Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Thine Own Self”

2 stars.

Air date: 2/14/1994
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by Christopher Hatton
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review Text

Data, suffering from memory loss because of a power surge, walks into a village on a pre-industrial world whose inhabitants find him perplexing. He doesn't know who he is or where he came from, or even that he is an android. He's befriended by a local man whose daughter names him "Jayden" so arbitrarily that I decided to look up the meaning of the name on Wikipedia, which mostly informs me that Jayden became a popular name in America starting around 1994. Coincidence? The Wikipedia entry even mentions this episode, though I'm as likely to chalk that up to Wikipedia writers being disproportionately composed of Trek nerds as any other reason.

If I'm spinning my wheels talking about Data's temporary name, it's because I have little to say about "Thine Own Self," which is inoffensive but relentlessly nondescript. Here's the tale of an android who doesn't know who he is but has Data's unshakable power of reasoning and finds himself among people with far inferior knowledge. (Data is especially skeptical of the local teacher's science class, and for good reason.) These people find his complexion and eyes strange. They think he is an "ice man." They are freaked out when he demonstrates astounding feats of strength. Naturally, this society (that we see) is made up of one isolated village in keeping with the reliable Trek cliché. By this point in TNG's run, it seems as if we've seen every possible permutation of the isolated alien village/society.

There are some stakes, albeit slight ones. It turns out Data has been unwittingly carrying radioactive metal and has poisoned the entire town. (Apparently, he doesn't know what the word "radioactive" means, which is written on the metal case he's carrying, yet knows what all other words mean.) When two villagers looking for justice for this cursed illness come after him with, literally, torches and pitchforks — ripping off the side of his face and revealing an array of circuits — they think he's a monster. So Data must cure the town before the suspicious townspeople kill him. If this sounds more exciting than the episode actually is, well, yeah. I'm not saying Trek has to be new and exciting every time, and I will always love TNG, but this is one of many stories that betrays the signs of a season (and series) running out of gas.

The out-of-left-field B-story involves Troi deciding to take the commander's test (inspired by Crusher's shifts commanding the night watch) in order to stretch her ambitions beyond her job as ship's counselor. While the intentions here are okay, this is completely forced and unrealistic, and Troi frankly comes across as immature and unprofessional when she all but throws a tantrum when Riker won't tell her why she keeps failing the crisis simulation exam. (She eventually realizes her failure is because she won't order someone to their death.)

At this point in the series, this feels like the writers — without at all earning it — trying to reinvent a character whose role has for some time felt unimportant compared to the rest of the main characters. The conceit that Troi can earn a commander's rank after studying for a few days and taking some tests only cheapens the whole idea — to say nothing about her openly admitted uncertainty as to whether she could actually order someone to die for real. Early in the episode, Troi cites her disastrous command in "Disaster" as when she first realized she liked the idea of being in command. I would've flunked her on that alone.

Previous episode: Lower Decks
Next episode: Masks

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

Comment Section

138 comments on this post

    This episode deserves a 3-star rating. While I recognize the validity of Jammer's specific criticisms, I'd like to suggest that "Thine Own Self" is best considered as an all-too-rare demonstration and defense of the scientific method. It effectively advoctes for reason and sequentialism in the face of supernatural hysteria. It invites us to enlist on the side, as sides there so clearly are today even more than when it first aired in 1994, of rationality and evidence-based opinion.

    Oh and the actress who plays the village teacher/healer is cool.

    Jammer, I totally agree here. The series clearly was running out of gas at this point and this episode is a snoozer. The creators relied on Data masturbation and the horrible season 7 choice to elevate the status of Troi.

    Oh, and Troi being a commander who OUTRANKS DATA for the next eight years? Just ridiculous.

    I disagree. I enjoyed this episode, 3 stars. I enjoyed the parts where data starts to employ early scientific methods to show that x-rays exist, the use of microscope, and eventually a cure for the village.

    The lady who played the teacher was also well cast. When she first called data an "Iceman" and her prescription to eat a lot of "meat, butter, and cheese" made me laugh. Also she didn't reject any of Data's findings and was curious as to what he was doing.

    The 'b' story was just filler, I agree with that

    I've always enjoyed this one...the Troi bits are kind of lame, but I'm able to ignore the big lapses of logic in both stories and just enjoy it as is, i.e. a big goofy "Oops Data Forgets" story.

    I also dig it as the only episode where Picard only shows up at the very end for one line...he was busy at the time, I gather.

    The Troi storyline would probably have played better had it spanned the entire season, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I agree with SFKeepay, this was not a stellar outing by any means, but still a worthwhile effort.

    Nic: "The Troi storyline would probably have played better had it spanned the entire season..."

    Boy, you said a mouthful! Imagine if, before each season of TNG, the writers had developed arcs for the characters, which would've been addressed whenever they needed a b-plot or filler. Strangely, Worf was the only one who got any: his discommendation, his relationship with his son, and (around these episodes) his fling with Troi. Wesley's coming of age counts too. Other character arcs never lasted longer than one episode -- which is why Troi's sudden growth here is shocking by comparison.

    Haha...Jammer already caught the silliest thing about this episode...that Data seems to have retained his entire vocabulary (including "empirical evidence" and "reasoning by anallogy" (and the ability to read and write it) except for (unconveniently) "radioactive".

    This one is my guilty pleasure and I have it saved on my DVR. So much to like here, including a stellar supporting cast who play their parts beautifully. I am only saddened at the end when Data seems to have no memory of his adventure.

    Didn't anyone else like Riker talking through his trombone? I always laugh.

    Ah yes, the Troi-earns-a-promotion episode.

    Imagine what it must be like to work in an organisation like Starfleet.

    Exhibit A: Lt Commander Data, some 26 years of exemplary service. Close to eternity in the same rank.

    Exhibit B: Counselor Troi, perhaps 12 years of service as a PSYCHOLOGIST. Outranks Exhibit A and is above him in chain of command.

    In what kind of serious and professional semi-military organisation, except in some medieval or early modern setting, is this even remotely possible?

    How come Trek never went the opposite route? Why didn't, let's see, Worf, one day decide he wanted to be a doctor? He would get a crash course over a couple of days, pass a test and voila, dr Worf, chief of medical staff.

    Why the hell is Academy even needed if every doctor and psychologist in the galaxy can ride their own personal Death Star?

    Excuse my nerdy rant, I had to get that off my chest.

    I was waiting for this review just to bag the parts concerning Troi's... I can't even say it... promotion.

    But I'll just tip my hat to the rest of you who have already said it well (esp Paul M).

    The only good thing about it is that it contrasts so sharply with the A-story, emphasising Data's overall superiority as a character and actor.

    I actually really enjoyed this episode during TNG's original run and still do today. I felt it was a decent lesson about using empirical evidence over blind theory (at a time when many of my friends still believed in Santa Claus and the boogeyman -- I was 7 years old when this first aired). Data was one of my favorite characters at the time so I always enjoyed watching him, and this episode featured him heavily of course.

    As for Troi and her story, yes it's goofy to jam it into a single episode -- or more correctly a fraction of an episode. Realistically, if they did it at all, it should have been spread throughout the season or several seasons, something like Nog's Starfleet career in DS9. Pretty ridiculous that one of the least qualified crewmembers could earn a promotion to commander in a single episode. I always thought Deanna shouldn't have been a Starfleet officer at all, especially since she didn't wear a uniform for much of the series. Oh well...

    I think others have touched on this point, but I appreciated that there were some characters on the planet who were genuinely open to consider Data's findings and the possibility that their beliefs were wrong. Unfortunately that is balanced against the pitchfork wielding townspeople that make up everyone else. We too often see (esp. in Voyager) the stubborn villain character who won't listen to reason for no good reason other than the script requires it.

    It's fun seeing goofy Mr. Treeger from "Friends" (Michael Hagerty) as the pitchfork-wielding bad guy. Could he *be* any more stupid?

    @TH--I don't want to get into a big religious debate (well, maybe I do) but your characterization of "the stubborn villain character who won't listen to reason for no good reason other than the script requires it" reminds me of many people who follow religions. If their script (holy book) requires a certain behavior or belief, then they are closed to reason.

    Ignorance, willful or no, is a denial of reason. One reason I like the village teacher so much is that she is the epitome of skeptical thinking. She has her ideas that she teaches but is perfectly open to changing her ideas if new evidence is presented that contradicts her views.

    True zealots don't do that--they cling to their Bible or Quran or whatever and reinterpret verses to suit their own prejudices. The Bible says it is a sin to have gay sex in the chapter right before it says you can't plant your fields to the edge--but how many Christian farmers think the first should be interpreted literally and the second metaphorically? (Leviticus 18:22 & 19:9)

    Although the remedy is education, I believe, are there some people who are simply addicted to their dogma and incapable of giving up their dearly-held beliefs?


    I don't think this episode was touching on religion. I think this is more xenophobia. They didn't go trying to kill Data because of religion. They did so because he was an unknown outsider who showed up at the same time as the problem. Contrast this with Who Watches The Watchers where Liko's insistance on harming Troi was based on religious belief (I actually DON'T consider Liko to be a to be a "stubborn billain who won't listen to reason for no good reason" for that reason.

    In the previous episode, Lower Decks, Troi and Riker joke about giving each other promotions. Seems like the writers thought it sounded like a good idea and went through with it (for one of the characters, the wrong one).

    As other commenters have stated above, this episode is best viewed as a quiet parable about the defense of the scientific method and rationality over irrational fear. Very Trekkian. Which, well -- I appreciate all the values that the main plot has, and I think that the episode does relatively well in establishing the gradual respect between the schoolteacher and Data, and the way Data is a saviour for Gia. And yet, emotionally, there is just something missing. There's a lot of smugness to dropping Data, who is a supergenius by 24th century standards, into a pre-industrial village and to have him solve all problems with science. The only real thing that tempers it is that Data is just so unfailingly polite about everything, so that it's hard to get annoyed with him.

    The moment where Gia talks about her mother having gone to a place where there is no sickness and everyone is always nice to each other, etc., and she asks "Jayden" if he believes such a place, and Data looks out to the stars and says he does, kind of touches on the problems with the episode, but also possibly what it might "really" be about. Somehow, the 24th century is equated to heaven, because that's just how awesome the 24th century is. That is a little bit annoying, but this story also suggests, somehow, that a better future awaits the people of this planet, too. The schoolteacher pointed out that there has already been some progress, moving away from describing Data in purely religious terms and into (pseudo)scientific ones. Maybe the episode is best understood as having Data come back to this village as a refugee from the planet's "future" (which presumably is going to be like 24th century humanity) who brings with him both the enlightened scientific and ethical philosophy of "the future" and the dangers that it represents. The villagers are poisoned by the radiation he brings with him, since they are unprepared for it. Eventually "Jayden" has to sacrifice himself in order to undo the damage that his presence has done, but his impact on the people of the village, in scientific reasoning (the schoolteacher) and in friendship and heroism (Gia) is still felt. Data remains unaware of this experience because in some respects the Jayden story does not really tie into Data's story, because it is separate from the future -- "Jayden" really does die when he risks his life to save the villagers from the dangers he has brought with him, and that death has to mean something, and does, since Jayden ended up being something like a ghost, sweeping in and out of the village and in and out of existence for a very short time.

    I don't feel like we learn anything about Data here, so that some of the emotional beats of the story don't seem to matter. When Data's face is scratched off and he finds that he is not an iceman and may well be a monster, it is important to the story that Jayden, Data's amnesiac villager-identity, *chooses* to believe that he is still a good person, capable of saving lives, and willing to die to do so. But somehow there wasn't really any doubt that Data would do that, is there? The crisis relies at least a bit on Jayden wondering if he's really a monster, and the story sort of plays that, but *we* know so clearly that Data/Jayden is not a monster, and Jayden responds to it by just continuing to be Data without skipping a beat, that it's hard to feel any deep pain at the story. This episode feels very thin, and the main story is one that might have worked if it were a 20-minute story rather than a 40-minute one.

    The Troi subplot ultimately bothers me for the reasons others have discussed. It should not be that easy to become a full commander, and Troi talks about all this like it's a whim she just had the other day. It would certainly be one thing if she tried to earn her command over a long period of time, but the idea that the only real difficulty Troi would have is in Making the Hard Call feels particularly silly since that is pretty similar to the Kobayashi Maru test for *cadets*. I did like Riker's trombone talk though.

    Overall, 2 stars is fair.

    Thinking some more: I think the problem is that Data is so Data-like throughout that there is no tension, because there is almost never any ambiguity about the choices Data makes. Of course Data will be awesome with science. And of course Data will risk everything to save the village, even when he's being threatened with death. Something like "The Ensigns of Command," which also deals with Data/random villagers and I'd say has generally poorer characterization of the villagers, is still a better episode for me because it requires Data to be put out of his element/comfort zone, and whether Data will succeed in getting through to the villagers depends on more than Data's ethics or scientific strength. The only real question is whether Jayden would view himself as a monster and what that would mean, and this is mostly still resolved in a fairly standard way (i.e. Data seems a little weirded out by it, but keeps doing what he's going to do). The episode is mostly about how Data is better than pre-industrial villagers, and given that I think it's a tribute to Spiner's performance that I don't get a strong impression that Data/Jayden ever interprets the story that way.

    OK, having given the episode some more thought I think I have a bit of a better idea what works about it.

    Barkon IV is introduced as a planet with a preindustrial civilization. The community Data enters, however, is taking baby steps into something like modernity and perhaps even a scientific revolution. Talur, who is an early scientist and rationalist, says of Data, “I'm sure my grandmother would have called our friend here a demon or spirit or some kind of monster. But current scientific methodology allows us to dismiss such ridiculous superstitions and concentrate on scientific reality.” The implication that only two generations ago Data would not be viewed through a “scientific” lens suggests that there is a relatively rapid change in scientific and technological thinking. Talur leans toward the future in this kind of thinking; Skoran the blacksmith leans toward the past. Gia represents the future of the civilization, of course.

    So Data enters a village which is poised on the beginnings of a scientific breakthrough, perhaps a Renaissance. And he represents the scientific and technological world encroaching on the village. No one realizes that this is what Data is or represents, including Data himself, because his nature as a technological being is hidden, as is his memory. But on a fundamental level this is what Data brings. What Data brings is a kind of systematic rational thinking which the Barkonians have not yet reached, although Talur is somewhat approaching it and Gia’s generation will be even closer. What Data also brings are radioactive materials: a substance associated with the risks and benefits of technological advancement. Radiation poisoning from radioactive materials which have been purified through technological, non-natural means (a line of dialogue from Skoran emphasizes that it’d be impossible for the Barkonians to refine the metals to that level of purity) is a risk of the modern age, not of the preindustrial age. I don’t think that Data is “just” a symbol of modernity. He is still Data, a character, after all, and the episode is also explicitly related to Data’s sense of self and identity. I think, though, that the townspeople viewing Data as a monster is related to the question of whether scientific progress is inherently destructive.

    People are afraid of Data because he is unknown, and that is what he is seen as at first. What no one quite realizes, and only becomes clear to Data himself late in the narrative (and never entirely, because “Jayden” never recovers Data’s memories nor does Data ever reintegrate “Jayden’s”), is that he is not a general unknown, but specifically the unknown represented by a rational, scientific future. As Data points out, however, they are not wrong to believe that there is a causal relationship between his arrival and the sickness which spreads throughout the town; the Progress, even the benign progress, as represented by Data comes upon the village too quickly to deal with all the dangers that are associated with technological advancement. That the radiation sickness spreads because people are attracted to the shiny new products emphasizes the risk of being seduced by the surface benefits of technological development into ignoring its dangers. But Data, by using his rational scientific mind, eventually identifies the radioactive materials as the problem, finds a cure, and gives these to the village. His willingness to “die” to save the village is somewhat a sacrifice for the fact that he brought the sickness with him.

    Frankenstein (in both book and film versions) was a story which warned against the dangers of heedless scientific progress, and so Data-as-Frankenstein’s-monster references the villagers’ fear of progress. The story even has the radiation nearly kill members of the village and so suggests that there is real validity to warnings about progressing too fast scientifically/technologically. However, it’s Trek and it’s Data, and Data’s rejection of the mantle of monster, and insistence on saving the village at all costs, is a way of showing the best of scientific and technological progress. Data is from the Star Trekkian enlightened future, and this enlightenment remains with him even without his memory, even placed in an unfamiliar environment. Trek is just a tad too positive on the future of technology for my tastes, but I value its emphasis on the value of scientific truth a lot. Things will get better, even though they may seem bad in the interim, if we continue believing in scientific truth rather than superstition.

    This is why this exchange happens:
    DATA: Where is your mother?
    GIA: She died about a year ago. Father says she went to a beautiful place where everything is peaceful and everyone loves each other, and no one ever gets sick. Do you think there's really a place like that?
    (Data gazes out at the moon and stars)
    DATA: Yes. I do.

    Data knows on some deep level that the enlightened future is better, that it is a place of peace and love. “No one ever gets sick” is a bit much, but certainly people don’t get sick from run-of-the-mill radiation poisoning on the Enterprise. Data is a refugee from this future sent to reassure Gia to value Talur over Skoran, to look to the future rather than the past for her answers, even though it may hurt her in the interim.

    It’s worth noting that the Troi story, in which she has to learn that it’s necessary to sacrifice officers for the greater good if she’ll be in command, is a counterpoint to the portrayal of the enlightened life in the stars as, basically, Gia’s heaven. Troi tries to learn everything she can about engineering schematics, believing that if she could only learn all the technical knowledge in the world she would be able to find a way around death. She can’t; no one can: death is a part of life, and it should be avoided if possible but must be accepted if it cannot be avoided. Malice and unnecessary suffering born out of ignorance is vastly reduced, but some pain is unavoidable. I think this helps counterbalance the sense that the story may be too uncritical of scientific progress (though I’d prefer a Ron Moore too uncritical of scientific progress over the Ron Moore who advocates ditching all technology).

    So, I think my Thine Own Self rating has just been bumped up; though I think the story is still too slow-paced and low-stakes, I think I’ve gotten a handle on what it is that does work about it. And the Troi subplot has, er, problems. I'd probably give it 2.5 stars now.

    Data plunked, again, into a 19th century setting, first our planet, different time, back in Time's Arrow and now here our time, different planet.

    What's better, this or Time's Arrow. I'd have to say this, if only because it's refreshingly Twainless.

    To be fair, this was more of a 16th century setting, and I've always enjoyed Jerry Hardin's Mark Twain.

    All the same, the biggest problem here is the business with Troi. It certainly doesn't square with anything we know of Starfleet let alone present-day organizations that one can merely take a test to get a significant promotion. Of course, part of the issue is that Troi's assumption of temporary command way back in "Disaster" never made a whole lot of sense, particularly when it was plain that she lacked anything more than rudimentary understanding of the ship's technical function.

    Otherwise, wouldn't the sorts of decisions she'd be expected to make in a command role usually have been preceded by years of experience at lesser ranks than commander? Presumably Riker's command style did not emerge immediately upon becoming a first officer, but was the result of years of experience in a command-track career. Troi has been a psychologist/therapist for her entire career and there's no indication she ever had prior experience in this kind of decision-making. Just silly plotting in an otherwise interesting (if admittedly unoriginally premised) episode.

    I really liked that episode, a solid 3 stars for me. I liked both stories, even though I'm not entirely convinced by Data finding a cure for radiation poisoning so quickly with the few herbs that pass for medicine and chemistry in this village. WE still don't have a cure for radiation poisoning - of course they could have found one by the 24th century... But then again we're led to believe Data doesn't remember anything and re-invents everything.

    The few things I don't like in this episode are not exclusive to it, but more a dissatisfaction with ST in general (notably, the ridiculous idea that two societies at a similar scientific/industrial development stage somehow ALSO have automatically similar fashions or social organizations... Especially since it could be reasonable to imagine that humanoid societies would progress to scientific knowledge (which i objective) folowing the same steps. But fashion is entirely arbitrary - there is absolutely NO reason for a commonality of fashions. There was absolutely none ON EARTH! So you can imagine how I feel about having it in the universe...

    Kind of a first contact with a twist. A familiar theme wherein a primitive society is presented with technology they have no hope of understanding, namely Data. Having lost his memory, Data has no qualms about the Prime Directive and proceeds to advance technological and medical science. Since he himself is just learning about himself and his surroundings, he has only primitive materials to work with so the advances are only huge from the villager's perspective.
    Nice episode. No excitement but still a fascinating watch.

    Not spectacular but solid for an episode. Yes, the village was a little bland and trek cliche. But the radiation subplot was interesting to follow. The best part was the "teacher" and her psuedo-science. Very well casted and acted. There are a lot of people like her...spouting "scientific" sillyness while being generally accepted by the public.

    I like Beverly Crusher but she didn't seem to have much interest in or strength in command 4 years or even 1 year prior, let alone 8. I hated that Riker cheated (at least it felt that way), telling the solution almost exactly rather than having Troi discover it on her own.


    I don't know, I really liked this episode for the most part... as always, I think Brent Spiner did a great job, and I liked the actors who played Garvin and Gia... and I thought Ronnie Claire Edwards did a great job as well... one of the better episodes in season 7 I thought...

    Wow, I'm surprised Jammer gave this only 2 stars. For me, it's one of the standouts of Season 7 by far.

    I agree with Del_Duio. Definitely one of the best of S7. I've always liked this episode, but I'd have to admit there are valid points to Troi becoming a commander so easily. However, we have to remember that leaders may not necessarily be smarter than their followers, but should use all the information they have at hand to handle command well. In that vein, it may be plausible for Troi to become a commander.

    I rather liked this episode but it was completely undone by the unneeded and nonsensical B plot. Why on Earth would Troi be promoted to commander and bridge officer over Data or Worf? Like others here have pointed out, there is such a thing as a career track with logical milestones along the way. Command is probably not simply the result of passing a test. It also seems like Troi decides to pursue the goal on a whim. What if the situation were reversed and we were presented with a B plot wherein Riker decided he always liked helping his fellow officers talk things out during poker games, so why should he not become a credentialed ship's counselor? All he would need to do is pass a holodeck test after repeated tries and BOOM, he's a certified counselor. What happens here with Troi is equally ridiculous.

    I also found the substance of the bridge officer's technical test to be hard to believe. In every Trek episode I've ever seen, old or new, a captain has never ordered a subordinate to certain death. Extreme danger and likely death, sure, but it's represented that Geordi will unquestionably die from the radiation exposure that he will undergo while he makes the repair. Okay, why not order Data to do it, since he is immune? (It's a holodeck simulation of the characters, so Data could have been included in it.) Or, since not ever starship has an android officer, why not design the ship's power system in such a way that it can be repaired without a person physically entering the conduit? For one thing, given the presumed nature of the forces involved in warp drive, it seems unlikely that Geordi or any other human would even live long enough to effect the repairs. More likely, they'd die the moment they entered. It just seemed like a lame excuse to show that even Troi can be "ruthless" when needed.

    With all this said, the main plot about Data was fine if you allow for the unlikelihood of Data selectively losing his memories (not recognizing the meaning of "radioactive") and you excuse the villagers being so similar to early Renaissance Europe in terms of the level of scientific understanding that it even comes out in their choice of clothing. At least the guest stars did a terrific job, from the village teacher/doctor, to Gia, and even the xenophobic blacksmith character.

    I agree with the two star rating. I would even have given it 2.5 or even 3 if the B plot were jettisoned.

    In fairness to the episode, despite that "sir" remark at the episode's end, Data is still the ship's second officer; Troi has a higher rank than Data, just as Beverly did, but Data is higher in the line. I admit that off the top of my head the first time I can recall Data being in command post-"Thine Own Self" Nemesis (!), but still.

    Whether or not the command test is plausible (and, yeah, I mostly agree it isn't), I see the rank issue differently. As in real life military, certain professionals in non-line fields automatically start at higher rank -- e.g. fresh-out-of-the-academy Bashir starts out as lieutenant junior grade rather than ensign, whereas Nurse Ogawa is an ensign. Pulaski doesn't seem to be a line officer at all, not even through a special "bridge officer" test that Crusher and Troi did, and she's a full commander. I think it has something to do with extra training; we know that Troi went to the University of Betazed in addition to her time at Starfleet Academy. So Troi's lieutenant commander / later commander is partly representative not just of her status in terms of command but also of her professional designation. Troi without bridge officer status is lt. commander and commands when she is the highest ranking officer present and there are no line officers present ("Disaster"); otherwise she's behind senior staff line officers like Data, Geordi, and Worf regardless of rank. When she gets bumped to commander she has bridge officer status but that doesn't put her above Data in the line anymore than Crusher's commander rank and bridge officer status makes her above Data. I think Data remains second officer; and it's up to the current captain's discretion who to appoint as second in command in case of senior staff absences, i.e. Data appointing Lt. Worf as acting first officer despite his lower rank than Geordi and Beverly in "Gambit."

    The only thing I actively disliked was having that annoying fatass survive the electric shock from stabbing Data.

    I love this episode 4 stars. I had forgotten this was the episode that Deanna took the officers test, but contrary to other's criticism of it, it isn't terribly unplausible. Medical (green shirts) getting that commander rank doesn't mean they are the same as a Riker or even a Data, it basically means they can do the graveyard shift when nothing much is happening. It is rather like a weekend news reporter, they just need a butt in the seat. Deanna even mentions she's had most of the education she needs, just didn't bother taking the test, so if it seems accelerated it wasn't. It also has good continuity with the Disaster episode, since such an ordeal would probably inspire a bit of learning on ship ops, and if you've learned it why not take the test. Riker gives her a nice hint, but doesn't solve it for her. The fact the lesson was hard won should stick with her better.
    As for Data on the planet, the more interesting plot line. Yes, Data not knowing "Radioactive" is a bit of a stretch, but it is a great lesson in the scientific method. With 3 parallel personalities in the young girl, the teacher, and the black smith, representing the curiosity of youth, forward thinking, and backward thinking. The problem of the radioactive material is solved in an elegant way, with nice logical steps that are essentially true.


    "I really liked that episode, a solid 3 stars for me. I liked both stories, even though I'm not entirely convinced by Data finding a cure for radiation poisoning so quickly with the few herbs that pass for medicine and chemistry in this village. WE still don't have a cure for radiation poisoning - of course they could have found one by the 24th century... But then again we're led to believe Data doesn't remember anything and re-invents everything. "

    One nitpick I have is that the Barkonians are *not* human and Data presumably knows bubkes about their physiology, yet he conjures up a cure seemingly based on what would work on humans. I'm reminded of that Voyager episode in which the Doctor is kidnapped and finds himself in an alien hospital run by Benny Stulwicz from "L.A. Law" -- he's never seen, let alone treated, any of these alien life forms, yet within minutes of his activation he's prescribing medicine for them.

    Also, who builds a village two days' walk from the nearest river?

    The Troi subplot really hammers home how poor episodic television is for real character development. TNG is great in that you can dip in to an episode without needing much understanding of the previous ones, whereas DS9 you really struggle to watch later episodes unless you are already aware of the plot leading in to it. The episodic as opposed to serialised nature I also think hurt Voyager as the one show that really needed tighter serialisation rather than too many stand alone plots with little connection.

    I like a suggestion above that said maybe the B plots over a season could have been used for character arcs. Its a shame because the disconnect between episodes really becomes apparent when you watch multiple episodes back to back.

    I agree with you about episodic episodes, but I am puzzled why you think DS9 is so different. I don't think it really is. You can look at Kira in S1 and S7 and she's virtually the same. You wouldn't know the difference. DS9 was no different to TNG except there was a war on-going throughout.

    @DLPB - Strongly disagree with regards to Kira. She changes more than almost anyone else in 7 years. Although it's not because DS9 is less episodic, it's because the writers respect her changes.

    Data changes quite a lot as well. Kira goes from being a terrorist who is distrustful of the Federation, hates Cardassians, doesn't understand her faith, and can't let others in... to something quite different. Her experiences soften her and leave her with a different kind of edge at the same time. She learns to care about many Cardassians, comes to believe in the Federation, makes peace with the war and so much more. I'm surprised you hit on this character because I feel her arc is one of the most satisfying ones.

    I disagree. As I said, I can still watch the first and last episode and see no difference. In fact, in one episode she learns not to hate ordinary Cardassians and to see things differently, and in all subsequent episodes she's back to the same old. She bleats about the occupation of Bajor the entire run.

    There was some growth with Odo, but not more so than Data (who you just mentioned, and who should have been developed more). The two characters that did change were Kai Winn and Dukat... but both those changes were against the character and based on an absurd subplot of magic fire demons. The changes weren't logical and weren't growth... in fact, one would have to say they were a devolution.

    I thought Winn's ultimate change was good but Dukat's was a devolution.

    That said Data was the pinnacle of TNG growth on TNG. You'll have to cite evidence that Kira doesn't soften on Cardassians. Between her bonding with Ghemor and Ziyal, softening on Garak, etc.

    She goes on about the Occupation sure, with Dukat. Who she should rightfully see as space Hitler. Her refusal to soften on him is NOT illustrative of a lack of character development.

    I'd argue that Sisko, Kira, Quark, Nog, Bashir, and Odo all get development about equal to Data (and ahead of any other TNG character). Leaving out Worf because of his role on both shows.

    Kai Winn's change is completely opposite what her character would have done. She has spent her whole life worshiping the prophets. You don't go from that to worshiping an anti-prophet. It's just really childish writing. It's like a nun suddenly getting disillusioned and worshiping the devil.

    The fact she even goes along with it with a mortal enemy to bajor was laughable, at best.

    You can feel free to disagree but I honestly felt like the exchange in Rapture would completely destroy a person like Winn.

    WINN: Prophet, hear me. I am the Kai of Bajor. I offer myself to you as your humble servant,
    KIRA: I await their vessel.
    WINN: Speak to me. Tell me what I should do.

    The desperation in that scene could have led to the resentment a year later needed to cause her ultimate change. I liked it (even if I'm in the minority). I hated what it did to the fascinating and multifaceted Dukat, but I thought it suited Winn.

    "Thine Own Self" is a serviceable episode, I suppose. The problem is that the choice to promote Troi to full Commander is simply inexcusable. I don't hate Troi as a character. She's easily the weakest link in the cast but that's because she is always so woefully misused, not because there is anything inherently wrong about her (as a character). This is just one more example of the powers that be misusing her. Don't try to reinvent her into something she wasn't designed to be. Instead, actually use her effectively as a counselor. It just shows that they never had any real idea what to do with her (aside from romance plots) and were, even at this late date, still throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what would stick. And, I'm sorry, but the fact that Troi becomes a Commander when Data never once, in the entire run of TNG from "Encounter at Farpoint" to "Star Trek: Nemesis", receives any promotion is just absurd on its face. If any character deserved to be promoted it was Data. In fact, aside from temporary postings, like in "Redemption, Part II" and "Chain of Command, Part II", Data is the only one of the seven core TNG characters to never receive a promotion.

    I'm not going to talk about the ridiculous easiness of what it takes to become a full Commander because there are other problems there. For instance, if taking the Bridge Officers Test is all it takes to get promoted to Commander, why are there any Bridge Officers who have lesser ranks?

    The best part of the episode is the A-plot with Data in the village. But, even this is, as Jammer says, "relentlessly nondescript." Basically, it's just another story of ignorant townspeople/villagers who refuse to understand the scientifically minded stranger and let their fear and superstitions get the better of them, only to learn the error of their ways in the end. I've seen this exact same story a thousand different times in a thousand different places, especially in the sci-fi genre. Data's story isn't bad but it adds virtually nothing to a rather threadbare idea (aside form having the villagers mistake Data for an iceman instead of as a witch) which has been done much better elsewhere. We don't even get any real character growth or development for Data as a result of these events, since his memory is wiped a second time after he gets stabbed in the back and deactivated.

    These two plots really needed to be switched - Troi on the planet and Data pursuing a higher rank. Let's roll with it for a moment - instead of having Data sent to retrieve the radioactive materials have Troi returning from her class reunion asked by Picard to make a pit stop on the way to retrieve them. There's some kind of accident, the shuttle pilot is killed and Troi gets a head injury resulting in memory loss. She then ends up in the village and helps solve the problem of the mysterious illness (instead of just doing it alone like Data does). It would also provide some character development as she wouldn't have to have her memory erased again in the end. Data, on the other hand, decides that it's time to pursue higher career goals. Given how he's been shown to do things like that on a whim (the creation of Lal comes immediately to mind), it would make a lot of sense.

    (Speaking of Data's name of Jayden, the Wikipedia article references a possible biblical connection with Nehemiah 3:7 and the person of Jadon the Meronothite. However, I highly doubt that has anything to do with the choice here. Jadon the Meronothite was simply someone who helped rebuild the walls of Jerusalem after the Babylonian Captivity. I don't see how that, in any way, relates to "Thine Own Self." They really did seem to just pick the name at random.)


    The name Jayden wasn't supposed to have been picked entirely at random: there's a deleted scene where the little girl says it's from a children's story, the name of a strange man who everyone judged as evil just because he was different but who was really good. I think they should have left at least a condensed version in because it seems so ridiculous that she picks this super American & contemporary name. I can accept the name with the story but it otherwise kind of seems like the actress herself is speaking which really drags you out of it. It also explains why she isn't afraid of him and likes him so much right off the bat

    I don't think Troi's promotion over Worf and Data is a surprise either. She struggled but ultimately did well when she was in command. She's made of the right stuff even if she doesn't have the technical knowledge (which she has been learning: there's an episode in this season or 6 where she's very conspicuously testing out something she's not sure if she understands during one of Geordi's presentations or something like that. I think people here commented on how weird it was that she knew about whatever she was talking about, but I thought it was obviously character development based on what happened before).

    Worf is too aggressive, his first instinct is to fire on anything that could be dangerous. He's fine at his position because he waits for his orders but that's not who they want GIVING the orders! Troi isn't like that, she's more similar to Picard (Riker is more aggressive than either of them and we can assume Beverly is less aggressive, so that makes them average).

    Data seems perfect, but in universe no-one trusts him. We trust him as viewers - we know he doesn't have a bad bone in his body - but most of his colleagues and superiors don't. We have seen him commandeer the ship I think twice. He can perfectly impersonate anyone and he has superhuman strength and intellect. I'd be wary of him if I were on that ship with him. We've also seen that some people don't like to take orders from him simply because he's an android, but it would be unfair for him to be denied a promotion on that basis (especially as we've seen him deal with it effectively).

    I also wonder if he would fail the test Troi failed - but whereas she became paralysed and indecisive when faced with the possibility of sending someone to their death, Data would probably want to go himself, which is also admirable but also not what a commanding officer needs to do in an emergency. He is perhaps not aggressive enough in contrast to Worf - remember how much it took for him to try to kill that evil collector man who kidnapped him? (And he seemed ashamed afterwards, as if it was something monstrous to have attempted and not something he should have done days ago!) He's very concerned with being good. Finally, he sometimes doesn't judge people properly which leads to him not judging the situation properly, and that's a problem Troi at least will rarely have

    Picking the worst first, the Troi promotion B-story seems misjudged. Not least of which because a) she doesn't seem that competent and b) taking the same test until you get it right seems an odd way of determining said competence. Riker's blunt explanation of that fact sits better than his later turn around.

    The Data story elements are much better, but ultimately fail to engage completely. It's fortunate he retains enough of his memory to maintain a rigorous scientific method, despite not being able to remember his own name. But the supporting cast is excellent, particularly Talar. It's also noticeable - and actually quite a relief - that we don't get into the fairly obvious Prime Directive issues here...

    Decent enough, but eventually fairly inconsequential. Although we do get an authentic pitchfork wielding mob, so that's something. 2.5 stars.

    To the guy who said Kira didn't change from Episode one to the final episode of DS9... have you actually watched the series from beginning to end? If you have then you have to be sayig that just to be the one guy who goes against the grain out of duty. Most Trek characters across all the TV series didn't change much at all. She is one of the ones that changed dramatically, like almost a different person. Anyways, I digress.

    I think we all can agree this Troi thing was nonsense. Basically, someone with the rank of Lt. Commander can "ask" to take the Commander test, and then do it over and over until a pass. So, why would Data have never asked to take the test, or LaForge for that matter? Ah, maybe good old Geordi wants to hang out with the warp core, but Data has taken command several times and always wants to better himself.

    Yeah, I know from the S6-S7 episode they gave Crusher command, they have had Troi wearing a uniform since Chain of Command, and they wanted to get the women more command time. I like that. However, they should have done Troi's deal over at least a season. Tough in a series that was made so you can watch any episode at anytime without needing to know backstories.

    I would have preferred that she have asked for command time and so they gave her one of the bridge shifts when the senior guys are off duty or sleeping. They could have had a B Plot problem for her to encounter and solve and grow her character that way.

    The Renaissance Faire vibe of the planet killed the A story for me.

    The B story was killed because, as Jammer puts it, 'in every Trek episode I've ever seen, old or new, a captain has never ordered a subordinate to certain death". In a 'real life' situation Geordi would have been down that conduit the second the solution was established, and Troi's insulting and superfluous "that's an order" line would have had been delivered to empty space.

    'in every Trek episode I've ever seen, old or new, a captain has never ordered a subordinate to certain death".


    That's only because Trek waves a wand, like most shows, to keep its main characters alive. It's something they should not have done so vehemently, and then we'd have maybe seen a story where a crew member had to be ordered to die.

    I wouldn't say Troi's motivation comes out of the blue. It's reasonable that after her friend Beverly taking command shifts and the events of "Disaster" where she talks down the stubborn Ro Laren that Troi feels ready for command.

    The real question is why Troi didn't take the Kobayashi Maru test, or if she did, why Riker's test was still necessary. Also, I'd like to point out that Troi took some big risks with the lives of the crew already in "Disaster". Why Riker would think she couldn't do that again unless she did it to a simulated Geordi is a little funny.

    Oh, and I like Luke's idea of swapping Data and Troi's roles here. The only thing is, Data is already a proven commander. For Data to move to Second Officer is a little redundant too. I suppose he could've been offered command somewhere like Sisko did, only for him to realize that he did have more to learn of human nature before he became a full-fledged captain.

    I keep writing about this one, but I suppose I was having a hard time placing it on a scale of 1 - 4.

    I think William B nailed the A-plot's use of Gia and her tragic past. Gia's treatment of an outsider and his ideas of science are really what drive this episode. This makes it all the worse that the directors decided to delete the scene where Gia described the origin of the name "Jayden" for Data. It would've been heartwarming, and helped bring Gia's yearning to the forefront among the townspeople.

    I've already discussed Troi's story, so I'll just add that it was an amusing sideplot. You could say this episode illustrates how people cannot deny their identities, even when put in confusing situations. This is true for data when he lost the memory of his career, and also true for soft-hearted Troi having difficulty making a necessary, but coldblooded decision.

    2.5 stars sounds right.

    I didn't mind Troi studying to be a part time bridge officer, but the writers should have left her a Lt. Commander. I don't see why she needed to be promoted, just have bridge officer added to her job qualifications so to speak. No way should she outrank Data, a far more qualified officer. Just a big bummer really. The writers must have fallen and hit their heads the day they came up with that idea.

    To Paul M. that commented above about Troi being higher in three chain of command than Data. Technically being second officer, Data should retain positional authority over Troi. In the absence of Picard and Riker, Data would be in command.

    Yeah, I have no problem with Troi becoming commander. It's the bridge officer part that drives me up the wall every time I think about it (and with Beverly too). Doctors and psychologists don't just get to pass a single test and become freaking bridge officers, just like you can't pass a test and jump careers in the other direction. It takes 4 years at the Academy and a dozen more of field experience to get there. The notion that a person can achieve the same thing via a silly holodeck test is preposterous.

    And yeah, I'm taking this way too seriously for my health! :)

    I enjoyed this episode very much. It works on many levels. Great story-telling and suspense. Great character development. Beautiful performance by Brent Spiner as an amnesiatic Data trying trying to convince people he only wants to help them and not harm them.

    And the woman who plays the teacher/healer/scientist...awesome character. My favorite moment is when she says: "I'm sure my grandmother would have called [Data] a demon or spirit or some sort of monster" Then her modern, scientific-thinking leads her to conclude, "You are an Ice Man." Priceless. It's a wonderfully funny moment, yet it doesn't make her look ridiculous. She's is simply making sense of things using whatever frames of reference she has.

    > By this point in TNG's run, it seems as if we've seen every possible permutation of the isolated alien village/society

    Hmm, what about the "whole village is holograms" from DS9 "Shadowplay"? Did they have that before DS9?

    Jim, "Shadowplay" aired the week after this episode. Further, if I'm not mistaken, both shows shared that village set repeatedly that year.

    I think this episode is pretty great as long as you skip through all the scenes on board the enterprise until data returns at the end.

    One of the brighter points of S7, that lady doctor on the planet does a great job and so does Brent (no surprise here).

    Jammer - the name "Jayden" wasn't arbitrarily chosen. In the deleted scene, the girl explains that it came from a kid's story. However, the scene is rather boring and I agree with it being deleted - no explanation is really needed for the choice of name.

    I like this episode. I agree the B-plot is not particularly strong, but I disagree with you on it's base premise. I admit, more than a few days' studying ought to be required to pass any such test, but my impression, on first viewing and still on my Nth re-watch, is that the test is basically a certification for support officers who have an *effective* rank of commander but are outside the normal chain of command and followed alternate training paths - which, really, is just medical officers - this certification being required to actually act outside their specialty in more general command roles. The closing scene somewhat undermines that interpretation unfortunately, what with her saying flat out she was promoted, and having the 3rd full pip to go with it... but eh. Honestly, like a lot of 7th season's oddities, I suspect giving her character a promotion and this whole sub-plot for some character development were cast service. They were having friction over salaries at that point, I believe, and pretty much every major cast member has some atypical episode this season that smacks of servicing the talent rather than the show.

    Data's bits, though, I quite liked; my only complaint was the amnesia at the end. I just can't see any reason for it, except a reflexive adherence to a "weekly reset" mindset - but then, if that's a goal, why give Troi the rank promotion? It was just senseless. Sure, the premise was a stretch - even by TV Amnesia standards, Data's was distinctly specific, and that he managed to whip up such an effective cure for radiation poisoning from materials at hand in a primitive - and by that point, hostile - village apparently overnight certainly strains credibility. Still, the general plot was solid enough despite that, and the interactions it allowed Data to have were worth the abuse of tv cliches, at least in my opinion.

    I'm sorry, as a scientist, this episode STINKS! Worst TNG episode I ever saw. I mean the Troi part doubly stinks (would you trust someone with such a low technical knowledge being in charge of your spaceship??)

    A lot of you on this thread have portrayed the Data-on-the-planet story as being about how his superior reasoning skills could lead him to modern science, without any experiential knowledge (no memory).

    That is so unscientific!

    Consider the incident at the school. The teacher gives a lesson on the earth-fire-air-water theory of matter, ala the Ancient Greeks. Data then claims her "reasoning is false". That is not true! The theory could be correct, it could be false. The only way to check is by an EXPERIMENT! One cannot arrive at the modern conception of elemental atomic matter by "pure thought alone". Plato and the ancient Greeks were superb logicians. If one could disprove the earth-fire-air-water theory using only pure reasoning, they would have done so!!

    The only acceptable thing for Data to do in that school lesson is to frown quizzically and say "An interesting idea. Let us attempt to falsify your theory. Let us burn a piece of wood in a sealed glass jar, and then carefully weigh the constituents before and after. If the smoke was present in the air already before the wood started burning, then the mass of the constituents before and after should be equal. "

    Fun episode. Yeah, like all TNG it has holes, but I was entertained and in the end that's the point, isnt it? I'm pleased the writers remembered Data's fake pulse (heartbeat? Whatever, close enough), I recently complained how pointless it was for him to have one since he'd never have to use it to convince aliens he's alive, but I now retract that statement, because that's exactly what he did.

    I don't mind Troi getting bridge certification. Ensigns serve on the bridge and take over crucial posts when the main characters leave the room all the time. Really, she should have been from the start, as should all the main characters, since they sat on the bridge.

    And yeah, Data contradicting the teacher wasn't the scientific method at work, but him having knowledge of things she didn't. If he would have tested what she was saying and proven it false she would have believed him, but she had no reason to believe an amnesiac spouting off what was probably gibberish to her.

    2 stars

    If anyone needed evidence that in TNG final season that the writers were just phoning it in one need not look any further than this particular episode

    TNG was soooo good in its earlier seasons because there was an urgency and purpose to their writing. Here this episode is as barebones and padded as you can get. You truly feel like the episode is just spinning it's wheels. Nothing really interesting happens. These primitive culture stories *can * work but here nothing of interest happens and the guest cast isn't all that interesting. The plot is very basic with no mystery or some kind of substance. Very mechanical

    The subplot with Troi is okay nothing great and doesn't hold much rewatch value--one viewing of it and that's good enough

    Two stars seems right. But did nobody mention that Data is fixed in Sickbay by Crusher? Did she do an engineering exam in the holodeck? Where the hell is Geordi? Why isn't Data fixed in Engineering, it's still a machine, isn't it?

    Doesnt the trek communicator act as a UT? Data shows up without his. Are we assuming this race speaks english?

    I was very confused by the B-plot in this episode. Surely Counsellor Troi must already have some bridge qualifications, otherwise why the hell does she have her own specified place on the bridge.

    Also in disaster she takes command over Ro Laren who is definitely a bridge officer (she's like the lead helmsman). Also in conundrum when the computer reads out the list of the bridge crew Deanna is included (ahead of lieutenant worf).

    The whole thing just left me scratching my head.

    I find the Data story really quite sweet - I liked his interactions with the daughter and the scientist and the way he saves the day by reasoning rather than knowledge. Plus it was funny to see Mr. Treeger from Friends as the sorta villain of the piece.

    The Troi story was garbage though. Data, Worf or La Forge could have passed that test in their sleep so is it just that none of them have bothered to try it? And now Troi outranks them despite having far far less experience of a command position than any of them? And would there not need to be a vacancy in that rank?

    Probably give it 2.5 stars overall. Would be higher with a better B plot.

    On the name Jayden, there's a diff between whether or not the girl choose it randomly or the writers chose it randomly. I think the original poster on this subject was likely referring to the writers. I doubt it was random, could be meant to refer to something about the name, which seems to mean "God has heard", or maybe the writer is just having fun naming him after a family member. Just seems like something a writer would be deliberate about, but who knows.

    Referring to a comment above, I don't see the obtuse characters being analogous to religious persons. "Not being open to new ideas" is hardly confined to the religious. They are many examples of religious persons making scientific discoveries and scientific people being unwilling to accept new ideas. That's not what "being close minded" is about. It's about personal characteristics that some people in all walks of life exhibit.

    Anyhow, the ep - eh, not much new here. Saved by very good performances. 2.5

    This is a wonderful, beautiful, emotional and poignant episode. 3 Stars. Ugh...but it feels like it's missing just a few elements that could have easily made it in if the production schedule of the show wan't so intense. It's one of those episodes that feels like it nearly hits a home run, but not quite.

    I always felt like this episode should have focused more on the medieval doctor lady and her relationship with Data. Their story arch is were I think the heart of the episode is. I would have liked a final scene with the doctor lady greeting a revived Data and saying goodbye to him as someone she has great love and respect for--he was the mentor she always needed. I really liked her performance.

    Few episodes of television do the conflict between the mindset of he old world and the future, between low tech culture and super tech culture so subtly, and so elegantly. And they are able to do it in only 45 minutes....I'm always impressed by star trek.

    An entertaining episode, 3 stars for me. As a radiation physicist however, I feel compelled to point out that Data's cure for the radiation sickness makes no sense. If the villagers were exposed from an external source such as these metal fragments, the damage would be done. Radiation damage is done by the radioactive particle transferring energy to damage the DNA which causes DNA breakage and/or mutations later on. The radiation will either pass through the body completely or be absorbed once it runs out of energy, all in an instant. So when Data says his concoction will "neutralize the particles," there are actually no particles left to neutralize. He would have to make a concoction that somehow restored their DNA to its original state.

    End rant.

    So, Troy tells hologram Jordie to go crawl up a Jeffries tube and die and gets a commander pip for the jolly good effort. Right-o. Probably one of the most dog shit writing decisions of the series.
    I really enjoyed the Data storyline though. All of that scientific methoding made me remember my school science experiments with a fondness. Wish they focused the whole episode on him.
    I'd give the Data plot 3 stars, and the Troy plot -1, so I reckon Jammer's score is spot on.

    Enjoyed Datas experiments. Also liked seeing a couple familiar faces in the supporting cast. Troi to me represents the Everyman without the level of technical knowledge possessed by the crew. I noticed times they appear to use her questions to clarify technical story points for the viewer,

    The Troi plot was...Utterly...Absurd. It should have been given to us gradually over a five-year arc, with, finally!, completed requirements, tests passed, and a promotion granted. The facts that she's promoted to Commander, and that she outranks Data, and that Data has to call her "sir" are all laughable, and actually damaging to the spirit of the show.

    The entire episode should have been the Data story, with significantly more time spent showing us (a) Data slowly recovering, regaining his capacities, and actually realizing that he's regaining them---How DID he recover, anyway? Did his diagnostic and repair routines eventually auto-engage?---and (b) Scientist Data deducing the cause of the illness and concocting the cure. And perhaps even (c) Data continuing to impress (and frighten?) the villagers with his abilities. That would have been fun.

    Unforgivably, at the end, the viewer is TOTALLY screwed out of the satisfaction of witnessing the recovery of the villagers and, foremost, the villagers' subsequent shame upon learning the truth about Data and about what actually had been occurring:

    -Did Gia, her dad, and the teacher/doctor hold a meeting and offer a heartfelt explanation and debriefing to everyone?

    -Was the obnoxious fat blacksmith who years later would buy Frank Costanza's moth-ridden beachwear charged with murder? Did learning the truth and realizing that he had jumped to conclusions and had killed an innocent man who was actually trying to save everyone's lives shatter him to his core and result in him rebuilding himself into a better man?

    -Did Gia grow up happy and healthy and name her son Jayden after the noble misunderstood creature who saved her father's life?

    -Did the teacher/doctor patent the microscope ($$$!) and "discover" and become her planet's leading scientific mind and authority on radiation?

    This episode was very interesting and entertaining, but it could have been so, SO much more.

    When Riker's introduction in this episode was the sound of him honking horribly while playing with his 'bone and Deanna walks in on him, I was sure it was thus a Frakes-directed episode...

    This episode just falls into the terrible category for me -- both plots suck. The premises for both are annoying and very flawed. That Data loses his memory (contrived) so that he can't understand what "radioactive" means yet he can obviously understand plenty of other things so as to find a cure that humanoids ingest is simply not good enough. And the B-plot with Troi wanting to take the bridge officer's test, struggling with the technical components, but then figuring out she has to order someone to their death to put the ship first -- and then she gets a promotion ... just abject TNG here.

    I don't buy Crusher taking the bridge officer's test and doing the night shift. She should have plenty of medical stuff to keep her busy. Not a fan of the writers making her ambitions bleed over into command -- just not realistic. And Troi wanting to move in this direction makes almost as little sense to me.

    I suppose some interest could be generated by how Data goes about proving radioactivity -- but how he knows to come up with an ingestible antidote is farfetched to say the least. I don't know anything about radiation poisoning. Shouldn't all these natives have cancer?

    The lynch mob made sense to me, but that was also a cliche. Data gets impaled, but he's beamed back onto the ship and appears to be perfectly functional at the end. I also thought it was highly fortuitous that Crusher and Riker show up on the planet and the first person they talk to is the little girl who named Data "Jayden" -- give me a break.

    Yes, TNG S7 was running on fumes with episodes like this one and "Homeward" -- the writers are surfing a wave created by some memorable episodes from seasons past. Maybe the best things about these latter episodes is the relationships between the senior staff (Troi/Riker, Troi/Crusher) which come across more naturally. TNG S7 is highly uneven but overall very weak.

    1 star for "Thine Own Self" -- lame, boring, highly dubious and flawed. Might this be one of the few/only episodes where there was no Picard? Could have used him here in some form. One redeemable quality here is watching Data being methodical about trying to help the people -- he's an android but what comes out through and through is he is a kindred soul. The Troi character has had better outings -- she should not have been promoted just for being able to order a holo version of Geordi to his death. Too much to shake my head/fist at here.

    In Lower Decks, Riker is not sure about promoting Lavelle to Lieutenant "because he's trying to ingratiate himself to me".

    Here Troi flunks out, handles failure like a brat, but gets to be IN CHARGE OF THE SHIP. I kind of felt like the senior staff were dicks with respect to the lower ranks, and this episode kind of adds nepotism to the list.

    I am going to put that down to it being handled by the non-core team of writers that had by this point left for DS9, and their not understanding the characters.

    The Data story was ok, though I also felt forgetting only a) his name and b) what radioactive meant, plus finding a cure so fast, with no side effects, was pushing it.

    @Bobbington Mc Bob

    *Ron Moore* wrote the teleplay for this episode. The quality of the episode can be debated, but no one can argue that he didn't understand the characters by this point.


    I like Data episodes even if this one reminds me of Data and the other little girl.

    Its funny how Troi equates ability to pass the engineering test to memorizing technical manuals. No mention of the critical thinking skills that are at the heart of the math-able.

    These tests always include sending someone to their death or injury. Send data to do the fixing. or the nanites or whatever they were called.

    I am truly confused as to how people become officers, get promoted, are trained, supervised etc. If Troi can become effective ship supervisor like that over others that have been ensigns on the bridge then pffft!

    by the way, the healer/teacher is played by Ronnie Edwards who was Corabeth Godsey on the Waltons! A great actress.

    @Ruth With all due respect saying that Troy has "the right stuff" and your attempt to lower Worf and Data in order to build her up shows that your opinion is pure BS.

    Thankfully they threw this garbage out and Troi moved down the ranks behind Data and Worf and Geordi were treated as superior officers (as shown by their abilities to become captains while Troi thankfully never gained that honor).

    Oh thank goodness, I wasn't the only one who thought naming him "Jayden" seemed like a weird break from tone. It's such a jarringly modern-sounding name in a Renaissance But With Standard Trek Forehead Aliens society.

    I enjoyed this as a way to pass 45 minutes, but it's no standout (not even by S7 standards, given the run of good ones not long before this). Amnesiac Data having to work things out when isolated from his usual surroundings is interesting, as was the doctor he worked with (I expected her to be annoying when she started her pompous pontificating on rejecting superstition, then named Data as an "iceman" which apparently nobody's ever seen before; she got better and more open-minded to Data's scientific mind over the course of the episode though, which was a pleasant surprise).

    One more gripe: I did raise an eyebrow at the fact that he was clueless regarding radiation specifically, but went on to reveal perfectly fine knowledge of various other things -- it had me expecting the cause to have been a deliberate, targeted memory wipe. Nope. Just arbitrary plot-causing coincidence.

    B-plot was too thin to really have anything to comment on (apart from how little of it there was).

    Funnily enough, the names "Jaden" and "Jayden" shoot up in popularity dramatically right after this episode came out (; I think at the time it struck nobody as especially trendy, but it's a pretty good example of how contexts change.

    @Top Hat

    That’s interesting. Now we need to wonder if people chose the name after watching this, or the name was becoming popular and the writers heard it and decided it would be a good fit for Data. Incidentally, I have a nephew named Jayden but he was born more than a decade after this aired.

    @Chrome and Top Hat: whether the rise in popularity actually *is* connected to this episode or not, either way it's a pretty funny mental image to picture several thousand parents-to-be watching this not-particularly-memorable episode and thinking, as one: "yes! THAT's the name I'll give my child!"

    Probably beats "Data" as a name, at least.

    I'm working from memory here, but my recollection is that this magazine ( contains an account of someone naming their son Jayden after Data's alias in this episode. That said, I don't know that the whole trend (and the vogue for neighbouring names like "Ayden," "Cayden" and (gulp) Brayden can be laid at this episode's door so much as "something in the air"...

    I have already named my next German shepherd based on a commercial I saw for kibble food a decade ago. Saxon. That dog was 12.5 years old in that commercial, and i’ll take that as a good sign.

    This was the 1st TNG episode that showed shift work, well other than the Lower Decks episode when all the ensigns all had to work shifts on the Bridge. Every other episode shows the main characters on the Bridge 24/7, including Crusher. How can she be Chief Medical Officer, always hanging out on the Bridge with the gang, and find time to pull night shift as a Commander?

    As far as an officer ordering a man to his death, every Trek series had expendable Red Shirts for that. If there is going to be danger, a Red Shirt takes the phaser fire. Even during an intruder alert on the ship, a Red Shirt dies as the intruder makes their way to their objective. No need to order them to their death, they are self terminating.

    I also never knew a probe or satellite used some sort nuclear propulsion system that has to be recovered if it crashed on some unsophisticated planet. They always said that nuclear power was some ancient technology not used in centuries. Had Data left the radioactive material where it landed, I doubt these townspeople would had ever come across it. They seemed to be content in staying in town, and not hiking through the countryside. Also it seemed strange that Data knew of "empirical data", but radioactivity. Or that he tried to correct the teacher about elements, and that fire doesn't come from wood.

    "This was the 1st TNG episode that showed shift work, well other than the Lower Decks episode when all the ensigns all had to work shifts on the Bridge. Every other episode shows the main characters on the Bridge 24/7, including Crusher. How can she be Chief Medical Officer, always hanging out on the Bridge with the gang, and find time to pull night shift as a Commander?"

    Data was in command of the night shift at the start and end of Data's Day (season 4). In season 6, at the beginning of Lessons, Data is also manning the night shift when Picard comes in at 3:00 am ("no need to report, I'm just here to do some work on my own"). A few episodes later in Rightful Heir, Riker relieves Data of the night shift. I think those are the only three previous instances. It makes sense that Data would be the preferred commander for the night shift since he doesn't sleep. Nevertheless, with three 8-hour shifts, it's certainly plausible for someone like Crusher to do two shifts in a day, one in sickbay and the other on the bridge. If the four-shift rotation implemented by Captain Jellico was still in place, then it would be even easier to do two 6-hour shifts. Her "hanging out on the bridge" which I don't recall happening all that often honestly, would be when she's on duty in sickbay, but nothing is going on down there, so no need for her to just sit in her office.

    As for Troi's promotion, I think William B (Jul 15, 2015) put it best. There's more to rank than just the pips on their collars. There's other qualifications and assignments and levels of hierarchy behind it. I would imagine that Crusher and now Troi probably only do the night shift duty a couple times a year, or at most once a month. They'd still call in the senior staff if something truly important happened after all. I agree that becoming both a commander AND a bridge officer in one fell swoop is a bit much. I'm not sure what the timeframe of this episode is, but I can't imagine it's more than a week or two. That's not really long enough, and I agree it would've been better had this been a recurring B plot throughout a couple of episodes.

    Blast, I knew I forgot something. As to Troi being promoted before Data, Riker said in The Best of Both Worlds "Commander Data, I realise your very nature omits ambition. Nevertheless, I want you to know I seriously considered you first officer." So Data may not want a promotion. He'll take it when and if it comes, but he's not going to seek it out because he has no ego.

    I'll concede that this is contradicted in Redemption when Data wonders why he's not being assigned a ship in the blockade fleet. Nonetheless, his experience with Commander Hobson may have shown Data that even if he's ready to be a commander, not everyone else is ready to accept him in that position. So maybe he's just biding his time to limit potential conflicts.

    This is not a good episode, at least the B story. The Troi storyline is ridiculously unrealistic.

    It’s reassuring to know that if the ship is ever in jeopardy, Bridge Officer Troi will - if given a few days and several do-overs - eventually come up with the resolve to sacrifice a hologram.

    (This plot line reminded me of my beef with Christianity - in which the central event is that God sacrifices his only begotten son for less than a weekend, knowing he’s going to pop back up on Sunday morning.)

    Fortunately, the A story was a sweet delight, thanks to Data’s relationships with Gia and the local scientist. “You are an iceman!” will never not be entertaining.

    I just want to say that if I were in Geordi's position, and someone like Troi did that "icy b****" routine ordering me to certain death... I would laugh in her face on principle. How you gonna throw me in the brig when we're all a dispersing cloud of ions?

    If she was a little more empathetic, i.e. how she normally treats people, I'd probably do it. Needs of the many and all that.

    And while I was fine with Deanna trying to become a commander, Data should have received that rank as well. He'd still be second officer because Riker (who should have been kicked upstairs after BoBW2) is still first. But it would indicate his status and Picard's confidence in him, and he wouldn't have to call Troi "sir".

    "I just want to say that if I were in Geordi's position, and someone like Troi did that "icy b****" routine ordering me to certain death... I would laugh in her face on principle. How you gonna throw me in the brig when we're all a dispersing cloud of ions?"

    I'll give it a pass since it's a test with a fake holodeck Geordi, so she doesn't need to be polite/empathetic. But yes, if that were a real situation, I'd hope she'd respond more along the lines of "This is the only option we have, Geordi. I'm sorry, but our lives depend on it, and I'm confident you can do what needs to be done."

    I just rewatched this episode and I was struck by all the echoes of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: the fear of the villagers, the little girl who accepts him, the fact that Data was a manmade "creature."

    Wiliam B's sharply analyzed and brilliantly written review (2013) says it all so much better than I could. But I was delighted to see someone else caught the references to
    " Frankenstein "

    Lots of people upset about the B plot. I don’t blame them; it’s weak and rushed, and I don’t like that Troi essentially figured out what she needed to do to pass instead of showing that she had the mettle to do what was necessary. Still, I like the idea of actually treating her like a member of the system and not just a tag-along emotion machine.

    But I want to give a lot more love to the A plot. Spiner’s performance stood out as a nice departure from his usual Data-isms. And I loved the scientist - ignorant of “modern” science but still curious, mildly humble, and open to other interpretations. And the father-daughter pair had a lot of charm.

    Not a perfect episode, but I return to it periodically. ***.5/*****.

    I like this one a lot. I thought it was going to be a Prime Directive episode, but it's not, really. Nonetheless it's a quite an engaging story.

    Some problems with it : Data recovers his faculties sufficiently to be able to make a microscope, explain the many organic compounds in wood, analyse tissue samples and so on, but not enough to remember what "radioactive" means.

    And is there really an effective home-made cure for radiation sickness? I was expecting the whole village to be beamed up to sickbay. Maybe to a pre-industrial scene in a holodeck where they could be restored to health by some invisible regenerating beam.

    And I don't like the subplot at all. I just don't see Deanna as a commander. It's not what she does, so why? I especially didn't like the notion that she's senior to Data at the end of the episode, but I think that's just sloppy writing.

    One nit-pick - Beverley restores Data to health in sick-bay. "Positronic net online .. subprocessor relays in place .. neuro-electrical systems enabled", she says. But she's supposed to be a physician, not a cybernetics engineer. Maybe LeVar Burton called in sick that day.

    The prosthetic used for Data's exposed sub-dermal technology really does look like it's stuck on the side of his head. I suppose CGI would make a better job of that, these days. But why does his head have to be full of flashing lights? In 1960s science fiction, nothing shouted FUTURE TECHNOLOGY like a set of flashing lights. Every fictional computer had them. But surely by the 1990s that was a bit passé.


    On the plus side - the alien village society is depicted nicely, with kind, compassionate people as well as the usual distrustful hostile pitchfork brigade. Lovely to see Mrs Godsey from The Waltons turn up in a TNG. I've just read that she (Ronnie Claire Edwards) died a few years ago, that's a shame.

    Really found this quite charming and engaging, an intriguing story that unfolds nicely apart from the Deanna subplot, which admittedly is crap. I'm not really keen on Beverley taking command either but thankfully that's a minor element of this episode.

    Good one.

    Troi enters Riker's quarters and finds him blowing his horn,
    He asks her if she has come to do some 'Riker bashing'.
    Fnarr Fnarr.

    Desperately mediocre, considering it was a Ronald Moore script... Using a village as a trope for the human condition is all fine and well, but this kind of premise had already been beaten into the ground in the original series.... And if only it was such a fast tracked piece of piss to get a promotion in real life.... Stick to the psychobabble honey....

    The plot about the junior officers was great, but the Troi storyline was the last straw. Don't get me wrong, I was happy to see Troi in new roles such as being undercover on a Romulan ship. However, it is absolutely ridiculous that a psychiatrist would take an exam and suddenly be given command responsibilities and a promotion over the immensely more qualified Data and Geordi.

    Troi is a staff officer (doctors, lawyers, scientists, etc.), not a line officer (security, ops, helm, etc.). Staff officers never outrank line officers. She should never have been in command in the prior episode with Ro and O'Brien, and certainly not after taking a test she failed like 5 times.

    The Enterprise has hundreds of ambitious, qualified officers who have years of experience at the helm, ops, tactical, etc., and who would yearn for a chance to command. But they get passed up because the counselor is bored with her career choice and wants something fun to do. If she wants to be in command, she needs to don a yellow shirt, spend time in engineering, at security, and other major positions, and put her time in like everyone else. Who in their right mind wants a shrink in the big chair in a crisis?

    Troi's character could have been expanded by building on her strengths (telepathy, diplomacy, etc.) instead of making her into something she is not. She could have done more undercover missions, first contact surveillance, and even peace negotiations. If Troi was destined for command, it should have been a gradual change over time. You can't just flip a switch from being Counselor Cleavage.

    Like 'Homeward', 'Thine Own Self' is a decent and enjoyable episode grounded in a few solid ideas (Data inadvertently contaminates a pre-warp civilisation) with a decent pay-off (he corrects the mistake, but at the ostensible cost of his own life), helped by some strong performances (as others have stated above, most notably Ronnie Claire Edwards as Talur, but I think Spiner does well here too). That we the audience know what radiation is and what it does, while the unfortunate villagers do not, is played very well throughout.

    Yes, it's a nice Trek riff on Frankenstein, and no, that does not distract from the success of the episode overall.

    I don't understand why Data is still in his Barkonian clothing in sickbay after his face and torso have been repaired though.

    I must have seen it but I did not really remember it. Just parts of it.
    To be honest the story felt a little bit slow although well made.

    I liked the B plot better. There has been som irritaion over that Troi just passes the exam in so short time.

    First of all I got the impression that Datas village story was more than just a couple of days. So there was perhaps more time.

    But I agree this is irritating. Nothing in the plot would have been unrealistic in having Data away for som weeks. The handling of time in all star trek ar mostly badly done. DIS beeing the worst example.

    But I think I have said it before. This is a television serie, It is fiction. It is not docmuimentary. Therefore I think it is ok to try to show that although Comander Troi has a high rank ith the starfleet organsiation she has not the qualification to comand Enterprise. Describing her reasoning and the way is ok but it was very simplified.

    Although showing more of daily life in the last episodes, I think they missed the opportunity to explore the Enterprise in itself.

    Worf is very much visible on the bridge and on missions. His other securuty tasks, management, training etc are seldom and just briefly shown.

    In fakt ENT was better here I think. The MACO theme was a good idea.

    This episode brought to mind the real-life “Goiânia accident” in which a region in Brazil was exposed to radiation after some guys dismantled chemo equipment for scrap and passed around the glowing radioactive part as a novelty, not understanding what it was.

    I like this episode, for one reason many have mentioned: Data's use of the scientific method, albeit a rather rushed use. And I liked the village "scientist" as well. Her ideas are silly and primitive, but she doesn't reject Data's, and seems quite curious to learn. Give me that message any day of the week. If I had to knock this storyline, it's for something Jammer pointed out: Data's quick facility with language, that has a convenient one-word omission. L...a...z...y writing, there.

    As usual, I have to shrug at the sudden inability of many to employ the vivid imaginations they use to debate Trek minutiae into atomized pedantry when it comes to certain characters. Captain Picard gets to be a Shakespearean actor/director, musician, world-class archaeologist, pilot, engineer, renown diplomat, skilled hand-to-hand fighter, expert horseman, fencer, orator, scientist - but Deanna Troi, anything other than a counselor? What bizarre nonsensical bridge-too-far rubbish is this?!?

    Sigh. Starfleet officers routinely master multiple disciplines, in multiple professions, and are expected to wear many hats. The idea of Troi being a command officer is so blandly within the Trek wheelhouse, one wonders where the stupefied hostility comes from. If anything bothered me about this storyline, it was the silly fakeout testing procedure.
    "This test will be about how well you can align a plasma conduit."
    "Surprise! You should have known you were being tested on Kilngon etymology! You fail! You don't have what it takes to be a Starfleet Commander!"
    "Uh... I think *one* of us is proving they're not fit to command..."

    Just dumb. A lazy artifice to throw obstacles in Troi's way, so she has to deal with (fake) adversity. The second she realizes the fakeout, she immediately passes the test. Anyway, I liked that she wanted to "stretch out," as Commander Crusher put it, and that she proved she can make tough decisions. Which was the point of the test. The one she passed.

    "This episode brought to mind the real-life “Goiânia accident”..."

    Wow, that is pretty frightening. I'd never heard of that one before.

    I like this episode - at least, the main story (the B story might have been good if it featured someone other than Troi; she simply isn’t Bridge officer material and the scenes involving her wish to be promoted purely based on her “liking the idea” made me cringe).

    Yes, there are flaws in the story, but these are general TNG issues rather than specific to this episode. An alien species completely human except for Forehead Wrinkle #195? Only somehow this story actually needed the alien villagers to be quasi-human. For once, this cliche worked.
    The non-functional flashing red, green and yellow lights in Data’s head? I always laugh out loud when I see them! A message from the producers to the viewer: “In case you didn’t know, Data is an android. Androids have flashing lights inside their head. Everyone knows that.”
    The main flaw? The whole problem of communication. The aliens couldn’t recognise the writing on the radioactive box - yes, fine. Yet without the universal translator, they could understand Data, and he them? I wish the writers had given some thought to this.

    The casting was interesting. I recognised the janitor from Friends, and the little girl who played Gia was one of the best child actors they’ve had on the show.

    It was a nice story. I think it almost deserves 3 stars.

    >The main flaw? The whole problem of communication....without the universal translator, they could understand Data, and he them?

    You have to let the writers hand wave away the language barrier in Trek otherwise we would have 800 episodes of “Darmok”.

    It would be trivially easy for Data to have built in universal translator. Indeed it would be idiotic if he didn't.

    Haha I misread Jason's comment at first as that it would be trivial for Data to have built a universal translator and it would be idiotic if he didn't, ie in this episode when trapped in that village with amnesia, and was thinking that's a bold claim.

    In other episodes like “Who Watches the Watchers” and “Homeward,” characters also pass as fluent speakers of prewarp species’ languages. It doesn’t really make sense but honestly, virtually nothing about the Universal Translator makes sense. That scene early in Beyond where we hear both the alien captain speaking and a simultaneous translation is one of the few times it’s been presented credibly.

    It's generally been established that only one party needs to have the universal translator for it to work, otherwise every encounter with a new species would require them to beam over a device before they could talk. In DS9's Little Green Men the Ferengi's translators needed to be reset before they could communicate with the Humans, but the Humans didn't have translators. In Voyager's The 37's Nogami said "you're all speaking Japanese!" even though none of the abducted Humans on that planet had translators either. Yeah it's still ridiculous, but I don't see any in-universe conflict here.

    The conflict is that it should be OBVIOUS when someone else is using the Universal Translator, because their lip movements should be flagrantly mismatched with what you're hearing. People should walk around looking like they're in a badly dubbed movie, unless one is willing to postulate that it also projects correct lip movements with some sort of hologram. And what dampens the sound of the original language and supplies the audio selectively to other people's brains? For that matter, the UT shouldn't be able to perfectly translate simultaneously -- for example, how could it even begin to translate a sentence into a language with different word order before I'm finished speaking it?

    And yes, there is a certain amount that we have to chalk up to convention -- it's like those sounds in space that shouldn't be there. But to me it really especially beggars belief that the UT can fool people into thinking they're addressing a native speaker, when it is a piece of technology and it should be apparent when it's working.

    Being a councilor is in conflict with being a commander.
    I wouldn't want my therapist to suddenly become my superior officer, even for a little. And of course, I woulnd reveal anything to her again knowing she can use it against me.

    3 stars for me as well. I liked both stories.

    Data's was an interesting variant on him malfunctioning. Particularly I liked that he solved the problem on his own without the Enterprise swooping in.

    Corabeth is great here as an intelligent and scientific villager, albeit with primitive knowledge.

    The villagers as a whole seemed like reasonable decent people. They turn on Data for a relatively valid reason.

    Deana's story was good too, and valid progression for the character. They did lean a bit on the 4th wall there with her asking if the final test was a "no win" scenario ;)

    Picking nits, I would doubt her promoting to command level would ever be possible without a lot more than a test, no matter how complex. Also, as a counselor, surely she would have had patients at times complain about such things as the test itself.

    Still, good one.

    Oh, and I was VERY happy the little girl did not have a happy ending or find out what happened. That would have been a total cheat.

    Others have dissected the absurdities of this episode very ably but I can't help myself...

    "However, based on interstitial transparency and membrane integrity, I do not believe it in an infection or any other form of communicable disease," says Mr. Jayden Radioactive, who is suffering from a novel form of amnesia that made him forget most everything except for some very, VERY fancy scientific knowledge, surpassing the local populace's.

    Then Mr. Raidoactive, knowing there's a lynch mob hot on his tail, goes to the village's well in order to saturate it with cure for radioactive poisoning. He makes no attempt to sneak up to the well AND is carrying a LANTERN to boot. He takes his sweet-ass time making ready to pour the liquid into the well, giving the posse enough time to catch up to him. Gee, never saw that one coming... Yawn... His final act is pouring the antidote down the well, in full view of, well, I guess the entire village that thinks him a murderer. But no, no, wait! It gets better! Those villagers, having witnessed him do it, nevertheless continue to use that well for all their water and other aquatic needs! Totally legit! And, whaddaya know, they get cured!

    All the hands of all the people and other humanoids who live today, and lived in the entire history of the universe, or will so live, are not enough for the magnitude of the facepalm this isht needs.

    * * *

    Mr. Treeger as a benighted, belligerent meathead who destroys that which he does not understand. Yup, sounds about right. If he was black and weighed half what he did, he'd have made a perfect Klingon.

    * * *

    The "isolated primitive village built of a set that would put to shame an amateur theater troupe" bit is so old that it died, decomposed, and reincarnated so many times it made it to the nirvana by now. But, then, so are the complaints about said bit, but clearly nobody listened because Voyager went on to do the same thing a few times, too.

    * * *

    As for Troi making commander... - I mean... Who writes this stuff...?!?!?

    RI. DI. CU. LOUS.

    * * *

    P.S. Shouldn't Geordie have fixed Jayden at the end, rather than La Doctora?

    Oh, who cares...

    * * *

    Watchable, but only with the brain fully switched off. And I don't mean on standby; UN...FRICKIN'...PLUGGED.

    A lot of people are worked up about how selective Data's amnesia is, but that's because they don't know how the specific type of amnesia associated with "fugue" works. Memories that give a person a sense of their identity can be missing, while a lot of "information" is still available, such as skills.

    There are at least two forms of this phenomenon currently recognized, one considered entirely psychological, and the other entirely neurological. The psychological one is believed to be caused by psychological trauma, while the neurological one occurs, though relatively rarely, in people with temporal lobe epilepsy. (The similarity of the two, including happening in times of unusual stress, actually makes me wonder if the cases diagnosed as psychological may actually be cases of undiagnosed epilepsy, which seems more likely than the reverse.)

    I think the idea of Data having some positronic analog of an epileptic fugue state fits reasonably well with his partial amnesia. He remembers something about what "elements" are, but not his own name. He has the reasoning skills to figure out the cause and cure of the illness, but although he seems to get a "funny feeling" as soon as he sees the girl's pendant made from one of the radioactive fragments he was sent to recover, the memory of having done so and the fact that it is radioactive come too close to his sense of why he is there for him to recall clearly.

    Troi's promotion angered me, and continues to anger me, and will anger me to my grave. It's probably the stupidest thing I've seen in any Star Trek franchise.

    Indeed, Beverly falling for that electrical ghost, or whatever it was, has to be the worst TNG episode, compounded by Gates McFadden's lack of acting talent. The writers did not provide a good, long term character arc for Troi. The back and forth with Riker was annoying. At least there was some attempt here to have Troi grow a bit.

    Future generations are going to be really confused when they dig up the "creature" to study it and find him missing. Will they think he rose from the dead? Maybe it will start a new religion.

    Still bothers me a little about the ordering someone to their death. If they choose to sacrifice their life to save others that's one thing but to order them to die? They aren't even getting paid for this crap.


    The thing is, when you have a system where authority is arranged in a hierarchy of ranks with one person at the top like a military organization (and whether Starfleet is or is not a military organization, that's the system it has), and you seal a bunch of people inside a starship to go off exploring the unknown, and something really bad happens that has the potential to kill either everyone or exactly one person, then the officer in command has to decide SOMETHING.

    For that officer, not to decide is itself a decision; not to order anyone to die is to order everyone to die.

    Every adult serving on that ship, even the civilian employees, agreed to have their life governed, and perhaps ended, by that system, and the parents agreed on behalf of any minor children that they brought aboard or allowed to be aboard (as when Dr. Crusher went off to Starfleet Medical and left Wesley on the ship). Presumably they all hoped it would never come to that, but they agreed that if it did, the person at the top of the command structure would make the decision.

    You and I might consider that above our pay grade, but the stories only work if we imagine that many people would jump at the chance, even at risk of having their life cut short at an officer's command.

    I like so many others was irked by Troi's promotion to commander. Worf being stuck at Lieutenant kind of makes sense...he routinely behaves badly. Maybe I understand Data a bit not being promoted despite his brilliance because he has blindspots. Somebody who doesn't understand poker bluffing, may not know how to deal with a confrontational Romaulan Warbird. But Geordi? His record was exemplary and he should have been promoted before Troi (who was still quite young). Troi complaining that being a being in command is more than just technical knowledge, is cringe. Technology is HUGE in the trek universe. 90% of both the problems and solutions the Enterprise face come from technology. Troi being so ignorant of it would put the crew in grave danger.

    Most of this was a byproduct of Jeri Taylor disastrous reign as S7 story exec where she wanted to "empower" the women on the show. She would go on to make a mess of Voyager before she was bumped by Berman in favor of Braga. Had Worf, Data or Geordi been female, they would have gotten promotions along with Crusher/Troi. There would be commanders everywhere!

    Well I never! Callin' the old robo chap an ice-man! If I knew this, I'd say to him come here me young spanner and let me rest my drink on you and chill it! And where was ol' Picard for most of the episode? I bet he was asleep! Nappin' on duty! Why, his illustrious predecessor, James Tinkerbell Kirk, would never be caught in bed when there's work to be done! Unless it was with some ravishing Orion beauty for diplomatic reasons, what!

    I laughed when the doctor started talking about the superiority of the scientific reasoning over silly superstition.

    Data: "Then what am I?"
    Doctor: "You are an iceman."

    Crusher: You saved a village and were a very special friend to a little girl.
    Data: Strange, I don't remember any of that occurring....

    Troi: Oh, and I was promoted during your absence.
    Data: Strange, I don't remember you actually doing anything the last 7 years...

    Or put another way:

    Data ingeniously saves an entire village despite all the challenges faced both with himself and the members of the community.
    Riker: Good job, Data. Carry on.

    Troi: I now know what a plasma conduit is!
    Riker: Promote her to commander.

    2 stars? I love this episode! The Data plot is immersive. Sure there done this kind of setup many times. Alien encounters primitive culture. Something about this one feels fresh though with it being Data and his memory loss.

    As far as the B plot I agree with others that Troi is just not cut out to be a commander.

    The bridge officer command test would make more sense if it was merely a prerequisite for being assigned bridge command duty, rather than a ticket to a guaranteed promotion in rank.

    It's like a first aid test. Having first aid certification doesn't automatically get you a job on an ambulance, but you aren't going to get a job on an ambulance without that certification.

    In the real world Troi should have retained the same rank at the end of the episode. But now she'd be more qualified to assume the role of command in small capacities (like in away missions, etc.) allowing her to build towards a commander promotion down the line.

    But, of course, that wouldn't be as immediately satisfying to the audience :P

    @JonR I believe certain professionals get automatic promotion of rank in some militaries. I know my dad's cousin when he served in Vietnam was promoted automatically to a Captain rank by virtue of his status as a medical doctor (or so he explained it). Maybe Troi is entitled to the same. So she was already promoted but hadn't done the mandatory first aid / send your colleague to his death training.

    Troi being promoted would have grated on me less if it had come from Ronald Moore, who was a US Navy Veteran, and not Jeri Taylor, who clearly didn't know much about military protocol.

    Crusher held her rank of 'Commander' for the entire series but outside of the medical context NEVER pulled that rank on anyone, let alone Data, the 2nd Officer. So it should be with Troi. She may earn the rank, but she doesn't issue orders to Data, or Geordi, Worf, or even Wesley Crusher, outside of the medical/scientific context that she serves under. She'd never be in command during a crisis unless every last unrestricted line officer down to the freshest Ensign straight from the academy was incapacitated.

    That plus the laughable notion that this civilization would believe that fire was an element that could be "drawn" out of wood is symbolic of the decline in TNG's formerly good rules based writing towards the end of the show.

    No ancient human civilization that had advanced far enough to have metallurgy, mathematics, and the scientific method (all shown here) thought fire was an 'element' alongside rock, fire, sky, and water. The Ancient Greeks were smarter than that. So were the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and Chinese. Those were Bronze Age cultures smarter than the rubes portrayed here, who are seemingly in the late-Medieval/early-Renaissance period.

    I can only assume that line came from a writer that was too ignorant of history and/or rushed to do better. They needed an easy way to display how ignorant/stupid the natives were and didn't trust the audience to get it if they had left it at the natives (correctly) not understanding radioactivity.

    I do not believe that would have made it to air in Seasons 3,4, or 5. They would have listened to the scientific advisors that were on staff and kept the early season stuff consistent and (to the extent possible) grounded in real world science and history.

    Although I let these details pass when I watch the episode as a character story, it really is glaring that someone who's essentially a medical officer/chaplain would ever be allowed to command troops, no less the ship!! These are people who never attended officer school, never spent the years gaining rank under various commands, and have no expertise in any capacity in ship's systems, science, or military strategy. You could go into the military straight into the rank of Lt, Captain, or even Major (in the army), or Lt/Cmdr (in the navy) if you enlist as a doctor for example. M.A.S.H. famously showed medical officers being in charge of the M.A.S.H. unit and the troops who serve there, but this never being mistaken for being in the chain of command within the war proper. As a counselor, Troi would presumably be the equivalent of an enlisted medical officer. The whatever extent she *could have been* a telepathic strategic officer, that was never explored, and she clearly has no formal diplomatic or intelligence training. And nothing in the show ever gave me the slightest reason to believe she went to Starfleet Academy, or else she'd know way more than she does about a bunch of topics. Plus she never would have gotten in. By contrast it *does* appear that Dr. Crusher attended the academy within the medical track, like Dr. Bashir did, and graduated as a 'real' officer. So I could understand her taking a command-track testing program, but

    Just to clarify, I'm not a Troi hater by any means. There's an undercurrent of hostility towards her in a lot of comments here and elsewhere. Jammer seems to come down hard on a larger than expected number of the Troi centric episodes, many of which I enjoyed. She was always my partner's (who also considers herself an empath) favorite character. As we've gone through our rewatch I don't find much fault with the character or actress.

    Most of my gripe is what you say, there's just no sensible universe in which she (or Crusher!) would be in command of the ship. That's not a ding on their characters, just the reality of their respective roles on the ship, as you say with the M.A.S.H. analogy.

    FWIW, I doubt Troi would be enlisted medical personnel. She has degrees in psychology and a degree USUALLY equates to a commission. I would think that she has diplomatic training that would accord her a place on the bridge. She's certainly Picard's right hand in a lot of the diplomatic/first contact centric stories.

    Heck, since you mention it, she probably has some amount of counter-intelligence training too, since they use her in interrogations/investigations on more than a few occasions. Certainly not as much as you'd expect Worf to have but enough to be useful for those missions.

    My sole beef really is with the cheeky line of pulling rank on Data (which I realize was comic relief, but c'mon, how can she outrank the 2nd Officer?) and the portrayal in "Disaster" where she had no business assuming command while Ensign Ro was present. (They could have negated that by putting Ro elsewhere and finding another NCO/enlisted character to play the foil against Troi and O'Brien)

    Well Troi might have a commission (must have, really, since she has a rank), but I really don't think she applied to or went to the Academy. If she had, she would hardly have been in a position to hope Riker would stay with her while he was pursuing his career as an officer. She would have her own postings, too. Yet somehow she ends up a Lt Cmdr by the time he's a full Cmdr, even thought he had a few ranks on her before she ever would have went to the Academy. I mean, the writers never thought this through, so it's just beating a dead horse anyhow. But I do get a sense every now and again that she's been brought in as a counseling specialist, not a career Starfleet officer, which also explains her lack of formal uniform in the pilot. Although I do happen to be acquainted with a miltary chaplain who went directly from being a civilian to being a Captain who wears dress uniform at functions, due to being brought in as a chaplain. No officer's school required, although he did (I believe) have to do a few prereq courses to have some minimal knowledge about their operations.

    I'll just toss in that in the watch-through my wife and I finished a month or two ago, both of us were impressed by how actually good Sirtis almost always was in the episodes. For some reason as a teenager I had developed the opinion that she was bad, but I'm starting to wonder whether this was Seven-of-Nine syndrome, where the woman dressed ostentatiously get dismissed for being a physical hire whereas in fact she's very good. There are a few eps where I thought Troi's character was made to look bad, but generally I feel that she and Frakes carry so many scenes by just being really present and open to their castmates and reacting naturally. So what I'm talking about above is purely the writers not having a clear idea of what her career trajectory actually was.

    It's never said in Trek the Academy is the only path to a commission. Oddly, despite my memory aligning with yours (Troi didn't go the Academy), Memory Alpha says she did. It's apparently in both her and Crusher's on screen bios in Conundrum. So there it is.

    It makes the dialogue in "Disaster" that much worse knowing Deanna went to the Academy. I'd expect "we blow up if antimatter containment fails" to be common knowledge, not something limited to Academy graduates, so they basically made her into a rube for the sake of dramatic effect. Stupid.

    Sirtis definitely got screwed by the perception of the writers and audience.

    One of the things we've noticed in our rewatch, they were ALL smoke-shows, on the lead cast and almost all of guest stars, male and female. The men are objectified ALMOST as much as the women. All of the off-duty male outfits are v-necks. The form fitting jumpsuits in any color other than black leave nothing whatsoever to the imagination. Q's outfit in "Deja Q" comes to mind.

    "Although I do happen to be acquainted with a miltary chaplain who went directly from being a civilian to being a Captain who wears dress uniform at functions, due to being brought in as a chaplain. No officer's school required, although he did (I believe) have to do a few prereq courses to have some minimal knowledge about their operations."

    My dad's cousin was a physician in Vietnam. He automatically attained the rank of Captain without, as far as I know, going to any particular academy. I always assumed something similar was true with Crusher and Troi.

    Submit a comment

    ◄ Season Index