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WHERE SILENCE HAS LEASE episode #2, s2 / Air Date: 11/28/88
written by Jack B. Sowards; Directed by Winrich Kolbe
The Enterprise comes upon some 'black space' - a region of nothingness; while the crew is examining the region, they get too close - it envelops the ship. Picard orders to backtrack but they find that they are unable to exit. They encounter a couple of other ships, both of which are probably unreal; Riker & Worf beam aboard another starship which is empty and pretty spooky. They hear strange noises and find two bridges. Then there are two Rikers; they start to freak out. Back on the Enterprise, the bridge crew see an opening out of the region, but it closes before they can use it; this event repeats. Dr. Pulaski soon opines that they are the rats in a maze - it's a cosmic laboratory. Sure enuff...
The experimenter reveals himself to be Nagilum, a cosmic being on par with the Q or the Organians but a much darker version. He sees the crew as nothing more than his mice and his next step is to examine all various facets of death; this will entail the deaths of about half the crew (pity the TNG version of a red shirt on the bridge).
This one manages to be chilling, even as there are obvious gaffs in the presentation. When the black space suddenly grabs the Enterprise, it's a scary moment, but Picard and the others are clueless to any possible threat; how can this not alarm them? Only when they can't leave do they start to worry. This is the 2nd time Picard initiates the self-destruct code (last done in 11001001; does he have a death wish?); but, Nagilum has nearly limitless power - wouldn't halting this be simple for him? After Nagilum reveals his plans for half the crew, the top staff have one of their meetings - why didn't Nagilum immediately begin experimenting on the crew? What's the delay? Did Nagilum give them some time frame? Or.. is it because Nagilum never intended to destroy half the crew? (this would make it all far less effective).
Dr. Pulaski is more caustic than ever here - referring to Data as "it" - but she's the one who seems to come up with more answers than the others. She also has a great line - "Why do I get the feeling that this was not the time to join this ship?" This episode begins oddly - the preview above is deceptive; the creatures that Riker & Worf battle are a holodeck program in a pre-titles scene. Riker wanted to learn more about Klingon ways; it has little to do with the rest of the story, except to show that Worf can lose control more readily than a human officer.
In all, it's a not bad effort to show the very frightening dangers 'out there' - the unknown, the unfathomable, the alien, the all-powerful - the times our crew may be utterly helpless. I even got a chilly feeling at the end knowing that this Nagilum is still out there somewhere, ready to pull the wings off flies (human beings), even if it doesn't happen until the 25th century. The epilogue, when Picard has a final discussion with Nagilum, doesn't really fit - it's as if they are two equals. But, Picard's attempt mid-story to explain his own theories to Data on what death is or what it may be is inspired. BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10
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