Mar 16 2012 3:25pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Future Imperfect”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on of Future Imperfect“Future Imperfect”
Written by J. Larry Carroll & David Bennett Carren
Directed by Les Landau
Season 4, Episode 8
Production episode 40274-182
Original air date: November 12, 1990
Stardate: 44286.5

Captain’s Log: The Enterprise is patrolling near the Romulan Neutral Zone, but things are quiet enough so that Riker can have a birthday party. As Picard and Data are about to head to the party, Gleason informs them that Alpha Onias III is giving off subspace readings. Concern about Romulan incursion on the planet leads to Picard interrupting the party so Riker can send an away team down.

The first officer beams down with Worf and La Forge. They detect volcanic activity and buildup of toxic gases, while magnetic interference makes tricorder, communications, and transporter all balky. Picard advises Riker to beam back, and he does, but the transporter chief has trouble getting a lock on them — right when the cavern the three of them are in starts to get flooded with gas. Riker passes out from inhaling methane —

— and wakes up in sickbay sixteen years later. He’s now captain of the Enterprise. Crusher’s hair is in a bun, Worf has a scar, La Forge has regular eyes, Data is first officer, and Picard has been promoted to admiral (and grown a beard), with Troi as his aide. According to Crusher, he contracted a virus on Alpha Onias III that lay dormant in his brain for years — until ten days earlier when he was feverish and delirious. This virus wipes memories from the moment of infection — possibly permanently.

However, familiar associations can sometimes restore memory, so Crusher takes Riker to a turbolift, and thence to his quarters — but Riker belays the order and instead wants to go to the bridge. The computer hiccups and asks for another instruction; Riker repeats the instruction, and the ’lift goes to the bridge. Worf now serves at ops, and there’s a Ferengi at conn. None of it is familiar to Riker.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on of Future Imperfect

A Romulan warbird decloaks — Captain Riker calls for red alert, to the confusion of the rest of the bridge crew, as they were expecting the Decius. On board is Admiral Picard, with Troi at his side. They beam aboard and explain that the Enterprise is to escort a Romulan ambassador to the final negotiation session for a treaty with the Romulan Empire. Said treaty is the result of four years of work that began when Riker and the Enterprise saved a Romulan ship. Riker isn’t particularly sanguine about resuming command or about negotiating a treaty with a sixteen-year gap in his head, but Picard insists that he’ll be fine. Troi escorts Riker to his quarters — to find a young man playing trombone and greeting him with a hearty, “Hi, Dad!”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on of Future Imperfect

Riker is rather devastated to learn that he has a son — and said son, who’s named Jean-Luc, is equally devastated to realize that his father doesn’t remember him at all. Troi explains that Jean-Luc’s mother, Min, died in a shuttle accident two years earlier.

Picard calls Riker to the transporter room before he has a chance to look over his service record, as the Romulan ambassador is ready to beam aboard. Said ambassador turns out to be Tomalak, which puts Riker on edge, given their past history at Galorndon Core and Nelvana III. So is the fact that the treaty will be signed at Outpost 23, which Riker remembers as a major strategic outpost. Picard, however, insists that his information is out of date, as that outpost hasn’t had significant strategic importance in years.

Crusher summons Riker to sickbay — Jean-Luc injured himself playing Parrises Squares. Riker escorts him back to their quarters, and he expresses a concern to the boy that he’s worried about how he’ll perform as a Dad given his own father’s rather poor performance in that regard.

When they get back to the cabin, Riker asks the computer for visual records of his family — then asks for the family record of “Riker, Mrs. William T.” (because apparently, the late 24th century is also the late 19th), but the computer futzes. Jean-Luc comes in and makes the request with a specific stardate —

— and Riker sees Jean-Luc’s birthday party, being celebrated by the two of them, and Jean-Luc’s mother: Minuet.

Furious, Riker goes to the bridge. He points out that La Forge still hasn’t nailed down the computer malfunction after 30 hours, which he doesn’t believe is possible for the talented engineer. He then asks Worf where he got his scar, and he can’t provide any specifics beyond, “In combat.” Then Riker turns to Data, and asks him for an ETA at one warp speed — then at another, and another, and Data can’t keep up, and uses a contraction when he attempts to explain. Picard, Troi, and Tomalak come onto the bridge, and Riker tells Picard to shut up, and says they need to end the charade.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on of Future Imperfect

Tomalak smiles and says, “As you wish, Commander Riker.” The bridge and the crew disappear, revealing a holodeck on a base located on Alpha Onias III. Tomalak explains that they were able to use a neural scanner to help create a perfect scenario, and he wonders how Riker saw through it. The computer lag was a problem — it happened whenever he deviated from the intended path. But the real problem was Minuet, who was just a holodeck fantasy. Tomalak finds that impossible to credit, as Riker’s memories of her are incredibly vivid.

The Romulans are after the location of Outpost 23. Riker wants to know why they didn’t just use the neural scanner to get that information, but the scanners are calibrated for Romulan brains, and there were gaps. Riker, in turn, finds that impossible to credit, as he saw no gaps in the scenario.

Tomalak takes Riker to a prison cell, where he’s thrown in with a human child — Tomalak says he was the visual template for “Jean-Luc Riker.” He says his name is Ethan, and he and his parents were taken by Romulans off a nearby outpost. He’d found a hiding place, but when he left it to find food and water, they captured him. When Tomalak returns to question him, Riker and Ethan escape to his hiding place with rather ridiculous ease.

Riker goes through possible escape options, including using the Romulans’ communications systems — but they’re voice-activated, Ethan explains, and only Ambassador Tomalak’s voice will do it.

Again, Riker sees through the deception, as Tomalak is only referred to as an ambassador in a holodeck fantasy that “Ethan” shouldn’t have had access to the information from.

Finally, the truth is revealed. The boy is named Barash, and even his human form is an illusion. He was left on Alpha Onias III by his mother after their homeworld was invaded. She sacrificed her own life in order to keep Barash safe, and left the neural scanners to give him whatever he wanted. But he was lonely, so he kidnapped Riker, and gave him everything he wanted in the hopes that he’d stay with Barash.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on of Future Imperfect

Riker beams back to the Enterprise with Barash, saying he doesn’t have to be alone anymore, and also that, to him, the boy will always be “Jean-Luc.”

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: Crusher tries to explain medically what the virus did to his brain, and Riker just impatiently interrupts her with a frustrated, “Doctor!”

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: In the fake future, Troi took a position at Starfleet Command offered by Admiral Picard that she couldn’t refuse. “Min Riker” took over as ship’s counselor.

If I Only Had a Brain...: In the fake future, Data is first officer, the third time we’ve seen him in that role (“A Matter of Honor” and “Peak Performance” being the others), but the first time we see him in a red uniform. (He’ll next wear one in “Chain of Command, Part II.”) His use of a contraction is a hint to Riker that something is amiss, although Barash missed a bet by simply having Data say that he learned how to use them in the past sixteen years.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on of Future Imperfect

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf has a scar in the fake future, and his voice is also heavier and his movements slower. In truth, Michael Dorn made the most effort in making himself act older. (Though Brent Spiner gets a bye, as Data doesn’t age and so is therefore exactly the same.)

What Happens on the Holodeck Stays on the Holodeck: Adding neural scanners to a holodeck = magic, apparently. Riker also has a fishing program that he’s fond of on Curtis Creek (it’s unclear whether or not this is the creek in Baltimore, or a made-up Curtis Creek).

Also, Riker’s memories of Minuet from “11001001” are so vivid that the neural scanner can’t tell that she’s fake. The Bynars do really good work...

I Believe I Said That: “I said shut up! As in close your mouth and stop talking!”

Riker, finally getting to say to Picard what you just know he’s always fantasized saying to him.

Welcome Aboard: Andreas Katsulas makes his third appearance as Tomalak, although a) it’s not really him, just an illusion of him, and b) it’s the only one of Katsulas’s four appearances in which he doesn’t just appear as a big giant head on the Enterprise viewscreen, but instead interacts with other folks. (Katsulas said in an interview that he preferred being a menacing figure on the viewscreen to the personal interactions of this episode.) Chris Demetral — later to go on to fame and fortune as Jeremy Tupper on Dream On and the title character in the underrated The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne — plays Barash in human form (Dana Tjulander takes on the uncredited role of Barash in his natural, insectoid form). Carolyn McCormick gets guest-star billing for standing next to Jonathan Frakes, and smiling and waving at the camera for four and a half seconds, in a most bizarre return as Minuet from “11001001.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on of Future Imperfect

Todd Merrill reprises Gleason from “The Best of Both Worlds, Part II,” delivering his only dialogue with all the passion of a block of wood, April Grace appears for the second week in a row as Transporter Chief Hubbell, and Patti Yasutake makes her first appearance as the recurring character of Nurse Alyssa Ogawa (though she isn’t named here, and indeed only appears in the fake future).

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on of Future Imperfect

Trivial Matters: Barash is never again seen or mentioned onscreen, despite Riker’s words at the episode’s end. However, William Leisner’s novel Losing the Peace features Barash in a supporting role and explains what he did with himself following the episode. Amusingly, LtP takes place in 2381, fourteen years after “Future Imperfect,” or almost as far ahead as the fake future in the episode. By the time of that novel, Riker is a captain (of the U.S.S. Titan), is married (to Troi), and has a kid (a daughter named Natasha, born in the Titan novel Over a Torrent Sea by Christopher L. Bennett). In Leisner’s novel, Picard turns down a promotion to admiral, citing the words spoken to him by Captain James T. Kirk in the Nexus about never letting them take you off the bridge of the Enterprise.

The fake future has a Ferengi in Starfleet — on Deep Space Nine, the Ferengi Nog will enlist in Starfleet, eventually becoming a junior-grade lieutenant by the series’ end.

Riker plays “Misty” by Errol Garner on the trombone, and screws up a high note on it each time he plays it.

Minuet becomes a ship’s counselor in the fake future — one of Carolyn McCormick’s longest-running roles has been as NYPD psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Olivet on the various Law & Order shows.

The Romulan ship is named Decius, the same name as one of the centurions we met in “Balance of Terror,” the episode that introduced the Romulans on the original series.

Make it So: “You’re incapable of that level of incompetence.” This episode has its moments, certainly, and there are some nice touches, and a good look at the character of William T. Riker. But it doesn’t entirely cohere.

First let’s get my biggest problem out of the way. Star Trek: The Next Generation takes place in an egalitarian future, one in which women and men are equals. Yet we’re supposed to believe that the form of address of a married woman as “Mrs. [name of husband]” — which had already begun to fall out of favor in 1990 when this episode aired — would still be in use in the 2300s? We’re supposed to believe that a form of address that indicates that a married woman becomes the property of her husband would still be in use in the utopian Federation?

Of course, it was only done so that Riker would be able to ask the computer for pictures without actually using his wife’s name — except Riker had been given her name of “Min” earlier by Troi. Why didn’t he just ask for the family records of “Counselor Min Riker”? Y’know, give her an identity as something other than Riker’s wife?

Not enough effort is made to age the characters sixteen years. Gates McFadden just gets her hair put in a bun, and she acts exactly the same. Marina Sirtis actually does look older, but she also acts exactly the same. LeVar Burton, bizarrely, looks younger without his VISOR (even with the token gray shoved onto his temples). Michael Dorn doesn’t look at all older, either, though he makes an effort to act older. Sir Patrick Stewart also relies solely upon a different tonsorial choice (longer hair and a beard) to do his aging for him. Andreas Katsulas and Brent Spiner look exactly the same as Tomalak and Data, but those are characters who either age very slowly or don’t age at all. (We won’t even get into how inaccurate the predictions of how these folks would age were, since most of the actors looked nothing like this in 2006...)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on of Future Imperfect

Having said all that, the episode is mostly harmless. It’s a good showcase for Jonathan Frakes, certainly, and it shows a fine understanding of Will Riker’s character. For all that he protests when Barash tells him that the neural scanners gave him what he wanted, they truly did: he gets to be a captain and stay on the Enterprise, he has a wife and kid (the death of his wife is a contrivance to keep him from the Minuet reveal, but that one works because of Barash’s backstory — you can understand why someone who lost his mother wouldn’t want to have a fantasy in which he had a living mother), most of his nearest and dearest are still on board, and there’s about to be peace with the Romulans. It really is an ideal future for Riker, even factoring in the death of his wife. Indeed, even that tragedy gives him the chance to be a better single father than Kyle Riker. (Admittedly, a low bar to clear, as we saw in “The Icarus Factor.”)

Still, the episode didn’t do enough with the premise. Carroll and Carren apparently sold the story on the simple pitch of “Riker wakes up 15 years in the future and is captain and has a son,” but it feels underdeveloped.


Warp factor rating: 5

Keith R.A. DeCandido will be at Lunacon 2012 this weekend in Rye Brook, New York, along with fellow Trek scribes Robert Greenberger and Glenn Hauman. If you’re around, come by and say hi! (My schedule’s here.)

1. StrongDreams
"mostly harmless."

j p
2. sps49
Is the aging done sloppily by the alien child or by the show? Well, blaming the child would just be an excuse.

How many people married on the TNG and later Star Trek incarnations? Did anyone take the other's name? And what name do children carry? Don't try to hyphenate; that only works (badly) once.
3. Rancho Unicorno
Granted, this is only speculating at the writer's intents and it really does make more sense to assume that they flubbed the Mrs. Riker line, but I think the line makes sense as written.

Riker woke up without any knowledge of his marriage. He has been told that he was married to a woman named Min who was the counselor on the Enterprise. But, he doesn't remember any of it - and at this point he doesn't realize that Min is Minuet. Asking about Min Riker would (in theory) bring up the image of a woman he was told by one source was his wife (but could have been some other Riker clan member). Asking about Mrs. William T Riker would bring up the image of a woman who was confirmed by this impartial source to be his wife. Also, if being married was on he list of greatest desires, this would be a comment that would suggest he was a bit incredulous about something that important to him being forgotten.

Yeah, that doesn't make much sense, but I hope it make at least a little.

As for the rest of the episode, I admit I was thrown off by the double twist - I was sure that it was a dream within a dream, but imposed by the Romulans in a quest to get some information.
Michael Burstein
4. mabfan
I guess I liked this one more than you did, for a few reasons:

• I'm always interested in parallel and alternate histories, and this one creates an alternate future, which is cool.

• The reveal that Riker's wife in the fake future is Minuet works on so many levels. It reminds us how real she seemed to Riker when the Bynars created her.

• The fakeout with the Romulans was also quite cool.

So, tell us - what did happen to Barash? I was always disappointed that he never got mentioned again, as clearly Riker isn't that cold-hearted to invite him onto the Enterprise and then send him off to a Federation orphanage.

-- Michael A. Burstein
5. Neenie

You have a multitude of examples of all kinds. It seems like anything goes.

Keiko took Miles' last name (O'Brien) and their two children have O'Brien as a last name.

When Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres got married on Voyager, B'Elanna kept her name and their daughter Miral carries Tom's last name, according to the Trek wiki.

Also on Voyager, Samantha Wildman's daughter Naomi carries her last name, as her husband's species do not appear to have last names.

In the post series books, Deanna Troi appeared to keep her last name when she married Will Riker and their daughter's last name is hyphenated.
6. Christopher L. Bennett
@4: Michael, Barash's life after this episodes is addressed in Losing the Peace, as Keith mentioned.

This was a pretty cool episode. There was some nice subtle aging makeup, and the ambassador role fit Picard well. And it was good to see that Minuet wasn't forgotten, though it's a shame McCormick's appearance was so brief.

It kind of boggles the mind to realize we're now well past the "distant future" of this episode, relative to its release date. It makes me feel kinda like Riker here. Where did so much of my life go?

It bugged me when later episodes set in the future reused the fake-future combadges from this episode. How was Barash able to predict future Starfleet designs??? Though of course I know it's a consequence of series television's need to save money by reusing stuff.

I agree with Keith that The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne was underrated, but Demetral was not. He was immensely bland as the lead of that show, and paled next to the charismatic Michael Praed and the radiant Francesca Hunt. And come on, a young Jules Verne with a completely American accent??
7. StrongDreams
I agree that "Mrs. William Riker" sounds sexist, but asking "Computer, who was my wife?" is a lot more embarassing and less official-sounding than "Computer, show me the service record of Mrs. William T. Riker." The computer should be smart enough to interpret alternate forms of address. Riker just didn't want to sound like a loser in front of the computer.
8. Christopher L. Bennett
And you could say Riker got a bit of payback in Nemesis, where at one point Picard addressed the recently-married Riker as "Mr. Troi."
Michael Burstein
9. mabfan
@6. Christopher, but what happens to Barash? Keith tells us it's in the book, but I don't have a copy of the book... Even one line of, "He becomes an amdassador" would be something.

-- Michael A. Burstein
10. Chessara
Well I thought this epsiode was less than so-so...the first part with the Romulan "deceit" was interesting, but the second one was just very dumb and the ending felt very rushed.

And regarding the last line of the episode...I thought it was terrible that Riker tells Barash "you'll always be Jean Luc to me"...I mean, put yourself in Barash's place! You've just come clean, revealed your true form and true name to Riker...and he says he'll remember you as the fake human kid!? when he's just said it was wrong to deceive him in the first place? Dunno, that line was meant to be heart-warming I guess, but it was very jarring, like he was rejecting Barash's alien-ness or something.

Oh, and Data looks sooo weird in red!! :P

And poor Worf, he looks like he's sitting at his son's desk or something, he's just too big for lil' ops station! He looks very unconfortable!
j p
11. sps49
Thanks, Neenie.

Also- I just realized this is Troi's first appearance in the standard collared blue uniform. I thought we had Jellico(e) to thank for that, but I guess not!
12. Christopher L. Bennett
@9: After the episode, Barash goes into the care of the Federation Displaced Persons Agency, where they try and fail to discover his origins. He eventually moves to Earth, and he grows up to become a director of the DPA, which is what brings him into the story of Losing the Peace (a novel revolving around a refugee crisis).
Justin Devlin
13. EnsignJayburd
Is it just me, but does Star Trek in general do a really awful job in choosing its child actors? Both guest stars and regulars. The only regulars that were any good were Jake Sisko, Nog, and Naomi Wildman. The most notable thing about Molly O'Brien was that it was always the same actress playing her and her age was fairly consistent. I can't for the life of me think of any memorable one shot guest stars except Picard's nephew from "Family." The rest were either uninspired and wooden like Jean-Luc/Ethan or Jeremy Astor, or they were so badly written that no one could pull it off, including every last child actor in "Miri," "And The Children Shall Lead," "Justice," "When The Bough Breaks," and "Rascals."
Michael Burstein
14. mabfan
@12: Christopher, thanks! That sounds like a fitting job for Barash.

-- Michael A. Burstein
15. Seryddwr
I liked this episode a lot. The ease with which Riker and Ethan escaped did indeed look rather ridiculous - until, that is, the episode's end, when one realises it was all in the mind of a child (a mind now unnerved by the fact that the first fantasy had been discovered by Riker). It only seemed natural, then, that the second layer of reality would have a few more wrinkles. As for the 'Mrs. William T.' schtick - well, point taken. But it certainly didn't destroy my enjoyment of the episode. Surely worth a 6, or even a 7?...
Michael Burke
16. Ludon
I took Riker's last line more as a way of saying 'you're forgiven and you will always have a friend in me', not as an insult or a statement of 'you will stay with me and be my son.'

I like the little detail that Jean-Luc's shirt and vest mimics the tunic we see Barash wearing.

An interesting discussion on that taking place on the other site. Now, with this episode, while I felt the acting could have been better, I could accept this boy's personality resulting from being raised by Riker. And yes, I consider Rene Picard to be the best written and performed child character in Star Trek.
17. Christopher L. Bennett
@13: Hey, Hana Hatae may not have been a great actress, but she was utterly adorable as Molly. And no, Molly's age wasn't consistent. In "Rascals" she was suddenly close to 3 years old even though she'd been born just over one season before, and early DS9 continued to treat her as two years older than she should be; but when we got to the later seasons and episodes like "Time's Orphan," her age matched the real passage of time since her birth in "Disaster." Making this perhaps the first case of Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome that went into remission.
18. Mike S.
You missed the biggest problem with this episode. The kid's too old.

Look, Riker has been captain for 9 years. Presumably, he took over when Picard was promoted. Even conseding the point that Troi left with him, and "Min" took over right away, figure the kid can be no older then 8 (and likley 6 if Will and Min waited until after marriage - or at least knowing each other for a suitable amount of time- before procreating). That kid's a teenager. HELLOOOOO.
19. Keithrc
"Mostly harmless"- this assessment is true enough but doesn't give proper credit to what this episode really is: fan service.

Pretty much every episode using the time travel (future) or alternate reality tropes are all fan service. SF fans love the "what-if", the change-up. We have ever since "Mirror, Mirror" back in 1967. We want to see the characters we're attached to do something either completely against their regular character or be rewarded/punished in some dramatic way that won't happen within regular continuity.

Looked at as fan service, this episode is fun. All the promotions and personal development we desire/expect, a few twists, only thing missing (I think) is the typical hook-up: Riker's hookup here is a throwaway bit (holographic!) character. Would have been better had it been someone like Tasha Yar- and served the same plot point, as she was already dead.
Joseph Newton
20. crzydroid
@6, I don't think this combadge was used in alternate futures, if you are referring to "All Good Things..." and VOY: "Endgame", for example (I haven't really seen any of the other alternate future episodes). It was used in one of the alternate universes in "Parallels" if I remember correctly, and that does kind of bug me. Maybe Riker at one point had seen a hypothetical proposal for a new comm design that was taken by the mindscanners, and actually manifested in the alternate universe?

@13: They probably don't cast very good child actors because there aren't that many. Whenever I see something with a child actor, I always sort of cringe. Not that they're bad for kids. If you went to see an elementary school play that was all kids, I'm sure some of them would come off as pretty good. But in a show next to adults that tries to take itself seriously, it becomes clear that many child actors lack the nuance of more experienced actors.

Anyway, I recorded this episode off tv and enjoyed it, because as I teenager I was really into the alternate realities stuff. But the Min thing always bothered me. See, unlike a lot of people on here, I was never THAT impressed by 11001001, and I just found the whole falling in love with a hologram totally implausible. I didn't really feel convinced by her "selling it" like our humble rewatcher did. So I was also always bothered that a couple of years later this would be so strong in his mind that the neural scanners couldn't pick up on that she was fake (especially as he said there were no other "gaps"). The only thing that makes it believable to me is that I'm realizing through the rewatch that Riker is a big pervert.
Jay Hash
@20 crzydroid: Yeah, the one he talks about is "Parallels", and it's even odder that they are used there, because they also use the pips on the collar to denote rank, as well as the bars on the back of the combadge. Mind you, that it is plausable, however unlikely, that those combadges would be in service in Starfleet in that parallel universe. "Parallels" does take place 2 seasons (years) later than this episode, and in that time, any number of things could have happened. It could be as you hypothesize, or whoever is in charge of Combadge design did an LCARS search for combadge ideas, and ran across Riker's description in his log, or maybe Riker won a contest to have his design (stolen from Barash, that bastard) used as the next combadge, or Worf just happened to luck into the one universe where that was the natural progression of the combadge.

Though, if we want to take an in universe approach, if you look at the "Star Trek: TNG Technical Manual", there is a section in the back of it talking about the next class of ship to be named Enterprise, and also give some rudimentary (read: TERRIBLE) design sketches as to what the proposed "Nova-class" would look like. Perhaps it is the same scenario, here.
22. Thistlefizz
@18 Mike S.
Well as long as we're playing the nit-picking game--Troi only says that Min took over for her as counselor after she, Troi, left the Enterprise. Troi never specifies 1) when Minuet came aboard the Enterprise or 2) when Riker and Minuet met. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Minuet had already been on board for quite a while before she took over for Troi. Or, if she was stationed somewhere else, like a star base, it's possible that Riker met her on shore leave. As we've seen in previous episodes, Riker is known for his dalliances with the ladies.

So, it's possible that they met shortly after Riker was infected with the virus on Alpha Onias III, had relations, didn't use protection (just because they live in the future doesn't automatically mean they'll be smart enough to use whatever fancy future birth control might exist), and Minuet got pregnant. That would make the kid about 12 or 13.

My real problem with this episode is the age make-up. I've never liked the way the ST:TNG make-up artists did aging, especially when the actor had to be aged decades older. The only time the latex age mask wasn't completely horrible (like Admiral Jameson in "Too Short A Season") was Brent Spiner as Dr. Noonian Soong in "Brothers."

In "Future Imperfect," Riker has the worst make-up of the episode. He looks like he was eating a white paint pie (with no hands) and there's still bits of it in his beard and hair.

All the age make-up in this episode is just awful. And, as it's been pointed out, the cast does nothing to help sell the aging.

For all that, I do like this episode. I think it's a great time for Frakes to shine as Riker, and I've always been a fan of the alternate future plotlines.
23. USER
A fun episode, and much more memorable than the utterly forgetful "REMEMBER ME" Crushisode. This Groppler KRAD rewatcher seems to think the primary role of television is to be a Political Correctness Public Service Announcement. And nitpicking 'n'griping about how things in Star Trek reflect the 1960s or the 1990s instead of the 33rd and a Third Century is a bit Pakledy, because the shows presumably weren't really made in the future. The observant viewer will guess it's all a Romulan VR stunt, but then we get the 'dream within a dream' twist stemming from a lonely dwarf in a rubber alien suit who got neural nets from his mom or something. This is what Star Trek is supposed to be (when it is taking a break from "Important and Cheap Metaphors about Tolerance Etc.") Bravo!
24. jlpsquared
Yeah I also think Krad goes a little over board with PC-ness. The show is sexist because a women takes a mans last name? come on.

My wife took my last name, is she my slave? What do you name your children? I think there are some things that we will never get rid of, and so what? Women taking mens last names is really the least of the worlds problems right now, if you even assume it is a problem, which I do not.
25. Zabeus
He said it was because a woman takes a man's FULL name, not last name.
Dante Hopkins
26. DanteHopkins
One thing that wasn't mentioned is that we get to see Troi in a standard blue uniform for the first time since "Encounter at Farpoint," and would see her don the standard uniform on duty two years later in "Chain of Command, Parts I and II," and from that episode forward she would ditch the cleavage costumes.
27. NobAkimoto
I think an additional little thing that's kind of funny.

Riker and Tomalak were in fact involved in doing a peace process, with Captain Riker (emphasis Picard and Tomalak here) being critical to the process as early as Taking Wing.

Maybe DTI needs to investigate Barash.
28. koinekid
"Riker, Mrs. William T" was used for the sake of expedience. If we hear the name Min Riker, we may or may not remember that's the name of his wife; however, referring to her the way the show does removes all doubt. It's that simple.

Plus, maybe political correctness proved to be a fad by the 24th century. ;)
29. Scott M
This is one of those stories that is enjoyable enough but nothing special, until you realize that it isn't really about what it seems to be about. This episode is NOT about Riker. When we get to the end, we realize the episode is really about Barash. It is Barash who is living out his fantasy. It is Barash who must compensate for losing his first fantasy (having a father) by creating a second (merely having a companion). We already know Riker, and we don't really learn much more about him through these fantasies, but we learn tons about Barash. So to me, this episode is actually better on the rewatch: knowing what is really going on and what to focus on, the episode becomes much deeper.

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