Star Trek: The Next Generation – Transfigurations [3.25]

An amnesiac patient dubbed “John Doe” who is under Dr. Crusher’s care demonstrates unusual abilities, including the power to heal.  He develops an affectionate relationship with Beverly, and somehow gives Geordi bolstered confidence.  It turns out that John and his race are on the verge of evolving into energy beings.  He is being hunted by reactionary leaders from his race who believe that he is dangerous for their race, but John completes the transfiguration and easily escapes from his pursuers.

Written by Rene Echevarria. Directed by Tom Benko.

Previous Episode: Ménage à TroiNext Episode: The Best of Both Worlds

Transfigurations is, frankly, pretty dull.  There is a lot of talking, but not really about anything.  Geordi very obviously perks up in confidence in a very suspicious manner, but in the end it turns out to be nothing more than Geordi just being boosted up in confidence.  “John Doe” seems like a nice guy but has suspicious amnesia.  In the end, when he regains his memory, it turns that yeah, he really is just a very nice guy.  Sure, he’s on the verge of an evolutionary leap, but all that does is give him the power to go along with his niceness, and means that the threatening aliens whom the Enterprise encounter are not threatening at all.  Aside from this, John doesn’t actually do much of anything, and his amnesia is a contrivance to try to create some dramatic tension, in a story where basically none exists.

In this way, the story is sort of reminiscent of something from the first season of the show, with a bit of an awkward attempt to be high-minded and enlightened.  Perhaps the main difference is that Wesley is taller now, and dressed in a better uniform.  John Doe’s final transfiguration special effect is a bit weak, and the villainous race is terribly one-note, becoming an obvious fill-in for whatever stuck-in-the-mud reactionary establishment that you care to imagine they’re “really” talking about.

The biggest problem, really, is that John Doe isn’t actually an interesting guy himself.  We hear Dr. Crusher talking about how special their relationship is, and Wesley talking about what a great guy he is, but John is never really anything but nice.  Which is a shame because Gates McFadden does do a good job in the episode, as do all of the other regulars.  Worf in particular has some funny lines in his role of “love guru” to Geordi (who is absurdly comically awkward with a woman who is obviously interested in him)  Overall, the cast just doesn’t have much to work with, and end up looking like they’re just trying to make their way through the story with as positive an attitude as they can muster.

Guest Cast:
• Patti Tippo, who plays Nurse Temple, had a regular role as Officer Daley on the series Sledge Hammer.

• Julie Warner is back as Christy Henshaw, although she seems to be acting like a completely different character than she did in Booby Trap.

• Geordi is really absurdly tongue-tied with Christy.  Like a young teenager or something.

• The alien world where they pick up John Doe has a slightly different look to it, which is always good.

• His heart doesn’t work if he’s unconscious?  These guys must die pretty easily.  Wait, Dr. Crusher is going to do what?!  Maybe being a temporary brain-donor is normal by the 24th centry.

• When Crusher calls for three to beamed directly to sickbay, it’s a good thing they knew which three she meant.

• Geordi says he feels great, which is a complete tip off that something odd is going on.

• There are a number of particularly boring conversations between Geordi and Data which, I guess, are supposed to indicate that Geordi is getting smarter and more creative than before.  Perhaps, but they make for some dry drama.

• “Less talk.  More synthehol!” A sort of funny but kind of dumb line from Worf.

• You almost never see people in Ten Forward wearing “going out” clothes, like you do with Christy.  It’s like she’s gone clubbing, but at the only club in town.

• Christy Henshaw doesn’t seem to remember Geordi’s awkward date with her back in Booby Trap, or her clear rejection of him.

• O’Brien’s kayaking.  If I remember properly, that’s something he’ll do with Dr. Bashir on Deep Space Nine.

• Contender for favorite line of the story:  “My feelings toward him aren’t romantic…exactly.”  Cute.

• On the other hand, one of the worst lines is that bit about “an almost spiritual connection.”  Ugh.

• John is a bumpy head alien.  We’ve had some.  We will have some more.

• The nurse sees John on the ground, calls for help, and then just squats there pretty uselessly.

• Good grief, Worf dies!

• Again, stealing a shuttle looks pretty easy

• Crusher doesn’t believe John is capable of harming anyone?  What?!  He has amnesia!  And he accidentally killed Worf!

• Blah blah blah from the Zalconians – disturb the natural order of things, etc blah blah blah.  A more boring and obviously meant to be disliked antagonist we have rarely ever seen.

• The briefing scene doesn’t reveal anything knew about our heroes, but it does at least allow the actors to play their characters.  Crusher has the best line: “You’re going to tell me it’s irrelevant that we’d be sending him to his death.”

• Convenient that John is able to heal everyone so easily.  Otherwise he’d have to go from room to room.

• Why does Sunad give up so easily?  Is he just convinced that John is too powerful to fight?  You’d think that he’d want to destroy him more than ever after he transfigures.

• And that’s how evolution works, boys and girls:  one day you’re a humanoid, the next your a swirling ball of energy.

• As he leaves, Dr. Crusher, Picard and the others stare at John thinking, “I wish I could turn into a glowy energy being too.”

Dialogue High Point
Worf has the funniest lines.

Words come later.  It is the scent that first speaks of love.

Previous Episode: Ménage à TroiNext Episode: The Best of Both Worlds

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