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Night Terrors (episode)

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(written from a Production point of view)
"Night Terrors"
TNG, Episode 4x17
Production number: 40274-191
First aired: 18 March 1991
90th of 176 produced in TNG
90th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
197th of 728 released in all
Guinan (2367)
Teleplay By
Pamela Douglas and Jeri Taylor

Story By
Shari Goodhartz

Directed By
Les Landau
44631.2 (2367)
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Brattain personnel

Brattain personnel

The Enterprise crew is affected when they are adrift in a remote area of space, and find themselves unable to dream.

Summary

The USS Enterprise-D is given orders to find a lost Starfleet vessel, the USS Brattain. They come upon the ship adrift in a binary star system. Beaming on board, an away team finds the entire crew murdered, except for a Betazoid, who is catatonic.

Soon after encountering the disturbing scene on board the Brattain, the Enterprise crew begins to experience her own problems, marked by an inexplicable increase in irritability and fatigue. Counselor Deanna Troi tries to reach the mind of the surviving (but catatonic) Betazoid, while Data, Geordi La Forge and Commander Riker unsuccessfully try to figure out the engine malfunctions aboard the Brattain.

Doctor Beverly Crusher reports to Captain Picard, telling him that there is no indication of a psychological or physiological disease based on the autopsies of the crew, leaving the growing madness on board the Brattain, as detailed in the last log entry of Captain Chantal Zaheva, unexplained.

In the meantime, Counselor Troi has entered a rather intense dream. Spoken to by an unidentified voice, she asks the speaker "Where are you?". The voice repeats the phrases "eyes in the dark" and "one moon circles," as Troi is drawn toward two lights that are reminiscent of the binary star system in which the Enterprise is currently stationed.

On the Brattain, La Forge has to reassure a crewman who apparently heard some noises when no one was there, acknowledging that the 34 dead people found aboard would make anyone uneasy. And on the Enterprise, conflict is spreading all over the ship; when Keiko O'Brien enters the O'Briens' quarters, she and Miles quarrel, during which Miles displays a great deal of envy towards his wife's co-workers. Miles leaves their quarters and enters Ten Forward, where he is warned by Chief Gillespie about the current events. O'Brien brushes the warning off, dismissing it as "ghost stories". In the meantime, Picard is in his ready room when the door chimes. He says, "Come," several times but no one enters, and yet the chimes repeat. He finally goes to the door and sees no one there. The door continues to chime and finally someone knocks. At the door are Troi and Crusher. They say that the occurrences of violence aboard the Enterprise are continuing to escalate so they must leave before what happened to the Brattain happens to them. Captain Picard gives the order for the ship to retreat to a safe distance from the Brattain, only to find that all energy expended by the ship's engines is drained by the anomaly, rendering the ship unable to move.

The crew realizes that it is actually trapped inside a space-time anomaly known as a Tyken's Rift. The Enterprise, after being adrift for 10 days, begins to mirror the state aboard the Brattain shortly before her crew succumbed to insanity and became violent. Picard and Riker talk in the turbolift while going to the Bridge and Riker says that sometimes he feels like someone is in his quarters. Picard relieves Riker for a few hours, telling him to get a nap. Riker obeys but as soon as he leaves and the door shuts, Picard thinks the turbolift ceiling is coming down on him. The door opens and the crew see him screaming. It's only a hallucination, but it's enough to make him feel that he needs Data for their continued survival while they try to find a solution to leave the Tyken's rift.

With minimal energy reserves and no clear means of escape, Dr. Crusher hypothesizes that the rampant outbreaks of violence aboard both ships are due to lack of rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, leading to fatigue, loss of concentration, extreme irritability, hostility and ultimately, insanity. However, this is not being caused by the Tyken's Rift. Crusher noted that Troi can sleep, and Troi notes that she is the only person aboard the ship who continues to be able to dream, perhaps due to her unique telepathic abilities, but that all of her dreams are nightmares.

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew has their theories as to why they are behaving irrationally. Worf feels so helpless that he tries to commit suicide. He feels that he is no longer a warrior because he is afraid of whatever it causing their sleeplessness. Troi manages to convince him to put the knife down.

With the ship's energy reserves reaching critically low levels, Data (not needing sleep at all) and Troi (still sleeping intermittently, but having the same recurring nightmares) attempt to analyze the counselor's dreams, hypothesizing that there may be some sort of telepathic communication from someone else trapped inside the rift. The messages and image repeated each time in Troi's dream, "eyes in the dark" and "one moon circles", are interpreted as a description of the binary star system and the atomic structure of hydrogen (one proton in the nucleus with one electron - one moon - orbiting it).

The crew in Ten-Forward think the situation is an experiment and want to mutiny. Guinan realizes that something might happen and calls security. As soon as security enters, a fight breaks out. Guinan takes a weapon and fires it into the ceiling stopping the fight.

Data then assumes the role of acting captain of the Enterprise, ejecting the hydrogen into the space immediately in front of the ship through the Bussard collectors while Troi attempts to communicate their actions to the unknown beings in a dream.

Just after there is no longer sufficient power to maintain the hydrogen stream leaving the Bussard collectors, an explosion erupts in front of the ship, indicating that Troi was successful. Another alien vessel was apparently trapped inside the rift, and used telepathy to communicate with Troi. It was this telepathy that somehow prevented the crew of the Enterprise from entering REM sleep. Power and life support are restored to normal, allowing the Enterprise and the alien vessel to escape the rift, although the Brittain is apparently left behind. As his last duty as acting captain, Data orders Picard and the rest of the crew to their quarters to sleep.

Memorable quotes

"Eyes in the dark... one moon circles."

- Counselor Troi's recurring nightmare, later determined to be a telepathic message from another vessel trapped in the rift


"First officer Brink and his men were behind it. They got to the engines, they don't work anymore. Had to eliminate Brink!"

- Chantal Zaheva, commanding officer of the Brattain during her captain's log


"All 34 of them appear to have killed each other."
"What could have caused such an event? Drugs? A virus? Poison?"

- Beverly Crusher and Jean-Luc Picard


"There is an inevitable conclusion to this pattern and if I can't find a way to stop it... we will all go insane."

- Crusher, on the crew's lack of REM sleep


"I will need to rely on you from now on. We may need to count on you for our very survival."
"I will do my best, sir."

- Picard and Data, as the situation aboard the Enterprise continues to deteriorate


"To admit that you're afraid gives you strength."

- Troi to Worf


"What is that?"
"This is a little souvenir I picked up from Magus III. That was setting number one. Anyone wanna see setting number two?"

- Gillespie and Guinan regarding her phaser rifle


"Sir... as my final duty as acting captain... I order you to bed."

- Data, to Picard

Background Information

Story and production

  • Teleplay writer Jeri Taylor noted, "This was a real tough episode. It was convoluted, it was a little mysterious, technical, quasi-supernatural. It was all over the map and there were a lot of different episodes to try and make cohesive. I rewrote and rewrote it, and I never thought we were ever going to put that one to bed. It was strange. Troi's dream sequences are not something you get to see every week." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Michael Piller noted that the pace of the show was so slow that the episode ran nine minutes over and had to be severely cut. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion) According to the call sheets there were scenes planned but cut which were filmed on the engineering set, in front of Troi's office, in sickbay, and on the main bridge.
  • "Night Terrors" was filmed between Monday 7 January 1991 and Tuesday 15 January 1991 on Paramount Stage 8, 9, and 16. Additional blue screen shots were filmed on Tuesday 22 January 1991 on Paramount Stage 13. This was the first episode filmed in 1991.
  • First UK airdate: 12 October 1994

Continuity

Reception

Filming Night Terrors

Sirtis' stunt double filming in front of a blue screen.

  • As mentioned in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, this episode is considered to be one of the weakest of the fourth season and many members of the production staff were unhappy with it. The scenes with Troi "flying" were said to be a "terrible" mistake by Jeri Taylor and Robert Legato described them as "horrible". Marina Sirtis commented that her desire for more action scenes had backfired; she had to grapple with an intense fear of heights in order to film them. Sirtis recalled, "The terror on my face was actually real. I was absolutely terrified." (Selected Crew Analysis: Year Four - Crew Profile: Counselor Troi, TNG Season 4 DVD special features)
  • Jonathan Frakes remarked, "That was a yawner, wasn't it? That was a shitty piece of special effects work when Troi was flying with those cloud[s] around her. That was below our standard." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Marina Sirtis opined, "I liked the storyline of that episode because it was about the dreamworld, and I'm of Greek descent so I totally believe dreams mean something. And not the Freudian thing, all this hocus pocus. So that was another one that I could relate to really strongly. But I did hate the flying." (Selected Crew Analysis: Year Four - Crew Profile: Counselor Troi, TNG Season 4 DVD special features)
  • Rick Berman commented, "The sleep disorder was that our people were not getting enough REM sleep [and] they were all going mad which, in fact, is what would happen. It was all medically accurate, but it was kind of hard to follow and got convoluted. I don't think there was anything very terrifying in it." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Michael Piller concluded, "[I]t was the first show right after Christmas hiatus and I don't think everybody was quite back on their feet yet. As a result, the energy level was way down and the timing was off and the nature of the problem made everybody start reading slowly...The bottom line was that it was no longer a script because they were dream deprived. They were all talking slowly and after a while that gets pretty boring, and the middle of that show sagged and was slow, boring and disappointing." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • A mission report for this episode by John Sayers was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 16, pp. 42-44.
  • Director Les Landau blocked this episode out and prefers not to discuss it, for reasons he won't elaborate. It had something to do with Troi floating in space. (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 21, p. 45)

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

And

Special guest star

Co-star

Uncredited co-stars

Stunt double

Stand-ins and photo doubles

References

anicium; antimatter pods; autopsy; Balthus; Betazoid; binary star system; biology; Borg; brain tissue; Brattain, USS; Brink; Bussard collectors; calendenium; Cardilia; catatonic state; coffee; Corbin, Tom; cortical scanner; deflector dish; deuterium injector; directed dreaming; distress call; drugs; electron; energy; entorhinal cortex; field generator; frequency; headache; hydrogen; impulse engine; isozyme; Kaladian thorn flower; Kenicki; laticifer; life support system; Magus III; Magus III energy weapon; magnetic containment; matter valves; Melthusian; Melthusian starship; Miranda-class; mutiny; ontogeny; phaser; photon torpedo; plant biology; PGO signal; poison; polymorphism; positron emission sensor; power coil; propulsion system; proton; rat; REM sleep; scientific advisor; snake; somatic drug; Starbase 220; telepathy; theta wave; thruster; tractor beam; turbolift; Tyken, Bela, Tyken's Rift; virus; visual cortex; warp drive; warp tow; yurium

Okudagram references

Adams Research Group; antimatter (antideuterium); avitable compound 283; Balter compound 298; Balter detonator; bio-genovesium; bioneutralization; Bishop/P 374; blitmanite; blitmanite 834; brown tricobalt 126; carbon; Cervantes fusion explosive; clancium oxide; class H; class K planet; class N; class R; deuterium; electrolytic fractioning; electrolytic recycling; electronic pulse actuator; emergency disconnect explosive bolt; emergency jettison thruster; engineering; evora oxide; firefighting; fuel; fusion reactor; gamma pulse ignition device; Grant thermite 893; gronerium compound 3983; hoffmeisterite compound 239; hutzelite 27; hydrogen; impulse propulsion system; laser detonator; Lauritson solid 451; Lichfield suspension; long-range impact probe; Luduvko IX; magnesium; magnetic confinement pod; medical tricorder; microfusion device; microwave pulse ignition device; microwave pulse detonator; mining; molnar composite (thermal); mooride polyronite B; moyerite (Synthetic); neussite 283; nuclear explosive; organic waste; oxygen; pastorium liquid 342; plutonium; plutonium ryanite; radioisotope; remote spectroscopy vaporization device; Rossium-K; R'M'Yr B'rneht Institute; Ryan Crystals 8489; sarium krellide; saurium krellide 024; specific impulse; standard year; Starfleet Regulations; sodium; solid rocket motor device; sternbachium; suicide; takemurium 9839; terraforming; thermal grantium compound; thermal pulse ignition charge; toddtracium; toxicity; tricorder; tri-nikolas powder; Type VI reactor; Type 12 Hillebrand detonator; Type 43 fusion detonator; ullage thruster device; ultritium; ultritium 283; ultritium 342; ultritium compound 902; vernier thruster device; walkerite 342; warp propulsion system; Wynsdey III

Dedication plaque references

2345; 40 Eridani A Starfleet Construction Yards (40 Eridani A); Advanced Technologies Division; Brownfield, Dick; Cardilia; Chamberlin, Mandy; Chess, Joe; Exploratory Division; Fleet Administration; Fleet Operations; Fleet Yards Operations; James, Richard; Landau, Les; Legato, Robert; Mission Operations; Nesterowitz, John; Orbital Operations; Peets, Bill; Rush, Marvin; Simmons, Adele; Sordal, Bob; Starfleet Academy; Stellar Imaging Division; Tactical Command; Yacobian, Brad; Yoyodyne Division

External ink


Previous episode:
"Galaxy's Child"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 4
Next episode:
"Identity Crisis"

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