Star Trek: The Next Generation

“The Next Phase”

3 stars.

Air date: 5/18/1992
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by David Carson

Review Text

The Enterprise responds to a Romulan ship that has been crippled in a catastrophic accident. La Forge and Ro beam over with an away team, but when they beam back, their transporter patterns are lost in an apparent transporter mishap. The two are declared dead, but they both wake up aboard the Enterprise — where they discover they are invisible to everyone around them and can walk through walls and other objects.

Are they ghosts trapped in purgatory? Please; this is Star Trek, where a ghost has never been encountered that cannot be ascribed to either technology or the presence of an alien life form. In this case, Geordi slowly realizes that they have been phase-shifted outside normal time and space because of experimental top-secret Romulan cloaking technology aboard the crippled Romulan ship (which was crippled because the technology blew up in their faces during testing). The Enterprise crew does not discover this in the course of their investigation, but La Forge and Ro, being invisible, are privy to more information.

Alongside the plot are some welcome character touches. Being the proverbial flies on the wall, Geordi and Ro get to listen in on conversations about themselves by shipmates who believe they are dead. A discussion in a shuttle between Riker and Worf has a certain amount of resonance — without being too earnest to get schmaltzy. Meanwhile, Ro — usually the firebrand — finds the whole situation oddly humbling. At first she believes she's dead, before Geordi is able to win her over with technobabble arguments.

For the most part, "The Next Phase" is content to be an entertaining but slight sci-fi adventure in which two invisible people must figure out how to make themselves visible — while also fending off an attack from an invisible Romulan who himself has been phase-shifted and wants to stop La Forge and Ro from revealing the Romulan cover-up of this experimental technology. Eventually we get a chase through the Enterprise where Ro and La Forge are running through walls and pushing the Romulan intruder through the bulkhead and out into space. Heh.

Of course, the nitpicker in me has to ask exactly what it is about this technology that makes it possible to pass through all objects except, of course, the floors. For some reason (that reason being plot convenience), the laws of physics are only selectively broken, so you can plant your feet on the floor instead of simply sinking straight through to who-knows-where. Maybe the technology is set to not affect the bottoms of one's feet. In which case, Geordi should've just gone around engineering kicking Data in the face instead of leading him around with mysterious energy signatures. So, yes, this is all goofy and absurd, but then many things in Star Trek are absurd, and in this case I'm not inclined to let absurdity get in the way of an amusing adventure yarn with cloaking technology that lets people walk through walls while teaching Ro Laren the virtue of humility.

Previous episode: I, Borg
Next episode: The Inner Light

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99 comments on this post

    There are so many things I love about this episode!

    I'll give them the "feet/floor" thing--I have never seen any movie or TV show that didn't use that convention. Just have to ignore it, and then it's all good.

    Ro thinking they are dead;
    Ro shooting Riker;
    Geordi leaving clues for Data;
    Riker being so moved by Ro's death;
    Data's design for the memorial;
    Geordi and Ro waving frantically; and
    Worf almost seeing them;
    The "click" when Data figures it out;
    Data's "joy" that Geordi is not dead.
    The final scene.

    This is one of the best of Trek for me. It had humor, emotion, science (I found the "we're cloaked" to be very effective)--what more could you want? And I like Ro very much, so that helps.

    I have to go watch this again--good thing it is saved on my DVR. (And good thing I'm on a break from school!)

    This was one of my favorite high concept adventure type episodes, just because it was funny, but also had a good touch of mystery and suspense. Especially that reveal of the one Romulan who is phased as well, when he walks through stuff going after Georgi and Ro. And yeah that chase through the ship, lots of fun.

    "Geordi should've just gone around engineering kicking Data in the face..."

    Possibly the funniest thing you've ever written, Jammer.

    I agree with the 3 star rating here--that is what I would have given it.

    But unlike Jammer I bought into the possibility of the two being dead--when I first watched this I was a kid and wasn't tuned into all the conventions of tv--thankfully!--and could buy into the emotional arc of their story. I liked the use of the Romulans here. The chase was exciting. The ticking clock was exciting. I loved the idea of a New Orleans type memorial service and was so perfectly Data. And the final scene was perfect.

    I don't watch Trek for sci fi accuracy so I can't get bothered by Fun with DNA stories or the fact that the two didn't fall through the floor.

    The floor thing is easily explained by the gravity coils in the deck plates of both the Enterprise and the shuttle. *spluh*

    I remember when I first saw this episode. I was not even in high school, and I remember saying "Shouldn't they fall through the floors and into space?"

    Still a fun hour though.

    Great review as usual. I'll add that an even bigger problem (IMO) than the floors is the problem that Geordi and Ro should be out of phase with, you know, breathing air. They should actually be, within their phase of things, in vacuum.

    Most of the phase issues can be explained away by the simple fact that it is a cloaking device intended for individual espionage. However, this explanation reduces their ability to walk through bulkheads to be an arbitrary gimmick to facilitate the "afterlife" red herring.

    I still think a clever explanation or two can be reached, though it's tricky.

    Given that this is my second favorite episode of the season, after "Cause and Effect," I've devoted plenty of time to fanwanking its implausibilities. Like Destructor, I assumed there's something in the grav plating that is conveniently impermeable to phased matter. To answer William B's breathing problem, I figure the transporters leak phased air as an unnoticed side effect -- though why this doesn't escape through the hull, I dunno. That just leaves the problem of how phased/cloaked individuals can hear/see the world around them, when sound/light cannot bounce off their ears/eyes.

    That, and the Romulan is tumbling the wrong way when he's knocked out the window. But that's not enough to keep this from being a 4-star episode.

    Ro's attitude in this episode turned it from being, "tolerably light" to "tooth-gnawingly stupid." Is anything made of the difference between Geordi and Ro's outlooks on the situation? No. Does Ro feel at all foolish when it's realised they aren't actually dead? Well of course not, that wouldn't be nice to the Bajoran religious nonsense would it? And then I look at the writing credits and of course it's RDM. Ugh. I agree with others that the tech nitpick is pretty dismissible, but why should i dismiss it? This episode offers nothing but a series of scenes, some of which come across well (the memorial, for example) and some really stupid (ultra-intelligent Data densely un-phasing the computer terminal like a cat chasing a laser beam) and many which are just blasé and pointless (like Ro's "confession" to a Picard who thinks she's dead).

    2 stars at most.


    If I may, and if you feel like it, may I ask you to expand on your objections? I'm not quite sure what your objection to the "difference between Geordi and Ro's outlooks" is. And I thought the final scene dealt with Ro's "foolishness" pretty well.

    As an aside, you you like the character of Ro?

    On another note, I see often that other posters have noticed who the writers of various episodes are--I never do. Maybe I should do that and see if I like more of "RDM"'s work!


    I'd definitely suggest you start to pay attention to the writers. They each have different strengths and weaknesses. Once you start identifying writers you will start to anticipate the quality of the story and the type of storyline to come up as soon as you see the writer's name.

    Star Trek is rather unique in that you can track several writers over 4 series; many of us have the firm belief that the decline of the series in Voyager and Enterprise had nothing to do with 'franchise fatigue' but with 'writer fatigue', as the same writers were putting out watered down versions of the same scripts they were writing in the TNG era.

    Many Star Trek writers have also gone onto success in other shows; you'll find them contributing to such series as Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, CSI, 24, the 4400, and Andromeda.

    Love this one. Tons of great character details. I especially like Ro's actions when she thinks that she's dead.


    Thanks for the suggestion, but I think I am going to wait until I watch DS 9 before tracking writers too closely--I don't want my pre-enjoyment to be tainted. (Yes, I have NEVER watched DS 9--I'm so pleased that I have it to look forward to!)

    I did look through some of the Voyager episodes and you are so right--I definitely noticed trends in the episodes I most liked and disliked.

    I wonder if some ST fan has done a chart of every writer and the episodes they are responsible for? (tried a google but no joy)

    Go to Memory Alpha and type the writer you want in the search engine.

    For example, here's Ron Moore:

    Forget the floors. What about the air? If they can't interact with normal matter, then they should have suffocated in the vacuum of "space".

    You've never seen DS9? Well, unfortunately you're going to have 2 and a half seasons of "meh" to sit through before it turns into one of the best shows on TV.

    I love this episode. And the whole sinking through the floor thing was raised in an episode of Stargate SG1, where they are filming the Stargate rip-off TV show Wormhole X-Treme. The actress asks the writer why if they are out of phase do they not just fall through the floor.

    No answer was forthcoming.

    Grumpy Otter is the one who hasn't seen DS9.

    And I thought season 2 was very good; season 1 was also better than early TNG and just about any season of Voyager and Enterprise.

    @Ian Whitcombe
    It wasn't a device intended for individual espionage - the dialogue reveals that the entire reason the Romulan ship was disabled in the first place is because something went wrong when they were testing the phase cloak for their vessel.

    And it wasn't just the bottoms of their feet that are conveniently immune to the cloak's effect. When Ro regains consciousness she's lying on the floor near sickbay. She and Geordi are sitting in the shuttlecraft. The Romulan is sitting in a chair on the enemy ship. And of course they shouldn't be able to breathe or make sound. Even "TOS" did a more credible job of conveying this sort of scenario in "The Tholian Web" - Kirk was at least wearing a spacesuit!

    That said it's a fun episode I've always enjoyed. But by no stretch can you explain away the absurd premise with technobabble.

    Not just the air they breath, but even the light, I would think, should pass through their eyes, not bounce around and allow vision.

    It's a conceit that is required for any hope of the premise; but I also one pondered the same issues with sci-fi that involves a character that can freeze time. Air wouldn't flow into one's mouth, and light wouldn't move into one's eyes.

    But anyway, I feel as though they never quite 100% explain how "phasing" works. Perhaps there is some technical explanation that would work. I don't think it was necessary for the episode to explore it though. Great episode.

    I chalk the fact that they didn't fall through the floor to the gravity plating, but that's just me doing their work for them.

    Ha...should have read the comments before making a's already been touched upon...

    Good point William on the air...that is a bigger issue. The same issue could have been a problem in DS9's "Extreme Measures", but they threw in dialogue to deal with it.

    I took about 40 viewings to realize that Troi was nowhere to be seen in this episode.

    Was she missed? Not in the least.

    Whoops...that should be "One Little Ship", not "Extreme Measures"

    The reason they don't fall through the floors is so that I don't have nightmares. I remember one day thinking about this phasing cloak and if it happened if i was just standing here and then phased out, falling through the earth for an eternity. Except, the earth is spinning and rotating around the sun pretty fast so I guess it'd be "see you later planet". Except, if I phased I wouldn't be bound by gravity then so I wouldn't fall through anything then would I?

    Fun episode though. I love Geordi episodes! 3 stars.

    @Jay - then you didn't watch the opening too many times then; Picard asks Troi if she can sense them before she dissapears from the episode. She doesn't get a line though; just shakes her head.

    Shame they weren't ghosts. As some fellow posters on a UK forum I won't name know, Star Trek needs ghosts. ;)

    This technology seems rather similar to the technology the Federation had persued that is mentioned in The Pegasus.

    Strange that nobody mentions the bit role played by Susanna Thompson as Varel in this episode. She would later be famous for playing the Borg queen for the most part on ST-Voy.

    @ Matrix...well a crewman did fall through the deckfloor and instant die in the S4 episode "In Theory".

    I thought it rather absurd that Riker made them leave their weapons behind so that the Romulans "didn't think they were under attack". They could still have them without wielding them the moment they beamed in, and these are, after all, the most treacherous aliens in the quadrant.

    I didn't let them off the hook back then and I won't let them off now. Roe got shot and fell to the floor. They jumped to the floor, rolled on the floor, Roe toucned the panel on the bridge. I don't think it's nit picky, it was the fatal flaw in the script that nagged me from the start. It was made even more ironic when Geordi used the term 'Chronoton footprints'. The writers were mocking us I tell you. The shoes passed through everything except floors. Use some technobabble to give me an explanation. Say the floors were made to rapidly alternate in and out of phase, whatever.
    I'm sorry, I just couldn't get past it.

    So, at the very end of the episode, when Geordi is eating away and Ro is mulling over what happened, Geordi exclaims that he hasn't eaten in two days -- he's hungry! So, sorry, Geordi and Ro were increasingly hungry, perhaps even starving, over the course of the episode? Think about this for a little while and other questions pop up. How did they go to the bathroom? Did they have to shower? These are not, typically, questions TNG deals with, but normally people are at least in phase with the people around them. Even if we accept for convention's sake that they can breathe air and that they don't fall beneath the floors, were they just going to get hungrier and hungrier until the ship either exploded or they went Donner Party on each other (or, I suppose, the Romulan). So, when Geordi and Ro talk about their predicament, Geordi saying that they are alive and Ro saying they are dead, I think that they both missed some crucial arguments. Geordi points out that he's "a blind ghost with clothes," but if they were starving he should have pointed out that dead or not, it's in their interests to try to find some more information about their situation before their hunger pains become overwhelming. And if they weren't hungry, which they certainly didn't seem throughout the episode, well, then the episode shifts into the realm of fantasy and suddenly hey, maybe Ro's right, I mean, she is in a Ron Moore script after all.

    But okay, maybe Geordi exaggerated at the end of the episode and we can mostly ignore the implausibilities here. What is interesting about the Geordi/Ro split in how they react to their predicament is what it reveals as the strengths and weaknesses of the two characters, an unusual and inspired pairing to be sure. Geordi is right in this episode, which fits in with the rational Trek universe, except that the story kind of has to cheat to get there (see above). Since he's right, Geordi doesn't change or learn anything in the story. It's actually a trope that the dead don't initially accept that they're dead, and can only move on once they do, which the episode subverts. However, Geordi's rationalism has its limits, and somehow I think there is a nice symmetry between Geordi's correctly identifying that his and Ro's "death" is actually a problem that he can solve, and his incorrectly being lulled into believing that his mother's "death" is a problem that he can solve in "Interface." It's not that Captain La Forge died and started wandering around as a ghost, or that anything mystical happened to her at all, but there are some puzzles which Geordi can't solve, and the ability to accept that which Ro seems to have readily is something Geordi could use there. Still, when Geordi tells Data that Data lacks imagination, when Geordi is going around pushing random parts of the table again and again, I want to throttle the guy. How about writing "GEORDI" in big letters on the console with his finger? How about punching out prime number patterns on the console? Geordi has a chance to communicate and he mostly doesn't do anything that looks like a careful, intelligent pattern. This is probably more the fault of the script than a deliberately-created flaw in Geordi's character, but I do think that Geordi lacks people skills sometimes and his inability to think of how to communicate his presence more directly may be characteristic.

    As for Ro, she is wrong. What is interesting is how quickly and immediately she comes to a place of serene acceptance that she has died and there is nothing she can do, and how this squares with her usual anger and conviction that she must act, as well as her rejection of her Bajoran faith. What this says to me is that Ro really, at her core, *wants* to believe in an afterlife, wants to believe in her Bajoran upbringing, and above all wants to *stop fighting*, stop hating her past and hating herself. But as long as she's living and as long as she has to continue finding a way to make it through each day, she has to hang onto her anger and her cynicism -- about herself, about Bajor, about Starfleet. Given a chance at escape, she takes it instantly; she wants to tell Picard what he means to her, wants to hear what Riker has to say about her (though she quickly shut down the possibility of continuing their memory-addled relationship), wants to believe in what she learned in her rough childhood which she ran away from, wants to believe in the crew, and wants peace. The chance to be able to stop being the version of Ro Laren she has become and to be a different one is so tempting that she ignores the possibility that she may not be dead. She doesn't come out and say that she was foolish for thinking she was dead so soon, but her talk about humility at the end suggests something else to me. She realizes this -- that when the chips were down, she absolutely believed and was defined by her childhood beliefs, even when there was not sufficient evidence for it. Maybe Ro does have a strong arc, since the very next Ro story is about getting in touch with her inner child so to speak ("Rascals") before she rejoins her roots ("Preemptive Strike"). Of course, Ro's stubbornness and unwillingness to listen to others manifests in her reaction to Geordi's suggesting an alternative explanation, and her crankiness at people's treatment of her starts up again once she realizes that she's not dead and it's time to kick butts again and (awesomely) shoot Riker in the head with a disruptor beam.

    For an episode that emphasizes the sense of touch, there is something moving (I avoided saying "touching" there, see?) about Geordi and Ro learning about being able to touch each other, and about the two of them grabbing onto each other when they are shifted back into phase. In addition to everything else, this episode is partly about community, and it does end up needing both of them to fight the threats both from the Romulans and from the possibility of not being discovered; just as the crew (as a community) honours them, they have to reach each other. Their ability to touch each other is a representation of their ability to impact and communicate with each other, when they can't touch or communicate with anyone else, and their holding onto each other as they pass through the return threshold back into life says this: they needed each other. They couldn't do it alone. They are not, or at least were not friends, but in the shared experience hopefully they have been impacted by each other in a positive way. Geordi has been through this story already in "The Enemy," and there's less for him to gain here, but the Romulan with a disruptor pretty much ensures that Geordi would not have made it through the episode well alone, and any trace of the Geordi talking about watching his back if Ro is with him on an away mission in "Ensign Ro" is gone. But Ro not only learns humility, she is able to open up to another person and share her recognition that she doesn't have all the answers and that she is able to admit that. The two don't become best friends after this, but that's not really the point. There's something poetic about it: they were "dead" and they brought each other back to life.

    Data's reaction to Geordi's death is a bit of an inverse and payoff to Geordi's reaction to Data's death in "The Most Toys"; it's Data, eventually, who figures out what's going on with Geordi, who follows the clues carefully enough that he gets the information that Geordi can use to manipulate the situation so that they are revealed. Unlike Geordi, Data doesn't recognize the clues as pointing to Geordi still being alive, but he does put it together the instant that Geordi's being alive becomes clear. His scene with Worf is touching, though I think that Worf's side of the conversation is disingenuous and/or out of character (if La Forge had died down in Engineering saving the ship from being destroyed, that would be one thing, but a transporter malfunction is the most pointless way to go; Worf was upset about Marla Astor blowing up for no reason, after all). The funeral scene is great fun for all, and it's because Data is an outsider to humanity that he is able to see into the heart of what matters and ignore convention (though, you know, it's not as if celebratory funerals were invented by Data, but you see my point hopefully); Data is an observer of humanity who builds up humanity from the ground up, but that sometimes means, as an outsider, he can see what's important instantly. He saved Geordi too, both by recognizing the clues once they all were put together with Geordi's face, and he found for everyone the meaning and joy in Geordi's life (and "death"). I mean, and Ro's, but it's mostly Geordi for Data. I like, too, Picard's short speech on meeting Geordi and Geordi's moment of beaming, slightly awkward pride about it; Picard's saying that Ro would have had a great career if it weren't for that Garon II incident; Riker's having feelings about Ro he never talks about, and his giddy excitement at being able to participate in the jazz celebration.

    The plot is somehow both smartly constructed and entirely ludicrous: the Romulans' decision to blow up the Enterprise is so extreme that I have to roll my eyes at it (and the fact that the Enterprise crew never would have been the wiser if it weren't for Geordi and Ro *OVERHEARING THE ROMULANS' EVIL PLANS* says little for the Enterprise' security and self-protection). I'm also not clear on why the phased Romulan figured that he needs to be so EVIL; it seems as if he wants to return to normal phasing, so, uh, why the need to threaten everyone with disruptor blasts when he wants the same thing as them? Or does he want to forestall their attempts to return to normal and die when the Enterprise explodes? And yet I like the fact that the Romulan's presence not only gives a nice action sequence (including the Romulan floating into space), but having defeated the Romulan gives Geordi and Ro the disruptor which turns out to be the key to creating a large enough energy signature to get the two out of there. I also love that there is a plot justification for the episode to end at Ro and Geordi's funeral.

    I think I have talked myself into liking this episode even more than when I watched it a few days ago; it has significant flaws in plotting areas, which wouldn't bother me if this episode weren't as plot-heavy as it is. It is also ultimately slight, in that the central Ro/Geordi relationship is not particularly deep or important. But there are a lot of neat things here and it's entertaining. A high 3 stars.

    I also love this episode, but something bugs me about the fans response to this episode. Everyone says it is a fun cute episode, just ignore the physics of it, big deal, but then in season 7, genesis, all of a sudden science is the most important thing in star trek and because the events in that episode couldn't happen, it is an embarrasment to star trek lore and one of the worst episodes of cannon.....If anything, Genesis is more plausible than this!

    That is absurd, they are both fun, stupid-science episodes, why is this one loved, and Genesis hated?

    I'll engage your question, Nick P, as someone who likes this ep yet does NOT hate "Genesis." While there could be any number of aesthetic differences, mostly chalked up to McFadden's directing vs Carson's, those would mostly be nitpicks to justify judgments held for other reasons. Could be a halo effect, with this show floating on the rising tide of S5, whereas "Genesis" is dragged down by S7's baggage. Or, coming late in the run, "Genesis" suffers more from "been there, done that." Or the relative plausibility of the dna gimmick could hurt, being more familiar and therefore more obviously bogus than magic phasing. Or maybe people have been hypnotized to have a violently negative reaction to the words "pygmy marmoset."

    In addition to the points raised by Grumpy, a lot of the difference is simply that "The Next Phase" allows us to spend time with the cast, behaving normally in an unusual situation. They are themselves. Besides Data, no one in "Genesis" is themselves by the end of the episode (with Picard, obviously, closest). They are also not even "versions" of themselves, but have become various monster-movie creatures. "The Next Phase" goes a long way on the differences between Ro and Geordi's reactions to their predicament and the crew's (especially Data's) reactions to their apparent death. The only real character details in "Genesis" are some of the very-early scenes of the crew going wacky, which are based a little on traits that these characters already have, exaggerated, and so are somewhat interesting. And it's fun to see Barclay again, as ever. But that's very thin, and ceases to matter after the first act or so. I think that "The Next Phase's" mystery elements are far better executed, too, with many inventive sequences (e.g. the Romulan chasing Ro through the various Enterprise crew members, and finally plunging into space) which "Genesis" can't touch. "The Next Phase's" implausibilities, too, are still at least somewhat linked to existing tech in the Trek universe -- i.e. the cloaking device. "Genesis" perhaps follows a tradition from "Identity Crisis," and becomes part of a later tradition of DNA mutation stories, but it's a much less storied tradition, and goes way beyond "Identity Crisis." Geordi and Ro don't really lose much of their identity in the process of going out of and back into phase, as opposed to the rest of the crew becoming totally different creatures, mating on instinct, crashing around and wrecking the ship, and there is *still* a final scene in "The Next Phase" where the two talk about what they've been through, whereas with the exception of Barclay there is no real sense in "Genesis" that anyone has been affected at all by gradually turning into bizarre human-animal hybrids.

    Well said, but I'm not fully prepared to discard the marmoset/hypnosis factor.

    "Well said, but I'm not fully prepared to discard the marmoset/hypnosis factor. "

    Definitely, there are several explanations, and not mutually exclusive :)

    I don't care about the technobabble. I like Ro, I like Geordi, and I like the religious overtones. Ignoring metaphysics isn't wisdom, and what if they were dead?

    Of course, if Ro had read Life After Life by Ray Moody, she might have been able to tell they weren't dead. Great book. It's about a doctor who collects testimonials from people who have died but were rescussitated.

    Nissa, Ray Moody is a man who passionately WANTS an afterlife to exist. His "research" was the worst kind of popular tripe and lacked scientific rigor.

    No serious scientist considers his work anything more than anecdotal. Everything he describes is easily attributable to non-supernatural causes.

    He's a nice guy--I know this because he was my doctor in 1981--but "Life After Life" is nothing more than fantasy.

    I see a lot of discussion of why Giordi and Ro don't sink through the floor. I agree that that is just one of the things we have to accept in these kinds of episodes unless we want to hate it all. I mean, heck, in the non-gravity of space, how do they just walk through the halls like they are in some hotel? When the ship changes orientation, like it sometimes does, what keeps them all from falling onto the walls or the ceilings?

    @grump_otter :

    Sorry for the delayed reply!

    If Ro alone had been "phased", she would have been convinced she was dead, accepted her heritage, blah blah and died of starvation or something worse. Only Geordi's unwillingness to accept the idea of an "afterlife"ghost story BS is what saved her sorry credulous ass. I don't have a problem with portraying these characters this way, but Ro neither apologises nor is chastised for her foolishness.

    In these types of stories, whenever atheistic characters encounter even one minor example of a phenomenon they cannot readily explain, they invariably grant credibility to the spiritual, but the same expectation is not extended in reverse. Ro, a religious person, directly confronts a situation which should make her question at least her urgency in explaining her situation in religious terms, but she doesn't. It's just...insulting.

    Thanks for eventually getting back to this, Elliott! Nice to "see" you again!

    And thanks for expanding on your comments--I get it now. Normally I think I would feel exactly the same way, but I guess I find this episode so fun that the lack of scientific rigor didn't bother me too much. And I really like Ro, so I's biased.

    I haven't been over to this site in about 6 months, and I find you answered me a week ago! Must be psychic! lol

    One thing I've always wondered about this episode is what happened to the Romulan after he decided to leave the ship.

    I'd like to think that Ro and Geordi eventually told the other Romulans how they could detect him before he got too hungry.

    On the other hand, you have to wonder if they simply forgot...

    @ Jean Claude Van Hamm - I kind of wonder that too (after he "decided to leave", lol). But I also thought that perhaps he would have died within seconds in the vacuum and deep cold of space. (And yes, I'm aware that in their phase-shifted-ness, Geordi and Ro should be having difficulty surviving in a vacuum too. But yeah, it's Star Trek, and this particular episode only makes any sense when wrapped in a bubble of technobabble and old TV/storymaking conventions).

    Regarding the common sci-fi convention of intangible characters being rooted to the floor, there is actually an episode of Batman Beyond which breaks this convention. A super villain develops phasing tech which works too well. He falls through the ground and Batman implies that he will keep falling until he reaches the planet's core where no more gravity will act on him. =) Can't post URLs but search Ian Peek for reference.

    In addition to the selective solidity of feet on floors, I actually noticed one scene where the phased Romulan's super-wide Peter Gabriel-style jacket clearly cast a shadow on the wall of an Enterprise corridor. If phased people cast shadows, then they are partially solid. But I'm willing to forgo the scientific implausibility for what was a very entertaining episode.

    Could the Romulans be any more evil, however? Their sworn enemies have just gone out of their way to help them, even supplying them a brand new engine to get them safely home, and they want to repay them by plotting to blow the Enterprise up when it enters warp?

    The Romulan's explanation of "if their engineering people keep coming back here, they may stumble upon the new technology we're hiding" makes little sense, since the the "muons" they implant inside the Enterprise's dilithium chambers will only cause an explosion when the rescue mission is finished and the Enterprise leaves.

    While watching this for the umpteenth time this evening I thought it would have been funny if they'd had Picard pick his nose because he thought he was alone in his ready room.

    "Still, when Geordi tells Data that Data lacks imagination, when Geordi is going around pushing random parts of the table again and again, I want to throttle the guy. How about writing "GEORDI" in big letters on the console with his finger? How about punching out prime number patterns on the console? Geordi has a chance to communicate and he mostly doesn't do anything that looks like a careful, intelligent pattern."

    YES! In general I liked this episode, but that scene was almost unbearable to watch. Especially when Geordi is like, "Data, stop being so rational!" Um, Geordi, maybe you should start being rational and try to get his attention in a way that isn't easily interpreted as sensor malfunction...

    "The Next Phase" is everything "Imaginary Friend" wanted to be but failed at. Both episodes are light-hearted adventure yarns; except, this one has a lot of ambition behind it. And as a result, it's a very entertaining ride.

    I suppose I could nitpick about the standard "ghost story" cliches present - why are they able to walk on floors, why are the able to sit in chairs, why is Ro able to stroke the Helm console, how can they breath the air - but is that all really necessary? Almost all "ghost" stories require that level of suspension of disbelief and I'm willing to grant them that. Add to that the fact that the episode by itself is enjoyable enough on it's own merits and I really don't see how any of those nitpicks pose a problem. If there is one nitpick that gets on my nerves here it's the scene where Data just dumbly eliminates the fields in Engineering while LaForge tells him to not be "so rational." Good grief man, just start drawing a note on the wall with your finger and explain the situation to Data. This isn't hard to figure out!

    What really stands out for me in "The Next Phase," however, is something I've harshly criticized TNG for in past episodes - it's treatment of religion. My God, we actually have a fairly balanced view of it here! We have an atheistic character, Ro, who suddenly faces a situation where she has to ask herself some questions about her atheistic worldview and starts to re-evaluate her positions. She even starts to think that maybe, just maybe, the religious beliefs of Bajorans aren't just nonsense, or (in her own words) "superstition passed on to children." In the end she doesn't become a believer - maybe she goes from atheist to agnostic, but she's certainly not a believer in the Prophets or anything else. And, as a believer myself, I'll say this - I'm okay with that. That's because along the way there is none of the previous TNG-standard ridicule of religion. When Ro first mentions religious themes to LaForge he rejects them for himself but doesn't once look down on her for choosing a different path. He basically tells her "you do what you want, I'm going to do to my own thing." There's even a hint that maybe, again just maybe, that treating religion with understanding and an open mind is a good thing. Maybe it isn't desirable to just denounce it and stand there with a smug sense of entitlement and superiority (or with no humility) like TNG has done in the past. Well done, writers, well done! You've shown that religion can have it's positive side even if it's not for everyone - because, after all, LaForge never accepts it, does he? But then, Ronald D. Moore, one of the guys responsible for DS9 and it's multi-layered view of religion, did write this, so I really shouldn't be that surprised.

    I suppose if there is one thing I really don't like about the episode it's the fact that we never get to hear what Riker was going to say about Ro at the memorial service. Seriously, what was he going to say? The episode seems to go out of it's way to paint the picture that Riker was tremendously moved by Ro's death. Why? They haven't exactly been shown to have had the best of relationships, have they? I mean, aside from that one time when they screwed like jack-rabbits when everyone's memories were wiped, how was she so special to him? Or were the writers honestly just trying to say that Riker is, in fact, that shallow? "I banged her once so she was special to me."?

    All in all, "The Next Phase" is a fluff piece, but its very competently executed fluff.


    @Luke, I think I know what you mean about Riker/Ro, but I think that we're meant to understand that their conflict and poor relationship may be related to an underlying attraction. At least one later episode confirms that Riker has a hard time with people who remind him too much of himself (Lavelle in "Lower Decks"), even though he is not initially conscious of it, not to mention his problems with Shelby. Ro challenges authority, thinks laterally, has a bad childhood, is pretty sure she knows what the right way is, and largely softens on her confidence around Picard, who is a substitute father role model. Riker has problems with upstarts partly because he himself is one, but he also has a grudging respect for them; Ro is also someone who has not managed to channel her trauma into ambition directly (as Riker has), instead being left with anger, but I suspect Riker can relate. Moreover, later revelations in "The Pegasus" give some further explanation for why Riker might have anger and sympathy for Ro's actions leading to a bunch of deaths as a young officer (I could maybe say something similar about Tam in "Tin Man"). I don't claim that the show fully developed their relationship, but the conflict and the attraction makes sense to me as Riker having difficulty with someone a little bit like himself with his rough edges unsmoothed, which might mean it's easier for him to talk about her when she's, uh, dead. I find the little hints of what might have been (in "Conundrum," here, in "Preemptive Strike") quite touching, because of the underlying suggestion that there could have been something there for them to build on, but which neither was really willing to do when they had their full memories intact. The tragedy gains weight from how lightly this was even sketched in.

    Colour this one a fun twist on a fairly worn theme. Yes, the premise may be fundamentally flawed, but it's carried forward with such verve it's easy to put that to one side.

    The Ro/LaForge relationship works well - I particularly liked Ro's fatalistic initial interpretation for what was going on. And the episode nicely sets up the Romulans as particularly villainous, but in a subtle way. The phased Romulan is also a decent surprise - although one wonders if the chase sequence through the various cabins was not simply done to show off the nifty phasing effect. 3 stars.

    Cause and effect and this, in my list of favorites back to back on the BBC marathon. I think we see a glimmer of the emotion that Data has even without the emotion chip. The friendship between Geordi and Data is one of the best things on STNG. But what do I know, I think Zion is just another matrix for people who escaped the first Matrix.

    "Of course, the nitpicker in me has to ask exactly what it is about this technology that makes it possible to pass through all objects except, of course, the floors. "

    Easy - artificial gravity. Although there are still a couple of logic holes I found - resting a hand on a workstation, sitting on chairs in the shuttle.

    God I love this episode. Yes, sure you can pick plenty of technical holes in it, but all the character elements are so great that I think you can forgive them. I remember whooping for joy when Data finally worked it out and Geordi and Ro appeared at their own funeral the first time I watched it.

    If I was trying to get someone into TNG I might show them this, because it stands on it's own so well and is so thoroughly enjoyable.

    Completely agree, Mitty. This is definitely up there in my top 10 TNG episodes, technical holes notwithstanding - as far as those are concerned, my general attitude is "It's best not to dwell on such minutae" (Garak, DS9). The characterizations far outweigh the technical flaws here, not even close.

    I think the funniest part of the episode for me was when Ro shot Riker in the face with her "phased" disruptor.

    methane wrote "Star Trek is rather unique in that you can track several writers over 4 series; many of us have the firm belief that the decline of the series in Voyager and Enterprise had nothing to do with 'franchise fatigue' but with 'writer fatigue', as the same writers were putting out watered down versions of the same scripts they were writing in the TNG era."

    Nailed it. The lowest point in the modern Trek franchise is the four-year period VOY S6 -> VOY S7 -> ENT S1 -> ENT S2 (2000-2003) for this reason. It's striking how little difference there is, both on an episode-to-episode level and in terms of the big picture, between the last two years of Voyager and the first two years of Enterprise, despite the fact the series are set 200 years apart on opposite sides of the galaxy with very different characters and technology. For those 4 years - after DS9 ended, after Voyager peaked in S4-5, and before Enterprise tried to be more ambitious in S3-4 - Trek episodes were largely anodyne, disposable and retrograde, with a real sense of creative burnout/fatigue, and written to be undemanding and formulaic. There was a real vibe of "we don't care, so why should you?" coming through the screen in those years. It was Trek in a holding pattern, with terrible copy-paste episodes, near non-existent character work, almost no ambition, and a repeated tendency to fall back on familiar tropes and races as a standby in lieu of good drama, as in Voyager's terrible S7 Klingon episode and Enterprise's Ferengi episode.

    @ N,

    You're seriously going to blame the 'Trek writers' for what happened? I suggest reading Ron Moore's comments about leaving Voyager:

    Problems of this sort *always* begin at the top in business.

    Ejoyable? certainly, for that reason I agree with the 3 star rating.

    By now I do, after rewatching nearly 5 complete seasons of TNG, I find out the kid-me remembered TNG to have a lot HARDER science behind it, that it really had.
    (still leages ahead that crappy reboot stuff that they try to pass for star trek and really isn't I'd much rather had a 5th STE episode or a new series than that reboot crap.

    ok, I admit I am cheating by having red and watched a lot more science fiction over the years, including onces with phasing/phased cloaking in it, and the backstory's and mechanisms of those were a lot better.
    Strange also will Riker never mentions or recognises the resemblence this cloaking technology has to the "federation cloaking device" he clearly has knowledge of given his story in season 7, "the pegasus".

    with a bit better written story, many of the conflicts with this story can be changed :
    basicly " being "out of phase" means NO interaction with any matter or energy what so ever. Essentially you are no longer in the same spacetime.
    However to throw matter and energy that belongs to this universe out of sinc with this universe indeed needs an energy source, to convert it.
    And while the phased matter and energy cannot interact with this universe, the energy source used to cause this phasing can, to an extend interest (but only minimal, kinda how drag, slows down a speedy object)
    To maintain the phase, one would to have an active imput of energy, to counter this drag.
    Also one could use energy to allow perception of what happens outside the field (like lightwaves coming from around you) to be converted inside the field.
    However inside the phase sound could not be converted inwards, as that would need a molecule medium to pass from a to b, and while one could actively convert molecules to be out of phase too, one could not convert the soundwave traveling on those moilecules.
    So without an active modulator for this phase, one would be blind AND deaf to the surroundings and percieve the entire universe as darkness and nothingness, and with an active modulator, one would be able to see, but not hear.

    This would make for a very different episode, with the characters walking entirely in the dark, and without any sound.. unable to breathe.. but lets say they had a envioremental suit on them when they were converted.
    -this would add a level of spookyness, one wakes up, to find oneself afloat in nothingness, completely dark. with a limited airsupply with no clue where one is..
    -after a while one might see light.. (lets say they were placed very far away from eachother and ther light of their helmets and suits had to travel a while to reach eachother..
    -they quickly discover by sending morse-light signals that they are ro and geordi.. and by doing a ping! find out they are very very far away from eachother.. -it takes almost 7 seconds for the light to get back to me so that means we must be almost a million km apart.. no that it matters, without anything around us, not even gravity.. to push off against, not even venting air would enable us to move towards eachother
    -than geordi gets a bright idea... but wait... out boots, magnetic they are and while thats a weak force, without any force out here, they should be able to pull us towards eachother quite nicely if be boost their output.
    -ok still in dark but at least they have eachother... when suddenly a beam travels through the nothingness apearingly from nowhere towards them, rupturing one of their air-circelutory recyclers.. ok, so we have them share the same air supply and turn off the lights..
    -a few more beams cross the darkness in silence without a sound, missing them, when suddenly they see the beam stop where before it travels onward.. with a small immage of the enterprise being some distrance from them but not to far
    -geordi puts 1 and 1 together and things "that must be the side of the phase-field" without anything to sustain it, it must be busy collapsing in on itself...
    and that they must be still in the same location, being somewhere in between both ships.. however that given the rotation of the universe and everything in it and their position being fixed, they still move away from the enterprise..
    -they turn back on their lights so more shots are done, the wall closing in on them, and they use the wall to push off in the direction of the light...
    -the momentum smashes them into the romulan that was also placed out of phase and while they tumble to the outher wall (preservation of momentum) they still succeed in pushing him off and grabbing his phaser when they hit the wall far sooner than they expected.. they figure all this energy release is causing the phase to collapse on it much faster... they put the phaser on explode, as a last moment bet... hoping to create a rift in the phase large enough for them to crawl through...
    -they succeed and are quickly picked up by the enterprises long range sensors just before they plan to leave... while they mesmorise what has happend to the romulan still trapped in the field...

    it would be a total different way to handle this story, but I believe a more hard scifi one..

    William B, I always love your comments, both in meaning and in style. Completely agree with your take on Ro/Riker, and you said it way better than I could. I think the two struck sparks off each other from the very beginning, when Riker hated her guts and she sneered defiantly while removing the offending earring. It wasn't just physical attraction, it was the challenge they each posed to each other, his grudging respect for her renegade ways, her desire to be liked and accepted by her demanding direct superior (though she would never admit wanting such a thing), his desire to catch her or tame her or make her admit he's as irresistible as he wants to be.

    Riker and Ro make for a way more exciting matchup than Riker and Troi.

    I thought this was a great episode, and contained some of the season's best comedy. Ro and Geordi work incredibly well together and have a very heart-warming chemistry that's a joy to watch. For me, the episode's funniest bits were when Ro kept wanting to know what it was that Riker was going to say about her, then shooting him, LOL! And then when they were both phased back, and Geordi immediately paging Englneering to take the warp engines offline..

    GEORDI: Take the warp engines off-line until further notice...there's a muon wave building up in the dilithium chamber.
    ENSIGN: (soundly suitably creeped out) Captain... who gave that order?!
    PICARD: (with a broad smile)That was Commander Geordi La Forge, Ensign – please follow his instructions.

    @Jack, was 'In Theory' the episode where that ensign sank through the floor and died? That gave me nightmares as a child. I still maintain that was one of the most disturbing deaths ST ever aired. That and Pegasus, and the way the crew died by being phased into the asteroid rock. Yikes.

    Fun episode - as many have already raised the issues with being out of phase (not falling through floors, light forming images, breathing etc.) But this is one of those episodes that, with a lot of handwaving (episode is heavy on technobabble), allows focus on the characters of Geordi/Ro and their different ways of handling the situation. It's an interesting idea to see what they hear from others about their deaths.
    I do think Riker leading the away crew onto the Romulan ship (and I guess Picard) were too naive not to take their weapons and basically walk into a trap. Troi should have been around - she could have been useful in sensing the Romulan commander talking to Picard just before he orders the Enterprise to go to warp.
    I'd give it 3/4 stars - I can see the casual TNG viewer enjoying this one.

    I very much liked this episode. Saw parallels with the TOS episode "Wink Of An Eye", which I also quite like.

    I agree with Jammer's rating.

    Of course, the whole thing about feet not going through the floor is totally illogical, but artistic license has to be allowed sometimes.

    As another example of artistic license, there is a movie called "The Three Stooges meet Hercules". Basically a kid's movie, but I liked it (and I usually don't care for the Stooges, there are too violent for my taste). The Stooges meet a scientist with a time machine, go back to ancient Greece, and ... meet Hercules (surprise!) However, conveniently enough, everyone in ancient Greece happens to speak 20th century American English. Of course, if they didn't, how could we understand what they are saying? So, you just chalk up to artistic license and you let it slide.

    In this episode, Geordi mention not having eaten for 2 days. After the Stooges arrive in ancient Greece, one of them says "I'm really hungry. I haven't eaten in over 2,000 years".

    Watchin this episode on curious as to how they were able to get from one ship to the other

    A real shame that Ro wasn't brought in as regular character; afterall there was definitely room in the cast after Wil Wheaton left and it would have been nice to have a regular helmsman.

    I always found it ironic that the stronger female characters in TNG weren't part of the main cast - Ro, Guinan, Pulaski - even Shelby! Yar could have been great but Crusher was woefully underused and Troi was just a waste of space until they gave her a uniform.

    4 stars for me. It might not be the most sci-fi/exploration heavy episode, or even an episode that explores moral issues, but the character interactions are great. Especially Ro is brilliant.

    3 stars

    Liked every once in a while seeing a key trek race like Romulans show up in an episode

    Urgency with Romulans plotting to destroy the enterprise. Thumbs up Perfectly Romulan that the crew helps them and they pay them back by trying to destroy the ship
    Plus added threat with cloaked Romulan trying to thwart Geordie and Ro was great

    Glad they did not dragout the mystery of what was going on with Ro and Geordie
    TNG WAS REALLY good at coming up with these bad nightmare situations for crew but ultimately with a good explanation that made the situation they had endured or thought was reality wasn't real in some way--like remember me with people disappearing or Troi losing ability in The Loss or Riker waking up sixteen years in the future or something ghostly otherworldly going on in Night Terrors or here with revelation not dead but cloaked and phased. I loved that about tng

    Thumbs up for Ron Moore for interesting good revelations-the twosome phased and cloaked, the unexplained chroniton fields actually being Geordie and Ro, or that by accident Geordie realized the anyion beam was the key to becoming de cloaked.

    Smart to think of crowded place like the memorial service best place to hope for someone to see them. Liked also the suspenseful moments as Picard almost ordered ship to engage. All those near misses were tense for me

    The visual was really nice of Enterprise power transfer beam and the debut of the new Romulsn scout ship was nice.

    I REALLY enjoyed this episode! Always have. I don't have any deep thing to share about it though

    @Elliott: I can see why I disagree with almost every comment you make. Your outlook on life and mine are TOTALLY different! I am a deeply religious person, and you seem to go out of your way to not be

    Startrekwatcher said:

    "TNG WAS REALLY good at coming up with these bad nightmare situations for crew but ultimately with a good explanation that made the situation they had endured or thought was reality wasn't real in some way"

    This pretty much nails it. You cited a few good examples. The episode with "Ardra" is another.

    In TNG, various things happened that seemed like they might be magical or mystical, but by episode's end, it was shown to just be technological.

    Then DS9 came along, and actually introduced what is essentially magic into the Trekverse, and although I liked DS9, it was mostly for the worse.

    The closest TNG actually came to having "magic" was the horrible Sub Rosa, which came along after DS9 was up and running.


    I own everything trek...have watched them all at least 3 times ... some (VOY and ENT) many more....

    ... and during my current binge watch of TNG I came across this episode and I swear, I DON'T REMEMBER IT!!

    Now it's not a bad episode so....

    It was like watching new trek!!!!


    @Tara: "Riker and Ro make for a way more exciting matchup than Riker and Troi."


    They could have permanently replaced Marina Sirtis with Michelle Forbes for all I cared.

    You know what I've never understood about this episode? Where does it take place? Presumably there's some unclaimed space where both the Romulans and the Federation periodically operate without there being any talk of treaty violations (we see this in other episodes by "Tin Man," "Timescape" and "The Pegasus"). But why would the Romulans be doing this dangerous experiment outside of their own territory?

    Meh. Boring. An episode with a lot of "ugh".

    Ro. Ugh.
    Riker on trombone. Ugh.
    Troi isn't allowed to talk much, but she's still there. Ugh.

    Floors-yep but then how come they can breathe the air if they are out of phase?
    No, I have no idea what I am talking about but this was ok-ish.
    Another transporter accident-another episode where no one else can see the key character-perfidious Romulans.
    Yes, a lesser episode.


    I always liked this episode. Geordi is in his element, I like Ro and the two of them together just work. It`s a good use of technobabble and for once the technobabble was more than just the saving grace, it gently set the premise and solved it.

    The Romulans were villians, Troi was absent, Riker wasn't an ass, Data had his part.

    Why did they not confront the Romulans at the end for trying to blow up the Enterprise?

    Hmm....if they are "phased out" ... what are they breathing? How does their phased-out diaframs suck that regular, in-phase air?

    Seems relevant... the romulan goon was, after all, dispersed into space "choking" ....

    The the person wondering why Ro wasn't kept as a regular character -
    Ro was originally intended to be a regular on DS9.

    I like the Geordi's variation of the Pascal Wager: If you are right, then none of this makes any difference, but if I am right, then we are still alive and I will need your help to get out of this.

    Makes more sense than the original Pascal Wager.

    The Next Phase is to viewing what McDonald's is to dining. I like the Quarter-pounder with cheese and fries, but I would never claim to have been nourished very much by the experience.

    High points: Ensign Ro wise-cracking under her breath when Riker (stupidly) orders the away-team to leave their phasers behind. (After all, we in the Federation have to prove to the Romulans how potentially friendly we are...give me a break!).

    Low point: allowing the Romulans to be scum without ever calling them out on it, after spending two days helping them fix their junk-bucket. Sorry Spock, they are irredeemably awful.

    The episode is, at points, uncomfortably like a Chuck Jones cartoon: for instance, the chase through the walls of the crew quarters by Ensign Ro and her Lurch-like Romulan pursuer. Just insert the funny 'Bugs Bunny vs. Yosemite Sam style sound track' and you'e transported into a Loony Toons featurette. All you need to finish the job is to give Ensign Ro a carrot and have her say "What's up Doc?" Apologies to Warner Brothers. The scene with Geordie and Data at the computer tabletop in Engineering, is equally cartoonish, although the relationship to the ancient film "Topper" was also hard to miss. Apologies to George and Marion Kirby.

    In terms of rating this fare...let me just say that I would never recommend the episode to a friend who had never seen TNG before. It is watchable and enjoyable only by a person already comfortable with the series, and would never hook a newbie. THE END. Insert WB closing music.

    Well, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. But more than any other TNG episode I can think of, it requires a concerted suspension of disbelief. You have to be prepared to overlook a lot of nonsense, but if you do, it's worth it.

    I was slightly bothered at first that I was able to see Ro, as a viewer, when she was supposed to be invisible. But I got over that. However - if she and Geordi are out of phase with the universe as we know it, how come it only works one way? Why can she see the rest of the crew, the ship etc etc.

    And if Ro and Geordi can't physically interact with the known material world, how is the shuttlecraft able to convey them across to the Romulan vessel? How does it propel their mass? We do actually see her touching objects on the Bridge - her chair and the console - when she first goes there, and there's no sense that she's unable to feel them.

    I loved it when the Romulan gets pushed out into space; I was hoping that was going to happen. But I'm not sure how he, Geordi or Ro are able to breathe even when they're on the Enterprise. How are they getting air into their lungs? How does the normal-world oxygen get into their out-of-phase bloodstream?

    Observant viewers will have noticed that, to provide the illusion of movement, the stars outside the shuttlecraft window are shown to drift slowly past. But it would have to be moving at many times the speed of light for that to happen.

    The Romulans never get their come-uppance in this one, and that's a shame. Not even a snarky word or two from Picard before the Enterprise departs.

    It occurred to me that the out-of-phase technology would be a phenomenal tool for espionage.

    I didn't really like the way the Romulan ship was shown to be in a state of disaster, with little bonfires on the bridge. And it seems odd that the Enterprise away team turns up without any sort of breathing equipment into an environment like that.

    I thought that Geordi might have tried to send a message with his bursts of disruptor fire under Data's nose in Engineering - some sort of code or pattern.

    Riker offers to give the Romulans a computer core from "30 or 40 years ago", unless I misheard. Why would the Enterprise be carrying old technology like that? Really odd, I thought.

    Anyway - despite all of the above, I was highly entertained.

    Stardate 4431.8. Admiral Tech. N. O’Babble at Starfleet Command. To all experimental engineering research teams. We haven’t yet managed to invent cloaked phase inverter technology, but as a matter of urgency please give your full effort to inventing a floor material for use in starships that exists both in normal space and in cloaked inverted space. That way we may be able to detect cloaked Romulans aboard ships. As a side benefit, if any of our people get phased, it will provide a solid surface for them to walk on until they work out a way to get back.

    This was a really enjoyable episode up to the point where the cloaked Romulan plotted to blow up the Enterprise, a wholly stupid and unnecessary addition to what was already a brilliant story. What they SHOULD have done was to have the warp engines compromised by the same accident that phased Ro and Geordi, but the Enterprise crew didn’t realise, so Geordi had to phase back to warn them not to go to warp. Introducing a Romulan Fu Manchu character was just absurd, we really didn’t need that.

    Apart from that, this is a great episode. Yes, 3 stars (strong!) is fair but it would have been more without the ridiculous Romulan.

    The artificial gravity onboard Enterprise is good enough explanation as to why they can walk on the floor, since it directs mass to it. The intensity required for that explains why its solid for anything at all that carries any energy, regardless how faint or out of phase.

    Just watched the episode again and must say that I grossly misjudged it. It's much more entertaining than my earlier review implied back on Aug. 14, 2020.

    I thought the Romulans were thoroughly despicable to have consigned the Enterprise and its crew to annihilation to protect their little secrets. Just evil.

    The closing scene with Ro and Geordi laughing was really quite charming.

    Fun but even more ridiculous than them being turned into children or a shuttle being miniaturized.

    How can they hear and see the others but not vice versa, etc? Pretty crazy, and without even device continuously operating.

    Still fun though.

    I actually expected Geordi to try to tap out an actual code for Data.

    I've always liked this episode, but hadn't seen it in a while. Upon rewatch:

    1) I was waiting for the moment when time stops and Geordi and Ro are on the bridge and the frozen Romulan officer turns out to not be frozen after all. Then I realized I conflating this episode with season six's 'Timescape'. After all, both have enterprise officers out of sync with the rest of the crew, an energy transfer beam between the ships, Romulans, and more specifically, a Romulan who is secretly out of sync as well and ends up in a confrontation with 'our' out of sync characters. No wonder I misremembered!

    2) On my recent viewing, I decided that I disliked the very end. Ro I feel something personal and expresses genuine conflicted feelings, and what does LaForge do? He uses it to jokingly belittle her and her reputation for being stubborn and difficult, instead of being a true friend. She may have laughed, but it seem to be an uncomfortable laugh.

    As Jammer points out, the solid floors vs. fluid everything else makes no sense. I'm not entirely sure how life support and the external bulkheads work in this "cloaked" dimension either. But okay, all that is forgivable.

    What IS annoying is the constant deus ex machina at the 11th millisecond that prevents total disaster. "Ensign, set a course to UrAnus, warp 7, engay..." - "Commander Data, there is some gobbledygook emission happening in twenty backward." And not just once; it happened at least three times. Give me a break.

    I could've done with less-talkie-talkie about how I'm dead, boo-hoo, but it wasn't too unmanageable.

    Three stars about does it.

    It always annoyed me how they beamed over to a Romulan ship unannounced, an enemy vessel, and just start taking command, pulling parts out of it, etc. and the Romulans were just like sure, no problem. Hey we'd like to take this component over the Enterprise, cool? I also never understood how they were able to walk around on the floor and breath the air if they were phased out and just passed through everything else. Ro should have been able to blow in Picard's ear or stomp on his foot apparently.

    The whole "falling through the floor" problem bugged me as a kid but doesn't anymore. Gravity plating is supposed to be integrated into every deck/floor, so we have to assume whatever technobabble explanation makes them work also somehow interacts with phased matter. Yes it's a conceit, but I think it's good enough.

    Also, there's nowhere for them to fall to anyway. Where is the gravitational center of the ship? Theoretically it would be somewhere near the middle, like around shuttle bay 2 and 3 perhaps? But that would only be a very slight pull, and it wouldn't pull people down, it would be pulling them towards the center. So gravity plating it is. That said, it also means the turbolift should not have fallen to its demise in Disaster earlier this season, it should've just been floating there in the lift shaft, broken rails or not.

    In general, antigravity seems kind of OK when the ship is moving in a straight line, but as 213karaokejoe said, that doesn't work if the ship around them changes direction. Even more so if it's in orbit, because orbit depends on gravity. Then there's the whole breathing air, casting shadows, and other problems. Yeah. I guess you have to assume it's kind of like Time's Arrow, where they're just far enough out of phase to not be perceptible to others, but they're breathing the air from that slightly behind (forward?) timeframe. It still doesn't work, but it's at least a little closer.

    I must say, they were awfully restrained in that episode. If I were made invisible, then I'd go around drawing things on people's faces and leaving mousetraps at the bottom of their beds. I used to do the same in boarding school as a wee scamp. Ah, Lovington's Academy for Wayward Boys. Those were the days.

    I wonder what happened to that chap with the pointy ears as he floated away.

    How about three cheers for Chief Brossmer? I've seen every other possible aspect of this episode picked apart here. To be entirely honest, while I like Jammer's reviews, I come here for the comments. Brossmer but purposely and inadvertently tries or contributes to the saving of Ro and LaForge at every opportunity. She was only Transporter Chief (and ostensibly, only stationed on the Enterprise) for a couple of days. But boy, did she and her intuition do one hell of a job.

    One other thing that I don't believe was mentioned yet:

    "Why don't we create our own phase-shifting device? Would undoubtedly be a crucial development in the ongoing cold war with the Romulans. Probably super easy now that we understand the technology inside out.
    ....Nahhhh, it's an episode-closing punchline, so how could it be serious??? Hahahahahaha"

    Why aren't they falling through the floor? They can pass through all walls so why don't they just fall into space?

    Why was a memorial service setup so quickly, especially while the Romulan crisis was still being resolved? Talk about the fastest memorial ever! How did data have time to setup a memorial while we witnessed him conducting the chroniton investigation?

    Matter can be phased but not energy. When the Romulan disruptor was fired, its energy should've been visible to everyone.

    Great episode otherwise!

    Episode was just on today, I agree with the gravity plating theory as to why they could walk on the floor. Even energy is affected by gravity. But it doesn't explain how they could breathe. It also doesn't explain why the energy from a phaser or disruptor still wouldn't do any damage. Another small flaw was why would they not be able to pass their hands through each other. That's like saying a ghost can pass through walls but not another ghost. That doesn't make any sense. Unless they explained this as magnetic repulsion between matter phased to the exact same "modulatiom" or whatever lol

    Quiet funny when Data is scanning Engineering for anomalies and each time LaForge walks trough the console Data has that irritated reaction. Like "huh, didn't i just scan that?"

    > I agree with the gravity plating theory as to why they could walk on the floor........But it doesn't explain how they could breathe. It also doesn't explain why the energy from a phaser or disruptor still wouldn't do any damage.

    yes, and it also doesn't explain how they could sit in chairs without falling through!! smh lol

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