In an unexplored region of space the Enterprise approaches a "hole in space" and becomes trapped within the phenomenon. A Romulan Warbird attacks, but turns out to be an illusion. Then the Enterprise's sister ship USS Yamato appears. Riker and Worf beam over, to find that it too is an illusion.

The whole scenario is part of a plan of an alien named Nagilum, who wants to study human reactions to death. When Nagilum kills a crew member and announces that half of the crew will die in further experiments, Picard orders the ship's self-destruct. He calls off the procedure in the last seconds of the countdown. Nagilum appears again, stating that it has learned enough by just watching the crew's preparations to die, and releases the ship.

Errors and Explanations

Internet Movie Database

Incorrectly regarded as goofs

  1. When Picard and Riker set the auto-destruct, the computer asks for a time interval, and after a spirited discussion, they set the time for 20 minutes. In 11001001, the time interval was set by the computer at five minutes, which suggests that this was the standard interval, and, at the time, their only option, given their situation. (IMDB) There is nothing to suggest that the interval cannot be altered as desired under any circumstances.

The Nitpicker's Guide
Next Generation Trekkers
Volume 2

Plot Oversights

  1. In all, the Enterprise fires two probes into the area of blackness. Riker says that the second disappears sooner than the first. Yet Wesley pipes up and says he has charted the boundary of the “hole,” and the ship can move closer it Picard chooses. lsn’t this just a little presumptuous? It the probes disappeared at different locations, doesn't that imply that the boundary moves? And even it the probes actually disappeared at the same location, isn't this a three-dimensional object with lots of outcroppings? How can you know where a boundary is on an object like that with only two plot points? Maybe both probes were scanning in all three dimensions?
  2. While preparing to beam over to the Yamato, Wort tells Riker that he’s familiar with the ship and suggests that they beam to the aft station of the Yamato’s bridge. Doesn't the Yamato turn out to be almost an exact copy of the Enrerprise? (aside from the weird spatial distortions, of course). Wouldn't Riker be familiar with the layout of the Yamato as well? Or Picard? Or anybody who lives on the Enterprise? The Yamato interior may not be exactly identical to that of Enterprise.

Changed Premises

  1. In discussing the area of blackness, Riker asks Data if there are any records on anything similar. Data checks and responds that there isn‘t. However, Kirk‘s Enterprise encountered an area of darkness in The Immunity Syndrome.Data could have taken Picard at his word, and only searched for areas of blackness, which may not have included the area scanned during the events depicted in The Immunity Syndrome.
  2. This episode cinches O‘Brien's demotion sometime between Power Play and Realm of Fear. When I noted that O‘Brien suddenly wore a single hollow pip in “Realm of Fear" and wondered why he was demoted, l received all manner of letters proclaiming that O'Brien was never an officer, that those pips he wore were really some type of enlisted man's rank, and that the single hollow pip was actually a promotion (something like a chief master sergeant). Yet, in this episode, just before beaming over to the Yamato, Riker calls O'Brien “Lieutenant. ”(There‘s a story floating around Trekdom that O'Brien only received a field promotion to lieutenant from Picard and lost it for some reason before “Power Play.‘ Seems a bit convoluted to me.) O'Brien may have received a temporary field commission, due to his status as head of the transporter section, and later chose to revert to being an NCO for some reason.[N 1]

Equipment Oddities

  1. After Riker tells Wesley to fly the Enterprise out of the void on impulse, an outside shot of the ship shows it taking off. Then the scene returns to the bridge. if you look closely at the under- side of the right armrest of Picard’s chair, you'll see that the bulb has burned out. (It comes back on later, so either a Starfleet maintenance crew ran up in the middle of the crisis to replace the bulb, or the later bridge scenes were actually shot before this scene.) Maybe it managed to repair itself?
  2. Riker and Worf make it back to the Enterprise, storm out of the transporter room, and storm onto the bridge. Miraculously, the phasers and tricorders they carried have disappeared. Riker seems very anxious to speak his piece to Picard as he stalks off the turbolift. It doesn’t seem as it he would take this moment to drop by ship's stores. Riker and Worf probably handed their equipment to a subordinate en-route to the bridge.

Nit Central

  1. Keith Alan Morgan on Wednesday, May 12, 1999 - 4:51 am:When trying to show the captain the area of blackness Data claims it is visible on the screen, then Picard has to magnify the image. Why didn't Data just magnify the image to begin with? (Or does Picard just need glasses?) He didn't have Picard's permission to magnify the image straight away.
  2. When Data searches records for similar areas of blackness he says there is nothing in Federation records. Well, what about checking non-federation records? While I realize Data is an android with a computer memory, shouldn't they check the ship's computer for this information? Maybe the programmers had put information in it that Data did not have? How are they supposed to access non Federation records?
  3. Worf can't get the Yamato's computer to answer him and Riker says, "Let's find a turbolift to the Bridge." If the ship's computer is not working, then how does Riker expect the turbolift to work? the turbolift may be equipped with an emergency manual control system.
  4. At the beginning of the show Picard says that there has never been a manned exploration of this region of space, but when talking to Nagilum, Picard says that they represent a Federation of Planets in this area. It probably became Federation territory long before anyone bothered to explore it.
  5. Nagilum needs to kill one third to one half of the crew to understand death, but didn't Worf tell of a Klingon legend about an area of blackness that swallows ships? Presumably, this refers to Nagilum, but if Nagilum has been swallowing ships for all these years, then why doesn't he understand death yet? If the Klingon legend is about Nagilum, then his claim about killing the crew must be a lie to see how Picard and the crew will react. In other words a psychological test. Also if the Klingon legend does refer to Nagilum, it also explains why Nagilum didn't bother to examine Worf earlier on the bridge as Klingons are, by now, old hat. The legend may not refer to Nagilum.
  6. SOphie Hawksworth on Wednesday, March 06, 2002 - 2:35 pm: In The Naked Now, Data took a long time to check for records of similar phenomenon, needed the science station to do it, and only arrived at the solution when Riker have him a big clue. Pres on Tuesday, August 22, 2006 - 7:03 am: Well having looked it up then, now he already knows all that stuff, doesn't he? :)


  1. There is a precedent for this. In an episode of M*A*S*H, an officer forges promotion papers for Radar to become a Lieutenant, in order to settle a poker debt, only for Radar to ask to become an NCO again.[1]


The Next Generation Season 2
The Child I Where Silence Has Lease I Elementary, Dear Data I The Outrageous Okona I The Schizoid Man I Loud as a Whisper I Unnatural Selection I A Matter of Honor I The Measure of a Man I The Dauphin I Contagion I The Royale I Time Squared I The Icarus Factor I Pen Pals I Q Who I Samaritan Snare I Up the Long Ladder I Manhunt I The Emissary I Peak Performance I Shades of Gray
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