Apr 20 2012 3:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Identity Crisis”

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Identity Crisis“Identity Crisis”
Written by Timothy DeHaas and Brannon Braga
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 4, Episode 18
Production episode 40274-192
Original air date: March 25, 1991
Stardate: 44664.5

Captain’s Log: Five years ago, an away team from the U.S.S. Victory investigated the disappearance of 49 people from an outpost on Tarchannen III. Three of the five members of that away team have recently deserted their posts and at least one was seen heading toward Tarchannen.

The other two members of the team are Susanna Leijten, the away team leader, now a lieutenant commander — and La Forge.

They find the shuttle that one of the team, Lieutenant Hickman, stole, but Hickman himself isn’t responding to hails. He approaches Tarchannen III too fast and the shuttle explodes. However, Worf detects two more shuttles on the surface — Riker beams down with Data, Worf, La Forge, and Leijten to one of the shuttles, which turns out to be the one stolen from the Aries by another of the Victory away team, Mendez. They find no life signs — but Worf is certain they’re being watched, and La Forge found Mendez’s uniform abandoned in the Aries shuttle.

Leijten sees tracks and wanders off to follow them without saying anything. La Forge tracks her down, and she’s sure that Mendez and Brevelle are still alive, she can feel it. But when she starts to walk away again, La Forge asks where she’s going, and she starts going crazy. La Forge beams her up, and Crusher determines that she had a histamine response to something and her blood chemistry is all messed up.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Identity Crisis

Leijten is eager to get back to work — and also gesticulating nervously and generally acting all nervous and jumpy, though whether it’s nerves, anxiety, or the same thing happening to her that happened to the other three, nobody knows. La Forge manages to calm her down, and they go to the bridge, where Data reports alien skin cells on the uniform left behind, and also that the footprints Leijten found match no known Tarchannen life form.

Leijten and La Forge try to figure out what happened on the original mission to cause this. They go over the old Victory logs, trying to determine if there’s some kind of commonality, something they all touched or ingested or something. But Leijten grows weary of doing that, insisting they beam down to the planet. Then she has a seizure and collapses — which is when La Forge notices the strange markings on her neck and the fusing of her fingers together.

Crusher and Ogawa work hard on her, but nothing seems to be working. She’s become oversensitive to light, and her immune system is running rapid. Crusher finds alien skin cells on Leijten that are almost perfect matches for what they found on Mendez’s uniform. The Victory team weren’t abducted — they were transformed. And La Forge is next, but there’s no way to know when it’ll happen. La Forge wants to continue his analysis, with the computer tracking his movements in case he gets the urge to leave the ship. 

Leijten’s continuing to change, responding oddly to light, her body temperature’s dropping, and the rate of transformation is increasing despite a T-cell inhibitor that should slow it down. She’s being changed into something chameleonic, which may explain why they can’t be detected on the surface.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Identity Crisis

La Forge re-creates the events on Tarchannen III on the holodeck after he notices an odd shadow that doesn’t seem to have a source. He uses the computer to extrapolate what the figure might be — but before he can examine further, he collapses and starts transforming.

Crusher finally finds the source: a parasite in Leijten’s thymus that has latched onto her immune system and is altering her DNA. The doctor is able to surgically remove the parasite, but it’ll be a few hours before they’ll know for sure if Leijten will revert to normal. Meanwhile, La Forge needs to get to sickbay — but the computer (which was supposed to be monitoring him) can’t find him. Riker and Worf take a security team to the holodeck, only to find La Forge’s uniform and VISOR. An invisible creature — whatever La Forge changed into — invades the transporter room and beams down.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Identity Crisis

Data theorizes that ultraviolet light can be used to find La Forge, and he modifies an emergency beacon to find La Forge’s absorption spectrum. Leijten, however, wakes up, having changed most of the way back, and insists that she’s the only one who can locate him. The natives of Tarchannen reproduce this way, by inserting the parasite into a host that transforms into another one of their kind. (It’s unclear how they reproduce when there aren’t convenient aliens around.) Data’s UV light makes them all visible — they run away, but one responds to Leijten’s voice. That’s La Forge who’s still trying to fight the transformation. Leijten manages to convince him not to run away and to come back to the Enterprise.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Identity Crisis

Picard leaves warning beacons in orbit and on the surface. Brevelle and Mendez’s transformation was too far gone for them to be rescued, not to mention the original 49 members of the outpost from five years earlier, so people need to stay away from Tarchannen III.

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: Crusher and Ogawa determine that the Tarchannen natives undergo mimetic changes under light — but the leap from that to being sensor blind is rather a big one, since sensors are far more all-encompassing than just the visual spectrum. For that matter, it’s never adequately explained how something invisible to sight and to sensors can cast a shadow....

If I Only Had a Brain…: Data insists that he feels no anxiety regarding the danger La Forge is in, but after prompting by Crusher, he admits that he is greatly motivated to solve the mystery of what happened to the Victory team. That insistence that he feels no anxiety is belied by his great look of concern in the climactic scene on Tarchannen when he’s holding up the UV light while Leijten convinces La Forge to come back to the ship.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Identity Crisis

What Happens on the Holodeck Stays on the Holodeck: As with “A Matter of Perspective” and “Booby Trap,” this episode gives us a nice practical application of the holodeck, to wit, as a research tool. La Forge uses the holodeck to re-create the away team mission from five years earlier and more closely examine details like the odd shadow.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Identity Crisis

In the Driver’s Seat: Ensign Graham makes her lone appearance, and looks for all the world like a college student out of her depth.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Identity Crisis

I Believe I Said That: “Not Bogrow!”

“I know.”

“The one who always used to drive you crazy? You always thought he was so full of himself.”

“Well, I decided that I prejudged him unfairly. And then I decided that I’d been right in the first place.”

La Forge and Leijten, catching up on past relationships.

Welcome Aboard: Maryann Plunkett is excellent as Leijten, imbuing the character with a distinctive personality and doing a fine job of acting like one of La Forge’s old friends — their scenes together are very convincing best-friend interactions.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Identity Crisis

Patti Yasutake returns as Nurse Ogawa, getting a last name this time. Miss Universe 1990, Mona Grudt, appears as Ensign Graham and seems horribly out of her depth (to be fair, that’s likely due to English not being her native language; Grudt was the first Norwegian to win the title). Amick Byram plays Hickman — he’ll return as the image of Troi’s father in the seventh season’s “Dark Page.” Stunt coordinator Dennis Mandalone plays the transporter chief, Hedrick, a rare case where the stuntman actually gets dialogue. (He was likely cast due to his ability to be knocked down by a special effect when the invisible, transformed La Forge beams down to Tarchannen III).

Most amusingly, two of the Tarchannen aliens are played by Brian Phelps and Mark Thompson, the hosts of the syndicated radio morning show The Mark and Brian Show out of Los Angeles. Besides appearing in the episode in purple-veined suits, they also interviewed Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, and Marina Sirtis for their show while on the set.

Trivial Matters: The uniforms and phasers used by the away team in the archival footage of the Victory mission five years earlier all match those used in the first season — the “unitard” uniforms and the “car-vac” phasers. La Forge is also wearing the VISOR he wore in season one.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Identity Crisis

La Forge’s time serving on the Victory was established in “Elementary, Dear Data.”

Leijten was given a full bio in the Starship Creator CD-ROM game.

The reproduce-by-changing-the-DNA-of-an-alien well would be dipped into again on the Voyager episodes “Favorite Son” and “Ashes to Ashes” and the Enterprise episode “Extinction” (which was directed by LeVar Burton).

Grudt was the reigning Miss Universe when she appeared on this episode. She joked during the pageant that she was the “beauty queen from Hell,” as she was born in Hell, Norway, which I only mention because, well, it’s awesome. Grudt was also the last Miss Universe to accompany Bob Hope on his USO tour.

This is the first full script by Brannon Braga (he collaborated on “Reunion”), a staff writer/intern starting this season, who would go on to become a co-producer of TNG, work his way up to executive producer of Voyager, and was co-creator and executive producer of Enterprise.

Make it So: “You’re worried about Geordi, aren’t you?” I always liked this episode, though it’s not one I’ve ever felt a great urge to rewatch — on the other hand, if I stumbled across it, I’d enjoy watching it. I like the insight into the characters’ lives before they appeared on the show. Too often, television characters behave as if nothing ever happened in their lives prior to the show’s beginning, so this kind of plot appeals to me — as does a male-female pairing that isn’t romantic. La Forge and Leijten have a best-friend/sibling-like relationship that is a welcome change from the norm. (Depressingly, an early draft of the script had the two of them romantically involved in the past, but it was decided that, so soon after “Galaxy’s Child,” it was a bit much. Classic case of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.) It helps that Burton and Plunkett have excellent chemistry; their scene in Ten-Forward is a delight.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Identity Crisis

The mystery is somewhat compelling, mainly because of the ticking clock regarding La Forge. Unfortunately, the climax only works because La Forge is stupid — after promising to alert Crusher the minute he exhibits symptoms, he proceeds to exhibit symptoms and not alert Crusher — and because the script can’t stay consistent — La Forge says he’ll let the computer monitor him, so why doesn’t it bleat at Crusher or Picard or Worf or somebody when he basically disappears? More fundamentally, why did they let La Forge be alone at all? The minute Leijten took ill, they should’ve put a security guard or a medtech (or both) in his hip pocket. There’s a thousand people on that ship, there’s no excuse, none, for leaving La Forge alone at that point. (Hell, Data even offers to help, and La Forge inexplicably refuses.)

Also the alien method of reproduction doesn’t make sense. If the Tarchannen natives have to transform someone from another species, what do they do when there aren’t handy-dandy outposts built on their world? How did such an impractical method of reproduction develop? (This lack of basic understanding of evolution will continue to dog Braga’s scripts.)

Not a great episode, but not a bad one — a decent science fiction TV story with some nice background on one of the main characters.


Warp factor rating: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido reminds everyone that it’s the nominating period for the Parsec Awards. You should totally go to their web site and nominate the podcasts he’s involved with: The Chronic Rift, The Dome, HG World, and, of course, Dead Kitchen Radio: The Keith R.A. DeCandido Podcast.

Sean O'Hara
1. Sean O'Hara
My biggest problem with this episode: Why haven't we seen anyone record an away mission before? It should be standard procedure, but the only time we've seen anything close was when LaForge hooked a transmitter to his VISOR, and that was discontinued for silly reasons (it didn't work 100% effectively under adverse conditions, therefore we should abandon the technology forever).
Sean O'Hara
2. Mike S.
I thought that the makeup, and the special effects, really helped prop this show up. I liked the effect of the invisible Geordi knocking out the transporter officer. Hard to believe that effect came just one episode after the terrible effects of "Night Terrors."

I also liked the look of the aliens.

Episode is flawed, but good (if that's possible).
Sean O'Hara
3. David Tucker
@1 : It could have been a Victory policy. I'd say, given the technology, having a simply video device in the com badge would have been easy and desirable. I don't think many situations should be recorded though. Privacy and all that!

I always liked this episode. Fun backstory, good mystery and while I wish Trek didn't have so many strange DNA altering things that should really just kill the host, this one was much better than most.
Sean O'Hara
4. Rootboy
I didn't know this was Braga's first episode. That makes a lot of sense. How many times did he mutate the cast members into monsters over the years?
Sean O'Hara
5. Philippe13
I remember really enjoying the mystery in this episode. Although, I will admit that once you have seen the episode, the plot holes become all the more glaring.
The aliens’ fingers reminded me of those of aliens in the episode "First Contact". It makes more sense here since the species appears so primitive. In the “FC” episode, it struck me as unbelievable that a civilization of people without opposable thumbs could evolve to build complex technology.
Chin Bawambi
6. bawambi
I liked but didn't love this episode 5 or 6 seems about right. There always seemed to be a subtext of former lovers between LaForge and Leijten in the way they acted the script. That is one of the reasons I detest when the script writers make LaForge so bumbling and creepy in his romantic interactions with female crew. You could understand Reg being creepy because he has general interaction issues when we first meet him but not LaForge. The transformation plot just doesn't quite work for me. I liked the premise but not the final product.
Sean O'Hara
7. Sean O'Hara
@3: It doesn't make sense for recordings to be up to a ship's captain. It should be a Starfleet-wide policy. Privacy concerns don't really apply to officers on away teams, except in limited cases like potty-breaks.
Sean O'Hara
8. Lexie C.
THIS is the episode I remember from my childhood! I haven't done an actual rewatch of the show since the first airing, (I prefer DS9 :shrugs) except for some random episodes that played when it was on Spike .

I could not for the life of me remember anything about this episode except that Geordi turned neon blue. Ah now I want to go back and rewatch!
Jenny Thrash
9. Sihaya
"Unfortunately, the climax only works because La Forge is stupid — after promising to alert Crusher the minute he exhibits symptoms, he proceeds to exhibit symptoms and not alert Crusher — and because the script can’t stay consistent — La Forge says he’ll let the computer monitor him, so why doesn’t it bleat at Crusher or Picard or Worf or somebody when he basically disappears?"

Answer to question 1: The parasite effects behavior before it effects one's physoical symptoms. Geordi may not have realized that he was starting to act under a compulsion, as most people don't recognize irrational compulsions. That's why they're irrational.

Answer to question 2: Early nineties computing. We were too danged used to having a computer do exactly what it was told and no more. The ability of computers to anticipate the wants and needs that stem from a single command is new. The computer, if it had the space to argue, would say, "I did exactly what you told me to, I tracked him. And when he disappeared, I tracked his disappearance. You can check the logs." This goes back to Dougls Adams's theory about computers at the time. What they did best was behave like particularly stupid schoolchildren.
Sean O'Hara
10. Mark Z.
The obvious explanation for why there's a recording of this away mission and not others: They're visiting a Federation outpost, and the surveillance cameras at the outpost recorded it. (The wall where Geordi sees the shadow that tips him off* is the wall of the outpost.) We don't ever see how much gear it takes to create a holographic record of a scene, but maybe it's more than an away team could reasonably carry.

That doesn't explain why there isn't more of an effort to record away missions--hell, if I were Picard, I'd have a live feed on the bridge viewscreen from the away team's combadges, and then they could concentrate on their jobs instead of on narrating what they see. But I could see Picard refusing to do that because it might send the message that he doesn't trust his crew. Maybe the Victory's captain doesn't see it that way. Of course if this were Kirk he'd lead all the missions himself and it would be a moot point.

* Minor complaint: invisible people shouldn't cast shadows. From this we can conclude that the aliens' camouflage somehow senses the direction from which they're being looked at, and makes them invisible to an observer in that direction. This works on the away team, and on the camera, but not on the wall.
Sean O'Hara
11. rowanblaze
As I recall, the recording equipment was head-mounted on a member of the Victory's away team. I agree that it would/should probably be standard procedure for away teams, much as increasing numbers of police patrol cars have video camera to record traffic stops and such. It protects both the officer and the suspect. I doubt the camera would be incorporated into the combadge, as we humanoids often look in directions not directly in front of us. I do agree, however, that many insights we have about technology in 2012 don't match what was understood in 1990 when the story was written. Star Trek is much a reflection of it's time as it a prediction of the future.
Sean O'Hara
12. Bob A
I remember this episode mostly because I know the guy who wrote it with Braga, and all of us got together with Keefer and Woodsie to watch it. Good times.
The only thing that bugged me about it, and bugs me about most episodic, 1-hour drama is the casual way the problem gets solved in the last ten minutes. It was refreshing the way they had LaForge barely remember enough of himself to struggle back from oblivion. I would have liked to see 'em carry over storylines from week-to-week (Like they were able to do on Bab 5 and New Galactica)
Keith DeCandido
13. krad
Quoth Philippe13: "In the “FC” episode, it struck me as unbelievable that a civilization of people without opposable thumbs could evolve to build complex technology."

Actually, the Malcorians did have opposable thumbs, they just didn't have digits. They basically had mittens.

Quoth MarkZ: "The obvious explanation for why there's a recording of this away mission and not others: They're visiting a Federation outpost, and the surveillance cameras at the outpost recorded it."

Nope. As rowanblaze said, the episode very explicitly stated and showed that Brevelle was the one recording, from a headset device (which is what also projected the light that cast the shadow La Forge found).

Sihaya: What I meant to say in the rewatch (and may edit in) is that, on top of all that, under NO circumstances should La Forge have been left alone once Leijten succumbed. There's a thousand freakin' people on board, and they couldn't have assigned somebody to keep an eye on him in case he started the metamorphosis?

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Sean O'Hara
15. Philippe13
@krad ah yes, they did have mittens: same comment only replacing "opposable thumbs" with "mittens".
Keith DeCandido
16. krad
bawambi: Wow, I got no sexual subtext whatsoever between La Forge and Leijten -- which, as I said, was one of the episode's strengths......

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Sean O'Hara
17. John R. Ellis
Totally agree on the evolution thing. Braga has this weird notion that evolution is some sort of active, godlike force, shaping and guiding things. (Wasn't he respnsible for the infamous Shuttlecraft Salamander People episode on Voyager?)

On the other hand, I did kind of dig the crazy makeup. And this was the only episode from the brief-lived The Adventures of Mark and Brain prime time TV series that was worth watching.
Sean O'Hara
18. Alyssa T.
I really like that this review called out the good chemistry between Leijten and La Forge. I think that was a huge strength in this episode. Took me ages to figure out where I was remembering Maryann Plunkett from... oh, definitely the corny Midwestern mom with, like, one line in "Center Stage." (Any ballet dramedy fans out there?) Plus, I think she's been a bit player in maybe 47 different Law & Order episodes, but I digress...

@6bawambi: While I also didn't interpret a sexual past/sexual tension between the two, I DEFINITELY agreed with your point that Geordi's extremely natural/affable interactions with Leijten make his fumblings with other characters in other episodes really unrealistic. While Geordi isn't necessarily my favorite character, at the end of the day, he's the one I always picture being the easiest to just hang out and talk with. And in my personal experience, people like that aren't the type who dissolve into a puddle of crazy at the mere whiff of romance.

Final thought: This tone of "Identity Crisis" (especially the opening debrief, which felt like it could have easily been set in FBI headquarters/police station) always reminded me of The X-Files. Obviously this episode predates the X-Files, but it gave me the same exact type of spooky feeling. I don't think these writers/director did any work on X, but still...
Justin Devlin
19. EnsignJayburd
Maybe it was the generally positive reception of this episode that started Brannon Braga down the road of endless "their DNA is being rewritten" episodes. To be fair, he's not the only writer who too often reached into the Trek grab bag of weirdness. But he is the trend setter and the worst offender.

Braga was very good at handling the characters, giving them interesting dialogue, and providing them with overall growth, but he had this penchant for putting them into these ridiculous "high concept" plots that often strained credulity past its breaking point.
Sean O'Hara
20. dgold
I loved this episode the first time I saw it: my brother and i were completely freaked out by the scene on the holodeck. Rewatching it now, its lost that skein of horror, but the scenes with geordi and his friend are really well done.
Sean O'Hara
21. Christopher L. Bennett
I had mixed feelings on this one. I liked Maryann Plunkett, and I liked the use of away-team recording and of the holodeck as a research tool. I agree, it was silly that they didn't record missions as a matter of course. It often bugs me that away teams only contact the ship when they have a specific reason to, or to "check in." There should be a constant open channel to the ship at all times, with the away team giving a running commentary.

But the science was ridiculous on a lot of levels, and that made it hard for me to buy into the story. Plus I'm not as fond of these creepy, atmospheric kinds of stories as Braga is. (Braga may have missed his calling by ending up on Trek. I think if he'd been a producer on The X-Files or some similar show that called more for creepy weirdness than rational coherence, he'd have a much better reputation.)
Sean O'Hara
22. John R. Ellis
"rational coherence" was lost from Trek by the time they did their zillionth "It's an alien planet that somehow just like an ancient Earth culture with a melodramatic -twist-!"
Jenny Thrash
23. Sihaya
krad @#13: Yes, that would have been an excellent and most obvious solution.
Sean O'Hara
24. Electone
This is one is pretty good for a Laforge-centric story. Usually, stories centered around the character are cringe-inducing affairs. I don't understand LeVar Burton. In real life he is a very intelligent, soft-spoken individual. But once he puts that visor on, he becomes one annoying prick.
Sean O'Hara
25. Mike Kelm
@1... maybe there is a recording of all away team missions, we just don't get to see them. Maybe in the five years since the USS Victory mission the video recording capability was put into the tricorders so there isn't a single POV on the away team. I would have to imagine that it would actually be useful for the vast majority of away team missions (the type that don't make the show). Ensign Jones and Crewman Smith go down to a planet to collect sample of local fauna and flora, their division chief doesn't need to be there, but instead will download the file after the fact and do a post-mission review.

@21- it would be bad management strategy. We do see away team missions where they seem to be monitored by the bridge (Some of the comments Shelby onboard the Borg Cube would suggest that she was being listened to by people who couldn't see what was going on) but perhaps the practice is for the ship to not comment on what is happening. It would certainly lead to micromanaging if the Captain was ordering around individual crewmembers on away team missions. If the Captain trusts his crew, it would almost be counter productive to tell highly trained officers like Riker, Data, and Worf to go to this point and look at that thing. You have to trust your people to get the mission done- if you've trained them right and given them the right tools, they shouldn't need you to be looking over their shoulder.

And I agree with the commenters who said that LaForge should be much less creepy when it comes to relationships. I think that's overall bad writing from the staff and the general lack of character and story arcs on TNG. So instead of seeing Geordi have bad relationships and missed opportunities, we see him so godawfully bad that you want to put a restraining order on him. Because each story is essentially self contained, we don't get to see a two minute scene in Ten Forward where he has a bad date, because it doesn't fit into the narrative of that particular episode. In a show like Battlestar Galactica and to a lesser extent DS9 and Voyager, there were a few more throw away scenes in an episode which fed into a larger story arc. But in bottle-show land TNG, we instead get LaForge is a bumbling creep.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
26. Lisamarie
I actually found this epside kind of dull, but maybe I was bitter that I plowed my way through season 1 of Game of Thrones in 4 days and had to wait for the next season, haha.

I don't know, it just felt like episodes we'd seen before - I didn't find the plot that compelling and unique, and, as somebody who's studied genetics intensely, this was one of those eye-rolling 'transform their DNA' episodes. Although at least the science was a little better than the awful one where the T-cells in their DNA get activated and they all devolve into spiders or lizards or whatever the hell it was (I really hate that episode). Agreed that it is a horribly inefficient method of reproduction!

Count me with the people who are perplexed at how an invisible, sensor-blind entity can cast a shadow...
Rob Rater
27. Quasarmodo
So soon after getting caught red-handed making creepy holographic images of people, Geordi's at it again. At least this time it was just to re-enact a video and not bestowing personalities into them and getting semi-romantic. Still, we should've at least got a throwaway line from Riker warning him to tread lightly while revisiting this all too familiar territory.
Sean O'Hara
28. Christopher L. Bennett
@25: I never said one word about micromanaging or the Captain ordering them around. I said the people on the ship would be listening while the away team kept up a running commentary. This isn't hypothetical. From what I gather, this is the way people do things like this in real life, in the military or the police or what-have-you. They keep in constant radio contact with their base and inform them of everything that's going on. Not so that they can be micromanaged, but just so that everyone is in the loop, everything is on the record, and most importantly, so that if something bad happens to the people in the field, their support structure can set help into motion instantly rather than hours later when they miss a scheduled call-in.
Joseph Newton
29. crzydroid
Not much to say on this one...

But I just realized that the video headset is really similar to what the news crew uses at the beginning of Generations...there's a nice little bit of continuity.
Sean O'Hara
30. NullNix
Lisamarie, forget 'how can an invisible, sensor-blind entity cast a shadow'. How can it see? Sure, maybe it's got super-chromatophore skin, but even its eyes are invisible. They should be catching the light, particularly given that when we see those eyes with the camoflage off, they are cats-eyes, with a reflective layer to enhance, not reduce, light-gathering ability.

The way octopi and the like do it is not to have invisible eyes or no eyes but to break up their outline with such complex shapes that you can't see the eyes which are actually still there in plain sight, because they're drowned out by all the complex background-mimicking, animated patterns. (It seems likely that octopi and squid actually have visual sensitivity in their skins, which would explain how they get the mimicry so perfect, and also how they manage to get the colours right when the animals themselves, or rather, the visual systems located in their eyes, are colourblind. They don't need to see anything to camoflage: the camoflage sees it directly.)
31. jlpsquared
"invisible people shouldn't cast shadows."
Why, exactly? Obviously, if you were truly invisible, you could not cast a shadow. But I see no reason to suppose that these aliens were truly invisible. They had amazing abilities to reflect images from behind them forward, but that does not nescessarily mean they can't block light. Remember, that is all a shadow is, blocking light. Just because we do not percieve something does not mean it is not there, and still have physical properties. Star Trek has done a lot of stretches with science, I would NOT put this in that group.

Actually, I was reading an article about the US military testing "cloaking" technology. What they are doing is essentially outifitting a vehicle/person with 1000's of tiny cameras that simply record one side of the environment, and on the other side 1000's of tiny screens that show a video feed of the other side, in other words, cloaking. But one of the biggest problems is the the vehicle, or soldier still casts a shadow! So no, I don't think that is a flaw in the episode. Count me in the crowd that thinks that holodeck scene is right up there in creepiest scenes ever.
Dante Hopkins
32. DanteHopkins
I always liked this episode for its mystery and rather scary nature, of being transformed to another species. Yikes!! Reminding us yet again of the very dangerous nature of "seeking out new life." But the best thing about this episode is by far Maryann Plunkett, one of my personal favorite guest stars in all of TNG. I love the scenes with Leijten and LaForge, and those scenes alone make the episode worth watching. The warmth and friendship between the two feels so genuine, and the two actors play it wonderfully. The mystery, and the constant worry of transforming into another species is scary fun, but mostly scary, and great to follow along. I'd rate this one a 7.
Sean O'Hara
34. Scott M
Once again I disagree, and I can't understand how this mess of an episode ranks so much higher than Night Terrors, which had far fewer problems with it. In fact, the ONLY thing Identity Crisis has going for it is the Geordi/Leijten relationship. Everything else is either stupid or bad. The mystery seemed rather obvious to me, the science (as the review points out then essentially dismisses) is abysmal.

I mean, how -- seriously, HOW -- are they able to transform them back when Geordi looks identical to the other beings? Apparently he had no memories of his humanity when he was an alien, but he gets it all back when Crusher works her magic. He also gets his blindness back, even though his eyes seemed to work perfectly with that alien DNA. Crusher couldn't do anything about that? No, because then it wouldn't be a reset button now would it?

And Data and his "strongly motivated" statement -- he isn't a Vulcan. Either he is capable of anxiety or he isn't. And he should know better than anyone if he is. After all, he could run all kinds of tests on himself to determine it. I get that he doesn't realize how "human" he is, but that's because he doesn't understand humanity. But he understands emotion and could determine if he is affected by it. He says he isn't. Is he lying to himself? Either TNG just got EXTREMELY philosophical on the subject, or Braga sucks as a writer. Guess which way I lean.

Rating this above a 5 is being far too kind. I might even go so low as a 3, but the Geordi-ness of it all is somewhat redeeming.
Sean O'Hara
35. Scott M
@31, Objects do not "block" light -- they either absorb it, reflect it, or allow it to pass through. If they absorb it, then we would see blackness, and no light would pass through to create a shadow. If they reflect it, then we see the reflected light (we can't actually see an object, only the light it reflects), and since the light it reflected, the lack of light behind it, again, creates the shadow. If light passes through, then the object is invisible to us, because all the light passes to behind the object, which means there is no shadow.

I saw this once on a Tom & Jerry cartoon and even as a kid I knew it was wrong. I could forgive that, but this is a highly rated, serious science-fiction series -- I expect some semblance of reality from it.

I do remember discussing this with my friends back in the day, and we discussed the possibility of the type of cloaking you mention, but that seems a stretch for an organic being. And if that's what it did, then why not just mention it? Also, it seems highly unlikely that evolution would create such a flawed invisibility system. It also doesn't explain why they could be seen with ultraviolet light, though that is a bit less unacceptable.
Sean O'Hara
36. Electone
One of the only Geordi-centric epidodes that I can watch without cringing.
Andrew Willett
37. AndrewWillett
I just watched this one, because who needs sleep? And yes, the plot is a mess. But the big holodeck scene, in which Geordi first isolates a shadow that shouldn't be there, and then has the computer render the blobby figure who had been standing among them unseen, gave the same raise-the-hair-on-my-arms thrill tonight that it did when I first saw it.
Sean O'Hara
38. fortytwoeyes
The silliest thing about the episode for me was Data having to manually modify a flashlight to produce UV light. You'd think they'd either have such things in storage or could replicate them within seconds.

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