Friday, March 4, 2016

The Next Generation 5x14 "Conundrum"

rating: ****

the story: The crew's memory is wiped, and there's an additional officer in the mix as they try to figure out what happened.

similar to: "Distant Voices" (Deep Space Nine)

my thoughts: I love this episode.  I love how it explores the crew without any of them knowing who they are.  I love how the answer to their mystery is sitting right in front of the viewer all along, "Commander MacDuff."  And I love how it manages to take a plot that has nothing to do with Ensign Ro and still make into one of her best episodes.

It's a classic mystery.  You could see an echo of the series' own "Clues," in which Data alone remembers what happened during a trip through a wormhole.  But it's more than that.  "Conundrum" makes the whole crew part of the act.  In fact, it's all the more amusing because Data is part of it for a change (unlike, say, "The Game"), when everyone kind of assumes he's just the bartender, because that's where he happened to be when the scenario begins.

Best of all, though, again, is Ro.  Instead of pitting her against Picard, it's Riker who's plays off of Ro, as they both play for and against type as they sift through their mental fog.  It's one of Riker's better romantic moments, because normally he's so guarded, dedicated to that idea of his career that previously sabotaged his relationship with Troi.  This is a perfect episode, because it works with all the interpersonal dynamics that would otherwise need something more dramatic to make it possible.  No, "Conundrum" works because it's so apparently mundane.  It's the series finally learning to integrate that slice-of-life instinct from the fourth season into its regular plots.  And as such, a step into the future of the franchise, and TV in general.

And yes, it's a classic.

criteria analysis: franchise - series - character - essential (all criteria met)

notable guest-stars:
Michelle Forbes (Ro Laren)
Liz Vassey


  1. Despite MacDuff's formidable alien powers he still needed the Enterprise-D humans to end his war which was interesting.

    1. It's such an interesting conflict. The closest the franchise came to revisiting it was Enterprise's "Stratagem," in which Archer tries to trick Degra into betraying his fellow Xindi.


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