(written from a Production point of view)
La Forge uses a virtual reality probe to explore a wrecked ship inside a gas giant, but he's preoccupied by the disappearance of his mother's ship.
Geordi La Forge, Data, and Beverly Crusher are testing an interface in a science lab on the USS Enterprise-D which allows La Forge to use the VISOR circuitry in his brain, along with an interface suit, to control a probe by remote control. Via this connection, La Forge can use the probe to virtually enter areas that would be too dangerous for actual crew members to enter, and the probe transmits information directly into La Forge's cerebral cortex, providing the sensation that he is actually there.
As the crew prepare to use the probe to investigate the wreckage of the USS Raman, which became trapped in the atmosphere of Marijne VII, Captain Jean-Luc Picard learns from Admiral Marcus Holt of Deep Space 3 that the USS Hera under the command of Geordi La Forge's mother, Silva La Forge, was lost during a routine courier run operating out of the station. A massive search mounted by the USS Excelsior and the USS Noble failed to discover any trace of the ship, and all hands were presumed lost. La Forge learns from his father that a memorial service has already been planned for the crew on Vulcan, as most of the Hera's personnel were native to the planet. La Forge's father wants to plan a private memorial along with his daughter and La Forge's sister Ariana, which seems premature to La Forge.
Despite the apparent loss of his mother, La Forge interfaces with the probe and goes to see if there are survivors on the Raman. Commander Riker tries to talk La Forge out of performing the task due to his mother's disappearance, but La Forge insists he do it despite that, as the interface has been specifically configured to his VISOR's inputs. After activating the interface, he finds that there is no one left alive on the ship. However, La Forge inexplicably sees his mother on the Raman. Upon encountering his mother on the ship, she states that she and the crew of the Hera are actually trapped on the planet's surface. Continued use of the probe soon exposes La Forge to unhealthy levels of neural stimulation, forcing his disconnection from the interface.
La Forge becomes convinced that his mother was on the Raman, and wants to use the probe to communicate with his mother. Dr. Crusher and Picard refuse to allow him to use the interface suit again, and attempt to explain that it is highly improbable that he actually communicated with his mother who was last seen over three hundred light years away. La Forge has come up with a theory. In his mother's last message to him, she stated that the Hera's engineer was experimenting with the ship's warp drive. He believes the trionic initiators, which are known to cause strange side effects on the warp coils, had created a subspace funnel. He believes that this funnel sent the Hera from its last recorded position three hundred light years away all the way to Marijne VII. Data says that this theory is possible but upon being pressed by Captain Picard further, he reluctantly admits that it is almost impossible. Despite this and Captain Picard's orders that he not use the interface, La Forge decides to use it again anyway.
Upon entering the science lab, Data finds La Forge suited up and ready to reactivate the interface. Despite Data's insistence of having La Forge stop what he is doing or be confined to quarters, La Forge doesn't back down. Data then decides to ultimately help his friend find his mother and her ship. With Data's assistance, La Forge returns to the Raman and again encounters the being who appears to be his mother. La Forge eventually learns that she is actually a subspace creature native to the gas giant's lower atmosphere who became trapped when the Raman entered, then left the atmosphere. These creatures inadvertently killed the crew of the Raman in their attempt to communicate, but were able to successfully read La Forge's mind via his interface with the probe. La Forge takes the ship closer to the planet so that she and others like her trapped on the ship can return home - almost at the cost of his life. Dr. Crusher and Data were able to disconnect La Forge from the interface slowly by feeding it the sensory information from his previous attempts in the suit.
Afterwards, Picard sternly rebukes La Forge in his ready room for going against his orders and informs him that the incident is going to be noted on his service file, before offering his condolences that he never found his mother. La Forge responds that the entity appearing to be his mother seemed real, and that in a way his encounter with the creatures allowed him to say goodbye.
Memorable quotes Edit
"Geordi... your mother's gone."
"Yeah, well, you can think that if you want, but until I see some hard evidence I'm not going to give up hope."
- - Edward La Forge and Geordi La Forge
"I decided I missed my favorite son."
"Your only son, Ma."
- - Silva La Forge from a video message sent to her son Geordi
"Do you need to be comforted?"
- - Data to Geordi La Forge, after learning that his mother on the Hera is missing
"Mom, is it really you?"
"Yes, Geordi. It's Mom."
- - Geordi La Forge speaks to a representation of his mother Silva
"Geordi, we're safe now. Goodbye."
- - A representation of Silva La Forge
"You disobeyed my direct order. You put yourself in grave danger. I am not happy."
- - Picard, to La Forge
"Geordi? I'm very sorry that you didn't find your mother."
"Thank you, sir. You know, it's funny. When I was down there, it was so real. I felt like I had a chance to say goodbye."
- - Picard and La Forge (last lines)
Background information Edit
Story and production Edit
- Joe Menosky's initial story, pitched two seasons before, had Riker in the virtual-reality suit, troubled by the death of his father, and seeing scenes of his Alaska cabin. This was changed due to Riker having recently had a mind trip (in "Frame of Mind"), and the logic of using La Forge's VISOR implants. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion; Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- The script received an uncredited polish by René Echevarria. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- The scene where Riker consoles La Forge of his loss was written by Jeri Taylor when it was discovered the show was running short. The scene was not filmed until after "Phantasms", three episodes later. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- It was during the production of this episode that Ronald D. Moore felt TNG had gone as far as it could be taken. "I think it was a point where we were in the room and we were talking about bringing Geordi's mother in, and we all kind of looked at each other and we were like, 'This is sad. This is the best we can do? Is this the best we can do, is Geordi's mother?' It was such a "who cares" idea that we were just sort of, 'Oh man... This show has got to end'." 
- This episode marks the first appearance of a new hairstyle for Troi, with softer waves in a warmer copper tone. Troi's hair varied throughout the season, depending on whether she was "on duty" or not. Typically this was marked by her wearing her hair looser with bangs when she was off duty.
- First UK airdate: 24 January 1996
Cast and characters Edit
- LeVar Burton and guest stars Ben Vereen and Madge Sinclair all appeared in the 1977 television miniseries Roots. Vereen played Burton's character's grandson and Sinclair the wife of his character as an older man, played by John Amos.
- Taylor commented, "We've had the family of everybody else on board. Every other character has had their family dealt with except Geordi and probably the main reason for doing [this episode] was there was an order to finally flesh out his character more than it had been, and to show that he didn't spring isolated from Zeus' forehead." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Visual effects supervisor Ronald B. Moore was disappointed that the elaborate probe miniature was only seen once. The episode instead uses the convention of La Forge in place of the probe. Director Robert Wiemer explained that it would have been "emotionally unrewarding" to film the probe with 'Silva' while cutting to La Forge for reaction shots. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- Naren Shankar questioned whether the story's premise was futuristic enough. "To me, it's not real interesting from a gee-whiz standpoint of technology, because we weren't looking at technology four hundred years in the future. I think it's more like forty years into the future. It's almost an overdone type of theme these days. The technology seems out of proportion to the other technologies that we use on the Enterprise." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Science adviser André Bormanis noted, "There are prototypes of that kind of thing already, although tying it straight to the brain will take much longer." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
Video and DVD releases Edit
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 78, April 1994
- As part of the TNG Season 7 DVD collection
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
Guest stars Edit
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Lena Banks as operations division ensign
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Carl David Burks as Russell
- Gary Hunter as science division officer
- Joyce Robinson as Gates
- Unknown performers as
- David Keith Anderson - stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Carl David Burks - stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Michael Echols - stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Nora Leonhardt - stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Lorine Mendell - stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Richard Sarstedt - stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Dennis Tracy - stand-in for Patrick Stewart
47; ammonia; black cluster; Breen; cerebral cortex; chlorine; confined to quarters; cough; counselor's office; courier; Deep Space 3; Doosodarians; Excelsior, USS; Ferengi; fire; gas giant; God; Hera, USS; interface probe; interface suit; inverse warp cascade; Jefferies tube; La Forge, Ariana; lacuna; low stationary orbit; magnetic storage bay; Marijne VII; Marijne VII subspace being; methane; Midsummer Night's Dream, A; nervous system; neural shock; neural synapse; Noble, USS; palio; permanent record; poetry; potassium chloride; psychosomatic response, Raman, USS; Riker, Betty; Riker, Kyle; roller coaster; Starfleet Academy; subspace deformation; subspace funnel; tractor beam; trionic initiator; troposphere; VISOR; Vulcan; Vulcan (planet); warp bubble; warp coil; warp field; warp funnel
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"Gambit, Part I"