(written from a Production point of view)
The Enterprise rescues a critically injured amnesiac who is undergoing a mysterious transformation.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Memorable quotes
- 3 Background information
- 4 Links and references
- "Captain's log, stardate 43957.2. We are charting an unexplored star system within the Zeta Gelis cluster. This routine assignment has made for a refreshingly quiet time aboard the Enterprise."
The Enterprise is exploring an uncharted star system within the Zeta Gelis star cluster, when the ship discovers a faint life sign and debris from a small ship on one of the planets.
La Forge is in Ten Forward with Worf and he says that he is interested in Christy Henshaw who is sitting at a nearby table with a friend but he is too shy to approach her. Henshaw comes over to the bar to leave her and her friend's empty cups. She tries to strike up a conversation but La Forge is tongue-tied. Then Commander Riker contacts him from the bridge and he leaves Worf.
On the surface, the away team finds the crashed vessel, with a single badly-injured occupant. Dr. Beverly Crusher scans him and says that his brain stem has been damaged and his involuntary nervous functions are not stable enough for transport up to the ship. She asks for a volunteer, and La Forge steps forward.
She establishes a neural link between La Forge and the alien, to allow La Forge's brain to regulate both nervous systems and stabilize the alien until they can beam up to the Enterprise. When the connection is made, an energy discharge enters La Forge's mind, and he inhales sharply, but assures Crusher that he's fine. As soon as the alien stabilizes, all three of them are beamed directly to sickbay.
In sickbay, Dr. Crusher works tirelessly with her staff to stabilize the severely wounded mystery man. On the bridge, Commander Riker reports to Captain Picard that the crashed vessel appeared to be an escape pod, which means that the ship it came from must have been attacked somewhere close by. Data detects debris and refined metals in orbit of the planet, indicating the ship was destroyed. Worf also picks up residual phaser fire. Riker shows Picard a small module which is all that is left of the pod's computer system, and Picard gives it to Data for analysis.
Picard visits sickbay to check on the patient's progress, and Crusher reports that he will make a full recovery, due in no small part to his body's quick recuperative powers. She is also troubled to note that his undamaged cells are mutating, a process that does not seem to be connected to his injuries.
La Forge is in Ten Forward sitting at a table with Worf and Data discussing the salvaged computer module. La Forge and Data present various theories on how to decode it, but Worf is unhappy they are talking shop and not relaxing. La Forge says he is relaxed and has never felt better. He then spots Henshaw and decides to escort her out of Ten Forward to the ship's arboretum. "I have been tutoring him. He learns very quickly", a proud Worf tells Data.
In sickbay, the mysterious alien has been removed from intensive bio-support and most of his major organs are functioning on their own after only 36 hours. While Dr. Crusher monitors his life signs, he awakens and touches her hand, surprising the doctor. His first words to her are "I am alive". Crusher remarks that he certainly is. He follows this up by asking "Who am I?"
- "Captain's log, stardate 43960.6. Our mission to map the Zeta Gelis star cluster is proceeding on schedule. Meanwhile, Dr. Crusher reports that the recovery of the patient she has named John Doe continues at a remarkable pace."
When the alien finally recovers enough to awaken, he does not know who he is or what led him to be on that planet. The bridge crew attempt to ascertain the mystery of Doe's origins while continuing their work on the charting of the Zeta Gelis star cluster.
Doe has been aboard for over a month, his recuperation speedy and successful, but the doctor is still puzzled by his continuing mutation, which now elicits pain and a glowing energy pulse from his torso. Crusher is frustrated at her inability to solve the mystery or halt the pain, while Doe is contrite about not being able to remember.
Riker is waiting for the turbolift, and when it finally comes, he sees La Forge and Henshaw in a long kiss. Riker comments that he is having a lot of luck with her. La Forge says that he's still the same old Geordi, but Riker says he's changed. La Forge admits he is a lot more confident than he used to be.
Chief Miles O'Brien comes into sickbay with a dislocated shoulder, after kayaking on the holodeck. While Crusher is preparing the necessary equipment, Doe drifts over and touches his shoulder. There is another glowing energy pulse, and O'Brien's arm is completely healed, to Beverly and her son Wesley's astonishment.
Over dinner with Wesley, Beverly admits that there is something oddly compelling about the mysterious man, but denies anything like a "Florence Nightingale" effect (i.e., that she is falling in love with her patient). She feels that she has a spiritual connection with Doe that is different than a romantic one. She tells her son she probably is not making much sense, but Wesley tells her he understands somewhat.
As the bridge crew grow closer to discovering the origins of John Doe, including discovering the coordinates of the planet from which he came from, the alien is starting to remember fragments of his past, namely that he was escaping his planet and that there were others with him. He asks Picard not to return him, at least not yet. Picard states that the Enterprise will not be in the vicinity of the planet's star system for three weeks, giving Doe ample time to discuss the problem further. After Picard and Crusher leave Doe alone, a powerful yellow glow briefly appears on his body.
Doe and Dr. Crusher have some drinks in Ten Forward celebrating Doe's first day out of sickbay. Doe marvels at the diversity of the Enterprise crew, many different species all working together freely. He tells Crusher that his species is different from this somehow. Crusher tells Doe how fond she has become of him and he vice-versa. Doe tells Crusher that he believes he is on some kind of journey and that his mutation in his body is connected to it. He knows he must complete his journey before anything else.
Worf announces to Picard that the Enterprise will soon be joined by a ship heading to intercept the Enterprise at high warp. It refuses to answer hails and will intercept in ten hours.
Now nearly two months on board, Doe's painful and accelerating cellular mutations cause him to fear that what is happening to him may hurt people around him. He flees sickbay after telling Dr. Crusher he must leave the Enterprise. While chasing him down a corridor, Dr. Crusher reluctantly calls for security. As he tries to escape in the shuttlepod El Baz, Worf is mortally injured by Doe when he accidentally unleashed his power on him. Worf's neck breaks on impact after falling hard from high up onto the shuttlebay's floor. He is miraculously healed by John Doe.
In Picard's ready room, Picard gets Doe to admit he was going to steal a shuttle and asks what is happening to him. Doe does not know, but believes he has to leave the ship before he harms another individual. Picard asks that Doe be kept under constant surveillance.
The Zalkonian Commander Sunad finally answers the Enterprise's hails and demands the delivery of the stranger from Captain Picard. Allegedly, he is a dangerous criminal who is disturbing the normal order of society on Zalkon and deserves death. Sunad demands that the Enterprise leave the Zalkonian system and return John Doe to them. He gives them two hours to make their decision before he fires. Captain Picard, Riker, Troi, and Dr. Crusher discuss what Doe could be accused of and whether or not they can let personal relationships affect their decision to return this so-called criminal. Crusher remarks on the irony of having saved Doe's life and now to give him back to his people to die for his alleged crimes.
Picard tries to negotiate with Sunad, telling him that Doe has exhibited some extraordinary abilities, and would like to know more about the nature of his alleged crimes. Declaring that Doe has "corrupted" the Enterprise's crew as well, Sunad motions to his bridge crew, and the Zalkonian ship creates some kind of effect that causes every member of the crew to suffocate.
In sickbay, Doe is the only one not affected. He finds Crusher suffocating on the floor and heals her. Helping her to her feet, he declares that he finally remembers who he is and why he is there. Finding another crew member on the floor outside sickbay, Doe heals him as well, then touches a panel, spreading his power throughout the Enterprise and freeing everyone from the Zalkonian weapon.
As Doe and Crusher enter the bridge, Sunad furiously orders his ship's weapons targeted on the Enterprise. Before it can fire, Doe simply raises a hand, instantly transporting Sunad from his ship's bridge to the Enterprise. Sunad insists to Picard that Doe and his kind are a danger to society, but Doe tells Picard the truth: the Zalkonian species is on the verge of an amazing evolutionary change, but Sunad and their society's other leaders, fearful of something they don't understand and perceiving a threat to their authority, have decried the changes as "evil" and been murdering any members of their society who exhibit them. Doe and three of his fellows decided to flee Zalkon and let the changes take their course, but only Doe has survived, with the help of the Enterprise crew.
Doe gasps in sudden pain and undergoes the final metamorphosis, becoming a luminous being of pure energy. He tells Sunad there is nothing to fear, but Sunad recoils in terror. Doe says that they can no longer prevent him from telling the rest of Zalkon what is happening to them. He returns Sunad to his own ship, which quickly departs and heads back to Zalkon.
Doe expresses how glad he was to have found people like those on the Enterprise but also apologizes to the people on the bridge for needing to leave, especially to Dr. Crusher. Captain Picard states his pride in being present at the birth of a new species, and the new energy life form says goodbye to Crusher before he wafts up and out of the ship into space.
"You must let her see the fire in your eyes."
- - Worf, to La Forge (who has no visible eyes)
"But what would I say?!"
"Words come later. It is the scent that first speaks of love."
"Thanks, Worf. That helps a lot."
- - La Forge and Worf
"What happened to you?"
"Oh, I was kayaking on the holodeck again..."
- - Crusher, when O'Brien comes into sickbay with a dislocated shoulder
"I have much to teach you about women."
- - Worf
"Less talk, more synthehol. We came here to relax."
- - Worf
"I've been tutoring him. He learns very quickly."
- - Worf
"Well, maybe I am a little bit more confident than I used to be."
- - La Forge to Riker, after kissing Christy Henshaw in the turbolift
"Hey, doc! I'm dying out here!"
- - O'Brien, complaining to Crusher about his shoulder
"Damn it, you nearly killed a member of my crew..."
"And healed him."
"I'm not forgetting that. That's the reason he's here and not in the brig."
- - Picard and Crusher, after John Doe kills and revives Worf
"It is our mission to seek out life in all forms. We are privileged to have been present at the emergence of a new species."
- - Picard, to John Doe when he evolves
- First draft script: 16 March 1990
- Revised final draft script: 27 March 1990 
- Technical notes by David Krieger: 28 March 1990
- Filmed: 29 March 1990 – 6 April 1990 (7 days)
- Premiere airdate: 4 June 1990
- First UK airdate: 22 April 1992
Story and script
- This was the second episode written by René Echevarria. He recalled, "After selling "The Offspring" to the show, I went back to New York and Michael called me a couple of weeks later and said he had a story that was dead in the water. It was a premise they had bought involving us finding some crashed ship on a little moon and there's a man who's basically dead and we use miraculous 24th century medicine and bring him back to life. We practically grow him back, but who is he and what's the story? I thought about it for awhile and came up with the basic idea of 'Transfigurations,' that someone was evolving out of their Human form into an energy being. We've seen both of those stories before, but we've never seen the intermediate step." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 198)
- After completing the first draft, Echevarria was called back to help on the rewrite, which was divided by acts among the writing staff. The script then received a polish by Piller. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 198)
- Michael Piller commented, "We wanted to do a show where we get to see 24th century medicine up close and personal. Beverly Crusher uses all her skills to save an alien, reconstructing him and putting him back together and sort of falling in love with him. It's a very spiritual kind of show." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 198)
- The scene with John Doe transformed was in fact done live with only minor post-production touch-up. Actor Mark La Mura wore a fluorescent orange suit that glowed on the special film used. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 129)
Sets, props and costumes
- This episode marks the first appearance of the large laboratory set, later re-used as stellar cartography and a number of other laboratories.
- A large transparent interface seen on the bridge of the Zalkonian warship was previously seen on the surface of Risa in the teaser of "Captain's Holiday". A second display that is seen behind the Risian one first appeared in Picard's alternate ready room in "Yesterday's Enterprise", and would later reappear in Benjamin Maxwell's ready room aboard the USS Phoenix in "The Wounded".
- The musical score in the final scene as John Doe leaves the ship was reused by composer Dennis McCarthy in the series finale "All Good Things..." as the poker game continues and we leave the ship; the rolling suspended cymbal and the trumpet solo of the fanfare portion of the Alexander Courage-composed Original Series theme tune were added for the finale.
- This episode was the first to establish Miles O'Brien's love of kayaking and the usual associated shoulder dislocation, both of which would be revisited many times in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- Though only seen briefly, John Doe has actually lost his left arm during the crash. It is apparently later replaced with an artificial arm; however, spoken dialogue suggests it was stored in stasis and later reattached. Furthermore parts of his facial skin and skull have been torn off during his crash, revealing his brain and his molars.
- Christy Henshaw shows overt romantic interest in Geordi despite having rejected his previous overtures and claiming she wasn't interested in him "in that way" in "Booby Trap".
- A mission report for this episode by Patrick Daniel O'Neill was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 14, pp. 48-51.
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 37, 17 February 1992
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 3.8, 2 October 2000
- As part of the TNG Season 3 DVD collection
- As part of the TNG Season 3 Blu-ray 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
- Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher
- Mark La Mura as John Doe
- Charles Dennis as Sunad
- Julie Warner as Christy Henshaw
- Colm Meaney as Miles O'Brien
- Rachen Assapiomonwait as Nelson
- Majel Barrett as USS Enterprise-D computer voice
- Joe Bauman as Garvey
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Carl David Burks as Russell
- Doug Drexler as command division officer
- Eben Ham as operations division ensign
- Kim as operations division officer
- Mark Lentry as science division officer
- Tim McCormack as Bennett
- John Milke as Zalkonian officer
- John Rice as science division officer
- Denise Lynne Roberts as Patti
- Joyce Robinson as Gates
- Joseph Michael Roth as Starfleet engineer
- Brian Tomlinson as Zalkonian officer
- Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
- Unknown performers as
- Jeffrey Deacon – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Guy Vardaman – stand-in for Wil Wheaton
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- "Transfigurations" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Transfigurations" at Wikipedia
- "Transfigurations" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Transfigurations" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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