**Specific Spoiler** When they were trying to figure out what positions to take, and Worf took over, I found that funny, but also it works from a military view. Worf is instinctively tactical and protective and would be excellent to have in command during an emergency - he was the first to move forward and organize and although his plan was pretty much all about offense and defense it would serve just fine in such a situation and be completely appropriate during a command emergency. It might have been interesting to leave him in command and see how he responded to the less aggressive suggestions and viewpoints from the command team.
Only a series that had gone on this long could pull off an episode like this so well. It was very interesting watching the various people fall into their roles by nature - Riker overseeing and directing Ro, who was gung-ho, Geordi getting wrapped up in the computer/technical problems, Picard keeping a distance and trying to formulate an overall view of what was going on before taking any action that might add to the problems. This was very entertaining, but would not have been so if one didn't have a good familiarity with the crew from previous episodes.
I gave it a high rating because it was fun to see them find their place and eventually work out the mystery, and I was able to overlook some of the questionable aspects of the situation (such as 'memory wiping' being a good enough weapon to not need the Enterprise in the first place or having the tech to disable Data but not taking over as captain, etc..) All that aside, it was great to watch the crew come together by their very nature and overcoming the problem.
After an unidentified alien ship scans the Enterprise, all aboard lose their memories, only knowing that they can pilot the ship. Also, a Commander Keiran MacDuff suddenly appears (he is not part of the actual crew).
This is a great suspense episode, trying to piece together what's happened. It's nice to be the audience member, watching the crew with amnesia trying to figure out who is who and in what position. And Worf thinks he is the captain! Michelle Forbes also returns as Ensign Ro Laren (who with her memory lapse romantically gets involved with a memory lapsed Riker!). And, Data thinks he's the bartender!
Trivia note: Worf notes that the Enterprise has 10 phaser banks, 250 torpedoes - so it's logical for him to deduce that the Enterprise is a warship!
When I first saw this ep during the 5th season of the original run of ST:TNG, I was drawn into it. Now, the Enterprise has superior tech to the Lysians and the Sutters, but it is not too far of a stretch, particularly in the opening scene where the Sutterian (?) ship wipes the memory of not only all of the races on the USS Enterprise, but Data as well. Let me explain why this could be "Incorrectly regarded as Goofs". Someone else conjectured, why could not the Sutterian do this to Lysian ships? Or to the Lysian High Command? Maybe those two races are similar, and the method used to selectively wipe the Enterprise "Aliens" would not work with the Lysians. I do not think the plot: of a single agent, implanting himself into a command structure that had already existed, to influence them to attack a culture of significantly less technology, is too far of a stretch at all. Because it happened with the US in Vietnam. Except the US learned the hard way, it does not take Technology alone to win wars, as the Vietnamese were experts in using lower tech to kill us and even would take our weapons and use our weapons against us. So, this Sutterian could have implanted himself onto a Federation Vessel just as easily.
As much as I hated Macduff's guts when I first saw him, I had to admire his gall. Even Worf has a healthy respect for "Unmitigated Gall". Now, the other matter: That Macduff had to 1) Scan the Enterprise 2) Selectively Erase long term memory while leaving learned skills 3) Manufacture an Identity for Himself and Implant himself at a higher rank than Riker 4) actually perform the selective erasure and then beam himself, fully disguised and clothed and RANKED onto the Enterprise Bridge and PLANT the false information into the computer- All in one instant - This is another thing, Incorrectly regarded as a Goof. How do we know, that this all occurred in the time that beam of Green light spread across the Enterprise? I think a better explanation would be that it took an amount of time for the Sutteran to accomplish all these things, and that the Enterprise Crew were held in a state of non-awareness, and when ready, the chronometers were started again.
Now, the Sutteran could have stolen a shuttle, or even made himself Captain, although I think that the Crew would not have accepted him in that role. We see that Macduff was wholly ALONE - He did not interact with the other crewmembers as Riker did. It would have been discovered, the crew would have resisted, a scenario like that even happened on STTNG where Picard was replaced, and the crew figured it out and relieved him of command.
Now the topmost events in the ep, are Riker's interactions with Ro, cos those characters had an already existing chemistry. I'm glad this was explored in this ep.
This was one of my Favourite Eps of the whole series. There was practically no "dead air" - It was all action throughout - And if not action, discovery. And the main plothole of the ep, the Sutterans lower tech, despite the power to alter memory, was touched on by Riker in the denouement of the ep.
This is a terrific episode with one huge problem--why didn't the aliens just make McDuff the Captain?! Then, their evil plan would have gone without a hitch. Still, despite this, the show is a really novel idea and impressed me because of this. Plus, I LIKE devious!!
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.
But the episode's an inherent riddle. Why is there no intel on the ship and who's this new guy MacDuff as first officer? Why are they at war with the Lysians, and why does this feel like a dream? It's that morality Picard's struggling with that makes this entertaining.
One: If the alien ship could wipe their memories, why not do that to their enemies and win the war that way?
Two: If you have wiped out all the memories of the crew, and installed one of your own, why not make yourself Captain? The second officer has no control over the crew as long as there is the captain in charge. Why not just work around this and make sure you are in charge to get the mission done your way. Besides, the Captain has to know the least about the operation of the ship than any other rank including ensign. And no one would ever call him on it if he didn't know something. When is the last time you saw Cpt. Picard fire photons, phasers, do a transport, or align the warp coils? Pretty much never. I think he controlled the helm on the Enterprise once before this. In fact this is one of the rare episodes where you see him man another station than the captain's chair.
Three: How could an alien race that was 100 years behind them have any understanding of how to wipe the crew's memory, get through their shields, or even run the ship at all? The memory wipe was instant. Which brings me to my next point.
Four: In which of the 5 seconds they were stunned did MacDuff become fully dressed in uniform, change the personnel files, and then get into position before they realized what was going on? Doesn't leave a lot of time for pre-mission briefing like studying their files while they are oblivious. Hardly something a technologically inferior race could handle.
Five: If you have the crew dead to rights, why not just transport them into space one by one( tell them they are going planet-side) and then take over the ship and its superior technology. It would be an intelligence coup. Besides, if Starfleet never knew it happened they would have no idea where to look for it. Especially amongst the technologically inferior.
Six: If a single photon torpedo was all it would take to end their war why didn't they just steal a bunch of those? Maybe a launcher or two. Grab a shuttle and go. You get a shuttle to take apart too. I believe they have phasers on them at least. If nothing else, they have advanced computers, and impulse engines to retro-engineer.
Seven: If they could understand Data enough to alter his circuitry wouldn't they be of a higher technological level than 100 years in the past?
Eight: Star Trek completely ignores the lessons of the past. Humanity is linear. We build upon the past. Things that have worked for 1000 years will still work in the future. Things like military tactics, commando style raids, intelligence coups, logistics, economy(I love how Picard "bought" a totem for Riker on Riza), EVEN THE WAY THE NAVY WORKS. None of this is applied. In the navy, an admiral runs the flagship not a captain. In the navy the flagship is usually a carrier, not a frigate which is a tiny boat used to help defend a carrier. In fact I would label the Enterprise as a cruiser which is much larger than a frigate. A Flagship has a fleet which surrounds it and protects it at all times while it attempts to complete a military mission. In the Star Trek universe, they would have you believe that the Enterprise is the only ship in the universe unless the story calls for more.
What the Enterprise is, really, is an ambassador's ship, and this makes about 0 sense from a navy perspective.
If I had made TNG I would have made the Enterprise a carrier with fighters a la Battlestar Galactica style. I would have made it a fleet. And Picard would be an Admiral. And there would be a war.
Ships don't run around too much in times of peace, other than as displays of power in ports of call. They are made for war. Instead of making humanity in the future a bunch of wussies, we could be more realistic and realize that we were bred to destroy things. Humanity is a war-like race. I know I have seriously digressed but from a Navy standpoint, BSG is a far more accurate view of the future in my opinion. They actually use navy terms and concepts and put them into action.
None of this makes any sense. From a completely oblivious standpoint, however, this episode is fun and different. The scene where the alien gets shot with the phaser is just awesome. The sound it makes and the visuals were cool as can be, even to this day.
I just wish they had hired a continuity crew to go through and make sure all of this stuff makes sense in fitting into the Star Trek Universe. If you ask me the Next Generation has more plot holes than all the other series combined. There are just WAY too many inconsistencies brought on by a need to write a decent episode, at the cost of the series' integrity. The reason I think this is, is because TNG was written by so many different writers. It feels like a pulp fiction novella series half the time.
I just saw a rerun of this episode last night and was struck by how poor the performance of "Commander MacDuff" was. His delivery was awkward and unnatural, as if he had just learned them minutes before -- without a chance to really internalize them -- and was simply reciting them by rote. His speech to Worf, in particular, had an awkward cadence without any natural flow.
I can't recall seeing this actor in anything else, so I can't tell if he was just having a bad week when filming this episode, or if that's just how he is.