Episode

216

The Next Phase

When Ensign Ro and Geordi LaForge are beamed back from a damaged Romulan ship, a transporter accident leaves them missing and presumed dead. The rest of the crew are organizing a memorial service, but Ro and Geordi are trapped out of phase and desperate to get back among the living. They may need a lot more memorials, though. The Romulans are planning to blow up the Enterprise! New wave, dance craze, anyways, “The Next Phase” is next on Mission Log.

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Discussion

  • smoochie

    Grav plating. Something about the grav plating stops them going through the floor. That’s my head canon. Should’ve been written into it.

    • Totally agree! That’s my head canon as well!

    • But if they’re “out of phase,” gravity would have no effect on them. I dunno.

      • smoochie

        I don’t know that that’s true. I mean it’s pretty much all nonsense anyway but a brief line about the grav plating would have helped me suspend disbelief I think. Then there’s the breathing thing, but I’ve got nothing there.

  • If Geordi and Ro are “trapped between two worlds” (as per the syndication synopsis here), where is that one Romulan? Doing endless somersaults between ten or twelve others? Idle minds want to know!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2a23f88d3cd3001031b24f02ae37a895a24bad229b83cf0b04b723fb8deec505.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ecc935e49246f303414d6e17bc7a054f22a4dda74300570f45cbafae6e9765c8.jpg

    • he is obviously watching female crew members bathe….sorry had to be said…

  • CmdrR

    Oh, Season 5, you vex me with your wildly uneven writing! OK, I’m back to the very subjective: I like this episode. I totally cannot defend this ep logically, but it’s fun to watch. Yes, they cannot eat food… so, they should be able to breathe; if the ships had fired jets just to keep from drifting, Ro & Geordi should have slid out of the vessel into space; etc. etc. etc. But again, it’s fun to watch them. So…
    Good podcast. Now, give us a truly great ep next week, OK?

    • Oh yeah, that one with the flute solo’s coming up, isn’t it?

      • yes it is VHS taping friend…lol. I actually goof around w the recorder/English flute. Just for the past year, to intro my kids to music. Life goal :play “Inner Light” tune….

  • Konservenknilch

    I enjoy the episode as a mystery-adventure of the week, it somehow never occured to me to look for a meaningful treatment of death in it, it’s so slight. For once, Voyager did this a lot better later on, in a Neelix episode of all things, “Mortal Coil”, S04E12, by Brian Fuller. Basically (spoilers), Neelix is dead for a while and his worldview is shattered when he sees nothing in the afterlife. The whole ep then deals with the spiritual aftermath (and a Chakotay vision quest, ugh).

    Floor headcanon time: I propose that the artificial gravity of the ship works across all kinds of phases and whatnot. But yeah, they could have been more consistent. Doesn’t answer how they can breathe though.

    Speaking of breathing: I always found the demise of the phased romulan pretty cruel, because I could never figure out if he actually died or floated there until starving.

    • That would be great, a little post-credits scene as he keeps tumbling through space. “Hey guys? Guys? Anybody? I’m…uh…still here…um. Say…can someone phase a cheeseburger for me? Hello…?” And on he goes, across the galaxy, until he floats past Voyager, completely unnoticed, sometime in the 1998 season.

      • yeah, I wonder if he would age? interesting…pass through a sun…

    • I assumed he lived/floated forever…but yeah, Geordi said he was hungry. Maybe it was psychological?

    • Same thing happened to a guy on Firefly. Jubal Early: [as he free tumbles through space] Well, here I am.

  • Man, it’s looking like it’s a requirement to submit a Floor Theory in this week’s comments, so here’s an exclusive you won’t see anywhere else: creamy nougat. The Enterprise’s decks are filled with creamy nougat, whose matter for some reason resists changes to its phase state, therefore they can’t fall through the floors. Packed with peanuts and chroniton particles, the Enterprise really satisfies.

    Okay, I doubt that’s the explanation. Here’s the thing: the writers would’ve gotten away with it (if not for us meddling kids) if they’d disposed of that Romulan by some other, almost any other means. He could’ve accidentally run through a wall and straight into the warp core, or drowned in the dolphin tank, or…something. Anything. The moment he goes through the outer hull, you have to ask why everyone’s not slipping through the floors. Then you have to ask why they can breathe non-phased nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere. Then you have to curl up into a fetal position, rock back and forth, and just ask why….why??

    Or maybe that’s just me. It’s a fun little episode, but you really have to check your brain at the door. I think that’s where we get this intrinsic feeling of disappointment here: since when did Star Trek, of all shows, ask us to check our brains at the door? Even “fluff” episodes like Shore Leave pay off some sort of high-concept idea (the planet’s reading your mind and deploying robots or holograms or something to make your thoughts real)…even Star Trek V has an interesting high-concept notion or two buried beneath an avalanche of forced humor…and The Next Phase could’ve done the same thing but for one gag that becomes its fatal flaw because it demands that question be asked of the plot point that underpins the entire story. The viewers shouldn’t have to plug a hole in the writers’ dam for the show to work.

    I’ll never look at Picard sitting in the ready room staring at his monitor the same way again, thinking deep, solemn thoughts about Nyan Cat.

    Would’ve been a whole different episode if Spengler, Stantz, Zeddimore and Venkman had burst into Ten Forward…

    • We imagine the floors and walls are just teeming with creamy nougat now.
      Also, Picard probably relates to Grumpy Cat.

      • I bet Worf’s a Li’l Bub fan in his off hours. “What a handsome creature. The face of a warrior!”

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      Ha, who ya gonna call?

  • gizmochimp

    It’s a fun episode if you turn your brain off and just enjoy it. It reminded me a bit of Ghost, which came out 2 years earlier. To me it’s one of those “cool ideas explored” episodes, no deep meaning required.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      I thought the same thing.

    • Muthsarah

      Yeah, I think this was the first time (since Season Three TOS, which I wasn’t here for) both Ken and John disliked an episode I like. Like a lot, in fact. 8 or 9 out of 10 like. It’s the perfect Treknobabble episode, in that its concept is really simple, the explanation is…there, but doesn’t take up TOO much time, and the solution is clever. And there’s a nice twist with the Romulan.

      It’s a great pulpy story with lots of little character moments, AND it shines the spotlight on two under-utilized characters who otherwise (and henceforth) would have nothing to do with one another.

      I think our good hosts are just spoiled, or jaded, at this point. At least that’s a good mindset going into next week, one of TNG’s holy trinity of episodes.

    • thought of that!! shoulda had Guinan do her psychic bit!! lol- oh wait…conveniently not there….sigh…

  • Dave Steph Taylor

    A fun episode if you don’t think to deep. My question, would not they need a constant infusion of Cronitons to stay cloaked.

    Ro being so quick to accept death and Geordi refusing that he could be dead is a fun back and forth.

    The willingness of the Romulans to blow up the Enterprise is disturbing.

    • yeah…the Romulans are douche bags…at least these ones were…

      • Dave Steph Taylor

        As as said in the podcast, good thing the Romulan’s plans never work out

  • Wildride

    I’m still not sure why Whoopie wasn’t able to sense them: Not Guinan — Whoopie. #Ghost

    Weird that communicators worn crew members don’t work phased, but weapons do.

    “Riker deserved it. You know, by not resisting her advances and then later appearing to have feelings for her. The bastard!” Actually, could’ve used a Riker/Ro pottery class scene. Alexander never did finish that cup.

    Riker+Romulans+phase cloak=Always a bad combination.

    Really, the weirdest thing is the unidirectional nature of the phase. Should’ve just been Ro, Geordie and the Romulan in the dark void of space asphyxiating, unable to see each other unless they had lights on them when they phased, and certainly unable to see the Enterprise or the Romulan ship.

    Also, I guess empathy is subject to phasing. I wonder if Troi had been the one to be phased if she’d still sense non phased people’s emotions.

    “There’s so much to cover. I don’t think we can make an episode without a bunch of logic holes.”
    “So, you’re saying we should abandon this plot?”
    “No, we’ll just make an episode with a bunch of logic holes. Won’t be the first time.”

    • lol, Alexanders pottery cup…

      • Mike B

        I would guess the communicators didn’t link up with the ship’s system because they were out of phase BUT that their translator function was working because Geordie AND Ro heard and understood the Nefarious Romulan Plot.

        And in that scene, kudos to Geordie for recognizing a hypothetical phasing device from a peek inside what must have been a well lit and mostly empty console.

  • mc900

    Well of course they replicated and older computer for the Romulans. That’s what was meant by “giving them one”

  • Jason8957

    Ensign Ro said something at the end of the episode about how she felt arrogant for discounting all that she had been taught about her religion. And after this experience, she was no longer sure in her doubting of those teachings. I thought that there was perhaps a moral or message in there with that and I was waiting for you guys to mention it, but you didn’t.
    Did you consider that statement?

    • I took it as a nod to religion, that we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it. The Prophets are obviously coming up in DS9, though I am sure the writer’s of TNG had no idea at the time. The Bajorans are clearly Trek’s spiritual archetype I think….

  • Enisra Bowman

    Fun Story, about 12 years ago i read an article that an Old C64 at the Dortmund Main Station, which handled the flap display, broke down after 22 years. It worked fine and changing the whole Display would hade coust about 3 million €, a few months before the wanted to renovate the hole place. So maybe the old computer handled the score board in the gym or something. Or Starfleed need them to contact some of the older space probes. At the end, with all the headscratches of the strange behavoir of some multiphased objects in this episode, it’s at last an mystery that may not that illogical at the end.

    • I heard of that regarding a US school system that had an old reliable IBM computer running it’s facilities or environmental controls. Very interesting…I think I may need to watch the episode again…in the middle of the podcast..what was the reference in episode to old computer gear?

    • oh..i remember, Riker/Worf wanted to give the Romulans old gear…got it…

    • I used to upgrade old PCs and install new ones in an, ahem, enterprise setting for a living; one thing I ran into a lot is that old systems – as in “barely capable of Win95” – had to be kept around for large scale HVAC systems, but isolated from any kind of network. It wouldn’t have surprised me one bit to run into a Commodore 64!

  • Derwood

    What’s the exclusion cone radius on a tiny little Corbormite device?

  • anyone know who this asian security guard is? pic is from S3 E1 “Evolution”- he was in a few S2 episodes… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5cd45f7c913d0b963a05ad2554aae33b3dca86c68625905a44d990a194a570e8.jpg

  • Scott Newland

    Happy New Year, John and Ken! I agreed with you both on this episode, but more than that you made me laugh a lot with your comments. It sounded like you were both having fun. And, with the computer’s parting words, I’m now listening to 1973 era Billy Joel… (just a little push, and I’ll be smiling…).

    • That’s our little gift to you: if we get a song stuck in our heads while making an episode of Mission Log, we want to make sure EVERYONE gets the same song stuck in their heads.

  • Hyack

    He is one thing about that episode that always got me! When Geordi and Ro are at the party and decide to overload the Romulan disrupter they dove behind a couch for cover? Now this is a couch they could just walk through so it would also mean the energy from the disrupter would also pass right through it! So basically they are laying 6-8 feet from an exploding disrupter with nothing between them, and live. Thank God they were reoccurring characters or they would have been toast!!

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      Good point. Also, if a Disrupter goes off like like, it seems like it would destroy most of 10 Forward.

  • Regarding your discussion of the Transporter destroying/recreating dilemma, I recommend the excellent 1995 SF novelette, “Think Like a Dinosaur,” by James Patrick Kelly. It won the Hugo award, and the 2001 The Outer Limits series did an episode of it; of course, the original story is the most effective.

  • I wonder if the lack of religions of Earth figuring into the discussion might be because they have faded into obscurity? One alien races are met/space travel, I think many movies posit religion will be on the decline…just a thought….

  • Daniel R. Przybylski

    When you reviewed ‘All Our Yesterdays’, you guys, okay Ken seemed almost furious at all of the rules of time travel the episode seem to break, and I always came away from that episode of the podcast thinking that you guys couldn’t get past some of broken rules of fictional time travel which made you miss so much of what is considered one of the best episodes.

    But for this one, we’ll just overlook things like not passing thru floors, etc.

    🙂

  • Daniel R. Przybylski

    Of course Picard knows they can’t be ghosts. They teach that in Starfleet Academy daycare:

    If ghosts were real, Brian Cox claims CERN would have found them by now

    http://www.wired.co.uk/article/the-lhc-proves-ghosts-do-not-exist