Aug 28 2012 3:30pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Next Phase”

Housekeeping note: Due to the combination of the Labor Day holiday and the fact that I will be at Dragon*Con 2012 (here’s my schedule), there will be no rewatch on Friday the 31st. We’ll be back in a week on Tuesday the 4th of September with “The Inner Light.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: The Next Phase“The Next Phase”
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by David Carson
Season 5, Episode 24
Production episode 40275-224
Original air date: May 18, 1992
Stardate: 45892.4

Captain’s Log: Responding to a distress signal from a Romulan ship that suffered a catastrophic engine explosion, the Enterprise zooms through space. Riker, Worf, La Forge, and Ro beam over—unarmed, over Ro’s objections—to effect a rescue. The Romulan ship’s adrift, and there are bodies everywhere. The ship’s generator is damaged beyond repair, and their replicators are down. The science officer, Mirok, appears to be in charge, since the captain’s dead, and he agrees to let La Forge and Ro beam back to the Enterprise with the generator to replicate a replacement.

However, something goes wrong with the transport, and Chief Brossmer loses the signal. They don’t rematerialize on the Romulan ship, and neither Data with sensors nor Troi with telepathy can find them. Unfortunately, they need to continue repair efforts, so Data and two engineers take a shuttlecraft over to assist.

The Romulan ship’s core is about to implode. The auto-eject system’s offline, so they have to do it manually. Worf and a Romulan release the clamps, and with Riker’s help then clear the doorway—but they can’t get the doors closed. Data shows up in the nick of time, with Riker giving him a “thank goodness you’re here!” look. Data calmly closes the doors with his soooooper android strength, and they eject the core. The Enterprise extends its shields to protect the Romulan ship. That crisis out of the way, Riker reports that he’ll do a full power survey. They’ll need to feed power to the ship to keep life support on and also provide a new core.

Picard heads to sickbay, oblivious to Ro lying on the deck. She wakes up and tries to report in, but her combadge isn’t working. Nobody seems to notice her at all, and when she approached the sickbay doors, they won’t open. She walks in when the doors open to let somebody else out, and inside sickbay, nobody notices her or reacts to her. She goes to Crusher’s office to see Picard talking to Crusher about the transporter accident and how they have to declare La Forge and Ro dead. Ro screams that she’s not dead, but nobody notices her—and then Picard walks right through her as she departs. When she tries to get Crusher’s attention by yelling, she also tries to slam her hand onto the desk, and it goes right through also. Then she watches as Crusher writes her death certificate.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: The Next Phase

The Enterprise starts a power transfer, bringing the Romulan ship’s systems back online. Data then reports that a diagnostic of the transporters showed an anomaly that he’ll need to check more thoroughly in Transporter Room 3. He also asks Picard if he may organize a memorial service.

The Romulans ask for a computer, which Worf considers an unacceptable security risk—however, Riker suggests giving them a 30-40-year-old computer core, which they’d already be familiar with, and therefore wouldn’t be a problem.

In engineering, La Forge is going through the same thing Ro did, unable to get anyone’s attention and walking through bulkheads. Ro finds him there, and he’s relieved to see her and that she can see him. They can also touch each other, but nothing else.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: The Next Phase

Ro insists that they’re dead, and La Forge insists even more forcefully that they aren’t. Why would he still have his VISOR—not to mention his uniform—if he’s dead? Ro thinks they should make peace with the people in their lives, but La Forge refuses to give up just yet. He goes to Transporter Room 3 where Data and Brossmer are discussing the problem. Data hypothesizes that the explosion on the Romulan ship did something to their cloaking device, causing it to discharge chroniton particles. Data is also detecting chroniton particles in the transporter room, which shouldn’t normally be there. It’s possible the chronitons caused the explosion that killed Ro and La Forge. Brossmer asks if there’s any danger to having chronitons on board, and while they pose no threat to the living beings, they could damage some ship’s systems. Data says he will create a means of eradicating them, but first he wants to take a shuttle to the Romulan ship.

On the bridge, Ro says goodbye, taking what she believes to be a final look at the conn console. (Somehow she touches the chair and console.) Riker and Picard come onto the bridge and head into Picard’s ready room, discussing the situation (Ro follows them in through the bulkhead). Riker says there were a lot of experimental engine parts floating around; he’s guessing they were testing a new warp drive and it blew up in their faces.

Picard tells Riker about the memorial service, and Riker says he wants to say a few words about Ro. This makes Ro extremely apprehensive, and she asks, “What are you going to say about me?” as he leaves.

Then she looks at Picard, trying make peace with him, and struggles. “I don’t believe this—I’m dead, you can’t even hear me, and I’m still intimidated by you.” She’s interrupted by La Forge (also entering via the bulkhead) who wants to take Data’s shuttle to the Romulan ship. She asks La Forge why he can’t just accept that they’re dead, and he sagely points out that, if she’s right, none of this will make any difference, but if he’s right, they’re alive and they need to figure out how to get their mojo back.

Data and Worf are taking a shuttle to the Romulan ship, and the pair of them discuss the memorial service, which is weird for Ro and La Forge who are sitting in the back, unnoticed. Data’s struggling with what kind of service to organize; neither traditional human nor Bajoran death rituals (“Please, not the death chant,” Ro moans) seem appropriate. Worf is no help, as Klingons view death as totally awesome.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: The Next Phase

On the Romulan ship, people are moving about working hard—except for this one guy who’s just sitting in a chair. La Forge shoves his head into a console, while Data talks to Mirok about the chronitons. La Forge is rather surprised to find a molecular phase inverter, something that could allow matter to pass through other matter. He then remembers a recent intelligence report that the Klingons were trying to combine such an inverter with a cloaking device, in essence creating a cloak that can allow you to hide inside something and be invulnerable to weapons fire. The Klingons never got it off the drawing board, due to multiple accidents, but the Romulans might be pursuing it—and had their own accident.

Ro and La Forge aren’t dead, they’re phased. Which means they can overhear Mirok talking to Varel, another Romulan. They’re concerned that Data will find the interphase generator, and so Mirok orders Varel to sabotage the power transfer by feeding muon particules into it. The particles will build up in the engine core so that the Enterprise will explode when it goes to warp. Now there’s a sense of urgency, as La Forge and Ro have to figure out how to warn the Enterprise.

As they walk off, the guy sitting in the chair finally gets up. Turns out, he’s not a douchenozzle avoiding work, as he walks through the generator—he’s been phased, too.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: The Next Phase

The pair of them go back to the Enterprise—so does the phased Romulan, unbeknownst to them. The muon buildup isn’t showing up on any sensor display.

They overhear Data working with Brossmer. Data has detected three new chroniton fields on board—which La Forge says makes no sense, as there’s nothing that would be generating new fields. Data decides they must decontaminate. Brossmer starts cataloguing the locations that have shown chroniton fields: sickbay, Transporter Room 3, bridge, ready room, Shuttle Bay 2, and main engineering. Data doesn’t see what they have in common, but La Forge does: they’re all places La Forge and/or Ro have been. Somehow, they’re leaving chroniton footprints behind.

They can’t focus the scan with the internal sensors, so Data sends Brossmer to the bridge to work the lateral sensor array. Ro goes with her, while La Forge stays with Data. To La Forge’s confusion, Data finds a chroniton field, not where La Forge is standing, but in a bulkhead. La Forge realizes that the chronitons are being created by phased matter moving through unphased matter. To prove it, he walks through engineering’s “workbench,” which Data decontaminates with an anyon beam. La Forge keeps walking through it after Data decontaminates, hoping the android will put it together. At one point, Data’s anyon beam hits La Forge’s hand, and it hurts. After that, he has a harder time moving his hand through the workbench, at which point he realizes that the anyon beam may be what’s needed to bring them back.

Ro follows Brossmer onto the bridge, and is rather shocked to see a Romulan there, holding a disruptor on her. He assures her that it works, as he was wearing it when he was changed. He orders her at gunpoint to take her to La Forge. She leads him down a corridor, through a doorway, then steps aside and delivers a nice roundhouse kick before running away. He chases her through deck 17, running through a bunch of people’s crew quarters. As they run through a romantic dinner between two crew members, the Romulan shoots his disruptor, which gets Ro in the leg, causing her to collapse to the deck. While they struggle, Data arrives, with La Forge in tow, having detected a massive chroniton field on this deck, much larger than the others. While Data talks to the person who’s cabin this is, La Forge runs to help Ro, bodyslamming the Romulan, causing him to fall through the outer bulkhead and into space. Conveniently, Ro still has the disruptor.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: The Next Phase

They head to the bridge. Mirok contacts them and says that all the work is done. They disengage the power transfer and Mirok says they’re back on internal power. When Picard says that he hopes this is the dawn of a new age of cooperation between their people, Mirok totally lies and says he hopes so, too.

To Ro and La Forge’s relief, Brossmer tells Picard that Data didn’t want them to use any major systems until the decontamination is complete, so they don’t go to warp just yet. Ro and La Forge need to go somewhere and create a butt-load of chroniton fields so that they’ll use a high-powered anyon beam that might be enough to make them visible at least for a second—so they have to go somewhere where there’s a lot of people.

Right on cue, Riker comes onto the bridge saying it’s time for the memorial service in Ten-Forward. Ro and La Forge join Riker and Picard in the turbolift where Picard reminisces about the first time he met La Forge and Riker says that he had trouble coming up with what he’s going to say about Ro. Ro remains frustrated and annoyed, wondering what the hell he’s going to say.

Data said earlier that he studied five thousand different funerary rites, and it seems “New Orleans” was one of them. Ro and La Forge enter to find a party. There’s a band playing “When the Saints Go Marching In” (Riker joins them on trombone). Ro starts firing the disruptor all over the room—at one point grumbling that she’ll never know what Riker was going to say about her and shooting him through the head—while La Forge walks through things.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: The Next Phase

Sure enough, Brossmer detects a bigger field than ever in Ten-Forward, and Data orders her to decontaminate. It hurts the two of them for a minute, and they yell at Worf to see if he can see them—but while he does hear something, it’s not enough. Ro decides to overload the disruptor—which leads to Brossmer detecting a chroniton field 3000% higher than any other they’ve detected. Data orders the decontamination, and this time La Forge and Data make sure they’re standing right by Picard and Data when it happens. For half a second Data and Picard both see and hear a very faded image of La Forge and Ro, very quietly yelling that they’re right there and asking if they can be seen.

Data figures it out, being awesome, and orders Brossmer to set the anyon emitter to its highest setting. Ro and La Forge appear, to everyone’s shock, and La Forge immediately orders engineering to take the warp core offline. The ensign in engineering is freaked out a bit, but Picard assures him that it is La Forge and to follow his orders.

Then La Forge smiles. “Looks like a great party, mind if we join you?”

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: Somehow, the interphase device enables someone to be sufficiently out of phase with reality to move through walls, doors, and other objects—but still are able to stand on a floor and sit down on things and fall onto the deck and stuff without falling through. Also they can somehow breathe, even though the air should just phase through their lungs. SCIENCE!

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf plays a big part in the repairs of the Romulan ship, showing a surprising lack of animosity toward the Romulans (though he does make a point of not giving them a current computer, giving them a Mac Classic instead of a Mac Air). He also admits to being less than helpful when Data asks him for assistance with coming up with a funeral. As established elsewhere (“Heart of Glory,” “The Bonding”), Klingons believe less in the tragedy of death and more in joy at the releasing of the spirit to the afterlife. He says he’s happy for La Forge (notably, he never discusses Ro, except to bitch about the Bajoran death chant).

Worf also spends no time at the tactical station, busy as he is with helping the Romulan ship, and later being in Ten-Forward for the funeral, so his station is run by Ensign McDowell.

If I Only Had a Brain...: Data believes it is his responsibility to organize the memorial service as La Forge’s best friend, and he confides to Worf (with La Forge listening) that Data didn’t know what a friend was until he met La Forge. He also figures out what happened after the big-ass anyon field makes La Forge and Ro briefly barely visible, all the while being cheered on by La Forge (“C’mon, Data, put it all together, now!” “Oh, Data, please be right!”).

In the Driver’s Seat: Although Ro obviously plays a big role in the episode, she doesn’t actually fly the ship at any point—though when she thinks she’s dead, she stands by the console for several seconds as a sort of goodbye to it. Ensign Sousa (played by recurring extra Linda Harcharic) flies the ship.

I Believe I Said That: “We should develop our own interphase device. If it can teach Ro Laren humility, it can do anything.”

La Forge, tweaking Ro.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: The Next Phase

Welcome Aboard: The Romulans in this episode are all played by actors who will appear multiple times on modern Trek, though this is the first time for all three. Brian Cousins (the phased Romulan) will return as a Borg in both parts of “Descent” and a Takret named Paltani in the Enterprise episode “The Catwalk.” Susanna Thompson (Varel) will play Jaya in “Frame of Mind,” Lenara Kahn in the controversial Deep Space Nine episode “Rejoined,” and sub in for Alice Krige as the Borg Queen when the other actor was unavailable for Voyager’s “Dark Frontier” and the two-parter “Unimatrix Zero.” Finally, Mirok is the first of seven roles on Trek for veteran character actor Thomas Kopache, who will return as a holographic train engineer in “Emergence,” an Enterprise-B communications officer in Star Trek Generations, Viorsa in Voyager’s “The Thaw,” the Vulcan Tos in Enterprise’s “Broken Bow,” a Sphere Builder test subject in Enterprise’s “Harbinger,” and most notably as Kira Nerys’s father Taban in the Deep Space Nine flashback episodes “Ties of Blood and Water” and “Wrongs Darker than Death or Night.”

In addition, Shelby Leverington plays Chief Brossmer (presumably Colm Meaney wasn’t available) and Kenneth Meseroll plays Ensign McDowell.

Trivial Matters: Turns out that the Federation did its own secret experiments with phased cloaks, as will be revealed (to Riker’s chagrin) in “The Pegasus.”

The Romulans are seen using an interphasic cloak again in David R. George III's Typhon Pact novel Plagues of Night (which takes place a good fifteen or so years after this episode).

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: The Next Phase

Two elements from this story are expanded in novels by regular rewatch commenter Christopher L. Bennett: the story Picard tells of how he first met La Forge is dramatized in The Buried Age, and an explanation for why Ro, La Forge, and the Romulan didn't fall through the floor was provided in his Department of Temporal Investigations novel Forgotten History.

Picard comments to Crusher that Ro would’ve been a lieutenant commander by now if not for the incident on Garon II (mistakenly referred to as Garon IV), the reason why she was in prison prior to “Ensign Ro.”

Just as in “Power Play,” La Forge and Ro work comfortably and happily together despite La Forge having said in “Ensign Ro” that she didn’t belong on the Enterprise and that he wouldn’t turn his back on her.

While McDowell isn’t seen again on screen, he’s mentioned again as still serving in security in “Chain of Command Part 1,” and also is established as Worf’s deputy chief of security in your humble rewatcher’s comic book miniseries Perchance to Dream, filling in at tactical when Worf is incapacitated.

This episode was intended as a budget-saving “bottle” episode, but it wound up being very expensive due to all the phasing effects.

The Bajoran death chant that so terrifies Ro and Worf is seen in the Deep Space Nine episode “Battle Lines” when Kai Opaka is believed dead.

Make it So: “I’ve never been to a better funeral.” Once you get your mind around the ridiculousness of the premise—seriously, how do they not fall through the floor??????—this is a most excellent episode. It’s a good showcase for LeVar Burton and Michelle Forbes, both of whom perform magnificently. I’m especially entertained by La Forge’s complete unwillingness to accept that he’s dead, and how quickly he adjusts to walking through walls—the moment when he just shoves his head into the interphase generator is classic. Ro’s frustration with wondering what Riker’s going to say about her at the funeral is equally classic, especially in light of the events of “Conundrum.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: The Next Phase

But it’s not just those two. Most of the crew gets a good moment or two—really, only Troi is short shrift, getting only to not sense that La Forge or Ro are anywhere around (apparently the phased cloak shields you from telepathy, too)—from Picard’s reminisce about meeting La Forge the first time to Riker’s taking charge of the rescue operation to Data and Worf’s excellent conversation about death rituals to Crusher’s resisting writing up death certificates. In general, the episode is a fine example of the community of the Enterprise, especially in the funeral scene (not to mention the use of Brossmer and McDowell, reminding us that there are other people on board besides the regulars).

The episode moves briskly, never getting so caught up in technobabble that the characters are forgotten, nor getting so caught up in character that the plot is forgotten. Just a nifty little story.


Warp factor rating: 8

Keith R.A. DeCandido looks forward to seeing folks at Dragon*Con 2012. Please come to one of my program items and tell me how much you love this rewatch.

1. StrongDreams
Not falling through the floor = something to do with the artificial gravity generators, which is why they can also ride in the shuttlecraft.

Being able to breathe = ???

Well, 1 out of 2 anyway.
2. shabob
Well, I won't be able to see you at Dragon*Con, but I'll tell you how much I love the rewatch anyway - I love it so much that I'm actually saddened that I have to wait an entire week to watch "The Inner Light" again.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
3. Lisamarie
Okay, I really did like the episode, but it was one of those ones where, days later, I'd be waking my husband up in the middle of the night to say things like, "But how come the Romulan guy could SIT ON A CHAIR???". Maybe he had really good quad muscles...

I mean, how could they even breathe, or see, or hear other people, etc? Why can they hear others but they can't hear them? Why can't Troi sense them? And you already mentioned the floor issue, which is of course the most obvious headscratcher.

I really did like it for the reasons you mention, but it almost became a game to point out all the ways the science just does not work :)

I actually think it is kind of funny that Ro was so quick to assume they must be dead. I mean, I am a fairly religious person myself and would not have an issue with believing I was in an afterlife (granted, my beliefs about an afterlife don't really involve aimlessly wandering around invisible), but given all the weird stuff that happens on the Enterprise - it wouldn't take much to convince me there was some other kind of explanation :)
4. Don3Comp
This has been one of my favorites since it aired. It has everything: a fun heroes/villains melodrama, a mystery leading to a neat science fiction premise (okay, "science" gets a very small "s," but to be honest that never bothered me in this one--we've all seen worse), a Star Trek/Roddenberry-ish examination of how two cultures approach a common occurence (to wit: the death of one of their beings), and two actors who do a great job playing off of each other. The scene where LaForge and Ro "come back to life" at their own memorial is enchanting. And I like the memorial itself.

Two small caveats: 1) I remember finding the villainous Romulan a bit cardboard and almost stiff in places; 2) there have been other episodes where a sizable chunk of airtime was spent by one crew member asking others for advice or help honoring another's life event (I think I'm primarily remembering Wesley "giving a party" for Worf's Rite of Ascension).

However, as Keith noted, the pacing is brisk, which renders these quibbles extremely minor. I would give this episode at least Keith's 8, possibly a 9 or 10. A high point of the series.
5. critter42
I'm also among those who have no problem overlooking the "out of phase" inconsistencies. It's one of those episodes that, especially when reading your recaps Keith that I think "did they really pack that much stuff into one episode and it doesn't feel overloaded?"

Additionally, I think this episode gets overshadowed by "The Inner Light" (pardon the pun) and is really a good episode.
Paul Weimer
6. PrinceJvstin
I've always felt bad for the out of phase Romulan's fate.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
7. Lisamarie
Me too! That notion always freaked me out - I remember there was some scene from a James Bond movie that involved a space ship being swallowed up by some other spaceship, but there was still an astronout attached by a tether to the spaceship, and it cuts the cord and he floats away and it FREAKED ME OUT.

I assume the phased Romulan just freezes to death (or starves or dehydrates). Is he susceptible to the pressure difference?
8. jlpsquared
Yeah, fun little episode. I agree with Krad. Of all the silly science problems with this one, the one thing that bothered me was how easily Worf worked with the Romulans.
9. jlpsquared
Ohhh @ 6 and 7.

How about 2001 a space oddyssey? When Poole just floated out into space for the rest of his life??
10. Rancho Unicorno
Hooray for The Inner Light on my birthday!
Pirmin Schanne
11. Torvald_Nom
I assume the phased Romulan just freezes to death (or starves or dehydrates). Is he susceptible to the pressure difference?
How about asphyxiation? It's the thing that kills everybody else in a vacuum, after all.
Alyssa Tuma
12. AlyssaT
Even though the phased Romulan was by no means the best Romulan performance TNG had, I love that meme of, of -- how can I elegantly articulate this? -- of... when in fiction someone is trapped in some sort of "other dimension" BUT then things get even scarier when they realize that they are not alone in said other dimension!! Like that utterly terrifying subway ghost in the movie Ghost. Much like Ro and Geordi here, you're so worried about Swayze getting the whole "trapped between worlds" thing figured out that you don't even think about other creepy people trapped between worlds!!! Like creepy subway ghost! And creepy Romulan!!! Gah!! Very fun.

And just the sheer brilliance of pairing up Geordi and Ro!! I loved that for some reason. Geordi is working it OUT in these past couple episodes (perhaps redeeming himself of earlier "romantic" ickiness??)!

Also, random thought (not a complaint against this wonderful episode) -- I feel like we haven't had a Data episode in a billion years... I need a Spiner fix....
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
13. Lisamarie
I was thinking about asphyxiation, but since they shouldn't even be able to breathe ON the ship (since they are out of phase with the air molecules) I just figured that whatever he was breathing worked out for him, heh.

Oh and yes to the thing with Worf being sent on a Romulan distress mission, I thought that was a little odd. They probably wouldn't want to work with him, either.
Jack Flynn
14. JackofMidworld
StrongDreams: artificial gravity = an awesome explanation! That's one of the things that always makes me shake my head with ghosts/out of phase characters. At least Slimer played it straight - the green dude didn't have any legs, so he didn't need a floor!

I loved Ro in this episode (even if she could touch the chair that she shouldn't have been able to), especially the way she was around Riker.
Joseph Newton
15. crzydroid
I think the phased Romulan floats in space for a year, and then gets picked up by a Pakled ship.

I'm glad people on here mention all the other things, like not being able to breath, or see, or hear, etc. People always mention falling through the floor with this episode, but there are so many other problems (like breathing). Interesting that I'm also not the only one who has hypothesized that the artificial gravity has something to do with the floor bit. But like others have also mentioned, somehow the bad science doesn't really bother me in this one, and it's a fun episode.

I found myself wondering, though, why Geordi didn't just write Data's name on the table with his hand, so the chroniton particles would spell out a non-random pattern (heh, can be another "Ghost" reference).
Alan Courchene
16. Majicou
Taking the premise at face value--that all in-phase particles pass through out-of-phase objects and organisms without interacting--the fate of someone phase-cloaked without a self-sustaining environment like a ship coming with them would be floating in a lightless, soundless, smell-less void for a brief time until asphyxiation killed them.
But what the hell, it's fun. I'd even defend "Genesis," so I definitely shouldn't complain about this one.
18. Christopher L. Bennett
Being the "regular rewatch commentator" that I apparently am, I was going to point out how in DTI: Forgotten History I explained that out-of-phase people didn't fall through the floor because of the gravity plating. But a bunch of you beat me to it.

I didn't find a good place to explain how they could breathe and hear, though. But here's what I'm thinking: individual particles, or small ensembles of particles like air molecules, are better able to exist in a superposition of multiple quantum states than macroscopic objects, which tend to settle into a single overall quantum state. So if "phasing" is a quantum phenomenon (which I assumed in the book it was), then it's possible that air molecules could exist in more than one phase simultaneously. That could also explain their ability to see things and be warmed by radiant heat, since photons can also exist in a superposition of states. The problem, though, is that once those molecules got inhaled and incorporated into the bodies of the out-of-phase officers, they'd presumably decohere into that phase state and "vanish" from the other. So the ship's sensors might have been able to detect an excess in oxygen depletion (and perhaps carbon dioxide emissions) equivalent to that resulting from the respiration of two adult humanoids. Although maybe that was a subtle enough effect that the computer didn't automatically give an alert, and nobody thought to look for it because they didn't know there was something to look for.

No idea why the ability to see and hear entities in a different phase would go only one way, though. Although we can surmise it's a deliberate effect of the phasing cloak, so that cloaked ships wouldn't be blinded. Nor can I explain how the Romulan could sit in the chair. Maybe the chair had gravity plating built in as some kind of restraint system?
19. Jarvisimo
Should one also mention the great use of Romulan phase cloaks in David R. George's Plagues of Night book? Makes for a wonderful opening scene, and ties up most of the disparate narratives of prior trek books.
20. jlpsquared
Just had a creepy thought. What if the romulans had tried this idea more than once? And than failed? What if every starship has little phased romulan corpses forever rotting in the captains ready room? Or their quarters!
21. CNash
I've always been fond of the idea that the phased Romulan is still floating around in space somewhere, or perhaps managed to get aboard some other ship and have wacky ghost-Romulan adventures...

I reconciled the "how do they breathe?" issue by thinking that because they _can't_ breathe the air (as it's out of phase), they must be breathing something else, and so the Romulan could go on breathing whatever it is out in space. But Christopher's theory is more convincing, so I'll concede the issue.
Keith DeCandido
22. krad
Thanks to Christopher and Jarvisimo -- I've edited the entry to include the DTI novel and DRG3's Typhon Pact novel (and also to fix a typo and add a link).

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
23. DianeB
Douchenozzle. I like this re-watch for that word alone. :)

In any case, I agree with Krad that this was "just a nifty little story," and gleefully suspend my disbelief regarding all the air-breathing, chair-sitting inconsistencies.
24. David A
How the Romulan is able to sit in the chair: I always assumed that the chair was phased along with the Romulan, just like his disruptor.
25. jlpsquared
@24, never thought of that.....I guess if I was gonna phase myself, a chair and some reeses peanut butter cups would be as good as anything to go with me......
Rob Rater
26. Quasarmodo
So I'm assuming Ro and La Forge returned to the Enterprise via shuttle, and phased Romulan tagged along too, hiding in the bulkhead (which seems awfully risky since he could easily fly out into space). I suppose he could've tagged along on a later shuttle, where he wouldn't have had to hide.
27. wakabe

Is it a conscious move on your part to increase the length of the plot summary so much or are you experiencing 'mission creep'?

I've been following from the start and you've gone from less than 300 words covering the Naked Now to over 2,000 here. This must take the lion's share of the time in writing up the rewatch and yet is there much point in a plot recap almost at the line-by-line level when most of us have just watched the episode anyway?
alastair chadwin
28. a-j
fwiw, I'm not re-watching as I don't have the DVDs and don't have netflix and I want neither, so I greatly appreciate the detailed recap as it reminds me of the plot/story. Part of my pleasure in this re-cap series is in the memories evoked of episodes I have not seen since they were first shown on the BBC in the late '80s/early '90s. I also think they're nicely and wittily written, so I would be sad if they went. If they irk you, why not just skip them?
Keith DeCandido
29. krad
wakabe: It's funny, I was just noticing how much longer and more detailed the descriptions were getting. Part of it is just a difference in style as I've been doing this for over a year, part of it is the difference in the way I do the rewatch now. When I started, I was in the living room watching the episode on my TV while writing on my netbook. But when I got a better desktop, one that had a working DVD player (the previous desktop's CD/DVD tray broke), I was able to just put it into the player and do it while sitting at the computer and writing. It's easier to go into greater detail when it's all right in front of you and when you can pause just by hitting the space bar instead of grabbing the remote and aiming it.

Also: the stories are of a MUCH higher quality -- even the worst fifth season episode is more fun to watch than a good first-season one, much less a (more typical) really really bad first-season one. :)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
30. jms1969
Wakabe, I don't agree, and I enjoy the in depth plot synopsis as I have not watched many of these episodes in years. Because I don't actually rewatch the episodes (I'd love to, but just don't have the time) the detail helps me remember what occurred during them and helps the rest of the post make sense. I suspect I'm not alone - while there may be a dedicated group who are rewatching along with Keith, I suspect there are more who just enjoy reading the recaps when they can. If you prefer to skim past the detailed plot synopsis, feel free to do so, but I very much appreciate them!
31. jlpsquared
I am going to cut it down the middle. I HAVE been skipping the recap. The 1st season I read them because it was about 60% recap and 40% witty comment, but now it is 95% recap, and 5% witty comments.

That all being said, I would rather have the recap than not.
32. Jamee
The reveal of the Romulan also being out of phase reminds me of the reveal in Timescape that there is a non-frozen Romulan.
Jack Flynn
33. JackofMidworld
I probably shouldn't admit this but I do a lof of my rewatch-reading at work (don't worry, I'm not an air traffic controller or anything); the more detailed recaps make it almost like I'm watching the show itself, so you won't get any complaints out of me.
Rob Rater
34. Quasarmodo
Count me in as one who appreciates the more detailed recaps.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
35. Lisamarie
I enjoy the recaps too! We are watching more or less with krad (we're actually a little bit ahead right now) but it's still useful to have them. Also, sometimes I go back to the older ones to remember what happened.

I have noticed there are somewhat fewer witty comments (although this one actually did make me laugh), but perhaps there is less to snark on now :)
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
36. Lisamarie
Oh, and I do my rewatch readings at work...they are usually posted around 2 or 3 my time, which is a nice way to rest my brain for 15 minutes during that afternoon slump - I work at a software company and do technical support and some development, so while I'm at my desk most of the day, it's demanding, mentally. And my other favorite rereads/reads (WoT and ASoIaF) are typically posted around lunch time.
Alyssa Tuma
37. AlyssaT
I haven't run the numbers by any means, but my hunch is that for episodes with largely a straightforward action story (such as "The Next Phase"), the recap is probably a little longer and the analysis a little shorter. I notice that the "Make It So" sections (my favorite) seem to be more in-depth when that episode focuses on something more complex (e.g., "The Outcast," "Darmok," etc.). Incidentally, I think our own comments and discussions are more interesting for these types of episodes as well. I'm gearing up for "The Inner Light" -- I think it's going to be fun!

I'm also a big fan of the "Trivial Matters" section. I was a total Trek fiction virgin going into this rewatch, and I am now proud to say I've read at least three or four books now! It's nice to get some insight into what books might be good entry points, etc.

Okay, now I realize I'm going to start listing every section and why I love it. Verdict? Bring on the higher word count, krad.
38. Electone
Unlike the rest of the 5th season schlep, this one is actually pretty entertaining.
39. NullNix
One note, since this *is* tor.com -- a classic treatment of this situation is Disch's novel _Echo Round His Bones_, which involves a similar situation, only this transporter makes copies of *everyone and everything* that it transports. It's being used to supply a colony on IIRC the Moon or Mars, and continuous-flow transporters are being used to provide air and water, which explains where the phased versions of *those* come from in that universe (and, of course, the phased people are very much not alone, and they're not the only phased copies of themselves there either, not if they've been through the transporter more than once).

I think it safe to say that he thinks every possible ramification of this initially wildly implausible situation through. It's quite chilling -- but then, it *is* a Disch novel.
40. Nandros
A thing that has started to bother me on my TNG-rewatch is that Romulans are pretty much every single time shown as "allways chaotic evil" card carrying villains who in every single episode as a first priority device a way to f*ck the federation and/or enterprise nor do they ever even consider having any sort of gratitude for their rescuers.

Begs to question why Picard or anyone from the federation would even bother offering any help after the first malicious incidents ?

Even the romulan in trouble in this episode was like "I'll cut you, b*atch!" first and then "oh yeah let's work together but I still kill you, cause it like helps me; don't you run I'll shoot you dead and that like will really help me ..."
Just wonders why is it that most of the Romulan crew/nation consists of meat heads with no creative thought beyond "grr federation scumm, me kill!!!" or "me make stupidly stupid plot to kill yoo because ... because ... we like kill federations ... allways ... end of."
Dante Hopkins
41. DanteHopkins
Wonderful episode. Its a great showcase for how things might have been if Michelle Forbes had chosen to stay on TNG as a regular or had gone over to Deep Space Nine. Forbes at this point a really blended Ro's unique style with the ensemble cast well. When I watch this one, I always regret that Michelle Forbes never made the cross over to become a regular on either TNG or Ds9.

I couldn't give a crap about the inconsistencies. This was a great ride all the way through. LeVar Burton and Michelle Forbes worked superbly together in this one. All the actors did, but those two made this one shine. I agree, this was a solid 8.

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