Thursday, April 16, 2015

A to Z 2015 - Star Trek Episodes "Night Terrors"

"Night Terrors"
Star Trek: The Next Generation

Those who read me prattling on about Star Trek online might sometimes get the impression that I basically, unconditionally, like all of it.  This is not true.  There are episodes I find interminable.  "Night Terrors" is one of them.

"Where arrrrrre youuuuuuu?"

That's the extent of Troi's piercing investigation as she attempts to find out what happened to another Betazoid that's left him in a coma.  It's a repeated dream sequence that's utterly baffling as to how anyone at all thought they had good writing, good footage, and even in the case of the mostly blameless Marina Sirtis, good acting involved in any of it.

Hey, fans of Marina Sirtis, sometimes you nail bad material (it's possible) and sometimes you don't.  This one episode seems absolutely determined to bring the series back to the point in the first season where Riker is shouting over an immense precipice: "Aaaaanybodddddy???"

"Night Terrors," mind you, comes from the fourth season of Next Generation.  Fans generally agree that the series found its stride in a hurry at the commencement of its third season (the one that ended with "The Best of Both Worlds," or in other words when we all found out how awesome the Borg were), so to find an episode so poorly executed a season later just goes to prove, even when there's a good thing going there's always the chance that something will go horribly wrong.

It's a rare story featuring Troi in all her Betazoid significance.  It was far more common to leave all the Betazoid-ness to her mother, Lwaxana, who even in the seventh season and well into Deep Space Nine had plenty of interesting ways of displaying how horrifying (in a good way) Betazoids can be.

This is not to say "Night Terrors" suffers because of Troi, but that the writers let her down.  Significantly.  She was one of those aliens who were also half-human, like Spock, which was always an odd way to explore a species (or perhaps a reflection of how Americans like to view themselves, culturally blended and maybe not always that adjusted about it).  Because she was half-human, Troi's depiction of what a Betazoid is typically like was compromised.  She could only sense emotions, rather than exhibit full telepathic abilities like the rest of the family on her mother's side.

Granted, there's a better version of this same episode in the final season, "Eye of the Beholder."  But Troi would not truly be awesome until Star Trek: First Contact, in which she makes a hilarious drunk.  Go figure.  I think a writer who knew that in advance would have had a lot more interesting things to do with her.  I mean, it's not as if it was any big secret that she had mommy issues...


Spacerguy said...

The telepathic brain talk was fascinating.

Stephen Tremp said...

It’s officially the second half of A to Z. Time to catch that second wind, rest up on Sunday, then it’s that mad dash toward the finish line!

Stephen Tremp
A to Z Cohost
N is for Numerology

Pat Dilloway said...

Troi episodes were usually pretty lame. But hey any excuse to showcase her boobies.

Tony Laplume said...

If it was the brain monster from Futurama, and featured Fry running through literary classics, I would agree about calling it fascinating.

Stephen, I see what you did there. Numerology. Heh.

Pat, it astonishes me that by the time Seven and T'Pol came around, every Star Trek fan seemed to forget Troi's rampaging cleavage, and all the ridiculous outfits from the original series.


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