Series: The Next Generation
Air Date: December 31, 1990
Written by: Hilary J Bader, Alan J Alder and Vanessa Greene
Directed by: Chip Chalmers
The Enterprise encounters two-dimensional beings and Troi loses all empathy for them.
It starts with Troi in a session with Janet. Janet recently lost her husband and she believes she's taking it rather well. She's just been keeping busy and facing death as a natural part of life. But then she breaks down when Troi gives her a memento from her husband and suggests that she's not actually facing it at all. Then the Enterprise senses some kind of "ghost" image in the sensors, so they drop out of warp to investigate. At the same time, Troi gets the worst headache ever. Turns out a lot of people are also getting headaches, so Beverly can't get to her for a while, but as soon as she does, the senior officers are called to the observation lounge. The Enterprise is being held in place by some unknown force. When Picard asks Troi if that force has an intelligence, she reveals that she has lost her empathic powers.
This is obviously a devastating thing to happen to a Betazoid. At first, she exhibits a certain denial, thinking that her powers might come back easily, but Beverly tells her to prepare for the fact that they might not come back at all. Beverly wants her to talk to someone else with counseling experience, but Troi insists she can get right back to work. Meanwhile, with the help of Data, Geordi discovers that what's holding them in place is a field of two-dimensional beings. They had trouble sensing them at first because they were so flat. They're floating along like fish in a river and pulling the Enterprise along with them. It should be easy enough to lift out of them, right? Mm... not so much. For now, however, swimming along with the tide is a mere inconvenience.
|Lookit the little fishies!|
She eventually winds up in 10-Forward where Guinan says she's thinking about taking the counselor position. Troi says it's not as easy as Guinan thinks it is, but Guinan says she thinks she can handle it. Troi gets the idea that Guinan is trying to help her realize that the ship needs her, but she is steadfast. Meanwhile, the two-dimensional beings take a turn for the worst. In fact, they're turning toward a cosmic string which would destroy the Enterprise. All attempts at communication with the beings has failed, including routing their emissions through the universal translator. So Picard calls upon Troi to help with establishing communication. She's not sure she can do much to help, but she joins Data in the observation lounge as per orders.
|"Okay, Data, what do you want me to not sense?"|
So, they do exactly that, it works, the Enterprise flies away, and Troi finds that her empathic abilities suddenly return when out of the influence of the two dimensional beings. With her empathy returned, she's able to tell the crew that the two dimensional beings are heading home when they move toward the cosmic string. It was never destructive to them at all. Back at 10-Forward, Troi reveals that the high number of two dimensional beings overloaded her empathic circuits, so to speak (don't take that literally, Data). Now that they're out of the field it's fine.
|You'd think Guinan could carry drinks on her hats...|
A lot of this episode didn't really feel right to me. It was quite obviously a commentary on how people deal with being disabled, but Troi seemed to illustrate that commentary a little too quickly. It was only a matter of hours until she became an angst-ridden wreck and threatened to quit her job. It would possibly have been cool if this disability of hers lasted a little more permanently, an idea the writers tossed around for a while, but as it stood it just kinda fell flat. As flat as the two-dimensional beings! That storyline was pretty cool, by the way, and would possibly have been great all on its own.