Out of 178 episodes, Star Trek: The Next Generation had a handful that weren’t popular with fans.
Right before the middle of the fourth season, Star Trek: The Next Generation aired an episode that has been widely panned by fans. It came in at number eight on Screenrant’s list of the 10 Worst Episodes with a 6/10 rating.
When Counselor Troi mysteriously loses her empathic abilities, she is devastated and uncertain that she can even continue to do her job. In the meantime, the Enterprise crew is trying to steer the ship away from two-dimensional beings that are pulling it toward a cosmic string that will crush the ship. The Enterprise is in trouble, and Troi can’t feel anything from the beings so she can’t help. What follows is a total meltdown.
Even though it’s doubtful that finding the good in the bad will suddenly turn this into a fan favorite, this episode had some teaching moments for both Troi and the audience. And it’s in those moments that we realize just how special this show was.
How to lose
Though Deanna’s loss might have been the show’s attempt to highlight disability, in reality, it shined the light on something inherent in all of us—the tendency to panic when bad things happen. Something Deanna had her entire life suddenly disappeared, and she was lost without it. But using Captain Picard and her friends, the show enabled Deanna to see the truth. She wasn’t the ship’s counselor because she was an empath but because of who she was as a person. Her gift didn’t define her any more than her vision did. And it was Picard who pushed for her help in the end because he knew she was about so much more than being an empath.
How to get friends back on the right track
While Commander Riker consoled Deanna, he also didn’t allow her to wallow too much in her self-pity. And sometimes, friends need the hard, cold truth, especially when they’re wallowing. And Guinan gently showed Deanna her true worth. Though her empathic abilities had disappeared, she had other abilities she could draw on that would enable her to do her job. It wouldn’t be easy, and it would take some time, but it could be done.
So though this episode won’t make it to the top of anyone’s list, it highlights the importance of acceptance and loss as well as the necessity for friends who can speak honestly and openly. Star Trek: The Next Generation taught us a lot about friendship, and this episode is an important part of those lessons.