Star Trek: The Next Generation: Suspicions   Rewatch 
August 30, 2021 8:57 AM - Season 6, Episode 22 - Subscribe

Dr. Crusher violates Starfleet regulations and medical ethics when she investigates the death of a Ferengi scientist.

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Story and script
  • Joe Menosky's original story, while involving the murder of a Ferengi scientist, ended with the revelation that warp drive was destroying the fabric of space. This element was later revived for "Force of Nature" in the seventh season. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 247))
  • The story went through many versions. Originally, it featured Worf and included film noir elements such as flashbacks, dissolves and voiceover narration. Rick Berman only hesitantly approved this, feeling that the voiceovers would conflict with the captain's log. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 247); Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 277)
  • Worf was replaced with Beverly Crusher as the staff thought that he was being overused. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 247)) Jeri Taylor recalled, "What I really wanted was a vehicle for Beverly. I felt we had given Troi some really nice things to do, Beverly has had more to do within a number of episodes but she did not have one that was all hers. We wanted to give her something atypical and not a female role. The idea of her playing a Private Eye or Quincy was very appealing." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 278)
  • The producers learned that this would be Whoopi Goldberg's last opportunity to appear in the season. Accordingly, further rewrites were necessary to insert Guinan. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 247))
  • Ronald D. Moore commented, "It was just a never-ending, never-waking nightmare. Keep the murder mystery, lose the warp thing, move Worf out, keep the flashbacks, lose the film noir, insert Beverly – it was just arrgh!" (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 247))
  • Naren Shankar added, "It was a misery. It was a troubled script. There'd been two other attempts to do murder mysteries and they hadn't worked out – then we tried to do this and the whole thing was a clusterfuck." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 304)
Cast and characters
  • This episode marks the final appearance of Guinan on the series, though she remains on the Enterprise-D. She plays an integral role in Star Trek Generations, and has a brief appearance in Star Trek Nemesis.
  • According to director Cliff Bole, several scenes with Dr. Reyga (Peter Slutsker) were reshot. "He was a scientist, so I said that means he's got a little more compassion, maybe he's not as oily as the rest of them. I think I went too far and the guys asked me to reshoot a few scenes. Rick Berman said, 'Don't forget, they're still Ferengis [sic].'" (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 278)
Continuity
  • The metaphasic shield technology was later used by the Enterprise-D under the command of Dr. Crusher in "Descent, Part II" to combat the Borg. James Horan also guest starred in that episode, but as Lieutenant Barnaby, an Enterprise-D crewmember.
  • In this episode, it is stated that Ferengi are to be buried after death and are very adamant that the body not be "violated" before burial. On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a different Ferengi death ritual for the Grand Nagus and for Quark is shown involving vacuum-desiccated remains that are sold to the highest bidder. (DS9: "The Nagus", "Body Parts") However, since the Deep Space Nine episode refers specifically to The Grand Negus's funeral as appropriate for a Ferengi "of his stature," it may be that death ritual of vacuum-desiccated remains does not apply to the Ferengi scientist in this episode because, as a disgraced failure, there would be no (financial) interest in his remains.
Poster's Log:

I love Gates's delivery when she's first telling Guinan about being relieved of duty. We don't get often get a chance to see her displaying negative emotions - the way she spits "It started when I got... curious" is pure gold.

Beverly's involvement in bringing together the scientists in the first place makes almost no sense at all. She's never really displayed a lot of enthusiasm for engineering projects before. Some dialog indicating that Wesley was interested, or Geordi bringing them onboard and then Crusher investigating the death both feel like more coherent plots.

Kurak's objection to Reyga piloting the shuttle also makes no sense. The shield working is a pretty straight YES/NO - how would someone "more objective" provide better data about surviving in the unstable corona of a star?

If Jo'Brill sabotaged the experiment from within the confines of the shuttlecraft he was on, there was no need for a phased ionic pulse to be sent from the ship. So why did his body show traces of a tetryon field? Do Takarans have sufficient control over their physiology to simulate that sort of effect? He was in cold storage in the morgue - how did he know that's what Crusher was looking for?

Once Beverly determines that Jo'Brill was responsible for the death of Reyga, she no longer needs to be sanctioned for violating Ferengi death rites?
posted by hanov3r (11 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
“I saw… THE SUN!
posted by Servo5678 at 9:10 AM on August 30


Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:
Several fairly nice cards from Premiere here, including Metaphasic Shields as a form of powerful ship defense. Ferengi scientist Dr. Reyga was made as a Non-Aligned before it was viable to make a full Ferengi affiliation, but that kinda makes sense given his role in the story. Good set of skills, high cunning, very nice. Jo'Bril isn't bad either. Likewise, Kurak really is one of the best Klingon scientists around, but T'Pan is really only notable for missing out on the Mindmeld skill until the large 'beta' print run.

Of course, in the episode not everything goes great for our estwhile scentists, as represented by the Unscientific Method dilemma. As it provides a two-fer of potentially wiping out one of your opponent's best scientists AND stopping them and making them do it again if they don't beat the cunning requirement, it's quite strong. Scientific Method is a more straightforward skill wall, as simple as it is powerful.

For Second Edition we get the mission Host Metaphasic Shielding Test, with favorable points for its requirements. Jo'Bril, Patient Schemer is about what one can expect for a cost of four counters. Kurak, Warp Field Specialist provides Klingon players a 'Romulan style' interference ability, never really saw it used to be honest. Oh, and here's Alyssa Ogawa, Enterprise Medical Assistant, who like other TNG medical personnel Beverly Crusher, Chief Medical Officer and Katherine Pulaski, Chief Medical Officer provides your TNG crew with some protection against an unexpected demise.
posted by StarkRoads at 10:15 AM on August 30


hanov3r, your entire Poster's Log was pretty much transcribed from the OfBrazil household sofa on our rewatch.

What I like about this one is (A) it's a rare Gates episode; (B) the makeup and concept of Takarans; (C) Dr. Reyga, who's truly likeable; and (D) Guinan being in it, though her role here is pretty rote. (And on that topic, it only just now occurs to me how strange it is w/r/t the story of "All Good Things..." that Guinan has no part of it.)

Once Beverly determines that Jo'Brill was responsible for the death of Reyga, she no longer needs to be sanctioned for violating Ferengi death rites?

The only thing I can think of is maybe Reyga's family lets it slide out of gratitude that Beverly proved Reyga right. Or perhaps, more Fereng-ily, that Picard covers for her by turning it into a transaction: don't report what she did to the Federation and your family will earn some of Reyga's glory/royalties/whatever because I won't conceal the outcome of this metaphasic shield business under Starfleet red tape.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 10:15 AM on August 30


This was like watching a new-to-me episode of TNG. I had forgotten every single frame of it. I'm not even certain that I've seen it since it first aired, and I thought I'd seen every episode multiple times back then.

Everything about this feels stagey, especially the studied voice-over that's supposed to be part of a conversation between people but is so clearly a narration to overcome the script issues. And I get stuck on one basic problem from the get-go, which is the constant surprise everyone has about a Ferengi scientist. Like...how did they get into space if they don't have scientists at home? How did they develop any technology or repurpose stolen tech if they're so vanishingly rare as to be remarkable by literally everyone? I admit I loathe the Ferengi, but that just seems peculiarly ill thought out.

"We wanted to give her something atypical and not a female role. The idea of her playing a Private Eye or Quincy was very appealing." Heavy sigh.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:12 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


There’s a DS9 episode where Nog mentions that the Ferengi bought warp drive instead of inventing it themselves. That’s probably not the only tech they did that with.
posted by Servo5678 at 12:34 PM on August 30


And I get stuck on one basic problem from the get-go, which is the constant surprise everyone has about a Ferengi scientist.

There's a degree of speciesism displayed in our late 20th century Trek shows, I'm not going to be able to make a direct quote but there's a scene in early Voyager where Tom Paris says something along the lines of 'pff, you'll sooner get a Ferengi to give to charity'. The reactionary line is probably best embodied by the Enterprise Vulcans, who are recast as stick-in-the-mud parents who won't let their teenage humans drive faster than warp 4.
posted by StarkRoads at 1:04 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


I do think that this was a good Crusher episode, although not without its flaws, and that some of the problems that people might have with it are really problems with the show, in a way:

- The thing about Crusher organizing the mini-conference when she's not into engineering begs the question: is it really an engineering problem? The E-D never seemed to have gotten a science officer; if it involved technology--as just about everything on the ship does--it gets classified as an engineering thing, or Data just does it, because he's a really smart guy so he gets first dibs on smart guy stuff. (Occasionally Worf does the scanning on the bridge; given that he also tends to be the one to open hailing frequencies, he sort of takes the place of both Spock and Uhura. Where's his little earpiece?) Crusher and Troi, the blueshirts among the main cast, end up in the roles of caretakers more than scientists, and Crusher was at one point head of Starfleet Medical. (Temporarily, and unless she got a temporary promotion to admiral, kind of improbably, but anyway.)

- My main problem with the ep was that it was terribly obvious that Jo'Bril was faking his death after the bit about his body not really decaying. Still kind of paid off with the bit after Crusher shoots him the first time; I haven't seen Death Becomes Her, but there's something in the trailer that is very similar.

- Also wondered about that whole "Ferengi death ritual" thing; would that mean that the Ferengi didn't allow autopsies under any circumstances? Sure, respecting the beliefs and practices of other cultures is and should be a Federation principle, under normal circumstances. But two prominent scientists dying within days of each other? I'm glad that DS9 decided to do the dessicated-disks thing, which is much more in tune with Capitalism Gone Wild and less of an arbitrary thing for Crusher to get cashiered out over.

- Generally liked the acting of the guests, but the real winner here is Patti Yasutake as Ogawa, who finally gets the chance to do more than just pass trays of salt shakerssurgical instruments.

- That was one funky racket.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:55 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I forgot that Ogawa got some good meaty work here; thing (E) I liked.

I recall Death Becomes Her as being more funny and enjoyable than I expected it to be, but it's been so long since I've seen it that I have no idea whether it holds up.

There's a degree of speciesism displayed in our late 20th century Trek shows, I'm not going to be able to make a direct quote but there's a scene in early Voyager where Tom Paris says something along the lines of 'pff, you'll sooner get a Ferengi to give to charity'. The reactionary line is probably best embodied by the Enterprise Vulcans, who are recast as stick-in-the-mud parents who won't let their teenage humans drive faster than warp 4.

This is a big part of why I'm interested in what All-Access-Paramount-+-Era Trek (we really need a tighter name for it) has done and will do with well-established Trek cultures like Klingons and Vulcans*. It's part of why I'm stoked for Strange New Worlds and, to my own surprise, Prodigy, which it seems is really intended to not be too human-centric.

(*= E.g., if and when I rewatch DISCO's early seasons, I find myself wondering how their treatment of Vulcans in particular does and doesn't mesh with contemporary audiences' attitudes about speciesism, or does and doesn't stick too slavishly to preestablished canon. IIRC, Sarek came off as surprisingly ENT-Vulcan-esque, though that could just be due to all his screen time involving his always topsy-turvy family. And maybe Sarek was always kind of a little ENT-ish anyway, really. End derail)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:15 PM on August 30


And I get stuck on one basic problem from the get-go, which is the constant surprise everyone has about a Ferengi scientist.

Echoing the comments about speciesism in Trek... Every now and then, there will be mention of a "Klingon Exobotanist" or something like that, and it always makes me laugh. Who are the Klingons who decide to go into horticulture? What are Klingon scientific conferences like? Are there lots of battles to the death over methodologies?

Very few of the species in Trek make sense if you try to extrapolate an entire culture based on the few examples we see. Sort of like the "every planet has 1 type of climate covering their entire surface" in Star Wars.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:38 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


Every now and then, there will be mention of a "Klingon Exobotanist" or something like that, and it always makes me laugh. Who are the Klingons who decide to go into horticulture?

In the DS9 episode "Apocalypse Rising", Sisko and a few others have to infiltrate a Klingon awards ceremony, and it was originally going to be a two-parter; I used to imagine what they left out, and one of the scenes could have been their meeting Klingons who wanted to desert the KDF, and letting them use their identities in exchange for asylum in the Federation. One of them would have been a Klingon florist who's all excited that Keiko O'Brien's husband was going to borrow his name.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:05 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


"Accordingly, further rewrites were necessary to insert Guinan, and make her a complete jerk." Seriously, the malingering is bad enough, but that bit at the end, where she rejects a thoughtful gift and then basically says "sorry, I was just shitting you"? And then they don't even share a laugh or a drink. It's just like, boom, I was lying to you about who I am to make you more emotionally accessible, cut to closing credits. And that's how they're closing out the character? Bah, I say. Bahhhh.
posted by phooky at 5:18 PM on August 30


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