A Matter of Perspective
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|"A Matter of Perspective"|
|Star Trek: The Next Generation episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Cliff Bole|
|Written by||Ed Zuckerman|
|Featured music||Ron Jones|
|Cinematography by||Marvin Rush|
|Original air date||February 12, 1990|
"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.
In this episode, Commander Riker is accused of murdering a scientist and faces an extradition hearing aboard the Enterprise where everyone's version of what transpired is re-created in the holodeck.
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.
- The episode's theme is derived from the 1950 Japanese film Rashomon.
- This episode is similar to The Original Series episodes "Court Martial" and "Wolf in the Fold".
- Star Trek The Next Generation DVD set, volume 3, disc 4, selection 2
- "A Matter of Perspective" at the Internet Movie Database
- "A Matter of Perspective" at TV.com
- "A Matter of Perspective" at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- "A Matter of Perspective" at StarTrek.com
- "A Matter of Perspective" rewatch by Keith R.A. DeCandido
- "A Matter of Perspective" rewatch by Zack Handlen of the A.V. Club