Season Seven, Episode 17
Written by Joe Menosky
Directed by Robert Weimer
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:
Rickey D'Shon Collins as Eric

The Enterprise discovers a mysterious alien "archive" which soon begins transforming the Enterprise into the remanants of an ancient alien city. As the crew strive to regain control of the ship, the key may lie with Data, who is being possessed by various members of the ancient civilisation. Picard uses knowledge gained from these personalities, to recreate the temple of feared ruler, Masaka. By posing as her arch-nemesis Korgano, Picard deactivates the archive and restores the ship to normal.


On the plus side, Masks is exceptionally well-directed, boasting some impressive production values -- superb lighting, good sets and an effective score. It's well-acted and at times quite atmospheric. But aside from that...oh boy...it's a load of utter tosh. Between this, Sub Rosa and upcoming delights such as Genesis and Emergence it's pretty clear that something is drastically amiss with the show's writers. Simply put, the "plot" (if it can be called that) is an incoherent, nonsensical mishmash. Based on script alone, this is just a mess.

I'm not going into specifics, primarily because this is not a long review, but it simply does not make sense in any way, shape or form. Whilst at times it is strangely compelling, courtesy of the performances and production work, it soon becomes bogged down in tediously self-important quasi-archaeological double-talk and a appalling non-conclusion which, again, makes absolutely no sense. "I don't know what you did, sir, but everything's back to normal" reports Riker. Wait just a minute -- we haven't a clue what he did, either! I'd love to know what the writers were thinking when they wrote this. I can only assume that they were up to their glue-sniffing orgies again (as evidenced the other week by Sub Rosa). And call me cynical, but what's the betting Brannon Braga had a major hand in this one? It's got "Braga" written all over it, take that how you will.

Aside from the fact that the episode is clearly well-produced, it does boast a sensational performance by Brent Spiner. Goodness only knows why, but Data becomes "possessed" by the people that lived in this society allowing Spiner to display an extraordinary range of acting skills. Perhaps he erred on overplaying it at times, but it's still quite mesmerising to watch him portray a number different and very vivid characters. But sadly, I doubt even Laurence Olivier himself would be able to disguise what amounts to an utterly pointless mess completely devoid of rhyme or reason. Quick tip for the Powers That Be -- when writing an episode, it helps if you have the vaguest idea WHAT you are writing about. Funny thing that, isn't it?

Rating: 3.5

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