Written by Brannon Braga, Ronald D. Moore, Jeri Taylor, and Rene Echevarria
Directed by Cliff Boles
When the Enterprise investigates the unresponsiveness of a secluded relay station near the Klingon border, the crew stumbles onto what appears to be a murder mystery. At the scene is found traces of blood and what appears to be cellular residue. The blood carries the DNA of Lt. Aquiel Uhnari (portrayed by Renee Jones).
Lt. Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton) begins reviewing Lt. Uhnari’s personal logs in an attempt to find out what happened. In doing so, he feels himself drawn to the young officer. He learns of problems with a local Klingon captain, as well as learning of the fact that she didn’t get along too well with the only other person stationed at the outpost, Lt. Rocha.
The impression Geordi gains from this is decidedly different from her Starfleet record, which details incidents of insubordination and not following orders. Things take a turn when Lt. Uhnari is found – alive – by the Klingons in an attempt to clear the name of the captain who harassed the station.
The investigation shifts to the murder of Lt. Rocha, with Lt. Uhnari as the prime suspect. Is Geordi too infatuated with the young officer to see the truth?
Though by far not a terrible episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, it’s also not a terrific one. The episode is entirely too predictable as Aquiel is the prime suspect and Geordi’s faith in her seems to indicate he is being played for a sucker. The problem is that this is too obvious, meaning that it’s easy to figure out there’s more to the story than Aquiel murdering Lt. Rocha.
The clues to the real story behind Lt. Rocha’s demise are made very obvious. That Aquiel’s dog is a constant presence in the story kept me wanting to shout “check out the dog!” at the television. It’s one of those moments that is so obvious to the viewer that I felt it cheapened the story.
It’s nice to see LeVar Burton get an episode all to himself, even if the material is not all that terrific. His portrayal of Geordi is believable as he becomes enamored of the officer. However, the story would have benefitted here from having him draw on his history of not being comfortable around women. Instead, he is very smooth and comfortable with Aquiel, something I wouldn’t have expected from Geordi at this time.
However, Renee Jones seems to be in unfamiliar territory here and is not convincing as a young Lieutenant stationed on a remote space station. She just doesn’t have the right feel for the scientific talk and unfortunately delivers many of her lines unconvincingly. The fact that she’s opposite LeVar Burton much of the time keeps her performance tolerable, as he and others more comfortable in their roles bolster her performance.
The Klingons are a nice part of the puzzle here as they add a wild-card element to the mystery. It’s getting tiring to hear Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) repeatedly cajole the Klingons into cooperating with him by citing his role as the Klingon High Chancellor, Gowron’s, Arbiter of Succession. If that really made a difference, wouldn’t all of the Klingons know who he is automatically and not put up much of an argument when his face appears on their viewscreen instead of this fact being brought up time and time again? It’s getting a bit worn as a plot point, and the writers should have dropped it.
There is nothing special or spectacular about this episode. There were some nice special effects, but nothing that really stands out. If I were trying to sell someone on how good the series is, I definitely wouldn’t show them this episode. At the same time, however, it’s not so horrible that I would have to change the channel to avoid watching it.
Previous episode in the series (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Quality of Life
Next episode in the series (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – Chain of Command Part I