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Star Trek TNG - Season 4 - Episode 19

Star Trek TNG - 4x19 - The Nth Degree

Originally Aired: 1991-4-1

Aliens endow Barclay with super-human intelligence. [DVD]

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 6.6

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- The Cytherians occupy the center of the galaxy.

Remarkable Scenes
- Everyone being courteous to Barclay's poor performance in the opening scene.
- It's nice to see Barclay's holodiction is still largely unresolved. In fact, we find out later that it never is, as Barclay is a tragic character.
- Barclay thanking Geordi for inviting him to come on the shuttle mission. It's nice to see the show isn't trying to pretend Barclay has been getting more attention since TNG: Hollow Pursuits.
- Barclay starting to get funky weird, but brilliant ideas.
- Picard: "I am willing to entertain suggestions."
- Barclay enhancing the shields. I love how his personality lost its nervousness and instead he became quirky and weird. So wonderfully acted.
- Barclay explaining how he enhanced the shields to Riker.
- Barclay's reformed and stunning acting performance.
- Barclay making a pass at Troi.
- Barclay becoming the computer.
- Barclay humbled in the end.
- Troi going on the date Barclay offered.

My Review
This episode has a great beginning but a dismal ending. It was cool that the Cytherians were benevolent, but we learn next to nothing about them. The "ten days" the Enterprise spends with them all occur off screen! Furthermore, this amazing new propulsion technique that's used isn't retained, for reasons we're not told. Sorry, the mysterious ending cliche just doesn't fly with me. A great episode up until the end.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From DSOmo on 2007-08-25 at 3:34pm:
    - Normally, when Geordi transfers engineering control to the bridge, he walks off the turbolift, presses a button on the Engineering station, and the station lights up. At the beginning of this episode, Geordi walks on and the station lights up before he reaches it or says anything.
    - This is the only time a shuttle is used to gather information in the series. In all other cases, the sensor arrays on the Enterprise have always proved sufficient. Of course, if Geordi and Barclay don't get in a shuttle and fly out to the probe, Barclay can't get flashed.
    - Shuttle Craft 5 has changed again (see comments from "The Ensigns Of Command" and "Transfigurations.") In all previous episodes, it was a two-passenger, angular-looking, subcompact craft. In this episode, it becomes a sleek, rounded-edged, multiple-passenger unit.
  • From JTL on 2008-03-29 at 2:52am:
    I enjoyed this episode, though the lack of information at the end of this story is frustrating and opens up many realms of conjecture. Is it possible that the prisoner entity revealed in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is a Cytherian? Unlikely, but a pet theory of mine nonetheless.
  • From thaibites on 2011-09-07 at 8:46pm:
    I absolutely love this episode. This is TNG at its absolute best! The fact that bumbling, weirdo Barclay is the one that will take the Starship Enterprise "where no one has gone before" is just icing on the cake.
    How about the slow reveal in the holodeck where we see Barclay's brain interfacing with the computer - it's a very dramatic, cold, and creepy scene that conveys very strongly that Barclay is losing touch with his humanity, and underscores the fear and uncertainty that the rest of the crew is feeling.
    The ending is an awesome sci-fi concept (and very surprising the 1st time you watch it). Aliens that explore the universe by bringing others to them - I love it!
  • From Mike on 2017-04-24 at 11:31pm:
    Yeah the ending bugged me a bit, too. That's like Neil Armstrong giving an incredibly detailed report on the Apollo 11 launch sequence, and then ending his report by saying "...and after about a week in space during which we landed on the surface of the moon, we returned to Earth with mineral samples."

    That being said, I love every damn Barclay episode in the series. The episodes are always great sci-fi involving unique dilemmas that in some way are enhanced by having him and his personality take center stage. If Star Trek is trying to promote diversity, then Barclay shows that its diversity is not only about ethnicity, gender and national origin. He is every person with some form of social anxiety or struggle with confidence or even hypochondria. Definitely an enjoyable episode in every way.

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