93 – The Nth Degree

Grade: B

The Nth Degree (1991) on IMDb


Dr Crusher has been working with Reginald Barclay for the past 6 weeks to build up his acting ability. He’s still very rusty, but apparently he’s getting better. Meanwhile, the Enterprise has arrived at the Argus Array, a powerful Federation telescope that has ceased to function properly. Geordi LaForge and Barclay have been sent to investigate. Suddenly, Barclay gets zapped by some energy beam and he’s knocked out.


I always enjoy these episodes with Lt. Barclay. In this one, he plays a huge role as he transforms from an engineer with no self-confidence into an engineering genius. He advances to the point where the ship’s computer can’t keep up with the calculations in his brain. So he programs the Holodeck to create a neural interface that would allow him to keep working. It’s great to see him transform into a self-confident and extremely intelligent person, and yet it’s exciting to watch as well. Dwight Schultz does a fantastic job playing the character, and he never misses a step.

The acting is also excellent. You can almost see how gradually Barclay gains knowledge, intelligence and confidence. On top of that, the rest of the regular actors don’t do that much, which is fine, since this is a Barclay-centric episode.

The weakest part of this episode seems to be the payoff. So we spend all this time finding out how Barclay is able to get the Enterprise to the center of the galaxy to meet some new aliens we’ve never heard of. They appear at the end of the episode and all we get at that point is “the Enterprise spends 10 days there and gains data that will take Federation scholars decades to grasp.” Hmm. I guess all I can say about this is that it must not have been very interesting stuff, since it never comes up again after this episode. The fact that they never mention any of this again later seems to mean the writer really didn’t know how to end this episode.

Other than that, the rest of the episode is fine. I recommend it if you haven’t seen it, but mostly to see Schultz’s performance.

Of Note

In this episode, Barclay gets the Enterprise 30,000 light years away from its previous position in just a couple of minutes. The irony is that in the Voyager series, Barclay tries to get Captain Janeway and friends back to Earth when they were at least that far away.