Souvenez-vous de moi
La Dernière Mission
Une journée de Data
Le Tribut du démon
À la fin de la dernière saison le capitaine Picard a été capturé par les Bords. Alors que la saison débute, les Bords ont transformés le capitaine en semi Borges semi humain l'appelant Locutus, et l'ont manipulé pour comprendre le comportement humain afin de les aider dans leur projet de conquête de la Terre et de l'assimiliation de l'être humain. Ils ont également accéde à sa connaissance du vaisseau Enterprise, de son équipage et de sa stratégie de défense de la Terre. En l'absence de Picard, l'amiral Hanson nomme Ticket au rang de capitaine. Ticket trouve la promotion douloureuse et difficile mais occupe malgré tout le fauteuil du capitaine et nomme le lieutenant Shelby Premier officier en dépit de leur relation hostile. Ticket dirige le vaisseau vers un rendez-vous Starfleet. En cours de route, l'équipage est horrifié par la découverte d'un vaisseau de Starfleet dont l'équipage à été décimé, laissé tel que comme une sombre signature de la destruction Borges envers l'humanité.
Apprenant leur intension d'assimiler la culture et la technologie de l'Enterprise via Picard alias Locutus, Riker réalisé qu'il peut utiliser son ancien capitaine pour déjouer les Bords. Il cherche un moyen d'utiliser Locutus pour accéder aux informations Borges de la même manière que les Bords utilisent Picard pour percer les secrets de l'Enterprise.
Alors que les Bords de dirigent vers la Terre, Data essaie d'utiliser Picard, Locutus, afin de créer un lien de communication avec les Bords. Alors que le temps s'écoule, Riker doit prendre la fatale décision de choisir entre la tentative désespérée de Data de stopper la progression des Borgs ou d'intercepter le vaisseau Borges afin de l'empêcher d'atteindre la Terre.
Après avoir placé l'Enterprise en orbite terrestre près d'un spatiodock pour réparations, Picard, toujours recouvert des implants placés par les Borgs, retourne pour la première fois en vingt ans dans le village où il a grandit. Il est accueilli chaleureusement par sa belle sœur et son neveu qu'il n'a encore jamais rencontré. Cependant, sa rencontre avec son frère aîné Robert, qui le prend pour une personne arrogante, est remplie d'animosité.
De retour sur l'Enterprise, Wolf reçoit la visite innatendue de ses parents adoptifs humains, Sergey et Helena Rozhenko. Parce qu'il est Klingon, Word n'est pas à l'aise avec l'affichage de leurs émotions. Sa froideur dérange sa mère. Mais ses sentiments de blessure et d'impuissance sont soulagés après une conversation avec Guinan, qui assure les Rozenko que lorsque leur fils regarde chez lui, il regarde la Terre. Réconfortés par ces mots, le couple assure World que bien qu'il ne comprenne pas tout au sujet de son association avec les Klingons, ils seront toujours à ses côtés et l'aimeront.
Pendant ce temps, le docteur Krueger reçoit un paquet qu'elle avait mis de côté avant de quitter la Terre. Alors qu'elle trié ses effets et s'arrête, elle découvre un disque optique contenant un message holographique pour Wesley de son. Père, Jack Crusher, créé lorsqu'il avait dix semaines. Elle n'est pas sûre de donner le disque à Wesley, mais Troi convainc Beverly que cela pourra aider le garçon à comprendre quel genre d'homme était son père. D'abord étonné que son père soit un jeune homme comme lui, finit profondément ému par l'expression d'espoir pour le futur et l'amour qu'il porte à son fils bébé.
De retour au village, Picard reçoit une offre d'un vieil ami de diriger un projet sur Terre, et il est stupéfait de se voir lui même considérer sérieusement cette proposition. Alors que Picard d'angoisse de cette décision, son frère saisit l'opportunité de le tourmenter, lui disant qu'il a changé de l'architecte imperturbable qu'il était. L'argument conduit à une bagarre qui laisse les deux rivaux riants et couvert de honte. Ils partagent un moment de tendresse alors que Picard révèle son sentiment de culpabilité sur son impuissance à battre les Borgs après qu'il ait été kidnappé. Alors que l'Entreprise se prépare à partir, il apparaît clairement qu'il n'y a pas que le vaisseau qui est réparé. Word partage un dernier moment tendre avec ses parents, Wesley dit au revoir à un père qu'il pense finalement connaître, et Picard se réconcilier avec son frère, débutant sa récupération psichologique du traumatisme avec les Borgs.
A bord de l'U.S.S. Enterprise, la plaisanterie d'un jeune garçon échoue et laisse son frère dangereusement malade. Parce que le garçon a besoin d'un traitement spécial pour survivre, le navire se précipite vers la base stellaire la plus proche. En route, Data commence inexplicablement à mal fonctionner, entrant dans un état de transe et modifie la route du navire. Il coupe ensuite le système de survie sur le pont, forçant l'évacuation de l'équipage et le laissant seul sur le pont. Il déjoue les nombreux efforts de l'équipage pour reprendre le contrôle du navire en parlant à l'ordinateur sous la voix de Picard et en prenant le contrôle de l'Entreprise. Le vaisseau continue à suivre sa mystérieuse route, tandis que la situation du petit garçon malade devient désespérée.
L'androïde hors de contrôle manoeuvre le navire vers sa destination, évite trois équipes de sécurité en les bloquant avec des champs de force, et s'échappe. Il arrive sur une planète, et est accueilli par le docteur Noonien Soong, l'ancien médecin qui l'a créé. Data confuse demande à Soong comment il est arrivé sur la planète. Soong explique que Data a été convoqué à travers un dispositif de base en lui, qui lui fait ignorer son inquiétude pour lui éviter de contacter l'Entreprise. Soudain, quelqu'un entre dans la pièce. C'est le sinistre frère de Data, Lore, que Data avait battu lors d'un combat à bord du vaisseau, deux ans plus tôt.
Quand Soong désactive Lore pour l'examiner, Data demande que son frère maléfique ne soit pas réactivé. Soong réassemble l'androïde de toute façon, et explique que le dispositif d'accueil qui a convoqué Data a eu le même effet sur Lore. Dans une colère explosive, Lore reproche à Soong la création de Data plutôt que de travailler à l'améliorer. Soong, d'un air désolé, explique que s'il avait su que Lore était encore fonctionnel, il aurait travaillé à corriger la programmation qui l'a amené vers le mal. Cependant, ses efforts récents ont été de créer une puce qui permettra à Data de resentir des émotions. Soong explique alors qu'il est mourant, et que ce sera son projet final. Lore est bouleversé par les nouvelles et propose de l'aider, mais Soong dit qu'il doit se reposer avant de commencer à travailler sur Data.
Après avoir placé l'implant, Soong apprend qu'il a inséré la puce dans Lore, qui a désactivé son frère alors que le scientifique était endormi. Quand Soong tente de convaincre Lore de remettre la puce, il attaque son créateur, le jetant à travers la pièce, puis s'échappe. Pendant ce temps, l'équipage de l'Enterprise a trouvé un moyen de suivre Data, et une équipe arrive bientôt sur la planète de Soong pour sauver l'androïde errant. Le scientifique refuse leur offre de partir avec eux, et Data dit au revoir à son créateur. Le vaisseau spatial reprend sa route pour la base stellaire 416, où le garçon malade est traité et sauvé. Le garçon se réconcilie alors avec son frère, laissant Data réfléchir sur le lien spécial entre frères et sœurs.
Répondant à un appel de détresse d'un navire Talarian endommagé, une équipe de l'Enterprise découvre que le navire est occupé par cinq adolescents - dont l'un est humain. Tout en les traitant, le Dr Crusher trouve que le jeune humain montre des signes de sévères outrages. Le garçon, appelé Jono, ne communiquera avec personne parmi l'équipage, et répond seulement à Picard en apprenant qu'il est le capitaine. Le garçon demande que Picard le renvoie à Endar, le père Talarian qui l'a élevé. Craignant pour la sécurité du garçon, Picard refuse.
Starfleet révèle que Jono est en fait Jeremiah Rossa, un membre humain orphelin d'un avant-poste de la Fédération présumé mort dans une bataille dix ans auparavant. Sa grand-mère humaine, un amiral de Starfleet, est impatient de son retour, mais Troi craint que le retour à la vie humaine pourrait être traumatisante pour lui. Quand Picard demande à Troi de travailler avec le garçon, elle lui rappelle que parce que les Talariens ne répondent qu'à l'autorité masculine, il doit être celui qui doit l'aider.
À ce moment, Endar rejoint l'Enterprise et exige le retour de Jono. Picard accuse l'étranger d'avoir maltraité le garçon. Endar nie l'accusation, disant à Picard qu'il a sauvé le garçon et l'a élevé comme son propre fils après la bataille dans laquelle les parents humains de Jono ont été tués. Picard permet à Endar de voir Jono, mais refuse de le livrer à l'étranger. Endar menace alors de guerre et annonce que d'autres navires Talarian sont en route.
Quand Data révèle que Jono est à l'âge de la «décision», un droit de passage Talarian au cours duquel il devient un homme et est libre de faire ses propres choix, Picard décide de laisser Jono choisir son propre destin. Des photos de ses parents et un message de sa grand-mère sont montrés à Jono. Les souvenirs que cela implique dérangent Jono, mais il se calme et présente certaines caractéristiques très humaines tout en partageant une banana split avec Wesley à l'abordage.
Plus tard dans la nuit, Jono se faufile dans la chambre de Picard endormie et frappe le capitaine à la poitrine. Choqué par les actions du garçon, Picard l'appelle à son lit de malade pour une explication. Jono révèle à contrecoeur qu'il espérait que son action le condamnerait à mort, l'empêchant ainsi d'avoir à faire le choix agonisant entre sa famille humaine et le père qui l'a élevé.
Sur le pont, Riker refuse de rendre le garçon à Endar, affirmant qu'il est détenu en raison de son attaque sur Picard. Comme Endar se prépare à tirer sur l'Entreprise, Picard arrive sur la passerelle, accompagné de Jono. Il annonce qu'il renvoie le garçon à la seule maison qu'il a jamais connue - avec Endar.
Lorsqu'une expérience de Wesley concernant un champ de disorsion va de travaers, Le Dr Crusher est inconsciemment catapulté dans un univers créé par son propre esprit.
Après avoir escorté son ami le Dr Dalen Quaice à bord de l'USS Enterprise, Beverly est profondément émue de sa tristesse pour la perdre de sa femme et des autres personnes qu'il a aimées. Elle cherche son fils Wesley, et le trouve en ingénierie, en train de travailler sur une bulle de distorsion sur un écran d'ordinateur. Pendant qu'elle regarde, l'expérience par inadvertance provoque un flash étrange de lumière. Peu de temps après, le Dr Crusher est incapable de localiser le Dr Quaice. L'ordinateur du navire indique qu'il n'a jamais été à bord, et Picard et Worf l'ont informée qu'ils n'avaient aucune connaissance de sa présence sur le navire. De plus, O'Brien ne se souvient pas avoir transporté Quaice à bord, et Starfleet n'a aucune trace de l'existence du médecin.
L'étonnement de Beverly devient inquiétant lorsque des membres de l'équipage, y compris tout son personnel médical, commencent à disparaître. Ni leurs proches, ni les autres membres de l'équipage, ni l'ordinateur du navire ne se souviennent de leur existence. Picard, Riker et l'équipage sont sympathiques et serviables, mais comme aucun d'entre eux ne se souvient des personnes disparues, ou ne ressentent pas l'anomalie, Beverly se demande si elle souffre de délire. Elle se dirige vers le bureau de Troi pour analyse, et est confronté à un vortex étrange, tourbillonnant qui la frappe et la met à la terre.
L'équipage emet la possibilité que l'expérience de Wesley ait provoqué le vortex. Beverly demande alors si tous les membres d'équipage sont comptabilisés. Data réponde qu'aucun membre d'équipage n'est absent, et lui dit qu'il y a 114 personnes à bord du vaisseau spatial.
Beverly panique, connaissant la population de l'entreprise qui devrait être bien au-dessus de 1000. Elle demande que Worf surveille tout le personnel restant, et fait face au silence. Personne n'a jamais entendu parler de Worf. Elle se précipite vers Wesley pour tenter de lier sa situation difficile à son expérience, mais Wesley disparaît bientôt aussi. Beverly revient sur la passerelle pour trouver tout le monde, mais Picard a disparu. Alors que le capitaine a disparu, le vortex réapparaît sur la passerelle. Alors qu'elle se débat avec le vortex, Wesley travaille sur l'ordinateur, abattu d'avoir perdu sa mère. À ce moment, un étranger appelé le Voyageur arrive.
Le Voyageur explique que Wesley l'a convoqué et lui dit que, au moment où la lumière a brillé pendant son expérience avec les champs de distorsion, Beverly a été prise dans une bulle de distorsion et a créé sa propre réalité basée sur ce qu'elle pensait à ce moment précis - la tragédie de perdre des amis proches. Il commence à travailler avec le garçon pour essayer de recréer la bulle pour ramener sa mère. Pendant ce temps, Beverly utilise l'ordinateur pour déterminer qu'elle est piégée dans la bulle, et qu'elle, avec son univers auto-créé, s'effondre. Pendant que l'équipage essaye de déplacer le navire à l'endroit exact où la bulle de Wesley a été créée, Beverly court à l'ingénierie, où elle a vu d'abord le flash de lumière, pendant que le navire commence à s'effondrer autour d'elle. Elle place le vortex avec quelques secondes de réserve, saute à travers elle, et soudain apparaît dans la salle d'ingénierie, entourée par l'équipage et son fils très soulagé.
L'équipage répond à un appel de detresse d'un vaisseau endommagé qui se trouve en orbite autour de la planète Turkana IV, lieu de naissance de leur camarade Tasha Yar. Le cargo explose, mais Data détecte qu'une capsule de sauvetage se dirige vers la planète. Picard met en place une équipe pour venir en aide les membres de la capsule. Arrivé sur la surface de la planète, Riker et son équipe rencontre Hayne, le leader de la coalition, une des deux factions en guerre sur la planète. Lorsque Data révèle qu'un ancien membre de l'équipage est né sur Turkana IV, Hayne offre son aide dans cette recherche avec un de ses camarades, Ishara Yar, la soeur de Tasha.
Bien que Picard ne fait pas tout à fait confiance à Hayne, il accepte son offre d'aide, et Ishara est téléportée sur le vaisseau. La conférence pour discuter des options pour le sauvetage est interrompue par une transmission de l'un des membres disparu. Ils sont retenu en otage pas l'Alliance, la faction opposé à la coalition, et leurs vies sont en danger. Ishara révèle à Riker et à l'équipage où se trouve la capsule de secours et se porte volontaire pour aider. Elle révèle qu'en tant qu'adepte du maintien de la paix, les membres de l'Alliance et de la Coalition ont été équipé d'un implant detecteur qui déclenche une alarme lorsqu'ils traversent le territoire opposé. Riker permet à Ishara de se rendre sur le territoire de l'Alliance pour pouvoir y faire diversion. Durant la mission, elle est blessée et sauvée par Riker et téléportée sur l'Enterprise.
Lorsqu'elle revient à elle, Ishara et Data se rapprochent. Pendant ce temps, Geordi détermine que les membres de la capsule se trouvent près du quartier général de l'Alliance. Ishara dit qu'elle connaît le terrain et qu'elle peut les guider, mais leur implant va alerter l'Alliance de leur présence, et le retrait de cet implant provoquera son explosion. Data suggère un moyen pour le Dr Crusher de retirer cet implant sans danger et Ishara, après avoir pris en compte les considérations de Data, accepte l'opération. Elle avoue à Data qu'elle pourrait aimer quiltter la Coalition pour rejoindre Starfleet Academy après cette mission. Picard et Troi questionnent Ishara à propos de ses motivations, mais Data leur conseille de lui donner une chance.
Après l'opération, Ishara et l'équipe de rendent dans le territoire de l'Alliance. Après avoir conduit l'équipe vers les membres de la capsule, Ishara se faufile. En s'apercevant qu'elle a disparu, Riker et Data se mettent à sa recherche. Data localise Ishara alors qu'elle tente de surcharger les systèmes de fdéfense de l'Alliance. Elle admet que son aide sur la mission de sauvetage était en fait une tentaive de mettre en échec l'Alliance. Alors que Data essaie de l'arrêter, elle lui tire dessus, le manquant de peu. Riker attire son attention, permettant à Data de tier sur elle. Data remet ensuite en marche le système de défense. Puis, Picard renvoie Ishara à la Coalition, et Riker exploque à Data que dans toute confiance réside la possibilité de la trahison.
K'Ehleyr, a half-human, half-Klingon ambassador, requests permission to come aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise to speak with Picard. Worf is noticeably agitated when the woman, his former mate, materializes accompanied by a young Klingon boy. K'Ehleyr tells Worf that the boy, Alexander, is their son. The Ambassador then informs Picard that she has come because K'Mpec, the dying Klingon leader, wishes to speak with him. Picard boards the Klingon ship, and K'Mpec requests his help in arbitrating the power struggle between his two potential successors. One of the contestants has been secretly poisoning him, and Picard must determine who is the murderer and prevent him from assuming K'Mpec's post. K'Mpec tells Picard that one of the contestants is Duras, whose deceit caused Worf's discommendation from the Klingon High Council.
Meanwhile, K'Mpec has died, and the rivals for the leadership of the High Council, Duras and Gowron, join Picard at his wake. There, Duras urges Picard to complete the rite of succession when suddenly, an explosion rocks the room.
Back on the U.S.S. Enterprise, Worf and K'Ehleyr share a tender moment, and Worf agrees to befriend Alexander. Meanwhile, Picard stalls for time by subjecting Duras and Gowron to an ancient ritual where they must prove their worthiness. Gowron later offers K'Ehleyr a bribe to influence Picard's decision, but she refuses.
The discovery that the bomb in the explosion was of Romulan origin leads the crew to suspect that one of the Klingon rivals plans to form an alliance with this Federation enemy. K'Ehleyr suspects Gowron because of the attempted bribe, but her suspicions turn to Duras when she finds evidence that proves Duras was involved in the conspiracy that led to Worf's discommendation, and that he somehow forced Worf to take the blame.
Dr. Crusher discovers that the bomb was implanted in the arm of one of Duras' men, while Duras attacks K'Ehleyr in her quarters. Worf rushes in, and K'Ehleyr gives him Duras' name before dying in his arms. An outraged Worf transports to Duras' ship. He attacks Duras, who reminds Worf that he is the only one who can clear his name. Worf kills him anyway, accepting his fate for the sake of vengeance. Returning to the starship, Worf informs Alexander that he will be cared for by Worf's adoptive human parents, and answering the boy's query, embraces him as his son.
When Data receives strange energy readings from Alpha Onias III, an uninhabited planet near the Neutral Zone, Picard suspects the Romulans and sends an Away Team led by Riker to investigate. On Alpha Onias III, communications with the U.S.S. Enterprise break down and the mission is aborted. Later, Riker awakens in sickbay to a graying Dr. Crusher, who tells him that he is recovering from a retroactive virus he contracted during the mission 16 years ago — a virus that only recently became active and destroyed all of his memory from the moment he was infected. Riker learns that he has been Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise for nine years and has a son, by a wife who has been dead for two years. But his most shocking discovery is that he is about to lead negotiations for a peace treaty between the Federation and their long-time adversaries, the Romulans.
Riker becomes suspicious when he learns that the U.S.S. Enterprise is escorting Romulan Ambassador Tomalak, whom Riker remembers as a Romulan captain and Federation enemy, to Outpost 23, the heart of Federation Defenses in the Neutral Zone. His suspicions are compounded when the ship's computer experiences an unusual time lag in responding to his questions about his missing years. While perusing his family records in search of clues to his past, he realizes the entire story about the virus is a charade when he discovers that the image of his late wife is actually a woman he once created using the equipment in the Holodeck.
Riker finds Tomalak on the Bridge and reveals his discovery of the charade, and at that moment the image of the bridge disappears, revealing a Romulan Holodeck. Tomalak explains that Riker was captured during the Away Team mission and that they created the images of the ship and crew by perusing his mind with neural scanners. Riker is then placed in a cell with a boy who appeared as his son in the charade. The boy, Ethan, explains that he was captured with his parents, who have been taken away.
When Tomalak returns to the cell and demands to be told the location of Outpost 23, Riker escapes with the help of Ethan. While they are in hiding, Ethan accidentally refers to Tomalak as an ambassador, when in reality he is a commander and was only an ambassador in the aborted Romulan charade. Riker catches the boy and calls his bluff, realizing that the boy is not an innocent hostage. At that moment, the scene around him fades to reveal the cavern on Alpha Onias III where the original Away Team mission was aborted.
Ethan discloses that when his people were invaded, his mother brought him to the planet for safety, leaving him with a scanner to protect him and give him everything he wanted. He lured the U.S.S. Enterprise to Alpha Onias III and kept Riker to have a companion. Riker then invites the boy to return with him to the U.S.S. Enterprise. The boy reveals his true form, as an alien named Barash, and the two transport hand-in-hand back to the starship.
Picard summons Wesley Crusher to the Bridge, where he informs the youngster that he has been accepted to Starfleet Academy. He further honors Wesley by asking him to accompany him on a final mission to help mediate a dispute on Pentarus V. When the U.S.S. Enterprise is called to investigate another nearby crisis, Picard and Wesley proceed alone, traveling with a representative of the planet, Dirgo, in his dilapidated shuttle. En route, the shuttle fails, forcing an emergency landing on a desert-like moon. Upon learning Dirgo is not traveling with water, Picard positions a makeshift arrow in the sand to indicate their direction and heads toward a mountain range for shelter.
Back on board the U.S.S. Enterprise, the crew learns that the shuttle is missing, but cannot aid in the search because they are involved in an emergency mission of their own, removing an ancient waste vessel that is leaking radiation from the atmosphere of a nearby planet. Meanwhile, Picard, Wesley and Dirgo reach the mountains, where Wesley locates a water fountain inside a cavern. Upon discovering a force field that stands between them and the water, an impatient Dirgo begins firing at the force field, summoning an electrical sentry that begins moving toward them. Dirgo fires at the sentry, triggering a rock slide. As the boulders hurl toward Wesley, Picard pushes him out of the way, and is severely injured in the process.
While Picard's condition worsens, Dirgo bullies Wesley into trying to distract the sentry by setting his weapon to fire automatically, allowing Dirgo to shoot through the force field to try to reach the water. The plan seems to work, until the sentry splits itself in two, enveloping Wesley's weapon and killing Dirgo.
Riker and the crew aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise conclude their mission and join the search for the shuttle. But as the cold night falls on the desert moon where he and Wesley are trapped, Picard grows weaker. Wesley tries to keep his captain alive by expressing his affection for the dying man.
As Picard struggles to hold on, Wesley devises a plan to foil the sentry. He shoots his phaser to lure the electronic guard, then tries to disengage it with a tricorder. Eventually, the sentry passes right through him, releasing the force field and giving Wesley access to the water, which he rushes to Picard. Soon afterward, an Away Team from the U.S.S. Enterprise rescues them, and Picard credits Wesley for saving his life.
When starship sensors detect a strange pattern of images in the U.S.S. Enterprise's path, the crew stops to investigate. Unable to pinpoint the source, they attempt to resume their course, to the shocking realization that they are being pulled by an unknown force — a force they are unable to break away from. Worried, Picard calls an emergency staff meeting and asks Troi if she senses a life form. The counselor suddenly realizes that she is unable to sense anything from the force or from anyone else in the room. Her empathetic powers have failed.
After examining Troi, Dr. Crusher tries to prepare her for the fact that her powers may be lost for good. Troi grows impatient, telling her she only wants to get back to work. Later, Deanna begins to panic when she attempts to counsel a patient without her empathetic abilities. When Beverly is unable to offer any immediate hope, Troi lashes out at her. Meanwhile, Data and Geordi discover that the force that is pulling the U.S.S. Enterprise is a cluster of two-dimensional lifeforms.
Unconfident in her ability to perform her job without her powers, Troi resigns, much to Riker and Picard's dismay. Later, Guinan spots her in Ten Forward, and tells Troi how her experiences as a bartender make her the ideal candidate to take over the counselor's job. Deanna immediately sees that Guinan is joking, and suddenly realizes that while she may be without her Betazoid powers, her human instincts are still intact. Back on the Bridge, Data and Riker discover that the creatures are heading toward a cosmic string — a force similar to a black hole — and the ship, caught in their gravitational wake, is headed for certain disaster.
A desperate Picard asks Troi to use her human abilities to psychoanalyze the creatures. As she struggles to make do with her instincts, she realizes that since most life forms have an instinctive will to survive, making the creatures aware of the danger might make them change their course. Data constructs a replica of the string directly in front of the creatures as a sort of warning device, but instead of turning back, they increase their speed toward it. At that moment, Troi realizes the creatures must want to head for the string.
Data reconstructs the replica behind the creatures, and, confused, they stop momentarily, allowing the U.S.S. Enterprise to escape. They quickly resume their course and disappear inside the string. Troi's powers come rushing back to her, and she is overcome with the creatures' happiness and the realization that the string is their home. She concludes that the strength of their longing temporarily short-circuited her powers, and with renewed confidence in her human abilities, Troi happily resumes her post as ship's counselor.
Data is excited about his friend Keiko's upcoming wedding to Chief O'Brien, where the android will be giving the bride away. When the bride succumbs to jitters and calls the wedding off, Data applies android logic, and decides that since O'Brien loves Keiko, if calling off the wedding makes her happy it will make O'Brien happy. Of course, the heartbroken groom's reaction to Data's news quickly reflects otherwise. Data's confusion is compounded when Geordi assures him that the wedding will proceed as planned. With this in mind, he attempts to buy a gift for the couple, and encounters Worf, who informs Data that he will have to dance at the wedding. Data has never danced, so he enlists Dr. Crusher's help — after learning from her file that she was once a tap dancing champion.
In the midst of this pre-wedding chaos, Data must escort aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise the Vulcan Ambassador T'Pel, who is preparing to negotiate a treaty with the Romulans inside the Neutral Zone. While the Ambassador's curt behavior sets most of the crew on edge, the android remains unaffected by emotions. Meanwhile, O'Brien asks Data to convince Keiko to go through with the wedding, and Data's lack of understanding soon upsets her as well. Counselor Troi is unable to help him see the reason for his friend's behavior. Later, T'Pel summons Data to her quarters, where she asks him to reveal secret defense information. He refuses to surrender it on the grounds that the Ambassador does not have proper authorization.
Although he masters tap dancing in seconds, Beverly has some difficulty teaching Data to dance with a partner, but eventually he begins to catch on. Some time afterward, the U.S.S. Enterprise meets a Romulan warbird, and despite Picard's unease about the situation, the crew begins to transport T'Pel aboard. However, something interrupts the transporter signal and the Ambassador is killed.
Finding no flaw in the transport system, Data mimics the tactics of Sherlock Holmes, who, like Data, relied primarily on logic. The android detective discovers that T'Pel was not really killed. Using similar equipment, the Romulans beamed her off the ship themselves and left behind genetic compounds designed to fool the crew into thinking they killed her.
Picard confronts Mendak, the Romulan commander, with this information and learns that T'Pel is actually a Romulan spy. After a tense standoff, the U.S.S. Enterprise heads home. With the danger now passed, Data approaches Keiko to make amends. She informs him that he did not offend her and that the wedding will continue as planned after all. Data soon walks his friend down the aisle, where she and O'Brien are married by Captain Picard.
After a Cardassian warship fires on the U.S.S. Enterprise, the ship's captain informs Picard that he is acting in retaliation against a Federation starship that has recently destroyed an unarmed Cardassian space station. This is unusual because there is now a treaty between the Federation and the Cardassians, who were once bitter enemies. As a goodwill gesture, Picard invites the Cardassian captain aboard to aid in the search for the renegade Federation vessel, despite the objections of some crew members who still mistrust their former enemy. Starfleet informs Picard that the errant Federation ship is the U.S.S. Phoenix, commanded by Captain Benjamin Maxwell.
Picard asks Transporter Chief O'Brien, who once served under Maxwell, for some insight into the man. O'Brien reveals that the captain's family was killed by the Cardassian militia before their truce with the Federation, but cannot believe he is seeking vengeance. At that moment, the U.S.S. Enterprise locates the Phoenix. Macet, the Cardassian captain, tries to convince Picard to reveal the ship's location, but Picard refuses. Later, Picard determines that the Phoenix is pursuing another Cardassian supply ship. When the U.S.S. Phoenix fails to acknowledge the Enterprise's calls, Picard orders Worf to make the ship's coordinates available to the Cardassians.
A nearby Cardassian warship sets out after the U.S.S. Phoenix, but the Federation starship destroys it and the cargo ship as well. Soon afterwards, Data locates the U.S.S. Phoenix, and the U.S.S. Enterprise intercepts it. Captain Maxwell transports aboard, and after a warm reunion with O'Brien, goes on to explain his actions to Picard. He informs his fellow captain that he believes the Cardassians are rearming and have developed one of the most powerful weapons in the galaxy. However, he lacks proof of his accusations, and Picard informs him that he must be returned to a starbase to face a board of inquiry.
Maxwell agrees to follow the U.S.S. Enterprise to the nearest starbase, but the Phoenix almost immediately changes course and begins pursuing another Cardassian vessel. Maxwell insists to an angry Picard that the Cardassian ship is transporting arms. Macet denies the charge, but refuses to let a Federation member board the ship. Maxwell continues his pursuit, daring Picard to board the Cardassian ship to see for himself. Instead, Picard threatens to turn his weapons on the U.S.S. Phoenix if it does not retreat. During the ensuing standoff, O'Brien transports to the Phoenix, where he is able to convince Maxwell to stop the killing and return to the U.S.S. Enterprise. As the Enterprise heads towards a starbase, Picard warns Macet that, while he went after the Phoenix to avoid starting a war, he knows Maxwell is right about the rearming, and tells him that if they don't cease, he will lead the charge against the Cardassians in battle.
The U.S.S. Enterprise receives an emergency transmission from a science station on the planet Ventax II. The Ventaxians are in a panic, convinced a mythic figure called Ardra has returned to fulfill a thousand-year-old contract. According to legend, she promised the citizens of the once war-torn planet a thousand years of peace and prosperity in exchange for their enslavement at the end of that time. When Picard takes Worf, Data and Troi to the planet to help Jared, the Ventaxian leader, Ardra suddenly appears before them.
Ardra tells Jared she has come to collect on the bargain, and expresses an immediate attraction to Picard. The Captain refuses to be intimidated by her, even when she demonstrates her ability to cause tremors, disappear and frighten Worf by changing form to become the Klingon devil. He points out to the crew that the U.S.S. Enterprise has the ability to recreate all of Ardra's tricks, and dispatches Data to review the ancient scrolls that constitute the Ventaxians contract with Ardra. Data soon reports that not only is the contract valid, but that it gives Ardra title to anything orbiting the planet, including the U.S.S. Enterprise and its crew.
Back on board the U.S.S. Enterprise, Ardra suddenly materializes in the sleeping Picard's quarters and begins making romantic advances. When he refuses, she changes form in an effort to tempt him, eventually assuming Troi's form. When that too falls, she angrily transports him to Ventax while still in his pajamas, and then makes the U.S.S. Enterprise disappear.
While Geordi works to find a mechanical source to Ardra's powers, Picard stalls for time by suggesting legal arbitration of the contract. Ardra agrees, with the condition that Picard's soul be the prize should he lose. She then chooses Data to be the judge, and the hearing begins. Ardra performs her illusions to convince Data that she is the claimant named in the ancient contract. Picard points out, by questioning Jared about his planet's peace and prosperity when they initiated sweeping reforms a thousand years before. But when Ardra confronts the frightened Jared, he still maintains that she has claim to the planet.
At that moment, Geordi enters the room with news that he has located the power source. Picard is granted a recess and contracts the U.S.S. Enterprise, which Geordi was able to locate. When the hearing resumes, Picard duplicates all of Ardra's tricks and invites her to stop them. When she cannot, Picard exposes her as a con artist and Data dissolves the contract. Jared thanks Picard for saving the Ventaxians, but Picard insists they saved themselves long ago.
En route to investigate a mysterious planet, the U.S.S. Enterprise passes through a wormhole in space which knocks everyone but Data unconscious. As the crew begins to revive, Data tells Picard that they were out for 30 seconds, and when Riker remarks that the ship's instruments indicate an entire day's travel, Picard blames the discrepancy on the wormhole. Data talks Riker and Picard out of going back to investigate the planet, sending a probe instead. When the probe reaches the planet, its reading conflicts with the crew's original assessment. Data blames this on the wormhole as well. However, when a botany experiment Beverly is conducting exhibits a full day's growth, she brings her findings to Picard's attention, forcing him to consider the fact that Data may be lying.
Confronted with Dr. Crusher's experiment, Data offers a flimsy explanation and is dismissed by Picard, who then orders a covert investigation. Geordi soon discovers that the ship's chronometer, which only he and Data have the power to reset, has been tampered with. Unable to ignore the fact that something is causing Data to lie, Picard orders the android to undergo an examination.
Geordi examines Data and tells the captain he found nothing unusual. Picard then dispatches Geordi to investigate the probe Data sent out. Soon afterward, a dizzy Troi is frightened when her reflection indicates some creature is inhabiting her body. She dismisses the incident as a hallucination just as Geordi returns with the news that the probe Data sent out was rigged to disguise the abnormal planet the starship originally encountered. Picard confronts Data, who reveals that his actions are not his choice.
Later, Beverly informs Picard that Worf sustained a broken wrist that has been reset and treated — all during the period the crew was supposedly unconscious. Picard replies that he believes Data is lying to protect the crew. He orders the crew to retrace their steps toward the mysterious planet in order to find out what really happened and clear Data's name. Data begs Picard to turn back but refuses to explain why. The captain instead demands to know who ordered Data to lie, and is shocked by Data's revelation that he himself gave the order.
Believing Data, Picard then orders the crew to follow the android's instructions. Data explains that the U.S.S. Enterprise has invaded the space of extreme isolationists who stun intruders, take over their ship and send it out of their space. Since Data was unaffected by the stun and would know of their existence, the aliens insisted the U.S.S. Enterprise be destroyed. As a compromise, Picard agreed to have the entire crew's short-term memory erased and ordered Data to hide what happened, but Beverly's plants and Worf's wrist gave the trick away. Luckily, Picard is able to talk the aliens into giving them another chance, and orders the crew to make sure not to leave any clues.
During a mission on a strange planet, Riker is wounded and stranded in a hospital without his communicator. While he is unconscious, his Malcorian doctors discover evidence that proves he is not of their race. When he comes to, Riker refers to himself by a Malcorian name and passes off his physical differences as deformities. His doctors, however, believe he is an alien, and decide to keep his presence a secret to avoid a panic among their people. Meanwhile, Picard and Troi surprise Mirasta, the Malcorian Minister of Science, when they materialize in her office.
Picard and Troi explain who they are and, to prove it, beam the enthusiastic Mirasta aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. They explain that they have been monitoring her race for several years, and even have people stationed on her planet. When they tell her that Riker has been lost, Mirasta asks them to keep this a secret from her leader Durken, explaining that her society is in a transitory stage and many citizens are not ready to learn that they share the universe with other life forms. Back in the medical facility, Nilrem, one of Riker's doctors, begins spreading rumors that Riker's presence indicates a possible alien invasion.
Durken is beamed aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, and while he is initially suspicious of Picard's motives, a conversation with Picard and a tour of the starship convinces him that the captain's intentions are not hostile. Meanwhile, Riker enlists the aid of an amorous Malcorian nurse to attempt an escape, but fails when he is cornered by a frightened mob of Malcorian citizens.
Riker's injuries are aggravated by the attack, and his doctors try once again to help him. Later, Durken returns to his planet to inform Security Minister Krola about his meeting with Picard, but Krola counters with a report that the Enterprise is attempting to infiltrate Malcorian society, and that one of their spies, Riker, has been captured. Mirasta leaps to Riker's defense, but Krola is dispatched to interrogate the alien and insists on reviving Riker with drugs that could harm him. Meanwhile, Picard goes to Durken to take responsibility for his actions and explain the reasoning for the secret surveillance. Durken understands Picard's position, but refuses to release Riker without further consideration.
After interrogating Riker proves useless, Krola shoots himself with Riker's phaser, placing it in Riker's hand to make it look like Riker did it. Soon afterward, Dr. Crusher materializes and takes both Riker and Krola aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise for treatment. She soon deduces that Riker was too weak to attack, therefore Krola did the actual shooting, pointing out that Krola will be fine since the phaser was set on stun. With his people's hysteria fresh in his mind, Durken asks Picard to cease the Federation mission on his planet until the Malcorians can be educated to accept this new view of the universe.
When Captain Picard asks Geordi to escort a visitor, Dr. Leah Brahms, aboard the Enterprise, Geordi is thrilled. He confides to Guinan that Leah, the woman who designed the U.S.S. Enterprise's engine, is the woman of his dreams.
During a crisis, he recreated a Holodeck image of Dr. Brahms to help him and felt a strong rapport with her. But when the real Leah finally transports aboard, he is crushed to discover that she is cold, cerebral and humorless. She puts him through his paces, icily examining and criticizing the adjustments he has made to the engine she helped design.
Meanwhile, Picard and the crew discover a large energy source floating in space. When they approach the creature to learn its origin, it suddenly latches onto the starship, bombarding the ship with deadly radiation. In defense, Picard fires the ship's phasers to release the U.S.S. Enterprise from the alien's clutches. Picard is saddened when the phaser assault kills the lifeform, but he is intrigued when Data detects another energy reading within it. To everyone's surprise, Data explains that they have discovered a "baby" struggling to escape its dead mother's womb.
Later on, Geordi hopes for a fresh start with Dr. Brahms when she agrees to have dinner with him, but she is put off by his informal demeanor and leaves him alone with his homemade pasta getting cold. The next morning, Leah arrives in an improved mood. Geordi is happy to finally be working closely with his dream woman — until she informs him that she is married. On the Bridge, Beverly and Worf perform a Cesarean section with phasers in order to free the alien offspring from its dead mother. Unfortunately, it begins to follow the U.S.S. Enterprise, thinking the starship is its mother and nurses on its hull. The crew tries to devise a plan to deliver the alien baby to its mother's destination, a nearby asteroid belt, and Geordi and Leah are forced to work together again to increase the ship's energy sources to provide for the baby until they reach their destination. Things go well until Leah accidentally discovers Geordi's Holodeck recreation of her. Infuriated, she chastises Geordi for using her as a plaything. Angered by her accusations, Geordi pleads guilty only to wanting to be her friend.
Upon reaching the asteroid belt, the crew tries to disengage the baby creature, but it will not let go. At this point several larger energy beings approach the Enterprise as if to attack the ship. Working together one last time, Geordi and Leah devise a plan to alter the frequency of the energy the creature is feeding on to make it foreign to the baby and send it away. With seconds to spare, the baby creature lets go, and is enveloped by the larger creatures who float off together. Later, in the Ten-Forward, Geordi and Leah exchange apologies and laughs about the "Holodeck incident," having reached a new level of understanding through working together.
The U.S.S. Enterprise locates the U.S.S. Brattain, a science vessel which has been adrift for several days, only to discover that the entire crew, with the exception of the ship's Betazoid counselor, is dead. Troi tries to communicate with the survivor, but can deduce no information that unsheathes the mystery that took place onboard the frigate. After performing autopsies on the crew members, Dr. Crusher concludes that the 34 men and women killed each other. As Troi is being tormented by strange nightmares, Geordi finds that while there is nothing wrong with the Brattain's engines, he is unable to activate them.
While Geordi tries to rig the Brattain to the U.S.S. Enterprise to be towed, members of the crew begin exhibiting signs of increased irritability and paranoia. Troi and Beverly approach Picard to warn him that whatever happened aboard the Brattain may be starting aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, and recommend leaving the area as soon as possible. Picard agrees, but when they try to leave, the engines shut down — just as they had on the Brattain.
An unaffected Data surmises that the U.S.S. Enterprise has become trapped in a Tyken's Rift, a massive rupture in space that is draining the ship's energy. Data points out that the ship can create an explosion to escape the rift as Captain Tyken did years before. But Picard, Riker and the rest of the crew are beginning to lose their grip on reality. A shaky Beverly approaches Picard with results of her experiments on the Brattain victims and tells him they went insane due to dream deprivation. She then points out that all the starship crew members but Troi are not dreaming, and will go insane if they do not depart the rift soon.
Data works with an increasingly incapacitated Geordi to create the explosion necessary to free the U.S.S. Enterprise from the rift. The plan fails, however, and Data informs Picard that they cannot try again. Soon afterward, Troi follows a distraught Worf to his quarters just in time to stop the Klingon from committing suicide.
Working with her catatonic patient, Troi discovers that he is experiencing the same images that she sees in her nightmares. This convinces her that they are actually in an attempt at communication. Data confirms that another ship could be trapped on the other side of the rift, and that if they could somehow be told to release a gas into space, the U.S.S. Enterprise could create an explosion to free them both. Troi attempts to reach them in a dream, while the crew releases hydrogen to combine with the other gas and create an explosion. As the last of the hydrogen is expelled, they fear they may be stuck for good, but Troi's efforts to reach the ship on the other side of the rift prove successful when at the last second, a massive explosion frees the U.S.S. Enterprise.
Geordi's friend and former shipmate, Susanna Leijten, informs him that the two of them are the only crew members remaining from an Away Team that once investigated the mysterious disappearance of several people on the planet Tarchannen III. The last of their former colleagues has stolen a shuttlecraft to head back to the planet, and Susanna enlists the U.S.S. Enterprise's aid to find out what is happening. The starship follows the shuttlecraft to the planet discovering two additional shuttlecrafts on the surface, but no life signs. After Geordi finds two torn Starfleet uniforms, Susanna tells him she senses the presence of the others and heads off into the darkness. When Geordi tries to stop her, she begins thrashing like a wild animal. He has her beamed to Sickbay.
Dr. Crusher finds that Susanna's blood chemistry has been altered, and Geordi notices that her hands shake uncontrollably. Susanna realizes that whatever happened to the other Away Team members is happening to her and could soon happen to Geordi. Confined to the starship so that Dr. Crusher can observe and treat her, Susanna begins to feel confined, and eventually rushes off to escape the ship. Before she can, however, she collapses. Geordi runs to her, discovering that her skin is covered with dark blotches and her two middle fingers have fused together.
Based on her examination of Susanna, Dr. Crusher determines that the people who disappeared from Tarchannen III were not abducted, but transformed into another species. While Beverly searches for the cause of Susanna's transformation, Picard issues an order that Geordi's every move be monitored by computer in case he should also be motivated to leave the ship. Geordi spends his time aboard ship painstakingly reviewing a visual recording made five years ago at the scene of the original investigation.
While reviewing the tape, Geordi notices a shadow that has no known origin. He recreates the entire scene in the Holodeck, determining that an unknown creature was present on the planet during the fateful Away Team mission. Moments later he is struck with a sudden pain, and looks down to see that his two middle fingers have fused together. Meanwhile, Dr. Crusher locates and removes the parasite responsible for Susanna's transformation. Hoping to scan Geordi for the parasite before it affects him, Dr. Crusher summons Geordi, but a security team discovers his torn uniform and sees a half-alien Geordi overcome a transporter technician and beam to Tarchannen III. Susanna insists on accompanying the Away Team on their search for Geordi, insisting that what she has gone through will help her find him. She is allowed to go, and finds him almost completely transformed. However, she is able to appeal to his human side and talk him into returning to the starship, where he undergoes surgery and regains his human identity.
When the U.S.S. Enterprise sets out to repair the Argus Array, a telescope that has stopped relaying data for two months, the crew discovers an alien probe near the telescope. Geordi takes Barclay, a notoriously shy crew member, to investigate. As they near the probe, it emits an energy surge that knocks Barclay unconscious, and he and Geordi are transported to Sickbay. Meanwhile, the probe begins to follow the starship, emitting a dangerously high energy level. When the crew is unable to evade it, Barclay amazes everyone by taking charge of the situation and eliminating the probe, saving the ship from destruction.
Turning back to the task of repairing the telescope, Geordi estimates the job will take three weeks. But Barclay, whose confidence and intelligence are continuing to grow, claims he can complete the job in two days. Geordi's pride in Barclay turns to concern, however, when he discovers his crewmate in the Holodeck arguing scientific theory with a simulated Einstein. Geordi insists to Barclay that the encounter with the probe must have precipitated the change and drags him to Sickbay, where Beverly Crusher's examination reveals an astounding change in Barclay's brain tissue that has rendered him the most advanced human being who ever lived.
Although the crew is frightened by the change in Barclay, the fact that they need him to repair the Array convinces them to leave him alone. As the repairs progress, however, the ship's computer is unable to work fast enough, creating the danger of a reactor failure in the telescope that could cause a deadly explosion. Picard orders an immediate retreat, but is informed that the Bridge has lost control of the computer. However, before panic can set in, the computer comes back on line and the crew learns the telescope has been saved. When Picard asks the computer to tell him how the disaster was averted, he is shocked when Barclay's voice answers.
Barclay explains that since the computer was too slow, he connected his brain to the computer to save the Array. Picard demands the engineer disconnect himself, but Barclay replies that this will cause his death. As the crew tries to devise a plan to regain control of the ship, Barclay propels the U.S.S. Enterprise to a point thirty thousand light-years away.
Before the crew can stop Barclay an alien suddenly appears on the Bridge, admitting that the probe transformed Barclay so he would bring the starship to him. The alien goes on to explain that this is his civilization's method of researching new races. Picard agrees to let him scan the brains of crew members if the aliens will transfer their knowledge of tens of thousands of civilizations into the starship's computer. As they talk, Barclay arrives on the Bridge, having been returned to normal by the aliens, but retaining a bit of the confidence and intelligence his experience gave him.
When the U.S.S. Enterprise hosts an archaeology symposium, Picard rekindles a romance with Vash, an archaeologist he met while on vacation. The obvious passion between the two is strained, however, when Vash learns that Picard has never mentioned her to his friends, and he discovers that she plans to make a secret excursion to a planet that is closed to outsiders.
The nearly omnipotent and mischievous Q secretly witnesses a heated argument between the two. After Vash leaves, he appears to a shocked Picard and tries to elicit a confession of love from the stoic Captain. Picard refuses, and Q responds by transforming the Captain into Robin Hood and sending him to Sherwood Forest, where he is joined by his senior staff, who are now merry men. Q dons the disguise of the Sheriff of Nottingham, and tells Picard that Vash, who is now Maid Marian, will be beheaded the following day — challenging Picard to risk the lives of his crew to rescue a woman he claims he does not care about. Picard claims he would do the same for anyone in danger and sets out to rescue Vash, but orders the others to stay behind.
Meanwhile, the resourceful Vash averts her execution by promising to marry her captor Sir Guy. Fearing that this turn of events will dissuade Picard from attempting a rescue, Q has Sir guy promise to keep the wedding a secret. Picard finally arrives to rescue Vash, but she decides his one-man mission is too dangerous and announces she can take care of herself. Moments later, she seizes Picard's sword and turns him over to Sir Guy. Q delights in the notion that she turned against Picard, until he sees a note she is writing the crew asking for their help. Q turns her over to Sir Guy to be executed beside Picard the following day.
Just as Picard stands ready to be beheaded, the crew finally arrives, disguised as monks. Data creates a diversion by pulling off his hand, and Picard and Vash run for their lives. Picard and Sir Guy engage in a sword fight that leaves Sir Guy dead.
The game finally over, Picard and the crew are returned to the starship without Vash. To Picard's relief, she appears soon afterward, announcing her plans to travel the universe with Q. Although the idea makes him uneasy, Picard must admit that the mischievous Vash has much in common with Q. Picard and Vash then express their affection for one another, promising to meet again and exchange a farewell kiss.
When an explosion rips through the U.S.S. Enterprise's warp engine, a visiting Klingon officer is suspected of causing the disaster by providing the Romulans with schematics of the engine. An investigation begins, and Admiral Norah Satie, renowned for exposing an alien conspiracy against Starfleet, comes out of retirement to help. Based on evidence compiled by Worf, Satie quickly extracts a confession from the Klingon, J'Ddan, regarding his participation in smuggling diagrams off the ship, but he denies responsibility for the explosion. Satie's Betazoid aid Sabin confirms that J'Ddan is telling the truth, which implies to Satie that there is a co-conspirator aboard the ship.
While questioning crew members who had contact with J'Ddan in search for his co-conspirator, Sabin uses his Betazoid powers to detect that one crewman, Simon Tarses, is lying. He concludes that Tarses is one of the saboteurs. Satie insists that Picard restrict Tarses' activities aboard the ship, but the captain refuses to do so without more substantial evidence that he was actually involved. Data and Geordi later conclude that the warp engine explosion was an accident, but Satie still believes that Tarses is a traitor.
After forcing Tarses to confess that he is in fact part Romulan, Satie enlists Worf's aid in conducting a comprehensive investigation of the crewman's activities and associates. Picard is increasingly uncomfortable with the investigation and meets directly with Tarses himself. A conversation with the shaken but dedicated crewman convinces Picard of his innocence, and he appeals to Satie to stop the investigation. Satie refuses, however, informing Picard that the investigation will expand as Starfleet is sending an admiral to observe.
Angered by Picard's reluctance to aid in her search, Satie summons the captain to be interrogated as a possible traitor in a hearing observed by the Starfleet admiral. During the hearing, Picard makes an impassioned plea for her to give up the witch hunt, invoking quotes regarding freedom made by Satie's late father, a respected Starfleet judge. Consumed with finding the traitor, Satie denounces Picard for quoting her beloved father and then turns vehemently on the captain.
Satie begins to recount some of Picard's past experiences to illustrate her point that he might be a traitor. When her groundless accusations turn into an uncontrollable tirade, the room full of spectators are shocked into silence, and the Starfleet admiral walks out on the hearing in disgust. Soon afterward, the interrogation is recessed, and Worf informs Picard that the admiral has called off the hearings and that Satie has left the ship. Worf apologizes for participating in the debacle, and Picard forgives him, explaining that the price of liberty is constant vigilance.
While a passenger aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, Troi's overly-amorous mother Lwaxana becomes infatuated with Dr. Timicin of the planet Kaelon II. The rather reserved Timicin, a leading scientist who has enlisted the Federation's aid in saving his planet, is equally smitten with Lwaxana, and the two begin spending time together.
Timicin has boarded the Starship Enterprise to test an experiment that he hopes will revitalize the dying sun of Kaelon II. The U.S.S. Enterprise assists him by transporting him to a similar sun in a remote region of the galaxy where the scientist can test his theories. With the help of the crew, Timicin fires photon torpedoes into the surrogate sun in an effort to elevate and stabilize the temperature. At first, the experiment seems successful, but the sun's temperature continues to rise to dangerous levels, forcing the starship to evacuate the region and return to Kaelon II. Later, when even the charming Lwaxana is unable to comfort the defeated Timicin, he confides to her that he is returning home to die.
Soon afterward, Lwaxana marches into Picard's office, outraged by Timicin's revelation that he will soon participate in a ritual suicide known as The Resolution. The ritual calls on all citizens of Kaelon II to kill themselves upon reaching the age of 60 in order to eliminate the society's responsibility of caring for the elderly. Lwaxana likens the ritual to murder but Picard refuses to intervene since the problem is out of his jurisdiction.
Unable to sway Picard, Lwaxana focuses on Timicin, urging to stand up to the arbitrary Resolution. She begs him to take the first step toward changing the policy by publicly rejecting the ritual. Timicin initially refuses her request, but reconsiders when he discovers how close his research has brought him toward saving his planet's sun. With this in mind, he asks Picard to grant him asylum aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise.
Picard agrees, nearly launching the U.S.S. Enterprise into war by incurring the outrage of the people of Kaelon II. The planet's science minister insists that Timicin return at once, dispatching warships and ordering them to fire on the U.S.S. Enterprise if the ship attempts to leave the area with Timicin. Timicin remains firm, however, until his daughter Dara transports aboard and pleads with him to accept his heritage — the heritage he taught her. The request touches Timicin and he agrees to return home to die among his loved ones. Since Lwaxana is now a loved one, she swallows her pain and disappointment and transports down to the planet with him, to witness his final Resolution and give her support to his decision.
Beverly Crusher becomes romantically involved with a Trill ambassador who is being escorted by the U.S.S. Enterprise to mediate a dispute in the Peliar system. As the starship approaches its destination, Riker volunteers to shuttle the ambassador, Odan, to Peliar to meet with representatives of the planet's Alpha and Beta moons, which have armed for war against each other. Shortly after Riker and Odan depart, a ship opens fire on them, critically injuring Odan and forcing their return to the U.S.S. Enterprise. Back on board, Beverly's examination of Odan indicates that a parasite is invading his body. As she prepares to remove it, she is shocked when Odan stops her, revealing that he is the parasite, and his body is merely a host. The parasite, not the body, is what must be saved.
While Beverly struggles to accept the fact that the handsome man she fell in love with is actually a small purplish lump of tissue, the Enterprise contacts the Trill for a new host body for Odan. Unfortunately, the situation in the Peliar system cannot wait and requires Odan's immediate attention. With this in mind, Riker volunteers his body to serve as temporary host to Odan so he can complete his mission. Beverly is successful in transferring Odan into Riker's body, but cannot get used to seeing him as Riker and is unable to relate to him as a lover. Odan sadly agrees to stay away from her if his presence causes her pain.
Soon after the transfer, Riker's body begins to experience severe physical pain. Odan proceeds with the meeting anyway, and learns that Beverly's discomfort with the notion that he exists within Riker is shared by the representatives of Peliar's moons. They suspect the odd scenario may actually be a plot by Starfleet concocted to enable the organization to impose its own agenda on the Peliar situation. Luckily, Odan is able to convince the Beta representative to accept him and proceed with the negotiations, and the Alpha representative agrees to have an answer within eight hours. Later that day, Beverly arrives at Odan's quarters. Overcome by her desire for Odan, she looks past Riker's body and falls into her lover's arms.
The next morning, as he prepares for the mediation, Odan tells Beverly that his presence has become a threat to Riker's body, and makes her promise to remove him after the meeting. The dispute is settled quickly, and Odan returns to Beverly to be surgically removed from Riker's body. The operation goes well, but Odan's own life is endangered when the Trill ship carrying his new host body is delayed. The U.S.S. Enterprise sets off at warp speed to intercept the ship and save Odan. As the situation becomes critical, Worf announces that the host has arrived and Beverly is dismayed when he ushers in a beautiful young woman. After she transfers Odan into the female body, she sadly explains to her lover that she cannot adjust to the constant change and uncertainty and must end their relationship. Odan accepts her decision and, after the two exchange vows of love, Odan returns to Trill.
En route to a vacation and seminar on Risa, Geordi La Forge is kidnapped by the Romulans and subjected to days of brainwashing. While a double is sent to replace him at the conference, Geordi is forced to endure a painful series of mind-altering experiences designed to put him under complete Romulan control.
Meanwhile, the U.S.S. Enterprise is assigned to escort Klingon Ambassador Kell to the Kriosian system, where one of the Klingon colonies is fighting for independence. The governor of Krios, Vagh, charges that the Federation is secretly aiding the rebels. Though Picard denies the accusation, Vagh produces weapons seized from the rebels which appear to be Federation issue.
When Geordi returns he has no recollection of his ordeal, having been planted with false memories of a relaxing vacation on Risa. Shortly after his arrival, however, Data detects the presence of intermittent E-band emissions commonly associated with Romulan transmissions. Data tries to pinpoint the source of the emissions, and also works with Geordi to analyze the rebel weapons. The two quickly realize the rifles were manufactured by the Romulans to look like Federation guns.
Picard hypothesizes that the Romulans are plotting to drive the Federation and the Klingon Empire apart, which allays some of Vagh's fears. However, a short time later an outraged Vagh contacts Picard and informs him the Klingons have intercepted a shipment of weapons headed for Krios, which originated from the U.S.S. Enterprise. Data's examination confirms an unauthorized transport was sent from a cargo bay, but the memory chips in the computer were erased to hide the perpetrator's identity.
As Picard begins an investigation, Klingon warships uncloak and surround the U.S.S. Enterprise. Ambassador Kell offers to go to Krios and invite Vagh to witness the investigation, ostensibly to convince him of the Federation's good faith. But shortly before Kell leaves, he summons Geordi to his quarters, where it immediately becomes apparent that Geordi is under his influence without knowing it. Kell, who programmed Geordi to transport the weapons, commands him to kill Vagh when they return from the planet and claim he acted on behalf of Starfleet.
Kell's transmission to Geordi produces another E-band emission, which Data is able to trace to Kell. Data quickly deduces what is going on and is able to stop Geordi just as he is making his assassination attempt. Kell is exposed as a traitor conspiring with the Romulans, and he is placed in Vagh's Custody. With war averted, Troi begins the arduous task of deprogramming Geordi, who has no recollection of what has happened and is unaware of his participation.
Ensign Jenna D'Sora, "on the rebound" after breaking up with her boyfriend, suddenly begins relating to her friend Data as something more than a friend. After the young woman kisses him passionately on the lips, the confused android asks his friends for advice on what to do, and decides to pursue the relationship.
Since he has no real emotions or feelings, Data creates a special program to guide him through the intricacies of love. However, as his relationship with Jenna progresses, he discovers that in romance, the logical course is not always the most appropriate. With this in mind, he picks a fight with Jenna, later explaining that he did it because his study of interpersonal dynamics suggested that conflict often strengthens the bond between two people. When Jenna points out that there is something artificial about his behavior, he concurs, reminding her that all of his behavior is based on a program and is therefore artificial.
Meanwhile, the U.S.S. Enterprise explores a nebula whose properties have never before been encountered. In order to investigate what effects those properties may have had on life in the region, the crew sets course for a nearby planet. As they travel toward their destination, random objects throughout the starship begin mysteriously dropping to the floor, but no one suggests any correlation between the strange occurrences and the nebula.
When the U.S.S. Enterprise arrives at the coordinates of the planet, the crew discovers only empty space, suggesting that the planet has disappeared. Moments later, however, the planet shimmers into view. Data's research suggests the nebula may be causing small gaps in the fabric of the immediate space, which cause the deformation of any matter that comes in contact with them. When parts of the starship begin disappearing, Picard realizes the ship is in grave danger and orders the immediate evacuation of the region. However, Data points out to him that the Enterprise is too large to maneuver through the sea of gaps, and Picard takes on the dangerous task of piloting a shuttlecraft through the nebula and guiding the ship to safety.
Following the ordeal, Jenna arrives at Data's quarters for a date and tells him that she cannot see him anymore. She recognizes that her previous boyfriend was unemotional, and feels that her choice of Data, a man completely incapable of emotion, indicates a pattern. Data sees the validity of her point and agrees to discontinue his program without a second thought.
The U.S.S. Enterprise travels to the Klingon Empire, where Picard is to attend the installation of Gowron, the new Leader of the High Council. En route, the starship is intercepted by a Klingon ship bearing Gowron, who informs Picard that the Duras family is amassing a rebel faction and plotting civil war against the Empire. Duras, the slain challenger for leadership of the High Council, was responsible for Worf's discommendation and was also found guilty of conspiring with the Romulans. Based on the discommendation, Gowron asks Picard to ban the Duras family from the Council, but Picard insists that such action is beyond his jurisdiction.
Worf later asks Gowron to restore his family name, but Gowron refuses, claiming it would create further dissension among Council members. Arriving at the Empire, Worf requests a leave of absence and travels to a Klingon ship on which his brother Kurn serves as captain. Kurn informs Worf that he has created his own alliance that will defy Gowron and the Duras family. Worf, however, insists that Kurn remain loyal to the Klingon leadership, devising a plan to back Gowron in exchange for restoration of their family honor.
When Picard and Gowron appear before the High Council to prepare for the installation, the proceedings are interrupted by an announcement from the Duras sisters that Duras' illegitimate son Toral will challenge Gowron for leadership. A majority of the Council votes in favor of the challenge, and the matter is turned over to neutral arbiter Picard for consideration. Later, the Duras sisters, Lursa and B'Etor, meet secretly with a Romulan general and a mysterious woman to discuss their plan to gain control of the Empire. The sisters invite Picard to their home to persuade him that a favorable vote for Toral is in the Federation's best interest. Picard skillfully expresses his grasp of the situation and his awareness of a possible Romulan alliance, and the following day informs the High Council that he has rejected Toral as a candidate. One by one, the Council members step to Toral's side to show their support.
Worf then meets with Gowron on his ship, offering the support of several Klingon warships in return for the restoration of his family's honor. Gowron insists on Federation help, but Worf refuses to involve Picard. As Gowron goads Worf about his divided loyalty, their ship is attacked by rebels loyal to the Duras family. Observing the battle from the U.S.S. Enterprise, Picard receives a plea for help from Gowron's ship. The captain's response is to order the U.S.S. Enterprise out of the combat area rather than drag the Federation into a civil war. Meanwhile, on board the Klingon ship, Worf is able to fend off the attackers until his brother's ship arrives and the rebel ships disengage. Gowron immediately proceeds with the installation, at which Picard is in attendance, restoring Worf's family honor immediately after the ceremony. Worf then beseeches Picard to intervene in the insurrection on behalf of Gowron, but Picard stands by his commitment to stay out of Klingon internal affairs. Picard then orders Worf to return to the U.S.S. Enterprise, leaving a torn Worf to ponder whether he will remain with Starfleet or return to his people.