Sunday, January 27, 2013

ST:TNG 4.19 The Nth Degree ~ Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch

Barclay is back, and he's a little less bumbling in 4.19 The Nth Degree.


Images Source: TrekCore

Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch continues with ...

The Nth Degree
Season 4, Episode 19

Story:
  • The Enterprise investigates the Argus Array, a telescope which has stopped working and when a probe reaches out to the shuttle craft it interfaces with Barclay, increasing his intelligence exponentially.
    Character Focus:
    • Barclay is back! We first saw him back in 3.21 Hollow Pursuit where he all-too often escaped to the Holodeck. Amazingly, he goes there in this episode too, but only to create a neuro interface to control The Enterprise with his brain! Oh, this is after being scanned by a probe which increases his intelligence and creativity to the point of being called the most 'advanced human'.
    • This one is really Barclay's show, but we get some great interactions with him and others including Beverly who is his acting coach, Troi whom is referred to as his 'former' counselor and also Geordi whom he often out-does in Engineering.
    • We are also introduced into the alien race of the Cytherians, who bring the ship to them in distant space.


    Images Source: TrekCore

    What I remembered about this episode:
    • I remember this one as the 'Barclay gets super smart' one, and I also remembered the array but forgot it was the one where it's all rooted in aliens that send a probe to teach others to come to them.
    • Oddly, I also remember Picard saying "I'm willing to entertain suggestions" when they try everything they've got against the probe to no effect.
    • This episode also scared me, specifically when Barclay becomes part of the computer. The oddity of his behaviour, the loss of control, the seemingly irreversible interfacing with the computer...all scary stuff.
    What I noticed now, that I didn't notice then:
    • Through the rewatch I've notice that almost every time they start with an acting scene, the theme or issue that the character is exploring is mirrored in the episode itself. Here we have Barclay as Cyrano de Bergerac, and he is trying to learn confidence through being someone he's not. We also had recently in 4.13 Devil's Due with Data exploring Ebeneezer Scrooge and back in Season 3 in 3.10 The Defector with the Henry V and advantage of being to be one among the ranks of the army masquerading as a layman.
    • There is an interesting question at play here on if the possibility of being able to do something in it of itself, is dangerous. The bridge crew discuss Barclay with this in mind, and then decide that until he does something dangerous they aren't going to do anything... but then, he does.
    What feels different now, than then:
    • Who knew Data was such an acting snob? Almost calling Barclay out for not using 'The Method'.
    • This is not the first time we see a crew member gain confidence through an alien encounter; it also happened to Geordi back in 3.25 Transfigurations. The question here is, will Barclay retain any of the confidence gained?
    • Now when I see this one I get a bit of 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe to it... "Open the pod bay doors Barclay...it's very cold out here...."
    What remained the same:
    • I remember when I first watched this one I didn't under what the aliens are saying to the crew when they are basically assessing them. I remember having to ask what 'interrogative' meant. Now I understand what's happening *in* the scene, but I still don't know all the terms they use to describe humans!
    What I see differently:
    • I don't think I used to appreciate how hard it is to act awkwardly when I used to watch these Barclay episode, I would pretty much dismiss them but now I love seeing awkwardness. I wonder why things like that change.
    • I love how this one ends up being a pure knowledge exchange, no maliciousness intended and no one hurt. It's all about the knowledge.
    Great Quotes:
    • "You just spent the entire night arguing grand unification theories with Albert Einstein!" - Geordi, to Barclay
    • "I perceive the universe as a single equation, and it is so simple!" - Barclay
    • "I've finally become the person I've always wanted to be. Do we have to ask why?" / "Yeah, I think we do." - Barclay / Geordi
    Left off at:
    Barclay takes over the ship and takes them to the centre of the universe, where they converse with the Cytherians who are explorers and request a knowledge exchange, which takes place and then the ship is returned to Federation space.


    Images Source: TrekCore

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