TNG: S3E14: “A Matter of Perspective”

In which Picard can’t paint, justice is served raw, and this show could have benefited enormously from anyone bothering to clean up all of these messes. 

Here you go. Two posts with nudity in a row. I hope you're happy.

Here you go. Two posts with nudity in a row. I hope you’re happy.

Several people, including Picard, are painting in an observation room aboard the Enterprise,  and either realism is not a technique much favored in the 24th century or Picard can’t paint. It’s okay, he has other skills. Also, realism is probably not a hugely important artistic standard when you could just have the holodeck do it, which is pretty close to why realism went out of style in the first place. It just amuses me that the episode whose title references perspective features a painting in a style without any. Countdown to Picard getting interrupted in three… two… ah, here comes Data, to tell Picard that they’ve arrived at Doctor Apgar’s lab, and that his work sucks.

They’ve finished delivering supplies and learned that Dr Apgar is making problems creating “Krieger” waves, and that Riker is just beaming off the ship now, shortly before the entire station explodes and bits of it barely miss the ship. Luckily, Riker is in transit when it happens, and they resolve him several seconds after the explosion of the station. You know, like ya do.

Apgar was the only one still aboard the station when it exploded and nobody knows why it exploded, although O’Brien registered a power drain on the transporter, and the explosion is consistent with a power cell overload. Riker looks distinctly uncomfortable about the mission as a member of the planetary security force arrives. Something must have been spoiled on the set because everyone looks like they’re tasting butt. As it turns out, the chief investigator is here to arrest Riker for murder. The local system holds that someone is guilty until proven innocent. There’s all sorts of legalism thrown around that I’m not even going to try to keep up with, but the long and the short of it is that for the trial, they’re going to recreate the events of the explosion in a kind of Roshomon mummery.

While Picard lets out a flurry of instructions, evidently Marina Sirtis read ahead in the script, because the look she’s giving Riker during all this is kind of brilliant. If there’s enough evidence presented at this hearing, Picard may have to let Riker  face local justice. And, as it turns out, it took Data 11 hours and change to program the holodeck with a simulation based on the procided testimony.

According to Riker, Doctor Apgar was defensive about the Enterprise showing up early and his wife was giving Riker eyes and maligning her husband the Doctor’s… bedside manner, and not being particularly subtle about it. He catches Riker in the act of rebuffing her, Apgar hits her, there’s shouting and acrimony, and Riker leaves. Then the investigator pulls out some evidence he has, that a focused energy beam came from Riker’s beam-out spot and probably blew up something important, like the power cell. His supposition is that Riker was hiding a phaser on his belt. One that must have been painted black rather than standard Federation Grey, and one that wasn’t with him when he beamed aboard the ship. And one that wasn’t detected by the transporter.

Aha, I knew we’d covered this recently. O’Brien is good at his job, and even with the distraction of the power drain, I feel he would have noticed Riker having an active weapon mid-transport. Since the investigator is willing to trust Picard to make the right call after the indictment, we have to assume that he believes Riker acted alone and that the whole of the Enterprise is not corrupt, so he should trust the transporter logs that show no trace of an active weapon, right?

Also, some weird radiation made this blister in the hallway plating, but that couldn't possibly be relevant, could it?

Also, some weird radiation made this blister in the hallway plating, but that couldn’t possibly be relevant, could it?

The widow Manua Apgar is now called in to give her testimony. She is not now lusting after Riker’s human bits. This of course raises the interesting question of whether her previous portrayal is just how Riker thinks every woman acts when he’s around. I should remind everyone at this point that although he is quite a ladies’ man, we never see him as anything less than a gentleman in any given moment. Well, except in Manua’s testimony. In her story, she’s just trying to be a good hostess and Riker is being rakish, in a restrained Starfleetish sort of way, but definitely not subtle. And in her story, he’s the one who locks her in with him.

There’s not a whole lot of overlap between the two stories and they diverge pretty radically by the end. However, Troi is there to assure us that she beleives that Riker believes he’s telling the truth. Of course, she also believes that Manua believes she’s telling the truth, so that’s kind of a problem.

Okay, so more radiation appears in sick bay, and it turns out that it may be coming regularly, and it’s dangerous enough that if it happened to the engine, the ship would explode. The immediate suggestion is that this is what happened to the research station, but what a coincidence that Riker happened to beam out at exactly that time. Unless of course whatever blew up the station is what started the radiation events. Something about columnated exotic waves.  We do not yet know why the Federation wanted the Krieger wave machine.

The assistant also gives her testimony, as relayed by the late Doctor Apgar, which is hearsay but admissible by the local law. In Apgar’s retelling, he found Manua and Riker in a mutual embrace (as opposed to the two of them accusing the other of unwanted advances) and he beats the crap out of Riker, so that’s clearly a somewhat fanciful telling and not to be believed at all. Also, in that retelling, Riker threatened to kill Apgar. Then Apgar has his assistant take hsi wife and evacuate, and tells her not to call the authorities because he’ll take care of it. It’s a shame that him beating Riker in a fight makes the whole thing fiction because that’s the one piece that would explain things.

Good news – the field generator for the uncolumnated Krieger Waves discharges at exactly the right period, and apparently this also solves the murder mystery. According to Wesley, anyway. It is now time for Picard to showboat, and key in on some dialogue everyone has ignored.

As it turns out, the recreation in the holodeck is perfect enough to convert the planetside energy charges into Krieger waves. The implications of that are worrying beyond measure, although in this one particular case we ought to expect that the doctor kept exacting records of his work. Still, the Holodeck can apparently create things in the smallest detail and they aren’t just shells of light with no substance save for a textured force field where someone touches them. They are, at least in this case, fully realized objects. The Holodeck, then, is actually a room-sized replicator.

Troi mentions that Starfleet was interested in the Krieger Wave machine as a power source, and that this wouldn’t have generated great personal rewards for Apgar. But as a weapon (which it seems eminently capable of serving as) the Romulans or Ferengi would probably be pretty appreciative. Hence, Apgar was getting squirrely about the Federation showing up before he had weaponized it, and claiming it didn’t work.

The hypothesis about the final moments is that the beam was energized to kill Riker, but bounced off the transport in progress. And to prove that this is feasible, they’re going to align everything so that the energy pulse bounces off a transport in progress just like it did previously, conveniently forgetting that that’s what blew up the frigging station last time. Hell of a way to prove a point.






And then the Enterprise exploded, frying the surface below them in a burst of gamma radiation from the antimatter stores annihalating and dooming the Federation to a slow death as dozens of unresolved crisies events and anomalies slowly rip it apart both politically and at a space-time level.

Or the destruction is contained entirely to the holodeck, except for the table and chairs that the witnesses are sitting in. It is, at least, convincing enough not to cause an Incident. And they leave, knowing that they leave behind them a potentially unstoppable weapon that eats through hull metal like a blowtorch through butter, and slapping each other on the back because at least Riker isn’t in jail.


One thought on “TNG: S3E14: “A Matter of Perspective”

  1. Pingback: Worlds in a Blender | DS9: S2E11: “Rivals”

Did we miss something awesome?