Star Trek 191: The Loss

191. The Loss

FORMULA: Operation: Annihilate + The Immunity Syndrome

WHY WE LIKE IT: Deanna gets her psychobabble turned against her.

WHY WE DON'T: The counselor turns out to be a pretty wretched person.

REVIEW: There aren't a lot of opportunities for Troi-driven episodes, so why make her thoroughly unlikeable when one actually comes along? Troi has always had a childish, spoiled side when her mother was around (we often revert to old behaviors when thrown in with our families), but here, it is unleashed tenfold. She's insubordinate, bitter, condescending, ungrateful and veers towards offensive as she wails about how disabled she is. Her attitude is totally unbecoming of a Starfleet officer. I mean, get over yourself! It's not that I think Marina Sirtis isn't playing it right (indeed, she's pretty uncompromising about her portrayal, fearlessly making Troi unlikeable), but that this stuff should never have been written for her. By the end, you get the very real sense that Deanna is an emotion junkie in withdrawal. (Please watch it again and tell me I'm wrong.) The therapy stuff with Janet Brooks is all meant to mirror Deanna's situation, but we could have been spared this as well. It's boring and hackneyed.

The B-plot about the two-dimensional creatures isn't a real winner either, even if I am a big fan of that Cosmos episode where Carl Sagan has thin squares living in a roofless house, as well as the deeper discussions about two-dimensionality in Edwin Abbott's Flatland. Though it ends with an interesting behavioral approach that finally uses Deanna well, it's all technobabble until then. Staring at screens, pushing buttons and trying to start the engines. Steeped in higher physics, but dull. (Some wouldn't use the "but" here.) It's also silly that no one wants to connect Deanna's loss and the creatures. Obviously, they are connected.

And yet, I can't totally pan this one. I thought I would, but I found everybody else's performance just right, and enough to marginally recommend the episode. Troi is insufferable, but anytime the other regulars have a scene with her, they shine. Beverly's knowing hurt, Picard's stuffy anecdotes and anxious fiddling, Guinan's reverse-psychology, Riker's being there for her no matter what, Data's perking up at Deanna's new approach... They all hit just the right note. There's some amusement in seeing everyone else play counselor to an infuriated Troi who knows all the tricks, and the discussion about what if feels like to not have empathic powers (actually informing the opposite) is interesting.

LESSON: That I would still be going to Ten-Forward for my therapy.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-Low: If you haven't seen this one in a while (I'm pretty sure I've been avoiding it myself), it's a lot better than you remember. Troi is still hard to take though, so it's far from a must-see.

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