Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Power Play”

2.5 stars.

Air date: 2/24/1992
Teleplay by Rene Balcer and Herbert J. Wright and Brannon Braga
Story by Paul Ruben and Maurice Hurley
Directed by David Livingston

Review Text

The Enterprise crew receives a distress call near the site of the loss of the USS Essex, which went missing two centuries before. Surely the crew is long dead, but Riker and a team take a shuttle down to the moon's surface to investigate whether there may be any life. When they find themselves stranded with an approaching energy storm, O'Brien does some fancy transporter work to rescue them, but not before some mysterious energy enters the away team's bodies.

Data, Troi, O'Brien, and Riker return to the ship, but it quickly becomes clear that their bodies have been taken control by hostile entities — except for Riker, who for some reason has not been possessed. The other three go to Ten Forward and take hostages, ordering Picard to take the ship closer to ... oh, who am I kidding? I don't care about the details of their demands, and I've already forgotten what they were.

"Power Play" is a watchable and competent but by-the-numbers hostage situation as filtered through various sci-fi/fantasy conceits. It's also an example of the tried-and-true Trekkian standby that allows the regular characters to act outside their normal personalities because of those sci-fi/fantasy conceits. Troi is the leader of the hostage-takers. (Insert Troi-bashing joke here, such as, gee, she makes a more credible leader here while possessed by an alien influence than she did as herself in "Disaster.")

There's an alleged notion here that the body-possessors are actually the souls of the Essex crew, trapped in some sort of purgatory. Picard & Co. mostly scoff at that notion, but the story seems to want to play out that string anyway. (The body possessors actually turn out to be disembodied prisoners in a disembodied-alien penal colony.) But mostly, the episode is content to simply deal with this as a straightforward hostage situation, documenting the crew's progress and setbacks in their attempts to negotiate with and/or thwart the hostage-takers. Your mileage may vary, but for me it was hard to be either excited or much disappointed by something that mostly achieved what little it set out to do.

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74 comments on this post

    Aw, I'm disappointed. When you posted the previous batch of reviews, you stopped right before this one, which is one of my favorite episodes of TNG. But then after the waiting, you didn't like it all that much.

    I think, if you can suspend your disbelief successfully ( broken arm stops possession, but not being an android?), that this is one of the most "edge-of-your-seat" episodes. On first viewing, I really didn't know what was going to happen or how it was to be resolved.

    On repeat viewings, I enjoy the different personas--especially O'Brien. His interaction with Keiko while he is possessed, and her reaction, is very well done.

    And stop being mean to Deanna! Have you forgotten all the great things she has done? There was that time. . . hang on. Okay, never mind the great things she has done--she's just nice. :-)

    grumpy_otter, don't bother changing Jammer's mind about Troi. He just hates her for no damn reason, even though she's no more 'useless' than Dax (Terry Farrell obviously thought so)

    I agree with J. This episode was good but not great. I liked some of the character interaction. But the "mystery" of finding out who or what was posessing them had un unsatisfying resolution.

    An interesting trivia is that Marina Sirtis did her own stunt on the moon sequence, and then they ended up cutting the close-ups. She jokes that "it could have been Worf in Troi's uniform and nobody would've noticed" :P

    Once again I disagree. It is a solid 3 star episode--another fun and entertaining episode. And yet another example of why I love TNG's Brannon Braga. His high concept shows are so great.

    This body possession story was done back before they were over used in sci-fi and even Trek. It was probably Trek's best body snatcher show outshining DS9's Keiko pagh'wraith episode, VOY's "Warlord" and ENT's "The Crossing.

    Loved the atmosphere. They did a good job with the planet set. The action sequences of the trio to Ten Forward were thrilling. Troi got a chance to shine. Brent was downright terrifying. Liked the misdirection with the episode suggesting they were the ghosts of the Essex then liked the idea of them being disembodied prisoners.

    To me, the Essex-purgatory would have been a killer idea. Instead the story feels bland, like the writers were unable or unwilling to take it to another level. Oh well, it's not a horrible hour, just an uninspiring one.

    @angel"grumpy_otter, don't bother changing Jammer's mind about Troi. He just hates her for no damn reason, even though she's no more 'useless' than Dax (Terry Farrell obviously thought so)"

    I respectfully disagree. Although I think that Dax is definitely one of DS9's weaker links, her existence on the show at least has a point. She's Sisko's old man! :) They could play really well off each other from time to time. Even if there was nothing else, their relationship alone makes her presence worthwhile.

    Troi, unfortunately, is a completely superfluous character that really has no place on the ship. She's clearly a bad counselor, she's sitting on the bridge all the time God knows why, her empathic abilites just torpedoed the plots (so screenwriters started removing her from "sensitive" scenes)... She's a complete mess of a character.

    @bigpale, your list of body possession episodes isn't exactly respected company.

    Though "Warlord" can be a hoot provided you're in the right mood.

    @Paul: "Troi, unfortunately, is a completely superfluous character that really has no place on the ship. She's clearly a bad counselor, she's sitting on the bridge all the time God knows why, her empathic abilites just torpedoed the plots (so screenwriters started removing her from "sensitive" scenes)... She's a complete mess of a character."

    Oh, is that why Terry Farrell left her show? Troi also had a nice relationship with Riker, & later Worf (just like Dax, go figure)

    This episode brought up one of my pet peeves about the show: ie the lack of other officers heading specialized sections of the ship. Why is it only the regulars we ever see in conference? Why is that Ro, a lowly ensign is in on the big meetings and not say, officers in charge of xenobiology, planetary geology, ship's structure/integrity, stellar physics, etc? Why is Georgi, ostensibly ship's engines engineer called on to conduct research in everything from rototics to planetary geology? In this episode we see him and Ro in a jeffreies tube with the spy gizmo. There weren't any experts in such a device available in the ship? No structural engineers familiar with the ship's layout? Aside from the half dozen officers we see every week and a handful of security officers and waiters in ten forward, who is it that comprise the 1,000+ other people aboard?

    And then we get to Power Play and you’ve underrated it, IMO.

    I enjoyed this one thoroughly. It let O’Brien Data and especially Troi go out of character and be some really badass characters. I really enjoyed their performances.

    I understand that there’s some conceit that the crew probably wouldn’t take a shuttle down just to have O’Brien beam down 5 minutes later. Kinda silly, but from there, the plot made sense for the most part. The race to outsmart each other made for a good episode in my opinion.

    I agree that it might have been stronger for the Essex claim to have played a bigger role in the end of the episode, but I enjoyed the episode. Yes it’s a Trek hostage episode, but the twist is that the hostage-takers are also crew (and hostages themselves). Unlike Time Travel, I don’t think Trek really overdid hostage episodes; at least not by TNG season 5. It had unique bits to it that I enjoyed, and a somewhat unique solution – that Worf, Keiko and Picard would willingly die to save the ship. It didn’t come down to a sniper shot or secreting the hostages away from the bad guys as hostage situations often do.

    I found it ridiculous that Picard dismssed the possibility that it could be Captian Shumar because a starfleet captain shoudl behave better, as if Picard would know what it's like to be disembodies for two centuries, Starfleet officer or not. Between that and his rather selfish behavior when being strangled by Data (abort immediately!), Picard annoyed me in this episode.

    Indeed the end of this very episode, they make a point of saying that a Starfleet officer, including the ones possessed, would gladly give their lives, but Picard aborts a mission because he's being choked.

    @Jay/Jack - I think that once the beam missed Data, Data threatened to kill everyone. Even if Picard was willing to die, that wouldn't have resulted in Data being incapacitated, so it would have served no good. He would have just been able to kill everyone in the room and go on a rampage around the ship.

    If they rid the beings from the organic lifeforms, the crew as a whole should have been able to handle Data. Somebody could shut him off...Worf even developed a tool to do so remotely in Insurrection.

    Even granting that, Data still would have killed at least some people before the crew as a whole could restrain him.

    Always enjoyed this one - but when Worf and his security team are bounding down the corrider to intercept the invaders on Deck 13 (somewhere around the 13 minute mark) they run past an average looking early 1990s guy wearing a casual button up shirt tucked into pleated khaki pants with an ordinary black belt. It always takes me out of the episode for a second because it literally looks like some dude in Gap clothes just wandered into the shoot from the Paramount lot. Is it supposed to be an off-duty crewman? Is he one of the civilians that have hardly appeared on the ship since the first season when Roddenberry was trying to convey the Enterprise as a city in space? If so why isn't he costumed better? Is it just a rehearsal shot with a stand-in that got used because production was up against a deadline?

    I liked how the possessed-Data wasn't a riff on Lore. Where Lore was a swaggering psychopath mugging for the camera most of the time; the co-opted Data was played as a harried, pragmatic thug, with a short fuse. I have to hand it once again to the mucho talented Brent Spiner.

    Very entertaining episode and a great score by Jay Chattaway by the way ( which can't be said about a lot episode this season )

    And i agree about the always reliable Brent Spiner. An incredible performance on his part

    Liked this one; easily 3 stars from me, probably more. Loved the mental chess game -- not just between good guys and bad guys but between writers and audience, trying to get around all the ways the transporters could end the plot in, like, three seconds.

    The ending is too abrupt, unfortunately, and another problem just occurred to me: the Essex distress signal has apparently been pinging for 200 years! Either it has super-duper batteries or the ghost prisoners kept it going. Whichever, the episode ends before the crew locates and salvages a genuine antique shipwreck.

    Decent episode . It struck me as odd that with all that atmospheric disturbance, they did not take pattern enhancers with them just in case. They've had them in similar situations. It should be standard equipment on a mission like this.
    As for Troi, she wasn't really useless, she was just written that way.

    Marina Sirtis was fantastic in this episode. I actually really enjoy this ep, it's a very good "possessed character" kind of show. All three of the possessed characters did a great job.

    Everyone seemed to have a place in this episode too. And you have some nice phaser action and nice usage of Ten forward. Solid episode.

    When O'Brien beamed down with the pattern enhancers he materialized behind a rock formation. Was it my imagination or was this rock formation a piece of set salvaged from the original series? It appeared to me to be the gateway to the past from City on the Edge of Forever.

    The ever-reliable writers at wrote up a hilarious take on this episode, well worth reading:

    I liked this episode, it was quite fun. I loved seeing Marina Sirtis play the ruthless type, it was quite refreshing.

    (Small quibble: When Riker sent the bridge controls to engineering, couldn't the bad guys have just left someone on the bridge while the other two took over engineering? Answer: Because we wouldn't have had much of an episode then. I'll let that one slide.)

    I have a couple nitpicks to get out of the way first:

    1) This is minor, but I'm surprised Picard didn't try to negotiate for Molly and possibly Keiko's release as well. I would assume in hostage situations that getting infants out of harm's way is pretty high up on the list of things to do.

    2) More importantly, the Miles ghost's characterization seemed off. It was pretty clear that the ghosts had access to all of the memories and personalities of the people they were possessing. But Miles kept looking at Molly and Keiko as if he was confused and kept talking about them as if he couldn't entirely remember it. Why? The Troi ghost was interacting with Picard normally in his ready room, why was Miles acting all weird? My guess this is a relic of an earlier draft, and is supposed to provide tension and drama (will he remember his kid? Will that trigger the real Miles to take over the body?). So it just seemed awkward and out of place here.

    But other than that, this was a rather fun episode. As others have said, Picard stopping the assault when Data threatens to kill him didn't bother me. After all, Data did threaten to kill everyone in the room, and Picard thought that he would still have the upper hand. After all, he did eventually manipulate events so that he would only have to sacrifice himself and 5 others (well, 4 probably; Data would presumably survive being sucked out to space). And in the end, that was an effective strategy. Hostage situations only work if the other side cares about the hostage's lives. And when Picard points that out to the Troi ghost, she knew that she had lost. Simple and effective.

    Another nice aspect was the Troi ghost. She was rather reasonable, all things considered. Willing to compromise, willing to show mercy. Definitely a far cry from Data's ghost, who appeared to be a sadist. It was smart to give them some different personalities, instead of just being generic bad guys. The fact that Sirtis and Spiner did quite well portraying these characters worked too.

    So overall, it wasn't groundbreaking or brilliant, but it served as an entertaining hour. Good enough for me.

    Worth it to see Spiner do mean and angry. And no, it's not the same as Lore, it's another different performance from him.

    Sirtis is indeed more convincing in this role than she was playing captain as Troi. Go figure.

    And I'm with Phl regarding that early '90s dude in the corridor - WTF? Was that an inside joke?

    "...regarding that early '90s dude in the corridor - WTF? Was that an inside joke?"

    Pretty sure the same extra, wearing a similar if not the same outfit, appears in a couple other episodes. Enough to have made an impression.

    I'm surprised nobody mentioned Troi beating Data in chess. I can't imagine the likelihood of that.

    This episode really clicked for me and was among the best of Season 5. I was impressed by Sirtis' acting. I think I like her better as a General Zod-like prisoner yearning to escape than as Troi. Spiner's acting was also superb (as usual). His hatred of Worf had me thinking the possessor really were from the Essex, because almost two centuries ago Klingons were THE enemy.

    My one quibble was O'Brien's involvement in the first place. Why does he beam down with the gadget that will strengthen the transporter signal? Never mind that he is the father of a newborn taking a 50/50 chance (according to LaForge) of getting his atoms scattered everywhere -- can they not beam down a piece of equipment without a person holding it? That's just silly.

    I'm also liking Ro more and more this season. She's intelligent, tough, and sexy (witness her seduction of Riker during "Conundrum"). Her character seems to embody everything Yar was supposed to have been but failed to become.

    I also noticed the strong score in this episode. A good score always enhances the mood and action, while a bland or forgettable one detracts from it. Hard to believe a producer actually wanted weak music on this show. Glad he was overruled.

    Peter: "[Ro] seems to embody everything Yar was supposed to have been but failed to become."

    Never thought of it that way, surprisingly. Seems an obvious comparison, now that you mention it... yet I tend to disagree. Yar was supposed to be a competent department head, not a woman with something to prove, like Ro. While Yar took no guff from outsiders, she was fully loyal to the Starfleet agenda.

    Actually, as much as I never really cared for this episode, '90s guy' never really struck me as out of place. He's an off duty officer in civvies. Adult civilian clothing on TNG was typically distinguished itself from '90s couture by altering the waistline and/or the neckline and I felt that that was accomplished adequately here. The narrow belt with the waistline showing above it was a stylistic touch along with the no lapel neckline giving the ensemble a crisp neat look that said, "we still wear pants and shirts in the future but style still exists as well." It does not scream '90s to me.
    I must agree with one of the comments above stating that hellish disembodiment will rewrite anybody's personality after 200 years. Surely enough to drive anyone insane in but a fraction of that time.

    Disembodied spirits of Humans? *harumph* What a ridiculous notion, that couldn't possibly be the case. Disembodied spirits of aliens? Well, of course! Except this!

    Season Five really seems to have hit a pretty big snag here in the last few episodes. It started out reasonably well but once "A Matter of Time" rolled around, it hasn't been the same. The only good episode since then was "New Ground" and "Power Play" doesn't help that streak. Of course, Maurice Hurley getting a story credit doesn't exactly help. I can, sadly, almost sense the man's fingerprints on this episode.

    The problem is that the episode wants to be a standard hostage situation tale but fails at that rather low-set goal. The main reason for that is that the villains are not credible. These entities are not intimidating. They're not even threatening. I'd go so far as to say they're not even competent. What they are, ultimately, is annoying. And that's the worst thing a main villain can be.

    It all goes downhill once they start to implement their plan to move the Enterprise to the southern polar region of the planet. Apparently, their plan was for Evil-Troi to convince Picard to voluntarily move the ship there. Okay, fine so far. But then, Evil-Data, for absolutely no discernible purpose, decides to take matters into his own hands and attempts to force the Bridge crew to move the ship, thereby ruining their plans. Evil-Troi even scolds him for it as they leave the bridge! Is this entity seriously so hostile that he couldn't even wait five minutes before having to hit something? Then, they decide to take hostages in Ten Forward and Evil-Troi decides they'll pretend that they're the ghosts of the Essex crew. Okay, just a quick question here - why? What did they possibly think this would get them? A ruse like that might have worked if they weren't, you know, taking hostages. Or, if Evil-Data wasn't acting like a sadist with A.D.H.D. This doesn't make Evil-Troi out to be a rather wise leader; it makes him (her?) look like a fool who is flying by the seat of his pants.

    Let's compare "Power Play" to what is possibly the apex of the standard hostage situation story - "Die Hard." One of the main reasons why "Die Hard" works so well with it's admittedly thin plot is that it has one of the most iconic movie villains of all time. Hans Gruber is suave, sophisticated, competent and charismatic as fuck! None of these villains have any of those qualities. They're blunt, coarse, stupid and not charismatic in the slightest. Evil-Troi is rather dull. Evil-O'Brien waffles between being dim-witted and unappealingly arrogant. And Evil-Data, well, he's the worst offender of them all. Why did they feel the need to make him so brutal. From his needless attempt to take over the bridge, to his pounding on the Ops console, to his non-nonchalantly smashing a wall panel in the hallway, to his glee at shooting people in Ten Forward, to his borderline obsessive compulsion to pick a fight with Worf, to his inability to tolerant two people talking, to his chocking of Picard even after the rescue attempt has been thwarted - I could go on, but you get my drift. He's so over-the-top that it's farcical - especially given the fact that he and his compatriots are trying to pass themselves off as poor suffering souls just looking for a release from their purgatory.

    While I'm at it, was it really necessary to put Keiko in what can only be called a near-rape scene? God-damn was that uncomfortable, needlessly so!

    What can I say in the episode's defense? Well, the procedural stuff with the remaining bridge crew attempting to end the crisis was pleasant enough for what it was. And I really liked that they gave Michelle Forbes some good scenes and dialogue to sink her teeth into with Ro. That's about it.


    I love any time Brent Spiner gets to play angry on the show, and like others, I'm impressed by how clearly differentiated his acting in this episode is from his characterization of Lore. I was also really impressed by Sirtis here. This episode really goes to show how much better Troi could have been if she had had been written as a consistently competent officer with more leadership skills and less of a tendency toward stating the obvious.

    As SkepticalMI said above, I find possessed-O'Brien's characterization to be a little off compared to the other two. This was more than made up for by Keiko, though, who was remarkably strong in an incredibly trying situation and showed her commitment to the best interests of both her child and her ship.

    This kicks off in high gear, including a classic shaky set shuttle crash, a couple of phaser fights, and some chewy out of character performances particularly for Troi and Data. But once we get into the hostage situation the pace drops considerably and it all becomes a bit more predictable.

    As an action piece there's nothing really to dislike, but once again for a series 5 that seems stuck in these perfectly serviceable but broadly unremarkable episodes this doesn't really push over the edge.

    "Your restraint was most remarkable" "You have no idea" is a great line though. 2.5 stars.

    Re: classic shaky set shuttle crash. This type of awful effect bothered me even back in the 90s. It's so bad it almost looks like it's being done as a joke to make fun of old sci-fi movies. As dramatically as they were shaking that poor shuttle, I couldn't help but picture in my mind how ridiculous it must have looked had someone been watching it from the outside.

    This was the first episode of TNG I ever saw. It got me into the show. Just saying. ;) :)

    Surely that'd just be the ship spinning on one of it's axes above or below a planet? No wonder the crew didn't want to do it, sounds like a recipe for nausea to me.

    What is this - the third time Troi has been possessed on this show? Why is it that whenever this happens, her voice suddenly goes deep? Why wouldn't she speak with her normal voice?

    So am I thinking to evil here, if this episode left me thinking :

    From the enterprise crew side :
    *they discovered very early that pain prevented body snaching, surely giving everybody a mild pain (drugs, mechanical (pain stick-bracelents for everybody) or fysical induced) would have be a common idea.

    *worf told them normal stun settings would not work, so why not blast in with something stronger? Disruptors cause a lot of pain, as well as large wounds (that would be fatal if left untreated, but would cause short term a lot of harm) and would be perfect.

    *17 hostages, minus 5 traded for 1 captain, leaves 13 hostages + the 3 that were bodysnatched, killing off 16 to save the entire crew of over 1000 should be simple sence, and be done much much sooner bluntly refusing ANY demands what so ever.

    *why would you keep your word, evil bodysnatching alien criminals, they left your crew, why would you keep your word? beam them into space, kill zhem all, kill zhem with fire.. ehh well you get the idea...
    (sorrie I have no problem with eliminating such a treat, perhaps I am more a mirror universe/section 31 guy.
    (am I really the only person thinkin this? is it just me?)

    From the snatchers point of view :
    -you have the ability to snatch any unharmed body, that stupid captain nor any of the crew had taken measures against you swopping for some other body, switch to the captain, kill your earlier host (or stun him if you want too), and instantly know all commands and plans against you...
    (cannot believe they haven't used this ability, just as the crew failed to imagine the need and and the means to mount any defence against it)

    Really one of the weaker episodes. Too much convenient techno babble, why can Data be possessed, a really stupid ending (all of a sudden they just give up?), too many forced errors (they almost had the bridge but run away?). The classic communicator trick, too much offscreen action, knowledge of transporters is crucial now O'Brien is possessed? What coincidence! "All of the transporters!" "You almost had them ensign." That was poor acting by Riker and Ro. And so on and so on... 1,5 stars at most.

    Sirtis is always good when she is allowed to escape her tragic Troi-ness.

    Trivia: the Essex was the early 1800s whale ship rammed by a sperm whale - the real-life germ of the Moby Dick story - and some of its crew did in fact survive. They were disembodied down to skin and bones by starvation, and they floated around in the vast ocean for (what must have felt like) 200 years.

    2 stars, i'd say. The episode is nothing special; no moral dilemma, no real humor, nothing special in terms of personality of the crew members, and a good amount of technobabble.

    I found the episode lacking in its analysis of the predicament of the prisoners on the planet. They were trapped there for hundreds of years. Can we justify such a sentence? Can Picard? Can we send Wesley Crusher there for a few hundred years to finally be punished for crashing that garden at that weird "perfect" planet?

    Again, I try to understand the story opposed to allowing it to irritate me. Nor do I hate any of the characters. I enjoyed the episode but as dutchstudent1982 pointed out there are a few quibbles. The Shumar ghost could have moved from Troi to Picard when they were in the ready room.

    Also, instead of the exposition in the cargo bay the other "ghosts" could have immediately taken over Worf, PIcard and Keiko and perhaps things could have been different. Yet they stayed on the pad. This is before they trapped them with the containment field. But that did not interfere with my enjoyment of the episode.

    Seems they might have succeeded if they'd combined the two plans. Focused the plasma shock attemtp specioficlaly on Data and then, when he's successfully downed, release the anesthezine gas to get the other two.

    Thought there was some decent potential with this episode but ultimately it didn't work for me. I felt disappointed pretty quickly, like some kind of cross between "The Lights of Zetar" (bad) and "Return to Tomorrow" (decent) from TOS.

    It is basically a hostage situation -- the reasons why and the who/when etc. are not that important to the writers although I find that more interesting from a sci-fi/creativity point. So unfortunately that's why it's not fleshed out. What is this disembodied penal colony, for example? How did they get to be that way?

    "Power Play" gives Troi, Data, O'Brien a chance to act out of character and each does a credible job. For Sirtis, she does this better than her counselor schtick. The whole hostage thing was reasonably well acted, but it wasn't clear until the very end just what exactly the hostage-takers wanted so as the hostage scene is going on, I'm wondering what the point of this is...

    There's the usual technobabble solutions which don't work -- the sort of huffing/puffing the bridge crew go through. Picard was good as one of the hostages, how he sees through the lies of Troi (that she's not the captain of the Essex). There's also the willingness to sacrifice themselves to save the lives of the crew which didn't make the impact it should have because the reason for the hostage taking was so nebulous and far-fetched. In the end they beam the disembodied prisoner aliens back down to the moon when (I guess) the aliens are convinced Picard and the others in the cargo bay will sacrifice themselves.

    Barely 2 stars for "Power Play" -- pretty unambitious episode - mainly created to give 3 cast members to act tough as hostage-takers with Picard as a hostage trying to figure out what they want. And what they want is something nobody is going to care about.

    I just watch it again in 2017 on Blu-Ray. The part where the shuttle craft was going down really stood out visually thanks to high def. I'd rate this episode 2 stars. Troi is believable in this one , but in the end it's just a hostage drama with all the cliches.

    Starfleet should really equip their star ships with at least on shuttle capable of handling a rough atmosphere. But hey, if shuttles don't crash due to the slightest mishap the writers can't contrive a story and we can't have that can we now? Oh well other than that the story was decent.

    I have a weakness for possession stories where the characters get to act very out of character.

    Marina Sirtis benefits the most from the outing. And I thought Troi/Data/O'Brien made a potent trio.

    I quite liked the Deadalus class reference and we went on to learn a bit more about Captain Shumar in the Novel Starfleet:Year One.
    I quite enjoyed that book.
    So Brent does a variation on Lore while Colm just plays a heavy and Marina actually does quite a decent villain.
    The possessed characters foiled again by some technobabble solution or other is tired by now though and overall I felt this was a thumbs-down episode.

    "Why did they feel the need to make [Evil-Data] so brutal. From his needless attempt to take over the bridge, to his pounding on the Ops console, to his non-nonchalantly smashing a wall panel in the hallway, to his glee at shooting people in Ten Forward, to his borderline obsessive compulsion to pick a fight with Worf, to his inability to tolerant two people talking, to his chocking of Picard even after the rescue attempt has been thwarted"

    So basically Evil-Data is the 24th century reincarnation of a GTA Online player.


    +1 for seeing the alter egos of Troi, Data and O Brien so to speak. Other than that, it was pure technobabble wasn't it? I did like Ro. She is great character.

    This episode was stupid because the crisis should have been over exactly 2 seconds after it started.

    "Computer, transport O'Brien, Data and Troi to the brig. Erect a level 10 forcefield around the brig."

    Or "Computer, lock O'Brien, Data and Troi inside the transporter data."

    BOOM problem solved. But instead EVERY SINGLE writer of every single episode REFUSES to acknowledge or let the crew make use of the technology to solve the problem and instead requires the crew to constantly rely on a deus ex machina solution to save the day.

    Considering how often the crew gets possessed or brainwashed or mind controlled you would think that Starfleet would have protocols in place to address these sorts of problems so really the only reason why the writers can keep on writing these kinds of ridiculous episodes is because the writers refuse to write logical episodes.

    It also makes zero sense that the ghosts could control Data. If the ghosts could control Data then they could just directly control the ship's computer.

    That concluding scene was just weird.

    O'Brien: If I could have killed that thing, I would.
    Keiko (to Molly): Ooooo Daddy says he would have killed that thing. Isn't he a GOOD Daddy?


    That's just Miles. He claims the Cardassians made him a killer, but I think he's always been a secret psychopath.

    The episode would've been better if Riker had been possessed and Data's positronic net was overloaded rendering him unconscious requiring Geordi to work on him. A Picard vs Riker showdown for control over the ship could've been far more entertaining.

    The old bodysnatchers ploy again, eh? Quite popular in original series stories if I remember correctly.

    I quite liked it - interesting mystery, quite suspenseful. I do think it would have been better if the alien entities had actually turned out to be from the crew of the Essex, as we'd been led to believe. But I quite like the idea of a penal colony for disembodied cosnciousnesses. A bit like the Phantom Zone, and I suspect that Superman II might have been the inspiration for this episode. The three villains do remind me of Zod and his two sidekicks.

    Speaking of which - it makes no sense that an Android could be inhabited and controlled in exactly the same way as Troi and O'Brien, but it does give Brent Spiner an opportunity to indulge his mean side. I think he has a penchant for villainous roles.

    The solution to the problem - a containment field - seems a bit easy. It's an anti-climactic conclusion.

    That shuttle looks tiny on the surface of the planet. Nice to see Ro again. Very odd that Picard so easily lets O'Brien risk his life in what Geordi says is a 50/50 risk of death.

    Not a great one, not bad.

    @Jay I knew it! You always play it off like you don't know Star Trek on RLM....

    See I far prefer this one to conundrum, mainly for the pacing of the final resolution and the lack.of Swiss cheese plot. You get the impression that Riker and Co really are trying every trick they know of to break the siege, and Picard is also clearly thinking on his feet as the situation deterioates around him. After finally getting a one up on the entities, he throws a moral choice at them that they cannot ignore, but it took a lot to get to this point. It's a much better buildup and payoff than in conundrum, where its all over in a matter of seconds.

    Always loved this episode.

    Simple and effective cat-and-mouse plot guided by a commanding performance by Sirtis, a strikingly menacing role for Data, and a truly unsettling turn for O'Brien (nicely turned on its head later in DS9 when Keiko experiences something very similar).

    No pretensions and just a good solid hour.

    It's also nice to see mention of a Daedalus-class ship.

    Ok episode. Never could stand the tiny toy shuttles used. They should all be at least ds9 runabout size to be anywhere near realistic (suspend believe).

    Fun because few main characters act totally different.

    No one has a problem with the ending of nonchalantly condemning thousands of prisoners back to eternal torment? I would think that even though they hijacked his ship and harmed his crew, the super-enlightened Picard would have made a promise to find a way to eventually help them, the way he did with the nanites in an earlier episode. I get Prime Directive and so forth, but let's face it, the Prime Directive is made to be broken.

    Dramatically entertaining in a completely non-Trek way. But at the same time, utterly absurd in a way that only Maurice Hurley could conceive.

    The biggest absurdity was that an android - with no emotion chip in his positron brain - could be “possessed” by an alien consciousness. Oh please. As soon as that emerged, a large part of my mind switched off and I spent much of the episode shaking my head and laughing at the ridiculousness. Self-defeating storytelling.

    The weird thing is, I remember really enjoying this first time around. I think it’s the unexpected shock of seeing familiar crew members acting so out of character. But it only works once - repeated viewings simply highlight the flaws. But I guess once is enough with a syndicated TV show that relies on hooking its regular viewers.

    Yeah, 2.5 stars is about right.

    I hate to be a downer - usually I’m not the pickiest with the average episode. But Troi’s accent and acting in this is so painful to hear. It’s like a middle schooler doing their best “I’m really evil” voice. From here and other review sites, it looks like I’m the minority at least.

    I lean toward 3 because it has some strengths, like Riker immediately grasping the situation when Data attacks him and transfers ship control off the bridge, and then back, etc. Good roles for Sirtis, Meaney and Spiner. I could have done without the O'Brien/Keiko/Molly drama though, a bit too heavy especially for a cheese ball story.

    The pitched battle over control of various ship systems was pretty solid and mostly free from arbitrary new technobabble. It was quite believable because of the particular crewmen possessed.

    Very happy to see that both sides remembered the shuttles have transporters.

    I wasn't so happy with Picard so readily dismissing the notion that Troi was possessed by the Captain of the Essex. Worf was right, they could have easily gone insane.

    It seemed like that was just done so Picard could be ultimately the heroic one who saw through it.

    That zoom on the baby at the end was hilarious. My mind immediately went to the kind of dumb twist ending you would see in some classic horror schlock - the baby is possessed now! And there's an evil look in his eye! *Cue TNG theme and credits*

    Best of all nobody would have been the wiser as 0 difference between the behaviour of a psychopathic criminal and a newborn.

    The resolution was simplistic and pathetic (but, then, what else is new!) but the overall episode was great: one of the best overall and certainly the best out of the preceding several.

    It was dynamic and filled with action, overlaid with the sci-fi stuff a sci-fi fan watches shows like this for. As someone mentioned, the O'Brien and wife+baby angle was overdone and extraneous, but that can be overlooked.

    Three stars for me, maybe eke out another 1/2 there; not four due to the hurried and underwhelming conclusion.

    Why didn't they deactivate the phasers the bad guys had the same way the computer deactivated everything that Berlinghoff Rasmussen stole in "A Matter of Time"?

    Troi said that she was aware of everything that was happening the whole time, which means Data probably was as well. That means Data finally got experience emotions; well one emotion anyway. Angry psycho. I find it rather hard to believe that these spirit things could take over a computer the same way they did with humans or that Data being aware of what was happening was unable to do anything about it. Then again we're talking about ghosts taking over people's bodies so it's just silly all around.

    Why is it the computer can only identify people if they are wearing a combadge and if you take them off you can totally fool it, like it can't tell that there isn't a living person in the turbolift, but in other episodes it can identify people just fine who aren't wearing one, like Alexander a few episodes back.

    The villains in this episode reminded me of the ones in the ORIGINAL "Taking of Pelham One-Two-Three". Technically four hijackers but one was so bland that he could be overlooked. One was a rational cold-blooded thug ex-mercenary with leadership skills and a dislike of sadism and trigger happiness (Played by Robert Shaw )similar to Evil-TRoi. Another was a homicidal sadist who had been thrown out of the mafia. SImilar to Evil-Data. The third was an ex-subway engineer whose technical skills and inside knowledge enabled the takeover and initial escape attempt, just as eivl-O'Brien knew the systems, and brought in personal motives from his possessed host. A good movie and probably the ultimate New York movie.

    You can tell Brent Spiner enjoyed every moment of playing a barely-in-control psychopath, but the mystery is one nobody -- audience or Enterprise crew -- was asking about.

    Feels like two stories merged into one, and we're left with a tedious unspooling of what happens when energy felons can't stop from being unstably homicidal for 2 minutes. Smile! Thank Picard for rescuing your crew's souls! Ask nicely to skim over that southern polar region. Almost there!

    So I'm the only one who thinks this is a complete waste of an episode? There were two good things: Brent Spiner's acting, which made his character by far the most interesting and frightening one, and the fact that nobody got killed. My list of what was wrong with it is almost endless, and I'm not going to bother with it. I'll just say it begins with "another energy being episode" and ends with the amazingly weak ending.

    I agree all the contradictory and hilarious technobbale didn't make much sense. Like why is it possible to over-ride the BRIDGE from a PANEL IN A TURBOLIFT?? Why didn't they simply combine the anesthetic gas plan WITH the plasma charge or whatever and get both of them? They also never tried that "concussive charge" idea where they would just stun everyone at the same time? Also, since when do phaser blasts not work just because another entity was possessing the body? And I find the notion that the immediate explanation of why Riker didn't get taken over was because of the pain from the broken arm was laughable LOL it could have been a thousand other possibilities and they immediately figured out it was that? And if that were the case wouldn't whacking Troi, and Obrien with a giant titanium conduit do the same thing? Phaser blasts aren't painful? A PLASMA SHOCK causes no physical harm yet is very painful...OK! One thing that really ticked me off though was LaForge and Ro's endless talking and dillydallying which is why they missed the chance! "OK were only going to uhm be able to shut down the forcefully for a few seconds before the computer compensates,"
    "If it's the right 6 seconds it will be enough"
    "OK ready"

    2 second delay

    "Force field down" (3 more seconds)


    Another 4 second delay.

    "Firing plasma charge" another 2-3 seconds later.. Should have fired the damn plasma as soon as they were all in the circle, not sit there discussing it more for like 20 more seconds! Took their sweet time and lost their chance. Not to mention, as someone already mentioned this, why not just say "Computer contain Obrien troi and data + security lockout Riker-Omega-3!) Plan failed. And the dumb 24th century AI computer, of course, can get fooled by someone taking off their combadge. Data can somehow just suck the energy out of a forcefield by smashing the control panel...ok. Obrien had only a 50% chance of making it down there in one piece (yet of course he does) but the equipment was fine? And finally, if these were non-corporeal beings than why would blowing troi and Obrien out into space kill them, couldn't they just leave the bodies? And I almost lost it when Picard gets taken out like balloon when troi whacks him on the head with his bear hands. What is that even? We also know that from Voyager the AI starfleet issued 24th century bio-neural circuitry computer is still just as useless as the TNG computers "please re-state a single question" LMAO


    Really good comment, and yet another example of how the writers seem painfully unaware that their technobabble solutions really, really SHOULD persist between episodes or it all becomes meaningless.

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