Production Order: 8
Air Order: 7
Original Air Date: November 2, 1987
While filing through Google Images' collection of facepalms last week, I stumbled upon this cookie:
Where did it come from? Where could I get one? Was that even a thing, or was it Photoshop trickery? Nope, it's a thing. A girl owns an online shop where she turns simple line drawings into cookie cutters using a 3-D printer, and most of them are geek-themed. Check it out:
Picard's Log 41249.3: "Gonna go to this peace conference thing on this neutral planet called Parliament, but on the way, we're stopping to pick up delegates from two species - the Anticans, and the Selay. They come from the same system, but they hate each other. It's like Space Westside Story! Anyway, they both want to get into the Federation, so we're taking them to Parliament for a chat and probably some space hors d'oeuvres. We're super not letting them in until this shit is resolved."
So, remember a while ago when we talked about skants, and how they were meant to play off of the mini-dress tunics of TOS female crewmembers? And how they seem to be offered up as short-sleeve unisex alternatives to the longer-sleeved everyday uniforms on TNG, but were also used as formal wear for officers during important occasions? Here we are, friends. Picard, Riker, and Yar are meeting delegates for a peace conference, so they're dressed to the nines. It's a little goofy, the long-tunic-and-leggings combo on Picard and Riker... but Yar's tunic hangs oddly. It's like they decided to make it hang more like a sundress below her hips, as though making it tighter would harken back to those old miniskirts too much. It just occurred to me that on Picard and Riker, the tunic and leggings look like unbelted garb from LARP and Ren Fest activities.
Anyway, moving on: the Selay beam onboard, and check it out! Non-humanoid! Sort of. I mean, they are in that they have the same body shape and number of limbs, but the Selay are reptilian, which makes me clap like a little kid. Yay, non-humanoids! I always get excited for these. They require more labor-intensive make-up and prosthetics.
Also, I like their costumes. Simple and elegant, and there's a color change to indicate which one is more important. In this case, it's gold over red, which is a bit TOS. High-five, costumer.
The Selay actually look like a nice cross between Classic Who and New Who Silurians:
Dude, they also have three fingers, like The Traveler. I imagine the design and make-up people being called in to a really early morning meeting, and the writers going, "We need you guys to put in some overtime on this one, and bring your A game." Seriously, A game brought here. What's more, the jaw prosthesis was clearly attached to the lower jaws of the actors playing these parts, as their mouths move when they speak. Not a lot, mind you, but enough that the whole thing doesn't feel like a rubber mask slapped over an actor's head, like the Tellarites from Journey to Babel.
Anyway, enough tangents and rabbit holes.
The Selay hop off the transporter pads and complain that they can smell the Anticans, who were picked up first, Then they bitch when Riker says their quarters are close-ish to the Anticans. He agrees to provide them with other lodgings farther away.
"We must be upwind of the Anticans," insists Ssestar, the dude in gold.
"Of course," says Riker.
He gives them that customer service smile that he gave fucking Kosinski last week. I never noticed that smile until I did seven unlucky years as a retail slave, and now I have no idea how I could have missed it. It makes sense, though: when you deal with space-douches (and you're gonna do that when you're given the commission of Number One), you're gonna have to deal with their bullshit demands, and do so with a Starfleet "can-do" attitude. I think I've seen Picard's customer service smile, too. It's tight-lipped and not as convincing as Riker's.
They get underway, and Picard and Riker return to the bridge, now sans dress uniform. They are discussing the hostilities between the two races, and are having trouble understanding them, as humans no longer fight over such things as "god concepts, and even economic systems." This smacks of smugness, not gonna lie. We get it. Humans of the future are awesome and never argue amongst themselves because they're better than that. And also us, because we still fight over god concepts and economic systems. Screw you, Star Trek. Also, not buying that you guys don't understand hostilities. You encounter this crap every time you meet a new hostile alien race. One of the original concepts of Star Trek was that humans didn't have conflict with each other anymore. That's crap. Not only is that not possible, but a show about people with no conflict is boring as hell.
Data interrupts to say that there's some weird cloud thing out in front of them.
Yar checks the computers. "Yeah, it's a weird cloud-thing."
Picard decides to match the warp speed of the cloud to check it out before going on to Parliament.
We get a previously unknown location in the next scene. Geordi and Worf are in some tiny space with a bunch of computer banks and read-outs.
It seems that Geordi is supposed to be there, but Worf is there to brush up on stuff because Picard wants everyone to be cross-trained on things. He doesn't seemed thrilled.
The E gets close to the cloud thing to take sensor readings, and that"s when Worf gets zapped by some kind of energy. The face Michael Dorn makes in Worf make-up is mildly terrifying.
Worf collapses and Geordi calls sick bay.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!
Dr Crusher and another blue come to collect Worf. When he comes to, he attacks everyone, so Crusher hypos him, then they make him stand up and walk calmly and drunkenly to sick bay. Why did they not bring a stretcher?
Then there's a short scene where Geordi tells Picard what happened, and said that for a moment, Worf was glowing.
Riker goes down to the guest quarters to meet up with Yar, and we finally get to see the Anticans, who it would appear, live on Planet Redwall.
Yar tells Riker that's been some kind of confusion with the Anticans' food supply. The E crew beamed up their live animals and were going to preserve it, but the Anticans want it brought to them alive.
"Oh, sorry," says Riker, and you can see his customer service skills working again as he tells the Antican delegate, Badar N'D'D, that Yar was confused, as humans no longer enslave animals for eating. N'D'D protests, as he has seen humans eating meat before, but Riker says it just looks like meat, and is actually replicated matter. N'D'D is disgusted.
This is actually a sweet bit of exposition here. While it seems like filler for Riker and Yar to be seeing to the dietary needs of the Anticans, it actually plays heavily into the plot, and we get a bonus bit of info here: the replicator doesn't produce meat. It makes something like meat. On Star Trek, the food is akin to the slop eaten onboard the Nebuchadnezzar from The Matrix trilogy. It's nutritious, and contains "everything the body needs," but in this franchise, they have the luxury of eating food that looks and tastes like the real thing.
Also, a bit of trivia and helpfulness here: Badar N'D'D is never called by name in this episode, but it was written out in the script, so no one actually knows how to pronounce that name. Lucky for me that he actually has a name, though, as I would have run into the same issue I was having with The Traveler. The same is true for Ssestar. Never mentioned by name, but it's helpful that he has something I can call him.
Does N'D'D look familiar to you?
How about now?
Yep, same dude. That's Marc Alaimo, the guy who plays Gul Dukat, my favorite unapologetic asshole on DS9. He played a bunch of guest roles on TNG before morphing into DS9 regular Dukat.
This is what he looks like in real life. Can we get a round of applause for the make-up department? I mean, shit, dude.
We switch over to sick bay, and Crusher is wearing some kind of helmet with Google Glass on the front. I don't know what the hell that thing is, but it's ugly. Anyway, she touches Worf to do her exam, and that blue, glowy light crackles up her arms and away from him. Troi comes in and sees that Worf's numbers are reading normal, and when she asks what Crusher did, Crusher says nothing. Worf wakes up and can't remember anything past being in the little sensor room with Geordi. Crusher mysteriously leaves sick bay without saying anything to either of them.
There's a brief scene where Data advises Picard to check into the mysterious cloud-thing, and while Picard says that he digs a mystery, they don't have time now. They have to get those Redwall guys to the peace conference.
Crusher goes back to her quarters to find Wes studying. In that same goddawful orange bedspread - why? He tells her that, in class, they've been looking at Dr Important-Sounding's research into dilithium crystals and their possible further applications regarding warp theory and beyond. This is very clearly Wes' jam, and really not Crusher's, because when she asks him to tell her about it, he gets this look on his face that I got last weekend when a guy at a party asked my about my Oswald the Lucky Rabbit shirt. (Because, you know, who doesn't want to know about the biggest coup in animation history? ONLY EVERYONE, THAT'S WHO!)
So Wes starts fangirling about this research, and Crusher pays attention to what he's saying, right up until the part where she realizes out loud that this has nothing to do with helm control, and she promptly gets up and leaves.
She gets off the lift on the bridge and goes to Geordi's conn. Picard spots her and asks about Worf.
"Naw, he's good," she mutters. "He can go back to work now. He just had a thing, you know?"
"WTF?" demands Picard. "That's a bridge officer, so you need to give me a better explanation!"
Oddly-acting Crusher comes up with a pretty good reason to rummage through the E's computer banks: "I'll have to cross-check with the computer. Klingons are so different in their physiology, you know."
"Cool," he shrugs.
She goes to Science Station 2. Data is at SS1, still checking out the info on the cloud-thing, and he notices that she's looking at stuff on helm control rather than medical things. She ignores his inquiry, and a moment later, the blue glowy light runs down her arm and into the computer bank.
Crusher sort of stumbles against the computer bank, and when Picard and Data ask if she is alright, she mumbles that she is, and that she's going to go work in her office. She trips back to the lift and leaves. Data tells Picard that SS1 and SS2 no longer work. calls start coming in from all over the ship, saying that certain things no longer work. Warp drive is down, as is one of the transporters. Picard suspects foul play.
A meeting is called between senior officers. There are a number of people we've never seen before, and which we'll probably never see again. Mr Singh, who called the bridge about the warp drive being down, is present. He suggests that it was some kind of short that hopped from station to station, then righted itself. but none of the affected systems generally interact with one another, so everyone in engineering is completely baffled. Riker looks like he thinks this meeting could have been covered just as easily through email.
Picard tells Singh that he wants some answers by the time they reach Parliament.
In the next scene, Riker puts the smack-down on N'D'D. It seems that some Security Golds found some Anticans loitering around the Selay quarters with weapons.
"No, these are tools used to get food," says N'D'D.
His explanation seems flimsy, especially when Riker points out that the animals brought on board for them to eat are nowhere near the Selays' quarters.
"We're taking your weapons," replies Riker. "All of them."
N'D'D assures him that they will not start anything with the Selay while on board the E, and satisfied, Riker and Yar leave.
"But we'll finish it," N'D'D finishes as soon as the door has closed.
Geez, N'D'D. Be more cliche.
Up on the bridge, Worf reports that they are falling out of warp. Picard calls Singh in engineering, who says they lost the link to the computer - warp still works, they just can't tell the ship as much.
"Well, fuck," says Picard. "Data, tell Parliament we're gonna be late."
"Yeah, no," responds Data. "Subspace radio is out, too."
So Picard calls another meeting, this time with just Data and Riker in his ready room.
They agree that it must be a saboteur, because the E is too new to be breaking down.
Star Trek, are you telling me that, in the future, manufacturers are going to stop this BS where they purposefully build things with shoddy parts so you'll be forced to upgrade?
"Well captain, it seems that your warp drive link is down, as is your subspace radio. Together, those things will cost more to repair than the ship is worth. I recommend you scrap it and get yourself a new Enterprise. We'll go ahead and send this one to a third-world planet, where kids can roam through the junkyard and pick it apart for scrap."
Picard thinks too highly of his crew to suspect any of them, so they wonder if it might be the Selay, the Anticans, or Ferengi, who have had contact with both of those species.The topic of private investigation comes up, and when data is confused, Picard explains private eyes to him. This is clearly Picard's jam, and he's quick to flood Data with info just as much as Wes was willing to tell his mother about dilithium crystals. Sherlock Holmes comes up. Data is intrigued.
Down in engineering, Wes has figured out how to bypass whatever roadblock was keeping the computer from connecting to the warp drive. Singh takes over, and fails to thank Wes. Then he dismisses him, because Wes is supposed to be studying now.
Wes puts up a bit of a stink, saying that he learns more through practical application in engineering than in a classroom setting. Singh gives him a smile and an agreement, but points out in a friendly manner that it's captain's orders. I guess that kind of makes up a bit for the fact that Singh is probably going to take credit for Wes' work now. As in, "We've fixed the problem," not "Wes fixed the problem."
Wes goes back to his quarters and kvetches lightly to his mother about having to go to school when he wants to be fixing shit in engineering. She's sympathetic, but tells him that he still needs to go to school. He brings up the dilithium crystal thing from earlier, but she doesn't remember them talking about that at all.
We go back to engineering, where Singh is working by himself and get the blue glowy light up his arms. Instead of just taking over, the thing kills him. I guess I don't have to decide if he was a dick now or not. It's moot.
Worf comes by a moment later and calls Picard to report Singh dead.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!
Picard's Log 41249.4: "Opening an investigation into Singh's death. But we still only have impulse power."
Wes, Worf, and Geordi are in engineering looking at that same console where Singh had been working. Wes says the calculations on the screen are different than the ones he plugged in. Worf and Geordi argue that Singh must have fixed stuff before dying. Wes is skeptical. He says there was an issue inside of the engines that had not been fixed yet.
"Who gives a shit?" responds Geordi. "We have warp, and that's what counts."
So they send the ship to warp and take off again.
Yar goes to question the Antican delegates. N'D'D tries to shrug her off.
"Your dead engineer isn't our concern."
"What were you doing between 1800 and 0700 hours?" she asks.
"Bullshit. That's like, a 13-hour span."
"It was a big-ass animal," he replies.
Yar is grossed out.
Worf reports to sick bay and Crusher asks him about his blackout period. he replies that he doesn't recall that time, and she says she had one also. Troi says she wants to do hypnosis on both of them to see if she can get any information that way.
Wait - that was still a thing in 1987? *checks Wikipedia* Oh, it's still a thing now. But it's a hotly-debated thing as to whether or not it's actually a thing. I'm wondering about that scene, where Troi hypnotizes them, if it'll end up being like "Where No Man Has Gone Before," wherein ESP is discussed, thereby dating the episode, because the medical community doesn't think that ESP is a thing anymore.
We go back to the briefing room, where Data is smoking a big-ass pipe. He's enigmatically taken on this Basil Rathbone-ish persona, where he's excitable and gestures a lot. He tells an amused Yar and Riker that they can glean information from the things that the alien passengers are not telling them. Turns out our friends, who look an awful lot like Sir Didymus, stopped at a dispensary to get dressings for wounds during the time that were supposedly "eating." He concludes that they were too wrapped up in trying to kill the Selay, and vice versa, to kill any of the crew members.
Troi does her hypno-thang on Worf and Crusher, and then reports back to Picard & Co. that they both said at the time of their blackouts that there was someone else in their heads. She says that when she encountered Crusher and Worf at these times, she sensed a duality in them, which is now explained.
"How come you didn't say anything?" Picard asks.
"Well, cuz humans normally have a kind of duality in their minds. Like, you talk to yourselves in your own minds. But this was different. Not them talking to themselves, them talking to someone else."
Data pulls out his Holmes schtick again to suggest that it wasn't the delegates or any of the crew, so it has to be someone else. Picard tells him to ditch the pipe, so he pulls out a magnifying glass to examine the ready room lionfish instead.
Wes is sitting at conn complaining about how the system just "got better" for no reason, and Geordi shrugs it off again. Then helm control goes down. Picard and the others exit the ready room and get the news that helm is down again. Picard puts his hand on Geordi's station to check things out, and the glowy blue light runs up his arm. Geordi sees... something, and asks Picard if he's alright.
"Everything is fine now," Picard says.
Light dramatic music! Commercial break!
When we return, Picard asks why the ship has dropped to impulse.
"Something is wrong with warp," Geordi responds.
"Nope, check again!" said Picard brightly.
Helm control magically comes back online. Geordi is suspicious.
"Also, turn us the hell around! I want to back to the road-side attraction we passed - that cloud-thing! Fuck the peace conference - let's go get us some scans of some clouds!"
Now everyone is suspicious.
But they don't really get a say in the matter, because Picard is the boss.
N'D'D is pissed off. He's stalking through the corridors, demanding to see Picard, and being followed by He-Who-Is-Yet-To-Be-Named-O'Brien. Blink, and you'll miss him. They run into one of the Selay, and the pair make threatening gestures at one another, while N'D'D yells that he wants to know why they changed course.
We haven't had nearly enough meetings in this episode, so now Picard & Co is meeting without Picard, this time to discuss mutiny. Troi thinks Picard is off his rocker, and that he'll do something dangerous eventually. They discuss how Crusher could relieve him of duty, but she protests that she'd need concrete evidence to put in a medical log. Riker could do it, but he'd have to get the agreement of all of the senior officers. Crusher decides to look into it and they all agree to keep an eye on Picard in the meantime.
Riker's Log, supplemental: "Crusher and I are gonna chat with the captain."
They go into the ready room.
"Hey," says Crusher. "I think you should come with me to sick bay for some medical exams."
"Why?" asks Picard.
"We think you're under alien influence," replies Riker. "Troi thinks so, too."
Then that lousy motherfucker gaslights them:
"Really? Because I think you guys are under alien influence, and need a whole of the same medical and psychiatric tests to prove you aren't. Troi, too."
And they can't say or do anything, because this creepy alien a-hole hasn't actually endangered anyone.
They agree to do the tests.
Over in B-Plotland, Riker is noosed by the Selay in the corridor.
"Sorry, wrong species," they hiss.
Riker calls security to have all of the Anticans and Selay rounded up and taken back to their quarters under guard.
Crusher returns to the ready room with the test results on what I can only describe as a USB. Picard takes it from her and drops it on the desk, uncaring.
"Please," she says in earnest, "are you Jean-Luc?"
"He's in here," is the creepiest reply ever. "We're going home. It's going to be awesome."
The sound effects guys made Picard's voice echo ever so slightly, as though he's speaking with two voices. It's kind of effective.
Psychological thriller music! Commercial break!...
Riker's Log, supplemental: "Back at the cloud. Kind of screwed, because we think there's something in the cloud that's also in the captain's mind, but, you know, he hasn't done anything but detour the ship, so we can't take him down."
Picard exits the ready room.
"I have an announcement," he says to the bridge crew. "The last time we were at this cloud, the ship came too close and it scooped up a life form, which got caught in the energy matrix of the ship. Then it went from person to person, looking for a way to get out, and no one helped it. Beeteedubs, sorry about Singh. Didn't mean to kill him. That was an accident."
"Are you like, Picard plus the entity?" asks Troi.
"Yep," says Picard. "We have a lot in common. We're both explorers and such. We're going to explore."
"I get it," says Data. "As an energy pattern, the captain could go anywhere at any speed. But you can't go, sir. It's a bad idea."
Troi, who can sense his thoughts, says that Picard and this entity plan to beam themselves into the cloud.
"You can't do it! You'll die out there!"
"Naw, it's cool," says Picard. "The transporter doesn't have to beam me out as matter. It can beam me out as energy. This is who I am now, Mom. I'm going to travel the universe with Jeremy the energy pattern, and we're gonna settle on land near Woodstock and raise non-corporeal goats. I've already sent my resignation to Starfleet."
"The hell you have!" yells Riker.
"How am I hurting anything by going with Jeremy?" asks Picard. "I'm not."
Crusher starts to relieve him of duty, but he just turns, grabs the computer consoles, and shoots blue glowy light at everyone on the bridge.
I guess that's one way to incapacitate everyone in the room.
He gets in the lift while they're still trapped by the glowy blue light, and arrives shortly thereafter in the transporter room. The transporter chief (nope, not Almost-O'Brien) is on the floor twitching with the light as well. I guess he passed that shit onto every console in the ship, which means that everyone, including little kids who were working at consoles in the school rooms, is now lying on the floor twitching. Asshole.
He sets his coordinates and transports out of there.
Riker's Log, supplemental: "Been an hour since Jeremy and Jean-Luc beamed out into the ether, energy only. Been scanning, and we can't find a damn thing."
Yar says the transporter chief has no idea what the coordinates were. I guess there was no record or something? Seems like a thing that the computer would do automatically, but I guess if Jeremy the energy thing was in the computer too, it could just erase it? Whatever. I don't care enough to pick it apart.
"We can't just give up!" says Geordi.
"What do you want me to do?" demands Riker in frustration.
I KNOW! YOU SHOULD HAVE ANOTHER MEETING!
Riker finally says they have to go, and he tells Geordi to set their heading for Parliament, but then Troi says she "found" him, and he's out there alone because the combination of Picard and Jeremy "wasn't possible."
Some of the consoles crackle with energy, and a P appears on Geordi's console panel.
Ugh, that's so cheesy. I'm not sure what else they might have done instead to alert the crew that Picard was in the computer circuitry, but posting a P to a console panel is so goofy.
Data rushes to the transporter room with Riker and Troi in tow. His hope is that Picard will recall that the transporter has his physical form on file, as he was the last person on the pad, and that he will go there to be inserted back into his own body. Everyone is all, "Is this going to work?" but there's like, two minutes left in this episode, soooo... yes.
"What the fuck am I doing in the transporter room?" Picard demands, stepping off the pad. "I remember being in here, and I was going to transport... somewhere... but I don't remember."
Everyone is like, "Yay, the captain's back!"
"Dr Crusher says you should go to sick bay for a rest," Riker tells him.
Then the door opens and Yar bursts in.
"There's blood on the floor outside of the Selay delegates' quarters, and one of the cooks says the Anticans want them to cook up a reptile, and it looks like a Selay!"
"Yeah, I do need a rest," says Picard. And he exits.
Yar looks at Riker. Riker looks at Troi. Troi is smiling like she's holding back a laugh. And light, playful music plays, and the credits roll.
HOLD THE MOTHERFUCKING COMM BADGE.
Are you kidding me, Star Trek?
You're ending on a cannibalism joke?
You're heading to a peace conference, and a dude ate another dude, but this is hilarious?
OMG. Is this better or worse than ending with a racist remark about Vulcans?
You lost me, Star Trek.
I just... damn.
Dear members of the Singh family,
This is to regretfully inform you that one of your own (first name) Singh, has been killed in the line of duty. He died well, doing his job admirably at his post, but unfortunately, was fried by a runaway entity that stowed away with the ship when we flew through some cloud-thing in the middle of nowhere. I was personally possessed by this entity for a while, and it assures me that your family member's senseless death was a total accident, and he totally didn't mean to do it. I'm sure it would have written this letter itself if it had hands... or a body, or corporeal form of any kind.
No longer joined to Jeremy, the errant energy pattern
- First instance of a crewman dying on board the Enterprise-D.
-This is the only episode where we see Tasha Yar in dress uniform.
- Colm Meaney shows up for the second and last time in season one on TNG. He won't actually get a name until season two, when he shows up in more than half of the episodes.
- Because Marc Alaimo's first Star Trek role included heavy make-up, a cast was taken of his face. This would come in handy later, as the make-up department would use it time and again to create new facial appliances and make-up for other characters he would play.
- James McElroy, who played several bit parts and background characters in TNG and Enterprise, started out on Star Trek as one of the Selay delegates. He noted that his make-up call for the Selay delegate character began at 4:30 in the morning.
- Marc Alaimo's long, strong neck muscles were influential in creating the look of the Cardassians, as this was the inspiration for the neck ridges of that species.
- This episode marks the first time Data plays at being Sherlock Holmes.
- First appearance of the PADD. Though similar devices appeared on TOS, those were actually electronic clipboards, and did not interface with the Enterprise's computers the way the PADDs did. PADD designer Rick Sternbach has said that he didn't necessarily think the PADD was a direct influence on Apple's iPad, but rather that the PADD was a natural continuation of technology as imagined by people before and after himself. He notes that today's devices are actually less limited in their uses than the way PADDs were used on-screen in Star Trek.
- The role of N'D'D is uncredited to Marc Alaimo. He did that on purpose, not knowing if it would add to his resume or take away from it. But he later said the role was "fun."
- "Lonely Among Us" is TNG's first so-called "bottle show." These episodes are created with mostly already-existing sets and very few guest stars. This way, the budget can be contained and the money that would have been spent on these things could be given over to other, more expensive episodes. TOS episodes that were bottle shows include "The Naked Time" and "The Doomsday Machine."
I went into a Whole Paycheck this week, looking a certain kind of lemonade, which I don't think that particular store carries. But I found new tea, so that works. This time, I grabbed a few bottles of Third Street. Because it's Whole Paycheck, the label is covered in declarations like "organic Fair Trade non-GMO." Also, it's gluten-free! Yay!
Anyway, beyond the ridiculous, the tea is pretty good. The first one I tried was the Peach Black Tea, because I'm apparently addicted to peach tea.Here's the thing about the sweetened Third Street teas: they're pretty freaking sweet. It's made with actual peach juice and cane sugar, so it's not sweetened garbage, but if you don't take your tea sweet, avoid the peach tea.
Either way, the art on the bottles is bad-ass, and worth a look even if you don't end up buying it:
|Uhura, Bratty, Mo|