This episode suffers from attempting to do too much, and what it chooses to do is predictable. The mission of the Enterprise is to transport delegations from two different warring planets to a peace conference. One species is feline in nature, using live animals as food and obviously playing with that food for some time, as a cat does, before killing and eating it. The other species is reptilian, and each would much rather kill the other than make any attempt at peace. The Enterprise crew is obviously disgusted with their behavior and it would have been possible to create an interesting story using this as a premise. Unfortunately, while the two species hunt each other while on the Enterprise, a truly preposterous notion, a different storyline is the main one. On their way to the peace conference, the Enterprise alters course to investigate an energy cloud that is traveling at warp speed. As the Enterprise passes near the cloud, an energy being comes aboard, takes possession of several members of the crew and causes many systems to malfunction. The members of the crew all appear to be dunderheads, totally unable to understand what is happening. Finally, the alien takes possession of Captain Picard and embarks on a course of action where the outcome is obvious. In no way is this one of the better episodes of TNG. It would have been a much more interesting story if the energy being had been left out and the emphasis placed on the crew's attempt to make peace between two deadly enemies, where both have applied for membership in the Federation. Despite all the time spent on the two different species, we learn nothing about what happens at the peace conference.
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Charles Ashbacher (CharlesAshbacher)
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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This somewhat patchy drama never quite comes to life until late in the episode, when Patrick Stewart gets a chance to play Captain Picard as a man literally possessed. While escorting delegations from two feuding planets to a Federation outpost, theEnterprisepasses through a mysterious cloud containing intelligent life in the form of pure energy. One such entity alternately enters the bodies of Worf (Michael Dorn), Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden), the ship's computers and, finally, Picard. The script by Dorothy Fontana, based on a story by Michael Halperin, burns up a lot of time treating the basic idea as a mystery, with Data (Brent Spiner) even going so far as to adopt the mannerisms and vernacular of Sherlock Holmes. (A dubious element, though Spiner does get some great comic mileage out of it.) Again, it's Stewart's ingenuity that makes one forget the story's problems, playing Picard in a way that seems off by a few, unsettling degrees.--Tom Keogh