Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Matter of Perspective

by Alan Rapp on May 19, 2020

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Matter of Perspective
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“It is the truth… as you each remember it.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Matter of Perspective TV review

Throwback Tuesday takes us back to the final frontier where no one has gone before. “A Matter of Perspective” opens with the destruction of a space station the Enterprise was sent to inspect just as Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) is beaming back to the ship. Riker’s tumultous relationship with the scientist (Mark Margolis) killed in the explosion, and suggestions of the First Officer’s inappropriate behavior towards Apgar’s wife (Gina Hecht), make him the prime suspect in the explosion. Under local law, Riker is presumed guilty and must prove his innocence or Picard (Patrick Stewart) will be forced to turn his First Officer over to the authorities.

While Riker’s guilt is never really in question, the audience sees the Commander beam back into the Enterprise not holding a phaser making it impossible for him to have fired one during his beam-out (something which is failed to be brought up at trial?), the core of the episode deals with the differences in how Riker and the widow remember events. Reconstructing events by using the Holodeck, several scenes are recreated from different perspectives. Rather than try sell the audience on the idea of Riker’s guilt, the story is constructed to prove his innocence, and not by overcoming lies or deception but fighting discrepancies with each person’s accounts that each believes is true. Some of these different perspectives are disturbing while others border on ridiculous (such as the scientist beating up Riker). In the end, mysterious pulses from the planet, and a few congruent details from all perspectives, allow Picard’s crew to discover who is responsible for the space station’s destruction.

Given the nature of the story, with several sequences re-shot with different dialogue, and the writers struggling to explain the scientific method of Krieger Waves and how a Holodeck recreation could possible harm the ship during the trial, along with an inability to be able to sell Riker as an angry Lothario possible of committing the crime, many view it as one of the season’s weaker episodes including Ira Steven Behr, Rick Berman, and Ronald D. Moore. While not a traditional mystery, the episode does work in slowly uncovering the truth and finding pieces of all accounts to piece together what really caused the station’s destruction. The idea of the ship’s lady’s man being charged with killing a scientist wouldn’t die here as very similar themes would be explored later in Star Trek: Voyager.

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