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Star Trek TNG - Season 4 - Episode 10

Star Trek TNG - 4x10 - The Loss

Originally Aired: 1990-12-31

Deanna Troi suddenly loses her empathic powers. [DVD]

My Rating - 3

Fan Rating Average - 4.26

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 13 8 28 20 22 20 11 20 3 11 4

- Data says gravity is pulling them into the cosmic string. So if gravity is pulling them, why were they moving at a constant speed? Gravity is an acceleration. Not a constant speed. It doesn't really matter, as Data was wrong. It was not gravity pulling them. Troi's "moths flying into the flame" analogy was instead correct. But of all people, I would least expect Data to make such an elementary physics mistake.

- TPTB considered making Troi's loss permanent.
- Breen and Ferengi are mentioned as unreadable by telepathy in this episode. This is also the first mentioning of the Breen, who will later play an important role in DS9.
- Picard claims that "most starships captains have to be content with a human counselor." This implies that the crew of most starships are largely human. This is an inference supported widely by later episodes, but I never quite understood why. Humans must have started colonizing the galaxy and spreading themselves like the bubonic plague after the Federation was formed...

Remarkable Scenes
- The opening scene nicely demonstrates Troi's counseling skills.
- Riker criticizing Data for not calculating the ETA down to the second.
- Troi realizing her empathic abilities are gone.
- Troi freaking out at Riker.
- Troi taking offense to LaForge's comment even though it wasn't directed at her.
- Troi freaking out at Beverly.
- Riker accusing Troi of feeling aristocratic about her Betazoid abilities.
- Guinan picking at Troi about taking her job.
- Picard ordering Worf to fire at the 2d life forms. He seemed relieved when his attempt to kill them failed.
- Picard giving Troi a "get your ass in gear" speech.
- Troi discovering the solution. I enjoyed her "moths fly into flames" analogy. Quite appropriate.

My Review
The writers took the Troi suffering cliche to the extreme! But it wasn't so bad. It was interesting seeing Troi lash out at the crew, and the aliens of the week were a nice concept. Still though, the use of a cliche as a plot device is trite. And when Troi got her empathic powers back, we find out that the 2d life forms were intelligent, not idiotic moths. I rather liked them better as simple life forms. It would have matched up better with the fact that they were 2d and less complex.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From DSOmo on 2007-08-20 at 1:56am:
    - When Troi experiences intense pain caused by the colony, she needs to call Dr. Crusher. She reaches up, taps her badge, talks to Crusher, and taps her badge to end the conversation. Isn't this proof that individuals must tap their badges to begin conversations? NO ONE in intense pain takes extra steps to call for help.
    - During the staff meeting about the existence of the two-dimensional colony, there are several different camera angles of the viewscreen. The colony's motion on the viewscreen changes from shot to shot (not always moving in the same direction.)
  • From djb on 2008-02-18 at 10:48pm:
    I liked this episode, but only part of it. The plot about the 2-d life forms unwittingly dragging the enterprise kind of gets lost amongst other (and often better) "losing control of the ship" scenarios like those found in The Last Outpost, Booby Trap, Contagion, Time Squared, etc. Also the "rescued at the last minute" thing is getting old.

    What I really liked about this episode was the character development for Troi.

    We've seen a lot of good character development for other characters so far. I can think of many high-quality episodes developing many of the main characters, but not so many, so far, for Troi.

    Unlike in "The Survivors," the whole "Troi in agony" bit was kept to a minimum, and unlike many other Troi-centered episodes, this one had nothing to do with her obnoxious mother.

    Instead, it makes the viewer acutely aware of how different Troi's experience is from those of her crewmates. Her empathic ability is literally another sense, and her losing that sense and only being able to experience others on the surface would be very similar, I suppose, to a full-blooded human losing their sense of hearing: much of our experience of others is not only what they look like, but their voice, which conveys much more personality than looks do. I imagine for an empathic person, a person's emotions are even more personal, and suddenly being unable to sense them in that way would make one feel extremely lonely and cut off, much the way I imagine I would feel if I was deaf.

    Troi's process of distress and her moving towards acceptance of it are very well-executed, and deepen the character. (Often, it is noted, people discover much about themselves when they lose something they take for granted.) It's quite interesting, as Riker points out, to see her not "in control". So often she is sensing and relating others' emotions, but we do not often get to hear about her own. Her transition from totally composed and regal, as usual, to a drastic lack of composure is pronounced yet believable, and her finally letting go and crying in Riker's arms brought a tear to my eye. (We know from Nemesis that they will eventually marry each other, but back in Season 4, we are still unsure, and it's nice to see tender moments between them in light of that uncertainty.)

    Guinan's presence is always welcome, and you can always rely on Guinan to say just the right thing. I don't recall a previous incident of Guinan counseling Troi, but it's a great scene. The way that Troi's process of discovering her human side (intuition, instinct) helped solve the puzzle of the 2-d beings was also quite nice.

    So: Ho-hum from a sci-fi perspective, but excellent from a character perspective.
  • From JRPoole on 2008-05-05 at 3:43pm:
    The Troi-in-mental-agony plot staple reaches its nadir here. I am intrigued by the 2-D lifeforms, but this episode is pretty lackluster in execution.
  • From wepeel on 2008-06-02 at 5:52pm:
    Amazing, I was about to skip this episode due to all the other comments on here regarding Troi's suffering cliche. Granted, the season one episodes of "pain...intense, PAIN!" were bad, but this episode was great, and the comparisons regarding Troi's emphatic expressions were unfair.

    I decided to watch the episode again, muting the volume once Troi lost her powers. This idea came about after I read djb's comments on the episode, where he specified his analogy of losing empathic powers to becoming deaf. Honestly, I had never really connected with Troi centered episodes (other than Face of the Enemy) until I did this. I really connected with the message of losing a sense, and I would recommend others to give this episode its due credit via a second viewing.

    Plus, she saved the ship in a method that was quite convincing and innovative. I loved that she totally captured Data's attention as well as mine during her brainstorming =)
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-22 at 3:57pm:
    The primary plot about Troi was jumbled and confused. But I think I liked that; it gave the impression that she was jumbled and confused and acting inconsistently because she was so distraught. I guess therapists really do make the worst patients.

    The plot about the two-dimensional life forms was mostly mundane, but did have some good points. I like when Picard, faced with a difficult moral dilemma, decides he has to attack the creatures, then is relieved when he doesn't kill them.
  • From on 2011-08-17 at 8:49am:
    This is a fair or even good episode.

    It's kind of interesting to see Troi act differently. And kind of interesting to consider why that might be so, the difference empathic abilities can make in your experience and in your personality. I was just mulling about this earlier today... If I *knew* without a shadow of a doubt, actually *felt* how others felt about me, in real time, I probably would be more at ease and more confident, just like Troi is normally. Much of our anxiety and insecurity rotates around what we think others think of ourselves, and much of it is unfounded...

    It's also interesting to consider that because Troi relies on her Betazoid abilities, her ordinary skills of perception, observation, and intuition are underdeveloped. The empathic powers have been like a kind of crutch, and she is kind of helpless without them, at least at first...

    - - -

    One problem:

    How the heck did the "forward sensors" miss the 2D beings? The explanation Data gives is utterly simplistic and nonsensical. For this to work, the forward sensors must be truly 2-directional! Like, fundamentally so - the sensors must be point sources with no height at all, not even a micron, and detect only what is directly in front them, not a micron or two above or below. Not only would they be quite useless on a starship, they would be quite bizarre and anomalous things in themselves. How would 3D engineers with 3D equipment build and maintain something like that? And why in the world would they?

    I might be wrong, but I don't think it makes any sense at all.

    As far as I can tell, actual forward sensors must detect what is in front of them, but not literally so. To be useful, they must operate in three dimensions, although within a limited "forward" range.
  • From McCoy on 2017-12-04 at 8:22pm:
    God, how I hate this woman... She's an incarnation of probably all negative traits of psychologist. And this episode is indeed very good in showing this.
  • From Chuck the Canuck on 2023-05-12 at 6:44pm:
    Having seen interviews and convention appearances with Marina Sirtis, I’m guessing this is the closest Troi’s character ever came to her real personality. I’m not saying she’s a mean person, but she’s definitely blunt and edgy.

    I liked it, though. You can tell that Troi is really shaken by this experience and it causes her to lash out. Having her be nice and pleasant to everyone like she usually is would’ve been fake. I like the concept of the two-dimensional life forms and the overall plot to fix the problem. I’d give this one a 6.

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