Season Seven - TNG

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Thine Own Self

Written by Ronald D. Moore, Christopher Hatton, Rene Echevarria, and Naren Shankar
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

For a while, the writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation seemed immune from the sort of pressure other writers had, such as featuring certain characters more prominently than others. This was a problem in The Original Series where rumor has it that William Shatner used to actually count his lines and make sure no one else had more than him. However, with a terrific ensemble cast that really seemed to get along well, it didn’t seem to be a problem in this series. Somewhere along the line, however, it changed a bit. The writers became fascinated with the Pinocchio-like story of the android, Data (portrayed by Brent Spiner) and more stories began to center around him. This was particularly annoying in The Next Generation movies, which seemed to be just the Captain Picard and Data Show,

In Thine Own Self, a probe has crashed on a planet that has not advanced to the industrial age, and Data is sent to retrieve the radioactive material from it. Data wanders into a village after having walked from the mountains. Something happened to him and he lost his memory. He is carrying the case of radioactive material but doesn’t know what it is.

He meets up with a father and daughter, Garvin and Gia (portrayed by Michael Rothhaar and Kimberley Cullum). Thinking the case has a clue to who Data is, Garvin opens it. The local healer deems Data “an Ice Man” from the far reaches of their planet where it is very cold.

Garvin brings the metal in Data’s case to the village blacksmith, unaware of how dangerous it is. The blacksmith is impressed and offers to buy the metal from Data, now called “Jayden” by the villagers. Data sells him half, keeping the rest as a clue to his identity. When another worker at the forge is injured, Data lifts a heavy anvil and frightens the rest of the village with his strength.

Soon, as the metal is formed into jewelry and sold among the villagers, they begin falling ill. Unaware that they are all sick from radiation, the villagers blame Data for their illness. It’s a race as Data tries to formulate a cure and the villagers become increasingly hostile to him.

Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, Ship’s Counselor Deanna Troi (portrayed by Marina Sirtis) decides she wants to be a Bridge Officer after attending her Starfleet Class reunion. Her frustration at having to take the tests boils over, and during a confrontation with Commander Riker (portrayed by Jonathan Frakes) she finally grasps what it is she has to do to pass the simulation.

There are so many plot holes in Data’s storyline that it becomes frustrating to watch. Viewers are supposed to believe that his memory has holes in regard to it his name and who he is, yet he can reason a cure for radiation sickness. Never mind that he doesn’t know what it is. He can read the word “radioactive” but has no clue what it means. Yet he can debate the composition of the elements with the village’s healer. It seems a bit too conveniently selective to be believable.

The main story should have been back on the Enterprise with Deanna. She’s testing in a simulation that seems like a Kobayashi Maru but actually does have a solution. I can’t believe that’s the only thing she has to do to become a Bridge Officer, and it would have been more interesting to see her go through the motions. Instead, it makes it seem like she decided to do this and in three days she managed to be qualified, except for this one little thing.

The acting is good as always. I can’t fault any of the actors for the problems with this show. The guest cast does an adequate job with their roles. Marina Sirtis especially does good, and Brent Spiner gives some terrific performances as he plays off against people who aren’t afraid of him but are strangers. He has a good scene where part of his head is stripped away to reveal the metallic android composition underneath and it’s an excellent bit of special effects and make-up.

The problem here is a very weak script that just seems too contrived and convenient. It’s one thing to suspend disbelief, it’s another to insult our intelligence. The writers had a decent premise but just followed through pretty poorly.

Previous episode in the series (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – Lower Decks

Next episode in the series (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – Masks

3 replies »

  1. Another thoughtful and well-considered review. I share your frustrations with this episode and have often wondered about the writers; whether these were the same as those that wrote the previous or even subsequent series?

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