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Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S3E14 "A Matter of Perspective"

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Ladies and gentlemen, we have...the Riker facepalm!

When a research station suddenly explodes just as Riker is beamed off of it, the commander finds himself accused of the murder of the station's chief scientist, Dr. Apgar. Wanting to avoid having to extradite Riker to the planet below, Captain Picard has witness depositions loaded into a facsimile of the research station on the holodeck, so that he and the investigator can watch what happened as Riker and his accusers each remember it.


Tropes featured in "A Matter of Perspective":

  • Attempted Rape: According to Mrs. Apgar, Riker tried to force himself on her until her husband intervened. Riker denies it and claims that he instead declined her advances, while Dr. Apgar's second-hand account claims that it was mutually consensual.
  • Badass Boast: Apgar's line in each of the three scenarios turns into a boast in his own account, when he says it after beating Riker up.
    Dr. Apgar: I'm not the fool you take me for.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The recurring radiation bursts turn out to be Krieger waves, which Apgar claims he hasn't yet created.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Apgar's version of events has him effortlessly beat up Riker. His wife's version, on the other hand, has Riker beat up Apgar, which is much more plausible. Riker's version has no battle, with him trying (and failing) to calm Apgar down.
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  • Facepalm: Riker facepalms during a holorecreation of the murder.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Picard and La Forge are able to demonstrate that Dr. Apgar attempted to fire a Krieger wave beam at Riker while he was transporting, to frame his murder as a Teleporter Accident. However, the beam bounced off the transporter beam that Riker used and hit the reactor, destroying the station and killing Apgar.
  • Holodeck Malfunction: Yes and no. The holodeck functions exactly as intended, recreating Dr. Apgar's orbiting lab down to the last detail. However, no one thought to turn off his generator down on the planet, and the holo-lab, which Apgar had claimed was non-functional, succeeds in converting its otherwise harmless emissions into Krieger waves, which threaten the ship. But it's these same waves that exonerate Riker, by showing that Apgar was lying about his progress.
  • Karma Houdini: Manua doesn't even attempt to apologise for falsely accusing Riker of trying to rape her let alone give an explanation for saying something so far from what actually happened. That said, it's entirely possible that whatever happened between the two of them met somewhere in the 'middle' of both their testimonies, and Riker's infallible charm collided with her own desires and created a situation where both were neither entirely blameless or at ultimate fault.
  • Magical Computer: Realistically, there is no way in hell the holodeck simulations could be that precise when based just on people’s recollections.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Two out of three recreations show Mrs. Apgar wearing a pink underdress while trying to seduce Riker. The exception is her own, in which she's a blameless and victimized Woman in White.
  • Posthumous Character: Dr. Apgar is never seen while he's alive, only as a holographic recreation.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Krag isn't a bad guy, just a detective doing his job. He even apologizes to Riker after viewing the exonerating evidence.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: Achieved via the holodeck, so that Captain Picard and Inspector Krag can view the events on the destroyed station step-by-step. Witness depositions from Riker, Mrs. Apgar, and Dr. Apgar's assistant Tayna (representing Apgar's side of the story as he told it to her) are each programmed into a holo-recreation of the station and viewed in turn. Each story contains both commonalities and differences. Troi confirms that none of the witnesses are knowingly lying, and yet it takes additional evidence for Picard to piece together what really happened. Even then, some events are left ambiguous.
    Riker: We can't both be telling the truth.
    Troi: It is the truth... as you each remember it.
    Riker: Yes, but her version puts a noose around my neck.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: This episode shows the downside of it for the protagonists. Picard is absolutely certain of Riker's innocence, but the evidence just isn't in his favor, and he's prepared to grant extradition. It takes Data, Geordi, and Wesley uncovering new information to save Riker at the last minute.
  • Riddle for the Ages: We never know exactly what happened between Riker and Apgar's wife, and if it was an attempt at an affair, who started it nor how willing each participant was in its events.
  • Say My Name: A purposefully over-the-top example.
    Riker: [in Tayna's retelling] You're a dead man, Apgar! A dead man!
  • Shifting the Burden of Proof: This appears to be Tanuga 4's Planetary Hat; in their justice system, criminal suspects are "guilty until proven innocent." Taken even further when they allow a "witness" to testify to events she did not witness (Picard even calls this out as hearsay, but their rationale is that she's describing events the victim told her about, since he's not around to testify for himself), and it's up to Riker to prove her story false—which, since he wasn't there at the time, he can't do.
  • Take Our Word for It: Picard's painting is, to paraphrase Data, an ugly mishmash of different artistic styles including Picasso, Leger, and proto-Vulcan. Too bad we never get to see it, unlike Picard's fellow artist's paintings, which Data compliments.
  • Terrible Artist: Apparently, Picard, since the best Data can do is damn his painting with faint praise, much to his annoyance.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Tayna providing Apgar's version of his confrontation with Riker, considering that she didn't witness the event and is just relaying what her boss told her.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's probably safe to assume that Riker didn't actually try to rape Mrs. Apgar, but we get no explanation of why she would genuinely remember it that way. It could be that a combination of grief over her husband's death and guilt over (potentially) trying to cheat on him has caused her to reinvent the events in her recollection. Or she could simply have misunderstood his body language due to their different cultures—the latter would be a good area for a sci-fi mystery to explore, but it didn't.


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