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Old December 19 2008, 09:20 PM   #1
Rear Admiral
Future Imperfect

Plot Summary: While patrolling near the Romulan Neutral Zone, the Enterprise picks up energy readings on an obscure planet. Riker leads an away team, but methane gas forces them to abort the mission and disrupts the crew's transport back to the ship. When Riker awakens, he learns that 16 years have passed. Crusher tells him that he was infected on the mission with a retrovirus, which has now destroyed all memories formed after the moment he was infected. She and Troi tell Riker that he has been captain of the Enterprise for nine years and has a son. Admiral Picard comes aboard to tell Riker that despite his memory loss, the Federation needs him to conclude peace negotiations with the Romulans, who are now allies. While studying his own service record, Riker realizes that his wife "Min" is Minuet - a woman he created on the holodeck. He confronts first the crew, who are unable to answer his questions, then "Ambassador" Tomalak, who admits that Riker was taken captive during the away team mission and manipulated to force him to reveal the location of the secret Outpost 23. Of all the humans, only the boy is real - also a captive. he tells Riker. While the two humans are escaping, the boy mistakenly refers to Tomalak as an ambassador, which makes Riker realize that the boy is deceiving him. When challenged, the boy admits that the Romulans were never on the planet. The entire deception has been staged to keep Riker's attention, since the boy - in truth, a non-humanoid named Barash - is a lonely orphan protected only by the holographic scanners that created the false scenarios for Riker. Riker invites the boy to beam aboard the Enterprise with him.

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Old December 20 2008, 12:37 AM   #2
Re: Future Imperfect

If non-humanoid Barash had stayed after this episode, with Riker now having this alien adopted son on the ship and going ahead and trying to be a father to him, I'd have more patience for "Future Imperfect." It could have leant a bit more depth to Riker's character, fit in nicely with the ship's avowed mission--"Contact new life? Hell, I'm raising him!"--and been a more interesting, substantial version of the Worf-and-Alexander thread.
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Old December 20 2008, 12:58 AM   #3
Rear Admiral
Re: Future Imperfect

Future Imperfect is one of my favorite season four episodes that blended an interesting sci-fi plot with nice characterization. I found Riker’s plight as he was faced with the overwhelming reality of having seemingly lost 16 years of his life and then learning on top of that that he is a father was involving. The scenes between Riker and “Jean-Luc” were especially well done.

One of the nice human aspects that came out of this situation was seeing Riker’s concerns of not ending up being the kind of father Kyle was to him in his childhood especially after the loss of his mother. One can easily imagine the greatest fear for someone like Riker would be to fail their own child. It is clear Riker hopes he has been a better father to Jean-Luc than Kyle was to him especially in the wake of his mother’s death.

Troi was good here too. The one Riker and Troi conversation where they reminiscence was nicely done. Marina did a great job at being a nice reassuring presence for Riker amidst all this chaos and confusion.

It is interesting to note the illusion Barash ended up creating was based on scans of Riker’s mind. It is quite interesting insight into Riker and consistent with the way a child deprived of closeness to another person would behave and think. Barash provided a pretty ideal “future” that he believed would make Riker happy. Here he is captain of the Enterprise, the place he has been most comfortable, surrounded by all of his friends. I have heard some people grouse over how realistic it was for most of the crew to have remained on the ship all these years but I think it makes sense in this context. Besides the crew ultimately did stay together for about that long up until Nemesis. I'm willing to look beyond the nitpicks if I'm enjoying myself as I was with this episode.

I also appreciated that Barash’s behavior & reactions were consistent with how a child, desperate for attention and attachment, might think and react. Barash is intent on seeing that Riker focuses on him that he creates the “future” scenario to play on Riker’s loss of his mother by making him a widower and then to remove Troi from the equation by having her no longer assigned to the Enterprise and their relationship ultimately not work out. The final scene where Barash reveals his plight as a child left alone after losing his parents was touching. Barash’s alien was for once truly unique design.

The updates on the crew were fun with Geordi having his sight back, Data in a red uniform as his first officer, Admiral Picard, Tomalak, a Ferengi Starfleet officer, another Klingon officer and a female no less may be that is where Worf got his scar, Riker’s telling “Picard” to shut up were all great things; the birthday teaser in the beginning tied in nicely with the theme of the episode and had some great banter.

I personally thought the idea of using Minuet to clue Riker into the fact something was up was extremely clever and made so much sense given his fondness for her back in 10010001. A great example of using continuity to enhance a subsequent plot. I didn’t even catch onto it earlier when they were talking about “Min”. The plot twists were great especially since everything was pointing to a Romulan plot and something like this was so consistent with their motus operandi but then to spring another level of deception upon us was appreciated.

It would have been too obvious and straightforward had it all been just a Romulan ploy. Besides with only so few minutes left in the story this resolution offered a nice elegant way of getting Riker out of a seemingly inescapable corner while at the same time providing a nice poignant ending with Barash. I liked the idea that it wasn't some elaborate scheme by the Romulans but an effort by a lonely child seeking companionship.

TNG was always successful doing these mystery high concept Twilight Zone sorts of stories.
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Old December 20 2008, 01:44 AM   #4
DorkBoy [TM]
Re: Future Imperfect

So, if a woman were shown to be this dumb, you'd be angry, but since it was a man it is okay.

Thanks Meg. Glad to know where you're coming from.

(Not that we couldn't have figured it out dozens of reviews ago.)
Homer: The information superhighway showed the average person what some nerd thinks about Star Trek.
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Old December 22 2008, 12:15 AM   #5
Vice Admiral
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Location: Washington State
Re: Future Imperfect

Dude, she said she thinks it a "pretty bad episode." We're all entitled to our guilty pleasures. Try reading her text next time.
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Old December 24 2008, 02:47 PM   #6
Lord Garth
Re: Future Imperfect

Funny thing is this episode was made 18 years ago and Riker was only supposed to think he was 16 years into the "future". In a strange sense, we've caught up with and surpassed something that was supposed to seem so far away.
Old December 24 2008, 02:49 PM   #7
Vice Admiral
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Re: Future Imperfect

I like this episode. I remember watching it the first time it aired. Somehow you just can't recapture the first viewing experience of certain episodes,and this is one of them. I enjoyed seeing Frakes and the others in age make up. I was particulalry impressed with Troi in this episode. She has a calmness to her and a wisdom that I wish we'd seen more of in TNG. She comes across as a centre and rock for Riker, something we do see from time to time, and it's nice to see it again here. I remember reading somewhere that they were toying making Riker the impromptu father rather than Worf, and had this continued it would have been interesting to see him raise the alien child.

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