Written by Rene Echevarria, Ken Schafer, David Carren, J. Larry Carroll, Joe Menosky, and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by David Livingston
One flaw I have found in the Star Trek universe is that the writers will occasionally use the same plot device over and over again. In The Next Generation, this was blatantly true in regards to the android Data (Brent Spiner) being able to be manipulated and controlled by outside forces, such as in the episode Brothers.
In The Mind’s Eye, the chief engineer of the Enterprise, Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton), is on his way to a conference on Risa when he is abducted by Romulans. He is tortured and subject to brainwashing. His actions are controlled and triggered through the VISOR he wears to enhance his vision (Geordi is blind).
I can’t fault the writers here for this plot; the story premise is a good one. The problem comes on rewatching it after having seen Star Trek: Generations which contains almost the same storyline: Geordi is captured by rogue Klingons and tortured by an evil scientist named Soran, then his VISOR is used to gain valuable information about the Enterprise.
It’s unfortunate that the writers chose to use the same story again, because The Mind’s Eye is a pretty good episode. Upon his return to the Enterprise, Geordi finds that they are escorting a Klingon ambassador (portrayed by Larry Dobkin) to a colony world which is in the throes of a civil war to separate itself from the Klingon Empire. The colony’s governor (portrayed by Edward Wiley) accuses the Federation of aiding the rebels.
What follows is a cat and mouse game as Geordi is manipulated to cause more friction and suspicion between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, yet have no recollection of it. As one of the Enterprise‘s most trusted and loyal crew, he is free from suspicion, making it easy for those using him to succeed with their plan.
Or will they?
It’s interesting to see who is behind the manipulation in the end. Is it surprising? Not at all. However, the story and it’s resolution is carried out in a very satisfying way. The only problem I had was the fact that the ending is somewhat abrupt and does not really discuss the ramifications of Geordi’s capture and torture. There is a brief scene where he meets with the ship’s counselor, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), but other than that the problem is solved by the next episode. Captain Picard’s (Patrick Stewart) assimilation by The Borg was given much better treatment. Likewise, since the Federation now has some clue that the VISOR can potentially be used against them by outside forces, you’d think they’d figure out a way to make sure it doesn’t happen again. (Perhaps this is what finally motivates Geordi to have ocular implants – something that is never explained.)
Of more significance is the “voice in the dark” when Geordi is a prisoner of the Romulans. Trek fans may know where they’ve heard it before, but the first time this episode was shown, it was a prelude to one of the more creative plot twists there had been until that time. The payoff comes in the fourth season closer, Redemption Part I.
Burton does an excellent job here. He is convincing when he talks about the vacation he has been given a false memory of having. Even with his eyes covered, he manages to convey via body language his feelings and hesitancy even while under the brainwashing.
A secondary story during this episode revisits Worf’s (Michael Dorn) discommendation at the hands of the Klingons in an attempt to save the Empire from civil war. Again, this is leading up to a big payoff in the season’s final episode. The writers do a terrific job of foreshadowing here, something that caught me completely by surprise the first time I watched through this season.
However, it is a watchable episode even though the conclusion is now known. In some ways, knowing what is coming up makes me pay attention more for the little hints and subtleties I may have missed the first time through.
The fine performances coupled with a decent story more than make up for the few problems this episode have – mostly because the writers couldn’t come up with something more original in the future.
Previous episode (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Host
Next episode (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – In Theory