The Game (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
|Star Trek: The Next Generation episode|
The holographic game that controls minds.
|Episode no.||Season 5
|Directed by||Corey Allen|
|Story by||Susan Sackett
|Teleplay by||Brannon Braga|
|Featured music||Jay Chattaway|
|Original air date||October 28, 1991|
Riker returns from a vacation on Risa with a game that he is eager to share with the crew. Unfortunately, the game is psychologically addictive (making the crew suffer from Virtual Reality Addiction), and it quickly turns nearly every member of the Enterprise's crew into a mind-controlled pawn of the Ktarians, who are using the devices to gain control of Starfleet. After Data (who, as an android, is unaffected by the game) inexplicably is "incapacitated", only visiting Starfleet Academy cadet Wesley Crusher and young engineering ensign Robin Lefler stand in the way of the insidious scheme.
The episode opens with William Riker visiting Risa and being introduced to a video game by Etana Jol, a Ktarian woman with whom he has become romantically involved during his vacation on the pleasure planet. Riker, upon his return to the Enterprise, distributes replicated copies of the game to the crew of the starship.
Cadet Wesley Crusher, on vacation from Starfleet Academy, is visiting the Enterprise and notices everyone playing the game (and trying to convince him to play as well). Doctor Beverly Crusher, Wesley's mother, secretly switches off Lieutenant Commander Data and sabotages his circuits, because he would be immune to the game's addictive properties—namely, the game's ability to addict people who play it by stimulating the pleasure centers of their brains when they successfully complete each level.
Wesley reports to Captain Jean-Luc Picard his suspicions that the game is dangerous. However, Picard is shown (to the audience) afterwards to already be addicted. Eventually, Wesley and his new girlfriend, Ensign Robin Lefler (played by Ashley Judd), are the only people on the ship who have yet to become addicted to the game. Wesley and Robin discover that Data's injuries were in fact sabotage, and begin working on a plan to stop the spread of the game. Wesley meets Robin in engineering, where he learns that she has come under the influence of the game. It is assumed that Riker and Worf captured her and forced her to play. Riker and Worf begin pursuing Wesley, as he is the last non-addicted person on the ship. Wesley manages to evade them for a time, but they eventually trap him in an access tunnel and take him to the bridge, where he is restrained and forced to play the game.
At the conclusion of the episode, Data (having been examined and repaired by Wesley and Ensign Lefler before they were forced to submit to the game) frees the rest of the crew from their mind-controlled state by flashing pulses of light in their faces from a handheld lamp (a "palm beacon"). The crew is then able to discern the purpose of the game: It rendered them extremely susceptible to the power of suggestion, compelling them to aid the games' creators—the Ktarians—in an attempt to take control of the Enterprise (and eventually the Federation). Picard captures the Ktarian vessel (captained by Jol herself) responsible for distributing the games and has it towed to the nearest spacedock, putting an end to this particular alien threat. Wesley and Lefler bid each other a reluctant farewell as he returns to Starfleet Academy.
- Star Trek The Next Generation DVD set, volume 5, disc 2, selection 2.