Night Terrors (TNG S4 E17)

Published on: 5th March, 2024

Night Terrors (Star Trek: The Next Generation, S4 E17) was recommended by Rob MacWolf (he/him), who said: It comes so so so close to being that point where space opera crosses over into cosmic horror, but then in a rare example of the REVERSE twilight zone twist veers away at the last second.

It ALMOST even invents a cosmic horror trope, now commonplace, DECADES in advance of Night in the Woods which much more widely disseminated it, the "the thing you thought was a feature of the landscape all along turns out to have been some being so unfathomably vast that you didn't see it all the while you were looking at it." But even after LOOKING like it's foreshadowing exactly that trope, the entire episode, it never does it.

The scares, the slow burn of tension, and the acting all prove they COULD do cosmic horror. There's maybe reasons that have to do with the ethos and goals of star trek that explain why they don't, but as someone who loves both cosmic horror and twilight zone twists it's fascinatingly frustrating.

Night Terrors first aired on March 18, 1991, written by story by Shari Goodhartz, teleplay by Pamela Douglas & Jeri Taylor, and directed by Les Landau

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About the Podcast

The Joy of Trek
Every Star Trek story is somebody's favorite, and that might as well be us!
Two lifelong besties (and their trusty engineer) adventure through the vast constellations of Star Trek's decades on TV, especially the lesser-loved stories.

But instead of bitching about why they’re bad, we’re going to find the joy in each of them, because everybody loves the great episodes, but it takes dedication, insight, and hard-working fools to love the clunkers too.

And by Jove, we are those fools!

Positive, inclusive and optimistic (though not uncritical!) we try to find the brilliance even in the least-loved episodes of our favorite TV shows!