Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 1/30/1989
Written by John Mason & Mike Gray
Directed by Paul Lynch
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
In another episode of TNG to feature a deadly disease and the Enterprise warping in to the rescue (a reliable Trek cliché not avoided in the first two seasons of TNG, to be sure), Dr. Pulaski attempts to find a cure to a disease that is causing rapid aging on a Federation space station that's perhaps too ironically named Darwin Station. (The disease has already killed the crew of an entire starship.)
In terms of character, I did appreciate the way the story establishes Pulaski as a strong-willed personality willing to go to the mat for her point of view and for her patients, even if she must risk herself. She stands up to Picard and argues the merits, even if it means Picard doesn't get to finish a sentence. Picard, always the final authority, but ever the diplomat and patient listener, calls her on her penchant for interrupting without making a big deal about it.
Pulaski's medical safeguards fail, and in attempting to find the cure in the station's genetically engineered children, she ends up infected herself. (The children are actually the cause of the disease because of their genetically manipulated immune systems, which create the disease without being susceptible to it.)
I find it very hard to be moved by an episode like "Unnatural Selection," mainly because the episode is too mired in procedure and arbitrary pseudoscientific details rather than characters or plot. Also, diseases that make people prematurely old are not very interesting. In terms of its sci-fi procedural approach, I suppose it's worth noting that the episode makes sense for most of the way and the pieces fit together to make a workable puzzle — that is, until the end, where the transporter is used to magically restore Pulaski's DNA (and cure the rest of the station's residents). This is a perfect example of the tech solving the plot arbitrarily rather than any sort of legitimate dramatic payoff. But then that's often the problem with tech medical shows like these.
Previous episode: The Schizoid Man
Next episode: A Matter of Honor
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74 comments on this post
Mon, Jun 11, 2012, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 15, 2012, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 7:14pm (UTC -5)
From what you are saying, Jammer, it seems Pulaski is like a bad copy of TOS's doctor, but since I haven't seen it yet, she's original enough for me :P
Sun, Mar 3, 2013, 9:49pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 10:34pm (UTC -5)
This all is very much of the good. Additionally, the plot mechanics have some merit, and I like that the children themselves are shown to be innocent (i.e. not malicious) despite the fact that they are the accidental cause of the disease. While the episode does give an impression of being a "There Are Things We Are Not Meant To Know" story, there is some nuance in Pulaski suggesting that scientific breakthroughs *are* thought to be worthwhile, and that it may well be that history will look upon this breakthrough as a positive thing; it's *her* responsibility to look back and log the victims in the wake. That helps a bit, though it's ultimately a very familiar story and not a particularly interesting iteration of it.
Too much of this episode is techy in a way that saps the life out of the story. The ending in particular is so far abstracted from "the human element" (which Pulaski had said Picard lacked) that it's hard to care. I love how Picard says "we've lost her" or something and then O'Brien says "No, wait!" and then with no explanation she (eventually) comes back. Even within the episode's tenuous reality there is no reason she should go back to her normal age, as well.
I do appreciate the Pulaski material though. Even the ending has some resonance for her character (of having to face her fear by being transported). I think maybe on the low end of 2.5 stars for me.
Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 10:37pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 9:32am (UTC -5)
The final solution ended up being way too techy as well. Not to mention guaranteeing the use of transporters for immortality. Somehow I doubt the writers considered that. Or any other ethical issues involved with the genetic engineering.
And a boring episode in general.
Mon, Oct 6, 2014, 8:47am (UTC -5)
Pulaski > Crusher! It's a shame the producers brought back Dr. Crusher.
Mon, Oct 6, 2014, 8:58am (UTC -5)
I can't imagine that, there would be no episode. She'd have followed procedure and not gotten infected :P
My point is that Pulaski is different than Crusher. I can't imagine Pulaski in "Attached", "Ethics" or "The High Ground" either, but I think they were all excellent episodes.
I guess I'm in the minority that liked both of them. I would have liked a S6 or S7 Pulaski guest appearance.
Sun, Oct 12, 2014, 10:39pm (UTC -5)
I would like to address some alleged plot holes and allege my own as well. First, someone noted that it was a little too convenient that no one boarded the Lantree as would normally be expected--they exercised an abundance of caution before there was a reason to believe such was necessary. But is it really true that the Lantree crew could pass the disease to other people? The way the disease is explained, it would see that one would have to come into contact with the genetically engineered children in order to contract disease, as the children's immune systems emit antibodies that change human DNA. I don't see anything in that explanation that a victim could then pass on the same disease to another.
Also why did Data beam up, thus abandoning the shuttlecraft at Darwin Station? Furthermore, why did they beam the child off the shuttle and back to the station, only to take the shuttle there anyway? Pulaski was already exposed, although I suppose that one could make the argument that the longer one is contact with the children, the quicker the illness progresses, thus they wanted to get rid of him ASAP.
Finally, it always irritates me a little when Star Trek invents was of avoiding having characters speak (because he's telephatic, of course) so that they don't have to pay for an "actor".
Fri, Dec 12, 2014, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
Though there is one thing I want to point out: I really like the last scene of this episode when the Enterprise destroys the Lantree. It treats the deaths of these non-characters with respect. Instead of just kicking off the story and never being brought up again ("The Arsenal of Freedom" I'm looking at you) the mystery of the dead Lantree crew comes full circle and our characters get a moment to honour their unfortunate colleagues. It's a notable and welcome detail in an episode that otherwise appears to have just solved its own central mystery because there were only 5 minutes left in the hour.
Sun, Aug 23, 2015, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
That said, it is a very slow burn episode, and while it's welcome to see Chief O'Brien also stepping up, the techno babble baggage this development brings with it is distracting. 2.5 stars.
Wed, Sep 23, 2015, 10:40pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 11, 2015, 5:34pm (UTC -5)
Interesting how the starship only took 1 shot to completely distroy it, but in space battles they seem quite stronger than that. wouldn't a salvage operation have been better. those star ships must be quite valuable and use a lot of resources. And what about personal property ? They had found the cause, it can be filtered with transporter buffers, they could have made another bug to destroy the ageing bug... Just seems like a silly way to end the episode.
Wed, Nov 11, 2015, 6:02pm (UTC -5)
Blowing up the ship was totally unnecessary.
It turns into a dumb dramatic effect when you think about it.
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 6:01am (UTC -5)
It's just idiotic in its premise.
But agreed that Pulaski is vastly vastly superior to Crusher.
Sun, Feb 21, 2016, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
So, if someone has an incurable disease you just have to run them through the transporter using some 'pre disease" DNA samples.
Seems like that would have come in handy many times throughout the series. Too bad they forgot about it.
Wed, Aug 3, 2016, 9:48pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 23, 2016, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
Also, the more interesting and path would have been to leave Pulaski to die, presenting a true cost of her folly. One supposes they might have done just that, had the episode fallen near the end of the season.
Wed, Mar 8, 2017, 3:48pm (UTC -5)
Huge subsequent retro continuity problems with a federation colony genetically engineering homo superiors contrary to later established express canon proscriptions against such things.
Picard ought to have been sent to arrest the colony staff and confine the dangerous kids to deep cold seven along with the augments who ,presumably, remain popsicles.
But the main failings are in the lack of credibility in the story and the idiotic reliance on technobabble which became such a feature of this whole show's run.
It works , once, in a comedy like Red Dwarf or as an affectionate in-joke in Dr Who but the exchange between Colm and Brent in the transporter room was just plain silly.
2 stars is a bit generous
Fri, Mar 17, 2017, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 27, 2017, 12:23am (UTC -5)
Tue, May 2, 2017, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
Lots of technobabble though and the solution to reversing Pulaski's aging is thrown together quickly - and of course it works.
The story itself is quite basic and unoriginal with a technobabble solution but I quite liked Pulaski/Picard in this one and appreciate her character development and presence on the Enterprise.
For me 2.5/4 stars.
Sun, Aug 27, 2017, 1:20am (UTC -5)
Stupid episode all around.
Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 6:16pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed the focus on Pulaski (a character that I hated when I was younger, but kind of appreciate now) and her clashes with Picard. Even after these past couple episodes, he still doesn't have a handle on this new CMO replacement, which was a nice touch.
And it's probably the DS9 fan in me, but I loved that this was the first episode to fully feature O'Brien. Not only do they finally give him an actual rank, but he gets his name and a part of the story in this episode. It's about damn time.
Yes, the episode's solution where the transporter is treated like a magical DNA fixing device is a bit irksome, but it's not that egregious in the grand scheme of things.
A generous 2.5 stars from me. It's certainly better than the cringeworthy "Deadly Years".
Fri, Jan 5, 2018, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
I find it hard to believe this script got past the Trek censors or what have you, because you'd think a show about genetically created humans would automatically revert to being about the Eugenics Wars (you knew I'd trot out the Eugenics Wars, didn't you) and Khan. And yet due to the greatest deus ex machina in the episode, this isn't even mentioned, and worse, the dialogue in the epilogue seems to look on these children with awe and appreciation, noting that we may be looking at the future of the human race. And this is said without rue or concern! I really have no idea what the writers were thinking of, or what the producers thought they were putting the Trek name on.
Morally, this is a ghastly episode. Jason R's comment above speaks right to the issue: we are meant to see these children as superior to us on the grounds that their communication doesn't require our silly language, and that their immune system is designed to kill inferior life. How much of a leap of logic does it take to infer from this an ending not dissimilar from I, Robot? In the end, perhaps 'inferior life' would come to include all of us. In fact, in the episode that's exactly what happens, and it's not 'by accident' but exactly what they were designed to do: to wipe out everything that isn't them. Some master race - it's around a million times worse than making a Khan. The epitaph at the end is simply ludicrous.
Sat, Feb 3, 2018, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
I like aging/de-aging themes. I find them "fascinating." And gosh, the moment of honor for the fallen vessel just gets to me. Very solemn.
It did strike me as odd that the doctor on the planet never once considered that the children might be the source of the problem, but then in 2018, we have full evidence of many people's ability to see only what they want to see. And I do agree the crew was a little too impressed -- this experiment seemed awfully close to Eugenics work during the Khan period.
Thu, Mar 15, 2018, 10:33am (UTC -5)
Just finished reading your review, and mostly agree. A disease causing old age uninteresting? Everyone has their opinion let’s imagine such a disease to be real for a moment: you suddenly feel the first symptoms - intense pain caused by arthritis and it dawns upon you that you have only days left to live! While rapidly becoming old and decrepit. Still boring? Terrifying would be more like it or rather depressing at the very least.
Okay, enough about the disease, the tech solution felt a bit contrived to me as well. However, plausibly depicting hypothetical technology convincingly and believing it could possibly exist some day probably isn’t very easy. As to real and current technology and how it is being used - find some video’s on Youtube or somewhere else about real attempt to predict the future. Would the people who made them believe you if you told them how far they missed the mark in several of their predictions?
Yes, this only an old sci-fi show and it very unlikely the actual future will be anything like as being depicted in Star Trek. But still...
Hmmm, am I reviewing the reviews now?
Love your site.
Thu, Mar 15, 2018, 10:42am (UTC -5)
A few more additions to my previous comment:
1. That “uninteresting” disease cost the lives of everyone on an entire starship. Think about that one. And it and all the deceased aboard it had to be destroyed.
2. Unsure what to make of those children and their telepathy and telekenisis. Aren’t there real life experiments that intend to make “telepathy” a reality?
Uh oh, just thought of the Borg...
Tue, May 22, 2018, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
Use a sample of someone's DNA to revert them back to an earlier form of themselves. WHATEVER!
Tue, May 22, 2018, 7:16pm (UTC -5)
minus 100 stars for this turd
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 1:04am (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 5, 2019, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
I did like the premise that enhanced immune systems could proactively change the virus.
Pulaski and Picard both showed poor judgement.
I never understood the statement that there is no conflict in the Trek Universe. Isn't the Picard/Pulaski friction conflict?
Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 10:22pm (UTC -5)
It opens with an excellent set of sequences, the Enterprise coming across an abandoned Federation starship and then tapping into its bridge cameras. Hauntingly, we learn, the ship's entire crew has died of old age.
We then get some good Pulaski scenes - her friction with Picard is excellent, and far more interesting than the graceful but underused Crusher - before the episode launches into its main plot: wacky TOS-esque scientists have created "improved humans" which have "transcended humanity" and whose "immune system" "causes humans to become old". The metaphor is obvious: new technologies or species invariably leave earlier iterations feeling ancient and irrelevant.
Many above have complained about the technobabble used to "solve the episode's problem", but it didn't seem far-fetched to me. Using a transporter to "reboot" a subject by replacing certain molecules, seems like something the Federation would have developed ages ago.
Regardless, this is a pleasantly grim, low-key and dour episode, and Riker gives one of his best performances here. Look how low-key he plays his part in this episode, his voice always below a whisper.
It's a shame the episode's second message - that even the old and outmoded can fight back against nature - prevents Pulaski and the scientists dying in the episode's final act. Not that I want Pulaski to die (she's a neat character), but witnessing her agonizingly dying on a secluded shuttle while the Enterprise crew watches helplessly on, sounds powerful in a dark and twisted and poetically tragic way.
Sun, Mar 24, 2019, 7:24am (UTC -5)
I forget how well it actually plays, but I recall the episode also has a Proto-X-Files vibe, including Pulaski's Scully-esque report over the ship's destruction at the end.
Mon, Mar 25, 2019, 10:55pm (UTC -5)
I thought precisely the same thing when I watched the episode a few days ago. It felt like a season 1 X-files "Scully report".
Fri, Aug 23, 2019, 12:34am (UTC -5)
More stuff about life and death - the nature of life, natural evolution, unnatural evolution, Darwin.
"No life forms present," says the transporter engineer to O'Brien, as he looks over Data, who is materializing in the transporter, having been disinfected by it. No life forms present, he declares, starting right at Data.
My favorite lines: PICARD: Will she be normal again?" DATA: "As normal as ever, sir."
Excessive use of the word normal, throughout the script.
That is one miraculous transporter. The technobabble in this ep is woven Iike a tapestry. It is positively mesmerizing.
Pulaski is a great character. Wish we could have kept her longer.
Good one. Light on the plot, but very well done.
Fri, Aug 23, 2019, 9:49am (UTC -5)
"Unnatural Selection" was a great vehicle for Pulaski and for Diana Muldaur. We got to see Pulaski's foibles and stubbornness but also her warmth for humanity. She even apologizes to Data while she's on the shuttle with him, which I thought was a nice little touch of dialogue. I think everyone involved really made an effort to create a well-rounded character in Dr. Pulaski, and I would have liked to see more of her.
As for the continuity issues raised in this episode, specifically in regards to, "How could the Federation allow Darwin Station to experiment like this, considering what happened with Khan and the Eugenic Wars," I will simply chalk it up to this episode taking place in an alternate universe where the Eugenics Wars never happened, and there never was a Khan Noonien Singh.
Also, I can't explain why, but I cracked up at the arrogant, snotty Dr. Kingsley who oozed contempt and snapped at Picard through the viewscreen. She's exactly the type of haughty, vicious scientist-with-a-God-complex that would run a station and experiments like this. It was a nice touch that she knew who Pulaski was, because of that "Linear Models of Viral Propagation" paper that Pulaski wrote.
I'm conflicted on the transporter solution at the end. In its favor, we really don't know how the science behind it works, because, frankly, it's preposterous. But as it is, I can wrap my head around a system that converts matter into energy, and then recreates the matter after traveling through subspace to another location, being able to reform "another version" of the subject by superimposing a trace pattern. (I'm not sure if that even made any sense, but it's no harder to believe than warp drive. ) I can even forgive this can-of-worms being ignored in future episodes and movies because it was shown to be incredibly risky--they almost lost Pulaski, so it doesn't strike me as something that anyone would want to risk attempting again. And besides, if this episode took place in an alternate timeline, there are plenty of parallel universes where it never happened, so it wouldn't be brought up in a future show as a solution anyway.
However, I do understand the criticisms that the solution was an overly-simple, ridiculous deus-ex-machina and that they could have come up with something more inventive.
Also, it seems to me that they should have heard of space suits or even simpler Haz-Mat suits, but I know--Paramount budgets. I also think the message of the episode was simplistic and obvious. But I do like how it showcased the Picard/Pulaski dynamic; Muldaur and Stewart were both marvelous.
Sun, Jan 5, 2020, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
I found the mystery interesting including the explanation good (notwithstanding the continuity issue), the character work on Pulawski and even her chemistry with Data excellent. Even the technical solution, while crazy in its implications in the larger scheme (so the transporter is a fountain of youth?!) was perfectly logical given the premise of the disease and the underlying technology of the transporter. It is not the episode's fault for extrapolating the transporter's potential to its logical conclusion.
I continue to find myself impressed with the Pulawski character and incredulous that anyone could have been happy to see her replaced with Crusher. Here we have the first strong, intelligent, interesting regular female character in Trek history and people wanted her gone? All because of a few awkward attempts to draw a parallel with McCoy with a few throw away references to her hating the transporter? I mean yes, the parallels are there, but hardly more so than those between, say, Spock and Data - and no one hated Data! I am almost ready to call sexism on this one. Bring back the red headed pretty nebbish to replace the overly willful older woman with an actual personality.
It is seriously bugging me imagining what the show would have been like with another keystone character and a woman to boot - what a crying crying shame that it had to happen the way it did.
Sun, Jan 5, 2020, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 6, 2020, 5:10pm (UTC -5)
- It wasn't JUST her antagonism towards Data that put people off; the very first impression of her is disrespecting Picard by ignoring protocol when she came on board the ship. So she starts off antagonistic towards BOTH of the beloved Trek characters. And while the Data bit may just be an attempt at cloning McCoy, the second was just uncalled for. She's a senior professional, she should REALLY know better than to blow off the captain like that. It's not a good look.
- Likewise, there was a bit of "try-hard"ness to the way the writers tried to push her character. There seemed to be a lot of pushing her to extremes on both ends. She's a luddite who hates transporters. But she's also the only person who can save Picard's life! She's antagonistic to Data. But she loves Klingon tea ceremonies! She was never really given a shot to just naturally blend in. You can say she has a strong personality, but it was more like the creators were forcing her to the front every chance they could get. It's like Wesley Part II. A genius kid could have been a good character, and in Seasons 3-5 he is a pretty good character, but the overt Mary-Sueness of his Season 1 basically killed any chance of making him likable. It's not quite the same with Pulaski, but it's still pretty in-your-face. (I think Ezri suffered from a similar situation as well)
- To piggyback on that, she only had one season. It sometimes takes time to settle in and become a natural character. Heck, Season 1 Picard is downright unpleasant, and obviously his character improved tremendously. Yes, some characters can hit the ground running like Ro, but maybe if Pulaski had stayed on she could have mellowed more, and more people would like her. But we'll never know.
- Crusher played a unique role in all of Trek, being the only main character that was also a mother. Trek has been outright hostile to family life at times (practically every main character is at odds with their family), but TNG was, in part, supposed to show that families and Starfleet could co-exist. Having a positive family unit in the main cast is a good idea. Or do you think motherhood isn't an important attribute? NOW who's the sexist one? =)
- And not character-related, but Diane Muldaur's voice is kinda grating. Sorry, but TV is an audio and visual medium, and these things are still important, no matter how much we might like to consider ourselves intelligent critics and say it's irrelevant. How often do people say they could sit and listen to Patrick Stewart read the phone book? Well, this is the opposite of that. And yes, Stewart's voice IS a legitimately positive aspect to Picard's character, so Muldaur's voice can be a negative aspect. And no, this isn't sexist either. I would say Auberjenois' voice did give me a negative impression of Odo as well (a minor one, of course... there are many other problems I had with his character).
So no, it's not fair to just call it sexist. Besides, it's a ridiculous claim to begin with. You do realize that women like watching handsome guys too, right? Are they being sexist if a hot guy is replaced by an ugly one?
Mon, Jan 6, 2020, 5:41pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 6, 2020, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
While it's not completely coherent, there is a good arc throughout season two where Pulaski goes from hating Data to really becoming one of his biggest fans. That's the part of Pulaski that worked and maybe if she stuck around the audience would've warmed to her.
"She's a luddite who hates transporters. But she's also the only person who can save Picard's life!"
Yeah, that's more of the bad writing I'm talking about which isn't really Muldaur's fault but still hurt her character. Why is Pulaski more talented than a special starbase that Picard chose specifically for heart treatment? Does Pulaski know the Traveler too? ;-)
Mon, Jan 6, 2020, 6:16pm (UTC -5)
As an aside, I'm not as much of a fan of the Kirk-Spock-Bones dynamic as its legendary status might suggest. There were way too many times that Bones was being contrarian just for contrarian's sake, and it hurt his character. He was fine in serious scenes with Kirk, and he was fine in lighthearted back-and-forths with Spock, but in the serious scenes with Spock he often looked just dumb (I think it was Gamesters of Triskelion where it just got too annoying for me). It hurt his character there too. So trying to ape Bones leaves a double-negative impression for me; one for being unoriginal and one for Bones himself sometimes being a weak character.
Mon, Jan 6, 2020, 7:10pm (UTC -5)
As for Pulaski being unprofessional and disrespecting Picard, eh. Whatever. I still find that sort of character more entertaining than a Dr. Crusher; mother or no, there's just not a lot going on there character-wise unless she's getting it on with a ghost.
I do agree with your sentiments on Bones, and how TOS would occasionally turn him into a bug-eyed dumbass to make Spock look better in comparison.
Mon, Jan 6, 2020, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
My whole thesis here, aside from sexism of course, is that she was simply a victim of timing and the way TV was watched back then. Many of us, especially as kids, only got to watch the show piecemeal because religiously catching every episode was not feasible especially in the first two shakedown seasons when the show had yet to hit its stride.
By the time the show got really good and established (end of Season 3) most of our experience was with Crusher - she was the doctor at the beginning and at the end. Hell, she was the doctor of Best of Both Worlds - end of story. It didn't matter if she was any good. And to the extent there was Pulaski, she was kind of this anomaly in our heads - like oh she's that doctor from when the show was still kind of weird and alien and still not quite right.
I know that's how it was for me. Pulaski was the new Coke of STNG. Season 3 set the standard for TNG in my mind and many others' minds and Pulaski didn't belong.
But it didn't occur to me until recently how much better so many episodes could have been with another tentpole character. Oh well, we will never know.
Mon, Jan 6, 2020, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
I'd say the exaggeration is more by the writer's hands than by the fan's minds. I mean their first conversation alone has Pulaski stubbornly mispronouncing Data's name and then poking fun at him when he calls her out on it. That really doesn't do much to endear us to Pulaski.
Wed, Jan 29, 2020, 12:13am (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 19, 2020, 8:41pm (UTC -5)
I don't get the hostility to Pulaski. I was glad in this episode she had a chance to step up. The way the season shows her developing respect and liking for data more than justifies showing us the initial disdain, as something for her to get over. And Picard at this stage of the series really needed a bit of disrespect to counter his initial tendency towards stuffiness.
Thu, Jun 18, 2020, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
The bodies on the Lantree could have been beamed into space and the ship recovered. What a waste!
Sun, Aug 23, 2020, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 23, 2020, 11:22pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 23, 2020, 11:23pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Sep 9, 2020, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
Pulaski was more assertive than Crusher (a trait that, in women, makes some folks uncomfortable) and kinda mean to Data, but her response to Data is actually very real and worth exploring. He is the only being of his kind in Starfleet and certainly many people would be ambivalent at best about treating him like a human. You can see her change throughout the season, it’s really too bad we couldn’t get more.
Anyway I agree this episode was silly (eugenics are ok now? And they never exposed these kids to disease before?) but I like it for Muldaur and Stewart.
Tue, Sep 29, 2020, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
The "child" in this episode is Dr. George Baxter who is a doctor of nursing now. He was my nurse practioner in Seattle so it has always been odd for me while watching this episode. I believe he has his own practice now, but I am not familiar with his current practice.
Mon, Oct 26, 2020, 8:47am (UTC -5)
But even if Pulaski doesn't like androids (at first), she seems to be a Klingophile. She knows about the exotic Klingon tea ceremony -- enough to actually prepare the tea and what kind of poison it contains. She is the only person to casually touch Worf, which she does in several episodes, and you only do that with people you feel close to.
Okay, Wesley also treats Worf like a friend, but it's more like a kid with an adult instead of equals and colleagues.
Troi doesn't warm to Worf until that episode where she snaps at him, "Captain Picard talks to me!" It's interesting to see that is the exact point he starts respecting Troi. It's been a fun series rewatch to look for the little hints of where their relationship builds to in season 7.
Anyway I hated Pulaski back in the 80s and was thrilled to get Crusher back. But now I appreciate the little touches the actress sneaks into her scenes that show her real warmth under the abrasive exterior. I agree with the better writing we get soon, she could have been a tentpole character. I bet she would have gotten off some real zingers to Q.
It's a shame Diana Muldaur never went to the conventions. I wonder if she was afraid she would have been booed off the stage, or did the rest of the cast really not like her? It's not as if she didn't like Trek: we know she had been featured in two TOS episodes, so she was probably happy to get a callback as a main character on the new show.
On those lines, maybe she was never intended to be a long term character. She was always billed as a Special Guest Star, right?
I thought she deserved more than to be written out with no mention, especially since it's established here that she asked to serve specifically with Picard -- enough to have studied his service record. Both the actress and the character deserved more than one snotty line by Crusher next season, "I am familiar with Dr. Pulaski's technique."
In universe, where did Pulaski go? Why did she go? Did Picard dislike her enough to send her packing and beg Crusher to come back? Why did Crusher leave her spiffy job as head of Starfleet Medical? Since she knew Wesley would be heading off to Starfleet Academy soon, she couldn't have returned just to be with her son. And if she wanted that badly to be near Picard, why does she brush him off at the end of Attached?
I was thrilled at the time to have Crusher back under any circumstances, but now I'm not sure why. She didn't really do much. Except for a few episodes, she was mostly wallpaper.
It's not like Star Trek can't write good doctors, so why the ball is dropped so badly with Crusher is a little jarring in retrospect.
I do remember reading that Marina Sirtis was happy to have her friend back. She said something like with Crosby and McFadden gone, she had no one to talk to. Ouch.
Mon, Oct 26, 2020, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
Pulaski's animosity towards Data left a sour taste in the mouths of many fans, myself included, and her warming to him by the end of the season came a bit too little too late. Credit's due for developing her character though. Her moments with Worf were nice, though the history with Riker's dad? Meh. Her prickly relationship with Picard was interesting, but came across as unprofessional and kind of out of place.
I think Crusher gets unfairly maligned too. Like how is it her fault that Pulaski's mind wipe technique doesn't work on Mintakan's? She even said it may not be adaptable to their physiology. Pulaski got some better writing probably because the staff felt they had to sell her to the audience, being a new character, leaving Crusher, Troi, and Yar comparatively unexplored.
Tue, Feb 16, 2021, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
Would Diana Muldaur have stuck around if she had been cast as another character? What if she had replaced Troi instead of Crusher? How about as Admiral Nechayev?
Wed, Feb 24, 2021, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
Pulaski for or against. I am for , mostly. Jet Reno in DIS is very similar but Pulaski is more controlled. She is a contrast to both Picard and Data. Personally I am not to fond of abrasive people. I feel more comfortable with Crusher. Still the contrast increases the pulse or tension. She is not evil she wants to do good things.
O'Brians technobabble is wonderful. He is such a genuin character. Here on earth you may find him in a good DIY store as a sales assistant.
Sun, Feb 28, 2021, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
She's got Galaxy-class sized balls and it's really great having a personality as strong as Picard's that is in a position to clash with him. Riker is probably the only other person on the ship with a personality as big as Picard's but he's ever the dutiful 2nd in command. No such issue with Pulask who will stand up Picard and even cut him off.
It's strange that I genuinely love Picard but I enjoy seeing him take an L in debates sometimes. The first episode of DS9 where we see Sisko giving it to Picard was like a Stone Cold's music just hit moment for me. I can't explain it, maybe it's just that as much as I love Picard it's good to see him take as good as he can get, I don't know.
The plot is mostly irrelevant to me it's all about Pulaski. As with almost any episode of Star Trek if you ponder it too long it falls apart. It's insane to imagine a society as advanced as we're shown with the ability to easily scan an identify so much but doesn't have something as easy to imagine as regular DNA scans against recorded DNA for each person onboard to make sure they aren't experiencing radiation which even a quick google tells me can introduce "DNA breaks".
So I just simply choose to try not to let stuff like that ruin my enjoyment of an episode. Sometimes it's inevitable but here the plot is merely a vehicle for character development and it's one of my favorite characters at the center.
Pulaski is just one of those characters I'd dislike in person but enjoy in a TV show because she's what we needed - some level of strife between the crew. I've read that Roddenberry didn't want there to be interpersonal static and it's just sort of bonkers to me and I'm glad his influence over TNG apparently waned. We should have had more obnoxious crewmembers.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 2, 2021, 2:13am (UTC -5)
DATA: “It has never been done before “
PICARD: “Do you think you can do it?”
O’BRIEN: “Yes sir”
PICARD: “Then make it so “
Like Jammer, I liked how they wanted to fill out the character of Dr Pulaski, though given her strong inputs to the series to date, I hardly think it was necessary. And especially not by recycling TOS The Deadly Years. Nor by having her imitate McCoy’s distrust of the transporter. As for the technobabble we had to endure...
Well produced and acted, so all in all, 2 stars seems fair.
Sat, Jul 3, 2021, 2:00am (UTC -5)
Crusher? Sorry, I just don’t see what she adds, apart from being Wesley’s mum. She is not a strong character, she’s rather bland, and I’m aghast that the 80s audience wanted her brought back.
Mon, Sep 6, 2021, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
There's a part in the episode where they play back the audio log of Captain Telaka, as he's recounting how they're all gonna die from old age. When I listened to it, I had to play it back a few times because the voice sounded so familiar. And then I realized why.
It sounds a whole lot like Rene Auberjoinois!
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 9:56pm (UTC -5)
After this episode I still don't love or hate her, but I definitely like her. Some of the backstory felt a bit forced, but that and her firm defense of her convictions gave much-needed depth to her character. I also agree with Jillyenator, I can see now how her personality came through in subtle ways in previous episodes that I missed the first time around.
I was genuinely worried that they would kill her off at the end, with all of this sudden character development serving as a send-off. That would have made the ending much weaker in my opinion. Yes, the transporter fix was silly, but it's not so silly as to ruin the episode for me.
Also, I just want to say I'm so glad I found this site. I'm certain I watched TNG and DS9 reruns as well as Voyager with my mom when I was little but I can't remember the plot of any of them. So I decided to start watching TNG from the beginning last week. After I finish a few episodes I come here to read Jammer's reviews and the comments :)
Sat, Dec 18, 2021, 7:39am (UTC -5)
I think that I know what you mean.
Unnatural Selection is a great episode to me, as an investigation of hubris and, I think, confirmation bias in deciding how to handle complex situations. Pulaski becomes to me more likable because of what she experiences in this episode. Newly able to appreciate human foibles she herself has, she becomes a guide for the viewers to question their own viewpoints... and blindspots.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 11, 2022, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
I've also just watched the 70's Animated series. In 'The counter-clock incident', the Enterprise, complete with Commodore Robert April - the only time he appears on screen - is pulled into another universe where time runs backwards. By the time they escape, April and his wife are young again - and the rest of the crew are children. His idea? 'Put them through the teleporter as it had stored their patterns.'. And it worked.
So the end of this episode is actually a tip of the hat to the animated series!
Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 5:20am (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 10:14pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 19, 2023, 12:34am (UTC -5)
There is the annoyance that it should be so obvious that a shuttle would be the ideal isolation for a pathogen that it should be standard procedure. This came up in The Child as well.
"Should we beam this possibly Covid person aboard the ship of 1,000 or a shuttle?"
Wasn't this the first episode to feature blatant character shilling for Pulaski? Trying to dig her out of perhaps the worst character introduction in Trek history.
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