Friday, March 24, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 84 (The Loss)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

There were a few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation that dealt specifically with the ship’s counselor, Deanna Troi, being empathic.  Since she can sense the emotions of others, it can be an advantage.  Is it fair?  That depends on who you’re asking.  In The Loss, Troi has to deal with just that.  She loses her empathic abilities, forcing her to live as a mere human.  (She’s half human, half Betazoid.)  Everyone tries to help, but it seems that nothing can be done.

The loss coincides with two-dimensional aliens attaching themselves to the ship, so it’s entirely possible that Troi will regain her abilities once the situation is resolved.  (Spoiler alert:  This is exactly what happens.)  Before that happens, she decides to resign as counselor.  She doesn’t feel that she can perform her duties any more.  Captain Picard points out that many ships do just fine with non-empathic counselors.  In time, Troi might be able to cope.

Commander Riker’s the one that hits the nail on the head.  Troi is used to having an edge, knowing what everyone else is feeling.  Now that she doesn’t have that, all she wants to do is run and hide.  Now that she can’t lean on her ability, her true colors come through.  I can’t say that I’d be any better, but Troi comes off as a little whiny.  She lashes out at Dr. Crusher and tries to push Riker away.

This actually brings up an interesting point, which is that (as far as I know) the Enterprise has only one counselor.  There are over a thousand people on the ship.  Even if one counselor could handle that workload, you’d think that it would be nice to have the choice of who to talk to if you don’t like one of the counselors.  More importantly, even counselors need counseling, themselves.  Who does Troi turn to when she has a crisis?  There isn’t even any talk of giving her a few days off when this thing with the two-dimensional creatures is all over.

Also, Troi seems to go through the stages of grief very quickly.  I remember an episode of Wings where one of the characters, Lowell, finds out something bad where the other characters know he will grieve.  One of the other characters mentions even mentions the stages.  When Lowell comes in, he goes through all the stages in rapid succession, getting over his loss in under a minute.  This episode was sort of like that.  We get to see all the things someone might go through if they experience a similar loss.

The whole episode seems forced.  We have someone experiencing a loss that we know isn’t permanent.   When Odo became human on Deep Space Nine, it was done much better.  It lasted for almost half of a season.  There was some time to actually write some stories around it.  Here, it doesn’t seem that serious.  Overall, it’s a missable episode. 

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