I've written myself into a sci-fi cliche which I have never seen done well: two characters meet in virtual reality.
The gist of my scene is one character has been in a pseudocoma, more aware of her surroundings than anyone knew. Another character needs to make a decision about her welfare, and uses technology to connect to her mind. She discovers the patient is not a vegetable. She is mentally impaired but with her personality and desires intact. Although she has been talked about by others, this is her only scene where she has her own voice.
I can think of probably a dozen examples in popular media where two people meet in some kind of virtual reality/ethereal plane and have a long philosophical infodump that kills all story momentum – the film Contact does everything wrong: arbitrary CGI location, the other character is a 1-dimensional mysterious stranger, the dialog is all tell no show, and the momentum which has been building suspense about the MC's physical safety abruptly changes to bland generalizations about the meaning of life. Rather than a narrative climax, the scene is almost a Bingo card of what not to do when writing.
Similar but different, in the TV series Dark Matter, a character dies and her consciousness is transferred to a VR gazebo where other characters occasionally visit, but even with multiple scenes she never feels like a substantial character who can influence the narrative. She only exists to explain some history or as a prop for another character's emotional development. She is never more than just a woman in a box.
I've attempted to state my question better, but it honestly boils down to: how can I make a meeting in VR less dumb? I'll try to avoid obvious cliches, but I feel there is probably a narrative problem with any scene that takes the MC to an "other space" just to talk to a character we know we'll never see again. I also need to make this character have enough charisma and impact in her one scene to change the other character's opinion as a firm plot turning point. I need to show she is still enough of herself that her desires can't be dismissed, despite all prior indications to the contrary.