Itís the middle of the night, and Doctor Crusher has the bridge as Counselor Troi returns from a leave of absence, since Data is off on a mission to retrieve some radioactive material accidentally lost on a primitive planet called Barkon IV. Troi asks Crusher why she went to the trouble of earning the rank of commander, when she didnít need it to become Chief Medical Officer. Crusher answers that she did it to expand her horizons a little. Their conversation is interrupted by the on duty tactical officer, who informs them that Data hasnít replied to their messages. Crusher isnít concerned, attributing it to radioactive interference. Unbeknownst to her, though, Data has crashed on Barkon IV and lost his memory.
Data wanders aimlessly into the nearest settlement and encounters a man named Garvin. He explains to Garvin that he doesnít remember who he is or what happened to him before he came to the village. Garvin sees him carrying a case, which is marked "Radioactive", but neither of them knows what it is or what the label means. Oblivious to the danger, and thinking there might be clues inside, Garvin opens the case and removes its contents. Back on the Enterprise
, Troi walks in on Riker while heís doing some boning (by which I mean practicing his trombone, of course) and talks with him about the possibility of her taking the Bridge Officersí Exam, recounting the events of the episode "Disaster
" in which she was briefly in command of the ship. To recap, the incident sheís talking about went like this:
: Technically, Troiís in command now. Everyone else, including Troi
: Oh Crap
Riker warns her that he wonít go easy on her, but sheís not scared, and they agree to begin the exam the next day.
Data is given a physical and declared an "Ice Man" from the mountain region of the planet, and Garvinís daughter Gia gives him the name "Jaden" for no particular reason. Garvin decides to sell the metal fragments from the case to a local metalworker, though Data insists on keeping some in case they provide some sort of clue to his memory. Just then an anvil collapses and lands on a manís leg, and Data lifts it up, not realizing that no one else would be able to do that. The doctor dismisses it as an Ice Man thing, and everyone pretty much forgets about it. Then Gia casually brings up the fact that her mom is dead (you know, as you do) and says that she was told that her mom is in "a beautiful place, where everythingís peaceful and everyone loves each other, and no one ever gets sick". She asks Data if he thinks thereís really a place like that and he replies by looking up into space and saying, "Yes, I do" in what might be the corniest moment so far this season.
We then return to Troi, whoís in the middle of failing one of her tests, letting her simulated Enterprise
get blown to smithereens by an antimatter containment breach. To be fair to Counselor Troi here, expecting someone whose field of study is psychology to turn around and solve a complex engineering catastrophe on the fly seems like asking a bit much, but evidently this is something that officers of all kinds are expected to be able to handle. Riker reassures her that this is the hardest section of the exam, but isnít allowed to offer her any advice for her next attempt.
Garvin and Gia, along with a few others, grow ill from what the audience knows is radiation poisoning, but no one in the town can understand it. The village doctor prescribes fresh air and some unspecified herbs, but Data notices that sheís kind of a dope who doesnít understand anything about how science actually works, and decides to do a more thorough investigation of the illness. He builds a microscope as if that were a perfectly simple thing to do, and uses it to determine that the illness isnít an infection. He soon pieces together that the cause is the metal from the case.
Riker approaches Troi and tells her that heís cancelling the test, saying that sheís taken it three times and seems no closer to passing. Troi is incensed, and says that sheís willing to take it as many times as it takes, but Riker doesnít think that her determination will be enough. She asks him if there even is a solution, or if itís a Secret Test of Character
(clearly referencing the famous Kobayashi Maru exam from The Wrath of Khan
). Riker answers that there is indeed a solution to this one. She asks him to give her more time to find it, but he tells her that his first duty is to the ship and he canít allow her to serve as a Bridge Officer if she isnít qualified. But it so happens that the words "My first duty is to the ship" give Troi just the flash of inspiration she needed
. She returns to the holodeck and runs the test one last time. This time she orders Geordi to make a simple repair to the system, even though doing so will expose him to fatal radiation. Riker walks in, having followed her to the holodeck, and congratulates her on passing the exam. She says that she hesitated to make the hard choice, and that maybe she really isnít cut out for being a Commander, but Riker says that considering all the alternatives first is what any good officer would do.
Data somehow works out the entire concept of radioactivity on his own in the span of a few days, and instructs the doctor to collect all of the metal fragments from the village. The metal worker who bought the fragments appears and blames Data for making everyone sick, which Data admits is partially correct, but as he's apparently not in the mood to be agreed with, he and his buddy attack Data with freaking pickaxes, tearing open the side of his face and revealing the circuitry within. A commercial break occurs, during which Data inexplicably manages to disappear into hiding, while the villagers form an angry mob to go search for him. When theyíre gone, Data reappears to finish his cure. He decides to secretly pour it into the town well, since the villagers no longer trust him, but he is seen doing so, and the villagers again use murder as their go-to solution. To be fair, this time he was genuinely doing something shady, so itís a little less extreme, but still, the metal worker impales Data through the chest without giving him any chance to explain.
Crusher and Riker beam down to the planet only to find that Data is apparently dead. They get the general gist of the story from Gia, and then beam Dataís body and the probe fragments up to the Enterprise
. Of course, Crusher gets Data fixed up in no time, even restoring his memory (though for some reason he now has no recollection of what happened in the village). He quickly fills in the gaps in the plot by explaining that a power surge disrupted his memory while he was downloading the probeís logs. Troi closes out the episode by announcing that she doesnít have time for any of this because she gets to take the bridge for a while.
- An Ice Person: Talur assumes Data is an 'iceman' to explain his skin colour.
- Bilingual Dialogue: A variation that's Played for Laughs in one scene—Riker "talks" to Troi using his trombone, and she jokes that it's less confusing than how he usually speaks.
- Call Back: Troi refers back to the events of "Disaster" when she decides it's time for some Character Development.
- Elements of Nature: The Barkonians' natural philosophy believes there are four elements, like the Greek conception, but slightly different: their four elements are rock, water, sky and fire.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Data forgets his name, identity and what 'radioactive' means, yet seems to retain plenty of other scientific information.
- Rabble Rouser: Skoran, the blacksmith, begins to accuse Data of bringing the sickness with him, which he actually did, and at the end he brings a mob to confront him, ending when he runs Data through with a metal pike. Fortunately Data was able to dump a cure into the village's water supply first.
- Unwinnable Training Simulation: Troi's command exam is a variation; rather than the literally unwinnable Kobayashi Maru previously seen in Star Trek, it is possible to succeed, but not without ordering one of her crew to their death.