Star Trek The Next Generation: Eye of the Beholder

"There are things we do not understand, yet they exist nonetheless."

Supernatural meets Star Trek when an inexplicable suicide takes place aboard the Enterprise, throwing Worf and Troi into the middle of a deep mystery.

This episode was a initially a fun romp for me; it focused on a single plot, although there were a few very interesting side bits. Essentially the first half of the episode focuses on the fact that Lieutenant Dan Kwan has committed intentional suicide on the Enterprise by leaping into a plasma stream. In a world where suicide is a major problem, the reactions of the Enterprise crew seem very innocent. Riker is shocked. Data, in what I think was a very well-written scene, demonstrates empathy by relating Kwan's suicide to situations where Data himself felt overwhelmed by his developing mind – I loved how the show gently points out that machine life and biological life may have more parallels than differences.

Troi and Worf work in tandem to begin investigating the suicide, desperate to try and find a Reason. Working together seems to inspire Worf to finally act on the feelings for Troi which began with his experiences in the episode "Parallels." The blossoming of their actual relationship in this universe is kind of heartwarming – when Michael Dorn smiles he SMILES, and I can't have been the only one grinning when he embraced Troi.

The rest of the episode came across as a horror piece. Troi's investigation leads her to a body buried in the bulkhead, and the hallucinations she experiences give her clues to the past. This part just didn't work for me. It took eight years for telepathic residue to make its way to the crew, and especially Troi? Pierce wasn't really real the whole episode, but Worf and Troi seemed to have at least one conversation with him? Troi's response to the whole thing is to turn into the Original Woman Scorned? I'm more gung ho about Troi and Worf than many, but that part was ridiculous. What would have worked for me would be seeing Troi have that moment in front of the plasma conduit, doing her whole I know what I have to do routine – then turning around and taking action, recognizing the influence on her mind isn't her own, and solving the mystery. As it is I keep wondering what the hell benefit her telepathic experience has when she can't even identify something influencing her mind.

Bits and Pieces

Data trying to cross his arms and imitate Geordi. What I thought was extremely neat about this scene was that his very machine-like effort to imitate human body language happened right when he was verbally and mentally performing a neat piece of very human empathy.

Some of Calloway's lines are silly. "It's not like Dan to take his own life." I mean, is that a personality characteristic?

The Ten Forward scene was maybe unintentionally hilarious. Worf's awkwardness in trying to suss out whether Riker would cock-block him was only enhanced by the ridiculous costume of the Ten Forward service staff and Riker's own puffy green blouse.

Crusher's double interruptus was cute, and so was Troi's laughing at it.

Troi's hallucination seems to begin when she's back in her old jumpsuit, and when she returns to reality, the jumpsuit becomes her blue command uniform.

Quotables

Troi: Well, when I was a young girl, my grandfather used to tell me stories by the fire. I would close my eyes and listen to his mind for hours on end.
Worf: He would tell you these stories telepathically?
Troi: My grandfather rarely spoke. He said that was for off-worlders and people who didn't know any better. Now the only time I can remember his stories is when I go home and sit by the fireplace. Sometimes when I'm alone there, it's almost as if I can hear his voice inside my head.
Worf: Yes. Yes, I too have sought visions in fire.

Overall

I liked the premise of this episode and thought it could have been something more if only the writers had taken Troi's training, character and expertise more seriously. Two out of five damaged warp nacelles.

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