Written by Pamela Gray, Jeri Taylor, Shari Goodhartz, and T. Michael
Directed by Robert Wiemer
The Enterprise is transporting a delegation of Ullians, who are telepathic historians. Their race is in the process of creating a great historical library consisting of memories other races have of significant events as well as information about their society.
Violations opens with a terrific sequence that demonstrates the Ullians’ abilities. Keiko O’Brien (Rosalind Chao) has a memory of a chipped ceramic cup but doesn’t know where it comes from. Tarmin, the leader of the Ullian delegation (portrayed by David Sage), leads her through a telepathic recollection, demonstrating to the crew – and viewers – exactly what their abilities are. It’s a wonderful piece that really adds a great deal to the episode as well as the characters involved.
Tarmin is a very flamboyant, boisterous, and confident person. When his son, Jev (portrayed by Ben Lemon) leaves a dinner party after experiencing discomfort and embarrassment due to his father’s nature, Ship’s Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) also leaves and commiserates with him about having a somewhat eccentric parent.
In what is a somewhat disturbing scene, Deanna returns to her quarters only to have Jev intrude into her mind and trigger a memory while altering it at the same time. This creates a mind-rape effect and leaves Deanna in a coma.
The problem is that within the first fifteen minutes of the episode, I already knew who the “culprit” was. There is no real mystery to be had here as viewers are given the answer to who was responsible right from the start. The only question becomes how is the villain exposed and why did he do it.
The writers do attempt to backtrack and try to write it as if Tarmin could possibly have been doing it to set up Jev, but this doesn’t feel right. There was never a doubt in my mind (even when watching this the first time it aired) that Jev was the culprit. It was a poor decision to reveal Jev as the cause of Deanna’s, then Commander Riker’s (Jonathan Frakes), and Dr. Crusher’s (Gates McFadden) comas. I have to wonder why they didn’t just keep Jev out of the sequence completely. It would have made for much more suspense and possibly given the episode an air of a real mystery.
However, the scenes as they are done are quite shocking. In Deanna’s case, it is a scene with Commander Riker where she envisions him raping her. For Riker, it is the loss of a fellow crewman at his command. With Dr. Crusher, the writers did a good job drawing on the ongoing angst she has always felt at her husband’s death and drawing on that for her trauma. These scenes can be quite disturbing, and I would not recommend it for younger fans.
What saves the episode is largely the acting. Marina Sirtis is great as Deanna in the scenes she has, making me believe that she had actually experienced the terrible invasion by Jev. Rosalind Chao is wonderful in her scenes conveying a memory as if she were really experiencing it. Gates McFadden pulls in a nice performance as Dr. Crusher attempts to figure out what exactly caused Deanna’s coma, only to succumb to the same thing herself. The male guest stars also give admirable performances. Sage creates a boisterous counterpart to Deanna’s mother, Lwaxana. Lemon portrays a troubled man who has just enough social ineptness that it is easy to doubt his culpability in the matter (had I not been shown he is the guilty party right from the beginning).
There is a bit here for just about everyone in the cast, making great use of everyone instead of having some of the cast have nothing to do during the story. Ship’s Engineer Geordi LaForge and the android Data (Brent Spiner) investigate what occurred in the past on the planets the Ullians visited. Although it might not make sense for the Ship’s Engineer to be performing an investigative function, it’s good to see that he is given something to do rather than forgotten about.
This episode could have been a bit better by letting the suspense of who the villain was keeping viewers on their toes until the end. As it is, this is not a bad episode at all, and one that the more mature Star Trek fans should enjoy viewing.
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Next episode (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Masterpiece Society
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