Plot Synopsis: Dr. Crusher finds that crew members are beginning to disappear, while she is the only one who seems to notice.
Plot A and B Analysis: The teaser here is longer than average, starting out with the Enterprise docking at a starbase to pick up an old “mentor and friend” of Dr. Crusher’s, Dr. Dalen Quaice, on his way home to retirement. He talks a bit about growing old and losing people. Meanwhile Wes is running an experiment in engineering, and Beverly shows up in time for Wes to mess something up. She then goes to find Quaice in his quarters, but he’s missing. Plot A is about Beverly’s experience with people disappearing, there is no plot B. It doesn’t take long at all before something unusual happens: nobody knows who Quaice is, there’s no record of him, Data can’t find any records of his existence, and nobody on the Enterprise has any idea who she’s talking about. The only clue we have is Wes’s experiment, which we learn is related to Dr. Kosinski’s equations, a reference to a season one episode. Her incredulity grows, as does ours, when her entire medical staff go missing in the same way, followed by the announcement that the ships grew has been reduced from 1014 to 230. Everyone else thinks this is all perfectly normal. To increase the weirdness factor, occasionally there is some kind of blue vortex that opens on the ship, trying to suck her into it! Plot A is just wonderful, and there are two parts to it. The first part, the disappearing people, is increasingly interesting to watch. The second part, is watching the crew try to save her, and Beverly’s analytical mind being put to the test as she tries to figure things out from her side. This is just a wonderful, brilliantly creative episode from start to finish.
Favorite Scenes: There’s a clear winner for funniest moment. Beverly rushes onto the bridge after her Wesley disappears, to find Picard the only one left on the ship. She tries, with increasing desperation, to convince him of their existence and the people she remembers only to have him be patient with her like he would a crazy grandma. He finally asks her to confine herself to sick bay:
Beverly, laughing with incredulity: It’s all perfectly logical to you, isn’t it? The two of us, roaming about the galaxy in the flagship of the Federation, no crew at all?!
Picard, shrugging: We’ve never needed a crew before.
Another scene is fun in a different way because Beverly really starts to take control of her situation. She’s the only one left on board and starts grilling the computer as she walks down a corridor:
Beverly: What is the primary mission of the starship Enterprise?
Computer: To explore the galaxy.
Beverly: Do I have the necessary skills to complete that mission alone?
Beverly: Then why am I the only crew member?
*Computer starts beeping, does not respond*
Beverly: Ah ha, gotcha there!
Computer, trying to pull itself together: That information is not available.
*Beverly waves this off*
Use of Cast/Characters: Part of the fun here is to watch how long Picard will believe Beverly’s claims of crew members that nobody has any memory of. To his credit he basically sticks with her to the end, stands up for her and does everything she asks. Good man. Riker, Data, Troi, Worf, their main job is to disappear. Geordi is in this episode but he seems to just not know how to help, so he stands around a lot. Wesley does have a role to play, first in creating the problem and then helping to solve it–he does end up saving his mom, aww. This is Beverly’s episode from beginning to end. Somewhat to my surprise it’s just great to see her being showcased, and she is really someone we empathize with and are pulling her. Her logical deduction happens a bit quicker than I might believe toward the end, but really this is Beverly Crusher at her best. She’s smart, tenacious, comes at the problem from every angle she can and doesn’t give up. Eric Menyuk returns as the Traveler, and it’s great to see him back.
Blu Ray Version: The static warp bubble graphic of the Enterprise cross-section we see toward the end of the episode was recreated from scratch and it looks great. Not a lot else that is noticeable has changed.
Nitpicks: Not much to nitpick. At around 37 minutes when she asks for a graphic representation of the universe, she could have just put it on the main viewer instead of a small science station. The only other thing I can come up with is the cross-section of the Enterprise in that same scene. It shouldn’t really show the outline of the missing part of the ship as the computer wouldn’t have a record of it, since it was “never there.” Also the new, detailed Blu Ray version of the cross-section has too many decks.
Overall Impression: Maybe my favorite line from the episode is from Beverly, when she starts to figure it out: “If there’s nothing wrong with me, maybe there’s something wrong with the universe!” The premise of this high concept plot-driven episode is so creative, it’s one I always look forward to seeing when I need to get my TNG fix. It’s a smart episode, the audience isn’t able to figure things out before the reveal which is how I like it. Only in science fiction can situations like this be explored, and I love it. This is only the third time we have a “Beverly Crusher” episode; I can’t help but think TNG would be a richer place if she was always portrayed as being this competent. This is an all-around strong episode. It’s not one of the great immortal episodes of TNG, but it still deserves its rating of 4 out of 5 stars.
Behind the Scenes/Trivia: If you pause the episode about 17 seconds in, look at the registry numbers on the bottom of the saucer section. Notice they’re reversed? That’s because the footage of the ship is flipped, we’re seeing a mirror image. This footage is all from 11001001. In the first half of season four, virtually all of the episodes have family as a central theme. Only BoBW2 and this episode are exceptions until this phase has passed, which ends with Final Mission. This episode was originally conceptualized as a subplot for Family, but there was too much story to tell so they developed it as its own episode. Thank goodness. Originally the Traveler wasn’t in it, and the whole thing would’ve ended as a dream. Again, thank goodness they changed their minds because that would’ve been a huge disappointment.
Gates McFadden did her own stunts in this episode, and it was shortly after her last stunt that she learned she was pregnant. For those that are interested, this is the episode where they added the black-striped outlines to the transporter pad, which will remain for the rest of the series. I like them. Finally, take a look at about 2:25 into the episode. Notice Beverly isn’t wearing her lab coat. She puts it on while in the bubble. In the 43rd minute when she escapes, she’s still wearing the lab coat. Guess she has two now?
Missable/Unmissable? It’s just this side of unmissable. You can miss it if you’d like, but otherwise I’d highly recommend it. The next one is missable.