Star Trek: The Next Generation – Remember Me [4.5]

Beverly is concerned when her visiting friend, Dr. Quaice, disappears, leaving behind no record of his existence.  It gets worse when members of the Enterprise crew begin to disappear as well and nobody remembers them but her.  Eventually, the entire crew is gone, leaving Beverly on an empty ship. A mysterious vortex appears, terrifying her, but this turns out to be the real crew of the Enterprise trying to reach her.  It turns out that Beverly is in an imaginary world inside a warp bubble that is steadily shrinking, the result of a failed experiment of Wesley’s.  In the end, thanks to the Traveler helping Wesley to realize his full engineering potential, Beverly is rescued,

Written by Lee Shelden . Directed by Cliff Bole.

Previous Episode: Suddenly HumanNext Episode: Legacy

Comments:
Remember Me is a odd episode.  It is actually is very memorable (I’m not trying to be funny here, but I really can’t think of another word) with an intriguing premise, decent performances, some strong scenes, and an effective Twilight Zone-esque nightmarish quality.  But unfortunately, the narrative unravels quite a bit at the end.  There are a number of ways in which this happens, but ultimately I think the episode’s critical failing is the way in which Beverly has so little to do with her own rescue.  I guess it’s true, she has to figure out that the big scary vortex is actually her friend, but I’d have liked to have seen more involved – where something she does actually makes her escape possible.  There is an attempt at this by having her realize that she had to get to engineering to find the “stable threshold”, but doesn’t really make sense since both of the first two times she ran into the vortex, it did not appear in engineering at all.  So that seems to be an artifice thrown in at the end to give Beverly something to do.

Similar to Brothers a couple of episodes ago, this story relies almost completely upon a single cast member.  And for the most part, Gates McFadden proves up to the challenge.  She has a more challenging job than Brent Spiner did in Brothers – where he was acting opposite himself, McFadden is required to sell a huge chunk of the story acting against nobody, or nobody but the ship’s computer.  She also has a full load with the rest of the episode, playing gentle, offended, scared, possibly insane, and much more.  Again, this only begins to fall apart at the very end, when she is back on the bridge by herself, just before heading off to engineering for the conclusion.  Around here conceit of having her talk to herself begins to wear thin and becomes a obviously a way to just explain stuff to the audience   (eg. “Stable threshold. They’ve been trying to create a stable threshold. Where are they trying to do it? Where did they do it the first time? Engineering!” etc.)

Even though Beverly is the star of the story, the episode is probably even more important for Wesley as far as his development is concerned.  For the first time since Where No One Has Gone Before three years earlier, Wesley’s “Special Engineering Prodigy” status is mentioned, and of course, the Traveller reappears.  I have to say that even though I was surprised and sort of excited to see this when I was first viewing this story, today I am not a fan of this development.  It comes across as a bit deus ex machina (basically, too convenient) that the Traveller was able to “hone in on” Wesley’s thoughts and thus come and see him in his hour of need, then speak a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to Wesley before having him try to do the very thing he was doing before, but this time, using the Force.  To make it worse, the episode then completely fails to deal with any of the ramifications of this at the end. There’s no addressing how this is going to change Wesley’s life or even a comment about how Wesley will have to continue to develop into his full potential, or whatever.  You just have poor Wil Wheaton lying in an awkward heap on the control panel, without even the dignity of being able to fully fall down.

The episode also ends without giving a clear sense of what is actually going on.  We’re told that Beverly has become trapped in a static warp bubble and that her own thoughts at exactly the moment of the accident have shaped the universe inside the bubble.    So, is that bubble on the ship or is it floating in space?  If it’s in space, how and why were Wesley and Geordi able to connect with it the first two times?  If it’s on the ship, why was it important that the Enterprise return to the original coordinates?  And that mini-Universe – is it supposed to be an actual, fully functioning, independent copy of the universe, or is it just all in her head?  Either way, it’s awfully convenient that fake-Wesley decides to bring up the Traveller to Beverly in such detail, right around the time when real-Wesley was realizing he needed his help.

It’s a shame there are these problems with the story because for a good chunk of it, it has the makings of good, if not great, episode.  If the story’s resolution had only been stronger and a bit less “out of nowhere”, than I’d probably regard it a lot more fondly.

Shout Out to the Past:
The Traveller had appeared previously, in season one’s Where No One Has Gone Before.  That episode also featured Kozinsky, who is mentioned here.

There are also references to Jack Crusher, the Ferengi, and Dr. Selar from The Schizoid Man.

Setting Up the Future:
The Traveller will appear in one more episode:  Journey’s End which sort of finishes Wesley’s story.

Guest Cast:
• Bill Erwin played Dr. Dalen Quaice.  He has over 200 roles listed on IMDB in TV and movies since the 1940’s, although apparently never as a regular on any series.  He apparently played 7 or 8 roles on Growing Pains in as many episodes, and played a minister on The Brady Girls Get Married – so I imagine he might have married Marcia and Jan Brady to their respective husbands.

Observations:
• Wesley’s confusion at his mother’s disappearance seems like a strange inclusion in the teaser, but it of course makes sense later on.

• Bill Erwin is credited as a guest star in the opening credits – yet he does not appear anytime after the teaser of the show.

• “Did they come on board with Dr. Quaice?” – a good and natural piece of dialog, fitting for the situation and helpful in pushing forward the confusion.

• So Kozinsky, from Where No Man Has Gone Before, is still in Starfleet doing his thing.  I kind of thought from his prior appearance that he might have been drummed out for being a fraud.

• The news that there are 230 people on the ship is quite startling.  Suddenly, we’re in a “Is he/she crazy?” episode.  Is this the first one?

• Picard orders Tea, Earl Gray, Hot!  It’s been a while.

• It’s nice how imaginary-Picard is so understanding and helpful, with lines like, “I have no choice to believe you, when the safety of the entire crew,” and “Your word always has been good enough for me.”

•  It is creepy how everyone simply justifies all the extra space on board the ship.

• Strange that Wesley talks to Beverly about the Traveller as if Beverly has never heard of him.  Of course, he’s really talking to the audience who probably doesn’t remember him.

• Crusher’s loss of her son is very effective

• The whole scene between Crusher and Picard on the empty bridge is very effective.  Picard’s impatience contrasts well with Crusher’s impassioned speech, and both actors really deliver.

• What was Crusher was going to say to Picard?  I think we’ve had that set up before, haven’t we?  Was it in Arsenal of Freedom?

• I remember that when the strange energy vortex appears the second time, I figured out what had happend – so it was well-timed when the point of view shifted to outside the warp bubble at that point.

• “What the hell does that mean?” Riker’s retort to the Traveller’s “As long as she thinks she’s alive, she’s alive,” more or less echoes my own.

• So Beverly created the reality based on her precise thoughts.  I guess if she’d been thinking of puppies licking butterflies while they dance in the Royal Albert Hall, she might have noticed something strange was going on earlier.

• I like Beverly shrugging off the computer’s uncertainty to her question.

•  Not a good line:  “If there’s nothing wrong with me, maybe there’s something wrong with the universe.”

• On the other hand, I do like, “The universe is a spheroid region 705 meters in diameter.”

Crazy Talk: Captain Riker (Huh?)
There is no reason this episode couldn’t have been made without Patrick Stewart.  He does a good job with his small role, but it is in no way integral to the story.  All we would have lost was that brief iota of character development between Picard and Crusher that we got in that final Bridge scene, before Picard disappeared.

Dialogue High Point
There are a few, but in the end, I have to go for the melodramatics of Beverly’s pleas to Picard.

O’Brien, Geordi, Worf, Wesley, my son. They all have been the living, breathing heart of this crew for over three years. They deserve more than to be shrugged off, brushed aside, just pinched out of existence like that. They all do. They deserve so much more.

Previous Episode: Suddenly HumanNext Episode: Legacy

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One thought on “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Remember Me [4.5]

  1. This was a really good episode. Gates McFadden seldom got to really do much on the series, but she carried this episode very well. It’s one of the few Dr. Crusher episodes, and it makes me wish there had been more.

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