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"Star Trek: The Next Generation" Conundrum (1992)

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21 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Who is who, what is what?

Author: russem31 from United States
27 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

ST:TNG:114 - "Conundrum" (Stardate: 45494.2) - this is the 14th episode of the 5th season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

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!

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16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Imaginative

10/10
Author: gritfrombray-1 from Ireland
23 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was a fun episode from Next Generation's best Season. We see the crew with their memories blocked early in the show and a new crew member on board. With a lot of suspense they establish their identities with a disappointed Worf being told he's the ship's Security Officer!Eventually it is established the Enterprise is at war with the Lyssians and they are under orders to destroy their home base. Commander Riker and Ensign Ro become increasingly close and even end up sharing a bed! The puzzlement between the crew was fun to watch and eventually Commander McDuff is found out to be the enemy and his plan is thwarted. Watch Worf, even through his memory loss, obey the Captain! The closing scene between Troi, Ro and Riker is quite funny and ended an episode I'm sure was designed just to get Riker and Ro into bed!!

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Very interesting dilemma

8/10
Author: (kronomorte) from United States
16 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First off, there are plenty of plot holes if one wants to drill into that aspect of this episode. But I found the story interesting and my take on this episode was more about how the crew dealt with the 'conundrum'.

**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.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Despite the Plot Holes, a good, fun Ep

Author: XweAponX from United States
20 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I agree with the previous reviewer in that this sp had numerous plot holes and I even agree with that reviewers list of "conundrums" in "conundrum": but regardless of these, this episode moves fast and has some interesting interactions in it... Particularly between Ro and Riker.

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.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A devious plot, that's for sure!

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
23 November 2014

"Conundrum" is a really cool episode--with a very interesting and very devious plot. The Enterprise comes upon a strange ship. The ship begins scanning the Enterprise and suddenly EVERYONE (including Data) has their memory wiped. The ship is now filled with crew who have no idea who they are and who is in charge. It's interesting how some of the crew change personalities or assume things--such as Ro suddenly NOT being an angry and disagreeable lady and Worf automatically assuming HE is the Captain! But it gets VERY devious when you realize that there is a NEW second in command--a Commander McDuff. And, even more devious is that the computer system has been altered to tell them that they've been at war with the Lysians for years and are to proceed to Lysian space to destroy them!! So, the evil aliens at the beginning of the show are using the Enterprise and its crew to destroy their enemies! Nice folks, huh? So will the Enterprise figure out what's happening before it's too late?

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!!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I Forgot Why I Liked This Episode

8/10
Author: Hitchcoc from United States
2 September 2014

When one accepts a willing suspension of disbelief, he can go from there. I decided not to worry about how the loss of memory was accomplished and go from there. It was interesting how the pecking order began to be established. While Macbeth never appeared on Star Trek, MacDuff showed up here. We close viewers of Star Trek notice quickly that this guy shouldn't be here. What the heck is he up to? We find out quickly that he is a war monger. The neat thing is that while the crew didn't know who they were, they maintained their areas of expertise. Worf assumes authority which would be a natural leap, considering self-survival is the first thing they must establish. A things play out, they believe they are at war and have been for a long time. This helps to fuse them into soldiers, although Picard begins to have some doubts. MacDuff eggs people on, trying to convince them they must kill or be killed. Clues slowly surface and once they know their positions on the ship, it helps to define them. Unfortunately, it concludes so abruptly, we don't get to see the pieces fall into place. Still, lots of fun.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Conundrum

8/10
Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
3 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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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Where's Guinan when you need her?

Author: skiop from United States
25 February 2016

The Enterprise is struck by some force which causes everyone to forget their identities but not their skills. The information they can retrieve suggests that the Federation is in a long-term war.

With Guinan's intuition (she's been familiar with alternate time lines at least twice thus far in the series), she might have been able to shed some light on what was going on, but I suppose in that case, there wouldn't have been much of an episode. Guinan is completely missing here and Data briefly serves as a bartender.

Still, it's one of the better episodes, a real mystery similar to "Clues" but much better than that episode.

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The crew lose their memories

9/10
Author: Tweekums from United Kingdom
3 July 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Shortly after this episode opens the Enterprise encounters a small alien ship; it doesn't appear to pose any treat so Picard doesn't worry when it starts to scan the Enterprise. Then suddenly the entire crew, including Data, find their memories wiped. They still have their skills but have no idea who they are or why they are there. The computer records are also unavailable at first so they will have to work out who is who. For the most part they guess their roles but there are some exceptions; Worf assumes himself to be the captain and amusingly Data is assumed to be the barman! There is also a new crewman; Commander MacDuff who seems to be one of the senior bridge officers. When they eventually access the computer they discover who everybody is, including MacDuff who is apparently second in command. They also find their orders… the Federation has been in a long war with the Lysian's and now the Enterprise is to destroy their command centre. As they head into Lysian space they start to feel something is very wrong; the Lysians are poorly armed and clearly no match for the federation; will they act on these concerns or follow the orders they found in the computer.

This was a really good episode with a great mix of drama and humour. The idea of the Enterprise being hijacked in such a way that the crew didn't realise it was interesting. The fact that there are often 'one episode' characters on the bridge means it isn't too obvious that MacDuff is the cuckoo on the nest until we are told he is second in command and there are logical reasons for why certain crew members don't know their true function on the ship; Worf's sash sets him apart from the others and Data was making a drink for Troi when the memory wipe occurred. More amusement comes from the usually argumentative Ensign Ro who thinks she may have been involved with Riker so let's herself into his room for a night of passion! This leads to a priceless scene at the end once they have their memories back. The cast do a great job making the strange situation believable; each character acting almost as they would normally but not quite due to their memory loss; seeing Michelle Forbes as Ensign Ro makes me wish her character makes me wish she was in more episodes. Overall a really good episode with some great ideas; there are some plot holes of course but these aren't too hard to ignore.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Meh episode - too many plot holes

6/10
Author: busta_cap from Houston, Texas
26 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As others have noted this episode is a veritable swiss cheese of ridiculous plot holes, and I won't go into them.

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 internalized 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.

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