The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Realm of Fear

When Lieutenant Barclay is selected to join an away team in beaming over to a damaged science ship, he is forced to reveal and confront his fear of the transporter. But whilst most transporter trips are perfectly safe, this time Reg might be right to be afraid – for it seems as if there is something living in the very transporter beam itself.

“A character’s seemingly irrational fears turn out to be well-founded” is a classic trope, and since the main cast are all so perfect, it falls to Barclay to play the neurotic one once again. Whilst this episode make a good effort to be a fear of flying allegory, it’s so heavy with technobabble that much of the effect is lost, and the denouement is just plain silly.

Amplify the patter buffers!

  • This episode marks the first time that we see a transport from the perspective of the person being transported.
  • Barclay is right to fear the transporter – not only does it break the rules of physics in many ways, but even if it did work, it’s destroying your original quantum state.
  • Was the rest of the away team waiting for Reg the whole time he was freaking out and then talking to Troi?
  • It seems likely that Troi divulged confidential therapist-patient information about Barclay to Geordi. Then again, given her advice to Barclay, she’s clearly not a real counsellor.
  • Why would the crewmembers suspended in the transporter look like monsters anyway?
  • Barclay claims his Starfleet career would be over if he revealed his fear of transporting. Was it not picked up during any of his training or psych evaluations? If he hid it all this time, shouldn’t he lose his Starfleet clearance for lying for all these years?
  • Transporting is said to be much safer now than it was in Kirk’s era.

Summary – Realm of Fear: The Heisenberg compensators work very well, thank you.

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