February 27, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Weekend Trek “Masks”

A probe from an ancient civilization takes over the ship...and Data!

As much as Jimmy and Tom like Star Trek the Next Generation, and as much as they enjoy revisiting the show, sometimes they guys come across an episode that is, well, silly.

Take “Masks” for instance…


A mysterious probe infects the ship’s computer systems, including Data!

jimmy:  And another ancient alien civilization that built a device capable of infecting and taking over the Enterprise computers.

tomk:  They need a better antivirus system.

jimmy:  I was going to make the same joke. But they do. I mean, c’mon.

tomk:  Better install it in Data too. He accidentally committed a lot of digital identity theft.

jimmy:  Yeah, they really let Spiner loose with this one.

tomk:  That must have annoyed the people who think Spiner goes too far with that stuff. He might have been asked at a meeting, “Hey, Brent, how many different types of jerks can you play?”

And he was like, “Lemme hit you with my Joker voice!”

jimmy:  Were there many jerks in this one?  Ehad seemed to be. The others seemed to be a wider range of emotions. Except for Musaka. That one was pretty jerky until Picard showed up in his Peacemaker mask.

tomk:  Well, Ehad was enough. Besides trying to transform the entire ship is something of a jerk move.

jimmy:  Certainly.  Buy hey, if they could keep that probe functioning, inside a comet, for 87 million years, maybe they deserve it.

tomk:  They’re all dead. They got what they deserve.

jimmy:  Take that. jerks!

tomk:  It’s why Picard needed a Peacemaker mask.

jimmy:  I love that they even had a scene and were like “how will you know what to say?” And he was like, “eh, I’ll just wing it.”

tomk:  Picard: master of winging.

jimmy:  That’s why he’s the spokesperson for the Federation’s most popular wing joint.

tomk:  Look, if you have just a little bit of archaeology knowledge, you can pretty much figure out how to deal with any ancient civilization’s secret ceremonies without too much trouble.

jimmy:  Apparently. That said, there may be some truth to that.

tomk:  Of course there is.  It’s like you know all kinds of Spider-Man knowledge, so you can recognize any Spider-Man variant’s story with minimal effort.

jimmy:  I’m like the modern day Picard.

tomk:  You make wine and recite Shakespeare?

jimmy:  On Tuesdays.

tomk:  I thought it more likely you mixed chocolate milk and recited The Simpsons.

jimmy:  Or that.

tomk:  Call Mr. Ehad, that’s the name.  That name again is Mr. Ehad.

jimmy:  He seems more like a Plow King.

tomk:  A copycat?

jimmy:  A jerk instead of a lovable oaf.

tomk:  Ah, I see. And which personality was the lovable oaf?

jimmy:  Hmm.  Not really any of them here.

tomk:  Maybe the lovable oaf was just Riker.

jimmy:  At least he wasn’t berating anyone in this one?

tomk:  Are you asking me?

jimmy:  Yes. Or I typed a question mark by accident.

tomk:  Well, one of those. All I know is Picard takes Worf and Troi to examine newly-formed ancient ruins.

jimmy:  Data was busy.

tomk:  That’s no excuse for dereliction of duty.

jimmy:  He was busy with all those other personalities.

tomk:  There you go again. Always defending defective artificial intelligences.

jimmy:  Somebody has to.

tomk:  They can defend themselves.

jimmy:  Can they?

tomk:  Are you saying that Data can’t?

jimmy:  Well, Data can, yes.

tomk:  I know who else can.

jimmy:  The Candy Man is AI?  Impressive.

tomk:  The Candy Man can. And not just because he will appear if you say his name five times in front of a mirror.

jimmy:  That’s a different Candy Man who is Worf’s brother.

tomk:  Or older Jake Sisko.

jimmy:  That Star Trek timeline can get confusing.

tomk:  It’s all one universe, man.


tomk:  Yes, so Ash, Worf, and the Candyman will all join forces to battle Romulan Deadites.

jimmy:  Now that’s a crossover!

tomk:  It also features noted longbow hunter Johnny Improbable.

jimmy:  I hate that guy more than Ehad.

tomk:  You hate him more than you hate Ehad or Ehad hates him more than you do?

jimmy:  Both.

tomk:  I see. And what about this guy?

jimmy:  Everyone hates that guy more than Star Trek: Nemesis.

tomk:  You have some strong feelings on that guy. What about this episode?  I thought it was silly.

jimmy:  It was a bit weak. I can see silly. It certainly seemed to just be made as a showcase for Spiner. As I said off the hop, the whole concept required a large suspension of disbelief.

tomk:  Larger than usual.

jimmy:  True. That’s the part I find silly. A probe from 87 million years ago knows exactly how to interface with the Enterprise computers.

The other common trope is that these high tech probes that take over the Enterprise or Picard’s mind usually reveal a civilization that seems more inept at science and technology than the planet where wood was made of fire.

tomk:  At least Picard’s mind was taken over by people who had space travel capabilities.

jimmy:  That’s true…though it certainly did seem to be reflected in the rest of their culture.

tomk:  Picard was just a guy there. How many regular people back on Earth are doing the space travel thing?

jimmy:  Not many…but…we have computers, smart phones, microwaves, we don’t live in mud huts…

tomk:  I meant people in Picard’s time.

jimmy:  That just proves my point.  Look at any stories that take place on Earth.  Technology abounds.

tomk:  Some governments don’t share. It’s why Ryan has a matter transporter and you don’t.

jimmy:  Gabbing Geek is a government?

tomk:  Well, it has leadership.  Didn’t you vote for the board of directors last month?

jimmy:  There’s a board of directors?  I really gotta stop sleeping at meetings.

tomk:  Those meetings aren’t even the real meetings.

jimmy:  I gotta start paying attention and not looking at upside down seashells.

tomk:  Well, there’s a reason people send you to “meetings” about “Watson’s expense reports”.

jimmy:  At least I don’t terraform the office.

tomk:  Is that what you call it when the Moose decides to make a mess of the carpet?

jimmy:  I just sweep that under the rug in Watson’s office.

tomk:  That’s why you keep getting summoned to the fake meetings on Watson’s expense reports.

jimmy:  Can I blame multiple personality disorder?

tomk:  Whose?

jimmy:  I dunno. Just trying to get back to this episode.

tomk:  So, Data’s?

jimmy:  Yes.

tomk:  Ok, what did you want to bring up?

jimmy:  Uh…don’t melt comets?

tomk:  Good idea. Have a snow cone.

jimmy:  What flavor?

tomk:  Ehad’s Choice.


I’ll take my chances.

tomk:  Here you go. Spinach and horseradish.

jimmy:  Eh.  Could have been worse.

tomk:  The cone itself is made of cabbage.

jimmy:  Dammit!

tomk:  Say, remember when Worf went to that alternate timeline where he and Troi were a couple?

jimmy:  I was thinking about that recently, how nothing came of it.  I guess I was reminded when Beverly asked in this one about a secret admirer.

tomk:  Well, would you be interested in seeing Troi have a similar adventure?

jimmy:  An alternate reality where Troi is a couple with, let’s say, Moe?

tomk:  Or one where she hooks up with Worf.

jimmy:  Huh. That works too.

tomk:  Because that might go very differently.

jimmy:  I guess we should find out.

tomk:  We shall.

Next:  “Eye of the Beholder”