Jul 17 2012 3:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Violations”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Troi and Jev discussing their respective overbearing parents.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Warp factor rating: 3

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

1. Tesh
It wouldn't surprise me to find that Riker tried to instigate an intimate moment with Troi at some point, but she turned him down. I can't see him pushing too far, though, so it seems to me that it would be an easy thing for that Jev guy to take the initial direction of the interaction and push it further.

I've always read Riker as being a bit of a hormonal twit, sure, but not predatory. *shrug*
2. C. Wildeman
In regards to Troi's memory, I assumed that Jev altered Riker's and Crusher's recollections as well, in order maximize the bad emotions.
In Riker's, he's getting blamed for killing Keller, making him feel pretty rotten.
In Crusher's, dead Jack opens his eyes, which scares the poop out of Bev. Plus maybe augmenting the existing grief?
I always thought it was the bad feelings that Jev liked so much, and that he made Troi's experience more intensely bad because he had a... special thing... for her.
3. StrongDreams
Never liked this one. Too creepy, heavy handed, and the utter opposite of subtle (whatever that word would be).

Since we never heard about a crewperson dying in a warp core breach, I assume that memory was altered as well, and I'm sure it was not the writers' intention to leave ambiguity about Riker's advances. TNG-Trek would never go there, if you're left with a bad impression it's bad writing/directing (or possibly very very good writing by someone with a very subtle hidden agenda -- not impossible, but unlikely).
4. Jeff R.
Jev obviously isn't very good at the whole 'finding repressed memories' business, since he managed to completely miss the whole Kestra thing ('Dark Page')...
5. Mike Kelm
I always felt that Jev had twisted Troi's and Crusher's memories (although if Jack had sat up and attacked Crusher instead of just opening his eyes that would have been more effective) but Riker's seems pretty much unadulterated. That being said there are a few issues with the violations.

First, Troi as a trained empath should have some sort of blocks in place. It almost would have been more effective if she was the last person assaulted and was able to resist it and determine it was Jev not Tarmin who was the rapist. As for the memory itself, I don't think it was an assault- possibly a situation where Troi/Riker started then stopped a hook up. I don't think Troi would let her superior officer rape her then not say anything about it.

Second, Riker's memory is unfortunate, but not the sort of thing that would haunt him, especially when it seems that the "command test" is to order someone to their death, as we will later see with Troi. In fact, that the level of command decision and assessment is key, starting at the academy with tests like the Kobayashi Maru test, which Spock says is a test of how a cadet handles fear and still handle himself. Riker wouldn't be paralyzed into a coma because a crewman accused him of killing himself- he'd feel bad and then say tough sh*t and move on.

Another issue I have with this show is that there doesn't seem to be any emotional fallout for Riker, Troi or Crusher from it. Next episode they seem to be fine because the Ulian doctors magically treat them. Throw in that almost 30 years he's never figured out how human memory works?

Overall this seems more like a first season episode where we have a big moral issue with a one line lesson learned delivered by the Captain, not quite up to other episodes.
Alyssa Tuma
6. AlyssaT
A total mess. Made more offensive by the fact that, as Keith points out, there IS an interesting concept here.

Who knows, maybe the writers thought they were being all deep and Kubrickian with their unclear writing and plot holes and threads left hanging? (Um, not even close.) I just kind of just chose to interpret the "memories" as more like dreams -- rooted in an actual events/experiences, but warped and fictional too.

It's also rare in the Trek world for a villain to just be, well, a creepy demented rapist. I remember the first time I saw this, years ago, I kept waiting for a larger picture to be revealed, ya know, like this guy HAS to mind-rape people to build up an energy field to save his ailing planet/keep himself eternally young/repair his ship/. I remember thinking, "Huh. He's *just* a rapist. Weird." Not saying this was bad or good... just kind of different.

I did like the Beverly/Picard memory sequence, though. Very nicely eerie and surreal. Thought it would have been better if they had left the special effects out of it. Phantasms is one of my favorite episodes, and I think what makes it so deliciously off-kilter is how it takes a beat to realize that we are in a dream sequence.

Good call on the Data and human memories thing. I shouted at my TV when that part came on. Lazy writing all around.
7. Kallie
I also never saw the Riker/Troi sequence as Riker assaulting Troi. They have a past relationship and have had a few other romantic/close moments shown on the show (they kissed on vacation in Menage a Troi), so I thought it was just another moment where they had almost crossed the line back into a romantic relationship after a date playing poker. In fact, I thought it gave a good reason for them not being involved at this point on the show since Troi said, "Not while we're serving on the same ship." (Of course, that didn't stop the relationship with Worf...) I thought the assault was entirely created by Jev to twist what hadn't been a really negative memory at all (except for some regret).
8. critter42
I generally HATE "mysteries" that reveal the villain at the beginning instead of letting you try to figure it out (Columbo being the exception - the writing and acting were so good it was fun watching Columbo spin his web). This is no exception.

Warp 3 is about right, though I'm torn whether to add a Warp or remove a Warp for having the balls to call back to probably the single worst episode to date, a clip show no less...
9. John R. Ellis
This one was one I usually avoided in reruns. I find rape in fiction disturbing and difficult to watch in the first place. Psionic rape? Pure nightmare fuel.
10. Seryddwr
Hmm. While Krad's assessment of the plot deficiencies is bang on the money, I find myself agreeing with Tesh on the whole Riker/Troi memory: surely this is (and was intended as) a case where the intention was to communicate to the viewer that the two of them almost, but not quite, rekindled their relationship, in a 'let's-do-it-hold-on-we-can't' sort of way.

Still, and in spite of the manifest lack of suspense, it doesn't strike me as one of the worst episodes of the series by any means. (Though it is one of the weaker eps of the season, certainly.) If imperfectly told, it is at least all competently acted, and is helped along by two elements in particular: Rosalind Chao's turn (she enthuses about her recovered memory perfectly), and the clinical editing of the flashback sequences. 'Keller is still in there!', and Jonathan Frakes' tortured reaction to the line, still sends shivers down my spine.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
11. Lisamarie
Eeesh. Agreed that this was an interesting concept but just not enjoyable to watch - I'm a little squeamish about seeing sexual assault/rape and I don't have personal experience with it. I can't imagine how it must be for somebody who actually has experienced it. I'm not saying it should be avoided in fiction, but it's not something I'm going to feel like popping in for a rewatch when I'm in a bad mood.

I thought that when Tarmin was saying that they had ways to treat people, he meant the victims of the rape.

But yeah...the way Jev kept glaring at the camera and generally being creepy was really obvious. And since we encounter the memories from Troi/Riker/Crusher's point of view, we KNOW Jev is the one in the memory, not Tarmin. It might have been more effective if the memories always had Tarmin - (since we know Jev can alter them) and then they were able to determine Tarmin wasn't even on some of the planets - or maybe the other way around...Troi remembers Jev in the memory, but then they find out Jev wasn't on all the missions, and it turns out all the creepy glares are just a red herring. I actually did kind of suspect Tarmin based on his comment at the beginning about not being able to resist not asking permission when lovely women were involved (ugh ugh ugh ugh - before I even knew this was a 'rape' episode it triggered my flags).

Also was a little unsure of what to think about the Riker incident, although I assumed that it must be another memory alteration (I like the idea that Jev is a kind of memory sadist and gets off on unpleasant memories so twists them in what ways he can). I can't imagine that the writers of the show would want people to think that one of the supposed heroes was in fact also a rapist, and what went on in the memory was definitely more than a 'let's do it oh no we can't' thing. Maybe that works in something like Game of Thrones, but...I just don't see that in Star Trek.

Speaking of violation - not sure if I am reading too much into this or not, but it also seems to kind of fall into the trope of using women as victims, especially sexually. At least in this episode there was a male victim, but his trauma wasn't sexual. Then again, neither was Crusher's. And you can't deny that sexual victimization DOES happen to women, so to never portray it would be unrealistic. So I'm not really sure where I'm going with this, but somebody else might be able to more eloquently express this niggling feeling. I was just glad that she kicked the crap out of him after he called her 'fragile'. Pffft.

And yeah, husband and I laughed out loud at the Shades of Grey callback.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
12. Lisamarie
@Mike Kelm at 5 -

Because now I'm in that mode of finding bad implications in things - and I don't think you implied this on purpose, but it bugged me a bit:

"I don't think Troi would let her superior officer rape her then not say anything about it." - people don't LET people rape them. People get raped because it is forced on them. It's not, "Oh, I'm going to LET you rape me", as if they have some say in the matter. That's the point of rape...they don't.

I know what you meant, it's just a bad choice of words, but one that I think reflects a kind of insidious thought tendency in our society. I know that sometimes my language reflects things like that too, so I'm not trying to jump down your throat or anything.

That being said, she very well may not have told anybody - many people (especially in the military) do not report rape and sexual assault.

As I said, I don't think Riker actually raped her, just that Jev was twisting some memory where things got a little heated but then stopped (or maybe they didn't and it was consensual), mostly because I think that would be way too dark for this show, and we know that Jev alters the memories, so that seems to be the most reasonable conclusion.
Jay Hash
Ugh. The only time when I like the villain being revealed at the beginning is on "Wire in the Blood" and even then, they don't do it all the time, just when you have no idea who it is until the very end. This tried to be all "Law and Order" but got it wrong in the first crime scene. I agree we needed not to see who was doing these terrible things, or turn it around so that Tarmin was the actual thought criminal, and had been covering his tracks with Jev's image the entire time or vice versa.

I also am skeptical about the whole "altered memory/true memory" thing. I would think that if Riker in fact did rape Troi, that it would be a matter of contention not only in the TNG show universe, but also in all the novels afterward, and I've read just about all of them and I don't think anyone has portrayed the Riker's that way (In "Titan", "Destiny", or otherwise) so it's either not that readily apparent or no one else read that scene in that way. Which is good, because I don't really think that Riker would be capable of such a heinous act. Then again, if Thomas Riker is basically the same guy, I never thought Riker would be capable of becoming a Maquis and stealing a starship either, but DS9 proved me wrong (yes, I know, different life paths and all that, but still...).

I also really need to write a treatise on "How I watched 'Star Trek' and learned everything I needed to know about film". Seriously: The dream sequence shots in this, The shots when Sisko speaks with the prophets, The wormhole scene in ST:TMP. All of them showed me how to be a better director.
14. Christopher L. Bennett
I agree with the other commentators: the poker scene was supposed to be a consensual thing that went pretty far before Deanna changed her mind, and in reality Riker would've stopped at that point, but by then Jev's illusion had taken over (it's not like it only started once his face appeared -- the memories first started shifting in a darker direction under his influence, and only later did he reveal himself).

My main problem with the poker scene is fitting it into Riker & Troi's history, figuring out when it could've plausibly taken place. Since Frakes wasn't about to shave his beard for one dream sequence, it had to be in the second season at the earliest, but it seems that it would've worked better in the early first season, when they'd just been reunited and weren't sure how to cope with each other yet, and where their romantic history was still close to the surface as in "Haven." By the time the Beard Era began, they seemed to have settled into a pretty stable friend/coworker relationship.
Rob Rater
15. Quasarmodo
Maybe Riker experimented with growing a beard during S1 (offscreen of course) but never took to it permanently until S2.
16. jlpsquared
Stupid episode. But it could have been really good. I agree with alot of the posters that the main problem was revealing the bad guy at the beginning. That is lazy writing, pure and simple. But, rarely for season 5, the acting and sci-fi twist were the. I wanted to like this one, but knowing who the bad guy was really killed it for me.

@AlyssaT, I think you nailed it. I think alot of people didn't like it because it wasn't very trekky. I also kept waiting for data to say "He needed to steal their pshcyonic emissions to free his family caught in the whatever nebula", or some other stupid noble purpose. But they went with "just a creep", which is not very trekky. I LOVED that aspect. And that is why if it was done better, it could have been one of the stronger episodes of the series.
Alyssa Tuma
17. AlyssaT
Columbo was mentioned above. Indeed the GOLD STANDARD of the reverse whodunit subgenre. The best part of the show was, without a doubt, watching Peter Falk set his trap -- but almost as delightful was watching the actual perpetration of the crime at the beginning! It sounds a bit morbid, but the show was careful to have murders that were extremely clever/fun -- costumes, wigs, exploding cigars, art theft, frame-ups, staged muggings, swapped guns, dissolving sutures (that one was courtesy Leonard Nimoy!), etc., etc. They knew that because they took away the audience's fun in guessing the criminal, they had to supplement it with engaging narrative and performances.

I'm not positive that the writers even intended this to be a true reverse mystery, but watching blurry horrible memories twisted by a rapist was just ishy and BORING.
Alyssa Tuma
18. AlyssaT
@16 -- That's a great point. In my earlier comment I indicated that I wasn't sure of the "he's just a creep" aspect was bad or good, but I can see where it could have been an incredibly strong episode if it had been structured differently. After all, some of our best pop culture is based on villains who are just demented (Silence of the Lambs springs to mind). It's almost like the writers didn't know what to do with a villain that had no wider motivation...
19. Mike Kelm
@12 Lisamarie

I should have made myself clearer, but my intention was that Troi would not have let Riker get away with raping her. Yes, rape is by definition non-consensual, and I've had issues with how seemingly casual this line is handled sometimes (see Riker having to have sex with an alien to escape and Crusher sleeping with his body while he had a Trill host) but my point was what Troi, as we know her up to this point and after this episode, would not just "let it go" but rather have reported it up the chain.

Yes I know that sexual assault on both genders is an all to common occurrance in the modern military, but I believe that the 24th Century Federation/Starfleet would be more receptive to victims rights and have eliminated the barriers that exist for members of the armed forces at present.
20. Rich F
Jeff R: The memory of Kestra wouldn't come into play here because the suppressed memory was Lwaxana's. Deanna never knew about Kestra at that point, so there was nothing for Jev to miss.
21. Christopher L. Bennett
I'm puzzled by the idea that someone just being a creep rather than having some technobabbly purpose behind his villainy is "not very Trekky." What about Ben Finney, framing Kirk for murder just because of a bad performance review that set back his career? What about Dr. Tristan Adams, who was apparently just power-mad? What about bullies and sadists like Trelane, Sylvia, Apollo, and the Platonians? Or the bad guys who were just out for political or personal gain, like Maab, Krako, Apella, Melakon, Henoch, Sevrin, etc.? Or captains who were corrupted by greed, like Merik and Tracy? In the later shows, what about Sela, who was motivated by revenge, or Gul Dukat, who was just a self-serving bastard all around? Plenty of Trek villains have had petty motives without any redemptive sci-fi twist underlying them.

As for Columbo, it's been said that the format there wasn't "Whodunit?" but "Howzhegonnacatchim?" The mystery wasn't in discovering the perpetrator's identity, but in discovering the mistakes the murderer made and how they'll let Columbo deduce the truth. Although it was really more about the battle of wits, the chess match between the killer trying to hide the truth and Columbo trying to unearth it, both of them misleading and manipulating each other and jockeying for advantage.
Michael Burstein
22. mabfan
@9 I'm with John R. Ellis on this one. This episode creeped me out when I first saw it, and I avoid it in reruns.

-- Michael A. Burstein
Alyssa Tuma
23. AlyssaT
@21 - I think the point that I was trying to make wasn't about most Trek villains having REDEMPTIVE motive, necessarily, but just a motive period.

It's maybe a poor analogy, but if we looked at this episode through a crime procedural lens, Jev would be your "serial killer" type bad guy (I do these things because I have the compulsion to do so) versus the killer who has a motive -- even if that motive is petty, selfish, or evil (I killed this person because I want to be rich and successful). It's the former type of villain I feel like doesn't crop up much in the Trek world. This makes sense to me -- Trek is a series that explores how different worlds and different beings interact; it isn't Criminal Minds (thank goodness!). So the fact that they gave this guy no larger motive (noble or not) made it stand out to me.
24. Mike Kelm
@21 CLB

I wonder if it's not actually that he's a bad guy, but that the motive itself is pretty weak and almost thrown in as an afterthought that is bothering us. Most of the people you mentioned in your list either have a lengthy backstory (Sela, Dukat) or have some sort of background provided as part of the episode (Apollo and Trelane are godlike, Adams a renowned researcher, Finney a disgruntled employee, etc). Jev just sort of creepy and at the end they say he's mentally ill. Maybe it's not that it's not Trekky enough, but that it just seems not completely formed.
Chin Bawambi
25. bawambi
Another way this episode could have been much better was if they took the "plot happens" laziness we talk about here and make Data or Worf the solo investigator just because. This could have made it a Columbo homage in fact and would have dovetailed nicely with the holodeck mystery episodes. Three may be generous LOL.
Lee VanDyke
26. Cloric
I just hated the fact that the reveal at the beginning resulted in the scene with Geordi feeling... wasteful. It was almost painful to watch his conversation with the computer knowing without a doubt that he was barking up the completely wrong tree.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
27. Lisamarie
Joseph Newton
28. crzydroid
I thought it was nice to see Deanna fighting a little bit. Apparently she does have some Starfleet training after all. This is much better than hitting someone over the head with a pot.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
29. Lisamarie
@Mike Kelm - yeah, I know what you meant, and I really wasn't trying to accuse you of anything. Just one of those pebble in my shoe type things.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
30. Lisamarie
Oh, and as a lighter topic, can we talk about Data's explanation of how memory works? That we just 'access the proper RNA sequence'? WTmotherF?

I have a molecular biology/microbiology/genomics background (which is not the same as neurology so maybe I am totally wron ghere) so I am fairly sure that is not in any way how memory works. Does memory even involve protein expression (which would technically mean having to translate DNA into RNA and make proteins, but still, summarizing that as 'accessing the proper RNA sequence' is a really weird way to put it)? Neurotransmitters maybe? Do we even know how memory work aside from it being part of synapses and nerve cells, etc.

If somebody can correct me on this, that would be great. But I guess for all you physics people out there, this kind of bad science is old hat.

Still not quite as bad ss the 'T-cells in our DNA' in the awful, awful de-evolution episode....zomg.
31. Idran
@30: It's the old theory of "memory RNA". It was drawn from some flatworm experiments in the 1950s - flatworms were trained to solve a maze, cut up and fed to other flatworms, and the other flatworms more quickly learned how to solve the same maze. Since RNA can store and transfer information from one place to another, people theorized that there was some form of RNA involved in long-term memory that was transfered between the flatworms. But since the results were utterly unreplictable in any other species, it's since been chalked up to stress hormones in the donor speeding up the time it took to learn the route. But it existed as a not-entirely-frowned-upon theory for decades, up through the 90s or so.
32. Idran
Er, that should be "...stress hormones in the donor affecting the second flatworm and speeding...", to clarify.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
33. Lisamarie
Wow, that is fascinating - although probably out of vogue by the time I was in college.
Joseph Newton
34. crzydroid
From other studies I've read about involving flatworms, they seem to be really interesting creatures.
35. General Vagueness
What's the deal with "this tag intentionally left blank"?
36. jlpsquared
@21, You are missing our point, all of the cases you mention are EVIL. Some done better than others sure, but stongly evil, to the point it is almost cool (Khan?) But ST rarely goes child molester creepy. that is what we are referring to. I read once that bad guys in fiction are done well when you kinda want to be them. There is none of that with this pshycic molester guy. that is how this is not "trekky".
Keith DeCandido
37. krad
General Vagueness: That was me seeing if anybody actually looks at the tags..... :)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
38. katc
I think the writers tried to show motivation for his behaviour in his relationship with his father - the fact that he was constantly being shut down as incompetant was a reason he decided to "prove" how competant he really was when he could invade other people's memories without their consent (and feel a sense of power he never got otherwise), and also why he would insert his father into the memory when he was close to being caught - for revenge.
39. Midnight Air
Hi, this is my first post here on this forum. I have been rewatching TNG myself and reading these reviews by Mr. De Candido after each episode. It's great to be in good company with him and in the comments I see there are also other Star Trek canon universe novellists, so it's great to get insights by the writers of the spin offs, and other fans. So thank you Gentlemen and Ladies.
I agree this episode falls rather flat what with what it could have been. I thought it was rather anvilicious, but it could have been handled in a bit more interesting manner, by as mentioned before, not setting up who the culprit was in the teaser act, and by Captain Picard delivering a more memorable Picard speech at the end.
I felt kind of sorry for Tarmin at the end, I can imagine he must have been thinking about what became of his son. A big blow for a father to come to that realisation about his son.
Oh, and by the way, a nerd observation, (but that's okay because it IS Star Trek after all!): Both new characters of Tarmin and Dr. Martin have essentially the same name! Just swap the T and M around! Presto switcho!
Dante Hopkins
40. DanteHopkins
Keith, come on. Riker may be many things, but he would not force himself upon Troi. At most maybe he tried to get a little something started, and Deanna shut him down, but that's it. No question in my mind.

This episode is hard to watch. In part because its painful to watch the crew chase their tails when we already know who the bad guy is, but also in part because it was particularly cruel for Jev to invade Crusher's memory of her seeing her husband's corpse, and compounding that cruelty by becoming that corpse. Truly truly awful.
Another episode I watch just to get to the next one.
41. Scott M
I think the writers/director had to make a decision of whether to make this episode a mystery or go for something else. To say that it lacks suspense is incorrect, I would say, because even though we know Jev is behind it all, we're still left with the question of how they could ever determine (let alone prove) such a thing. The problem is that the episode completely cops out in that respect. Because, yes, they figure it out, but all they have is a coincidence and an accuation. It's only Jev's foolish assault at the end that does him in.

I'm also disappointed in the whole coma thing. When people were dropping left and right from them, there was urgency and suspense in that regard. Then when Troi wakes up, a HUGE amount of that urgency gets deflated. I mean, yes, she felt violated (but really, only after the memory probe), but now we know there really isn't any major fallout from this. I know they were going for the whole rape angle, but since Troi has no real physical injuries and no memory of what happened, the narrative thrust is weak. I'm not saying Jev isn't hurting anyone, just that from a narrative standpoint it would have been stronger if there were some more significant side effect than feeling like you woke up from a nightmare.

And finally, would it have been to much to ask for the other Ullians to express some amount of shock at the fact that their son was not only a monster but the one who violated centuries of morality? Maybe feel some guilt? From their demeanor in the final scene you'd think it was their chauffeur who had done this.

But my biggest disappointment is that this line wasn't included in I Believe I Said That: "Klingons do not allow themselves to be probed."

Anyway, I agree -- lots of potential buried underneath a sea of meh.
42. ScottM
I'm not sure if I caught all the comments, but here's my thought on Troi's "rape" memory: Her experience was different. Jev attacked her as a form of rape. He wanted the mental, emotional experience of having sex with her. Whereas with the others, he did that to cover his tracks. So just because theirs weren't as disturbing doesn't mean that hers was more real.

Unfortunately that explanation does nothing to close up other plot holes, so I'm not saying that it makes the episode much better in that light, but I do believe that was the intent. It would have been nice if they had found a way for Troi to clarify with some statement along the lines of, "It was a pleasant memory that Jev twisted into a nightmare."

I also wish they had taken time to explain why Keiko's neuro scans did not show the same readings as those of the coma victims. As is, it comes across as just another plot device to make the mystery last long enough to fill the entire episode.
43. David Sim
I'm surprised Geordi turned down Tarmin's offer of a memory probe; after what happened in The Mind's Eye, you'd think he'd see this as the perfect opportunity to dredge up what really happened to him, instead of having to reconstruct his memory one counselling session at a time. Maybe Deanna should have encouraged him?

Also, why isn't Worf checking into the Ullian's past instead of Geordi and Data? He is security chief, after all.
44. Ndeecy
I believe Peter David touched on the Riker/Troi incident in his novel Imzadi. As I recall, Riker recollects it as a synthehol driven thing where they both struggle to keep their boundaries. Didn't come off as a violation, more of a temptation to exceed their preset boundaries.
45. uv
shouldn't this episode gain a point for when diana beats up the rapist? that was awesome!

"and it’s the second time where we’re left not being entirely sure whether or not Riker sexually assaulted someone."

i know! what's up with that, TNG writers?

i agree with other commenters that it was probably a memory of riker putting moves on her but then stopping after troi said no, but that the telepathic rapist changed the memory.

BUT given the larger ambiguity in the episode "a matter of perspective", the writers really shouldn't have left any ambiguity at all in this episode.
46. Kellia
I actually thought that this was a pretty interesting episode, if not, you know, a GOOD one. I think the villain's motivation was actually pretty believable, especially when they established that he had a pattern of taking advantage of people through his work. My main complaint is them focusing more on the suspense/mystery plot than on the actual sexual abuse/rape context. They basically silenced the victims at the end in favor of Picard delivering a few "we humans were once violent too and now the episode is over" platitudes. Big missed opportunity, imo.

Disregarding writer or director intention, I think even in the context of the episode it's pretty clear (if not 100% clear) that Jev twisted Deanna's memory to add the Riker assault. When he mind probes her after she wakes up, she's initially happy to relive the poker night memory (something reinforced further when he says something along the lines of "this is a pleasant memory; stay there")--it seems unlikely that she would react with a feeling of safety and pleasure to the beginning of the memory if it ended in Riker trying to force something.

Data having no idea of how human memory works was also majorly frustrating. Come on. There's no way he wouldn't have have spent like a solid week of all-nighters at Starfleet investigating all known studies on human memory after the first time one of his professors couldn't remember something important.

I also completely agree with @41 that the main issue with the suspense plot is Deanna waking up from her coma. Right there, all the suspense just goes out the window.

I did think that the second attempted rape scene, with Deanna fighting back, was really effective, and it was very satisfying to watch her fight him off--I wish she had landed a few more punches (although, I will admit, that Worf smash moment was also quite nice).

All in all, though, an ok episode that really threw away a lot of unique chances to do something really interesting.
47. Kellia
@Lisamarie: I also completely agree about the ickiness of Tarmin's early comment about being unable to resist a little memory probing action when a pretty woman was involved. Ugh ugh ugh.

I will also never not be upset that the show fails to ever again address Geordi's Romulan mind conditioning. You can't just throw that into one "woo shocker!" episode and then never come back to it. They do such a good job getting some serious character development from Picard's Borg assimilation, and then here they're like "eh, it's just Geordi. Maybe next episode he can look silly trying to ask someone on a date! Good old Geordi."
48. Seth C
I thought this was a typical TNG episode of the 3rd or 4th season, not the 5th: The aliens who seem advanced enough to warrant Starfleet giving a damn, then finding out that (sigh) they aren't as advanced and enlightened as we thought. But don't worry (as Picard says reassuredly at the end of the episode) "Earth too had its dark period.", ie late 20th century society and before. As for Riker's behavior, I think people may be taking it too far. Riker certainly could be flirtatious and likely was with Troi (probably in early season 3), but once she firmly said "No Imzadi, not while we're on the same ship," he did the typical Nice Guy thing, apologized, said good night and went to bed. The Will Riker we know would never stoop to such lows, though judging by the popularity of a song like "Blurred Lines", the same sadly can't be said of early 21st century people. The thing I have always found puzzling about the episode is that Data and LaForge find Dr. Crusher when she falls unconscious in her Sickbay office. Her office is right around the corner from the main Sickbay ward, which is stated in "Remember Me" to have four medical personnel on duty at all times. So she was stricken late in the night or early morning (most likely) but the nurses and medics on-duty didn't walk by her office? No one thought to ask each other "Gee, Dr. Crusher was supposed to go off-duty five hours ago but she hasn't come to tell us she's going off-duty." "Should we check on her?" "Naw, it's too far to walk around that corner. I'm sure she's fine." When did Sickbay personnel on the Federation flagship in the 24th century become hung over frat boys? Also one of the main doors to Sickbay opens directly across from her office. No one came in that door or walked through that area? The replicator for Sickbay can be seen from the window of her office. No one got a glass of water or cup of coffee in the hours between Crusher falling unconsious and Data and LaForge finding her?
49. MissGhost
I just got done watching this episode, as I am re watching Star Trek in chronological order. I found this forum because I was curious to know what the silver strip Capt. Picard was wearing on his face during Crushers memory - Thank you for answering the question, it's a Bandage. I also have to add my two sense about this episode & Troi's violation. In this particular episode & as mentioned in Nemesis when she was probe rapped again, I personally think that Troi is just more susceptible to mind probing by more advanced species than her half human half betazoid mind. In this specific episode, I don't think Will Riker actually forced himself on Deanna. In the begining of the memory, she tells him "We can't do this, not when we're serving on the same ship". Riker then says, "Have you stopped thinking about us, just answer that". He then lays he down gently & kisses her, she says "No, we can't..." & they repeat again what they said in the begining of the memory. Then "Riker" gets more aggressive & that's where I believe that the Ullian was able to escalate the situation & add a more forceful "Riker". Then the Ullian takes over. He also adds himself standing in the corner playing with poker chips watching himself on top of Deanna. The begining was her memory until the Ullian tweaks it for his own sick pleasure. If Will Riker raped Deanna, she would not of married him, she would of reported him. Also you'd think Troi & Riker would of shared in an awkward look after it was over, because they are the only ones who know what truly happened that night, but they didn't, they never showed them talking about that memory with each other. Therefore I have to believe it was all the Ullians manipulations. After they find out the truth, the Ullian father even says that their culture was once barbaric in their mind probing capabilities. They are an advanced species & can add their own memories to yours. Deanna Troi is not a victim type character & I couldn't imagine the writers adding that type of dirty mystery... At least I hope not. That's just wrong! Troi is a highly respected character & later becomes a certified Commander. She follows Starfleet regulations through out the seasons & Movies - This is of course just another fans vision of what I believe, so believe what you want. That's part of being a fan & Star Trek envokes a lot of thinking in all their episodes. Be well all my fellow Trekkie & I hope my rendition of this episode gives you another angle to think about ????

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