108 "Lonely Among Us"

(airdate: November 2, 1987)

Story: Michael Halperin      Teleplay: D.C. Fontana
Director: Cliff Bole

Badar N'D'D (uncredited): Marc Alaimo

Ssestar: John Durbin

Lt. (j.g.) Singh: Kavi Raz

Stardate: 41249.3

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is taking a set of delegates from two warring species - the dog-like Anticans and the snake-like Selay - to the planet Parliament in order to help them resolve their differences. Along the way they pass through an unusual energy cloud which begins possessing people and affecting ship systems. When this energy reaches Picard, he orders the ship to turn around and return to the cloud; the ship had accidentally picked up an energy-based creature which now wants to return home. The being, while in possession of Picard, returns to the cloud and beams both of them as energy patterns into it; however, as energy, Picard and the being cannot stay combined, leaving Picard stranded. Picard makes his way into the ship the same way the entity originally did, allowing Data to reconstitute his physical being via the transporter.

Whoops!: Most shots with a bluescreen insert (such as moving space out Picard's ready room window) have noticeable visual noise [a by-product of the bluescreen process, perhaps? This has been corrected in the HD version]. Dr. Crusher needs evidence that Picard is psychologically abnormal before she can relieve him of command; however, his talking about himself in the third person as if there's someone else in control of his body ("He is here...soon we'll both be home") apparently isn't sufficient grounds.
     Why does the episode treat the murder of a delegate at the end as a joke (instead of as a major diplomatic incident)?

Classic Lines: The Antican delegate, after Yar and Riker confront him about a deadly weapon taken from one of his fellow Anticans and the mutual hatred between his people and the Selay: "The nature of politics."
     "A mystery is only a mystery as long as it remains uninvestigated, sir."

Casualty Report: Lt. Singh becomes the first crewmember on the show to die, accidentally killed by the cloud entity. When Worf is possessed by the entity, he bodily throws a medical crewman before La Forge puts his full weight onto Worf to subdue him. A Selay delegate is apparently murdered at the end, with the Anticans intending to eat the body.

Library Computer: The Beta Renner system has two major planets, Antica and Selay, each with its own spacefaring species: the Anticans and the Selay, respectively. These two worlds had become deadly enemies but were also both petitioning for entry into the Federation; consequently, the Enterprise was ferrying delegates from both worlds to Parliament, a neutral conference planet located in the same sector as the Beta Renner system.
     The Anticans are a bipedal, vaguely canine race from the planet Antica, with long white hair coming from their eyebrows and around their ears, as well as on their upper lip and along their jawline. They have cupped dog-like ears, a bony ridge extending from their nose to the back of their elongated skull, and pronounced (relative to humans) canine teeth. Their hands have two large fingers and a thumb, covered in white fur. They're dressed in robes, and they have a passionate hatred for their planetary neighbors, the Selay. [The reasons why aren't elaborated upon.] They're carnivous, and they have retractable piercing tools which they use to dispatch their food animals. [The lead Antican delegate is named Badar N'D'D in the script, though not on screen or in the credits - Marc Alaimo asked not to be credited because he wasn't sure the episode would be any good.]
     The Selay are a snake-like biped race from Selay, a jade green planet that was closer to Parliament than Antica was. They have green, scaly skin and a large hood, with two forward facing eyes, a protruding mouth, and no discernible nose. (But they still complain about the smell of the Anticans.) The Selay have clawed, three-fingered hands and a tail [you can see it peeking out the bottom of their robe as they leave the transporter room]. They are dressed in flowing robes - mainly red, although the lead delegate is dressed in yellow instead. [The script names this delegate Ssestar.] They have an intense hatred for the Anticans. The Selay have a stick with a glowing green loop on one end, apparently for slipping over the head of an enemy. One of the Selay delegates was [probably] killed by the Anticans, who then asked one of the Enterprise cooks to broil reptile.
     Somewhere between the Selay homeworld and Parliament was a purple energy cloud unlike anything in the Enterprise's records. This cloud was capable of traveling at warp speed. When the ship passed through it, part of the cloud was captured by the ship's circuitry. This cloud portion was in fact alive, and it was terrified at being torn from its home. Its efforts to communicate with the crew proving fruitless [not that we see any real evidence of it trying to communicate], it took control of the ship and slowed it down. It was able to move from the circuits to Worf, and on to Dr. Crusher and Picard, showing up as crackling blue energy when it transferred.
     When the entity reached Picard, it was able to find someone who could turn the ship around in order to take it home. It claimed it was interested in exploration and when it learned Picard was also interested in this, it offered him the chance to explore as an energy pattern, combined with itself, as part of the cloud. [Picard has no memory of events when he comes back, so we can't know for certain if it's true Picard was interested.] Picard-with-the-entity thus beamed as an energy pattern into the cloud, but they found they couldn't coexist as energy beings. Picard's energy pattern was able to find its way back to the Enterprise, where Data was able to combine it with his physical pattern (still existing in the transporter, as Picard was the last one to use it) to bring Picard back.
     Assistant Chief Engineer Singh was a human lieutenant (junior grade) in his 30s, dressed in operations yellow, with brown skin, brown eyes, and black hair. He was accidentally killed by the cloud entity while trying to restore warp power to the ship. [Singh thus gets the dubious honor of being the first Enterprise-D crewmember to be killed on the show.]
     Data is unfamiliar with the term "private eye", as well as the stories of Sherlock Holmes. He latches onto the latter with something of a fervor, quoting Holmes and carrying around a calabash pipe [the extra curvy stereotypical Sherlock Holmes pipe], which he is actually smoking. [Data's interest in Sherlock Holmes will come up again, most notably in "Elementary, Dear Data" and its sequel "Ship in a Bottle".]
     Riker had difficulty understanding passionate, irrational hostility - over things such as customs, religion, and economic systems - when he studied Earth history, and thus has a hard time understanding it when he encounters it among other species, such as between the Anticans and the Selay. He's amused by Data's Sherlock Holmes imitation. His quarters [that seems to be where the mutiny discussion takes place] include a silver model of a Constitution-class starship (pre-refit) and a model of a class F shuttlecraft from the original Enterprise.
     Picard wants all his officers to learn as much about the duties of the ships (including things such as routine sensor maintenance) as they can.
     Worf considers himself a junior officer, while La Forge doesn't [despite their both being lieutenant (junior grade). Perhaps Worf is a newly minted lieutenant, while La Forge has been one for a little while?].
     Troi can perform hypnosis. As a Betazoid, she senses a kind of duality within humans, exemplified by asking oneself questions. Here she refers to her people as "Betazeds". She doesn't believe a starship captain should explain every order.
     Sensor maintenance is a small room aboard the Enterprise, designed to aid maintenance on sensor assemblies and circuits. There's a small console that juts into the center of the room, and several panels along the walls.
     On the bridge, Science Station 2 is located along the back wall, second from the left when facing the wall. The helm console appears to be reconfigurable, as some of the controls are shifted to spell the letter "P".
     The Enterprise-D is less than a year out of spacedock.
     In order to relieve a captain of command, the chief medical officer must cite clear evidence of incapacity, which she can ascertain by ordering medical and psychological exams. The second in command can do so as long as all the command officers agree it's vital to do so. That would typically require the captain to display overt unusual behavior.
     Starfleet dress uniforms are knee-length (or mid-thigh, in Tasha's case) tunics. They look generally the same as standard uniforms, except that there's no black on the bottom of the tunic, and they appear to fasten as a large panel over the right breast that then runs down the length of the tunic [rather like the Original Series movie uniforms]. The panel edge is trimmed with a small braid. [The HD version reveals that this trim might in fact be the rank indicator: Picard's gold braid is thicker than Riker's, while Yar's actually appears to be silver.] There are no rank pips on the dress uniform. [This will change in season 2.]
     Humans no longer eat meat from animals nor keep them for food purposes; instead they eat something that's "as fresh and tasty as meat" that's inorganically materialized out of transporter patterns. [Presumably this is how the replicator works.]
     The Ferengi have contacted both the Anticans and the Selay.
     Dr. Channing's theory on dilithium crystals is that they could be forced into even more useful crystals. This would involve aligning matter and antimatter more efficiently.
     A Starfleet medkit is a grey rectangular case, with a number of devices inside, including a hypospray. We also see Crusher wear a half-skullcap device with a targeting sensor that flips over the right eye.

Final Analysis: "The transporter need not pattern your captain into matter. We'll beam energy only, and we will become a combined energy pattern of our life forms." The delegate storyline doesn't really go anywhere (and occasionally seems tonally misjudged), while the main storyline feels curiously low-key. The episode's more inoffensive than anything else, but that also means the end result is simply too slight to create any lasting impact.

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