Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Mind's Eye   Rewatch 
March 8, 2021 11:14 AM - Season 4, Episode 24 - Subscribe

En route to Risa, Geordi La Forge is taken prisoner on a Romulan ship and mentally conditioned to assassinate a Klingon governor in order to implicate the Federation as enemies of the Empire and unbalance relations between the two governments.

We have been picking up a curious intermittent blip. Commander Riker has speculated that it may be Memory Alpha.

Story and script
  • "The Mind's Eye" was inspired by the classic film The Manchurian Candidate. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 166); Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 209)
  • The title is derived from Hamlet Act I, Scene I: "A mote it is to trouble the mind's eye."
Production
  • First time director David Livingston, a fan of The Manchurian Candidate and its director John Frankenheimer, unsuccessfully attempted to get an actor from the film to appear as an extra on this episode. Instead, Livingston introduced an homage shot in the scene where a brain-washed La Forge kills a holodeck version of O'Brien. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 166); Trek: The Unauthorized Behind-The-Scenes Story of The Next Generation) He also filmed the corridor scene with La Forge with wide angles and 17 mm lenses. ("Departmental Briefing Year Four – Production", TNG Season 4 DVD special feature)
  • Livingston recalled, "I couldn't ask for a better episode to do as my first directorial assignment, since it didn't have scenes with eleven people in the observation lounge talking for ten minutes. Every scene had something going on, some action. They were all short scenes and I could do some weird stuff and was thrilled." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 221)
  • "The Mind's Eye" was filmed between Wednesday 20 March 1991 and Thursday 28 March 1991 on Paramount Stage 8, 9, and 16. An additional scene between LeVar Burton and Gates McFadden in sickbay was filmed on Tuesday 9 April 1991 on Paramount Stage 9. Second unit and insert shots were filmed on Thursday 18 April 1991 on Paramount Stage 8 and 9.
  • The final call sheet of the episode informed the cast and crew about company holiday on Friday 29 March 1991.
Cast and characters
  • Larry Dobkin, who plays Klingon Ambassador Kell, directed the Star Trek: The Original Series first season episode "Charlie X".
  • This is the first appearance of Sela, although her identity is obscured. She was portrayed in this episode by Debra Dilley, a photo double. Denise Crosby provided the voice and went uncredited.
  • John Fleck appeared as another Romulan, Koval, in the Deep Space Nine episode "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges". In addition, Fleck later appeared as Silik in Star Trek: Enterprise.
  • This is the first episode of The Next Generation in which Majel Barrett received credit for voicing the computer.
Continuity
  • Although remaining unseen here, Kriosians appear in the fifth season episode "The Perfect Mate" and the Star Trek: Enterprise second season episode "Precious Cargo".
  • Krios in this episode looks different from Krios as seen in "The Perfect Mate". Here, Krios is blue; in the latter episode it is green.
  • The map of the region surrounding Krios that Worf and Kell look at in the tactical lab was later slightly modified and re-used as a map of the Typhon Expanse.
  • The matte painting used for the surface of Krios is a re-use of the painting originally created for "Angel One". The painting was extensively "Klingonified" for this appearance.
  • Ambassador Kell wears the same sash that the Klingon Ambassador wore in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
  • The Romulan and Klingon transporter effects of the 24th century are seen for the first time in this episode.
  • This is the second appearance of the tactical laboratory after "The Emissary", though it looks completely different here.
  • The footage of the three Klingon warships was re-used footage from the Season 4 episode "Reunion".
  • The large shuttlebay set doubles as shuttlebay 2 and cargo bay 4 in this episode, both filmed on Paramount Stage 9.
  • The master systems display in main engineering is seen in several close-ups. All inside gags (the hamster wheel, the duck, Nomad, a Porsche 911) were removed, however.
  • This episode marks the first appearance of the 24th century Type 3 phaser rifle.
Poster's Log:

Geordie's shuttle doesn't have warp capability. He's three hours from Risa - at light speed, that's a little farther than Jupiter's distance to the Sun. Did the Enterprise just, like, drop him off at the corner and make him walk the rest of the way? And no one noticed a Warbird decloaking in the middle of a Federation system?

What caused the shuttle's shield failure? There was no weapons fire.

Can we talk about the "this guy is Black and wearing a VISOR so it must be La Forge" implications of the Romulan double?

The slight fish-eye lens effect as we zoom in during Geordie's scream, while overused at times, is kinda perfect here.

Kell's unwillingness to work with Worf but then complimenting him while working with him is a little disjointed. Pick a lane.

I love Geordie shutting down Troi's attempt to dig into his trip.

Once Data realizes that La Forge is the troublemaker, he doesn't seem to be in any hurry to actually get to the Cargo Bay to help out.

Burton's performance in that last therapy session scene digs deep, as does Sirtis's "It'll take time" reading.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:

I have a few nits to pick, obviously, but this is a delicious episode. LeVar Burton absolutely shines in every moment on-screen, from the relaxed, ready-to-partyattend-an-AI-conference Geordie on the shuttle through tortured dreams and worry about O'Brien (such a great touch!) to the confusion at the end.
posted by hanov3r (28 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
This is a good Geordie episode, a Geordie episode that makes sense and doesn't just put him in the eye of the storm because he's our lovable Geordie.
posted by Stuka at 11:45 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:

Lots. Full list here. I can't do justice to all of them in a reasonably sized post, but we'll comment on the highlights. Some basic utility cards in Premiere included Espionage: Romulan on Klingon and Incoming Message - Klingon which saw fair use in the early days.

What this episode was really used for in the game was capture mechanics. Starting in the second set, cards that would wrest away control of your opponent's personnel, rather than just removing them from play, started to show up. Capturing could be better than killing, because they couldn't play another copy of a captured personnel. I take your La Forge, you don't get a backup. So maybe a Romulan Ambush would result in Brainwashing, that sort of thing. They expanded a lot on this in the popular Blaze of Glory set, with cards like the wall-o-text Prepare the Prisoner. To create more more Romulan personnel to relate to this mechanic , they photoshopped Taibak into Tharket.

They also dramtically named Sela's ship in this episode Goraxus.

It's Bridge Crew Time!...kind of. The BoG set also included the infiltrator La Forge Impersonator(infiltration being a whole other 'interference' mechanic) and the holographic Chief O'Brien.

This episode was also a source for capture cards in Second Edition such as Brainwashing, The Perfect Tool, and Condition Captive. STCCG is kinda dark sometimes.
posted by StarkRoads at 12:28 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Hands up: who else, when watching that bit where Geordi kills O'Brien and then the people talking to him are all "cool come have a drink with us", thought to themselves yeah, that's probably about how that would go down for reals
posted by phooky at 12:38 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


I loved this episode, even though the psychological basis for it is bogus. Brainwashing, it turns out, was heavily promoted during the Korean War to discredit confessions made by American POWs to war crimes; it was debunked by researchers that same decade, although that didn't stop the CIA from doing its own research into techniques of their own (see the section on MKUltra in the link above). Thus, The Manchurian Candidate (I'm talking about the original, not the remake) is basically science fiction, albeit tremendously effective psychodrama, as is this ep. I'd known about this episode although I hadn't seen it, because of the use of one of its plot devices in Star Trek: Generations, but didn't know the specifics, and I wondered if the Romulans were going to reveal that they had limited use of Vulcan mind meld techniques in order to get Geordi to be a sort of sleeper agent within his own mind.

Regardless of the particular plot device, though, it was still a tight, suspenseful episode, with Data racing against time to figure out the specifics of the plot (although, per hanov3r, it was odd that he wasn't actually racing to the cargo bay--come on, he's got super speed!) and La Forge being genuinely puzzled by things that he himself had done. I also liked the foreshadowing to the season ender/cliffhanger. I also liked John Fleck as the sinister Tal'Shiar operative. (In a later DS9 episode, he plays the head of the Tal'Shiar; I'd like to believe that they're really the same person. His performance as Silik was one of the higher points of ENT's earlier seasons.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:10 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


Burton's performance in that last therapy session scene digs deep, as does Sirtis's "It'll take time" reading.

Yeah, it's a shame that this was AFAIK never mentioned again in any future episode. A modern TV show would have made his PTSD and the broken trust with his friends a central part of his character of the rest of the series. In fact, just a few years later the Battlestar Galactica reboot would have sleeper agents and trust as one of its most effective features.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:38 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


TNG and its children spent far more time dealing with the impact that Borgification had on Picard than it did on the impact this event should have had on La Forge. It's a shame, because I think this arguably had more impact on Geordi than a few days as Locutus did Picard. Yes, Picard's responsible for and remembers the fleet destruction at Wolf 359, but his capture and alteration was not because of something intrinsic and necessary to him. Geordie is chosen and abused and locked out of his memories specifically because of his neural implant; his own technology, required to keep him functional in the world, is used against him.
posted by hanov3r at 3:53 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


[Fleck's] performance as Silik was one of the higher points of ENT's earlier seasons.

When this episode started, I definitely had an "I recognize that super-droll voice" but didn't place it until I was writing up this post.
posted by hanov3r at 3:56 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


This is the first appearance of Sela, although her identity is obscured. She was portrayed in this episode by Debra Dilley, a photo double. Denise Crosby provided the voice and went uncredited.

On the HD version you can see “Sela” is clearly not Denise Crosby.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:11 PM on March 8


Kell's unwillingness to work with Worf but then complimenting him while working with him is a little disjointed. Pick a lane.

I thought this was kind of interesting myself. Others in the past have felt out Worf's loyalties and Klingonness. I took this to be Kell doing more of the same.
posted by Fukiyama at 5:52 PM on March 8


For some reason it struck me in this episode (though it happens on the show all the time), when Geordi sees Dr Crusher about his insomnia, that he could just drop in on his doctor unannounced, and be seen! Man, that is science fiction. Of course, there are at least 2 doctors on the Enterprise for a crew of about 1000 which is a lot more doctors than you’re likely to find anywhere on this planet.

Anyway, Burton is great and this episode is great. It’s good to see him flex once in a while instead of just walking on to say the technowhatsit is down by 20% or whatever.
posted by rodlymight at 6:54 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


For some reason it struck me in this episode (though it happens on the show all the time), when Geordi sees Dr Crusher about his insomnia, that he could just drop in on his doctor unannounced, and be seen!

Haha, that jumped out at me too. Every other member of the senior staff seemingly observes a normal day routine and then sleep during a night period, but Beverly is always up to see patients. Maybe she's a night owl; when she doesn't have to duty in Sick Bay, she is keeping up her command quals by having duty on the Bridge.
posted by Fukiyama at 8:21 PM on March 8


Every other member of the senior staff seemingly observes a normal day routine and then sleep during a night period, but Beverly is always up to see patients.

Say…do we ever actually see her sleep? I know the notion that she sleeps was at least implied in "The Host." Maybe there's a campsite sleeping scene in "Attached" (season 7 IIRC)?

Maybe she's a night owl

Well, she DID used to be a dancer. Maybe she has a whole secret nightclub-lifestyle backstory, and some of those habits stuck with her. Might also explain her initial introduction into medicine, because what better way to get access to certain substances?

Anyway, "The Mind's Eye" is a dang solid episode for the reasons discussed above, definitely on my "never skip it" list. It's heavy yet fun, like so much good sci-fi and so much good TV.

And thanks, Jack, for the brainwashing context; I had not previously been aware of its propaganda roots. I mean, you watch those Keith Raniere documentaries and it sure as shit seems as if something like "brainwashing" is at work there, but I'd have to guess it's more that culty shit attracts those already psychologically-vulnerable, and their intense loyalty is just abnormally-strong identification/investment. But I'm no psychologist. Maybe actual real-life brainwashing of roughly the Manchurian Candidate variety will become possible once we start seeing more widespread use of direct brain implant technology like Geordi's VISOR. More like actual brain-hacking. Won't that be nice.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:04 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Say…do we ever actually see her sleep?

She's preparing for bed (and breaking a glass) in "Cause and Effect".
posted by Servo5678 at 4:47 AM on March 9


Burton's performance in that last therapy session scene digs deep, as does Sirtis's "It'll take time" reading.

It always reminds me of the final scene with the hapless garbage man in "Ghost in the Shell".
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:40 AM on March 9


I only make the connection with Denise Crosby's voice because I know what's coming, were people taking note of this when it orignially aired? There wasn't anywhere near the same sort of fandom instant-dissection of new materials at that point, of course.

I remember being blown away by the reveal that Kell was in on the conspiracy (I definitely had not seen The Manchurian Candidate at that point), and loved the quick resolution at the end. However, knowing a bit more about the law now than I did then, it makes me uncomfortable that Picard won't entertain Kell's asylum request until after he's been cleared of any criminal accusations--that's now how it works, Picard! And it's really the whole point of asylum that you request it when you aren't going to get fair or safe treatment at home.
posted by skewed at 6:40 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]


OT but at least it's Romulan-related: Michael Chabon (showrunner for PIC) releases "Some Notes on Romulans." Sample bit: "(One interesting feature of Romulan culture is that a society so stratified, hierarchical, and rule-oriented — there are reports that there may be as many as 114 castes — permits individual Romulans a considerable amount of flexibility and liberty in many social matters, such as sexual orientation, gender fluidity, etc.)"
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:27 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


I only make the connection with Denise Crosby's voice because I know what's coming, were people taking note of this when it orignially aired?

I can't speak about the reaction when it originally aired, but this is my first viewing for about 90% of TNG episodes (that 90% includes anything with Sela). I thought it sounded and looked like Denise Crosby, and the fact that her face was kept in shadow pointed to the fact that it was gonna be a big surprise appearance from one Lt. Yar! I was puzzled about how this was going to make sense. I'm about 10 episodes ahead of FanFare, so I now know how it...um...made sense.

it makes me uncomfortable that Picard won't entertain Kell's asylum request until after he's been cleared of any criminal accusations

I'm not sure of the writer's exact intent, but I would think Picard is basically saying "when pigs fly." Maybe I don't understand everything about how asylum is supposed to work, but it seems like it would be a bad move to give asylum here. First, the political implications seem obviously terrible. Then there's the fact that Kell just tried to embroil the Federation in a horrible war, so it seems like a pretty long shot for Kell to even think Picard would feel generous about this.

On a slightly different topic, that Kell had about the most chill attitude of any Klingon I've yet met.

In the opening scene, I was struck by how video games have been forgotten in the 24th century. I mean, we had 'em in 1991! Or maybe Geordi is just such a geek that he'd rather take a physics quiz. Doesn't seem to have a favorite band, either. "Computer: give me some Muzak style 23!"
posted by polecat at 11:38 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]


I was struck by how video games have been forgotten in the 24th century

Isn't that what the Holodeck is for? There was also that addictive game that Wesley and Ashley Judd's character had to save everyone from - I'm guessing that whatever made it addictive was the reason everyone was playing it because the game itself didn't look that interesting.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:43 AM on March 9


I've been watching this on Prime and my favorite thing was the hyperbolic episode description, which claims that the Romulans turn Geordi into a killing machine. Since I'd completely and utterly forgotten this one, I was expecting him to get out of the shuttle bay and start mowing people down with a phaser tommy gun or something as he Terminators his way through the ship in search of Kell, and instead he...dumps a drink on O'Brien and goes about his normal job and has weird headaches. This is the kind of descriptive inaccuracy I have to deal with all the time in my job as an editor. I was like, dudes, the Winter Soldier is a killing machine. Geordi is a targeted assassin in an "I am for you, Kell" way. There's a difference.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 11:56 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


A modern TV show would have made his PTSD and the broken trust with his friends a central part of his character of the rest of the series.

Yeah, my immediate thought was "cool...but I bet we never hear about this again." It is a shame b/c how much more interesting of a story and how much juicier acting opportunity would that have provided Levar Burton? Better than focusing on this "awkward with girls" angle.

Ties in with the missed opportunities for character development in episode "In Theory" that follows.

Isn't that what the Holodeck is for?

Agreed, although it seems like the holodeck either provides 100% immersive realistic activities or some games where you shoot a gun at simple colored squares. Seems like people would still want a game for a situation like Geordi's where you're not in the holodeck.

I just saw the addictive game episode, and I took it that it's supposed to be addictive because it hits you with some subliminal mind control. Riker seems so impressed and eager to share this unbelievable game (which looks pretty dull compared to offerings we actually had in 1991), but I think we have to assume he's actually just under the mind control, and otherwise neither he nor anyone else would give two shits about the game.

And of course I'm not forgetting Stratagema!
posted by polecat at 11:56 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]


It's weird that we get two separate episodes this season where Geordi is fiddling around trying to get the right kind of generic background music for him to ignore (See also Galaxy's Child).

I'm not sure of the writer's exact intent, but I would think Picard is basically saying "when pigs fly."

Totally, and they're just looking to end the episode while showing that Kell's done for. And the rules of space-asylum can be anything they want, it's just that "sure, after you're absolved of your crime" is a rather glib response to a formal request for asylum.
posted by skewed at 12:26 PM on March 9


Never mentioning Geordi's brainwashing again reminds me very strongly of Uhura's mindwipe in "The Changeling", where her entire memory is erased and the crew is all "welp, guess we need to teach her how to speak and eat from scratch" and the issue is never brought up again
posted by phooky at 4:52 PM on March 9


Never mentioning Geordi's brainwashing again reminds me very strongly of Uhura's mindwipe in "The Changeling", where her entire memory is erased and the crew is all "welp, guess we need to teach her how to speak and eat from scratch" and the issue is never brought up again

One of the conceits of this type of show is that the characters are bit rubbery and soft reset by the beginning of each episode. Our crew is cut up, beat up, and lose romantic interests semi-weekly with no real consequence. The ill fortunes that really impact the characters are more or less relegated to the backstory, e.g. the death of Jack Crusher, the breakup of Deanna and Riker, O'Brien's experience in the war. Character bits there to be used when they're handy.

It's in contrast with Discovery, where many plot points are an excuse to make the characters weep uncontrollably, like it's their version of the lensflares in those jj abrahms movies. I'm exaggerating for comedy purposes of course. It's...not really better or worse, it's just different. Big emtional consequences for big dramatic events would have pushed TNG a lot closer to being a soap, which maybe not what they were going for at the time.
posted by StarkRoads at 8:18 AM on March 10


Well, one reason for that emotional reset button is that, at first, the characters (except for Worf) were canonically supposed to be above all that; it's probably why the show added Barclay and (next season) Ro Laren as recurring characters who have pretty obvious problems, and why O'Brien started getting a lot more play in the fourth season.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:11 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


That's a good point, Halloween Jack. The kinds of stories they were telling were subtly changing. Ro and Barclay never meet in series, do they? What a team they would be...
posted by StarkRoads at 10:00 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


I'd been having great fun reading the old FF threads during my most recent DS9 rewatch, so I thought I'd jump into TNG at the current episode to avoid decision-making while still skipping the first two seasons, particularly since this was in my memory a good Geordi episode, came here to read the thread and make sure someone had commented on the camerawork—my favorite shot is when Data is asking the computer leading questions and the computer describes the VISOR input method; the tiny zoom into Data's deduction face is timed so perfectly! but there are great angles and lighting choices throughout—and of course the episode description here points out what I totally missed while watching, i.e., this was directed by David Livingston, who directed a bunch of the best(/my favorite, ymmv) DS9 episodes and the most extensive treatment of Romulans in that series that I can think of (certainly the one with the most emphasis on "the Federation lights rooms like this and Romulans light rooms like that"). Which I guess is just to say 1) sorry, this was his *first directing gig*? Talk about starting out strong! 2) this was definitely the wrong choice for me personally trying to get over my "ran out of DS9 again" hangover

(Also, aside from (ok, including) the opening scene joke of "computer, for my mandated trip to the sexy planet, play me some music that's less than 600 years old but definitely not with any kind of exciting beat," the score for this episode was really fun, hit that happy spot between The Twilight Zone and "weird '90s psychological horror that somehow got greenlit" while still being Star Trek)
posted by C. K. Dexter Haven at 3:41 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Pretty disappointed with the range safety on the Enterprise. Not only are they test firing that rifle in one of the most critical locations on the ship, Data goes from standing directly next to the target to immediately behind it, all while it is actively firing.

It's amazing Risa manages to keep its reputation, considering something goes wrong wrong whenever anyone tries to visit.
posted by ckape at 9:18 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Whatever happens in Risa...stays in Risa spills out and tries to take over the galaxy
posted by polecat at 4:05 PM on March 17


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