A small group of aliens (with bumps on the *sides* of their heads) demonstrate their ability to collect memories telepathically. The leader, Tarmin, helps Keiko recover a pleasant memory of her grandmother. After Tarmin offers to help Beverly remember more about her first kiss that she’s currently thinking about, his son Jev scolds him mildly for probing a memory without permission. Later while sharing his grandiose plans at a dinner, Tarmin corrects his son and tells an embarrassing story.
Troi tells Jev she also has an overbearing parent. In her quarters she relives a memory of an awkward with Riker (she resists his physical advances and he becomes aggressive). After Jev takes Riker’s place in the traumatic memory, Troi collapses.
Jev is a bit but consents when Riker asks him to let Crusher check him out as part of a routine investigation. After Riker visits the comatose Troi (in a touching speech he tells her he misses her), Riker has a flashback of his own stressful memory (a life-or-death command decision during an emergency), and collapses.
Crusher reports she suspects the Ullians may unwittingly be spreading “Iresine syndrome.” Tarmin blusters and chaffs like the entitled white male we know him to be, but another elder Inad says the Ullians have nothing to hide, and Jev sides with her, saying the Ullians will cooperate.
After a few scenes establishing the crew are checking out various leads, Crusher has a flashback of viewing her late husband’s body, accompanied by a younger Picard with thinning hair; of course she, too collapses.
With the Ullians restricted to their quarters, it’s a bit too convenient that at this point Troi wakes up with no memory of the assault. Tarmin blusters some more, and Jev offers to help Troi to recover the memory. Inad, the elder who had previously been the voice of reason, sides with Jev, saying it’s only fair that Picard give the Ullians the chance to vindicate themselves.
Under Jev’s guidance, Troi “remembers” Tarmin inserting herself into her traumatic memory. Jev assures Picard that the Ullian authorities take this kind of thing very seriously, and suggests “memory invasion” may brings the perpetrator “a perverse source of pleasure, perhaps; a way to exercise control over another.”
There are a few plot twists left, but I won’t spoil them here. The final scene, featuring a Picard speech about how humans have evolved beyond their violent past but “the seed of violence remains within each of us,” is very, very Roddenberry.
While this episode was memorable for our glimpse into Crusher’s grief (the actor in the brief flashback also played Jack Crusher in a cheerful holographic recording in s4e2 “Family”), it also decently follows the “parnormal police procedural” template, with some opportunities to develop character through the flashbacks. The three Ullians are just enough to establish a community, with Jev caught between the extremes of his father’s entitled bluster and Inad’s reasonable openness.
The scenes of Data and Laforge doing database searches are hardly gripping drama. That time could have been served the story by developing a diplomatic reason why Troi’s empathic powers were useless this week. (It might be part of an ad-hoc diplomatic agreement — the Ullians agree not to scan anyone’s memories without their permission, and Troi agrees not to scan anyone’s emotions without their permission?)
A decent episode. I got interrupted midway through, and found myself enjoying the fact that I couldn’t remember how this episode resolved.