Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 5, Episode 14

Conundrum (15 Feb. 1992)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 728 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 5 critic

When an approaching alien ship wipes their memory, the crew struggles to put back together what happened.

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Erich Anderson ...
Commander MacDuff
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Kristin
Erick Weiss ...
Crewman
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Storyline

The Enterprise is heading for the Epsilon solar system. A suddenly approaching alien ship uses scanners so strong that all crew members including Data lose most of their personal memories, even names and ranks, yet retain their operational and language skills. The external communications are down and computer data banks have been selectively wiped. Some, including the ship's manifest, are altered, so as to make a Commander MacDuff Executive Officer (rather then Riker) and the Enterprise is on a crucial mission in a war the Federation would be conducting for years against the Lysian race. The alien ship has been destroyed, they assume by the Enterprise, although there's no battle damage. While crew members behave differently, failing their normal reference patterns, MacDuff volunteers for a memory therapy Dr. Crusher suggests, so he can pretend for it to fail and press on the attack on the Lysian headquarters, but the war logic doesn't quite add up... Written by KGF Vissers

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15 February 1992 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Liz Vassey:  Kristin, the diver in Sickbay. See more »

Goofs

At 24 Minutes 10 seconds, a boom mic is visible on the bridge between Picard and Ensign Ro. See more »

Quotes

["Mac Duff" has been revealed as a Satarran bent on annihilating the Lysians]
Commander William T. Riker: With all the power that MacDuff had, to alter our brain chemistry and manipulate the computers, it's hard to believe he needed the Enterprise.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: The Satarran weapons technology was no more advanced than the Lysian. One photon torpedo would have ended their war.
Commander William T. Riker: It almost did.
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References Lost in Space (1965) See more »

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Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
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User Reviews

 
Conundrum
3 June 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

You know, there are a lot of really fascinating episodes sprinkled throughout the series of Star Trek: The Next Generation that might surprise Trek fans when they discover them. I think "Conundrum" is one heck of an entertainingly unique episode as it turns the Enterprise crew on its head. Get this for a premise: a "mind scan" wipes out the memory of the entire Enterprise crew. No one on board can remember their identity, personal experiences, as if a mental block represses anything that might recall who they are. Not only that, but personal and medical histories are completely removed from the memory banks of the Enterprise's computers. Even worse, computers indicate the Enterprise is caught in a war with a people who have inferior defense and weapon technology, known as the Lysians, their supposed objective to destroy the Lysian Central Command Outpost, only a few days away. The Enterprise encounters a Lysian cruiser with limited shields and weapons capabilities, certainly no match for a galaxy class starship. As the crew grapple with the reasoning behind this war, something doesn't feel right to anyone but Commander MacDuff (Erich Anderson), who just so happens to show up when the Enterprise crew's memory was wiped, with a rank higher than Riker's. That is obviously a red flag, especially when MacDuff starts reinforcing the mission and insisting on the Enterprise's firing upon the weak Lysian cruiser, a ship destroyed way too easily. Meanwhile, Picard asks Crusher to study known techniques that have been used to solve memory wipes in the past.

What makes this episode especially cool and intriguing is how the crew deals with not knowing who they are, realizing that they still maintain knowledge of how to run the ship, but unable to recall their identities. Worf, for a little while, assumes command and no one challenges him for the role! Riker and Ensign Ro conduct interviews with crew members, look into certain aspects of Enterprise computer functions, searching for possible problems, as does Geordi who heads to Engineering, soon accompanied by "bartender" Data (hilarious scene; how this is pulled off, Data making a certain drink for Troi because he lost a game, is a doozy), as they attempt to correct the block denying access to certain important files. Riker and Ro eventually even become romantically involved! Troi is the one who voices the most concern about this whole war mission and Picard is uneasy as well. What is importantly established here is that despite the erase of who they are, their key abilities are still alive and well. Each member has unique characteristics and personalities that equipped them for their roles on the Enterprise. It is amazing that the race that caused the memory wipe, quite a weapon to use against the enemy, would even need to bother with the Enterprise…if anything; they could just attack the Lysians using this memory wipe weapon. Dwelling on the flaws will cause you to lose sight of what makes the episode so much fun: despite the loss of memory, we follow the crew as they uncover answers to mysteries that have put them in the "conundrum", and even though they have lost memories, their humanity and moral compass won't allow them to just eradicate a species without logically looking at the situation from all angles. What I found truly enjoyable was how each character contemplates their possible functions and identities, such as (1) Geordi wonders to Data if there are a whole race of androids or maybe even an android for every starship, (2) Riker is in his living quarters noticing trinkets that describe hobbies of his, and (3) Troi addressing specific feelings for Riker that are undefined yet there.


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