Welcome back to Star Trek: The Next Generation. I am doing an episode-by-episode watch, recap, and reaction and blogging about it here. There will be no spoilers for the series beyond the current episode.
For those of you that don’t want to read the long recap, I provide a quick episode summary here at the top. You can scroll down to the reaction below.
THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:
While investigating a science vessel whose inhabitants have all succumbed to an unknown sickness, which first renders its victims to a state similar to intoxication, said sickness makes it way onto the Enterprise. Complicating the deadly situation, a neighboring star is about to collapse and endanger the Enterprise.
Riker remembers reading about a similar incident from the Enterprise when it was under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. He and Data find records of the incident and send them to the ship’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Crusher – after becoming infected herself – begins working on a cure. While Dr. Crusher was working on her cure, her infected son Wesley commandeered the Engineering Room making escape from the collapsing star more challenging.
An intoxicated Wesley helps an intoxicated Data to escape the blast from the collapsing star. Almost simultaneously, Dr. Crusher finally lands on a cure for the sickness.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP AND REACTION:
Captain’s Log: 41209.2. The Enterprise is meeting a science vessel which is monitoring the collapse of a red supergiant start into a white dwarf star. The Enterprise has received a series of strange messages indicating that something has gone wrong about the research vessel.
Hello Enterprise. I hope you have a lot of pretty boys on board because I’m willing and waiting.
In the background of the message, you hear a lot of people laughing and making noise – as though the science vessel is now a party vessel. Alrighty then. However, then we hear what Data tells us is the sound of an emergency hatch being blown.
Riker assembles an away team of himself, Data, Tasha Yar, and Geordi LaForge. Worf tells us that the sensor scans reveal no life science now aboard the vessel. The Away Team arrives and spits up. Riker goes with Data. Yar and LaForge are together.
Data: [looking around] Indications of what humans would call a wild party.
Riker and Data find evidence that proves the hatch was blown and that the crew was blown out into space. Yar calls Riker on their coms link and tells him that there are ten people in the vessel’s engineering room, frozen, and she indicates that it appears the people aboard the vessel intentionally tampered with the temperate on the ship so that the the heat would blow out into space. LaForge then calls from the crew quarters having found more frozen people. He opens a shower door and catches a frozen woman falling out – she is fully dressed. With big dramatic music, Riker talks to Picard through the coms link and tells him that all eighty people aboard the ship are dead.
[This theme song is my jam.]
Picard tells us in a Captain’s Log supplemental that they are downloading the research records from the science vessel. He is with Dr. Crusher and Counselor Troi. Neither of the women have any theories based on the evidence of what happened aboard the vessel. Picard calls for the Away Team to be brought back, with maximum decontamination, and subsequent observation as well.
Crusher scans Data and he appears to be fine. She then scans LaForge and also gives him a clean scan. However, she notes that he is perspiring and he complains about how hot it in in the room. Dr. Crusher confines him to the sick bay until further notice.
Riker tells Data that he has a vague memory of reading in a journal about a person taking a full shower in their clothing. He asks Data if he can scan known articles about such incidents and Data tells him with only that to go on it will take several hours.
Back in the sick bay, Dr. Crusher is examining Geordi. When she leaves the room to consult a computer, he gets up, removes his com link, and walks out of the room. She returns to find that he is gone. Crusher tells the bridge that this has occurred and Picard tells Yar to make the search for Geordi ship-wide.
We find Geordi having a friendly conversation with Wesley – who is demonstrating to Geordi a science project. Wesley is using a handheld tractor beam and discussing some ideas he has about tractor beams. Wesley also shows Geordi a device he has created which perfectly mimics Picard’s voice. He created it by piecing together words the Captain has said over the intercom. LaForge puts his hand on Wesley’s face and says that the Captain is lucky that Wesley is on his side.
LaForge suddenly complains about the temperature in the room and leaves.
Yar finds him on the observation deck staring out into space. She calls for assistance and then approaches him – even touching him by the arms. He asks her to help him with the wild things coming into his mind. He then asks her to help him see. When she notes that he sees better than she does, he replies that he sees more.
More isn’t better.
He takes off the VISOR, touches her face, and tells her that he wants to see in human ways. Putting her hands on his, and slowly removing them from her face, she tells him that she has to take him to sick back and he agrees to go.
In the next scene, Yar is giving a face-to-face report of what happened to Picard. As they break off their conversation, Picard walks over to speak with Crusher. As his back turns, Yar puts her hand to her forehead. [ruh roh]
Picard, Crusher, and Troi are standing over Geordi who is lying on a sick bed again. Crusher insists that all of their scans show that nothing is wrong with him. Picard is concerned that some contaminant is now loose on his ship. Crusher suggests that the issue appears to be psychological and Troi says that all she can sense from him is confusion. She further says that if she did not know better, she would think from his emotions that he is intoxicated.
Riker is with Data again. Data says that finding an instance in written records of someone taking a shower in his or her clothing is daunting. Riker describes it as looking for a needle in a haystack. Suddenly Riker remembers that he read an instance from the history of the Enterprise itself. Riker, Data, and Picard – who has now joined them – read about a similar event that occurred while James T. Kirk was captain of the Enterprise. Picard requests that Data download the information and send it to medical immediately.
Troi returns to her rooms and finds Yar in there holding up her clothes. Troi obviously sees that something is wrong with Yar but the two of them touch hands while handling Troi’s clothing. Troi sends a message to Picard to let him know that his head of security on the ship is now infected. Picard and Riker leave Data to go see to Yar.
Next, we see Wesley – also clearly now infected – demonstrating his tractor beam to his mother. She warns him to confine himself to their quarters just as Picard calls her. As he walks away, she looks alarmed to hear him comment on how hot it is inside the room. Picard asks Crusher if she has made a test injection yet because he is receiving word that the condition is spreading. She says that she has not made one yet.
Demonstrating the spread, we see Yar, uh, strolling down a hallway as people laugh quietly with each other. She approaches a man in the hallway, they lock eyes, then they kiss.
In the Engineering room, we hear Picard call for the Chief Engineer to visit the bridge. She gets up and goes. Then he calls for the assistant to the chief engineer to go to medical. As he gets up, he runs into Wesley who shakes his hand. After the chief engineer reaches the bridge, Picard and the rest of the crew hear Picard’s voice over the intercom handing over command of the Enterprise to “Acting Captain Wesley Crusher.”
Captain’s Log: Stardate 41209.3: The contaminant is now aboard the Enterprise. Wesley Crusher has commandeered the Engineering room. The other Engineers are clearly infected. Wesley has constructed a repulsor beam to keep people from reaching him within the room using ship’s power.
On the bridge, Picard orders Riker and the chief engineer to remove Wesley. Worf tells Picard that he is hearing word of unusual orders on the ship – including orders to attend lectures on metaphysics. Data tells the Captain that he overheard an unusual limerick.
D: There was a young lady from Venus whose body was shaped like a…
P: CAPTAIN TO SECURITY COME IN!
Yar responds that she is in her quarters and, uh, she is pretty busy at the moment. Picard orders Data to take her to the sick bay. He calls for all senior security supervisors to report to the bridge immediately.
Data finds Yar in her quarters. She is wearing something.. provocative. When Data tells her that Picard ordered him to escort her to security, she asks if Picard said when they had to go. It appears that she plans to seduce the android.
But I got out of my uniform for you, Data.
She gives him some biographical information. She was abandoned at age five and learned how to survive – including the avoidance of rape gangs – and was fifteen before she escaped. She tells Data that she wants gentleness, joy, and love now. She asks Data if he is fully function… in every way. He replies that he is programmed in multiple techniques – a broad variety of pleasuring. They go back to her bed and the doors close.
Picard asks Riker if they are anywhere with respect to getting control over the engine rooms. Riker and the Chief Engineering office are working to short out the power to the room – thus turning off power to Wesley’s pulsor beam that is currently preventing entry to the room.
Troi approaches Riker and the chief engineering officer. She calls him “Bill.” She tells him that so many minds on the ship are now free. Released. She puts her hands on his arms and torso and tells him that she call feel them all and what they want. He picks her up and says that he is carrying her to sick back. She asks if he would not rather be alone with her.
Crusher gives Geordi an injection and tells him that the medical records indicate it works almost instantly. He is babbling about the unfairness of how he has never seen a rainbow, a sunset, or a sunrise.
Riker sets Troi down and finds Crusher. He tells her that Deanna needs her help. He puts his hand on her shoulder to get her attention. Crusher replies that the formula from the old Enterprise did not work.
Crusher suddenly realizes that Riker touched Troi and that he also touched her. He runs out of the room saying that if he does not get the command computer back online the infection will not matter because they will all be dead.
Picard does a video call with Wesley in the engine room. He tells Wesley to return control of the ship to the bridge. Wesley says that if Picard wants something done, he can do it for him. Picard is not amused. He tries to explain to Wesley that he is infected and Wesley seems pleased.
Wesley asks Picard what he would do if he got his ship back. Picard explains his intention to tow the science vessel out. Wesley excitedly says that tractor beams are his specialty and he leaves the video call with Picard. The other officer sitting next to Worf, on the ship, begins to look ill. Worf then states that the star they are near is beginning to collapse.
Riker is back in close quarters with the Chief engineering officer – still trying to turn off Welsey’s ability to block people out of the engineering room.
Dr. Crusher is still attempting to figuring out a cure and she appears to begin sweating.
Data returns to the bridge. He seems intoxicated. He explains to Picard that he is more like humans than the Captain believes.
If you prick me, do I not leak?
Dr. Crusher interrupts drunk Data on the bridge, lets her hair down, and tells him she needs to speak privately with him. She tells the Captain that she believes herself to be infected.
Right now, I find you extremely, extremely… of course we haven’t time for that sort of thing.
She gets nose to nose with him, calls him her dear captain, and is unable to answer his questions about finding a formula similar to the old one. She begins unbuttoning her shirt. Picard tells her not now, and as she leaves, he waves at her.
Word quietly coms Riker that the Captain and Data appear to be infected.
Just then, we see the star collapse. Picard cannot quite tell Worf what to do. Riker commands Worf to take them out of there. Worf tells him that controls are offline and Picard tells him to override. Worf tells him they are unable to override.
Riker calls Wesley right as the Chief Engineer brings down his blockade of the door. She enters the room and picks up “control chips” from the floor. The Assistant Chief Engineer has been playing with them. She informs bridge that all of the control chips have been removed and that she cannot do anything. Worf estimates that they have 14 minutes before the star’s mass arrives there. Drunk Wesley suggests that Data can replace the chips easily and Riker brings Data to the Engineering room.
Data begins putting the chips back in place an extraordinary speed. Data tells Riker that replacing the chips will take slightly longer than the time they have left.
Captain Picard has returned to Dr. Crusher’s office. They flirt with each other before pulling themselves together enough to realize that she was about to test something on Geordi.
In the Engineering Room, Wesley suggests that they use his idea of reversing a tractor beam to be a pulsor beam on the star matter heading toward their ship. He believes that will provide them with enough time for Data to complete the task of reorganizing the chips. Unfortunately, Wesley cannot seem to think clearly enough to figure out how to do it. The Chief Engineer does not seem to think it is possible in the limited amount of time.
Dr. Crusher tries the next remedy on Geordi and it works immediately. She then gives it to the Captain and herself. Picard goes to Engineering and begins giving the cure to the people in there. Wesley figures out how to configure the pulsor beam for the ship and it works. Data finishes organizing the chips and the bridge regains control over its engines.
The Enterprise flees moments before hitting by the star matter. Aboard the bridge, Geordi asks what happened.
G: Do we owe our thanks to Commander Data?
P: Yes. And Wesley may have given us a few seconds, too.
W: Did he say Wesley? The boy?
Dr. C: [proud mother] He said Wesley.
Moments later, Troi and Yar return to the bridge, too. Yar very reluctantly approaches Data.
Y: I’m going to tell you this just once. It never happened.
Picard says aloud that he believes they will have a fine crew if they all avoid temptation. Riker gives the command to their next destination and the ship moves wen he says “engage.”
To be honest, this episode hits a little close to home here in the distant past of 2020. Every single time someone from the allegedly more advanced Star Trek future touched another person, I cringed.
My first reaction to this episode is that Dr. Crusher should be fired / reassigned /etc. Her mistake was almost catastrophic. How many people could have died on the Enterprise… thousands? If she had successfully quarantined the Away Team at the outset, or failing that, even if she had only quarantined Geordi at the outset – LIKE SHE SAID SHE WOULD DO – then the infection would not have spread throughout the ship. Picard was worried about a spreading infection immediately. Maybe a different Chief Medical Officer would have actually not let a sick patient just wander off. Riker – not Dr. Crusher – had the idea about searching through the ship’s history records. She did not even do most of the work in curing everyone. Don’t we all wish we could have avoided the weird sex incident between Yar and Data? My seeing that was your fault, Dr. Crusher.
The pilot hinted about it but Wesley appears to be a genius-level prodigy. At the moment, I find that more annoying than enjoyable. He essentially outsmarted – while intoxicated – a whole bunch of Starfleet officers. His father must have been a genius.
In short, this episode was a case study in how two Crushers can almost kill an entire ship of people before saving them at the last minute.
This episode also seems to serve in the bigger picture as a way to let the audience know which characters want to couple-up. Picard and Dr. Crusher. Riker and Troi. Yar and… Data? Wesley and the bridge room. LaForge and rainbows/sunsets/etc.
Is it at all clear why Data succumbed to the illness immediately while other crew members – most notably Riker and Wesley – fought it off successfully for quite a while? I guess that’s how mystery infections work, eh? I wrongly assumed early on that he was their ace in the hole.
Yar’s backstory sounds nightmarish. I guess it was nightmarish enough that out of all the people on the ship, to sleep with, she opted for Data.
I’m not even sure if I liked this episode or not. Is that a weird reaction? It was frustrating, timely, made me cringe in parts, the characters behaved stupidly… but I also might have liked it? Maybe? My biggest complaint is that we did not get drunk Worf. Major missed opportunity there, IMO.