Star Trek The Next Generation: Violations

"No one can deny that the seed of violence remains within each of us. We must recognize that, because that violence is capable of consuming each of us."

While this was an interesting attempt to tackle a difficult issue, it wasn't done with quite enough subtlety.

A violation of another, either a physical, emotional, or in this case telepathic assault, is a very uncomfortable and rather primal thing to attempt to write about. It is a delicate task to balance this kind of plot, with so many potential entanglements that sometimes even broaching the subject can offend and alienate people. Using allegory and science fiction tropes here didn't really eliminate that feeling of discomfort, but it did soften it a bit.

The entire situation starting with an attack on Troi by a visiting alien would be clichéd and insensitive at best, but it was made worse because it had happened to her before in a different episode. Add to that the truly horrible idea that it was a pleasant memory with Riker perverted into a rape scene, something that tarnished their relationship, and to a small degree made the idea of the two of them getting together down the line a little icky.

I did like the idea that Riker was next, subverting the victim cliché on its head by having the most manly (except for maybe Worf) guy on the ship get attacked next. But the nature of Riker's nightmare called into question what exactly Jev was doing with the assaults. Is it a deep fear or a horrible situation? Was Troi worried about her relationship with Riker changing? Or was she actually frightened of the possibility of him hurting her? Because the latter is just unbelievable.

The final assault was on Beverly, which gave us the most interesting dream sequence: Picard escorting Beverly to Jack's body. It was surreal and effective, and I wonder if the weird patch on Picard's temple was a small nod to the fact he was a Borg at one point, and Beverly has never really gotten over that fact. Despite it being the most compelling of the sequences, it was also a little upsetting that both of our female leads were attacked. Geordi was investigating the situation too, and he was far closer to figuring out who did it than Beverly was.

The ultimate resolution was okay, Jev setting up his father to get punished worked within the character motivations. He had lived under an overbearing father who belittled his gifts for years, and it finally got to him. The tragedy that their relationship caused Jev to act out in such a horrible way was probably the best part of the episode because it was handled in a way that was never directly addressed. It was also telling that although Picard insisted that humanity had evolved past this kind of violence, it still existed within.

Bits:

According to Memory Alpha, this episode originated from the outline for "Night Terrors" (another episode featuring Troi getting mind-raped).

Riker mentioned that Troi had been there for him when he was in a coma, referring to the episode "Shades of Grey."

I'm pretty sure Troi was going to win that fight without Worf's help. She was kicking Jev's ass for most of it.

The costumes for the Ullians were pretty neat looking, even though those coats were kind of impractical.

This is the only time Keiko appears without Chief O'Brien also appearing in the same episode.

Quotes:

Troi: "I've learned to remind myself that my mother and I are two separate individuals."
Jev: "Mm-hmm. And have you enjoyed much success with this approach, Counselor?"
Troi: "No. But I do keep reminding myself."

Worf: "Klingons do not allow themselves to be... probed."

Geordi: "How about you, Commander? Got any memories you feel like digging up?"
Riker: "None that I'd care to share with an audience."

Maybe it was the subject matter, but I didn't like this episode at all.

1 out of 4 surreal dreams.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

3 comments:

Mallena said...

Not a fan of this one, just unwatchable for me. Glad I didn't have to review this episode.

Cat said...

But the nature of Riker's nightmare called into question what exactly Jev was doing with the assaults.

I always figured the first one was motivated by his inability to control his feelings toward Deanna, like he got off on twisting her nice memory. The other two were to cover his tracks, rather than for his own pleasure.

Anonymous said...

I know Violations is a ST:TNG episode others don’t particularly warm to, but for me it is one of the most interesting ones in the ST:TNG catalogue.

I’ve always found Star Trek at its best when it go cerebral (not pew-pew-pew) and poses questions of the mind and has a bit of mystery solving to boot - like what if your memories were hacked by a malicious other. I couldn’t think of a greater violation - something you always felt you had control over, suddenly manipulated to create terror - the overwhelming feeling of betrayal and just plain wrongness of knowing this wasn’t right, but being helpless to do anything about it. It certainly made sense to me how something like this could cause enough psychological injury to prompt a coma.

It was also a fantastic use of editing repetitive but slightly tweaked sequences, using aural loops (like the the falling of the poker chips for Deanna memory, or the siren for Riker’s, or the sound of the boots hitting the floor for Crusher’s). It also gave some additional backstory and dimensionality to both Deanna and Crusher (whereas Riker’s was a bit of a non-event really).

Geordi was originally going to fall into a violation coma rather than Crusher - where he relived an experience where he was a child without his VISOR and trapped in a fire - but Crusher’s memory was the one that was ultimately picked (Ensign Ro apparently had a memory violation draft as well).

While a lot was said about subjecting the Deanna character to a very rape like scene (and I agree it was something that should not have been reused for Nemesis), it was very powerful and arguably (considering the Deanna character was written a bit too fluffy and soft far too often) her taking back some power in the end in the episode gave her some backbone

The incidental music in the episode was great too, really adding to the scenes, and Sirtis was really brought power to her scenes (she really delivered her “Why do I feel so frightened” line after awaking from the coma with good believability). Sirtis also proved she could be a scream queen too (not everyone can movie scream convincingly).

Jev definitely violated Deanna because she was nice to him, so he had to sully her, and violated Riker because he pissed him off and was getting too nosey. Crusher’s violation felt less personal for Jev - just because she was there (they could have developed that more).

Yes, there were a few bit and pieces that could have been improved on, but its quite an unfairly underrated episode in my books. Violations and Frame of Mind rank among my most favourite ST:TNG episodes