well.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-05-06 at 5:23pm:
I completely agree with eric. The episode is captivating, and in my opinion the aliens are thoroughly creepy with all their clicking and whatnot. Very disappointing to see them not return. This episode was a breath of frsh air from that crap with troi and scotty.
- From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-05-21 at 11:20am:
When Riker, Worf, Geordi, and Troi are in the conference room discussing their shared experience, pay attention to the "ordinary" woman in there. The writers gave her one of the worst lines in the history of TNG. Her line was "yeah, cold." The way she says almost ruins the whole scene.
When they step into the holodeck, she has another bad line, "yeah, it was long." It just seems like she was pasted onto the scences at the last minute.
- From JennyDaTrekkie on 2007-08-03 at 8:12am:
Although this episode was engauging at the time, and I really enjoyed the holodeck sequence, I feel the 'inteligent cliffhanger' merely made the episode seem unrewarding and pointless.
However, I found the episode worth watching just for the use of the holodeck and Data's helarious attempt at poetry.
- From DSOmo on 2007-10-11 at 3:34am:
- When Riker first goes to Crusher complaining of tiredness, she finds nothing physically wrong other than muscle tension. She then wonders out loud that his problems might come from REM sleep deprivation. In "Night Terrors," Crusher said that this condition causes a unique chemical imbalance in the brain, and she is able to verify that crew members have this imbalance. If she really suspects dream deprivation, why not just check for the chemical imbalance?
- In the last captain's log of the episode, Picard reports that all crew members are "safe and accounted for." He must have an interesting definition of the word "safe" because one of the abductees, although "accounted for," is dead!
- Since everyone in the group remembers a table of some kind, Troi asks the computer to create a conference table. Geordi responds that the table is too high and orders the computer to lower it. Then, Worf says the table should be tilted. Instead of tilting the conference table, the computer replaces it with an entirely different table! Then Riker says the table should be metal, and the computer replaces the angled wooden table with a metal examination table. At no time does anyone ask for a different table design, simply modifications to the current design, but the computer takes it upon itself to start from scratch every time.
- Everyone in the holodeck agrees that the aliens' examination table was tilted. However, when the episode finally shows the aliens' lair, the tables are flat.
- After Geordi makes his modifications to the sensor array, the computer reports a massive explosion in Cargo Bay 4. The next shot shows the emergency team "rushing" to the scene. Did I say rushing? More like strolling!
- When a crew member reappears after an abduction, Worf reports his quarters as being on "deck 9, section 17." However, when Crusher needs a plasma infusion unit for the stricken crew member, she tells her medical technician to bring the unit to "deck 9, section 19."
- Just before Riker makes his desperate dash through the closing subspace hole, he grabs a fellow crew member. This action pops his phaser loose from its holster, and it falls to the floor. Once Riker returns to the Enterprise, the phaser is back! Yet at no time does Riker stop to pick it up.
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-11 at 2:11pm:
This episode is more genuinely creepy than any of the Halloween-y episodes or ghost stories that Trek sometimes trots out, and it’s one of the best stand-alone episodes of the series.
It’s not truly great in the same way that, say, “The Inner Light” is, but it’s still good solid sci-fi.
The only thing keeping this one from a 9 for me (10 is reserved for story-arc episodes and really exceptional stand-alones) is the weird random lady mentioned above. She’s cozying up to Picard at Data’s poetry reading, and their body language seems to indicate they’re pretty familiar, then she shows up to deliver those incredibly stupid lines like “cold. It was cold,” that some of you have mentioned. What in the world is she all about?
The other-universe aliens concept is great. My only question is what Data mentions at the end about the aliens’ cells being salanogen based. WTF does that mean? I love the way this one ends in mystery, and I also like the lovely little ensign who’s been manning the helm for the past few episodes and gets taken by the aliens. I give it an 8.
- From IUU on 2010-02-13 at 10:11am:
Trivial continuity note: Dr. Crusher *prescribes* a hot milk toddy, and ascribes the recipe to Picard's Aunt Edell.
- From Quando on 2011-08-23 at 8:05pm:
I was frustrated that everybody kept dogging on Data's poetry, suggesting that they should pretend to like it just to be nice. I thought it was brilliant and wanted to hear more! Whoever wrote that should get a gold star.
- From Percivale on 2011-11-09 at 9:00pm:
Great episode. Skilfully creepy.
One comment: I always find it funny when characters get impatient when the computer doesn't understand their incredibly vague commands. Usually it's Geordi - the very adaptable, technically minded engineer - as demonstrated in the holodeck scene of this episode, when he's talking about the lighting. Calm down, dude, and just tell her how much light you want.
- From lumzi23 on 2017-03-16 at 5:00pm:
This episode is great. The whole concept of alien abduction in the 24th century is great. It is excellent and clever.
- Just after Q finishes his initial discussion with Picard, Picard leaves his ready room and orders Data around, mentioning that Amanda's parents were Q. Data just accepts Picard's explanation without question, even though he hadn't witnessed Q's entrance in the conference room, nor did he see Q in Picard's ready room! There's no way Data could have known there was a Q on board at all!
- Data discovered that Amanda's parents were killed in a tornado in Topeka, Kansas. In today's Earth, tornados are fairly common there. (I know, I've been there.) But in this century they can be dissipated by the "Weather Modification Net."
- Amanda displaying Q-like powers.
- Q's entrance, and the revelation that Amanda's a Q.
- Amanda describing to Beverly that she can bring back her lost loved ones but she's having trouble wrestling with the morality of that ability.
- Beverly complaining that Q ruined her experiment by speeding it up unnaturally.
- Q turning Beverly into a dog, Amanda turning her back, all without Beverly noticing.
- Q and Amanda playing hide and go seek.
- Amanda transporting Riker.
- Riker: "You can't make someone love you." Amanda: "Can't I?" She waves her hand and Riker falls for her instantly...
- Picard describing the tornado that killed Amanda's parents.
- Picard lecturing Q on morals.
- Q: "Jean Luc, sometimes I think the only reason I come here is to listen to your wonderful speeches."
- Amanda making the decision to embrace her powers.
A pleasing episode in that the fans have always been curious about the Q. We get to see another bit of the psychology of the Q continuum in this episode; that they are extremely ethnocentric. Only pure Qs are allowed to exist, it seems. Despite the fanboy trivia in this episode that makes it fun, the plot is little more than slightly above average because of it. Really what we see here is a recycled TNG: Hide and Q when Riker was given the chance to become a Q, except less silliness and more moral debate.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-10-11 at 6:42am:
- Crusher tells Picard that Amanda has done honors work in "neurobiology, plasma dynamics, and ecoregeneration." Later in the episode, Crusher gives Amanda the task of testing several tricorders and explains their function to Amanda. Shouldn't someone who's done honors work in neurobiology already know how to use a tricorder?
- When Amanda begins testing the tricorders, she holds the first one pointing away from her body. The rest she holds correctly, pointing toward her body.
- Q gives Amanda only two choices at the end of the episode: Return to the Continuum, or refrain from using her powers. Isn't there another choice? Amanda claimed that she just wanted to become a normal human again. Isn't that the third choice? In "Deja Q," the Continuum turned Q into a human and stripped him of his powers. Why couldn't they do the same to Amanda, if that's what she really wants?
- Until this episode, the first contact between humans and the Q Continuum supposedly came during "Encounter At Farpoint." During "Hide And Q," both Picard and Q make several references to this "first encounter." This episode definitely gives the impression that until Farpoint, the Q Continuum knew little and cared less for humanity. However, two members of the Q Continuum had been on Earth, took on human form, and even conceived a child at least a decade before "Encounter At Farpoint"!
- The transformation of the former turbolift on the right side of the island in Main Engineering proceeds in this episode. In "Realm Of Fear," it leads to some kind of auxiliary engine room. While giving Amanda a tour, Geordi points to the door and identifies it as an entrance to a Jefferies tube.
- From online broker on 2009-10-07 at 7:42am:
Q says she can do anything she wants as a Q, then why can't she just live as a Q among humans for a while, why couldnt her parents? It would only be a fraction of their existance, anyway. Its not like Q never spent time with the humans, he even got plenty of em killed,too.
- From rpeh on 2010-06-14 at 5:59pm:
The outcome is obvious from the start and nothing that happens during the episode changes that.
- From Quando on 2011-08-23 at 8:35pm:
I kind of like the idea of the Enterprise having an intern program (although I wonder why we never see any other interns). Also, the type of dog that Q turned Beverly into was just perfect. I think it was a red Irish Setter? Very funny.
- From Keefaz on 2017-01-21 at 7:15pm:
Rotten: like all Q episodes. The most overrated character in all of Star Trek.
- The science behind this episode is horrible. How did the transporter shrink their clothes? What happened to Picard's artificial heart? And how did the transporter unshrink everyone's clothes when they went back through?
- Guinan's father is over 700 years old.
- The writers ended the episode without showing Ro revert back to adulthood because they considered leaving her that way permanently.
- The actors for the child versions of the characters were pretty good selections.
- Picard trying to ignore the limitations of his new form.
- O'Brien's reaction to Keiko.
- Troi: "You could return to the acadamy, take another degree, brush up on your Latin." Picard: "And be Wesly Crusher's room mate?"
- Troi: "A second childhood. Without the pain of growing up again."
- Guinan picking on Ro.
- Guinan's proposed solution to the takeover.
- The child's computer.
- Picard freaking out at the Ferengi about seeing his "father" Riker
- Picard pretending to be Riker's son.
- Riker bullshitting technobabble.
- The children "tagging" the Ferengi.
The Ferengi conquering the Enterprise so easily seemed a little absurd. And why did the Ferengi even bother trying to unlock the computer? They could have just tractored the ship to Romulan space. I'm sure the Romulans would have been more interested and more able to crack the computer lockout... This episode suffers greatly from both logical and technical problems. Forgiving them briefly, this episode bears great humor. It's great fun watching the crew as children and how they're treated by the rest of the cast. It's also great fun watching the children outsmart the Ferengi. Besides the humor, the idea that they could live to be twice the age of normal people was also intriguing, but disappointing that in the end no one decided to remain a child; not even Ro who would have been perfectly suited for that role. A fine idea for an episode, but very poorly executed.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-05-06 at 11:03pm:
I agree. How did two klingon birds of prey disable the enterprise immediately and then proceed to board it and commandeer it so easily? That was ridiculous. I hate the ferengi so much.
- From DSOmo on 2007-10-12 at 3:58am:
- Once again, the creators use the "just switch the DNA with the transporter so everything will be ok" plot trick to fix the problem of changing the crew back to adults. At least the creators are consistent. This is basically the same solution they used to resolve a crisis in "Unnatural Selection." (see "Unnatural Selection" Fan Commentary for more information on this subject.)
- When asked by the Ferengi captain how many people are on board the Enterprise, Riker replies, "One thousand fourteen" (1,014). During the episode "Remember Me," Data claims there are 1,014 people on the Enterprise at that point. What are the chances - given transfers, promotions, childbirth, etc. - that there would be exactly the same number aboard the Enterprise during both these shows?
- Worf needs to get back to the phaser practice range. When two Ferengi materialize on the bridge, Worf fires a shot and misses! The Ferengi can't be more than twenty feet away, and the chief of Security of the Enterprise misses?
- When Picard first attempts to access the main computer from a school terminal, the top of the screen reads, "Classroom 7." When Picard meets with Riker, he asks Riker to turn on the computer in "schoolroom 8."
- From djb on 2008-05-27 at 4:29am:
This episode was fun, though it brings up two rather sticky subjects (aside from obvious ones, like, how their clothes shrunk and Picard magically had hair).
One is how easily the Enterprise, the flagship of the Federation, was captured. By those god-awful Ferengi, no less. I mean, it's certainly possible for the ship to be captured, but I'd expect it to maybe be a bit more of a struggle. It was a cakewalk! And, wouldn't there be security measures, like some kind of automatic lockdown if the shields fail? Or something? I mean, come on. It could have been epic.
The other is the "age reversal" problem, which was also an issue in "Unnatural Selection." If a transporter can accidentally convert adults into children, couldn't it be configured to do it intentionally? Wouldn't that basically make the transporter an immortality machine? Wouldn't that mean that anyone, once their bodies have aged past 50 or 60, or whenever, could just enter the transporter, be reverted to children (with adult minds) and live another several decades with a younger body, and repeat ad infinitum? Maybe it could be configured to revert someone to, say, 29, instead of 12, and then people could go in for an "age-reverting" every 5 or 10 years without going all the way back to 12? The social, economic, and medical ramifications are ludicrous. Talk about messing with nature!
I thought the casting of young Guinan and young Ro were excellent; it happens that the actress who played young Guinan also played a young version of the character Whoopi Goldberg played in "Sister Act." Keiko didn't really look like herself, but it's hard to tell with aging. Also notice that young Picard's accent is just slightly different from regular Picard's? Hmmm.
Some episodes, though, have "priceless" moments that are somewhat incidental but memorable. "Schisms" had Data's poetry, which was genius. This one's priceless moment is Riker feeding the Ferengi complete nonsense about the computer. Bilateral kelilactirals... Heisenfram terminals! Wonderful touch.
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-11 at 12:08am:
Ughh. This is perhaps the most ridiculous episode of the Next Generation. The O'Brien/Keiko stuff was creepy and interesting, but Colm Meany didn't act it very well, probably because the plot was dumb he couldn't take it seriously.
On top of all this idiotic mess with the children, we have another incredibly stupid Ferengi episode. The Ferengi are the Jar Jar Binks of TNG and an embarrassing black eye on the series. They become more believable in DS9, but here they are always bad news. It's already been documented that children are a bad idea on Trek, and the combination of the two here is dreadful.
Thank God the writers didn't go ahead and make this episode inarguably canonical by leaving Ro as a child. Therefore, I move that this episode be struck from the canon, as nothing significant arises from it, it's thankfully never mentioned again, the science is ludicrous, and the whole package is utter shite.
- From The Crytter on 2009-06-07 at 10:50am:
A hugely fun episode. I enjoyed it but for a few niggling details.....
1) A case of mistaken identity:
The Klingon Bird's of Prey are identified as "B'rel" class.
The B'rel class Bird of Prey is well known to be a scout vessel, approximately 90 meters long and 130 metres wide. Whats more, the B'rel class has only a crew of 12, and could not carry very many troops in addition.
The Birds of Prey that attack the Enterprise are clearly at least as wide as the Enterprise herself (467 metres). And they can cleary carry enough troops between them to overwhelm to Enterprise crew. These vessels are clearly of the "K'Vort" class cruiser variant of the Bird of Prey!
2) Has Commander Riker become a wimp???
2 vs 1 or not, the supposedly state-of-the-art Galaxy class Flagship-of-the-federation USS Enterprise goes down with barely a whimper! It fires just one shot in retaliation. Absolutely pathetic! Commander Riker is usually fairly gung-ho, and pretty handy in a fight. But here he simply lets the Enterprise take several minutes of pummeling before he orders Mr Worf to return fire, and even then with only a single phaser burst! With his hesitation and poor response to the attack, he basically gifts the Enterprise to the Ferengi!
Commander Riker should have ordered Mr Worf to return fire as soon as they were attacked, and then concentrated fire on one of the Birds of Prey. The Enterprise is powerful enough to disable a K'Vort class cruiser in fairly short order with sustained fire, and once one was out of action the Ferengi crew of the other would no doubt have decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and retreated.
So in short, the Enterprise seriously needs it's ship recognition files updating, and should have won the fight with it's attackers. This, of course, means that this whole episode should never have taken place.
A shame really, considering the episode as a whole is such good fun! Enough fun, that i'll forgive the writers for the irritating errors.
- From rpeh on 2010-06-14 at 6:33pm:
You lot take this far too seriously.
Yes, the science is rubbish. Yes, the ship was taken over too easily. Yes, there are other problems.
But this episode is fun! The young versions do a brilliant job, young Guinan especially, and as long as you watch it all when you're in a good mood, it's a funny episode.
Sheesh! Some people would even take Trouble with Tribbles seriously!
- From baron on 2010-12-03 at 1:30pm:
Riker didn't attack the ships because they were klingon ships. He didn't raised the shields because he would have had no reason to and that would be seen as a hostile gesture. He had no way of knowing that they were ferengi. He would have at least tried to hail them before he started firing. He wouldn't want to risk starting a war by firing at them first for no reason. Unfortunately, they had already attacked and disabled the enterprises sheilds at that point.
- From Quando on 2011-08-24 at 8:40pm:
The absolute best part of this episode was when the Ferengi caught little kid Picard calling Riker "Number One". The Ferengi looks at kid Picard kind of funny, and Picard quickly says "he's my number one Dad!" and gives Riker a big hug. My kids laughed about this for days.
Also, what happened to the rest of the 1,014 people on the ship? The only people to try to do anything to stop the Ferengi are the people on the bridge and some little kids. Meanwhile several hundred fully-trained starfleet officers are sitting quietly somewhere twiddling their thumbs.
- From Wes on 2012-03-22 at 9:27am:
This marks the last episode the O'briens are on TNG. The next time we see Chief O'brien is on DS9 in Emissary.
- From railohio on 2014-07-21 at 10:33pm:
Overall I found the episode enjoyable, however there is one continueing point involving the Ferengi that I need to meet
The bridge crew spends so much time spilling out statuses and sensor readings during the battle, that they only manage to actually fire once. Once!! If they really wanted to win, they would disable the enemy as quickly as possible (or at least try to) and worry about the damages and casualties after. They would avoid even more casualties in the process.
Another thing I found a bit funny actually was during the shuttle mishap. While the shuttle is experiencing "turbulance," the shuttle does not seem to move at all, and it appears they are just dancing in there chairs. Quite entertaining if you catch it
- Patrick Stewart (Picard) directed this episode and has remarked that every single one of the holodeck scenes was filmed on a single day. Because there were so many scenes to film and everything was so rushed that Stewart forgot to put on sunscreen and left filming that day incredibly exhausted and sunburned.
- Picard playing the flute with the skill he acquired in TNG: The Inner Light.
- Picard getting annoyed at the interruptions.
- Worf trying to avoid Alexander.
- Worf, just after seeing the whore in the holodeck: "You wrote this program?" Alexander: "Mr. Barclay helped a little."
- Worf getting into the spirit in Alexander's program.
- Worf's objections to Troi's entrence.
- Worf getting slapped by the holographic woman.
- Picard's music glitching.
- Riker reading Data's poetry from TNG: Schisms.
- Data showing up as characters in the holodeck.
- Data interacting with his cat... suddenly switching to a Western accent.
- Worf, ordering a drink: "Klingon Fire Wine" Holodeck woman: "This ain't Kansas City! We ain't got none of that fancy European stuff here!
- Holodeck Data hurting Worf's shoulder, and Worf trying to freeze the program giving Worf a clue that something's gone wrong.
- Data starting to act like a cowboy.
- Troi having to explain to Worf that Holo-Data will break his word on the agreement.
- The Holo-Woman being replaced by Data...
- The Enterprise flying off into the sunset...
A cute, fun episode. The nicest part about this episode is how all the characters fit into their unnatural rules. Worf trying to fit in as a Westerner, yet perfectly comfortable with the idea of enforcing the law. Troi as a seasoned veteran nasty mysterious stranger, and especially Data, with his numerous roles in this episode. Brent Spiner's performance in all these roles was nothing short of brilliant; the accents were great. I'm not sure which I liked more. The real Data acting like a cowboy or Data as the holodeck characters. Even the final Data scene where he appeared in drag as a the bartender was done well enough such that it was funny and not tasteless.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-05-07 at 7:43pm:
remarkable scene addition: Patrick Stewart uttering the words "I'm not much of an actor"
Brent spiner is an unbelievable actor. God knows how many parts he has played in Star Trek. I'm willing to wager more parts than any other actor.
- From DSOmo on 2007-11-01 at 3:16am:
- Data and Geordi ask Picard for permission to take the computer in Engineering off line. Geordi says they are working on a new interface so Data could act as an emergency backup in the event of a shipwide systems failure. Data adds, "In theory, my neural network should be able to sustain key systems until primary control is restored." In theory? Hasn't the crew already done this? Wasn't it a direct link between Data and the engineering systems that prevented the destruction of the Enterprise during the episode "Disaster"?
- In the first saloon scene, the bad guy Worf is supposed to arrest rises slowly to his feet. Worf seizes the opportunity and knocks him out with one blow. Immediately, Alexander stops the program and complains that the arrest was too easy. He then restarts the sequence, with a higher difficulty level. The odd thing here is that the second time through, the arrestee gets up from his chair with the same slowness he showed before, only this time Worf lets him back out of range.
- After Geordi discovers that the problem is in a computer subroutine, he tells Picard it will take a couple of hours to fix it. Isn't this problem similar to that faced by the main computer in "Contagion"? In that episode, Geordi simply shut everything off and reloaded all the programs from the protected archives. Why not do the same thing here? Answer: The creators needed to stall the resolution so Worf could be in the shoot-out on Deadwood's main street.
- To make his personal force field, Worf tears apart his communicator. Let me say that again: Worf TEARS his communicator apart. Why not just tap it and call for help? Geordi said only secondary systems were affected by Data's overwrite. Communications is a primary system. Shouldn't it still be functioning? Does the holodeck put up some sort of jamming field that prevents communication outside the holodeck?
- Worf certainly has improved his markmanship skill since the previous episode ;)
- From wepeel on 2008-07-03 at 12:56pm:
When Data is shuffling cards in his cell, look at his arms...obviously they used another person's hands to do the shuffling, but couldn't they have found someone who had arms similar to Brent? You'll notice that in all the other shots, the excessive arm-hair is gone...
After one of the commercial breaks, we see Geordi working on Data as Riker comes into the scene. Data greets Riker with a "howdy." After Data says, "You got it, partner," look at Geordi...this is purely my opinion but I think he is trying to hide his laugh by looking down. I thought it was pretty funny...
And also, right afterward, while Data is looking at Riker while Geordi is talking...look at Data's face. Tell me he's not trying to suppress his laughter! ;)
- From thaibites on 2012-06-07 at 10:21am:
More like "A Fistful of Stupid". This one was painful to watch...
- From Mike Chambers on 2013-11-26 at 1:02pm:
Terrible episode. One of the worst ever, how this one has a fan rating of nearly 7 is beyond me. I give this a 2 only because there are a few genuinely funny scenes, like Picard continuing to get interrupted in the beginning. The way he says "Computer, pause recording" the very last time when it's Worf makes me laugh every time. Sounds like he's about to have an aneurysm. Overall though, just a CORNY filler episode with a ridiculously far-fetched premise. Alexander is just annoying (when is he not?) and so is Troi here for that matter.
- From Quando on 2014-07-29 at 12:38pm:
I think this is a really fun episode. Best moments: Alexander saying, "saddle up father" and Work not wanting to go; Worf starting to "get into" the program after the fistfight in the saloon; Data unconsciously saying things like "I recon" and "vamoose"; Worf's final look in the mirror in his quarters showing a sense of imagination. It may not be the most meaningful or the most technologically accurate episode, but it is very entertaining.
- The discussion of Geordi's beard and beards in general. Personally, I like Geordi the best with a beard.
- Data beginning to believe the exocomp was alive.
- Beverly healing herself after being defeated in a sparring match with Worf.
- Data asking Beverly for the definition of life.
- Farallon: "One time I saw an exocomp enter a reaction chamber for no apparent reason and vaporize itself. Is that supposed to make me think that it was depressed and suicidal?"
- Beverly and Data discovering that the exocomp saw right through the test.
- Data objecting to sacrificing the exocomps to save Picard and Geordi.
- Data locking out the transporter to save the exocomps. I love how Data replies to Riker's anger to calmly.
- The exocomps noble sacrifice.
This episode takes a meager premise and makes it interesting. In the beginning of the episode wd have a simple space station with a radical new mining technique. A concept not unlike other TNG episodes dealing with one time guest stars. However, the introduction of the exocomps and the debate over their sentience is an intriguing one. And the debate over whether or not they're alive is even more fascinating than TNG: The Measure of a Man in some respects. Especially with Data's decision to protect the exocomps at all costs. I'm fond of how everyone is so easy to forgive Data and I'm equally fond of how much willing Data was to end his career with his extreme actions. The dialog in this episode was intelligent and was a general pleasure to watch.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-11-10 at 12:48pm:
- During this episode, Data asks Crusher to define life, and Crusher sputters around for a while before finally coming up with an answer (sort of). During the first season she was a lot surer of herself. When asked a similar question in "Home Soil," she immediately answered that organic life must have the ability to assimilate, respirate, reproduce, grow and develop, move, secrete, and excrete.
- Prior to a meeting concerning the exocomp, Picard makes a log stating that he has called a meeting of the senior staff. In the meeting, both Riker and Worf are missing.
- The exocomps have the ability to replicate the tool attachment they need for a specific job. Normally, the exocomp dematerializes this attachment as soon as it completes the job. Very conveniently, an excomp "forgets" to dematerialize the attachment. This forgetfulness allows Data to see the tool and come to the conclusion that the exocomps are alive (which is needed to move the plot along).
- When the bridge crew quickly runs through the options for rescuing Picard, Faralon claims that they don't have time to send a shuttle to the space station. Yet mere seconds before, Riker tells everyone they have twenty-two minutes! Twenty-two minutes isn't enough time to fly a shuttle next door to an orbiting space station? It's amazing the dance the creators go through to keep the tension up on this show. Of course, if the Enterprise sent a shuttle, the exocomps wouldn't be in danger, and Data couldn't save them, and so on, and so on.
- From djb on 2008-05-29 at 3:55am:
- I wonder why Riker, who outranks Data, wasn't able to override the transporter lockout. Of course, Data has been shown to be able to lock everyone out, even the captain (see "Brothers") but it didn't seem to indicate he imitated anyone's voice like he did before.
- There's obvious continuity between this episode and "The Measure of a Man" but there's also a subtle reference to "The Offspring," in which Picard encourages Data to disobey the Admiral who wants to take Lal away, saying, "There are times when men of conscience cannot blindly follow orders." It seems Data has taken that to heart.
- I find it weird that there isn't much of a difference made between "sentient" and "sapient" in this episode. Clearly the line has to be drawn somewhere when it comes to the importance of preserving "living" things. If, for example, I had to sacrifice my cat, who is sentient, but not sapient, to save a human friend, there wouldn't be much of a question, even if it were a difficult decision to make. And if it were a tree, there would be no question. The tree is alive by all definitions of the word, but it would be ludicrous to put a single plant on the same level of importance as a starship captain. Data's acting as if the AI exhibited by these devices might make him "not alone" is ridiculous, because simple self-preservation is certainly feasible without a positronic brain. Plus, even if the exocomps could be proven to be "sentient," they don't have positronic brains, and therefore would never make Data less unique no matter how smart they became.
Somehow Data has come to the conclusion that the rudimentary intelligence shown by the exocomps, which is, at best, circumstantial evidence that they are anything approximating "conscious," is of equal value with two humans, one of whom saved him from being disassembled. Wouldn't Data take that into account? He seems to have jumped to conclusions, which is inconsistent with his programming. In fact, he seems very driven by emotion in this episode. It brings up a good question of where our the border between our thoughts and our emotions lies.
It's true that the exocomps exhibited self-preservation behavior, but that is a far cry from sapience. Even following Crusher's loose definition of "alive," these exocomps didn't reproduce or grow. They also didn't consume food any more than a tricorder would. Neither do they obviously exhibit self-awareness. Their self-preservation tendencies could be nothing more than good AI. As indicated in the episode, they have heuristic programming, writing itself as it learns more, and for all we know, this program came to the logical conclusion that self-preservation is most conducive to the unit executing its function properly. Clearly, unlike Data's designer, their designer did not intend for them to become "alive," even in the loosest sense of the word. (This, of course, brings up the whole debate of Intelligent Design, but that's a whole different can of worms.)
Indeed, I wonder why more effort wasn't made to discover to what extent these exocomps could exhibit life-like behavior, why no one bothered to try to communicate with them outside of the typical "enter command" protocol, and why no one asked exactly HOW they became "sentient." It reminds me of "Evolution", where a science project "accidentally" became intelligent, and all of a sudden has to be preserved and protected, even when it threatens the ship. One wonders, then, since the Federation is committed to seeking out new forms of life, why there isn't a comprehensive working definition of life, along with a set of tests to gauge whether or not something is alive, so this quandary doesn't come up every time some device exhibits seemingly intelligent behavior.
- This is trivial, but I like the "beard" continuity between this episode and the previous one. It's true that the producers intentionally kept this series episodic, with not much overlap from episode to episode, but some more continuity on non-plot points like this one would have been nice.
- From 2 Of 14 on 2008-09-05 at 6:53am:
This episode has some excellent aspects such as great ideas, great production values, etc. However, I just cannot get my head around Data deliberately disobeying direct orders from his commanding officer by locking the transporter. To me, this is a major problem in this episode.
Data’s reasoning that the exocomps are just as valuable as two human lives is totally believable; he is an android and we understand that he sometimes arrives at conclusions many people would not understand or share, that is part of his appeal.
But to directly disregard direct orders from his commanding officer in this way is just bizarre. In an organisation like Starfleet following orders would be essential, such a complex starship cannot operate without a high level of discipline. A commanding officer is supposed to be so highly trained and experienced that if they make decisions affecting the lives of their crew they should expect them to be carried out, not necessarily without question, but certainly without such blatant refusal.
Data knows all this; in "Redemption II" when Lt. Cmdr. Hobson questions Data’s orders, Data threatens to relieve him of duty.
If I was Picard or Riker after this incident I would feel very uncomfortable having Data in such a senior position and would not want him on board the ship in such a capacity.
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-11 at 11:49am:
Thie episode trots out a few standard Trek themes that are starting to get a little cliche by this point in TNG: the definition of life and/or sentience, Dats's humanity, moral conundrums, and scientists blinded by ambition.
We don't really get anything new here, but these ideas are all handled servicably, and this episode is intriguing nonetheless.
- From Rick on 2014-03-13 at 1:24pm:
Huge problem in this episode (which is otherwise a great one): If the scientist and Riker do not buy that the exocomps are lifeforms, then why do they need to disconnect their command pathways? They both tell Data that they arent lifeforms and Data responds by saying that because they are lifeforms they will not accept the commands that will kill them. Then Riker and scientist decide to disconnect the command pathways? Isnt this directly admitting that Data has been right all along and that they are going to kill the exocomps anyway!!!???
- From El Goopo on 2015-03-02 at 1:16am:
People really don't like this episode, do they? Talk about being unwilling to think things through..
>Very conveniently, an excomp "forgets" to dematerialize the attachment.
Or perhaps it didn't forget, and was intentionally letting Data see it? Works just as well.
>Twenty-two minutes isn't enough time to fly a shuttle next door to an orbiting space station?
This is the most minor of nits, for an episode that was clearly not about shuttles. Most problems in stories could be solved far more sensibly without tacked-on conditions to rationalize how the story gets where it has to go.
>Data's acting as if the AI exhibited by these devices might make him "not alone" is ridiculous
Data was their advocate, not because he knew they were intelligent, but because a possibly sentient life form was being forced to die, put in the same position he himself was in earlier in the series. Given that the Exocomps never reappeared, he was probably wrong... but not in principle.
>Their self-preservation tendencies could be nothing more than good AI.
Rewatch Measure of a Man and revisit the "sentience" criteria - would you condemn something that might be sentient because you think it doesn't qualify? The point is to not be hasty and condemn possible life, not assume it's not life because you can't bring yourself to believe it at the time.
>But to directly disregard direct orders from his commanding officer in this way is just bizarre.
"To seek out new life" is the Enterprise's primary mission, spoken loudly right in the title sequence each week. If you saw that your CO was about to sacrifice the greater mission to save two lives, would you not want him to listen to your arguments before saying "yes sir" and pressing on?
>If I was Picard or Riker after this incident I would feel very uncomfortable having Data in such a senior position and would not want him on board the ship in such a capacity.
Kind of a ridiculous notion to not trust your subordinate simply for doing something you yourself have done more often, and possibly for lesser reasons than violating your primary mission. Heck, Data hijacked without even knowing it just to go see his father, and they still trusted him after that massive security vulnerability was exposed. Why would this be any worse?
>If the scientist and Riker do not buy that the exocomps are lifeforms, then why do they need to disconnect their command pathways?
If your computer isn't responding, do you assume it has achieved sentience, or that it has crashed? No, you reboot it. Similar principle here. Farallon was just a step further, and refusing to accept new facts that pointed at it being more than a "bug", but the story pointed that out.
- From Rick on 2015-10-26 at 11:22am:
I agree with all of your responses, as people tend to see problems where there really arent any, except for the last one in which you question the problem I brought up.
The entire premise of the second half the episode is that if the Exocomps have a sense of survival then they are sentient. Or at least there is a high probability that they are sentient and they shouldnt be mistreated until that hypothesis is confirmed or refuted.
Data explicitly says to Riker, "If I am correct" that the Exocomps are sentient, they will refuse this order because it is too dangerous. Then Riker orders that the command pathways to be shut down, which means that he thinks they will refuse this order too. So are you saying there is a computer bug that only makes the Exocomps refuse orders that are dangerous? That was not programmed into them so it doesnt really make sense that they would develop such a "bug". And besides my speculation, as I already stated, that survival instinct to refuse dangerous orders so heavily suggests that they are sentient that you cannot mistreat them until you find out for sure. So even if Riker thought it may be a bug, he cannot and should not shut down their command pathways until he is sure.
- The writers considered having this episode tie in more directly with DS9, replacing the Ferengi character we see in this episode with Quark. But some scheduling eliminated this possibility. :(
- The matter-of-fact matter in which the admiral dispersed her orders.
- Captain Jellico's enthusiasm.
- The command transfer ceremony.
- Jellico: "Oh... and get that fish out the ready room."
- Jellico criticising Troi's uniform.
- Jellico "being blunt" to Picard.
- The Ferengi claiming that "he's not a smuggler"; overly paranoid about an accusation not made...
- Beverly seducing the Ferengi into helping.
- Beverly and Worf picking on each other.
- Jellico's deliberate rude behavior to the Cardassians.
- The Cardassian captain giving (perhaps not so) subtle foreknowledge of Picard's mission with Worf and Beverly.
Like any cliffhanger, this episode can not be fully judged until part II. But standing on its own, there are several nice features. Certainly, the tension level of this episode is its greatest feature. Everybody is on edge. The whole episode is like an adrenaline rush. In addition, this episode sets up the premise for DS9. We're told that Bajor has finally won its freedom! A shame we don't get to hear Ro Laren's opinion on the salvation of her planet. The new uniforms of the Cardassians are also established here. Due to all this, I consider this episode the first episode of the DS9 era. Starting here, Star Trek takes a turn into a bold new direction.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-05-10 at 11:50pm:
That whole thing with Jellico relieving picard in front of the whole ship PISSED ME OFF. I absolutely hate all admirals in starfleet. I STILL stand not having seen a decent one up to this point, and I've seen 5.5 seasons!!!!
Jellico is a complete bastard. Time to rant about him. "Get it done" is an asinine saying. I hate how he uses data as his personal bitch. He doesn't give a shit about people's feelings, or schedules. "I don't have time for a honeymoon with the crew". What an asshole.
Jellico ranks as a worse bad guy for me than a Borg or a Romulan any day of the week. I actually found myself enjoying the Cardassian making a fool of Jelico and the federation. That's not supposed to happen!
- From DSOmo on 2007-11-11 at 12:41am:
- While rearranging the Enterprise to suit his own taste, Jelico tells Troi that he prefers a certain formality on the bridge. He then requests that she wear a standard uniforn. After seeing Troi function in a standard blue uniform, you suddenly realize the injustice the creators have done to her character. In a standard uniform, Troi becomes a serious professional woman of the same standing as Crusher. Troi's character could have been just as effective, maybe even more effective, had the creators opted for something other than the obvious. Certainly Troi's physical beauty is not diminished by wearing a standard uniform.
- As the commandos navigate through a maze of caves on Seltrice III, a cave-in buries Crusher. Unbelievably, she's okay even though she was buried under a huge pile of rocks. Maybe the rocks were the Seltrice III equivalent of pumice?
- Shortly after taking over the Enterprise, Jelico tells Riker to change the functions of the Science I and Science II workstations on the bridge. They are supposed to be "dedicated to damage control and weapons status from now on." Yet when reporting that the theta band emissions from Seltrice III have stopped, Riker stands with Jelico in front of Science I and it still says "Science I" at the top and Riker is still using it for planetary scanning, not weapons status, as Jelico ordered.
- The creators reused the matte painting of the colony on Moab IV ("The Masterpiece Society") as an establishing shot just before the bar scene.
- From djb on 2008-05-31 at 4:07am:
Good episode. I like 2-parters, especially with this series because it's so episodic, i.e. there are hardly any interweaving storylines. 2-parters allow for a larger, more detailed story to unfold.
- I fully agree that it's high time we saw Troi wear a standard uniform. Too bad it's only for just over 1 1/2 seasons that she actually gets to wear something that makes her look dignified. Why hasn't she been wearing one up to this point? Surely it can't just be for ratings. Now she looks like an actual officer. Anyway, good call on Jellico's part.
- I'm confused as to why Jellico would want a four-shift rotation instead of 3. That means 6-hour shifts instead of 8, which means less work. What? Unless he's expecting the crew to pull double shifts, in which case, it makes sense.
- From Mike on 2008-06-13 at 11:08am:
Absolutely love this episode, and Ronnie Cox was BRILLIANT as Captain Jellico. I actually would've like to have seen more of this character - it was very cool to see the Enterprise under a different commander.
- From Quando on 2014-08-15 at 9:43pm:
I really like this episode specifically because Jellico is such a jerk. That is "real." Everybody has had a boss, teacher, parent, or friend like this before, so you can relate to the situation. And it finally lets us see some dynamic interpersonal conflict for a change. I know Gene Roddenberry's vision was that members of the crew would not be in conflict with each other -- rather, the conflict would generally come from outside the crew (aliens and others they encounter). That's OK I guess, but not very realistic and not as interesting as it could be. Compare with the approach taken in the new Battlestar Galactica where there are constant conflicts among the crew, and that is the most interesting part of the show.
- From Dstyle on 2016-09-16 at 11:20am:
I haven't watched an episode of TNG for a while, but decided to revisit some old favorites to celebrate Star Trek's 50th anniversary. And I was surprised to find I was far more sympathetic to Captain Jellico this time around.
I'm not surprised viewers like Pete Miller up above hate Jellico so much. He's visually unappealing: he wears an ill-fitting uniform shirt that is too baggy in the shoulders and gives him the subtle look of a perpetual slouch. He's brusk and dismissive with the senior officers, and he has the audacity to remove Picard's fish from his ready room and ask Troi to wear her uniform on the bridge. It made me marvel at how easy it is to make an audience dislike a character. Had the producers of these episodes dressed him in a uniform that fit and had he delivered his lines with a little less abruptness he'd be far more relatable. Nothing he does is unreasonable at all, considering the circumstances. But we're not supposed to like Captain Jellico. He's an interloper and a threat to the comfortable world of the Enterprise that we've grown accustomed to over five-plus seasons.
But, perhaps because I wan't watching this episode after five-plus seasons but rather as a one-off, I was surprised at how entirely unprofessional the crew was during this change in command, particularly Number One. Jeez, Riker, you're first officer: your commanding officer isn't supposed to coddle you. Follow his orders and quit acting so entitled. When Geordi complains to you about his orders, you're supposed to get Geordi in line with the captain, not agree with his complaints and go crying to Picard. There's little wonder Jellico chose to have Data by his side as he worked to get the ship ready for a potential war zone: he was the only one acting like a professional. Another commenter (djb) was confused as to why Jellico wanted a four shift rotation. Me too. But it doesn't matter why. He's charged with potentially leading this ship into battle, and he only has two days to get it ready. The four shift rotation was the very first order he gave, so evidently it is very important. Riker shouldn't need a reason. He should follow the order and make it work and then deal with staffing issues once the new rotation is in place. But the purpose of the four shift rotation doesn't matter, because real purpose of the four shift rotation is to make us dislike Jellico. And it works. He's changing things.
In part 2 of this episode Riker and Jellico have an exchange where they openly and directly tell each other how little they think of each other, and we're supposed to side with the collected and confident Riker. He is seated, but he is cool and calm while Jellico stands and fidgets awkwardly, emphasizing his belly pooch and baggy shoulders. The scene is set in such a way to make us instinctually favor Riker, but all I could think was how inappropriate and insubordinate he was being. He was a total dick, bellyaching that Jellico wasn't inspirational and took the joy out of everything, but he could get away with it because he had the audience's sympathy. And Jellico let him. Because we're not supposed to like Jellico.
I get it. It's Picard's ship and Picard's show. But it's amazing how a few flourishes of visual rhetoric could make an audience turn again a character so completely.
- Patrick Stewart performed the scenes where he is stripped by the Cardassians fully in the nude, so as to better act the part.
- Zombie Picard being interrogated.
- Gul Madred describing a peaceful, prosperous Cardassia of 200 years ago, before the military takeover.
- Madred's psychotic torture techniques.
- Jellico relieving Riker of duty.
- Data in red!
- Madred exposing his daughter to his work. That man is insane.
- Madred and Picard discussing Cardassia's history.
- Madred bluffing about holding Beverly and killing Worf to get Picard to be more cooperative.
- Picard eating a live Taspar egg.
- Picard defying Madred.
- Picard continuing to defy Madred while the pain device keeps him in constant agony.
- Geordi carefully trying to put in the good word to Jellico about Riker.
- Riker taking pleasure in Jellico's brief moment of humility.
- Geordi: "Do I wanna know how close that was?" Riker: "No."
- Jellico playing his minefield card to the Cardassian captain.
- Picard taking the pain inflictor controller and smashing it. Madred: "That won't help, I have many more." Picard: "Still... felt... good."
- Madred trying one last time to get Picard to submit to him by telling him that there are five lights. Picard, one last time defying him and continuing to tell the truth: "There... are... four... lights!" The guards try to help Picard get to the door, Picard pushes them away. He walks to the door with dignity on his own power.
- Picard describing his ordeal to the counselor and admitting that he was almost about to give in.
Two rivalries, one between Jellico and the Cardassian captain, and one between Madred and Picard. In both the Cardassians start out on top, but get outmaneuvered by the humans. With regards to Madred and Picard, we get an utterly amazing performance by Picard once again. Madred also did an amazing job showing us just how much of a twisted man he was. I like how in the end, Madred only wanted to break Picard. He wasn't interested in getting any information from him. He just wanted to win the rivalry. All things considered, this episode features one of the most impressive displays of acting and character usage ever shown on Star Trek. It's also one of the most disturbing episodes ever shown on Star Trek. A truly memorable showing.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-11-12 at 2:58am:
- Madred asks Picard the names and ranks of those who accompanied him on the raid. Picard responds with "Chief Medical Officer Beverly Crusher and Lieutenant Worf." Isn't "chief medical officer" more of a title than a rank? Crusher's rank is commander, in the same way that Riker's rank is commander and his title is first officer.
- Both Part 1 and Part 2 of "Chain of Command" suggests that the Cardassians were able to lure Picard into their trap simply by using theta band emissions as the bait. Is Picard really the only person in Starfleet who knows about these kinds of subspace waves? What happened to the rest of the crew on the Stargazer? Data seems to address these questions when he says that Picard is "one of only three Starfleet captains with extensive experience in theta band devices. The other two are no longer in Starfleet." But is this the type of mission that Starfleet feels must be lead by a captain? Isn't this really just a commando raid to seek out and destroy a Cardassian lab? Does it seem reasonable to send the captain of the flagship of the Federation on a grenade-throwing mission? And does it seem reasonable that the Cardassians would expect that they could capture Picard simply by transmitting a bunch of theta waves?
- From wepeel on 2008-05-04 at 2:11pm:
While DSOmo is once again on point with Picard saying the title Chief Medical Officer instead of Crusher's rank (like he was asked to), and is probably a writer oversight, one could make the argument that the writers deliberately wrote that line to illustrate the view that information extracted via torture is neither ethical nor reliable. Picard was simply too exhausted to give the most appropriate answer...
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-16 at 1:13pm:
This is one of the stronger episodes of the series, and one that's often overlooked.
The only problem I see here is that it seems a little unlikely that Star Fleet would choose to send it's flagship captain on such a dangerous mission. We're given some justification of that -- Picard is an expert on the techno-babble issue of the day-- but it still seems like a long shot for the Cardassians to lure him in this way. I can't imagine that Star Fleet couldn't simply train some special-ops task team on the subspace emissions and turn them loose rather than sending Picard. But that's a minor thing, and the this episode is more than worth the suspension of disbelief needed to get through it.
The torture scenes are acted wonderfully by everybody involved, and they're some of the most gripping scenes of TNG. This episode also features a great guest turn by the actor playing Jellico, as well as the one portraying Gul Madred. We also get that rarest of TNG treats, a Ferengi character not so annoying and overdrawn that the Ferengi at large seem unrealistic. This is quality stuff, and I give the two-parter as a whole a 9.
- From rpeh on 2010-08-01 at 7:26pm:
As far as I'm concerned, this is the best episode in the entire Trek oeuvre. The story is gripping from start to finish and then... Patrick Stewart.
His acting in the torture scenes was nothing short of perfect, and the final line in the scene with Troi... well. Perfect again. This is one episode where the TNG writers finally realised that had a serious actor on their books and gave him a chance to show off his talent.
It's almost as if every other actor steps up a gear given Stewart's performance. Frakes in particular loses some of his usual cardboard edge and gives a great show as Riker, and the others are almost as good.
It was the memory of this episode that made me get the old DVDs down off the shelf and watch them all again. Absolutely brilliant.
- From nirutha on 2010-11-21 at 6:28pm:
I really dig David Warner as Gul Madred. He has the perfect voice for that role, one that seems to belong to a man both sophisticated and sadistic. (He also voice-acted Jon Irenicus in a similiar role in the RPG classic Baldur's Gate 2.)
- From John on 2011-02-01 at 10:46am:
Once again, DSOmo manages to suck all the mystery and fun out of a fictional show. I bet he's a lot of fun at parties. And funerals.
- From anon on 2013-12-29 at 8:14am:
I feel kind of sorry for captain Picard at this stage. He's lived a very hard life. First he was a borg, then he lived a whole false life in 'Inner Light' (to suddenly discover your children and wife weren't real would be devastating) and now he has been tortured. Plus it appears that he has never been in a very serious relationship despite him appearing to want companionship.
- From Quando on 2014-03-19 at 5:47pm:
The whole "how many lights do you see" thing was borrowed (stolen?) from George Orwell's great novel 1984, in which the protagonist Winston was being tortured by the state and asked repeatedly how many fingers the torturer was holding up (there were only four, but the torturer insisted that there were five). Like Picard, in the end Winston said that he really did believe that he saw five fingers, although there were only four.
- From Axel on 2015-03-21 at 11:59pm:
This two-parter was held back a bit by the scenes involving Jellico's interaction with the crew, but is redeemed by Picard's mission and subsequent captivity.
The Enterprise crew comes off as very whiny in this episode. Sure, Jellico may be an abrasive captain, but what is he really asking? That the ship be prepared for an emergency combat situation and shut down its research missions to be fully ready for that? Surely the Enterprise has contingency plans for this kind of thing, so it can't be that unusual for the crew to step up its game a bit. I think the conflict between Jellico and the rest of the crew was forced. Jellico's negotiations with the Cardassians did make for some great scenes, along with the plan to place mines on the Cardassian ships.
The Seltris III mission and Picard's captivity, though, are amazingly done. David Warner is one of the best guest cast members in all of TNG as Gul Madred. Patrick Stewart's research and preparation for this role pay off, and the two actors' performances are what make this two-parter pure gold. The final scene where Picard talks about seeing five lights was gripping and the perfect end to this story.
- From Emitter Array on 2016-08-20 at 10:13am:
I think this is one of TNG's finest episodes (although I do agree with DSOmo's comments about problems with the premise). David Warner is perfect in his role while Patrick Stewart gets to act out a bit more compared to the usual fare he gets on the show; just excellent all around and a joy to watch.
- Moriarty experiencing the passage of time whilst being stored in memory is a bit ridiculous. Why doesn't the doctor on Voyager? He seems a pretty self aware hologram to me. Maybe it had something to do with this funky protected memory that Barclay kept on rambling about.
- This episode is a continuation of TNG: Elementary, Dear Data.
- Data and Geordi playing a Sherlock Holmns story on the holodeck.
- Data, who has memorized the program script, confused as to why it glitched.
- Moriarty appearing on the holodeck talking to a clueless Barclay.
- Moriarty "walking off" the holodeck.
- Barclay talking to Moriarty's lover.
- Data attempting to transport the chair off the holodeck, then Data suspecting that they were still on the holodeck.
- Watching the two planets collide.
- Picard, Data, and Barclay tricking Moriarty.
- Picard explaining how he fooled Moriarty.
Moriarty was a Mori-Moron in this episode. Granted Picard, Data, and Barclay's method of fooling Moriarty was clever, even downright genius, it seems unlikely that Moriarty would be so foolish as to think he could ever leave the holodeck. An irony of this story is that in 5 years or so in Voyager, this indeed will happen for Voyager's EMH, but it will require technology from hundreds of years from the 24th century. Unfortunately, it kind of annoys me that the issue of Moriarty becoming sentient was washed away once again as something to be forgotten. And this time, we won't be following up on it. Picard does mention that the greatest scientific minds in the Federation would be studying how it became so, but the episode leaves the viewer with the impression that it's a non issue. Especially with regards to how much progress had been made; more accurately the lack there of, with the exception perhaps of Dr. Zimmerman's work on the EMH. I tend to have sympathy for Moriarty's cause in this respect, but since he was a clinical madman with malicious intents throughout his life interacting with the real world characters, I also say good riddance. I bag of mixed emotions.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-05-12 at 12:49am:
The whole holodeck inside the holodeck thing was confusing. If picard told the computer to "end program" at the end, shouldn't both programs have ended at the same time?
I did find that whole concept of "we might be inside some simulation right now" intriguing. Who knows? Maybe the wachowski brothers ripped off Rick Berman when they made the Matrix ;)
- From Dean on 2007-06-28 at 6:49am:
Couldn't Data reverse voice control back to Picard with simullating Moriartys voice?
- From DSOmo on 2007-11-13 at 5:36am:
- In case there was any doubt about the disposition of holodeck matter, this episode absolutely confirms that it cannot exist outside the holodeck. The dialogue again and again pounds this point home. For example, Picard says, "Although objects appear solid on the holodeck, in the real world they have no substance." To prove it, he picks up a book and tosses it through the holodeck entrance. The book immediately vaporizes (much quicker, by the way, than the villians did in "The Big Good-Bye"). True, this scene occurs within Moriarty's simulation of the Enterprise, but Picard acts like the book behaved exactly as he expected. If holodeck matter cannot exist outside the holodeck, the following anomalies exist. Wesley, drenched in holodeck water, walks off the holodeck and remains wet ("Encounter At Farpoint"). Picard, kissed by a 1940s holodeck woman, leaves the holodeck with her lipstick intact on his cheek ("The Big Good-Bye"). A snowball flies out of the holodeck and hits Picard ("Angel One"). And finally, Data carries a piece of holodeck-created paper to a meeting of the senior staff ("Elementary, Dear Data").
- In the opening scene of the episode, Data and Geordi enjoy a Sherlock Holmes adventure. At one point, Geordi tells the computer to "freeze program." While the character quits moving, the clock keeps ticking and the fire keeps burning. Shouldn't these freeze also?
- From Rob on 2008-04-17 at 8:34pm:
I don't think some of the anomolies are really problems. I always got the impression that the Holodeck uses standard replicator technology to augment the illusions of the environment it creates. Ergo - food, water, even objects specified by the user can be "really created" out of standard replicator materials, the same as ordering tea in Picard's ready room. These things would exist beyond the holodeck and even within a simulation after it is ended.
- From Remco on 2008-08-06 at 9:20am:
I think this is a brilliant episode. Is this episode the first demonstration of phishing? Creating an environment in which someone will inadvertently release their authentication key surely does seem similar to the problems we face on the web today.
- From Ggen on 2012-04-15 at 5:02pm:
Brilliant episode with a good balance of intrigue, suspense, and metaphysical musing. Moriarti is great as usual (glad they took the concept one step further and made this sequel).
I love the concept and the execution, with all its twists. Of course, I kind of thought the whole thing might've still been on the holodeck, but pretty much forgot about that idea by the time it was actually revealed. And the final twist was even more surprising, and chock full of irony to boot.
This episode very effectively preempted the movie Inception by a full 17 years.
Goes straight into my personal Trek Hall of Fame.
- From Mikael on 2014-05-29 at 7:20pm:
Two planets colliding, creating a star? WTF???
- Picard intimidating Morag with his influence over Gowron.
- Aquiel showing up on the Enterprise.
- Crusher's hand showing up in the gunk.
- Geordi phasering the shape shifting life form.
An absolutely dull episode and sad in a way. Another tragic LaForge romance in which we watch him spend virtually the whole episode trying to land a girl only to be turned down in the end. The murder plot is confusing right up until the last moment at which point LaForge employs Texas justice, murdering the murderer. It's a little absurd that he never once called for security despite the fact that he had plenty of time to, and could easily outrun the shape shifting blob. I'm a big fan of LaForge and all, but frankly, this has got to be one of his worst episodes.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DSOmo on 2007-12-01 at 2:27am:
- In one of her personal logs, Unari yearns for a glass of real muskin seed punch, the kind her mother used to make. She doesn't think the replicator does a very good job. Later, Geordi brings her a glass of muskin seed punch in Ten-Forward and Unari acts like it is wonderful. Is Unari just trying to make Geordi feel good or did Geordi get into Guinan's personal supply?
- This coalescent being is either not very smart or it made a bad mistake. Crusher states that it probably has to change bodies every few days. The episode supports this by saying that the coalesced officer arrived at the relay station several days before the incident with Unari. Supposedly he attacked Unari because he needed the food. But the episode's dialogue indicates that the station assignment lasts for a year. What was the being going to do after it consumed Unari and her dog? The station is out in the middle of nowhere. If the being absorbed the officer before he arrived at the station, why would he go somewhere with such a limited supply of nutrition?
- Someone made a mistake in the sound effects department. During the last scene between Geordi and Unari, they sit together in Ten-Forward. At one point, the "boop" sound effect for a companel page momentarily interrupts their conversation. Strangely, no one pages Geordi or Unari, and the scene continues as if nothing happened!
- From sarah on 2008-07-20 at 7:45pm:
was the dog a berger picard (dog breed) ?
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-19 at 11:03am:
I agree. This one is "absolutely dull and sad." Geordi can't get a break with the ladies to save his life. What is it about Engineers and women? Scottie had this kind of luck as well.
Apart from that, the saddest thing is that a pretty cool idea gets completely wasted here. I love the idea of the coalescent being, but the way it's executed here is just boring. The plot just sort of plods along and then explodes at the very end with the dog attaching LaForge.
Think for a second how shitty an assignment Aquiel has in the first place. She's stuck on a remote outpost for at least a year with only one other person for company, but she's listening to everybody's communication. It would have driven her crazy even if her new partner hadn't been a homicidal blob of ectoplasm. Now that's something that could have been explored a little better. But, alas, this episode squanders it all. I bump it up a point for at least having an interesting premise, so it's a 2.
- From Jeremy Reffin on 2009-08-03 at 1:20am:
I'm having problems recreating the murder scene here. Rocha/Blob attacks Uhnari in order to absorb her. Does it succeed a bit (Geordi suggests an initiation of coalescence may have been responsible for her loss of memory) ? Uhnari phasers the blob down to scrap DNA - interfering with the absorption process ?? Uhnari flees to shuttlecraft having interrupted absorption ??? Bits of blob (missed by the phaser meltdown of Rocha ????) then absorb the pooch ????? Or something. Sheesh what a mess.
I know - who cares, get a life.
- From thaibites on 2012-07-04 at 9:53pm:
Hey, at least this chick was real and not some computer generated fantasy.
- From Arianwen on 2013-01-02 at 7:40am:
The episode isn't just dull, it's idiotic as well.
- Uhnari confesses to Geordi that she deleted the logs because she "was afraid that if they found the letter they'd blame [her] for the murder". This directly contradicts her earlier statement: if she had no memory of a murder, then she had no reason to get rid of the evidence! Or memory of having removed the logs at all, for that matter. Did she delete the logs AFTER she came to the Enterprise? If so, what kind of incompetence would allow a bloody murder suspect to teleport off the damn ship?
- Crusher, Picard, Riker and Worf are all aware of the shape-shifting organism. Not ONE of them thinks of the dog. Riker even has a conversation with Geordi while PETTING it - even the Red Dwarf crew would have noticed!
Everyone's holding the Stupid ball today. One can only assume the senior staff are still concussed from their previous adventure.
- This is one of many episodes to mention that the Romulans use quantum singularities as power sources.
- Troi's briefing from N'Vek
- Trio's abraisive meeting with Commander Toreth.
- Riker arresting Ensign DeSeve for treason.
- DeSeve delivering Spock's message.
- N'Vek blaming firing on the freighter on Troi.
- Troi and N'Vek discussing the failure of their plan.
- Commander Toreth's objections to Troi's new plan to cross into Federation space.
- Troi forcing her plan on N'Vek.
- Troi challenging Toreth's command.
- N'Vek firing a low powered disruptor to piggyback a transporter.
- N'Vek's death.
- Troi's escape.
A human defector to Romulus returns to the Federation and Troi unwillingly becomes a Federation spy on board a Romulan warbird. The political web weaved for this episode is a complex one, but definitely interesting. Seeing more of the inside of Romulan vessels is certainly interesting as well. The thrilling plot keeps you on the edge of the seat as the warbird and the Enterprise become ever so dangerously closer to one another, climaxing with Troi's extremely risky maneuver hailing the Enterprise under the guise of being a member of Romulan intelligence. Granted, N'Vek's death is a huge cliche and in this case extremely needless. There's no reason the plot couldn't have been further complicated by Troi pleading Picard to transport him out too, only to find that his fate was now sealed once the warbird went to warp. I enjoyed watching him vaporize, but it seemed entirely senseless. Having him simply remain on board while Troi escaped would have beared so much more emotion. Finally, this is possibly Troi's greatest episode in that she played the most important role and did so spectacularly. Bravo.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-17 at 10:58am:
This episode is great. The plot hatched by N'Vek is far-fetched at best, but this it's worth it in the end. I love the way that Troi starts to throw her weight around, and I absolutely love the way that the Romulan people are presented as a very complex people. Recently they've been been fleshed out much more than they ever were in the past, and I like that Spock's work on Romulus is revisted here. Overall, this is top-notch. I give it a 9.
- From J Reffin on 2009-08-03 at 10:02am:
It's a great episode, but The Inner Light (s 5) is in another league.
- From Inga on 2012-03-17 at 6:12pm:
I liked the Romulan Commander. A strong episode with strong female characters and an engaging plot.
- From Dennis on 2013-03-31 at 7:29pm:
I didn't know they could spend money. Riker tells Ensign DeSeve to go buy some civilian clothes because he doesn't want to see him in a Star Fleet uniform.
- From Harrison on 2013-08-24 at 6:52am:
Any weaknesses (there are few) in this episode are rendered trivial by the outstanding performance by Carolyn Seymour as the Romulan Commander Toreth. It's a compelling and memorable portrayal, of a calibre rarely achieved on television.
Marina Sirtis delivers a pretty remarkable performance, too. It's a little shrill in places, but her repartee with the Romulan Commander is pulled off wonderfully. It's almost jarrig how departs so thoroughly from the soft & sensitive "Deanna Troi" in this episode.
- From Mike on 2016-10-27 at 8:47pm:
This is a fantastic episode, and I'm glad they used Troi's character for it as it worked very well.
I think we have to assume, though, that Troi speaks fluent Romulan. If she doesn't, then how do the Romulan captain and crew not notice that she's using a universal translator?
It stands to reason that she would know Romulan and is familiar with the culture. During the senior officers' dinner, the captain suggests she try a dish which she correctly identifies, in a moment that makes N'Vek nervous she'll be discovered. Maybe at the start, they could've had N'Vek mention that her Romulan fluency is one of the reasons she was chosen.
Anyway, just a minor problem. The episode, overall, is one of the best of this season.
- From Kethinov on 2016-10-28 at 12:38pm:
Some common rationalizations:
For those with the UT embedded in their brains (probably most advanced cultures), the UT may simulate natural language to receivers, including creating the illusion of natural lip movements in your mind. This would have the unintended consequence of preventing you from noticing when someone is not speaking your language.
It's also possible the Romulan Empire is made of several different cultural groups that each speak different Romulan languages. So any lip movement observed would be chalked up to being from some other province of the Empire.
- This episode is the winner of my "Best Episode of TNG Award" and is therefore a candidate for my "Best Episode Ever Award."
- Q's declaration that he's god and Picard's reaction.
- Q: "You're lucky I don't cast you out or smite you or something."
- Picard regarding Q being god: "I refuse to believe that the universe is so badly designed!"
- Watching young Picard fight the Nausicaans. He even laughed, just like the story he told Wesley in TNG: Samaritan Snare.
- Q: "Is there a John Luck Pickerd here?"
- Picard waking up next to Q...
- Picard alienating all his friends.
- Picard passing Q's test and seeing the results of his new life.
- Q making his point about how Picard's history of risk taking shaped his life.
- Q: "That Picard never had a brush with death, never came face to face with his own mortality, never realized how fragile life is. Or how important each moment must be. So his life never came into focus."
- Picard: "I would rather die as the man I was than live as the man I saw."
This episode is absolutely perfect from beginning to end. In many ways it reminds me of TNG: Family; but with a particular emphasis on Picard. The simple, yet profoundly powerful point this episode makes is done in an articulate downright moving manner. There are many things to redeem this episode. Firstly, it doesn't waste any time on pointless action scenes; in particular we don't see how Picard was injured at the beginning of this episode. Why? Because it was completely unimportant. Next, this episode presents Q in a completely unusual manner. As the series develops, it becomes clear that Q has something of an affinity, or perhaps a sympathy for Picard. Q begins to like Picard and wants to see him succeed; despite his adversarial appearance. As it was put at the end of the episode, it's almost hard to believe Q could be so nice. Finally, this episode allows the average viewer to connect excellently with Picard. Everyone has moments of their lives they regret or would like a chance to change. But like it or not, they are a part of who we are. Pulling a single thread in the tapestry of our lives would have profound effects on who we would become later. This episode is nontraditional in terms of the issues Star Trek usually tackles, but is nonetheless completely successful and one of the most memorable and moving episodes ever written.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Wolfgang on 2006-07-10 at 9:04am:
-Lieutenant Picard !
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-18 at 11:58am:
There's not a whole lot to complain about here, but I'm not as smitten with this episode as many fans are.
It's great to see Picard's past, and his evolving relationship with Q is certainly interesting. But I find the It's-A-Wonderful-Life theme of this episode is a bit heavy-handed and explained to death. I also think they could have done a better job writing the characters of the young Picard's friends, who both seem pretty broadly drawn and never really elevate out of stereotype.
Still, this is solid, and I can definitely see the charm, but I can't list it as one of the absolute best episodes. I guess I'll have to wait until I finish the series to make that call, though.
- From Dennis on 2013-04-02 at 6:05pm:
I couldn't wait for this one to be over, and I've never felt that way about any other episode. The stupid costumes and make up. The over the top acting by Picard's adversary's, Q, all of it just stupid. The story had nothing to do with the theme of Star Trek. It could have easily been an episode of Mayberry RFD. Sorry if I'm a little heavy handed but they can flush this one.
- From dominic on 2016-08-18 at 9:04pm:
Problems: Q let Picard go back and put things back the way they were originally, so how did he end up surviving his present-day injury? A pretty glaring one IMO.
- From Cal on 2017-02-27 at 7:39am:
Q was involved, he can give and take life at any moment, so Picard's injury isn't an issue. Maybe Beverly saved him, maybe the whole injury thing was set up by Q in the first place, so it's hardly a problem. I adore the episode.
- Watch Data's final scene with Bashir and look closely at his feet. Notice the little pink slippers? They didn't mean that actually to be visible, but according to Siddig El Fadil, who plays Bashir, they wear those slippers to silience the sound of footsteps when walking about and he simply forgot to switch them with his shoes for that scene. ;)
- Seeing the Enterprise docked at DS9 again.
- I like Geordi's reference to O'Brien being on the station.
- Bashir's meeting with Data.
- Worf freaking out at people.
- Troi regarding Worf's broken furniture: "Did the table do somethiing wrong?"
- Bashir's fascination with Data's peculiarities.
- Data seeking advice from Worf about the vision of his father, inadvertently causing Worf to realize what he must do.
- Worf "negociating" with the information seller by threatening his life.
- Picard to Data: "You are a culture of one. Which is no less valid than a culture of one billion."
- Data's complete "dream."
- Morn appearances; 1. On the promenade when Worf is walking around looking for the information seller.
This episode is both annoying and cool at the same time. I love learning about the details of Worf's past and the attack on Khitomer which made Klingon relations with the Romulans go sour. But this episode also is the only crossover with DS9 which in my opinion is totally wasted. This episode just screams "I'm a TNG episode, not a DS9 episode!" DS9 sets and characters are used at only minimal amounts. In fact, mostly used as plot devices to advance Data and Worf's stories! The device Bashir wanted to examine is largely forgotten (it may be interpreted as a literal plot device!), the meeting Picard has at Bajor is not shown, and DS9's sets are only shown so that Worf may meet his information dealer. That said, the plot is interesting, even if slightly annoying. Worf finds the truth about what happened to his father, but at the cost of being captured himself...
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-05-14 at 11:31pm:
Factoid: Is it just me, or does Troi start wearing her official starfleet uniform more often after being criticized by Captain Jellico in "Chain of Command"?
Data was tripping BALLS in this episode. That was the most ridiculously psychotropic experience I've ever seen.
- Worf trying to teach the people of the compound the Klingon ways.
- Worf taking offense to the existence of a Romulan Klingon hybrid.
- Toq: "Tonight, we eat well!"
- Toq: "You do not kill an animal unless you intend to eat it!"
- Ba'El: "They will kill you!" Worf: "Yes, but they will not defeat me."
- Worf: "No one survived Khitomer." Picard: "I understand."
A rather underwhelming sequel to the two parter. It focuses exclusively on Worf with the DS9 crossover having been completely wasted. Further, it's hard to believe that Tokath didn't go to greater lengths to ensure the secrecy of his little utopia. It is nice to see all this emphasis on Klingon culture, which makes this an episode to remember. But the timing was just terrible and I have to take off points for this.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-05-15 at 11:55pm:
Worf finding the idea of a Romulan mating with a Klingon "an obscenity" was hilarious
I liked this episode alot, but I found the ending largely inconclusive
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-22 at 1:27pm:
This episode is a bit of a dud despite an intriguing premise.
For one thing, it's constructed badly, as Data's issue with his father and the dreams is wrapped up in part I, while Worf's issue with his father and the Klingon prisoners takes up both episodes. Data's exploration of his dreams is intriguing, but the execution was pretty lame and new age-y.
I thought the whole idea of the Klingon prison was great, and Tovak's character was interesting, a mix of idealism and control; he was willing to become a jailer in order to preserve the peace he's created. The scene where Worf's disciple comes in with the freshly killed meat is cool (are the Romulans vegetarians like their cousins the Vulcans?) but it quickly descends into cliche when the song and the speech begin to mimic the civil rights movement and African-American spirituals. Still, the idea is solid enough to carry through, and this one is decent if you overlook some of its problems.
- Tim Russ, who plays Devor in this episode, goes on to play Tuvok on Voyager.
- I like the teaser of this episode, where Picard is micromanaging so many different things.
- Data attempting smalltalk.
- Picard granting Worf to be excused from the reception, but not Geordi. Picard: "Worf beat you to it."
- Data mimicking Hutchinson.
- Picard walking into a wall while he's attempting to leave Hutchinson's reception.
- Picard Vulcan neck pinching Devor.
- Riker unleashing Data on Hutchinson.
- Riker: "I have to admit, it has a certain strange fascination. How long can two people talk about nothing?"
- Picard pretending to be the barber who never shuts up.
- Picard killing the invaders of his ship en masse.
I like this episode quite a bit. The humor regarding Hutchinson and Data is slapstick but still tactful. The terrorist threat aboard the ship during the Baryon sweep is original, interesting, and thrilling. Most interesting though was Picard the killer! Picard murdered at least half a dozen people in this episode in defense of his ship; setting them all up to die one by one! This of course is the best part of the episode. Picard's tactics and trickery were superb and fun to watch. The episode maintained a consistent level of excitement all throughout and a fun level of humor at the beginning. The technobabble was borderline annoying, but served mostly as a successfully exploited plot device, so I don't dislike it too much. A great episode.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From djb on 2008-07-20 at 4:36am:
I've seen this episode many times, but I just got what might be a little joke at the end. This bit of dialogue between Picard and Worf:
"I only wish I'd had the opportunity to use it on a horse."
Reminds me of Mr. Ed....
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-22 at 6:17pm:
Not so much a problem as a WTF moment: Data mentions that ther are several Terralians living on the Enterprise, and that Terralia is one of only a few inhabited planets without any atmosphere whatsoever. How in the world can someone from a planet with no atmosphere exist in the first place--perhaps an underwater civilization? In any case, it's hard to believe they could function on a ship.
This episode is pretty incosequential in the long run, but it's a perfect 10 from an entertainment stand point. As mentioned in the review, Picard the killer is cool in James Bond mode here, and there is some serious McGuyver action with Geordi's visor being turned into a weapon. Come to think of it, Spock was doing that sort of thing long before McGuyver anyway.
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-23 at 9:56am:
With the obvious exeption of the Borg conflict episode and the occasional random death-of-an-entire-civilization plot, this episode has to have one of the highest body counts ever recorded in a Trek episode. Picard kills pretty much all of the thieves and even indirectly blows up their shuttle. Plus, "Hutch" is gunned down and presumably dies as well.
The slapstick stuff with Data and Commander Hutchinson is funny and well done. I also love the way Troi rolls her eyes when Picard excuses himself from the reception.
- From Mark McC on 2009-02-08 at 8:58am:
Some on the production team was obviously a fan of the Bruce Willis move, Die Hard, and decided to make Die Hard in Space! There's a whole raft of similarities, the staff/crew are both held hostage at a social function while our lone hero runs around the building/ship causing mischief. In both, what we assume to be terrorists actually turn out to be mercenaries doing it purely for profit.
Even the scene where Picard pretends to be Mott the barber is a reversal of the movie scene where Alan Rickman, the leader of the bad guys, fools Bruce Willis by pretending to be a clueless hostage escaped from his captors.
I enjoy Trek for the range and depth of social and moral questions it explores, but sometimes an all-out entertainment episode like this is a breath of fresh air.
Data and Hutchinson's slapstick is the icing on the cake, the comic timing and quick repartee between the two is fantastically done. 9/10
- From Markus on 2009-11-09 at 3:33am:
Didn't they forget to save Picard's fishes from the sweep?
- From Inga on 2012-03-20 at 1:01pm:
Is it me, or did Picard use a Vulcan nerve pinch on Devor?
- From Bronn on 2012-12-25 at 3:22am:
Picard executing the Vulcan nerve pinch is actually a subtle, but nice, continuity nod. Remember that he's been in a mind meld with both Sarek and Spock, by this point. He should possess quite a bit of Vulcan knowledge.
- From dronkit on 2014-03-08 at 10:19pm:
A barber without hair? lol
- From Autre31415 on 2014-08-31 at 7:28pm:
Also ironic about the Vulcan nerve pinch Picard performs is that it was on a future Vulcan!
- A crew member gets in the turbolift with Picard and Darren but doesn't specify any destination! Is she wandering the ship aimlessly?
- Picard, frustrated that Stellar Cartography is consuming all of the ship's resources.
- Picard's rather abrasive first meeting with Darren.
- The Chopin performance.
- Picard playing Frère Jacques with Darren.
- Darren playing the Moonlight Sonata.
- The scene with Data and Geordi where they hear Picard and Darren's music.
This episode is delightful in that it presents the first convincing romance for Picard. I also like the continuity with TNG: The Inner Light regarding Picard's flute and the story concerning the probe. Finally, the music in this episode is great. The best scene in my opinion is when Darren plays the first part of the Moonlight Sonata in the Jeffrey's tube juncture for Picard. I have to take off points for the fact that we never see Darren again though. As moving as this episode is, its lack of consequences is extremely annoying.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From djb on 2008-08-18 at 10:03pm:
I loved this episode. At first I was afraid it would be a little dull, but it quickly turned around. I liked how you could tell from Picard and Daren's first conversation that they would become an item. Since I am a musician myself, I really like the musical connection the two of them have, especially since it refers to "The Inner Light," which is an excellent episode to be reminded of.
I find myself consistently enjoying Picard love-interest stories, mainly because they're not treated at all cavalierly, as with Riker (for the first few TNG seasons anyway) and Kirk. Picard takes love, like everything else, quite seriously, and he's not at all a skirt-chaser, and I identify with and appreciate that. I enjoyed Vash ("Captain's Holiday"), I enjoyed Kamala ("The Perfect Mate"), and I enjoyed Eline ("The Inner Light"), and I enjoy the continuing romantic tension between Picard and Crusher, though the producers have wisely toned it down since Season One. In the scene in sickbay between Daren and Crusher, you can see hints of jealousy on the part of the doctor (brilliantly acted by McFadden), which show that that's still a viable plot thread.
The one problem I have is Daren's hokey roll-up keyboard. They could have easily thought up something not only cooler, but more realistic; any pianist, seeing a keyboard just under three octaves, and scoff. Daren certainly manages to get a lot more than three octaves' worth out of it! Also, not being able to press keys that actually go down would be rather confusing to any pianist. Plus, the keys definitely look bigger than real piano keys. Fortunately, we don't see it too much after the love interest plot takes off.
The other problem, of course, is that due to the heavily episodic nature of the series, we never hear from Daren again. (Reminds me of "The Game".) I mean, we hear Picard say he's in love with her, and they wisely decide that it's a conflict of interest, but you'd think we'd see him keeping up some kind of communication with her! Oh well.
The scene between them toward the end is brilliantly written and acted.
- From John on 2011-09-03 at 11:56pm:
Though I guess it's part of the remarkable scene with the Moonlight Sonata, I really loved it when Picard played that folk melody from "Inner Light" in the Jeffries Tube. It reminded me of just how amazing that episode was, and how amazing that little tune is.
- From tigertooth on 2017-01-08 at 11:14pm:
It's a small point, but in the Jeffries Tube scene, the tube behind Darren is very obviously a 2-D image of a tube. You can see shadows on the surface.
The "lesson" I learn in this episode is that Picard will use any possible excuse to avoid intimacy. I'm not sure why, but he's terrified of it. I mean, he has to make Darren transfer to a different ship because he can't bear to risk her life? How often is the head of stellar cartography going to be in that situation? And why would that happen less on whatever ship she's transferred to? He's just a coward.
I think both in the breakup scene as well as the "Picard apologizes for the turbolift incident" scene, you can see that Darren knows that Picard is unable to get into a real relationship. She's willing to play along with his rationalizations because she knows there's no point in fighting it. He is who he is, and she can't change him.
- There are 17 people on board the Enterprise not from Federation worlds.
- Salome Jens, who plays as the humanoid alien projection in this episode, later goes on to play the leader of the Dominion in DS9.
- Picard's enthusiastic meeting with his old teacher.
- Picard lamenting about having to betray his mentor once again.
- The meeting between Picard and the Cardassian and Klingon captains.
- The Klingon captain challenging Data to a number of ritual challenges.
- The Klingon captain attempting to bribe Data, then retracting his offer when Data points out that it is in fact a bribe.
- Picard's conversation with the Romulan commander in the end.
A bold episode; why do so many Star Trek aliens look just like humans? Because somebody's been seeding them! A decent episode with a well executed though very strange premise. Unfortunately, this episode which tries hard to be profound, fails largely as the results of this discovery are largely inconsequential. As Picard said, the speech fell on "deaf ears." This isn't necessarily unrealistic but it does make the episode a little more unremarkable, naturally.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-22 at 3:57pm:
Although the execution sometimes leave a little to be desired, this remains one of my favorite episodes.
I absolutely love the idea of genetic "seeding" and the idea that all humanoid life comes from an ancient common source. It's perhaps a little bit unrealistic that they all found out at the exact same time, but it's necessary for the plot; I found it a little forced that the Cardassians and Klingons thought there would be a weapon or limitless power source at the end of this chase--why would anybody put this kind of code in our DNA if it was simply a weapon? But I guess their suspicions are in character.
A few loose ends: what's the deal with the ship that Worf destroyed? Maybe I missed it, but there didn't seem to be an explanation why a minimal phaser blast destroyed the whole ship. Also, while it's plausible that the Klingon captain would destroy all life on the planet after getting the DNA sample, it seems like there would be some sort of repercussions.
The only person who seems to share Picard's wonder and fascination at the Romulan captain. By this time in the series, the Romulans are becoming the most interesting and well-developed alien race around, and this is no exception. The Klingons and Cardassians hold on to their hatreds, but the Romulans, represented by the captain here anyway, see the bigger picture. Looking back over the next generation, it's a pity the Romulans couldn't have taken a bigger role. They would have made a much more interesting and engaging species to study than the newly-found Ferengi. Maybe that's just my bias talking, as anyone who's read my posts here knows that I loathe the Ferengi and find them to be an embarrassing additon to the series.
- From Mark McC on 2009-02-09 at 7:23am:
A strange episode where all races go in search of something that surely must be accepted scientific fact by now.
We've had Human/Vulcan, Human/Klingon, Betazoid/Human, Klingon/Romulan and Human/Romulan mixed-species characters. There's probably more, since Kirk and Riker seem to consider anyone with two legs and breasts a suitable candidate for mating with!
With all these successful hybrids, wouldn't scientists have already concluded that the vast majority of bipedal sentient species in the galaxy must share not only common DNA, but also compatible reproductive systems?
- From Random Guy on 2010-04-30 at 3:34pm:
Regarding the repercussions bit:
The guy only killed a bunch of trees on some distant planet. There wasn't any kind of civilization there, nor any animals at all, so it's not as big of a deal as it would appear.
- From MJ on 2011-02-23 at 6:22pm:
This episode reminded me of the TOS episode "Bread and Circuses" in which they talked about parallel planet development. I liked how in that episode, and this one, Star Trek tries to give a somewhat plausible (at least in sci-fi) explanation for why there are thousands of beings in the galaxy that are some variation of the Human form. Star Trek is just as anthropomorphic as any sci-fi show (or religion, for that matter), but at least they acknowledge it.
However, the first time I saw this, I felt a bit as the Klingon captain did: "That's all???" They could've stretched this into a two-parter, adding some more intrigue and action to the chase, and also providing more as to how these original aliens seeded the galaxy. In truth, you actually have the makings of a movie here, certainly a better one than TNG would later field.
Galen was an interesting character, and shows us another side of Picard. The one thing we've seen Picard excited about in previous episodes is archaeology. It's more than a hobby, it's a passion, and now we learn it's something he had the opportunity to devote his life to. And, his mentor hasn't really forgiven him for not doing so.
The scenes with Data and the Klingon captain are priceless. I love the part where Data is trying to logically explain why the captain's offer was indeed a bribe, innocently ruining the subtlety of it.
- From Zaphod on 2011-04-14 at 5:47am:
Annoying Episode, packed with everything I don't like about Star Trek.
Here the wise and peaceful Federation guys, there a bunch of insanely stupid and childish aliens not capable of understanding the message of peace and tolerance. Everything we know about these races is thrusted aside and again they are reduced to irrational and aggressive morons not blessed with the superior wisdom and diplomatic skill of the federation. Naturally all suggestions to defuse the situation are made by Picard, the Federation representative.
And how on earth can that Klingon be so foolish and think that a trial of strength with an android is a good idea?!
These caricatures remind me of the arrogant and selfish view Europeans had in past centuries, especially in the imperialistic age. Our ancestors back then also honestly believed they were the good guys and their conquers were beneficial for the "savages" they conquered.
Star Trek seems to preach tolerance and respect for other cultures but the way the Klingons, Cardassians and Romulans are depicted tells me the opposite.
And why does every peaceful civilization join the f*cking Federation? Why aren't there many more alliances who are not just stupid warmongering caricatures like the Cardassians and why do these Klingon, Cardassian and Romulan boneheads get so much room in Star Trek? Because it gives the audience a feeling of superiority so they can do the same thing Roddenberry did, feel comfortable with the worldview they have and preach about it everytime someone listens without any doubt and the need to ever think again in their lives or to listen to the unimportant stuff other people say. ^^
And what moron wrote the speech that ancient alien gave them? Didn't sound wise to me, sounded more like an inept preacher trying too hard to reach the poor lost souls of his fold. Really embarrassing.
- From Robert Koenn on 2011-06-06 at 10:08am:
I found this episode to be very good and definitely liked the ancient planting of space seed around the galaxy. I told my wife as we watched that was the intent of the riddle right from the beginning and said it reminded me of the theme of 2001 from the perspective of an ancient galactic civilization being the creators of new civilizations. While I still have problems with such militaristic races, particularly the Klingons (how could a race such as that even manage to survive each other and develop technology), it did make sense from how they are portrayed in the series. And I for one liked the morality of the counterpoint of this ancient race hoping we had overcome our war like ways and learned to live peacefully with each other. Even that final point between the Romulan and Picard. Yes it is simplistic but there is a huge portion of the human race that hopes for such a thing even on this rather pathetic human planet with all its' hatred and killing and inequality.
- From Brendan on 2011-09-15 at 8:17am:
So would it be a stretch to assume that this ancient civilization evolved to become the Founders of the Dominion. I say that for several reasons.
1. The alien in this episode is played by the same actress who portrayed the female changeling in DS9 (Salome Jens).
2. They look kind of similar, not identical, but the again the Founders are changelings.
3. The Founder mentions to Odo in one episode that they were solids once but then they evolved. Judging by how much time must have passed for life in the entire Alpha Quadrant to evolve, I imagine that would be enough time for this alien race to evolve into the Founders.
Kind of a cool thing to think about....even if it was never intended to be that way. It does seem like sort of a wink and a nod from DS9's producers in casting Salome Jens as the Founder.
- From Ggen on 2012-04-20 at 9:00pm:
This was a most excellent idea that unfortunately was pretty much botched during execution. I really enjoyed the initial scenes with Picard's professor, but although the premise got even more interesting, the actual episode got worse.
The main problem was that the whole thing felt very contrived and everything just lined up in an all too convenient way, one link after the other, one gratuitous-feeling exposition after the next. Virtually everything said in this episode didn't feel like realistic dialogue, although it was all very convenient for explaining the story.
I also didn't really care for how it turned into a who's who of TNG: the Cardassians show up (that captain was kind of ridiculous by the way), then the Klingons, then the Romulans... Although it made sense in the context of the story, it also didn't quite feel right...
I do have to give the episode credit where its due, because the basic idea of a DNA-based computer program was rather original. The "extraterrestrial origins" thing is original for TNG, although not entirely original among scientists/paranormal researchers/ufo buffs, etc (look up "panspermia" and "directed panspermia"). It was certainly a welcome topic, in any case, because it successfully addressed that longstanding nagging question: "Why are almost all aliens in Trek humanoids, some even indistinguishable from humans?"
- - -
Then again, although I'm not a biologist, I'm not sure that question is really answered. Introducing basic DNA material into the primordial soup is one thing. But our humanoid appearance also depends on millions of years of unpredictable, blind evolution, complete with countless random factors, environmental changes, etc.
As far as I understand it, there's really no way to draw a direct line from seeding the genetic material and the eventual outcome, millions of years later, unless you also control or manipulate countless other factors and events.
- From thaibites on 2012-09-20 at 10:09am:
This was a very enjoyable episode with good pacing. It had mystery, intrigue, and even a little action.
I agree with Brendan about the Changelings. I thought the same thing when the Founder appeared to all those gathered on the planet.
- From Axel on 2015-06-01 at 2:42am:
I see Zaphod's points about the Federation, but a lot of that gets explored in the DS9 series. There is a lot more moral ambiguity when it comes to Federation policy and the actions of Starfleet in DS9. That's one of the greatest things DS9 brings to the franchise, IMO.
Also, note that the Romulan commander, at least, appeared to grasp the alien's message and hope that the day may come when there could be peace and tolerance between worlds.
- Riker starting to freak out.
- The insane "officer" from the Yorktown.
- Riker seeing and hearing things in his second acting of his play.
- Data complimenting Riker's ability to play a demented character.
- Riker refusing to believe Beverly's, Worf's, and Data's appearances were real.
- Riker realizing he's still in an illusion.
This episode features an excellent acting performance by Johnathan Frakes as Riker. The plot itself is a little weak; the motives of the people who captured Riker aren't entirely explained. Nevertheless, this is still an excellent episode and a fun one to watch. As Data points out during the episode, Frakes presents an extremely convincing madman!
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-05-21 at 5:48pm:
Yeah, yeah. good acting by frakes. However, acting doesn't get you anywhere if the plot is incoherent, which the plot of this one is. The entire thing is unbelievably fucked up, and just impossible for the viewer to follow along. It took me like 15 minutes to sit there and rationalize what was real and what wasn't, and just figure out the whole thing. And they didn't even explain it well at the end. I didn't care for this episode at all. It's like star trek on PCP. I can't believe someone gave it a 10.
- From Robert Koenn on 2011-06-07 at 9:16am:
Myself and my wife didn't care much for this episode either, we rated it a two. There have been three or four dream based episodes like this and there were some on DS9 as well. The dream sequences seem to get out of hand and the surrealistic scenes of the dream episodes never play well with me. While I managed to pick up on what was reality and what was dreamed a short way into the episode, I was telling my wife this scene will end up being a dream, the numerous episodes of dream became far too much. And the beginning where you are given the scenario apparently was a dream as well but necessary to setup the episode which didn't play well with the overall logic and flow. Frakes did do an excellent job of acting but as mentioned previously, that can't make up for a very flawed theme.
- From Ggen on 2012-04-22 at 6:19am:
This is a brilliant episode that goes straight into my personal TNG hall of fame.
The writing in this episode is consistently top-notch, as is Jonathan Frakes' performance. The story has some superficial similarities to a previous great showing from this season: Ship in a Bottle. Gotta love the multiple levels of illusion.
I've actually had some amazingly vivid dreams where I've "woken up" inside what turned out to be yet another dream, and then had yet another false awakening, and so on... So I can identify with Riker a little bit in trying to sort out fact from self-generated fiction. I also know the feeling of your subconscious throwing up clues that something's not quite right here (in Riker's case, it was the recurring cut on his head that served as a sort of "reality check"). And of course there's the ever-present problem of memory, also similar to remembering dreams (or remembering you're dreaming while inside a dream) - when Riker's on the ship, it's almost as if he has access to one set of memories, when he's inside the hospital, a different set. The ship memories have their own internal logic, but then make no sense from the perspective of the other reality, and vice-versa. Anyone who's messed around with lucid dreaming will find a number of things familiar here.
That's part of the damned awesomeness of this episode: it's a considerably sophisticated psychological episode, well beyond the token Troi psychobabble. The whole thing really made a damned lot of sense.
As Riker eventually realized, the preparation for the mission, the preparation for the play, the play itself, being transplanted *inside* the play, all of that was self-created from recent memories in his mind's attempt to hold itself together and regain consciousness. The way it all plays out - the switching back and forth, that one alien being the "one constant," the "reflection therapy," the multiple layers - is all pretty much brilliant.
- - -
This line was just a bonus: "That's not a phaser. It's a knife. You took it from one of the food trays."
- From thaibites on 2012-09-21 at 8:33pm:
I really enjoyed this episode tremendously. It was great to see Riker completely out-of-control and manic. He's usually so perfect - a true Renaissance Man. Which is probably why they did this episode, so that he could break out of his "perfect" mold. Or maybe they were addressing complaints about Riker's character?
I think the comment by Pete Miller really sums up this episode well. He says the plot is incoherent. Well...YES! What do you expect from a story about a man slowly being driven insane? I think it was a brilliant decision by the writers to do this, and they should be applauded not panned.
- From FH on 2016-01-23 at 11:46am:
Nitpick: When talking to Picard, Riker expresses his desire to find an excuse to not participate in the theatre play, whereupon Picard says he'd be asked to replace Riker, and he doesn't want that, either. This doesn't sound like a healthy state of an after-work theatre group, which normally live on the enthusiasm by those involved.
- Reyga: "After all, a Ferengi scientist is almost a contradiction in terms!"
- Guinan convincing Beverly to reopen the investigation.
- Nurse Ogawa disobeying orders and bypassing the computer for Beverly.
- Beverly betting her life on the sabotage theory.
- Beverly killing Jo'Bril.
- Guinan admitting she never had Tennis Elbow.
A Beverly Crusher episode, rare thing, and a good episode at that. The first good detail is the ensemble of scientists Beverly assembled. A Klingon, Ferengi, Vulcan, human, and some new alien named Jo'Bril. A truly cool example of how far the 24th century has come in terms of inter stellar relations. The next detail I liked was the the fact that the metaphasic shield indeed worked. And it's not just some radical new technology we never see again, it's referenced in future episodes. All of these small details add up to a very pleasing out of the ordinary episode. The only wish I have is that Reyga didn't have to die. We need more nontraditional Ferengi and he was certainly a great character. That said, this is certainly an above average TNG episode.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From 7 Of 14 on 2008-09-17 at 6:47am:
An overall very enjoyable episode, but a few things just niggle away slightly:
- OK, so Jo'Bril (the "dead" Takaran shuttle pilot) somehow finds a way to release himself from inside the morgue chamber, finds his clothes, leaves sickbay without being seen, makes his way to the science lab without being seen (‘dead Takaran walking!’), kills Dr Reyga the Ferengi, makes his way back to the morgue via sickbay and seals himself back in for another nap. Perhaps he did it during the midnight shift when zombies are free to move around unchallenged.
- Later he again does this trick but also manages to beat Dr Crusher to a shuttlebay without being seen, gets to the shuttlecraft without being seen and gains access to the shuttle to hide inside the storage compartment.
- Yes, it was great seeing Dr Crusher literally blow a hole in Jo'Bril, but then she totally disintegrates him thereby destroying the key evidence needed to prove her side of the story. We have the missing body of an alien already pronounced dead, an unauthorised autopsy on a Ferengi, a negative result from the Ferengi autopsy and a medical officer who has made unapproved use of a shuttlecraft. Perhaps Dr Crusher might have some problems proving what really happened? Still, I guess would I believe her.
Perhaps all this is being a bit too picky; I still really liked the episode but just wanted to mention these little observations.
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-23 at 7:20pm:
This is another strong episode. Finally Beverly gets an episode that doesn't focus on her sorrow. The science is interesting, as are the guest aliens, and the whole package works well.
Poor Nurse Ogawa. She's spent the past five years healing people's boo boos in the background and having things explained to her so the audience can follow the sickbaby technobabble. Finally she gets something to do here, even if it's clearly as a sidekick to Beverly
It seems very common for Vulcans and humans to marry and mate. It was a big deal in Spock's day, but here it's just presented as nothing unusual. What must love and sex be like in a relatonship like this? What about the Pon Farr?
Troi is largely absent from this one, no doubt because her empathic abilities would have complicated the plot--she'd know that the other scientists were't lying.
- From Mark McC on 2009-02-11 at 4:58am:
I have to disagree on this one. When the best thing about a TNG episode is the Ferengi, something is off. The basic premise of the episode is OK, but the implementation is terrible.
There's the already mentioned idea of a dead alien releasing himself from the morgue (is accidental diagnosis of death so common in the the future that they have emergency release buttons on the inside of freezer drawers?) and wandering around the ship without anyone noticing.
How do the events at the end of the episode vindicate Crusher? She vaporised his body, so she ends up with absolutely no proof he was the murderer. In fact, the hijacking of a shuttle and blaming the murder on an dead alien whose body mysteriously vanishes puts her in an even more dubious position, and I doubt the Ferengi are going to accept the entire story based solely on her word.
Again, we see that Worf is utterly incompetent as head of security. After Crusher resigns her position, the computer in sickbay locks her out of accessing an autopsy report that she herself wrote. That's what would be expected if an unauthorised person tried to access it, no problem there.
Yet she can still walk straight into the shuttlebay and fly off in a shuttle without any problems. Not only that, but she is able to override the ship's command and control functions to prevent Worf from forcing the shuttle to return to the Enterprise. If the security on a few files in sickbay is better locked-down than the shuttlebay launch controls and the ship's command and control functions, then Worf really really should be demoted by now.
Who ends up with the technology? I'd assume that the Ferengi would lay claim to it and start selling to the highest bidder. Instead it seems that, in a very uncharacteristic moment of generosity, they allow everyone else to use the technology for free, as Geordi seems to have access to it in later episodes. This makes the entire episode a bit pointless. Why go to all the trouble of murdering someone just to steal something that's going to be given away freely anyhow?
In all, an interesting premise and a surprisingly good Ferengi character, but one of those episodes where the logic is so poor the whole thing quickly stops making any kind of sense.
- From Albert on 2009-07-07 at 1:45pm:
I just watched this episode, maybe for the first time, I didn't remember it at all. It's rare that an episode stands out with such bad writing and directing, I wonder what happened here.
Even the characters don't make sense, why would Crusher facilitate a scientific meeting that had nothing to do with medical research? Why would Picard barely react to Crusher's insubordination, and why would Riker pop up out of nowhere to tell her to "lay low"? Did a child win a contest where the prize was to write an episode of TNG?
The only person who was apparently in-character was Guinan, and even she was totally ham-fisted. "But I don't play tennis!" Then the two point to each other, start to laugh, and we go out on a freeze-frame.
I'd really like to know the story behind this episode, it even seems like the actors are doing a dry run-through, it's missing so many elements of a normal TNG episode.
- From thaibites on 2012-09-24 at 7:35pm:
I really enjoyed this episode until it was over and I started to think about it. I wholeheartedly agree with 7 of 14's comments above. I couldn't have said it better myself.
This episode reminds me of X-files where major aspects of the story are never explained. This was produced in 1993, so maybe the writers were trying to jump on the X-files bandwagon, which is a shame. I always thought Chris Carter was a lazy jerk-off that had no respect for his audience.
- From Quando on 2014-08-21 at 9:27pm:
Ugh. Hated this episode. It was like Murder She Wrote in space.
- How could fake Khaless know about Worf's vision of Khaless when Worf was a child? Did Worf tell the priests this and did the priests program this into Khaless as well?
- This is the first episode to mention Sto-Vo-Kor, Klingon heaven.
- This episode establishes that Khaless died 15 centuries ago.
- Khaless' return.
- Worf: "Questions are the beginning of wisdom. The mark of a true warrior."
- Gowron's appearance.
- Gowron's hatred of the "idea" of Khaless' return.
- Khaless: "Long ago a storm was heading to the city of Qin'Latt. The people sought protection within the walls, all except one man who remained outside. I went to him what he was doing. 'I am not afraid!' he said. 'I will not hide my face behind stone and water. I will stand before the wind and make it respect me.' I honored his choice and went inside. The next day, the storm came and the man was killed. The wind does not respect a fool."
- Worf squeezing the truth out of the priests.
- Data describing his "leap of faith."
- Worf's emperor solution.
This episode features good continuity with TNG: Birthright regarding the reason for Worf's loss of faith. I very much enjoyed Worf's doubt about his faith in Khaless. The return of Khaless is analogous to the prophetic return of Jesus Christ in the current day Christian faith, at least in terms of the effect it has on people. I liked the controversy over whether or not Khaless was real. Once again, Gowron puts on one of his brilliant and rare performances. Defeating Khaless, he forces Worf to squeeze the truth out of the priests. Once the truth is revealed, the episode gets even more interesting. The truth about the cloned Khaless is revealed to the people and Khaless becomes the first emperor of the Klingon Empire in 300 years. Not because he's truly Khaless, but because despite how he was created, he represents the true spirit of the empire. A most honorable solution for a most honorable race.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-05-21 at 7:54pm:
I LOVE IT when they show the shift changes, and imply that data just mans the ship at night since he doesnt need sleep. That was cool when riker and the first shift people came to relieve him
I have always disliked Star Trek's extremely blatant disrespect for religion. Every so often they make an episode like this that is poorly disguised, and is a slap in the face of organized religion, reducing it to the "opiate of the masses" concept. But then again, I'm glad that the writers are not straying from Roddenberry's beliefs, even if I do disagree with them.
All in all, an okay episode.
Problem: There's no way in hell that blood on a hundreds of years old dagger still retains its nucleic acid conformity. The base pairs would have disassociated long before. Sorry, nice try, but you can't fool a biochemistry major.
- From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-06-03 at 10:01pm:
Rightful Heir is a better than average episode. We get to see a spiritual location of the Klingon Empire, although the outside shots of the monastery look fake. We get to learn more about Khaless, a figure mentioned for several more years on TNG and DS9. The plot moves at a nice pace and Gowron is excellent, as always.
Good episode - 7
- From Guv on 2008-07-28 at 10:12pm:
I have never respected Gowron nor disrespected Worf as much as this in any prior episode. Worf is far too quick to believe in spiritualistic nonsense. I cannot believe the writers made Worf appear "skeptical" in the eyes of other Klingons, because he was obviously quite ready to believe.
Even though he represents the spirit of the Empire, I do not believe it is an honorable solution: they all believe in a lie. How is that honorable?
A memorable episode, but disappointing in its philosophy. I'd give it a 6/10.
- From Remco on 2008-08-12 at 9:34pm:
In contrast to other reviewers, I find this episode to be highly respectful towards religion. It is not a parody of Christianity. It represents a realistic view of religion.
If you don't think TNG plays it "straight" with the beliefs of Worf and the Klingon race, then I don't know how any episode could do justice to religion and the effect it has on people.
You must realize that this episode says nothing about whether the Klingon religion is "false" or "true". That answer is just not given. We only know that many people believe that Khaless will once return.
The people won't believe in a lie, because the people are being told the whole truth. Every Klingon will know that their new emperor is a clone of Khaless, but also the rightful heir. There is nothing a lie about that. It's just the way the prophecy turned out.
Whether they choose to believe he is the real messiah, well, that's up to them. Just like with Jesus. The Jewish are also still waiting for the real messiah.
I can't think of this episode other than very very good. It doesn't try to answer the question whether "God" exists, which really isn't that important. It just takes a look at the human (well, Klingon) side of religion.
I am an atheist, but still I think Jesus would be proud of this episode. If only he could be cloned...
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-29 at 5:42pm:
Gowron is the shit. I love his adamant denial that this is the real Kahless, and I love his bow at the end when he realizes its best for the empire. Top notch stuff. Can you imagine the kind of shit-storm that would ensue if Catholic Church cloned Jesus from the shroud of Turin?
- From Jamie on 2010-06-25 at 9:22am:
What's the only thing worse than a Klingon? Two Klingon's "talking" for 40 minutes.
- The uniform Lt. Riker wears is accurate for the time period. Nice.
- Riker being "saved by the bell."
- Lt. Riker's meeting with Deanna.
- Riker and Riker discussing their father and the different decisions they've made.
- Troi going on her scavenger hunt.
- Riker and Riker arguing about the away mission.
- Riker and Riker playing poker with each other, making large bets against one another with the Commander ultimately winning. Lt. Riker: "You always had the better hand. In everything."
- Data and Worf discussing Riker and Riker.
- Thomas Riker making his exit.
This episode is both fantastic and annoying both at the same time. One annoying thing is that the new Riker character is largely wasted. We do see him again, but as a disgruntled example of how Riker went bad. That said, this particular episode does feature some cool things. My favorite detail is how much attention they paid to continuity. Previous episodes are nicely referenced all through this episode and both Lt. and Commander Riker are perfectly in character. What I liked most is the developing rivalry between the two Rikers. It's certainly not the ideal situation, but it's most definitely realistic. I like how Commander Riker seems to have decided many things in Lt. Riker's place. He rejected Troi in his place, he came to terms with their father in his place, and he rejected starship commands in his place. Lt. Riker questions all of Commander Riker's life decisions since the incident and Commander Riker feels that he has to prove that he's the better of the two as a result. The poker game is the best of these scenes of course, very thrilling to watch. Overall, another fine episode.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From JRPoole on 2008-09-29 at 11:01am:
Two Rikers = way better than two Kirks.
I love this episode, and I rate it higher than most here. While it is a little annoying that we don't hear from Thomas Riker very much after this, it's pretty realistic. They both seem to want to go their separate ways, and they do. This was an interesting idea for an episode. How weird must it be for Riker to watch his double/former self hooking up with Deanna?
I also like this episode for the back story it gives on Troi and Riker's relationship. It's always seemed that they split up amicably with little drama (though it's also clear that they still hook up from time to time) and finally we get the real story. Will broke Deanna's heart. Awww.
- From djb on 2008-11-26 at 4:39pm:
While I disagree with the idea that someone can be duplicated like this (which betrays a purely materialistic and mechanistic view of the universe), I really like the issues that this episode brings up.
Lt. Riker is basically Riker from eight years ago. We can see how much Commander Riker has matured in that time, and naturally his other self has not, being stuck alone for eight years. What would you do if you met yourself from nearly a decade ago? Would you not get a little impatient and condescending at your own immaturity? Conversely, would your past self not feel intimidated or condescended to by your older self, or perhaps resentful of the decisions he made? This very matter is well-written and well-acted.
I love how they get into some back story about Riker and Troi, which was nice as there are far too many episodes where we see hardly anything of Troi. Interesting that Lieutenant Riker acts as if Commander Riker is a different person and made different decisions than he would have; of course that is not true. They are one and the same person, and therefore both would have made the same decision. I imagine that that is something that Lt. Riker doesn't wish to face in himself: that he was willing to leave the woman he loved for the sake of his career. The only way he can cope with that is by acting as if they are different people.
The only problem I had with the execution of this episode was that when they found the marooned Riker, he had the same haircut and facial hair as the Commander. One would expect his hair to be long and his beard to be big and scruffy. True, he might have been able to fashion some kind of razor from whatever equipment there was down there, but he still would most likely have a different appearance. Maybe their makeup budget fell short!
A strong episode; I'd give it a 7.
- From Mark McC on 2009-02-12 at 7:52am:
An interesting episode, but the premise opens up a lot of questions about the use of transporters. If it's so easy to duplicate someone, complete with all their memories, personality and experience, what's to stop someone doing this deliberately?
People could keep backup copies of themselves before going on dangerous away missions. Or an evil person planning to commit a crime could duplicate themselves, have the clone commit the crime while they set themselves up with an alibi, then kill the clone (or maybe the clone would have the same idea and try to kill them!)
What happens in cases like this if the person duplicated has a husband/wife and children? If Riker's relationship with Troi caused problems, imagine how difficult it would be in a family situation to suddenly have two mothers wanting to care for one child.
Good to see that Dr Crusher is always updating her medical knowledge. In the previous episode she had no way at all of telling that Khaless was a clone of the original. Here she simply has to point her tricorder at Lt Riker for a few seconds before declaring that the telltale <technobabble> patterns indicating whether he's a clone aren't present (or maybe it only works for humans).
- From J Reffin on 2009-08-05 at 1:59pm:
This episode has made me reflect on what it must be like to have an identical twin. The differences to the "two Rikers" is not that great - same DNA and (usually) very similar upbringing and experiences until early adulthood. In my experience, identical twins tend to get along fairly well - but then they have had rather longer to get used to the idea.
A good episode though once again poor Troi gets put through the emotional wringer.
- From Bernard on 2009-12-09 at 1:33pm:
Happened by this episode a couple of nights ago by way of TV reruns. I enjoyed it so much I dug it out and watched it again!
All of Jonathan Frakes' scenes are remarkable in this episode. He really got it spot on in terms of how both Rikers must be feeling. Hats off to him.
I know it's an interesting premise created by the plot device that sets up so many episodes, the transporter, but who cares. It's the storytelling that gets you past minor problems like that.
Like other reviewers before me, I too wish they had used Thomas Riker more frequently after this. Definitely worth an 8 though for me.
- From Mike on 2010-12-01 at 3:25am:
If you watch when Com. Riker grabs Lt. Riker on the shoulder (about 17 minutes in) it's really obvious that they're using two different arms. In fact, his arm almost looks like a muppet. Otherwise though, I thought the special effects were pretty good, and that the episode was pretty enjoyable over all.
- This is the first TNG episode to feature a Runabout class vessel which are more commonly featured on DS9.
- Riker describing that his injury was the fault of Data's cat.
- Troi describing being seduced by an alien at the seminar.
- Picard: "There was no pause. He just kept talking in one incredibly unbroken sentence moving from topic to topic so that no one had a chance to interrupt it was really quite hypnotic."
- Everyone freezing in time except Troi.
- Troi freezing. I like the camera work.
- Picard's hand aging faster than the rest of his body.
- The sight of the Enterprise and the Romulan Warbird frozen in time.
- I love the eerie sights abord the ships, making it look as though the Romulans were trying to take over the Enterprise.
- Picard drawing a smiley face on the warp core breach.
- Time starting back up, the Enterprise exploding, then time reversing...
- The crew positioning themselves in key spots within the ship before they run time backwards to fix things.
- I like how Data has to step out of the way of one of the backward walking crewmen.
- The teapot scene in the end. Very well done.
This is one of the more unique TNG episodes, and certainly one of the most exciting. There's good continuity too with regards to Troi's acquired knowledge of Romulan technology from TNG: Face of the Enemy. The science of this episode is a little shady. For example, how can the life support systems of a slowed down starship support the normal-speed characters? It's best if you don't think about it too much I suppose. Time travel gives me headaches. While the excitement remains high, another detail I liked was the ending. In the end, no, it wasn't a Romulan attack on the Enterprise but in fact the Enterprise assisting a Romulan ship in need. They lost their ship, but the Enterprise saved most of the Romulan crewmembers and returned them to Romulus. A shame the Romulan Empire didn't seem to appreciative of this act. Nevertheless, the episode demonstrated the Federation's goodwill toward the Romulans despite past hostilities, and it presented a very unique and memorable story.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-05-21 at 9:42pm:
One of my favorite episodes EVER. The whole concept was really cool, the story was engrossing, and I enjoyed the romulan-federation cooperation. The only thing keeping it from a 10 is that it's not profound or anything. Only episodes that move me deeply get 10's. But certainly a 9.
- From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-06-04 at 4:52pm:
This episode is fun from beginning to end. The plot moves along nicely with enormous challenges for the characters involved, such as the warp core breach, Beverly receiving a point blank phaser shot from a Romulan, and the difficulties with working in a suspended environment. There are a lot of memorable scenes, such as when Picard draws the happy face. The science portion is also well explained.
Deserving of a 9.
- From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-06-04 at 4:57pm:
I could be wrong about this, but when Picard, Troi, Data, and Geordi first see the Enterprise and the Warbird frozen, their descriptions don't seem to match up with what is shown. The refer to a second beam, but there is only one beam visible. I don't think they are talking about the photon torpedos that the Warbird is firing.
Correct me if I'm wrong.
- From Kethinov on 2006-06-05 at 12:56am:
I'm pretty sure the warbird was firing disruptors and that that's indeed what they were referring to, Orion.
- From Evan on 2008-05-26 at 10:36am:
I don't think there's an issue with the life support per se. What would it need to do? (1) Keep the Enterprise warm enough and (2) provide enough air. The first wouldn't be affected by time, and the second wouldn't matter so much because there would be plenty of oxygen in the spaces available to last for the "fast" characters' short visits. The bigger problem is where the O2 that they breathe come from, since the air molecules would also have been slowed.
- From J Reffin on 2009-08-05 at 4:34pm:
A very fast moving episode packing a lot in to the time available.
One of the actors playing a Romulan can't help swaying slightly in the background when Picard is making a speech on the Bridge on the first visit (no - not one of the aliens). Must have been tough to hold a freeze pose for that length of time.
- Stephen Hawking asked to have a scene in an episode whilst on a visit to the set. Obviously, he was granted one.
- This is the first episode to mention that the Borg use transwarp conduits. They appear to be already laid down structures. They enter a conduit and ride it like a railroad. They get increased speed by traveling through it, similar to a wormhole. They travel at at least 20 times faster than the maximum warp of the Enterprise. They travel 65 light years in a mere few seconds. Notably, the Enterprise is able to enter one of these conduits at will with a deflector tweak, though at considerable risk and no way of locating conduits without some kind of point of reference, such as witnessing another ship enter and exit one.
- This is the first episode in which we see the emblem of the Borg.
- Data's poker game with great historical scientists.
- Data getting angry.
- Data describing feeling angry by mimicking Geordi's hand motions.
- Admiral Nechayev laying into Picard for not wiping out the Borg Collective with Hugh.
- Data's conversation with Troi about emotion.
- Data trying to recreate his anger by killing a holographic Borg over and over again.
- The captured Borg listing the ways to instantly kill each species he sees.
This episode is a little retarded. Unlike DS9's season finale, this one is jam packed with action. Unfortunately, this episode mixes too many unrelated concepts together in a very unwieldly manner. Borg, Data, Lore, Hugh, sorry, I didn't like it. Most of all, I disliked the Borg in this episode. They were completely out of character. Of course we're given a fine explanation for this, it doesn't make the episode any more enjoyable. One nice detail is Dr. Crusher being placed in command of the ship, setting her up for some more rare nice screen time.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Pete Miller on 2006-05-21 at 10:34pm:
What is that visor thing that data wears when he plays poker?
Data said "perhaps i have evolved to the point where emotions are in my grasp". That is not possible, seeing as how individuals cannot evolve. Only populations of organisms can evolve over time, according to the laws of natural selection.
As usual, when Picard announced that admiral ____ had arrived, I already began to visualize some power tripping bitch. I will say it once more, there are NO good admirals in starfleet
Geordi said "they shouldn't be able to move faster than you or I". That is incorrect grammar. He should've said "faster than you or me".
Lore is ever-so-cocky. I love it every time.
- From Mark on 2007-09-06 at 11:42am:
Before the Borg beam aboard the enterprise's bridge, Franklin is standing around just waiting to die (just standing in the doorway like a sore thumb). He has his hand on his phaser anticipating the Borg move though no one else shows signs of expectation.
- From JRPoole on 2008-10-03 at 2:53pm:
As I'm reaching the end of the series, I'm realiing that for whatever reason I remember the first five seasons much better than the last two. In fact, I have very little recollection of this episode at all. I haven't yet watched the second part, but I have to say that I like it a lot.
Although Data-malfunctions-or-gets-taken-over-and turns-on-the-crew plots are starting to get tired, this one is strong. Lore is a good character and deserves to be brought back here, and it seems natural that he'd be attracted to the borg. The Hugh storyline gets brought up again, which is also a good idea, and any excuse to bring back Admiral Necheyev is fine with me. She is such a power-tripping bitch and you want to hate her, but I find myself agreeing with her over Picard's handling of Hugh. The moral thing here was not necessarily the right thing. I think Picard should have fell back on Vulcan philosophy and reasoned that the good of the many (the human race and all the others the borg wish to assimilate) outweighed the good of the one (Hugh).
The only thing taking away from this episode for me that this new incarnation of the borg is not nearly as scary as the original.
- From djb on 2008-12-17 at 9:16pm:
I was somewhat disappointed with this episode. The idea of bringing Hugh back was cool, and it's always good to see Lore. But this episode was flawed. First, too many redshirt deaths. I mean, the ONE non-regular on the away team dies? Come on!
Also, what are the chances that out of the dozens of search teams, it should be the one comprising our principals (and the disposable redshirt) that discover the compound? Dumb.
The data/emotion storyline was good. Nice laying groundwork for Generations. I also like what Troi had to say to Data about emotions, and how it later backfired.
In response to Pete Miller's comments:
Data is not referring to biological evolution, of which androids are incapable. He is referring to personal evolution, or personal growth (where the word "evolution" is used more loosely), which is something all humans are capable of as individuals, and something which Data is programmed to attempt. He speculates that he has personally evolved or grown to the point to where some kind of emotional programming was able to kick in. Now, perhaps one could take issue with his use of the word "evolve," but that if anything is a scriptwriter's error more than anything else.
The phrase "they shouldn't be able to move faster than you or I" is indeed correct. I didn't know this myself until recently. It is short for "faster than you or I could." It only sounds incorrect because "than" sounds like a preposition, in which case the following pronouns would be oblique (becoming "me" or "him"), but in this case it is a conjunction, and the pronouns following remain nominative. This is getting kind of specific, I know, but just thought I'd set the record straight. Wikipedia has a good article on it.
All in all, I tend to agree with our illustrious webmaster's rating of 4. Maybe a bonus point for good continuity.
- From J Reffin on 2009-08-06 at 10:54am:
To be fair to Picard, I don't think the Vulcan approach quite works as the plan had been to send Hugh back with a program that would wipe out the Borg Collective i.e. an act of genocide today to rid the Federation of an (apparently) implacable enemy that might (or might not) attack again at some undetermined point in the future.
On the subject of admirals, I have to agree with other comments here - perhaps an example of the Peter Principle at work ?
- From Rob on 2009-09-08 at 12:43pm:
While I agree that, as a rule, Starfleet Admirals are generally miserable old farts, I can't go along with the criticism of Admiral Nechayev in this episode for one reason: she's right. Sending Hugh back to the Borg without a virus or some means of destroying the Collective was Picard's biggest mistake as a captain. Whether or not it was the inhumane or immoral thing to do, Picard's job is to safeguard the Federation and it's citizens. If the price for doing that is destroying your greatest enemy (who the Federation is at war with...just because there hadn't been any Borg episodes or encounters for a while doesn't mean that there was peace between the Federation and the Borg), then it's well worth it. Nechayev was just making sure that if Picard had any more attacks of morality, he knew what he was supposed to do. I have no problem with that.
- From John on 2011-02-03 at 11:32pm:
The Borg *snore*
Even the appearance of Lore can't save this episode. Or the next one. The one after that is pretty bad too.
Just do yourself a favor and skip right to season 7, episode 4: Gambit, Part I
- From Axel on 2015-03-17 at 9:19pm:
You can agree with Nechayev about infecting the Borg, but doing so would've been completely out of character for Picard. I do like that he wrestles with the problem in hindsight during this episode, though. Still, we've seen a lot of admirals at Starfleet who don't share Picard's interpretation of what the organization stands for.
The biggest flaw in this episode to me is having Picard beam down and be part of a search team while Crusher takes command of the ship. Don't get me wrong; it's great to see her take command and finally get some use for the character outside of sickbay. But wouldn't it make more sense for the ship's doctor to be ready to handle wounded members of the search parties in case they encounter dozens of hostile Borg? The whole scenario is a potential triage and yet they keep the doctor in orbit to run the ship while the captain ends up being taken hostage.