Written by Barry Schkolnick and Paul Schiffer
Directed by Les Landau
While traveling through space, the Enterprise comes across a completely alien ship. The ship performs what appears to be a deep scan of the Enterprise and its crew, leaving the entire crew with a memory loss. They still have their abilities and knowledge, but they have no recollection of who they are or how they managed to be on board the Enterprise or at this point in space.
Their personalities are still intact, as Worf (Michael Dorn) still has the same militaristic Klingon tendencies; only certain long-term memories are blocked. The crew tries to learn what their mission is.
The explanation from the computer points straight at the Lysians, with whom the Federation is at war with according to the computer. Their mission allegedly is to travel to the Lyian central command to destroy the central core of their new weapons system.
To make sure that this mission is carried out, a new first officer, Keiran MacDuff (portrayed by Erich Anderson), has been planted on the bridge by whoever erased the crew’s memory and reprogrammed the computer. MacDuff is actually a member of a race which has been at war with the Lysians.
The problems with this episode don’t come on the first viewing. The mystery it creates is actually very interesting. As a fan, I knew everything the computer is telling the crew is incorrect. I knew that up until this episode, I had never seen “Keiran MacDuff” before. When things don’t seem right to the crew, especially Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Ship’s Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), I felt like cheering; I was most definitely rooting for them to figure out they had their minds altered in some way.
MAJOR SPOILER ALERT
The problem is once the explanation for the loss of their memories and reprogramming of the computer is given, it makes the whole story leading up to that point completely improbable. MacDuff merely wants to use the Enterprise‘s weaponry to destroy the Lysians, whom his race has been at war with.
It is hard to imagine that a society that can create a scanning device capable of blocking particular memories in the brain through the shields of the Enterprise would be at a loss to have any sophisticated weaponry. That the scanning device can also have an effect on the android Data (Brent Spiner) and adapt to the various physiology of the various species on board as well as reprogram the Enterprise‘s computers speaks volumes of their technological capabilities. How hard would it be to steal plans for weaponry and adapt them to their own rather than go through this elaborate exercise?
It felt to me as if Paul Schiffer, credited with creating the story, came up with a wonderful story but didn’t really know how to end it. It’s a shame because that really detracts from what is otherwise terric acting in a great mystery.
END MAJOR SPOILER ALERT
A big plus here is a bit of character development on the part of a relationship between Ensign Ro (Michelle Forbes) and Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes), and a potential love triangle with Troi. It’s interesting to see what hidden feelings surface once the baggage of what’s gone on in their memories is removed. All three actors do a tremendous job in their roles, managing to make us see glimpses of their former personalities intertwined with those that develop now.
The actor who portrays McDuff does a good job. Though it’s obvious to the knowledgeable viewer that he doesn’t belong on the bridge, Erich Anderson conveys a sense of comfort in his role making it easy to see how the rest of the crew accepts him as one of their own. Les Landau directed, and it’s really a good job.
This is an episode that can be watched at least once, if for nothing else than to see how different – and yet the same – the characters act. Fans will have a better grasp of the differences and sameness in these people. The background of knowing them is handy, but not necessary. And for the guys, there’s Michelle Forbes in a slinky gown.
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