Realm of Fear
The Next Generation
Disc No :
First Aired :
28 Sep 1992
At one point in this episode, Troi releives Barclay of duty. Yet soon afterwards he goes to the transporter room and starts ordering O'Brien around. Now while it's entirely believable that Barclay would disobey orders, wouldn't O'Brien know that Barclay had been relieved and thus refuse to do as he ordered?
Barclay asks Geordi if anything strange ever happened to him during transport, anything "out of the ordinary", and Geordi says "No, not really." I guess Geordi must have a really high bar for things he considered to be strange. I mean, he could have said "Well there was that time last year when Ro Laren and I were transported, and there was an accident, and we woke up on the Enterprise, only we were invisible and intangible, and Ro thought we had been killed and were ghosts or something, but it turned out that we'd been thrown out of phase with normal matter. Oh, and also there was a phased Romulan that tried to kill us." But I guess he didn't consider that to be out of the ordinary.
Great Moment :
Seeing a transporter working from the inside!
Body Count :
Brannon Braga based Barclay's fear of the transporter on his own fear of air travel.
When the Enterprise-D investigates an accident on board a Federation Starship, Barclay must face up to his fear of transporters.
This one just doesn't work that well for me. Barclay is great, as always, and I do enjoy the aspect that he's scared of the transporter system. I don't buy that he managed to go this far in Starfleet without ever using one, but the idea of transporter phobia itself is perfectly reasonable - we saw Bones suffered from it, of course, but it seemed to be a mild case. Bones would gripe about the transporter, but he rarely hesitated to use the thing if he needed to. Barclay's case is much more severe, and thus more interesting.
Where it falls down is the idea of the nasty things in the transporter beam. I've seen this episode four or five times now, and I still can't really get straight in my head what was supposed to have happened. The technobabble explanation just doesn't work for me. There was an explosion on the ship, and for... reasons... a bunch of the crew got stuck in transport? And... turned into worms? And if you grab them and pull them out, they turn back into people...? I can only imagine I'm doing it a disservice and that it does make sense if you really work on understanding the techno stuff, but it just never achieves suspension of disbelief for me. And if you don't buy into that, then nothing else about the episode really works to carry it.