This episode offers up an occasionally interesting mystery for the crew to solve, but fails when it comes to providing a satisfying resolution.
'Clues' is a textbook example of what a bottle episode should be. There are no fancy new sets, no extensive location shooting, no big action sequences, and no expensive guest stars (save for Whoopi Goldberg, and even she vanishes after the cold open). It is 45 minutes of the regular cast looking at props, strolling around corridors, sitting at tables, and looking at the viewscreen all worried. It's Next Gen at its most inoffensive and disposable. It is, as the esteemed Josie Kafka calls it, laundry folding TV.
The central mystery of what has happened to the crew during their missing time is not the most gripping of conundrums. More than once I found my attention wandering to other things while watching this episode. It is hard to really get excited or interested about a mystery that starts with moss. I'm not trying to judge here, but growing moss sounds like the dullest hobby in existence. I mean, when you have access to a holodeck, surely there are more exciting things you can do with your downtime? Like mountain climbing or deep sea diving. Hell, I'd just turn off the artificial gravity and fly around like Superman. Anything but growing moss.
Annnnd my attention has wandered again. Where was I? Right, the mystery.
The question of what happened to the crew during their missing time doesn't really become interesting until it is revealed that Data is complicit in covering it up. This leads to a great scene between Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner where the frustrated Picard tries to get some answers out of a calm, but resistant Data. But even that moment of excitement is only temporary.
It doesn't take much to figure out that Picard must've ordered Data to lie so when that revelation does come it lacks any kind of impact. As does the reveal of what actually happened to the crew. Turns out they simply encountered a group of aliens with a serious case of social anxiety. Not only is this explanation anticlimactic, it does not paint the crew in a positive light. How could this normally very professional and disciplined crew have been so sloppy covering their tracks the first time? If Crusher had just remembered to check on her experiment and done a better job fixing Worf's wrist this entire episode never would've happened.
Notes and Quotes
--We really should be keeping track of how many times Troi gets possessed by alien entities.
--Why don't the aliens just stick up a big KEEP OUT sign? It would be easier than knocking people out all the time.
--We learn Nurse Ogawa's first name is Alyssa in this episode. However, her last name will not actually be mentioned until 'Cause and Effect'.
--Data imitating Riker at the start of the episode was beyond adorable.
Picard: "The doll's my cousin!"
Guinan: "Yeah! Gloria from Cleveland."
Geordi: "Now, this won't hurt a bit."
Data: "Have you forgotten, Geordi, that my sensory inputs are not programmed to experience pain?"
Picard: "Do you know what a court martial would mean? Your career in Starfleet would be finished."
Data: "I realize that, sir."
Picard: "Do you also realize that you would most likely be stripped down to your wires to find out what the hell has gone wrong?"
Data: "Yes, sir. I do."
Two out of four cousins from Cleveland.
Mark Greig is the king of the swingers, the jungle V.I.P. He reached the top and had to stop and that's what's bothering him. More Mark Greig.
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