5/13/13

Star Trek: Asterisk "A Matter of Perspective"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S03E14
Air Date: February 12, 1990
Written by: Ed Zuckerman
Directed by: Cliff Bole

Premise
Riker stands accused of both adultery and murder via blown up space station. The life of a pimp is hard one.

Review
We start in the ship's art studio. Here, Picard is painting a naked model along with two other students as Data walks in to inform him that Riker has finished his mission and is about to return. Because he couldn't have done that via communicator. While he's there, Picard invites him to take a look at the other students' works. Data takes a good look at each of them and describes them perfectly, then he gets to Picard's painting and says "...interesting." It just goes to show how different people can see the same thing differently. Eh? Eh?? Yeah? See where I'm goin' with that? I know you do.

When it's time to beam Riker aboard, a bit of a glitch happens and just before he is able to materialize, there's an energy spike and the starbase explodes. Riker is surprised to learn this upon arrival, but, as you can suspect, he's even more surprised to learn later that he's being blamed for it! When Chief Investigator Krag comes aboard looking for him, he charges him with the murder of Dr. Apgar who was aboard the starbase working on creating Krieger waves, a potential new energy source for the Federation. Picard talks out the situation with Krag and they decide to hold a tribunal in the holodeck where they can recreate the circumstances surrounding the explosion.
The holodeck is for porn.
On the holodeck, which perfectly recreates Apgar's laboratory, we learn Riker's side of the story: that Apgar's wife was hitting on Riker so hard that she invited him and Geordi to stay on the starbase overnight to complete their inspection. Also Apgar himself was acting nervous and fidgety. He claims not to have created any Krieger waves yet because he's had a few setbacks which would be greatly helped by the delivery of more dicosilium. When Apgar catches Riker in his guest quarters with Mrs. Apgar who is pretty much sexually assaulting Riker, he is enraged and attacks Riker (but Riker wins). In the end, Apgar is anxious to see Riker leave and Riker is anxious himself to leave. That's the end of it for Riker, but then Krag says they picked up an energy signature that originated from Riker's position toward Apgar. A signature consistent with a phaser.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the ship, Geordi and Wesley find a part of the ship that's been completely destroyed by some kind of radiation burst. This was after they confirmed Krag's suggestion that a phaser was fired on the station. The melted wall on Deck 39, however, could not be so easily explained. So it's time to go back to the holodeck where Mrs. Apgar is prepared to play her version of events. In her simulation, it was Riker coming on strong to her, and Riker who suggested staying on the station. She also made a toast with Dr. Apgar praising the "rich rewards" that would come with his work.
She may have confused this with her fantasy novel.
In this version of events, Dr. Apgar and Riker really didn't get along very well to begin with and the fight in the guest quarters was initiated by Riker. Riker also threatens Apgar saying he'll be making a huge mistake if he reports Riker's actions toward Mrs. Apgar, implying that such a report would warrant Riker's own negative report to shut down his whole operation. After they have a bit of a fight, Riker calls for a beam-out and just before he disappears into a flurry of atoms, he fires a phaser directly at the energy core, causing the explosion.

Just then, as Beverly is treating people in sickbay, Worf calls over the intercom for everyone to evacuate sickbay as there is another radiation burst. When Geordi, Data and Wesley examine the damage afterwards, they find it to be the same kind of radiation they saw before. Data says that these radiation bursts have come 5 hours, 20 minutes, and 3 seconds apart. And the explosion occurred at exactly 4 times that interval before the first radiation spike. So they run with the theory that it's somehow connected while the trial goes on.
Data is always right.
Back in the holodeck, Dr. Apgar's assistant is called to the stand. In her version of events (which includes second-hand information from Dr. Apgar himself), she recalls that the doctor was, in fact, nervous. She offered to call the authorities on Riker, but he stopped her and said that he would handle it. After she left, he went to a console and she explained that at that console he would be activating a generator on the planet. And then it was Geordi's turn to make a case. He explained that the radiation that they had seen on the ship was, in fact, Krieger waves, despite the fact that Apgar claimed not to have made them yet.

Geordi says that in the holodeck they created a perfect duplication of the laboratory, including the device that created Krieger waves. And it somehow syncs with the generator on the planet which shoots up a signal every 5 hours, 20 minutes, and 3 seconds. So, they tested this theory. The next iteration was to occur in a few minutes, so they ran Riker's simulation in sync with the generator and just as Riker starts beaming up, a burst of energy shoots from the starbase's energy core, bounces off Riker's transporter beam and hits the core, causing the explosion. In effect, Dr. Apgar killed himself in an attempt to kill Riker. The motivation: he wanted to sell Krieger waves to Romulans and Klingons as weapons and Riker would surely screw that up for him with a bad report.

Overall Thoughts
This is the episode that really solidified how ridiculous I find the holodeck to be. But I try not to let technicalities get in the way of my enjoyment of the story, and this story was pretty interesting. The message was that everyone has a different point of view and it can be disastrous not to weigh them all evenly before making a decision. It can also be disastrous to ignore them when writing a story. If you're a writer, learn that lesson well.