A Matter of Perspective

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"A Matter of Perspective"
Star Trek: The Next Generation episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 14
Directed by Cliff Bole
Written by Ed Zuckerman
Featured music Ron Jones
Cinematography by Marvin Rush
Production code 162
Original air date February 12, 1990 (1990-02-12)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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List of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes

"A Matter of Perspective" is the 14th episode of the third season of the American syndicated science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the 62nd episode of the series overall. The 45 minute episode was broadcast on February 12, 1990 on television. It was written by Ed Zuckerman.[1]

In this episode, Commander Riker is accused of murdering a scientist and faces an extradition hearing aboard the Enterprise[2] where everyone's version of what transpired is re-created in the holodeck. There is an additional plot element of Riker possibly attempting to rape the scientist's wife, or alternatively his wife being guilty of attempting to seduce Riker. In addition, the Enterprise is damaged by a mysterious radiation that the rest of crew works to resolve while the holodeck hearings are conducted.

One of the themes is how people perceive reality and how they remember events.[3] Another issue that is brought up is the idea of innocent until proven guilty, which is also a standard in Star Trek's Federation, but on the planet they are visiting they practice guilty until proven innocent.[4] A trial with this structure is not actually conducted, rather, the Captain has authority over whether to hand someone over to a different jurisdiction. Another difference between the Federation and the planet they are visiting's law is the weight of second hand testimony, or in legalese "hearsay". In the end the bridge crew uses science and technology to not only prove Riker's innocence in regard to the alleged murder, but show that the scientist killed himself trying to murder Riker. In addition, it is demonstrated he defrauded the Federation, receiving resources when the goal of the research had already been completed. This is a reason given for attempting to kill Riker; he is concerned that Riker has figured out his scam and wants to keep it from being exposed. The charges for murder are dropped and there is not a further trial for an attempted sexual assault either.

The episode follows in the tradition of Star Trek episodes that examine law and justice, and some other episodes in the 1989-1990 Season three dealt with topics in this area. For example, Sins of the Father (S3E17) again dealt with Picard helping a crew-member facing death in a foreign law system.

Cast and crew, etc.[edit]

Guest star Juliana Donald who played the character Tayna (the Apgar assistant) later went on to act in the Star Trek franchise in the Deep Space Nine episode Prophet Motive (S3E16) and in the video game Star Trek: Borg.[5] In those cases she did not reprise the role of Tayna however.[5] Donald said in an interview the most difficult part of playing the role of Tayna in A Matter of Perspective was how stoic the character was, which meant relating the characters internal emotions more subtly.[5] To be selected for the role of Tayna she had to audition many times.[5] The audition group for cast included the producer, director, and writers.[5]

A Matter of Perspective was directed by Clifford John Bole, who also directed 25 other Star Trek:The Next Generation episodes.[6]

David Krieger was the science advisor for this episode, and the episode's plot element technology is named after him.[7]

The director of photography (aka cinematographer) was Marvin Rush, who had come on starting with Season 3 of Star Trek:The Next Generation and would serve in that role up to season 5 of TNG.[8] Previously a sitcom he had worked on won a Peabody Award in the 1980s, and he went to work on Star Trek up to 2005 including directing one episode of TNG, and he also worked on other shows in the Star Trek franchise in various capacities.[8]

Plot[edit]

With a routine planetary survey ahead, the Federation starship Enterprise drops Commander Riker and Chief Engineer La Forge at the Botanica Four research space station orbiting Tanuga Four to check on the progress of the work of Dr. Nel Apgar, a Tanugan who has been working towards a new promised energy source for the Federation being called Krieger waves. When the Enterprise returns, Picard is told that Riker stayed behind to have a private meeting with Apgar, and moments after Riker starts being transported back to the ship, the station explodes, killing Apgar, and almost killing Riker due to the explosion disrupting the transporter process. Tanugan investigator Krag comes aboard to accuse Riker of murder; under Tanugan law, Riker is guilty until proven innocent, and Krag demands Riker's extradition. Captain Picard requests that they hold a hearing aboard the Enterprise to determine Riker's guilt. This involves the use of a holodeck, recreating the events on the station from data logs and testimony from Riker, Dr. Apgar's wife Manua, and his research assistant, Tayna.

In the holodeck recreation, Krag demonstrates that a directed energy beam from where Riker was standing before transport struck the Krieger wave converter, destroying it and the station, but his theory is that Riker fired a phaser just as he was being transported. Riker presents his case first, with his simulation showing Apgar highly agitated with a Federation presence before he is ready for them, and Manua openly flirting with Riker. Manua then makes aggressive passes at Riker in the guest quarters when Apgar walks in on them, attempts to attack Riker, but Riker subdues him. Apgar leaves with Manua giving Riker a veiled threat. Riker's simulation concludes with his final confrontation with Apgar where Apgar tells Riker that he will lodge a formal complaint about Riker's behavior and accuses Riker of potentially damaging the project with baseless information in Riker's progress report.

In Manua's version of the events, she is a doting wife, with her husband promising rich rewards coming from the project. From her point of view, Riker is the one making the advances, and when they are alone in the guest quarters, Riker threatens to rape her when her husband storms in to defend her, but Riker overpowers him and threatens to have the project shut down. During a recess, Riker asserts to Counselor Troi that he never seduced Manua, and Troi believes him, but she tells him that Manua believes the events happened as described, and that "it is the truth as each of you remembers it".

Tayna's testimony is her version of events from Apgar's point of view as he told her. Picard tries to have the testimony dismissed as hearsay, however, Tanugan law allows such testimony, so they proceed. In her simulation, when Apgar walks in on Riker and Manua, Apgar is the one to successfully subdue Riker, leaving Riker threatening to kill Apgar. Based on the testimonies presented, Picard is not sure Riker's case is strong enough to avoid extradition.

Meanwhile, the crew of the Enterprise find highly focused pulses of an unknown, intense radiation striking parts of the ship, putting holes through the durtainium wall material, and La Forge fears what would happen if this should occur in the warp reactor. The initial assessment is that only commonality is the timing of these events, which upon further examination they soon trace to be precisely in time with the a wave generator on the surface, which had remained operating after the station's destruction. Picard comes to realize the truth, and prepares a new simulation on the holodeck.

With Krag, Manua, Tayna, and Riker all present, Picard demonstrates through a combination of the testimonies that Apgar was more interested in the potential financial success of completing the Krieger wave converter; he would not get this through the Federation, and Picard postulates that he in fact was trying to make it a weapon to profit from, thus explaining his hostility towards Riker's presence. Further, Picard suggests that Apgar had successfully built the converter; the holodeck simulation of it, also being fully functional, has been focusing the energy from the generator on the planet, resulting in the damaging radiation experienced on the ship, which La Forge identified as Krieger waves. Picard completes his explanation by running the holodeck simulation of the moment of Riker's transport, synchronized with the planetary generator - the holodeck simulation shows that Apgar had aimed the Krieger wave generator at Riker, but when the energy beam struck him, the beam bounced off the transporter field and hit the converter, destroying it and the station. Krag agrees with the conclusion that Apgar accidentally killed himself and Riker is exonerated.

Analysis and impact[edit]

In the book Star Trek:Visions the legal aspects of this episode are analyzed.[2] Two points made about the legal process is that the character Riker would have been protected by diplomatic immunity if it followed modern international law, and another point is that the Federation could have protested extradition on the grounds due process is a fundamental right which would be violated.[2] In the episode, Riker's commanding officer Picard negotiates an extradition hearing and conducts an investigation into the charges.[2]

A Matter of Perspective and The Measure of Man are part of the University of Miami School of Law Library as law-related films.[9][10]

In 2014 a (re)review of the episode by James Hunt provided the realization that the opening scene of A Matter of Perspective, where the character Data analyzes paintings was a preview of the episode's theme.[11] It highlights one of the concepts in the episode, that people can interpret the same event in different ways.[11]

The space station design model in the show is from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.[7] In this era the original effects were physical models not CGI

Art styles and painters mentioned by Data at the start of the show: geometric constructivism, surrealism, Dadaism, Fauvism, cubism, Picasso, and Leger. He also mentions a fictional "proto-vulcan" influence, but taking the other mentions at face value, are mostly 20th century art styles or painters.

Releases[edit]

A Matter of Perspective was released on VHS (video tape cassette) on May 23, 1995.[12] This was a release as a single episode on the tape.[12] Later it was released on DVD with this season, and in the 2010s it was re-released in HD. The earlier releases were lower resolution depending on the limitations of the VHS, DVD, or streaming formats. A Matter of Perspective, as part of TNG Season 3 was restored by CBS Digital.[13] One difference between the re-master HD version and the SD version was the at the registry on Enterprise in one special effects scene was corrected in the HD version.[14] TNG was pretty much shot in 35 mm film and used little models of space ships, which was worked into the lower resolution versions of the program. The use of 35 film allowed the show to be re-scanned at higher resolution

An example of a streaming release was in 2015 on the service Netflix.[13]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]