The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Masks

When the Enterprise makes contact with an alien artefact repository, it begins transforming the ship into a replica of an ancient civilisation. Whilst the crew tries to figure out what’s going on, Data is taken over by alien personalities, who might just hold the key to fixing the Enterprise.

I actually enjoyed this episode back in the day, but I had a feeling that it wouldn’t impress an older and wiser me – and I was right. Apart from being an excuse for Brent Spiner to show off his acting skills, and for Patrick Stewart to do a bit of oration, it’s not clear what the point of this episode is meant to be. It’s a bit silly, but not entertainingly so, and lacks any depth, moral point or even a decent B-story to tide us over. I’m inclined to judge it a bit more favourably because of the Aztec themes, but even this isn’t quite enough to elevate this episode past the level of merely mediocre.

Bits and pieces

  • It’s lucky the Enterprise didn’t lose structural integrity as a result of the transformations, killing everyone.
  • Why is the Enterprise computer completely unable to identify the alien archive? Sure, it may not know the exact origin, but it should at least be able to identify similar cultures, like the Aztecs.
  • Given that Picard’s inability to act is supposed to be a running joke in the series, it’s rather convenient that he’s suddenly excellent at acting when the plot requires it.

Summary – Masks: It’s unclear why this episode exists, other than to fill time.

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