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Conundrum (episode)

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"Conundrum"
TNG, Episode 5x14
Production number: 40275-214
First aired: 17 February 1992
113th of 176 produced in TNG
113th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
221st of 728 released in all
Satarran
Teleplay By
Barry Schkolnick

Story By
Paul Schiffer

Directed By
Les Landau
45494.2 (2368)
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After the crew's memories are mysteriously erased, the computer records indicate that the Federation is at war with the Lysians, and that the Enterprise has been ordered to attack their command center.

Summary Edit

As the crew is going through a typical day (Data fixing Deanna Troi a drink in Ten Forward to settle a bet over a three-dimensional chess game, Dr. Beverly Crusher tending to a crewmember injured cliff-diving on the holodeck, and Commander Riker arguing with Ensign Ro about her changing ship's procedure without his knowledge), the USS Enterprise-D is approached by a small vessel of unknown configuration. After the vessel scans the Enterprise, a wave of energy passes throughout the ship, and the entire crew suffers from memory loss. They have forgotten their identities, but have retained the appropriate skills for running the ship. What they also don't realize is that there is someone else on the bridge who wasn't there before the wave hit, also wearing a Starfleet uniform and claiming to be suffering from memory loss.

Riker suggests to an equally anonymous Captain Picard that he is their leader, since he has four pips on his collar, more than anyone else present. Worf suggests otherwise, and presumes he is the leader because he is the most decorated person on board due to his baldric. Dr. Crusher realizes that she is a medical officer, but the injured crewmember in Sick Bay still doesn't know what she is doing there. Riker, Ro, and La Forge go to Engineering to try to get the engines running. La Forge works on getting engine propulsion back online and tries to find personnel files so that they'll know who they are while Riker and Ro go to the rest of the ship as a survey team. Worf, in the meantime, has assumed leadership and is happy when Geordi reports the ship is ready for battle with the phasers back online.

With computer access limited, Riker and Ro travel throughout the ship and confirm that the memory loss is not limited to the bridge; rather than their normal hostility, the two have an almost playful relationship, with Ro commenting that Riker doesn't look like someone who needs a holodeck to have fun.

After La Forge successfully accesses the ship's computer, he is able to get a list with photos of the Enterprise's bridge officers. The list confirms that Picard is indeed the commanding officer of the Enterprise. To Worf's dismay, the list has him near the bottom, second to last. Interestingly, the computer's list has one new addition to the ship's regular command crew. Commander Keiran MacDuff is the ship's first officer, and Commander Riker has been bumped down to second officer.

Data and La Forge are able to get more information out of the computer, and they brief the senior officers about their current mission: The Enterprise has been tasked to destroy the Lysian command center as part of a coordinated attack on their mortal enemy, with whom they've been at war for years. The information also suggests that the Lysians have a weapon which could cause memory loss. Troi wants to open communications with headquarters to confirm their mission, but the Enterprise's orders include radio silence at all times. Picard orders MacDuff to set a course towards the Lysian command center.

Troi has a strong feeling that the war is wrong but can't pin down a reason, and Riker suggests it is just due to the general nature of war. When Riker returns to his quarters, he finds Ro waiting for him.

Lysian central command-galaxy class

Lysian starbase

As the Enterprise crosses into Lysian space, a Lysian destroyer tries to hail the Enterprise. Picard wants to open a channel but MacDuff suggests that that may be how they lost their memories to begin with - by allowing a communications channel to be open. The Lysian destroyer starts to fire at the Enterprise, but the Enterprise easily destroys the destroyer.

Troi also inexplicably feels that Riker is very "familiar"; the two realize they have some connection when he finds a book she gave him as a gift "with love", producing a rather awkward moment when Ro arrives and sees them nearly kissing before kissing Riker herself once Troi leaves.

Efforts to repair the memory loss have been limited, as La Forge cannot gain access to more detailed personnel files or medical records that might allow Dr. Crusher to safely attempt to restore the crew's memories; MacDuff volunteers despite the risks, but Crusher stops her efforts when he apparently begins having seizures, missing MacDuff's slight smile as she walks away.

Picard wonders if the Federation is truly at war with such a technologically inferior enemy. He feels a moral dilemma, comparing his situation to being given a gun and told to kill a stranger but still wanting to know why; MacDuff counters that it would be wrong to allow the war to continue and claim millions of lives just because Picard is experiencing moral qualms. MacDuff has a private conversation with Worf, his fellow warrior, and warns him there might be a situation where a split-second decision may need to be made, even if Picard has not yet given the orders to do so.

The Enterprise proceeds towards the Lysian Central Command, where it is intercepted by unmanned Lysian sentry pods. These vessels are easily destroyed, and the Enterprise proceeds to the command center. Commander Data informs Picard that the Lysian command center is virtually defenseless with over 15,000 people aboard. One photon torpedo could destroy the entire structure, while its entire arsenal would not even damage Enterprise with its shields down. Troi again insists the situation is wrong, and Riker poses the question: How could the Federation's mortal enemy be over 100 years behind in weapons technology? MacDuff insists that Picard destroy the station, but Picard refuses to fire on defenseless people; MacDuff declares that something is wrong with the captain and attempts to assume command, giving Worf an order to fire. When Worf refuses, MacDuff knocks him away with surprising force and tries to fire himself. Riker shoots him with his phaser. The shot knocks him back and reveals a shocking fact; he is not Human. Worf and Riker then combine their phaser shots to knock MacDuff to the floor and subdue him.

Determining that there was an artificial effect suppressing the crew's memories, Dr. Crusher works to quickly restore them. MacDuff is identified as a Satarran, a race which has been at war with the Lysians for decades. Despite their skill with memory suppression, the Satarrans lacked sophisticated weapons technology, and so had plotted to hijack the Enterprise and tilt the war in their favor. With MacDuff's plan foiled, the Enterprise heads off to its next assignment–although Riker remains uneasy when he encounters Troi and Ro intensely conversing in the Ten Forward bar. Ro insists somewhat facetiously that they have a memory they will both treasure; Troi concludes that such actions tend to result from subconscious desires. When Riker concedes confusion, she smiles and assures him that "if you're still confused tomorrow, you know where my office is."

Memorable Quotes Edit

"Data, chess isn't just a game of ploys and gambits; it's a game of intuition."
"Hmm. You are a challenging opponent, Counselor."

- Troi after defeating Data at a game of chess in Ten Forward


"I don't know who any of you are."
"Nor do I. I don't... I don't even remember who I am."

- Riker and Picard on the bridge after having their memories blocked


"It looks like I'm the pilot."

- Ro Laren


(To Picard) "Looks like you're the leader."
(Picard counts his pips.)
"Perhaps we should not jump to conclusions." (Worf points to his baldric) "I am decorated as well."

- Riker and Worf, trying to determine the leader after Riker counts his pips


"We're going to search the ship."
"Very well. Proceed."

- Riker and Worf


(Data pops up from behind the bar's counter.)
"Can I get you something? A beverage?"

- Data to Riker, Ro and Troi in Ten Forward


"Contact the operations officer to assist you."
"He's in Ten Forward, waiting tables."

- Picard and Ro on Data


"For all we know, you and I could be married."
"For all we know, you and I could hate each other."

- Riker and Ro


"You must've been one hell of a bartender."

- La Forge, commenting on the speed at which Data moves


"We must attack!!!"
"I do not fire on defenseless people."

- "MacDuff" and Picard, realizing once and for all what's going on isn't right


"Commander, don't worry about it. As far as I'm concerned, you and I have shared something that we will treasure forever."

- Ro, to Riker on their brief relationship

Background Information Edit

Story and production Edit

Sets and props Edit

  • The Lysian Central Command model was previously used as the Edo God in TNG: "Justice".
  • As a memory-less Ro Laren waits for him in bed, we see that Commander Riker has a horga'hn in his quarters. The horga'hn was first seen in TNG: "Captain's Holiday" when Riker asked Captain Picard to acquire a horga'hn for him while the captain vacationed on Risa. Picard didn't know until afterward that Riker was setting him up to appear that he was seeking jamaharon.
  • One of the chess pieces at the beginning of the episode bears a resemblance to the Robot B-9 from Lost In Space.

Continuity Edit

  • As the crew attempts to learn more about their identities from the computer's databanks, we learn a great deal of biographical data of the Enterprise-D crew in the form of computer readouts. See personnel file.
  • The tune Riker plays on his trombone is "The Nearness of You" by Hoagy Carmichael. He had previously performed this with the holographic jazz band in "11001001".
  • This episode marks the third time Picard is seen at the helm of the Enterprise during the series. The other times were in "11001001" and "Booby Trap".

Awards Edit

  • This episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects, sharing it in a tie with TNG: "A Matter of Time".

Reception Edit

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest stars Edit

Co-stars Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stunt doubles Edit

Stand-ins Edit

References Edit

47-C; 2305; 2323; 2324; 2327; 2334; 2334; 2336; 2338; 2340; 2341; 2345; 2350; 2352; 2355; 2356; 2358; 2359; 2364; Alaska; As You Like It; Bajora; battleship; battle stations; Betazed; bioelectric field; Cirrus IV; Copernicus City; crew manifest; Crusher, Wesley R.; diencephalon; el-Mitra Exchange; Emerald Wading Pool; Epsilon Silar system; Federation; France; Gamma Canaris N; Garon II; hippocampus; horga'hn; Howard, Isabel; Howard, Paul; Keats, John; kilojoule; Kriskov Gambit; La Barre; Luna; Lunar colonies; Lysia; Lysians; Lysian Alliance; Lysian Central Command; Lysian destroyer; Lysian sentry pod; Lysian system; MacDuff, Joseph; MacDuff, Les; megajoule; Ode to Psyche; optical data network; Orion, USS; personnel file; phaser bank; Picard, Maurice; Omicron Theta; Picard, Yvette; pulse laser; radio silence; red alert; Risa; Ro Gale; Ro Talia; Samarian sunset; Satarrans; Satarran starship; Soong, Noonian; Starbase 301; Starfleet Academy; status report; Sumiko IV; tactical analysis; three-dimensional chess; Troi, Ian Andrew "Alex"; trombone; turbolift; Wellington, USS


Previous episode:
"The Masterpiece Society"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5
Next episode:
"Power Play"

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