Written by Rene Echevarria, Brannon Braga, and Naren Shankar
Directed by Cliff Bole
For most of the run of Star Trek: The Next Generation, it seemed like the writers didn’t know what to do with the character of Deanna Troi (portrayed by Marina Sirtis). They gave her a good background of a romance with Commander Riker (portrayed by Jonathan Frakes), but then that whole romantic tension story was dropped primarily so Riker would be free to have at it with every female they came across throughout the galaxy. This left Troi free for romance, but the writers didn’t do much to build on it.
That is, until the seventh season episode Parallels where the Klingon Worf (portrayed by Michael Dorn) travels to parallel universes where he and Troi have a romantic relationship. This puts an idea in Worf’s head that is built upon somewhat during the remainder of the seventh season. Of course, it was later dropped when Worf’s character became a regular on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine so he would not have any romantic ties.
However, in Eye of the Beholder Worf and Troi are still feeling out the possibility of a romantic relationship. This gives some great tension as the two investigate after the crew is stunned by the sudden suicide of an up and coming young officer, Lieutenant Kwan (portrayed by Tim Lounibos)
The two soon learn that Lt. Kwan was partially empathic, among other things. All of his logs and his friends speak of him being fairly upbeat. While investigating the spot where he jumped into the warp nacelle, Troi experiences feelings of fear, rage, and panic. Later on, she is in the same location and “sees” images of a man and woman apparently having an argument. A few moments later, she sees a man and woman in an embrace laughing at her. She believes she is seeing an empathic echo but doesn’t recognize any of the faces except one which seems a little familiar.
Soon, however, Troi begins having feelings of jealousy toward Worf. They have one night of passion, after which Worf seems to be turning toward the woman Kwan was dating, Ensign Calloway (portrayed by Johanna McCloy). At one point she even catches them embracing, leading her to her own desperate, suicidal thoughts…
There’s a bit of everything in Eye of the Beholder. There’s a good mystery that needs to be unraveled. Watching it the first time I just knew that something wasn’t right when Worf seems to be casting Deanna aside like a one-night stand to take up with a subordinate. However, the resolution still took me by surprise the first time and was well-conceived and executed.
That leads to what really is right about the episode, the acting. Both Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis really shine in their roles, bringing life to characters that were always underused. The two seem to have a spark of chemistry together and work together well when trying to investigate the situation. Their pairing might seem unlikely to some, but the two of them are so convincing that I was rooting for them to make it here and through the end of the season.
My only complaint is the way it seems to almost trivialize a suicidal mind when the android Data (portrayed by Brent Spiner) discusses his thoughts of wiping his memory clean and how that compared to suicide. I don’t know why this was thrown in and his statement that he essentially just decided not to do that seemed to trivialize to me the illnesses that often lead to suicide as if those who experience it can just decide to get better.
Overall, though, Eye of the Beholder is a very good episode. Newbies to the Star Trek universe won’t catch on to all of the nuances of who the people are and how they relate to each other, so for that reason I recommend it for fans only. This was a positive note in the seventh season and it really shows that it was a shame that Worf and Troi didn’t get to explore a little romance earlier.
Previous episode in the series (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – Masks
Next episode in the series (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – Genesis