Friday, February 12, 2021

Star Trek: Transfigurations

Episode: "Transfigurations"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 3, Episode 25
Original Air Date: June 17, 1990

Our heroes rescue the badly injured survivor of a crash only to find that he has no memory of his life before.  In time, we learn this John Doe is undergoing a transformation to a higher life form and the law enforcement of his own world are hunting him down to prevent that.  The best part of the episode, however, is a secondary narrative in which Geordi gains confidence in matters of love, due in part to Worf's hilarious advice.  Their funniest exchange:
Geordi: But what would I say?

Worf: Words come later.  It is the scent that first speaks of love.

Geordi: Thanks, Worf.  That helps a lot.

Thematically, the primary narrative is well-traveled territory for Star Trek"Charlie X," the second-ever episode for the original series, explores the idea of a being evolved beyond his own species.  This, however, is the first time we get a front row seat to the transformation itself.  I'm not exactly blown away by the story.  The Christ-figure elements - healing, resurrecting, glowing - are eye-roll inducing.  The dinner conversation between Beverly and Wesley over her beyond-professional interest in John is uncomfortable, especially in comparison with similar and more effective scenes between Ben and Jake in DS9 - better writing, better character development and better acting will do that.  However, I appreciate the low tech approach to John's transformation at the end.  He is wearing a fluorescent orange jumpsuit which glows in special film - clever and every bit as effective as CGI.

A treat for the DS9 fans: in "Transfigurations," we first learn of Chief O'Brien's passion for kayaking on the holodeck, as well as his tendency to separate his shoulder while doing it.

Acting Notes

via Memory Alpha

Mark LaMura (John Doe) was born October 18, 1948 in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.  He studied at Kent State, St. Joseph's College (Indiana) and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.  LaMura portrayed Mark Dalton, a principal character on All My Children, for eleven years.  However most of his television work was guest appearances, including 30 Rock, Law & Order: SVU and The Sopranos.  

LaMura passed away in 2007 from complications due to lung cancer.


  1. I don’t think this one nailed its goal, at least as far as the main story is concerned, at all. John Doe could not possibly have been more forgettable. Just imagine, say, if the general framework of “The Nth Degree” had been used.

    1. Well, it's hard to compete with Barclay episodes!

    2. Regarding my DS9 allusions above, we're almost to the end...

      As such, I find myself getting impatient with TNG. I'll be writing a lot more about this over time but there's simply no denying the fact that DS9 is the better show. It's not even close. Better writing, better acting, stronger characters - the list of secondary characters with better development than Geordi ever gets is long - stronger sense of concept. It's a near sweep. I'll give TNG Patrick Stewart over Avery Brooks but even that's not exactly a slam dunk, is it? Knowing where Trek is headed, knowing what Trek can truly be, it's hard not wanting more from Next Gen.

      I know this is simply how it works. There would have been no Next Gen without the originals and there never would have been a DS9 without Next Gen. By TNG Season 6, Star Trek was more of a sure thing so they were able to attract stronger talent - both on and off camera - to the spinoff project. But still, DS9 could have sucked. Spinoffs often do. But it didn't.

      End of rant. I have a job to do (admittedly, a self-imposed one) before we get there...

  2. This one is just ok for me. I remember not being overly taken With it especially the subtle romance between him and Crusher. It just felt a bit preachy to me.

  3. I really enjoy reading these since I only watched a few. Like the low tech explanation.

    1. CGI makes it all too easy. Of course, I know better than to think CGI is easy but something like this, where you're making use of a basic chemical trick is so clever.

  4. Something is wrong with the universe, I just agreed with Tony on a different blog and, now, have to agree with him here. Which I have done here before, but, still...
    Anyway, it must have been forgettable, because I don't remember this at all.

  5. Yeah, the Wesley/Beverly conversation in this episode was cringe worthy for me. A lackluster episode at best.