Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Lonely Among Us”

“Lonely Among Us”
Written by Michael Halperin and D.C. Fontana
Directed by Cliff Bole
Season 1, Episode 6
Production episode 40271-108
Original air date: November 2, 1987
Stardate: 41249.3

 

Captain’s log. While wearing what we all, in our naïveté, thought were the ugliest dress uniforms in all creation (only to be proven wrong a decade later…), Picard, Riker, and Yar welcome aboard a Selay delegation. The Enterprise is ferrying them, along with the Anticans, to a negotiation on Parliament. The Selay do not wish to be near the Anticans, nor even upwind of them.

Crusher examines Worf

En route, the ship encounters an energy cloud. During a close sensor pass, Worf is hit with an energy surge and rendered unconscious. He’s brought to sickbay, where Crusher treats him while wearing a doofy medical helmet that we, thankfully, never see again. During treatment, the energy surge moves from Worf to Crusher, who then starts wandering the ship acting strange. Upon reaching the bridge, the surge moves into a science station, after which consoles start malfunctioning, and eventually the warp drive goes out. Crusher committing a medical fashion faux pas

While trying to determine the cause of the malfunctions, the energy surge hits the assistant chief engineer, killing him—but the warp engines are now working.

Crusher discovers that she has suffered a memory loss—which Worf suffered also. Troi hypnotizes the two of them, and they recall their lost time, during which they both felt another presence in their mind.

Helm control goes down again, and while Picard is touching the conn, the energy moves into him. At that point, Picard starts acting in the same weird manner as Crusher earlier and orders the ship back to the energy cloud.

Riker and much of the senior staff discuss Picard’s odd behavior, but don’t have enough to justify relieving him of duty—not even when Picard admits to, in essence, being possessed to Crusher. He then explains to the bridge what happened: it’s an energy-based life form that was accidentally brought on board. Eventually settling in Picard, it claims to have come to an arrangement with the captain to beam back into the energy field, where Picard will be free to explore the galaxy unfettered.

After incapacitating the crew, Picard beams himself off—only to become lost and helpless within the cloud. The Enterprise moves into the cloud, hoping that he’ll come aboard the same way as the other life form. He does, Data is able to integrate Picard’s physical transporter pattern with the energy he became to restore him.

Thank you, Counsellor Obvious. Troi uses the world’s most unconvincing hypnosis—which is very much like a 1950s TV version of hypnotism, only less realistic—to unlock Worf and Crusher’s memories. Later on, her empathic abilities are mostly used to move the plot along, particularly when she senses Picard’s presence in the energy cloud.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? The transporter is able to magically restore Picard. Data doesn’t even try to explain how he does it, and given what we’ve seen transporters do in the past (e.g., “The Enemy Within“), what the hay, right?

The boy!? Wesley insists that the engines couldn’t have been repaired by Singh before his death, that they just fixed themselves, but nobody believes him.

If I only had a brain… Data first learns of Sherlock Holmes and starts emulating him—or, rather, emulating popular conception of Holmes since, at one point, he says, “it’s elementary, my dear Riker,” a turn of phrase that Holmes never actually used. Since Data is the most literal-minded person imaginable, he would never use this phrase based on his comprehensive study of Holmes. However, Data’s Holmes fetish becomes an entertaining recurring theme.

There is no honor in being pummeled. Worf is felled by the energy creature before the credits roll. However, he is also established as fourth-in-command, as he’s in charge of the bridge while Picard, Riker, and Data are in the ready room.

Welcome aboard. Marc Alaimo and John Durbin play the Antican and Selay leaders. Both would go on to play Cardassians—the former both Gul Macet in “The Wounded” and Gul Dukat on Deep Space Nine, the latter Gul Lemec in “Chain of Command.” Colm Meaney also returns as a crewmember, though unlike in “Encounter at Farpoint,” he is wearing the familiar operations gold that he would continue to wear throughout the show and on DS9. Kavi Raz plays Singh, the assistant chief engineer, who’s brighter than the last one (Shimoda in “The Naked Now“), but suffers an unfortunate fate.

I believe I said that. “Sorry—wrong species.” The Selay delegate after accidentally snagging Riker with a silly-looking lasso thingie that was intended for an Antican.

Trivial matters: This is the first time we’ve seen a crewmember die on screen. Singh is the assistant chief engineer, and Chief Engineer Argyle (from “Where No One Has Gone Before“) is name-checked, though not seen. Cliff Bole, another one of the show’s regular directors, has his debut here.

Make it so. Not the most exciting or interesting episode ever, sadly. There’s an interesting idea in here regarding an energy being trapped on board the Enterprise, but we don’t find out about this until a lengthy infodump by Picard late in the episode. Prior to that, it’s a weak-beer mystery that’s mostly an excuse for Gates McFadden and Sir Patrick Stewart to act weird and for Brent Spiner to be a silly Sherlock.

The Antican and Selay subplot serves no obvious function, except to give the crew a chance to moralize about those silly primitive people with their going to war over economic differences (“strangely enough”) and their eating raw meat. Intended as comic relief, it’s mostly just silly. As, unfortunately, is this episode.

 

Warp factor rating: 3


Keith R.A. DeCandido‘s most recent Star Trek work includes the Captain’s Log comic featuring Edward Jellico, the novel A Singular Destiny, and stories in Seven Deadly Sins and Mirror Universe: Shards and Shadows. Follow him online at his blog or on Facebook or Twitter under the username KRADeC.

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