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TNG 4-10

TNG 4x10
"The Loss"

Original airdate: 12/31/1990
Rewatch date: 11/26/2011

When the ship is caught in the wake of 2-dimensional beings, Counselor Troi suddenly loses her empathic abilities.

Spoiler-free notes:

The opening is a little too on-the-nose. You have a woman dealing with a loss who insists that nothing is wrong, that she feels fine, but Troi knows otherwise. Then, a few short scenes later, Troi is dealing with a loss and insisting that nothing is wrong, that she feels fine. I appreciate the message here, but it's anvilicious.

Dr. Crusher says she has a sick-bay full of headaches as though it's no big deal, and she doesn't bother to follow up as to their cause or mention it during the briefings with the bridge crew. And yet, in "The Battle," she completely freaks out because Picard comes in with a headache, because headaches have supposedly been cured by the 24th Century.

The only way the 2-dimensional plane can be invisible to the forward sensors would be for it to be in exactly the same orientation as the Enterprise and in exactly the same spot, to the millimeter, as the sensors themselves. To say this is unlikely would be an understatement. Additionally, there's no reason to believe the two-dimensional beings would exist on a perfectly flat 3-dimensional plane, assuming the curvature of spacetime would even allow for such perfect flatness.

Why doesn't Picard ask if the warp jump could potentially harm the 2-dimensional lifeforms?

Actually, Troi is completely wrong when she says that the idea of sensory compensation has no scientific basis. Neuroplasticity is a very well-understood phenomenon and does exactly what Picard suggests when a person is deprived of a sense; the brain reassigns neurons to other senses and brain functions, making them stronger and more efficient.

I like the idea of 2-dimensional beings, but it's poorly explored here, a real missed opportunity. Instead of getting into any interesting scientific concepts about what it would mean to have 2-dimensional beings existing in a 3-dimensional universe, the episode instead concentrates on Troi's loss and offers constant repeats of "our 3-dimensional tools have no effect on 2-dimensional beings!" The explanations, both for the 2-dimensional beings heading toward a cosmic string fragment and for Troi's loss, are lacking in much sense. I don't dislike the exploration of Troi's character in the absence of her empathic sense--I feel it's an important step in helping to define her--but the script needed to put more time in the other half of the story to balance out the soapiness and give more of a sci-fi feel.

Number of episodes in which a member of the crew is subverted by an alien lifeforce: 11

Spoiler section:

Is this the first mention of the Breen?

TNG 4x09
"Final Mission"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
TNG 4x11
"Data's Day"
Copyright 2011 e. magill. All rights reserved.