A shuttlecraft flies in space as we hear Geordi give a personal log entry. He's traveling to Risa to attend a cybernetics symposium and for shore leave. With three hours to go, Geordi has become bored, so he asks the computer for a science trivia game. While playing, a Romulan warbird decloaks ahead, so Geordi stops the game and tries to send a distress signal, but nothing works, as the shuttlecraft is locked in a tractor beam and he's immediately transported off.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise is en route to the Klingon colony of Krios, which is in the midst of an insurrection. The Klingon governor, Vagh, has accused the Federation of arming the rebels, and Klingon ambassador Kell is accompanying them to examine the evidence, personally requesting Picard's help.
Aboard the warbird, Geordi is dragged into a room and strapped into a chair, where Romulan Subcommander Taibak "warmly" greets Geordi. After an impersonator is sent to Risa in Geordi's place, Taibak has Geordi's VISOR removed, and connects a device directly to Geordi's neural implants. This device sends various images, primarily horrifying, directly to Geordi's visual cortex, making him unable to ignore them. A shadowy figure with a familiar voice asks if there'll be any trace of their conditioning. Taibak assures her that because of Geordi's preexisting implants, any conditioning would be impossible to detect. He changes to another disturbing image, as we zoom in to see Geordi screaming in agony.
We return to the Enterprise, where Ambassador Kell speaks with Worf. Kell tells Worf that he did the Klingon Empire a favor in killing Duras, though Worf retorts that he had his own reasons for doing so.
We cut to Ten Forward, or rather, a holographic recreation where Geordi, Taibak, and his Romulan subordinates are sitting. Taibak orders Geordi to shoot and kill the holographic Chief O'Brien with a phaser, but while walking over, Geordi hesitates. After a little coercion, Geordi shoots and kills "O'Brien." Taibak tells his officers that Geordi needs another conditioning session.
Geordi returns to the Enterprise with no memory of his abduction and brainwashing, sharing stories of Risa. Shortly afterwards, Data starts to find sporadic E-band emissions.
On Krios, Picard vehemently denies the Federation's involvement until Vagh presents a confiscated phaser rifle taken from a rebel stronghold. It seems to be of Federation make. Picard asks if he may take it to analyze, to which Vagh is welcome. He's confiscated plenty.
Data works with Geordi in determining the legitimacy of the phaser rifle. Through careful examination, Geordi and Data find that the rifle has been charged with a power source in the terahertz range. Data notes that at least 327 species use this range, but Geordi narrows it down by asking who would benefit by driving a wedge between the Federation and the Klingons.
Geordi and Data join Picard in another meeting with Governor Vagh, concluding that the weapon is a Romulan decoy: a physically perfect duplicate, but since it was charged with Romulan energy sources, traces were left behind. Vagh is skeptical, since Krios holds no strategic value to the Romulans, so he still wants his own people to verify the findings. While in the office, La Forge's VISOR receives another distinctive E-band transmission.
In Ten Forward, we see Geordi in a setup similar to the Romulan holorecreation. However, this time, Geordi simply spills his drink on O'Brien.
On the bridge, Data and Riker detect another E-band emission, much larger than the previous ones. Acting under mind control again, Geordi beams down a crate of weapons from a cargo bay to the surface, deleting the transporter logs afterwards. Just as the Enterprise is about to leave, Vagh sends a transmission, telling Picard that they have intercepted the crate, and that they are not to not leave orbit until further notice, as a Vor'cha-class attack cruiser and two Birds-of-Prey decloak and intercept them.
Data finds that the memory chips in the computer were erased to hide the offender's identity and the power was routed through the replicator pathways to attempt to conceal its origin. Ambassador Kell offers to speak to Vagh, urging him to come to the Enterprise to witness the investigation. Before leaving, however, Geordi meets with him in his quarters, where it's revealed that Kell has been conspiring with the Romulans, being the one transmitting the E-band emissions. Kell tells Geordi that when Vagh arrives, Geordi is to assassinate him, claiming he is acting on behalf of the Federation in support of the rebels.
That night, Geordi has difficulty sleeping, first contacting Chief O'Brien to see if he's okay, then going to sickbay to have his VISOR checked by Dr. Crusher.
The next morning, Vagh arrives to witness the investigation, only at Kell's insistence. Kell suggests visiting Cargo Bay 4. Picard agrees. Following a mounting trail of evidence, Data finds that the E-band transmissions would be compatible with Geordi's VISOR. He then goes to the shuttlebay and determines that the memory chips in Geordi's shuttlecraft have been replicated by Romulans, and that the hull has been subjected to stresses consistent with a tractor beam. He tries calling Geordi, but he doesn't respond. Then, Data calls Worf, ordering him to take Geordi into custody immediately.
Meanwhile, Geordi has arrived in Cargo Bay 4, armed with a small phaser as per Kell's instructions. Seeing Geordi, Worf immediately rushes towards him, but is restrained by Vagh's guards, erroneously mistaking Worf's actions as hostile. Worf yells out a warning to Picard, who stops Geordi. Vagh is now quite convinced of a Federation plot against him, leaving Picard at a loss until Data arrives, revealing that Geordi has been acting under Romulan control, explaining the E-band transmissions that have preceded each suspicious act aboard the Enterprise, which were transmitted directly to Geordi's brain through his VISOR. Kell, anxious to divert suspicion away from himself, asks whether a cloaked Romulan ship could be the source of the signals. Data says no, the signals would have to have been transmitted in close proximity to Geordi by a Romulan agent. As to who that agent is, Data reveals that only two people were close to Geordi at all three of the times a signal was recorded: Picard and Kell. With the fact that Picard just saved Vagh's life, everyone, including Vagh himself, stares at Kell.
Data suggests that the Romulan agent must be hiding an E-band transmitter on his person. He recommends both Picard and Kell consent to a search. With his cover blown, Kell blusters that, as a representative of the High Council, he will not consent to be body-searched, but Vagh has his bodyguards place the ambassador under arrest, saying they will take him back to the planet and search him there. Kell formally requests asylum aboard the Enterprise. Picard coolly rejoins that he will be happy to grant asylum—after Kell is absolved of any crime. Vagh signals the planet, and the Klingons are beamed away.
Later, Geordi is talking to Troi, where he begins to realize that his memories of his trip to Risa are false. Troi promises to work with him to restore his memory, and she begins by asking Geordi what happened after he saw the Romulan ship — a question that leaves Geordi stumped, and worried as the full horror of the violation against him begins to sink in.
Tropes featured in "The Mind's Eye" include:
- Answer Cut: Geordi does one for himself when he and Data ponder who created phony Starfleet phaser rifles.Geordi: Who has the most to gain from a conflict between the Klingon Empire and the Federation?
[cut to Geordi presenting the rifle to Governor Vagh]
Geordi: The Romulans.
- Armor-Piercing Response: Geordi's response to Troi's question about the Romulan ship comes out almost automatically, as if he didn't even have to think about it. And it's at complete odds with his implanted memories, and is the first step toward unraveling what was done to him.Geordi: No, the first thing I did was... wait a minute...
- Artistic License Gun Safety: Geordi and Data test the phaser rifle in Engineering, rather than a cargo bay or a holodeck. At least they weren't shooting in the direction of the warp core◊.
- Asshole Victim: Kell tells Worf that he did a service in killing Duras, saying that some High Council members were apprehensive about him getting named Chancellor.
- "Ass" in Ambassador: Initially Subverted by Ambassador Kell, who comes across as a rather amiable Klingon—until it turns out that he's working with the Romulans.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: When Kell insists Picard's people have no right to search him, Vagh agrees... then adds that he'll have his men do it on the surface. And when Kell requests asylum from Captain Picard, Picard readily agrees to his request, provided that Kell is absolved of all suspicion in the assassination attempt.
- Bittersweet Ending: Data, Worf, and Picard save the day, but Geordi is very shaken up over being a vessel for Romulan conspiracy.
- Butt-Monkey: O'Brien, well before DS9 makes him the designated punching bag. Brainwashed!Geordi shoots a holographic version of him, and then spills a drink on the real O'Brien's shoulder.
- Catapult Nightmare: Geordi has one post-brainwashing. We don't get to see what it was about, but it's pretty easy to guess.
- Chekhov's Gun: Strange looking interface elements appear when we see things from Geordi's point of view. These elements turn out to be the E-band blips from Kell's method of giving Geordi instructions. Not only that, one can see that Kell is in the scene every time that these elements start becoming active. This foreshadows Kell's role in the conspiracy.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: All the Romulans do to La Forge physically is feed his brain images—incredibly disturbing ones of other humans suffering. Geordi is tortured by being Forced to Watch other people being tortured.
- Conspicuously Public Assassination: All the better to make sure that The Federation takes the fall.
- Death Glare:
- Picard gives one to Vagh during their verbal spat, allowing Vagh to compliment Picard as a Worthy Opponent.
- When Data gives the names most likely to be the one controlling a brainwashed Geordi (notably Picard and Kell), everyone, including Vagh himself, gives one to Kell. Vagh doesn't even look at Picard, who saved his life not a minute ago.
- Detective Mole: Geordi is assigned to investigate a tampered cargo transporter that was used to beam Federation rifles to Krios. The person who modified then wiped the transporter is himself, but he doesn't remember it.
- Dirty Coward: When Kell is exposed, he plays the asylum card to avoid the wrath of his fellow Klingons. Picard tells him to screw himself.
- Dissonant Serenity: Geordi smiles and enjoys a drink after shooting the holographic Chief O'Brien, even taking O'Brien's own chair.Geordi: Mind if I join you guys?
- Don't Explain the Joke: Data's at it again in response to a facetious comment that Geordi makes.Data: It is fortunate we were able to coordinate your return on the Teldarian cruiser.
Geordi: Yeah, when I heard the Enterprise had been ordered to the Krios system, I thought I might be forced to endure another couple of weeks on Risa.
Data: I am sorry to hear you did not enjoy yourself.
Geordi: I was joking.
Data: Joking? Ah. "Forced to endure Risa." Your actual intent was to emphasize that you did enjoy yourself. Yes, I see how that could be considered quite amusing.
Geordi: (chuckling) I missed you, Data!
- Dramatic Irony: When Geordi shares his Fake Memories about Risa to Troi, she says, "Geordi, I get the feeling that something special happened on this vacation, and I'm not talking about computers."
- Early-Bird Cameo: This is the first appearance of Sela, Tasha Yar's half-Romulan daughter, but since she is only seen very briefly and with her face obscured by shadows, the proper reveal of her identity won't happen until two episodes later.
- Exact Words: Kell tries to weasel out of getting searched and revealed, telling Picard, "I will not be submit to being searched by you or anyone else on this ship." Vagh agrees—he will have Kell searched down on Krios, instead.
- Fake Memories: Taibak makes Geordi think he really did go to Risa.
- Fake Shemp: In order to prevent Sela's identity being spoiled, she is played by an uncredited double who stands in the shadows, with Denise Crosby's voice being dubbed on in post-production. An unintended side-effect of the HD remaster of the episode is that Sela's face is now just about visible, making it very obvious that the stand-in looks nothing like Crosby.
- Faux Affably Evil:
- Taibak while beginning the brainwashing process.
- For a Klingon, Kell is a remarkably well-tempered and friendly...traitor.
- Forced to Watch: Because the Romulans hook their brainwashing machine directly into Geordi's VISOR implants, he has no choice to see whatever horrific things they want him to.
- Hidden Depths: Troi's conversation with Geordi after his return seems gossipy and inconsequential; she's mainly pressing him for romantic details. But given her empathic powers, it's likely that she senses something "off" about him (perhaps only subconsciously) and is gently probing him to learn more.
- Humble Hero: Picard, when Kell tells him how much respect several high-up Klingons have for him.Picard: I have been... pleased to offer occasional assistance to the Klingon people in the past.
Kell: Your modesty is very human, Captain. I will excuse it.
- The first thing we see Geordi ordered to do to test his brainwashing, is to kill a holographic O'Brien. Yet as noted under Spanner in the Works, O'Brien is the one who unwittingly ensures that the plan fails at the last second.
- Kell informs Worf that he did a service in killing Duras, whose family has been suspected with collaborating with the Romulans. At the end of the episode, Kell is revealed to be working with the Romulans himself.
- Karma Houdini: Subcommander Taibak gets away with torturing and brainwashing Geordi and almost sparking a war between the Federation and the Klingons. Then again, he was working for Commander Sela.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Vagh agrees that the crew of theEnterprise can't conduct a search of Kell, but he is going to. Kell asks Picard to grant him asylum, which Picard agrees to, after he has been absolved of any crime. Since Kell is obviously guilty this is a polite way of Picard saying that he's not granting him asylum.
- The Ludovico Technique: Geordi is brainwashed by being shown horrifying images sent directly to his visual cortex via his VISOR's neural implants. Literal Eye Scream ensues.
- Manchurian Agent: Having been brainwashed by Romulans, Geordi La Forge carries out missions fed to him via transmissions his VISOR can pick up. He has no memory of doing these things, and in fact capably investigates himself, forcing his handlers to accelerate their plans.
- Man Behind the Man: Sela is behind the brainwashing plot.
- Mind Rape: Taibak's method for brainwashing Geordi includes hooking a machine to his VISOR connector implants and feeding horrific images directly into his visual cortex.
- The Mole: Ambassador Kell, like J'Dan from "The Drumhead" three episodes prior, appears to be another Klingon who believes the Romulans would make better allies to the Empire than the Federation does.
- Mood Whiplash: Geordi is on his way to Risa, listening to pleasant guitar music—and a Romulan warbird decloaks. Cue Oh, Crap! moment.
- Not Himself: The method they used to brainwash Geordi left an unintentional imprint on his post-brainwashing behavior, leaving his mind unconsciously focused on O'Brien. This led to Geordi taking actions he couldn't explain, such as pouring a drink on the poor guy. Well, at least he didn't shoot him...
- Oh, Crap!:
- As Geordi partakes in a trivia game with the shuttle computer:Computer: List the resonances of the sub-quantum states associated with transitional relativity...
Geordi: That's easy!
Computer: ... in alphabetical order.
[Geordi stops smiling]
- And again a short while later as the Romulan Warbird uncloaks directly ahead.
- The look on Holo!O'Brien's face when Geordi walks up to him with a phaser.
- Kell, when Vagh announces they're going to be searching him themselves. And then when Picard coolly shoots down his request for asylum. The look on his face as he's beamed away shows he knows he's in for a slow and painful death.
- As Geordi partakes in a trivia game with the shuttle computer:
- Pardon My Klingon: Picard vs. Vagh swearing contest. Picard wins.Picard: Governor, you speak as if we were enemies, not allies.
Vagh: And you speak the lies of a taHqeq!translation
Picard: [Death Glare; slowly walks forward and gets into Vagh's face] Vagh ghaycha baQa!translation
Vagh: You swear well, Picard. You must have Klingon blood in your veins.
- Realpolitik: When Kell tells Worf that a lot of people in the Klingon government tacitly approve of his killing Duras.Worf: My motives in killing Duras were personal, not political.
Kell: Motives? Who cares for motives? Humans, perhaps. What matters is you acted that day, like a true Klingon.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: The Manchurian Candidate IN SPACE! The scene where Geordi is ordered to kill a holographic Chief O'Brien is in direct homage to the film version.
- Reality Ensues: Worf tries to save Vagh from Geordi's assassination attempt, but since he has been disgraced Vagh's bodyguards won't let Worf get near him. Luckily Picard is able to stop Geordi.
- Reverse Whodunnit: Of a sort. It's obvious early on that the Romulans are manipulating Geordi to do something against the Klingons, and before the final commercial break we learn the endgame of the plot as well as who their inside man is. The question is whether our heroes will figure it out in time.
- Shoot Your Mate: Geordi has to shoot a holographic Chief O'Brien during his programming as an assassin. His brief hesitation leads to more brainwashing.
- Spanner in the Works: Just as Geordi is unwittingly about to try and kill Governor Vagh, Chief O'Brien comes up to him, asking for a little help. This simple, unwitting act delays Geordi long enough for Data's investigation to conclude, and thus barely avoid the killing shot; without this, it's likely Geordi would've succeeded once he got close enough.
- Spotting the Thread: Some mysterious E-band transmissions aboard the Enterprise are what set Data on the path to unraveling the whole conspiracy.
- Stock Footage:
- That's an Order!: Data doesn't have time to explain to Worf why Geordi is a threat, so he invokes this.
- Villains Want Mercy: Kell was willingly helping in a conspiracy by the Romulans to frame the Federation for an act of war and aided in an attempt to assassinate Vagh so the Federation would be blamed for it. Despite all of that he asks for Picard to grant him asylum. Picard agrees, after he has been absolved of any crime.
- Wham Line: As Ambassador Kell is enjoying a meal in his quarters, the door chimes.Kell: Come in, Mr. LaForge.