Star Trek: The Next Generation (1991) – Night Terrors, and Identity Crisis

Captain’s log: stardate 44631.2

Airing on 18 March, 1991 and penned by Pamela Douglas and Jeri Taylor from a story by Shari Goodhartz, Night Terrors is the kind of episode that would have freaked me out as a kid.

I did not handle scary/spooky stories well when I was a child.

The Enterprise has tracked down a missing starship, the USS Brattain. Unfortunately, their is only one survivor. The rest of the crew is dead. They’ve murdered one another. The logs indicate a level of rising paranoia on the ship, as well as rising fear.

The lone survivor, a Betazoid counsellor, Andrus Hagan (John Vickery) remains in a coma, and is unable to answer questions.

When that same paranoia, and rising terror begins to infect Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the rest of the crew, Data (Brent Spiner) the android is left in charge, trying to find a way out of a spatial anomaly that the Brattain became trapped in.

Troi (Marina Sirtis) begins to suffer from strange visions but one that may help them escape and reclaim their sanity before it’s too late.

Tensions ratchet up, and the crew begins to look worn, aged, and haunted. The performances, behaviour and makeup add to the reality of the terrors that the crew are going through, and it’s genuinely troubling.  It’s a well crafted episode that plays with ghost stories and spookiness.

Happily, both Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) and Troi may have the keys to figuring out what is going on. If only they could find a way to understand and express it. It seems there’s a chemical imbalance preventing the crew from reaching REM sleep, which is causing their paranoia and fear to bleed into the real world.

Finally with Data’s assistance, the Enterprise and its crew are able to escape, and get some much needed sleep.

In terms of continuity we get to see more interactions between O’Brien (Colm Meaney) and Keiko (Rosalind Chao).

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Captain’s log: stardate 44664.5

Brannon Braga pens a script from a story by Timothy De Haas. With an airdate of 25 March, 1991, this Geordi (LeVar Burton) story isn’t as strong as it could have been.

There is something strange going on with Geordi and his friend Susanna Leitjen (Maryann Plunkett), that dates back to a mission the two of them were on during their time together on the USS Victory.

More members of their old crew who were also on that mission have either gone missing, or have deserted Starfleet.

They return to the site of the mission even as the two friends catch up. But soon, the two of them start to show signs of changing. Crusher discovers the cause for these changes, they are infected with a parasitic life form that is rewriting their DNA, and changing them into a different life form.

While their are cool ideas at the heart of the episode, especially with the way Geordi starts putting the mystery together, the episode isn’t as strong as it should or could be for his character.

Happily our heroes figure things out, and Geordi is returned to his human state, and the Enterprise continues its journey.

The Human Adventure continues next week…

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