While Troi is engaged in grief counseling with a crewmember whose husband has died, the Enterprise is caught up by a powerful, mysterious force that sweeps the ship along an unknown trajectory. Troi becomes dizzy, and by the time Crusher is able to reach her, she has lost all of her empathic abilities. The doctor discovers that the counselor has suffered brain damage. Troi's first response to this crisis is to throw herself into her work, but when she is unable to sense the emotions of the grieving crewmember, she panics and concludes that she cannot continue in her role as ship's counselor. Picard is very reluctant to accept her resignation and Troi goes to drown her sorrows in Ten Forward, where Guinan says that her experiences as a bartender make her an ideal candidate to take over the counselor's job. Once Troi realizes that Guinan is only trying to be provocative, she admits that her instincts about people are still fairly accurate even without empathic abilities. Meanwhile, LaForge informs the captain that the ship is being towed in the gravitational wake of a massive group of two-dimensional entities. Worf discovers an anomaly in space that seems to be drawing the beings, which Data identifies as a cosmic string. Realizing that the ship will be destroyed if unable to break free, Picard asks Troi to develop a psychological explanation for the beings' behavior. Troi concludes that the creatures must be driven by instinct toward the cosmic string, which inspires Data to create a replica that distracts them long enough for the Enterprise to break free. Moments later, they disappear into the cosmic string and Troi is overcome with happiness as she realizes both that the string is their home and that her ability to sense it means that her empathic powers have returned.
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