Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, August 6, 2018

ST:TNG Season Four, Episode Eight "Future Imperfect"

ST:TNG Season Four, Episode Eight "Future Imperfect"
Production Order: 8
Air Order: 8
Stardate: 44286.5
Original Air Date: November 12, 1990


SirPatStew confirmed on Twitter.
Am I disappointed that they're hiding it behind a paywall?
Would I reconsider ponying up for All Access to watch this show?
Here's the link for that story:


Picard's Log 44286.5: "Chilling near the Neutral Zone. No Roms in sight."

It's Riker's birthday, and he's playing the trombone in Ten Forward for his friends. Apparently, he's not very good at this particular song.

Sassy Troi Moment: "Some things improve with age. Maybe yours can be the trombone."
Bahahaha, damn.
They go to the cake and he blows out the candles. Interesting that they still have those traditions in the 24th century. (This week's rabbit hole: that tradition started in ancient Greece.)
"What did you wish for?" asks Troi.
"Music lessons," he laughs.
It's a nice time. I like when they show the crew during downtime, just enjoying themselves.

On the bridge, Picard tells Data that they have to hurry along to the party, but of course they get stopped before they reach the lift, because there's an anomaly or some shit. They check it out. The E is being probed by the third planet in a nearby system, which reports say is uninhabited. Picard muses on the rumor that there's a secret Romulan base in this sector.
Ooh, a secret Romulan base! Mystery! Intrigue!
Meh, I tried. Romulans bore me.
Picard calls Riker in Ten Forward.
"Hey, I know it's your birthday party and all, but I need you to head an away team right now."
Ugh, lame. There's no emergency. Let the dude finish his damn cake.

On the bridge, Data tells Riker and Picard that the planet is class-M, but it's "barren and inhospitable." The scan is coming from a cave under the planet's surface.
Worf guesses Romulans.
Riker picks him and Geordi for an away team.
The boys beam down.

They takes scans. Geordi names off a bunch of crap in the air that sounds like a bad time.
"Will we be okay?" asks Riker.
Sassy Geordi Moment: "For now. Wouldn't want to spend my vacation here."
Picard calls, and from the shitty reception, they all agree that maybe the away team should beam back up. Geordi adds they better do it soon, because the chamber they're in is gonna fill with gas soon.
An attempt is made. The lady running the transporter can't get a good lock.
The away team starts to choke as the chamber begins filling with gas and smoke. They cough. Riker keels over.

He wakes up later in sick bay.
Nurse Ogawa calls Crusher, telling her that Riker is awake.
Crusher looks different.

He calls her by name.
"Oh, good. You remember me. That's awesome, Captain."
"Captain?" he demands.
He sits up, and once again, there's an oddly-placed (read: convenient) mirror in sick bay, where Riker can see that his hair is shot with grey.

Dramatic, psychological music! Opening credits break!

When we return, it's revealed that there are more high-tech mirrors around the sick bay bed where Riker is sitting. He tells Crusher that he's very confused, and beeteedubs, why is she calling him captain? He is a commander.
She asks what he last remembers before waking, and he talks about the away team with Geordi and Worf.
"Yeah, it was nothing but toxic gas, and they barely beamed you up in time, right? That was 16 years ago," she replies.
She tells him that he contracted an Altarian virus from that away mission, and it tends to do its thing, then hole up in your system, dormant, for years. When it comes back, it erases all of your memories back to the moment when you first got the disease. For the past ten days, he's been in a coma with the virus.
"Your fever finally broke this morning," she says, which does not explain why he's in full uniform and not a sick bay gown.

"You've been captain of the Enterprise for nine years now. Memories are formed by association. Stuff that's familiar. So you should move around the ship and see if it triggers anything."
"Great," he snaps. "Let's go."
"Um, just so you know, in a lot of these cases, the memory loss is permanent."

Also, some things have changed.

On the way to the lift, Crusher tells Riker that neither Geordi nor Worf contracted the virus, just him. She wants him to go back to his quarters to see if anything there will jog his memory, but he insists on going to the bridge. He tells Majel to take the lift to the bridge, but she asks him to repeat himself. Crusher tells him that there's something wrong with the computer, and Geordi has been fixing it. We find out that Mr La Forge is now a commander. Good for him.
There are a few surprises on the bridge. Geordi has cloned implant eyes. Worf has a crazy scar all up his face. Data is now Number One. There's a Ferengi ensign at navigation.

"Warbird uncloaking," announces Worf.
"Whoa, shit," says Riker. "Red alert, shields up!"
Everyone looks at him funny, but the ship goes to red alert.
"Um, we were expecting the Decius," says Data.
"Oh, um, okay. Cancel red alert."
The viewscreen comes on.
Hey, hey!

They make some small talk, then beam over.
Picard, Troi and Riker go to Obs Lounge to talk. However, no one mentions the fact that Picard is wearing extensions, or the fact that they all have grey paint in their hair. Nope, they talk about the mission.
Seems that four years earlier, a wounded Romulan battle cruiser limped into Federation space, and Riker managed to fix them up. The Romulans were impressed and opened talks with the Federation. The negotiations are mostly complete now, with Riker at the helm of it all. They just need to take the Romulan ambassador to the final signing, and everyone will be buddies.
"Ooh, this is shit timing," says Riker. "I don't remember any of this. I can't do it."
"Should be fine," shrugs Picard. "We'll just brief you really well."

Troi suggests that they go to Riker's quarters to see if he can regain some memories.
"Good idea," he agrees. "I've had enough surprises for one day."
Yeah, about that -

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Mini Riker is chatty and friendly, but soon his face falls. He realizes that Riker doesn't remember him. Troi asks the kid, Jean-Luc, to step out of the room so she can talk to his father.
"What the hell?" he demands quietly.
"Crusher thought springing him on you might help you remember stuff," she says.
Noop, clearly not.
And now, the million-gold-pressed-latinum-bar question: "Who is that kid's mother?"
"Your wife Min died two years ago in a shuttle accident," she says quietly. She describes a woman who could be anyone, then adds that Min was a great captain's wife, and the ship's counselor who replaced her when she took a better position at Starfleet Command.
Holy shit, Will. Are you planning on dating every ship's counselor? Are you dating the current one, too?
She encourages him to spend time with his son, then leaves.

Riker goes into the next room with Jean-Luc and gives him tips on the trombone. He plays "Misty" again and hits the wrong note, joking about how, after 16 years, he should be able to get it right.
"You always get that note wrong," Jean-Luc laughs.
Riker goes into the front room and asks Majel to give him his service record. She gives him a technical shrug. Jean-Luc comes into the room, and Riker grumps at him that Geordi is doing a diagnostic thing, and he can't get at his stuff. The kid turns the computer towards him and then back again. The written record is now up.
But no time to look into that now, the bridge is calling to say the ambassador is here.

Picard, Riker and Troi walk to the transporter room to meet the ambassador, who will be going to the signing via the E.
The ambassador beams over.
Oh, fuck me.
It's that asshole Tomalak.

Everyone but Riker exchanges pleasantries, and Picard and Tomalak leave.
"Are you shitting me?" Riker asks Troi. "Fucking Tomalak?"
"It's cool," she assures him. "We're buddies now."

They make their way to the bridge, exchanging more pleasantries about how the treaty will benefit both cultures, and Tomalak says it's fortunate that Riker is well enough to go to the signing, as he deserves to see the fruits of his labor.
On the bridge, Riker pawns Tomalak off on Data for a tour, and he yanks Troi and Picard into the ready room for a harried chat.

"Come the fuck on," says Riker, once they're all seated. "You really trust this guy? Also, did I hear right that we're signing this treaty at Outpost 23? Like super-hella-secret Outpost 23?"
"Oh. Right. Crap," says Picard. "Outpost 23 is no big deal anymore. It hasn't been for a few years now. It's okay for the Romulans to know where it is."
But no time to worry about that now: Crusher calls to tell Riker that the son he met like ten minutes ago is now injured.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Riker rushes down to sick bay, where it is revealed that his kid has broken his wrist playing Parrises Squares.
"WTF?" demands the elder Riker. "You might have broken your neck!"
Crusher pulls him aside while Nurse Ogawa mends the wrist.
"Chill the hell out," Crusher advises.
"I've been a dad for pretty much one day, and my kid tries to kill himself," he protests.
"Uh-huh. And how old were you when you started playing Parrises Squares?"
He manages to look abashed, because he was younger.
"How about easing up?" she suggests. "Kid lost his mother, and now his father doesn't remember who he is."

Riker takes Jean-Luc back to his quarters, and apologizes for starting out on the wrong foot. He admits that his own father was shit, and that he really wants to do right by Jean-Luc, to avoid turning out like Kyle. They hug it out, and make plans to go holo-fishing. Jean-Luc tells him some stories about holo-fishing with Riker and Min the Mystery Mom.

When they get back to their quarters, Jean-Luc disappears into the bedroom to change out of his Parrises Squares clothes. In the meantime, Riker asks Majel to show him family pics. Majel pulls up a video of Riker and Jean-Luc.
"That's neat," he tells Majel, "but how about something with my wife in it?"
"Huh?" asks Majel.
"Freaking computer hiccup," mutters Riker.
Jean-Luc enters again, and after asking what's wrong, is magically able to get the computer to fetch what Riker wants. On this new video, Riker and Jean-Luc goof around, then a dark-haired woman brings in a lighted birthday cake.

"Minuet?" demands Riker. He stares suspiciously at Jean-Luc.
No time for that now, though. Geordi pages him to the bridge.
"What?" demands Riker, hitting the bridge.
"Engines on the fritz and stuff," says Geordi cheerfully. "Gonna fix all the things."
"Really?" demands Riker. "Just like you fixed the computer?"
Geordi is pissed. "I said I'm doing the thing!"
"For thirty fucking hours? Geordi isn't that incompetent!" Riker turns on Worf. "Where'd you get that scar?"
"Combat," says Worf vaguely. He isn't able to give details.
"How long between here and Outpost 23?" Riker interrogates Data.
The android pauses before answering, but Riker throws more equations at him, rapid-fire. Data does not answer.
"Sorry, sir. Some anomalies are interfering with my abilities, and I can't -"
"You used a contraction!"
Picard, Troi and Tomalak enter the bridge. Picard and Troi try to calm Riker, but he barks at them to shut the fuck up.
"End this charade!" he yells.

"Okay," says Tomalak.

Dramatic music! Commercial Break!

*le gasp!*
Riker comes to surrounded by Romulans, wearing the correct number of pips on his collar and the right comm badge. Wherever he is looks like a sweet burger joint hangout from a 90's sitcom. Pastels, neon, and abstract geometric shapes.

Also, why is everything pink? I'm reminded of TAS' pink Klingons and Tribbles.
Is the art director for this episode also colorblind?

"That shit was fake," Riker spits. (He's talking about his scripted life, and not the 90's diners.)
"Yeah, we did it through neural scanners and a holodeck," says Tomalak. "How did you figure it out? It should have been good enough to convince you."
"You guys tried to fake me out with the ol' holographic wife trick."
"No way," says Tommalak. "In your mind, that girl is real and alive, and you were in love with her."
"Still fake," snaps Riker. "She was from a holodeck program. If you wanted info on Outpost 23, why didn't you just use your neural scanners to get it?"
"Those are calibrated for Romulan brains," says Tomalak sulkily. "Human brains are different. There were gaps. So we spent a bunch of time and effort constructing an elaborate ruse for you, to get it that way."

That subordinate Rom leaning against the wall is killing me.

Tomalak escorts Riker to the brig, explaining on the way that the away team beamed down really close to the base, and it was super easy to divert his transporter signal.
"We let the others beam back up."
"They won't stop looking for me," argues Riker.
"They already have."
 He shows Riker to a cell, which is already occupied.
"Jean-Luc?" asks Riker.

"Bitch, that's not his name," laughs Tomalak. "We just used his image to augment your program."
The kid takes off into a corner like a feral kitten.
Tomalak tosses off some last douchey thing before turning on the brig force field and walking away.
Riker gets the kid to give him his name: Ethan. He tells Riker that he and his parents were at a station on some uninhabited planet near the Neutral Zone, and the Roms hauled them away, separating them. He also has no idea why the Roms are keeping him here.
Riker mentions getting them out of here, and Ethan says he's tried it before, hiding in a secret place for weeks, but the Roms caught him again when he came out to get food.

Tomalak stomps back in to demand the location of Outpost 23, and Ethan unexpectedly starts a fist fight with the Romulans. Riker just kind of goes with it and ends up with a disruptor, which he uses to stun a Rom in the corridor outside the cell. He stuns another guy as he and Ethan run to Ethan's Secret Base (No Girls Allowed). They close themselves up behind a screen, which Riker jury-rigs with a bit of wire.
The Roms run up and shake the screen.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

The Romulans move on, and Ethan says that the scans don't pick them up because of the rocks in this area. He leads Riker down a tunnel and talks about how the Roms forgot about this storage area when they redid their tunnels. Also, Ethan has a chart of the tunnels, which he explored previously.
They get down to brass tacks, cuz there's only five more minutes left in this episode.
Ethan points out the shuttle hangar, and Riker mumbles plans to get shuttle, but there's a snag: the system is voice-activated.
"Whose voice?" asks Riker, who knows the answer already.
"Ambassador Tomalak," says Ethan.

Oh, fuck. Here we go again.

"Oh, reallyAmbassador Tomalak? You wanna tell me how you heard he was an ambassador, when dude is only a captain?"
"Um, you told me?"
There's a pause, and the sound of a commotion nearby.
"They found us!" yelps Ethan. "We need to go!"
Wow, how convenient.
"Yeah, no. Tell me who you are, and what you have to do with this."
And I'm not even shitting you here, the Roms come bursting through the wall like douchey Kool-Aid Men.

Riker looks at Ethan. "You wanna tell me the truth?"
The Roms disappear. Also, the tunnels.
Yeah, it was All About Ethan.

Upstairs, Data has found Riker's comm badge signature on the planet's surface.
"You okay?" Picard pages Riker.
"Yep. Geordi and Worf?"
"Beamed up an hour ago, but we lost you mid-beam."

Riker says he'll get the scoop on what's going on, and he signs off. "Spill it," he tells Ethan.
So Ethan (not his real name) was left on this planet by his mother. Their planet was invaded, and the invaders wanted her, so they killed everyone and hunted her down. She left the kid on the planet with a bunch of scanners to keep him safe from more invaders, and a super-sophisticated holodeck program that reads his mind. It gives him pretty much anything he wants. But he essentially kidnapped Riker because he wanted someone real to hang out with. He set up Riker's program to give him the things he thought Riker wanted as well, but it fell apart, and he had to think up other stuff to try to keep Riker on the planet with him.
Riker is less pissed. "I have to go. But you can come with me."
The kid changes over to his real form, and says his name is Barash.
And... you know how when you see an alien costume, and you know someone in make-up and effects put a lot of time and effort into something, but it still comes off looking like an alien costume from a 1950's B-movie? Yeah.

Riker says he'll always think of the kid as Jean-Luc, then they both transport up.
The end.

I'm not really sure where I stand on this episode. There are parts that I like, and parts that fall a bit flat for me.
Things that worked for me:
- The disease that Riker contracts that reoccurs, and drags you back to the initial infection time, erasing all of your memories in between. That could be a super interesting subject to explore. I can see the Federation opening an in-patient clinic for people who lost a shit-ton of memories. Like a strange memory-care facility where you eventually are able to leave once you can coincide the fact that you lost a bunch of stuff in the meantime.
- Riker struggling with being a parent, and then committing fully to the idea because Kyle was a shitty father, and Riker wants to avoid that at all costs. He also admits to the kid that he had been afraid of the idea of parenthood, specifically because he didn't want to repeat his father's mistakes. That's good character development there.
- There are small hints that the kid is the key, but it's not overly obvious. The episode manages to keep the focus on everything else so that you don't figure things out as quickly.
- The kid choosing Minuet as his substitute mother. As Tomalak said, the algorithms chose her because Riker had fond memories of her in his mind. I like that that callback was included, and that it was the ultimate downfall.
- They didn't go straight for Troi, but had her life go in a different direction. She and Riker are still friends, and she coaches him through some changes.
- Riker's actions with the Roms landed him in the favored position of heading up the peace talks. Saving a Romulan ship was right in line with Riker's character development. Riker may hate you, but he's not gonna let you die in space. His attitude toward the kid was in line as well.

Things that worked less for me:
- Every time the program had trouble figuring out what to do, it was explained as a computer malfunction. That got old. Then the kid would have to do a patch himself. Felt a little convenient.
- The holo-ception. I was okay going along with it when it was just "Romulans kidnapped me and played with my brain," but it turned out to be a fantasy-within-a-fantasy, and while I was okay with that in the movie "Inception" (because they tell you right away that that's what you should expect), I was less patient with the "fooled you again!" presented here. I guess they started out with just the Romulan ruse, but it wasn't working, so they added the next layer with the kid. But... that's not especially satisfying to me. It's the same ruse, but with two layers.

- Fun Facts:

- If the plot point of "oddly convenient mirror in sick bay allows crew members to see how they've aged prematurely" sounds familiar, that's because it is: it was used in TOS' "The Deadly Years."

- For all of the TNG and Law & Order I've watched over the years, it never once occurred to me that Minuet and Dr Elizabeth Olivet were played by Caroline McCormick. And now I feel like a crappy fan of both of these shows.

- Apparently, the idea for this episode (Riker wakes up 16 years in the future, captain of the E and a father) was an instant-buy. Michael Piller was really into it.
- The only major change to the original story was the inclusion of the holo-ception. It had a kind of dream-ending, which Piller didn't like, so they added the Romulan ploy. Writer David Carren was talking to Piller, and Carren was not understanding what Piller was saying. "You mean Riker thinks that it's a Romulan plot for an act?" asked Carren. "No," Piller started started to reply, then realized that he liked the idea.

Gene Rod visits the set of "Future Imperfect."

- The title is a play on words. Past perfect is used to describe a tense that talks about an event that occurred before another. Here, Riker is dealing with the future, and an imperfect one at that.
- The scene in the turbolift with Riker and the kid was added the night before filming. The episode was running a bit short. Glad it was added. I think that scene introduced some good character development for Riker.
- Andreas Katsulas (Tomalak) was not especially comfortable playing his role as a person interacting live with other actors. He preferred to play Tomalak as a giant floating head on the viewscreen. (Sounds a bit like "what do I do with my arms in these huge sleeves?")
- The Romulan base was a redress of the Borg Cube sets.
- Interestingly, in the original version of this episode, Riker asks "Shall we end this charade?" and pronounces the word "charade" the way the British do - as shuh-RAWD instead of shuh-RAYD. It was later redubbed so that he says shuh-RAYD, but you can briefly see that his mouth doesn't sync right to the American pronunciation.
- This episode takes place in 2383, sixteen years in Riker's future. It predicts a lot of things that actually come true:
  - Nog would become the first Ferengi in Starfleet only seven years in the future (DS9).
  - B'Elanna Torres becomes the first (half)Klingon Engineer Chief in Starfleet four years in the future (Voyager).
  - Geordi gets ocular implants in the film Star Trek: First Contact, and his retinas are briefly regrown in Star Trek: Insurrection.
  - Here, Riker becomes captain of the Enterprise seven years into the future, though in the actual timeline, he becomes captain of the USS Titan twelve years into the future.
  - This false future takes place as the same time as events from the film Star Trek: Nemesis. In that film, peace with the Romulans has begun four years earlier. So... kind of right on schedule.
  - Troi wears the standard bridge uniform in this episode. She'll actually start wearing it regularly in season six.
  - Riker's relationship with his son is similar to the one Benjamin Sisko has with his son at the beginning of DS9: both had lost mothers, both had fishing as an important bonding ritual.
- This episode marks the first appearance of Nurse Alyssa Ogawa.
- Barash was played by Dana Tjulander. It is her only acting credit. They needed someone who was over 18, but very small, and she fit the bill.
- Tomalak will appear once more (on a viewscreen) in the series final of TNG.
- Andreas Katsulas is best known for his roles as the one-armed man from The Fugitive and as Ambassador G'Kar on Babylon 5. Along with his final appearance as Tomalak on TNG, Katsulas would appear once on Star Trek: Enterprise before his death in 2006.

Red deaths: 0
To date: 0
Gold deaths: 0
To date: 0
Blue deaths: 0
To date: 0
Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
To date: 11,000
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
To date: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 1
To date: 0
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Riker Moments: 1
To date: 3
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Troi Moments: 1
To date: 2
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 0
To date: 2
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 1
To date: 8
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 2
To date: 8
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 0
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 0
Picard Maneuvers: 2
To date: 12
Tea, Earl Grey: 0
To date: 2

When the dogs are crated, Aries takes advantage.


  1. So now I'm hoping that the new series is about Admiral Picard and his adventures in his personal Warbird.

  2. I just found these recaps and I'm super into them! I just became a Star Trek fan, and I'm not quite finished with TNG, so this is really fun.