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Season 1, Episode 6

Episode Details

Plot Summary | Ongoing Story and Character Developments
Unanswered Questions | Memorable Lines | Glitches
Trivia, Inside Jokes and References | NotePAD

Plot Summary

Harlan is in the bunkroom making a model. Radu startles him, causing him to smash his work. Harlan gets mad at Radu, and decides to pretend that Radu doesn't exist. He goes down to the engine room to work on his model. While in the engine room, Harlan spills his beverage on the console. There is an energy surge that zaps him and a regulator control.

The power surge is noticeable on the bridge, and Goddard sends Thelma down to do something about it. While she is working on the console, it becomes apparent that she cannot see or hear Harlan or the regulator. Also, Harlan is able to pass through objects, and Thelma passes through both Harlan and the regulator.

Harlan wanders around the ship, trying to get people's attention, but no one can see or hear him. He watches Davenport chew out the kids in the classroom. Later, he watches Radu, Cat and Thelma talking in the ComPost. He begins to realize that Radu is not such a bad guy after all, and is disturbed by the thought.

Meanwhile, system failures are beginning around the ship, and no one knows why. The jump tubes aren't working properly, and other things start going wrong.

The kids are also trying to be nicer to Ms. Davenport. Rosie and Bova make some fudge for her, but accidentally use glue instead of marshmallow sauce and glue her mouth shut, something that Goddard enjoys entirely too much.

Harlan notices that the regulator panel indicates a leak in the protomix, which is not reflected on the consoles the others can see. Harlan realizes this could be deadly for the crew, yet he has no way of warning them. He keeps trying, but he just can't get through to them. Finally, in the classroom, with the other kids, he shouts out that he is sorry... and Radu hears him.

Harlan is so excited to be heard that he starts shouting all sorts of information to Radu, including that everyone should stay out of the engine room, but the only thing Radu hears clearly is the word "engine room," so everybody goes there.

They discover the spilled beverage on the panel, and decide to reproduce the accident to bring Harlan back. Harlan, now visible, tells them about the leak, and it is repaired.

Ongoing Story and Character Developments

  • This is the first time they mention the Rigelians, who colonized Mercury, Saturn and Uranus. That was never quite made explicit in the series.
  • There is significant growth and change in Harlan and Radu's relationship in the course of this episode. Harlan comes to consciously realize that Radu is not such a bad guy, and is not so different from Harlan (Elmira's speech in Spung At Heart indicates that he subconsciously realized this, but this episode makes it conscious).
  • Radu admires Harlan's ability to speak his mind.
  • Radu is extremely loyal and group-oriented. He is more concerned about Harlan than any of the others because he recognizes that "we're a team; we need all our members."
  • Radu is heavier than he appears to be. When Goddard picks him up after he comes out of a malfunctioning jump tube, he has a great deal of trouble lifting him.
  • Radu can "focus" his hearing. Watch him do this at the end of the episode: he is focusing on Davenport, and doesn't notice Harlan talking right next to him.

Memorable Lines

Harlan: You know, Radu, I have been thinking about trying to be nice to you. I've got no idea why.
Radu: Because the commander told you to?
Harlan: OK, one idea why.

Harlan: Oh, man. Oh, man. Commander Goddard's gonna kill me. I broke the ship!

Thelma: I have been trying to deal with it. [a problem with the ship]
Goddard: How?
Thelma: By ignoring it and hoping the problem would go away.
Goddard: Find another way, please.

Harlan: Maybe I should just talk to Suzee, one invisible friend to another.

Radu: I could have broken my neck!
Thelma: Broken your neck? Without a toilet seat?

(Radu bangs his head after a jump tube mishap)
Goddard: Radu? Are you OK?
Radu (to Thelma): I'm fine, Commander Goddard. My, what a lovely hat.

Goddard: What, you're saying [Harlan]'s invisible or something?
Cat: Bet he doesn't make fun of Suzee now.


  • If Harlan can pass through people and objects, why doesn't he pass through the floor?
  • The incredible weight-gain jump tubes: Radu goes in thin, and comes out about 25 pounds heavier. The Radu stunt double who comes out of the malfunctioning jump tubes upside down is very noticeably larger and heavier than Kristian Ayre. This is the same stunt double they used in Who Goes Where?.
  • When the crew members walk through Harlan on their way to the engine room, Harlan shudders. But his 5th shudder (for Bova) comes BEFORE Bova walks through him.

Trivia, Inside Jokes and References

  • The episode title is a Beatles song title.
  • Catalina suggests fixing the problem by "reversing the polarity of the neutron flows." This is from the BBC science fiction show Dr. Who. One of the early doctors (Jon Pertwee) could never remember his technobabble lines, so he would substitute the line "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow." It became a running gag in Dr. Who. Thelma also suggests at one point that the Christa sometimes rearranges itself, which is something that the TARDIS in Dr. Who did.
  • When Davenport talks about getting even with the kids for accidentally putting glue in her fudge, Goddard remarks that this will teach them "No good deed goes unpunished," a quote from Mark Twain.
  • This episode was the second one filmed, and you can see that some of the characterizations and makeup are still a bit rough around the edges.
  • The Gizbot was created for this episode. It was the idea of the prop and set designer, Réal Proulx. The script called for Thelma wearing a toolbelt, and Réal suggested that the toolbelt could follow Thelma around. Peter wrote it into the script. Peter named the mobile toolbelt Shlomo, but Ted Jessup, Executive in Charge of Production for the series,wouldn't accept the name, so Peter renamed it Gizbot. (information provided by Peter David)

Unanswered Questions

  1. What caused the protomix leak?
  2. Thelma indicated that there have been problems with the ship generally since they passed through the white circle. What are they?

(Notes from co-creator Peter A. David)

"Nowhere Man" was one of the few truly frustrating episodes of the first season, with artificial jeopardy inserted at the insistence of Nickelodeon at the last minute and, consequently, causing the episode to lose a lot of its poignancy.

The original concept was that Harlan was fading away by degrees. At first he was rendered invisible (as per the finished show) but what was supposed to happen was that he was continuing to lose his hold on being in our world at all. In essence, he was going to slip out of reality and be lost forever, with no one being the wiser as to what had happened to him. Nickelodeon executives said that no one would be able to understand the concept; our pointing out that Trek fans had no problem wrapping themselves around the basic notion thirty years ago in "The Tholian Web" didn't penetrate. They also said there wasn't "enough jeopardy;" apparently a lead character facing oblivion wasn't enough jeopardy. Thus, an episode that was supposed to be a tight little character study wound up with a gratu5"> s "ship in trouble" plotline that distracted from the story we'd wanted to tell.

Little did we suspect that by second season we'd view this degree of meddling as "the good old days."

The episode also wasn't directed as well as it should have been. The director had no idea how to handle lengthy speeches by Davenport about light speed, and the soul-searching monologue by Harlan in the team room. As a result they were discarded and/or chopped up.

All in all, much better in original draft than in final filmed episode.


Episode Details provided by Tracey Rich.
This page was last updated on May 23, 1998.