(written from a Production point of view)
Geordi La Forge and Ensign Ro are believed dead after a transporter malfunction. However, they soon discover that their state may not actually be "death".
The USS Enterprise-D is called to render assistance to a crippled Romulan vessel. When they arrive, the vessel is adrift and has taken heavy damage. Commander William T. Riker, Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge, Ensign Ro Laren, and Lieutenant Worf beam over. Riker orders La Forge and Ro to disarm their phasers before going over, which Ro says is not a bright idea. When La Forge surveys the damage after beaming aboard, he determines that the graviton generator needs to be replaced, and beams himself and Ro back to the ship along with the damaged part.
However, during transport, something happens to their patterns. Transporter chief Brossmer cannot get them to rematerialize, so she aborts. However, they do not rematerialize at the original coordinates as the safety protocols indicated. Riker and the engineer conclude they are gone.
The Romulan ship is still in danger of a warp core breach. Lt. Commander Data and two more engineers go to the ship in a shuttle. When the pressure in the core suddenly rises, Riker, Worf, and the Romulans are forced to eject it manually, doing so just in time.
Ensign Ro wakes up in a corridor in section 23 baker near sickbay and finds that she cannot use the communications system, nor does anyone notice her. She enters sickbay, only to hear Doctor Beverly Crusher and Captain Jean-Luc Picard discussing the supposed transporter accident that caused her and Geordi to be killed. Beverly, at first, insists that Ro and Geordi may have survived and that other possibilities should be explored before declaring the missing officers dead. Picard, in turn, asserts that all possibilities have been explored while Beverly sadly laments that she hates making out death certificates. As Ro overhears their conversation, she cannot get their attention, and when she tries to block his path, Picard walks right through her.
The Enterprise begins to transfer power to the Romulan ship, as Data examines the transporters for anything that could cause the safety systems to fail. He finds an energy fluctuation and begins investigating it. He also asks if he may arrange the memorial service, and Captain Picard grants his request.
On board the Romulan vessel, Worf tells Riker that the Romulans have requested a Starfleet computer, which Worf believes is a severe security risk. Riker agrees and recommends that the Romulans be given a computer system from thirty to forty years ago. This would be technology that the Romulans would already be familiar with. Worf agrees and Riker gives Worf the approval to have the equipment manufactured and the leeway to make sure that his concerns be addressed before it is installed.
La Forge also soon finds that he has the same problems as Ro. After waking up in the Enterprise's arboretum with a splitting headache, he headed for engineering. When she finds him, they start speculating about what happened. La Forge and Ro take two different approaches to their apparent death. Ro tries to accept her death and be at peace with herself, believing themselves to be borhyas, or spirits. La Forge is determined to figure out what happened, convinced they are still alive.
While the chief engineer begins to follow Data's investigation, Ro wanders around the ship, and finds herself in the captain's ready room when Commander Riker tells Picard that he wants to say a few words about her at the memorial. She also begins to speak her mind to the captain and others who can't hear her, telling Picard that she was glad he trusted her. After that, La Forge enters and talks her into going over to the Romulan vessel, where Data believes the problem originated. They take his shuttle, and overhear Data talking to Worf about the memorial service, including whether or not it would be practical to incorporate Bajoran elements (to which Ro responds with a groan, "Oh please, not the death chant.")
Using his ability to look through the casing, La Forge discovers that a central device in the Romulan engine room is a molecular phase inverter, which can transform normal matter so it will pass through other matter and energy. He remembers hearing at classified briefings that the Romulans have been trying to combine inversion and cloaking technology. He realizes this explains the chroniton fields, and the pair's abilities; they are alive, just "out of phase" with normal matter and energy.
After Data is called away, the two of them then hear the Romulan bridge officers Mirok and Varel discussing the danger of the Starfleet officers discovering the inverter, and plotting to destroy the Enterprise by creating an undetectable muon feedback ray through the power transfer beam; as soon as the Enterprise goes to warp, her engines will explode.
Ro and Geordi say they must return to the Enterprise immediately and find a way to reverse their condition, so they can warn the crew about the Romulan trap. As they leave the bridge, a Romulan, Parem, who has been sitting in one of the bridge chairs gets up and follows them, passing through a console, showing that he is also phased and has overheard them.
When Data and the transporter chief Brossmer scan for chroniton fields, using anyons to eliminate them, La Forge realizes that he and Ro are leaving chroniton particles behind them. La Forge tries to get Data to recognize the pattern of his movements, and accidentally finds the solution to his problem; a "careless" sweep from Data hits Geordi on the hand, stinging him – and after discovering that this hand no longer went right through the master systems display table as easily, he realizes that the anyons partially re-phased his hand. He doubles his efforts, desperately hoping to make Data turn up the intensity so he will be brought back, but to no avail. Data gives up.
Unfortunately, when Ro is following the transporter chief, the Romulan confronts her with a "phased" disruptor. He forces Ro to take him to La Forge, but on the other side of a wall, she jumps him, and knocks him down. A chase ensues, and Ro gets shot in the leg with the disruptor. A fist fight ensues, and La Forge enters (following Data to a very large chroniton field created by the weapon's fire) and knocks Parem through the ship's hull, and out into space, an action that saves Ro's life.
Afterward, the power transfer beam is disconnected, Picard is thanked by Mirok and they are about to engage at warp, when the transporter chief reminds him the decontamination is still going on, and they shouldn't use any major system until it has been completed. La Forge figures that for them to be returned to normal, they will have to be hit with a very large anyon field, and since it will only work for a millisecond, someone will need to be looking right at them. When the memorial service in Ten Forward is announced, they go there. Joining Picard and Riker in the turbolift, La Forge hears the captain, practicing his eulogy, recall their first meeting years before, while Ro anxiously wonders what Riker will say about her – but they reach Ten Forward first, leaving her even more frustrated. To Ro's shock and La Forge's pleasant surprise, the atmosphere in Ten Forward is rather festive (complete with a jazz band, which Riker eventually joins) as everyone mingles and reminisces.
They start shooting everything with the disruptor – approaching Riker, Ro sarcastically notes that she would never know what he was to say about her before putting a shot through his head. Soon, the chief finds the very large field forming in Ten Forward. However, their attempts to get attention when the field strength is increased fail, and the Enterprise will need to get to Garadius IV soon, as the diplomatic situation on the planet is worsening. So, they make the disruptor overload, and sure enough, a much larger decontamination is attempted. This time, they are seen by Data and the Captain. As Picard wonders what they have just seen, only now does Data put their appearances together with all of the chroniton phenomena – they had been "cloaked" in some manner, and the anyons "de-cloaked" them. When the anyon field is put on its highest setting, all of the particles are purged, and the mourners look on in disbelief as the "dearly departed" reappear at their own memorial. Right away, La Forge gives the order to take the warp engines offline – when the ensign in charge at engineering, understandably suspicious of a command from his dead superior, contacts Picard, the captain assures him that he heard right, and the order was valid – and the muon wave is removed before they get underway. With that crisis averted, Geordi calls on the party to continue, which does with a much more joyous atmosphere.
Afterward, with the pair eating after the party has concluded, Ro notes that she gained a new appreciation for her culture's religious beliefs that she once dismissed. At this confession, La Forge playfully suggests they should develop their own interphase device since if it can teach Ensign Ro humility, then it is surely capable of anything. The two share a hearty laugh.
- - La Forge and Ro
"I might like to say a few words…"
"You did know La Forge longer than any of us."
"Actually, I was thinking more about Ensign Ro."
- - Riker and Picard
"Me?!?!… Wait a minute, what're you gonna say about me?!"
- - Ro, overhearing Riker
"I don't believe this. I'm dead, you can't even hear me and I'm still intimidated by you."
- - Ro, to Picard
"I just… wanted to say thank you…for trusting in me when no one else would."
- - Ro, believing she's dead, saying "goodbye" to Picard
"Why can't you just accept the fact…"
"Look – if you're right, then we're dead, and this doesn't make any difference. But if I'm right, then we're still alive – and I'm gonna need your help!"
- - Ro and La Forge
"I never knew what a friend was, until I met Geordi. He spoke to me as though I were Human. He treated me no differently from anyone else. He accepted me for what I am. And that – I have learned – is friendship."
- - Data to Worf, about La Forge – who heard the whole thing
"Seems almost Human, doesn't he?"
- - Ro, after Data calls La Forge his best friend
"Data, that's a nice sentiment – but a little premature."
- - La Forge, in response to Data's speech
"I've been thinking about the first time I met Geordi La Forge. He was a young officer, assigned to pilot me on an inspection tour, and… I made some off-hand remark about the… the shuttle's engine efficiency not being what it should, and the next morning I found that… he'd stayed up all night, re-fitting the fusion initiators. Well, I knew then that I wanted to have him with me on my next command."
- - Picard, practicing a eulogy he wouldn't have to give
"Have you decided what you're going to say about Ensign Ro?"
"Yes I have. It wasn't easy…"
- - Picard and Riker, arriving at Ten Forward
"What… What wasn't easy?!… WHAT?!?!?!"
- - Ro, once again hearing not quite enough from Riker
"Well, this is… unusual."
(grinning widely) "Yeah. I think I like it!"
- - Picard and Riker at La Forge and Ro's highly festive funeral
"Now I suppose I'll never know what you were gonna say about me!"
- - Ro, to Riker who can't hear her, before "shooting" him in the head with a phased (and therefore harmless) disruptor
"C'mon, Data – put it all together now!!!"
- - La Forge, having been seen by Data and Picard
"These were not ghosts – what did we see?"
"I believe I may know what has happened, sir…"
"Oh, Data, PLEASE be right!"
"…it would explain the mysterious chroniton fields… if they were cloaked in some way!"
"You're saying that they're still alive?!"
"If I am right, sir, they are – and in this room. Their brief appearance coincided with the anyon sweep – perhaps the anyons neutralize the cloaking effect."
- - Picard, and Data (with a little encouragement from La Forge), figuring out what happened
"Data, do you see us?"
- - La Forge, back in phase, and Data
"Take the warp engines off-line until further notice… there's a muon wave building up in the dilithium chamber."
"Captain… who gave that order?!"
"That was Commander Geordi La Forge, ensign – please follow his instructions."
- - La Forge (aware of the Romulan sabotage), Engineering ensign (suspicious of an order from his "dead" superior), and Picard (assuring him that it was in fact La Forge)
"Looks like a great party – mind if we join you?"
- - La Forge, having re-appeared at his own funeral
"Thanks, Data. I've never been to a better funeral."
- - La Forge
"We should develop our own interphase device. If it can teach Ro Laren humility, it can do anything."
- - La Forge
- Production meeting: 13 March 1992 ("I Borg" call sheet)
- Final draft script: 15 March 1992 
- Premiere airdate: 18 May 1992
- First UK airdate: 31 May 1995
Story and script
- The story originated with two pitches which were both purchased and combined into one. Michael Piller was at first hesitant to use the Romulans as he felt they were overused on the series. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 246)
- The story originally involved Troi rather than Ro. Brannon Braga recalled, "Troi's had enough running and jumping this year. We felt why not give Ro something and I'm glad she did, because she kicks a Romulan in the chest and does a kick worthy of Bruce Lee. She's some sort of acrobat. That scene in my opinion makes the whole show." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, pp. 246-247)
- Ronald D. Moore noted, "We were always trying to find ways to work Ro into our scripts. She was someone you could count on to bring spark into any scene and stir up conflict with the other characters. That's the kind of thing a writer is always looking for." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 261)
- While originally intended to be a cost-cutting bottle show, this episode ended up being one of the most expensive of the season due to the special effects required. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 203)
- Director David Carson recalled, "This was an extremely difficult episode to do, because it dealt with special effects of a type people were familiar with from Ghost, which Star Trek had never attempted before. It was one of the most difficult technical episodes they'd ever done just by the nature of having people walk through people and an environment where people exist in different phases." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 246)
- Rick Berman added, "It was very difficult to shoot in blue screen with people putting their hands through consoles and walls. It looked relatively easy on paper, but took a lot of time to make the visual effects work." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 246)
- Michelle Forbes and LeVar Burton spent two long days filming the necessary blue screen sequences, which required many takes. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 261)
- The production meeting for this episode took place on Friday 13 March 1992 at 2:00 pm. ("I Borg" call sheet)
- The first Jazz piece played during the funeral service is "Down by the Riverside". The second is "When the Saints Go Marching In".
Cast and characters
- All three of the guest actors playing Romulans (Thomas Kopache, Susanna Thompson, and Brian Cousins) went on to play numerous other roles in various Star Trek episodes and films.
- The Romulans were experimenting with a molecular phase inverter to create an interphase cloak. This is similar to what the USS Pegasus illegally attempted to test in "The Pegasus". La Forge foreshadows this in his penultimate sentence: "Well, maybe we should develop our own interphase device." According to Ron D. Moore, the technology seen in this episode and in The Pegasus were indeed meant to be based on the same technology. (AOL chat, 1997)
- The stardate of this episode is derived from Ro's death certificate.
- In "Timescape", the Enterprise-D also transferred power to a Romulan vessel via a power transfer beam which, if uninterrupted, would destroy the ship.
- Ronald D. Moore commented, "The episode was a kick. I really enjoyed the ghost story aspect of it. You know: getting to go to your own funeral, walking around on the Enterprise with people mourning you, watching Riker play his trombone at your wake." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 261)
- Rick Berman remarked, "I hate that title, but I'm very pleased with the episode. It's a wonderful high concept story. The story really pumps along and there's great Romulan mystique and some wonderful things with people running through walls and the audience gets to see two different realities […] It's a great piece of science fiction." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 246)
- David Carson stated, "I thought the story hung together quite well, and it turned out in quite a good way." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 246)
- A mission report for this episode by John Sayers was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 21, pp. 54-56.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Drama Series.
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 62, 15 March 1993
- As part of the UK VHS collection Star Trek: The Next Generation - 10th Anniversary Collector's Edition, under the "La Forge" section, 29 September 1997
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 5.8, 23 December 2002
- As part of the TNG Season 5 DVD collection
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren
- Thomas Kopache as Mirok
- Susanna Thompson as Varel
- Shelby Leverington as Brossmer
- Brian Cousins as Parem
- K.C. Amos as operations division officer
- David Keith Anderson as Armstrong
- Arratia as Alfonse Pacelli
- Rachen Assapiomonwait as Nelson
- Lena Banks as operations division ensign
- Cece Bell as command division officer
- Steven Bosnyak as operations division ensign
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Carl David Burks as Russell
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Jae
- Cooper as Reel
- Tony Cruz as Lopez
- Denise Deuschle as science division officer
- Elliot Durant III as operations division ensign
- Lanier Edwards as command division lieutenant
- Gunnel Eriksson as science division officer
- Gina Gallante as science division officer
- Keith Gearhart as science division officer
- Melba Gonzalez as command officer
- Eben Ham as operations division ensign
- Linda Harcharic as command division ensign
- Grace Harrell as operations division officer
- Melanie Hathorn as civilian
- Christie Haydon as command division ensign
- Hirner as civilian
- Hunt as operations division officer
- Gary Hunter as science division officer
- Arvo Katajisto as Romulan officer
- Mark Lentry as lieutenant
- Debbie Marsh as command division ensign
- Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
- Rad Milo as civilian
- Michael Moorehead as science division ensign
- Randy Pflug as Jones
- Brandy Pickett as science division officer
- Joyce Robinson as Gates
- Victor Sein as command division officer
- Noriko Suzuki as operations division ensign
- John Tampoya as operations division ensign
- Uchizono as civilian
- Louis Van Taylor as musician
- Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
- Dru Wagner as Daniels
- Christina Wegler Miles as command division ensign
- Unknown performers as
- Command division lieutenant
- Female operations division officer
- Female science division officer
- Female science division officer
- Female science division officer
- Operations division ensign
- Operations division officer
- Romulan voices
- Science division lieutenant (voice)
- Ten Forward waiter
- Ten Forward waiter
- Three Romulan officers
- Irving E. Lewis as stunt double for LeVar Burton
- Tom Morga as stunt double for Brian Cousins
- Patricia Tallman as stunt double for Michelle Forbes
- David Keith Anderson – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden and Michelle Forbes
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Dennis Tracy – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- James Washington – stand-in for Michael Dorn
anyon; anyon emitter; arboretum; auto-eject system; Bajoran; Bajoran death chant; Bajoran Liaison Office; best friend; Borhya; central computer; chroniton; cloaking device; computer core; containment chamber; death certificate; demotion; dilithium chamber; disruptor; "Down by the Riverside"; emergency bulkhead; energizing coil; engine core; euphonium; Federation; Garadius IV; Garadius system; Garon II (Garon IV); ghost; Goddard; graviton field generator (graviton generator); imaging scanner; inspection tour; interphase; interphase generator; jazz; kolem; lateral sensor array; level 1 diagnostic; level 3 diagnostic; line of duty; main power; melakol; memorial service; Mirok's science ship; molecular phase inverter; molecular structure; muon; number one; particles per second; percent; power transfer beam; prototype; replicator; resonator coil; roll; Romulans; Romulan captain; Romulan science ship; Romulan space; Romulan Star Empire; push-up; science officer; scientific officer; splitting headache (headache); Ro Gale; Ro Talia; sensor return signal; subspace resonator; transporter; transporter beam; transporter malfunction; transporter range; Transporter Room 3; transporter system; tricorder; trombone; trumpet; turbolift; Von Braun; warp core breach; "When the Saints Go Marching In"
- Personal appointment log: Beaumont, Gabrielle; Braga, Brannon; child psychology; Haymore, June; McBee, Chris; Miller, Patricia; Personal appointment log; Quist, Gerald; Vescio, Elaina; Ward, Lazard; Zapata, Joy
- "The Next Phase" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "The Next Phase" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The Next Phase" at Wikipedia
- "The Next Phase" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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"The Inner Light"