"Star Trek: The Next Generation" The Loss (TV Episode 1990) Poster

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Coping with disabilities.
russem3122 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
ST:TNG:84 - "The Loss" (Stardate: 44356.9) - this is the 10th episode of the 4th season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

This is another Troi episode. This time, as the Enterprise encounters two-dimensional creatures (who amazingly can live in three dimensional space), Troi loses her empathic abilities (which is like a human suddenly becoming blind or losing an arm).

Throughout the episode, Troi must learn to cope with her new situation, which she does dismally (even resigning at one point) before realizing she can use her "instincts".

Trivia note: Riker calls Troi "Imzadi" again.
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Well, it's perhaps better than "Samaritan Snare"
Scott Miller19 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The idea of Troi losing her empathic abilities seems at first thought like a good plot device. After all, that's her defining characteristic. It's what makes her an "amazing" ship's counselor. To lose that is to lose everything, right?

And so when she loses it, she totally loses it. I mean, she turns into a complete whiny b-word. But we're to believe this is all understandable. She can't do her job, everyone around her seems suddenly different -- it must be incredibly scary!

But that's where we start to discover the inherent flaws in the concept. Troi describes herself as handicapped, and to drive the point home, she compares it to being blind. But how accurate is that statement? The reason most people don't want to go blind is that it would put them at a severe disadvantage. Living with blindness is inherently difficult. It is impossible for us to empathize with Troi's dilemma because we don't have her ability. Therefore we do not see her as living with a disadvantage; we see her as losing her advantage, as Riker points out. Now she's one of us, just like everyone else. So get over it!

Still, that would be scary, so it's understandable that she would have emotional difficulty. Unfortunately, the entire manifestation of this fear is that she will no longer be able to do her job. Most people who go blind, their first, second or even fiftieth thought is not that they won't be able to do their job. It would have been much more interesting if Troi had tried to reassess her identity as a person. But it's all about her work.

Which raises another issue: How "amazing" of a counselor can Troi be if she needs to be able to cheat to help people? We've seen her use basic cognitive therapy techniques before, so the idea of needing telepathy to do her job is a stretch to begin with. It seems like the worst that would happen is that she would no longer be on the bridge crew to tell Picard that she senses deception from the alien that just told an obvious lie. That might sting, losing such a prestigious position, but it certainly would not justify her actions in this episode.

And if she is so bad at her job that she needs to cheat to be effective at it, how are we supposed to empathize with that? It's like Lance Armstrong complaining that he can't race effectively now that he can't use drugs. Again, just like everyone else.

Even the reason for her "loss" is suspect. We aren't really given specifics, but apparently Troi's empathic receptors get overloaded when the Enterprise get's caught in a swarm of two-dimensional dot creatures. All those thoughts and emotions. Except the whole point of the solution to that dilemma is that the creatures are not intelligent and act purely on instinct. Isn't this about the same as landing on a planet full of vegetation and microbial life forms? Yet Troi has no problem with that.

Okay, I admit it -- that's a lot of thought put into this episode. Not everything has to stand up to scrutiny after the fact. If the episode works while you're watching it, then everything else is second. But this episode doesn't work, because Troi is so awful to everyone...and because we never really share Troi's feelings of loss. We never really see Troi deal with all this, either. Just when it seems like she's about to get a handle on it, she gets her abilities back. Essentially, the show ends at the moment it starts getting interesting!

As for the story about the dots, it's actually a nice sci-fi concept, dragged down only by the utter predictability of it all.

All in all, a very weak and barely watchable episode.
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Yaro Kasear27 September 2015
I have to be honest: I never liked Troi. Her role as the crew's captain obvious and inability to do anything outside that role renders her one of the most worthless characters on the show.

So, imagine an episode that takes away her one distinct ability, and then play up her typical self-centered personality, and you get this episode.

The Enterprise-D is caught in the pull of two-dimensional beings trying to return home to some gravimetric anomaly. That is the B plot... and you'll find if you watch this episode that it's preferable to the A plot it causes: Troi can't use her empathic abilities.

While the crew of the Enterprise undergoes being useful, Troi IMMEDIATELY starts a new counseling technique to compensate for her loss, and that is the technique of acting like a total jerk to everyone who talks to her.

Now, I should point out, the AIM the writers had in this episode is noble. Praiseworthy even. Raising awareness and empathy for those who are disabled is important. I'm all for it.

However, being disabled is not really justification for abandoning all decorum and acting negatively to others. Troi was supposed to be sympathetic, to show us what it might be like to deal with the sudden loss of natural ability.

This is not what happened, because instead Troi immediately erases any hope of being likable and sympathetic by thinking only of her problem and not the fact the Enterprise is in danger, and out and out going off on Picard and the crew when they try to help her so she can help them.

The only redeeming moment of the A plot is when Riker confronts her and actually speaks frankly about how he felt it was GOOD she lost her ability. His point was largely to establish that Deanna's not really handicapped by the loss and that she's more or less just like everyone else.

That's the other reason this episode fails: Troi doesn't lose anything "real" to the viewer. It's not really akin to being blinded or losing the use of a limb. Troi is made "normal" by our standards. And she spends much of the episode being upset she's not BETTER than the viewer. This, combined with Riker's assessment, erases the hope of establishing what the writers hoped to do.

For most the episode we see the rest of the crew actually making themselves useful in saving the Enterprise. It's not until maybe the last act the writers remembered that Troi's the central character of the story and has done nothing to contribute. This is the other problem with this episode. Troi loses her ONE useful ability and spends most the story moping and NOT helping, even deciding because she's not better than the viewer she can't be counselor anymore.

At any rate, eventually the writers shoehorn in Troi actually figuring out an insight that leads to the solution to the B plot. The problem here is that it really doesn't present itself as an insight only Troi could have. In fact, I'd have found the solution more believable coming from Dr. Crusher...

In terms of production, it's just as good as any season 4 episode. The cast handle their roles well, and Marina Sirtis is to commended for playing Troi in what is probably one of the most disagreeable Troi stories.

The problem is that just because a show is well produced and acted can't really overcome a story that people don't like.

Overall, this episode is awful. If you don't like Troi you will NOT like this episode.
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Deanna at Her Worst
Hitchcoc24 August 2014
I have no problem with Deanna Troi going into severe depression when she loses her empathic Betazoid powers after some kind of energy surge. She suddenly realizes that the greatest gift she has has disappeared. I could have accepted her desperation had the plot evolved a bit and time had passed. It's almost as if they were thinking we need to have actual time end in a few hours. For heaven's sake, there are so many physical conditions that take a couple days to heal, like getting your sight back after a blinding flash, or temporary paralysis after a fall. Had she gone into this deep place a month afterward, it might have been more believable. As it is, she begins to attack her friends and whine to her patients. Even in the imaginary world of Star Trek, her responses are portrayed as childish at best. She is also the person who extends comfort to others. How can she be so short sighted. After some quite strong episodes and one clinker, it just doesn't work for me.
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Counselor, heal thyself...and stop whining about your problems!
MartinHafer18 November 2014
The Enterprise is being towed by some invisible force. At the same time, Troi loses her psychic powers...and more than a bit snippy. However, instead of dealing with it, she seemed to bite the head off friends who tried to help.

Wow. I never particularly liked the character Deanna Troi. However, here she is simply insufferable. Her job is being a know- it-all and helping crew members with therapy. However, now that she is facing a crisis, she refuses to seek help and just sits around feeling sorry for herself! She also whines about now being disabled and how horrible it is to be just like everyone else!!! Additionally, when a crew member comes to her for therapy, Troi begins talking about herself and her lost powers. Not exactly professional, huh, and a bit self-centered! And, a bit hypocritical...and a bit of a b**** as well. The bottom line is that the Counselor behaves insufferably here and it doesn't help fans to like or appreciate her character very much. A writer should NOT make the viewer hate a character who is supposed to be a good and beloved part of the cast--but they did this here. Because of this, I would consider this among the worst episodes of an otherwise excellent fourth season.
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The good counselor is just asking for a slap
Mr-Fusion9 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Ugh, this was rough. There's a good idea behind 'The Loss'; Counselor Troi's empathic abilities suddenly disappear, which creates a devastating sense of self-doubt. What better way to throw a character out to sea than stripping them of a great deal of their identity? Plus, this is all happening while she's grief-counseling another crewmember. On paper, this is a great idea.

But Troi is so badly written as an incessant whiner here that none of that actually works. Out of nowhere, she's blindingly condescending to everyone who's trying to help her (first, Picard, then Riker, then even Guinan). You just want to wring her neck.

Spoiler alert: everything works out alright in the end (obviously) although her sanctimony is a real chore. I've never had a problem with this character before, but this was asking too much.

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Absolutely God Awful
M_Exchange20 February 2017
I read almost all of the reviews for this one before I watched this episode. I was very tempted to skip it. But I'm a completist, so I needed to watch it. I want to state right now that if you just want to watch the good/great or EVEN MEDIOCRE episodes of the show, skip this one entirely. It has almost no merit.

I will award two stars to it instead of one because even when the Deanna Troi character is at her worst she has flashes of extreme sexiness. But who would want to be near her anyway? She is at her whiniest in this episode. A bit of self-pitying is fine, but when it's taken to the extreme and you're lashing out at good people because "THEY JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND" then you're just being a child.

Also, the story of the "two dimensional phenomenon" that is drawing the Enterprise into its vortex is one of the dullest things in Trek history. Apparently, a seemingly innocuous purple cloud in space (the dramatic music that accompanies its presence is especially humorous) has eliminated Deanna's powers, yet she wants to resign and be done with the entire ship before they even handled the problem. It was the utter nadir of stupidity for her to be so reactionary so quickly. It reminded me of a comedy in which someone torches a building or some other extreme thing because he misinterpreted something, then he when he realizes his mistake he just grins stupidly and shrugs his shoulders. Who could regard such a person with any degree of respect ever again? I'm watching the entire "Next Generation" series. So far two of my top five least favorite "Next Generation" shows ("The Child" and this episode) feature Deanna-- and I'm just midway through season four. Maybe that number will increase.
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The stages of loss
skiop25 February 2016
After the barely watchable "Final Mission", TNG returns to form with "The Loss", the first episode in which Wesley Crusher is neither featured nor credited.

The episodes starts with Troi counseling a widow who never fully accepted her husband's death. Surely, Troi handing her her late husband's music box is iconic. As their counseling session completes, Troi loses her empathic powers, obviously due to some spacial anomaly (natch).

What follows is both Troi and her patient coming to terms with their respective losses—from denial to acceptance. The various members of the crew try to help Troi in their own way, but Guinan as usual is the most helpful.
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2/10 Troi
eggy_iron_maiden1012 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Even with the weakest TNG episodes, we frequently find ourselves surprised with the questions posed by the end of episodes; lingering dilemmas, moral ambiguity, and the question of what it means to be human. Next Gen especially, though it could be said for Star Trek in general, has a fabulous way of keeping us thinking long after the episode has ended.

I found myself mulling a similar question. What was more two-dimensional: the beings the Enterprise encountered, or Marina Sirtis' acting?

In this episode, we find ourselves presented with an entity that is purely driven by an instinctive urge, wrapping the Enterprise up and causing havoc in the process. Much like a moth to a flame, a duck to water, or women to Patrick Stewart, it relies purely on an ineffable need to reach its end goal.

This entity, of course, is Marina Sirtis. Troi bumbles from one scene to another, shrieking utterances between unconvincing sobs, moodily swinging between camera shots until the final curtain mercifully blesses this episode. Coincidentally, there is also a sub-plot about some space things trying to reach a star or something and that's how it ends.

Worth watching for the sixth time if you're feeling particularly masochistic or just have a bit of time on your hands.

2/10: you tried.
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