Star Trek: The Next Generation – Eye of the Beholder [7.18]

An unexpected suicide of a crew member prompts Troi and Worf to conduct an investigation into the officer’s background.  In this process, Troi begins to experience disturbing psychic flashes of incidents which took place during the Enterprise‘s construction.  During this, Worf and Troi begin a romantic relationship, but when that seems to go sour Troi is driven to despair and ends up killing first Worf, and then nearly herself in a fit of despair.  At the last second, she is awakened by Worf from an extended psychic hallucination that took place in a matter of seconds.  It is determined that psychic residue left over from a murder that took place during the Enterprise‘s construction caused the strange actions of both Troi and the other crew member (who was also psychically sensitive).

Teleplay by Rene Echevarria.  Story by Brannon Braga. Directed by Cliff Bole.

Previous Episode: Masks • Next Episode: Genesis

Comments:
Eye of the Beholder has a great opening.  We begin right in the thick of the action, with a crew member mysteriously on the verge of suicide.  Jonathan Frakes does a great job in his minor role as Riker, trying in vain to save the man’s life.  It’s intense and gripping, and all the more interesting because it introduces us to an area of the ship we’ve never seen before:  inside the warp nacelles.

Unfortunately from there, the episode does not do particularly well.  The pairing of Worf and Troi is an awkward one, and the way it plays out here is a bit dull and uninspired.  The idea of Troi being psychically effected by something because of her empathic abilities is familiar ground that we’ve been over before, and it also seems like there have been an awful lot of “dream sequences” this year.

Overall, the production and dialogue feels a bit uneven, although it never descends to the egregious levels of Masks.  At one point, someone says, “It’s possible, but I don’t see how it would have happened,” which sort of sounds like you’re saying it’s actually not possible.  Someone else says, “It’s not like Dan to take his own life,” which strikes me as a really stagy thing to say. And Data makes a big long speech about struggling to be sentient, which feels like it’s only there to give Data something to do.

But maybe my biggest disappointment with the story is the fact that they built it so much just on the “interest factor” of the nightmare scenario Troi experiences (even though Marina Sirtis does play it well).  I think if the story had made Walter Pierce the threatening villain that he appears to be, I’d have found the drama a bit more compelling when it was all over.  As it is, it all feels a somewhat inconsequential, with a last line (Troi talking about how hell hath like a woman scorned) that strikes a very odd tone.

Guest Cast:
• Nora Leonhardt plays “Woman”.  Prior to this, she had appeared a dozen times on the show as an uncredited extra, going all the way back to the series’ opening episode, Encounter at Farpoint.  Apparently, she was also Marina Sirtis’ regular stand-in.

Shout Out to the Past:
• The attraction between Worf and Troi, established during Parallels, but not addressed since, leads Troi hallucinating about their starting a relationship here.

• There is another reference to the Federation warp speed limitations, as established earlier this year in Force of Nature.

• Worf refers to seeking visions in fire, as seen in Rightful Heir a little while ago.

Setting Up the Future:
• Nothing really, except for the fact that we’ll see more about the Troi-Worf romantic pairing at least one more time this season.

Observations:
• Story begins with a number of new bumpy-headed alien crew members.

• Are Starfleet officer’s required to keep personal logs?  Kwan’s seems very stilted, as they often do.

• Riker is out on a hot date at the only place in town.

• There’s a reference to the officers playing poker together.

• OK, that is a funny when dream-Beverly calls first Deanna and then Worf during their tender moment.

• Deanna changes to her “comfortable clothes” – one of her pre-Chain of Command outfits.

• When Worf dies, we of course know something crazy is going on, but we aren’t sure how long it’s been going on for.  When we find out, it’s a little confusing trying to remember what was real and what wasn’t.

Dialogue High Point
If there’s a bright spot in the episode (aside from the opening), it’s probably the encounter between Worf and Riker in Ten Forward.  I enjoyed Worf’s awkwardness with Riker

Worf:  I mean, I would never want to come between you and someone you are involved with, or had ever been involved with.
Riker: Is there someone in particular that you’re talking about?
Worf: No.  Is there someone in particular you would rather I not be involved with?
Riker:  Mr. Worf, you sound like a man who’s asking his friend if he can start dating his sister.

Although I think it’s funny that Riker has no idea who Worf is talking about.  How many women on the ship has he dated?  Isn’t that a little weird, since he is the First Officer?

Previous Episode: Masks • Next Episode: Genesis

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