“Realm of Fear” is the 128th episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. It is the second episode of the sixth season.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, Lieutenant Reginald Barclay is having a paralysing fear of the transporter and is convinced he is being attacked by a creature inside the beam.
The episode was written by Brannon Braga and directed by Cliff Bole, and was broadcast on 28 September 1992. This episode focuses on a science fiction plot about Barclay, played by actor Dwight Schultz. The overall mission involves the Enterprise 1701-D (Galaxy-class) encountering the starship USS Yosemite, which is trapped and missing her crew complement. This provides a backdrop for the fears and experiences of Barclay to be explored and is noted as case of exploring a new facet of the character which was previously oriented towards comedy relief.
The Enterprise comes to the assistance of the USS Yosemite, a science vessel where several crewmen have gone missing after a transporter accident. The Enterprise is unable to transport directly to the ship due to interference, but Lt. Reginald Barclay suggests linking the transporter systems of both ships, allowing them to transport one-by-one to the Yosemite albeit after a lengthy dematerialisation/materialisation process. Barclay, assigned as part of the team, hesitates on his turn and instead walks away.
Barclay discusses the matter with Counsellor Deanna Troi, who teaches him Betazoid meditation techniques to help calm himself. Transporter Chief Miles O’Brien also provides Barclay with some advice on dealing with his fears, speaking how he overcame his fear of spiders, before attempting to transport him over again.
Barclay is safely transported to the Yosemite and continues to help the other engineering crew investigate the disappearance. On his return trip, Barclay believes he sees wormlike-creatures in the matter stream that attempt to approach him and touch his arm, but he materialises on the Enterprise without harm. He decides that he is suffering from transporter psychosis, a rare affliction.
His paranoia forces Troi to declare him unfit for duty. Barclay asks O’Brien to review the transporter logs, and O’Brien agrees there was a strange surge during Barclay’s transport. Barclay asks O’Brien to transport him again, recreating the surge, and Barclay again sees the creatures in the matter stream.
Barclay calls a meeting with the senior staff and explains his observations. Captain Picard orders a thorough review of the transport systems and those that have used it recently. Barclay’s arm is found to be out-of-phase, and further examination reveals microbes that were not detected by the biofilter. To remove the microbes, Barclay is put through the transport again, holding him in the matter stream for a longer duration to allow the biofilters to work. While in the stream, Barclay sees one of the creatures approach him, and at the last moment, he reaches out to grab it to his body.
When he materialises, one of the missing Yosemite crew safely materialises alongside him. Barclay quickly explains that the other crew members are the remaining worm creatures in the matter stream based on their equivalent numbers, and soon they rescue the remaining crew.
The Enterprise crew determine that an explosion near the Yosemite during the transport caused the people to become trapped. Later, Barclay and O’Brien meet at Ten-Forward to discuss the nature of fear, upon which O’Brien shows Barclay his pet spider Christina to share with a visibly frightened Barclay.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Cliff Bole.
- Writer(s): Brannon Braga.
- Release Date: 28 September 1992.
- Running Time: 45 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.