This Data episode is a throwback that wouldn't be out of place amidst any of TNG's seven seasons. It's a vanilla concept that doesn't break any new ground (outside of being the rare medical mystery where the audience is ahead of the characters.) It is nonetheless well executed and mildly entertaining.
The B story is, surprisingly, not about the Enterprise crew trying to find Data (probably because Patrick Stewart was unavailable for most of the shoot) but it is instead about Riker giving Troi a command test. It's somewhat implausible and predictable, but short and inoffensive.
In this Episode Data looses his memory among a pre-warp civilization, and Counselor Troi........ goes for the rank of Commander. The idea of Dianna Troi being in a command position is full of holes as it is, but the fact that she is now Data's superior officer is absurd. Data is the ships 2nd officer. Dianna Troi is a therapist. I guess they'll let anyone command a starship these days. That's right, Harry Kim spent 7 years as an Ensign, but a therapist has command authority on the Enterprise. The episode's integrity was saved by Data's storyline. It's cool to see him try and figure out who he is whilst among primitives. FIRE, WATER, ROCK, & SKY are the 4 "elements" that are in everything and everyone. Hey, I said primitives. Don't watch the episode to see "Commander" Troi pilot the Enterprise to its doom, watch it to see Data cure radiation poisoning when he doesn't even remember what radiation is.
I don't know why the writers felt the Data story was not strong enough to carry out the entire episode; though it's nothing earth-shattering by this point, it's a nice story that exploits Brent Spiner's chemistry with child actors. The irony that Data (or rather his actions) are responsible for killing the villages does nothing to spoil the story.
The other tale - Troi's promotion - is not worthless, but it's more than a little implausible. As numerous people have asked, is it really so easy to be promoted on the Enterprise - even after throwing a tantrum in front of the first officer?
There are weaker episodes, but the show was clearly well past its prime here.
This episode requires a leap of faith from the viewer: we have to believe that the power surge that causes Data's amnesia blocks his memory of who he is and where he's from, selectively allows him to function, retain the ability to communicate, read the English word "radioactive" off his container but forget what the word means, and have enough skills to cure radioactive poisoning. It's a little too convenient. But viewers willing to entertain such a scenario will enjoy the episode.
Data's adventure in the village is interesting enough. Ronnie Clark Edwards of Waltons fame is strong as Talur, a woman who leads her village academically in a society just beginning scientific progress. After villagers start getting sick from radiation poisoning, we get exactly the reaction we expect: a round of the Salem witch trials. But there's no legal proceeding, a desperate village impales Data right as he delivers the cure into the town well.
The subplot with Troi earning her rank of commander deserved more time. The premise of the final test of a commander seems realistic. You have to be willing to order someone to their death to save the entire ship. It might have been fun to let the viewer "play along" with the disaster-handling task, and even give us a hint at what she needs to realize. Instead we watch her take the test once and Troi immediately figures it out the second Riker wants to fail her. One wonders: just how many commanders are we going to have on this ship until someone gets transferred?
An interesting note about this episode is you don't even see Picard until the final scene when Data recovers in sickbay.
This episode isn't in my favorites, but I don't mind seeing it from time to time either.
This episode begins differently than the others. Dr Krusher is commanding the “Enterprise” while Data is on Barkon IV. She notifies Data that she will be leaving. Data does not respond. So Crusher assumes that Data can’t hear her
This episode begins differently than the others. Dr Krusher is commanding the “Enterprise” while Data is on Barkon IV. She notifies Data that she will be leaving. Data does not respond. So Crusher assumes that Data can’t hear her because of atmospheric interference. Unknown to Crusher Data has suffered complete memory loss and is carrying a container that says radioactive. Data comes across a settlement and is asked what is in the case. Data lets a settler open the case. Data lets the settler hold the fragments. Has Data lost it? Meanwhile Troi takes her bridge officers exam.