Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Best "Torture Geordi Episode Is "The Mind's Eye"

The Good: Excellent plot, good character development, and nice pacing
The Bad: Nothing terribly noteworthy, save the plausibility of the consequences
The Basics: When Geordi is captured by Romulans and brainwashed, the crew must foil a plot at ruining relations with the Klingons with one of their own working against them!

I've established in many previous reviews that Geordi LaForge is essentially the whipping boy of Star Trek The Next Generation and "The Mind's Eye" is probably the best example of his being tormented on the series. It's also one of the most intense and rewatchable episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation.

Geordi is en route to Risa for a vacation when his shuttlecraft is stopped by a Romulan warbird. Geordi is abducted and the Romulans use the opportunity to test a mind control technique that seems unique to Geordi; they stimulate him directly through the inputs to his VISOR and brainwash him to be a killer. Geordi returns from Risa to find the Enterprise engulfed in a Klingon dispute on the planet Krios. There, the Federation is accused of supplying Kriosian rebels with weapons to fight the Empire. Soon, a Romulan connection is exposed and Geordi's programming is brought into play.

The episode is a very important one in the story of Star Trek The Next Generation and it marks the beginning of the series' attempts at serialization. There is a mysterious figure in the shadows of the Romulan Warbird who becomes important and the technique the Romulans use will be attempted by another villain in the future.

"The Mind's Eye" is creepy, especially the sequences involving Geordi and Miles O'Brien and the great thing about this episode is that the tension and feelings of horror are sustained over multiple viewings. This is not an episode that once we know the end it cannot be returned to. There are details that become more appreciable with further viewings.

Levar Burton plays Geordi quite well here doing all that is necessary to suspend our disbelief in the technological aspects of the brainwashing. Burton effectively uses his facial expressions to convey pain, confusion and an utter lack of emotion throughout the episode, no small feat considering his eyes are completely covered most of the time.

The nice thing about "The Mind's Eye" is that it acknowledges the complexities of the rest of the crew. Picard's role in the Klingon empire is once more alluded to and Worf's discomfort around Klingons is once more highlighted. Data's detective skills once more become pivotal and it's an interesting character leap as he investigates his best friend.

The acting holds up upon repeated viewings with Burton dominating the episode, though it ought to be noted that Michael Dorn gives a decent performance, especially in his use of facial expressions to convey his disappointment and anger. Dorn and Burton both overcome awkward make-up in this episode to bring reasonable emotions to their characters.

And the plot is something the franchise had not done extensively at this point; it makes one of our heroes into a villain. This is an episode that does it well and it increases the tension even with more than one viewing.

People who are not typically fans of Star Trek The Next Generation will enjoy "The Mind's Eye" for the simple political thriller feel it has. This is an episode that delivers a high bang for the buck as the characters all work toward attempting to stop the Kriosian situation from escalating into a civil war. With one of our heroes under the influence of evil . . . the tension grows and grows until the climax.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Fourth Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the fourth season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek episode and DVD reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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