Warning: 25-year-old TNG spoilers below! Imbibe at your own risk! If you wanted to see Dr. Crusher at her finest, read further!
It’s always interesting how certain things lodge themselves in your brain, to be retrieved only at certain personally defined times…
There’s a scene from ‘A Matter of Perspective*’ where Riker says “Riker to Enterprise, I’m ready to leave. Now.” I often replay these words to myself when it is clearly (in my head) time for me to leave. 8 words from a TV show I saw once 25 years ago, and yet it has stayed with me and the memory has perhaps only gotten stronger with time.
This brings us to the title of the post, ‘Three’. This is from a different TNG episode: ‘Cause and Effect****’, where the Enterprise is caught in a time loop, and Data** sends himself a message so that they can break free. This message is ‘Three’, which represents the number of pips on Riker’s collar that Data glances at just before the Enterprise is destroyed. Data surmises that he was trying to tell himself that Riker was correct and he was not***, and vents the shuttle bay doors, saving the ship. Earlier, he and Geordie had described the effect as a ‘post-hypnotic suggestion’. Interestingly, this may have been more powerful than they realized. Often, when I am asked a question, I will randomly answer with ‘Three’. Sometimes I do this because I enjoy putting people into ‘Mu*****’ space, but sometimes it’s probably just because of my memories or subconscious effects from this episode.
Incidentally, this was probably my most favourite episode for Beverly Crusher. I feel like she was the only one who could play the part she played, bringing together the early detection of Deja Vu, with the scientific and analytical mind to analyze what was going on and to gather the data that no one else would think to do. Data may have sent and received the message, but Beverly told him and Geordie that something was going on, and gathered and analyzed data to prove it. If you like this character (or want to), watch this episode.
Also incidentally, it felt almost like the scenario may have been designed by Q (or some being like him), as there are just enough clues for the crew to figure it out, without that legendary crew, they would have been trapped for 90 years, just like the Bozeman, but also because it hints at helping humans understand space and time just a little bit better, like Q was talking about in ‘All Good Things…’
*A really interesting look at perception and consent, as well as other things.
**And Geordie. They have an excellent bromance, from before such a thing was named.
***Riker wanted to decompress the main shuttle bay to move the Enterprise away from the collision, Data wanted to use the tractor beam to push the other ship away. Why they didn’t simply use both from the start, or have established emergency procedures for moving the ship when engines and thrusters are down is anyone’s guess.
****Incidentally, one has to google ‘data three tng’ to retrieve this episode. ‘data three’ is a data center, and ‘tng three’ is the third season of TNG. Interesting to think how Google and its pseudo-venn-diagram method of searching has changed the way we think******.
*****I like to refer to this as ‘the space between meaning’, similar to the effect of asking the question ‘What is the difference between a duck?’. (This will be the subject of a later post.)
******I used this when I was playing a party game many years ago. (I thought it was Cranium, but it looks like it was more likely Taboo.) I would get a word like ‘Superman’, then name two words which, if you googled for them, would return ‘Superman’.