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Star Trek TNG - Season 7 - Episode 17

Star Trek TNG - 7x17 - Masks

Originally Aired: 1994-2-21

Data is taken over by personalities from an extinct civilization. [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 4.08

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 30 26 13 13 12 17 10 9 11 13 13

- Troi says the two alien personalities are like the sun and the moon; that only one can be in control of Data at any given time. Has she never heard of a solar or lunar eclipse? In fact, on Earth, there are cases when both the sun and the moon are visible at the same time. What a terrible analogy. They should have just used night and day instead.


Remarkable Scenes
- Data: "What does it feel like to lose one's mind?"

My Review
I'm not fond of this one. Brent Spiner's usual excellent acting is wasted on a silly android multiple personalities plot. The biggest problem with the overall plot is that it seems to go nowhere and make no point. It wanders aimlessly to the inevitable reset button conclusion. There is no character development because Data is out of character virtually the entire episode. Only Picard is interesting in the episode, because he's so fascinated by ancient cultures. Overall the idea behind the episode is a good one, but this particular implementation just came off as silly.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-06-25 at 2:24pm:
    This is what happens when the writing staff takes LSD before creating the script. This is an absolute off the wall episode that differs from anything that has ever been produced in the Trek universe. Usually, having an off the wall episode brings vitality to a show, but Masks fails on many levels.

    It is hard to believe that while the ship is being converted to an alien landscape, that no vital systems would disappear, causing destruction. By the way, where was the rest of the crew in this episode. Did they send everyone to their quarters?

    On top of all that, this episode is just boring. The plot develops at a snail's pace as the crew tries to discover what the solution is. It feels like a bad three-hour movie. The dialog between Picard, Worf, Riker, and Troi is drab. There are attempts at humor ("the observation lounge is a swamp"), but nobody is laughing as they watch this episode.

    The shameful thing is, the idea behind this episode is fantastic. It probably would have worked if the alien device did not possess Data. I would have rather seen the actual aliens appearing on the ship. The episode does not fail in the art department, however. It seems like they spent a lot of time and money to produce the set pieces.

    I would give this episode a 0, but I'll give it a 1 because of its artistic quality.
  • From David Murray on 2011-04-01 at 3:48pm:
    I recently aquired the entire series of TNG and decided to watch them all from beginning to end. I was very pleased to discover that there were about 4 episodes that somehow I had never seen on TV before and so it was cool to get to watch "new" episodes of TNG. However, the last of these "new" episodes for me was Masks. I must admit I could barely make it through this episodes. I was cringing constantly at how horrible it was. Not only was it down right dumb, but it was also boring. Take the TOS episode "Spock's Brain" which people say is really bad. Well, it is bad. But despite out dumb it is, it is actually fun to watch. Masks is not entertaining in the least. In fact I'd probably have fallen asleep except for the cringing of bad scenes keeping me awake. I would probably rate this as the worst episode of all time.
  • From MJ on 2011-04-26 at 2:10pm:
    I guess I'm one of the few who didn't find this one so bad. Average, yes, but not horrible.

    The main problem I have is how long it takes the crew to recognize that Korgano is the moon. Picard should have figured that out almost immediately. Instead, they stretch the problem out beyond believability. This is what makes a potentially solid episode average, in my view.

    As for vital ship systems not falling victim to transformation, I suppose it could be explained that this archive is so advanced and sophisticated that it could recognize which aspects of the ship are safe to transform...after all, this thing apparently interfaced with Data and uploaded thousands of personalities into his system. Clearly the technology is beyond that of the Federation in some regards.

    It does seem strange that such an advanced culture would be so superstitious as to believe in sun-goddesses and moon-gods. However, it could be that the creators of this archive were actually showcasing their own ancient history, rather than the way their culture was at the time the archive was built.

    So I think some loose ends can be tied up here but I agree it's very dull at some points. With Spiner's acting, the set design, and at least a somewhat plausible story, I give it a 5.
  • From Bronn on 2011-10-05 at 5:02pm:
    I have to agree with the above commenter. It's by no means a classic episode, and the premise is silly, with a lot of nonsense science. But Spiner and Stewart are excellent actors who really want to make this high-concept (shudder whenever Brennan Braga ever uses that phrase) story work. What I love about Brent Spiner is that he really commits-they ask him to play a series of different mythological personalities that are taking over Data's programming, and he absolutely runs with it. Watching him provides the only moments when this episode is not completely absurd. I'd give it a 4, just based on how much I like Brent Spiner.
  • From Arbit on 2012-05-01 at 5:03pm:
    Just awful. Some "highlights":

    - Picard getting impatient and deciding to just melt the comet (!??!?)
    - Ancient civilization capable of creating a gigantic space temple many times the size of the enterprise living in fear of a sun god
    - The crew struggling to identify the crescent-shaped companion symbol of the sun symbol (perhaps... they are antlers?)
    - Alien communication device accidentally transmutes spaceship parts into crappy looking concrete blocks and random jungle foliage (I can see it causing power surges and other weird phenomenon, but what sort of communications tech screws up so bad it starts transmuting matter? Maybe I'll try to plug a USB flashdrive into an old PS2 port and see if my computer will transmute my couch into gold bricks)
    - Picard literally talking the sun god to sleep
    - Etc etc

    Maybe the worst part about this episode is it was a waste of a totally awesome premise. An ancient 87+ million year old comet/temple, traveling in deep space to nowhere, starts to interfere with the ship's systems, projecting strange runes on readouts and materializing strange totems everywhere! What sort of Cthulian interdimensional horror have the crew uncovered? The crew, belonging to an intergalactic hippie empire, immediately assume it's an ancient repository of information. "Yeah right" you think. "And the creators chucked into deep space where no one had any reasonable chance of finding it? Set course for INSANITY, warp ten billion!!!"

    No, it's really just an archive and it accidentally started projecting its boring sun/moon god mythology onto the ship.
  • From L on 2013-05-04 at 5:36am:
    A proto-Egyptian/Sumerian civilisation's equivalent of the afterlife; they've somehow recorded the personalities and experiences of key citizens, stuck that record in a starship, inside a comet, and they replay themselves through any available medium once activated, ie, Data and the Enterprise's computer system.
    Interesting and silly at the same time. What was so important about this scenario that a civilisation developed technology that only rational minds could produce, to replay something that only irrational superstition could produce?
    An ironic public service announcement?
    I like the idea of exploring the intersection between myth and high-tech ability, but was not convinced.
  • From Daniel on 2014-01-25 at 3:01am:
    My biggest complaint about this episode is that Picard - despite his extensive studies of mythology and ancient cultures - could not figure out that the crescent moon symbol he kept seeing was the moon. As many cultures use similar symbols, and he already knew the other symbol was the sun, it was an obvious correlation.

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