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Dr. Crusher is serving bridge duties on the Enterprise on the night shift when Counselor Troi returns from a class reunion. Crusher informs Troi that Data has gone to a pre-Industrial planet, Barkon IV, to retrieve the radioactive remains of a deep-space probe that crashed there. Also, because of the remote location of the crash site, there is no danger of Data encountering any of the native inhabitants. During the exchange that follows, Troi inquires as to why Crusher would want bridge duties when they aren't required for her medical duties, to which Crusher replies that she wanted "to stretch herself a little."
On Barkon IV, Data has walked into a village, his uniform severely damaged and his communicator gone, carrying a metal case reading "Radioactive." He encounters the town magistrate Garvin and his daughter Gia, whereupon it is revealed that Data has no memory of who he is or where he came from. Garvin opens the metal case and finds that it contains metal fragments.
Troi, meanwhile, approaches Commander Riker about taking the Bridge Officers qualification test, citing reasons similar to Dr. Crusher's and an incident on the Enterprise where she had to assume command. He agrees, but informs her that despite giving her his support he'll be a hard judge.
Data, meanwhile, is being examined by the village's healer, Talur, who concludes based on "current scientific methodology" that Data is an ice man. After she leaves, Gia names Data "Jayden" after a story she read. The next day, Garvin sells the fragments to the village blacksmith, Skoran, who will use them for jewelry. As they do this, the stand under the anvil cracks, dropping it onto the leg of the blacksmith's apprentice. Data easily lifts the anvil from the apprentice's leg; since Garvin and Skoran couldn't do so together, this fit of strength adds to the mystery of "Jayden"'s existence. That evening, Data inadvertently begins challenging Talur's non-empirical pseudo-scientific approach. Garvin begins displaying the first signs of radiation poisoning due to his handling the fragments.
On the Enterprise, the ship is on red alert and Troi is in Engineering attempting to avert the crisis along with Worf and La Forge, but despite her best efforts antimatter containment fails and the ship explodes. Troi is then standing on the holodeck, where Riker sarcastically congratulates her for destroying the Enterprise (holographically) and therefore failing the bridge officers test. Despite her questions, he refuses to tell her what she did wrong, as she has to take it again if she wants to become a bridge officer.
On Barkon IV, Data is attending a class being taught by Talur when Garvin suddenly becomes ill while talking to Skoran. Talur and Data take him home, puzzled by his symptoms. Data, not satisfied by her conclusions, begins his own investigation. As he is gathering supplies, he discovers that other townspeople are also suffering Garvin's symptoms. As he continues his investigation, Data notices that Gia, who is also displaying symptoms, is wearing a pendant made from the metal from Data's case.
Troi meanwhile is running through every conceivable variation on how to keep from destroying the ship in the simulation but still can't figure out what she's doing wrong. Riker appears and tells her that he wants to cancel the rest of the test as she is no closer to passing after three tries. Troi challenges him to tell her whether it's a test of character or if there really is a way to prevent destroying the ship, but he confirms that there is a solution. After he leaves, she realizes that Riker has given her a clue when he says that his first duty is to the ship. She immediately goes to the holodeck and begins the test again, but with a different outcome: in order to save the ship, she must order the holographic La Forge to repair a conduit inside an active warp plasma shaft, the radiation of which would kill him. Once the holographic La Forge exits to his death, the simulation ends and Riker appears, not surprised she took the test again and telling her that she passed. She hesitates, telling him that he was right about her not being bridge officer material, but he tells her that she is wrong and is now a Commander.
Data has determined that the metal fragments are the cause of the illness. Talur leaves to collect the fragments and while she is gone, Skoran and the other villagers attack Data, whom they believe is the cause of the illness. During the confrontation Data is damaged, revealing his mechanical parts under his skin. They leave and Data shows his nature to Gia, who while shocked accepts that he means to help. Hours later, he comes up with a cure, which he administers to Garvin and Gia before determining that he needs to administer it to as many people at once as possible, and the only way to do that is to add it to the town's well. While doing this, he is again confronted by the townspeople and is impaled, collapsing and apparently dead.
Some time later, Riker and Crusher appear in the town in disguise inquiring after Data. They meet Gia, fully recovered from her sickness, who tells them that "Jayden" was her friend too, indicating where he has been buried, as well as where the fragments are. After Gia leaves, Crusher surreptitiously scans the area with a tricorder, determining that Data is indeed buried there. They beam him up to the ship and quietly leave the village.
Data then wakes up in Sickbay where he has been repaired, but he has no memory of the events that took place on Barkon IV. He informs them that while trying to download the probe's onboard computer a power surge must have overloaded his positronic matrix, resulting in his memory loss, but judging from his clothes he must have "had an interesting time." He then notices Troi's Commander pips and asks about her promotion, whereupon she tells him that he can now call her "Sir."
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Balance of Power