The Nth Degree
Reg Barclay is back on the holodeck, but he’s not up to his old tricks. He’s up to new ones, including bending space, teaching Einstein a thing or two, hitting on Deanna Troi, and acting! Should he be stopped? And if so, how? Find out when we put The Nth Degree in the Mission Log.
Tags: Albert Einstein, April Anaya, Argus array, Cyrano de Bergerac, Cytherian, Dwight Schultz, intelligence, Jim Norton, Joe Menosky, Kay E. Kutter, Linda Larson, Lt. Barclay, neural interface, nuclear reactor, Page Leon, Reg Barclay, Richard Feynman, Robert Legato, Saxon Trainor, Sha Ka Ree, space telescope, subspace distortion, superhuman, The Next Generation, The Next Generation Season 4, The Nth Degree, three dimensional chess, TNG, USS Feynman
So many episodes where aliens change Enterprise crew, yet strangely, they are back to factory specs by the end of the episode. Including, weirdly, a number of upgrades that include being better at approaching the opposite sex.
Shame nobody thought to record what he was doing, so that they could maybe replicate the result.
And we assume the computer records were wiped clean too.
Although there was an information exchange, it seems like the Cythereans probably held back some info, just as we, er, umm Starfleet would have to when meeting a warp capable society, that still had some developmental issues. Otherwise, I really thought advice on defeating the Borg should have been on the top of their wish list!!
“Well, it’s been a decade and we’ve finally unraveled all the stuff we got from the Cytherians: It’s just, ‘Can’t get enough of those Sugar Crisps’ written over and over again. I think they hosed us.”
Lol lol lol !!!!
It’s a cookbook!
Totally. Massive biological changes and five minutes later all is well. Just lake last episode.
Kind of like the whole “tri-corder recording thing w/The Guardian…
You know, when I first saw this ep back in broadcast… I took a different message. Maybe because at the time I WAS Lt. Barclay, socially awkward, especially around the opposite sex, maybe a bit smarter than I should be (Well, smart-assed), and more than willing to escape into fantasy.
I took away a message of, well, that wish-fulfillment isn’t a good idea. Barclay spent his first ep having to be pried out of the holodeck )who wouldn’t want to live there?), and here, he is given EVERYTHING. It’s… wishing for superpowers. It’s getting everything handed to you. I hate to use the phrase gift horse, but that was, to me at least, the crux. Barclay gets what every nerd wants, the ability to be confident, to truly show them all (Ask me how!), to maybe even get the girl… but he never asks at what cost. And that… that’s what warned me when I was watching it. It’s great that he’s gotten it, but HE didn’t get it, a probe gave it to him and he, himself, just went along with this wish-fulfillment without wondering the hows and whys.
I know this is getting dangerously close to Ken’s This Side of Paradise rant, but I think Next Gen here was cautioning more that it was better that Barclay build his own confidence, and BE PROUD OF HIMSELF BECAUSE OF IT than to take pride and confidence in what was handed to him. Yes, there’s the button at the end, but that will be where he himself goes, not where an alien probe takes him. He’s smaller at the end, but he’s greater than what he was in the beginning and THAT is what is more important. So I don’t think that Troi was being condescending as much as I think Trek was trying to say, “Look, be confident and happy in who you are. Don’t wish for superpowers, develop yourself.” That, I think, was a good message and one that I loved about this ep.
Hrmm, I guess to sum it, it was trying to say to us geeks you may not BE the captain of the USS Enterprise, or a Vulcan, or Klingon, but, hey, that’s ok. Be happy with who you are and who you can become through your own effort.
I’ll expand that message with one that Star Trek uses pretty often: you have to earn it. There are many times when a special power or special knowledge is seen as a detriment because the person (or people) who got it didn’t earn their way to it and then didn’t know how to use it.
Not buying it. The “All Knowing/All Seeing Computer” records all…
Lots going on in the center of the galaxy… Megas-Tu, Sha Ka Ree, The Cytherians, a big black hole…
In my interpretation of ST:5, Sybok simply took the Enterprise to the centre of the “Galaque Sea”, a mysterious gaseous anomaly out of Vulcan legend.
You do raise a good question as to why Voyager’s crew never mentioned seeking the Cytherian’s help though…
“No problem: Here’s how you build one.”
So, if there’s no array to fix, how long before Reg does his secret mission to visit Cytheria? Because he only does that after taking over the computer.
I’m reminded of that bacteria that wants to get into the gut of cats, so mice infected with it lose their fear of cats and thus tend to get eaten by them. I assume part of the programming of Reg makes him not only smarter and more self assured, but reckless and frustrated with his constraints. It needed him to fail up to the position that he could take control of the ship the way he did.
Of course, in the case of the bacteria, it’s not good news for the mice.
I just looked up that bacteria. That is friggin’ nuts! How can something that complex, that specific, and that cruel ever come to be?
It’s still not as bad as the zombie ant fungus (which is the worst thing in history), but it’s a worthy contender.
Nature is, not to put too fine a point on it, a dick.
Did I read this or dream it up that the rabies virus evolved to induce hydrophobia in hosts because it didn’t propagate well in watery environments?
wow that’s crazy
About the Argus array and it’s 18 reactors. If I recall correctly, it’s also near the the Federation/Cardassian border, so maybe it’s used for more than innocent stargazing…as in “We’re just charting distant stars…it’s not our fault if those pesky Cardassian military outposts keep getting in the way.”
Nice… Reminiscent of the Vulcans spying on the Andorians – which hasn’t happened yet, I know, but has already happened (actually in the timeline) and will be one of the only consistent things to happen even though all this NG stuff might not quite happen they way we are accepting that it is… (Phewww!)
Got a question about the date. Would you be more comfortable with if Troi and Barclay were seen going on dates in later episodes?
Because it felt to me like Troi said no the first time because he wasn’t acting like himself, and said yes the second time because she had seen what he could be.
Nah, she only did it because she was trying to make him feel better after having lost his brilliance and confidence. She wasn’t really interested in him even during his change, because she didn’t really know who he was at that moment, and was legitimately worried about what he was becoming. Even then, it felt like she was trying to give him a polite brush-off. When she said his pass was “a good one”, I don’t read that as her being tempted, just mentioning that he was displaying a skill and confidence very unlike anything he had ever displayed before.
Go home Barclay…you’re drunk…- hahaha, I took it like when friends hit on each other when they are drunk, just to test the waters. haha…also, sometimes even if someone is super hot, successful etc, the more casual girl/guy next door or simple beauty type gets the win
Big surprise that my #8 favorite episode went over so well. I always knew I liked you two. 🙂
Even though I do love this episode, it’s probably fairer to say I love half of it, and I mostly just sit through the other half waiting for the good stuff. The Argus Array stuff isn’t terribly interesting (woulda been nice if it was…maybe…a listening post near the Neutral Zone, or the more-current equivalent of Memory Alpha or something), as it’s hard to make too much of a giant telescope given all the far-crazier technology we’ve seen. Picard and company were cool with spending three weeks repairing it? Why not just tow it to a Starbase if it’s gonna take that long? Or investigate it and call for a smaller, repair…scow or something? Shouldn’t the flagship have more important things to do? Why not combine such a job with shore leave? Take the thing to Risa. It’s already broken, what good’s it doing where it is?
But this is a Barclay episode. Everything Barclay is good. I adored seeing him perform Cyrano. Uh….the second time, of course. This whole episode is a shy geek’s fantasy – if we disregard the pity date at the end. But I adore seeing a wallflower bloom (even if it’s with steroids). The look on his face as Geordi tells Picard about the shield upgrade puts a big grin on mine. Combine that with Cyrano Part Deux, Barclay lecturing the computer on how to build an interface it’s never heard of, and Deanna’s coy non-answer to Riker, and you have three of my favorite moments of the series, all in one episode. The whole episode is basically Season Six in a nutshell: The highest of TNG’s highs, mixed with the occasional boring patch of technobabblish nothingness.
Woulda been nice if, the next time the Enterprise got in serious trouble (which would be…….”Darmok”), we had a scene where the enemy ship is blasting away freely, and when Picard asks about the shields, Worf can say: “Shields are holding, sir. Remember, they’re five times stronger now, they can shrug off anything. I suggest we RAM them!”
But that’s a long way off. Too far to remember. Too bad.
I gotta say – along with the pity date – I am a lil’ disappointed with the message. Sure, Deanna tries to spin it all as a good thing, but Barclay must know that he’s probably peaked, and, try as he might, he’ll never be that awesome (not just to others, but to himself) again. So…was it Ken(?)…who suggested the darker interpretation of this episode. Yeah, I’m there. But…bittersweet endings are usually the best. Progress, mixed with pain. C’est la vie.
Looking ahead, we’re a long way from my next favorite episode. So sad to have hit a mini-dry spell. At least we got a nice Geordi episode coming up.
As for next week….Ken….I fully hope and expect you to take the showrunners to task. One of the most blatant, and unnecessary, bits of “subtle” sexism is coming up in next week’s episode. It’s small enough you could technically pass it by (especially if you don’t know the backstory), but…you really shouldn’t. Give ’em hell.
ugh, I really disliked “Q-pid” and the return of Vash. Can’t believe she got 3 episodes!!!!?!? including DS9…yeeesh, we can all think of lots of other characters we would have liked to see again more than Vash
have you written out your top 10? I did recently…lol
It changes every now and then. I have a Top 20, but I don’t have a number ten right now (I just can’t think of one that fits there). Notepad gives me crazy powers, and I abuse them with vigor.
1. The Defector
2. The Inner Light
4. The Wounded
5. The Pegasus
6. Chain of Command (Part II, mostly)
7. Face of the Enemy
8. The Nth Degree
9. The Survivors
11. The Best of Both Worlds (Part I, mostly)
12. Deja Q
13. The Most Toys
15. Yesterday’s Enterprise
17. The First Duty
18. The Next Phase
19. The Offspring
20. Who Watches the Watchers
10. Cause and Effect
9. First Contact
7. The Enemy
6. Yesterday’s Enterprise
5. The Offspring
4. The Most Toys
3. The Inner Light
2. Best of Both Worlds Pt 1 & 2
1. The Defector
Another thought, is any one else bothered by Riker’s attitude toward Troi? He seems a little possessive in his attitude to the pass.
I don’t think we really saw it that way; more as playful amusement.
It is an awkward relationship.
Loved this reaction. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ea673fa936882ff05b98ac699c4678d192835ef499beb94ee0f2855e69913d39.png
Loved this reaction. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7058f297d68a387f527013dced1bb5b6b858265e2911adba9338bc00016ab68f.gif
It’s odd that the Federation would feel the array is so vital and yet still be using nuclear power which was seen as out of date in the 23rd century (Balance of Terror). Why have they not updated the power plant in over a century? How can this thing even be useful anymore?
They were fusion reactors, not fission. I enjoyed John and Ken’s humorous discussion, but maybe a subspace telescope genuinely requires a lot more power?
Depends upon how far they’re looking. Do you think they should point it at the Delta Quadrant???
The ending of this episode was so jarring. Hey there, big head on the bridge and Picard is all ok with them messing with the crew.
I wonder why Geordi didn’t mention the similar “boosting” that John Doe had on him back in “Transfigurations”? It was certainly not dissimilar to Barclay’s personal improvements, at least in the early stages.
Also, why on earth is Barclay drinking COLD tea out of a teapot? Must be an enhanced human taste bud thing.
“I was addicted to the holodeck.”
“I know what you mean: I fell in love I the holodeck.”
“My abilities were enhanced by that space probe.”
“I know what you mean: I was totally enhanced by John Doe.”
“Can’t you let me have one thing to myself?!?”
“Anyway, I got turned into a spider.”
“I got turned into an invisi–”
“Oh, son of a bitch!”
lol- good points, Geordi always had to get one up!– haha, but I think it may point to a lack of depth in the storytelling? hmmmmmm….
You know, the Cytherians having their homeworld in the vicinity of Sha Ka Re makes sense in a backwards-canonising way. Both the Cytherians and the power mad wanna-be god alien communicate via projections of their heads – the conclusion is obvious: He’s a Cytherian!
The way Cytherians conduct their studies of space may have made a lot of races who were led to their homeworld think they’ve met a god. That particular Cytherian may have wanted to make use of that, which was seen as unethical by Cytherian society. Q was punished by the Continuum for similar reasons. “With great power comes great responsibility” and all that jazz.
But maybe he just wanted to try explore space on his own (for which he’d need a spaceship, and Cytherians don’t build any), to go out there himself, and that may be enough of a taboo among Cytherians to make that a crime so offending that locking him on a rocky planet for eternity was seen as an appropriate punishment. That’d be a bummer. Now I feel sorry for the Sha Ka Ree alien. 😉
Maybe Sybok was inspired by some probe to a theological/existential quest that drew him towards the Galactic Barrier by a Cytherian w ill intent. ??Barclay and 1701-D just got lucky w the kinder variety …
“Cytherian” floating head….Kay E. Kutter
Aqualine proboscis. Abundantly hirsute mental region. Convivial aspect.
If I could have exerted any influence on the show when it was still on the air, I would have had them bring Richard Feynman to life on the holodeck. It would have been such a blast to see him interact with Barclay or LaForge, maybe play the bongos with Data… his combination of brilliance and a down-to-earth attitude would have worked beautifully in the 24th Century.
At least they acknowledged Feynman by naming a shuttle after him.
This is one for the fans, as it builds upon Schultz’s previous episode with an incredible character arch and an incredible performance. It is simply impossible to think that one man plays all the characters seemingly so effortlessly. Any student of acting should see him. The ending was dreadful, so maybe this is top 20 not top 10, and we have seen this done before quite a bit. But still excellent.