Star Trek TNG (Season 1, Ep 6): Lonely Among Us

Welcome back to Star Trek: The Next Generation. I am doing an episode-by-episode watch, recap, and reaction and blogging about it here. There will be no spoilers for the series beyond the current episode. You can find my prior recaps HERE.

For those of you that don’t want to read the long recap, I provide a quick episode summary here at the top. You can also just scroll down to the “REACTION” heading below.

THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:

While delivering hostile and warring alien races to a Federation planet for a peace negotiation, pursuant to admitting both races into the Federation, the Enterprise encounters an energy-based alien life form and accidentally brings it aboard. The lifeform hijacks crew members and the ship itself before finally taking possession of Captain Picard. As Picard, the alien takes command of the ship and returns to the energy cloud from which it was taken. The alien announces, while Picard, that Picard would be resigning from Starfleet and exploring the universe with it in an energy form. Picard transports from the ship and into the energy cloud, in an energy form.

Just as the Enterprise is leaving him behind, Troi feels Picard’s presence. He is now only in an energy form, but he is separated from the energy alien, and he wants to be back aboard the ship. He re-enters the ship through its circuitry and Data is able to restore his body to him using the ship’s transporter database memory of his body. The episode ends with Picard taking a nap and leaving Riker to sort out the news that one of their hostile alien peace delegates has been murdered by the other alien faction, and his body is slated to be eaten by that murdering faction.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP AND REACTION:

Captain’s Log: Stardate 41249.3

The Enterprise has taken on delegates from two neighboring worlds who are at war with one another. Both planets wish to join the Federation. The Federation hopes to help resolve their dispute to aid in the process of their planets joining. The Enterprise is taking a peace delegation from both races to a neutral Federation planet where negotiations are set to take place.

We see Picard, Yar, and Riker (wearing uniforms that look somewhat more formal) greeting an alien delegation from the Selay race. One of the Selay aliens announces while being greeted that they can already smell the Anticans and states that they must have been taken aboard first. The new arrivals declare that their suite assignments on the ship are not far enough from the Anticans and that they request to be “upwind” from them. Riker requests that they follow him. This alien species is humaniod but looks and sounds snake-ish.

After the delegation leaves, Yar tells Picard that neither race seems like very good Federation candidates and Picard agrees saying that Parliament’s peacemakers might find this case to be difficult.

On the bridge, Riker confesses that he does not understand the passionate nature of the hostility between the races. Picard says that they feel hatred toward each other over a variety of issues ranging from customs and god concepts and *even* extending to economic systems.

Suddenly Data announces that censors are picking up an unusual energy object ahead. Yar says hat her censors say that it is not a solid object and Data states that the object is traveling at warp speed.

In Engineering, Worf is with Geordi looking at censor operations. Worf tells Geordi he is there because Picard wants his junior officers to “learn, learn, learn.” When the Enterprise passes the energy object, Worf is suddenly electrocuted and collapses to the ground. La Forge communicates to sick bay that there is a medical emergency in censor maintenance as Worf lies motionless on the ground.

In the next scene, Crusher and another doctor are treating Worf on the carpet. Dr. Crusher asks what happened and La Forge says he does not know and that he thinks Worf must have been hit with censor feedback.

Later, Geordi explains to Picard what happened. He tells Picard that he saw something that looked like a glow, just for a moment, when Worf was hit with something. Picard asks if his VISOR might have malfunctioned and Geordi does not believe so.

In the room with an Antican delegate, Yar calls for Riker’s assistance. The Anticans are not happy with the food provided to them because they want the animals brought to them alive. Riker tells Yar to have the animals brought to them alive. Riker apologizes to the Antican delegate and explains that humans no longer eat meat – they eat something inorganic that is materialized to look, smell, and taste like meat. The Antican says that this is barbaric.

In sick bay, as Dr. Crusher is examining Worf, electricity seems to cover Dr. Crusher’s body. Troi walks by and notes that Worf is reading normal now. Then she asks if Dr. Crusher is alright. Crusher replies, yes, and that both of them are normal now. Worf wakes up and asks where he is. Troi talks to him and asks if he remembers what happened. He says he remembers being at the censor maintenance console and asks what he is doing there. When Troi says the doctor will tell him, Dr. Crusher leaves the room.

On the bridge, Data and Picard discuss the mystery energy body they encountered earlier. Picard says the mystery will have to wait. He tells La Forge to go to Warp 8 to take the delegates to their parliament meeting.

Dr. Crusher returns to her quarters and is greeted by Wesley. She acts oddly with Wesley when asking about his homework. In the course of discussing his propulsion homework, she asks about navigation and eventually says “oh yes, the helm is located on the bridge.” She leaves her quarters and Wesley seems concerned, calling after her.

Dr. Crusher next wanders onto the bridge. Standing next to Geordi, she says aloud “this is the helm.” Picard addresses her and she tells him that Worf is ready to return to duty and she diagnoses him as having a temporary mental aberration. Picard says that is an insufficient explanation for a bridge officer and she states that she will need to do medical cross-checks because Worf is Klingon. Picard assigns her to a computer station on the bridge next to one Data is using. Data asks her a question.

Data: Intriguing Doctor. What does helm control have to do with medical cross-checks?

She ignores him. Abruptly, we see electricity leave through her arm and into the computer. Dr. Crusher stumbles and asks why she is… she stops herself from saying more and says that she will do her work in her office. She leaves. A moment later, a transporter malfunction is reported. Picard stands next to Data and asks him what the odds are of such a malfunction with a ship less than a year out of space dock and Data replies that it is a virtual impossibility.

The captain convenes a meeting of officers to explain ship malfunctions. Riker tells him the malfunctions are repaired. Then Mr. Singh speculates that a rampant electronic short is jumping throughout the ship but he also states that this should not be possible. Picard says that he is not satisfied and that he wants an explanation by the time the ship reaches Parliament.

In the Antican quarters, Riker and Yar are asking a member of their delegation to explain why one of their delegation was found near the Selay quarters with a weapon. Riker tells their Chief Delegate that all of their weapons are being confiscated and that violence will not be tolerated on the Enterprise. The Chief Delegate assures Riker and Yar that if any violence starts aboard the ship, it will not be the Anticans who start it. After Yar and Riker leave and the doors close, he tonues.

But… we will finish it.

On the bridge, we learn that the Enterprise has lost warp function. Further, subspace radio is out so that the ship cannot signal to Parliament that they will be late.

Data believes that the ship is under attack from an unknown adversary. Riker speculates that one of the delegations on board may be responsible and he further speculates that they may be acting in concert with the Ferengi. Data also states that Ferengi contacts have been made with both planets. Picard asks if Riker has any other suspects and Riker replies that Picard sounds like a Private Eye. Data asks what a Private Eye is and Picard explains that Riker means a Private Investigator who solves crimes. Picard says that in the real world, the occupation is not terribly useful but it has merit in literature. Riker then states that they will have to solve this case without Sherlock Holmes. Data is intrigued by the conversation.

Singh is getting assistance in solving the mystery of the ship’s malfunctions from Wesley. After giving Singh a suggestion, Singh sends him to class.

In the Crusher quarters, Wesley is talking with his mother about what he has been learning and he refers back to their conversation earlier in the day. She asks him when he told her about that, he tells her, and she says that she does not remember the conversation.

Singh is still working on the ship. He is hit by a blast of electricity and collapses to the floor. Worf finds Singh and communicates a security alert to Picard that he is dead.

Worf, LaForge, and Wesley are looking over Singh’s work station. LaForge notes that the instruments indicate that the Enterprise could return to warp power now. Wesley states though that these are not the same readings he saw earlier and further than Singh could not have repaired them before dying because the problems were inside the ship’s engines.

Worf communicates to Picard that warp engines are back online. Picard immediately commands a return to Warp 6 on the previous heading.

In the Antican rooms, the Delegate tells Yar that he is willing to tolerate her questions because he needs the vessel to reach Parliament. He tells her that the ship and its problems do not concern him. She tells him that those problems should concern him because the Enterprise’s delays are his delays. She asks him about his whereabouts the previous night and he replies that it was a large meal and a very interesting animals.

In Dr. Crusher’s office, Worf joins Dr. Crusher and Troi. She tells Worf, regarding his memory blackout, that the same thing happened to her. Troi wants to try memory hypnosis on both of them.

Yar, Riker and Data discuss their questioning of the two peace delegation. Yar states that both sides answered their questions with lies. Data, having now adopted a Sherlock Holmes posture – complete with a pipe – tells her that she is being imprecise. He tells her instead that the two delegations omitted certain truths.

Yar: We can learn something from non-disclosure?
Data: Indubitably, my good woman.

Riker finds this highly amusing and explains to Yar that this is something the Captain mentioned. Riker tells Yar that Data has been studying Sherlock Holmes. Data, with increased passion, describes the two groups as being too engaged with their own affairs to have disabled the ship or to have murdered the engineer.

Troi has now hypnotized Beverly Crusher. Dr. Crusher recalls when her memory loss first occurred and she describes someone else being present. She then approaches Worf and tells him that this is almost exactly what he said, too.

Later, Troi, Dr. Crusher, Worf, Data, and Picard are speaking. She explains that she typically feels a sense of duality in most humans as they approach a decision. However, having now down the hypnosis, she believes that something invaded them. Picard looks over at Data and asks if they can proceed without the Sherlock Holmes pipe he has in his mouth.

Data: We must fall back on the old axiom that when other contingencies fail, that whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

Wesley, La Forge, and Worf are on the bridge when the helm stops working. They call to Picard who returns to the bridge along with Troi, Dr. Crusher, and others. Picard asks for a report. Worf tells him the helm is down for no apparent reason and La Forge tells him the ship has dropped down to impulse power. Suddenly, electricity leaves the control panel and seems to enter Picard’s body.

La Forge: Sir, are you alright? I thought I just saw…
PIcard: I’m fine. Everything is fine now.

Picard tells La Forge that he is wrong and that the helm is just fine. He tells him to look again. La Forge looks and sees that it is now fine. Picard then commands Geordi to turn the ship back in the other direction. Troi and Riker both look concerned by say nothing.

Riker asks him to explain why he has made this decision. Picard says that they need to go back and learn more from the energy cloud they passed earlier in their voyage because he believes important scientific discoveries await there.

In the hallway, angry delegates from the Selay and Antican races demand to know why the Enterprise has changed its course.

The bridge officers meet together without Picard. Troi states that she feels as though Picard has closed part of his mind to her and that he feels dangerous now. La Forge points out that Dr. Crusher has the authority to make that type of declaration regarding the captain but that it would be significant trouble if her diagnosis is wrong. Data points out that Picard has done nothing to subject the Enterprise to danger. Dr. Crusher needs a clear medical reason to remove him from his post. Riker has the authority to make the decision with less grounds. Troi tells him that she believes Picard will eventually subject the ship to danger. Dr. Crusher says that she will order the Captain to undergo medical and psychiatric evaluation but that Riker will need to back her up somehow.

Dr. Crusher and Riker visit Picard in his quarters. They inform him that he may be under some alien influence, which may constitute a danger to the ship, and that they therefore recommend he be given a full psychiatric evaluation. Picard, in return, orders that his bridge officers receive psychiatric evaluation.

Picard: What’s happened to your mind, doctor?

Picard then sits down and asks if he must call security to force the two of them to report to the sick bay. They say no and then leave.

After, as Picard is walking down a hallway, two members of the Selay delegation put a weapon around Riker’s neck. They release him and apologize noting that they caught the wrong species. Riker calls to Yar on his comms device and tells her he wants them returned to their quarters under guard.

Dr. Crusher returns to Picard’s quarters with the exam results he ordered.

Dr. C : Please. Are you Jean-Luc?
Picard: He is here.
Dr. C: The Jean-Luc I know?
Picard: And more.

He tells her that he wishes she could understand the adventure that awaits. He also mysteriously says “soon we’ll both be home.”

Riker narrates that they have returned to the energy cloud. He says he is concerned that something from the cloud now shares the Captain’s mind but that there seems to be nothing the crew can do within regulations. Riker tells La Forge to keep the ship at about a 10,000 kilometers distance from the cloud.

Picard enters the bridge. Riker asks if they should begin the scientific tests he ordered and Picard replies that the tests are already underway. He then walks to the viewing screen and stares out at the cloud.

Picard gives a monologue explaining recent events from the perspective of the energy form. The Enterprise accidentally took it from the cloud and it felt captured. He searched the ship trying to find a way to communicate with the lifeform that took it. It regrets the death of Singh. However, it found someone like-minded in Picard. According to “Picard” the two of them will beam – in energy form only – back into the energy cloud. At that point, Picard will be able to explore the universe without the limitations of matter. He tells the crew that a resignation letter has been written and is prepared to be delivered to Starfleet. Riker states that he refuses to allow this. Picard asks how anything he has said endangers the ship in anyway.

Suddenly, Dr. Crusher stands up and declares that she deems him mentally incapacitated and incapable of making further decisions. She relieves him of his command. Picard places his hand on a part of the bridge and electricity leaves his body and encircles the entire room of the bridge. Riker declares a red alert and issues the command to restrain the captain. However, nobody on the bridge can do anything because the electrical energy is blinding them and preventing them from moving.

Picard leaves the bridge and walks to the transporter room. He then beams away.

Riker narrates later than an hour has passed since Picard beamed away. Yar tells him that no one can tell where he went.

Riker tells Geordi to set a course for Parliament at Warp 8.

Geordi: We’re really leaving him?

Troi stands up and asks the Commander to wait. She tells Riker that the Captain is communicating with her and that he is alone. The combination of Picard and the entity was not possible in the energy cloud outside of the ship. She says that they must beam him back.

Riker: Beam him back as what? He’s energy now.

Data suggests that the Captain might try to re-enter the ship through its circuitry the way that the energy cloud entered initially. Riker decides to move the ship closer to the energy cloud. Riker asks Troi if she can send him a message and she says no.

Suddenly Worf notes that his censor controls are acting strangely and Troi states that something is with them. Geordi says that his panel has something crazy on it. We see the lights on the panel form the shape of a P.

Data: He’s in the ship’s circuitry.

Data and Riker go to the transporter room. Data surmises that the Captain will remember his transporter pattern is in the ship’s circuitry. They use the transporter to energize him back and after a long pause, he reappears.

Picard looks around, confused.

Picard: What the devil am I doing here?

As he reorients himself, some memories missing, Yar enters. She informs Riker that a pool of blood has been found by the Selay quarters. She further states that the cook has been asked to boil a reptail for the Anticans and that the reptile looks like the Selay delegate.

Picard takes that information in and states that he thinks he needs a rest.

Take charge, number one.

REACTION:

Sometimes something is so bad that it turns a corner and becomes watchable again. That was this episode. It was SO BAD.

First, the Anticans and Selays are just… hilarious. The costumes look like something from the original 1960s run. The Selays look like Cobra snakes, complete with hissing sounds, and the Anticans look like carnivorous earth mammals. Despite both species being allegedly up for consideration to join the Federation, they spend most of the episode displaying no intelligence befitting that type of honor. At one point, Selay aliens jump out from behind a corner and put a rope attached to a stick around Riker’s neck.

Second… we meet yet another alien species with god-like power. I think we are four out of six episodes with that type of alien. This time, the energy alien jumps from crew member to crew member, ship part to ship part, and everyone under the possession of this alien acts completely outside of character and nobody seems to really care. The worst offense in the episode was with Dr. Crusher. She wakes up from being possessed, she is missing memory, and instead of telling anyone she just… doesn’t. SHE IS THE TOP MEDICAL OFFICER ON THE ENTERPRISE!! C’mon, man! This is at least the second time in six episodes she should have been fired on the spot for incompetency.

The energy alien eventually takes over Picard’s body. The bridge lets the alien run wild as Picard because… bureaucratic red tape? He eventually shares with them a plan to leave the ship, in energy form, and resign from Starfleet to explore the universe. HE THEN LEAVES. Riker basically is like, “well, bye.” The only reason Picard is not left as an energy being floating through space is because Picard’s energy form is separated from the alien once they left the ship. Once he was separated, Troi could feel him, and literally seconds before they left him there, Troi says to stop. Picard somehow reacquires a body via the ship’s transporter memory (after putting P on the ship’s computers to let them know he was inside) and the show really ends without answering some big questions.

  1. Did Picard really decide to resign his post and live out his life as an energy being explorer?
  2. How is it that he alerted the crew of himself without remembering that he did so. Did his memory of his time as an energy being disappear once he got a body back?

I mean… this is objectively awful.

However, if that’s not awful enough, as the episode is ending, we find out that an Antican delegate killed a Selay delegate and is preparing to eat him. The whole bridge is just like “LOL” when the Captain decides to pass off handling the delicate peace negotiation to Riker so that Picard can go take a nap.

I did credit this energy being as having god-like powers. That might be overstating things a bit. It “accidentally” kills Singh. Via Picard, it told the crew, essentially, “oopsie.” The crew grieved the loss of Singh for all of about zero seconds. Maybe that’s because the unintentionalcomedy stylings of Data took their mind off of things…

The most redeeming part of this episode was Data becoming obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, adopting his mannerisms, and carrying around a pipe in his mouth. Sign me up for more episodes of Data solving crime as Sherlock Holmes.

I’m sure when Data graduated from Starfleet, his programming made allowances for improv while on duty.

This was not a good episode. It was good TV though.

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