"Eye of the Beholder"

Season Seven, Episode 18
Teleplay by Rene Echevarria
Story by Brannon Braga
Directed by Cliff Bole 
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:
Mark Rolston as Lt Walter Pierce
Nancy Harewood as Lt Nara
Tim Lounibos as Lt Dan Kwan
Johanna McCloy as Ensign Mattie Calloway
Nora Leonhardt as Woman
Dugan Savoye as Man

When young officer Dan Kwan commits suicide by jumping into the plasma stream of the ship's nacelle warp stream, Troi begins an immediate investigation. No one can find any reasoning for Kwan's suicide and when Troi visits the scene of the event she is overwhelmed by a feeling of fear and panic. Surmising this was some kind of empathic "echo", she returns to the room and she is evidently transported back to a time when the ship was still in construction at Utopia Plantia, where she sees images of a terrified woman, her lover and the menacing, yet somehow distorted face of a man. Returning to the present, she tries to identify the faces she saw and finds that the menacing face was that of Lt Walter Pierce who worked at Utopia Planitia and is still aboard the ship.

As Worf helps Troi's investigation, they find themselves drawing closer, resulting in a night of passion. However, when Worf begins flirting with Kwan's girlfriend, Mattie Calloway, the very next day, Troi becomes increasingly jealous. After an unnerving encounter with Pierce, she finds Worf and Calloway in her cabin and in a fit of rage shoots Worf and proceeds to the warp plasma stream to kill herself. Before she can, she returns to "reality", having experienced one big hallucination caused by the empathic echo. What was playing out was a parallel to a doomed love triangle that took place back at Utopia Planitia. Kwan, partly empathic himself, had also experienced the echo, but fortunately Troi broke free of it in the nick of time..


It's hard to muster much enthusiasm for this lacklustre, tepid Troi story. Despite a couple of interesting hooks -- the inexplicable suicide of a juniour officer and Troi's pyschic "flashbacks", Eye of the Beholder quickly degenerates into a dull, tedious soap opera. Although the Worf/Troi pairing was given some foreshadowing by Parallels, I still don't think the writers could have found a more mis-matched, incompatible couple if they'd tried. I dare say even Data and Geordi would have been a more realistic pairing! It did make for a couple of enjoyable moments -- particularly the scene in Ten Forward where Worf clumsily tries to ask Riker for his permission to date Troi ("Worf, you sound like a man who's asking his friend if he can date his sister!").

But that's before the overwrought, melodramatic climax, with Marina Sirtis going into "whimper" overdrive and the less-than-satisfying revelation that (all together, folks) "it was only a dream!!" The main problem with this device, aside from the sheer unoriginality, is that it renders the whole damn thing redundant and ultimately quite pointless. Aside from dreaming that she slept with Worf, what impact did this have on Troi? None that I can see. So, what was the point -- why did the writers feel the need to tell this story? And another thing, it's a sign of very poor storytelling when you have to spend the last five minutes of an episode using technobabble to explain the entire plot. All things considered, you can chalk this one up as another seventh season clunker.

Rating: 4

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