Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch: “Remember Me”

remember172“Remember Me”
Written by Lee Sheldon
Directed by Cliff Bole

Season 3, Episode 5
Original air date: October 22, 1990
Star date: 44161.2

Mission summary

Dr. Dalen Quaice, an old friend and mentor of Dr. Crusher’s, arrives on Enterprise. Still mourning the recent death of his wife, the elderly man mulls over the worst part of growing old — losing the people you love. This cheery conversation drives Dr. Crusher to visit her son, Wesley, at work in Engineering. The young ensign is messing around with Dr. Kosinsky’s warp field equations. His attempt to create a new field fails, with an unexpected flash of light. On the upside, it seems like his mom didn’t stick around to watch, and all systems are back to normal.

The next morning, Dr. Crusher goes to Quaice’s quarters to pick him up for breakfast, but he isn’t there. In fact, he isn’t on board Enterprise, and the crew quickly determines that there’s no record of him at the Starbase, nor any record of his mere existence anywhere. Captain Picard doesn’t remember authorizing his visit, and Chief O’Brien doesn’t remember beaming him aboard.

Everyone continues to give Dr. Crusher the benefit of the doubt, continuing the search for the old man. But then several other doctors also disappear, though their family members have no recollection of them and they have left no trace in the database. The only thing that might explain this unsettling phenomenon is Wesley’s warp field experiment, an attempt to improve engine efficiency by creating a static warp bubble. They conjecture that Dr. Quaice could have been caught in this bubble — except he was nowhere near Engineering at the time.

Dr. Crusher’s entire staff goes missing, but her crew mates insist she never had a staff, and rather than a complement of 1,012, Enterprise only has 230 people aboard. While she’s alone in Sickbay, an energy vortex appears and she’s nearly pulled into it. She escapes, but no one believes her. She discovers that another 116 people have vanished completely, including Worf, whom no one else remembers; however, there’s still no evidence of anything odd, other than her behavior.

Panicked, Dr. Crusher seeks out Wesley again. He tells her he’s reached out to Kosinski, who can’t explain what’s happening, as well as the Traveler from Tau Alpha C, the being who can manipulate warp fields and reality with his mind. Then Wesley disappears too.

Now only Dr. Crusher and Captain Picard remain running the ship, apparently the only two people who have ever been there. You know, maybe this isn’t so bad after all. She can work with this. Just as Dr. Crusher is about to tell Jean-Luc something important while she still can — Poof! He’s gone too.

Now alone, Dr. Crusher promises, “I won’t forget. I won’t forget any of you.” Another vortex appears in front of the viewscreen and she holds onto a chair for dear life. Then we see what’s on the other side… Geordi and Wesley have been trying to rescue Dr. Crusher from the warp bubble she’s trapped in, but it can’t hold. Or can it? The Traveler suddenly appears and says there’s a way.

TRAVELLER: I can help, but I can’t do it myself. Wesley, there is a power within each of us that most people haven’t begun to realise, but you have begun, or else I would not have known to come here now. Together we may be able to open a gateway for her. But she must choose to walk through it.

Siri the Enterprise computer helps Dr. Crusher realize that she’s in a pocket universe created by Wesley’s warp bubble and her own mind, which was fixated on losing people at the moment she was drawn into it. The bubble is now just big enough to surround the ship, and it’s shrinking, wiping out pieces of the vessel as it contracts. The computer hypothesizes that if such a warp bubble universe were possible, theoretically a bridge could be made to the real world outside it in the form of some kind of vortex, like the one Dr. Crusher has been avoiding.

She makes her way to Engineering, as Wesley and the Traveler combine their mystical powers to open another doorway for her. With mere minutes to spare, she makes it across. The Traveler gives Wesley all the credit for rescuing her.

CRUSHER: Jean-Luc, if I might ask, how many people are there on board? 
PICARD: One thousand and fourteen, including your guest, Doctor Quaice. 
LAFORGE: Is there something wrong with that count, Doctor? 
CRUSHER: No. That’s the exact number there should be.

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Analysis

The only things that make “Remember Me” somewhat memorable are the conceit of the static warp bubble and the Traveler’s unexpected reappearance. The former is still a fascinating premise, but the latter feels unnecessary and cheap — the Traveler appears just in time and helps Wesley save the day with magic.

Some of my favorite Star Trek stories are centered on a mystery, the more bizarre the better. There are some echoes of TOS’ “The Mark of Gideon,” in which Kirk finds himself on an empty version of his Enterprise, but it doesn’t quite reach that level of loneliness, limiting Dr. Crusher’s wanderings to a few key locations — a missed opportunity to show a busy ship filled with people gradually empty. Unfortunately, knowing where the story is headed, the building clues to what’s going on seem painfully obvious to me. Was it ever a surprise that Dr. Crusher was making all this happen? I suspect it would be more successful if the revelation came sooner and we cut back and forth earlier and more often between the two versions of the ship.

Sadly, the story loses some steam about halfway through, and we see how thin a premise this really is. For an episode that is nominally about the fear of losing people, there’s very little characterization. It’s tricky having only one character to work with, of course, but Dr. Crusher’s understanding of why her universe is manifesting this way doesn’t relate to any kind of personal growth or discovery. In fact, she’ll probably be booking extra sessions with Counselor Troi for a while. This knowledge does help her escape, but there’s no emotional connection.

Moreover, I was struck that when she tries to remind Picard of their missing friends, she describes them in terms of the only character traits we know: Riker is “very good at playing poker, loves to cook, he listens to jazz music, plays the trombone.” That’s most of what we know about him! She talks about them not deserving to be brushed aside, but she also reduces them to mere traits and quirks that distinguish them from each other. Counselor Troi “loves chocolate.” Well, okay, maybe that is her best quality.

I also find it interesting that Picard is the last one to disappear…Perhaps that’s the emotional connection I was looking for, but if so, it doesn’t pan out. For instance, Dr. Crusher needs to get past her fear of losing people by moving forward with her feelings for Picard — only just when she is about to, he disappears too. Wouldn’t Wesley have made a better choice for the last man standing?

There’s just a lack of depth to this story that really could have made it something. It also resorts to the old “ask the computer to figure things out for you” trick, although I’m overall very impressed by both the crew’s willingness to listen to Dr. Crusher and her own logical, systematic way of figuring things out.

This episode also reminds me of two great episodes of The Twilight Zone, “Where is Everybody?” and “And When the Sky Was Opened” — and it has the same problem inherent in “Where is Everybody?”, in which the main character talks to himself in order to advance the plot. Rod Serling later said he would have handled that narrative requirement differently. Even so, those episodes stand as examples of what “Remember Me” could have been.

Eugene’s Rating: Warp 2 (on a scale of 1-6)

travelersThread Alert: The Traveler has traded in his pajamas from the first season for this weird jumpsuit, which is only a minor improvement.

Best Line: CRUSHER: If there’s nothing wrong with me, maybe there’s something wrong with the universe.

Trivia/Other Notes: Originally, this story was a subplot in “Family,” and people were disappearing because of a wormhole.

The Traveler was not in the first two drafts of the script, added only to prevent it all from being a dream, and because the producers wanted to bring the Traveler back, so this seemed as good a time as any. Director Cliff Bole claimed it was because the Traveler was popular with fans.


Previous episode: Season 3, Episode 4 – “Suddenly Human.”

Next episode: Season 3, Episode 6 – “Legacy.”

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About Eugene Myers

Eugene has published short fiction in a variety of print and online zines as E.C. Myers. He is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and a member of the writing group Altered Fluid. When he isn’t watching Star Trek, he reads and writes young adult fiction. His first novel, Fair Coin, is available now from Pyr. His website is at http://ecmyers.net.