Jammer's Review

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

Season Index

48 comments on this review

Jay - Sun, Feb 12, 2012 - 7:23pm (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
@ 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 (USA Central)

Correct. Eyewitness testimony is highly over-rated. Here's Wikipedia on the myriad ways a witness can be plain wrong:
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.

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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
And this isn't even an eye witness. It's the actual people involved.
grumpy_otter - Mon, Aug 18, 2014 - 4:11pm (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
@ 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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
"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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
@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 (USA Central)
"...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 (USA Central)
"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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
^ 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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
@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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
"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."


"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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)

"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 (USA Central)
"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 (USA Central)
Well, ok, that sounds reasonable...
CPUFP - Tue, Jan 20, 2015 - 10:08am (USA Central)
I still want my starship replicator and holo-workers though!
Robert - Tue, Jan 20, 2015 - 10:57am (USA Central)
Photons Be Free, you children of the light hating jerk! :P
Troy - Wed, Apr 29, 2015 - 8:34am (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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.

Robert - Tue, Jun 2, 2015 - 2:26pm (USA Central)
@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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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.

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