Saturday, July 9, 2011

4-05. Remember Me

Picard and Dr. Crusher share a moment.


The Enterprise docks at a starbase for a routine crew rotation and takes on board a passenger: Dr. Quaice (Bill Erwin), an old friend of Dr. Crusher's who is retiring after the death of his wife. After delivering Quaice to his quarters, Beverly stops by engineering to look in on Wesley, who is running an experiment involving Dr. Kocsinski's failed warp theories. Wesley's experiment also is a failure... a disastrous one!

After the experiment, Beverly is unable to find Dr. Quaice. At first, she worries that the old man may have had a bad fall. But there is no record of him ever having coming aboard, nor does anyone else on the ship remember him. In fact, Starfleet records indicate he does not exist! Picard begins a thorough investigation, but then the effect spreads further. Dr. Crusher's staff disappears, and she is told that she never had a staff. She is told that the Enterprise - a ship with more than a thousand people aboard - only has a total complement of just over 200. 200, and shrinking rapidly...


Capt. Picard: "Your word has always been good enough for me," he says with a reassuring smile. It is refreshing to see Picard immediately order the ship turned back to Starbase when Dr. Crusher tells her story. Picard knows and trusts Beverly, and does everything in his power to properly investigate her claims. It is only as reality continues to shift that he begins to treat her differently and, even then, his core thoughtfulness emerges.

Dr. Crusher: A Beverly-centric episode is usually not good news. Some of the blandest episodes of Season Three were the ones focused on her, and while her performance is generally adequate, it's fair to say that Gates McFadden is not exactly the strongest link in this cast. This script, however, carefully stays within McFadden's acting range, challenging her just enough for her to rise to the material without pushing past what she's actually able to do as an actress. It also effectively allies us with her, sticking firmly to her point of view for most of the show's run. Scenes in which she applies scientific reasoning to her situation - diagnosing it as if it were a disease - are particularly good, as is the scene between Beverly and Picard just past the episode's midpoint, as she surrenders to her own inability to convince him and simply sits and talks with him for the short while that she has the chance.

Wesley: Endangers the ship with his science experiment, which probably should merit a "Shut Up, Wesley." But even though he creates the problem of the episode, he doesn't annoy while doing so. Well, maybe a little at the start, when he ignores Geordi's calls to pull the plug on his experiment so that the ship can go about its business. But this fits with Wesley's age, as his reaction is exactly what you would expect of a teenager being asked to turn off his video game ("Just one more level, mom!"). Wesley doesn't believe his mother as the disappearances become ever more severe, but he still is sympathetic toward her. He even offers up useful advice, regarding the Traveler. Really, a pretty good Wesley episode, and the interactions between the two characters and actors are quite well-played.


Season Four appears to be the year for following up on some of the better first season episodes. First Brothers provides a sequel to Datalore, and now this episode[ follows up on the characters and plot elements of Where No One Has Gone Before. There's even a return appearance by The Traveler (Eric Menyuk), although this time the episode is not built around him.

Like Brothers, this episode follows up on one of the series' early successes without trying to replicate the earlier episode. There is a hint of the surreal here, as there was in Where No One Has Gone Before. But the situation and atmosphere are completely different, and the plot progresses in a very different manner. The earlier episode was more dreamlike, while this is more like a nightmare horror film. There's also an emotional maturity here that was absent from the earlier episode, though that is simply a natural consequence of the show having matured and the characters having deepened during the three intervening years.

The episode does have a twist, one that's easy enough to see coming but is still well-executed. It fits with everything we've seen (particularly if you go back and re-watch the teaser afterward), and is tidily explained without the explanation being cumbersome. The twist also works because it is delivered at just the right moment: Late enough in the episode to allow the situation to develop, but with enough time left in the episode for its ramifications to be dealt with.

With good character bits for Picard, Beverly, and Wesley, as well as some decent interaction among the supporting cast, Remember Me is a good episode. It's not a "big" episode, and it's hardly one to sear itself into the memory, but as an entertaining and effectively atmospheric science fiction puzzle, it works.

Overall Rating: 7/10

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  1. I must agree with almost everything you said. For some reason this episode has always stuck with me as one of my favourites. Hit just hit the right note at every turn and presented a unique and disturbing scenario. What WOULD you do when you realize the universe is shrinking in on you? Very well done. It was this episode that made me begin to like Beverley Crusher. "Memorable" indeed!

  2. I wonder if an intergalactic dating service would have matched up Kai Winn with the Traveler. Same dreary delivery of their lines. They'd be a perfect match.