The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Aquiel

Whilst investigating the disappearance and possible murder of Starfleet officers at a subspace relay station, Geordi delves into the personal logs of Lieutenant Aquiel Uhnari. But when it turns out that Aquiel is actually alive, she becomes the prime suspect in the murder of her fellow crewman.

This is a spectacularly unremarkable episode that passes swiftly from memory each time I watch it. Apart from the dog, which is delightfully fluffy (and if you know me, you know that I never praise dogs lightly), nothing about it really adds to the TNG universe. There’s a belligerent Klingon, a slightly creepy Geordi romance, and a murder mystery which ends with Geordi shooting a shapeshifting dog. Please use the final clause in that sentence out of context wherever possible.

Seriously, though, what is up with Geordi romance stories? He fell for a hologram of Leah Brahms and then made her feel bad for feeling weirded out by that, and here he falls for Aquiel by virtue of listening to all her personal logs. That in itself is morally dubious, although to be fair he needed to gather evidence for the investigation, and he thought Aquiel was dead. But the fact that he then bonds with Aquiel over it is a bit strange – I don’t keep a diary or personal logs, but if someone I didn’t know had accessed all of my Facebook chats for example, I would feel very uncomfortable around them. I don’t think I’d be joking about all the things they knew about my life!

The one good development in this episode was the attempt to cast Aquiel in different lights – was she a competent officer saddled with a dreadful colleague, or was she the stubborn and difficult one? Unfortunately, it did smack somewhat of “woman complains about coworker, so it’s probably her fault for being inadequate”.

Subspace again

  • The Federation subspace communications network depends on small relay stations such as the one Aquiel was stationed at. Despite their incredible importance in receiving, storing and relaying encrypted messages, they are poorly guarded. Aquiel was clearly quite stressed out at being repeatedly bothered by a Klingon – no one in Starfleet should have to feel so harassed.
  • This isn’t the last time someone will talk about bypassing encryption. In this case, the incoming messages are already encrypted – unless a plaintext message is also broadcast, you can’t bypass the encryption per se. You might be able to decrypt the messages, of course – hands up who thinks the Federation doesn’t bother with strong encryption? I bet Picard’s password is “Picard”.
  • Once the Enterprise crew knew that a shapeshifter might be involved, why didn’t anyone suspect the dog?

Summary – Aquiel: You probably thought it was the cat who was trying to kill you. Think again.

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