Date: May 29, 2020
Season 7, Episodes 16 and 17
Musical Accompaniment: a random assortment of 2CELLOS
Interstellar News: I had five meetings in a row today and it continues to rain and be humid when it stops… please send help.
Favorite Quote from “Thine Own Self”:
Troi: You know, this is a much better way of communicating for you. It’s far less confusing than the way you normally speak.
Riker (after playing an angry sound): I knew I could count on my imzadi, the ship’s Counselor to boost my self-image. (he says, waving his arms in sarcasm)
Troi: I’m glad to be of service.
Riker: Did you come here for something in particular, or just general Riker bashing?I really love Troi and Riker’s relationship, it reminds me of a lot of my relationships with some of my friends.
“Thine Own Self” begins with Dr. Crusher at the helm during Gamma shift, as Data is away on assignment. Troi is just returning from a class reunion and chats with Crusher about her reason for going after a promotion. The next day she also discusses the possibility with Riker, mostly because of her experience in “Disaster“. She takes the exam and passes everything with flying colors except for the engineering portion and she’s frustrated that Riker won’t tell her how to improve. After three more tries Riker tells her she’s not cut out for it and his first duty is to the ship, not her feelings. This inspires her to retake the test where she orders holodeck La Forge to sacrifice his life for the life of the crew, and Riker congratulates her on passing and becoming Commander Troi.
On Barkon IV a clearly bewildered Data stumbles into town and, after a few tries, explains to Garvin, the magistrate, that he has no idea who he is. He’s carrying a container that reads “radioactive” but, since neither man knows what that means, they open it and examine the rocks inside. Data is checked out by the town’s wise woman who determines he’s from the mountains and they name him Jayden. Data sells some of the rocks as he will need money but then causes somewhat of a panic when he lifts a heavy object off of someone in town. Everyone who came in contact with the rocks are exhibiting signs of radiation sickness, which Data eventually figures out and creates a cure for. The townspeople, however, show up with pitchforks and Data is “killed”, but only after he dumps the cure in the water supply. Crusher and Riker beam down to look for Data when they encounter Gia who explains where Data is buried. They beam everything up to the ship and reassemble Data who has no idea what happened after he retrieved the radioactive material. Troi takes over on Gamma shift and away we go.
Troi’s part of the story is an interesting callback to Season 5 and explains a little more about rank in Starfleet. Crusher, a doctor and the Chief Medical Officer, is also a Commander in her own right. That rank allows her to be a part of the chain of command and also allows her to fill in when needed, even if it’s third shift. Troi’s motivation, however, seems kind of petty for her. She’s the Counselor of Starfleet’s flagship and she’s worried about not being a Commander? pssssssh, she doesn’t need that kind of negativity in her life. Also, I’m not sure how good of a test it can be when she’s ordering holodeck La Forge to his fake death, at least when Wesley took his exam in “Coming of Age” he really thought he had killed someone.
Data’s part of the story was basically Trek’s version of all the monster movies, more specifically Frankenstein. I loved that the town’s wise woman kept giving super confident answers to why Data was the way he was, she was certainly not to be trifled with. “Oh yeah, he’s totally that way because he’s a mountain man and um has to fight off creatures and um yeah… now do your spelling!” What I don’t understand is how Data remembered everything else but not what the word “radioactive” meant? That seems a bit too specific for his memory to just lose. I also dislike how, in the end, Data remembers nothing of his time on Barkon. That seems such a disservice to everyone involved, as Gia, Garvin, and all the rest will remember him forever as Jayton and he will remember nothing. I wanted to like this so much more because it was a good episode, there were just too many flaws. 5 shovels for this episode.
Favorite Quote from “Masks”:
Data: Although I am relieved to be rid of those alien personalities, in a sense, I am now empty.
Picard: I can imagine. Dr. Crusher told me that there were possibly dozens of personalities inside you.
Data: I suspect the number was much greater. My impression is that there were thousands, of all ages and walks of life. It was a remarkable experience.
Picard: Well, Data, you never may become fully human, but you’ve had an experience that transcends the human condition. You have been an entire civilization.Picard always knows just what to say. Who writes his lines?
“Masks” has the Enterprise following a rogue comet when suddenly there is a flash. Strange objects appear all over the ship and Data sculpts a mask with a sun symbol on it. Soon he and the computer start acting slightly off, the computer has all of these symbols which Data somehow understands. They melt the outside of the comet to find a structure inside, which Data identifies as an archive. In my head I’m thinking back to “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” and have a touch of nostalgia (four whole months ago since I watched that episode!).
Picard collects many of the artifacts that have been left around the ship as the archive has been busy, but this allows him a bit of time to geek out. During Data’s diagnostic he begins to exhibit different personalities, one which says “Masaka is waking”. Thankfully the plate on Data’s chest changes with each personality shift and some of the personalities even cooperate with Picard as he tries to figure out how to stop the archive from transforming his ship. They recreate her temple, figure out it is Korango (the moon) who can help control her, and a mask is created that Picard puts on. Picard “talks the computer to death” that would have made Kirk so damn proud, and everything is back to normal.
This was Jumanji meets The United States of Tara with a South American mythos spin, both of which I loved waaaaaaay more than this episode. Spiner gets to play all the people, again, but this time he didn’t have to change his outfit and I just wasn’t as compelled by the story. This reminded me of all the times Kirk talked the computer to death and everything was magically all fixed. I did enjoy that they clay making class was used in an interesting way, but unfortunately it means Data wasn’t actually creative at all. Everything seemed like such a long way to go for a sun-chases-the-moon story. I was, however, pleased with the ending. They find a way to stop the transformation program and get the historians out there to investigate this super interesting culture and Data explains how many people were inside of him (phrasing, sorry) and that’s honestly the best thing towards helping him experience what it was to be human, at least in that culture. 5 personalities for Data in this one, poor dear.
I will say, after six-and-a-half seasons of TNG, I do prefer when they use more of the regular cast as opposed to just focusing on one or two characters. I found myself missing everyone who wasn’t Picard or Data. That is unless one of those characters is Worf, I could watch all the episodes about him.