“The Enterprise provides transportation of two delegations who are constantly at odds with each other.”
I used to think this was a throw away episode, but after recording High Trek, I’ve come to realize that there are no throw away episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation. It was this episode that helped me come to that realization.
In this episode the Enterprise is transporting two peace delegates to the planet Parliament. Problem is they hate, and I mean hate, each other. Throughout the episode we find they are playing a game of cat and mouse aboard the ship, trying to catch, kill and eat each other. As crazy as that sounds, it’s actually the B plot. However when I think of this episode this is the plot that I usually remember. The main plot is actually more important and you learn about Captain Picard’s deepest desire.
They accidentally picked up an energy based life form and throughout the episode it travels through the circuitry of the ship, jumping to various people and back into the ship, trying to find some way to communicate that it wants to return home. This is also the first time Data hears about Sherlock Holmes and starts his series long infatuation with him. There are some funny moments with him and his pipe.
The big crescendo is when the entity merges with Captain Picard. When they merge a new kind of entity was created, one where both people’s wants and desires merged into one. We find that Picard is intrigued with the idea of exploring the universe free of ships, a true journey of exploration free of fleshly needs.
In the end he gets his wish, but it turns out that when he transports to the energy cloud, transformed into energy, he can’t survive and he has to return. It’s a tense few minutes as Troi senses that Picard is in trouble and Data casts some techno wizardry with the transporter to bring the captain back. Sadly Captain Picard has no memory of his time as an energy being.