Revisiting Star Trek TNG: The Mind’s Eye

The Manchurian Candidate with bumpy foreheads? James' episode-by-episode TNG lookback reaches overlooked gem The Mind's Eye...

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

This review contains spoilers.

4.24 The Mind’s Eye

While on his way to Risa in a shuttlecraft, Geordi bumps into a Romulan Warbird, who promptly send a replacement to his artificial intelligence symposium and set about brainwashing him to be the perfect weapon: a confused and tired engineer. (As an aside, I really want to see what that double was up to on Risa. Probably trying to appear inconspicuous and looking awkward at parties.)

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Meanwhile, the Enterprise is taking Ambassador Kell to the Kriosian system where a Klingon colony is demanding independence the only way the Klingons will let you: by fighting. There are rumours that the rebels are being given weapons by the Federation and everyone involved is keen to prove otherwise.

Meanwhile, Geordie returns, brainwashed by having been forced to act out O’Brien’s murder despite that not being part of the plan. The Klingon Governor Vagh presents a phaser rifle that appeared to be Federation by design, seized from the rebels, but Geordi and Data science the hell out of it and prove that it is, in fact, a poor Romulan facsimile. I say “poor”, it’s actually more efficient according to their tests. It’s a superior facsimile.

Vagh wants to verify this himself, understandably, but before he can Geordi’s brainwashing seems him try to transport a box of weapons to the rebels. Vagh intercepts them and threatens the Enterprise with several of the Klingon Empire’s finest warships. Geordi and Data spend their time attempting to find the traitor, unaware that it’s one of them. Meanwhile Riker and Data keep noticing odd transmissions being sent which, unknown to them, are coming from the Romulan agents telling Geordi what to do.

The brainwashed Geordi eventually discovers that Ambassador Kell is actually a Romulan collaborator attempting to destabilise the Klingon-Federation alliance. Kell orders him to kill Governor Vagh and then take credit for supporting the rebels. Because Geordi is a noted anti-Klingon political activist and this will be a completely believable move.

Kell insists that Governor Vagh visit the ship to witness Picard’s investigations, and Kell instructs La Forge to make his move. Luckily, Sherlock Data is on the case and determines, alone with no assistance, that Geordi’s shuttle has been tractor beamed recently, that the logs and memory chips were faked, that someone is giving orders from within the Enterprise and that Geordi’s the only person who could be receiving them. That’s some detecting.

Unfortunately, Data then notifies Worf who has a long history of failing to do the most basic part of his job and indeed, it’s up to Picard to stop Geordi at the last second. Data reveals Kell’s treachery and he declares that he would’ve gotten away with it if not for you meddling kids. A now-traumatised La Forge is sent to have counselling with, who else? The ship’s counsellor. Let’s hope he’s back to normal by the next episode…

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TNG WTF: I always get a little perturbed by people taking long shuttlepod journeys on Star Trek. Like, those things don’t appear to have warp drives. How far away is Risa from… anywhere? Is Geordi spending 10 years making that round trip? I know this is the sort of thing probably best ignored for sanity’s sake, but that’s exactly the kind of thing I’m here to stare at with wide-eyed confusion.

TNG LOL: You have to laugh at the choice of Chief O’Brien as the person they’re testing Geordi’s sleeper-agent conditioning with. They were like “we’re asking him to kill someone he barely knows and has zero affection for. Who on the Enterprise could fit that description best?” Although to be fair they have him telling his friends an anecdote about fixing the transporter over drinks. So on brand.

And then Geordi doesn’t just deliberately spill his drink over him (excellent “that’s quite alright but actually not” acting from Colm Meaney in that scene) he also wakes him up in the middle of the night for no reason. This is a bad episode to be O’Brien in.

To Boldly Go: The Enterprise is accompanying a special emissary from the Klingons to the Kriosian system. Once again, Boldly Going is actually more like taxi duty. Picard describes them as “escorting” the emissary, but it’s not like he’s got his own ship. Carrying him is what they’re doing. You know, like a taxi carries passengers.

Who’s That Face?: The Romulan, Koval, is the same guy who played Silik the Suliban agent who vexed Captain Archer through most of Star Trek: Enterprise to no specific end.

Mistakes and Minutia: You don’t see her face, but that shadowy Romulan commander is Sela, aka Denise Crosby’s third bite of the cherry. Although here she’s got Crosby’s voice, but is actually played by Debra Dilley, a Denise Crosby lookalike with her face obscured by darkness (which seems like overkill. With her face that obscured she could’ve been a Jonathan Frakes double in a wig and no-one would’ve noticed.)

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Time Until Meeting: No meetings in this one. No wonder it feels off.

Captain’s Log: I enjoyed this one, even though it wasn’t especially Trek-like. Like okay, even further than that, it’s the Manchurian Candidate with bumpy foreheads. But that gave the episode such a weird tone that it was hard not to be gripped by it – having a couple of guest stars and leaving heavily on Chief O’Brien meant that any one of the characters could’ve died so I never felt like it was inevitable that Geordi would get stopped before the end.

That said, I loved Data’s last-minute piecing together of the facts and the urgency of that last scene, right down to Picard’s horrified expression when he manages to stop Geordi right at the moment he fires.

There were some good character bits in this episode too. Nosy Troi, irritated O’Brien, Worf talking about discommendation, Data failing to understand the concept of humour… combined with a plot that really motors along and the combination of Federation, Klingon and Romulan wrangling and this episode is kind of an overlooked gem.

Read James’ lookback at the previous episode, The Host, here.