Night Terrors (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
|Star Trek: The Next Generation episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4|
|Directed by||Les Landau|
|Story by||Shari Goodhartz|
|Teleplay by||Pamela Douglas|
|Featured music||Ron Jones|
|Original air date||March 18, 1991|
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, the Enterprise investigates a derelict starship while Deanna Troi has strange dreams.
The episode's story was done by Shari Goodhartz, with the script by Pamela Douglas and Jeri Taylor.
The Enterprise is searching a binary star system in an effort to find the USS Brattain, a Federation science vessel which went missing a month earlier. The crew locates the ship but the Brattain is derelict, and all the crew are dead save one: the ship's Betazoid science adviser, Andrus Hagan, who is discovered hiding in a room just off the bridge. Hagan has somehow survived, but he has been shaken by the experience and is in a profound catatonic state. Counselor Deanna Troi tries to use her telepathy to contact Hagan. Meanwhile, Geordi La Forge and Data set to work repairing the Brattain but discover that although everything is in working order, the ship still fails to move. Dr. Beverly Crusher determines that all of the Brattain's crew died at each other's hands. That night onward, Troi has trouble sleeping, encountering the same dream in which she levitates and drifts in the direction of a mysterious voice repeating, "Eyes in the dark, one moon circles". Troi starts to believe Hagan was influenced by the same dream.
Four days later, with the investigation stalled, Captain Picard decides that the time has come to move on, but the crew find the ship also stalled like the Brattain. Data discovers that both ships are trapped in a spatial phenomenon known as a "Tyken's Rift", and they can only escape through the force of a tremendous explosion. However, as they work at determining how to create this explosion, the crew starts becoming irritable and experiences hallucinations. Dr. Crusher realizes that everyone but Troi has failed to achieve R.E.M. sleep since entering the rift, leading to their current state. As violence begins to erupt around the ship, Picard assigns Data, who does not sleep or dream and is therefore unaffected, as acting Captain.
Data eventually attempts to use a pulse from the deflector aimed at the center of the rift to create the explosion, but this fails to produce any effect. As Data looks for other solutions with Troi, Troi gets an idea that her dreams of "eyes in the dark, one moon circling" is a description of a hydrogen atom. Data and Troi work out that there must be another ship from a psychic race trapped on the other side of the rift who is aware of their presence but looking for hydrogen to create an explosion. Troi goes to sleep to contact the other species through the dream, while Data vents hydrogen into the rift. An explosion soon occurs, and both the Enterprise and the alien ship are freed. As the crew recovers, Data returns the ship to Picard, but not before ordering everyone to get some sleep.
The model used for the USS Brittain is the same as was used for the USS Reliant in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The ship is occasionally referred to as the USS Brattain due to a spelling error on the exterior of the model.
Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club noted that the episode "...lacked that mild twist at the end to make it memorable" but also that "This kind of episode is really the meat-and-potatoes of this sort of show, so it's impressive to realize that TNG has gotten to the point where delivering the expected is no longer entirely satisfactory". According to James Hunt of Den of Geek "It’s not completely incompetent, but it’s hard to imagine anyone loving this episode".
In 2015, Den of Geek felt the episode was "weird" and was critical of the Troi dream sequences and outfits. They remark about Troi's sleep attire, "..a sleeveless halter neck with a choker-style collar? Did she just get back from clubbing..?"
In 2018, TheGamer ranked this one of the top 25 creepiest episodes of all Star Trek series. They note a number of scenes with frightening imagery, depicted in hallucinations or dreams. FilmDaily.co also noted this episode as one of scariest episodes of TNG, highlighting how it builds with suspense as the audience becomes concerned the Enterprise crew will have the same fate as the doomed starship they came upon.[unreliable source] They highlight details such as the traumatized survivor and atmosphere of the episode that creates a sense of eeriness.
In 2020, ScreenRant ranked this the most frightening episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, elaborating, "it's unsettling to say the least" as the crew, unable to REM sleep, contend with paranoia, exhaustion, and fear. In 2021, ScreenRant ranked "Night Terrors" the 4th scariest episode of all Star Trek franchise episodes. In particular they praised the creepiness of Dr. Crusher's hallucination on the Enterprise 1701D, when a morgue full of corpses come alive in unison, giving a macabre surprise.
- Star Trek The Next Generation DVD set, volume 4, disk 5, selection 1.
- Okuda, Michael; Okuda, Denise; Mirek, Debbie (2011-05-17). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781451646887.
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- Okuda, Michael; Okuda, Denise; Mirek, Debbie (2011-05-17). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4516-4688-7.
- "Revisiting Star Trek TNG: Night Terrors". Den of Geek. 2015-10-02. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
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- "The five worst Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes EVER!". TechRepublic. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
- Hunt, James. "Revisiting Star Trek TNG: Night Terrors". Den of Geek. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
- "18 eerie, disturbing and downright scary Star Trek episodes". H&I. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
- "25 Creepy Star Trek Scenes That Set Phasers To Stun". TheGamer. 2018-04-16. Retrieved 2019-08-05.
- Heim, Bec (2020-01-23). "The 5 scariest episodes of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'". Film Daily. Retrieved 2020-01-24.
- "The Scariest Star Trek Episodes". Den of Geek. 2020-10-12. Retrieved 2021-02-13.
- "Star Trek TNG: The 10 Most Frightening Episodes Of The Entire Show". ScreenRant. 2020-12-23. Retrieved 2021-04-18.
- "10 Scariest Episodes Of Star Trek, Ranked". ScreenRant. 2021-02-01. Retrieved 2021-02-13.
- Ordway, Holly E. (September 9, 2002). "Star Trek the Next Generation – Season 4". DVD Talk. Retrieved November 19, 2014.