Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Violations”

“Violations”
Written by Shari Goodhartz & T Michael and Pamela Gray & Jeri Taylor
Directed by Robert Wiemer
Season 5, Episode 12
Production episode 40275-212
Original air date: February 3, 1992
Stardate: 45429.3

Captain’s log: The Enterprise has a delegation of Ullians on board. A telepathic species, this group—a family—specialize in retrieving buried memories, which they use in their roles as historians. They demonstrate by helping Keiko retrieve a memory from her youth. All she remembers is a white chipped cup with some humming in the background—with the help of Tarmin, one of the Ullians, she realizes it was when she was a girl helping her grandmother with ink-brush writing. Her job was to fill that cup with water, as that was used to keep the brushes clean.

Tarmin then asks if Crusher wants to remember that first kiss that’s on her mind, which leads to his son Jev chastising him (in a rather long-suffering manner) for probing someone’s mind without permission. Tarmin fobs off the complaint a little too off-handedly.

The Ullians have dinner at the captain’s mess with the senior staff. Jev starts to explain about their planned library of memories, but Tarmin runs right over him and explains it his way. He then tries to encourage others in the senior staff to do what Keiko did in the teaser, but nobody’s interested. (Worf is particulary adamant: “Klingons do not allow themselves to be probed.”) Troi diverts the conversation to their methodology, and Inad proudly says that Tarmin is the most skilled of their group—prompting Tarmin to tell a story about a time where he was much more successful than Jev at retrieving memories. Jev excuses himself and goes outside.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5, Episode 12 Violations

Troi goes after him and commiserates with Jev on the subject of overbearing parents. They each return to their respective quarters. As Troi readies herself for bed, she gets memory flashes—falling poker chips, Riker stroking her hair, her and Riker kissing, Troi saying no, not while they serve on the same ship. Riker then tries to rape her, which seems out of character—and then Riker transforms into Jev and completes the rape. Troi collapses in her quarters.

Crusher takes her to sickbay, but neither she, nor Dr. Martin can find anything wrong with her, nor can they revive her. Riker goes to talk to the Ullians, since Jev was the last one to see her. Riker finds Jev in Ten-Forward. The conversation is tense, at least in part because Jev is prickly, in part because Riker is concerned about Troi.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5, Episode 12 Violations

Pursuant to that, Riker sits with Troi and talks to her comatose form. (He says he remembers her doing something similar for him once.) Crusher eventually convinces him to go to bed. Riker finds himself remembering a crisis in engineering, when he ordered the blast door lowered, even though Ensign Keller hadn’t come out yet. Another ensign accuses Riker of killing Keller—and then Jev becomes that ensign. Riker, too, falls into a coma and is brought to sickbay.

Crusher has found an electropathic residue in the thalamus—the memory center—of both patients. It indicates Iresine syndrome, but there’s no other symptoms of that disease. Worf suggests quarantining the Ullians, backed up by Crusher given that the electropathic residue is in the same part of the brain stimulated by the Ullians’ telepathy.

Picard and Crusher tell the Ullians that they’re concerned that they may be the cause of what’s happening. Crusher asks to examine them further, and perhaps monitor a memory session. The Ullians are more than happy to cooperate, Jev in particular (which isn’t at all creepy, since we know he’s the one who attacked Riker and Troi).

Crusher and Martin then examine Keiko, as the only person on board they’ve done their memory thing on. Her thalamus is perfectly normal, with no sign of the electropathic residue in Riker and Troi. La Forge is having no success finding a chemical or mechanical agent on board that would cause Riker and Troi’s coma, and Crusher is having even less success with a medical cause.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5, Episode 12 Violations

Then Crusher finds herself remembering when Picard took her to see her husband Jack’s body after he died. Both Picard (with hair!) and Jack’s corpse become Jev, and Crusher screams. La Forge and Data later find Crusher also in a coma.

Picard asks Data to check the previous planets the Ullians visited to see if there are any other cases of coma. Martin then contacts Picard: Troi has woken up. She remembers nothing after brushing her hair before bed; she feels like she woke up from a nightmare, but she can’t remember any details of it.

Then Picard goes to the Ullians, asking them to voluntarily confine themselves to their quarters. They’ve found nothing to explain these comas—the only variable they haven’t been able to eliminate is the presence of the Ullians.

Jev suggests that he do a memory retrieval on Troi. If she could remember what happened, it would prove conclusively what happened. Tarmin refuses to have anything to do with it, but Inad convinces Picard to ask Troi to submit to the memory retrieval.

La Forge and Data find instances of what was reported as Iresine syndrome in two locations where the Ullians had been. Likely, the medical facilities there weren’t as thorough as Crusher and just assumed the syndrome when it was a deeper cause.

Troi agrees to let Jev retrieve her memores. Picard, Worf, and Inad are also present as he walks her through her last memories before falling unconscious. She starts picturing the memory that was awakened that night, of Riker touching her hair. Then she remembers the rest: dropping the poker chips, someone hurting her, but it’s no longer Riker—it’s Tarmin. Jev does a nice job of looking stunned (even though we all know that Jev implanted Tarmin into that memory to deflect the investigation from him).

In Picard’s ready room, Jev tells Picard that Ullian authorities will support whatever prosecution Picard wishes to bring—but Federation jurisprudence apparently has no punishment for this crime. (That’s kind of odd, in and of itself, considering the presence of Vulcans and Betazoids in the Federation.)

La Forge and Data continue their investigation, while the Enterprise heads to a starbase. They discover that there’s another intersection of comas with the Ullians’ visit—but Jev was the only one there. Tarmin was on the Ullian homeworld for that one.

Jev visits Troi in her quarters to say goodbye. He’s visibly upset, and Troi offers to talk to him. Jev asks why she has to be so kind, and then he starts hitting her with the same poker-game-rape memory. Troi tries to call for help, but Jev grabs her combadge—so she hits him.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5, Episode 12 Violations

Worf, Data, and a security detail then enter, and Worf takes him out with a palm-heel strike to the face. Data reveals that Jev was the only common element of the comas that matched Ullian visits.

A very sad Tarmin says that Jev’s mental illness was common in the past, and medical records do exist. He can be treated.

Thank you, Counselor Obvious: Troi’s recollection strongly implies that, while cleaning up after a poker game, Riker tried to sexually assault Troi. Now, we know that Jev can insert himself and other people into the memories, so it’s possible he added the rape himself—but the other two memories we saw from Crusher and Riker didn’t have any out-of-character behavior that needed to be inserted. The episode leaves utterly unclear what actually happened after that poker game, and never addresses the question as to whether or not Will Riker tried to force himself onto Deanna Troi.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5, Episode 12 Violations

If I only had a brain…: Data gets a lesson in how human memory works. His own experience is that he just accesses whatever memory he needs whenever he wants, and recalls it perfectly. La Forge has to explain to him that human memory isn’t that good at accessing everything so perfectly—a characteristic you’d have thought Data would have noticed, serving with humans all this time….

I believe I said that: “I’ve learned to remind myself that my mother and I are two separate individuals.”

“And have you enjoyed much success with this approach, Counselor?”

[After a long pause.] “No. But I do keep reminding myself.”

Troi and Jev discussing their respective overbearing parents.

Welcome aboard: Ben Lemon is a little too on-the-nose as Jev, as he practically screams “crazy guy who goes around raping people” from the minute we close in on him to end the teaser. David Sage is appropriately bombastic as Tarmin. Doug Wert comes back for a half-second cameo as Jack Crusher’s corpse (having played him upright and alive in “Family“), while Rick Fitts and Eve Brenner leave no lasting impression whatsoever as Dr. Martin and Inad, respectively.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5, Episode 12 Violations

Trivial matters: This is the only episode of either TNG or Deep Space Nine in which Rosalind Chao appears as Keiko without Colm Meaney as Miles O’Brien.

Riker’s memory is not specified as being when the warp core breached some time prior to “The Drumhead,” though that would be as logical a time as any for that to have taken place.

Crusher’s memory is based on what was already established: that Jack Crusher died under Picard’s command. In a nice touch, Crusher has different hair, Picard has more hair (and also a bandage, indicating that he was also injured on the mission), and is wearing the old-style unitard uniform.

When talking with Troi, Riker makes reference to her being by his side when he was in a coma, likely a reference to “Shades of Gray.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5, Episode 12 Violations

Apparently, the writing staff created possible memories for all of the main and supporting cast. La Forge’s was used in the previous episode, “Hero Worship.” Another involved Ro Laren’s actions on Garon II, referenced in “Ensign Ro.”

Ullians are never seen or mentioned again onscreen, but they have turned up here and there in the tie-in fiction, among them Ambassador Aubin Tabor in Section 31: Rogue by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin and Lieutenant Ofelia Mavroidis of the U.S.S. Aventine in Destiny: Mere Mortals by David Mack.

Make it so: “Got any memories you feel like digging up?” There’s an interesting idea somewhere in this episode, but it’s buried under leaden pacing, mediocre writing, and a lack of understanding of how to write a mystery. Because Jev inserts himself into the memories (as Riker in Troi’s, as Keller’s friend in Riker’s, and as both Jack Crusher and Picard in Crusher’s), we know right away that he’s our bad guy. (In all honesty, we know sooner, as the extreme closeup of him to end the teaser is like hanging a big sign around his neck saying, “BAD GUY! BAD GUY!”) So all suspense is drained from the episode, and the red herring of Tarmin being accused is pointless and irritating. If we didn’t know it was Jev, this could’ve been a strong mystery, especially since Tarmin is such an egotistical jackass, it’s easy to believe that he’s the rapist. Instead, the plot cuts the legs out from under itself right away.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5, Episode 12 Violations

On top of that, there’s the really really unpleasant implication of Troi’s memory. Both Riker’s and Crusher’s are things that look fairly close to what happened. It’s not at all surprising that someone wound up being trapped in the engine room during a warp-core breach and Riker had to order the blast doors shut. That’s a command decision that folks in his position often have to make. As for Crusher, we know that her husband died under Picard’s command, that was established way back in the first episode of the show.

So if those two are pretty straightforward memories that Jev decided to invade, the assumption is that the same is true of Troi’s. So did Riker really try to force himself upon Troi one night when they were cleaning up after the poker game? That’s… not pleasant, and it’s the second time where we’re left not being entirely sure whether or not Riker sexually assaulted someone. And this is someone that Troi eventually marries! (Ironically, in Star Trek Nemesis, in which Troi again gets mind-raped, this time by Shinzon’s viceroy Vkruk.)

The memories are nicely handled by Wiemer, using a different camera and with the repetition of lines and variations on camera angles, and altering of voices, and the opening scene with Keiko getting back childhood memories of helping her obaachan with ink-brush painting is delightful. But that’s all the episode really has going for it.

 

Warp factor rating: 3


Keith R.A. DeCandido would love to have an Ullian retrieve some childhood memories I’ve lost most of—like some birthday parties as a kid that I only have snapshots. Damn you, science fiction, for having cooler stuff than real life!

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