"Thine Own Self"

Season Seven, Episode 16
Teleplay by Ronald D Moore
Story by Christopher Hatton
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Main Cast:
Patrick Stewart as Capt Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes as Cmdr William Riker
LeVar Burton as Lt Cmdr Geordi LaForge
Michael Dorn as Lt Worf
Gates McFadden as Dr Beverly Crusher
Marina Sirtis as Counsellor Deanna Troi
Brent Spiner as Lt Cmdr Data
 

Guest Cast:
Ronnie Claire Edwards as Talur
Michael Rothhaar as Garvin
Kimberly Cullum as Gia
Michael G Hagerty as Skoran
Andy Kossin as Apprentice
Richard Ortega-Miro as Ensign Rainer
 

Synopsis:
 
Data is sent to retrieve a fallen probe that crashed on Barkon IV. However, an accident causes him to lose his memory and he wanders into a pre-industrial village carrying a box of radioactive metal fragments from the probe. Although accepted by the villagers as an "ice man" from the mountains, the metal fragments cause a radiation sickness to inflict the villagers.

Meanwhile, inspired by her experiences back when the Enterprise was hit by a quantum fragment (season five's Disaster), Deanna Troi decides to take her exams to become a Bridge officer. However, she cannot get past the Engineering simulation. That is, until she learns that it is actually to test her ability to send an officer to their death in order to save the ship. Demonstrating her ability to do this, she passes the test and is promoted to the rank of Commander.

On Barkon IV, Data begins an investigation into the sickness, but the villagers -- out of fear and ignorance -- blame Data for the illness, as it corresponded with his arrival. They hunt him down, and just before they attack him, he is able to put a cure he formulated for the sickness into the village water supply. Days later the Enterprise arrives on the scene and Riker and Beverly manage to retrieve Data's "body" and reactivate him. He has, however, no memory of his experiences in the village.


Review: 

First of all, I have a little question that begs to be asked. It's about the word "herb". Why, oh why, do Americans pronounce it "erb"?? Although as an English purist I don't necessarily approve of the "Americanisation" of the English language, in most cases I can understand the changes. But why on earth do you guys say "erb" and not "Herb"? It completely baffles me. Perhaps I should have skipped that extra cup of coffee, huh? :-)

Anyway, onto the episode itself. It was good -- very good, in fact. While the whole "amnesia" aspect was a little iffy, Ron Moore skilfully develops the storyline at a gentle, easy pace that quite befits the nature of the episode. The characterisation is handled particularly well -- although Garvin was perhaps a trifle bland, Gia's friendship with Data worked quite nicely (even though the Data-befriends-cute-kid device is something of a staple TNG cliche) and I loved Talur. Ronnie Claire Edwards gave a delightful turn as the village's prim, arrogant "scientist" who comes up with some highly amusing "scientific theories". Data, of course, knows better and invariably shreds her theories to bits. The interaction between these two is a scream.

As radiation sickness begins to afflict the villagers, it's perhaps only inevitable that the finger of blame would be pointed at Data. After all, it was his arrival that prompted the sickness. Distrust soon turns to fear and hatred, resulting in a dramatic conflict that clearly has echoes of Frankenstein. Winrich Kolbe does a superb job directing and clearly a lot of work has gone into the creation of the village -- the costumes, sets and lighting were all superb, rendering this a particularly impressive episode visually.

The denouement is only slightly disappointing following such a good build-up, culminating in a vacuous scene in Sick Bay where Data is reactivated with no memory of what happened in the village. The sub-plot features Troi taking her exams to become a bridge officer and, although reasonably well-done, doesn't quite gell with the main plot. It would have helped had both plots had a thematic link or, better yet, had we jettisoned the B-plot and spent more time dealing with Data's troubles.
  

Rating: 7.5


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