‘THE NTH DEGREE’ (TNG)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
This ‘Star Trek: TNG’ features the return of Dwight Schultz as Lt. Reginald Barclay. This is the second appearance of the character since ‘Hollow Pursuits’. Clearly Barclay has become a popular character.
If you don’t remember Barclay from ‘Hollow Pursuits’, he was an insecure character that spent a lot of time in the holodeck, living out his fantasies instead of living in the real world. I can relate to that.
Since that episode, Barclay has tried to improve his confidence and fit in more with the crew. He seems to be doing that, as he participates in a scene from ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ with Beverly Crusher.
But still, Barclay seems to feel nervous and not achieving much in wanting to fit into the real world as opposed to being in the holodeck. Perhaps his playing Bergerac with long nose isn’t really helping.
Anyway, the episode has the Enterprise investigating the shutdown of the Argus Array, which is a deep space telescope and radio antenna. They also discover an alien probe sitting close to the array.
Geordi and Barclay go off in a shuttlecraft to investigate and examine the array with the alien probe closely. But in the process, the alien probe fires an energy pulse. This knocks out Barclay completely.
Thankfully Barclay is still alive when he and Geordi return to the Enterprise. But something’s changed in Barclay. He’s become more intelligent than before as he seems to know things far better.
There’s a scene where the Enterprise gets chased by the alien probe in space. They try to outmanoeuvre this, but it keeps getting closer and closer to the ship. Barclay finds a way out of this.
He takes matters into his own hands whilst in engineering and advises Picard on how to destroy the probe with specifically charged torpedoes. This works and the alien probe thankfully gets destroyed.
Barclay’s increasing intelligences begins to worry everyone as he’s being casual and confident than ever before. He comes up with solutions to problems that no-one has ever dared to conceive before.
For example, when the Enterprise tries to find ways to stop a series of catastrophic failures from the Array, Barclays has a solution that will take two days. This is something Geordi finds hard to believe.
Barclay also impresses everyone during an actor’s workshop when he’s performing opposite Beverly Crusher. Even Beverly’s astounded and gobsmacked as Barclays delivers an astounding performance.
Deanna Troi becomes intrigued about Barclay’s new found intelligence as she joins him in Ten Forward. Barclay, with his new-found confidence, asks Deanna out for a walk around the arboretum.
This is politely refused by Deanna, but Barclay seems not too bothered by it. This is interesting, since he would have preferred interacting with a fantasy Deanna in the holodeck as opposed to a real one.
Barclay also works out a complicated formula in the holodeck with Albert Einstein. And it’s…oh my goodness, is that Jim Norton as Albert Einstein? It is! Jim Norton is in ‘Star Trek’?! Wow! So amazing!
Jim Norton played Bishop Brennan in the sitcom series ‘Father Ted’ for Channel 4 in the UK. To have him play Albert Einstein in ‘Star Trek’ is so surreal. He would play Einstein again in another ‘TNG’ tale.
Anyway, something goes wrong with the Array which the Enterprise computers can’t counteract. Barclay finds the Enterprise computers too slow for him, as he decides to go to the holodeck instead.
Barclay creates a device in the holodeck that allows him to interact directly with the Enterprise and array computer systems. It shocks the Enterprise crew as he can’t disconnect himself from the ship.
Barclay’s intelligence goes too far as he then sends the Enterprise into a ‘subspace inversion’, causing it to jump across a great distance faster than warp drive. They end up in an unknown sector of space.
The Enterprise is then met by the representative of an alien race called the Cytherians – a giant head played by Kay E. Kuter. The Cytherians are friendly explorers wanting to know about the Federation.
This is what it has all been about with Barclay’s growing intelligence. Thankfully he’s disconnected from the Enterprise and he reverts back to normal. Barclay also gets to have that date with Deanna.
Overall, ‘The Nth Degree’ is a great episode featuring Barclay. I like how this episode gives Barclay a chance to be super intelligent and make him standout from the regular Enterprise crew for a change.
‘The Nth Degree’ (TNG) rating – 9/10
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