Written by Nicholas Sagan
Directed by Jonathan Frakes
Season 7, Episode 8
Production episode 40276-260
Original air date: November 8, 1993
Captain’s Log: The Enterprise is evaluating a request by the Kes—one of two nations on Kesprytt III—for associate membership in the Federation. The other nation, the Prytt, have no interest in having any contact with any outsiders. Picard’s concern is that every other world that has joined the Federation has been united.
He and Crusher beam down to meet with the Kes ambassador—but their transporter beam was diverted, and they wake up in a Prytt prison cell. They both have implants attached to their brain stems which, according to their captors in Prytt security, will eventually be able to read their thoughts. The Prytt believe the Federation wishes to establish a military alliance with the Kes.
On the Enterprise, Data and Worf determine that the transporter beam was diverted to Prytt territory. Riker then meets with the Kes ambassador, Maruic, who offers to send a retrieval team into Prytt land. Riker prefers to at least attempt a diplomatic solution, but Mauric points out that the Kes have no diplomatic relationship with the Prytt whatsoever. Riker will attempt to communicate from the Enterprise, while Mauric will prepare a military option in case that fails. Mauric also asks to set up a base on the ship, as the diversion of the transporter indicates a hole in the Kes’s security. Mauric is extremely paranoid, going so far as to make sure that Worf enters the quarters they’ve provided for him first.
A guard brings a food dish to Picard and Crusher, but instead of a meal, it has Crusher’s tricorder, complete with an escape plan. They open the door with a provided code, move through lava tubes, and navigate exploding gas pockets. They also soon realize that they’re starting to hear each others’ thoughts—Crusher “hears” Picard thinking that he’s thirsty, and Picard can feel Crusher’s fear of heights as they climb a rockface. It’s a side effect of the implants.
Riker’s attempts to communicate with the Prytt fail pretty spectacularly. Mauric, however, reveals that one of their operatives has freed Picard and Crusher. Mauric will only provide operational details in their guest quarters, as he feels the bridge is too public a place to discuss such things.
When Riker arrives at the Kes quarters, he finds a lot of new equipment having been brought in, and Riker is fully scanned upon entering. Mauric explains that they have recruited some spies among the Prytt, and they’ll help Picard and Crusher across the border once they reach a tavern.
Picard and Crusher keep trying to adjust to hearing each others’ thoughts, especially as it’s getting more intense. They try to put some distance between themselves, but once they reach a certain distance apart, they’re both overcome by nausea. Not only are they telepathically linked, they need to remain physically proximate as well.
When they come upon a ridge, they see a Prytt sentry, and so must take another route. Back on the Enterprise, Mauric (who has added more equipment to his quarters) is suspicious (naturally) that Picard and Crusher didn’t make the rendezvous. Mauric immediately concocts a conspiracy theory that the Federation is secretly allying with the Prytt and that Picard and Crusher are meeting with the Prytt authorities. Riker is now officially fed up and says he’ll find them without Mauric’s help, and Mauric declares his intention to leave, which comes to Riker and Worf as something of a relief.
Crusher and Picard camp out for the night, the implants providing more revelations via telepathy, like the fact that they both prefer simple breakfasts—and also the depths of Picard’s feelings for Crusher, which goes back to when they first met.
Riker, meanwhile, having grown sick of the Kes and the Prytt, invites Mauric back and then clandestinely beams the Prytt security chief on board. They start throwing their paranoid delusions back and forth, each believing the other is collaborating with the Federation. Riker makes it clear to the Prytt that Starfleet will come in force, with plenty of ships searching for Picard and Crusher.
Upon reaching the force field-protected border between Kes and Prytt territory, Crusher and Picard are fired upon. However, the Prytt provide the coordinates of the two of them to Riker, who is able to beam them back up.
That night, Crusher and Picard share dinner. They’re grateful to be out of each others’ heads, but they also kinda miss it. Picard then makes a pass, but Crusher deflects it.
Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: The Prytt use telepathic implants as a combination interrogation tool and set of handcuffs, as the implants read thoughts and force people wearing them to stay close to each other.
Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi (and the viewer) is stunned that there’s no provision for communication between the Kes and the Prytt in case of a planetary emergency.
There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: The Kes are sufficiently paranoid that Worf has to be the one to engage transport so that they can coordinate the lowering of force fields. Worf also assures Mauric that the Enterprise is secure, which Mauric refuses to believe, and then Worf later beams the Prytt security chief up against her will.
No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: Picard admits that he’s been in love with Crusher from the moment he met her, but never acted on it because she was his best friend’s wife. Later, Picard takes the obvious opening for them to finally pursue a relationship, but Crusher—who up until now has always been the one who seemed to have the stronger feelings toward Picard—turns him down for no compellingly good reason.
I Believe I Said That: “It’s just that I don’t like—”
“—what I’ve been choosing for breakfast recently.”
“You see, I think that breakfast should be a simple meal, and recently you’ve been ordering these elaborate things.”
“Coffee and croissant. That’s all you really want, isn’t it? Coffee and croissant. Well, why didn’t you just say so?”
“I didn’t think it was important.” (Catches a thought.) “You don’t like those elaborate meals, either!”
“No! I usually prefer something simple myself, but I thought you might enjoy more variety. Well—I guess it’s coffee and croissant for both of us from now on.”
Picard and Crusher discovering that elaborate breakfasts are not their thing.
Welcome Aboard: Robin Gammell and Lenore Kasdorf both are entertainingly paranoid and crazed as the Kes and Prytt representatives.
Trivial Matters: This is the first Star Trek script by Nicholas Sagan, the son of Carl. He would go on to write “Bloodlines” for TNG and several scripts for Voyager, and also being hired as a story editor for the latter’s fifth season.
While Crusher and Picard do not get together on screen, except in the alternate future seen in “All Good Things…” (not even in the films; seriously, it would’ve been the perfect response for Picard to have after the death of his brother and nephew in Star Trek Generations, to finally get together with Crusher), they do, finally, in the tie-in fiction, specifically in Michael Jan Friedman’s Death in Winter, and the subsequent post-Nemesis TNG fiction, in which they are married and have a son named Rene.
Make it So: “Just make sure you take all that junk with you.” Until the ending, this is a delightful episode. Seriously, it’s going along swimmingly and then they totally blow the landing. I mean, we’re talking about two characters who have oozed chemistry from the minute we saw them together in “Encounter at Farpoint.” At times, you can stick a match between Sir Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden and it would light on its own.
So finally, we get a story when they are forced to come out and admit how they feel about each other, and instead of it being the beginning of their relationship, Crusher cuts Picard off at the pass, and that’s it. True, TNG is a standalone show, but given that they’ll be pursuing a Worf/Troi relationship later in the season, it’s obvious they’re not averse to the notion of two regulars dating, so why not the couple that’s been on the verge from jump?
Look, I’m no kind of “shipper” (a net-ologism I have always despised), but for crying out loud, everything on TNG in general and this episode in particular has them pointed toward finally taking the plunge and becoming a couple. Hell, it’s Picard—who has the, er, lessons of “Lessons” giving him reason not to get involved with a subordinate—who made the first move! And it’s Dr. Beverly “there’s something I want to tell you, Jean-Luc, in case we don’t get out of this” Crusher who’s backing off? WTF?
Anyhow, the episode’s truly a delight up until that stupid last scene. This gets so much play as the Crusher/Picard episode that one tends to forget that the B-plot of Riker dealing with the Kes and Prytt loonies is pretty hilarious, too. And the Picard/Crusher scenes are charming as all heck. I especially like the revelation that Picard’s feelings for Crusher go all the way back to when they met and she was married to his best friend, adding another layer of tragedy to Jack Crusher’s death. In general, the episode has you smiling all the way through.
Until the ending, when I, at least, throw my shoe at the screen.
Warp factor rating: 6