Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Disaster"

**

Air date: 10/21/1991
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by Ron Jarvis & Philip A. Scorza
Directed by Gabrielle Beaumont

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The random spatial anomaly of this week hits the Enterprise, leading to shaking cameras that go on for longer than usual and cause all the lights to shut off. Uh-oh. The ship is dead in space, and the characters are trapped in various parts of the ship with no communications, each facing their own individual crises. The title says it all: It's a disaster movie on the Enterprise.

Here's an episode that plays like a collection of half-baked C-stories rolled into a single show whose tepid premise was used to justify the summation of its parts. The result is the ultimate procedural hodgepodge. (1) In what must've been his worst nightmare, Picard is trapped in a turbolift with three children (whose early whimpering proves especially unconvincing). (2) La Forge and Crusher are trapped in a cargo bay with a radiation leak that could cause some containers with volatile chemicals to explode. (3) Worf is trapped in Ten-Forward with a pregnant Keiko O'Brien, who is going to give birth imminently, making Worf the reluctant midwife. (4) Riker and Data must crawl through Jeffries tubes to get to engineering, leading to Data's head ultimately being detached. And, perhaps most frighteningly, (5) Counselor Troi is in command on the bridge.

Many of these pieces employ the usual disaster cliches (Keiko giving birth is especially well-trodden), and there's a notable lack of tension and conviction throughout. But perhaps most problematic here is the depressing realization that Troi is so utterly useless. Putting her in command proves painfully contrived, as the story demonstrates how she's the only bridge officer who doesn't speak Trekkian technobabble — begging the question (rank be damned) of why she would take command in the first place. Both O'Brien and Ro have to walk her through what's happening in the early going. (O'Brien is the very definition of competence, and Ro, while abrasive, is at least someone you know will have your back. Troi, on the other hand — sigh.) Troi gets more decisive as things proceed, but the early hemming and hawing is so overplayed that her transformation into The Decider isn't believable.

I'm honestly not even sure how the ship ultimately gets repaired. The episode basically resolves each of the vignettes and then stops, with everything suddenly returned to normal. TNG has done far worse (an episode where Picard says, "I shall appoint you my executive officer in charge of radishes," can't be all bad), but move along, nothing to see here.

Previous episode: Silicon Avatar
Next episode: The Game

Season Index

61 comments on this review

startrekwatcher - Fri, Apr 1, 2011 - 1:05pm (USA Central)
Disaster is a fun 3 star episode. I could care less if we see the repairs to the ship-- they got the ship up and running to get to a repair base that's sufficient. I think you are just being nitpicky. I personally enjoyed seeing Troi in charge and the Troi/Obrien/Ro dynamic. Picard's dealing with the scared children was fun whether him handing out pips or singing Frere Jacque. And I loved the disembodied Data scene. I also thought it had a nice amount of geniune tension with the ticking clock of a warp core explosion.

Yes Troi being in charge is a conceit but I personally didn't mind it.
Angel - Fri, Apr 1, 2011 - 3:08pm (USA Central)
"I'm honestly not even sure how the ship ultimately gets repaired."

One word: Starbase

BTW, if you want to convince yourself Troi is useless, fine. But that doesn't change the fact that she's hot & became more interesting as the show went on.
Nic - Sat, Apr 2, 2011 - 2:50pm (USA Central)
I like this episode because it's completely different from anything else ever done on TNG. It has a lot more tension than usual, which is a nice change of pace. Although I did squirm a bit over the Picard turbolift scenes, and thought the Ro/Troi ending was a bit duller. I agree with Michael Piller that Ro should have said something like "You still could have killed him and I still think I was right and you're just lucky it came out this way." That would have been great.
Derek - Sun, Apr 3, 2011 - 7:59pm (USA Central)
Worf: "Congratulations; you may now give birth." Fantastic line! I give this one a solid 3 stars.
bigpale - Tue, Apr 5, 2011 - 12:04am (USA Central)
I loved this show, and thought it was classic Ron Moore High Concept. Simple idea, with lots of pieces, and great great great dialogue.

I agree with Derek. No matter how many times I watch it, I always laugh out loud to Worf's "You may now give birth" line.

Man I love TNG.
Vincent - Tue, Apr 5, 2011 - 9:20am (USA Central)
Worf's response of "You cannot" when Keiko tells him she is going into labor is the funniest line in TNG.
Paul - Thu, Apr 7, 2011 - 1:12pm (USA Central)
The best part of this episode is that it puts characters together who weren't usually paired up. It was kind of nice to see Riker and Data as a tag team again -- echoing some of the better stuff in the early seasons.

But Troi is just awful. Next to the Ferengi in DS9 and most of the Voyager crew, she's easily the worst Trek character.
Nolan - Thu, Apr 7, 2011 - 3:12pm (USA Central)
Anyone remember the Towering Inferno, that 70's disaster movie. As embarrassing as it may be, I didn't mind it, and since "Disaster" was "The Towering Inferno IN SPACE!" I also didn't mind it.

And let's not forget, no matter how cliched Keiko's giving birth was, it led to a great character moment years later.
angel - Fri, Apr 8, 2011 - 10:57am (USA Central)
Troi worse than Leeta?? I don't think so
Matt - Fri, Apr 8, 2011 - 5:10pm (USA Central)
This episode's existence can be justified solely by the fact that it made possible the line "NOW?!?!?" in DS9.
Ian Whitcombe - Sat, Apr 9, 2011 - 12:13am (USA Central)
Nolan, had the episode faithfully followed the Irwin Allen disaster formula...well, then the most annoying characters would be dead!
grumpy_otter - Sat, Apr 9, 2011 - 4:54am (USA Central)
I'm with those who like this one--I'd definitely give it 3 for fun.

But did anyone else want to smack that Jay Gordon kid for insisting that his name is not "Jay?"
Nick Poliskey - Sat, Apr 9, 2011 - 9:16am (USA Central)
Yeah, this one is just stupid fun. I give it a 3, but I can sympathize with a 2.

As for Worf, he probably has his two greatest lines in the entire series here. "YOU CANNOT"!!

"Congratulations, you are fully dilated. You may now give birth"
Brandon Adams - Sat, Apr 9, 2011 - 11:27pm (USA Central)
"THAT delivery was very orderly."

This episode was one big wink.
Noxex - Mon, Apr 11, 2011 - 5:37pm (USA Central)
I've always thought this episode was underrated, especially when compared to other similar Trek episodes. (ie- "Civil Defense".) "Picard is trapped with kids" is such a great and obviouse idea. Plus I always enjoyed how terrible Troi was as a commander. And Worf is just plain awesome here.
MadBaggins - Wed, Apr 20, 2011 - 5:01pm (USA Central)
From reading these reviews I am simply coming to the conclusion that Jammer just doesn't like TNG. He doesn't seem to be rating the average episodes any higher than average Voyager or Enterprise episodes (in some cases he's rating them lower!) despite TNG's superior acting and writing.
Eric - Thu, Apr 28, 2011 - 7:24pm (USA Central)
I think TNG really was past its prime by season 5. I remember having the same feelings back in November of 2002 when I bought the DVD set. It certainly wasn't bad, but I was surprised by how clunky and pedestrian many of the episodes were. The show's prime was definitely the third and fourth seasons.
charlie - Fri, May 6, 2011 - 2:02pm (USA Central)
MadBaggins,
I'm starting to think that Jammer hates TNG, too. In his review of "Muse,' he referred to "Darmok" as "a TNG classic," yet he gives the episode a mere 3 stars. How it's not as 4 star worthy as, say, "The Visitor," is something that baffles me.
Jammer - Sat, May 7, 2011 - 11:27am (USA Central)
Yes, some negative reviews in the midst of what is decidedly not one of TNG's stronger seasons must mean I HATE TNG.

(Rolling my eyes.)
Brad - Sun, May 8, 2011 - 11:14pm (USA Central)
Well, you sure as hell seem to be suggesting as much!
Jeff - Thu, May 12, 2011 - 6:09am (USA Central)
First, let me say thanks to Jammer for continuing with the TNG reviews. I've enjoyed your site for many years now and it's great to see you back in action.

Secondly, for other people on the post supposing he hates TNG, I think that's fairly ridiculous. Why would anyone spend the hours watching all of the episodes and then spending more hours reviewing them if they hate the show to begin with.

Regarding "Darmok" I don't think it's difficult to acknowledge an episode as a "classic" even if you don't care for it personally. I can say WEST SIDE STORY is a classic film, even though I'm not a fan of it myself.

Also, MadBaggins said something along the lines of Jammer rating average TNG lower than average VOY even though TNG is the better show. I agree that TNG is the better series, but I don't think you can necessarily accept Jammer's rating scale across different series. For example, he gave "Timeless" 4 stars, his highest rating. I do think "Timeless" is a better than average VOY episode, but compared with other 4 star episodes from different Trek shows I don't VOY holds up. VOY featured more average or middling episodes than TNG so if VOY happened to feature a better than average episode for themselves I get the higher rating, but I don't match every three star TNG episode with every three star VOY episode and think they perfectly match.

I don't know if any of the previous paragraph made any sense, but I think you just have to take the rating scale for each series and apply it specifically for each series.

But in the end it's all a matter of opinion. I'm sure there are tons of episodes people disagree on for whatever reason. For example, Jammer enjoyed Joel Grey's guest performance in VOY: "Resistance." I didn't. But that doesn't mean I hate VOY.

Feel free to disagree, but I just think it's silly to believe someone would invest this much time and work into a review site (regardless of the show) if he or she actually hated it.
Jammer - Thu, May 12, 2011 - 9:04am (USA Central)
Thanks, Jeff. I think you've described the star rating scale accurately. It is not meant to be absolute or even necessarily consistent. It is meant to be a useful guide taken in consideration with what I've written as well as the other factors out there -- not the least of them being that I wrote most of these reviews 10 or 15 years ago.

And the notion that I somehow "hate" "Darmok" because I "only" gave it three stars is just silly. I actually LIKE "Darmok." But I don't like it as much as a lot of other TNG episodes. Ergo, three stars instead of four.

As for the claim that I "hate" TNG (or even Voyager, for that matter) is ridiculous. If I hated any of these shows I wouldn't have reviewed them. I would've stopped like I did at the end of the second season of Andromeda.
Jeff - Thu, May 12, 2011 - 12:31pm (USA Central)
You're welcome. Looking forward to the season 6 reviews.
Jammer - Thu, May 12, 2011 - 2:57pm (USA Central)
Season 6 reviews: Coming March 2014!

JAY KAY.
Paul - Fri, May 13, 2011 - 12:11am (USA Central)
Jeff, that's how I understand Jammer's rating system as well. It is adjusted to the series in question. You just gotta have somewhat different criteria when grading underachievers compared to geniuses.

For example, if he used Voyager or perhaps even other Trek grading scale in his BSG reviews, I guess around 75% of all episodes would have to get 4 stars ;)

Either that, or he'd have to invent a fifth star.
Elliott - Fri, May 13, 2011 - 6:34pm (USA Central)
Can we please not spoil a perfectly sanitary review of TNG with BSG talk? Please???????

It's hard to rate an episode like this I think. It's pretty stupid, it isn't about anything, it takes itself WAY to seriously and yet is offensively casual at the same time. Yet...the moments which work are so hilarious it's hard not to recommend an episode like this.

In college, I took one Shakespeare course on comedies/histories and one on tragedies. While it was necessary to mention and even dissect the opposing dramatic means in both classes, it was extremely helpful on the whole to keep them separate. If such a division of episode types exists for TNG, I think that would help in justifying ratings like 3 stars here.

I dig the very 24th century goodwill going on here, but I'm not too happy to find it confirmed that Jammer's reviews are on the whole a reflection of what he likes and doesn't like. I will grant DS9 episodes (which as I series I pretty much hate) their 4-star dues when they're good (which occasionally they are) even though I can't bring myself to like them. It makes the whole effort of reviewing seem like an exercise in realising one and Jammer have the same tastes.
Elliott - Fri, May 13, 2011 - 6:34pm (USA Central)
@ prev. post Sorry, 2 stars, not 3.
Jammer - Fri, May 13, 2011 - 11:35pm (USA Central)
My reviews are a confirmation of what I like and don't like? As opposed to learning that I like things I hate and hate things I like? What is that supposed to even mean?

It's not like I pick certain themes and say, "moral plays on TNG are all boring" and "everything dark and gritty on DS9 is great."
Elliott - Sat, May 14, 2011 - 1:07am (USA Central)
jammer, perhaps I read too much into your post :

"And the notion that I somehow "hate" "Darmok" because I "only" gave it three stars is just silly. I actually LIKE "Darmok." But I don't like it as much as a lot of other TNG episodes. Ergo, three stars instead of four."

I took this to mean that your evaluation of an episode's quality is subject to the whims of your own personal reactions rather than attempted objectivity. I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that personal taste can account for half a star or at most a star and a half, but....let me put it this way; how do you think people would react if you gave "City on the Edge" less than 4 stars?
Paul - Sat, May 14, 2011 - 7:57pm (USA Central)
"I took this to mean that your evaluation of an episode's quality is subject to the whims of your own personal reactions rather than attempted objectivity."

Oh c'mon Elliott, you really don't mean that, right?

It seems to me that the first criterion a reviewer has to take into account is exactly that -- personal reaction. We are all human beings, we like what we like. I for one prefer it that way; otherwise you can end up with those bogus critiques where it's obvious that the reviewer doesn't really like/dislike a certain show/movie/whatever but feels obligated to adjust his opinion to be in line with an intangible "objective consensus".

In fact, that's a pretty common fan behaviour where you can see them desparately trying to convince themselves of a greater truth.

I also think that Darmok is among the very best Star Trek has ever produced. It reminds me of LeGuins masterpiece Left Hand of Darkness in its timeless beauty and humanism. But hey, if Jammer thinks otherwise, it's silly trying to show him the error of his ways.

BTW, your DS9 hatred is really spinning out of control. No need to be on some crusade against it.
Eric - Sun, May 15, 2011 - 3:45pm (USA Central)
LOL, Trek reviews are no laughing matter. TNG's fifth season, in particular, is very, very serious business.
Elliott - Wed, May 25, 2011 - 6:24am (USA Central)
@Paul

I meant every word I said.

That reviewers feel obligated to adjust their ratings to accomodate something objective is not "bogus" ; of course a reviewer cannot divorce himself from his humanity (no one is a Data), but the attempt at objectivity is a responsibility of informed opining. Personal rections are worth mentioning absolutely and can factor marginally into one's evaluation, but should never eclipse the analysis.

I am not so much on a crusade against DS9 as one in favour of VOY--I think DS9 was the inferior incarnation and I'm definitely in the minority, but DS9 advocates seem to be much more vocal on this site so I feel the need to speak a little more loudly in compensation.
Phil - Tue, Jun 21, 2011 - 2:31am (USA Central)
Marina Sirtis herself complained to Ron Moore that this episode made Troi look completely incompetent. She doesn't even know what a containment breach is?
Paul - Sat, Jun 25, 2011 - 2:46am (USA Central)
As something of a military buff, I was always extremely bothered by the very premise of this episode. The whole story is based on a completely nonsensical idea that a *counselor* is going to assume command.

Troi may have the highest rank (LtCmdr) of everyone left on the bridge, but she is a godamn psychologist, for crying out loud, she is not a part of the chain of command.

In any real world organization, Ro would be in charge, seeing as how O'Brien isn't an officer.

May seem like a nitpick, but I just couldn't buy the rest of the episode when the whole plot hinges on such a nonsense.

Oh god, now I remembered Beverly Crusher commanding the Enteprise in Descent :shudder:
David H. - Thu, Jul 14, 2011 - 10:21pm (USA Central)
Jammer's star ratings have already been expounded upon, so I shouldn't even go there, but...this gets a lower rating than "The Game"? Really? Besides Ashley Judd's hotness that was one of the worst TNG shows of the run, in my opinion. At least "Disaster" had Ensign Ro, singing Picard, the hilarious birth scene, and the cute tag with the two Number Ones on the bridge. Easy 3 stars from me.
pviateur - Wed, Aug 3, 2011 - 2:47pm (USA Central)
A couple things about this episode:
There were women in Ten Forward when Keiko was giving birth (including one wiping her forehead) so why did Worf need to be the one to deliver the baby? Guess writers thought the contrast would provide more humor.

And it's too bad Riker didn't think of detaching Data's head at the hearing that decided he was a human being etc. It would really have been difficult to convince anyone that Data was nothing more than a computer in the shape of a man!
Jeff O'Connor - Sun, Sep 4, 2011 - 2:39pm (USA Central)
Aah, everybody was talking to Jeff! I'm so confused!

@Angel
Being considered attractive =\= useful. :)

At any rate, this score is a bit lower than I'd personally provide. It's a two-and-a-half star over here: Troi's incompetence is grating and the one-on-top-of-the-other cliche syndrome, irksome.

Oddly enough, while I usually don't care for stories involving children in my fiction I thought Picard's end of the deal was surprisingly OK, no doubt in large part because Patrick Stewart could read the phone book and get an Emmy nomination out of it.

Speaking of things that very rarely do it for me, the baby delivery was something I was dreading going back into "Disaster" as an adult. I hate the vast majority of these scenes. And yet the dialogue between Worf and Keiko proved exceptional. Possibly the highlight of the hour. Never, ever thought I'd say that.
TH - Thu, Sep 8, 2011 - 7:59pm (USA Central)
I didn’t mind this episode as much as you did. I liked it as a “something different” show – The ship is completely dead and no one can get around. Turbolifts are dead, the bridge has limited control and crew… I liked elements of it. Yes, I agree some of the content was contrived and silly, some working and some not. Worf brought some freshness to the clichéd baby delivery scene. Perhaps Picard’s transformation into a child-lover was a bit instant (nor do I truly believe that his anti-children stance, first referenced in Encounter at Farpoint, truly fits the enlightened character Picard has grown into since the first season).

I heard once (and I say this with the caveat that I don’t see it on Memory Alpha, so I don’t know if I heard this as a rumour that was in fact false) that this episode was actually a ‘test’ episode to see if O’Brien and Ro would work strongly commanding the ship, as Ro was originally intended to join O’Brien on DS9 instead of Kira. This would explain why those two take ‘charge’ on the bridge for a time. This episode probably had some contribution to the later concept of the Bridge Officer Test that Troi would herself take (which make you wonder – had Lt. JG LaForge already taken this test in the first season when he took command at least one time? And if so, The later episode would suggest the test is only open to Lt. Cmdrs, as the position promotes Troi to Commander.
Jay - Sun, Sep 25, 2011 - 9:40pm (USA Central)
Actually I would hope that the star rating system would translate across the various series, rather than the notion that a **** Voyager is only **** BECAUSE it's Voyager, and that the same exact story presented on, say, DS9 would only rate *** because DS9 somehow has a higher bar. But it's all moot anyways because I tend to think jammer, and anyone else, would be rather likely to rate the same episode differently depending on the day, based on trivialities as simple as the mood you were in when viewing it.

Back to the episode...did noone else notice the ridiculousness of Georgi LaForge having to ask "where" when Beverly says the wall is hot considering that contraption on his face?
Captain Tripps - Mon, Oct 3, 2011 - 12:40pm (USA Central)
Definitely a 3 star ep for me. It's a classic mesh of disaster movie vignettes, nothing wrong with breaking out a well worn trope, as long as you throw some fresh wrapping on it (such as popping off Data's head and carrying it around the ship). Stoic guy has to deliver a baby? How hard was that to see coming? I still bet it had people chuckling.

I'm not exactly sure how a review is supposed to be objective either. Other than the technical aspects of the production, or perhaps the originality (or lack of) in the storyline, isn't a review basically describing what you liked or didn't like about something? Was it fun? Was it entertaining? Was it boring and predictable? Does it accomplish it's own goals?

Those are highly subjective. It's all based on opinion. Which I totally get scaling between shows, if you think a series is generally subpar, good episodes seem great in comparison.
Firestone - Wed, Nov 30, 2011 - 3:54am (USA Central)
I agree with most people here that this is a fun episode which might deserve a higher rating. A episode like this was never done before and feels fresh in that perspective. However, it became dumb and brainless once Voyager did a thing like this every other episode. Repairing the ship here so sudden is therefore not a problem to me as it isn't a cliché yet and at least they acknowledge that they need to go to a starbase for more repairs.
Apart from the fun and excitement, this episode ranks among the most illogical ones on TNG, e.g.:
- there is no one in the whole of engineering or an engineer closer to it than Riker and Data?
- no power in engineering or the possibility of getting it without the bridge rerouteing it? Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?
- ensign Black Guy on the bridge trying to get the first turbolift out of there!
- discussion in the dark conference room with only 3 people while ensign Black Guy had to stay on the bridge and every minute counted
- Keiko not getting a more private spot to give birth, like pull a table into the corridor or hack another door while you're there...
- indeed, Geordie not detecting the plasma fire with his visor
- cargobay outer doors, forcefield and environmental control working fine but the door to the hallway is stuck like every other door on the ship.

Still, it was a fun episode
Mario - Sat, Jan 28, 2012 - 7:59pm (USA Central)
I really enjoyed this episode, I think it is much better than 2 stars. I loved the Whorf scenes, they were extremely funny.
Corey - Wed, Apr 25, 2012 - 4:41pm (USA Central)
Just putting in my 2 cents: I enjoyed this episode as well. I didn't see any production problems. There are some "logic" problems, as others have pointed out, but none of them have caused my enjoyment of this episode to detract.

There's no way this is on the same level as The Inner Light, but neither is it so mediocre (such as "Hosts" - at least it is for me) that I would recommend a pass. I would give it 3 stars using Jammer's rating system.

As a side note, of all the subplots, I found the one on the bridge the most interesting and entertaining. You got (at least by what the show potrayed) an incompetent commander, an officer who doesn't follow the rules if she doesn't feel like it, including safety procedures, and you got the straight man O'Brien. As far as I was concerned, they could have made the whole show the interplay between those 3, and I would have been fine with it.

Some episodes I couldn't wait for them to end so I could get them out of my mind (that one with Llaxwanna Troi and Alexander in a mud bath comes to mind), but this wasn't one of those, I was entertained throughout.
MadBaggins - Sat, Jun 16, 2012 - 7:47am (USA Central)
Seriously, HOW can you possibly have given this only 2 stars but the inferior DS9 version of this episode (Starship Down) gets 3 stars? Did you just decide before writing these reviews that you were always going to rank TNG lower than DS9 no matter what?
Jay - Sun, Jul 1, 2012 - 10:07pm (USA Central)
@MadBaggins...I'd say that "Civil Defense" is much closer to being DS9's answer to this episode than "Starship Down"
Zuriel Seven - Mon, Aug 13, 2012 - 11:59am (USA Central)
"The Laughing Vulcan and His Dog" I need the lyrics for that song.
Jakob M. Mokoru - Sat, Sep 15, 2012 - 3:46am (USA Central)
I always liked that episode. It felt fresh, something new and had interesting dynamics. It also played well the "fish out of water" situation of many characters and had something interesting/important to do for every one of them. And yes, I always liked the Troi character! Definetely deserves more than a mere 2 stars!
Josh - Mon, Feb 11, 2013 - 9:31pm (USA Central)
@MadBaggins - "Starship Down" is inferior to this? I'd say the difference lies in the execution. That, and it's much easier to buy Worf's tendency to be overbearing causing friction while in command than conceiving of Troi as even theoretically qualified to command a starship.

I mean... I really like "Disaster". It's the epitome of a so-bad-it's-kinda-good disaster movie, like "The Day After Tomorrow". It contains more than its fair share of stupidity and arbitrary plot points, e.g. Keiko's precipitous and (in)conveniently timed labour, a woefully ignorant and unqualified Troi in command, and the fact that the button to re-pressurize the cargo bay is bizarrely NOT on the same panel that opens the door and *de-pressurizes* it!

But it is fun, much like episodes like "The Royale", "Qpid", "The Ensigns of Command" ("My grandfather is buried on that mountain!!"), "Schisms", and "Liasons". (okay, the last isn't really fun apart from the "Love me!!" line)

I really, really don't understand why people get hung up on star ratings. What does it has to do with *your* enjoyment of the show? Maybe Jammer should add a "for entertainment purposes only" disclaimer, hah!
Jammer - Tue, Feb 12, 2013 - 11:23pm (USA Central)
I definitely agree with the notion of star ratings being "for entertainment purposes only." They tend to be dissected far beyond their practical usefulness.
Paul C - Tue, Apr 16, 2013 - 7:50pm (USA Central)
Ha ha this is funny.

Worf boredly checking his uniform while they talk baby names.

The immediate analysis that it's a 'quantum filament'.

Ensign Black Guy checks the turbo lift before he checks his injured colleague right next to him. Then again she is a red shirt so he must have known she was dead.

'Stop crying!!!'

Ro's face on learning Troi outranks her.

'Heat? Where?'

'It's like a cosmic string?' 'No.'

Half a million amps?

'You bore that well'. Ultimate compliment from Worf.

'Can't you tell?'

Bay repressurisation takes 0.5 seconds.

'That is not the correct port sir.'

The magic wink.

Gotta love it.

mephyve - Sat, Jul 6, 2013 - 7:02pm (USA Central)
Seemed like a filler episode to me. The pairings were cliche. Let's trap Picard with kids and have Worf deliver a baby. Clearly a case of forced humor as was Troi's dig at Riker.
Scott M - Thu, Jul 11, 2013 - 9:06am (USA Central)
This episode isn't perfect, but it certainly is enjoyable. Worf's scenes are perhaps the funniest of the entire series (or even any of the Trek series), and it's fun watching Picard grow beyond his obvious discomfort around the children. Riker and Data work well together, and it would have been nice to see more of them instead of the dull LaForge/Crusher subplot.

Anyway, this is something different, something fun -- especially considering it is essentially a bottle episode. It may not be great, but it has always been one of my favorites.
William B - Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 4:19pm (USA Central)
The episode is not meant to be taken overly seriously. I do love the fact that there is no one in Engineering -- the main explanation we should presume is that everyone in Engineering is dead, but TNG is too tasteful to show any bodies. Also, that connecting Data's head to the various warp subsystems is easier than Riker trying to shut it down himself. (Well, maybe THAT part is not that implausible.)

Stories ranked:

Picard & kids: ***. "Executive officer in charge of radishes." Picard getting over his frustration with kids and finding a way to connect to them. Them refusing to leave him behind. Slight but fun.

Worf & Keiko: ***. Of course it's a cliche, but Worf is so much fun here. "You may now give birth." "You bore that well." As was mentioned above, Worf casually brushing on his uniform while discussing baby names. "This is not a good time!" "And now you must push and I must reassure you -- firmly but gently -- to push." Hee.

La Forge & Crusher: *1/2. The only panel to repressurize the bay is on the other side of the room, then? Thanks.

Data & Riker: **1/2. Worth it for the wackiness of Data's head separation, and Riker's reaction, though not otherwise notable.

Troi, Ro and O'Brien: **. Here is where, as Jammer points out, the main trouble lies. Troi is written as incompetent a little beyond what she should be -- surely even she knows what a containment breach would mean? Meanwhile, the rules which govern the episode are so arbitrary that we have no real sense of what Ro and Troi's differing positions really mean in terms of probability. This does make good use of O'Brien's professionalism and Ro's abrasiveness.

Even still, I'm not sure what, in-universe, the correct solution is. Troi seems not well-informed enough in ship's systems to be an appropriate commander in this situation, but she clearly is the ranking officer, and it also makes sense that someone whose field is with the human side of the crew would have a high rank without as much knowledge of the ship's systems as Ro/O'Brien do. Further, Troi's position as advocate for the crew and for saving the greatest number of people actually does rely to some degree on what her "job" is on the ship, as the person who is supposed to look out for the crew's interests. That Troi has a decent rank is because the Enterprise puts high emphasis on her role as counsellor, and it makes some sense that this value for the lives of individual shipmates is the thing that she ultimately does contribute to the command set-up, in contrast to Ro's pragmatism. (Troi turns out to be right, but as she says to Ro, Ro easily could have been.)

Episode as a whole:

Overall though I just like this episode for the fun of spending time with this crew, in whose company I could pass hours. It's filler, and much of it is stupid, but there are some bright spots. In general, this episode has the same type of problem that many future episodes have (say, "Masks") which make the ship seem entirely fragile to the point where one wonders why it is out there at all; in order to drive the not-very-serious plot forward, the entire ship is placed in jeopardy which is then removed the moment the individual subplots are finished. So, you know, not a serious endeavour. 2 stars, but a high 2 stars.
Jay - Sat, Sep 7, 2013 - 11:08am (USA Central)
The depressurization of the cargo scene was goofy...Georgdi sez that someone has to get to "that panel" to repressurize, but the panel had lots of buttons on it...Geordi may know offhand which button it is, but how could Beverly (who ends up doing it) possibly know? But then, apparently, all that is required is to touch the panel anywhere. But, couldn't Geordi have jsut quickly programmed things so that the same panel he used to open and close the door, which was right within his reach, would also begin the repressurization?
Jay - Sat, Sep 7, 2013 - 11:19am (USA Central)
Having so many people and so much action take place in Ten Forward made it very obvious that Guinan was missing from Ten Forward. What a mess she'll have to clean up when she reports to work next...
Moonie - Mon, Dec 16, 2013 - 4:20pm (USA Central)
I liked this episode. A solid three stars in MY rating system. Picard and kids, always makes for entertaining scenes, and I just loved Worf as a midwife. His character seems to get all the best lines in TNG.
Chris - Wed, Dec 25, 2013 - 3:16pm (USA Central)
It's strange that Ro had to tell O'Brien how to overcome the thermal inversion in the power coupling. I thought Miles was the genius on such matters.
johnny - Thu, Mar 27, 2014 - 6:36pm (USA Central)
@TH: I wonder if being bridge-qualified was simply REQUIRED for Troi to get the promotion? I agree that she was badly written here. However, she was NOT in charge of the bridge...the OOD was killed in the initial power surge.

Also, regarding Worf: he may have been the only one there with medical training.
SkepticalMI - Thu, May 22, 2014 - 7:21pm (USA Central)
Not much to say about this episode. It's a fun but mostly harmless romp. Each of the 5 plots were generally acceptable and moved along nicely. Picard's characterization was great, showing that his annoyance at kids isn't as big a deal as some make it out to be. He's uncomfortable around them, yes, but when the chips are down he deals with it like he deals with any other problem. People comparing kids to kryptonite for Picard are going too far.

As for Troi's plot, yes, she was way too clueless and didn't portray it well, but Ro and Miles were good. O'Brien should have been in politics. Take the useless figurehead and prop her up as the authority figure and support her whole-heartedly, and then give her "advice" when she finds herself indecisive. Take command without anyone realizing it. Smiley really should have taken over the mirror universe...

And the Worf plot was hilarious. Don't forget Keiko; she had some great lines too!

Since there's not much to talk about really, I'm going to harp on a very minor point. Namely, why weren't there oxygen masks in the cargo bay? Normally I'd complain about a lack of OSHA compliance, but we did see them in The Hunted. So why weren't they here? Did the writers forget? Or did they think they needed more dramatic tension?

Because if they were going for dramatic tension, they failed. We know they aren't going to die. Characters don't just get meaningless deaths in the middle of a season... unless your name is Tasha, of course (and even her death was less pointless than if Geordi or Bev died here). And even then, you are absolutely not killing off two characters in a pointless death. So of course they are going to survive. Admittedly, 99 times out of 100 the heroes live in fiction. But does that mean there's never dramatic tension or suspense? Of course not.

But what drives suspense and tension in those instances is still uncertainty about the future. We may guess that the characters will survive, but we don't know how they will. We don't know how they're going to get out of this mess. When two Warbirds decloaked in front of the Enterprise in The Defector, there was tension. Of course the Enterprise wouldn't be destroyed.... But how would it escape? We had no clue, so real tension was present. Would they fight their way out? Would a Picard speech save them? Would Jarok offer his life to spare the Enterprise? Who knows? So when the Klingon ships decloaked, the tension shifted, and we could all breath easier. It worked. But here? We know the plan: hit the button before you run out of oxygen. The only uncertainty is how much fake drama we can get in having the actors stumble about. But of course one of them will hit the button. No tension at all.

So why have it in at all? The suspense was present at the beginning when the fire appeared. First there was the attempt to move the barrels. That bought some time. So how to solve the problem? Blow it out the airlock. And that's all you need. If you want a little extra suspense, make some technobabble situation that Geordi has to Macgyver the thing to blow due to some system being down; people have already pointed out how silly it is that the outer door works just fine but the door to the hallway doesn't. Use that as your plot device, and you don't have to worry at all about the silly contrivance of people stumbling over themselves to reach a panel. And you also don't have to try to explain why, yet again, the Enterprise seems to be lacking in all common sense when it comes to safety.

And how hard is it to hold your breath for more than 15 seconds anyway? Clearly neither of these two were ever swimmers.
Beleron - Wed, Oct 22, 2014 - 11:20pm (USA Central)
Well, if nothing else, we learned that Geordi can't sing.
Robert - Thu, Oct 23, 2014 - 8:44am (USA Central)
"People comparing kids to kryptonite for Picard are going too far."

We all have it in us to handle problems we are not comfortable with, I think that's more what it is. Picard is not BAD with kids (see his charming exchange with his nephew), he's uncomfortable around them. In fact some people are very GOOD at things they are uncomfortable with, but they have to try.

I think that's the moral of it all. Picard was good with the kids, Troi ends up being good with command (at least enough to not let Ro push her around), and Worf is able to deliver the baby.

The other 2 weren't really fish out of water stories, but I would have liked if they had tried to push them a little more to conform to the theme. Maybe instead of the silly plot with the cargo bay Beverly gets injured and has to talk a squeamish Geordi, who is more comfortable dealing with computers, into performing triage on her. Or something like that.

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