"Interface"

Season Seven, Episode 3
Written by Joe Menosky
Directed by Robert Weimer
Music by Jay Chattaway
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:
Madge Sinclair as Captain Silva LaForge
Ben Vereen as Dr LaForge
Warren Munson as Admiral Holt
 

Synopsis:
 
Geordi LaForge successfully tests a remote probe that relays sensor data into a Virtual Reality interface connected to his VISOR inputs. The probe is to be used to retrieve the USS Raman, trapped inside a gas giant. Before the mission begins, Picard breaks the news to Geordi his mother's ship, the Hera, has gone missing, its crew presumed dead. As Geordi tries to come to terms with the news, he begins the mission to retrieve the Raman, discovering its crew dead. Even more startling is the fact he sees his mother, Silva LaForge aboard the Raman. Having taken her disappearance badly, the crew are doubtful as to whether Geordi did see his mother -- after all, what would she be doing aboard the Raman? She asks him to take the ship lower into the atmosphere, which he does against Picard's direct orders. However, he soons learns that his "mother" is actually an alien which needed the ship lowered in order to survive.


Review: 

Anyone got some spare amphetamines lying around? 

I'm not asking for myself, you understand, but Interface is an episode that is in dire need of a stimulant. The real pity is that this could have been an emotionally-charged powerhouse dealing with the emotive theme of coming to terms with the death of a loved one. Sadly, whatever potential the story had is lost under a horribly dull, unengaging plot which ensures that the episode never really comes to life.

The concept of Geordi's VR interface was interesting for about five minutes, beyond which the novelty kind of wore off. Aside from the logistical problems of filming Geordi in place of what is actually a probe, it's also rather odd that everyone is so amazed by this device. I mean, come on, virtual reality has been around for years and given that that TNG is set three hundred years in the future, you're talking about technology that has practically been around since the stone age! Add in a few gallons of technobabble and you end up with an especially dull plot that absolutely failed to sustain its alloted time. 

Far more interesting was Geordi trying to come to terms with his mother's death, though even that wasn't nearly as strong as it could have been. There were some reasonably good scenes with Geordi trying to deal with her death and him wanting to believe that it was her he saw aboard the Raman. The scene with Riker trying to give Geordi some heartfelt advice was easily the strongest moment of the episode and featured a genuinely poignant piece of acting by Jonathan Frakes. It's  perhaps telling that this, the episode's best scene, was actually written and filmed as last minute filler when the producers realised that they were short of material! Geordi's determination to believe that his mother was still alive made for some interesting conflict, but it simply wasn't enough to ignite what amounts to an arduous, taxing affair. 

LeVar Burton had a few nice moments, but generally I was left with my long-standing assertation that about the worst thing you can possibly do to an actor is cover their eyes. The eyes are the window to the soul and if you want to see just how much feeling an emotion a good actor can convey using their eyes alone, I suggest you take a look at DS9's Rene Auberjonois. When Picard tells Geordi that his mother is dead, what can poor Burton do but open his mouth slightly? Needless to say that damned VISOR really restricted Burton's ability to convey emotion and feeling which prove quite a substantive handicap (sorry, no pun intended). 

On other fronts, Robert Weimer's directing was somewhat lacklustre, Jay Chattaway's score was dismal and, excepting the odd glimmer of light, the script was notably flat. I appreciated the fact that the writers didn't feel the need to resolve the fate Geordi's mother because if they had done so it was surely have featured some ridiculous technobabble explanation. But this feels like small comfort given that I found it something of a struggle to stick with this episode. Really rather boring. Next, please...

Rating: 5


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