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Clues (episode)

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"Clues"
TNG, Episode 4x14
Production number: 40274-188
First aired: 11 February 1991
87th of 176 produced in TNG
87th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
194th of 728 released in all
Tethys III
Teleplay By
Bruce D. Arthurs and Joe Menosky

Story By
Bruce D. Arthurs

Directed By
Les Landau
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The crew of the Enterprise wakes up after apparently passing through a wormhole, finding mysteries surrounding their blackout. Data begins to act suspiciously, prompting the command staff to wonder if he has been compromised.

Summary

After completing a mission early, the crew of the USS Enterprise is granted extra personal time to pursue their interests. Captain Jean-Luc Picard decides to show Guinan his Dixon Hill Holodeck program, and attempts to explain to her why Humans find mysteries fascinating. Just then, Data informs him of the discovery of a T-Tauri type star near the Ngame Nebula. The sensors have detected that the system has one M-class planet, and a small, unstable wormhole, which disappears. Data notes such phenomena are not uncommon in T-Tauri systems – thirty-nine had been observed since 2267. Suddenly the wormhole reappears, and flings the vessel 0.54 parsecs from the system, and causes the entire crew, with the exception of Lieutenant Commander Data, to fall unconscious.

Act One

As the crew awakens, Data informs Picard that the crew was knocked out for only 30 seconds. Picard orders Worf to launch a probe to study the M-class planet that they were going to investigate before they went through the wormhole, and they continue on their regular course. However, while treating minor injuries, Dr. Beverly Crusher discovers that her Diomedian scarlet moss has shown a full day's growth. As the probe approaches the planet, it detects that the planet has a hydrogen-helium composition with a frozen helium core, clearly not an M-class planet. This confuses some of the crew, but they conclude that the wormhole may have been interfering with the sensors. When Picard is in his ready-room, Beverly comes in with her moss, and explains that they have experienced a full day's growth. Picard cannot come up with an explanation.

Act Two

At the staff briefing Data tries to explain away these contradictions, quoting an obscure theory by Pell Underhill. After Data leaves, Geordi La Forge informs the rest of the staff that the computer's chronometer has been tampered with, and that only he and Data would be capable of doing it. Picard asks Data if he would consent to being examined by La Forge. Data agrees.

Act Three

Evidence continues to mount that suggests the time of collective unconsciousness was much longer than 30 seconds – indeed, it now appears an entire day had passed. Geordi examines but cannot find anything wrong with Data, yet Dr. Crusher learns lieutenant Worf's wrist had been broken and repaired, without either's knowledge, implying that the crew was not only "missing" a day but was also not even unconscious during the entire time.

Geordi next attempts to discover whether Data rigged the probe they launched. He finds Data made it appear as though the observed planet was essentially identical to Tethys III. Picard orders Geordi to launch a second probe to the system, and this time they find there is in fact a much-different, class-M planet. It now is clear Data had at least tampered with the first probe and makes it seem doubtless that he has been concealing information and fabricating data to keep the rest of the crew from discovering the truth about what really happened during their alleged 30 second collective loss of consciousness. Picard implores Data to tell him the truth, but Data refuses; not even the threat of a court martial can compell him to end his by-now obvious mendacity.

Act Four

Picard decides to set a course back to the T-Tauri system. As soon as they arrive, an energy pulse passes through the shields and possesses Counselor Deanna Troi and informs Data that "the plan has failed." Data asks the entity for more time and argues that the destruction of the Enterprise at this time would serve no purpose. Just then, Geordi enters and tells Data that the Captain has asked him to come to the bridge. Data does so, and implores Picard to leave the T-Tauri system. Picard refuses and demands to know why Data will not tell him the truth. Just as the possessed Troi enters the bridge, the android finally informs him that he, Picard, had ordered Data to lie.

Act Five

The crew finds that the system in reality contains a Class M planet inhabited by the Paxans, a violently xenophobic and highly advanced race. They terraformed their planet in order to conceal it from intruders. When an intruder comes within their space, the "wormhole" (actually an energy field) renders the ship's crew unconscious in biochemical stasis, and the ship is transported out of their space to just over half a parsec away. The idea is that when the crew awakens, they believe they were knocked unconscious by a freak wormhole and proceed on their way. However, the Paxans had never had to deal with an android before: their bioagents have no effect on Data, and Data had promptly taken action to revive the crew, foiling the Paxans' plan. A representative of the Paxans then possessed Counselor Deanna Troi and threatened to destroy the ship to protect their secret. Picard then created his plan to have the Paxans wipe their short-term memory and force Data into a pledge of secrecy. In this way, the first contact incident could be "undone" and the Paxans left alone.

The body of Troi is possessed by the same Paxan representative to communicate with the crew and warns that their prior attempt to "undo" the contact has failed. Picard explains that the previous attempt had been imperfect; too many clues were left behind that piqued their natural curiosity and led to the unraveling of the plan. In order to prevent the Paxans from destroying the ship and killing all aboard, Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew again work to alter or erase all records concerning the true nature of the planet: this time taking into account the problematic inconsistencies previously discovered. Only Data is allowed to retain any knowledge of what happened to the ship and crew during the missing day, and he is again instructed to conceal that knowledge.

Once the crew is brought back from stasis again, the conversation goes approximately the same as the first time. However, when Data suggests launching a probe, the look on Picard's face suggests he also knows, and thus orders him to dispatch a hazard advisory to Starfleet, hopefully preventing any other Federation ships from coming in contact with the Paxans.

Background Information

Story and production

Continuity

Reception

Video and DVD releases

Memorable Quotes

"Then, Mister Data, I'm going to ask you again, and I order you to directly answer me. What really happened to us?"
"I cannot answer that."
"What would you have me do, Data? How would you handle this if our positions were reversed?"
"I am apparently guilty of falsifying the Enterprise's records, of interfering with an investigation, of disobeying a direct order from my commanding officer. Your duty seems clear, sir."
"Do you know what a court martial would mean? Your career in Starfleet would be finished."
"I realise that, sir."
"Do you also realise that you would most likely be stripped down to your wires to find out what the hell has gone wrong?"
"Yes, sir. I do."

- Picard and Data in Data's quarters

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

And

Special guest star

Co-stars

Uncredited co-stars

Stunt double

Stand-ins

References

ADTH; Big Good-Bye, The; cigarette; class M; Cleveland; court martial; Diomedian scarlet moss; Dixon Hill; dizziness; electrolyte; emergency plan ZZA; Evadne IV; garter; Gloria; Harrakis V; helium; hydrogen; Milky Way Galaxy; mok'bara; Ngame Nebula; nitrogen; O'Brien, Keiko; oxygen; Packard; parsec; Paxans; Paxan homeworld; Starbase 410; Tethys III; tricorder; USS Trieste; T-Tauri type; xenophobic


Previous episode:
"Devil's Due"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 4
Next episode:
"First Contact"

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