Masks

I’m going to watch the season 7 TNG episode ‘Masks’, which I remember as being one of the dumbest episodes of Star Trek. Let’s see if it’s as I remember it.

The episode starts with Troy teaching a school class on using clay telling one child that form isn’t important and what matters is expressing oneself, basically what every boomer thinks art classes are like. Unlike even basic computers today, Data cannot visualise music.

The crew decide to chase after a comet, which is as exciting as it sounds. Meanwhile Troy is confused at Crusher’s choice of home decorating. But neither of them remember where the statue came from – dun-dun-duuh!

In the next day’s (? maybe it’s the next day? The episode is kinda uncertain on this) Data is making a clay mask. The music tells us that this is weird and scary, but… nothing’s happened yet to indicate that it is.

The ship’s computer is full of weird ancient symbols. Geordi thinks it’s because of the comet that they’ve been scanning.

The crew melt the comet and discover the device that has been dumping information into their computer. Picard is confused as to what this is, although it’s clearly an alien library from a long-lost culture. We know this because the Enterprise finds one of those every two weeks.

The ship is rapidly filling up with old alien crap. Picard thinks that the people that built the library were very strong traditionalists and had a ritualistic culture because the artefacts were important to them. Which is a huge assumption to make.

It’s, like, they could have been a very technologically advanced civilisation that had a lot of desire to preserve their ancient history. But no, Picard seems to think that because these objects were important to them, they had to have been in use when the library was built.

Remember, Picard is meant to be a keen archaeologist, so… yeah, cool. Thanks for that, Jean-Luc.

Meanwhile Data has decided to useful by being possessed by the alien library, which… transforms his forehead for some reason. Sure, whatever.

Oh. It’s worse than I feared. Data has been possessed by the Annoying Ghost.

So according to the show, Data now has ‘multiple personality disorder’, which is a term that is no longer used and, even if it was, is nothing at all like is shown in this episode. He starts talking in a variety of different voices.

His personalities are terrified of Masaka, a being which can burn people alive and drive them to despair, and brings famine and drought in her wake. Oh no! And she’s going to come here to the Enterprise, because I guess everybody wants to go there eventually.

The ship is being filled with more old rocks and… plants? They mention the plants are made of biological matter, but does that mean that the crew are turning into them? Doesn’t matter though, because Worf turns up to tell us that DECK 23 HAS TURNED INTO AN AQUEDUCT OH MY GOD!

The crew try to arm a torpedo to blow up the library but IT DOESN’T WORK BECAUSE THE TORPEDO IS SUDDENLY FULL OF SNAKES OH MY GOD WHAT

Like honestly, Worf and Geordi just look at each other as if to say “Oh, that’s why it’s not working. It’s full of snakes again I’ll get the mop.” I mean… the alien culture that built the library definitely had snakes on their planet, right? Sure.

They try to leave the engineering bay but fire stops them. This is the camera angle used, right here. We don’t see what’s on fire, there’s nothing to cause it or anything. It’s just “Oh, a random wall of fire.” Worf is just ‘Fuck this’ and beams to the bridge.

WELL I HOPE YOU LOSERS WEREN’T WANTING TO GO ANYWHERE, BECAUSE YOUR NAVIGATION CONSOLE? IT’S NOW A PILE OF ROCKS!!

And apparently the observation lounge has turned into a swamp, but we only have Riker’s word for that. I guess the strange transformations that are besieging the ship have also made them turn the lights down low for some reason.

Picard asks what their status is. “BITCH YOUR SHIP IS AN AQUEDUCT WHAT DO YOU THINK THE STATUS IS?” Oh my god this is hilarious.

Also the alien archive is outright said to be rewriting DNA to make the plants. But they never specify that it’s turning the crew into plants. I guess because that would be a hell of a way to die. “I’m sorry, your husband got turned into an alien shrub.”

Picard consults Data for clues, but Data is busy doing his best ‘old man voice’ impression.

Data’s annoying personality keeps popping up but Picard eventually talks to some of the others to learn more about Misaka, who he thinks is behind all of this. Picard still believes that she’s an ancient ruler who had the sun symbol as her sigil, because Picard is dense today.

Data’s personalities eventually tell Picard that the only thing that can defeat Masaka is another symbol. Picard still doesn’t quite think that the sun symbols might actually symbolise the sun. He’s an archaeologist, you know!

Masaka kills the annoying ghost that was possessing Data, and redecorates the bridge. The captain is unimpressed with her choice for the new chair.

To draw Masaka out, the crew use the library to build her temple. Ensign Munro mourns the loss of her late father’s ashes which she kept in her quarters, which have now been transformed into a brick.

On one of the bricks in the temple, Picard sees Masaka’s sun symbol and the smaller symbol of something else which seems to be following her, and is still too fucking dense to figure out what it means other than “this must be important somehow.”

Worf thinks that the smaller symbol represents horns, and believes it may be an animal. Troy’s expression speaks volumes about how dumb she thinks he is.

Then she says “Animals are worshipped in many cultures”, just to remind us of her special ability to state the obvious.

Masaka, bored of waiting for the plot to happen, possesses Data. She puts on her mask and appears in the temple. Picard asks her to stop turning the ship into a pile of rocks, and she tells him to piss off. I guess she’s not in the mood to rage with famine and burning, then…

Picard finally figures out that the sun symbol might actually mean the sun, and the crescent moon shaped symbol might actually, possibly, symbolise the moon! He’s a veritable Robert Langdon, this guy. He asks the library to build something for the moon, and it builds a mask.

Captain Picard dons the mask to confront Masaka, while Patrick Stewart regrets his choice to ever get into acting in the first place.

Picard quite literally talks the sun to sleep. I mean, I guess we all knew that if anyone could speech that much it’d be Picard, but still…

So the entire theme was that the sun and the moon were chasing each other and that’s what the alien culture revolved around. I gotta say, it’s kinda a good coincidence then that the aliens had solar revolutions just like ours, eh? One moon, their planet in a smooth orbit.

I mean if it had anything other than that, it would have drastically changed the entire concept. I mean, if the day was longer than the night then there would have been none of that ‘cosmic balance’ stuff. And if they had two moons, well…

But never mind that – Riker tells us that everything is back to normal. What, everything? Nobody was harmed when their shower turned into a snake or anything? Are you sure about that, Riker?

Data feels a little bit lonely now that he doesn’t have an alien civilisation inside his head. Picard, still haunted by the memories of his assimilation by the Borg, tells him that he thinks that it sounds like a wonderful experience.

And with that, the Enterprise heads off into the rest of season 7, eager to see what the future holds. (namely the episode Genesis, where Barclay turns into a spider and Riker eats the captain’s fish)