The Penultimate Episode of Season 3. This has certainly been a season of change and that is exactly what this episode is about, change. So without any delay, originally airing on June 4,1990, this is Transfigurations.
Stardate 43957.2 Transfigurations
The Enterprise finds a crashed ship and rescue an amnesiatic man who has incredible healing powers. Soon they discover that he is transforming into something…new.
There are two stories here, one dealing with the survivor and one dealing with Geordi. We will start with the ‘A’ story.
‘A’ Story: Beverly Nightingale
After rescuing the pilot of a crashed shuttle, Doctor Crusher is desperate to save the badly wounded man. She is able to stabilize him and is amazed at his regenerative properties. There is a mystery though as even non-damages cells are regenerating. In to time at all he comes to but has no memory of who he is.
When he is able to talk, Picard and Crusher question him about his past but he is unable to probe them with any insight. He appears to be in great pain though but not from injuries resulting from the crash, but from a strange mutation that is occurring. Due to his lack of identity they begin referring to him as John Doe. Before long, John Doe exhibits even more abilities when Chief O’Brien walks in with a shoulder injury. John Doe walks up and heals his wounds with a simple touch.
Picard and Crusher present John Doe with information LaForge and Data discovered giving him a chance to get home. He immediately reacts in fear, claiming that he can’t go back. He doesn’t know why but he knows he can’t return. When Picard and Crusher leave, John’s chest begins to glow.
Soon, the Enterprise nears a ship that may belong to one of his people and John begins to transform. His body begins to glow and he runs to the shuttle bay in hopes to get off of the ship. He keeps getting worse and is desperate to get away. During his attempt to escape, John mistakenly knocks Worf off of a platform, breaking his neck and killing him. John goes to him and revives him, healing his injuries. John surrenders to the crew.
Picard demands an answer to John’s actions and they soon find a ship of John’s people. The ship identifies themselves as one of the Zalkonian fleet commanded by a Commander Sunad. Sunad claims that John Doe is a criminal and that he needs to be turned over immediately.
Picard must decide what to do with John as Troi can feel that Sunad and the crew of the Zalkonian ship are genuinely scared of John. When Picard reveals to Sunad what John can do, Sunad attacks the ship and causes the entire crew to not be able to breath. John heals Beverly and the entire crew by touching the deck plating and sending his healing power throughout the ship. John and Sunad face off and John reveals that the Zalkonians are evolving and that their government has been repressing anyone who were changing. John and his fellow metamorphs fled and only John survived.
John transforms into a being of light and leaves the ship.
‘B’ story: How Geordi Got His Groove Back
Geordi is interested in a fellow crewman (Christy Henshaw the same girl he struck out with in Booby Trap) but can not muster up the courage to speak to her. Worf encourages him but when he has a chance, he fumbles. Soon he is called away to assist in the rescue of a crashed ship that has been detected on a nearby planet.
While rescuing the pilot of the crashed ship, Geordi volunteers to assist Doctor Crusher by acting as a support to the injured man’s Nervous system. She attaches the device and a strange light passes between the two men ending up in Geordi. Once they get back to the ship, he checks out and goes back to duty.
Soon, Geordi finds himself with more courage and self-confidence being able to talk with the girl of his affections. Geordi finds himself dating her regularly and Riker notes that, for the past month, Geordi has been a changed man.
Soon Georgi and Data make a breakthrough while studying a storage capsule they found on the crashed ship. It may hold the key to returning John Doe to his home.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This one qualifies as good sci-fi with a halfway decent B story to add some character development. The Story of John Doe is a mystery at first, who is this mysterious alien and how did he come about these extraordinary powers. It is a common trope used in sci-fi, the mysterious stranger with powers, but Star Trek was able to do it in a way that actually had a good message with it. Ultimately the story is about accepting change. John Doe is fleeing from his own people due to his own natural change being considered ‘disruptive’ to the populous. He is being hunted down by his own people and considered an outcast.
In the early 90’s, one of the biggest controversies facing the US was homosexual rights. It was a time that the military enacted a don’t ask don’t tell policy and many people believed that ‘being gay’ was something that was considered disruptive to the nation as a whole. When this episode came out it was just becoming recognized as a major issue for the country and people were rightfully speaking out. Although we come along way since then and, as a nation, the U.S. has mostly come to accept Individual Rights of ALL citizens, this has become an issue yet again. Episodes like this are important as they show how people need to accept change and not be afraid of how others live their lives. The core lesson, accept everyone for who they are, no matter how different from you they may be.
As for character development, this episode gave Doctor Crusher some additional background and really gave us a chance to see her in action as a Doctor. So far we have only seen sickbay in a few circumstances, but this time around much of the episode takes place there. This episode really establishes that Doctor Crusher is indeed one of Starfleet’s finest.
This episode also provided Geordi a romantic interlude to his rather holographic romantic tendencies. unfortunately his relationship with Christy Henshaw would only last this episode, but according to the dialogue, it was a least a month. So, good on you Geordi!
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
This marks the first time we see Miles O’Brien reference his love for kayaking, something he and Julian Bashir would do on Deep Space 9 quite regularly.
We never see or hear from either the Zalkonians nor John Doe again. Man, this universe is full of some ungrateful aliens.
Also, is it just me or does dayglow John Doe not look just like one of the aliens from Coccoon?
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Late To The Game 10/27/2019 (Originally Published 6/15/2018)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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