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Recap / Star Trek The Next Generation S 7 E 16 Masks

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Data develops multiple personalities, the Enterprise-D develops a weird matter-transference problem, and the writers develop a reliance on some hella strong cold meds.
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When the Enterprise encounters an ancient data archive floating in space, strange things begin to happen: artifacts start appearing all over the ship, Data starts manifesting other personalities, and soon the Enterprise herself starts transforming.

In order to save the Enterprise, Picard must insert himself into an alien culture and face down a queen of death.

Tropes

  • Becoming the Mask: An unusual variation, as Data and Picard assume the personalities associated with their respective masks.
  • Daylight Horror: Masaka causes this, according to most of the personalities that Data channels.
    Ihat: Masaka is waking.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: One of Data's personalities has no idea how strong an android's grip is, as Picard's forearm finds out the painful way.
  • The Dreaded: Masaka.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: As noted by TNG reviewer Tim Lynch:
    When Riker and Picard are talking in the ready room about the pedestal with the strange symbol, Picard is holding it in a rather ... well, let's say a rather provocative angle. ;-) Now, I doubt that was intended, and wonder why it stayed in — but even more striking, halfway through Picard's speech in that same scene Frakes starts smirking like all get out for *no apparent reason*. Rather, there's no apparent reason for Riker to be doing it; Frakes had plenty of reason, and apparently did. If that's the version of the scene that stayed in, I have got to find a way to see this scene's outtakes. :-)
    • It's worth noting that Patrick Stewart conspicuously emphasized the word "enormous" in his line reading; suggesting that he knew exactly what he was doing.
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  • God Save Us from the Queen!/Sinister Sentient Sun: Masaka, according to Ihat.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Masaka chases Korgano, then Korgano chases Masaka, as befits the Sun/Moon cycle.
  • It's a Long Story: After the situation has been resolved.
    Picard: Mr. Data, are you all right?
    Data: I believe so, sir. I am not entirely sure what has happened. Have I been dreaming again, sir?
    Picard: I'm afraid that would take some time to explain.
  • Kneel Before Frodo: Ihat kneels before Deanna, thinking that she's Masaka. He's mildly amused/annoyed when he realizes that she's not.
    Ihat: Captain, that was a cruel joke you played on me. For a moment — a brief moment — I actually thought that woman was Masaka.
  • Large Ham: Data's multiple personalities compete to see who can out-ham the others.
  • Literal-Minded: Data's sculpting. Deanna notes that he has no problem recreating real objects, but abstractions are somewhat beyond him. When she asks him to sculpt music, he gives her a treble clef.
    Deanna: It's a start.
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  • Multiple Personality: Data, and how. Picard notes Data showed a dozen personalities — Data responds there were over a thousand personalities that were inside him.
  • No Antagonist: The episode is just a mystery, and there's no real danger, though there are minor casualties, but they're peripheral and accidental.
  • Property of Love: One of Data's personalities declares himself as this to Masaka.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: The probe is so old that over the course of millions of years, it became encrusted with space debris and became a comet.
  • A Rare Sentence: "I'm not going to permit this ship to be turned into an alien city!"
  • Reality Warper: The alien station functions like a gigantic replicator, generating artifacts out of thin air and converting sections of the Enterprise to fit the theme of the story it is trying to tell. It's noted that's actually using the same technology as the replicators.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The significance of the various scenes and characters the crew members are forced to play is never explained. At the end of the episode, neither the protagonists nor the viewers can tell whether they are metaphors related to the history of the species that created the data archive, religious parables of that species, or something entirely different.
    • To a folklorist, they could easily be all of the above.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    Data: Geordi. What... does it feel like... when a person is losing his mind? (Cue Slasher Smile when becoming Ihat)
  • Solar and Lunar: Masaka and Korgano.
  • Take Me Instead: Picard offers himself to Masaka to spare Ihat. It doesn't work.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Picard puts on the Korgano mask and talks Masaka into going back to sleep, not through a Patrick Stewart Speech but by invoking their Solar and Lunar dichotomy.
  • Trickster God: Ihat is implied to be one, as Masaka's brother.


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