Star Trek: The Next Generation

"A Matter of Perspective"

***

Air date: 2/12/1990
Written by Ed Zuckerman
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"You're a dead man, Apgar! A dead man!" Ah, how I remember and cherish that line from when I first heard it 17 years ago. It sums up this episode perfectly, in which a comedy of errors (actually a tragedy, but it plays like a comedy, hence Data being an art critic for Picard's painting in the opening teaser) is remembered by those involved in the way they want to remember it. In what must've been a brilliant high-concept pitch by writer Ed Zuckerman, this episode is "Rashomon in the holodeck."

As Riker beams back from a space station after discussing the progress of a new technology ("Krieger waves," not to be confused with "Kegel exercises") being developed by scientist Dr. Apgar (Mark Margolis), the station explodes, killing Apgar. Riker is accused of murder by the local authorities (Craig Richard Nelson), and the extradition hearing is held on the holodeck, where witness depositions and the facts of the case are viewed like scenes from a play. This is a clever twist on the courtroom show, and the holodeck is, I must admit, the perfect venue for dramatizing this kind of fact-finding mission. The facts mostly surround a perceived attraction between Riker and Apgar's wife Manua (Gina Hecht), which in varying versions of testimony has Riker flirting with Manua or vice versa.

The Rashomon effect eventually plays like humor, where Apgar, in three different versions (1) takes a swing at Riker and misses and falls down, (2) receives two punches in the gut from a real bastard version of Riker, and (3) kicks Riker's ass (in the most unlikely of scenarios). This third version leads to the hilariously over-the-top "You're a dead man, Apgar!" line. Riker watches the simulation and buries his face in his hand.

Who really killed Apgar, and why? That's answered in a final act that nearly drowns in its excess. A lengthy scene of exposition threatens to collapse under its own weight. The technical role of the Krieger wave converter (and its implausibly perfect replication in the holodeck, such that it actually functions) is ridiculous, and requires pages of explanation dialog. But the plot is exceptionally tidy, tying up all loose ends, assuming you buy into the technobabble. I don't, really — but, dammit, I like this episode anyway. It follows the facts from beginning to end in the true, verbose spirit of TNG.

Previous episode: Deja Q
Next episode: Yesterday's Enterprise

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81 comments on this review

Jay
Sun, Feb 12, 2012, 7:23pm (UTC -5)
In "A Matter Of Perspective", it is never explained how both Riker's and Apgar's wife's stories can be true, which they obviously cannot be.

Troi stated that both believed what they were saying, which just doesn't sit at all...again, their stories as to who seduced who are diametrically opposed. The episode throws this out there and then doesn't care. That costs two stars at least.
Powers
Fri, Nov 30, 2012, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
I'm sure you're aware, Jay, that human recollection is notoriously unreliable. Once Manua decided that Riker must have killed her husband in a fit of jealousy, she went back through the events of the previous day and re-interpreted them in a different light.

And in that reinterpretation, a stray glance that she previously might have dismissed became an appraising leer. A hand on the shoulder, meant to steady her, or push her away, became an attempt to remove her robe.

We know how Riker is. He probably stole a glance or two, and probably enjoyed whatever attention Manua directed his way. Maybe they even flirted a bit with each other, innocently.

And it's possible, he, too, misread Manua's friendliness for flirtation. By his recollection, perhaps, he'd been a perfect gentleman, but her memory pushed aside those aspects and highlighted others.

That's the way human (and presumably Tanugan) memory works. Troi was absolutely correct.

(And of course, if it was just a matter of "who's lying", having a Betazoid on board would end the episode before it began...)
Jay
Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 1:47pm (UTC -5)
@ Powers...

If we play that fast and loose with what the truth is, then legal trials have no meaning...certainly swearing an oath doesn't.

If you can make yourself remember things differently with time and decide that this new recollection is the new "truth", it all becomes meaningless...
Simon
Thu, Mar 7, 2013, 5:20pm (UTC -5)
Jay,

Correct. Eyewitness testimony is highly over-rated. Here's Wikipedia on the myriad ways a witness can be plain wrong:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyewitness_memory
You'll notice that almost all of the references at the bottom of the page are to serious academic journals.

On a similar note, Wikipedia's page on the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes has a lengthy section on "disputed facts", including several eyewitness statements compared to CCTV and other photographic evidence.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockwell_shooting#Disputed_facts_and_events

A highlight is that eyewitnesses described de Menezes as wearing a heavy winter coat (in July) and carrying a bomb with wires sticking out. In fact he was empty handed and wearing a light denim jacket.

There is an awful lot of evidence that human memory is extremely fallible. The so-accurate-it-works holodeck reconstruction is just about the only unrealistic thing here.
William B
Mon, May 27, 2013, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
Rashomon on the holodeck is indeed a great pitch, and part of the pleasure of this episode is to watch different perspectives on the same event, similar enough to recognize how the broad outlines are the same and (most important) different in ways that often, especially early in the various simulations, suggest how even subtle differences in behaviour can change the interpretation of a series of events. Certainly late in the game, the question of whether Riker tried to rape Manua is not at all a subtle difference (and that is one element in which the distinction is a bit too broad to be wholly believable) -- but the early scenes especially in which Riker and Manua begin to have a flirtatious back-and-forth exist on that perfect edge in which most of the communication is in subtle cues and smiles and looks of discomfort. Even the way Apgar gets knocked down in Riker’s and Manua’s versions of events seem somehow credible: Riker actually didn’t hit him but it seems pretty believable that it could all have gone so fast that it looked much different. The funniest simulation of all is the version of events as told by Apgar to his assistant, in which he has apparently narrated a version of himself as a total badass.

Actually, probably the most interesting thing about the episode (in a broader sense) is the question of what exactly happened with Riker and Manua. Again, he certainly didn’t try to rape her, but while it’s clear from the moment the episode begins that Riker didn’t actually murder Dr. Apgar, is it actually so far beyond the realm of probability that Riker started hitting on his wife? Especially when we know that Riker recognized that she was unhappy with her husband? The possibility that Riker crossed a line morally through his flirting hints at the ways in which Riker’s sexual aggressiveness actually really is unprofessional, albeit most obviously in really bad episodes. “Angel One” is the most obvious, though he was not the aggressor there but “merely” someone who slept with a head of state without much compunction about whether that’s appropriate (Exhibit A that Riker responds to others’ sexual advances very readily regardless of the situation); I also think his pursuit of Yuta borders on creepy in “The Vengeance Factor,” given how little she was responding to his advances early on and how subservient and passive she was when she did respond (though he tried to correct her, for what it’s worth). Meanwhile, Riker flirts with attractive women so readily and reflexively that it doesn’t seem at all unlikely that he flirted with Manua without even realizing it, or without noticing how this could be misinterpreted and thus get him into trouble. Unfortunately, this element of the episode is somewhat dropped when eventually revealing that Apgar tried to kill Riker and killed himself in the process, and when the flirtation between Riker and Manua turns out not even to be part of his motivation. Certainly mysteries all work around misleads, so it’s not inappropriate to have Riker/Manua as a red herring (there to provide Riker with a reasonable motive but not actually relevant to what happened), but it does leave the thorny issues about Riker’s self-presentation and professionalism pretty irrelevant. (It’s worth noting, too, that in Manua’s version Riker did nearly sexually assault her and was stopped by her husband coming to her rescue, and the fact that this accusation is completely dropped within the episode even when Troi says that she’s not lying is a bit of a problem.)

A good mystery should present all the clues to its solution throughout the story so that the ending, while perhaps shocking, is consistent with what came before. On one hand, the solution is so fantastic -- and so reliant on technobabble with fairly arbitrary properties -- that even though the clues had been stated earlier in the episode, it’s a little hard to say that the episode is really playing fair. All that said, what I liked about the resolution and, as a result, about the whole episode, is that it shows a real dedication on the part of Picard and the Enterprise crew to truth-seeking. Riker, Manua and Apgar’s assistant’s accounts are all distorted reflections of the truth, because humanoids are ultimately fallible in their memories. But by synthesizing all three versions of events together and combining it with technical information which Do Not Lie, Picard et al. can get at the truth, and a truth that is convincing to all parties. Rashomon itself was a movie which ended with the characters largely admitting that there was simply no way to know what actually happened, and losing faith in the world before finding some modicum of finding it again through discovering a child who needed tending to. This version manages to use the mystery-investigation genre to play a Rashomon-comedy in which careful work can discover an objective truth, which, as we all know, is the first duty of every Starfleet officer. It’s impressively Trekkian.

And yep, “You’re a dead man, Apgar! A dead man” is hilarious. Low three stars.
TH
Sun, Aug 18, 2013, 12:55am (UTC -5)
I always liked this episode as well, but in rewatching it, I admit it has some weakness in it. I think Jay has highlighted one of them; Powers is right to a degree, but I'm still with Jay on this one. I think the writers were trying to make a point with Troi's line that Powers is making, but the script went too far to justify it.

Eyewitness testimony is one thing. This is the testimony of participants, and it's not to a crime or fleeting rapid event. These are calculated decisions.

I agree that the opening introduction scene where "who checked who out" is in dispute and whether she was hugging the Doctor or being very cold to him is totally plausible.

I think it's also plausible neither quite remembers the minute detail of who first brought up the notion of Riker staying the night (although the fact that in one scenario she suggests it and in the other scenario when he suggests it she OPPOSES it, that's getting iffy on being truthful). The biggest problem, however, is the rape scene.

If he really believes she closed the door, he asked her to leave and she came on to him, and she actually believes he closed the door and started ripping her clothes off while she protested and declared love for her husband (remember, her clothes other than a shawl didn't even come off in his simulation), I'm concerned someone has some delusion problems.

Similarly, if he actually belives he never punched the doctor and she believes he did, that's a pretty specific memory for both to believe occured. That scene is where I can't believe
Doug Mataconis
Sat, Dec 7, 2013, 5:36pm (UTC -5)
One plot hole that has always annoyed me about this episode is why nobody ever checked Riker's phaser to see if it had been fired.
Rikko
Tue, Feb 11, 2014, 9:47pm (UTC -5)
Well. Not much to say. My first impression was thinking the episode was going to be very serious and talky. Only half right, the end result is very funny. Although I didn't get much of the technobabble. Overall, I liked it.

On Riker's behavior: I think he has a problem when it comes to sexual stuff. William B. you said it mostly happened in bad episodes, but what about the one with the bynars?

In that particular ep, Riker created a female hologram only to have a good sexy time. And then, they say Barclay has a problem with the holodeck...

Taking into account that I haven't seen all of TNG, I guess Riker's ways are never the crux of an episode, and this is maybe as far as they wanted to go on the matter. A shame, because that would partially explain why him and Troi didn't last long. He was always hitting on more girls.
Tom
Tue, Apr 8, 2014, 8:39pm (UTC -5)
This episode failed to convince me. The solution to the mystery wasn't especially interesting, nor was the journey to get there. I didn't really like the characters, nor the setting, nor the repeated scenes. I never really doubted Riker's version of the story. We know he's not a rapist and wouldn't try to blow up the station for no reason. There was no tension for me in the episode.
dlpb
Wed, Jul 9, 2014, 6:39pm (UTC -5)
Correct. Eyewitness testimony is highly over-rated.
---------

Simon, you don't seem to understand the context of when eye-witness testimonies are credible or not. It is not some blanket rule that they are wrong. In the case of this episode, it was not some quick fire event. It is a lady who states she clearly saw and heard things contrary to Riker. This isn't the typical eye witness situation. If she was placed in front of a jury, she'd be found guilty of perjury.

You can't have 2 stories THIS intricate and opposite being true. I really don't know why this is hard to grasp. The problem with this episode is that it had to somehow do away with Troi's powers, and the way it goes about it is unrealistic and stupid.

THAT'S the ONLY reason why they came up with that mumbo jumbo.
dlpb
Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
And this isn't even an eye witness. It's the actual people involved.
grumpy_otter
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 4:11pm (UTC -5)
Here is an article about memory. It is pretty detailed, but the basics are that memories never remain intact in the brain. They are constantly moving about and being stored in different parts of the brain--and changing every time they move. In short, memory--even of events in which we were participants--is NEVER reliable. The different perspectives in this episode are entirely plausible.

www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199501/its-magical-its-malleable-its-memor y

If you are interested in learning more, you should also check out the work of Daniela Schiller--she's one of the leaders in memory research.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Wed, Sep 24, 2014, 7:03pm (UTC -5)
Before this hearing/deposition/whatever you call it on the holodeck, shouldn't someone have contacted the hotel on the planet to verify that they'd made reservations to stay the night, even if they canceled or didn't show up? Irrespective of the whole eye witness and faulty memory arguments, that's one easily verifiable piece of testimony that's pretty critical to the he said/she said arguments being made.
xaaos
Tue, Oct 14, 2014, 6:21pm (UTC -5)
@ Rikko: "A shame, because that would partially explain why him and Troi didn't last long."

But didn't they get married afterall, Rikko?
Lionheart
Mon, Nov 24, 2014, 11:36am (UTC -5)
Jay really does make a good point. When I saw how different Mrs Apgar's interpretation of what happened was, I instantly realized this episode failed. I realize that perspectives can be different during the fact, and can even change after the fact based on one's personal feelings, but this episode didn't just stretch it, it spaghettified it. There is no way she would turn a relatively normal conversation into an attempt at rape. Aside from that, she had a clear view of what happened when Apgar attacked Riker, so I find it very unlikely she would recall Riker punching Apgar in the gut twice -- especially when you consider that Riker's version is probably almost fully correct. To go from Riker dodging Apgar's punch, to Apgar being punched (rather slowly) twice... no. It just doesn't work.

The plot would've been more believable if Mrs Apgar were simply lying about what happened. Of course, the rest of the plot would have to be overhauled to fit that, so maybe Troi would have to have trouble reading Mrs Apgar... maybe it'd work if she were somehow a master of deceit.

Overall, it was just another mediocre TNG episode.
Robert
Mon, Nov 24, 2014, 1:27pm (UTC -5)
"especially when you consider that Riker's version is probably almost fully correct"

Sure, the episode makes no sense when you ignore the premise! :)

The writers almost undoubtedly intended the old saying that "the truth is somewhere in between". Both Riker and Mrs. Apgar shifted the situation to put themselves in a better light.

Her husband just died and she's wracked with guilt for cheating on him. Also, she actually BELIEVES Riker killed her husband. Suddenly her mind starts to see his advances as aggressive.

In his version the advances were all her doing... I'm just saying perhaps they came onto each other and then realizing it was wrong both blamed the other person and started thinking better of their own actions.
Dusty
Fri, Jan 2, 2015, 1:35am (UTC -5)
Data critiquing Picard's artwork at the beginning is great. The episode is full of moments like that, gentle comic relief to lighten the tension of a story with serious implications for Riker. We know he wouldn't commit murder, but just like the crew members who all looked at him awkwardly as Picard left the bridge with Krag, we can't help wondering.

Then we come to the trial, where both Riker's and Mrs. Apgar's sides of the story are almost completely self-serving--just as we often see in real life. Like Robert, I think the truth was somewhere in between. Mrs. Apgar probably was bored and wanted attention, while Riker seldom turns down companionship from women and responds to them very easily. Particularly funny was Mr. Apgar's assistant relating the version HE told her, which involved him punching out Riker and the infamous "you're a DEAD man, Apgar!"

The really strange part is that some things that were said in each persons' deposition were similar, but they were said to different people. In both Riker and Mrs. Apgar's versions, Mr. Apgar's "I'm not the fool you take me for" was said to Riker, whereas in Tayna's version he said it to Mrs. Apgar.
mark
Fri, Jan 2, 2015, 9:13am (UTC -5)
I hate this episode so very much. It is one of the worst TNG episodes for me--I'd actually rather watch "Shades of Gray".

There are three main problems here.

1. The premise: we know Riker didn't murder anyone, but nevertheless, the episode portrays him as possibly sexually harrassing a woman. Even with Riker being vindicated in the end, it paints him in an unsavory light and causes the viewer to question all the previous "Riker romance" episodes that have come before--"The Vengeance Factor", "Up the Long Ladder", etc. But Riker having romantic dalliances is one of the hallmarks of his character and an idea the writers went to repeatedly. Now suddenly the writers are asking us to second-guess their own previous choices with Riker. The whole notion is just unsavory and the idea should have been vetoed before it ever made it to script.

2: The "perspectives": Contrary to the title the events that took place between Riker, the lady in question and her husband were not a matter of perspective at all. The two accounts are so dissimilar at key points that one side simply has to be lying. This "he-said-she-said' idea doesn't work at all.

3: The presentation: this episode was packed to the gills with technobabble. When you combine that with some downright unlikeable guest stars, there wasn't anything for me to enjoy here. Riker's accusers were lying, yet we're supposed to believe that his accusers were "telling the truth as they remembered it" (bullshit), and therefore Troi and the crew feel uncomfortable around Riker for the duration of the episode, as if he's some sort of lecherous serial sexual harrasser who's finally been caught. Awful. One more thing about the guest stars: I disliked all three of those actors. It could simply be that I would dislike anyone playing those characters, but I can't help but think that different actors in those roles might have made this episode more watchable for me.

Riker was exonerated of course, but this story just leaves a bad taste in the mouth and, if this series were actually serialized to any meaningful degree, it might have done some serious damage to Riker's character. It's easily the worst episode of the third season and for me, one of the very worst of the entire series.
Robert
Fri, Jan 2, 2015, 9:42am (UTC -5)
As someone who has seen people reinvent their own lives to points where they believe what they are spouting and I'm 1000% sure it's factually incorrect... if you honestly believe a guilt wracked widow couldn't re-imagine a consensual sexual encounter with a man she believed killed her husband with him as the aggressor you don't understand psychology very well. It's entirely possible.

Was Riker likely as innocent as he remembered? No. I'm sure (knowing his character) that she was the aggressor, but the Riker in his statement wasn't the hormone addled space stud we all know either. He freaked out about the accused murder and after replaying the events in his head enough times he re-imagined himself in a slightly better light.

As to the third story.... of course Apgar won the fist fight in the version he told his assistant...

I also don't think you could argue that this episode repaints any of Riker's previous encounters.... WE are witnesses to those. We were not here.
William B
Fri, Jan 2, 2015, 10:13am (UTC -5)
Agreed with Robert on this. My main real frustration with this episode is that I wish there were some coda scene in which the implications of the conflicting testimonies were discussed more openly, hopefully with Troi or Picard giving Riker a tongue-lashing of sorts. Space-stud probably flirted because that's what he does, and that's unprofessional and causes problems, at least when he goes too far. I don't remember really liking DS9's Rules of Engagement all that much, but one thing I appreciated is that the episode is set up so that Worf made a bad decision which had disproportionate consequences, and Sisko gave Worf a lecture over his bad decision -- which helps ground the episode in Worf's own flaws and the possibility of growth. The same could have been done here.
Robert
Fri, Jan 2, 2015, 10:39am (UTC -5)
@William - That would have been good. When an Ensign on VOY sleeps with somebody he gets a formal reprimand. When Picard's first officer's behavior causes a space station to explode there should have been a Coda.

For my personal view of the episode.

1) Riker flirts with her, doesn't see it as flirting, his ego probably just sees it as him being charming.

2) She responds and he enjoys the attention more than he should since she's married and he's supposed to be working with her husband. He leads her on. Later after what happened he sees her advances as aggressive and "loses" the part where he's personally responsible.

3) After believing Riker to be a murderer she re imagines her kiss with this "violent offender" in a more rape-like fashion. Things like this have been known to happen.

4) Apgar, feeling less than manly after getting knocked down by Riker tells the story to his assistant to make himself look tougher.

But in the end I feel that while Riker's part in it all was likely small, as first officer he should have known better and Picard should have given him a bit of a tongue lashing.
Elliott
Fri, Jan 2, 2015, 11:03am (UTC -5)
"...re imagines her kiss with this 'violent offender' in a more rape-like fashion...Picard should have given him a bit of a tongue lashing."

Phrasing boom!
William B
Fri, Jan 2, 2015, 11:48am (UTC -5)
"When an Ensign on VOY sleeps with somebody he gets a formal reprimand. When Picard's first officer's behavior causes a space station to explode there should have been a Coda." lol.

"Phrasing boom!" lol. I considered rephrasing "tongue-lashing" initially but then thought it was appropriate enough. It's even funnier that Robert repeated the phrase.

In general, the show sometimes gestured with Riker to pointing out the flaws that underlie the model of promiscuous masculinity that we see with Kirk (which the TOS movies did go after); this episode is one example, the embarrassment he suffers at the end of "Conundrum" is another, that he nearly brings on the downfall of the Federation in "The Game," that his ideal woman is a sultry fantasy hologram designed to distract him and that he subconsciously still thinks of her as real years later, that he's unable to pursue a mature relationship with Troi which both of them seem to want, etc. I feel like the show doesn't *quite* get there. That Riker finally does get together with Troi and is willing to go for a mature relationship in Insurrection and Nemesis closes out that arc, and is one of the few things that make me grateful for Insurrection; that he goes for his own command in Nemesis, similarly, is not exactly well executed in the movie but at least feels like an important and organic step for the character in a way that most of the events of those last two movies don't feel particularly organic for any character.
Robert
Fri, Jan 2, 2015, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
LOL! I wondered why I selected that phrase, it must have been stuck in my head after your post :)

And yes, I appreciate Nemesis and Insurrection for what they did to Riker also. Across the later seasons of TNG he got very little character development as compared to characters like Data, Worf and Troi (although he did get some good episodes) and I appreciated the movies fixed a lot of that.
DLPB
Sat, Jan 3, 2015, 8:32pm (UTC -5)
You must know a lot of people who take drugs then, Robert (and that would not clear them of wrong doing). I've never met anyone who has accused me or anyone else of something this serious and truly believed it. Had they done, they'd be in court and likely getting charged with perjury (Yes, this law does exist in the real world, and I doubt your "expert" psychological argument would hold any weight with judge and jury). See, in the real world, the law is clear on this. There is no way this lady could have a story this intricate and at the same time believe it to be true, when it is utterly false.

This is just yet more of your Knight in Shining Armour routine aimed at defending Trek writing, no matter how bad, everywhere. A running theme with pretty much every post you make. Someone makes a logical critique, and you then claim how it's entirely possible and that the critique is wrong. Just like brain in a computer - even there - you are defending the absurd writing.
Robert
Sat, Jan 3, 2015, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
The point is that people have been convinced by therapists that things happened that did not happen. Things more horrible than "my husbands killer tried to rape me". No drugs were involved. Every time you access a memory in your brain you can change it. Trauma can make this worse. I'm not saying it's likely, but if you seriously believe Riker's version is "the truth" you didn't "get" the episode. It's just that simple.

You've SERIOUSLY never had somebody tell you something that you know was not true and you didn't think that they were deliberately lying? There's a reason that eye witness testimony is not the favorite evidence of prosecutors. IT SUCKS!

"This is just yet more of your Knight in Shining Armour routine aimed at defending Trek writing, no matter how bad, everywhere."

I've complained about many any episode. Are you really so stupid that you can't understand the principal that if somebody horribly pans an episode and I agree with everything they say there's no reason for me to respond? I can start chiming in with a "yep, Threshold IS that bad" or "god I can't stand DS9's Risa episode" but what would be the point? If someone posts something I disagree with, then there's something to talk about!!!
DLPB
Sun, Jan 4, 2015, 7:39am (UTC -5)
I doubt anyone has had a woman claim murder against them when they didn't do it while SHE HERSELF BELIEVES IT, and then go to court where she comes up with a completely different version of events. She'd be jailed for it if her story didn't add up. She doesn't just believe some throw away slap on the wrist offence, she believes an intricate web of lies.
Dave in NC
Sun, Jan 4, 2015, 10:52am (UTC -5)
^ I think what you are forgetting something.

We all live in the present. To experience the present all we have to do is open our eyes and ears. To recall the past, we actually have to work. It requires accessing the correct mental "files" and playing them back . . . basically your own mental holodeck. We have to recall much of what our individual senses were receiving as input: sights, sounds, smells et cetera. That is a LOT of input to be made sense of and stored.

There are natural limitations to the reliability of memories. Keep in mind, we are colored not only by our perceptions, but by our PERSPECTIVES. I mean this both literally and figuratively.

Literally because we are limited by only being able to see what's in our field of vision. We cannot hear what is happening behind a closed door. And so on.

Figuratively because we live in the present and our mind isn't just experiencing things, it is also interpreting and storing those events in real time. Our mind must be able to tie the present and the immediate past together . . . hence the mental process of creating mental narratives to store this information. And what happens when the mind creates narratives? It looks for cause & effect, motivations to be assigned, lessons to be learned.

Why is this relevant to this episode?

Simply put: Dr. Apgar's wife may have honestly seen those things from her perspective. Her POV may have been obscured at key points leading her mind to logically fill in the blanks (her perception of reality).

Or . . . her thought processes (her marriage issues, her husband's career problems) were so distracting that she was only half processing reality moment to moment, only only checking in once something crazy happened that punctured her mental bubble.

And that altercation? Fights happen quickly . . . no two people witnessing a brawl see the exact thing because they CAN'T. It wasn't expected to happen. The result is everyone notices/fixates on something different.

Besides, I must say that I did find the way Riker presented himself to be just a touch on the unbelievable side. He was so chaste and earnest (in the holodeck recreations) it was like seeing a different character. I felt the implication was that, in truth, he was a little flirty with Mrs. Apgar. For her, a woman physically isolated from everyone but her husband, it was enough to interpret as Riker making a serious move.

I guess what I'm saying is that I DID find the episode plausible, the last time I saw it anyways. (Disclaimer: That was probably five years ago, so it's due for a rewatch).
DLPB
Sun, Jan 4, 2015, 11:43am (UTC -5)
There are limits on memory, but not to the extent shown here. So I once again repeat myself that this is the reason people are found guilty of perjury. Because memory is reliable enough that the courts are satisfied that someone can be lying. And this lady could not use the defence "I believed it" because that would not wash. The only reason we are here debating this is because a far fetched power told us that she was also "telling the truth". The whole thing is a nonsense.
Dusty
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 6:43am (UTC -5)
@DLPB: Look up any recent psychological studies done on how memory actually works, especially the one cited by grumpy_otter further up the page.
www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199501/its-magical-its-malleable-its-memor y

Here's my view: memory is flexible enough to accommodate anything we believe about ourselves and others. It's not an objective, independent process that happens separately from everything else in the brain. Riker sees himself as a great, charming guy who would never do something so unethical as to seriously flirt with a married woman--but I, perceiving him from the outside and knowing his history, think he probably did just that. Mrs. Apgar sees herself as an honorable woman who would never show interest in another man--but I'm certain that in Riker's case, she did.

Our senses may not be selective, but our minds most certainly are. In Riker's mind, every bit of romantic interest Mrs. Apgar showed in him was isolated and amplified, with him as the unwilling subject. And in her mind, the exact same thing happened with him as the initiator and her as the victim. This was not necessarily how each of them remembered things right after the fact. They were motivated by their self-image and circumstances (Riker didn't want to go to prison, Mrs. Apgar wanted someone to blame for her husband's death) to arrive at the "final" versions that we saw.

Why is it so important for you to believe that one of them was flat-out lying and committing perjury? By doing so, you are missing the point of the episode and the purpose of the writers showing us these opposing stories.
CPUFP
Wed, Jan 14, 2015, 9:03am (UTC -5)
This is an entertaining episode, if you do not think about it too much. The use of the holodeck for the recreation of a crime scene is a nice idea, though I can not imagine what the benefit for the court should be, but it certainly is of benefit for the viewers.

Jonathan Frakes seems to have a lot of fun with his superb over-acting in Apgar's story. Craig Richard Nelson also does not disappoint in his portrayal of the local official (just what exactly is his job title?). The stinger with Picard and Data in the painting class is subtle enough as a metaphor for the episode's theme. I was surprised to read elsewhere that this is the only scene of Picard painting - obviously I was spoiled by General Grin's TNG recuts on Youtube, where this scene is used quite often.

Closer inspection of the story shows way too many plot holes though. Why did nobody check the transporter logs to see if Riker had a phaser with him? Why is the rape accusation against Riker not dealt with in the court? And why is the matter of what happened between Riker and Manua left ambigous for the viewer? In the original "Rashomon", we do not know the characters apart from what we are told about them in the different accounts of the crime. But on TNG, we have seen a lot of Riker and will continue to see him after this episode. His behaviour towards women is always shown as playful flirtation, but with the unresolved accusations against him in this episode, this behaviour is in need of a re-evalution which never happens in the series.

My biggest problem with this episode is the resolution though. So the holodeck recreated the entire machine (not just as an image, but with all its inner workings) that Apgar had been working on? A machine which creates these ominous Krieger waves which inflict actual harm on the ship? Just how powerful is the holodeck, and why are regular civilians, children and guests on the ship allowed to use it without restrictions?

During the first three seasons, we have now learned that the holodeck is able to:
- create objects which can be brought outside of the holodeck (the water on Wesley's clothes in "Encounter At Farpoint" and the sketch in "Elementary, Dear Data") - though that could easily explained with the holodeck using replicator technology. But I suppose that on the regular replicators on the Enterprise, you would not be allowed to produce weapons or hazardous substances, which is done regularly on the holodeck.
- inflict potentially lethal wounds upon the user, even when the safety protocols are not turned off ("The Long Goodbye", where some redshirt gets a bullet to the stomach).
- create artificial intelligence which is self-aware and able to interact creatively with its surroundings (most notably Prof. Moriarty on "Elementary, Dear Data", but "The Long Goodbye" also provides a few borderline cases).
- infect its users with highly contageous diseases (that one episode in the first season where Wesley gave the whole ship the common cold after a holodeck ski trip).
- create a working replica of a machine which can pick up signals from outside the holodeck and turn them into dangerous radiation which has effects on the ship's integrity outside of the holodeck ("A Matter Of Perspective").

Not even getting into all the ethical issues of using a living person's image for programs which seem to be accessible to everybody on the ship ("Hollow Pursuits"). How are holodecks still available for unrestricted recreational use? From all we've seen thus far, they should be classified as weapons!
Robert
Wed, Jan 14, 2015, 9:49am (UTC -5)
In this episode they say the holodeck is a weapon about the same way a magnifying glass can set things on fire. The machine was supposedly just a series of mirrors that amplifies whatever was coming off the planet. It would not have been harmful by itself.
CPUFP
Wed, Jan 14, 2015, 11:07am (UTC -5)
I see that, but why does the holodeck recreate the machine in this way (in working condition)? A holographic projection of the machine should not be able to pick up the radiation from the planet, amplify it and send the amplified signal outside of the holodeck. Just like a holographic image of a mirror does not actually reflect light in the way a real mirror would.

Of course, considering the replication technology which is obviously in use on the holodeck (if it was all just holographic images, they could not ride horses, climb mountains etc. on the holodeck), it might be possible to really recreate such a machine in working order. This opens another can of worms: Shouldn't most equipment on the Enterprise be redundant? For example, why don't they operate on patients on the holodeck? They could easily create every appliance they needed. What the hell - since they really don't seem to be short on energy, why don't they just let their crew live and sleep in holodeck suites instead of quarters?

Basically, what I'm saying is: In a continuity-focused franchise such as Star Trek, the writers should be more careful with inventing new abilities for their technology every other week. I wouldn't mind so much if it did not affect the story, but in this case, the whole resolution of the episode relies on the holodeck having properties which until now were never mentioned.
Robert
Wed, Jan 14, 2015, 11:38am (UTC -5)
"Just like a holographic image of a mirror does not actually reflect light in the way a real mirror would. "

I thought it did! They claim the holodeck works with light projections, force fields and replicators. I always assumed when you were looking at a mirror in the holodeck that it was, in fact, a replicated mirror that would be "deleted/recycled" later.

"Of course, considering the replication technology which is obviously in use on the holodeck (if it was all just holographic images, they could not ride horses, climb mountains etc. on the holodeck), it might be possible to really recreate such a machine in working order."

This.

"Shouldn't most equipment on the Enterprise be redundant? For example, why don't they operate on patients on the holodeck?"

That should be obvious, A minor power interruption and the scalpel disappears. That said, the Doctor on VOY should totally do this, because if the sickbay holodeck is disrupted, who cares that the scalpel is gone.... the DOCTOR is gone!

"why don't they just let their crew live and sleep in holodeck suites instead of quarters?"

You could literally sleep while floating on air :)

"I wouldn't mind so much if it did not affect the story, but in this case, the whole resolution of the episode relies on the holodeck having properties which until now were never mentioned. "

I didn't find it a stretch, but I agree the holodeck opens up a lot of cans of worms. If you loaded the entire ship up with holo-projectors you'd not need ship security.

Lt. Paris - We've been boarded by the Vidiians captain!
Capt. Janeway - Computer, send 470 Klingon warriors to the effected areas.

I mean... come on! We can make an entire Irish town, we should be able to make a defensive army. Even if we could only make 50 Klingon warriors at a time, they'd be immortal. It'd certainly help repel an invasion force.

And for that matter when Seska discovered the Doctor was fighting the Kazon in Basics he should have just decapitated her with a holographic batleth. He could have learned how to use it as easily as he can learn to sing Opera....
$G
Fri, Jan 16, 2015, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
This one isn't good. The ending sequence is just terrible, with magic science coming out of nowhere to save the day (or at least, prove that Riker wasn't responsible for the murder). Then it just ends. A dead husband, a destroyed space station, a ruined scientific breakthrough, and no commentary on anything whatsoever. It's a Scooby Doo ending, like DS9's "Tribunal". Someone already mentioned "Rules of Engagement" which is a lot better. Worf may have not been guilty - in fact, he was set up - but his actions were still called into question. Not guilty doesn't = innocence.

But, yeah, why was this episode made again? Riker hitting on another man's wife even subtly isn't really out of the question considering he's bedded/nearly bedded about a half dozen aliens and diplomats to this point. Which is not to say this one SHOULD have made Riker partially responsible, but it should have at least acknowledged this character trait that's been shown so many times.

2 stars, barely. It's stupid but not unwatchable. It's easily the weakest S3 episode that isn't "The Price".
Josh
Fri, Jan 16, 2015, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
I don't know, the line "You're a dead man, Apgar! A dead man!" always does it for me. Some of the re-enactments are unintentionally funny, which is much needed in such an otherwise slow-moving and pulseless episode.
CPUFP
Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 9:41am (UTC -5)
Robert:

"I thought it did! They claim the holodeck works with light projections, force fields and replicators. I always assumed when you were looking at a mirror in the holodeck that it was, in fact, a replicated mirror that would be "deleted/recycled" later."

Well, that might be true for something like a mirror (though I really wonder why they call it "holodeck" when it seems like almost everything in there is replicated instead of projected holographically). But what about the machine in the laboratory? Shouldn't the holodeck just replicate it as an empty shell, which can be touched (and maybe emits some blinking lights when you press a button), but doesn't really have the necessary "innards" to function properly?

"That should be obvious, A minor power interruption and the scalpel disappears. That said, the Doctor on VOY should totally do this, because if the sickbay holodeck is disrupted, who cares that the scalpel is gone.... the DOCTOR is gone!"

I guess with a few tweeks they could make the holodeck's replications permanent enough to not fall apart during a power interruption. They can replicate anything else (except for Latinum...), so they should at least set up replicators at every workstation all over the ship, so that nobody ever runs out of spare parts. In fact, does the UFP have a manufacturing industry at all, or do they just replicate everything (well, everything that is mass-produced)? Again, they never seem to be caring for a shortage of energy sources. Hell, why don't they just set up big replicators in space and replicate their starships?

"I didn't find it a stretch, but I agree the holodeck opens up a lot of cans of worms. If you loaded the entire ship up with holo-projectors you'd not need ship security."

Wow, they really should do that. Would be a good opportunity to create the "whole race of disposable people" Guinan talked about in "The Measure of a Man". Soldiers? Hazmat workers? Bomb technicians? Why send in expensive androids, when you can just let holo-drones do these things?
Robert
Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 9:54am (UTC -5)
"But what about the machine in the laboratory? Shouldn't the holodeck just replicate it as an empty shell, which can be touched (and maybe emits some blinking lights when you press a button), but doesn't really have the necessary "innards" to function properly?"

I thought there was no machine. The episode text says....

"When you get down to basics, the converter is nothing more than a complex series of mirrors and reflective coils. The energy from the field generator down on the planet simply reflects off of elements in the convertor which turns it into highly focused Krieger waves."

It'd be like if the holodeck replicated the most powerful magnifying lens ever and then had a window to the sun. The "machine" was on the planet.

(Yes this is technobabble, but I thought it was at least internally consistent).
CPUFP
Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 9:58am (UTC -5)
Well, ok, that sounds reasonable...
CPUFP
Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 10:08am (UTC -5)
I still want my starship replicator and holo-workers though!
Robert
Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 10:57am (UTC -5)
Photons Be Free, you children of the light hating jerk! :P
Troy
Wed, Apr 29, 2015, 8:34am (UTC -5)
I like this episode, though my girlfriend didn't because she thought the different perspectives went to far into lying (which should have been detected by Deanna). While it does stretch the truth into the breaking point, it is actually closer representation of how feeble eye-witness testimony can be. It is possible to implant false memories in children for example, merely by repetition. Could Mrs. Apgar in a fit of guilt reworked it so Riker assaulter her? I actually think so. My example would be women who consent to sex, and then the next day in "Catholic guilt" repent and believe they were raped. People can and do delude themselves to make themselves the good guy. (Not to mention she is an alien) Like many things limited by the time constraints on Star Trek is a bit exaggerated (If I was the writer I would have made it more subtle) it does work and illustrates the thesis of the episode of different perspectives.
As for the Krieger waves, I see a lot of people have an issue with all the tech babble. I thought it was one of the more inventive tech issues, and lucidly explained for the audience.
Luke
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 12:58pm (UTC -5)
This is a good hi-concept idea for an episode which puts the holodeck to some wonderfully ingenuous use. The drama and tension are there, even if we as viewers know that Riker has to be innocent. It's also interesting to see the same events from multiple perspectives.

However, several loose ends are left unexplained by the time the episode is over. 1.) Why did Apgar jump to the conclusion that he had to kill Riker. He was afraid that Riker was suspicious about his attempts to weaponize his work so he wanted to put an end to Starfleet's suspicions? Well, okay, but I highly doubt that the death of the flagship's First Officer would alleviate any suspicions. If anything it would provoke even more. Apgar didn't think this through very well. 2.) Was there a "realtionship" between Riker and Manua? We get conflicting stories which are never sorted out. 3.) Why did Manua feel the need to falsely accuse Riker? What was she hoping to gain? It's never explained. Though, I suppose Riker should be grateful that this episode aired in 1990 instead of 2015. Today, the moment she accused him of attempted rape there would be real-life protests from radical feminists of the "listen and believe" variety demanding Riker's (and the show producers) heads, despite Riker being proven innocent. 4.) Why does Picard feel the need to grant extradition before the Krieger wave evidence comes to light? At that point the whole case against Riker is based on nothing but hearsay and conflicting he-said-she-said depositions. Picard should have refused extradition right then and there. But the episode wants us to view the case against Riker as damning. Why?

Still, all in all, an enjoyable episode even if it has these plot-holes.

7/10
Robert
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
@Luke - I'll take a crack at #3. I think she actually believed he did it. The title of the episode is "A Matter of Perspective". My 2 cents. Riker is a big flirt. She misinterpreted his "friendliness", threw herself at him and then was embarrassed when he turned her down. In her head she changed him to be the aggressor because she was feeling guilty and her husband just died and she knew they had fought. Once Riker became the aggressor and her husband was killed she believed he did it.
Luke
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
Interesting. So basically she's a little mentally unbalanced due to her loss. I didn't think about that way.
BigDTBone
Sat, Jun 6, 2015, 9:59pm (UTC -5)
The big plot hole for me is when Manua says that it was Riker's idea for them to stay at the station. Picard should have known immediately that was wrong, and it would have been a simple matter to contact the planet and verify with the hotel that reservations had been made.
Nic
Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 9:47am (UTC -5)
The writers were apparently very dissatisfied with how this episode turned out, calling it the worst of the season (really? Worse than "Ménage à Troi"?). I wouldn't go that far, but now that I've finally seen Rashomon my opinion of this show has gone down a bit. The beauty of Rashomon was that even by the end you didn't know what really happened. There was no obvious way to get to the truth. Here we get a "cheat sheet" - everything falls into place by the end, which reduces the power of the original film's message.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Sep 5, 2015, 5:25am (UTC -5)
I guess it was inevitable at some point that TNG was going to riff on Rishomon. I guess that in an hour's episode we cannot spend too much time on subtlety, which is probably why the witnesses versions vary so broadly. But nevertheless, there are some interesting subtleties in the recreations that flesh out the scenes a little more.

This was also a perfect scenario for the holodeck, enabling the story to be driven by dotting in and out of past events rather than in linear fashion.

The sense of peril is never strong - we know that Riker will not be found guilty. But as others have noted the ambiguity of his encounter with Manua remains. It is entirely possible, given what we know of Riker's dalliances, that 'something' happened between the two to trigger Apgar's jealousy. And that this is left hanging is to the episode's credit, as there are three sides to every story - yours, mine and the truth.

With some amusing interludes as well - Data's devastating art criticism, and Apgar kicking Riker's ass - this is a recommended episode. 3 stars.
Spindles
Sun, Oct 25, 2015, 3:55am (UTC -5)
Ding Ding Ding Ding ...
Ben Franklin
Fri, Mar 4, 2016, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
This episode is one that could've been awesome but was made meh by the whole "rape is a perspective" thing.

Anyone defending the writing of this and saying that a person could alter their memory so badly that they could actually invent a rape inside their mind can be accurately labeled an imbecile. Go talk to a rape victim. Go speak with people who have escaped rape. You don't forget that shit. The tidal wave of fear, terror, and depression that follows such events can cripple some people for years. Others can recover significantly faster but no one can just conjure up an attempted rape in their mind and actually believe it unless they were HEAVILY under the influence of some very strong psychoactive drug.

You really have to do some mental gyrations to actual defend the idea that an attempted rape is a point of perspective. No way, jack. It is a direct insult to rape victims to even try arguing that point. Maybe Mrs. Apgar might have remembered Riker being a little overly forward in his comments and gestures towards her but to completely invent him trying to force fuck her is absolutely loony toons. The writers should've just left the rape bit out completely. It comes close to ruining the episode for me.

Luckily, the rest of the episode is solid enough for it to get a 3 star from me.
Caroline
Sat, Mar 19, 2016, 7:22am (UTC -5)
@Ben Franklin
Sure, for someone who HAS been raped/assaulted they never forget it and are traumatised etc - I don't think anyone is disagreeing. But what this episode is showing is someone who WASN'T assaulted but unconsciously changes her memories of events to make herself believe Riker was being aggressive and she was resisting, when in reality she was probably coming onto him just as much. And Riker also changes his memories to make himself believe SHE was the aggressor and he was being 100% professional and resisting her advances, when in reality we all know he was probably flirting with her like he always does with any attractive female humanoid.

That's the point - we all change our memories to some extent to make ourselves feel better, especially when something bad happens and we want to believe it's not our fault. I thought the episode handled this perfectly. They could have copped out by making Manua's species "unreadable" to Betazoids so we'd end up believing she simply lied to implicate Riker. But they didn't cop out and it's a much more interesting episode as a result. It's a good character moment for Troi as well - she wants to protect Riker and believes he's innocent but even so she doesn't lie, she tells him the hard truth.

The ending was neat too, if a bit convenient... Holodecks are problematic in 1000 ways though so we always have to suspend disbelief in holostories lol.
dlpb
Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 10:05am (UTC -5)
Anyone defending the writing of this and saying that a person could alter their memory so badly that they could actually invent a rape inside their mind can be accurately labeled an imbecile.
----------

Precisely. A few people around here have completely lost the plot. As I have repeatedly said in this thread, a real life court case would actually convict the accuser. Real trials use eye-witness testimony - and this isn't even eye witness since she was the person in question. She would have been found guilty of perjury. I am not sure the people on this thread even understand what perjury is.

It is impossible to fabricate the memory of rape unless you have been drugged or are otherwise mentally ill. None of which the episode portrays the woman as.

I think the truth is more that the people defending the writing are just sad that their favourite show has some rather poor writing and are acting as apologist.
Chrome
Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 11:06am (UTC -5)
@dlpb

"Real trials use eye-witness testimony - and this isn't even eye witness since she was the person in question."

What? An alleged rape victim can provide eye-witness testimony. So can the accused.
DLPB
Tue, May 10, 2016, 12:20am (UTC -5)
Yes, they can. But you are confusing an external eye witness with THE VICTIM. A victim will always be an eye witness. Dear god.
Chrome
Tue, May 10, 2016, 4:10am (UTC -5)
@dlpb

Okay, then your complaint doesn't make sense. The only witnesses to the alleged rape were the victim, Riker, and possibly the deceased Dr. Agpar.

Interestingly, Tayna's hearsay witness might be acceptable under U.S. law because Agbar is unavailable. I have no idea about Federation law though, which may not allow it.
DLPB
Fri, May 13, 2016, 7:32pm (UTC -5)
Yes, my complaint does make sense. Let me sum it up for you. The woman would be charged with perjury in a real court. She is stating that Riker raped her and a jury would find her guilty of perjury. It's really simple.
Chrome
Fri, May 13, 2016, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
No, perjury requires specific intent. From the DOJ's definition:

"The third element of a perjury offense is proof of specific intent, that is, that the defendant made the false statement with knowledge of its falsity, rather than as a result of confusion, mistake or faulty memory."

Here, the victim actually believes she was raped by Riker. She may be mistaken, but that at worst is simply a mistake and does not satisfy specific intent. There's obviously good policy reasons behind this too. If every victim ran the risk of committing perjury because of bad memory/mistake, victims would be discouraged from reporting legitimate crimes.
DLPB
Fri, May 13, 2016, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
You obviously do not understand the law. If someone accuses you of rape, you protest your innocence, and the facts do not support rape (as here), the accuser is SENT TO JAIL for perjury. No iffs. No buts.
DLPB
Fri, May 13, 2016, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
You're another of these whiny annoyances that try to protect a bad episode and bad writing any way you can. Sorry, "Chrome", but it's over. The episode was badly written.
Chrome
Fri, May 13, 2016, 8:35pm (UTC -5)
Actually, I don't particularly like this episode. However, when people start throwing around legal terms incorrectly I speak up. But let's be civil. We both like Star Trek and don't need to agree all the time. If we all agreed, the discussions here would be boring. :)
mik73
Tue, Dec 6, 2016, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
Wait...what?

Very few rape acquittals lead to perjury charges against the accuser. Bad for the 'wanting women to actually report real rape without fear of jail time' business.

Does it happen on occasion? Certainly, but just like any crime, charging someone with murder, rape or perjury is one thing...proving it is another and could just make an ugly situation worse for all sides (or just be such a waste of time and resources it's not worth the bother).

From a lazy 3 second Google search using "rape accuser perjury jail":

"Unfortunately, the topic of rape is so touchy that many are unwilling to do anything about a false claim. Some prosecutors side with the false-accuser even after the evidence clearly reveals that the claim is false, believing it could be an honest mistake, a difference of opinion regarding consent, or a cry for help from someone suffering in other ways at the hands of the one they wrongfully accused. Moreover, prosecutors and law enforcement do not want actual rape victims to fear possible criminal sanctions for reporting legitimate rapes if it later becomes impossible to prove the case. As a result, very few false claims are ever prosecuted criminally."

Yeah yeah, don't believe what some schmuck posts on the evyl intarwebs. But this passes the smell test for basic common sense in my world. Of course this is Trekverse, not the real world. They've always played fast and loose with law, technology and consequences of same due to the episodic nature of it. I give them some allowances for entertainment value, but I admit this was stretching it quite a bit.

As far as the episode itself - The holodeck gimmick was neat. Frakes had fun. The rest....meh. 2 stars. Passable, not overly noteworthy or cringeworthy for me anyway.

Peremensoe
Tue, Dec 6, 2016, 7:55pm (UTC -5)
Of course a rape acquittal does not automatically lead to a perjury prosecution! Good lord. Beyond the considerations already mentioned, there is the simple fact that--as with any other sort of prosecution--an acquittal does not necessarily mean that the crime did not occur.

Also, rape victims are not necessarily eyewitnesses to the act. Recall the recent Stanford rapist Brock Turner, whose victim was unconscious.
Chrome
Tue, Dec 6, 2016, 8:02pm (UTC -5)
@mik73

Good points here. There's no purjury here in any case, as according to Troi, Manua was telling the truth as she remembered it. It just so happens she remembered wrong.
Nolan
Tue, Dec 6, 2016, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
Can I still hold a place in my heart for this episode, purely because it has one of my most favorite absurd line readings from Frakes, as Jammer pointed out. It always makes me chuckle. Probably cause it's so out of character for one, how it reveals the overdramatic, sensational, almost soap opera view the of the world of the viewpoint character has, as well as how they view Agbar.

Well, like they say, everyone is the hero of their own story.
Diana
Sun, Jan 15, 2017, 1:32am (UTC -5)
I'm finding it fascinating to read the anger in the comments here, embedded in the accusations that Manua was guilty of intentional "perjury" in a "rape accusation". Keep in mind, no one actually accused Riker of rape— the investigator never even implies that 'attempted rape' might be a crime Riker may face extradition for, and Manua shows no inclination to press any kind of charges. Riker depicted Manua as being an unfaithful wife, and Manua depicted Riker as sexually aggressive, but the only one who suggested Manua’s depiction looked like he was setting up to "TRY to rape" her was Riker himself (and after that comment the subject was dropped and they went back to the actual alleged crime: the murder).

Beyond that, my two cents:

As others pointed out, scientific studies confirm serious flaws with human memory. A grieving widow and her husband’s accused murderer would have different emotional/psychological twists to how they would retroactively retrieve and interpret memories about each other, while still believing their memories ‘correct'.

Also, keep in mind that what we 'see' in the holodeck simulation has a technobabble "8%" or so error rate re: what actually happened; the holodeck is recreating an approximation based on verbal recollections from the witnesses, and we've seen before how the holodeck can exaggerate or 'riff' on an intended voice command. This would be a big enough problem if the witnesses just narrated to an empty room or data pad, for the holograms to be generated later-- but it's also a problem if they see the holograms act out what they suggest in real time.

Consider the suggestibility of human memory— in real-life, researchers once convinced study participants via minor visual/written stimuli that they genuinely remembered shaking Bugs Bunny's hand at Disneyland (impossible, since Bugs isn't a Disney character). Now imagine the greater impact it might have to say to a computer: "We were standing by the touchpad", then vividly see a visually perfect copy of yourselves standing somewhere near a touchpad (but certainly NOT exactly where or how you were; unless the computer is a psychic or you have android-style recall, your arms and hands will be held slightly differently, your weight on a different foot, your head tilted a different way, your body closer or further from the wall, etc). Nonetheless, the vividness of the visual stimuli may override your own vague memory of what had been a fast-moving series of events at the time (plus you'll be seeing yourself from the outside, rather than from the inside where you were at the time), and you will probably say, "Yeah, that looks right." What you see overwrites and becomes your memory. The impact of the interaction of the witnesses with the vividly impressive medium they were using to record their memories cannot be discounted.


From there...

1.) Different memories of meeting:

We know (despite Riker's sanitized holodeck version of himself) that Riker almost definitely flirted with Manua upon meeting, because he's... Riker, haha. However he may see himself from the inside (probably 'proper', 'gentlemanly', 'professional', etc), we see him from the outside and we know from extended observation that he's a compulsive flirt and womanizer. Manua is depicted as a beautiful woman, so Riker probably does what he usually does with beautiful women: stares unblinking into their eyes and smiles at them more than at men. Which women (and jealous older husbands) notice. Manua would almost certainly have been sensitive to her husband’s (established) belief that Riker was flirting with her, which only would have reinforced her own.

So Manua starts off believing that Riker, a stranger, is attracted to her.


2.) Different memories of who suggested Riker stay the night:

This one's pretty straightforward. Any number of perfectly normal twists in conversation could have led each party to believe that the other implied/made the suggestion that Riker should stay, and that they were the one awkwardly accommodating the suggestion.

Now still playing Devil's Advocate, from Manua's perspective at this point it could be that a strange man is attracted to her, and has used his influence over her husband's work success to manoeuvre himself into staying the night.


3.) Different memories of who closed the door:

Riker remembers that Manua was showing him how to use the touchpad: he recalls that she showed him the environmental controls, and then she showed him how to close the door. Manua recalls that she did indeed show him the environmental controls, but that Riker touched the button that closed the door. It seems perfectly plausible that they were both standing close to the touchpad, maybe each with a hand on or over it; Riker may indeed have accidentally closed the door while thinking Manua did it (it was an unfamiliar touchpad to him), while Manua may have been flustered and thought he closed the door on purpose (continuing her interpretation of his actions as aggressive).

So now Manua is alone in a room with a strange man who she believes is attracted to her, who used influence over her husband's work success to manoeuvre himself into staying the night with them, and now has closed the door on a room with them alone together.


3.) Different memories of events in the room:

Let’s be real here. While the physical aggressiveness in Manua’s retroactive memory doesn’t seem Riker-esque, most of his words do— and both agree there was some physical element. Chances are, there was plenty of conversation that just wasn’t remembered word for word, and we’re only getting the ‘gist’ of what each took away from it.

We already know from Riker’s version that he believes there’s a mismatch between Manua and her husband; both accounts agree that Riker perceives the husband as work-focused and wife-ignoring; and both accounts agree that Manua referred to the guest room as her “sanctuary”. It seems perfectly ‘Riker-esque’ that, when he believes a beautiful woman has closed the door with them in a bedroom, he would (in accordance with Manua’s memory) ask her what she needs a sanctuary from, ask “How is it possible” that her husband is more interested in Kieger waves than in her, and speculate that she “Must be very lonely”. (Riker recalls that Manua said she is “Left alone… for hours.” One way or the other, they both recall having a conversation about Manua’s loneliness, whoever said what first.)

At this point, Manua’s memory has Riker holding her by the upper arms as he says these things to her (her hands at his chest). In Riker’s account, they are chest to chest, with her hands up at his chest, and he doesn’t seem to recall doing anything with his arms (but perhaps he was holding her upper arms to keep her at bay). Riker recalls Manua intentionally slipping her shawl off her shoulders, and him reaching to pull it back up; Manua recalls Riker reaching for her shawl and believes he is pulling it down. Either way, both accounts confirm that Riker did touch Manua, and went for her shawl, which was realized to be off her shoulders at some point.


Manua recalls saying positive things about her husband, which she may well have done while acting coy or seductive (as a sort of “Oh no, no, we mustn’t— but go on.”) Riker may have selectively remembered only the seductive things, while Manua (with the encounter having been interrupted before anything actually happened, and in the wake of her grief over her husband’s death) may have selectively remembered only the positive and praise-worthy things she said about her husband.


Anyway. From that point on, it's pretty much agreed upon that the husband enters, there’s a scuffle, etc etc. And shortly after, her husband dies (a shocking and affecting experience for her), and Riker is accused of murder by the investigator (a shocking and affecting experience for him), and… it’s really no surprise that Riker and Manua both sanitize their own behaviour in their memories in retrospect. Which necessarily makes the other out to be probably worse than they were, in retrospect… as each will remember that SOMETHING happened, but neither can believe it’s their fault, therefore each exaggerates the other's fault.


The point is— I think the writers actually did a fabulous job at demonstrating just how shocking it can be to be confronted with someone else’s memory of a situation we were part of (and the deep fallibility of eyewitness ‘evidence’ in criminal trials). And it’s good that Troi was there to verify for the TV audience that no one was “lying”, and that we never get to see the ‘real’ events, because that means we have to reflect on this ambiguity as the point of the episode.

There we go. My looooooooong two cents :P
Diana
Sun, Jan 15, 2017, 1:57am (UTC -5)
PS: to 'DLPB', just to reiterate-- I think you may have forgotten what happened in this actual TNG episode. Nobody was 'Raped', or even *claimed* to be raped, in this episode. Riker was on trial for murder, and Manua was called only as a witness to preceding events; there was never a suggestion that she, or anyone, planned to prosecute for a sexual assault. Riker was the only one who used the word 'Rape', when describing what he felt her holodeck-projected memory made it look like he was TRYING to do.

All Manua recalled was that Riker held her by the upper arms and talked to her about how lonely she must be, while she protested that she loved her husband. Then her husband walked in.

Riker's memory agreed that they talked about Manua's loneliness, but recalls only a comment of hers about it, not his own. He also recalls her hands on his chest, but not his own on her arms (but who knows-- maybe he reflexively put his hands on her arms to keep her at bay, and that's also why she recalls him holding her firmly, not gently).

If you want a TV example of a false rape accusation, or aftermath, try SVU. They've got plenty of examples of that kind of thing. But the conversation just doesn't apply to this episode of TNG.

Plus, the other commenters here are right-- it's a very rare case when someone would be prosecuted for a false rape accusation, because it's *very* hard to prove, and theoretically devastating for the likely effect it would have on the already-low willingness of actual rape victims to come forward.
tara
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 12:49pm (UTC -5)
The character of Manua - and the relationship among her, the husband, and Riker - is fascinating. It's a great set-up. Unfortunately, the writers were either too incompetent to do the thing right, or they got cold feet and went for the safe and easy play instead of the challenging one.

The plot is weakened considerably when the psychological interplay is shoved aside in favor of exposing the scientist's "true" and fairly out-of-left-field motive. If I understood correctly: he wants Riker dead because he plans to get rich selling his invention to an alien race for its military applications? And he's afraid Riker has figured this out, so he plans the perfect murder? Total fail, because the guy doesn't seem psychologically unstable; nor does he seem like a cold-blood killer, and moreover Riker does nothing to indicate that he's suspicious and needs to be murdered.

The episode also tries to have it a buffet dinner of motives, by going back to psychology and involving Manua's particular charms: The husband is driven to get rich off his invention either because Manua is an avaricious, hard-to-please woman... or because he's a disturbed insecure man plagued by irrational fears that she'll leave him if he doesn't get rich. And possibly he also has an Othello-like eagerness to suspect (rightly or wrongly, we can't say) that his lady cannot be trusted in Riker's company.

Are they Othello and an innocent Desdemona? Or is this more along the lines of "The Last Seduction", in which the femme fatale dominates and sets up every male in her orbit as a patsy?

So, lots of fascinating ideas that got overly jumbled up, leading to a half-assed execution. Which is really a shame.

My best guess is that Manua is I think meant to be a particular type of woman that occurs in literature and less commonly in real life: the dramatic and self-deluding kind who invents a romantic plotline with herself as the star. Blanche Dubois in 'Streetcar' comes to mind as the tragic, sexed-up version of this archetype (she's actually been run out of her hometown on a rail for desperate sexual encounters with teenage boys, but she still believes she's a genteel lady, and she hangs pretty paper lanterns over all unpleasant realities). There's a similar character in an Agatha Christie novel: she appears wearing too much jewelry and with much drama, she tells Poirot that her husband was murdered in the jungle by their guide because he had fallen madly in love with her (in fact her husband's death was an accident, and the guide thought the woman was nutty and unbearable).


But I'm not entirely sure of Manua. She *could* be a self-deluding fantasist, as I suspect, who's read too many romance novels and only imagines Riker and her husband fighting over her. But she could also be a bored femme fatale who sets out quite intentionally to seduce Riker, possibly to amuse herself and to rub her husband's nose in his failures. Or maybe it's more like du Maurier's "My Cousin Rachel" - Manua is possibly an innocent woman who has no idea that Riker is misreading her signals.

We don't know Manua. But Riker: we know him. We've seen him in action. He's a hero, yes... but it's not inconceivable that he does bad stuff with women. Maybe not intentionally, but because he thinks they're lucky to have his attentions.

That's where the plot is almost genius: as William B says, we've seen Riker in hot pursuit of women - eg Yuta - who aren't necessarily sending out come-hither looks. With both Yuta and Minuet, we see him happily pursuing women whose ability to choose is compromised: because they are not his equals and they are not free agents. So it's not completely unreasonable that he would cross a line with Manua. And it's not unreasonable that Manua would feel pressured and cornered in a way she interpreted as a physical threat of impending rape.

After Manua's testimony, Riker storms "I wasn't the one who closed the door and I certainly didn't try to rape her!" Troi immediately back him up soothingly. Of course you didn't! You're not that kind of man!

But this is where I point out that every date-rapist offers up that defense: "She was hot for it. She's telling lies about me. Nothing happened between us. Unless you find proof that it did. In which case I'm changing my story and insisting it was consensual. She's the liar. Not me. Never me."

I don't buy Riker as a flat-out rapist, but I certainly buy him as a pushy guy who imagines he's God's gift to this beautiful woman who's stuck on a lonely outpost with a boring husband and surely will be grateful for his flattering attentions. I buy him as a guy who misinterprets a woman's smile as encouragement to take things eight steps farther. I buy him as a guy who thinks the first "no" from a woman is pro forma, the second "no" means "I might be interested but I'm playing hard to get;" and the third "no" means "You're so charming and persuasive that you're about to convince me."

I don't mean this as an excoriation of Riker. A pushy guy isn't necessarily an evil guy, and the flirtatious game of "no... no... no.... god, yes!" is a time-honored mating ritual when played correctly - ie, when the woman is actually on the fence and enjoying it, and the man is following the rules of the game. Riker's not perfect, but I hate perfect characters. I like heroes to have tragic flaws. I would love to see Star Trek examine their flaws intelligently - and an examination of Riker/Kirk's sexual behavior among humans and aliens they're supposed to be professional with, is certainly fair game. In fact I would say it's brave, smart, and would make for great television.

One thing that would have elevated this episode to twenty stars would have been a different reaction from Troi after Riker's "I certainly didn't try to rape her!" I would have loved to see Troi just look at him for a moment, hesitantly, clearly implying that she has her doubts about him. What would follow would be his honest shock that she could suspect him of such a thing, even for an instant.

Here's my guess about Riker: It has never occurred to him that women could view his persistence as a threat. After all, he's never been a woman. He's larger and stronger than most women, but he takes it for granted and can't imagine being the smaller, weaker member of the twosome. He's also an armed man in a uniform with the might and authority of Starfleet behind him - but he never asks himself how that affects the objects of his flirtations. (Most earthling females learn early that males can and do assault them rather frequently, and that males in uniform, particularly, like those who share a frathouse, do tend to back each other up.)

Manua has another pressure on her: if this Starfleet guy wants to bed her and she bruises his ego, he may take his vengeance by ruining her husband's career.

Thus: he has various kinds of power over her. And while we know him as an honorable man (he'll surely listen to Manua's fourth 'No!" even if brushes aside her first three), she herself has no way of knowing how nasty he could get if she doesn't give him what he wants. (Aside to male readers: welcome to a woman's world. Been there. Survived that. In bars, on dates, with the boss, with the professor. Yes. Same as your sister and your wife, probably; same as your daughter.)

Troi knows this. The episode could have gone there. And Troi could have then explained her hesitation: "Will, I know you would never hurt a woman on purpose. But I also know how single-minded you are in pursuit of what you want. I was on the receiving end of it, remember? And I have seen some things, the past couple years, that make me worry."

Then we could watch Riker's response - defensive bluster, I imagine, and then maybe at the episode's end, when he's been proven innocent via technobabble, the final shot is him looking thoughtful. Or going to Deanna's quarters and hesitantly asking if she'll allow him in, for a conversation.

That stuff would have elevated the episode, but it could have been great even without an examination of Rker's womanizing. It could have just focused on the psychological dynamics of the triangle: Riker misreading (or correctly reading) Manua's signals; the scientist being all insecure about both his work and his ability to keep Manua happy; and Manua - the cipher - whose nature and intentions remain a bit mysterious and are left up to the audience to interpret.

Unfortunately, the aggressive attempted-rape scene was enough out of character for Riker (he's one of Our Guys so while we might be able to accept him as an overbearing seducer, we can't accept him as a violent attacker) that it effectively took the mystery out of the plot. It stripped Manua of credibility and cast Riker as not the potental wrongdoer but the innocent victim of an unreliable witness. Troi's immediate reassurance to Riker - she knew he couldn't possibly have done anything wrong! - was the nail in the coffin. What follows is a hard about-face into a courtroom-jeopardy premise: "Will our wrongly accused hero be saved from the gallows in the nick of time?" What I *wanted* to see was the show that asks whether our hero is actually the villain of another story... is he still a hero when he's out of our sight?

I can't quit without mentioning a few high points of the episode: Data's evaluation of the captain's painting was hilarious. And wow, the edginess of Riker when he returns to the Enterprise and we know he caused some of kind of trouble on the station. I never think of Frakes as a good actor, but I found him gripping in that scene.

So, with all that was great, and with a brilliant set-up for a psychological study and some hard questions posed about a central character, I am really sorry about the squandered opportunities in this one. But still, I kinda would give it 3.5 stars for its early ambitions.
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 1:40pm (UTC -5)
Nice write-up, Tara, but I think your analysis of the differences between women and men in the 24th century is missing the following:

1) While we are prone in contemporary times to assume without question that 'it's a man's world' and that women are always on their guard against a variety of ills including rape, hostility in the workplace, discrimination, unfair treatment, not being taken seriously, etc etc., we must remember when watching Trek that none of these things exist in the time period of this episode. There is no social context within which to suggest that women in general have anything to be afraid of; at least not on Earth or in human colonies that follow Federation principles. So a statement like this, which sounds entirely reasonable now -

"Here's my guess about Riker: It has never occurred to him that women could view his persistence as a threat. After all, he's never been a woman. He's larger and stronger than most women, but he takes it for granted and can't imagine being the smaller, weaker member of the twosome."

- might in fact be of no relevance in the 24th century. The physical strength difference does, of course, remain, but we've seen before in Trek that it's a major shock when a Federation citizen (to say nothing of a Starfleet officer) commits a crime or even behaves rudely. In a context where people do not fear for their physical safety and grew up knowing little of crime or intimidation, I wonder whether it would be relevant anymore to consider a larger man a threat purely by virtue of his size relative to a woman. To think of size as threatening would imply that a man might, at any time, decide to use force, and if that scenario was unheard of then the size difference wouldn't be a cause for concern. People would have been brought up trusting each other much more than they do now.

2) Nowadays showing attraction to someone can be taken as an offence, sometimes painted in the vein of "I wasn't seeking your attention, bugger off." This is especially so if a man decides to 'go for it' in trying to woo a lady and his advances are unwelcome. We enter the territory there of whether he's being courteous, or pushy, or tone deaf, or whatever else. But even the fact of showing attraction at all (in North America, at any rate) is a Big Deal and suddenly puts the subject of those attentions on guard unless by chance the wooer is just what the doctor ordered. But while Trek seldom addresses this directly there is evidence here and there in TNG that Federation citizens likewise evolved beyond the point where sexual interest or acts are taken to be this big taboo thing that must be made a big deal of. That doesn't mean there are no pushy or even creepy guys in the 24th century, but it is also probably the case that a guy 'pursuing' a woman would not be taken as cause for alarm in that time period, all things being equal. "Oh you like me, that is flattering but (yes/no), thank you." I think the TNG era is far past the point where anyone freaks out over flirting or overtures, any more than Uhura did over a racial slur.

Overall I agree with you that it would have been more interesting for Riker or Troi to doubt whether he may not have crossed a line after misreading a signal, and it could have made it more believable with her as a non-human since human/alien romance would probably involve a lot of missed signals in general and be a pertinent topic to explore. For a human woman in that era to panic over advances made by Riker (again note, in that era) would suggest to me something wrong with her, not with him. A Starfleet officer is supposed to be so beyond reproach that it would be a major accusation to suggest that Riker did what she said he did. As you said, it wasn't even remotely credible.

PS - I do think Frakes is a good actor even though he doesn't get a lot of acclaim for his performance as Riker. It's easy to miss how much humor, gravity, and presence he lends to all the scenes he's in over the series, and especially how he can be commanding and charming at the same time - that takes talent to do without it looking like anything.
Peremensoe
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
Peter, I think your two strands of argument are at cross purposes. You're saying, in the future, pushy attraction will again be more normalized, *and* smaller women will have no cause for concern?
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 2:29pm (UTC -5)
I don't see why those are at cross purposes. Why should it be feared that someone announcing attraction will resort to physical force? That may be a reality now, but I don't think it's a reality in TNG's world.

Mind you, I didn't say that "pushy" attraction will be normalized, but rather suggested that overt courtship would probably not be taken as a offence or cause for concern. In that context the word "pushy" becomes probably more a matter of not backing off when asked to do so than of being very upfront about your desires. So while harassing someone despite their protests would likely not be normalized, making 'a go of it' in the first place hopefully would be, so that making one's feelings known isn't the shameful thing it often is now.

The size issue seems to me tangential to the above, because physical size would only matter in a case of physical aggression and has nothing to do with good manners. A smaller woman (or species) would only have cause to fear if physical aggression was something commonplace in their society. If it was unheard of there would be no cause for fear. It may be truly difficult to think of a culture like that, but I think Roddenberry was distinctly thinking of the human race as living in a drastically different way than we do now. It takes some effort for us to realize that difference even hypothetically because the way things are now is so baked into our world view. Even the writers struggled to remember this at all times and sometimes painted individuals as being basically contemporary with us in their behavior. But taking that for granted can backfire when we just assume that a Trek character is a modern person set in the future. That's not what they're supposed to be.
Peremensoe
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
"Why should it be feared that someone announcing attraction will resort to physical force? That may be a reality now, but I don't think it's a reality in TNG's world.

Mind you, I didn't say that 'pushy' attraction will be normalized, but rather suggested that overt courtship would probably not be taken as a offence or cause for concern. In that context the word 'pushy' becomes probably more a matter of not backing off when asked to do so ..."

That's where we are *now*, by my reckoning (some variance for local cultures, of course). And when someone is pushy in this manner--when *words are not enough* to dissuade--some concern about physical force following seems natural.

If there's to be progress in the future, in the sense of the stronger becoming more sensitive to and respectful of the rights of the weaker, shouldn't that mean that simple words would typically always be sufficient? That a pushy person would then be perceived with *greater* concern?
tara
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 7:07pm (UTC -5)
Peter G,

I never thought of that. It's an interesting theory. So I;ve been trying to imagine the violence-free Trek world that you posit. Having given it a fair go, I have to say I can't wrap my mind around it. And not just because I'm a 21st century creature, but because of what we are shown about the 24th century world of ST TNG.

We see the high-ranking "Drumhead" character getting a bit crazy. We see in "First Duty" that Locarno - the Academy's best and brightest - will pressure and manipulate the people under his command, and Wesley will lie to cover up his sins. We know that as a young man of hte 24th century Picard was willing to get into a bar fight with the Nausicaans ("Tapestry") for the same reasons people get into bar fights today. We see Riker letting his libido do the talking with woman after woman. We've seen sexual jealousy (Data/IraGraves towards Picard). We've been shown the planet of "The Hunted" - and it's a planet that Picard initially wants to welcome into the Federation - but it contains one group of citizens who are trained to fight and kill at the drop of a hat and another group of citizens (the police) who are trained to use all kinds of violence against the first group.

We see, at different times, every character but Data exhibiting ALL the human emotions we deal with today, including jealousy, anger, insecurity, lust, grandiosity, fright, vengefulness, pique.

We see Tasha Yar's sister being on the verge of getting a fast-tracked invite into the Federation despite her likely PTSD from running from rape gangs and fighting for survival on her crappy planet. We see Worf, a highly trained and decorated Starfleet officer, barely restraining himself from beating the crap out of the Romulan defector who goads him.

Even though I can't think of an episode, off hand, where a Federation citizen attacks another physically (Except Ira Graves in Data's body, maybe?), it's just too hard for me to believe that emotion-based violence has been lifted out of society like a stain out of a shirt, when humans of the future still have rage, lust, self-centeredness, vengefulness, sexism - Ira Graves again! - competitiveness, etc. I think that as long as the emotions exist, the violence will exist as well.

I'd actually really like to believe interpersonal violence is much decreased in some happy future, but it's not going down to zero. And people will always have fear of getting hurt when faced with a larger, stronger, emotionally aggressive opponent - that's a necessary part of the survival instinct. Fight or flight, and all.

(Finally: you may have noticed that TNG shows a world with very much the same gender roles as we have today. Old scientists are still getting hot babes, and the hot babes are still devoted to their elderly husbands and crochety male bosses. Men like Riker are still chasing women while no one bats an eye. Women like Troi and Crusher are eating chocolate, wearing makeup, and getting dreamy over their romances. Male Starfleet grads can fight with fists and epees when thrown into Old Sherwood Forest, while female Starfleet grads were not taught these skills and have to smash pots and pans over their enemies' heads. et cetera!)

It's still an interesting discussion to imagine how human and alien females would interpret Riker's sexual aggressiveness, if we posit they've grown in worlds with next to no interpersonal violence.

I just can't swallow that initial premise.
Jason R.
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 7:18pm (UTC -5)
I think that if you accept Tara's underlying premise as applicable to today's world, you must accept its application to Riker. The reason is that Riker behaves too much like a 20th century man to be considered "evolved" in a way that Peter's point makes the slightest sense. We know Riker is this way because it's how he acts. His approach to sex is almost indistinguishable from his analog in a modern context. If it quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

A really gutsy scifi show could attempt to portray a truly different kind of man (the only example of this that comes to my mind that comes close would be the shower scene in Starship Troopers) but that's not Star Trek. This is where Gene's vision proves fraudulent - he seeks to show us a society filled with "evolved" people who nevertheless, behave precisely as we do in our time, which is a paradox. It's like Sisko having a restaurant with waiters and busboys in a supposed "moneyless" society - ridiculous. Not merely utopian in the sci fi sense, but actually impossible.

Supposing I accept the premise that modern culture is a "rape culture", which I guess is Tara's premise - for it to NOT be that culture anymore would require a fundamental change in not just how men feel, but how they act toward women. I don't know what this would look like, but that's the point - whatever it is, it's not Riker.
Jason R.
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 7:19pm (UTC -5)
Uggh, Tara beat me to the draw. Ditto then.
William B
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 11:10pm (UTC -5)
Well, I agree with Tara about the episode, particularly since she brought up my comments positively :). And I think Tara/Jason R. are correct that the show doesn't really present a gender dynamic substantially different from what we mostly see today --

And yet, I think Peter is right in what we are supposed to assume of the world in Trek. To use the Riker example, a modern-day Riker who was completely unaware that someone might find him overbearing or even threatening would be insulated from the reality of what women face. This could be seen as a symptom of the problems of a male-dominated society -- men have the "option" of choosing not to see what is wrong around them. There are lots of other "symptoms" that we can point to -- women having fewer high-ranking positions than men, etc. -- which are also problems in their own right, but in our world could be seen as part of larger problems. I think that the 24th century world is probably one where the symptoms are still there, because the symptoms are present in the writing staff and also because symptoms tend to last...but the larger disease is "cured," or at least in remission. That's what is being presented, is what I mean. In the 21st century analogue, Riker would himself be horrified if he saw an association between his behaviour and women being frightened of him, because Riker wouldn't think of himself as dangerous to women in the least, or as having anything in common with those who do. In the 24th century analogue, he'd be even more horrified, because those who do apparently don't exist. If Rikers can exist today who are non-violent but clueless about how they come across, I think it's plausible for Rikers to exist in the future who are even more non-violent, and even more clueless, because that violence is even further away. To the more general set of examples Tara presents, I agree that they paint a pretty weird picture -- it's particularly weird to think of how much Worf gets away with almost doing, especially, when it comes to violence.

I gotta say that while Kirk's womanizing was mostly played for laughs and as something cool, which only really comes under the microcope in "Wrath of Khan" where we also find out he's got a son in the background, in Riker's case I really do detect the show making fun of him, at least sometimes. I don't think it's seen as harmful, but there's a sense that he's being immature, especially since it seems to be a way to avoid commitment with Troi (or maybe Ro, even). I tend to think it's a mommy issues thing, not in a strict Oedipal sense but in a fear of commitment because his mother died so young and his father and he fell apart soon after.
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 11:18pm (UTC -5)
Tara & Jason,

You'll get no argument from me that in practice TNG was unable to portray the world that is oft spoken of by Picard and others in conversation. I think part of this was due to the guest actors doing their normal thing, the writing staff being diverse and not completely unified, and probably more to the point, the need to create 'drama' on a weekly basis that would appeal to a contemporary audience. This last one is pernicious because it constantly creates the temptation to show ugly behavior even in a world supposedly past it. Tara gave some examples of less than stellar behaviors, and to whatever extent they were conducted by Federation citizens we might argue that, being the basis of an episode, they were meant to portray exceptional and noteworthy breaks from the norm. This should actually be taken for granted, since we only 'drop in on' the crew when something exceptional happens.

Nic Locarno's behavior in "The First Duty", for instance, should probably be taken to be more problematic than the episode portrays. The real face of that episode is when Picard dresses down Wesley, as that is how outrageously Picard sees lying and covering up the truth. That the episode still ends up making Locarno looks somewhat heroic is, I think, a bit to do with the fact that it's partially told from Wesley's point of view, who respects him greatly. The shifting POV can muddy the 'message' of the episode, which I think Picard gets across nicely. It wasn't just some kids who got into trouble and made a bad choice; it was a real stain on the Academy and on Starfleet. People in that era are clearly expected to be better than that, unlike today when such things are bad but not altogether unexpected.

That being said I do think TNG consistently failed to show us the world Picard seemed to be talking about, where man had moved beyond violence, jealousy, and greed. Maybe it really was too utopian to show on TV, but I think that was Gene's intention. I try to see TNG's world through Picard's eyes when possible, and leave the dark underbelly to DS9. As far as Riker goes, I'm not convinced, as you seem to be, that he is a typical modern male in that he goes after women nonstop. In and of itself trying to have sex with a lot of people is something that's becoming more acceptable, and at any rate with a secular humanist world view there ought to be no moral objection to it, so long as the people in question are respectful of each other. Overall Riker can come off strong, but that's a question of style and confidence rather than force. I think there are times he made overtures to women he should have left alone, but even so I think assessing him as a modern man because he's a womanizer asserts an implicit premise that women are therefore victims of this. I would argue that in an open and equal future society that would be an incorrect assessment, and that all he's doing is frequently making his desires known, and leaving the choice up to them. I'm trying to recall whether he ever actually went too far and became 'pushy', so to speak. I can't recollect any moments like that right now but maybe there are some, which indeed would make him a flawed character in that sense. But calling him flawed purely because he likes women and isn't shy about it - that seems to me an all too modern assessment that has baked into it the premise of men preying on women.
tara
Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 2:43am (UTC -5)
Peter, I actually agree that Riker being sexually forthright and eager isn't a flaw. As you put so well: it's a matter of style and confidence. He likes women and isn't shy about showing it. And in general there's nothing wrong with that in the context of the show. It's a fun character trait.

(It did irritate me like hell in season one - because he was an annoying cartoon at that point and I thought his promiscuity, like Kirk's and James Bond's and so on, was presented as a positive manly trait that the audience was supposed to cheer for. 'Yay, high-five, Riker scores again!' )

However, in this particular episode, we see how Riker's behavior was interpreted by at least one woman. Troi says that the wife is not lying when she describes that Riker attacked her. She came away from their encounter remembering him as a threatening force. So we can no longer claim that in the TNG universe, Riker is not perceived as a threat, ever. Manua is our Exhibit A.

You and I know he didn't mean any harm... but yet she felt harmed by him. You and I can assume that she is a bit dramatic or has a screw loose in the wake of her husband's death... but yet she will now go forward carrying the memory of having been assaulted by Will Riker. Her testimony negates the claim that "men preying on women" is no longer a recognized phenomenon in the 24th century. She felt preyed upon.

And I submit that she couldn't have come up with that interpretation, if she didn't already have a concept that sexually aggressive men can be dangerous. She couldn't have invented a memory about a crime she'd never heard of.

So I'd say that most of the time, Riker's behavior is not a problem - in fact, charming flirtatious men make the world a better place (in my experience). But the potential for him causing harm exists. This episode serves up Manua as the proof.

As for my general feeling about the episode: I never meant to say that I wanted a moralistic ending in which Riker realizes his flirty ways are Very Bad, and comes to regret the error of his ways. Actually that would piss me off.... I had enough of hamfisted Message Shows with Symbiosis.

No... my interest is in the development of plot and characters, the psychological tension, the potential for a well-known character to be challenged when a mirror is held up and he's forced to look in it and see something shocking. And for us in the audience to see something complicated and unsettling that we hadn't considered before. I would have found that dramatic and intelligent.

Instead, the plot petered out. In the end, Riker is portrayed as an innocent man unjustly accused and deserving no censure; the woman's actual behavior and motives and character remain entirely murky; and we are told that the apparently sane scientist went in for a murder plot on the thinnest of provocations. And then.... the Enterprise just takes off and leaves the whole mess (including the grieving screwed-up widow!) behind, without a backward glance.

And in a couple weeks, Captain's Holiday will air and Riker's going to start leering about Rysa and its horgons....
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 8:23am (UTC -5)
Tara, it sounds like we're on the same page about this ep. I agree it had more potential and that the ending was too pat, based on a technobabble solution that removed the ambiguity from the table.
Peremensoe
Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 4:09pm (UTC -5)
Peter G.: "That being said I do think TNG consistently failed to show us the world Picard seemed to be talking about, where man had moved beyond violence, jealousy, and greed."

Or, Picard is actually mistaken, slightly blinded by his idealism and by spending too much time in a bubble of Starfleet's best.
RandomThoughts
Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 9:38pm (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone

This has been an interesting discussion, and is what I hope for when I visit the site.

My sideways thoughts are this: While the Federation has high ideals, and Earth has been made quite a utopia, not every Earther is on board with their way of thinking. And I say this because they have Penal Colonies. The inmates cannot just be aliens who crossed the line, or folks who think themselves Patriots fighting against two larger bullies, but are also regular folks who have done something wrong along the way.

They never have a reason to tell us what the people in their jails have done, but I'd have to think there would be at least a few murderers, some guilty of assault, and a couple rapists. Now, they have made great inroads towards how they treat one another, but even Kirk mentioned something about killing and how we fight it, in A Taste of Armageddon: "All right. It's instinctive. But the instinct can be fought. We're human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit that we're killers, but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes. Knowing that we won't kill... today."

I think the only way every Earther would be perfect would be with genetic tinkering, and they outlawed that after the Eugenics War. Yes, they are much more enlightened than we are, but there are always those that fall through the cracks, no matter how small they are. Heck, they have a Judge Advocate General office, with prosecutors. Wesley famously said "I'm with StarFleet; we don't lie", then he lied in a later episode.

Do most of us believe Riker to be a predator? Probably not. But in a different set of circumstances, in another life, who knows? And Manua is from a different culture. Riker's little smiles and voice tones might have scared her silly.

Perhaps they aren't all that different from us after all, they just think they are...

Have a great day Everyone... RT
K9T
Fri, Mar 17, 2017, 12:31am (UTC -5)
To the original poster on this thread: "In "A Matter Of Perspective", it is never explained how both Riker's and Apgar's wife's stories can be true, which they obviously cannot be."

You really must go watch Rashomon to understand this. And, even though in objective reality, they of course cannot both be true, the entire point of Rashomon (and this episode) is that our perceptions of reality can see it as true (without guile, lie, or deceit) even when faced with a contradictory point of view (which is also seen as truth by the holder of this contradictory viewpoint).

Sadly, the skill and empathy to understand that this is the case is missing in the current era of "If you aren't my ally you are my mortal enemy" politics that plagues the world these days.

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