Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Next Generation 7x18 "Eye of the Beholder"

rating: *

the story: Troi finds herself investigating a suicide.

what it's all about: Sort of like "Vanishing Point" (Enterprise) or "Flashback" (Voyager), "Eye of the Beholder" (The Animated Series had an episode with this exact title) is intentionally misleading in its perspective, since events are manipulating the lead character into false memories and thus worse conclusions.  Of the three, "Eye" is the least memorable.  It's a fine Troi episode, and probably works best as a Troi episode, but it's not particularly relevant to the character, and so my recommendation, based on the lowest rating possible, will go in favor of its connection to similar franchise storytelling.

It sucks, because "Eye" is a pretty engaging episode.  It just makes absolutely no sense for Troi to be investigating someone's suicide.  It would make sense if the episode had gone out of its way to have presented her as counseling the deceased before his death, but someone thought this wasn't possible, since by all indications, and as we later learn, this wasn't a suicidal man.  Still, it should've been a Worf episode.  Eventually it's just a story that makes Troi look weak.

The saving grace really turns out to be the tiny glimpse we have to the ship's origins.  It would've been nice to see Leah Brahms in there someone (linking "Eye" to other episodes in the series).  That doesn't happen.  Instead, it's kind of like one extended alternate take on how to get away with murder aboard a starship, as previously featured in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (honestly, "Flashback" really does feel like someone's attempt to make good on the shortcomings of this episode).

The best moments in the episode are pretty cruel: like a perverse version of the earlier "Parallels," the further Troi gets into her version of the events that led to the original murder (uh, spoiler alert), the more reality warps around her, so that she imagines Worf spurning her.  For a relationship that only really finally happens in the final episode of the series (and ends with it; the movies, and Worf's later Deep Space Nine adventures, very conveniently omit it), it definitely came up a lot.  Like all of this series' romantic aversions (seriously, what was with these characters?), it could sometimes come off as silly, how many gymnastic knots they had to tie to pull it off in a given episode.  "Eye" features one of the worst.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - Shares a common theme of existential paranoia with other franchise episodes.
  • series - Could've done a lot better to be series-relevant.
  • character - Could've done a lot better to be Troi-relevant.
  • essential - Not essential.


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