Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 4 Episode 19

The Nth Degree

Aired Unknown Apr 01, 1991 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (5)

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out of 10
221 votes
  • Barclay: The Next Generation....

    .... 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.
  • Flowers for Barclay

    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.)
  • 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.

    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.
  • 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.

    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 9.1
  • Easily the best Barclay episode, and good enough to satisfy the detractors. One half "Flowers for Algernon", one half "2001 A Space Oddyssey."

    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.