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Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S4E18 "Identity Crisis"

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The Enterprise crew investigates the disappearance of three crew members who were part of an away mission that Geordi was involved in five years ago while serving the USS Victory. His former shipmate, Lt. Cmdr. Susanna Leijten, joins him in trying to learn what happened.

Tropes featured in this episode include:

  • Absentee Actor: Troi doesn't appear in this episode.
  • Author Appeal: Writer Brannon Braga seems to have a thing for humans mutating/evolving into alternate life forms; he also wrote the seventh season's "Genesis", as well as the infamous Voyager turkey "Threshold". And was also executive producer on the short-lived series Threshold.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The parasites injected into the humans begin re-writing their DNA, slowly mutating them into something non-human.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Geordi and Leijten are safe, but the other two crewmen can never be returned to normal. The most the crew can do is leave them in peace and set up a warning marker.
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  • Body Horror: Oh, yeah. We see the beginnings of Geordi's transformation, and he's quite horrified and pained by it.
  • Casts No Shadow: Inverted; the normally invisible creatures do cast shadows.
  • Continuity Nod: For the scenes set in 2362, the Victory crew are wearing the one-piece jumpsuits and carrying the older "dustbuster" phasers. Geordi is also wearing an older-model VISOR as well as a red uniform, like he did in season 1 before he transferred to engineering.
  • Enhance Button: Executed somewhat more plausibly than the norm. In order to determine the source of a particular shadow in a video log, Geordi has to feed the holodeck computer a series of assumptions and speculations—and even then, the result is somewhat inconclusive (as seen above).
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: The Tarchannen III aliens reproduce by implanting a parasite that transforms other organisms into a member of their species. This happens to the inhabitants of a Federation outpost and several Starfleet officers sent to investigate.
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  • Foreshadowing: When the Enterprise crew beams down the first time, they find the shuttles Mendez and Brevelle stole along with a pair of torn Starfleet uniforms.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Leijton to Mutated!Geordi. Reversed and Downplayed earlier with Geordi to a slightly-mutated Leijton.
  • Invisibility: The creatures are invisible in normal light (though they do cast shadows), but can be seen using ultraviolet light.
  • Invisibility Flicker: When illuminated by blacklight. A more brief instance is when an invisible Geordi uses the transporter.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: When Leijten goes missing on the planet, the other members of the away team split up to look for her. Nobody seems to worry that this makes them vulnerable to being picked off one by one.
  • Loss of Identity: The end result of the Viral Transformation. The creatures that remain are nothing more than instinctive animals. Geordi remarks that he was only a few minutes away from completely losing his humanity.
  • Painful Transformation: The initial symptoms include tremors, panic, and the fusing together of the victim's fingers. Then the real pain kicks in.
  • Send in the Search Team: What kicks off the whole plot—the Victory was sent in five years ago to find out what caused the entire crew of an outpost to disappear.
  • The Shadow Knows: When Geordi starts reviewing the Victory's recording in the holodeck, he notices a shadow that doesn't belong to any of the people or objects present. He activates the computer's Enhance Button, but all it can do is project a vague shape of the source.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Of course, once the human DNA has been completely overwritten, there's no going back.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: See Wham Shot, below.
  • Viral Transformation: How the entities on Tarchannen III reproduce—they infect visitors with a parasite that eventually compels them to return to the planet and slowly mutates them into another creature.
  • Visible Invisibility: Mutated!Geordi employs the Predator Cloak.
  • Was Once a Man: Mendez and Brevelle are too far gone to be saved by the time the Enterprise figures out what the cause is.
  • Wham Shot: When Riker, Worf and Data go looking for LaForge on the holodeck. Worf calls out, then holds up LaForge's torn uniform and VISOR.


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