Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Next Generation, Season 6: Suspicions

The Next Generation, Season 6
Airdate: May 10, 1993
147 of 176 produced
147 of 176 aired


When Dr. Crusher works to assist a Ferengi scientist with his research, she is drawn into a web of intrigue surrounding his invention when the experiment goes fatally wrong. As scientists fall under suspicion for the deaths of their colleagues, Crusher must wrestle with her sense of medical ethics, as well as the disparate personalities of the suspects.
Dr. Crusher unveils the Spank-O-Tron 9000 for Guinan's personal enjoyment.


Matthew: Kevin, you know perfectly well that I'm a Bev-fan to a great degree. I just wish that this story had been executed a little bit better. I applaud the desire on the parts of the writers to show Crusher as a passionately involved scientist, who wants to find the truth. But why was Dr. Crusher interested in "subspace technology" again? Why did she go to the Altine Conference? I've been to conferences in my own field that left me almost suicidally bored. I can't even fathom attending to a conference outside my field. It seems like one of two things should have happened - preferably, the scientific element should have been changed to match more squarely with her established character; alternatively, at least a half line of dialogue should have been tossed in to explain her unusual deviation in interests. Some suggestions: "I had become interested in subspace technology after my experience with the Rutian terrorists and/or the Devidians;" "I was there for a different paper about previously established interest X, but was fascinated by the notion of a Ferengi scientist."

Kevin: I agree the interest seemed out of left field. I certainly have interests that are not related to my profession, but my interest in them is not sufficiently broad or deep to get me to go a professional level conference. I don't know why they didn't just make it a medical conference of some kind. It would have solved a lot of those problems. I also thought the "racism is bad in the Federation, unless it's the Ferengi" policy got a little strained here, even by regular Ferengi standards. They are a warp-faring civilization with ships that can rival the Enterprise. They have at least one scientist. Really. I appreciate exploring internal Ferengi reaction to the prejudice, but when even characters like Guinan seem to share it, it's just gone a tad too far.

Matthew: Overall, the mystery progresses in a relatively interesting way. I might have liked a bit more skullduggery, though. Crusher's contretemps with the suspects were too few and far between. A chase might have spiced things up, too. It was nice to see Crusher interrogating the suspects, and using medical science to eliminate possibilities. Either way, things were pleasant to watch and led to a decently action-packed conclusion. Though I do have to wonder - if Crusher fired a phaser at the murderer that cut a hole clean through them, how did the beam not also damage the rear wall of the shuttle? Speaking of inconsistencies, how did a naked Takaran escape from the morgue? Is there an interior "just in case" switch? How did Crusher steal a shuttle, "isolate its computer" and avoid being returned to the ship? Doesn't the Enterprise have a grappling hook?

Kevin: I liked the pacing of the mystery, as well. I thought Crusher did a good job of credibly exploring the mystery, starting with the scientist and following up with Data on the shuttle. I also thought the classic fact that the hero misses but in hindsight is obvious was pretty well done. She noted his slow decay rate but was so lost in her grief that she didn't interpret it correctly. It manages to propel the story without damaging Crusher's character or credibility. I always wondered how Jo'bril got out of the morgue too. I can accept there's a failsafe device inside in case some is actually just in a coma or something, but you figure that would alert someone.

Matthew: I liked the opportunity this story afforded to show Crusher's shipmates demonstrating concern. Guinan of course butts in with her false-problem routine, but it is not a bad thing. Even better were the extended look at Nurse Ogawa's relationship with Crusher, and Riker pulling Beverly aside in order to warn her. It was nice to see Crusher taking risks for her convictions - but I do kind of wonder how Worf gets away with killing, maiming, disobeying orders, and so on, while Crusher slips up once and gets relieved of duty and hauled off to a board of inquiry.

Kevin: This element of the plot really bothered me. The possibility that Reyga had not committed suicide was pretty solid. As he did in "Man of the People," Picard is clearly willing to disregard a death custom if the safety of the ship is at risk. What if Reyga had been obviously murdered? Would honoring Ferengi custom outweigh catching a killer? Even if the family is uninterested, I bet Picard would be interested in catching a murderer on his ship I liked how Guinan played it this time. The more combative sell helped keep the character from being too one-dimensionally wise and helpful.


Matthew: This is a Crusher heavy episode, and McFadden does a fine enough job. It doesn't match her bet work, in episodes like "Remember Me," or "The High Ground" or (heaven help me) "Sub Rosa." But I always believed that Crusher was passionate about her beliefs and willing to risk her career for them.

Kevin: The material was not the best, but she did the best she could. I loved the way she was backing out of the lab when she declared that the people who stood to benefit from Reyga's death were the other scientist. She really mines her theater experience to use the space of the set really well. I also thought she did really well with the action sequence in the shuttle.

Matthew: The guest cast was pretty decent overall, though Peter Slutsker's Reyga did annoy me a bit as a preened on the bridge. I guess this bugged me because he had played humility so well in his character's  conversation with Crusher. Joan Stuart Morris was a more than adequate Vulcan, and Tricia O'Neil showed her Trek range as the Klingon Kurak (She had previously played Enterprise-C captain Rachel Garrett).

Kevin: I liked James Horan as Jo'Bril. He really acted well through that many latex appliances, and he was very good at being menacing. It's nice to see Tricia O'Neil again. She's awesome, as always. Save for his preening on the bridge, I like Reyga a lot too. His conversations with Crusher were really nice.

Matthew: The supporting cast on the Enterprise is competent to a person. I enjoyed seeing Riker, Geordi, Data, and Picard all trying to help Crusher out, while still advising caution. Patty Yasutake is probably the biggest standout, finally getting a few juicy scenes for Nurse Ogawa. It seems as though appreciation for her is on the rise, as she will see several more roles in the next season and a half.

Kevin: I loved how much rapport they packed into that ten seconds of dialogue in Crusher's office. It was great to watch and really gave the episode some depth. One of my favorite scenes in the episode is Picard counseling Crusher after Jo'Brils's death. They scene paid dividends because of both actors' ability, the character's relationship, and Picard's established character history. It was a short scene, but it really had some impact.

Production Values

Matthew: The Okudagrams were a mixed bag in this episode. There were some really nice ones in the lab, depicting the shuttle shields and the star.  The one that Crusher points to in Sickbay, however, didn't fit with the dialogue - she remarks over the lack of discrete organs in her patient, while the image clearly shows identifiable hearts, kidneys, intestines, and so on. I'm going to assume that the fault lies in a rewrite, not in Michael Okuda, for whom we all have undying respect and admiration.

Kevin: The diagram itself for Jo'Bril was pretty, as always, but yeah, that always bugged me too. That science lab set had some nice diagrams all around, and that set has certainly been getting a workout this season. There was a fair amount of stuntwork this episode. I thought the fight scene in the shuttle was really well done, but the scene in the lab when Kurak shoves Crusher, you could see she was obviously a stunt double.

Matthew: I thought the morgue set was really cool and elaborate, with hinged doors and telescoping sheaths inside. I do believe these would be re-used in Voyager's Sickbay. Our big optical effects were the star/shuttle interactions, which were not great, and the phaser effect in the finale. The phaser-hole looked pretty good for the era, but doesn't really stand up today. I appreciate that they tried.

Kevin: I still enjoy the effect. It always reminds me of that scene in Death Becomes Her when Meryl Streep shoots Goldie Hawn.
Holy Jo'Bril, Batman!


Matthew: To my mind, everything about this episode is average. The story is average, with a problem in interfacing the facts with the characters. The mystery is all right, but not gangbusters. The acting is competent but nothing stands out. And the effects are pretty much just OK. I don't see how this can be anything but a 3.

Kevin: I agree with the 3. The set up is a tad contrived and the mystery not as complicated as it could be. The main and guest acting was pretty good. I always enjoy this episode, and I enjoy that they gave Crusher something to do other than administer inaprovaline, so that puts it in at least average territory. That makes a total of 6.


  1. "I don't want to see Dr Selar, I want to see you."

    Dang it, couldn't you go see Dr Selar and take us with you?!

  2. Gates McFadden and Crusher are average, the show is best when she is used sparingly, a la "Lessons" the best thing this series ever did was to not have her and Picard get involved, otherwise it would have been too much of a space opera.