Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Troi's Trip Into the Unconscious Dead Yields . . . Love?! "Eye Of The Beholder"

The Good: Acting, Character, Attempts at serialization, Plot
The Bad: Moments of melodrama
The Basics: When Troi must solve the mystery of an apparent suicide, she gets a taste of a romantic relationship with Worf.

In the episode "Parallels" (reviewed here!), a little earlier in the seventh season of Star Trek The Next Generation, Worf traveled to several alternate universes where he and Counselor Troi were in love. Then, the producers went nowhere with it. Well, until "Eye Of The Beholder." In this episode, it is Troi's chance to experience a love with Worf and grow into the idea of the two having a relationship in our universe.

While exploring a suicide of an apparently stable individual on board the Enterprise, Troi finds herself becoming closer and closer to Lieutenant Worf. The problem is that Troi's new-found happiness is marred by images of violence and jealousy, suggesting to her that all is not right aboard the ship. As she investigates the suicide deeper, it leads her to a man who she has seen, but does not appear to have been on the Enterprise for years and as she investigates this mysterious stranger, Worf begins exhibiting strange behavior patterns that jeopardize his new relationship with Troi.

What works very well is the acting in "Eye Of The Beholder." Marina Sirtis' journey as Troi is wonderful, making the Counselor go from trusting to utterly paranoid by the last act. The resolution to the episode is somewhat gimmicky, but it is no fault of the actress and is not a problem related to her acting. Troi's decent into jealousy and rage is well portrayed by Sirtis as a gradual building of suspicion that boils over. She expertly takes a decent script and runs with themes to go beyond the words in her performance.

Add to Sirtis' acting the acting of Michael Dorn. While his performance ends with a strange, disturbing melodrama, the bulk of the piece has Dorn presenting a different side of Worf, one that makes the viewer believe in the unlikely pairing of him and Troi. Dorn exhibits a comfort with the direction his character is going in that makes his growth seem very organic.

Despite the end of the episode reversal, "Eye Of The Beholder" is an entertaining mystery and it plays out well upon multiple viewings. It is refreshing to see Star Trek The Next Generation opening up to a mystery that does not involve either Picard, Data or Riker, who have - until this point - been the real sleuths of the series. In fact, having Counselor Troi investigating a psychologically motivated mystery is clever and a nice addition to the franchise.

People who aren't fans of science fiction may have a hard time dealing with "Eye Of The Beholder," as the mysterious figure and the way he appears on the Enterprise is the result of less concrete things than the facts in most mysteries. Still, if one is able to accept a supernatural conceit this episode may be enjoyed by anyone. Fans of Star Trek The Next Generation will be excited to see the new direction that Worf and Troi are going in and they are likely to enjoy that they seem to be forming an actual relationship. The good news is that the relationship will continue through the duration of the seventh season. The bad news is, this is the last season of Star Trek The Next Generation. Fortunately, we have episodes like "Eye Of The Beholder" to go back and watch to get sentimental about.

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


For other Star Trek franchise reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007, 2004 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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