Star Trek: The Next Generation (1992) – Hero Worship, and Violations

Captain’s log: stardate 45397.3

Airing on 27 January, 1992, this Data (Brent Spiner) episode is a little dull. And once again, it feels like the series could have done something really good if they hadn’t played it safe.

Written by Joe Menosky from a story by Hilary Bader, the episode sees the Enterprise responding to an emergency and finds a damaged ship, with one lone survivor, a ten year old boy, Timothy (Joshua Harris).

Data’s rescue of him, and the fact that he is an emotionless android, gives Timothy something to worship and mimic, instead of dealing with the emotional trauma of having lost his family. He refuses to process it and move on.

So it will be up to Data, Troi (Marina Sirtis) and the Crusher (Gates McFadden) to help the boy move on, and embrace his loss.

It’s not that it’s a bad episode, but I feel like they played it safe, and it comes on the heels of another kid-centric episode, New Ground. Perhaps they should have spread them out a little more.

The other side of the story sees Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Geordi (LeVar Burton) trying to get into the damaged ship’s computer core so that they can discover what happened to their ship.

The episode explores trauma, how we deal with it, and how we protect ourselves from it, and how we recover from it, and the aid we need to do it.

I just don’t think they needed two kid episodes back to back, and that may colour people’s opinion of the story.

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Captain’s log: stardate 45429.3

February 3, 1992 saw the debut of this dark episode written by Pamela Gray and Jeri Taylor from a story by Gray, Shari Goodhartz and T. Michael.

A race of aliens, specialising in memory history come aboard the Enterprise, and soon delight the crew with their abilities, helping them recover memories. Unfortunately one of them, Jev (Ben Lemon) is overbearing, and is exploiting darker memories, nightmares, and creating his own within his subject’s minds.

A number of the crew begin to fall victim to his attacks, Troi is left in a coma after a nightmare about Riker (Jonathan Frakes) is perverted into something worse, Crusher is tortured with recollections of her her husband’s dead body.

Jev points fingers, and lays blame at other’s feet, but Geordi and Data are intent on proving the truth.

I do like the fact that the story isn’t afraid to get dark and creepy, but again, it feels like the series plays it too safe.

And then there’s the whole issue with Troi’s Riker nightmare. If it’s not a nightmare, and things happened, or were about to happen, it really puts his character in a really bad place, because it would have been assault and rape. It’s a troubling sequence, and needed some clarification.

The Human Adventure continues next week…

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