(written from a Production point of view)
The Enterprise crew is affected when they are adrift in a remote area of space, and find themselves unable to dream.
The USS Enterprise-D is given orders to find a lost Starfleet vessel, the USS Brattain. The ship failed to arrive at its destination and had not been heard from in 29 days. They come upon the Miranda-class ship adrift in an unexplored binary star system. Beaming on board, an away team consisting of Commander Riker, Lieutenant Commander Data, Lieutenant Worf, Doctor Crusher, and Counselor Troi find the entire crew murdered, except for a Betazoid, Andrus Hagan, the Brattain's scientific advisor who is found in a room adjacent to the bridge and is catatonic.
In sickbay, Dr. Crusher informs Captain Picard that some of the Brattain's crew were found barricaded in their quarters and some found in the ship's corridors who obviously fought hand-to-hand. They identify Hagan, but Counselor Troi cannot get through to him. As Crusher and Picard leave, however, she then hears him describe voices "out there."
Aboard the Brattain, Data, Geordi La Forge, and Commander Riker unsuccessfully try from the bridge to figure out the engine malfunctions aboard the Brattain so the ship can get to the nearest starbase. They attempt to fire up the engines but they will not engage, to La Forge's confusion.
Crusher reports to Picard in his ready room that there is no indication of a psychological or physiological disease based on the autopsies of the crew, leaving the growing madness on board the Brattain, as detailed in the last log entry of Captain Chantal Zaheva unexplained. She had her first officer, Commander Brink, "eliminated" for suspicion of mutiny. All 34 of the crew killed each other, with no alien presence detected.
In the meantime, Counselor Troi has entered a rather intense dream. Spoken to by an unidentified voice, she asks the speaker "Where are you?". The voice repeats the phrases "eyes in the dark" and "one moon circles" as Troi is drawn toward two lights that are reminiscent of the binary star system in which the Enterprise is currently stationed.
With little progress, Picard decides to have the Brattain towed by tractor beam to Starbase 220. Unfortunately, now the Enterprise crew begins to experience her own problems, marked by an inexplicable increase in irritability and fatigue. On the Brattain, La Forge has to reassure Ensign Peeples, who apparently heard some noises when no one was there, acknowledging that the thirty-four dead people found aboard would make anyone uneasy. And on the Enterprise, conflict is spreading all over the ship; when Keiko O'Brien enters the O'Briens' quarters, she and Miles quarrel, during which Miles displays a great deal of envy towards one of his wife's co-workers, Tom Corbin. O'Brien leaves their quarters and enters Ten Forward, where he is warned by Chief Gillespie about the current events. O'Brien brushes the warning off, dismissing it as "ghost stories".
In the meantime, Picard is in his ready room when the door chimes. He says "Come" several times, but no one enters, and yet the chimes repeat. He finally goes to the door and sees no one there. The door continues to chime and finally someone knocks. At the door are Troi and Crusher. They say that the occurrences of violence aboard the Enterprise are continuing to escalate. Captain Picard gives the order to tractor the Brattain and move away from the area, only to find that all propulsion systems fail to operate, rendering the ship unable to move, just like the Brattain.
The Enterprise has now been adrift for ten days, and due to their isolated and distant location will not get assistance for at least two weeks. In the observation lounge, Data reports that it is actually trapped inside a space-time anomaly known as a Tyken's Rift, named after a Melthusian named Bela Tyken who had escaped a similar rift by detonating his cargo of anicium and yurium. However, they don't have the energy to reproduce the situation. Furthermore, a Tyken's Rift is not known to cause the unusual behavior that is becoming more and more widespread among the crew.
Picard and Riker talk in the turbolift while heading up to the bridge and Riker says that sometimes he feels like someone is in his quarters, waiting for him. With grave importance on keeping their faculties intact, Picard relieves Riker for a few hours, telling him to get a nap in his quarters. Riker obeys but as soon as he leaves and the door shuts, Picard thinks the turbolift ceiling is coming down on him. The door opens and the crew see him sitting on the floor of the turbolift with his hands up screaming. It's only a hallucination, but it's enough to make him feel that he needs Data for their continued survival while they try to find a solution to leave the Tyken's rift. At that point, Data reports he and La Forge think that reusing the deflector dish modifications previously tried against the Borg might let them break off the rift. Picard gives Data free orders to act on his own initiative to carry out his duties whenever Picard falters, becoming acting captain when and where necessary. Picard gravely notes to Data that the entire crew's survival may depend solely on him. Data promises to do his best.
Meanwhile, Dr. Crusher is taking brain tissue scans of the dead Brattain personnel in the morgue, with the intention of comparing them to a random cross-section of the crew. As she does so, she fights off the hallucination that the bodies are moving and even sitting up. Later, in Picard's ready room, Dr. Crusher hypothesizes that the rampant outbreaks of violence aboard both ships are due to lack of rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, leading to fatigue, loss of concentration, extreme irritability, hostility, and ultimately, insanity. However, its not clear that this is not being caused by the Tyken's Rift but another force at work. Crusher notes that Troi can sleep, and Troi notes that she is the only person aboard the ship who continues to be able to dream, perhaps due to her being Betazoid, but that all of her dreams are nightmares. She believes the crew will eventually meet the same fate as the Brattain.
Troi, fatigued due to her nightmares, continues to listen to Hagan without any more information. She remarks to Dr. Crusher about the contrary situation the Betazoids and Humans have, but still with a dire ending. She takes a break to go to the bridge. Data and a distracted La Forge in engineering signal to the bridge to execute their earlier plan of using a deflector burst to disrupt the Tyken's Rift. La Forge is losing his concentration, so Data helps him out. However, it is unsuccessful since the energy from the deflector dish was still absorbed into the Rift.
Meanwhile, the rest of the crew are behaving irrationally. Gillespie expresses a desire to fight the hallucinations. Worf feels so helpless after the deflector burst attempt that he tries to commit suicide in his quarters. He feels that he is no longer a warrior because he is afraid of whatever is causing their sleeplessness. Troi fortunately runs to his quarters and manages to convince him to put the knife down, telling him that whatever is tormenting them is just an illusion. He agrees to go with her to sickbay, and it is a sign of the bizarre atmosphere aboard the ship, to see the hulking Klingon warrior being led by the hand like a frightened child by the diminutive Betazoid.
Data has assumed command of the Enterprise since Picard, like most of the crew, cannot function. Fortunately, Troi has a breakthrough with Hagan, and reports to Picard in his ready room that she thinks there are aliens trying to communicate telepathically because they are also trapped. Data says it's possible that the telepathic communication is interfering with REM sleep of the non-Betazoid crew. He also agrees that there might be another ship caught by the Tyken's Rift and, if so, they could free themselves by working together to create an explosion.
At the bridge science station, Data investigates elements to use for creating an explosion, though Troi realizes that the message "one moon circles" refers to a hydrogen atom. If the Enterprise releases hydrogen toward the other ship, and Troi sends the message to act, they could produce the necessary explosion. Troi raises the question of what message to deliver, and Data points out that it is the crew of the alien ship that has communicated what they need, and once the Enterprise provides it, the only required message is, "Now."
Troi goes to sickbay to be put to sleep; Data says she only has two minutes to send the message. Data prepares the release, and assumes the role of acting captain of the Enterprise when he finds Picard slow to respond, ejecting the hydrogen into the space immediately in front of the ship through the Bussard collectors.
To get more power, Data orders all crew to go to designated emergency shelter areas so unoccupied parts of the ship can be taken off of life support. The crew in Ten Forward thinks the situation is an experiment and want to mutiny, led by Gillespie. Guinan, who is apparently nowhere nearly as affected as the rest of the humanoids aboard, realizes that something might happen and calls security. As soon as security enters, a fight breaks out, so Guinan takes a weapon she acquired from Magus III from behind Ten Forward's bar and fires it into the ceiling. The shock value of the sight is enough to stop the fight.
Just after there is no longer sufficient power to maintain the hydrogen stream leaving the Bussard collectors, an explosion erupts in front of the ship, indicating that Troi was successful. Power and life support are restored to normal, allowing the Enterprise and the alien vessel to escape the rift, although the Brattain is apparently left behind. As his last duty as acting captain, Data orders Picard and the rest of the crew to their quarters to sleep. Data leads the Enterprise to Starbase 220.
"Eyes in the dark... one moon circles."
- - Counselor Troi's recurring nightmare, later determined to be a telepathic message from another vessel trapped in the rift
"First officer Brink and his men were behind it. They got to the engines, they don't work anymore. Had to eliminate Brink!"
- - Chantal Zaheva, commanding officer of the Brattain during her captain's log
"All 34 of them appear to have killed each other."
"What could have caused such an event? Drugs? A virus? Poison?"
- - Beverly Crusher and Jean-Luc Picard
"There is an inevitable conclusion to this pattern and if I can't find a way to stop it... we will all go insane."
- - Crusher, on the crew's lack of REM sleep
"I will need to rely on you from now on. We may need to count on you for our very survival."
"I will do my best, sir."
- - Picard and Data, as the situation aboard the Enterprise continues to deteriorate
"I am no longer a warrior! I am no longer strong! I feel..."
"What? What do you feel?"
"...I feel fear."
"To admit that you're afraid gives you strength."
- - Worf and Troi
"What is that?"
"This is a little souvenir I picked up from Magus III. That was setting number one. Anyone wanna see setting number two?"
- - Gillespie and Guinan, regarding her phaser rifle
"Sir... as my final duty as acting captain... I order you to bed."
- - Data, to Picard
"Pleasant dreams, sir."
- - Data, as Picard goes to his quarters to sleep
- Revised final draft script: 17 December 1990 
- Filmed: 7 January 1991 – 15 January 1991
- Additional blue screen shots filmed: 22 January 1991
- Premiere airdate: 18 March 1991
- First UK airdate: 12 October 1994
Story and script
- Teleplay writer Jeri Taylor noted, "This was a real tough episode. It was convoluted, it was a little mysterious, technical, quasi-supernatural. It was all over the map and there were a lot of different episodes to try and make cohesive. I rewrote and rewrote it, and I never thought we were ever going to put that one to bed. It was strange. Troi's dream sequences are not something you get to see every week." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 217)
- The scenes with Troi "flying" were shot through a whole day of second-unit production, a rarity for TNG. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 217) Marina Sirtis commented that her requests for more action scenes had backfired; she had to grapple with an intense fear of heights in order to film them. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 158)) Sirtis recalled, "The terror on my face was actually real. I was absolutely terrified." (Selected Crew Analysis: Year Four – Crew Profile: Counselor Troi, TNG Season 4 DVD special features)
- "Night Terrors" was filmed between Monday 7 January 1991 and Tuesday 15 January 1991 on Paramount Stage 8, 9, and 16. Additional blue screen shots were filmed on Tuesday 22 January 1991 on Paramount Stage 13. This was the first episode filmed in 1991.
- Michael Piller recalled that the pace of the show was so slow that the episode ran nine minutes over and had to be severely cut. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 158)) According to the call sheets there were scenes planned but cut which were filmed on the engineering set, in front of Troi's office, in sickbay, and on the main bridge.
- The Miranda-class USS Brattain was a redress of the USS Reliant from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The name was mistakenly spelled "Brittain" on the studio model. (Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 1, p. 101)) The correct spelling, "Brattain", was legible on several display graphics seen in the episode. It was also the spelling used in the script. 
Cast and characters
- Brian Tochi (Lin) previously played Ray Tsing Tao in TOS: "And the Children Shall Lead".
- John Vickery later played Rusot in three episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's final season and the Klingon Orak in the Star Trek: Enterprise second season episode "Judgment".
- The explosion of the "rift" is reused footage of the explosion of the Genesis Device from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
- While trying to escape the Tyken's Rift, Picard and Data both reference the use of the Enterprise's deflector dish to defeat the Borg in TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds" as a possible solution.
- A room is finally seen behind a seldom used sickbay door that doesn't lead to a corridor or the medical lab. Right after the teaser, Picard and Crusher leave this room which seems to be the morgue and enter the main sickbay room.
- As mentioned in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 158), this episode is considered to be one of the weakest of the fourth season and many members of the production staff were unhappy with it. The scenes with Troi "flying" were said to be a "terrible" mistake by Jeri Taylor and Robert Legato described them as "horrible".
- Jonathan Frakes remarked, "That was a yawner, wasn't it? That was a shitty piece of special effects work when Troi was flying with those cloud[s] around her. That was below our standard." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 217)
- Marina Sirtis opined, "I liked the storyline of that episode because it was about the dreamworld, and I'm of Greek descent so I totally believe dreams mean something. And not the Freudian thing, all this hocus pocus. So that was another one that I could relate to really strongly. But I did hate the flying." (Selected Crew Analysis: Year Four – Crew Profile: Counselor Troi, TNG Season 4 DVD special features)
- Rick Berman commented, "The sleep disorder was that our people were not getting enough REM sleep [and] they were all going mad which, in fact, is what would happen. It was all medically accurate, but it was kind of hard to follow and got convoluted. I don't think there was anything very terrifying in it." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 217)
- Michael Piller concluded, "[I]t was the first show right after Christmas hiatus and I don't think everybody was quite back on their feet yet. As a result, the energy level was way down and the timing was off and the nature of the problem made everybody start reading slowly… The bottom line was that it was no longer a script because they were dream deprived. They were all talking slowly and after a while that gets pretty boring, and the middle of that show sagged and was slow, boring and disappointing." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 217)
- Director Les Landau blocked this episode out and prefers not to discuss it, for reasons he won't elaborate. It had something to do with Troi floating in space. (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 21, p. 45)
- A mission report for this episode by John Sayers was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 16, pp. 42-44.
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 46, May 1992
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 4.6, 6 August 2001
- As part of the TNG Season 4 DVD collection
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Rosalind Chao as Keiko O'Brien
- John Vickery as Andrus Hagan
- Duke Moosekian as Gillespie
- Craig Hurley as Peeples
- Brian Tochi as Lin
- Lanei Chapman as Sariel Rager
- Colm Meaney as Miles O'Brien
Special guest star
- Anthony as Ten Forward waiter
- Rachen Assapiomonwait as Nelson
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Clark as USS Brattain crewmember
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Jae
- George Colucci as security officer
- Gerard David, Jr. as USS Brattain crewmember
- B.J. Davis as security officer
- A. Flores as science division officer
- Margaret Flores as science division officer
- Keith Gearhart as science division officer
- Michele Gerren as civilian
- Kai as science division officer
- Kast as command division officer
- Kim as operations division officer
- Ampy Koran as civilian
- Ken Lesco as civilian
- Loska as command division officer
- Marin as command division officer
- Debbie Marsh as command division officer
- James McElroy as command division officer
- Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
- Michael Moorehead as science division ensign
- Moran as USS Brattain science division officer
- S. Moriarty as Joseph A. Longo
- Terry Noel as operations division officer
- Frank Orsatti as science division officer
- John Rice as civilian
- Noriko Suzuki as operations division ensign
- Talbot as Ten Forward waitress
- Thompson as USS Brattain scientist
- Curt Truman as USS Brattain scientist
- Val as USS Brattain crewmember
- Unknown performers as
Stand-ins and photo doubles
- David Keith Anderson – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Brett – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Candace Crump – stand-in for Whoopi Goldberg
- Margaret Flores – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis & Deborah Taylor
- Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner, Craig Hurley, John Vickery & Duke Moosekian
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in and hand double for Gates McFadden
- Randy Pflug – stand-in for Colm Meaney
- Rayna – stand-in for Lanei Chapman
- Joycelyn Robinson – stand-in for Lanei Chapman
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Dennis Tracy – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Guy Vardaman – hand double for Brent Spiner
- James Washington – stand-in for Michael Dorn
acting captain; adrift; "all right"; amount; anicium; anomaly; answer; antimatter pods; "at all"; atom; autopsy; autopsy report; away team; Balthus; barricade; bed; behavior; Betazed; Betazoid; binary star system; binary system inside a Tyken's rift; biology; "bite my tongue"; boatswain's whistle; body; Borg; brain; brain tissue; brain wave activity; Brattain, USS; bridge crew; Brink; Bussard collectors; calendenium; Cardilia; cargo; catatonic state; chemical imbalance; children; clue; coffee; cognitive ability; conclusion; coordinates; Corbin, Tom; corridor; cortical scanner; course; cross section; data; day; death; deflector powerbank; destination; detonation; directed dreaming; distress call; door chime; dream; dream deprivation; dreamer; drinking; drugs; electrical activity; electron; emergency shelter; energy; energy output; engine core; entorhinal cortex; event; experience; experiment; explosion; eye; fear; feeling; field generator; first officer; fissure; fool; "for example"; frequency; fuel flow; ghost (spirit); ghost story; "go away"; hallucination; hand; hand-to-hand combat; headache; health; hearing: "Hello"; honeymoon; Human; hydrogen; hypothesis; "I don't know"; "I don't understand"; illusion; impulse engine; "in order to"; "in the end"; "in tow"; insanity; inventory; isozyme; jealousy; Kaladian thorn flower; Kenicki; Klingonese; knife; laboratory; laticifer; liar; life; lifeform; life support system; lift; location; magnetic containment; Magus III; Magus III energy weapon; main deflector dish; main system; malfunction; matter valves; Melthusian; Melthusian starship; memory; mind; Miranda-class; mistake; moon; mutiny; mystery; newlywed; night; nightmare; number one; "of course"; "on board"; online; ontogeny; paranoia; patient; phaser; photon torpedo; phrase; plant biology; plant biology lab; PGO signal; Picad's grandfather; plan; plot; poison; polymorphism; population; positron emission sensor; pre-heating; problem; probe; project; propulsion system; proton; rapid eye movement (REM sleep); rat; reason; recalibration; replicator; report; rim; room; science lab; science vessel; scientific advisor; second; sensor log; shade; "sit down"; sleep; sleep disturbance; snake; "snapping at"; somatic drug; solution; sound; souvenir; space; Starbase 220; Starfleet ghost; Starfleet uniform; structural damage; subspace distress call; suicide; survival: telepathy; terror; therapeutic treatment; theta wave; thruster; 'to that end"; towing; toxicological test; tractor beam; tractor beam range; transporter room 3; turbolift; Tyken, Bela; Tyken's crew; Tyken's Rift; Tyken's Rift being; Tyken's Rift being's ship; "very well"; virus; visit; visual cortex; voice; warp drive; warp engine; warp factor; warp field generator; warp tow; warrior; weapon; week; word; "you know"; "you see"; yurium
- Remastered references: Adams Research Group; antimatter (antideuterium); avitable compound 283; asteroidal body; atmosphere; Balter compound 298; Balter detonator; bio-genovesium; bioneutralization; biosynthetic food processing; Bishop/P 374; Blitmanite; Blitmanite 834; brown tricobalt 126; carbon; Celsius (c); Cervantes fusion explosive; chemical explosive; clancium oxide; class H; class K planet; class N; class R; composite explosive; construction; cryogenic substrate; deuterium; electrolytic fractioning; electrolytic recycling; electronic pulse actuator; emergency; emergency cutting device; emergency disconnect explosive bolt; emergency jettison thruster; emergency response team; emergency situation; engineering; environment; Evora oxide; firefighting; fissionable explosive; fuel; fusion device; fusion reactor; gamma pulse; gamma pulse ignition device; gaseous explosive; gram (g); Grant thermite 893; Gronerium compound 3983; Hoffmeisterite compound 239; hull; hutzelite 27; hydrogen; hypergolic chemical explosive; hypergolic propellant; hypergravity; ignition rate; impulse propulsion system; industrial processes; ionizing radiation; kilogram (kg); laser detonator; Lauritson solid 451; Lichfield suspension; liquid; liquid explosive; long-range impact probe; Ludovko IX; magnesium; magnetic confinement pod; medical tricorder; megawatt; microgravity; microfusion device; microwave pulse ignition device; microwave pulse detonator; mining; molnar composite (thermal); monopropellant; mooride polyronite B; moyerite (synthetic); munitions device; neussite 283; nonlinear explosive; non-oxidizing chemical explosive; nuclear explosive; organic waste; oxidizing explosive; oxygen; pastorium liquid 342; Pl cohesion; plutonium; plutonium ryanite; propellant; radioisotope; reactant; remote spectroscopy vaporization device; Rossium-K; R'M'Yr B'rneht Institute; Ryan Crystals 8489; sarium krellide; saurium krellide 024; shaped charge explosive; shelf life; size; sodium; solid chemical explosive; specific impulse; spectroscopy; standard year; Starfleet Regulations; sodium; solid rocket motor device; sternbachium; surface; takemurium 9839; terraforming; thermal dispersion; thermal explosive; thermal grantium compound; thermal pulse ignition charge; toddtracium; toxicity; tricorder; tri-nikolas powder; type VI reactor; type 12 Hillebrand detonator; type 43 fusion detonator; ullage thruster device; ultritium; ultritium 283; ultritium 342; ultritium compound 902; vernier thruster device; walkerite 342; wall; warp propulsion system; waste product; Wynsdey III
- Retconned references: biomedical application; humanoid lifeform; plutonium; therapeutic application; toxicity
Dedication plaque references
40 Eridani A Starfleet Construction Yards (40 Eridani A); Advanced Technologies Division; Brownfield, Dick; Chamberlin, Mandy; Chess, Joe; Exploratory Division; Fleet Administration; Fleet Operations; Fleet Yards Operations; James, Richard; Landau, Les; Legato, Robert; Mission Operations; Nesterowicz, John; Orbital Operations; Peets, Bill; Rush, Marvin; Simmons, Adele; Sordal, Bob; Starfleet Academy; Stellar Imaging Division; Tactical Command; Yacobian, Brad; Yoyodyne Division
Unused production references
deflector power coil
- "Night Terrors" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Night Terrors" at Wikipedia
- "Night Terrors" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Night Terrors" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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