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(written from a Production point of view)

The Enterprise rescues a critically injured amnesiac who is undergoing a mysterious transformation.



"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."

Awkward conversation

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. Christy 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.

A strange burst of energy

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.

Act One

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.

A speedy, fragile recovery

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 Christy 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?"

Act Two

"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, now named John Doe, 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 John's origins while continuing their work on the charting of the Zeta Gelis star cluster.

John 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. Beverly is frustrated at her inability to solve the mystery or halt the pain, while John is contrite about not being able to remember.

A smooth talker

Riker is waiting for the turbolift, and when it finally comes, he sees La Forge and Christy 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, John 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.

"The pain is gone!"

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 John 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 John ample time to discuss the problem further. After Picard and Crusher leave John alone, a powerful yellow glow briefly appears on his body.

Act Three

" life signs."

John and Dr. Crusher have some drinks in Ten Forward celebrating John's first day out of sickbay. John 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 John how fond she has become of him and he vice-versa. John 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, John'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 John 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.

Act Four

In Picard's ready room, Picard gets John to admit he was going to steal a shuttle and asks what is happening to him. John does not know, but believes he has to leave the ship before he harms another individual. Picard asks that John 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 John 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 John's life and now to give him back to his people to die for his alleged crimes.

Act Five

"I... can't breathe..."

Picard tries to negotiate with Sunad, telling him that John has exhibited some extraordinary abilities, and would like to know more about the nature of his alleged crimes. Declaring that John 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, John is the only one not affected. He finds Beverly 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, John heals him as well, then touches a panel, spreading his power throughout the Enterprise and freeing everyone from the Zalkonian weapon.

As John and Beverly enter the bridge, Sunad furiously orders his ship's weapons targeted on the Enterprise. Before it can fire, John simply raises a hand, instantly transporting Sunad from his ship's bridge to the Enterprise. Sunad insists to Picard that John and his kind are a danger to society, but John 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. John and three of his fellows decided to flee Zalkon and let the changes take their course, but only John has survived, with the help of the Enterprise crew.

John 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. John 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.

Leaving for parts unknown

John 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 Beverly. Captain Picard states his pride in being present at the birth of a new species, and the new energy life form says goodbye to Beverly before he wafts up and out of the ship into space.

Log entries

Memorable quotes

"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

Background information

Re-editing the remastered episode in 2012

Production history

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)
  • 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)
  • 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)


Director Tom Benko with Julie Warner and LeVar Burton

The injured John Doe

Sets, props and costumes



  • 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.


Video and DVD releases

Links and references


Also starring

Guest stars


Uncredited co-stars

Stunt double



47; amnesia; arboretum; ATP; autonomic function; bearing; bingo; biochemical storage medium; bioscan; brain stem; brig; cc; chemical element; chest cavity; code seven; cough; cryogenic stasis; day; debris; El-Baz; escape pod; Federation; feedback-loop controller; flight path; G-type star; generation; heart; inaprovaline; joint dislocation; kayaking; magnetic inducer; matrix translator; medical tricorder; memory RNA; memory pathway; metamorphosis; motor assist band; muscle; navigational chart; nervous system; neurofeedback; neurolink; neuromuscular function; neutron star; non-corporeal lifeform; nucleic acid; osteotractor frame; parsec; phaser; physiology; plasma; protodynoplaser; pulsar; recuperative power; resuscitation team; Sector 9569; shoulder; star; storage capsule (aka storage cube); synaptic induction; synthehol; tactical analysis; tissue oxygenation; trace element; transfiguration; transformational matrix calculation; transmutation; trespassing; tricorder; tutor; Zalkon; Zalkonians; Zalkonian escape pod; Zalkonian warship; Zeta Gelis star cluster; Zeta Gelis star cluster planet; Zeta Gelis star cluster star

External links

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Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 3
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