La Forge falls in love with a woman accused of murder.
The USS Enterprise-D is sent to deliver supplies to Communications Relay Station 47 near the Klingon border. Upon arriving, they find the station abandoned and the audio monitoring system in disarray. They also find a large, fluffy white dog hiding inside a service duct. The station's shuttlecraft is missing. along with both Starfleet officers, Aquiel Uhnari and Keith Rocha. Doctor Beverly Crusher discovers cellular residue which must be the remains of one of the personnel.
The blood traces match those of Uhnari, so Crusher assumes the cellular residue is Uhnari's also, but must study it further in her lab to make sure. Lieutenant Commander La Forge explains that encrypted subspace messages are all sent through a particular channel, and that someone has tried to bypass the access protocols, perhaps taking or rewriting some of the messages. La Forge accesses the station's logs, but at first can see only a handful of Uhnari's official and personal entries. Returning to her quarters, he peruses the logs accompanied by the dog, which he discovers was Uhnari's pet. Uhnari's personal letters reveal her to be a spirited, romantic Halii woman who was abused by her father, is intensely homesick for the rest of her family and traditions, and has difficulty getting along with "egomaniac" Rocha. At one point she confesses countermanding his orders.
Uhnari also mentions that Commander Morag, an aggressive Klingon, has been harassing and threatening the station. Klingon DNA traces are found aboard the station, and when Captain Picard asks the local Klingon governor to investigate. At first, the governor is hesitant to help but Picard uses his influence as Gowron's Arbiter of Succession to convince him to help. Eventually, the governor turns up on the Enterprise along with Uhnari, very much alive.
Uhnari claims that Rocha suddenly and irrationally attacked her; she first tried to access the weapons locker, but next remembers escaping in the shuttle; she was picked up by the Klingons. Possibly owing to a head injury, Uhnari's memory for exactly what happened is spotty, and while she tries to remember and the captain waits for Cmdr. Morag to arrive, she and La Forge become friends. La Forge confesses he has read her logs. Dr. Crusher now assumes that the cellular residue is Rocha, but continues to analyze it.
Rocha's log files turn up, showing that he was not as nasty as Uhnari experience him; in fact, he seems to have been a bright and promising officer. Uhnari's duty records, on the other hand, show her to be difficult and argumentative. Circumstantial evidence points to her as possibly having killed Rocha, but she hotly denies this, even after she is found to have established a subspace link with a console on the relay station and deleted a number of Rocha's personal logs, including a letter he was planning to send to Starfleet. Citing her as "belligerent and insubordinate", Rocha had planned to ask for a formal hearing. Knowing her pattern of running away in panic when she is afraid, La Forge advises her to stay and face what has happened, and she agrees.
Cmdr. Morag arrives shortly thereafter. He describes how he investigated the station when they did not answer his hails. He confesses that he was the one who tried to bypass the access protocols and filched a number of priority Starfleet messages, but that while he saw blood and signs of a struggle, he did not kill anyone. Dr. Crusher continues to examine the cellular residue, which suddenly, upon contact with her skin, takes the form of her hand.
Crusher explains to Picard that these are not Rocha's remains, but a coalescent organism that feeds off other lifeforms, then assumes their shape. Rocha never worked at the station; it was the shapeshifter who killed him at his last post of duty in the remote Triona system and took his place. Crusher warns that what appears to be Uhnari may actually be the creature. Meanwhile, Uhnari introduces La Forge to a Haliian custom in which their minds can telepathically connect, amplified by a large crystal ornament called a Canar. Riker breaks in and disrupts their session.
While Uhnari is examined, La Forge returns to his quarters, where he's been keeping Uhnari's dog Maura. The dog attacks him; the creature had been the canine, not Uhnari. When it starts morphing again, Geordi kills it with his phaser.
Uhnari is grateful to La Forge for his advice and friendship. She knows she is not an ideal Starfleet officer, but tells him she is considering staying in Starfleet and perhaps one day serving aboard the Enterprise.
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"Lieutenant Uhnari's logs reported that Commander Morag had been harassing the station."
"He was doing his job."
- - Captain Picard and Governor Torak
"We found traces of Klingon DNA on the station."
"You still try to blame us!"
"Have the courage to admit your mistakes. Or are you a lo'Be Vos?"
"At least I do not wear the uniform of the P'tak!"
- - Worf and Governor Torak butting heads
- - Counsellor Troi - her only line of dialogue
Story and production
- This story began as another attempt at providing Geordi with a recurring romance. At Michael Piller's suggestion, this was tied into a mystery in the manner of the 1944 film Laura, starring Gene Tierney, in which a detective investigating the murder of a woman named Laura falls in love with her, only to discover that she is alive and may herself be a killer. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- With Colm Meaney (Miles O'Brien) and Rosalind Chao's (Keiko O'Brien) departure from the series to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, TNG had lost its only married couple. It was hoped that this episode would show that marriage and serious relationships still existed in the 24th century. As Jeri Taylor observed, "We now portray the twenty-fourth century as being full of single people...It seems to me that's not the comment we should be making - that marriage and serious relationships do survive into the twenty-fourth century." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion) One season later, however, recurring Nurse Alyssa Ogawa and her husband Andrew Powell started a family, so eventually the idea was pursued.
- At first, Aquiel was to have been the killer, but it was felt that this was too similar to the film Basic Instinct. Keith Rocha and Morag were next considered, but dismissed as too obvious. According to Ronald D. Moore, "At one point, we finally said 'Why not the dog?'" Moore joked that he and Braga had considered calling the episode "Murder, My Pet!" (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- Maura was played by Friday, a terrier mix. The dog had previously played Commisioner Robert Scorpio's dog on General Hospital. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- It is noted that at this point there has been no Klingon raid on the Federation in "seven years". Moore added this to show that the situation can still be uneasy in the Federation-Klingon alliance. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- There are several references barely legible in Keith Rocha's log on the screen, including his linking of an Andorian comm channel, having a competition with a Ryan aboard the USS Saratoga, Starbase 237 in the Delta Vega sector, and that Starfleet had diverted several starships to "the Epsilon IX station", implying they rebuilt it after Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
- Also, in the logs, the stardates are sequential by dates: "46455, 46456, 46457, 46458..."
- Many production staff members were disappointed with this episode, considered to be the weakest of the generally good sixth season. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, Jeri Taylor says she felt Renée Jones was not suited to the nature of the series and that she and the chemistry between her and LeVar Burton "never clicked".
- When asked what he would have done differently in his time on Star Trek, Moore stated that he would not have written "Aquiel". (AOL chat, 1997)
- The look of the coalescent organism also disappointed the staff. The designer said in an interview that many names were given to the creature, and that "[...] Mr. Peanut was probably the kindest that I had." FX supervisor Ronald B. Moore stated that the effect was subcontracted out and was delivered without enough time for the touch-ups to add texture and motion that he felt were needed. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 70, 6 September 1993.
- As part of the TNG Season 6 DVD collection.
Links and References
- Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard
- Jonathan Frakes as Commander William T. Riker
- LeVar Burton as Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Doctor Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lieutenant Commander Data
- Michael Braveheart as Ensign Martinez
- Cameron as Ensign Kellogg
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Lieutenant j.g. Jae
- Friday as Maura
- Christie Haydon as a command division ensign
- Kerry Hoyt as a security ensign
- Michael Moorhead as a science division ensign
- Joyce Robinson as Ensign Gates
- Unknown performers as
47; Batarael; Canar; coalescent organism; Cold Moon Over Blackwater; Delta Vega sector; Deriben V; disruptors; Epsilon IX station; Fatal Revenge, The; Halii; Haliian; Haliian language; Horath; iced coffee; Klingon Empire; memory module; message delay buffer; micro-vaporize; Muskan seed punch; Pendleton; Personal log, Aquiel Uhnari; Personal log, Keith Rocha; phaser, type 2; Qu'Vat, IKS; Relay Station 47; Relay Station 194; Saratoga, USS; Sector 2520; Shianna; shuttlecraft; Starbase 12; Starbase 212; Starbase 237; Starfleet Command; subspace relay station; Triona system; type 2 phaser; Verne
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