Star Trek: The Next Generation


3 stars

Air date: 10/4/1993
Written by Joe Menosky
Directed by Robert Wiemer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Geordi tests an experimental new probe technology that uses a virtual-reality interface to drive its operation. The way it works is that you're hooked up to a VR suit and you operate it as if you were the probe. So when you move your arms to pick up a heavy beam, the probe activates its tractor beam and moves the beam. This essentially allows the user to venture via a VR interface into inhospitable environments. The crew intends to use the technology to retrieve data from a disabled, uninhabitable starship whose crew has perished. (Narratively, the camera shows Geordi as a physical stand-in for the probe, which is the right storytelling decision.)

About this time, Geordi receives news that the Hera, a ship commanded by his mother, vanished recently without a trace 300 light-years away. The search has proven futile and is about to be called off. But then, while hooked into the interface, Geordi sees his mother (Madge Sinclair) aboard the disabled vessel whose data the Enterprise is attempting to salvage with the probe; she says she and her crew are trapped on the inhospitable planet below and she implores him to rescue them.

Obviously, this is impossible. Or almost impossible (as Data attests), since this is Star Trek after all. Geordi searches for answers to clues that cannot be explained, and while everyone believes he has lost objectivity and is seeing what he wants to see, Geordi cannot dismiss what he has experienced and presses on even after it's discovered that the feedback signals from the interface can injure and even potentially kill him in extreme situations. Naturally, Geordi will have to take risks and disobey orders in order to see this thing through.

"Interface," while not great or groundbreaking, is a significant step up from the first two lackluster outings of season seven — much more focused, much less of a mess, and with true character motivation at its core. This is not a matter of Geordi indulging in an obsession of the imagination but rather being compelled to investigate the possibilities he's observed in front of him because he's additionally emotionally vested. As he puts it late in the episode, he can't ignore the possibilities, however remote, because if he doesn't at least try to rescue his mother and the Hera crew, he won't be able to live with himself.

Naturally, Geordi's mom turns out to be a mind-reading alien in danger who needs Geordi's help and has used his mother's image to manipulate the situation. This is not an unexpected development. One wonders why Starfleet crews don't immediately suspect aliens with extraordinary capabilities as the solution to most unsolved mysteries, considering how often it happens.

The introduction of Geordi's mother — not to mention his father (Ben Vereen), who early on gets a scene that I thought hit the wrong note, as if this husband of the missing woman was just another skeptic writing off Geordi's clinging to hope as somehow ridiculous — is the first of several season seven family connections that would eventually come across as the writers grasping at straws. But this is probably the most workable and involving of them. This is a story that tries, in its TNG sci-fi technobabble way, to deal with the nature of loss concerning a missing person who can never be physically confirmed dead. As Geordi stories go this side of "The Enemy," it's a pretty good one.

Previous episode: Liaisons
Next episode: Gambit

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60 comments on this post

Thu, Sep 20, 2012, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
I thought this one was terrible. The virtual reality component simply just did not work for me.

I would have liked to really meet Geordie's family--I hate when they introduce new characters who turn out to be already dead.

And his mom's name had already been established in "The Next Phase" so what was up with changing it to Silva? Sloppy.

This one just seemed slapped together because Levar needed a show.

And just to help along the "didn't seem real" factor--I have long disconnected Geordie from his previous roles, but when Chicken George showed up I lost it.
Thu, Sep 20, 2012, 11:58pm (UTC -5)
This to me is a perfect 2.5 star episode--nothing particularly bad that makes it unwatchable but not good enough to be really engaged in what is going on. Very average.

Ben Vereen's appearance amounting to a mere cameo was disappointing I was hoping he'd have a bigger role when I had read he would be making an appearance but then again I think I remember reading that in S7 there were a lot of actors wanting to get onscreen before the show went off the air so maybe that's why it is just a cameo.

I thought the teaser with Geordi/probe was a cool idea. But overall the story just didn't resonate with me. I don't know if it is because we never met his mother before and the fact that the alien payoff was tired but it just lacked energy.

I will say I always wondered if the Hera might have been one of those ships brought to the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker and if it might have been more interesting if they were the crew Janeway encounters in "Equinox".
Mon, Sep 24, 2012, 10:10am (UTC -5)
Not three stars, though this is probably better than the previous two episodes. Why Geordi/probe doesn't have a visor makes no sense, BTW.

Seriously, the series really was running out of gas at this point. Season 7 might be the second-worst of the series.
Nick P.
Thu, Sep 27, 2012, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
OK, this is the episode I realized that the season ONE storytelling is better than season 7! seriously!

Think back to the episode "Heart of Glory". In that one Geordi beams over to the Batris and acts as a bizarre camera for the bridge crew. It was silly, but it was 1 minute long and that was it, the cool Klingon stuff happened after that. Just a little thing used once and that was it. Had nothing at all to do with the episode. I know alot of you disagree with me on this point, but I LOVED how the early seasons would throw weird nuggets in the teaser that had nothing to do with the shows.

But jump forward to season 7, and these dumb boring plots like this one, where Geordi goes all VR and does it MOST OF THE EPISODE, and "shockingly" solves the problem with it. There was another show I watched back then that had plots back the, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! The difference being the Turtles was fun to watch, this who during season 7, was slow, predictable, boring, and had no life at ALL.
Paul M.
Thu, Oct 4, 2012, 3:52am (UTC -5)
@Nick P.

You're preaching to the choir, friend. I wrote something similar in Season 1 thread.

Both seasons (1 and 7) are pretty terribad, no way around it. BUT, S1 is so hillarious and out there with its concepts, it's almost great! I was very rarely bored with the episodes back then. They were just enough silly to keep me interested, sort of like S7 Genesis episode. Idiotic? Yes. Boring? Not really.

Season 7, on the other hand, is just so deliberate and bland and restrained and bland and joyless and, did I say bland?
Sat, Oct 6, 2012, 11:52am (UTC -5)
Ugh...I thought this was as bad as the first two episodes of the season. As mentioned this might have meant a little more if we'd met the LaForges before this.
Cail Corishev
Mon, Oct 8, 2012, 8:12am (UTC -5)
"One wonders why Starfleet crews don't immediately suspect aliens with extraordinary capabilities as the solution to most unsolved mysteries, considering how often it happens."

I've thought before that if I were a starship captain, rule #1 on my ship would be that everyone has a complete scan for alien infiltration at least weekly. In fact, maybe we'd just build scanners into the turbolifts, so everyone would get checked every time they changed decks. And any time anyone acts out of the ordinary -- tired, sick, confused, slow to answer a question -- the ship goes to yellow alert and he's immediately transported to the brig and held there until the doctor can give him a full workout.

Yeah, it'd get annoying after a while, but just think how many dozens of alien takeovers and other attacks it would have avoided over all the series.
Sun, Nov 18, 2012, 11:32am (UTC -5)
Nick P. complains that this episode was overly enamored with its VR premise. But remember that in 1993/94, VR was The Next Big Thing... and then the World Wide Web was invented, and suddenly VR was as dated as disco.
William B
Sat, Oct 5, 2013, 11:49pm (UTC -5)
I like this more than most of the commenters here, it seems. I think that "Liaisons" and "Interface," together, are fairly typical of season seven -- which is to say, episodes that are mostly weak and dull, with a few redeeming character moments relying on our long time spent with these characters ("Liaisons"), and episodes with a few intriguing ideas a little wanly executed (this one). There are a few exceptional shows in season seven, but they are rare, and this is closer to the standard fare.

This episode is certainly low-energy, too enamoured with its not overly impressive VR technology and it hinges its plot on a relationship (Geordi's bond with his mother) we have never encountered before, to say nothing of starting season seven's excessive reliance on families. There's something else here though that I think is pretty typical of season seven, and not a bad thing. For most (not all) of the main cast, and some of the recurring players, there is at least one story in season seven which upends certain things we knew about that character, casting some doubt on their heretofore cherished values, and suggesting the possibility of growth as a result. Some of these are better than others, but I think that this season undermines our original assumptions about the meteoric rise of Riker's career in "The Pegasus," touches on some of Data's isolation as an android and raises the spectre of other models of android-ness that he cannot reach in "Descent" and "Inheritance," has Worf realize that he cannot force love of Klingon culture onto his son in "Firstborn," and has Picard further recognize the lost opportunity for a family in "Bloodlines." In addition to that we have Wesley and Ro's careers in Starfleet ending. These capsule descriptions don't actually do justice to what those episodes do, and some, again, are better than others. Some of them simply subvert earlier reads of the characters, but some, like "Firstborn," use the character's realization that their prior value system was incomplete to lead to genuine growth. And then "All Good Things" capitalizes on some of these themes, showing the characters a future which is not purely dystopic -- some people's lives, like Data's, have generally gone very well -- but in which there have been some losses and there is some desire in the characters to make adjustments to their lives, culminating in Picard entering the poker game in that final shot.

This is a way of saying that I think that "Interface," while presumably not intended as such, actually is a decent capstone to Geordi's story in the series. Abigail Nussbaum at her blog Asking the Wrong Questions did a few posts after a TNG rewatch, and pointed out that Geordi’s difficulty dealing with people without technology as a buffer is a pretty consistent thing throughout the series, and that there is something off about him -- he falls in love with Leah through a hologram, Aquiel through video monitors, he is the person who most easily befriends android Data and Borg Hugh. His VISOR is so much a part of him that he’s a little like a cyborg. The original conception of Geordi’s role in the show from Gene Roddenberry was to make a bold statement about the future, where a blind man can pilot the ship, but the move of Geordi to engineering was the genuinely smart move that made his role in the series clearer, as The Tech Guy. Geordi is the guy who has the most expertise at dealing with technology and is also the guy who most desperately needs technology in order to function. Even Data, who is on the other side of the coin, is actually less clearly a demonstration of the integration of technology to improve human lives, since Data *is* technology who nevertheless remains separate from humans, rather than a human who takes technology in. So we do get episodes like “Booby Trap” which are about the role of technology in lives, we get episodes whose plots hinge in some way or another on Geordi’s VISOR, either as a weakness to be exploited (“The Mind’s Eye”) or as the key to a breakthrough (“The Masterpiece Society”). We get episodes like “The Next Phase,” where Geordi’s material rationalism and technical knowledge are the whole key to survival, and Ro’s spiritualism and acceptance of death are foolish.

So Geordi’s strength is that he is the most in tune with technology, and this is mostly a good thing. However, a few episodes ago his VISOR implants and friendship with Data made him the ideal target for evil-mind-controlled-Data’s mind experiments, and a few episodes from now his precious engines will be undermined in “Force of Nature.” And in this episode, we see a repeat, in some senses, of what we saw in “Booby Trap” and “Aquiel”: Geordi connects with another human being through technology. But it’s not really her. Improbably, the Geordi/Leah and Geordi/Aquiel arcs both ended “happily” when he finally did meet them in person, largely because “Galaxy’s Child” is weak and “Aquiel” is terrible, and so neither episode was able to fully puncture the idea that Geordi’s ability to see someone *through* tech, and *in* tech doesn’t deeply distort his ability to relate to them clearly. Here, Geordi seems to see *his mother*, his relationship with whom is one of the most formative relationships of his life, and it turns out to genuinely be a lie. Geordi wanted to believe it (the same way he wanted to believe that real-Leah was basically the same person as holo-Leah, e.g.), but his better-living-with-technology attitude was not able to restore his mother to life. Hence, the actually hilarious scene of Geordi explaining how his mother’s ship got caught in a warp funnel, which is as funny as it is because it’s on the one hand completely indistinguishable from all the rest of the technobabble on this show, but on the other clearly ludicrous. And of course even Geordi’s technological friend Data won’t back him up on it.

Geordi actually does do good work here. By obsessing over finding his mother and by trusting the fact that he *was seeing* something, he manages to save some life forms, and apparently get some closure (as he says to Picard at the episode’s end). In that sense, the episode plays out a little like “Realm of Fear,” where Geordi/Barclay *are* kind of emotionally unstable but have to believe that what they are seeing was not just a figment of their imaginations, and eventually save lives in the process. The episode is not a genuine anti-tech argument at all. But there is something refreshing about the episode’s somewhat downbeat ending, and the acknowledgment of limits. And it plays straight in with Geordi’s strengths and weaknesses. His inability to deal with emotional realities without technology as a buffer renders him easily exploited and keeps him from accepting the truth, or recognizing that, yes, the warp funnel thing is pretty much impossible. It also means that he can get emotional closure by talking to an alien projecting an image of his mother into a probe he’s interfaced with, as if this is the only way he can. It’s sad and a little touching, in a very low-key way. The overall “technology is good, but is not everything” theme is basically the same one that “Booby Trap,” to my mind the first major Geordi episode (honourable mentions for “The Arsenal of Freedom” and “Samaritan Snare,” but Geordi-in-command was not really a story with legs in the show and the latter mostly had Geordi as hapless everyman with bad luck, admittedly also a recurring Geordi theme), had, and so there is a full-circle sense that this episode has as the last major Geordi episode. Well, full-circle or rehash, probably a bit of both.

I like Data’s role here very much, though it’s relatively obvious. The Riker/Geordi scene is both touching and ridiculous, depending on how you want to read Riker’s “you remind me of me when I was like seven!” sentiment. This is a low-key story, too straightforward in plot and somewhat thinly written in terms of character revelations. But I think it mostly functions well in the big scheme of things for the reasons I mentioned above. I think it holds on to 3 stars, though only barely, perhaps.
William B
Mon, Oct 14, 2013, 10:10pm (UTC -5)
I ended up watching the second half of this episode again with my girlfriend, because she was behind where I was. And the long, kind of vacant spaces in the episode became clearer. On some level, this maybe would have worked well as a half-hour episode rather than an hourlong; but there isn't enough story here for a full show, and while that is somewhat the point, I don't think it's a strong enough representation of loss ("You can experience the emptiness with me if you like") to justify its languid pacing. So, down to a low 2.5 stars.
Jeffrey Bedard
Wed, Dec 4, 2013, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
Not bad, but not earth-shattering either. I watched this last night and I was surprised at how subdued Burton's performance once. He had the different emotional tones, but seemed to play them all quietly. I think he should have emoted more.
Sun, Jan 5, 2014, 8:18pm (UTC -5)
I didn't like this episode. It was pretty boring. It was the fairly standard one guy believes something while nobody else goes with it plot. Neither of Geordi's parents were all that interesting, and Geordi himself...well, I don't like any of his episodes, if I can be honest. He's such a recluse that it's hard for his shows to be interesting as other's would be.
Sun, Jan 26, 2014, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
Red alert, Red alert! i think we have found the most boring episode in the history of the Star Trek universe!
When it first started and Geordi fad dark pupils and no visor I thought 'Oh boy! Alteenare universe!' My enthusiasm was soon curbed by the realisation that this was in fact a 'gadget' episode.
Then things got worse as it deteriorated into a 'psychobabble' episode.
By the time it had regressed into a 'save the energy aliens' episode, I had already given it up for dead.
Ok Geordi, here's your obligatory slap on the wrist for disobeying a direct order. You're not worthy of a 'Crusher' pass because she solved a murder while all you did was prevent the extinction of an insignificant alien energy race that Starfleet has absolutely zero interest in because they inadvertantly killed the crew of a Starfleet vessel. Oh yeah, and by the way, nice to see they gave you closure over the death of your mom by impersonating her to manipulate you. Maybe we should hire them as ship counsellor and get rid of Dr. Useless.
Sun, Jan 26, 2014, 11:01pm (UTC -5)
Oh yeah, Can we do negative stars? I'd give this a - 5 stars.
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 9:06am (UTC -5)
Not awful, but a weak episode. The concept was fun...of exploring vicariously dangerous locations while encountering entities who fool you through the probe. Unfortunately the “dead mom” angle didn't work. It came off as emotional indulgence. I agree with Gene...Star Trek should not be about mourning dead people. You need to move on and get back to fun creative science fiction stories that look forward, not backward.
Thu, Jun 12, 2014, 4:44am (UTC -5)
Just watched this episode for the first time, 2.5/4 stars imo. Very average.

It (unfortunately) reminded me a lot of Voyager, in that it introduced some ZANY new technology that would be super useful beyond this episode, yet we never see it again...?
Fri, Dec 12, 2014, 11:45pm (UTC -5)
This episode was good until it had one twist too many, that the mother image was not only an alien-that had caused the death of the crew and seemed to be trying to harm Geordi-but causing the deaths had been an accident! Way too much having your cake and eating it too.
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 12:00am (UTC -5)
This episode was such a wasted opportunity. Geordi's mother should have been a projection of his subconscious refusing to accept that she was dead. As soon as they brought in the 'lifeforms' it became the same spineless nonsense we are used to from the lesser Trek writers.

The conclusion could have involved Georgi essentially outwitting himself, realizing that what he was communicating with could only be of his own invention, his mind trying to hold on to hope of his mother being alive. Then again, maybe the producers would have found that too inaccessible, and would have opted for the 'lifeforms' explaining everything, like we're all too accustomed to.
Fri, Jul 3, 2015, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
After watching this episode, I thought it was...ehh. The scenes between Geordi and Data were well played, and the idea of using Geordi's VISOR implants as a way to interface with a probe was also intriguing. But I was kind of with Geordi, when everyone is giving the Hera up for dead. How long does a person have to be missing to be presumed dead? The Hera hadn't been missing more than a week, if I remember correctly. So..huh? Funerals already? Ben Vereen/Daddy LaForge just gives up all hope before his son does? Why? Oh right, plot.

[It might have been cool to see what kind of person Geordi's sister actually is, too. Maybe she's a complete contrast, a religious non-techie who's married with kids. Or she's a tech nerd like him, in Starfleet too?]

I also think it's kind of rotten that we only just now get to see LaForge's parents. And he didn't get back to his mom, after she sent him that message...3 WEEKS ago? Why? They could have perhaps hinted that the reason for his lack of communication might be from resentment on the part of Geordi toward his mother - which might naturally stem from her constant nagging and date-arranging. It would have added to his guilty feelings and need to save her - because maybe he didn't just fail to respond to her message one time, but hasn't talked to her much in a LONG time, and with her dead, he could no longer get a chance to heal the wounds and bridge the gap.

We also might feel more pain and distress if we'd seen them before, just as in "Generations" the bit about the death of Picard's brother Robert and his nephew Rene only holds such dramatic impact when you've seen them before in an episode, on the Picard family vineyard.
Sat, Oct 10, 2015, 11:51am (UTC -5)
Another rather colorless episode to start out Season Seven, only this time it's ever so slightly elevated by some good character moments.

The two problems with "Interface," aside from its lack of energy and tension, are that it relies almost exclusively on LaForge's family dynamics to carry the story and its unnecessary fascination with the virtual reality technology. The use of the LaForge family to drive an episode focusing on the nature of loss and acceptance thereof could work, but it just falls so flat here. That's because this is literally the first time we've been introduced to any member of LaForge's family (it may even be the first mention of his sister). If we had met these people beforehand, that would be one thing. But, we can't just have these characters thrown into a situation like this and then emotionally connect with them just because the writers say we should. If we had known anything about Captain LaForge before this, her loss would have meant something. But, up to this point, we have been given virtually no information on her. Actually, aside from the facts that both of LaForge's parents are in Starfleet ("Imaginary Friend") and that they didn't kill him as a newborn for being blind ("The Enemy"), what have we been told about them?! Add to that the fact that both Madge Sinclair and Ben Vereen seemed to be sleep-walking through their roles and it doesn't really work. And, of course, there's the fact that LaForge is one of the least developed characters on TNG (which is even more reason for us to not emotionally invest in the story). It's nice that they tried to throw him a bone here, but Levar Burton, unfortunately, didn't step up to the plate and knock it out of the park like Marina Sirtis did in "Face of the Enemy."

Then there's the over-use of the VR suit and probe. The fictional tech should be a means to an end, a way to further the story, not a focus of the story itself. It's not important how the holodeck works, or how the transporters work or how the Bussard Collectors work. Those concepts simply advance the story in one way or another. But here, the VR tech is front and center and it detracts from the story instead of aiding it. Let's compare this to a LaForge episode that not only worked, but was one of the best of TNG - "The Mind's Eye." There you have a fictional technology - the Romulan brain-washing - which serves an absolutely pivotal role in the story. But, it never once becomes a centerpiece. The focus is where it should be - on the drama, political intrigue and character work. "The Mind's Eye" also works as a LaForge story because it doesn't exclusively rely on the LaForge character alone to carry the day. It also has a wonderful evocative atmosphere, great camera work, good direction, world-building and a rich, well-layered story in addition to LaForge's character drama. "Interface" has none of that.

But, there are some nice character moments thrown into the mix. The scene where Riker takes LaForge aside and tells him about how it was when his mother died was nicely handled (and it was nice to see them actually addressing this connection between the characters instead of just ignoring the elephant in the room - something they did too often toward the end of Season Six). I also like that LaForge was willing to straight up disobey Picard's direct orders because he felt it was the right thing to do (that's some good character development). It was also nice to see the bond between LaForge and Data shown as so strong that Data would be willing to put his friend above his duty (one of the most Human things he's ever done)(it's especially nice since not three episodes previously LaForge was unwilling to do something similar for Data - maybe Data is just a better friend).

Here's something funny I noticed and just wanted to point out....
LAFORGE: Maybe they got stuck in a warp funnel and sent back here.
EVERYONE ELSE: Oh, that's impossible. Don't be absurd.
LAFORGE: Oh wait, it wasn't a warp funnel, it was intelligent beings made out of fire that live in the atmosphere and who are completely undetectable by our sensors. They were communicating telepathically with me via the probe and VR suit and just took the form of my mother out of my mind without me even knowing it.
EVERYONE ELSE: Oh, well, why didn't you just so?! Proceed then.

So, despite "Interface" not being a particularly noteworthy outing, it's still something of a step up from the last few episodes.

Diamond Dave
Sun, Nov 1, 2015, 10:20am (UTC -5)
This has a great 2 minutes at the start, until we are shown why Geordi has no visor, and then it's a fairly dull, one-paced ride for the rest of it. The biggest problem is that Geordi's reaction to his mother's likely death is so flat - it's difficult to sympathise when he's clearly acting out exactly what Troi describes. It's a rare episode this late in the series that gives you no decent character beats, and really this seems like a missed opportunity for Geordi. Ironically, the best character insight may be in the Riker/Geordi scene, which gives at least something for Riker.

Still, at least it does have the balls to not resolve Geordi's mother's story. 2.5 stars.
Tue, May 31, 2016, 7:56pm (UTC -5)
I fell asleep on 5 separate occasions watching this episode. It took forever to get through.
Sat, Nov 5, 2016, 8:14am (UTC -5)
I thought this ep. had some good writing and performances, with the crew behaving in a way unusually close to actual human beings for Star Trek. LeVar was far better than I have seen him before.

Only real minus point for me is the usual Star Trek thing of inventing super convenient tech and then forgetting.
Wed, Nov 23, 2016, 11:12am (UTC -5)
I liked it alright. I've been saying this a lot here, haven't I? Gosh, I hope there's a terrible one soon enough. I thought the episode had good character moments and the VR stuff was brief enough for me.

I think the episode at least deserves a credit for not doing the stupid and making it so Geordi was actually right all along. Admittedly, "we are different life-form trying to communicate with you" isn't exactly a novel idea either and I think it was just there to explain why Geordi would only get a slap on the wrist for his violation of orders.
Wed, Dec 7, 2016, 8:45pm (UTC -5)
Like most others here I thought the episode was very flat and didn't capitalise on several of the good variables it dealt with (interesting use of new tech, Geordi without a visor, refusal to accept the death of a parent etc.)

However, reading through the comments I'm surprised no one seems to have brought up what I consider to be the most unforgivable element of the story - the VR unit itself!

That time period already has holodeck technology which replicates in startlingly perfect detail the sensations and reality of being in a different environment. Yet the group make a big fuss about how this new VR unit triggers the senses in ways never before achieved and that this is partially due to Geordi's cortical implants [shakes head].

They should have made this a new offshoot of holodeck technology; using the holodeck to recreate what the probe was seeing and simultaneously allowing someone to control the probe through their actions on the holodeck. That would have explained why we were seeing a recreation of Geordi in that environment instead of the probe (which I understand, was simply a shorthand way to represent Geordi feeling as though he was actually there).

Though mobile holo-emitters weren't invented until Voyager, it would have been cool to extrapolate that sort of technology and have holograms of the crew able to leave the holodeck and perform dangerous tasks while the crew members remained in the safety of the holodeck.
Trek fan
Fri, Feb 17, 2017, 11:13pm (UTC -5)
The epitome of bland, bloodless, weak-sauce Trek presents itself for our review in "Interface." No idea why Jammer gave this one three stars. For me, it's a two star affair all the way.

The VR tech is intriguing, but the scenes in this show drag endlessly without much purpose or plot development, and Geordi's "mother" acts so strangely in every scene that it practically screams "alien" to everyone but Geordi. Hard to believe he wouldn't have suspected earlier that he wasn't actually dealing with his own mother. I certainly didn't believe it for a moment.

Anyway, this episode typified Season 7 TNG for me, completely unmemorable and plodding. The actors are obviously comfortable with their roles by this point, but comfort often looks like complacency to viewers like me who never really drank the TNG Kool-Aid. At least the Season 1-2 episodes had flavor; too many of the shows in this season just feel like dull executions of scripts which weren't good enough to film earlier in the show's run.
Fri, May 5, 2017, 12:35am (UTC -5)
Geordi's a main character, right? So how come, 7 seasons in, this is the first we've seen his family? We've seen every other main character's family, even the robot's.

I hated how after it became clear Geordi was really seeing something Picard was still against saving 300 humans, but when it turned out they were actually saving an unspecified number of space-beings that had already killed seven humans and were manipulating and hurting Geordi, he seemed more okay with it. Is Picard meant to come off as psychotic in some of these episodes? Because he does.

Data's already a robot, why couldn't he interface with the probe? Or why couldn't the probe be operated by remote control, without the need to tie it into someone? Yet another conveniently arbitrary plot point meant to induce drama.

I don't know why Picard's so against checking the possibility of the Hera being there when he's normally so in favor of checking out every little "probably nothing" thing and there are potentially lives at stake.

Geordi's belief that his mother is still out there isn't as crazy as everyone makes it out to be. The Enterprise has gotten out of worse and more mysterious circumstances. Geordi just fails to take into account that he's stationed on the Enterprise, aka the ship where all the main characters are, meaning nothing bad will ever have a lasting effect on it. Other ships aren't so lucky. They're pretty much the redshirts of TNG.

I found Riker's "just cry all night about it and you'll feel better" advice hilarious. Gross oversimplification at its finest. And Data's "do you require comforting?" and invitation to stare at a blank screen together. I find it interesting that in all their interactions so far Geordi never gets truly upset with Data and is always quick to apologize, but has no such qualms when it comes to his human friends. I'm not sure if it's because of Geordi seeing Data differently than other people, Geordi just never having a real problem with Data because Data's just a really nice guy (who occasionally commits horribly atrocities against his will), or the writers just not wanting to write any real conflict between the two. It's, well, kind of strange how Geordi doesn't seem resentful or angry that Data initially opposes him, but then again you can't really get mad at a machine for doing its job. Well, you can but that's kind of pointless. I guess what I'm saying is maybe a bit of actual conflict would have been interesting, if only because it would have given us a little more about Geordi and we all know he could use any additional characterization they can give us.
Wed, Jun 14, 2017, 6:04pm (UTC -5)
Two stars at the most. Dead person we can't relate to, aliens in subspace are trapped and need the ship to go down? What? One of the commenters mentioned there were a lot of empty moments in the episode because of a lack of story. Maybe that was a genius play on the poem Data was reading? To appreciate the nothingness in this episode as something? ;-)
Sat, Aug 26, 2017, 8:05pm (UTC -5)
When did Levar get so chubby?? We were watching season 2, then jumped to 7 and, WHOA!!
Sun, Oct 29, 2017, 2:20pm (UTC -5)

What business is it of yours to note anything about the actors' (read: REAL HUMAN BEINGS) physical status. Fuck off.
Sat, Mar 31, 2018, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
William B's comments above are some of the best stuff I've ever seen written about Geordi online.

As for this episode, it's all pretty bland, though I did like the scene in which Data stares creepily at his blank computer screen. It recalls that moment in Unification where he looms creepily over a sleepy Picard.

IMO the episode's VR drone/probe plot needed a more pulpy approach (rather than another tired "learning to accept loss" tale) explicitly about voyeurism and the camera's eye; something like Brian DePalma's Snake Eyes or Hitchcock's Rear Window.
Cody B
Thu, Jun 14, 2018, 2:46am (UTC -5)

The guy was commenting on an actor’s (person who gets paid to have millions of eyeballs on them) appearance. What he said wasn’t the nicest thing in the world but your extremely aggressive response was worse by a hundred.
Tue, Sep 18, 2018, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
An OK Geordi episode - overall a bit boring though not bad, but definitely not hitting the heights of "The Mind's Eye" or "The Enemy" as examples. Since it's a Geordi episode it's heavy on technobabble -- which was a weak point ("warp funnel" etc.). Also weak were the guest actors playing his parents -- such stiffs showing no emotion (particularly his father). And, surprise, there are aliens who can read his mind and kill people. What is better is Riker and Data reacting to Geordi's situation. Even Troi's counselling seemed to sound reasonable -- but Geordi disagreed with her.

The VR probe is a good thing for TNG to be playing with -- we can clearly see it as being the extension of VR/AR today and I'm somewhat surprised we haven't seen more such VR suits on Trek. Thought it was cool how it could use tractor beams and phasers in the dangerous environment.

The real meat of the episode is Geordi pursuing what he believes is his mother to save her despite it being ridiculously unlikely (even by Trek standards). So Geordi can have his obsession -- and one can clearly see its justification, which is good. If it actually was his mother, yes, he'd never be able to forgive himself.

The dangers are somewhat arbitrary but at least here TNG makes it generally believable. But again, there doesn't seem to be much consequence for Geordi disobeying Picard, showing frustration. So he gets something on his record -- who cares by the next episode? There's no demotion or punishment. And what of Data who admitted he was put in a difficult position but still helps Geordi? These 2 are the best of buddies so one can probably see Data taking a chance hoping things will work out in time.

2.5 stars for "Interface" -- not an episode I'd go back to watch again. Not sure how much more we learn about Geordi being obsessed about rescuing his mother -- anybody reasonable would be like that -- also the consequences of his disobedience don't seem important. That the crew (Riker/Data mainly) come together for him is fine but this episode just seemed sterile (guest actors contributed to this) and it should have resonated more emotionally.
Jer Jer
Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 3:43am (UTC -5)

In the opening, the fact Geordi was walking around sans visor showed something was up. Then there was the fact he could ID invisible engineer will know potassium chloride by smell, especially mixed in with 2 other gases. Ahh, it's a VR thing, there's the reveal.

And as soon as it was shown he was doing a VR thing, I just knew it would be an episode of "Geordi has visions of aliens via VR".

Geordi episodes are so boring. And this had both an A and B story involving him. Meh.
Fri, May 3, 2019, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
They keep talking about the ship being "on the surface".

Gas giants don't have a surface...
Fri, May 10, 2019, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
+1 for both Riker and Geordi sharing their personal lives.

Overall though, there was too much technobabble here. I wasn't able to even imagine what might be going on and why they couldn't disconnect.

Sat, Jun 1, 2019, 7:33am (UTC -5)
Fascinated by the interactive vibe of a lacuna in experimental poetry. Data is so cool. And a good friend.
Mon, Jul 1, 2019, 1:31am (UTC -5)
I loved this episode. I thought it touched on some interesting aspects of psychology; particularly the difficulty finding closure in the loss of loved ones when they vanish and there's no body to bury. The emptiness that's left (of which the emptiness referenced by Data is a fitting metaphor) allows space for all kinds of fantasies and beliefs to spring up, and sometimes chasing those can be dangerous.

It was really interesting to me to see the interplay between Geordi suddenly believing his mother was alive due to this one vision (and failing to notice the red flags because he was so hopeful) and the rest of the crew being realistic and trying to help him come to terms with the loss.

Often in the series, the first theory proposed by Geordi is correct, they formulate a plan, and it works immediately. This episode provided a welcome break from that formula (Geordi's theory about the warp funnel was incorrect, his mother wasn't actually alive, and he only barely managed to escape with his life).

And really, counting the fact that it turned out to be aliens as a point against this episode? The entire point of the series is the exploration of space and the discovery of "new life and new civilizations," and subspace entities that can interface directly with the thoughts and feelings of other beings I think is a pretty interesting concept.
Wed, Oct 2, 2019, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
Does no one obey Captain Picard's orders?

There were some reasonable moments. The issues of loss were ok, Data came across very well as a true friend willing to put his career at risk to help his pal and Riker's story about his mother was quite good.
However this is TNG so there were equally bad moments.
Troi's cliched psychiatrist's sofa act was pathetic and annoying and Patrick Stewart just trotted out his lines with no conviction whatsoever.
I would really liked to have some Worf interactions here but alas.
Mon, Apr 20, 2020, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
I agree with @Zazen. One of the things positive aspects of TOS was meeting strange new life forms. These subspace aliens were a cool concept. Part of me thought ther was a decent chance that Geordi might be vindicated, so the suspense factor was there as well. I also enjoyed the Data and Geordi bromance this episode. Overall this was an enjoyable and very worthy episode.
Picard Maneuver
Wed, Apr 22, 2020, 2:07am (UTC -5)
Three stars, huh? I remember detesting this episode, even more than the season 1 schlock people tend to bring up. With the unexpectedly high rating, I figure I'd go in with an open mind.

As much as I rag on the wardrobe in this show, Geordi's VR suit is cool despite its cheap construction and holds up much better in high definition than most of the costumes. The bright color tubing is a little much, though. They probably looked more muted on the NTSC broadcast. Geordi looked looked good with the milky eyes and the VR-visor interconnect prop. So what does he see, anyway? If it's conventional vision, it's gotta be rather alien to him given his visor's vision is like an LSD trip.

How'd his hands get burned, anyway? How'd they get burned?! HOW'D THEY GET BURNED?!

Riker looks weird sitting at the science console. It's like he's having a time out or something.

I don't know why, but I get a kick out of the main engineering seats being average office chairs.

Well, open mind and all, I guess this isn't the worst episode in the catalog, but it's in the ballpark. Terrible pacing and lame, unsatisfying mystery. 1.5 stars at best from me and probably worse than that. After crapping on the past few episodes, I'm looking forward to Gambit. I remember liking that one a lot.

It's funny to see Kunta Kinte's wife play his mother in this episode. Points deducted for not casting John Amos as Father LaForge instead of Ben Vereen.

"Why Geordi/probe doesn't have a visor makes no sense, BTW."

From what I understand, LaVar Burton was really bitching about wearing the visor by this point, especially since it had no storytelling purpose. It's kind of ironic that when his vision is finally a relevant plot point the visor has almost nothing to do with it. Not sure he thought it out that far but it'd a nice passive-aggressive middle finger if he did when (likely) insisting his avatar have real sight.
Picard Maneuver
Wed, Apr 22, 2020, 2:15am (UTC -5)
P.S. James Earl Jones as Father LaForge would have been great, too, but that would have been a big get even for the last season of TNG.
Sun, Aug 2, 2020, 2:57am (UTC -5)
For some reason, the technobable in this one bothers me to the point that I don't enjoy it any more. The sensory "input overload puts the guy at risk" makes no sense. I am aware that Star Trek has tons of nonsensical technobables, but I seem to be fine with most of them and can enjoy the shows, but for some reason this one bothers me.
James G
Sat, Nov 14, 2020, 8:47am (UTC -5)
Interesting one this. A bit different. I quite enjoyed it.

It's not clear to me how the probe works, exactly. We see Geordi, in his virtual reality experience, touching objects, supporting himself by holding beams and so on. Not clear how all this is accomplished in reality by a probe with no limbs, opposable thumbs etc. But that's not very important.

I like the tension between Geordi and Picard. I'm not sure I like Data aiding and abetting Geordi in disobeying their captain. I can't see how his algorithms would justify that.

For a long time, this episode didn't quite seem to get off the ground, for me. I glanced at the Netflix progress bar and realised that I'd watched 27 minutes, yet I felt as though the story was just getting started. But I suppose it shows that, at least, it wasn't dragging.

I quite liked the twist. Well - at least I liked that the entity Geordi was talking to wasn't his mother. I'm sort of tired of the mysterious supernatural alien nonsense.

But I would have been disappointed if he'd ended up saving his mother's ship. I really winced when Geordi came up with his massively convenient technobollocks sonic screwdriver: "I'm going to .. initiate an inverse warp cascade. The subspace distortion from the cascade should reverse the warp funnel. Your ship will end up right where it started!"

And I'm glad that didn't happen. I'm also glad, without wanting to be mean, that Picard didn't deliver the news that his mum's ship and crew had been found safe, at the end of the episode. Not every story should have a convenient happy ending.

Not bad.
Sat, Nov 28, 2020, 7:11am (UTC -5)
This episode wasn't even good enough to be bad. 1.5 stars.
Tue, Dec 8, 2020, 10:07pm (UTC -5)
The only interesting aspect of this episode is Geordi without his visor and the “Why aren’t his hands burning?” question at the very beginning. After that, there’s nothing engaging about Interface. Even the title is boring. The writer put way too much importance on “But it’s his mom,” and “How would you feel if it was your mom who was missing/possibly dead?” But too much of the episode is handled by telling and not showing, and in the end we’re left with having to take Geordi’s word for it about aliens from a planet that we barely get a glimpse of. The worst part about it is the almost complete lack of emotion from virtually every member of the cast. Bottom line: Too much talk & not enough emoting or actively showing what was going on. **/*****
Hotel bastardos
Thu, Dec 10, 2020, 9:28am (UTC -5)
Well, excuse me, I kinda like the idea of a crappy pavilion...
Sat, Apr 3, 2021, 9:18am (UTC -5)
All the other characters are so dismissive that Geordi's mother could even be alive despite her only being missing. And apparently from technobabble less serious than they've defeated many times before.

This skepticism is so arbitrary and pervasive, I first assumed the crew was hiding things from Geordi or he was in some sort of illusion.

The tone here is so different than usual, it feels like a different (and more realistic) show.
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 7:34am (UTC -5)
This episode reveals something shocking. We now know that for six years, one of the main cast had both their parents alive and kicking. How unnatural.
Top Hat
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
Until Soong's death, so did Data, technically, though he didn't realize it.
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 7:21pm (UTC -5)
What a stupid fucking episode. Geordi suggests a warp drive accident could have warped the Harrah to the planet, and has to convince his crew of the possibility. Naturally his crew mates are unconvinced because warp drive shenanigans are impossible! EXCEPT THIS EXACT THING HAS HAPPENED TO THE ENTERPRISE NO LESS THAN THREE TIMES! Does everyone simply “forget” they’ve been shot through space untold distances because someone was fucking around with the warp core? Jesus Christ this one is painful to watch.
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 7:26pm (UTC -5)
Three stars. What a joke.
Wed, Jul 21, 2021, 8:13pm (UTC -5)

Well, at least those two parents weren't living together or anything unnatural like that!
Wed, Oct 27, 2021, 11:22am (UTC -5)
Voyager should have come across the Hera in the Delta Quadrant.
Top Hat
Wed, Oct 27, 2021, 4:29pm (UTC -5)
I remember hearing that the Equinox plot line evolved from that idea. That may not be true, but it makes sense.
Bok R'Mor
Thu, Oct 28, 2021, 1:12am (UTC -5)
@Pamellllaaa, @Top Hat

That's fascinating about the Hera and the Equinox.

A quick and not very thorough Google search only turns up posts on forums where people think the Equinox *should have been* the Hera. Have you any more sources?

I am a fan of the Equinox two-parter as was but agree the idea of the Hera ending up in the Delta Quadrant is intriguing, particularly if the Caretaker was behind it. It might strain plausibility to have yet another link between TNG and VOY though.
Top Hat
Thu, Oct 28, 2021, 8:25am (UTC -5)
No, as I say, it was just something I heard said somewhere along the line. So there may be nothing to it.
Thu, Nov 11, 2021, 2:47am (UTC -5)
A likeable episode once you mentally switch off to the technobabble (which is a practiced ability by Series 7). Good psychological ‘meat’, and an interesting sci-fi concept in the VR suit. Not much else to add. Just shy of 3 stars.
Wed, Jun 22, 2022, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this one a lot, not least of all because Geordie is probably my favorite character., probably due to my having a severe visual impairment also.

Many things didn't add up or make sense, but they didn't have to. The science part of it was cool and plausible: We're on the cusp of achieving it even with the technology we have. Some parts were a stretch, due to the dramatic imperatives, but that's okay. The angle regarding his mom struck a cord as I lost my dad four years ago and it hit me really, really hard (still is), and I don't relish the prospect of one day my mom being gone, too.

The ending was...sigh-inducing. Alien life forms pulling sh** because we unwittingly discomfited them somehow? Why, THAT's never been done before, amirite!
Sun, Apr 30, 2023, 7:56am (UTC -5)
Lowlights: Everything.

Highlights. Ending credits.

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