Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Remember Me"

***1/2

Air date: 10/22/1990
Written by Lee Sheldon
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

After Borg and family matters, TNG turns back to conceptual techie sci-fi when Wesley's experiments with a "warp bubble" have bizarre consequences for the ship and/or Wesley's mother. (Hint: "And/or" is a clue that this story is not what it seems.) There's a flash of light, and suddenly people start to go missing from Beverly Crusher's world. It starts with her visiting old friend, Dr. Quaice (Bill Erwin). He vanishes without a trace, along with all records pertaining to his visit and, for that matter, his entire life and career. There's nothing to suggest he ever existed, except Crusher's say-so. Before long, more go missing, including Crusher's medical staff and most the crew. No one but Crusher notices any difference; to them it has always been this way.

"Remember Me" is a clever and inventive depiction of how well-argued logic and personal conviction prove useless when the physical evidence doesn't support them. Crusher can talk and talk and make perfect sense from her point of view, but she comes across to everybody else as delusional because they can't see the proof of her assertions. As a mystery, the story is deftly structured: It gives you hints about the true nature of What's Wrong Here (is it Crusher, the universe, or the fact that Crusher is in another universe?) but it never completely tips its hand until we have completely identified with Crusher's state of mind — which is one of increasing panic as the entire universe seems to be slipping away. Meanwhile, energy vortexes appear out of nowhere and threaten to suck her in.

To me, the absurd highlight of the episode is the scene on the bridge where Crusher and Picard are the only people left — in the universe, it would seem. Crusher tries with pure logic to destroy the notion that the universe consists of two people cruising around in a starship. And yet Picard assures her that's exactly what the universe is. He completely believes it. If such a cosmic joke were happening to you, you would go mad.

The twist (nicely executed but not played for suspense or surprise, as that would be self-defeating) is that Crusher is trapped in a micro-universe created by her own mind as a side effect of Wesley's "warp bubble" experiment. The vortexes are actually the crew's attempts to retrieve her. When that fails, the story turns to more metaphysical matters involving the reappearance, in a nice bit of continuity, of the Traveler (see "Where No One Has Gone Before"), who helps Wesley bring his mother back to the real universe through methods that transcend space and time. "Remember Me" has no shortage of exposition or technobabble, but as these things go, it's one of the most purely intriguing.

Previous episode: Suddenly Human
Next episode: Legacy

Season Index

23 comments on this review

Phil - Mon, Mar 10, 2008 - 6:29am (USA Central)
Great reviews, Jammer. I've been a lurker on your site for years and it's a treat to see your take on TNG in its prime.

Having read all of your previous Trek reviews I was surprised to find you more forgiving of the Traveler than I expected - both in your review of "Remember Me" and in Season One's "Where No One Has Gone Before". While I certainly admire continuity touches I can't believe that of all the elements the producers could (and did) have recur in TNG they picked that guy. I just never liked this character on any level. I find Eric Menyuk's delivery irritating. (Thank Roddenberry that guy wasn't cast as Data!) His whole vague sponsorship of Wesley's odyssey into heightened planes of consciousness or whatever smacks to me of half baked writing at best. At least Riker delivered the annoyed line "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" when the Traveller gets metaphysical in describing Beverly's predicament.

I guess to me The Traveller was the living embodiment of the failings of how the Wesley character was handled by TNG which, of course, culminated in Season Seven's "Journey's End". After the compelling, flawed and very human Wesley Crusher of "The First Duty" we get The Traveller to come back to tell us that Wesley isn't just Mozart with a tricorder - he's better than your whole species! He can freeze time and shit - he's almost a frakkin' Q!!

Anyway keep up the good work and can't wait to see your opinions on the rest of the series...
James - Tue, Mar 11, 2008 - 3:41am (USA Central)
Remember Me was probably my favourite stand alone episode of the season. I re-watched TNG recently and had somehow had missed this episode in the shows original run.

I loved the desperate, confusing and maddening scenario Crusher was thrown into and the battle of logic versus fact which she was confronted with. Particularly interesting was the part where she was alone on the bridge challenging the computer about the nature of the universe only to have it respond that the universe is a sphere 645m in diameter

There aren't a great deal of episodes which use Crusher effectively, but this was one of them
Luke - Sat, Mar 15, 2008 - 1:09am (USA Central)
Remember Me was one of the most maddeningly fun episodes of TNG for me. Some of the back and forth dialog between Crusher and the computer near the end was great. It's nice seeing the positive comments for the episode.

Philip Reynolds - Wed, Mar 19, 2008 - 10:28am (USA Central)
I only saw Remember Me the once, when it first aired in the UK; but I still recall my glee at the computer's line towards the end, when Beverley's micro-universe has collapsed to the point where it's smaller than the Enterprise. When she demands to know why the Enterprise is starting to break up, the computer pauses for half a second - then replies "Flaw in ship's design".
Jake - Sat, Mar 22, 2008 - 8:41am (USA Central)
Regarding Phil's dislike of Wesley's Q-like state in "Journey's End": I agree Wesley's character wasn't as compelling in that episode as he was in "The First Duty," but was it really any worse than Sisko becoming a Prophet on DS9?
Phil - Mon, Jun 30, 2008 - 3:07am (USA Central)
To Jake RE: Sisko becoming a Prophet no worse than Wesley becoming a Traveler... (I see you posted this months ago but hadn't been to the site for awhile)

I think "What You Leave Behind" was an outstanding finale. However, the resolution to Sisko's story and his transformation are, for me, one of the weaker points of the episode. Having said that I do think the Wesley Crusher storyline is much worse.

Benjamin Sisko was the central figure of an epic seven season story arc. I don't believe the writers started out knowing that he was the child of a Prophet whose destiny was to one day return to the Celestial Temple. But when they decided to go that direction late in the series it didn't, to me, feel wildly out of place with what we had seen before. In the pilot "Emissary" he had no desire to have anything to do with Bajor and couldn't move beyond the loss of his wife. Only when he encounters the Prophets does he find the drive to begin a new journey. And along the way he resists, begins to accept and eventually champions the role of the Emissary. When the war is over and the Pah-wraiths are vanquished his return to the Temple seems to thematically parallel Odo's rejoining to the Great Link and even, to a lesser extent, Worf's return to the Klingon homeworld (which the shitty "Star Trek: Nemesis" rendered meaningless) and O'Brien's return to Earth.

Wesley's character arc is not nearly so epic or consistent. To me the decision to make him an interdimensional being felt arbitrary. I realize that, as with Sisko, the seeds had been planted for that destiny seven years before but Wesley only regularly appeared on the show for less than half of its run. I just don't believe the producers ever had a good handle on what to do with the character. I think Wesley Crusher was an unwanted inheritance from Gene Roddenberry that Berman and Co. eventually stuck on a fold out table in a galactic yard sale with a Post-it that said "1 Bar of Gold Pressed Latinum or Best Offer". And I just didn't buy it.
Jake - Mon, Jul 7, 2008 - 1:53pm (USA Central)
Phil,
I still don't think Sisko's 'evolution' into an interdimensional being was any better than Wesley's.
Sisko having a bond with the Prophets was one thing but for them to pull a Darth Vader/"I am your mother" revelation on him toward the end of the series was just too much.
Sisko should've either died heroically fighting Dukat or the final shot should've been him & Jake staring out that window.
Elliott - Tue, Sep 7, 2010 - 11:15pm (USA Central)
Oh Jammer...

I've only just begun to delve into your TNG reviews and I'm not optimistic--it colours your view on everything else..."Remember Me" is one of the worst episodes of trek EVER! It's poorly acted, pointless in every regard, contrived, and purports a seriousness that it can't begin to deliver upon--Beverly flying sideways on the bridge...c'mon seriously? Troi's speech about acting in the best interest of the crew...really? And "Redemption" is possibly better than BOBW, and it gets 2.5 stars...really?

I'm disappointed.
Craig - Sat, Sep 11, 2010 - 10:14am (USA Central)
"I'm disappointed."

By what? The fact that someone has a different opinion?
Jammer - Sat, Sep 11, 2010 - 12:12pm (USA Central)
"And 'Redemption' is possibly better than BOBW, and it gets 2.5 stars...really?"

I gave "Redemption" 3 stars.
Elliott - Sun, Sep 26, 2010 - 2:43pm (USA Central)
@Jammer I could have sworn that part II got 2.5, my bad. It is still possibly better than BOBW, which would mean it should get 4 stars, no?

@Craig Actually, I'm disappointed because I have found myself in strong disagreement with many of Jammer's VOY and DS9 reviews, but I was hoping that in a series which we both love, there might have been more harmony. Everyone is entitled to his opinion, even if it's wrong.
Corey - Wed, Apr 25, 2012 - 10:37am (USA Central)
I just wanted to say I too love this episode as well. I never skip it when rewatching the TNG series on DVDs. There is some really amusing lines and dialog in it, like when Beverly says she's the only one on the ship? The computer replies in the affirmative, then she says does she have the qualifications for it? When the computer fesses she doesn't, she says I got you.

I loved the scene on the bridge where Beverly tries to convince Picard that there should be many more people on the large starship then just her and Picard and Picard replies deadpan "We never needed others before."

I agree with Jammer's rating on this one.
Mike Caracappa - Wed, Sep 26, 2012 - 6:11am (USA Central)
The scene between her and Picard on the bridge being the only 2 people left in the universe is one of my all time favorite TNG moments. I also remember when this episode first aired, I was 8 years old and the scenes of Beverly being chased down the corridors by white nothingness scared the crap out of me.
xaaos - Mon, Dec 10, 2012 - 3:51pm (USA Central)
I liked this episode, it had some nice moments, except when Wesley starting pressing blindly buttons. That was lame.

Riker's annoyed tone in his "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" line was pure epic. I like this guy.

T'Paul - Fri, May 31, 2013 - 11:13am (USA Central)
Ditto for the "what the hell is that supposed to mean line".

The bits about the dimensions of the universe and the crew complement of the Enterprise were amusing too, and, once again, TNG does what Voyager never could, a high concept episode that is coherent with its own premises, and although it has a quick fix, isn't so reset button-ish or easy.

Ditto as well with being glad that the Traveller didn't get the Data character.
William B - Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - 12:19pm (USA Central)
Note: the way I tend to read texts, including TV shows, is to tend to try to find what meaning I find there and not try to worry too much if it was authorially intended. I mention this now because this episode I think is especially neat -- but it's especially hard to know how much the writing staff were thinking about these things, or whether they caught these things subconsciously, or not at all. I also don't know how much they planned to return to Wesley and the Traveller again.

I love this episode too. I think it's probably second only to "Cause and Effect" in terms of pure tech-centric episodes, though I do think this has a greater character core and resonance. What this episode does is in the best tradition of SF, and especially television SF (especially "The Twilight Zone"), in which it uses an extreme high-concept to illustrate an extremely specific emotion that almost any straightforward drama would not be able to represent directly without being "burdened" by the more general associations.

There are, I think, two central themes for the Beverly side of things, which do dovetail with each other fairly well (though not perfectly). One is what Jammer describes -- the demonstration of Beverly applying sound logic to her situation, and still being unable to get through to those around her. This leads to the great absurdist humour that runs throughout everything, as well as the fantastic sequence after the ship has been emptied of everyone but Beverly and the computer, and she does everything she can to work out the problem by herself. The Traveller's repeated words to Wesley -- that he can open the door for him, but only Wesley can walk through it -- also apply to what Wesley does for his mother, for while it's Wesley who "saves" her, it's really Beverly who does the hard work of figuring out that she is being saved, and she does so through the application of logic and deduction. With the possible exception of Data and Wesley (who is not much longer for the ship anyway), Crusher is the cast member most obviously dedicated to scientific pursuits, though her focus is on life rather than physical science. Since the entire Beverly plotline, ultimately, takes place within her mind, it is a pleasure to watch her struggle against the trap that her mind has created for her *emotionally* (i.e. emotionally, she has created a scenario in which no one but her remembers those missing and thus no one but her is capable of seeing the absurdity and illogic of what is happening) by punching her way out intellectually and through careful understanding of what has happened to her.

The second is the theme that the episode itself announces more directly -- whereby Beverly is thinking about Dr. Quaice's words when she enters the warp bubble. To wit:

"QUAICE: We had a lifetime together, doing all the things we'd ever dreamed, and more. But when she was gone, I couldn't continue to work in that office, sleep in that bed without her. The absence of her was too distracting. I'm not sure that I'm making any sense.
CRUSHER: Jack and I didn't have a lifetime together, only a few short years, but I understand. When you realise someone you love is lost forever
QUAICE: You know what the worst part of growing old is? So many of the people you've known all your life are gone and you realise you didn't take the time to appreciate them while you still could. Oh, I'm sorry. There was no reason to heap all this emotional baggage on you. I usually travel light. "

When I had seen the episode in the past, I loved it but wasn't all that convinced the episode was actually "about" aging and losing loved ones -- after all, how does Crusher being unable to convince the crew on the ship that they are missing crew members tie in with this at all? But looking carefully at Quaice's words, he twice indicates that he doesn't really think that Beverly can or should understand what he's going through. "I'm not sure that I'm making any sense." "There was no reason to heap this emotional baggage on you." Part of what is painful for Quaice -- and it's subtle (and possibly even unintentional) -- is not just that he is losing loved ones, but that he has to bear this burden (mostly) alone; his younger friends like Beverly don't really understand what it's like for him, and he has lost most of the people his own age. In that sense, Beverly's nightmare scenario created by her thoughts is not just a matter of losing the people whom she loves, one by one, until she's completely alone: it's that every time she loses someone, no one around her understands what she's going through or even believes that what has happened is significant. That's part of what I meant earlier when I said that this episode is about something so specific that a straight drama could not really examine this easily. This isn't about losing people -- it's about the disconnection and isolation that comes with losing people and those around you not being able to connect to your grief. Because it's an extreme version of that, it's not only that people can't understand what Beverly is feeling, they deny that her feelings have any referent in reality at all.

I was thinking about why this had to be a Crusher show. Besides Picard and obviously Guinan (as well as Pulaski) Crusher is the oldest in the cast. But Guinan has already been through the trauma of people dying many, many times and does not have to learn that lesson; meanwhile, Picard has eschewed close emotional connections most of his life, and so doesn't really understand any of it either. Beverly is entering a time in her life when people *are* going to start leaving her life permanently. Dr. Quaice is going to die. Picard eventually will, too. Jack has already died -- and while many of the characters in this show have lost parents, most of them were too young to really, really remember it. And while Wesley is not going to die, he *is* going away soon; and viewers who have seen ahead know that after "Final Mission," Beverly only sees Wesley about three more times before he goes off into another dimension and leaves her behind as a permanent presence forever. It's appropriate that it's Wesley's experiment with warp bubbles that got Beverly trapped, because these experiments of Wesley -- which eventually require the Traveller to come by. Wesley's "destiny" (quotes because I don't mean he "has a destiny," but rather just the thing that eventually Wesley will devote his life to) is the thing that will take Wesley away from her for good and leave her alone, and so it is natural that it's because of Wesley's experiment that Beverly becomes trapped in the nightmare version of aging and losing everyone in your life.

So, is there a connection between Beverly the aging woman who is losing everyone in her life, and Beverly the rational scientist who figures her way out? I am not positive -- but maybe the reason this all works so well is that ultimately Beverly's nightmare is irrational. People are going to die, and people are going to leave her, but Beverly is not yet alone, and the worst-case scenario -- wherein people simply disappear and only she is able to contain the knowledge of their existence -- is not reality. Wesley will eventually leave her, but he won't just disappear -- he will go on to pursue his best life. And he will probably visit. (I guess he visits in Nemesis for the Riker/Troi wedding, but I also want to pretend that movie never happened.) It's not Beverly's sole purpose, either, to hold the memories of everyone in her head. Trek values intelligence and rationality in a way many other works, even SF works, do not, and the suggestion that cool-headed logical thinking is the way to quell irrational fears -- even fears with some element of truth to them -- is something that I appreciate and find very Trekkian.

Wesley's doing calculations blindfolded is pretty goofy. But ultimately this is the least of a stretch of any of the three Wesley-Traveller episodes. Wesley saving his mother works well because he was the one who trapped her there -- and the joyful reunion that the two have at the episode's end is rather touching, especially knowing that they are going to go separate ways soon. After pretty much all of season three except for "Evolution" relegating Wesley to the background, it's nice that he is taken more seriously as a character in the run-up to his departure in "Final Mission." The three most important people in Wesley's life -- living or dead -- are Jack, Beverly and Picard, and there is one episode which devotes time to each relationship (Wesley & Jack in "Family," Wesley & Beverly here, Wesley & Picard in "Final Mission"). Wesley's warp bubble project, his destiny away from his mother, is what sends her into the nightmare where she loses people, but he has the chance to make things right and bring her back, removing the chance that his departure to go live his own life will destroy his mother.

I just find the whole thing a lot of fun, and really touching too when Beverly finds herself alone and talking about how much everyone deserves better than to be forgotten. I love Beverly's sarcasm and annoyance throughout, too. I think this episode shows off her great qualities better than any other episode in the series. It is probably "only" a 3.5 star show, but...ah, heck, let's say 4.
William B - Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - 12:23pm (USA Central)
Re: points above, yes to almost all (positive) comments. "A flaw in the ship's design" is a brilliant computer line. (Though technically, I don't see why there should be any decompression -- where exactly is the air supposed to go?)

BEVERLY: Here's a question you shouldn't be able to answer. Computer, describe the nature of the universe.
COMPUTER: The universe is a spheroid region, 705 metres in diameter.

And also:

CRUSHER: What is the primary mission of the Starship Enterprise?
COMPUTER: To explore the galaxy.
CRUSHER: Do I have the necessary skills to complete that mission alone?
COMPUTER: Negative.

Riker's "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" is great. The whole episode is filled with gems.
Josh - Sat, Sep 28, 2013 - 3:51pm (USA Central)
The music in this episode really stands out, particularly in the later scenes where Crusher is on her own on the bridge. I love those tuba triplets.
Moonie - Sun, Oct 27, 2013 - 10:59am (USA Central)
Wow, what a wonderful episode. FANTASTIC.
SkepticalMI - Sat, Mar 8, 2014 - 3:25pm (USA Central)
Submitted for your perusal: Dr. Beverly Crusher, age 42. As a member of the medical profession, she has assisted in the birth of new life, the setting of bones, the healing of wounds, the curing of diseases. Her success depends on a calm, scientific mind that understands how humans fit within a rational world. In a few minutes, she will realize the limits of this assumption, as she comes face to face with a loss that she cannot explain nor solve. A situation that will metamorph from curiosity and concern to a terror that can freeze the soul. But one must expect such circumstances at the intersection of the Final Frontier and the Twilight Zone.

The first half or so of the episode really is a good Twilight Zone romp. We have a normally rational character thrown into a bizarre and frightening situation, and then get to see how she reacts. Like so many TZ characters, she tries at first to cling to rational arguments (her friend merely is lost and hurt somewhere, and his presence on the ship just slipped through the cracks of bureaucracy), but such pretenses of rational explanations disappears quickly. She tries to explain it, but people look at her strangely. She becomes resigned to the fate of the world, but still tries to understand it while desperately hoping she is not going insane. It invites us the viewers to wonder what we would do differently in such a situation, what we could do differently.

But, unlike TZ, this features a character we know, and thus the situation must be wrapped up and must be solved in a rational matter. So thus we have to have our technobabble-filled solution to get Beverly back. Unfortunately, it means the second half is a bit formulaic. Once we know what's going on and the twist is revealed, everything runs the way we would expect it to.

Fortunately, though, the execution of everything, both the eerie setup and the simple conclusion works thanks to several nice details:

- The fact that Beverly was the one who disappeared in the real world, which caused her to believe everyone else was disappearing, was a nice twist. Likewise, we witness what could be the cause of everyone's disappearance, only to discover later that it's the key to saving her. I thought it worked well.

- All of the nice touches as the bubble collapses. People mentioned many of them before. In any case, the back and forth between Bev and the computer were great exchanges, and seeing the gray nothingness advance was fun.

- Beverly trying to work things out. It's a bit of a cheat that the computer was able to help her with everything, such as what the link between the real world and the bubble would manifest as, but whatever. It was good to see her able to figure some stuff out on her own.

- Good acting by everyone all around. This is probably the best acting Gates McFadden had in the show. And having Picard be the last one to disappear worked well was a good idea. Picard was fully believable as the captain of an utterly ridiculous starship, and Stewart did a great job of selling that sincerity in the show.

In the end, this TZ/ST hybrid ends up an excellent sci-fi piece. Sci-fi is commonly used to mirror the current human condition, but sometimes it works best just as a bizarre "what-if" scenario. We got to see that here, and was good clean fun. Of course, with the Wesley/Traveler arc included, there were some important plot points for the overall show, but whatever. This was Beverly's show through and through.
Tom - Sun, Apr 13, 2014 - 3:49pm (USA Central)
"Use the force, Wesley. See past the numbers." "Yes, Master Yoda."

I don't like it when Star Trek goes too far into "space magic". I have trouble suspending my disbelief. The idea that space and time can be controlled by someone's imagination... That's pretty much magic.

I kind of liked the concept of having people disappear aboard the Enterprise. The reveal that Beverley was the one trapped was nice, but... I can't say I liked the solution too much. I wish they would never have introduced this traveller and his mystical powers.

In my mind, the Enterprise should solve problems by using logic, reason, science, philosophy, but not mystical powers or magic. For me, that belongs in another universe, maybe Star Wars.
Jack - Thu, May 1, 2014 - 3:37pm (USA Central)
I like this episode, but I wish it had been done without the involvement of the Traveler. I don't much care for the concept of a being with those powers (I always wondered if he supposed to be some form of Q), and here his silly "it's not over" entrance onto the scene was reminiscent of Frankie Avalon's teen angel on Grease.

He could have started serenading Wesley...yoooouuur stoooories sad to teeeellll...a teeenage ne'er do weeell...
matt - Tue, May 20, 2014 - 9:06pm (USA Central)
One of the most annoying episodes I have ever seen.
I have just watched the episode for the first time, and within the first 10 min, knew approximately what had happened (without the technobabble reasoning). I had to suffer through the rest of the episode waiting for them to catch up. Dr. Crusher's idiocy is astounding.

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