Star Trek The Next Generation: Interface

Geordi: "Until I see some hard evidence, I'm not going to give up hope."

By nature I love brevity: A rather decent emotional story that was undercut by the final act. Strong performances, though, and some good material earlier on.

The first thing you notice about 'Interface' is its odd sci-fi premise: Geordi hooks himself up to a probe that feeds him sensory information so that he can perform missions too dangerous to risk an away team. This is somewhat interesting, sure, and the fact that it allows Geordi to receive visual information makes those sequences entertaining enough to keep me watching for the first few minutes. But it's not even close to some of the interesting premises that TNG comes up with, and it only really serves as a vehicle to present the emotion and character in the story.

The central premise of this half of 'Interface' revolves around the disappearance of the ship Geordi's mother captains. Everyone, including Geordi's other family members, has given up hope and has begun to mourn, but Geordi refuses to accept it without hard evidence. Unless he can see the wreckage, he will continue to believe his mother is still alive.

This is where 'Interface' begins to deliver its best work. Some well-acted scenes between Geordi and Riker, along with a touching effort by Data to comfort his friend, give it weight and impact with the audience. It becomes very clear very quickly that Geordi is just in denial, and that his friends need to help him accept that his mother is gone. That's when he encounters her on one of his trips with the probe.

The resulting sequences are heartbreaking to watch, as Geordi goes from denial to outright fantasy as his crewmates frantically try to keep him from hurting himself even more. He pushes the probe to its limits trying to save his mother, injuring himself over and over again. I think the episode could've used a little bit more variety here; it gets a little old seeing Geordi get injured in a very similar way, and then watching him get examined in the same corner of sickbay, as Doctor Crusher explains similar information to Captain Picard. Still, it does serve to show us Geordi's journey towards false hope. It helps as well that the episode makes it clear Geordi's theory is theoretically possible. As a result, we don't know when Geordi returns to the crashed ship whether his hopes will be vindicated or dashed.

This is where the episode takes a sudden turn, copping out and doing neither of those things. Geordi's vision of his mother turns out to be neither real nor a hallucination. It's an out-of-left-field alien species that's trying to manipulate him. Not only did I see this coming from the very beginning, I actively hoped the episode wouldn't use that twist. It dodges the consequences of the story and lets the writers have their cake and eat it too; now Geordi can be wrong about his mother but also not crazy for hallucinating her presence on the ship. To make matters worse, the reveal that she is an alien comes as a result of an action she takes that is completely inconsistent with her goals. Her plan was to lure Geordi into bringing the ship down to the surface of the planet so that she could get her people off of it. But instead of continuing the ruse, which was working, she puts her hands beside his head and does something to his brain. This immediately tells him that she isn't who she says she is, and also simultaneously prevents him from doing what she wanted him to do. The twist isn't even a unique one - TNG has done this reveal in other stories countless times before – and it's a shame it had to mess up the good story they had going for the first four acts.

Strange New Worlds:

The planet featured in this episode, Marijne VII, is a neptune-like gas giant whose unusual atmosphere causes subspace distortions.

New Life and New Civilizations:

The species of noncorporeal beings that imitated Geordi's mother are the latest in a long line of noncorporeal aliens in TNG. Their communication methods killed any humans that experienced them.

Pensees:

-What is the probe doing when Geordi bends down and checks people's pulses? Is it scanning them for life signs? How does it know what sensory information to give him?

-On the same note, how does moving his foot have anything to do with his height on the ladder? The probe seems to float in midair. For that matter, how is it ascending or descending with the ladder in the first place?

-Data is such a good friend. He knew Geordi needed this in order to have his closure, and he knew if he didn't help, Geordi would be in more danger. It both makes logical sense and is touching, just like Data's actions should be.

-Great performance by Jonathan Frakes when he told Geordi about his own mother.

-Robert Wiemer's direction is dynamic or subdued at the appropriate times. I appreciate it.

-It was during the production of this episode that Producer Ron Moore realized that TNG was running out of ideas and needed to end.

-Ben Vereen, who played Doctor LaForge in this episode, played the grandson of LeVar Burton's character in the show Roots. Madge Sinclair, who played Captain LaForge, was also on the show as the wife of the older version of LeVar Burton's character.

Quotes:

Data: "The ancient Doosadarians. Much of their poetry contained such 'lacunae' or empty spaces. Often these pauses measured several days in length, during which poet and audience were encouraged to fully acknowledge the emptiness of the experience."
Geordi: "I can remember a few lectures from Starfleet Academy that seemed that way."

Data: "You may experience the emptiness with me if you wish."

Riker: "They told me it was important to accept the fact that my mother was dead and that she wasn't coming back and all the hoping in the world wouldn't make it so. In my mind, that was the day my mother actually died."

Geordi: "You know, we could both get in a lot of trouble for this."
Data: "There is a high degree of probability that you are correct."

3 out of 6 lacunae.

--
CoramDeo doesn't mind; the thing that bothers him is that someone keeps moving his chair.

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