Friday, May 28, 2021

Star Trek: Clues

Episode: "Clues"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 4, Episode 14
Original Air Date: February 11, 1991

The entire Enterprise crew, except for Data, is rendered unconscious when the ship, supposedly, goes through a wormhole.  Data tells them all they were out for 30 seconds but evidence indicates it was likely longer than that.  Could Data be lying?  If so, why?

"Clues," as the title suggests, is basically a mystery story.  It's not exactly a time travel narrative so I can't dismiss it with my usual objections.  It tends to do well on the best episodes lists.  I'm not quite there but I can acknowledge the general fun and the "solution" is certainly an inventive one.

A point of discussion for those who know the story: Data violates Picard's order in the end despite all of the absolutes in place.  It's interesting that Data is willing to sacrifice himself but not the rest of the crew in order to comply.  It is the Asimovian choice.  Data is usually not held to the Three Laws but here he follows them.

For those not familiar with Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics:

First Law
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Second Law
A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
Third Law
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Acting Notes

"Clues" introduces the character Ensign McKnight, played by Pamela Winslow.  This is her first of three appearances.  Winslow was born in Maplewood, New Jersey.

Most of Winslow's success came on stage.  She was the original Rapunzel in the Sondheim musical Into the Woods, also performing the role on the television airing of the show.  Her other prominent, though not originating, Broadway roles were Babette in Beauty and the Beast and Lucille in Meet Me in St. Louis.


  1. I forget the name of the movie but there was one where a robot was forced to choose between saving two humans whose cars fell into a river after a crash.

    The robot, under the Asimov rules, picked one human to save because it felt the other was out of reach and to try to save both would result in two deaths. It was an interesting ethical dilemma and I wonder how Star Trek would handle something similar.

    I'm thinking two nearby inhabited worlds both facing planetary extinction events. The Enterprise has the ability to save one but not both.

  2. Oh yeah, I remember having a crush on Ensign McKnight back when she first appeared on the show.

    1. Yes. Very pretty.

      She's great in Into the Woods. Rapunzel is a fun part.

  3. Interesting, will have to look this up somewhere to find out what happned.