Apr 6 2012 3:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Clues"

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Clues

Written by Bruce D. Arthurs and Joe Menosky
Directed by Les Landau
Season 4, Episode 14
Production episode 40274-188
Original air date: February 11, 1991
Stardate: 44502.7

Captain’s Log: The Enterprise is engaged in some downtime. Picard takes advantage of the time to bring Guinan to a Dixon Hill program, which is interrupted by Data. They’ve detected an M-class planet surrounding a star that shouldn’t be able to support a habitable world. Picard expresses regret to Guinan, saying that he must abandon the 20th-century mystery for a 24th-century one.

Everyone comes to the bridge, and they discover that there are unstable wormholes all around. The Enterprise goes through one, which renders everyone except for Data unconscious. When folks wake up, Data explains that they were all unconscious for thirty seconds. There appears to be no damage or major injuries. Data suggests that returning to investigate the planet would be hazardous with all the wormhole activity, so they send a probe.

Said probe reveals that the planet isn’t Class-M — likely they got a false reading on the sensors initially. Riker finds it odd that they would get that specific a false reading, but Data theorizes that they saw a false image through one of the wormholes.

Everything seems to be fine, but then Crusher reports that the Diomedian scarlet moss that she’s been cultivating somehow achieved 24 hours of growth in the thirty seconds they were all unconscious. Data again has a theory, one relating to a 22nd-century scientist named Underhill, that might explain the moss’s growth — and at this point the crew has noticed that every discrepancy is being explained away by Data. They’re wondering if something is wrong with Data, or if there’s something even more insidious going on.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Clues

Crusher compares the transporter trace of the last person to use the transporter with her current bio-scans, and there’s a discrepancy that indicates that they were unconscious for a lot longer than thirty seconds. La Forge also discovers that the ship’s chronometer was altered by a method that only Data and La Forge are capable of.

Concerned that Data is suffering some kind of malfunction, La Forge examines him and finds nothing wrong. This all started when they found that Class-M planet — and Data was the one who launched the probe that showed that it wasn’t. Picard orders La Forge to see if the probe was tampered with.

Troi then suffers a dizzy spell and a brief hallucination, while Worf discovers that his wrist had been broken and re-set without his remembering.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Clues

La Forge reveals that Data substituted an image of a different planet from the library computer when the probe did its scan. La Forge sends a new probe, which reveals not only a Class-M planet, but no indication of any wormholes.

Data refuses to give any direct answers, and is fully aware that his continued lack of cooperation — not to mention his obstructions and other bits of sabotage — will likely result in court martial. (Picard also points out that it would likely result in his being stripped down to his component parts, which seems an odd thing for him to threaten, given that Picard himself was the one who argued for his rights as a sentient being, which included not being dismantled against his will, but never mind.)

It has become obvious that they were awake during the missing day, and that something happened — possibly a great conflict, given Worf’s broken wrist — which resulted in their memories being tampered with and Data being forced to lie. Picard orders the Enterprise to return to the scene of the crime.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Clues

An energy field appears between the Enterprise and the planet, and sends a pulse that appears to be dissipated by shields. Instead, however, it possesses Troi, who goes to Data’s quarters and speaks in a modulated voice that makes her sound like a Goa’uld. She is angry that the ship came back. Data tries to convince “Troi” that he can salvage the situation.

Picard brings Data to the bridge and confronts him. He will not leave until he knows what’s going on, and who is compelling Data’s silence. Data finally reveals that he was given orders not to reveal the truth — by Picard himself.

Data finally explains what happened. The “wormhole” was actually a stun field used by a xenophobic race called the Paxans. They stun a crew, put them in stasis, tow them to a distant location, and they think they went through a wormhole. But the plan hit a snag with Data: the stun field didn’t affect him.

The energy field penetrates the ship and possesses Troi. Worf tries to keep her under guard, but “Troi” grabs his wrist and breaks it before throwing him across the bridge. The Paxans threaten to destroy the ship, but Picard explains that if they’re destroyed, others will come for them. They will not be able to remain isolationist if more ships investigate the Enterprise’s disappearance. Picard asks if the biochemical stasis they put people in for their “wormhole” trick could also erase memories, and the Paxans agree that it can — for everyone but Data. Picard then orders Data to never reveal anything about the Paxans ever again to anyone.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Clues

Back in the present, the Paxans declare the plan a failure, and threaten to destroy the Enterprise, but Picard insists that it was just a dry run. They can still make it work, they just have to eliminate the clues that something else was going on. Get rid of the clues, and there will be no questions.

Sure enough, they do it all over again, and this time they send a probe, head off to their next assignment, and it’s all forgotten.

Well, by everyone except Data...

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi is possessed by the Paxans, and that experience has residual effects on her, causing dizzy spells and hallucinations. This is the one side effect of the deception that might still cause issues and is left unresolved. It’s likely she had those same aftereffects again after the second possession by the Paxans, and one wonders how they dealt with it.

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf feels discomfort in his wrist, which he normally wouldn’t even mention, but since Picard asked them to report anything unusual, he — very, very reluctantly — reports the discomfort to Crusher, who discovers that his wrist was broken and re-set. Worf also points out that Data is one of the few people on board who can break his wrist — which makes it hilarious that itty bitty Troi is the one who actually does it (presumably enhanced by the Paxans, since she does it one-handed….).

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Clues

If I Only Had a Brain...: Data stands on the bridge with one foot up on the ops console arm, in an almost perfect imitation of Riker, which is kind of amusing.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Clues

What Happens on the Holodeck Stays on the Holodeck: For some inexplicable reason, Picard talks in a cheesy accent as Dixon Hill, something he’s never done in any of his previous sojourns to 1941 San Francisco (and it really sounds ridiculous).

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Clues

Syntheholics Anonymous: Guinan joins Picard for his Dixon Hill program, but is ten minutes late because she had trouble with the outfit, in particular the garters....

In the Driver’s Seat: Ensign McKnight makes the first of three appearances at conn.

I Believe I Said That: “This was all set up in advance. You see, I’m supposed to be Gloria from Cleveland, and I was supposed to be on Holodeck 4 at two o’clock, and you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, do you?”

Guinan’s frustrated culmination of her conversation with Madeleine on the holodeck.

Welcome Aboard: No real “guest” stars, as everyone in this episode is a recurring character: besides regulars Colm Meaney as O’Brien and Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan, you’ve got Rhonda Aldrich making her final appearance as Dixon Hill’s long-suffering secretary Madeleine (previously seen in “The Big Goodbye” and “Manhunt”), Patti Yasutake as one of Crusher’s nurses (this time seen in the present, as opposed to a fake future as she was in “Future Imperfect,” and given the first name Alyssa — her last name, Ogawa, will be established in “Identity Crisis”), and Pamela Winslow debuting as Ensign McKnight.

Trivial Matters: Bruce A. Arthurs, who comments on this here rewatch, sent me an e-mail with some entertaining factoids about “Clues”: The episode originally had a large role for Wesley Crusher, but Wil Wheaton’s departure forced a major rewrite. It was originally pitched as a “Data-gets-kidnapped” story, but “The Most Toys” made that impractical, so Arthurs reworked it. The Dixon Hill sequence didn’t originally have Guinan, but it did have a nod to Firesign Theatre’s Nick Danger. Arthurs was disappointed that the “chessboard clue” didn’t make the final cut of the episode. Finally, this was one of the first scripts to be bought under TNG’s open-submission policy, one which resulted in several fans getting episodes produced.

This is the first appearance of the Klingon martial art of mok’bara: Worf is seen leading a class in this very tai-chi-like discipline at the top of the episode. The moves were, in fact, based on tai chi, as developed by visual effects supervisor Dan Curry, a tai chi master.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Clues

Data mentions encountering a wormhole while on the Trieste. In “11001001,” he mentioned that he was familiar with that ship.

The British series Red Dwarf had an episode with a very similar theme in its second season (aired two years earlier), “Thanks for the Memory.”

Make it So: “Minor mystery — that seems to be a recurring phrase these days.” This is one of those episodes that doesn’t benefit from subsequent viewings. On the one hand, you’ve got a true mystery that the crew must solve, and when the episode first aired in 1991, I recall being curious as to what the heck was going on.

The problem is that, once you know what the mystery is, the episode isn’t all that compelling. There’s no B-plot, no real interesting character development (the closest we get is O’Brien hurting his elbow helping Keiko hang plants), nothing that the rest of the crew is doing to hang the story on — or if there is, the script does nothing with it. It’s particularly absurd that Troi is possessed — twice! — and the crew barely even bats an eyelash or expresses any kind of concern. It’s just another piece of the puzzle.

It doesn’t help that the script itself harps on the mystery rather unsubtly; the word “mystery” is used in dialogue fifteen times over the course of 42 minutes.

It’s a suspenseful episode when you first watch it, and it’s a well-structured mystery — in particular, the end-of-Act-4 revelation that it was Picard himself who ordered Data to lie is an excellent reveal — but it’s ultimately rather bloodless.


Warp factor rating: 5


Keith R.A. DeCandido is pleased to announce that his thriller -30-, in collaboration with Steven Savile, is now available for all non-Nook eBook platforms, as are the other three novellas in the “Viral” series. Do check them out, along with Keith’s other fiction like SCPD: The Case of the Claw, Dragon Precinct and Unicorn Precinct (the third book, Goblin Precinct is due out next month), and Guilt in Innocence. You can order those books, as well as go to Keith’s blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and various and sundry podcasts at his web site.

Neil Sood
1. RanchoUnicorno
When I did my rewatch of this, it had been long enough that I didn't remember it at all (does it still count as a rewatch?). As a result, I enjoyed it. I thought it would end up getting a solid 7, maybe squeaking out an 8. That on a proper rewatch it drops to a 5 is pretty painful.

At least the whodunnit component was a TNG rarity. Too many of the hour-long shows today rely on that for either the individual episodes or for the story arcs, making them unappealing to watch more than once.
Sean O'Hara
2. Sean O'Hara
Clues and Data's Day are early examples of the problem I had with later seasons of TNG -- the stories started focusing on interesting concepts without framing it with an interesting story, leading to muddled episodes in the last couple seasons like, "What if Data dreams?" and "What if the Enterprise computer evolves into an Organian."
Sean O'Hara
3. StrongDreams
I would have ranked this lower than "Devil's Due." It's an interesting excercise that has no repercussions whatsoever. It has a literal "reset button" rather than the figurative reset button in many other episodes.

(Not to mention many other logical problems. Like what happens next time they meet a Federation ship and find out their clocks are out of sync and can't be explained by relativisitic effects that they supposedly correct for. They're not 3 weeks away from Starfleet like in the old series, doesn't anyone notice their comms are off for 2 days. And so on.)

Thinking about it just makes me feel "meh."
Sean O'Hara
4. Christopher L. Bennett
I've always found "Clues" to be a deeply disturbing episode. It's the kind of episode that gets so caught up in its cleverness that it overlooks the very troubling moral implications of its story. Basically, it's an episode that endorses censorship, coverups, and the destruction and falsification of evidence to conceal the truth. The dangers of that kind of censorship and obfuscation were as serious a real-world issue in 1991 -- just a few years after the Iran-Contra scandal -- as they are today, and this episode seemed to be endorsing the sort of present-day societal follies and abuses that Star Trek is supposed to confront and question.

And sure, they fell back on the Prime Directive as their excuse for going along with the Paxans' chilling obsession with lies and secrecy, but was that really the right thing to do, or the wise thing to do? I mean, here you've got this very powerful alien race that can effortlessly overpower Starfleet vessels and possess people's minds, and they're fanatically determined to keep their existence a secret. That's pretty terrifying if you think about it. Why are they so secretive? What are they hiding? What if their motive for concealing their existence is something more ominous than mere isolationism? And wasn't Picard, if anything, criminally negligent in failing to make sure that Starfleet became aware of this potentially huge threat? Indeed, conspiring with these hostiles to keep their existence secret from the Federation might arguably constitute treason.

It's too bad that it would still be another season and a half before the line "The first duty of a Starfleet officer is to the truth" was written. That principle should've guided this episode. Picard and the crew should've defied and defeated the Paxans, or convinced them they didn't need to be so xenophobic. The episode should've condemned the mindset that destroying knowledge and hiding the truth is acceptable, rather than practically embracing it, or at least treating it as morally neutral.

Not to mention that it should never have worked. The episode depends on the assumption that it was possible to completely conceal all evidence of the elapsed time by resetting the ship's clocks and concealing any biological evidence of the passage of time aboard ship. But if you think about it, that doesn't make a damn bit of sense. What happens the next time they interact with another ship or a starbase or a planet and compare their clock settings? Or the next time they calibrate their clocks based on pulsar decay rates? Unless the Paxans sent them back in time, then once the episode ended they should still have been easily able to determine that there was a discrepancy of over 48 hours between the shipboard clocks and real time. For that matter, they should've been able to prove it easily the first time without needing to resort to transporter traces or whatever. All they had to do was hail the nearest subspace beacon and get a time reading from it. Maybe Data could've claimed that the wormhole sent them forward in time, but I'm not sure they would've fallen for that. (Not to mention that all they'd need to do was use warp drive to travel 48 or more light-hours away from their earlier position and aim a telescope at it, and they could see for themselves what the ship actually experienced once the light caught up with them.) This episode's reasoning doesn't hold together, because it only works if the rest of the universe doesn't exist. So this episode's failure to think through the logic of its premise is nearly as profound as its failure to think through its moral implications.
Michael Burstein
5. mabfan
Keith, I think this is another place where you and I disagree. "Clues" is an episode I continue to find compelling and would watch again if I came across it channel-surfing. I think I'm drawn in not only by the mystery, but the delightful "bottle show" aspect of the episode (and that it works), and the idea that they are actually able to succeed at the end. (And yes, I know that they shouldn't be able to, but I still love the episode.)

-- Michael A. Burstein
Bruce Arthurs
6. bruce-arthurs
Chris Bennett, I gave the Paxans a backstory that gave some explanation for their xenophobia and isolatinism, but none of that actually made it into the episode.

When the Paxans first left their own system to explore space, their first encounter with another race was unfortunately with a highly aggressive and hostile one, so aggressive and so hostile the Paxans were finally forced to exterminate them. This was so morally repugnant and traumatic to the Paxans that they retreated to their own space, disguised their planet, and have stayed there ever since. Their "trap-and-release" methods allow them to remain hidden without inflicting harm on the capturees. (But deadly force remains as a last-resort option.)

I will say the ending of the episode was the result of a long, hard "beat-sheet" meeting. And the moral problems of the Enterprise crew allowing themselves to be partially brain-wiped were part of that discussion. At meetings end, though, the ending as finally filmed may not have been the "best" possible ending, but it was the strongest ending. (And it could be done within the time limits of the show.)

Among my old files are some notes for a possible sequel to "Clues", where Data would find it necessary to return to Paxan space by himself. But that never got past the "brief notes" stage.

Keith complains that the episode lacked a B-story, but that's something I consider one of its strengths. Without a distracting sub-plot, the straight mystery plotline creates more suspense. As for the lack of character development, coming in from outside and not privy to what the producers and staff already had in mind or in script for the characters, I tried to write an episode that could stand independently and be dropped almost anywhere into the production schedule. Not every episode HAS to have character development; sometimes you just want a ripping yarn, and I think "Clues" worked pretty well in that department.

It was also deliberate on my part to try and write it as a "bottle show" episode, minimizing new sets, extra actors, and special effects. You want to increase your chances of selling a script? Write one that'll be less expensive to produce.

And StrongDreams ranks "Clues" lower than "Devil's Due". Since I usually refer to "Devil's Due" simply as "Worst. Episode. Ever.", that's umm... harsh. .
Sean O'Hara
7. Tehanu
The Dixon Hill sequence didn’t originally have Guinan, but it did have a nod to Firesign Theatre’s Nick Danger.
And that nod was ... what? Inquiring FST fan wants to know!
Sean O'Hara
8. StrongDreams
All I can say is, "to each his own."

The ninth circle of Star Trek hell is reserved for the man who decided that an "airborne T cell" could "activate dormant introns" and devolve the crew into monsters.

And maybe one or two others. As long as you are not that man, you have something to be proud of.
Bruce Arthurs
9. bruce-arthurs

In the first draft of the script, when Picard (as Dixon Hill) goes to Hill's office, he finds a dead body there. He's interrupted by a police detective wearing a white suit who complains about the mess on the floor.
Margot Virzana
10. LuvURphleb
Im sorry but 'Genesis' is my favorite episode of Star Trek. My mother and i love to mock it and to watch it. The person who wrote it was brillant.
Because when something goes wrong its always nice to blame it on de-evolving. However if you are annoyed with the actual science behind the wonderful, funny madness than i have nothing wrong with that.

Back to this episode's review.... I like 'Clues'. Its good. Its watchable. Its annoying that they keep saying mystery but whatever. The only problem i really had with it was Picard's threat to Data about dismemberment. I mean forget for a second that Data is an AI. Is starfleet in the habit of torturing and killing their insubordinate crewmembers? As far as i know they dont even have Prisons or Correctional facilities in the 24th century. They just have lots and lots of penal colonies. (same difference? Dont care right now it is late for me)
Sean O'Hara
11. StrongDreams
I guess everything has something that really gets under their skin. For example, krad brings up every single time that Data uses a contraction, while I couldn't care less.

Star Trek writing often suffers from an extreme case of the law of narrative causality mixed with utopian futurism (from Roddenberry, apparently) plus Hollywood liberalism. Thus, no one in the Federation uses money, resources are unlimited, and everyone works for the joy of self-improvement, except when they need to invent money or other forms of resource limitations for the plot. Starfleet is not a military organization and they even have children on board, except when war is needed for the plot (but even then they keep the kiddies). There are no prisons or criminals except for a handful of truly uncurables, except that sometimes there are prisons, and the criminals are "cured" through drug treatment and mind control rays to "adjust" their thinking.

So on one hand, it is pretty horrible and contrary to previous episodes to suggest that a malfunctioning Data would be torn down to components to find out what was wrong, but on the other hand it was entirely consistent with the "treatment" philosophy in "Whom Gods Destroy" and "Dagger of the Mind."

There is a line in Star Trek (2009) where Pike tells young Kirk, with all gravitas, "You know what Starfleet is, right? It's a peacekeeping and humanitarian armada." I've always thought that line was a hilarious and sly poke at the mish-mash of war-mongering and utopian liberalism that pervades most of televised Trek.
Sean O'Hara
12. John R. Ellis
Frankly, after establishing that Data is single-handedly capable of hi-jacking the entire ship, even the slightest twitch of subsequent suspicious behavior would've scared me to death, "funny android friend" or not.

There's no way he'd have gotten away with the deceit even as long as he did in this episode.

Another case where the story is considerably less than the sum of its parts.
Sean O'Hara
13. Christopher L. Bennett
@11: Actually Pike's "peacekeeping and humanitarian armada" line was about the Federation, not Starfleet, which has been a head-scratcher for a lot of people. But that line is delivered while Pike is off-camera and it wasn't in the original version of that scene that was released as a preview, nor is it in the novelization. Which suggest to me that it was a line they dubbed onto the scene late in post-production. I figure someone belatedly realized that they hadn't explained the Federation adequately for new viewers unfamiliar with the Trek universe, and so they stuck in that line at the eleventh hour. And maybe it got edited down so that a line about the Federation and a line about Starfleet got spliced together, or maybe they just flubbed it due to its last-minute nature. (There is an unfortunate tendency for some people to treat the Federation and Starfleet as interchangeable.)

In any case, despite its etymology, the word "armada" doesn't automatically mean a warfleet. It can mean "any large mobile force." So even if it had been used to refer to Starfleet, there wouldn't be any inherent irony or contradiction in it, any more than there is in the name "The Salvation Army."
Shelly wb
14. shellywb
@4, So some can't want privacy without it being a bad thing? It has to be driven by guilt or cured? And we shouldn't respect the wishes of those who want said privacy, but force ourselves upon them? There were no good answers at the end of this episode, but I much prefer the solution chosen by the captain of the Enterprise.

To my mind, that issue very much relates to what is happening on the internet in terms of corporations and governments taking our privacy because they claim it's for our own good.
Sean O'Hara
15. Lsana
I remember liking this one initially, but hating it once I got to the end, mostly because I couldn't see how the "reset" button would solve anything. I couldn't believe that they would likely be any more successful at erasing all trace of their adventure the second time than they had the first, especially since they now had more time and more experience that had to be covered up. So how were they planning to erase all evidence of Worf's broken wrist? The fact that Crusher's samples had been growing for two days rather than 30 seconds? It just doesn't make sense that "Do exactly what we just did" was somehow going to solve the problem.
Bruce Arthurs
16. bruce-arthurs
Just wanted to say for the record, while this Rewatch entry is still fresh: Having Worf's ass whupped by other members of the Enterprise crew, especially Troi, is a lot of fun to write. Really a LOT of fun. A whole HECK OF A LOT of fun. (Yes, I'm a bad person. A bad, bad person.)
Justin Devlin
17. EnsignJayburd
@6. Bruce Arthurs, I realize I'm nitpicking, but I have to agree with those that are critical of the fact that the Stardate would now be off by 2 days for the Enterprise crew. I would think they'd be rather confused to discover this at, say, their next visit to a Starbase. I'm curious, did you have a line of dialogue or some way of explaining this away in the original script that got cut? Because it is a fairly obvious plot hole, IMO.

That said, I did enjoy this episode overall. I like Bottle Shows because they tend to have a lot of juicy dialogue. Some of the best episodes of Trek are Bottle Shows ("The Measure of a Man," "The Offspring," "Duet"). This isn't one of those, but it's still pretty good.
Sean O'Hara
18. Christopher L. Bennett
@14: "@4, So some can't want privacy without it being a bad thing? It has to be driven by guilt or cured?"

I'm not talking about the issue of privacy, I'm talking about the issue of lying and falsifying data and destroying evidence. These are things that happen a lot in real life for nefarious reasons, and at the time this episode aired, they were things that had been done by the US government not long before as a way of concealing crimes. Star Trek is supposed to be a show that holds a mirror up to current events and social issues, and here they missed a major opportunity to challenge and criticize the use of disinformation and lies to mislead the public. The episode was basically saying "It's okay to lie and destroy evidence and prevent people from finding the truth," and I think that sentiment is contrary to the values of Star Trek.

And sure, in-universe, maybe the Paxans had good reasons for employing such dishonest and immoral tactics to protect their privacy. But Picard is a member of the Federation's defensive force, so he couldn't just assume that. If some powerful alien race takes your ship hostage and says "You found out we exist, so now we're going to kill you," I think it's perfectly reasonable for a member of the organization responsible for the Federation's security to wonder if maybe they might be dangerous or have some more nefarious reason for their secretiveness than simply being shy. Keeping the Federation ignorant of a potentially dangerous civilization is a betrayal of Picard's duty as a Starfleet officer.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
19. Lisamarie
@Chris Bennett - I find your posts really refreshing, because I had the same bad taste in my mouth after watching this episode. Due to various factors (my religion/philosophy, my personality, my scientific training, etc), I find truth to be paramount. The fact that this episode has them falsify data and ends with them believing something THAT IS NOT TRUE just...blaargh!

And that Picard just goes along with it and kowtows to this being - and yes, I can respect that they may want to be left alone - and allows the memories/minds of each member of his crew to be violated and stunned me, to be honest. (I felt the same way about Sarjenka in Pen Pals, actually - I really disliked that episode for that reason)

I also said the exact same thing to my husband about their clocks being off (if they are going to try the whole thing again, why don't they at least have Data say they were unconscious for two days), and obviously things like Worf's wrist would be hard to explain should they notice that...

Kind of interesting that in the end (the first time around), Data basically does violate his order, although I suppose it was rendered moot by the fact that the Paxan was aboard the ship. But I do think it is at least a testament to Brent Spiner's acting that I could immediately tell something was 'off' with him for most of the episode. I'm not even sure what it was, but he just seemed subtly different...but during the reveal he was back to normal Data mode.
Joseph Newton
20. crzydroid
Chris--as for your original comments in 5, I found it amusing to think that Kirk might have "defied and defeated the Paxans" and convinced them to not be xenophobic (or maybe he would've been unsuccessful...but he would have tried). But what an intriguing concept about warping away and using light-based sensors to observe one's own past! That's pretty much what the Picard Maneuver is...but I'd never thought of this application of it.

I think part of the problem of this episode is that it took a neat concept with a lot of material and tried to cram it into 45 minutes. As a result, I feel that the reveal and explanation was rushed and disappointing, especially after being drawn into this big mystery. I found myself having more questions than answers at the end. I'm not even sure if cutting out the Dixon Hill stuff would've given enough extra time. Maybe in a two-hour movie, or better yet, a book. I just felt that more time needed to be spent explaining the whole Paxan situation, what happened last time, how they erased the clues this time, etc.
Sean O'Hara
21. Bluelib
Nice write up. I found it after watching Clues and searching to see if there was any discussion about the missing days issue.
Sean O'Hara
22. Sparkforce
I liked this episode when I first watched it, but I have a hard time with it whenever I rewatch it. Too many things bother me about the mess that the first memory wipe caused. I feel like going through a second memory wipe would just cause more issues than it solved. But, most of this has already been covered in the article and comments.
What I actually want to mention is a weird moment in the Holodeck. I find it strange that when 'Jonny' points his gun at Guinan, she doesn't understand that he wants her to put her hands up. People in the 24th century have handheld weapons. I would wager that from time to time they would point said weapons at people and want them to put their hands up. I simply don't understand why she wouldn't get it.
Sean O'Hara
23. Ser Tom
Mr. Arthurs I commend you for an intriguing story, albeit with a few holes that others have noted. It's certainly more than I could have done. That being said, why couldn't the Enterprise simply have dropped a subspace "keep away" quarantine type beacon as has been done in similar situations before and since?
24. jlpsquared

I just wanted to say I LOVE this episode. I love the actual Sci-Fi episodes, as opposed to the cuddly worf gets a son non-sense. I completely agree that the lack of a B-plot is exactly what makes this a strong episode. I can watch these over and over compared to the character centric ones. And the idea that because it is not as strong on re-watch as it is on the inital watch getting a lower grade is silly when it is a mystery episode.

so after all that, do you have any recomendations for more stories like this, books,movies, etc.. by you or others that I could read? I really think sci-fi doesn't do alot of straight mystery anymore, and it really should.

Thanks for a great episode.
Sean O'Hara
25. Etherbeard
@4: I agree with your objections to the censorship ideas in this episode, but a couple of your critiques I'm not so sure about. Concerning the clock, I immediately thought that this would become painfully clear as soon as they came into contact with another ship, but right ater the crew wakes, Data says,

"Sir, I should realign the ship's clock with Starbase 410's subspace signal--to adjust for the time distortion."

I took that to be way for him to take care of the issues you mentioned.

I'm also not sure it's reasonable at this point to expect Star Trek to observe good science... particularly when it comes to faster-than-light travel. It seems to me the entire Trek Universe falls apart if they can simply warp around and look back at past events with a telescope.
Sean O'Hara
26. Etherbeard
Why does Riker need to take martial arts lessons from Worf when he is already well versed in the ultimate evolution of martial arts, Anbo-jytsu?
Dante Hopkins
27. DanteHopkins
Christopher Bennett, I have to disagree with you again. Yes, Starfleet's duty is to seek out new life, but the one thing I liked about this episode is that is says that some life in the galaxy doesn't want to be sought out. Its not Starfleet's or the Federation's duty to convince every species in the galaxy to be a part of the happy-clappy Federation or galactic community. Indeed, in the next episode, the Malkorian Chancellor asks Picard what the Enterprise will do if the Chancellor asks them to leave and never return. Picard assures the Chancellor that they will leave and never return. One of the core principles of the Federation is respect for the rights of species in the galaxy, to make contact with the larger galactic community, or not; to join the Federation, or not. The choice is each species to make.

In the Paxans' case, they wholly reject interaction with outsiders for their own reasons, reasons that Starfleet, the Federation or anyone else is not entitled to know. If the Paxans say they're open to contact with the Federation, then yes maybe their reasons for xenophobia would be worth pursuing. Because the Paxans did not wish contact, their reasons for wanting to remain hidden are theirs, and no one else's business, not even the mighty Federation. Its not Starfleet's or Federation policy to try to talk species who want to be left alone into believing that they really shouldn't want to be left alone. To me, that is another part of the Prime Directive, to leave species alone who want to be left alone.

Picard's choice was in keeping with these principles. His first duty is to safegaurd the lives of his crew, which the Paxans were a clear threat to. Picard's duty to Starfleet and the Federation is to mitigate threats to the aforementioned institutions, which the Paxans could have potentially been a threat to. So Picard made the only logical choice to respect the Paxans choice, and to save the Enterprise. To say these actions somehow constitute treason is wholly ridiculous.

Finally, I enjoy this episode each time I watch it. Not one of my favorites, but an entertaining hour of mystery, and of Data acting weird. The latter aspect alone makes the hour worth watching. A firm 6.
Sean O'Hara
28. ScottM
I put my review of the episode on IMDB. I gave it a 7. On rewatch, I remembered enough of it to know everything that was going on from the beginning, and I still found the mystery aspect highly interesting to watch. However, since I watched it orginally as a teenager and not since, I had not realized how utterly stupid the resolution was. But, as that was only a few minutes of an otherwise enjoyable episode, knocking it down to a 5 seems a bit harsh.
Sean O'Hara
29. koinekid

Interesting points, CB. Yet, what I got from the episode was less we approve of your cover-up on moral grounds and more we'll do it your way because you're holding a gun to our heads.

I could be wrong, though.
Sean O'Hara
30. Kevin Barrett
What would be awesome would be to replace the final shot, the look on Data's face, with the bit where't he's laughing when Q gives him the "gift".
Sean O'Hara
31. TinaM
I love this episode and would have given it a 7.

But reading through these comments did make me a bit concerned about what stripping a day (or two) from 1000 people would entail. What if after the Captain informs the entire crew they are shortly to be mind-wiped by a xenophobic alien race, a few of them decide to seek syntho-dutch courage in Ten Forward? And then finally, after years of just missing each other in adjacent Jeffries tubes and almost-meetings at the Aboretum, Enson John and Enson Jane share a glass of pseudo-alcohol. They get chatting about these crazy Paxans and John says they remind him of his roommate at the academy and Jane says OMG - I remember Xenophobic Bob, I sat behind him in advanced warp-field calculus! And as they talk they realise they love each other and they're meant to be together... But no! As they take a moonlit walk by Curtis Creek (freaky Riker being too busy hitting on his posessed imzadi), they can't forget their fate. They're about to be zapped. It's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind rolled into Groundhog Day without the happy ending in Montauk.

That'd be my B-plot anyway.
Sean O'Hara
32. BenMc47
Just rewatched this episode - a compelling drama that falls to pieces at the end.

However, to everyone who pointed out the issue with the Enterprise being two days out of synch with the universe, wasn't there some line after the first blackout about needing to resynch all the ship's clocks with a local Starfleet beacon? I thought the implication was that the "wormhole" had thrown them off as far as time was concerned.

Anyway, I ultimately didn't like the episode, but thought at least that there was an attempt to explain that otherwise obvious issue.
Sean O'Hara
33. David Sim
Would Data's disassembly be different if they had proof that Data had lied to them, committed acts of sabotage, and disobeyed a direct order from his Captain? The episode provides all of that in spades which is perhaps why Picard felt justified in making such a threat.
Sean O'Hara
34. Nathan Hiemenz
I looked up this review because the very end of this episode was curious to me. Nobody else pointed out the fact that Picard acts differently the second time around. I was hoping for speculation about how he may also have known, but alas, all there seems to be is doubt that it would still work.
Sean O'Hara
35. AndyH
On one hand, I adore this episode. It really was genuinely mystifying the first time around and I continue to enjoy it in rewatches. The very idea of Data as increasingly deceptive seemed so very, very out of character (much like his potentially murderous tendencies in the Toys episode) that even knowing why, it's still enjoyable to watch the way the cast picks up on it and gradually comes to mistrust him.

On the other hand, I adore the Devil's Due so perhaps my taste isn't worth much around here. ;)
Sean O'Hara
36. NightStrike
@31 TinaM: That's hilarious :)

On B-Plots, I'll just say that I positively hate B-Plots. When I watch an hour long show, I want that one story to be developed to the depth that an hour long show allows. I don't want to watch two half hour shows running simultaneously. Frankly, shows with b-plots seem to me to be cop outs for not finishing two scripts, and just merging them together.

bruce-arthurs: First, I commend you for joining the conversation here. It's a bold move, and you handled the flak well. Second, I think that overall, your episode is good. There are holes that people have pointed out, but really, which of the 7 years of episodes didn't have a bunch of holes? I think you could have dealt with the 2 day thing better (as TinaM points out, just have data tell them they were out for 2 days) or perhaps more overtly (the star trek universe has temporal wormholes, too).

But the strong points of the episode are still there, and they shouldn't be discounted because of plot holes. The reveal at the end is masterful, the suspicion built around Data grows steadily (Brent does a great job here.. pay close attention to his extremely subtle facial expressions), and even the dialogue Data uses is carefully crafted. If you watch the episode twice in a row and re-evaluate all that he says, you'll see that he never lies, and his answers are really spot on.

I will admit to you that it's not in my personal top ten, but this is a decent average show with enough good elements that I hope you're really proud of getting it onscreen, given that it was an outside submission.

I should also admit that I liked Devil's Due... so...... sorry :)
Sean O'Hara
37. Electone
Extremely clausterphobic, budget-saving bottle episode. No guest stars, no planets, no nothing. But, I really don't mind it.

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