Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 4 Episode 19

The Nth Degree

6
Aired Unknown Apr 01, 1991 on CBS
8.2
out of 10
User Rating
213 votes
5

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Stardate: 44704.2

An alien probe transforms Barclay from a shy, awkward character into an arrogant super-genius who is able to interface with the Enterprise's computer through the holodeck.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Barclay: The Next Generation....

    8.0
    .... Lt. Barclay is not the most popular crew member aboard the star ship Enterprise but, since the events of "Hollowed Pursuits," the crew has learned to treat him with more care. While working with Geordi on a shuttle, trying to understand a mysterious probe outside a satellite, a strange event occurs that knocks Barclay unconscious. After this event, the nervous Barclay grows confident and starts finding quick, brilliant answers to complicated, dangerous questions and situations. Barclay embraces his newfound confidence but Geordi and Troi become suspicious - the rest of the crew soon joins in as Barclay begins to take over the Enterprise and take his consciousness to a new level.



    I am not a huge fan of Lt. Barclay as a character - I loved "Hollow Pursuits" as well as Barclay's cameo in 'Star Trek: First Contact' but, looking at him as a character, Barclay has seemed to me as a largely two-dimensional series stand-in for the nerdiest fans. And not just nerds - I'm talking about the creepy virgins at Star Trek conventions who speak fluent Klingon and have been court-ordered to stand at least 500 feet away from Nichelle Nichols. "Hollow Pursuits" was great for the way it called out Barclay's creepy fantasy plays with his own co-workers but I didn't feel that the character needed to be revisited, let alone for an entire episode.



    So "The Nth Degree" did not work very well for me when it was about Barclay's nervousness and rise to confidence - the character just isn't that interesting and I found it strange that it took as long as it did for everyone to catch up with Geordi about how weird and unnatural everything was. On the other hand, the episode gets more and more interesting as Barclay falls into the rabbit hole of his own brilliance and the crew has to react accordingly. Also, Levar Burton stands out more than usual with a terrific performance.moreless
  • Flowers for Barclay

    7.0
    Barclay (Dwight Schultz) returns for this "Flowers for Algernon" story that has shades of Star Trek V (not to mention 2001: A Space Odyssey). Schultz is, of course, great; and "Nth Degree" has some unique visuals that are a delight to see. Unfortunately, the episode slows down in the second half, losing steam before an anticlimactic (and very different from "Flowers") ending. (Ironically, the most memorable part of the episode might be its seven minute opening, one of the longest openings in Star Trek history.)moreless
  • After a mysterious space probe zaps mild-mannered Lt. Barclay, the crew of the Enterprise begin to notice a change in their humble crewmate. His intelligence and confidence soar, but he becomes a liability when he merges with the computer.moreless

    9.0
    The return of Lt. Barclay provides for a very good episode, unless you happen to dislike Reg. If you do, this might be your favorite Barclay episode ever since he doesn't act like himself for half of it. If you like him, though, you'll probably still enjoy the change, getting a glimpse of the confident man he probably has the power within himself to be, if not necessarily the Einstein-correcting genius. It's a fun story as our crew has to deal with their friend's dramatic changes, Cyrano de Bergerac, Holodeck-rigged computer interfaces, a galactic journey, and a giant floating head. Like I said, it's a fun thing and it's probably a good thing that we didn't get more of Mr. Barclay. Less is more, as they say, and this episode may be evidence of that.moreless
  • Lt. Barclay is in the spotlight in this episode. We begin with Barclay doing a play. He does A good job. But in reality we all know he is a nervous person. This all changes when he is aboard a shuttlecraft with Lt. Commander LaForge.moreless

    9.3
    Lt. Barclay is in the spotlight in this episode. We begin with Barclay doing a play. He does A good job. But in reality we all know he is a nervous person. This all changes when he is aboard a shuttlecraft with Lt. Commander LaForge. A sudden bright flash knocks Barlcay unconscious. He does wake up. He has becomes increasingly smart. His IQ is now way off the scale. He links his own brain to the computer. He manages to open a subspace distortion which send the "Enterprise" to the center of the galaxy. I rate this one a 9.1moreless
  • Easily the best Barclay episode, and good enough to satisfy the detractors. One half "Flowers for Algernon", one half "2001 A Space Oddyssey."

    8.0
    I'm not a huge Lt. Barclay fan. Yeah, he was never as obnoxious as Lwaxana Troi or Alexander Rozhenko. But the character was generally one dimensional to a fault.



    The episode where Barclay ISN'T Barclay is thus more up my alley. The first half is a light-hearted nod at "Flowers for Algernon", as Barclay becomes a confident - even arrogant - genius who charms the previously unattainable Counselor Troi and does all sorts of other amusing hijinks. It's enjoyable and probably could have filled out an entire episode if the writers had been so inclined.



    Unfortunately, they decided to shift to a "2001: A Space Oddyssey" mode in the second half, with Super-Barclay in HAL's role. I didn't find this part of the episode to be too satisfying. Others may feel differently.



    Nevertheless, the best installment in the Barclay canon.moreless
Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart

Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William T. Riker

Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner

Lt. Cmdr. Data

Gates McFadden

Gates McFadden

Dr. Beverly Crusher

Marina Sirtis

Marina Sirtis

Counsellor/Lt. Cmdr. Deanna Troi

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge

Kay E. Kuter

Kay E. Kuter

Cytherian

Guest Star

Saxon Trainor

Saxon Trainor

Lt. Linda Larson

Guest Star

Page Leong

Page Leong

Ensign April Anaya

Guest Star

Dwight Schultz

Dwight Schultz

Lt. (J.G.) Reginald "Reg" Barclay III

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Once the Enterprise was traveling at warp, they should have been able to use photon torpedoes without adjusting the shields. Since the probe was following them, the explosions would occur behind them. Traveling at warp, the explosion radiation could never catch up to the ship.

    • In the scene where Barclay is discussing a problem with Albert Einstein, the board they use for their discussion actually shows just basic formulas from Einstein's "Theory Of General Relativity," nothing a physics student in his third year couldn't comprehend let alone the chief engineer of a spaceship in the 24th century. Their conversation on the other hand is mainly nonsense and not related to the formulas on the board.

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Picard: Has Mr. Barclay done anything that could be considered... potentially threatening?
      Troi: Well... he did make a pass at me last night. (Riker looks shocked) A good one.

    • Barclay: The moon, yes, that'll be my home, my... paradise. I shall find there all the souls that I love; Socrates... Galileo... and when I arrive, they will question my worthiness. "What the devil is he doing here among us? Philosopher, scientist, musician, duelist? Here lies Hercules Sauvingnan, de Cyrano de Bergerac!" I would not have you weep any less for that charming, good and handsome Christian. I only ask this... that as the great cold surrounds my bones, you allow a double meaning for your mourning vale. And when you let fall your tears for him, some few will be... for me.

    • Barclay: Checkmate in nine moves.
      Troi: I didn't know you play chess.
      Barclay: I don't!

    • (Riker and Barclay walking after Barclay beefed up the Enterprise's shields in order to destroy the alien probe.)
      Riker: Mr. Barclay! Everyone's still trying to figure out exactly how you did it.
      Barclay: Well, it - it just occurred to me that I could set up a frequency harmonic between the deflector and the shield grid using the warp field generator as a power flow anti-attenuator and that of course naturally created an amplification of the inherent energy output.
      Riker: (looking perplexed) Uh-huh, I see that....

  • NOTES (0)

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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