Star Trek: The Next Generation: Violations   Rewatch 
April 26, 2021 8:38 AM - Season 5, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Several crew members suffer violent hallucinations and comas as alien researchers visit the ship.

You know you're not supposed to probe Memory Alpha unless they've given you permission

Story and script
  • "Violations" went through many versions, which each approached the issue of rape from a different angle. Jeri Taylor recalled that the story "was very dear to my heart, because it was a rape story and we felt we wanted to avoid the classic rape story, which is someone gets raped and then we do the emotional aftermath. That's a story that's been told and told and told and told. We felt we had nothing fresh to offer." It was Jeri Taylor and intern Pamela Gray who decided on the science fiction twist of mental assault. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 189); Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 236)
  • Taylor commented that the concept "was an immediately attractive idea: the idea of rape being a mental thing as opposed to a physical thing. Even though it's mental, not physical the violation is no less profound." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 240)
  • The writing staff created memory flashbacks for every major character before Troi, Riker, and Crusher were chosen. One involved Ro's actions on Garon II. Another, involving La Forge's traumatic childhood experience of a fire, was used by Joe Menosky in "Hero Worship". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 189)) Ronald D. Moore recalled, "[I]t became an issue of what are those little dream sequences going to be and how are we going to present the antagonist and the victims, and what are they saying about the characters and what are going to be the things that are intimate and personal to them? […] We just wanted them to all look a little different." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 236)
  • Director Robert Wiemer was given permission from Rick Berman to use a number of different camera techniques to give the flashbacks a very different feel. While Berman was not usually a great believer in such techniques, he felt the nature of the story meant it was appropriate here. The scenes in "reality" were shot in a conservative manner to heighten the contrast. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 189); Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 237) Special cameras were used: Panastar high speed cameras with a low angle-wide angle prism and 14910 mm lens and another one with a 100 mm macro lens. ("Violations" call sheet) For Beverly Crusher's flashback, actors Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden sat on a camera dolly, creating a surreal floating effect. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 189))
  • This is the first episode to be produced following creator and executive producer Gene Roddenberry's death. The call sheet for Thursday 31 October 1991 features a note that, on Friday 1 November 1991, the production would shut down at 1:00 pm and that the Gene Roddenberry Memorial Service would be held at 2:00 pm.
Cast and characters
    This is the only episode of either The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine in which Rosalind Chao appears as Keiko O'Brien without Colm Meaney.
  • This is the second of three appearances of Doug Wert as Jack Crusher. He first appeared in "Family", and later reprised the role in "Journey's End".
  • While Riker keeps a comatose Troi company, he mentions that she had done this for him before, referring to the events of the second season episode "Shades of Gray".
Poster's Log:
It's fun to see Keiko in a situation where she's not acting as "Miles's wife" or "Molly's mom".

Right from the beginning, they're setting up Tarmin as the fall guy.

How, exactly, is this library going to work? Since only highly-trained members of this species can extract memories, will they be writing down what they've learned? Filming it for broadcast of some kind?

"It would be wise to quarantine the aliens"? Worf, it's pronounced "YOU-lee-ans".

Would the final heel-turn have been more effective if we hadn't seen Jev in the memory sequences first time around? Less?

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
I usually skip this one in repeats, and this may have been the first time I've watched it since original broadcast. Graded on technical merits alone, this is a pretty good episode - the dialog is pretty tight, there's just enough humor (unfortunately, at Lwaxana's expense), the flashback sequences look good, and there aren't really any crew mis-steps in solving the mystery. It is decent story-telling... of a very upsetting story, made worse by the oh-so-common fact that it's a one-off. A species we've never heard of before and will never hear from again comes on board, assaults three officers, and goes home. This traumatic experience gets memory-holed immediately, which makes the actual episode itself, to me, feel voyeuristic and kind of gross. I think I can pass on seeing this one again for another thirty years.
posted by hanov3r (16 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There's a longer discussion to have about memory-holing trauma in TNG. I can only think of two traumatic experiences seen during the course of the show that have implications beyond the episode in which they occur - the creation of Locutus and Worf's discommendation. Maybe three, if we count Data's original encounter with Bruce Maddox.

Trauma that we've heard about off-screen, like the effect of Jack Crusher's death on Beverly and Wes, keeps coming up. It's a driving force for some of these characters. But they never seem to be affected by new trauma.
posted by hanov3r at 8:43 AM on April 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

For this FanFare rewatch, I did actually really want to go through every bit of TNG, but I had to turn this one off around the point of Rapey John-Boy's first predatory glare. So, yeah, I used my Greatest Gen-style veto here, hopefully for the last time.

While Riker keeps a comatose Troi company, he mentions that she had done this for him before, referring to the events of the second season episode "Shades of Gray".

GOLDEN meta-flashback opportunity, missed. Sad!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:02 AM on April 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Troi's trauma... WTF. Jev is pulling bad memories from his victims and using them for his fun. Which has to mean that at some point... Will date-raped Deanna. Right? For a long time I just assumed that was Jev using Riker as an avatar for a more free-form violation (and its my guess that's what the writers wanted me to assume). But later, I realized it's never made clear, which opens to door to Jev using a memory of a past date-rape.

Am I wrong? Did I miss something? Am I reading too much into this?
posted by Stuka at 9:23 AM on April 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Yeah, this one was super-tough sledding; I nearly noped out at the very beginning, when Tarmin is having a super-hard time hearing the word "no" when he's trying to get other crew members to give up their memories on the spot. I've complained before about how there doesn't seem to be a lot of law or regulation regarding the use of telepathic or empathic abilities, at least by Betazoids (in "The Price" and "The Drumhead"), and here we have this guy trying to wheedle people that he's just met to reveal their secrets in public in service of what, in that context, is basically a parlor trick. Not cool, dude! Boundaries! And that's before "Rapey John-Boy" with his daddy issues starts up his little revenge scheme with bonus creeping. And hanov3r is right, it is a well-executed story... but also right in that it's a very difficult one to get through, and very puzzling and just sort of wrong that it's not followed up on, especially as they'll go to that well again in Star Trek: Nemesis.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:34 AM on April 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Stuka, I started and restarted and restarted a paragraph about that and couldn't quite put the words together right. But, yeah, how much of those 'rapes' were actual past experiences and how much was made up by Jev? We know that Beverly had to have, at some point, seen Jack's body, so that terror did come from a real place. So, did Riker leave an ensign to die in an engineering accident? Did he date-rape Deanna at some point (apparently after a poker game ON THE ENTERPRISE)?
posted by hanov3r at 9:43 AM on April 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

they'll go to that well again in Star Trek: Nemesis.
The way it plays out in Nemesis it's almost like they just grabbed a page from this script and just threw it in to the movie because they were under-running or something. I rarely use the L-word when describing creative works but, yeah, it was a lazy move.

Is this the first use of that 'and here's the bad guy who had nothing to do with the scene you just watched' shot at the end of the teaser? We'll be seeing that a lot on DS9....

I'm also calling shenanigans on Federation law not being able to deal with such a situation. The Talosians and various other telepathic species are out there. Vulcans, Betazoids. Would they not have psionic regulations?

The STCCG did use this episode:
Tarmin can look in Q's Tent. How's that for abstraction? It's probably the only way to do that, but I never saw it as must-use.

Second Edition features two skill fillers, Martin and Inad, who both feature pretty good skill matrices, and were fairly common to see in play. Memory Invasion, I never saw once.
posted by StarkRoads at 10:26 AM on April 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

This one skeezes me out so much I don't even want to read FanFare about it.
posted by rocketman at 11:21 AM on April 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I've watched this one twice now recently, all the way through, once sort of by accident (couldn't reach the remote without cat disruption) and the second one to see if I could find anything interesting to say when it came up on FanFare. Spoiler: I could not. I think the things that are so wrong with this (look, I get where you're coming from, earnest writer who wants to shine the light on something important, but approaching something so devastating with wanting to bring something "fresh" to the take on a rape story is just...there aren't coolness or originality points to assign for this kind of thing) are so glaringly obvious, that the only points of interest are in these MA clueless remembrances of the crew or the cast.

I mean, Jev is just so awful right from the beginning (the rictus grin, the darting eyes, the dropped head), and even Riker can tell he's rotten when he has his one-on-one, but everyone bumbles around not talking about the obvious interstellar creeper onboard. I admit the filming techniques were interesting, and that was really the only thing keeping me going on this rewatch. People's confusion about where those memories are coming from isn't surprising: I took it that Jev was manipulating parts of the memory, like he starts with Deanna and Will and the chips, but then takes it into another place; same thing with Will and the accident being something that happened, but not necessarily that he left someone to die. Still, it's a failure when enough people are confused by that and there's room for that many interpretations.

They started from an extremely shaky premise: that an assault is only physical and not mental, and it went downhill from there. Jev is a creep but also absent of real motivations, and he uses the project as a cover for his "violations" while still forcing himself to remain with his father, whom he clearly hates. The whole thing is just desperate to be Important, but only comes across as Important in the way that creeper guy in your MFA would write it.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 1:09 PM on April 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Nice things about this episode:
- I think they did Young Picard better in this than most other times they make the attempt (I'm looking at you, Star Trek Nemesis)
- That's it, I guess.

I don't think Riker actually date-raped Troi, but I do think it was a memory of a real hookup that was manipulated by Jev, who displays the ability to alter memories later by sticking Tarmin in his place. Also, The Federation should absolutely have a law against mind-rape, for real. Vulcans are absolutely capable of forcing themselves on an non-consenting mind, and Betazoids may also be able to, not to mention any kind of technology that could be created to scan someone's mind against their will. Not addressing this is downright weird.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:16 PM on April 26, 2021

1. I think the memories are more or less real. In the case of Riker leaving someone behind to die, think about Troi later on working on becoming a command-qualified officer and the test she had to take to see if she was willing to leave someone behind to die to save the ship. I think that is the kind of thing that would be nightmarish for a command-track officer like Riker.

2. It's too bad they already had three guests on this episode. This would have been a good one for Dr. Selar to show up and use some mind meld skills, especially after chief medical officer Crusher goes down for the count.
posted by Fukiyama at 3:02 PM on April 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Vulcans are absolutely capable of forcing themselves on an non-consenting mind

Memory Alpha content that I didn't bring over mentions this in context of Mirror-Spock forcing a mind meld on McCoy in "Mirror, Mirror" and glosses over but should probably have mentioned this in regards to Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock.

and Betazoids may also be able to

Lwaxana has made it abundantly clear that, modulo some specific species, she can easily read anyone's mind at a glance. I don't think we know how her powers stack up against a regular Betazoid's. But, have we seen Betazoids implanting memories?

not to mention any kind of technology that could be created to scan someone's mind against their will. Not addressing this is downright weird.

Do the Klingons still use the mindsifter that Kor had on Organia?
posted by hanov3r at 3:03 PM on April 26, 2021

If it were anyone else other than Riker, yeah, I would have no doubt that Jev was manipulating Troi's memory. Certainly not Geordie or Worf or Data! But Will, it's already established that Will is a womanizer. And he's been accused before. Unfortunately, Will Riker was written badly enough over the seasons that I can't dismiss the possibility that that character was capable of doing something that would have created an unpleasant memory in Troi's mind that Jev could use. I'm sure that's not what the writers intended, for Riker to be that compromised. But things add up over the seasons and after decades of rewatches.
posted by Stuka at 3:04 PM on April 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I too was confused about whether we were supposed to believe Riker did it (and then what that meant for the mind rapes of Riker and Crusher). On the Greatest Generation, Adam brought up that he was confused about whether Riker did it, and, interestingly, Ben said that the question hadn't even occurred to him. I think they also talked about how it's strange that Troi can then immediately divorce herself from this false memory. Or maybe they just talked about the idea that we viewers must be able to assume that the memory is false if Troi immediately decides it's false. I guess we're supposed to think that these false memories aren't "sticky", b/c otherwise Troi has to believe what has now become her memory.

Furthermore, I think the show wants us to assume that Riker didn't do it, because we know he's one of the good guys (and the characters in the story will kind of use the same reasoning). OK, so I know this is fiction, but isn't that the same logic that the members of a congregation would use to tell themselves that the minister can't be an abuser?
posted by polecat at 10:08 PM on April 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think the confusion we feel re:Did Riker actually rape Troi? is intentional. It serves to underscore exactly how hideous and manipulative Jev's violations are, taking what we would have assumed to be a very positive (and deeply held) memory, stealing it, warping it into the worst sort of nightmare possible, and forcing back onto/into Troi as her own memory. We're intended to feel as much confusion as Troi is.

This episode, I think, is intended to be difficult to watch. It approaches a very important and serious subject (rape) and portrays it extremely graphically, for the effect of getting the audience to feel the violation. It's kind of a brilliant use of the sci-fi format, actually. I can't think of any "real world" network show of the era that could have gotten away with such a blunt depiction of rape, no matter how abstracted.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:16 AM on April 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Lwaxana has made it abundantly clear that, modulo some specific species, she can easily read anyone's mind at a glance.

Yes, but I think there's a difference between reading surface-level thoughts and digging down into someone's memories. I don't know if that's something in the Betazoid tool chest. The only thing I can think of is when Deanna had to go into her mother's mind to find out about her dead sister, but that involved technology to link their minds together. A quick look at Memory Alpha seems to back this up, though it mentions Betazoids being capable of influencing the minds of others.

That said, I think it's an easy argument to be made that reading someone's surface level thoughts without their consent is at a minimum a gross violation of their privacy and ought to be as illegal as what happened in this episode. I'd be walking around with a Magneto helmet if I was going to be near any Betazoids.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:04 PM on April 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

I was all set to complain about the wrong uniform in Crusher's flashback, but looking at Memory Alpha apparently that scene is 5 years after his recording to Wesley.
posted by ckape at 9:11 PM on May 5, 2021

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