If there’s one thing fans of Star Trek apparently need, it’s more scripts featuring space moppets!
The episode delivers just what the cigar-chomping producer demanded: a glowy Space Thing burrows itself into an adorable sprout’s french-braided head, reads her cute-as-a-button thoughts, and manifests as her imaginary playmate — a blond lass with a poofy-sleeved dress and a hollow stare.
After enjoying a tea party with munchkin Clara, Troi reassures her dad that having an imaginary friend is perfectly normal. A scene that fleshes out the dad’s character a bit also develops LaForge’s backstory.
The entity calling itself Isabella pressures Cara into visiting no-urchin zones like Ten Forward and engineering, even though the script establishes Isabella is perfectly capable of turning invisible and moving through the ship on her own.
The B plot, which involves the Enterprise-D facing another countdown to certain destruction, is closely tied to the imaginary friend story, but for most of the episode, only the audience knows that.
The actress playing Isabella is suitably petulant and pouty and bullying, as the script requires. She manages to deliver weird superior-being lines like “When the others come, you can die with everyone else” and “I came here to examine the purity of your energy sources,” but the writers didn’t seem account for the capacity of still-growing lungs, so the stone-faced cutie has to grab a breath in the middle of one stretch of technobabble. (The scene makes me want to boop her nose and give her a juice box.)
The speech with which Picard saves the day is a ST:WTF apology for adults who treat children like children.