When I began the Boldly Going project, in which I will watch every minute of televised Star Trek produced to-date, my plan was to post reviews of each season and then of individual episodes that I thought stood out from the rest. I meant this in a positive way, and I’ve posted reviews of episodes such as “Best of Both Worlds, Parts 1 & 2,” “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” and “Measure of a Man.”
This time, however, I’m posting a review of a show that I gave 2.5 out of 5 stars to, which means I thought it was of less than average quality to me. That episode was the tenth episode of the fourth season, “The Loss.” This is the first sub-par rating I gave to a TNG episode since “The High Ground,” episode twelve from the third season. We’ve been on a good run since then, twenty or so episodes of average-to-better quality. At least, according to me. The first season had many terrible episodes in it, and the second season had a few, even though it had a couple of my favorites in “A Matter of Honor” and the aforementioned “Measure of a Man.” The fact that we’ve had only a couple of episodes since that I will never watch again is a testament to the increasing quality of the series.
Why didn’t I like “The Loss”? Let me explain.
First, it’s a boring episode. There is some false drama created by the two-dimensional beings introduced, who are leading the Enterprise to a string remnant that will destroy the ship and everyone on board. The main plot is that Deanna Troi has lost her empathic abilities during this crisis. Actually, because of this crisis, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact remains that Troi becomes a truly unlikeable character when she no longer has her Betazoid abilities. She lashes out at everyone, resigns her position as ship’s counselor, and is generally a negative influence on the rest of the cast. Her kind persona and genuinely positive attitude is restored only once the two-dimensional crisis is averted, as we knew it would be.
The creation of two-dimensional organisms is fortuitous, because it highlights the fact that Deanna Troi is barely more than two-dimensional herself. During the loss of her empathic abilities, all of the other cast members—with the possible exception of Guinan—also seem like funhouse mirror versions of themselves. When Troi’s abilities are restored, suddenly everything is all right and everything is forgiven. It’s only one step up from the “everything was just a dream” plots.
I guess I don’t have to hide the fact that I didn’t care for this episode. I love the Deanna Troi character. At least in everything I’ve watched so far other than this episode. But, I didn’t like her in this one.
It’s remarkable only because bad episodes of TNG are now the exception rather than the rule. Here’s hoping that there are no further stinkers in Season 4.