The Loss (#ST:TNG Rewatch, Season Four, Episode 10) Troi’s Empathic Sense Flatlines

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break.

After losing her Betazed empathic sense, Counsellor Troi dramatically ignores her own advice about grieving. As the scriptwriters hustle her through shock, denial, anger, bargaining and depression, a Space Thing of the Week threatens the Enterprise.

Scenes where Troi counsels a recently widowed ensign offer an intimate view of life (and death) in Starfleet. Oddly, the grieving officer appears to have a standing daily appointment, but I’ll accept that as a storytelling exigency; we can’t wait a week between appointments to track changes in Troi’s counseling methods — not during a Space Thing of the Week crisis.

Is it really standard protocol for getting medical help on Starfleet ships that, if you feel faint in your quarters, you call the chief medical officer directly? Since Dr. Crusher was busy, couldn’t she have sent an assistant? No, because the script requires Troi to lash out at Crusher for not getting to her more quickly.

Actor Marina Sirtis does a good job conveying how isolated Troi feels without access to the emotions of the people around her. (Yet the uptight empath in Tin Man relaxes around Data, who doesn’t have emotions to read.)  Picard is stunned (flattened?) by Troi’s rejection of his avuncular encouragement, but Riker provides the right combination of tenderness and toughness.

The crew does Engineering Stuff to fight off Certain Destruction, to no avail, until Picard tells Troi she must save the ship with her psychology degree. During a conversation with Data, Troi relies upon her human intuition, which somehow gives her insight into solving the Space Thing problem.

Or at least she announces, in dialogue, that she’s relying on her human intuition. Fortunately, the scriptwriters have determined that the two-dimensional creatures respond to cosmic string just as Troi has intuited, the Enterprise escapes their wake, and Troi’s empathic sense returns to normal. It’s all very contrived.

As usual, Whoopi Goldberg aces her Guinan scenes — this time, using reverse psychology on Troi. The editing lingers over a CGI sequence that was impressive in its day but seems cartoony now. I enjoyed the Will/Deanna moments, but otherwise gained little from rewatching this mediocre episode.