Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 2/11/1991
Teleplay by Bruce D. Arthurs and Joe Menosky
Story by Bruce D. Arthurs
Directed by Les Landau
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"Clues" is one of those bottle shows that works better the first time you see it. It's intriguing when you don't know what's going to happen. But it loses something the next time through. As mysteries go, "Clues" holds the attention reasonably for an hour. The questions are: What happened, and do we dare try to repeat history when we have no memory of the consequences?
As they approach a planet, the Enterprise crew is unexpectedly rendered unconscious. Upon awakening, Data, unaffected, says the crew has been out for 30 seconds. Gradually, however, clues are discovered that Data is probably lying, that the crew was unconscious for much longer, and that something serious happened that no one can remember.
What works best about this story is its pace. It's a slow burn that gradually reveals peculiar clues hinting at an inevitable truth: Data is covering something up. The evidence — from Crusher's botany experiment to Worf's broken wrist to Troi's freak-out in the mirror — all paints an odd picture surrounding the original mystery of the planet the crew never reached before blacking out. My favorite dialog scene is between Picard and Data, where a frustrated Picard grills Data on the facts and Data simply says that he cannot answer. (When Data stonewalls, he's never anything but calm, polite, and matter-of-fact; he can't answer simply because ... well, he can't.)
What doesn't quite work is the explanation for this whole charade. A group of isolationist aliens wiped the crew's memory because they didn't want to be found. Except Data's memory could not be wiped, so Picard swore Data to secrecy rather than allowing the aliens to destroy the Enterprise. But it didn't work and now we need a second chance, this time leaving no clues. I'm not sure how you leave no clues on a ship with 1,000 people.
The episode, which opened with Picard on the holodeck trying to solve a Dixon Hill murder, does not take the subtle road regarding its message, which is that we cannot resist a good mystery. One wonders if Picard's holodeck games and his speech at the end are both necessary. Show, don't tell.
Previous episode: Devil's Due
Next episode: First Contact
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79 comments on this post
Wed, Mar 5, 2008, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
Two episodes that I enjoyed much more than you did are "Final Mission" and "Clues". The former I thought would easily garner three stars, maybe 3.5 as it was a nice conclusion to the arc of Wesley in that he truly respects Picard, and almost looks at him as a father-figure.
As for "Clues"---I love that episode. It's one of my favorite episodes and I would easily give it four stars. I thought it was wonderfully acted and written in the way they constructed the story. They were isolationist aliens and I thought it was a reasonable solution to their problem in that they didn't want anyone to know of their existence.
Wed, Mar 5, 2008, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
I'm a long-time lurker on your site, Jammer. All the way back to when Voyager was still airing, and I've always very much enjoyed your commentary.
I also really enjoyed "Clues." It may not have the same impact on second viewing but it remains an engaging episode.
The fourth season overall is first-rate TV. I never noticed the running theme of family in it until I read your reviews.
I look forward to more.
Wed, Mar 5, 2008, 10:40pm (UTC -5)
Just a few personal thoughts. I agreed strongly with many of the reviews (I'll never forget reading BSG's Crossroads Part II review and saying repeatedly "That's what I was thinking!") though there were a couple I'd give differing ratings on:
Devil's Due: 2 1/2 stars. Not a classic by any stretch, slapstick in nature, but I actually enjoyed that episode and still do when I catch it on re-runs. It simply had a lighthearted feel that was almost refreshing. My feeling is that it's season placement had an effect: Had this episode been in season one or even season two I am betting your star rating would have been higher. It's a matter of the quality it is matched up against this season.
Clues: Though predictable after the first watching I always felt this was more of a 3 1/2 star entry. The idea of Data being caught in a catch-22 was fascinating. The final scene, where Data is at the controls, looking as if nothing had happened at all, knowing that the secret of the xenophobes would be kept with him forever, was great.
Legacy: Blah. 1 1/2 stars at best. Must agree on one point: Tasha Yar's sister was definitely the pride of the family (body-wise). Aside from that.....blah.
Just a few random thoughts. Keep on trucking! :)
Fri, Mar 7, 2008, 12:37am (UTC -5)
You were a little hard on "Devil's Due." Yeah, it's pretty corny, but it's certainly watchable, especially compared to the snooze-fest "Suddenly Human."
I thought "Clues" was a good example of the Trek crew-member-acting-inexplicably-weird genre. It would be 3 or 3-1/2 for me, but hey, I don't have a Trek reviews website.
By the way, your rave reviews of The Wire finally got me to watch Season One. It really is incredible.
Keep those TNG reviews coming!
Fri, Mar 7, 2008, 8:50am (UTC -5)
I agree with Toph, Devil's Due was hardly a classic, but it was refreshing and fun, I enjoy it when it comes around, I'd probably give it 2 and 1/2
Clues I only watched a few days ago and I quite liked it too, it was kind of pointless but interesting, and the ending was nice, sort of optomistically simple ^^ "you deserve a second chance" - "ok everyone lets do it right this time!"
I would probably have given Remember me 1/2 a star less, and The Wounded 1/2 a star more, but either way you covered everything in the review :)
Looking foward to the next set :D
Fri, Mar 7, 2008, 10:26am (UTC -5)
Clues, meanwhile, was a lovely slow-burn episode, with the extent of Data's deception and the mystery of the black-out growing over the course of the episode. I don't think it loses that much on a repeat viewing - I still get a thrill out of "The Mind's Eye" even though I know that Geordi is going to be stopped in the nick of time.
I think Data and co's access to the Borg's command systems was acceptable, given that they had made a connection with such an important Borg (Locutus). Voyager started to strain credulity, when they became experts on Borg technology, with their "neural suppressors" and whatnot. It's strange to see how the Borg have changed over the years - in Voyager, Borg Cubes suddenly had a "Central Plexus" which could be used to send a virus throughout the Collective. Meanwhile, in "Q Who", Data couldn't detect any identifiable bridge, engineering, etc, and the Enterprise barely survived its confrontations with a Cube.
Fri, Mar 7, 2008, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
As for the other episodes:
I pretty much agree about "Family" but would give it a 3.5 star rating.
Agreed about "Brothers". I'd also point out that I thought the Soong/Data conversation about continuity was a highlight and the scene as Soong is dying and Data tells him he can't grieve broke my heart. I related to this episode a lot because I've got a brother.
"Suddenly Human" is one of only about four episodes I really didn't care for this season and that is saying a lot about how strong season four was in my opinion.
"Remember Me" would get 4 stars. In addition to what Jammer said I would also add Gates did a fantastic job as Dr. Crusher trying to solve the mystery in these extraordinary circumstances.
And this episode also showcased exceptionally well the qualities I like best about her. She is a formidable woman with such a steely resolve that once she has her mind made up not even someone like Picard can say no to her. And even when others might cave in and succumb to the overwhelming situation she finds herself in, she remains steadfast keeping her wits about her never letting herself fall to pieces.
She got in some good lines—“ Was he invisible? Did I carry on a conversation with thin air?”, “Will, I didn't conjure up one of my best friends from a test tube.”, “I'm sorry I lost my temper. You do remember that?” and Picard’s “vividly” in reply, “If there isn't anything wrong with me... maybe there's something wrong with the universe...” or her clicking her heels line. And I loved the moment when she sits in the captain’s chair.
No Trek series excelled at these high-concept sci-fi mysteries the way TNG did.
"Legacy" I'd give 3 stars to. It is the crew’s reactions to Ishara Yar that elevate this episode in my eyes.
Beth Touissant did a good job of portraying a hardened yet wounded individual who never could break totally free of the society she grew up in feeling a misplaced allegiance to Hayne & the rebels. It was a nice contrast to how Tasha turned her life around and didn’t let her environment consume her. The continued display of Ishara's disgust & resentment with her sister was cutting.
I especially liked the Picard/Ishara exchange in sickbay where Picard talks of the woman Yar became.
I liked that the encounter with Ishara ended up leaving everyone pretty much empty & stung by the events. They were all ready to leave Turkana IV behind. The only good thing to come of it was the safe return of the hostages. And the cold android way Data dismissed Ishara in the transporter room was great. Overall, one of TNG’s more depressing endings.
As for the rescue plot I did like the action sequences and the idea of the myographic scanner. Plus Data's technical description of familiarity that he experiences was great and of course would be mentioned again in "Times Arrow I" also written by Joe Menosky.
"Future Imperfect" I'd give 3.5 stars. It is one of my favorites and unlike Jammer I was able to buy into the emotional arc of the story. It probably helped that when I first saw this episode I was 13 and bought into the jeopardy or situations each week.
Like Jammer I liked the touches in the alternate future including the communicator but I also would add that the Riker/Troi interplay both in the teaser and in the illusion were quite good.
One of the nice human aspects that came out of this situation was seeing Riker’s concerns of not ending up being the kind of father Kyle was to him in his childhood especially after the loss of his mother. One can easily imagine the greatest fear for someone like Riker would be to fail their own child. It is clear Riker hopes he has been a better father to Jean-Luc than Kyle was to him especially in the wake of his mother’s death. He consciously wants to not fail his son which comes through wonderfully in the brief scene in the turbolift well played by Frakes.
I thought the final scene between Barash and Riker was touching.
It is interesting to note the illusion Barash ended up creating was based on scans of Riker’s mind. It is interesting insight into Riker and consistent with the way a child deprived of closeness to another person would behave and think.
Barash provided a pretty ideal “future” that he believed would make Riker happy. Here he is captain of the Enterprise, the place he has been most comfortable, surrounded by all of his friends. Barash also created a situation that would resonate strongly with Riker reminiscent of his childhod-a single father, a young boy whose mother has died.
And given Barash was a lonely child desperate for attention it would makes sense he would exploit this as well as to remove someone like Troi from Riker's life that might have interfered with "Jean-Luc" receiving all of his attention.
"Final Mission" I'd give 3 stars.
I've always saw a lot of myself in Wesley especially when I was younger. I was an overachiever and more comfortable around adults than my peers so may be that's why I'm not so hard on him.
There were plenty of scenes that I enjoyed. Just some really great emotional stuff that TNG excels at.
Picard is clearly a person that any one would love to spend some one-on-one time with just to learn about him and to see that beyond this confident, seemingly super-human captain is a man who isn’t perfect and has his share of flaws.
Beverly and Troi got a nice scene in sickbay.
I also enjoyed the Garbage Scow subplot well enough and was an interesting idea that generated a nice jeopardy to keep the Enterprise crew occupied. Nothing particularly ground-breaking but pretty good. The fountain ended up being a plot device without any real insight into who set it up or why.
The location shooting was a welcome change and the filming captured really well the harsh conditions they were facing on the desert world.
There were some great shots of the Enterprise throughout the episode like when it first enters orbit.
I was sorry to see Wes leave but in a way it was a good thing given that the cast was already pretty large. But unlike some characters Wes had about as near perfect a sendoff as one could ask with Picard’s ”Wesley, know this…you will be missed” as they exit the cave.
"The Loss" seems to be an episode no one cares for. The commopn complaint being Troi's behavior was like nails on a chalkboard.
I actually thought this was a fairly effective disability story headlining Troi. I enjoyed seeing the vulnerable and frightened side of her. I know many seem to view her as a pathetic/whiney and there is some of that but that is part of the point. I think anyone who loses a sense would be angry and wallowing in self-pity. So how Troi behaves in this context works.
Troi is usually the one helping others the way she is now placed in the unenviable role of facing her own personal crisis directly is quite interesting.
Troi’s anger at Beverly seemed like a realistic reaction even though misdirected. And then of course Riker/Troi had their tribulations in some rather nice scenes that further cemented what great chemistry both the actors & characters have. And of course Guinan is always a pleasure.
I really liked that scene with Troi in Ten-Forward. I think both are counselors in their own right but have completely different ways of dispensing advice.
I'd easily give it 3 stars.
Nothing really to add to "Data's Day" or "The Wounded".
I strongly disagree with "Clues" receiving only 2.5 stars. This has always been a favorite of mine. I wouldn't hesitate given it 3.5 stars.
I mentioned earlier TNG excelled at high concpt sci-fi mysteries and this is one of its best in my opinion
I love a good mystery but they are hard to do. It is easy enough to generate the build-up and intrigue but the reveal needs to be as satisfying.
The teaser was alright although it felt more like Whoopi in dress-up than Guinan although I did appreciate the touch of Data piping the call to Picard through the telephone.
I loved the twist that it was Picard that ordered Data's silence. I thought the idea of a stalemate was an interesting and fresh approach for the story. I liked the ominous tone the episode took. I liked how the crew and the audience only got tantalizing pieces of the puzzle as to what happened that day before finally filling us in with the flashback.
I liked that the writers remembered the little details that I didn't even consider like the beard growth or Beverly using the transporter trace although I was a little confused regarding the 24 hour cycle.
I would rank it up there with The Survivors, Remember Me, Future Imperfect, Night Terrors, Cause and Effect, Parallels as far as bizarre Twilight Zone sorts of tales.
Fri, Mar 7, 2008, 2:25pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 14, 2009, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 25, 2010, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
Also, I grow bored with "The Nth Degree" every time I see it, and in my opinion, doesn't warrant a full four-star rating! Star-ratings should for Nth and "Future Imperfect" should be switched, lol.
Tue, Aug 30, 2011, 4:34pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 12, 2011, 5:25pm (UTC -5)
"Not only did I think the whole plot was excessive (the cover-up could never work with over 1,000 people on board), it annoys me on subsequent views that Picard cannot simply trust that Data is doing what's best, accept and let it go."
Now that you mention it (re: Clues), I suppose one could blame Data's programing not being flexible enough to allow him to break Picard's Order (although he does so once Troi-alien gives him the a-ok), but I look at it like this:
It's one thing to hide the truth upon the crew waking up, but as soon as the coverup starts to unravel the truth, and ESPECIALLY once Picard turns the ship around and heads back to enemy space, I feel like Data's logic circuits ought to have pulled Picard into his ready room and told him "listen, you can't tell any of the others, but here's what happened" and warn him not to go naer that space ever again.
I admit, I haven't seen it in a while so I forget whether Data has an opportunity to speak to Picard between when Picard decides to return and when they actually get there, but I feel like Picard can keep his mouth shut, and if he orders the crew to stop investigating, it'll all go away - a lot better than if they go back, anyway. Frankly, I don't imagine the aliens would ever find out that the Federation has set up a "no fly" policy around their space.
Fri, Mar 15, 2013, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 15, 2013, 2:16pm (UTC -5)
I half expected Worf to come on to the bridge with his leg in a cast, saying, "All right which one of you humans did this?"
Fri, Jul 5, 2013, 3:48pm (UTC -5)
The Picard/Data scene Jammer singles out gets to the heart of why this episode is so compelling. Picard (and the rest of the crew) simply cannot let go the mystery that has been presented to them. Data simply cannot let go of his imperative to follow Picard's orders -- to protect both the ship and, indeed, the isolationist species. They both have too much strength of will and too much integrity -- albeit in different ways -- to compromise; not only is there a stalemate with the aliens, but there is a stalemate on the ship with Data and Picard. And the end result leads, almost inexorably, to the Enterprise returning to the Paxans' system and to its near-destruction. If Picard were able to let things be and trust that Data has his reasons, they could simply continue on their way. If Data were able to divulge the secret about the Paxans, even to Picard, the mystery could be resolved. But neither can do so. It would run counter to Picard's spirit as an explorer; and, indeed, as he points out, the fact that they can never trust Data again makes it impossible to stop. And while any other crew member would likely simply tell Picard about the Paxans, Data's programming, devotion to *Picard's* orders, and respect for other life forms (I do think the recognition that if he lets Picard know about the Paxans, he will be violating the agreement by which the Enterprise would be allowed to survive and that this would run explicitly counter to the Paxans' wishes and would thus be wrong, is even more a motivating factor for Data than Picard's orders), stop him from doing so. This is an episode cleverly constructed around character, so that the very traits that make these two both extraordinary individuals of high integrity bring them into conflict which cannot really be resolved.
The ending does resolve it, to a degree -- the Enterprise leaves intact -- but there is something unsettling about the ending, seeing the mystery go "unresolved" in that Picard et al. have lost the memory again, and that, following Picard's lines, not everything is quite tidy when we know that over a thousand people are missing a crucial couple of days and the knowledge of their near-destruction twice. The last shot of Data is a bit hard to parse, but I interpret it on some level as a signal of his isolation -- Data has a secret that could destroy the whole ship and no one knows about it.
On that level, the episode also follows up from (e.g.) "Brothers" on exactly how frightening Data is, if for a moment one stops having full faith in Data's commitment to the chain of command. He is stronger than Worf, as skilled a scientist as Crusher and an engineer as La Forge, has a better poker face than Riker and has the iron will of Picard. (I omit Troi, I suppose, not because her skills aren't worthwhile, but because she's the person whose skill set is furthest from Data's.) The idea that Data might be hiding something is all the more frightening because Data could take over the whole ship at any time and the crew *knows* this. Which, ironically, makes it all the more essential that Data follow Picard's orders, even if it leads to disaster. On that level, Picard stating that not only will Data lose his Starfleet commission but most likely be stripped down to his constituent parts to be examined to see what happened with him is chilling; one wonders whether this contradicts "The Measure of a Man," and I'm not entirely sure that Picard is not bluffing on some level when he suggests this, trying to do anything he can think of to convince Data that it's in his best interests to tell him what is happening. But it hints at both ways in which Data is still not really considered a person, and why. Data's rights to self-determination in "The Measure of a Man" on some level still are provisional, where the provision that Data is not a threat: once he becomes one, even provisionally, it becomes difficult or even impossible to regard him as a peer sentient being.
Fri, Jul 5, 2013, 3:49pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
- I agree with most that this is a better episode than Jammer gives it credit for. And I think it does hold up for a second viewing, namely due to the strength of Data's character. It's fun watching the android brain working, trying to keep his ship safe despite knowing that he is betraying all of his friends. It's like the first act of Brothers, only with Data fully conscious of what he's doing. Even with the mystery known, Data's part (and everyone responding to him) still holds up.
- One nice subtle touch: on one scene in the bridge, Worf is rubbing his arm in the background. This was before he went to sickbay.
- The holodeck intros sure haven't been very subtle lately. First there was Scrooge denying the reality of Jacob Marley's existence in Devil's Due, and now we have a Dixon Hill startup in an episode called Clues. Sheesh...
- I've heard people say that Nth Degree reminds them of 2001: A Space Odyssey. But I get some of that here, when Picard calmly asked Data to go run an errand and then starts plotting against him. I half expected Data to be watching from a distance and reading their lips.
Enh, I got nothing else. It's a good episode, but kinda nondescript. No brilliant insights, just good clean fun.
Tue, Apr 22, 2014, 11:43pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 2, 2014, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 2, 2014, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 23, 2014, 8:57am (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 4, 2014, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
Also, wouldn't it have been easier for Data to just admit that they were out for a whole day? Or have Picard record for himself some kind of message telling him not to go back? The point is, Picard is too curious, and simply by including some sensor readings/chart records on computer logs, he or Starfleet are likely to return to that place to investigate further. In other words, by being so aggressively xenophobic, the aliens are making it more likely that people go after them.
Thu, Dec 25, 2014, 6:59pm (UTC -5)
The biggest of those to me is how they plan on dealing with what was, by the end of the 2nd ship-wide memory wipe, a 2+ day time discrepancy. That would fly to assuage any curiosity at the time, but surely they'd discover fairly easily later on that their super-advanced starship's computers are a couple days behind actual time.
Thu, Dec 25, 2014, 7:04pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 26, 2014, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 6, 2015, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
"Clues" is one of those mysteries. Even knowing what's going on from the get-go, it's still a very dramatic and enthralling episode. And that's because the mystery itself isn't the only thing the episode has in its favor. The main, number one, element "Clues" has going for it are the performances. Nothing shows that better than in the scenes where non-verbal communication is employed. This episode is a masterwork of using what is not said to great effect. For example, the scene where Picard grills Data in his quarters over the fabricated evidence from the probe. When Picard says "strange, that an obscure planet several hundred light years from here should be picked up by the probe," Data just stares at him without saying a word. Brent Spiner manages to convey such a sense of atmosphere and tension in that one, cold stare than most people could do with an ten page soliloquy. Another example - later when Picard confronts Data for the final time on the bridge. When Picard gets the thought in his head that Starfleet might have contacted Data during the missing day and ordered him to conceal the truth, you can almost see the wheels turning in Patrick Stewart's head without him saying a word.
That isn't to say that "Clues" is flawless. There are major problems with the story. First, the solution is nonsensical when you stop and examine it. The whole house of cards is going to come crashing down the moment the Enterprise meets up with any other Federation personnel and they realize that they are two days off from the rest of the galaxy. Second, and I'm sorry but.... I have to dock points for what is quite possibly the most obvious plothole in all of TNG. How did Picard know the name of the Paxons during the flashback sequence? Come on, guys! That's a basic screenwriting 101 mistake right there!
Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 2:17pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 10, 2015, 5:23am (UTC -5)
Mon, Sep 14, 2015, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
Possibly the best element to it is the reveal that it is the crew's own curiosity and ingenuity that unravel a scheme put in place to protect themselves - that it was Picard who ordered Data to keep quiet is an effective act closer. And the final hint that we might be playing Groundhog Day for just a second is amusing enough.
It doesn't add up to very much at the end of the day, but as a self-contained, tightly written piece, it comes recommended. 3 stars.
Tue, Nov 17, 2015, 10:04pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 7, 2016, 10:38am (UTC -5)
And we're willing to accept all this because... it seems like the aliens will be hard to beat? I guess I can imagine a scenario in which that is the case, but the few glimpses we get of the conflict don't do a very convincing job of making it feel like all other options have been exhausted.
Thu, Jan 7, 2016, 10:45am (UTC -5)
He didn't , but I think it was either that or be destroyed IIRC. That makes it an easy choice when you have 1000+ lives counting on you.
Fri, Jun 23, 2017, 8:47pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Oct 12, 2017, 10:51am (UTC -5)
So they manipulated the computer's time by 24 hours to cover for the "missing day" - but what the hell happens when they pull up to the next Starbase and start arguing over whether it's Tuesday or Wednesday?
Wed, Dec 13, 2017, 11:20pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 30, 2017, 11:36am (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 24, 2018, 2:50am (UTC -5)
Either way, it really was an exciting and fun episode
Sat, Feb 24, 2018, 6:38pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 29, 2018, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
So here is a starship that is part of a very large fleet run on quasi military tenets. It regularly reports in to star bases-drops in for maintenance and crew assignment ...and so on.
Yet here we are expected to believe that nobody in the whole of starfleet are going to notice the ship's own record of elapsed time-timestamps on communications and all the other forged records on the ship which will be evident once the Enterprise contacts anyone else.
Their ship and everyone on it are two stardates behind where they should be.
That planet they are headed for is a good example.
They are going to ask why the ship is two days late.
Picard will immediately be alerted to the lost two days , the whole daft premise unravels.
I am sorry but for me Jammer's rating is way too generous.
Wed, Jun 20, 2018, 9:11pm (UTC -5)
One of the things that bothered me was how fast Picard just accepted their extreme isolationist needs. I like the idea from Startrekwatcher about the Borg. Throw that in -- just a few lines -- and it ties back to an epic change in the Alpha Quadrant and gives us a better explanation of why they want to go to such lengths to keep themselves hidden.
I'm not sure how to fix the very real problem of the Enterprise never reporting anything to Starfleet even at first.
Bottom line: I liked it better in my memories than I did in a 2018 viewing. Still, it's by no means a stinker.
Tue, Jul 17, 2018, 11:22pm (UTC -5)
I think humans should admire the qualities Spiner gives Data -- the calm unflappability in the face of human emotion. Picard threatens Data with a court martial but it's great (albeit frustrating) to see how Data dodges these questions. I also enjoyed Data bullshitting everybody about his theory in the senior staff meeting -- of course, nobody fell for it (it was plenty obvious) -- but it set the wheels in motion for unraveling the mystery.
Maybe the xenophobic aliens and the lengths they go to defend their world are a bit farfetched as the resolution to the mystery but I won't complain about it. The way it worked through Troi and having to deal with the challenge Data presented made for a fairly creative episode.
Whether humans love a mystery or not -- maybe the Enterprise crew does. Certainly Picard does as evidenced by his "fun" playing Dixon Hill. Thought that opener went on for way too long if only to hint at Picard's love for a mystery. But TNG has plenty of episodes trying to solve mysteries methodically and this is a decent example of one.
3 stars for "Clues" -- liked how all the unknowns were tied together (Worf's broken wrist, and how Picard gave an order to erase the memories etc. that Data tried his best to follow). Many times the resolution of an episode just isn't satisfying, is lame etc. but here it was decent -- if only the end result wasn't to have to get a 2nd chance at erasing the memories of the encounter. Great episode for Picard and Data, decent sci-fi and plays to the strengths of TNG.
Mon, Sep 3, 2018, 2:12am (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 1, 2018, 6:40am (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 8, 2019, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
As soon as this one started I remembered what was coming. I don't know how I remember it or when I saw it last. this has happened with a number of these episodes and speaks to their impact on me I guess.
I liked the mystery structure of this one. The wrap up was a little too pat. I wanted to see what they did to solve all of the clues...but I am like that.
Sun, May 26, 2019, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
1,5 of 4 stars after the reveal.
the first half was so good that i felt the need to give two ratings, but the reveal did not really work and was somewhat disappointing... and the solution had some logic holes.
Fri, Oct 4, 2019, 10:31pm (UTC -5)
Mon, May 4, 2020, 12:39pm (UTC -5)
Also, biochemical stasis doesn't explain anything since they were never in stasis for more than a minute or so (the impression I got from the flashback with the Paxan/Troi was that it would take "one of your days" to prepare for the memory wipe, not that they'd need to be in stasis that long, since the crew needed the day to prepare everything else). So the whole beard growing thing is bunk; their beards didn't grow because they were awake and they shaved just like any other day. Otherwise, the stasis field would have stopped Dr. Crusher's moss from growing too.
I find Picard's arguments to the Paxan/Troi to be pretty weak. He should've hit much harder on the "if you destroy us everyone will come searching," but that was just brushed aside. Picard could say their coordinates have already been relayed to Starfleet, so they know where they are. Plus, while there are over 1,000 people on the ship, only the bridge crew and perhaps a few in engineering have any idea what happened. I also agree that Data should've been given an out (either through his programming or Picard's orders) that would let him tell Picard and only Picard something if he got too close to the truth. Data's intransigence, on top of some shockingly incompetent sensor manipulation and off-the-cuff explanations, is what tipped everyone off that something was amiss.
The relative time difference to the rest of space is a non-issue as William B pointed out. Wormholes can distort time in-universe, and Data even suggested re-synchronizing their clocks with a nearby starbase, so them losing a day or three is completely plausible.
Wed, Jun 24, 2020, 12:32pm (UTC -5)
In one of the other fourth series (that's 'season' in LeftPond) episodes, it's claimed that Data is incapable of lying. Actually I've just checked, and it's literally the previous episode. That's not a proposition that holds up too well in this one.
I enjoyed the scene in Dixon Hill's office, but how is it that Guinan - an alien - can be so culturally American, not just human, in every mannerism? But the stockings are a lovely touch.
I could have done without the old 'taking over one of the crew's bodies' plot device. It's overdone in the whole franchise and I think unnecessary in this particular story.
Wed, Jun 24, 2020, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 26, 2020, 4:51am (UTC -5)
The best solution seems to be to leave Picard (or maybe the entire senior staff) in the know and wipe out everyone else's memory.
Fri, Sep 4, 2020, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
-"how is it that Guinan - an alien - can be so culturally American, not just human, in every mannerism?"
In the episode Time's Arrow we see Guinan living in San Francisco in the 19th century. I don't know if there is any more information regarding this in the canon but it is feasible that she remained in the US for a few more decades.
Mon, Sep 7, 2020, 5:16pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 28, 2021, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 28, 2021, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 28, 2021, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
I guess we could also suggest that despite having nominal rights at this point, or perhaps only de facto right since Starfleet will not expressly claim Data *does not* have rights, there is still the issue of proper functionality. Unlike biological organisms where we tend to think of their proper functioning as being 'medical', in Data's case it's mechanical *and* an issue of programming. So for instance in Brothers where Data is effectively taken over by Soong, I don't think it would be outrageous for Starfleet to have, in process of stopping him (which in that episode they failed to do), take him apart looking for the mechanical or programming failure. It's not quite the same as a biological being in this sense. And likewise, if it appeared that Data was usurping Starfleet's prerogatives in Clues, perhaps a legitimate and even moral argument could leave room to have his disassembled under the assumption that he is broken or his programming compromised in some way. I'm not sure this would be a violation like 'taking apart' Picard would be if he disobeyed an order, because as far as our understanding of Picard goes, he can't just randomly 'break' in such a way as to cause him to violate Starfleet's commands. But maybe Data could? It's a tough area, even if Starfleet is being completely moral.
Thu, Jan 28, 2021, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 24, 2021, 2:06am (UTC -5)
While I understand the 'thirty seconds of unconsciousness' ploy on which the plot hinges was intended as a dramatic tool upon which to build an accumulation of further clues, it is strikingly unnecessary and fundamentally undermines the episode. Data simply informing the crew that they had been unconscious for the entire missing day (or two days) would have headed off a slew of later problems, not least with Starfleet. When one considers that Data's freedom is ultimately at stake in choosing this deception, it is a irrationally high risk decision on Data's part.
Also, what is stopping Picard and the crew simply repeating their mistake and finding clues the second time round? It is hard to believe a second round of tidying up eliminated absolutely everything when the first round failed to do so and their memories have been wiped. Again, a very high risk approach when the crew's lives are hanging in the balance.
That said, the revelation of the clues is very much an intriguing and unsettling mystery, played very well with some memorable performances by Spiner, Stewart and the rest of the crew. Troi's piercing scream and her panic about the mirror (which is never actually explicitly explained) always disturbs me as a true horror moment.
Watching this again, I'd also forgotten about the overly lengthy return to Picard's Dixon Hill holodeck fantasy from S1. The inclusion of Guinan (great fun performance by Goldberg as always) makes this more worthwhile than in S1, but Dixon Hill still does not fit with Picard's personality in my opinion.
Wed, Mar 24, 2021, 3:26am (UTC -5)
So (again, I cannot help but feel I have missed something here), why does Data ultimately divulge the entire course of events in full detail? I realise it is for the benefit of us the viewers but it has no logical internal justification in the episode. When Paxan-possessed Troi appears on the bridge, and the crew demand an explanation, Data should have continued to say nothing and leave the crew to their confusion. Or did Data reason that, as the Enterprise-D was about to be destroyed by the Paxans, the basis for the original order (avoiding the destruction of the ship) no longer applied? And was Data, during the second round of tidying up the clues, disciplined by Picard for disobeying his original very absolute order?
I am being a little facetious on that last point, but it is yet another example of how this (very good) episode unravels if you pull at its fraying edges.
Fri, Jul 9, 2021, 1:31am (UTC -5)
Right--better not to think too much about it... but it was a good mystery, and the reveal of "You gave the order, sir" was pretty cool if you hadn't seen it before. Somehow reminds me of that old anti-drug commercial with the kid and his dad -- "You! I learned it from watching you!" They don't make 'em like that anymore, do they?
The opening scene was one of Guinan's few good moments in the show. I'll never know why they put a comic actress in a role where she was so drearily serious 99% of the time.
Thu, Aug 19, 2021, 3:34am (UTC -5)
I credit the writers with a clever, fun episode, but I have to knock them for biting off more than they could chew. I'm surprised the plot holes escaped a team of professional writers. Another issue is why, when it was clear the attempt had failed, Data let them proceed. They were safely away from the Paxans; why not tell Picard what he wants to know? Picard could be trusted to do the right thing, and never mention the Paxans, and between him and Data, they had the resourcefulness and authority to put the mystery to bed, loose ends and all. Speaking of loose ends, more could have been done to tie up the ones dealt with in the show, like what to do with Troi when she starts seeing Candyman or whoever in her own reflection.
Anyway, "B+" for ambition, "B" for effort, "C" for execution. I give it 2.75 stars out of 4.
Thu, Aug 19, 2021, 12:40pm (UTC -5)
The writers accounted for that by noting that wormholes have time distortion effects. "We're lucky we didn't end up half way across the galaxy in the middle of next week."
"Another issue is why, when it was clear the attempt had failed, Data let them proceed. They were safely away from the Paxans; why not tell Picard what he wants to know?"
Because Data was following Picard's order to the letter, never to reveal the existence of the Paxans. He was incapable of disobeying that order due to his programming. Once the Paxans revealed themselves through Troi then he was free of that burden. Had Picard worded his order differently, or given Data an out of some sort (which maybe he did do in the second try) then it could've played out differently.
Thu, Aug 19, 2021, 12:44pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 19, 2021, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 2:30am (UTC -5)
I agree largely with Jammer’s review but not with his rating: I’d give this a high 3 stars, maybe even a bit more. The one downside - and it’s quite big - is the cause of it all, especially the takeover of Troi as a mouthpiece. It would have worked better if they had found another way of learning the truth, e.g. by accessing something in Data’s memory and then replaying it. Then they could have avoided the second encounter with the xenophobic aliens, and a completely unnecessary dramatic plot contrivance.
This aside, I loved the episode, apart from Picard telling Data “you have free will” - he doesn’t!! He’s an android… Otherwise, Data’s role in this is brilliant and compelling, as always. And the brief Dixon Hill sequence was an added bonus.
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 2:42am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 10, 2022, 11:50am (UTC -5)
Picard can't show an ounce of trust. And this isn't the first time he's done this either. It's infuriating.
Mon, Jan 10, 2022, 5:30pm (UTC -5)
To be fair, Data never said anything about danger. He was just acting really weird while also getting caught red-handed lying. Not exactly a situation which garners trust...
Wed, Feb 9, 2022, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
Stewart seemed out of character for much of the episode.
It doesn't make any sense that they didn't prepare for the contingency of clues being left behind.
There was the weird beard thing which ultimately didn't make sense. Strange they didn't iron that out.
Still I think it was good overall. The inexorable accumulation of clues pointing toward Data works very well. I think it works fine on rewatch.
I also greatly appreciated that one of the clues was actually wrong-- that Data was one of the few people on board that could injure Worf, but in fact, he didn't do it. That seems extremely rare in Trek.
Also Geordi saying Data's technobabble was bs was comical. Though again, characterization seemed off because when do they EVER call bs on technobabble without a lot more navel gazing? Especially with the implication that Picard immediately thought it was bs.
Wed, Feb 9, 2022, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 1:44am (UTC -5)
"Also Geordi saying Data's technobabble was bs was comical. Though again, characterization seemed off because when do they EVER call bs on technobabble without a lot more navel gazing."
It's indeed funny from the viewer's perspective, but this scene actually makes sense in-universe.
Suppose you've been given two paragraphs full of technical jargon in a topic you know absolutely nothing about. Suppose further that you were told one of these pieces is scientifically sound and the other is completely bs.
Would you be able to tell which is which? I most certainly wouldn't. To the layman, genuine modern science sounds just as crazy as crackpot science, because the universe is far stranger then what most people can imagine.
Fri, Apr 15, 2022, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 29, 2022, 1:08pm (UTC -5)
It's a great whodunnit, with an excellent combination of technology, science (yes, even Trekkie gobbledy-science), character portrayal, mystery... - the only nitpick might be the explanation, i.e. yet another weird-ass alien species that, yet again, possesses Troi who writhes and swoons around (pretty comically, too, NGL!). I'm also not happy that Picard agreed to bamboozle the Enterprise crew again instead of, somehow, standing his ground and insisting the contact with the species be recorded. These couple points deduct maybe a half a star only though, not more.
Sat, Jul 23, 2022, 11:48am (UTC -5)
Why did Guinan seem so clueless about a time period that she actually lived through?
Sat, Jul 23, 2022, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
"Why did Guinan seem so clueless about a time period that she actually lived through?"
Well, I was going to say that there isn't any evidence that Guinan stayed on Earth after the Enterprise crew's adventure in San Francisco, but Memory Alpha says that there's an episode of Picard featuring Guinan in 21st century L.A. so so much for that theory.
Fri, Oct 21, 2022, 11:13pm (UTC -5)
YES, it actually does make sense in universe.
Probably I was more weirded out by Geordi throwing Data under the bus.
Technobabble aside, Geordi is both nice and loyal to a fault. To me, this episode is most incongruent in his characterization. He would be bending reality over backwards to make Data sound like he's making sense. Data is his bestie.
I think the episode was meant to be bubblegum so it never bothered me.
Fri, Oct 21, 2022, 11:16pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 5, 2023, 10:57am (UTC -5)
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