Written by Bruce D. Arthurs, Joe Menosky, David Carren, J. Larry Carroll, and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Les Landau
Sometimes there are episodes that come across much better than they originally appear. Clues is one of these. In the beginning, it seems like another “Data malfunctions” show. The problem with these shows is that if Data were so easy to manipulate and cause to malfunction, it would be a serious security risk for Starfleet. Fortunately, this episode evolves into something much better.
While on its way to investigate a previously unexplored planet, the Enterprise encounters a wormhole. The effect of the wormhole knocks out the entire crew of the Enterprise except for the android Data (Brent Spiner). Data informs the crew that they were only unconscious for about thirty seconds.
Since a wormhole acts as a sort of “short cut” through space between two points, the ship is now quite a ways away from the planet. Data talks Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) out of investigating the planet themselves, urging them to send a probe instead.
No sooner is that done than things begin to stop making sense. The information the probe sends back conflicts with the original data collected on the planet. A botanist’s experiment suddenly shows a full day’s growth.
Slowly suspicion begins to focus on Data. Something happened that he is not telling the crew about. Picard is determined to get to the bottom of exactly what happened after his ship encountered that wormhole.
The mystery evolves splendidly (I won’t give away the ending!) The writers cleverly crafted a sequence of events to steer the viewer in a certain direction, giving critical bits of information at just the right time. Just when I thought I was onto something, all of a sudden the story went in a very different direction.
Despite the overwhelming evidence, Data never once changes his assertion that the crew was only out for thirty seconds. Brent Spiner gives a tremendous performance as Data here. Many Star Trek fans claim that Brothers is Spiner’s finest work. However, I feel that his performance here is much better. Data is emotionless throughout the time that all the accusations are flying around. Even though Data is supposed to be an emotionless automaton, there are times when an emotion has crept through into the character. Not here.
The rest of the crew is also wonderful as they frantically try to piece together the puzzle. Michael Dorn as the Klingon Worf is terrific. He shows the Klingon reluctance to admit vulnerability when he finds out that his wrist was recently broken. Marina Sirtis as Ship’s Counselor Deanna Troi also bolsters the mystery. Somehow, in her half-Betazoid, half-Human body her empathic powers give her the feeling that she is not looking at herself in the mirror. What has happened?
Gates McFadden as Dr. Crusher shows just an edge of franticness to her character. She is among the first to realize that something is up and Data is not telling them. Her performance is somewhat reminiscent of the episode Remember Me. It’s good to see emotions in a character portrayed consistently. Her reaction to these two situations does seem very similar.
Realistically, as soon as there was doubt to Data’s sincerity and function, Picard should have removed him from service. However, this is a terrific episode that unravels a marvelous mystery in a very believable way. Unlike many shows, once I knew the ending to it, rewatching it was still just as fun. Fans of the show will love it, and for non-fans, there is very little history needed to enjoy it.
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Next episode (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – First Contact