The Enterprise-D visits Deep Space Nine, so that the producers can take advantage of the beautiful promenade set and jam in a guest appearance from DS9’s Dr. Bashir.
O’Brien doesn’t appear in this episode, but he’s mentioned in a brief and completely unnecessary scene where LaForge complains the pasta on DS9 “tastes like liquid polymer,” but Worf thinks it’s “Delicious.”
Worf is approached by a ratlike alien who suggests Worf’s father, believed to have died in the Romulan attack on Khitomer, is not dead. Worf is enraged at the insinuation his father did not die a warrior’s death, and his anger affects his professional performance. (Troi: “Would you like to talk about what’s bothering you, or would you like to break some more furniture?”)
Bashir has brought a random artifact from the Gamma Quadrant into the Enterprise-D’s sickbay and started mucking with it, without asking permission. He’s charming and polite and takes a personal interest in Data, but If I hadn’t already started watching Deep Space Nine, I wouldn’t want to follow this particular character, who fits the guest star profile of entitled, arrogant specialist who comes aboard the Enterprise-D in order to create a mess for everyone else to solve.
Thanks to an unexplained zap from the unexplained artifact, Data falls unconscious and experiences a vision of walking through Enterprise corridors and meeting a young Dr. Soong, his creator.
Seeking advice about visions, Data somewhat reluctantly approaches Worf, in a well-written scene that advances both plots, as the excited Worf forgets that Data has asked how he should respond to the vision, not whether Worf should go find his father.
Worf apparently requests a leave of absence, because he is suddenly on the informant’s shuttle, then walking through a jungle looking for a Romulan prisoner-of-war camp, where he expects to find dishonored Klingon survivors.
Picard dismisses Data’s attempts to research what dreams mean in other cultures, telling Data, “You’re a culture of one, which is no less valid than a culture of one billion,” and suggesting he let the vision inspire him. This Data does with his usual efficiency, churning out dozens of paintings — first literal and realistic, and then more imaginative.
With help from LaForge and Bashir, he triggers another vision, which includes a very satisfying visit with with Soong, and a gorgeous exterior shot of the Enterprise. The resolution is open-ended, with Data announcing that he plans to continue to dream. It’s a very substantial B-plot, which feels like it takes up almost half the episode, establishing that Data is capable of exceeding what he thought were his limitations.
Worf has meanwhile found a young Klingon woman bathing in a jungle pool (seen in family-friendly silhouette), gives himself away by stepping on a twig, tells her he wants to help her, then hides when a Romulan calls her away. He follows them to a walled facility, where he hears someone singing in Klingon, and dodges Romulans to speak privately with an old man who turns out to be a friend of his father’s.
Worf can’t understand why the Klingons say they don’t want to leave, and before we can figure out what’s going on, Worf is captured by Romulans, and it’s cliffhanger time.