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The Starship Enterprise, under the command of its new Captain, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart - Life Force ), sets off to Farpoint Station. The crew is a hotch-potch of politically correct token characters, such as tough babe Security Chief Tasha Yar ( Denise Crosby ) and token African-American (???) Klingon Lieutenant Worf (Michael Dorn). Some of the female crew still wear mini-dresses - but in the name of equality, so do some of the males.
En route to Farpoint the Enterprise is stopped by a giant energy barrier, and boarded by a super-powerful alien who calls himself Q (John De Lancie), very reminiscent of a TOS character, the Squire of Gothos. Picard sends off the main section of the ship, and takes four other crewmen with him to draw off Q's attentions. Helmsman O'Brien (Colm Meany) is left aboard the battle bridge, while the four main cast members are beamed away by Q. They are put on trial for the crimes of humanity, even though Data (Brent Spiner) is an android and Troi ( Marina Sirtis ) is half Betazoid.
This is blatantly a re-vamp of the pilot of the original series' pilot. The moral of that story was that human aggression would overcome any obstacle aliens put in our place. However, Next Generation has a different moral - the moral of pacifism and political correctness. Bleugh!
Meanwhile, on Farpoint Station we are introduced to Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes), a square-jawed Kirk type. Also on the station are babelicious Dr Beverly Crusher ( Gates McFadden ), who has a past with Captain Picard, and her annoying teenage son Wesley (Wil Wheaton). The inhabitants of the Station can mysteriously provide them with whatever they desire ... almost as if they have invented replicators!
To give a tiny bit of connection to The Original Series [TOS] , one of the original cast members is along for the ride. Admiral Bones McCoy gets a scene with Data, who escorts him to a shuttle-craft so he can fly back to the USS Hood. Bones is still alive and kicking at the age of 137, but he has developed a case of transporter phobia.
Now that the Enterprise has gotten away from Q, the actual encounter at Farpoint can happen. We get to meet Geordi LaForge, the token crippled (well, blind) African-American. Very 1980s Political-Correctness.
Riker meets Wesley and Data on the Holodeck. Well-shot, but ultimately the holodeck never really lived up to its potential.
The not-so-alien civilisation has tech that is too good to be true. Picard has to fulfil his promise to Q and discover the secret of Farpoint.
Members of the crew start acting strangely. The mystery is quickly solved - Data manually searches the ship's computer records, instead of just doing an automated search. He discovers a reference to the events of an episode of Star Trek: TOS .
Before the ep can run out of steam, Wesley introduces some very contrived jeopardy - and nearly gets the ship blown up.
Meanwhile, Tasha Yar ( Denise Crosby ) gets a scene with Commander Data. This was just a one-time thing, but the show-runners decided to make references to it in future episodes.
The Enterprise arrives at a planet of African-Americans. Tasha Yar ( Denise Crosby ) is kidnapped by the ruler, and forced to duel his wife for the job of First Wife.
The high point of the episode is when Data mentions an obscure language known as French ... in front of Jean-Luc Picard!
The Enterprise encounters an unfamiliar ship, which turns out to be from that mysterious new race, the Ferengi. Strangely, Picard does not recognise the ship - even though a major piece of his back-story involves him fighting a Ferengi vessel. However, he also does not recognise alien history, despite apparently being a trained archaeologist! Both ships are trapped in a forcefield eminating from a planet, so they send Away Teams down to investigate.
The Ferengi's team is led by Armin Shimmerman, although he is not playing Quark. Also, these Ferengi are obsessed with gold for some reason!
The Enterprise takes aboard a Starfleet Tech named Kozinsky, and his John Malkovich-looking sidekick, the Traveller. The Tech claims to have developed a way of drastically increasing the power of the ship's Warp engines.
Something goes wrong, and the Enterprise ends up three Galaxies away from where it started. Apparently it will only take three centuries to get back home, compared to Voyager's seven decades for a fraction of the distance.
The crew start to have visions and flashbacks. This is a bit crummy, but all in all is a nice character-building exercise. For example, Tasha Yar ( Denise Crosby ) has a flashback to her younger days in a hellish poverty-ridden colony later seen in Star Trek: TNG [Season 4, Episode 6] Legacy .
The ship's mission is to carry delegations of two warring species to a peace conference. Picard shows disdain for other religions and cultures, and is still confused that people take economic freedom seriously. The delegates take such things so seriously they try to kill each other. Riker declares that all weapons, no matter what their basic function, are to be confiscated. What, even blunt objects? Nice one, Commander. Luckily he has O'Brien (Colm Meany) there as an unnamed Security Officer.
The Enterprise passes through a strange cloud. Geordi and Worf are in the sensor room because Picard wants his junior officers to familiarise themselves with the ship's technology. In contrast with the junior ranks of the main characters, the Department Heads and Senior Officers are a bunch of red-shirts. Chief Engineer Argyle is mentioned only by name. The Assistant Chief Engineer is Mr Singh, who has a Sikh name but no turban. Obviously the victim of cultural vandalism by Starfleet.
Worf is struck by a strange energy blast, which (unnoticed to the crew) passes from one person to another and possesses them. However, the crew do notice that something is affecting their computer. Picard introduces Data to the literary Private Investigator, specifically the Sherlock Holmes books, to help him track down the saboteur.
An Away Team (Riker, Troi, Worf, Tasha and Wesley) beams down to a planet filled with Club 18-30 types running around in swimsuits - like in Baywatch. One of them is Brenda Bakke , who takes a liking to Riker and Worf. There are no elderly people, and only a handful of teenagers - it is like Gor without the slavery. Unfortunately, the price for having such a paradise is that they enforce the Death Penalty for ALL crimes!
Wesley inadvertently breaks the law, and gets sentenced to death. Why did he even go along with the Away Team? Picard sent him down to get some off-ship experience. This is the thing about shoe-horning a teenager into a TV show. He is meant to be a character that normal teenagers can relate to, and thus bring them into the storyline. However, he is something of a Marty Stu (and this is the show that generated that trope). We are less than a dosen epiosdes into Season One and Wesley is a super-genius, acting Ensign aboard a starship, friend of super-powerful alien The Traveller ... He is certainly not someone that an average teenager can relate to. So much for the real people with real problems approach!
Back in orbit, Picard encounters an alien starship that is worshipped by the natives as a god. The alien ship is even more powerful than the Enterprise-D, effortlessly probing the ship and downloading Data's entire memory. If Picard chooses to break the Prime Directive by not letting the natives execute a member of his crew, will the Aliens intervene? Can Picard talk his way out of this, or will he actually have to fight for a change?
The Enterprise has an encounter with another Ferengi vessel. Back in this era, the Ferengi were still set up as the main villains. Not in a story arc way, but in a recurring bad-guy way. However, as they have not been properly established they are merely mysterious instead of outright villainous.
It turns out that Picard previously encountered a Ferengi ship. Nine years previously his ship, the USS Stargazer, was ambushed by an unknown vessel. The enemy ship, which now turns out to have been Ferengi, was destroyed. Picard had to abandon the Stargazer, but the Ferengi have managed to recover it. Their leader, Damon Bok, is willing to return it as a gift. He does not ask for any profit in return, which would lead on to a quote from the Rules of Acquisition in Star Trek: DS9 . Instead the Ferengi officers grumble but go along with this.
Picard has been having headaches from the pre-credits sequence. Doctor Crusher points out that headaches must have a cause, unlike back in the days when humans still had no cure for the common cold. This all happens before they even SEE the Stargazer, never mind retrieve artefacts from it.
The key military tactic in this the Picard Maneuvre, a micro-jump at warp speed to confuse the enemy's sensors. This is apparently the greatest trick that Starfleet has ever learned, However, it is never used or mentioned ever again. Yes, Data finds a way to defeat it ... but this info is only known to the bridge crew of the Starfleet flagship and to whatever higher-ups read Picard's reports. It would certainly not be public knowledge.
The moral of the story is: There is no profit in revenge. Let the dead stay dead. Yes, this is basically another preachy 1980s TV show. The morality is that of Producer Gene Roddenberry, inspired by socialism and political correctness. However, many shows of the era had the heavy-handed morality of libertarianism, anti-communism and so on. The only thing that makes Trek stand out is the way it seems to have accurately predicted the way Western society would go.
Q is back on the Enterprise again. He has been ordered to elevate a human to the Q Continuum. To annoy Picard, he chooses Riker - the younger, more impetuous First Officer. To test Riker under stressful conditions, Q sends the crew to the soundstage nicknamed Planet Hell.
Tasha Yar ( Denise Crosby ) gets a short scene. Yes, no wonder the actress quit - she was pretty much window-dressing. In all fairness, in The Original Series her part would have been that of an expendable redshirt. Here she is portrayed as a vulnerable young woman, driven to tears at the frustration of being powerless to fight Q. Hardly a positive portrayal of women in the workplace. Meanwhile, Worf gets to do the stuff that Tasha should be doing.
Riker realises he can use his powers for good. Picard would rather see innocent people die.
Riker tries to reward his friends, but they are ungrateful. Worse, Picard does not trust his judgement.
Lwuxanna Troi boards the Enterprise, and she brings big news with her. Deanna has to go through with an arranged marriage to an attractive young Doctor who is Robert Knepper ( Heroes: Season 4 ). Yes, Troi and T-bag were engaged!
Meanwhile, Picard and the Bridge Crew are kept busy by a plague ship that has arrived in the solar system of a friendly planet.
Picard tries the Holodeck for the first time, although the technology is supposedly commonplace in the Federation. He seems addicted, and invites Data and the ship's historian (a redshirt) to join him in his adventure.
Picard's adventure is (of course) based in the 20th century. He plays a Private Detective named Dixon Hill, in a pulp thriller set in the USA, 1934. His foe is Crime Boss Lawrence Tierney (best known as Crime Boss Joe Cabot in Reservoir Dogs).
Meanwhile, an alien ship appears and scans the Enterprise. This predictably switches off the holodeck safeties. The Aliens will not speak with Riker, only Picard will do. However, Geordie states that they cannot alert Picard - apparently if they switch off the holograms then the real humans will disappear too!
The Enterprise visits the planet where Data was created. Wesley and Tasha Yar ( Denise Crosby ) are among the crew, so it is obviously an early episode. The entire word is dead - the actors are on the Planet Hell sound stage. They discover the parts of an android identical to Data. When reassembled, the android introduces himself as Lore - Data's Brother.
Lore tries to fit in among the crew, just like Data. However, something is not right about the newcomer. His motivations, like his past, are more complex than he will admit.
This gives Brent Spiner a wonderful opportunity to play a new character. It also provides TNG with their best villain so far. Finally someone who can believably threaten the Enterprise!
The Enterprise arrives at the Planet of the Amazon Women, in search of some Federation citizens who may have been shipwrecked there. Picard is under orders to play nice, because the Federation regards the planet as a potential member. This is despite the fact that the population is entirely human! Patricia McPherson from Knight Rider is quite recognisable.
The population is socially developed to the 1950s - the women do all the work while the men are house-husbands. They call their leader the Elected One, although it is a strange kind of Democracy that will execute or exile anyone who does not conform!
Meanwhile, the Enterprise is subject to a flu epidemic. Geordie LaForge is put in charge.
The Enterprise goes to a Starbase so some aliens can give the computer an overhaul. The crew take shore leave.
Riker visits the Holodeck and meets a female character. She seems to be an AI in her own right.
The high point of the ep is the nice Stardock SPFX. This was probably added for the Blu-ray release.
A Federation Ambassador has been taken hostage by some insurgents, and they refuse to talk to anyone except Admiral Clayton Rohner ( G vs E ). The Enterprise is assigned to take him to the planet in question. He is suffering from a supposedly-incurable disease, despite the incredible medical technology of the Federation. Troi and Crusher both realise that he is hiding something. Strangely, the Admiral starts to get younger en route. He is a young actor wearing a skin-tight bodysuit and a full-head make-up mask to make him look much older. Thus, he looks like a skinny man with a really huge head!
The Admiral is an expert Negotiator. His version of morality is to arm all sides equally, thus preventing genocide. He is blamed for creating an arms race, but the war had already ground into a stalemate. To give one side a clear advantage would be to enable genocide. Of course, the Feds would refer to this as Permanently settling their differences and automatically admit the Killing Fields into the Federation!
The Enterprise encounters a society with super-tech - they can cloak an entire planet! Strangely, in thousands of years nobody has ever thought to use a telepath in the search for this mysterious legendary hidden world. However, Troi detecting it so easily could be because it is a trap.
The hi-tech world is ruled by Jerry Hardin ( X-Files S1 ). The locals (including Brenda Strong ) cannot breed, so they kidnap children from the Enterprise. This begs a couple of questions. Firstly, there must be a lot of orphaned human children in the Federation. The locals are willing to trade exploration data about many star systems. Surely their planet could be made into the Federation's interstellar orphanage.
The second question is, why does Picard take the children into harm's way so often? At the first hint of a cloaked planet being present, he automatically orders Tasha to raise shields. Therefore he knows that there is a potential for danger. In the pilot episode, he ordered the saucer section to detach. In fact, the presence of the detachable habitation area is probably the only reason that families are allowed aboard the ship. But why do they not detach the saucer as a matter of regular procedure?
Crusher investigates the reason the locals are sterile. They never investigated it themselves, because they have abandoned science in all but name. Their society is run by a central computer, and they have retreated into arts and culture - like the Eloi in The Time Machine . Crusher discovers there is a problem with ozone layer depletion. Yes, this has a late-1980s environmentally friendly message.
The Enterprise visits a planet where a terraforming team led by Walter Gotell ( Octopussy ) is covering something up. After the Away Team beams down, a member of the terraformers is killed in mysterious circumstances. Data and Geordi investigate, and discover an outside influence at work.
The team discover something they define as inorganic life. This is not like Mister Data - this is something that must have evolved on its own. It does not contain carbon or other life-bearing elements. Presumably these must include silicon, because Kirk and his people encountered silicon-based life forms in Star Trek: The Original Series .
Wesley applies for Starfleet Academy. Unfortunately, there appears to be a quota system. The final test is to face your worst fears - a real Room 101 situation.
Back on the Enterprise, Picard's old friend Admiral Quinn arrives. He has the crew interrogated by an Internal Affairs officer, Commander Remick. Quinn refuses to say what exactly it is he is looking for. However, most of Remick's questions are about Picard.
Picard is offered a promotion, to run the Starfleet Academy. If he accepts, and Wesley gets in, the entire focus of the show could change.
Enterprise detects a crippled freighter floating in the Neutral Zone, and goes in to investigate. Geordi fixes a transmitter to his visor before he beams over. We spend ten minutes watching Picard watching flashes of what Geordi sees.
The episode's guest-stars are a group of Klingons led by Vaughn Armstrong . Worf starts to bond with them. However, there is something untrustworthy about them. The acting is excellent, and trivia fans will note the dialogue which includes a mention to the Traitors of Kling.
The Enterprise visits a world which specialises in the development of hi-tech weapons. Riker and the Away Team beam down, and find the people are gone and the weapons have taken over. Enterprise is greeted by a holographic salesman (Vincent Schiavelli - Tomorrow Never Dies ). The bridge crew beam down to investigate, with the help of engineer Vyto Ruginis ( ).
Picard and Doctor Crusher beam down too, and get trapped together. The opportunity for character development is wasted this time. However, this will not be the last time that such contrived forcible interaction occurs in this show.
With every high-ranking officer stranded on the planet, Geordi Laforge is left in charge of the Enterprise. He is actually a decent Captain, and unlike Picard he actually detaches the saucer section. His helmswoman is Julia Nickson .
The Enterprise rescues four people from a doomed freighter. They argue over ownership of the cargo, a barrel of medicine. Two survivors (including Judson Scott - ST II: Wrath of Khan ) come from the planet which produced the cargo, the others from a planet that needs the medicine to heal a plague. However, Crusher discovers that the real problem may be addiction.
Troi is on a shuttle which crashes on a supposedly deserted planet. Riker and the Away Team beam down, and find that an intelligent oil slick has taken her hostage. The life form zaps one of the series regulars - but we all know that the reset button will be pushed. Right?
The Enterprise experiences a one-second time-loop, then detects a distress signal from a scientist who specialises in non-linear time.
It turns out that the scientist's wife ( Michelle Phillips ) is Picard's ex-GF. Picard dumped her, but has always regretted it.
Data has previously wished that he could use contractions in speech. Well, at the climactic moment of this episode he declares It's me!. Yes, it turns out he cannot CONSCIOUSLY use contractions. Or perhaps it is only when there is nobody else around. After all, Lore's problem was that he was too human. It could be that Data is concealing his true nature.
Picard is summoned to a secret meeting by his old friend, Captain Walker Keel. Apparently Starfleet High Command is making inexplicable decisions that may be a prelude to invasion of the Federation.
Shall Picard trust his superiors, or join the Conspiracy against them? Well, he goes back to Earth and contacts his old friend Admiral Quinn. Yes, this is a sequel to Star Trek: TNG [Season 1, Episode 19] Coming of Age .
The climax involves brain-leeches straight out of Heinlein's Puppet Masters . While the Federation is supposed to be pro-life, Picard and Riker do not bother taking any prisoners. As a result they have practically no information about the alien invaders.
The ending is left open. There may be more aliens en route to invade the Federation. However, in the next thirty years they were never re-used in a storyline. Perhaps this is part of a plot arc that never materialised. The original Season One villains were Q and the Ferengi, but they panned out as more comedy characters than a genuine threat. The next setup was the Borg, who were originally intended as an insectoid species. Maybe this species of invader was later intended to become that version of the Borg.
The Enterprise is on its way to the Neutral Zone to investigate an attack on a Federation colony. The colony was destroyed without a trace, and everyone thinks the Romulans were responsible. Of course, in later episodes we meet the Borg ...
The Enterprise picks up a 1990s Space Rocket with three cryogenically frozen corpses aboard. Data beams them aboard, and Crusher defrosts and revives them. From Death! The three people are a banker, a housewife and a DJ (Leon Rippy - The Visitor ). They have trouble fitting in and adjusting, because let's face it the 20th Century was logical but the future portrayed in Star Trek defies all logic! There is no television or entertainment, while the economy (or lack thereof) has gone to heck.
Troi helps the housewife to check historical records. Apparently she has a direct descendent still alive, although they are seperated by ten generations. However the banks, newspapers and law firms have all disappeared. Nothing is left of the pre-Federation civilisation.
Finally we get a confrontation with the Romulans. They are both familiar SF actors - Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat in DS9 ) and Anthony James (Guest Star villain in every SF TV show ever!).
The Enterprise has two new crew-members. Dr Pulaski ( Diana Muldar ) temporarily replaces Dr Beverly Crusher. Guinan ( Whoopee Goldberg ) is now the bartender in Ten Forward. Commander Riker has not been promoted, but has grown a beard to make himself look older. Geordi has been promoted from the Con to Chief Engineer, while Wesley Crusher takes his old job as Con Ensign. Wes spends the episode wondering if he should join his mother on the station or stay aboard the Enterprise.
Counsellor Troi is impregnated by a glowing light. The foetus grows at an astonishing rate, and she gives birth within a couple of days. All goes well, but eventually this interferes with the ship's mission - the transportation of deadly Plasma Plagues.
Worf and the others discuss terminating the pregnancy. However, although Troi appears distraught when her pregnancy first becomes apparent she becomes resolute in her decision to keep the child. The fact that she was impregnated without knowledge or consent is never mentioned. As Picard and Starfleet is apparently pro-choice, they accept Troi's choice to keep the life-form. She accepts it in an unquestioning way that implies she might actually be under psychic control. However, this is also never addressed in the episode.
Riker joins Worf on a special mission - fighting rejects from a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bad-guys reunion. Worf is portrayed as a beast-like idiot in this episode, a terrible stereotype when one considers how complex the character became in later Seasons.
The Enterprise explores the Morgana Quadrant, an area where no Federation starship has gone before. Picard ignores Worf's advice, and gets the ship trapped in a subspace pocket. They are then tested by god-like aliens who pit it against replicas of other species' warships. The aliens want to test the human species, to see if they are fit to explore space ... or if their curiosity is a bad thing. Did Q not already do this in Encounter at Farpoint?
The alien's face and voice are computer-enhanced - he lacks the charisma that John de Lancie's Q floods the screen with. Yes, even though Q moved from being a villainous threat to a comic-relief character, he was better at his worst than the lacklustre aliens of this episode.
Data tries out a Sherlock Holmes mystery on the Holodeck, but solves it with unsatisfactory ease. Geordi instructs the Holodeck to create an adversary capable of outsmarting Data, so it makes Professor Moriarty sentient!
Strangely, hologram Moriarty sees the holodeck arch BEFORE the computer is ordered to create Data's adversary.
Moriarty gets on very well indeed with Dr Pulaski. Perhaps it is for the best that she did not return to see Moriarty again in the Season Five episode, because by that stage he had generated himself a new holographic love interest!
The Enterprise encounters a Han Solo type named Captain Okona (Billy Campbell - The 4400 ), who seduces Transporter Chief B. G. Robinson ( Teri Hatcher in an early, uncredited role). While the Feds help him with repairs on his ship's guidance system, ships from two rival planets turn up. One accuses Okona of getting their Princess pregnant, while the other accuses him of stealing their National treasure.
It is odd that two apparently human cultures with interstellar capability are not part of the Federation! Also of note, they use lasers which apparently cannot penetrate the Enterprise's navigational shields. This has often been quoted in Enterprise vs Star Destroyer debates.
Finally, Data seeks help from Guinan ( Whoopie Goldberg ), instead of going to Counsellor Troi. Guinan tries to help Data in his quest to become more human. This time he is trying to master humour. On her advice he visits the holodeck and gets a masterclass in standup comedy. It would have been better if Troi had done the counsellors job she is qualified to do, and Goldberg had done the standup comedy she excells at.
The Enterprise conveys Riva, a professional mediator, to oversee peace negotiations between two warring planets. Although the mediator has overseen treaty negotiations between the Federation and the Klingons, Picard is not given information on him.
Riva is a deaf mute, so he has a chorus - a trio of interpreters. One signifies his intellect, one his lust and one his ... whatever. Yes, this is like Herman's Head without the laughs.
Predictably, things go wrong. This involves weapons that create cool SPFX, disentigrating victims from the skin out, bones last.
This is the differently-abled episode. Geordi LaForge is given the opportunity to have his blindness cured.
The Enterprise sends an Away Team to look after a scientist, Dr Ira Graves (W. Morgan Shepherd - SeaQuest DSV ). The Away Team are Troi, Worf, Data and guest-star Vulcan Dr Sela ( Suzie Plakson ). Dr Graves was the tutor of Dr Noonian Sing, who built Data. He is dying, but secretly built a device to copy his personality to a computer ...
Dr Graves dies, and Data starts to display many negative human emotions such as egotism, arrogance and jealousy. Troi tests his emotions - despite the fact he is a machine!
The Enterprise encounters a Federation supply vessel. The entire crew has died, apparently of old age. The Enterprise investigates the last place the vessel visited, a research station where genetically-engineered humans are being bred.
This episode centres around Dr Pulaski. She puts her own life in danger in an attempt to heal the sick. Luckily, Chief O'Brien invents a way to destroy any illness.
Note - while O'Brien is still the transporter operator, this is the first episode where he is mentioned by name.
The Enterprise becomes part of an interspecies exchange programme. They take aboard crew members of different species, such as the identical twin of one of Wesley's fellow candidates.
Riker becomes a temporary crewman aboard a Klingon ship. He befriends Brian Thompson ( X-Files ). Unfortunately, the Captain is a paranoid sociopath. It seems that the Klingons' libertarian system of promotion means that these traits are encouraged in the selection process.
The episode starts with the bridge officers' nightly poker game. Doctor Pulaski is among the players, replacing Crusher. Chief O'Brien is in Worf's seat for some reason. Data may be able to stack the deck, but Riker can still bluff him.
The Enterprise visits the newly established Starbase 173. A Fed scientist named Commander Maddox wants to dissect Commander Data. Unfortunately he might not be able to reassemble Data afterwards. Naturally, Data feels like Number Five in Short Circuit. . First he is issued with orders to comply with Maddox, and when he resigns he is declared to be property and confiscated by Starfleet.
The Judge Advocate General officer is a lady who prosecuted Picard for the Stargazer incident. She is a stickler for procedures, and can make the law up as she goes along. She convenes a Court Martial to determine if Data constitutes a person or a machine. Of course, one would imagine that being a Starfleet Officer would count for something. Picard is Data's Defence representative, while Riker is forced to serve as Prosecution.
Data's stats include a storage capacity of eight hundred quadrillion bits, and his CPU speed is sixty trillion operations per second. In other words he has a clock speed of sixty terrahertz. When this was first shown in the late 1980s this was far-fetched science fiction. However, three decades later there are probably super-computers with such a capacity. In other words, the Singularity (when Artificial Intelligence is created) may be achieved within another thirty years.
Picard visits Guinan for some advice. Of course, she does a better job than poor old Troi ever could. Her point, expertly insinuated, is that by treating Data as property the Federation is basically enslaving him. Their plan to create an army of artificial life forms as slaves is thus also brought into question. A pity this ground-breaking legal case was ignored in Star Trek: Voyager . Please note, Data himself is not morally opposed to the creation of duplicates. His only objection is to being killed.
The Enterprise is assigned to transport a beautiful teenage girl, The Dauphin, to the planet she is to rule. She and Wesley meet and get along very well indeed. In many ways Wesley was a Marty Stu, always saving the day and getting the girl despite merely being a whiny teenager aboard the Starfleet flagship.
Wesley asks for advice from Worf, Data and Riker. Riker and Guinan get a scene together when Wesley takes lessons in flirtation from them. Presumably the female part was originally intended for Troi - Goldberg is a better actress, but it would have made more sense (and given Troi something to do).
The girl's bodyguard is an Alasomorph - a Shapeshifter! One of the forms she turns into is Madchen Amick ! Strange that by the time of Star Trek: DS9 nobody was aware of other shapeshifters in the Federation.
The USS Yamato is destroyed in the Neutral Zone. A Romulan ship nearby (commanded by Carolyn Seymour ) is suspected.
The Yamato was infected with a computer virus from an alien probe orbiting a world with a dead civilisation. Picard, ever the archaeologist, takes Work and Data and beams down to investigate the alien civilisation. While the alien language is unintelligible to the Enterprise main computer, Data manages to decipher it easily enough. After all, he was able to decipher the deaf negotiator's sign language a couple of weeks ago.
Riker is left in charge. He has to cope with a face-off with the Romulans, then deal with the computer virus.
The alien civilisation from this ep is mentioned in an episode of Deep Space 9 .
The episode starts with Picard monologuing Riker about Fermat's last Theorem. This would be quite educational, except for one small problem. About five years after the episode was made, and several centuries before the events in the ep are meant to take place, the Theorem was solved. However, Picard states that it has not yet (and perhaps never will) be solved.
The Enterprise discovers some wreckage - the last of NASA's deep space probes. They search the nearby planet for a Buck Rogers type survivor. Riker, Worf and Data beam down, and discover they are in a casino called the Hotel Royale. The attendant at the front desk is Sam Anderson (Bernard in Lost ).
Apparently the hotel is a holodeck created by god-like aliens, and there is no way for them to leave. In all fairness, there are worse places to be stuck than a 1950s casino hotel where the kitchen is open 24/7 and everything is provided free of charge. The worst case scenario is that it would be as cloyingly boring as life in the Federation itself.
The casino setting brings up the question about the senior officers' traditional off-duty poker game.
The Enterprise encounters a shuttle floating in space. Aboard is an unconscious man who looks identical to Picard. Even more mysteriously, everything on the shuttle (including the new Picard) seems the opposite of the original.
The shuttle's records indicate that it is from the future. In a few hours, the Enterprise will be destroyed. They must work out what will go wrong before they can stop it.
Riker is offered a promotion, the command of his own ship. Will he take it, or spend the next five years serving Picard? He has twelve hours to decide.
A civilian Starfleet advisor is taken aboard. He is Riker's father (Mitchell Ryan - Dharma and Greg), and an old flame of Dr Pulaski. The two Rikers have unfinished business, and end up duelling in Bo-Jitsu while blindfolded.
Worf is preoccupied for some reason. Wesley does some research, and discovers he is due for a Klingon ritual.
There is no sign of Guinan this episode, so everyone confides in Chief O'Brien instead. This is strange, because normally Guinan got Troi's lines. Now it seems that O'Brien is Troi's second stand-in.
The Enterprise arrives in an area where the planets are geographically unstable. Wesley Crusher is assigned his first mission - he is put in charge of a science team to discover the reason for the geographical instability. He has to learn about command.
Data has been corresponding by subspace CB with Sarjenka ( Nikki Cox ), a young girl on a local planet. Her society is pre-space travel, so Data broke the Prime Directive. The emotionless android is now emotive over the girl! Will he be punished? Will Wesley Crusher be able to save the world?
Geordi breaks in a new Engineering Ensign - Sonya Gomez ( Lycia Naff ). She is young and eager to please.
Guinan senses that something is wrong. She has faced Q before - she is a lot older, more powerful and well-travelled than anyone suspects. Likewise, Troi seems to know that something is wrong.
Q has been exiled from the Continuum, so he pays Picard a visit. He sends the Enterprise far across the Galaxy. It will take them over two years seven months at maximum warp to get home. This is nothing compared to the seventy years travel that Voyager were looking at, but it is still quite a distance. Worse, the nearest M-class planet has been attacked - as Data puts it, just like the outposts along the Neutral zone (in [Season 1, Episode 26] The Neutral Zone ).
The Enterprise encounters a mysterious ship - an enormous metal cube. Guinan knows what it is. The Borg destroyed her homeworld a century ago. Troi comments that the Borg's collectivism is better than individuality. Perhaps Roddenberry's intention is that the Borg, arch-Stalinists that they are, should be the real good guys.
Picard and Wesley take a shuttle to the nearby Starbase. Wesley has his Starfleet exams, while Picard needs his artificial heart repaired by Daniel Benzali (Murder One).
The Enterprise encounters a vessel with damaged systems. Geordi beams aboard to help the slow-witted crew, but they decide to kidnap him and use his knowledge of weapons systems. Luckily, Riker and Data still have Engineering Ensign Sonya Gomez ( Lycia Naff ) to help them save the day.
The Enterprise encounters a couple of old Earth colonies, like in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century . One lot are space-Oirish, with Victorian technology and a love of booze. O'Brien is nowhere to be seen, but Worf introduces them to replicator-created synthahol. Riker takes one of the women ( Roslyn Landor ) back to his quarters for a quick scrub. She does not look like she needs it, since she is in full make-up and has perfect hair despite working on a Victorian era farm.
The second colony consists of clones. The clone colony request some human DNA samples from the crew. Riker refuses, on a couple of grounds. He wants to be unique - this is ironic, since in later Seasons we discover he has a teleporter-created copy (Thomas Riker). He states that humans should perpetuate their DNA though having children, though Riker himself (and the entire lead crew) have no children of their own.
This ep shows the Enterprise crew to be morally bankrupt. Picard does not allow his crew the opportunity to volunteer to be cloned, even though some may be willing to help the dying colony. Riker takes it upon himself to murder clones of himself, calling it the right to control our own bodies. This is a somewhat convoluted take on the abortion issue. Would he be allowed to abort a foetus if it were created without his consent? It would be a great way to stop gold-diggers claiming child support from him.
The Enterprise is ordered to transport two Ambassadorial parties. One is a pair of Fish-people who are in suspended animation Worf remarks that they are an attractive race , while Wesley Crusher states he finds them strange. Naturally, Wesley is accused of racism!
The other Embassy includes Lwuxanna Troi ( Majel Barrett ) - Counsellor Troi's mother who is now the Betazed Ambassador. She is entering menopause, and wants a new husband. She sets her eyes on Picard.
Picard finds refuge in the Dixon Hill scenario on the Holodeck. He gets threatened by a scarfaced gangster played by Robert O'Reilly (Best known as Gowron the Klingon) Yet, despite the regular life-threatening problems they have with the holodeck, it is still deemed to be a better option than socialising with Lwuxanna!
Other guest-stars include Mick Fleetwood (as in Fleetwood Mac).
A Klingon warship from The Original Series era is on the rampage. Its crew, led by Lance DeGault ( Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Season 2 ), were in Cryogenic suspension for decades. They refuse to acknowledge that the Klingon Empire and the Federation is now at peace.
The Federation sends the Enterprise a special Emissary - a half-Klingon woman ( Suzie Plakson ). Worf bonds with her ...
The Enterprise enters simulated combat with a weaker ship commanded by Riker. Unfortunately, this party is gatecrashed by a Ferengi ship captained by Armin Shimmerman ( Star Trek: DS9 ).
In the subplot, Data attempts to win at a board-game against Alien gamer Roy Brocksmith ( Total Recall 1990 ).
On an away mission, Riker gets stung by an alien thorn. Pulaski tries to save him by stimulating the memory centres of his brain. Yes, this is just a clip show. But the exploding head sequence from the Puppetmasters episode is uncensored.
Can Dr Pulaski save Riker? They are both regular characters, but only one will return to the Enterprise next Season.
Wesley is experimenting with nanites. Unfortunately, some escape and infect the Enterprise. If something like nanites (or a computer virus, for example) constitutes an Artificial Intelligence, is it protected under Federation law? This was previously debated in [Season 2, Episode 9] The Measure Of A Man , but nobody in the Federation seems to remember these things or take legal precedents seriously.
A visiting scientist (Ken Jenkins AKA Dr Bob Kelso in Scrubs) gets involved in the hijinks.
The ep starts with Picard and Crusher attending a string quartet recital in Ten Forward. Data is one of the players, and he has a character-insight moment with his superiors. Naturally, this exposition indicates that the ep will feature Data as main character.
The Enterprise encounters an alien species who, like the Romulans, have not had any contact with the Federation since a treaty over 100 years ago. These particular Aliens complain about a human colony on a world that was given to the aliens in the treaty. Either Picard removes the humans … or the aliens will eradicate them.
Only Data has a physiology that will allow him to survive on the alien world. He takes a shuttle down and talks with the colonists. Picard needs their informed consent before he moves the colony, even if it means letting the aliens kill anyone who stays!
The Enterprise visits a Federation Colony to rescue eleven thousand Fed colonists, three days after they called for help. The planet has been nuked ... wiped out by alien raiders. There are two miraculous survivors - an old man and his wife. Much like Encounter at Farpoint, there are indications of some god-like alien involvement.
There seem to be a lot of God-like aliens in TNG. This may be a side-effect of the fact that the Enterprise-D is such a stupidly powerful starship that no other ships are a real threat to it.
A Federation anthropology team are exposed while conducting surveillance on a primitive culture of Vulcan-type aliens.
Clarke's Law states Any sufficiently advanced technology will be mistaken for magic. Can the Enterprise crew prevent the Vulcanoids from worshipping them? After all, superstition will only hold them back.
A female redshirt gets killed on an away mission. This is the most meaningful exploration of death in this show since the loss of Tasha Yar in Season One. The fact that this is the dead woman's first appearance makes it less touching, since the show seems to sacrifice redshirts on a regular basis. However, to make it more poignant (and to stretch it out to a full episode) her now-orphaned son lives aboard the Enterprise. Picard tells Troi that he regrets bringing children aboard a ship which might be sent into danger (or even battle) at any moment. Doctor Crusher asks Wesley, who lost his father at a similar age, to speak with the boy and attempt to bond with him.
However, an energy being takes responsibility, takes the woman's form and bonds with the boy.
Geordi LaForge hangs out on the beach with Christy Henshaw ( Julie Warner ). Predictably he gets friend-zoned. Luckily he gets the chance to bond with a hologram of Dr Leah Brahms ( Susan Gibney ), which he creates purely for scientific research.
The Enterprise investigates a distress signal. It is coming from an antique vessel, so Picard (as the ship's archaeologist) commands the away team that beams across. They discover the alien captain's log.
The ship gets caught in the same trap that destroyed the antique vessel. It drains the ship's power while bombarding it with radiation. Geordi tries to find a solution by creating the Brahms hologram. Her personality is based on info from scientific debates she participated in, and the computer estimates it is over ninety percent accurate. A pity Tom Parris cannot create a new holodoc so easily in Star Trek: VGR .
The Enterprise detects suspicious activity from the Romulans. Tomulok (Andreas Katsulas - Babylon 5 ) is involved.
Geordi Laforge ends up trapped on a planet's surface. The weather conditions inconveniently render the Enterprise's tech (scanners, transporters, etc) useless. He has to team up with an injured Romulan - making this the Alien Mine cliche episode.
Back on the Enterprise, Dr Crusher tries to treat a Romulan patient. She needs Worf to donate some DNA, because as a Klingon he is the only suitable donor. But he is deeply prejudiced against Romulans, and is willing to act without honour by letting an injured man secumb to his wounds.
The Enterprise plays host to a negotiation for access to a newly-discovered wormhole that leads into a different Quadrant of the Galaxy.
One of the other bidders is a Ferengi crew. They send a shuttle through the wormhole, which lead on to the VGR episode False Profits.
Another bidder is Matt McCoy (Police Academy 5). Troi falls for him, because he is a telepath like her. She even discusses him with Dr Crusher, while they are having their leotard workout. He actually points out her typical Federation hypocrisy insofar as she uses her powers to help her own crew, but judges him as immoral for using his own powers!
The third bidder is Kevin Peter Hall - the Predator himself!
The Enterprise gets involved in local politics after a Federation outpost is attacked by scavengers. The losing side in a civil war now survive as space pirates, and have been making a nuisance of themselves. Picard summons the winning side's leader, so she can offer the losers a deal. Riker sexually harrasses the leader's female servant, and she is so bored that she goes along with him.
Unfortunately, someone wants to continue a decades-old blood feud. The Pirates may be barbarians, but the winners have a barbaric streak hidden under their hi-tech veneer of civilisation.
The previous episode also involved a bio-weapon spread by touch. The assassin is also genetically modified to be ageless, and resistant to phaser stun-beams.
Picard takes Data on a holodeck program where the android gets to roleplay the part of Henry V in the shakespeare play.
The Enterprise takes a Romulan officer aboard. He claims to be a defector, and offers knowledge about a secret Romulan base in the Neutral Zone.
The Enterprise investigates suspicious activity from the Romulans. Tomulok (Andreas Katsulas - Babylon 5 ) is involved.
The Enterprise conducts an inspection on a non-aligned world that wants Federation membership. The Prime Minister is James Cromwell ( Star Trek: First Contact ), with a full head of hair (and a moustache)! He certainly acts like the kind of slimy bureaucrat who would fit in well with the Federation.
A prisoner breaks out of a local high-security prison. He has military-grade skills and upgrades that allow him to take on the Enterprise crew.
It seems that when considering a planet for Federation membership, the Feds do not pay much attention to what the planetary Government does to political dissenters!
Another recent episode also involved the idea of genetic manipulation creating a super-soldier.
The Enterprise visits yet another non-aligned world. Perhaps the reason it is always on the fringe of the Federation is that Federation worlds are incredibly boring!
As with the previous ep, and one a few eps ago, this story concerns a civil war. Previously, the Feds wanted both sides to get together and negotiate a solution, in keeping with the Federation policy of one-world Government (all the easier for the Fed super-government to absorb). The Enterprise crew takes a different approach in this case.
This ep was banned in the UK on its original broadcast, because Data makes reference to the Irish Unification of 2024. Yes, this ep (with the terrorist leader named Finn) is an American metaphor for the PIRA Troubles. As always, it seems to miss the point. The point is not that terrorists use violence to make their voices heard. The point is that the terrorists use violence to drown out EVERYONE ELSE's voice!
The Enterprise tries to save a planet from an Extinction level Event. The science actually makes sense - at the start, anyway.
Q appears on the bridge - naked and powerless. This ep is the end of his story arc: in the pilot ep he was a super-villain, later he was a nuisance who introduced them to the real villain (the Borg), and now he becomes an honorary (if reluctant) crewmember.
Corbin Bernsen (L.A. Law) is Q2 - the second member of the Continuum we have seen.
An alien scientist dies in mysterious circumstances. Riker is the only suspect. He is put on trial.
In a sense, this is an impressive locked room mystery. Despite the almost complete lack of physical evidence, the electronic surveillance data is sufficient to allow a holodeck recreation of the entire event. This takes crime reconstruction to the next level.
The Enterprise detects a spacial anomaly - and next thing they know, they are in a parallel universe where they are still at war with the Klingons. Guinan (Whoopee Goldberg) is the only one who knows something is wrong.
The Enterprise C has come back from twenty years in the past. Tasha Yar ( Denise Crosby ) is still aboard the Ent-D crew, and gets a fanwank scene with Data where they express subconscious knowledge of their Season One encounter.
This was directed by Jonathan Frakes. As a result, Commander Riker spends most of the episode away on personal business, and only has one scene.
Data has manufactured himself an offspring, whom he names Lal. Since there are no Asexual species aboard the Enterprise, Lal has to select a gender (and species). She chooses a female gender and human species.
Starfleet chooses to ignore the AI rights laws (or legal precedent, at least) created in The Measure of a Man.
Data wishes that he could use contractions in speech. However, there are many examples of him using them. For example, at the climactic moment of Star Trek: TNG [Season 1, Episode 24] We'll Always Have Paris he declared It's me!.
The Enterprise has a temporary Klingon officer, Kurn (Tony Todd - before Candyman ). He acts in Riker's role, forcing the whole crew to stay on their toes and follow the rules to the letter.
It turns out that Kurn has personal business with Worf. As a result, Picard accompanies Worf to the Klingon Homeworld where they must fight for the honour of the House of Mogh, Worf's father.
Picard is kidnapped and imprisoned with 3 aliens. And a mis-matched gang of cliches they are too.
There is a Bolian woman who has hair. There is a know-it-all who will not help the others escape - even though he will be eaten if they do not!
Meanwhile, a doppelganger takes Picard's place on the Enterprise. He is totally unconvincing, but the crew take their time realising it.
Picard gets dropped off for some R&R at the pleasure moon of Risa. All he wants to do is sit on a beach and read a book. But thanks to Riker's subtle machinations, he is sexually harassed by beautiful young women. Then he gets mixed up in a real-life adventure straight out of the pulp traditions of his Dixon Hill novel.
Picard gets mixed up with a femme fatale named Vash ( Jennifer Hetrick ), who by strange coincidence is an archaeologist too. She has fallen foul of a vicious Ferengi, who is after an artefact that is also being pursued by a pair of Alien Time-Cops.
The Enterprise has a special mission this week, involving a civilian specialist named named Tam Elbrun (Harry Groener - Buffy: Season 3 ). He has a bit of history with a couple of senior officers. Troi was friends with him when she studied at an asylum. He was not a staff member or student - he was a patient. Worse, Riker knows him from a First Contact mission that went badly wrong.
Groener delivers a passionate performance as a vulnerable individual who is the centre of the episode. As a high-level telepath he picks up on the thoughts of those around him. His mission is to make contact with an alien life form, a space-dweller codenamed Tin Man. The alien is organic rather than cybernetic, so the codename is mis-leading, but it works as an episode title because Elbrun bonds with Commander Data too.
The Romulans also send ships to investigate the creature, which is in a star system about to go supernova. This means that time is of the essence. The creature is powerful enough to travel between the stars, so it may potentially pose a threat. However, this episode is more about character development than action-adventure.
Of note, the relationship between a living pilot bonded to a sentient ship seems to have provided inspiration to the show Farscape .
Reg Barclay (Dwight Schultz, best known as the mentally unstable Howling Mad Murdock in The A-Team), one of LaForge's engineering team, is a holodeck addict. Barclay is isolated among the crew - they are militarised jocks, while he is a stuttering introvert. The only one who can relate to him is the ship's sole civilian - Guinan.
Barclay seems to have a problem with authority figures, and since the Trek concept is basically Socialism in Space this is hardly surprising. There seems to be a complete lack of respect for holodeck privacy. Laforge, and later Riker, both take it upon themselves to intrude into Barclay's Holo-fantasies. They have good reason - his lateness constitutes dereliction of duty. But they could have hailed him on his com-badge instead.
Barclay would have been ideal as a holo-novel writer. But such an occupation has yet to be invented. Instead, Laforge assigns Barclay to investigate strange occurrences aboard the ship. Malfunctions, that is, rather than abductions by aliens from a parallel dimension. This is not The X-Files !
Data is abducted by Saul Rubinek ( Warehouse 13 ), who keeps him in a special collection of unique artefacts. Nobody bothers to point out the existence of Soong's other androids - Lore, especially - which mean that Data is anything but unique.
Back on the Enterprise, they believe Data to have been destroyed in an explosion. Worf is promoted from Security to Ops. This illustrates the unusual command structure of Starfleet, and underlines the fact that the entire crew remains frozen in rank for SEVEN years. The only promotion is through the death of a co-worker!
Geordi is the only one who does not believe that Data is dead. This is a wonderful counterpoint to Star Trek: VGR , where Harry Kim would have had nothing to do for the whole episode.
The climax shows some character development on the part of Data. He becomes morally ambiguous, albeit for less than two seconds. But for an android, that is very nearly an eternity.
The Enterprise takes a Federation Ambassador to some negotiations. The Ambassador is Spock's father Sarek (Mark Lennard).
The Enterprise's senior crew start having apparently inexplicable flashes of rage. Because Starfleet personnel are passionless to the point of psychopathy, this is obviously some kind of psychic interference. Could one of the Vulcans be developing telepathic senility?
The cure, on a temporary basis, is the ever-predictable mind-meld. This allows Patrick Stewart to do some acting, as Picard develops the despair and anguish of a mentally ill Vulcan.
Lwuxanna Troi ( Majel Barrett ) is a Federation Ambassador, and still wants to get her claws into Picard. However, a Ferengi Captain takes a linking to her. Somehow, he is meant to be villainous while he is only her male equivalent! Of course, he wants her bnaked all the time - but she is only naked in public at major events like weddings!
These Ferengi do not act like the usual greedy stereotypes. The Captain is obsessed with Lwuxanna, and regards profit as an irrelevance. The Ferengi Doctor (Ethan Philips - Star Trek: VGR ) is a paranoid sadist.
Unfortunately, regular characters Deanna and Riker get dragged into this web of lust. If this did not happen, then Starfleet (and the viewers) would not care.
Geordi tries and fails at socialising with Christy Henshaw ( Julie Warner ), whom he was friendzoned by in a previous ep. He is also the centre of this ep, using his engineering and science skills to solve problems. This makes Geordi LaForge the first Black Nerd, pre-dating Steve Urkle or Dwayne Dibley ( Red Dwarf ).
Dr Crusher gets some character development too - she talks with Wesley more than with Picard.
In a medical emergency situation, Crusher plugs Geordi into an alien patient. After a month or so, Geordi has become more confident and successful. The alien has a strange physiology, and has the superpower of healing by touch - like E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial . However, he has amnesia so cannot tell the Feds of his circumstances. At least the universal tranlator works just fine on him, evn though his species and language have never been encountered before.
Data tries to access the alien ship's computer, but has to build an interface to do so. When they finally access the ship's navigational data, they then have to find a way to extrapolate it in three-dimensional space. This episode is certainly more scientifically accurate than Brent Spiner's biggest project, Independence Day . Except for the humanoid alien who heals with his bare hands, of course.
When the survivor is returned to his homeworld, Zelkonia, the Feds discover that he was a wanted criminal on the run. Of course, Picard does not have to obey the Prime Directive in this case because the aliens are a warp-capable civilisation. The bad news is that the aliens' warship is equally powerful to the Enterprise.
The survivor is obviously a political prisoner - his only crime was being a disruptive influence. Not only does his government want to execute him. they do not seem overly familiar with the concept of a fair trial or an appeal. Will Picard make a moral stand? Or is there a deus-ex-machina that allows him to sidestep making a choice?
The Borg are coming, so the Admiral sends help. Lt Commander Shelby is a beautiful blonde (a typical Jump the Shark addition to the crew), and she wants Riker's job. Riker has refused repeated offers of promotion, thus holding up everyone else's promotion prospects.
Picard, despite being French, is compared to Nelson at Trafalgar. Yes, it looks like he might actually be killed off so Riker could get a promotion and Shelby could become a regular character. A real cliffhanger!
The Borg are en route to Earth, and nothing can stand in their way. Riker's plan involves kidnapping Locutus of Borg!
After the events of the previous ep, the Enterprise has limped home to Earth. The ship is in dry-dock for a refit, so the crew get a bit of shore leave with their families. Not the immediate family that they take with them on the saucer section, but the extended family that they left behind.
Picard goes to stay with his brother’s family on the family vineyard. His sister-in-law ( Samantha Eggar ) and nephew both welcome him, but he and his brother have a clash of personalities. Jean-Luc accepts modern conveniences, and eats to live: his brother prefers a more primitive lifestyle, and lives to eat.
Elsewhere, Worf is reunited with his human foster-family, the Rushenkos. He had a difficult up-bringing, but the Rushenkos seem to have been great parents. Guinan lends a friendly ear, as always.
Dr Crusher rediscovers a holo-message that her now-deceased husband made for their son, Wesley.
Stardate 44085.7 - the Enterprise cuts short a vacation at Hogus 2 and makes haste to Starbase 416 for a medical emergency. A young boy played a practical joke that went bad, when his younger brother accidentally ate some poisonous fruit. Why a ship with young children aboard keeps dangerous vegitation where they can eat it is not explained.
Data stages a one-man insurrection, and successfully hijacks the Enterprise. He methodically defeats everything that the rest of the crew throw at him. This is a wonderful example of how Data is a completely overpowered character. The only reason he is used to sparely as such is because he is usually limited to the role of comic relief.
Data was summoned to a remote planet. It turns out that his father, Dr Soong is still alive. Unfortunately, when Soong summoned Data he accidentally summoned Lore too! Yes, the story of the two feuding brothers aboard the Enterprise is paralleled by the two android brothers.
Riker gets Geordi to MacGuyver up a gadget to access the transporters. Do they send some expendable security grunts down to investigate - or do they send three top-level officers like Riker, Geordi and Worf? Well, what would Captain Kirk do?
The Enterprise goes to the rescue of a ship from a humanoid alien space-going civilisation. The aliens fought a war against the Feds over a decade ago, and an uneasy peace has existed since then.
Picard discovers a human teenage boy among the alien space cadets. The boy has healed injuries - probably from sporting activities, but Dr Crusher jumps to the conclusion that it was parental abuse. This allows for Soap Opera-style dealing with a topical social issue.
Since the aliens are spacegoing, the Prime Directive does not apply.
Wesley is working with his old friend, The Traveller (played by a new actor).
Dr Crusher notices that people are disappearing, leaving no proof they ever existed. Is she going insane? Or is this all linked to an experiment that Wesley and his friends conducted?
The Enterprise arrives at Tasha Yar's homeworld. Some Federation archaeologists are being held hostage, and the feds refuse to pay a ransom - that would be CAPITALISM!
To rescue the hostages, the Feds enlist Tasha's sister, Ishara ( Beth Toussaint ). Of course, they will not pay her. They befriend her - but their idea of friendship is that it only works in THEIR favour.
The Feds insist on remaining neutral. They WANT the damaging civil war to persist indefinitely, rather than favour one side (which helped them) over the other (who kidnap people for ransom).
Picard and Wesley are on a decrepit old mining shuttle that crash-lands. They are stranded in a desert with limited supplies and a miner who complains about everything. The scenery and cinematography are great, though.
The trio get to a cave on the Planet Hell set, to save on budgetary expenses of location filming. Picard is injured to increase phony jeopardy, and tells Wesley about his mentor the Groundskeeper at Starfleet Academy.
Disasters always happen in pairs. The Enterprise discovers a garbage scow filled with nuclear waste that has been floating in space for three hundred years. They have to tow it into the nearest sun before it disentigrates, but it is the size of an Imperial Star Destroyer!
Troi does a good job as counselor, helping a crew-woman handle her grief. Then she gets a splitting headache, and needs medical treatment. Her empathic abilities are numbed ...
Some unseen force starts slowly dragging the Enterprise through space.
Without her empathic superpowers, Troi has trouble handling with her job and her life. Picard and Riker both try talking to her, but it is Guinan the bartender who really gets through. Of course, with a bartender like Guinan who NEEDS a counselor? The job is just a padre or a morale officer, after all.
A day in the life of Data the Android, as he tries to understand human emotion. Data narrates the day's events in a letter to Commander Maddox, the scientist who tried to dismantle him in Star Trek: TNG [Season 2, Episode 9] The Measure Of A Man . The android's inability to hold a grudge is an unfortunate reminder of his inhumanity.
We get to see the crew in their off-hours, in parts of the ship that are not usually explored. Geordi gets a haircut by the ship's Bolian barber, one of the very few instances when we see him. Dr Crusher teaches Data to tap-dance.
It is not just an average day for O'Brien and Keiko, however. They are planning for their forthcoming wedding.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise has to help a Vulcan ambassador deal with the tricksey Romulans in the Forbidden Zone. Neutral Zone. Whatever. But only Data's Sherlock Holmesian logic can outsmart them!
O'Brien and Keiko celebrate their marriage last episode by having breakfast together ... for the first time, apparently. Yes, they share the most important meal of the day, and discover entirely new things about each other. Exactly how well did they know each other in the first place before they rushed into marriage?
Captain Ben Maxwell (Bob Gunton - Shawshank Redemption), a renegade Starfleet captain, has invaded Cardassian territory on a self-proclaimed mission to reveal Cardie breaches of the treaty with the Feds. Yes, we get a good foretaste of all the Fed defections to the Maquis in DS9.
O'Brien is a former member of the renegade Captain's crew, so Picard wheels him out to talk sense into his old boss. Yet more work for Colm Meany, being groomed for bigger and better things. In a touching scene, O’Brien and his old boss sing The Minstrel Boy together, in memory of their many comrades who died at the hands of the Cardassians.
The Cardie sent to help track the renegade down is not Gul Dukat, but he still gets played by Marc Alaimo!
Picard makes Data act the part of Scrooge in a Holodeck play, to better help him understand human emotions. Or imitate them, anyway.
The Enterprise is summoned to save Feddie scientists at an outpost on a lo-tech world. When they get there, The crew discover that the planet's Devil ( Marta Dubois ) has arrived and wants control or the world ... and everything in orbit (including the Enterprise)!
Picard has to help. He does not have much choice - the sexy alien Goddess wants to enjoy him body and mind - morning, noon and night. He objects, of course. He has seen god-like Aliens in every other episode, but he convinces everyone that this one is a fake ... So he stalls her by conducting an arbitration, with Data as impartial adjudicator.
Picard's anti-religious fervour makes him deny reality. The woman's abilities may be explicable with technology, in a case of Clarke's law, but despite Picard claiming she is merely a con-artiste she repeatedly defeats the Enterprise's shields and systems! Could a mere crook overcome the Starfleet Flagship's defences so easily?
Ironically, the female who calls herself the Devil not only has Q-like powers, she also shares his obsession with Picard! Strange that Jean-Luc never even suspects that they could be one and the same entity!
And what about the lo-tech world? Apparently they abandoned space-faring tech a thousand years ago (what calendar or lifespan?), so they probably are not in the Federation. However, since they know of the existence of such tech, the presence of a Fed science outpost is not a breach of the Prime Directive. Nice way to slip through the red tape.
But the bottom line? Is it convincingly-presented as a lo-tech agrarian society? Would that be a paradise better than any industrialised society (eg the Federation)? Trek loves showing us these impossible utopias, and this one is no more realistic than the Federation itself.
Last ep started with Data and Christmans Carol - this one starts with Dixon Hill. Yes, the holodeck is being used for an apparently benign purpose - to underline the story's theme. This time, we understand Picard's love of Mysteries. Also, Whoopie Goldberg looks great in stockings and suspenders (though her legs apppear significantly paler than her face)!
The Enterprise goes to have a look at an interesting phenomenon. However, all the crew are knocked temporarily unconscious.
When they wake up, only thirty seconds has passed. That is what Data says, and he cannot lie. Can he?
As the day wears on, it seems more and more likely that Data is being untruthful ...
Riker is on an away mission, doing surveillance on a planet that is about to develop a Warp-capable spacecraft. The aliens have webbed fingers, so they cannot even use a pen. How they developed advanced technologies when they have to use a rubber stamp to sign their names is not explained.
Riker has an accident, and wakes up in a hospital bed. The local medics have saved his life, but uncovered the fact that he is not one of them. This is like an episode of The Invaders , but we are now on the side of the alien instead of the MIBs. Luckily, Riker meets Bebe Neuwirth - a groupie who blackmails him into sex. Would we have been allowed to see Troi treated the same way if she were captured?
Picard and Troi make First Contact with the chief scientist in the Warp-drive project, Carolyn Seymour . She wants to help them bring her planet into the Federation. But there are powerful forces that favor a more conservative approach.
Dr Leah Brahms ( Susan Gibney ) visits the Enterprise to inspect the engines. Geordi bonded with a hologram of her in Star Trek: TNG [Season 3, Episode 6] Booby Trap but he now discovers the real person is quite different.
The Enterprise encounters a ship-sized alien life-form floating through space. This encounter proves fatal, but the alien has a baby. Picard and the Bridge crew try to resolve this situation without requesting assistance from the two engineers aboard. Yes, the two plots are entirely separate.
Naturally, this has all been sorted out too easily. In the final act, the two plots come together for the climax. Picard could have prevented a lot of problems by acting sooner. A quick jump to warp-speed, or powering down the reactor to wean the baby off, might have done the trick. Instead he needs Geordi and Brahms to come up with a solution.
The Enterprise goes to rescue a Federation science vessel. They discover the crew dead from insanity. Then the Enterprise itself has problems. The crew cannot sleep, and the sleep deprivation leads to mental instability ...
O'Brien tries to stop a mutiny, and Guinan gets to do some gunplay. But Troi, being the only one who can sleep, is the key to survival. Her dreams become nightmares, but they contain the explanation behind their predicament.
Five years ago (Stardate 40164.7), Geordi LaForge was a member of an Away Team investigating unexplained disappearances of colonists on a remote planetoid. Now (Stardate 44664.5), the other members of the team have mysteriously disappeared. Will Geordi disappear too?
Reg Barclay (Dwight Schultz) is still on the Enterprise, performing the title role in a stage adaptation of Cyrano De Bergerac.
The Enterprise encounters an alien probe. Reg Barclay has his brain rewired. He designs and builds a neural interface, and sets himself to building Hyperspace conduits.
The Enterprise hosts an archaeological conference, and Picard's old love interest Vash ( Jennifer Hettrick ) tags along. Q (John deLancie) is also in the area, offering to do Picard a good deed in thanks for his treatment last Season. He transports Vash and the crew to Sherwood Forest to act out the Errol Flynn version of Robin Hood !
Vash is not playing the Damsel in Distress, merely the 1980s uber-bitch! The crew are reduced to Comic Relief. That said, there are some nice character-development moments. Unfortunately, the episode's ending (while being logical) seems tacked-on.
A Klingon officer serving aboard the Enterprise is suspected of espionage and sabotage on behalf of the Romulans. Starfleet sends an investigator - Admiral Sati ( Jean Simmons ). She turns a straightforward case into a witchhunt!
Picard tries to stop the paranoid obsessive, but he becomes her next target. There is some nice attention to continuity, with mention of the time he spent as Locutus of Borg. It turns out that Picard violated the Prime Directive NINE times!
Lwuxanna Troi is aboard again. Her new victim is Trill lookalike alien scientist David Ogden-Stiers ( Dead Zone - the series ), who can adapt photon torpedoes to restart a dying sun. Unfortunately this can accidentally cause them to go nova, but who cares about the little details like accidentally developing a superweapon?
Unfortunately the aliens have a custom reminiscent of Logan's Run . When someone has their sixtieth birthday they get euthanised. Lwuxanna tries to talk her victim into enjoying the benefits of an extended middle age, such as completing decades of research or spending his grandchildren's' inheritance.
Because the aliens have warp tech, Picard is not breaching the Prime Directive. But this also means they have warships that will attack the Enterprise if it leaves orbit with the old man aboard. Also, the aliens are so stubborn that they will not abandon their homeworld even though its sun is dying.
Doctor Crusher has a new love interest of the week - an ambassador with a knobbly forehead. His mission is to mediate peace negotiations between members of a warring species. Crusher is so keen on him, she might actually leave Starfleet to be with him. Naturally, this means the relationship is unlikely to last the episode. Unbeknownst to her, he also has a bulging pouch in his abdomen ... and there is something alive in it. It turns out that the snake in his trousers is a symbiont, and he is a two-part organism. When Mark Lenard's character made such a revelation to Wilma Deering in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century , it did not exactly help the relationship.
The Ambassador is a Trill, making this the first appearance of the species. The bulging pouch is not the only thing that Jadzia Dax does not have. His knobbly forehead was replaced with her more aesthetically pleasing freckles. Also, he could not use a transporter for fear of damaging the symbiont - but this is never mentioned as a problem in Deep Space 9 .
The host gets injured, but the symbiont must continue the mission. Commander Riker volunteers as a temporary host, before the inevitable rejection sets in. At least this allows the actor to play a less intense character. A Trill ship is on its way with a replacement host, but it is delayed for unspecified reasons. Picard does not bother to meet it half-way, which would have halved the journey time. Riker must continue negotiations while fighting tissue rejection, or else the aliens will go back to their war. Crusher must try to keep everyone alive. But knowing Picard is ignoring a solution makes it all a bit contrived.
Geordi LaForge is sent off in an FTL shuttle to a robotics conference on Risa. Unfortunately for him, he is abducted by Romulans. They brainwash him, and send him on an assassination mission aboard the Enterprise. All a big Manchurian Candidate ploy, but without any references to playing solitaire.
The Rommies are commanded by a mysterious female officer - we never see her face, but her voice is strangely familiar ... She will play a major role in the Unification 2-parter.
The Enterprise is summoned to a Klingon border-world. The local Governor claims to have proof the Feds are helping rebels. Can Picard and his crew work out who is framing the Federation?
The Enterprise enters a strange nebula, where the laws of physics are affected. It takes the crew surprisingly long to realise something bad has happened, and they are slow to remove the ship from danger.
Data is seduced by a female security guard ( Michele Scarabelli ). She is a simpering little twit, but it is funny to watch Data play at being human in order to satisfy his (and her) preconceptions of a relationship.
The Enterprise is sent to the Klingon homeworld, where Picard is to oversee Gowron's promotion to lead the council. Worf wants Gowron to restore the House of Mogh, but Gowron will not do this lightly.
The House of Duras plots against Gowron. Lursa and Betor are in charge now. And they are being helped by the Romulans. We get to see who the female Rommie commander is!
The Klingon civil war has begun. Picard knows it is obvious that the Duras faction are backed by the Romulans. He plans a blockade along the Romulan/Klingon border. Romulan Commander Sela ( Denise Crosby ) delivers exposition to Picard, and the two sides face off.
To enforce the blockade, Picard needs a small fleet. He gets 20 ships straight out of dry-dock, which all have crews but lack experienced officers. This is ironic, since it illustrates how the cream of the Starfleet officer corps have been stuck in a promotion freeze by staying on the Enterprise for half a decade! As a senior officer, Data is eligible to command one of the ships. Everyone seems to doubt his ability - even Picard overlooks him. Will he deliver a classic underdog victory against Sela?
Elsewhere, Worf has doubts about Gowron. The new ruler is too bloodthirsty for our Federation Klingon's taste.
The Enterprise is sent to a remote planet, to meet with an alien race with whom communication has been virtually impossible. The aliens merely say words like Darmok, which the Universal Translator seems to find untranslatable. Data says it is because the words are Proper Names of people and places ...
The Alien Captain (Paul Winfield - Terminator, Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan ) traps himself and Picard on the planet's surface. Are they supposed to fight to the death? Or will they team up against a mutual enemy.
Data and Troi make good progress deciphering parts of the alien language. Geordi is ably assisted by Lieutenant Robin Leftler ( Ashley Judd ).
A Federation Colony near Cardassian territory is destroyed. The Bajoran Militia claims responsibility. Admiral McKinley tells Picard to deal with the situation by whatever means necessary. This plan seems to involve offering the Bajorans a lot of empty promises. The Admiral also transfers a new crew member to the Enterprise - Ensign Ro Laren ( Michelle Forbes ), the only Bajoran in Starfleet. Unfortunately, she was in the stockade after being court-martialed.
Ensign Ro rejects overtures of friendship from Crusher and Troi. However, Guinan is an enthusiastic socialiser who insists on making friends with the newcomer. A pity Troi never got to do this kind of thing. It would have made her actual job seem worthwhile, to start with. But instead we have a typical situation where the bartender does the counsellor's job.
There is a pro-Maquis conspiracy to offer the Bajorans military aid against the Cardassians. Picard complains that this is against everything the Federation stands for. Since it has already been established that the Federation stands idly by while the Cardassians mutilate and torture civilians to death, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Riker, Crusher and Data are helping some colonists build pre-fab houses on a remote M-Class world. The Crystaline Entity from Star Trek: TNG [Season 1, Episode 13] Datalore arrives and attacks the colony. Luckily, there are some caves nearby with humanoid-friendly steps carved into the steep areas of floor.
Starfleet sends along a lady scientist who is their leading expert on the Crystaline Entity. She is prejudiced against Data because his brother, Lore, helped the Entity to destroy his colony. It turns out that the woman's son was one of the colonists that Lore sold out. Data has the boy's journal in his memory, and is able to recite passages to the woman.
Counsellor Troi ( Marina Sirtis ) is trapped on the Bridge, and since she is senior officer she is in charge of the entire ship. Luckily she has Chief O'Brien (Colm Meaney) and Ensign Ro ( Michelle Forbes ) to give advice, although they have very different temperaments.
Worf is left in charge of Ten Forward. Keiko O'Brien is also trapped in ten Forward. She has been pregnant for so long that the baby is virtually crowning. Worf must help her give birth.
Commander Riker gets some shore leave on Risa. He hooks up with a horny babe (apparently its not difficult on Risa) who gives him a gift - a psychoactive video-Game.
Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) returns on vacation from the Starfleet Academy. He dates Lieutenant Robin Leftler ( Ashley Judd ), but they realise that everyone on the ship is addicted to the Game. Worse, it is part of a brainwashing conspiracy.
This is not the first brainwashing conspiracy that TNG has experienced - the infamous brain-parasite ep of Season One stands out. But this is a decent story, let down only by the fact it seems a bit predictable and over-structured. Things happen because they are convenient to the plot, not because they actually make sense. Wesley is at his least annoying, and Robin Leftler seems to be shaping up as a major character. Will she play as big a role as Ensign Ro? Her main contribution appears to be Leftler's Laws - possibly the inspiration not only for the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, and also Gibbs' Rules in NCIS.
Spock has gone MIA, and has been spotted on Romulus. Yes, Federation sensors are so good they can take a photo as clear as a spy-satellite photo ... from the other side of the Neutral Zone to the surface of the Romulan homeworld! Picard visits Sarek to get a clue as to Spock's agenda.
Picard and Data get disguised as Romulans, but they need to borrow a cloaked Klingon ship from Gowron.
Riker investigates some Vulcan wreckage found on a wrecked Ferengi vessel. This leads to a violent confrontation with some mysterious interlopers.
Picard, Data and Spock run foul of their Romulan arch-enemy, Sela ( Denise Crosby ).
A time-ship appears, and Professor Matt Frewer ( Max Headroom ) beams himself aboard the Enterprise. He is a historian from three hundred years in the future, and he has come to study the Enterprise and its crew.
The Enterprise has to use its phaser banks to stabilise a planet's volcanic crust. This show's reliance on high technology to solve ecological problems makes it an updated version of Thunderbirds . While International Rescue can save a single skyscraper from an Earthquake, Starfleet can now influence and affect entire continents - with consequences on a global scale!
The visitor implies that the ship's current mission is the one that Picard will be remembered for. Naturally, things start to go wrong. Picard admits that he has broken the Prime Directive more than once, and asks the visitor to break the Temporal Prime Directive. But it turns out that there is more than one person on the ship willing to tamper with the past.
The Enterprise is assigned to observe a scientific experiment. A new form of Warp travel has been invented, using a static generator to create a wave and another one to disapate it. All a vessel has to do is ride the wave ... What could possibly go wrong?
Worf's son Alexander comes to pay him a visit. More of a permanent living arrangement, in fact. Yet another problem with having kiddies aboard the Enterprise - since it is family-friendly, a single parent like Worf has no excuse for ducking out.
Predictably, Alexander has behavioural issues. These are due to his poor parenting, rather than a medical condition like ADHD.
The Enterprise tries to rescue a Starfleet science vessel. The only survivor is a young boy, who is suffering from PTSD. He takes Data as his role-model.
The boy claims the ship was attacked and boarded, but Geordi's CSI work undermines that story. It could be a spatial anomaly that destroyed the ship. But can the Enterprise escape the same fate?
The Enterprise plays host to a group of historians who use telepathy to uncover the memories of people they interview. Troi has an unpleasant vision, and ends up in a coma.
Geordi and Data have to search through Starfleet records to see if they can find similar cases. Their detective work is key to the whole mystery. Of course, despite Data's Holmesian logical deductions it is Geordi's human leap of logic that solves the case.
The Enterprise is following a fragment from an exploded Neutron star. It goes dangerously close to a remote colony of humans. They are in hiding from the Federation, from before the era of the matter transporters. Their society is founded on specialised genetics through breeding ... Are they descended from Augments?
Troi starts to get emotionally involved with the genetics' leader. No accounting for her friendship with Riker, then.
Picard criticises the concept of a genetically controlled society. He hypocritically ignores the fact that the Federation is a controlled, planned society that only uses different means towards the same ends. Yes, his utopia is supposed to be better than the other kind. Unfortunately, we are not allowed a debate between him and the genetics' second-in-command (Ron Canada, the actor who - as a Klingon lawyer - almost extradited Worf in Deep Space Nine ). No, a fair debate would have acknowledged that there are two sides to every story, instead of blind insistence that the Federation's socialist rules can never be wrong.
The genetics' society would have aborted Geordie as a blind foetus. Does this mean that the Feds have a huge underclass of genetically damaged people? That explains why only the elite get to work in Starfleet! However, this explains that the moral problem with the genetic engineering is not the fact that some people are improved by science, it is that it apparently goes hand-in-glove with a Eugenics programme of forced abortions.
The real problem is not the neutron fragment. The locals' delicately-balanced (okay, stagnant) society is disrupted by Starfleet's presence. And the Prime Directive is never mentioned!
Liz Vassey is Dr Crusher's swimsuit-clad patient. Unfortunately, they then lose their memories - as does everyone else aboard the ship.
The crew wake up with no idea of who they are or what their rank is, although they still have the skills to do their jobs. There is a new member of the crew, an officer on the bridge. He insists the crew follow their mission, apparently a military strike against an alien world.
Riker and Ro Laren ( Michelle Forbes ) start to act on their innate attraction to each other.
The Enterprise discovers a distress signal from a long-lost ship. They investigate, but the Landing Party come back ... different.
The Landing Party take everyone in Ten Forward hostage. Patricia Tallman , apparently the only female in the Trek franchise stunt crew, is one of Worf's Security crew. Yes, she may not wear a red shirt but we all know what her life expectancy is.
Picard hands himself over as a hostage, so he can better conduct his negotiations. Riker sends Geordi into the Jeffries Tubes to deploy a potential solution. Ensign Ro ( Michelle Forbes ) assists him, although an engineering job like this would best be given to an engineer like Robin Leftler. Well, it is obvious which one of the new cast got retained and which one got dumped.
The hostage-takers claim to be the disembodied spirits of the crew of the crashed starship. But they do not act like Starfleet officers, which allows the actors to show their actual talents. Troi is good at bossing people about, Data tries to goad Worf into a fight, and O'Brien has conflicted feelings about Keiko.
Worf gets crippled in an accident. He wants to kill himself, and asks Riker to help. Picard, as always, tries to be diplomatic. Troi tries to talk Worf out of it. Alexander is still aboard the ship, the first reference to him since he almost got sent to a Klingon school.
Crusher has a colleague who claims to have a potential cure. Will the reset button get pushed.
Enterprise investigates a subspace anomaly. They are helping a single-gender species It turns out that the aliens originally had TWO genders, but became omni-sexual by law. They strictly enforce this law.
When it was written it was a metaphor for anti-gay repression, although now it seems to be more about transexualism.
Crusher and the others start to get a feeling of Déjà vu. Geordi is suffering from a medical syndrome causing cumulative damage ... They begin to suspect that they have lived through that day before. Soon they work out they are in a time loop.
The whole thing pivots of Data being able to interpret a short message. This is quite tense and well-shot.
This episode introduced Tom Paris to us. Well, the character that was originally going to be used before they changed his name to Paris. It is the same actor, though.
One of Wesley Crusher's classmates is killed in a training accident. There is a coverup in place. Unfortunately, this is more like a half-baked legal drama than a conspiracy thriller. Will Wesley put the Truth above his friends and team-mates? Will he follow Picard's rules, knowing that nobody will ever trust or respect him again?
This was a Troi episode - but otherwise instantly forgettable.
Worf is having problems with his rude and disobedient son, Alexander. Troi tries to help, but she has family problems of her own. Yes, Lwuxanna is aboard again - en route to her next wedding! The two guest-stars start to bond.
By strange coincidence, the ship starts to fall apart. First the replicators mess up, then more critical systems are hit. It is not good to be travelling at FTL speeds when the ship starts to fall apart ... Time to avoid the turbolifts too!
Lwuxanna wants to get married again because she is afraid of being alone. She has only compared on-line profiles with her new fiance. Strange that they never realised that while she is a free spirit, he is (like his entire culture) anal retentive!
The Enterprise plays host to Ambassador Tim O'Connor (
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
) who is transporting a mysterious package.
The ship saves a couple of Ferengi - one of them Quark's brother from DS9!!!
The package is revealed to be an empath played by
, who appeared as Xenia Onatop in
Ms Janssen plays a nymphomaniac, who is constantly patronised by Picard. Like an acquaintance of this reviewer, in this episode Picard puts females on a pedestal - unable to perceive the possibility that any woman would actually WANT to have sex, and only prostitutes and rape victims are ever touched by men.
Troi has a session with a pre-teen girl who has an imaginary friend. Yes, despite people in the future not caring about baldness enough to cure Picard, they still make a big deal over such childhood activities. The Enterprise is infiltrated by an energy being, and it brings the girl's imaginary friend to life. There are shades of a Polish SciFi film remade as a George Clooney effort.
The Enterprise investigates a mysterious distress signal, and end up rescuing a Borg who has been isolated from the Hive-mind. They name it, as if it were a pet. It is now called Hugh.
Picard and Guinan have both suffered terribly at the hands of the Borg. They want the Borg destroyed as a species.
Picard has Data and Geordi cook up a hi-tech plan to take out the Borg Collective when it returns to collect Hugh. Not just a single cube, but every hive that cube comes in contact with. He does not even bother to tell Starfleet of his plan, even though he is merely a starship captain. He is basically willing to genocide the Borg, not that they do not deserve it.
The Enterprise goes to help a Romulan ship. Geordi and Ensign Ro ( Michelle Forbes ) get lost in a transporter accident. They wake up unable to touch anything, and nobody can see them except each other. Are they ghosts?
A pity Chief O'Brien was not on teleporter duty. He would not have messed up.
What nobody realises is that the Romulans have been experimenting with Phased Cloaking. This is the next generation of technology, and will feature in more episodes.
The Enterprise investigates a mysterious space probe. When they get close to it, Picard is hit with a beam of light. His body is knocked out, but his mind works overtime.
Picard wakes up in a relatively primitive alien culture, with a new identity. He soon realises he must play along, and participate in the alien society. The technology compresses decades of life-experience into less than half an hour of life experience.
Data's severed head has been discovered by archaeologists. It was buried in San Francisco for 500 years, since the 1880s. The rest of the crew had always regarded him as being practically immortal, but now they start treating him as if he were on his deathbed.
The Enterprise is sent to a remote planet. Aliens have been travelling back to san Francisco in the Victorian Age.
Data gets trapped in the past. By incredible coincidence, he bumps into the only other Enterprise crew-member old enough to have lived back then. Guinan ( Whoopie Goldberg )!
Data and Past Guinan try to figure out what the evil aliens are plotting. But Sam Clements (Jerry Hardin - X-Files ) thinks that THEY are evil aliens! This is irony indeed, because Clements was author of one of the first modern time-travel tales - A Connecticut Yankee at the Court of King Arthur .
Picard and the rest of the bridge crew travel back to 1880s San Francisco to find Data and the real alien conspirators. However, they also have to ensure that temporal continuity is maintained.
Reg Barclay (Dwight Schultz) is back. On top of his many problems (holodeck addiction being the main one) he now has transporter phobia.
It is nice to see someone from the lower decks get an episode. Reg has some good scenes with his fellow recurring character, Chief O'Brien (Colm Meaney).
The Enterprise transports a specialist negotiator to a warzone. He latches onto Troi, befriending her and making her his special interest. Her personality changes, she becomes a free spirit - yes, once again Deanna Troi is the one being psychically violated.
The Feds are willing to kill off the negotiator rather than let him take a new victim. Of course, with him gone the peace treaty will fail and the war will probably continue, at the cost of millions of lives. So much for the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few!
In search of a Federation starship missing for 75 years, the Newbies discover a body so large it can block out an entire sun. Not only that, it was trapped in the transporter buffers of a ship that had crashed into a Dyson Sphere!
Yes, this is the one where Scotty makes a comeback! :)
Scotty has trouble getting used to the new ways of doing things. However, he manages a bit of interaction with the new crew. First he sits down with Picard on the Holodeck, where they share some war stories and a bottle of booze. Then he teaches Geordie the trick of padding his delivery times, so he looks like a miracle worker when he delivers everything early.
The show solved the mystery of Alien Abduction Syndrome by having the crew of the Enterprise kidnapped by creatures from another dimension.
The senior staff of the Enterprise start to show the effects of alien abduction syndrome. This has something to do with a new system Geordi has installed. It can be detected by aliens from another dimension. Although why the aliens target a single ship in deep space, rather than an actual planet full of people, is stretching things a little. Apparently they were able to target the ship because Geordi modified the sensor emissions.
The episode does have some merit, insofar as it shows what the crew do when off-duty. Data holds a poetry reading, including the premiere of Ode to Spot. The audience includes a civilian woman, who later gets some dialogue. Later, Worf gets a beard trim from the Bolian barber.
Troi is key to solving the mystery. She creates a discussion group for the abductees, who then use the holodeck to create a replica of the room they were held in.
Amanda ( Olivia D'Abo ), a teenage girl science student (bland, neither Geek Girl nor Prom Queen), wins an internship aboard the Enterprise. It turns out she has superpowers ...
Q (John De Lancie) pops up, to train Amanda. After all, it would be unwise for the Continuum to allow a superpowered teenager to run around unsupervised. All Picard contributes is a lot of moralistic crap!
Picard, Guinan, Ensign Ro ( Michelle Forbes ) and Keiko O'Brien are in a transporter accident which results in them all being physically altered to be reduced to twelve years old. Picard is proportionately the oldest, although Guinan is centuries older than him. Her true age is never revealed, but she jokes that her father is nearly seven hundred years old and since she was friends with Mark Twain she might be that old too. Keiko and Ro are about the same age as each other, althought Ro is Bajoran and not human. And yet, despite different species and age groups, they all end up about twelve years old. And somehow, their clothes shrank too!
Ro and Guinan have career issues due to their new-found youth. It is worse for Picard, who has to step down as Captain and let Riker take over. But Keiko has it worst of all, because she can no longer fulfill her responsibilities as a wife and mother.
The ship is boarded by Ferengi pirates - oops, I mean salvage merchants. It is amazing what they can do with a few cloaked Klingon warbirds. All they have to do is pound the shields till they fail, then beam landing parties aboard.
The kids go all Die Hard on the Ferengi. Guinan is the brains of the operation, and persuades Picard and the others to act childishly. Worf's son Alexander also helps out.
The crew all have some down time. Picard practises his flute-playing, Crusher works on a new stage-play she is directing, and Geordi tinkers around with Data and the ship's computer. Worf reluctantly takes his son Alexander into the holodeck, to play a wild west game. Counsellor Troi joins them.
Unfortunately, Data is plugged into the ship's main computer when there is a power surge. This over-writes Doctor Crusher's stage-play with Data's poem, Ode To Spot. But worse, Worf and Co are still in the holodeck ...
The villainous characters are overwritten to look like Data. The final climactic shootout at High Noon includes a reference to Warlock, a western that had DeForest Kelley in a major supporting role.
Patrick Stewart made his directorial debut with this piece. John Pyper-Ferguson ( Alphas ) has a small role.
The Enterprise visits a space station where a beautiful young female engineer ( Ellen Bry ) has invented flying robots she calls exocomps. Geordi takes an interest in her. After all, he has a thing for young female scientists. However, his love interests do not end well.
Data investigates an unusual incident, and suspects the robots are sentient. When things go bad, for some climactic action, Data refuses to sacrifice the exocomps - even to save Picard and Geordi.
Despite the creation of a completely new sentient species, this ep is never referred to again.
This is a double-episode linked together to form a 90-minute TV movie. Picard is removed as Captain of the Enterprise and sent on a secret mission against a new putty-faced species called Cardassians. It seems that Starfleet has long since done away with the Marines from Star Trek 6: The Unknown Country and has no expert special forces unit. Instead of specialists they deploy multi-skilled officers - in this case Picard, plus his head of security and chief medical officer.
The new captain is Jellicoe (Ronny Cox - Robocop, Total Recall ), who is a stickler for regulations. He moves the duty schedule around for no apparent reason, and has Geordi change his priorities. A third of the engineering staff are transferred to Security, although it is not explained what they will be doing that is so much more vital than Geordi's work. Finally, he orders Troi to start wearing her uniform while on duty!
The second part of the story has a different focus. Despite his cool camouflage uniform (never seen again in Away Missions!!!) Picard gets captured, and tortured by David Warner. This is quite a step up for old Pic compared to the usual company he keeps; Warner played the Human ambassador in Star Trek 5 and the Klingon ambassador in Star Trek 6. He was also up for the part of Soran in Generations, but because he was busy he suggested they use his good friend Malcolm McDowell instead.
The Cardassian torturer tells Picard the history of Cardassia. Their military has expanded its territory, taken resources and used them to supply the Cardassian people. This seems to be a mirror of the Federation, which is also a military dictatorship run by Starfleet. After all, they are both based on real-life Stalinism.
What really scares this reviewer about this episode is not the story, which is merely a 1984 rip-off. No, the source of horror is the fact that in seven years, TNG only had nudity in one episode. And who do you think we got to see? You have guessed it - we do not get Tasha Yar (who posed in Playboy), Deanna Troi (topless in Death Wish 3), or any of the many female Guest-Stars (including Goldeneye's Famke Janssen ). No, the only flesh in seven years of lukewarm Drek is baldy Picard's wrinkled old ass!
This episode has the return of two of the series' more interesting characters. Lieutenant Barclay (Dwight Schultz) inadvertently releases Dr Moriarty, last seen trapped in the Holodeck in Star Trek: TNG [Season 2, Episode 3] Elementary, Dear Data .
What is the deal with this holodeck? The thing poses a serious threat to the ship at least once a year, and nobody has bothered to disconnect it!
Picard, Data and Barclay investigate strange goings-on in the Holodeck. Professor Moriarty has reappeared, this time with a girlfriend ( Stephanie Beecham ), and they want to be transformed into flesh-and-blood humans. Apparently if they try to venture outside the holodeck they will be destroyed forever. In other words, the holodeck computer does not have backup copies!
This is slightly better than the other Holodeck-gone-crazy tales, but has a number of flaws in its logic. To start with, Data has lost his holodeck perception from the pilot episode. Secondly, Moriarty relies on pattern enhancers - but he forgets that they are holograms. Some criminal genius!
Of course, fans of ST: VGR will realise that the EMH has technology that Moriarty would love to use!
The Enterprise drops by a deep space communications relay station. The two lieutenants that crew the station are missing, and only the dog is still there. Most people would think of the movie The Thing , but the Feds are culturally illiterate.
Geordie is assigned to look through the computerised logs of the station and discover what happened. He watches the video-diary of Aquiel, a near-human negro girl, and begins to fall for her.
Aquiel's companion aboard the station is believed to have been murdered. Did she kill him, or did he die at the hands of the local Klingon warlord?
Counsellor Troi wakes up as a Romulan. She has to pass herself off as a Major in the Tal Shiar, the Romulan Secret Police, in charge of a secret cargo aboard a Warbird. Somehow she speaks fluent Romulan without a translator. At least the irritating Bajoran accent is gone.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise takes on-board a former Starfleet Ensign who defected to Romulus. The defector bears a message from Ambassador Spock - they are to retrieve a secret cargo ...
An away-team beams into med-bay. Riker brings in a wounded Picard, whose heart has been blasted out of his chest. Silly to put both command officers on the one Away team, but that is a moot point. Picard finds himself in a white room, and approaches a white-robed figure ... Q!
Picard dies when his cybernetic heart fuses, and is met on the other side by Q! In a Capra-esque turn Mr deLancie takes baldy back to the day he had his heart replaced, and allows him to avoid the fight that damaged it. As a result Picard realises that Kirk was right when he said our pain defines us, it makes us what we are.
Q takes Picard through his past life, all Picard's regrets and mistakes. The incident that gave Picard his artificial heart, first mentioned to Wesley several Seasons previously, is the key. Q gives Picard the chance to re-live that event. He is twenty again, an Ensign waiting for his first deep-space assignment.
This is a great episode - wonderful characterisation of Picard, and Q's one-liners are as humourous as ever. It was written by Ron D Moore, and shows many of the signs of the moral ambiguity of his later show Battlestar Galactica (2003)
James Cromwell ( First Contact ) appears under a pile of make-up as an information broker who offers data about Worf's father. Worf prefers to believe that NO Klingon would let himself be captured alive, ignoring the existence of stun-beams!
More next week!
Worf finds himself trapped in a colony of Klingon pacifists. Unhappy with their peaceful co-existence with the Romulans, he decides to teach the Klingons their culture - brutality and mindless violence. In fact, the Romulans have turned swords into plough-shares and Worf takes it upon himself to turn them back. He is a serpent in their garden of Eden. If only he would similarly proselyte the feeble Federation!
The Romulans have turned the Klingons into vegetarians. Worf takes a young Klingon man hunting, and together they bring home the bacon. These days, this would be referred to as toxic masculinity.
Worf is racist against the Romulans, and rejects the idea of race-mixing with them. This prejudice is one of the main things that inspires him to interfere. Certainly, Roddenberry would not have encouraged a storyline that inspires segregation and values aggression.
Picard is trapped in the John MacLane role from Die Hard when the Enterprise is invaded by a group of refugees from other SF shows. More precisely, a group of actors who went on to bigger and better things.
The token Vulcan is played by Tim Russ, who became Tuvok on Star Trek: VGR . Yes, THIS is the first appearance of a Negro Vulcan! The token Bajoran is played by Patricia Tallman , better known as Lyta Alexander in Babylon 5 . The band's leader will also be well-known to Babylon 5 fans as Dodger the GROPO!
The interlopers are not Maquis terrorists, although they many end up selling their stolen booty to the Maquis so it can be used as a weapon. No, they are portrayed as eevil because they believe in commerce and profit!
A senior-ranking member of the base personnel is in on the plot, but does not bother to switch the Barion Sweep off even though it is a direct risk to the mission. Likewise, the Enterprise senior staff are kept at gunpoint instead of simply being stunned.
Picard gets a new love-interest - and how long do you think she will last, eh? He falls for a new female crew member who looks like a slightly younger version of Beverly Crusher ( Gates McFadden ).
There is a slight piece of continuity in this episode; Picard refers to a previous episode when he was taken over by an alien probe and lived out a full lifetime on the alien world (destroyed 100,000 years previously) in the space of 25 minutes. However, we all know the reset button is going to get pushed at the end of the story!
This episode features guest roles from British talent - Maurice Roeves ( Dr Who ) as a Romulan and Linda Thorsen ( The Avengers ) as a Cardassian. Picard's old Archaeology lecturer, Professor Galen, turns up with a secret discovery and asks for help.
This episode introduces the idea that information could be encoded in DNA sequences, seeded by an ancient and unknown civilisation. Also, we learn that SEVENTEEN Enterprise crew members are from non-Federation worlds!
This episode starts with Riker stuck in a lunatic asylum. Or is he?
Dr Crusher is directing a play about a man held in an asylum. Riker is the star, but he starts to live the story for real.
While aboard the Enterprise, Riker thinks he is being stalked by an alien (Andrew Prine - V: Final Battle ). Later, when Riker sees himself as an asylum inmate the alien is his doctor. He befriends a fellow inmate ( Susanna Thompson ). But what is real and what is fantasy?
Everyone on the Enterprise seems to participate in amateur theatre performances. Even Data writes and performs poetry about his cat. After all, without television (or pre-recorded video programming) it seems that amateur dramatics, poetry and musical recitals are the only mainstream form of entertainment on the ship.
This form of self-improvement seems to be the goal of life in the Federation. But the obvious parallel is actually with Ayn Rand's Capitalist tome Atlas Shrugged , which promotes self-reliance and the learning of different skills.
This episode starts with Crusher packing to return to Earth in disgrace. Guinan pays her a visit with a complaint of tennis elbow. They get talking, and Guinan gets Crusher to narrate the episode. The rest of the episode is in flashback.
Despite being a medical specialist, Crusher recruited a mixed bag of scientists - a vulcan, human, Klingon and Ferengi. The plan is to take the Ferengi's theory of metaphasic shielding and turn it into something practical. But someone started sabotaging their experiments and killing off the scientists.
The talk with Guinan inspires Crusher to solve the mystery herself. It turns out that Guinan usually got Troi's lines re-written for her, and all Troi does in this episode is complain to Picard that Crusher is avoiding her. A pity that Troi does not get more to do. If she helped solve a mystery once in a while, there would be more to her character than just telling Picard I sense hostility when an alien ship tries to attack the Enterprise.
This episode sees Worf continue his character development from Star Trek: TNG [Season 6, Episode 16-7] Birthright, the double-episode on the Romulan colony. Worf has a crisis of faith, and is late for a shift, so Picard puts him on indefinite leave. He takes a shuttle (indefinitely) for a 12-day journey to a Klingon religious settlement. Thus, the Enterprise will have to do without both Worf and his shuttle for at least 24 days.
Even among the religious Klingons, Worf fails to have mystical experiences. Then, by incredible coincidence, a stranger arrives who claims to be Kahless. The religious types are overjoyed when he passes their tests, but Worf is suspicious.
Gowron is unhappy to see the apparent return of Kahless. To start with, the religious faction are Gowron's rivals for power. If Kahless can undermine Gowron's support, the religious faction will control the Klingon Empire!
The Enterprise visits a remote planet, last visited by Riker's ship eight years previously. The Away Team explores the science outpost, and discovers a spare version of Riker. The explanation is that in a transportation eight years ago the transporter-operator used two transporter locks on him - and created two versions of him, one on the planet and one on the ship. When they beamed him up, they accidentally beamed another copy back to the planet.
Finally someone has realised the basic flaw in the idea of the transporter; it kills the original person and creates an exact duplicate of them elsewhere. Since it uses force-field technology (Field Tech) like the replicators and holodecks, it would be possible to replicate one person almost to infinity.
The Rikers are ranked Commander and Lieutenant so we can tell them apart. They have a lot in common - they both want Troi, and they resent each other. The Enterprise is on a Dangerous Recovery Mission, so the new Riker is blatantly doomed.
The spare Riker tries to restart his relationship with Troi. He is different from his Enterprise counterpart - more impulsive, less mature. But he is suffering absolutely NO ill effects after being marooned alone for almost a decade. Riker managed to suffer a near mental breakdown a few episodes ago in Star Trek: TNG [Season 6, Episode 21] Frame Of Mind, but for some reason he is perfectly stable in this episode.
Paramount churns out another cliched story about temporal rifts. It is brightened only by another star turn by the babelicious Patricia Tallman.
Riker is in charge of the Enterprise. He unfortunately has to take a trip to sick bay, because of an unfortunate encounter with Data's out-of-control cat Spot.
Picard, Geordi, Data and Troi return to the Enterprise. Troi mocks an alien who attempted to seduce her with an Ulster accent. These days such harmless flirtation would be severely persecuted. Anyway, en route home they encounter strange temporal phenomenae.
They discover the Enterprise and a Romulan warbird frozen in a time loop together. The crew beam aboard and explore both vessels, unseen by the inhabitants. This is more than a little reminiscent of Star Trek: TNG [Season 5, Episode 24] The Next Phase .
Afterwards, Data has trouble understanding the human perception of time. He even tells Riker that he watched a pot boil dozens of times. But he already discussed such things with Picard at the end of Star Trek: TNG [Season 1, Episode 24] We'll Always Have Paris.
The episode starts with Data on the holodeck with history's great thinkers. Dr Stephen Hawking has a cameo as himself, while John Neville ( Baron Munchausen ) is Sir Isaac Newton. Data, socially clueless as he is, attempts to explain Physics to Newton himself. As Newton is male this cannot be called Mansplaining.
This episode is centred around Data. He is working on developing emotions. Unfortunately, he gets the negative (interesting) ones - rage and sadistic pleasure. Worse, he has no way of controlling them.
The Enterprise goes up against an old enemy - the Borg. Yes, we get to see the result of Hugh getting his individuality in Star Trek: TNG [Season 5, Episode 23] I, Borg.
Dr Crusher is left in charge of the ship. This would be a great opportunity to split the ship in two, sending the saucer section to get help from the rest of Starfleet. Naturally, nobody thinks of doing this and the entire ship (including the civilians) is put in harm's way.
Picard and most of his crew beam down to search the planet. The most experienced officers all stick together in one group, while the less experienced, more expendable ones are sent off into the wilderness. Picard and Troi are wearing their brightly-coloured red and blue uniforms. It seems that the military-type camouflage outfits from the Cardassian two-parter Star Trek: TNG [Season 6, Episode 10-11] Chain of Command are not available for Away Team missions. Strange that, despite everyone having access to historical clothing for their fun and games on the holodeck, nobody has access to military-style protective clothing.
Crusher is left in charge of the Enterprise. Her bridge crew are enthusiastic newbies, and they are presented as potential recurring characters. That said, so was Ensign Robin Leftler!
Data has emotions, thanks to his brother Lore. But he is filled with hatred, and directs it against Picard. Lore tests Data by making him perform dangerous medical experiments on Geordi.
Lore has a small army of Borg, and the Borg have free will. He seems to have forgotten that Free Will means they are also free to oppose him.
The Enterprise participates in a diplomatic exchange programme. Worf and Troi have to escort a couple of Alien ambassadors around the ship. Troi's is a hedonist, who takes a liking to desserts. Worf is assigned to an arrogant, aggressive git. Data remarks that Worf has much in common with the man.
Picard takes a shuttle to the Aliens' homeworld with Eric Pierpoint ( Alien Nation ). Unfortunately, the shuttle crashes and Picard ends up marooned. Luckily a beautiful woman ( Barbara Williams ) lives there. She claims to have been trapped there for seven years, and she certainly seems to have been more affected by her ordeal than the spare Riker was in Star Trek: TNG [Season 6, Episode 24] Second Chances . However, she begins to act unusually. Is this Misery or Fatal Attraction ?
Geordi gets his visor wired up to sensory inputs, thus making it act like a set of virtual reality goggles. They could just use the Holodeck instead. It would not have the terrible side-effect that the visor has - bio feedback that causes the wearer to gain injuries from their encounters.
Geordi gets bad news about his mother. The ship that she commands has gone missing. He still has one parent left, a father in a blue medical/science officer uniform. However, he becomes obsessed with finding her.
When Geordi uses the interface to remotely explore another ship, he sees someone that looks like his mother. With nobody else able to see the woman, Picard refuses to investigate further. Geordie disobeys orders and takes it upon himself to single-handedly lead a search mission for mommy.
The Enterprise senior staff go plainclothes in a Mos Eisley-style Cantina. They are looking for Picard, who went missing while on an Archeological vacation. A gang of mercenaries have been raiding sites in the area.
Riker gets captured and taken aboard the Mercenaries' ship. It is Captained by 1970s rent-a-villain Richard Lynch ( ) and crewed by the likes of Julie Caitlin Brown and a Romulan-looking Robin Curtis . There is also a man named Galen - like Picard's mentor in Star Trek: TNG [Season 6, Episode 20] The Chase.
Picard and Riker are still undercover on the mercenaries' ship. But the double-crosses fly fast and thick!
Data is now Acting Captain of the Enterprise, with Worf as the Number two. This leads to some good character development.
Data starts to have nightmares. Then he has waking dreams, which drive him to physical violence. Yes, we get a slasher-movie psycho-drama!
Data seeks psychiatric help from both Sigmund Freud (on the Holodeck) and Counselor Troi.
Patrick Stewart directed this piece, and managed to evoke the visuals of the Giallo tradition.
Luxwana Troi comes aboard the Enterprise as translator for a family from a telepathic species. However, when she is around the family's young girl ( Kirsten Dunst ) she becomes depressed. Counsellor Troi must discover the secret in her mother's past.
The alien girl's father lurks in the background a lot. He is set up to seem like a creepy suspicious character, but this is not really followed through with. As a result he merely seems superfluous and distracting.
Data makes reference to his own dreaming - a nice piece of continuity with the previous ep.
The Enterprise visits a planet called Kess-Pritt, which is split into the countries of Kess and Pritt. The democratic Kess want to join the Federation, while the Pritt are isolationists. This is a bit like North and South Korea.
Picard and Beverly Crusher are kidnapped by the Pritt. They manage to escape, but not before being implanted with telepathic links that allow them to read each others' minds. This is a hi-tech take on classic prison-break movie The Defiant Ones (remade in the 1980s with Wil Wheaton). Instead of a bickering pair of rivals, we get people who have been friends for decades. Since the two characters have a history together, the telepathic link just brings them closer. However, since they never got together over the last six Seasons (and Trek has the Reset Button) there is no real point to this.
Riker decides that the planet is not ready to join the Federation. He states that the Kess are too paranoid, although since their neighbours are xenophobic it's no surprise. The Federation only accepts Worlds that are unified. This might seem seem like a good idea - prejudices have been done away with, and so on. But it also means a certain undemocratic way of doing things. As someone once said, If you find a society which is unified, start looking for the mass graves!. After all, the model Communist society that the Federation is based on is Josef Stalin's Russia.
Geordi and Data get an extended scene together where they talk about training for Data's cat, Spot. This is what makes the later Seasons so much better than the early ones. There is a lot of character development, instead of preaching about how the Federation is a socialist utopia. Trendy screenwriting gurus preach that every scene must further the plot, but the true goal is to create characters that the audience cares about. In the case of this show, it was achieved by giving each of the main characters a hobby.
The Enterprise tries to find a missing Starfleet ship, the USS Fleming. The first suspect is Ferengi Daimon Prak (Lee Arenberg - Once Upon A Time ). However, a pair of scientists claim that the ship's Warp engines cause spacial rifts - and that ALL Warp engines damage the fabric of space. Therefore, the Enterprise's engines will enlarge the rift ...
This storyline is a metaphor for environmental damage on Earth. Like most episodes that involve a major new technological innovation, this is pretty much ignored in future episodes.
Commander Data meets his mother ( Fionnuala Flanagan ). This episode was crass, typical and illustrates just how far Science Fiction TV would advance in the next ten years!
Worf returns to the Enterprise after a Bat'leth tournament. He records a personal video log, like a youtube blog. Several contestants were maimed - presumably by Worf himself, because he won!
This is a day in the life of Worf. First, he has his birthday party. Then he must investigate Cardassian sabotage of a Federation sensor Array.
Unfortunately, reality starts to rewrite itself around Worf. He ignores the changes as much as he can, never considering that he could be hopping between parallel universes. So much for the observational skills of Starfleet Security!
Worf ends up in in a universe where:
The Enterprise is assigned to a special mission run by Admiral Terry O'Quinn ( Lost ). He wants to locate the wreck of his old ship, the Pegasus. There is an important item of kit he must retrieve from it.
Riker was one of the survivors of the Pegasus. Picard puts Riker in a tough spot. They are both under orders from the Admiral, who outranks them both. But Picard tries to coerce Riker into defying the Admiral and reveal secrets that may be vital to the Federation. In other words, he puts personal curiosity above the good of the Federation.
The Enterprise is summoned to a world where Worf's foster-brother Nikolai (Paul Sorvino - Rocketeer ) is a scientist who has been observing pre-Warp aliens. Unfortunately, the planet's atmosphere is being sucked off into space. The Feds are happy to sit back and let the entire civilisation die. But Nicholai decides that they are worth saving ...
The villagers include Penny Johnson (better known as Kassidy Yates in DS9 ). Also along for the trip is the chronicler (Brian Markinson - Caprica ). Ironically, this actor also played a crewman on Voyager !
To ramp up the phony jeopardy, the holodeck starts to malfunction.
When the plan is over, Picard is happy to take credit for saving everyone. Ignoring the fact that he was willing to let the entire civilisation perish ... and the fact that he wanted to punish Nicholai, despite regularly breaking the Prime Directive himself!
Bev Crusher goes home to bury her granny. She falls for Granny's boyfriend, Duncan Regehr ( V: The Series ).
The relationship centres around Granny's magic candle. Every time Beverly lights it, she has an erotic experience. Yes, the episode is about her using a candle for sex.
We finally get to see the workings of the ship from a different perspective: the junior officers. They are up for evaluation by Riker and Troi. The human male from the bridge crew is up for promotion against a Bajoran female security officer. There is a Vulcan Engineer, whose twin brother Vorek later turns up on Voyager . Bev Crusher's Japanese nurse is one of the team. And finally, there is Guinan's sidekick bartender.
The show normally focuses on the senior officers, and this ep actually reminds us that the junior ranks contribute to the success of every mission.
The main character is the Bajoran girl, who was one of Wesley's team-mates in Star Trek: TNG [Season 5, Episode 19] The First Duty. Picard almost destroyed her career because she was loyal to her team, and now he gives her a hard time about it. The relationship between the Bajorans and the Cardassians is also explored.
Data is on an Away Mission collecting radioactive fragments when an accident causes him to lose his memory. He is found by people from a medieval society, and sells the fragments so the blacksmith can make them into jewelry. Naturally, Data is a smart-ass know-it-all when talking with the lady schoolteacher, but he is every bit as clueless as her when people start falling mysteriously ill.
The episode's title really refers to Troi's subplot. After the crew evaluations in the previous episode, she considered stretching herself in a new capacity. In a previous episode, she was left in command of the Enterprise. Now she attempts to pass the tests for Command rank, so she can take command of the ship when the other officers are on down-time. Her major problem is the engineering test. Is it a technical problem, or a Kobayashi Maru-style unsolvable one?
Troi has been trying to teach Data creativity. He attends art class with the pre-teen children in the habitat ring.
The Enterprise encounters an alien library concealed inside a comet that has been on its route for 86 million years. The Alien archive gets downloaded to all the ship's systems, and somehow to Data's positronic brain as well. It takes over Data's mind, giving him multiple personalities, and starts converting the ship's interior into alien artefacts.
The resolution comes when Picard seduces the persona that possesses Data ... How reminiscent of the worst part of Patrick Stewart's film Life Force ! Picard plays the female role - admirably so.
A telepathic engineer commits suicide while examining a warp nacelle. Counsellor Troi, also psychic, investigates. Something about the death is very odd, and the main suspect is a creepy-looking Lieutenant ... rent-a-villain Mark Rolston (Shawshank Redemption).
As the story unfolds, Troi's relationship with Worf develops. However, she becomes jealous of his relationship with another woman.
Data mentions his own personal problems to Geordi, and recalls how he decided to overcome obstacles rather than avoid them.
Gates McFadden directed this episode, which starts with a series of encounters in sickbay. Lieutenant Reg Barclay (Dwight Schultz) is suffering from hypochondria, so Dr Crusher injects him with a synthetic T-Cell.
Spot the Cat is pregnant. Worf and Geordi have both had run-ins with the cat, so Data selects Reg Barclay (Dwight Schultz) to look after it.
The crew start to act unusually. Riker is forgetful, Geordi is sleepy, Barclay is hyper ... Worf is atavistic and violent, while Troi feels cold and dehydrated. Almost as if ...
When the Enterprise is in trouble, it often seems to be a bio-weapon that is the cause. It seems unfortunate that Voyager was built with bio-tech, since it is thus automatically vulnerable to what is already the biggest threat!
Picard and Data arrive back on a shuttlecraft, and discover the bio-tech has spread to all life-forms on the ship and regresses them to an earlier stage in their evolution. They try to save the day, but Picard is infected with the T-Cells - and menaced by the Beast-creature that Worf has become. He seeks to mate with the fish-creature that Troi has turned into.
Wesley Crusher is back aboard the Enterprise, and as unlikely as this sounds he is even more annoying than usual. He also halucinates visions of his father, who tells him what to do. It turns out that he has lost direction in his life. His fellow Red Squad trainee was a junior officer in Star Trek: TNG [Season 7, Episode 15] Lower Decks, but it seems he no longer has any interest in a Starfleet career.
The ship's mission this week is to move some Native American settlers from a planet claimed by the Cardassians.
Worf has problems with his son Alexander. It turns out that Alexander has no interest in becoming a warrior. They take a side-trip to a Klingon world to participate in a festival.
Worf must protect Alexander from assassins sent by the House of Duras. An elderly warrior of the House of Mogh helps them. This Gowron-looking Klingon arrives aboard the ship, and urges Worf to increase the warrior training of his son Alexander. However, the boy does not want to be a warrior.
The Enterprise is sent to track down and arrest the Duras sisters, who are implicated in an attempt on Worf's life. It is mentioned that one of them will have a son, who for some reason is not mentioned in the later film Star Trek: Generations .
Riker contacts Quark at Deep Space 9 , and cashes in some vouchers he won while gambling there. Presumably this was during the events of Star Trek: TNG [Season 6, Episode 16] Birthright Part 1 .
Picard gets a message from his Season One nemesis, the disgraced Ferengi Daimon Bok (now recast as Lee Arenberg - Once Upon A Time ) who was introduced in Star Trek: TNG [Season 1, Episode 9] The Battle. Picard killed Bok's son, so Bok plans to kill Picard's. Yes, like Kirk it appears that Picard unknowingly has an illegitimate son.
The boy is now aged 24, and is quite unruly. Nice to see someone who is not a Starfleet Yes-man. However, since he is not a regular cast member there is a serious risk that he might not make it to the end of the episode.
It turns out that the Ferengi has invented a super-transporter beam that has a range of light years and can cut through any shields. Of course, it is not re-used in future episodes.
Data and Picard are on the holodeck, practising The Tempest, when they are almost run down by the Orient Express. Yes, yet again the ship's entertainment system goes haywire and puts the lives of the entire crew in jeopardy.
The ship is developing its own brain - a positronic network completely seperate from the central computer. The only hint as to what the ship is up to is the strange series of events being acted out on the holodeck. The command crew enter the holodeck and participate in the drama in order to find clues. Charles Durning (The Sting) is the train conductor.
Ensign Ro ( Michelle Forbes ) goes undercover in the Maquis. She will fit in well there, as most of them seem to be ex-Starfleet. So much for Federation values.
Ro makes contact with Picard by pretending to be a sex trader. This is an interesting idea, since it shows how the Maquis must finance their operations.
Picard finds himself flipping back and forth between three different time periods; past (just before the events of Encounter at Farpoint), present (7 years after past) and future (25 years from present).
In the past scenes Picard meets Tasha Yar ( Denise Crosby ) and soon-to-be-Chief O'Brien (Colm Meany).
In the present scenes, Worf is having a relationship with Troi, much to the chagrin of Riker. As fans of ST: DS9 will know, Worf ends up married to Jadzia Dax instead of Troi.
The other relationship highlighted is that between Picard and Beverly Crusher ( Gates McFadden ). It is notable that she wears quite a lot of cosmetic makeup in the Present scenes - this is certainly more obvious in the big-screen motion-pictures that followed the series. But what is notable is that to look 25 years older she merely takes off her makeup!
In the present we see lots of references to the past seven years;
Q has a couple of good lines: in Part I he mentions a little Trek through the Stars and in Part II he tells Picard that All good things must come to an end, Jean-Luc!
The future makes a few interesting predictions.