Plot Synopsis: The Enterprise rescues a critically injured amnesiac who is undergoing a mysterious transformation.
Plot A and B Analysis: The teaser is good: Geordi completely blows an opportunity with a woman, and we have an actual away team going down to a planet for the first time in several episodes. They find a humanoid male with half his face blown off, but alive. Dr. Crusher hooks up a medical doohickey that connects him with Geordi for a bit, and some juju goes from mystery dude to Geordi. Plot A is about the alien with amnesia, there is no plot B. Dr. Crusher nurses “John Doe” back to health. He makes rapid progress, but has some strange attacks that come on and still has no idea who he is. The plot continues at a sedate pace, mixing in a hostile starship at one point, until the mystery of John Doe is solved. It’s not all that satisfying a conclusion though, and you’re left thinking this episode could’ve been a lot better.
Favorite Scenes: I don’t know that I really enjoy any scenes in this episode. Having said that, the teaser is nice and probably comes the closest. There is also the scene in Ten Forward with Geordi, Data and Worf at the 9-minute mark.
Use of Cast/Characters: Beverly Crusher finally gets another episode! It’s the first time since The High Ground. She gets a lot of screen time and there’s a potential romantic figure here, but as usual (for her) it comes to nothing. At least she gets some characterization and doesn’t kill anyone like she did all through the first season. Picard doesn’t have a lot to do other than be a captain, and Riker is about the same. Wes is in this episode, but we see some of his most stilted acting since season one, and he only has one scene. Data and Geordi’s friendship gets a visit; it’s more oriented toward their working relationship, but it’s still something I’ve missed for much of this season. Poor Worf, this time he almost gets killed by a guy who wasn’t even attacking him. What’s worse, the is only the first of two times he breaks his neck! Troi is in this episode but you’d barely know it, she doesn’t do much in the two scenes she’s in. Mark La Mura plays John Doe and does do a creditable job. Julie Warner appears a second time (first was in Booby Trap), as the same character, Geordi’s love interest. She’s a good actress but doesn’t have a lot to work with.
Blu Ray Version: Nothing special here.
Nitpicks: I have several. Most of the sick bay scenes are lit too darkly, it’s as if the first and second season has come back to haunt us. The alien in his ‘star child’ mode just looks generic and not very exciting. If you look closely in the beginning, you’ll see John’s right arm is cut off below the elbow. How did he get it back? Did it grow back, did Dr. Crusher reattach it? Julie Warner returns as Christy Henshaw, the same chick who gave Geordi the brushoff back in Booby Trap. He’s still as insecure now as he was then, but for some magical reason in the interim she became interested? On top of that she’s surprised after flirting with him that he’s interested too? C’mon. Finally, the Zalkonians have a pretty darn cheap ‘insta-kill’ power that stretches credibility. It’s obviously a writing device so John can save everybody, and it comes out of nowhere.
Overall Impression: Lackluster is the word that may best describe this entry. This is the kind of episode that you keep waiting to get good, but never quite delivers. You come away thinking the writers just didn’t really put a lot of thought into it, or what they could do to make an audience want to see it. The only highlight is Geordi struggling in the love department, and he and Data working together. It’s not a badly written episode, like the last episode, but it’s certainly nothing you want to see again. This could have used a rewrite or two so it doesn’t come across so bland. I rate this episode 2 out of 5 stars.
Behind the Scenes/Trivia: For O’Brien fans, this is the first occurrence of his kayaking hobby, which is seen all through DS9. To achieve the ‘glowing alien’ effect, the actor wore a florescent orange suit that glowed on film. Rene Echevarria, who wrote this episode, tells this story. He gets a call from Michael Piller (head of the writing department) who says there’s a script going around that nobody has been able to crack, and would Rene like to take a shot at it. “I want it to be an episode that showcases Beverly Crusher’s medical expertise and the technology of medicine in the 24th century. They find a guy on a planet and he’s half dead, but she saves him. What happens next?” That was all they had. Per Rene, Michael offered him this script even though Rene was unable to rewrite The Offspring in a way that TNG could use. He gives Piller credit for not only giving him his first big break, but “he gave me my second big break after I screwed up the first one.”
Missable/Unmissable? Definitely missable. Do yourself a favor and go from Sarek directly to The Best of Both Worlds, which is absolutely unmissable.
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