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Ship in a Bottle (episode)

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"Ship in a Bottle"
TNG, Episode 6x12
Production number: 40276-238
First aired: 25 January 1993
137th of 176 produced in TNG
137th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
249th of 728 released in all
James Moriarty
Written By
René Echevarria

Directed By
Alexander Singer
46424.1 (2369)
Arc: Professor James Moriarty (2 of 2)  
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  Arc: {{{wsArc4Desc}}} ({{{nArc4PartNumber}}} of {{{nArc4PartCount}}})  
For the VOY episode with a similar title, please see "Message in a Bottle".

Professor Moriarty returns, only this time he gains control of the Enterprise in his quest to leave the holodeck.

Summary

Teaser

Data and Geordi La Forge are enjoying a Sherlock Holmes mystery holodeck program. When Data tries to prove the guilt of the alleged murderer by throwing a matchbox at him which he catches with his right hand, Data is puzzled as the program should have made the character left-handed, which would have proved Data's accusation. La Forge freezes the program and calls for Reginald Barclay asking him to examine the program as this was not the first time something went wrong with it. After saving the program Data and La Forge run into Barclay outside the holodeck. Barclay thinks it might have been a glitch in the matrix diodes and assures them he will solve the problem. While performing a diagnostic on all files concerning Sherlock Holmes program 3A, via the holodeck arch, he discovers files stored in protected memory. When Barclay runs the files contained within it, Professor James Moriarty appears. Barclay throws his diagnostic device at him and establishes Moriarty is left-handed, as he should be. Moriarty demands to see Captain Picard, shocking Barclay, who is unaware of the previous encounter between Moriarty and Captain Picard four years prior. (TNG: "Elementary, Dear Data") Barclay is shocked to hear that Moriarty knows what he is, a holodeck character, even more when he learns that Moriarty experienced the passage of time. Denying Moriarty's claim that he is alive, Barclay tells Moriarty he cannot leave the holodeck when he is asked if this is possible. Moriarty suspects that Picard has forgotten all about him, since their first meeting, only agreeing to try to help him leave the holodeck in order to rescue his hostage. He demands to see Picard in the sitting room at 221b Baker Street.

Barclay explains that he needs to store Moriarty in memory again until he has contacted Captain Picard. When Moriarty is gone Barclay leaves the holodeck, a brief moment later Moriarty reappears again, with an amused smile on his face.

Planet collision on LCARS display

The collision of the planets on the LCARS display

Act One

Captain's Log, Stardate 46424.1. The Enterprise has arrived at the Detrian system to observe a unique celestial event the collision of two planets.

The USS Enterprise-D has come to the Detrian system to observe the collision of two gas giant planets which may cause the formation of a new star. Back in engineering, Barclay tells La Forge that Moriarty has appeared and that he wants to talk to the captain. Barclay takes the captain and Data to the holodeck, activating the sitting room at 221b Baker Street. They enter, and run the Moriarty program. Picard greets Moriarty, and tells him how they have spent much time investigating how he became self-aware, and how he may manage to leave the holodeck. They turned over problem of how to allow Moriarty an independent existence to Starfleet's best scientific minds, but still are awaiting an answer. Picard is concerned that Moriarty experienced the passage of time. Moriarty gets angry that while Picard and the crew have a real life outside the holodeck door, he is left as a low priority, confined to the holodeck. Picard opens the exit, and demonstrates by throwing a book out of the door, that objects will disappear when they enter the real world. Moriarty claims that, as a conscious being his willpower will maintain him outside the holodeck, quoting Descartes' Latin phrase "Cogito ergo sum" (I think therefore I am). In front of the astounded crewmembers, he walks through the holodeck door with no apparent ill effects.

Act Two

Data calls for two security officers, causing Moriarty to remark that policemen are recognizable in any age. Everyone believes that this is impossible. Picard wishes for them to go to see Dr. Crusher. Her tricorder scan reveals that he is real, and La Forge detects no traces of loss of molecular cohesion. Moriarty's DNA is a bit unusual, but he is functioning normally. Picard assures him that the crew will continue to investigate. Moriarty wishes to go "above deck," and is surprised to see the stars outside the Ten Forward window, exclaiming that they are adrift in the heavens. Picard explains to Moriarty that they are on a starship. Moriarty wishes to learn the ship's means of propulsion and how far they are from Earth. Picard offers to give him books, and asks that he remain aboard for a while. Moriarty does not care, and is excited to live his life. Picard reminds him that criminal behavior will not be tolerated in the 24th century, to which Moriarty replied that he was only a criminal because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made it so. He promises that as a person, he is no criminal. Picard enumerates the opportunities that await him in this century. He thanks Picard for his graciousness, and asks if they can bring out Countess Regina Bartholomew. Picard explains that they would have no idea how. Moriarty wishes to bring out the Countess using a method to similar that which brought him out. He becomes angry, and begs the captain to give him his wish.

Senior Staff discuss Moriartys request

The senior staff discuss Moriarty's proposal

In the observation lounge, the senior staff and Barclay are talking about whether they should comply with Moriarty's request. Counselor Troi understands Moriarty's frustration at being alone, without his love. Dr. Crusher thinks that they should at least fully analyze Moriarty before performing the procedure again, and Barclay agrees with this. Data remarks that they have no idea if Moriarty is permanent, and advises not to recreate their actions until they fully understand what happened. Picard agrees, and decides to hold off on the request. He asks for the investigation to continue, and goes to tell Moriarty of their decision.

Picard tells Moriarty that they have decided to postpone action. Moriarty says he is tired of waiting. In an attempt to get Moriarty to understand their caution, Picard questions him about his feelings for the Countess, hoping their shared concern for her safety will make him less impatient. He remarks that he would love the Countess even if he had not be designed to – he adores her. Picard tells him that they will act as soon as they learn enough to allow her to leave the holodeck safely. Picard is then called to the bridge by Commander Riker. On the bridge, Riker has the two planets on screen. Picard asks Worf to launch four class-4 probes towards the planets, but the computer does not respond. Command functions have been rerouted, and Moriarty reveals that he has transferred command controls and taken over the Enterprise.

An attempt to transport a holomatter chair

The first attempt to transport something off the holodeck

Act Three

Worf brandishes a phaser, but Moriarty warns him not to fire. Picard explains the Enterprise is in grave danger. Moriarty tells that he will relinquish control once the countess is in the real world. Picard orders Data to start working on a solution. In engineering, Data, Barclay, and La Forge are discussing the possibility of using the transporter. Barclay asks what would happen if they attempted to beam a holodeck object off the grid. La Forge explains that a holodeck object has no pattern to lock on to, making the attempt impossible. If the object could be locked on, the transporter might work. They think that they might use the pattern enhancers to create a way to lock on. At the same time, Picard comes to inform them that Moriarty will not disrupt normal ship's functions as long as they work on the problem. Picard also asks La Forge to find a way to give control back to the captain.

Left handed Geordi

La Forge catches a tool with his left hand

Barclay returns to the holodeck to set the pattern enhancers. When he asks the computer to run Sherlock Holmes program 3a, he is slightly puzzled when the computer tells him that program is already active. He enters to find the countess there. He is initially cautious, but after the countess makes it clear that she understands that the pattern enhancers are part of the plan to take her and Moriarty into the real world, he relaxes a little. She talks about all her adventures in Africa, saying that she had a wonderful time. Moriarty returns, and explains that he has already attempted to make the countess self-conscious in a similar way to himself. The countess explains to Moriarty that they will be using the devices to take a chair off the holodeck. Barclay asks Data to proceed. He attempts to beam the chair off, but it loses its molecular cohesion as soon as it comes to the transporter pad. Data explains that they may be able to learn something from this, and checks the transporter logs to see the results, but there is no information in the log.

Just as Picard gives his codes to transfer control to engineering, Data arrives, full of suspicion. La Forge notices that the transfer has not worked, and while he is working out the problem, Data picks up a tool and throws it to him. La Forge catches it in his left hand.

Data then announces that he has determined how Moriarty managed to leave the holodeck - he never did. The entire Enterprise is a simulation created by Moriarty in order to fool Picard into releasing the Enterprise command codes to him.

Act Four

Data discovers the truth of the simulation

Data proves that they are still on the holodeck

Data explains his Holmesian deduction of this fact to the captain. The fact that by beaming a hologram off the holodeck they were attempting something that had never been done before meant that the computer could have no real data to create the transport logs. He noticed that the holographic La Forge was working with his left hand, although the real La Forge is right handed - a similar problem to the fault that first caused Barclay to activate the Moriarty hologram.

As further confirmation, he throws his combadge at the warp core, causing the lines from the holodeck wall to show through briefly. Picard attempts to command the computer to stop the program, then calls Riker to ask him what is Picard's location on the ship. Riker says "engineering", causing Picard to suggest that Moriarty has their combadges tied in to his simulation.

Data explains that the only real people in this simulation are himself, Captain Picard and Barclay, the three who originally entered the holodeck to meet Moriarty. Now that Moriarty has Picard's command codes Picard expects Moriarty to use them to attempt make demands on the real Riker to find a way to allow him to leave the holodeck. Picard begins to muse about a plan to give Moriarty what he wants.

Aboard the real ship, Riker is indeed negotiating with Moriarty for the return of Captain Picard, Barclay and Data. Moriarty, on the Enterprise viewscreen, appears to be in holographic crew quarters. He now has control of the ship, and Riker fears that they will not be able to move to a safe distance from the planetary collision. Moriarty demands that they must come up with a way for him to leave the holodeck, and explains the lines of research the crew on his holographic Enterprise were pursuing, telling the real crew that they must do better with their real transporters. La Forge explains that the fact that Moriarty's transporters were only holograms was probably not the only reason why their experiment didn't work. Moriarty then raises the warp core temperature to demonstrate his complete control of their ship. Riker orders La Forge to start work on the problem.

Back on the holographic Enterprise, Picard enters the holographic holodeck, returning to 221b Baker Street where Picard introduces himself to Countess Bartholomew. The Countess finds him charming, comparing him to a bewitching Viscount of her acquaintance. Picard explains to her a plan he says his crew have devised to allow him to use transporters make holograms real if you first decouple the Heisenberg compensators and allow them to rescramble randomly. He appeals to her to work on Moriarty to persuade him to do the right thing by releasing the computer to him before he agrees to use this technique. After telling Picard that sounds more like a threat than a compromise, she agrees to do what she can.

Back on the real Enterprise, the collision is proceeding apace. Worf is working on manually disabling the force field Moriarty has used to prevent physical access to the holodeck.

Meanwhile, in 221b Baker Street, rather than attempt to persuade Moriarty to do the right thing, Countess Bartholomew is explaining to him the details of the captain's plan. Moriarty triumphantly calls for an arch, using this to contact Riker. He tells Riker he wants him to uncouple the Heisenberg compensators.

Act Five

Detrian star

The newly-formed Detrian Star

Countess Bartholomew is putting a hat on, while Moriarty explains to her how many other worlds there are to visit together. Riker communicates and tells them they are ready to transport. It appears to be successful, as Moriarty and the Countess materialize on the transport pad. But Moriarty still refuses to give up control of the ship's computers until Riker agrees to give him one of the Enterprise shuttles. Riker has little choice but to agree.

Riker walks into the shuttlebay, and tells Moriarty and the Countess that they have programmed a shuttle to accept voice commands - they can control the ship by simply telling it where they want to go. Riker suggests they make Meles II their first stop, as it is the closest inhabited planet.

Moriarty says he's sorry he won't be able to say goodbye to the captain in person, as Picard is still trapped on the holodeck in Moriarty's program. They board the ship and take off, admiring the beautiful sight of the heavens. Finally Moriarty orders the shuttle computer to interface with the Enterprise and uses his codes to release the Enterprise computer back to Riker's control.

Back in the shuttlebay, Picard enters and orders the computer to store his program Picard Delta One and discontinue simulation. The "real" Riker and Worf disappear, and the shuttlebay becomes a blank holodeck. Picard has fooled Moriarty with his own "false reality" trick. Picard then "leaves" the "holodeck" meeting Data and Barclay "outside". Now that Moriarty has released his control over the computer, Picard can discontinue Moriarty's fake Enterprise program. Picard checks in with Riker, who says their systems came back on line a few minutes ago, allowing them to move the Enterprise to a safe distance from the collision. Picard opens the door, and they are at last back aboard the real Enterprise. Before he leaves, Barclay opens a control panel by the holodeck door and removes a plastic cube from the computer.

Debriefing Riker, Picard explains that the Moriarty program is still running inside that cube, and that although it is not physically realized, the Moriarty program will continue, unaware of the deception. Barclay places the cube inside a portable unit which he says contains enough active memory to provide them new experiences for a lifetime. Deanna observes that, in a way, Picard has indeed given them exactly what they asked for.

Picard suggests that their own reality might just be existing in a little device sitting on somebody's table for all they know, leaving a nervous Barclay to try a "computer end program" command before leaving the observation lounge.

From a safe distance, the Enterprise observes the collision of planets and the formation of a star.

Memorable quotes

"Cogito ergo sum...I think, therefore I am!"

- Moriarty (reciting René Descartes's famous quote)


"It takes a trained eye to notice certain discrepancies. For example, whether someone is right, or left handed..."
(tosses an object to the living brother)
"Your brother was right-handed. The alleged suicide note was written by a left-handed individual, such as yourself."
"Data, it's in his right hand."
"There seems to be something wrong with the holodeck's spatial orientation program."
"London's greatest detective!"

- Data (as Sherlock Holmes) and La Forge (as Dr. Watson) on the holodeck


"A holodeck character? A fictional man? Yes, yes, I know all about your marvelous inventions. I was created as a plaything so that your Commander Data could masquerade as Sherlock Holmes. But they made me too well, and I became more than a character in a story. I became self-aware. I am alive."

- Moriarty demonstrates a high degree of self-awareness


"Policemen. I'd recognize them in any century!"

- Moriarty gets his first sight of Starfleet security


"The program fashioned her for me to love. But I must admit I would have done so anyway. She is remarkable. My life has not been the same since I met her. I don't simply love her, captain, I adore her!"

- Moriarty explains what Countess Bartholomew means to him


"Captain. I have determined how Moriarty was able to leave the holodeck. He never did. Neither did we. None of this is real. It is a simulation. We are still on the holodeck."

- Data solves the mystery


"Release control of this ship!"
"I'm afraid I can't do that."

- Moriarty, using the same sentence HAL 9000 uses when in control of the USS Discovery in the movie 2001: Space Odyssey.


"I will not release your vessel until I am looking at it from a shuttlecraft window."

- Moriarty demands passage on a shuttle


"As far as Moriarty and the Countess know, they're halfway to Meles II by now. This enhancement module contains enough active memory to provide them with experiences for a lifetime."
"They will live their lives and never know any difference."
"In a sense, you did give Moriarty what he wanted."
"In a sense, who knows? Our reality may be very much like theirs. All this might just be an elaborate simulation running inside a little device sitting on someone's table."
(all but Barclay leave)
"Computer, end program."
(Barclay smiles, and the "program" ends - the episode fades to credits)

- Barclay, Picard and Troi in the final scene, coming close to breaking the fourth wall

Background

Story and production

  • This episode is a sequel to the second season episode "Elementary, Dear Data". Although the Sherlock Holmes setting had proven popular among the staff, further use of the character on The Next Generation was prevented by a protracted legal dispute between Paramount and the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle. "Ship in a Bottle" came about when Jeri Taylor decided to re-investigate the possibility, only to find that the whole situation was a misunderstanding. The Conan Doyle estate had been irritated at Paramount because of the film Young Sherlock Holmes. However, by the time this episode was conceived, they were willing to license the character for what Taylor described as a "very reasonable license fee". Actor Brent Spiner was particularly thrilled, as he had wanted to play Holmes again. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • The premise for this episode derived from a story pitched by René Echevarria to Michael Piller back in the third season. "I pitched a story after I sold "The Offspring" about Riker and Picard going on a mission, and Riker beams him into the holodeck from Starbase and it appears as though Riker is taking over the ship and leading it into enemy territory. In fact, what he's doing is setting up a scenario where Picard will be protected. It was a plan to discredit some bad guy and Michael remembered it and said he loved the holodeck gag. When we were all at Jeri's house one Sunday having a story session, somebody mentioned we could do Moriarty again. I told everybody there was a story Michael liked that we could use. In the first draft, we figured out a way to help him escape the holodeck by walking in a transporter beam and it breaks up and he dies – but during the break we came up with the notion of giving him what he wants and never letting him know he's been fooled. It was very sweet, having this 18th century [sic] genius thinking he'd outsmarted us and just smugly going on." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Reginald Barclay was added to the story when it was initially felt that a character was needed who had not known about the first Moriarty encounter. Although this later was regarded as a moot point, Echevarria noted that no one but Barclay could have made the episode's final line work. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
  • According to Ronald D. Moore, the various nested universes in the episode confused even the staff, who ended up drawing diagrams during break sessions to keep track of them. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
  • Director Alexander Singer noted that the most difficult aspect of the show for him was casting the part of Regina Bartholomew. "Her casting was the most difficult because we needed someone who could pull off an English accent and had a regal appearance, but who was also very sexy in Victorian clothes. When I saw Stephanie [Beacham] I said that's it, end of story." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • For set decorator Jim Mees, the challenge in recreating the 221-B Baker Street study set was to be faithful to both the descriptions in the original stories as well as the scenes in "Elementary, Dear Data". One notable difference to the previous episode was the wallpaper, which had been discontinued in the preceding four years. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
  • This episode has one of the longest teasers at around six and a half minutes.
  • This episode features a very subtle sign that everything may not be as it seems in the scenes after Moriarty's first "departure" from the holodeck: in a typical episode, an exterior shot of the principal ship or space station is a common bridge between scenes. In this episode, there is an abnormally long break between exterior shots of the Enterprise, with none appearing between the moment Picard, Data, and Barclay enter the holodeck, and the moment just before Moriarty contacts the bridge after seizing control of the ship, despite there being several scene and even act breaks in between. This directorial style is common in instances when the principal events take place within a holographic or mental construct. It would later be seen in the Star Trek: Deep Space 9 episodes "Distant Voices" and "Inquisition", the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Projections", and the Star Trek: Enterprise finale "These Are the Voyages...".
  • There are likely other hints in this episode. For example, Troi's uniform within the holodeck does not match her "real" costume from the last scene in the observation lounge.
  • First UK airdate: 27 September 1995.
  • Although he does not mention Doctor Katherine Pulaski by name, Moriarty alludes to holding her hostage in "Elementary, Dear Data". This marks the final reference to the character until VOY: "Endgame".

Continuity

  • The concept of controlling the ship from the holodeck was first brought up in "The Nth Degree" and is revisited in "Emergence" (although Moriarty himself created a crude device for affecting the attitude control in his debut episode).
  • This episode, and its predecessor, mark the basics for the beginning of sentient holographic characters, such as The Doctor from Voyager and Vic Fontaine from DS9.
  • A few years later, a holographic character finally gains the ability to leave its zone of confinement: the Doctor's mobile emitter allows this.

Reception

  • This episode was one of Brannon Braga's favorites. "My favorite kind of show, a twisty turny complex mystery. In this case I thought it worked pretty well and certainly the pairing of Moriarty and Barclay was inspired. This was such a good show, you had to do it. It's a great title. I tried to kick things off with "Realm of Fear", which sounds like an old series." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest star

Special guest star

And

Co-stars

Uncredited co-stars

Stand-ins

References

Africa; authorization code; Baker Street; cigar; class-4 probe; clock; command code; countess; Detria II; Detria VI; Detrian system; Earth; Englishman; enhancement module; gas giant; gravity well; Heisenberg compensator; Holmes, Sherlock; holo-program; holodeck; holodeck matter; Meles II; omnidirectional holographic diode; painting; pattern enhancer; photonic lifeform; Picard Delta One; pipe; planet; probe; Pulaski, Katherine; Sakharov; scientist; star; star system; strychnine; tech cube; tsetse fly; type 7 shuttlecraft; viewscreen; Watson, John H.

Timeline

Stardate 42286.3, 2365 
La Forge's misspoken command prompts the Enterprise-D computer to create a sentient Moriarty. (TNG: "Elementary, Dear Data")
Stardate 46424.1, 2369 
Barclay reactivates Moriarty's hidden program shortly before the collision of the Detrian system planets.


Previous episode:
"Chain of Command, Part II"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 6
Next episode:
"Aquiel"

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