March 26, 2013

Hube's Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode of the Week

Dwight Schultz's Lt. Reginald Barclay is one of the more endearing recurring characters on The Next Generation. (Barclay went on to also guest on a few episodes of Star Trek: Voyager in its later seasons; he assisted is trying to find a way for the vessel to get home.) In season four's "The Nth Degree," the bumbling lieutenant and Geordi LaForge are investigating a mysterious probe near the Federation's Argus [Telescope] Array. As their shuttle actively scans the probe, suddenly the duo is enveloped in a brief, bright light. LaForge is unaffected, but Barclay is knocked unconscious. The shuttle hustles back to the Enterprise, where Barclay awakens and appears none the worse for wear.

I absolutely CRUSH "Asteroids" this way.

However, something has definitely changed with the lieutenant. For example, as the probe chases the Enterprise and endangers it with increasing radiation, Barclay overrules LaForge with a hasty shield modification. Barclay's modification, though, increases the Enterprise's shield strength by 300 percent. LaForge, Picard, and Riker are all aghast at what Barclay has just accomplished. Later, Barclay demonstrates remarkable acting skills working alongside Dr. Crusher, who shortly requests a medical once-over of the officer. She discovers that the hemispheres of Barclay's brain are essentially acting as one, single unit now -- giving the lieutenant an approximate IQ of 1500!

The Cythereans obviously had previously
whisked the
USS Rasta to their planet.

Shortly thereafter, Barclay uses the holodeck to create a computer-neural interface (telling the computer how to build it!) as a solution to make up for the "time lag" difference of "just" using the computer to prevent one of the Argus Array reactors from overloading. Once attached to this device, however, Barclay refuses to disconnect himself; he "becomes" the computer and assumes control of the ship!

Defying all authority to cease and desist, eventually Reg creates a space-time distortion which shunts the Enterprise ... 30,000 light years distant! The center of the galaxy!! Suddenly, a huge holographic head appears on the Enterprise bridge and begins spouting off personal observations. Barclay then enters the bridge, having disconnected himself from the interface. He explains that the Cythereans, as the "big heads" call themselves, are "just like us" -- they're "exploring the galaxy." The only difference between them and Starfleet is that the former ... never leave their home. The Cythereans usually reconfigure technology to bring another race's starships/devices to them; however, in this case, the Cythereans reconfigured Barclay. (Well, his brain, at any rate.)

Even advanced races suffer from flatulence. Now excuse
me while I break wind.

This is what Trek is all about, and you can tell just that by the smile on Riker's face upon hearing what the Cythereans ultimately were up to.

Interesting tidbits:

-- The Argus Array telescope featured prominently in a later episode, the 7th season's "Parallels" which features a dimension-hopping Worf.

-- The Enterprise spent a few weeks in the company of the Cythereans. Why the f*** didn't they bring back (and then make use of) their advanced technology? Y'know, like at least the FTL method by which Barclay brought them to the center of the Milky Way?

-- The Enterprise-D isn't the first Starfleet vessel to journey to the Milky Way's center. In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the Enterprise-A did it, too. Except that, in the latter's case, using standard warp drive protocols, there is absolutely no way for the 1701-A to make it in the time-frame that they did. It'd take several years to do so ... at warp 9.

Posted by Hube at March 26, 2013 03:12 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Awesome episode! I'm glad you're doing these TNG reviews... they bring back good memories. It also helps that it's shown on virtually every channel these days (Syfy, BBC America, etc)

Posted by: Carl at March 26, 2013 05:34 PM

My pleasure, Carl. I love doing 'em. Nice change of pace. (And I like doing the pic captions, too!)

Posted by: Hube at March 26, 2013 05:54 PM