Star Trek: The Next Generation


3 stars.

Air date: 9/25/1989
Teleplay by Michael Piller
Story by Michael Piller & Michael Wagner
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review Text

An obsessed scientist on a deadline. A science project by Wesley Crusher run awry. The Enterprise computer on the fritz. An alien influence misunderstood. A crisis in which the Enterprise is potentially threatened. And a solution that embraces humanism and cooperation and never cynicism or brute aggression.

Yes, all the pieces are here for a restrained season opener that utilizes every typical element that embodies the TNG story ethic. It's routine almost to a fault, but if you can't respect this episode for what it is, then you probably can't respect TNG for what it stands for.

Wesley finds that his science project — in which he combined two types of nanites (microscopic robots) to improve their functionality, resulting in an unintended AI evolution — may be the cause of a series of computer malfunctions not unlike the ones seen in "Contagion." The malfunctions are threatening (in addition to the Enterprise, ultimately) the life work of Dr. Stubbs (Ken Jenkins), who is supposed to observe a stellar phenomenon that happens only once every two centuries.

The story is reminiscent of first season's "Home Soil" in its interest in studying, documenting, and communicating with a new inorganic life form. The nanites are a neat idea, although I have a problem with the notion of such dangerous AI technology being so readily available to anyone, let alone a teenager. There's also the issue of how quickly and easily computer hardware here becomes a sentient civilization, and whether this story revelation represents a can of worms. (I'm reminded of the "mimetic symbiont" used to clone Trip in Enterprise's "Similitude.")

The show also has time for some palatable character touches. Dr. Crusher has returned, and finds that she doesn't quite know who her son has become as a 17-year-old. Also, Stubbs is depicted not simply as an obsessed scientist but a man whose life meaning is on the line. During his downtime, he plays entire baseball seasons in his head. He has a nice little speech about how the death of baseball came at the hands of a society that no longer had the patience for it. Given this episode and Sisko in DS9, you conclude that Michael Piller must've been a baseball fan.

Previous episode: Shades of Gray
Next episode: The Ensigns of Command

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Comment Section

59 comments on this post

    I strongly disagree with the three-star-rating for the season opener "evolution". Wesley's school experiment lets two nanobots with allegedly only the simplest of capabilities "interact". They "escape" and - whoosh - they evolve to a "civilization" in no time. I simply couldn't suspend disbelief in this ridiculous premise and found myself extremely annoyed at the beginning of third season. If not for the somewhat redeeming storyline about Dr. Stubbs, this would have gotten a "half-star-rating" (max) in my book. Fortunately the season *really* picked up later on.

    The third season of TNG was like the beginning of a fresh start. Seriously. The opening scenes on the premier season-three episode "Evolutions", while not exceptional in any sense, conveys to the audience that this is the start of something better.

    Crusher is back, the crew look much more professional and more comfortable in their new uniforms, and in a strange sense the whole show looks so, so, soo.. much more mature than the feeling you constantly got with the first season, and mostly (some exceptions, I surpose) the second season as well. Even the Enterprise exterior shots look like brilliant FX shots for late-80s-early-90s.

    Mark my words, Michael Piller helped save this show from the abyss of cancellation that be-felled the original show in my opinion. I can't believe that another season like the second season would have sufficed to warrant a fourth chance. There were too many poor episodes in the last year in my opinion. However punctuated in-between those poor episodes you had episodes like "The Measure of a Man", "Q-Who" and "Peak Performance", too name the very best in my opinion. "Shades of Grey" was the worst possible way you could end any season. Dear God; why use that as the season finale - better yet - why make it at all? It was awful and I'm absolutely sure that had I been alive to see TNG at this time I would have worried or perhaps even given up on a series that seemed to be surviving for dear life (i.e. TOS third season, regarded by fans as awful generally) much beyond that point.

    This season was a marvellous revival. It was also the first season I purchased of TNG on DVD (I hadn't seen any episodes of TNG apart from the The Best of Both Worlds - I collected the DVD'S and watched that way). It actually the PERFECT season of the show to introduce newcomers. If this was ever the case for any reading this - I strongly recommend you DO NOT give them the first season of the show because in all frankness it could be a fatal turn-off. The second is probably an OK start-point but there are still too many cheesy and god-awful episodes to get through, that again, could be a turn-off for potential newcomers to the series. I recommend the third simply because nearly every single episode is AT LEAST tolerable and the majority are good in any case.

    Let me put it this way: If a newcomer cannot get into TNG in the third season then they probably won't understand, enjoy, appreciate or be a overall fan of TNG. The season has a whole group of episodes of a standalone adventure nature that are generally all good in different senses. The climax is brilliant as well. I myself was most certainly compelled to get the fourth season and the rest was just a matter of time and money. I saved up in anticipation for the next season up to the finale - and in honesty was kinda sad it was over when it was over in "All Good Things' (Although four films did follow for TNG). THEN I got the first season, and finally the second. Strange I know. But in my opinion this is trully the best way to watch the series for any newcomers.

    By watching the more adult, mature and enjoyable episodes of the third season and later, you then look at those first two seasons from a more thoughtful and fulfilling perspective. In my opinion you get more out of the first two seasons by watched Seasons 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 in that order first. I did - I consider myself a pretty big fan of the series now and I love all the series (overall) and appreciate everything.

    Please Note: I have to say second-season finale "Shades of Grey" is truly, totally, absolutely the only episode in the whole series I would recommend ditching and missing altogether - it shouldn't exist and I am pretty sure everyone who has seen the episode ONCE (and only once in my case) will agree with me on that.

    Essentially a rehash of "Home Soil", except that they are artificial rather than natural...

    While I understand Jammer's point that if one cannot appreciate this episode, with its myriad typical-to-TNG elements, one cannot appreciate TNG; still, I think that it's possible to appreciate stories such as the ones that make up this episode without particularly liking the way they are used here. Of episodes preceding this one, I prefer other versions of computer-malfunction stories ("Contagion"), Wesley's-uncertainty-about-his-future stories ("Coming of Age"), and scientists' vanity gets in the way of considering unusual life form stories ("Home Soil").

    I think this episode plays well for most of its running time, but I find the ending disappointing. The episode's big lost opportunity is on the character level. The setup of the Wesley-Dr. Stubbs story, along with the strain in the dynamic between the Crusher mother and son, is rather touching. Dr. Stubbs is a tragic figure and a person who might well be Wesley in his future, if he neglects his personal connections to spend all his time as a wunderkind. Dr. Stubbs' identity is so tied up with his scientific pursuits that he endangers everyone around him because his ego has (nearly) totally overwhelmed his compassion for others and even his sense of self-preservation. Wesley runs the risk of the same thing happening to him. When he figures out that it’s probably his scientific project that has gone awry and is threatening the ship, he doesn’t come forward and tell anyone about it, for fear of the recriminations and humiliation that would result. Even after he tells Guinan that he will tell, he talks to Stubbs some more and continues doing experiments until Beverly finally pushes him and he snaps and is a child again for a second -- telling his mother that he's screwed up really badly and needs her help. That moment is fairly well done (though Wheaton and McFadden aren't the strongest of the cast, I do buy them as mother and son).

    However, after this point that story thread is very nearly dropped entirely. Wesley has nothing more to do of consequence in the story, and in the last scene he has somehow gotten a circle of friends and maybe a girlfriend, off-screen. Uh, how? Meanwhile, Stubbs has suddenly become apologetic about destroying a bunch of the nanites. It’s not clear whether this is because he recognizes the wrongness of his actions or just that it’s more convenient to play along with the nanites now that it’s possible to talk to them. It’s not really that I mind either story—Stubbs coming to his senses and realizing that there are more important things than his personal success, or Stubbs as tragic character who is unable to live in a world where he views himself as a failure—but the episode has to pick a direction.

    I complain, I suppose, because I think the character work early in the episode is good—Stubbs feels real to me, and his dialogue with Wesley about the difficulty of living up to one’s potential and the tragedy of peaking early are well written and acted and relatable to people on whom great expectations and hopes were placed early in life. It also resonates with Wesley’s later failure in “The First Duty” and “Journey’s End” to succeed in his Starfleet Academy dreams (though I guess going with the Traveler constitutes a happy, successful end for Wes). Similarly, the ideas behind the mother/son conflict are interesting and well worth exploring upon Beverly’s return to the ship—Wesley should be, and seems to be, feeling a mixture of resentment that his mother left, resentment that his mother is back, being happy at her return after having missed her, feeling her intruding on his life without her, and so on, but this is something that doesn’t get much resolution besides the brief moment of Wesley seeming to need her again once he confesses his nanites screwup. (I did like Beverly and Picard’s mature conversation about Wesley, which re-establishes the Picard/Crusher bond without being overly showy and feeling natural.)

    On that level, it’s particularly strange that Wesley’s basically becoming a God/creator to a species that has already apparently advanced beyond humans goes uncommented upon by him or his mother or Picard or Stubbs or the nanites themselves. Certainly, “accidental creator of an intelligent species” is going to get Wesley into the history books even if multiple ship-saviour hasn’t, and in an episode that starts off about the difficulty dealing with having peaked young it’s an odd oversight.

    The nanites stuff itself is Trekkian in the good sense; communication and peace are achievable if the crew tries hard enough, though force will be brought up if necessary. The implications of the nanites are not really examined at length, however, and this makes at least the second time that a crew member accidentally created a new artificial intelligence (after Moriarty). These people should be more careful, maybe?

    As Matthew Burns stated above, this episode does have a notable difference in tone from season two which immediately feels right in some ways, despite this story being (to me) one of the weaker season three outings. This is a bit like “The Child” in that sense—that episode was a mediocre show but the incidental dialogue and characterization and the smoothness of the character introductions indicated a real step up from season one. Since season three is even better than season two, it makes sense that “Evolution” is a better episode than “The Child,” though not really a particularly good one. Then again, TNG doesn’t have a very good track record with season premieres—there are only two (BOBW2 and Redemption 2) out of seven that I’d actually describe as good.

    2.5 stars, all considered.

    You guys have made some excellent points, particularly Matthew Burns and William B, you said like 90% of what I wanted to say! And a lot more that I didn't even think about, hah.

    Still, since I'm not a big fan of baseball, during that scene when Dr. Stubbs imagines the game, I just felt bad for him. He was a poor little guy, all alone, a "tragic figure", who only lived for his work.

    I can clearly see the parallels with a future Wesley if he continues to be just a brilliant nerd, and reading the notes from the episode (at Memory Alpha) it seems that was the writers intention all along.

    Needless to say, the human part was far more interesting to me than the "nanites" issue. I loved Wes confessing to his mother that he must have made a terrible mistake. Things like this from now on, makes him a more relatable character than the perfect boy he was these last two seasons. He'll also become a more integral part of the crew, as his oncoming friendship with Data and Geordi will tell.

    Crusher's return took a time to get used to, I was really enjoying the character of Dr. Pulaski, even when the actress really started to deliver some flat acting in the last few episodes of S2. Diana Muldaur looked bored, maybe because she knew that was it for her.

    Now, the new uniforms were so much better, the actors looked more comfortable on them. It was as much as improvement for the whole cast as Riker's beard for his character back then in S2. We never got rid of the Picard Maneuver, but that's part of his charm, isn't it?

    I think pretty much everything I wanted to say was already stated. One other thing, that I'm not sure if it was intentional or not but the episode seemed to mock some of the more annoying parts of the first season or two. Namely, Stubbs twice (figuratively) rolled his eyes whenever Troi was about to speak. He essentially mocked her constantly saying what everyone was feeling, which is what what I and presumably everyone else was thinking every time she opened her mouth. And likewise, Stubbs being the inevitable end of Wesley's character arc contrasts sharply with the Mary Sue profile he had in Season 1. And even ignoring the negative part, Stubbs' conversation with Wesley early on about being a wunderkind and the pressures of it are also more realistic than the bubbly enthusiastic season 1 character.

    In general though, this was a good but not great episode. The part I really liked was the fairly subtle contrast of Wesley and Stubbs. The warning that Wesley could end up a lonely egomaniac like Stubbs was never explicitly stated, but pretty obvious nonetheless. And Wesley's error and worrying about the expectations forced on him nicely previewed First Duty and Journey's End, respectively. Adding in Bev worrying about him was a bit heavy-handed, but fit well and gave her a legitimate reason to show up in the episode. Her ending talk to Guinan was cliched ("yay, he has a girlfriend! Tell me everything about her so I know if she's good enough for him" but whatever. And yes, I agree that her quick chat with Picard was a nice way to reinforce (or, more accurately, start her friendship with him; it was very understated in Season 1).

    As for the nanite side of the story, it was... adequate. The story paralleled and reinforced Quality of Life and Home Soil, and was at least better written than the latter one. Yes, it's a bit silly believing the nanites could evolve so fast, and that the Enterprise is just making new life forms left and right. But the malfunctions were fun (Sousa blasting all over the bridge, chess moves being called out, etc) and the sense of frustration and hopelessness was real. The ethical issues were brought up competently, but that's just about it. It was rather predictable and ended predictably. Like I said, adequate.

    Food slot?

    Apparently they hadn't coined the term replicator at this point...

    The arc that Wesley was originally meant to undergo in this episode becomes a whole lot clearer from some deleted scenes that a collector found on a workprint VHS. The Comments section here doesn't permit direct links, but the deleted scenes can be found on in two batches, the first posted on May 29, 2013 and the second on June 3, 2013. These workprint VHSes inspired the team at CBS to track down the film elements to include deleted scenes on the later Blu-rays (Season 4 and on), unfortunately too late for Evolution, which so far is one of the episodes that has the most substantial deleted scenes.

    When the first batch of Evolution's deleted scenes came out, I was a tad skeptical of the value of the scenes, but once the second batch came out, I realized how several of those scenes were meant to build up to deleted scenes 82-84, which were the original turning point in Wesley's arc.

    Michael Piller's comments on Wesley's character growth are also of interest, especially in light of those deleted scenes:

    "I had this story about nanites. Once I got to know the scientist and realized who he was, I realized that the scientist is Wesley in forty years, if he stays on the course of being the smart kid who is dedicated to his work and seems not to have much else going on in his life. I said, 'If I use that relationship to get it down to a more human level, I can help Wesley grow. I can help Wesley move into a relationship with a girlfriend.'...That became the key element to Beverley's re-entry into the series, which was, 'My son is not having a normal childhood.' We know a lot of kids like that. I saw that and had a sense that was needed."
    --from the book Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, courtesy of

    This episode, while nothing particularly special, is a truly welcome breath of fresh air after the slog through the first two seasons. I almost free like Dante emerging from the pits of Hell into the fresh, clean air of Earth at the end of the Inferno.

    Crusher is back, thankfully replacing Pulaski for good. The updated uniforms give a sense of a new beginning. But, most importantly, gone is the over-whelming smugness and arrogance the main cast displayed in just about every episode up until now ("Q Who?" being a notable exception). It's nice to see these characters finally becoming a little humanized.

    As for the episode itself - it's average, neither bad nor good. It's got a serviceable story with a passable guest star and good routine performances from the main cast. While the resolution seems rather rushed (the nanites inhibit Data and suddenly everything is fine within two minutes), it is nice to see TNG's main ethic of cooperation on display. It's much better than, say, "Peak Performance," where the concept of cooperation basically boiled down to the crew whining to the guest character that "you're not the boss of me," or "The Neutral Zone," where cooperation meant "shut up and don't be different than us!".


    First impression is that those VFX shots look good.

    It goes downhill from there though, and it seems a very low key way to enter a series. A number of the plot elements - Wesley's school project gone awry, Dr Crusher's overbearing motherly concern, Ken Jenkins' scenery chewing performance as Stubbs - get the eyes rolling rather than helping engage with the episode. That the nanites achieve sentience suggests that Wesley created an entire civilisation - and that little bombshell is wrapped up in 10 seconds at the end.

    There are some nice little character moments, but really I didn't get along with this one at all. 1.5 stars.

    I'm sure glad that I don't serve under Picard and Crusher... Dear lord, can you imagine it? Your ship is being wrecked and everyone's life is at risk - but you mustn't do anything about it because there may be "life" there. So do nothing and risk the entire crew.

    Serving on the Enterprise would be a death trap. No one would take a captain like that seriously. It's even worse that the motive of these machines is totally unknown, so leaving them because of some hippy dippy morality may in fact still cost everyone their lives, and leave no time for any action.

    I really liked the portrayal of the conflict between Dr. Stubbs and Capt. Picard. Both men had a good argument and both were likable during the debates. (Unlike Deanna Troy, who was abrasive and unlikeable in this episode.) In the first two seasons, Capt. Picard would have lectured Dr. Stubbs, would have always had the last put down line, and Dr. Stubbs would have been properly chastised in the end. The maturity level of this episode compared to seasons one and two was notable.

    I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be happy that Dr. Crusher came back. Her scenes seemed forced and unnecessary. And why does Troi always state the obvious. How hard is to write for an empath?
    Still, ten thousand times better than shades of gray...

    I used to have no particular opinion of Beverly. She struck me as a character no one could dislike because there was nothing much to her: she was as bland as the taste of water.

    However, rewatching the series more or less in sequence, I am changing my mind.

    Pulaski was opinionated, a bit sarcastic, and a little rough around the edges. Her Klingon tea ceremony moment and her mild mockery of Picard in "Samaritan Snare" were two highlights.

    Beverly is back and suffers greatly by comparison to her predecessor. She sounds one dull note: she's either earnestly concerned about a patient or earnestly concerned about her son. While Wesley is becoming palatable and even interesting - a far cry from the Season One Mary Sue brat he used to be - he is leaving his mother behind in more ways than one. He has changed a lot since Farpoint. Has she changed at all? Do we know anything about her now that we didn't learn in the pilot?.

    Geordi suffers from the same weak characterization, but overall he fares a little better than Beverly. At least we know he wants a girlfriend but is unconfident with women. We also see him in some action-y plots that show off his strengths, and the writers did a nice job showing his running flaw of social immaturity (as when he is disappointed in the real Leah Brahms, and when he gossips to Guinan "I won't turn my back on that Ro", only to be slapped down for it.)

    Do we ever know anything about what makes Beverly tick? She has no backstory beyond "widowed mother" and no personal desires, weaknesses, or even quirks. Why did she choose to leave the ship for a year and why did she then return? If a character can flit away unexpectedly and then pop back up and no motivation for her comings and goings is ever given, that makes her a generic placeholder, not a relatable person. I can't care about her if the writers don't.

    Not to mention, "overweening worried mother" isn't a really attractive personality, on anyone.

    I'm watching every episode on Blu-Ray and I'm absolutely love it. The vivid colors and details really add a lot.

    I do think Evolution is a stinker, and not a good way to start off the season. The progression of the "beings" happens way too fast. I may have missed it, but I don't recall hearing details about what the "egg" does, and how it works. This would have helped solidify would have further helped Dr. Stubb's argument for no abandoning the experiment.

    As far as the doctors, I'm not a big fan of either one, but Crusher brings more empathy to the role than the forced, hard-edged personality of Pulaski.

    Finally a believable realistic scientist on the show. Bravo. Brilliant episode.

    A mediocre start to Season 3 - the ending is too rushed and everything just works out perfectly - the nanites exit Data, the experiment is carried out, and in the B-plot Wesley is seen doing what a normal 17-year old should do.
    Overall the episode is slow-paced, boring, and reuses ideas from previous episodes far too much. Yes it does put a stamp on what TNG is all about (1st paragraph of Jammer's review) but that doesn't mean it's a great episode by any stretch.
    Bev Crusher is back and I already miss Pulaski - she was more proactive and a more interesting character. Don't need the mother/son issues in TNG.
    A weak 2 stars out of 4 for me. Fortunately S3 gets much better after a terrible finale to S2 and a mediocre start.

    So the oft shared view is that Season 3 begins the improvement that saved the show.
    Jammer rather dares us to say anything negative about the show.
    I don't mind distancing myself from whatever it is TNG stands for.
    That is easy since it doesn't seem to be able to stand for anything much at all unless its the rather unwarranted idea that everyone and everything is basically decent unless you have to phaser its head off of course.

    Gates McFadden returns with a whimper and no explanation of the displacement of the vastly superior Dr Pulaski.

    With the nanite plot we have yet another tedious Wesley the genius messes up story that retreads old ideas and the astrophysics premise seems a bit unconvincing too.
    No, I don't know the numbers but why does the mad scientist not have access to hundreds of binary systems with neutron stars that he could send his probe into.
    I guess the writers don't really care anyway as we have no idea what the egg is supposed to do.

    1.5 stars from me

    This whole episode was worth watching just to see Dr. Stubbs tell Troi "please turn off your beam into my soul" hahahahaha. She irritates the crap out of me with her arrogant and annoying quasi psychic intrusions.

    A disappointing start to Season 3. The fact that Wesley's carelessness could endanger the lives of everyone aboard the ship and the experiment is inexcusable and unbelievable. Although I much prefer Crusher to the flat, uninteresting Pulaski, the transition back to Crusher was incredibly awkward, with no mention of Pulaski whatsoever and worse, Dr. Beverly was not good in this particular episode. The hyperevolution of the nanites into language capability after a few mere hours of existence strained even my ability to compartmentalize.
    1 1/2 stars

    Unlike a lot of people here, I like Dr Crusher! Call me sexist, but I see older women as motherly figures, so whilst Dr McCoy's rough edges were charming, Dr Pulaski REPLUSED me! Granted, she did get a lot better at season 2 went on, but I still like Crusher better.

    Someone alluded to this, but I have the director's cut of this episode, and Wesley's girlfriend didn't pop out of nowhere. She, a redhead boy and a brunette girl were friends of his and they invited him to go skiing on the holodeck, but he refused having to work. She got injured (the nanites actions took the safeties off the holodeck) and was treated in sickbay (I actually think she is the actress who played Amy in Honey I Shrunk the KIds-she looks a LOT like her), and then later when Wes took it easy went out with him to 10-Forward. But yes, without those other scenes, it does look kind of random. A few more scenes were cut-one where a woman is burned/zapped by a food replicator (That is actually quite scary for TNG, and I can see why they cut it out. There were no effects yet, but her screams of pain were quite intense). There were a few more scenes, but nothing memorable to me.

    Yes, I'm not a baseball fan either, but rather than making Dr Stubbs seem a pathetic loner, as a kid, I saw those scenes making him seem less a bad guy. (I thought of him as the villian of the episode until then. Kind of like the stats guy in the episode with the faux battle between Picard and Riker in a derelict ship)

    In 1989, I was only 13, so I guess that's why Wesley didn't annoy me as much as some here-I was glad a kid could hold his own with the grownups! Something to remember is that this was a family show, (and maybe even a kid's show to a point), so the tweens and teens would view Wesley differently than the cynical adults! Hehe!)

    Some here were talking about 2-dimensional characters and some called Dr Crusher this. In my opinion, this was Worf a lot of the time. He was always like "This new problem is a threat to the ship! Kill it! Honour! Grrr!" That always felt like the same old notes to me!

    Ok, thanks for listening to my loose change on the subject, fellows!


    Nobody - nobody - who comes aboard a Federation Starfleet ship can be trusted. They are always antagonstic, treacherous, often dangerous. Rude, obnoxious, placed against the crew. If I were a Starfleet captain I'd be flying around with shields up not communicating with anyone or allowing anyone on board!

    Those nanites evolving into an AI as fast as they did is unlikely, otherwise this episode is fine.

    I can think of at least 3 episodes in TNG where there's an emergent AI that develops in the Enterprise's computer or equipment. It's a wonder all organic life hasn't been wiped out given how ubiquitous this phenomenon is in the 24th century.

    ...actually, 4 if you count that episode with the pissed-off crystal in the first season that call humans "ugly sacs of mostly water"! Although that wasn't really an AI but a silicon-based lifeform, so I guess it doesn't count after all. Nonetheless it's probably why this episode feels so familiar, as it's a bit of a rerun of that. Fortunately this intelligence is much more reasonable.

    On a plus note it looks like the CGI has got an upgrade; the external shots of the Enterprise look better than ever.

    Ken Jenkins did a great job as Dr. Stubbs.

    {{ some hippy dippy morality }}

    Dumb way to describe not wanting to risk a course of action that might be murder.

    Crusher says she "missed about 2 inches" of Wesley.
    Doctor "Stubbs" probably got every inch, no wonder Wesley was passed out asleep.

    Wesley accidentally creates life. Holy god complex Batman!!!! I thought I was the Boy Wonder

    This gets three stars for Stubs’ put downs on Troi alone.

    Stubs was an unusually well written and played guest character for Trek, especially for a scientist. While amusing for the viewer, his Troi put downs are believable for a very smart middle aged scientist. He knows what she is and what she’s doing and thinks it’s silly and annoying.

    The “i’ll put two nanites together” creating an entire civilization is silly but at least has the Dr Moriarty precedent. It’s comical because it’s like the writers come up with this clever little bit and build a story around it while in reality people would have been sticking nanites together to see what would happen long before they shipped them.

    Same with Geordi accidentally creating Moriarty by a simple misstatement— hello, QA department? Even funnier is that Geordi is basically blamed for it.

    I haven't watched this one for years as it's usually a "skip" episode for me. I remember the plot as basically being boring to me, and having just rewatched it I more or less still feel that way. One positive note in the episode is the unusual musical score, which is a pleasant reminder of the days before TNG's music became musak.

    But the most shocking thing to me watching Dr. Crusher's return to the series for the first time in a long while, and oh man it is so bad. I had always remembered that her return was more or less as unceremonious as her departure had been, but they definitely did make some attempt to giver her a B story in this episode regarding Wesley in order to welcome her back. It's too bad that the B-story is horrible to watch, mostly consisting of her condescending to Wesley (which unfortunately became a theme in the series) and then acting out tired "worried mother" tropes. But all of that could be chalked up to hack writing and the misguided idea to pidgeonhole her into "mother" as her defining trait. By far the worse part of it is her performance. I seldom care about exactly how good the performances are in TNG; usually guest actors and the main cast are at least passable, and occasionally they rise up to real excellence. This is a rare case of just outright bad, terribly bad acting, where McFadden's line readings are so artificial with bizarre cadence that it's actually upsetting to see someone like this working on a serious project. Luckily she did get better over the years, which I think is a credit to the idea that giving someone a chance can help them artistically. But at this point she's not even at the level of a decent acting school student, because at least they usually know how to speak like people. Check out Crusher's last scene with Guinan and cringe. Even Whoopi doesn't know how to interact with her here, and she's the most natural person probably in the entire series, along maybe with O'Brien.

    My complaint isn't so much a condemnation of the episode, so much as a reflection that watching this made me embarassed *for* McFadden. It really looked like a humiliation to be taken back onto the show after so much fan requesting, only to look this bad. Others have pointed out elsewhere the 'dancer's gait' where she can't help but walk like a dancer (a trait I've observed IRL many times, and yes, they rarely can learn how to walk normally), but it's saddening to think that I probably agree with Maurice Hurley that she was a detriment to the show at the time of her firing. It would have been nice to have fostered her instead of jettisoning her, but at the same time there are too many good people in the industry to have an attitude of taking on people who aren't up to the job to try to improve them. This was more an issue with the original casting process, I guess, and after that they were stuck (something I think is also true of Voyager for a few of their actors).

    Later on in the series I actually do begin to like Crusher to an extent, and Remember Me is one of my preferred eps, but boy did it start off rocky for her.

    My only problem with this episode (and it's a major one) is that I felt Stubbs was the only one making any sense. Well, maybe Worf too, I guess. Everyone else was rigidly in full-on TNG-space-hippy "let's talk it out, man" mode. I'm sorry, but I wouldn't have blinked an eyelid at performing cyber-genocide once life support was being jeopardized. Furthermore, they send them off to their own world which, given the small amount of time it took them to take over the Enterprise, will probably be used up in a day or two. Consider the galaxy exponentially devoured and conquered by four o'clock next Wednesday. After an encounter with the similar (but larger) Borg, you'd think they'd maybe be a bit more cautious. I mean, really, in terms of long-term lore, what did the nanites get up to after being left to their own devices? Stay at home with a good book? GAH!

    For all the riches in the cosmos, I'd never have bet anyone that an episode of Star Trek would be where, with scary accuracy, the death of baseball would be predicted. The closest thing to perfection ever invented is being forced to reinvent itself to in order to stay relevant, and as a result is becoming a diluted and boring version of its original, fascinating incarnation. Stubbs...truer words have never been spoken.

    3 stars
    Liked every scene.
    Loved the Borg namedropping hinting of their arrival to come

    I liked the Beverly/Wes in the science lab where he’s stressed and snaps and she is patient offering him her help

    I enjoyed the Guinan/Wes scene where he’s setting traps for nanites and she quips about running a clean establishment then offering her ear Liked her quip about Frankenstein
    The visuals were nice especially the shots of the enterprise Pulled towards stream
    Liked data speaking for nanites
    Felt for Stubbs all his life for this and could be for nothing
    Stubbs attacking nanites was shocking
    Nice final scene forbeceekfor Bev and Guinan
    Beverly happy Wes dartingbut then wants to know about his girlfriend
    Beverly’s scene with Picard inquiring aboutbwes was also very good
    Liked Picard Beverly scene
    New uniforms
    No mention of where Pulaski went
    Beverly back prefer Beverly
    Beverly right 17 is about fun and experimenting
    Jeopardy good toxic gas ship malfunctioning
    Nanite cool
    Interesting sci fi idea newto me

    I have always liked this episode, perhaps because of the new series elements (uniforms, Crusher back etc), the greater maturity and polish of the production, and how they are harbingers of good things to come.

    I think most of what can be said about the plot and characterizations in this episode has been said by previous posters.

    Having (for some reason) just put myself through bits of Season 1 and most of Season 2, I did notice some interesting bits of continuity

    - This season opener starts with a shuttlebay shot, just as the season 2 opener did (The Child). However, the design of the shuttlebay has changed so that shuttlebay operators now use a sealed control room/booth that overlooks the hangar, rather than operating standalone consoles that are right on the main deck of the shuttle bay. This seems very wise. I rememeber thinking (when watching The Child), "what happens if the forcefield fails while the operators are at those consoles." Cut to Contagion, where Donald Varley (captain of USS Yamato) explains that the Iconian-virus-induced systems failures caused *exactly this* to happen, and he lost a whole team of crew members as a result. That suggests to me that this design flaw was on the mind of the writers as well. I guess I never noticed before that they explicitly fixed it for Season 3.

    - Speaking of Contagion, it's a bit irritating that Data points out in Evolution that failure of the computer core unlikely and that widespread systems failure on a Federation starship hasn't happened in 79 years, when in fact, we just had it happen to both the Yamato and the Enterprise last season.

    - When they gave the nanites a whole planet, I couldn't help but think that they had inadvertently created the Replicators from Stargate SG-1 :D

    - Don't get me wrong: I grew up on TNG and its optimistic, idealistic, and humanistic themes have influenced me greatly. But perhaps my sensibilities have shifted a tad as an adult. I agreed with Worf that giving the Nanites access to "a Starfleet Commander" (especially one who was a super-strong Soong-type android) posed a grave security risk. Couldn't they have given the nanites access to one of the computer's voice processors instead? Was Data's neural net really necessary for them to be able to vocalize? At least Picard was willing to use the option of sterilization with gamma rays in the end. But as is a common problem in early TNG, I think the situation called for more urgency than what was portrayed. Somehow there is always time for a staff meeting to think it over(even when threatened by a Ferengi Marauder in Peak Performance)

    I agree with SkepticalMI who said five years ago that the producers seemed to be poking fun at some of the failings of seasons 1 and 2, including Troi. I enjoyed it greatly when Troi said (in her annoying accent and halting pattern of speech) that Paul Stubb's outwardly-calm and non-chalant demeanour was highly polished. Picard then goes "yes Counselor, even *my* sensory perception picked that up." Classic!

    Also, I just love the VFX in this episode. I'm not sure the Ent-D has ever looked this great. Something about the lighting of the ship in the vicinity of the binary stars. But also, the fact that it's a new effects shot and not stock footage. They picked much more sensible angles that show off just how sleek, streamlined, and graceful the Galaxy-class is. Not that horrible sort of "3/4" ventral view in which it's really fore-shortened and hence looks really front heavy. Who's idea was it to shoot the ship from that angle? That's like the starship equivalent of a bad selfie taken from a low angle looking upward at the chin. Not flattering.


    Peter H
    Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 5:40am (UTC -6)
    "On a plus note it looks like the CGI has got an upgrade; the external shots of the Enterprise look better than ever. "

    Argh, are you for real? How old are you? There are no *CGI* starship shots in TNG. I don't think CGI space scenes in Star Trek (for TV) really started until Foundation Imaging started doing work for DS9 and Voyager in like 1997 or thereabouts. No, they made these shots of the Enterprise using the original six-foot filming model. I'd argue that *that's why* it looks so great. Because it's masterful work with physical models and not CGI. And I'm personally really glad they were still using the six-foot model at this point. Because, for Season 3, they created a second four-foot shooting model that was easier to work with and had more surface detail (the Aztec pattern on the hull). In principle, these sound like improvements, but in practice I don't like the four-foot model because they kind of messed up the shape of the ship IMO. The lines of the engineering hull are not as slim and graceful. The saucer and nacelle pylons are also thickened. It's almost as though they couldn't get the proportions and graceful lines quite right with the smaller scale. I wish they had used the four-foot model only for extreme close-ups. In Star Trek Generations, they revamped the six-footer to have the same level of surface detail as the four-footer had had, and that was then *perfect*. It looked beautiful. Too bad we only got to see it in one mediocre movie. Ugh.


    so all of a sudden small computers (nanites) work together and evolve where the big computers in the Federation never have?

    I usually like seeing the children on the Enterprise since it adds a bit of interest. Here I liked Wesley. I suppose Dr Crusher in her role as Ship's Mom was okay, Too bad we cant have a chief medical officer. Yes I am bitter.

    This episode gets points for the best line putting Troi in her place. Its true who asked her to read emotions. How intrusive. She is supposed to be naturally sensitive and the whole premise of what she does is insensitive.

    And letting the nanites to into Data? why wouldn't they just respond to the binary code? or let the main computer voice work. why do they need Data? Thank you Worf for stating the risk.

    This episode devolved back to the worst of the first season.

    Could have been an intriguing end to this episode had the nanites met/conversed with Wesley. Would there be a respect or understanding of their "Creator"?

    It was obvious fairly early on in this episode that Dr Stubbs was obsessive to the point of being unstable. When he seriously says he would rather die than abort the mission, and makes it clear that he would be happy for the entire ship to be sacrificed to boot, that should have been a major red flag and he should have been confined to quarters there and then. Instead, no-one does anything and he is still allowed free run of the ship! It was predictable that he would end up taking matters into his own hands. Security really needs tightening up on the Enterprise.

    Really boring.

    Eggs and mothers and reproduction . . . they're going for something here, but it's hard to care.

    Did not like it at all. Dull, nutty technonabble, sorta preachy . . . some nice special effects, though.

    Onto episode 2 with hopes the rest of the season will be better.

    In some ways a great episode. In other ways not.
    The image of the neutron star- red giant and the wafting of stellar material in between is really rather breathtaking. I enjoyed seeing it each time it was shown, and it was a nice touch to have this beautiful phenomenon become terrifying as the helpless ship drifts toward it.

    I remember this from way back, and felt the nanites were a nifty plot device. Irresponsible dolt-genius Wesley and his mouse-traps added a measure of fun suspense, although Ten Forward seemed an unlikely place to put so many if them. Still, at least this allowed us to have a scene with Guinan, IMOas always a plus.

    Dr. Stubbs was a complex character, who is gradually driven insane by all the Prime Directivizing of a techno-culture that didn't exist the day before. His interactions with dolt-genius Wesley are lovely, and all the more because he is naturally drawn to the boy and shares so much with him ignorant at first that Wesley's school experiment has caused the probable failure of his real own.
    Even knowing the backstory, Beverly replacing Pulaski without explanation was unforgivable. I had grown to like Diana Muldaur's contribution to season 2 a great deal and to say nothing about her ever again ? Come on!
    Although I like Beverly generally, she was incredibly annoying in this episode, which was deliberate. Walking in on Wesley when he's all stressed out, stressed ME out even more! Leave him alone lady!

    I agree with those who commented that Stubb's Egg not being explained was an egregious omission. Just a pice if techno- scenery....think it would have been a nice touch if it did something cool but malfunctioned at the very end, so a couple if nanites could be launceby probe and do a spacewalk to fix it.

    It would have taken just 2-3 seconds to have Captain Picard say something like:
    "Captain's log supplemental...Dr. Pulaski accepted a research post in Starfleet Academy's xenopathology division. She will be sorely missed but always ticking away inside me."

    Okay 5-6 seconds.

    Oh, and another thing....I like Beverly as I said, but in that scene with Wesley, I really wanted her to get sucked into space with Goldfinger!

    They really did Pulaski/Muldaur dirty. I know most people liked Crusher more but I really liked Pulaski. She was extremely competent as a doctor, and I enjoyed knowing her character over Season 2 (going from treating Data like a wall decoration to generally treating him decently by the end, and bonding a bit with the crew over the season).

    Crusher was competent enough, but her character was pretty superficial iirc.

    I’m on my second viewing and I’m left wishing even more that we had more time with Pulaski. There was room for both.

    The Beverly/Wesley stuff is soapy, but it is honest and earned (from a series point of view). Bev has been away and Wesley has worked his butt off. So Bevs swooping in and jumping on his ass is very real and also very wrong. Wesley made a serious mistake and is trying to fix it, and Bevs blows it off. And to be fair, she also corrects this.

    Aside from the soap, unfortunately, this is a prime embarrassing example of the worst science in Star Trek being computer science. You put salt and pepper on an egg in ST and you’ve created an intelligent new life form that must be protected.

    "Aside from the soap, unfortunately, this is a prime embarrassing example of the worst science in Star Trek being computer science. You put salt and pepper on an egg in ST and you’ve created an intelligent new life form that must be protected."

    Lol 1000% agreed.

    It's not the fact that 24th century science can conjure up advanced AI from nothing (Moriarty, nanites, exocomps, Emergence....) that is ridiculous but that everyone always keeps acting so surprised when it happens. It's like they don't know how their own technology works. Are they idiots or something?

    Do they let children play with antimatter too? Oh wait - in Peak Performance Wesley's school project literally contains antimatter - stupid question I guess haha

    This episode was poor.

    Previous post Jason R. "You put salt and pepper on an egg in ST and you’ve created an intelligent new life form that must be protected." Spot on.

    I do rearly complain about impossible science in sci-fy, it is ok to explore and have fantasy. But this was silly, just silly, most episodes wher salt pepper and egg merges into intelligens are silly.

    It is ok to speculate about artificial intelligens, just take Data as a wonderful example of that. But the eskaped nanites where silly,

    Although also liking Pulaski, I don't mind the Beverly Cruser charakter. Unfortubately in this epeside she was silly.

    Watching this today for the first time and I could not figure out where I knew Dr. Stubbs from. Then it hit me-- he's another well-known doctor-- Kelso from Scrubs!

    So in TNG they made nanobots but didn't include any way to power them off? Such a silly idea but ok, let's just chalk that up to a bug in the 'evolved' code or something.

    I can mostly forgive this stuff but what I can't really accept is that the nanobots would have evolved the capacity for complex communications and negotiation given that they're intended purpose was for medical use.

    Also, at their rate of growth and evolution those nanobots should have quadrant of its resources and become the dominant form of 'life' in a ridiculously short period of time limited only by the speed of light. Exponential growth is crazy in that way.

    Still, I didn't hate the episode but it's yet another example of Wesley (or any crewmember for that matter) doing something that almost kills everyone and facing no consequences. Not even a stern talking to. Frustrating because the moment he even was suspicious of this he should have reported it to Geordi or Data. The time he spent after he became suspicious talking to Guinan, the old Scrubs doctor, and his mommy should have earned him a court martial or at least some sort of formal discipline noted in his permanent record.

    Making an honest mistake is fine, everything else notwithstanding, but failing to report it put everyone's lives at risk and showed a tremendous lack of character.

    A subtly new TNG: new title sequence, new camerawork (angles, close-ups - the opening sequence that led to our seeing Wesley asleep is a great example), new pacing (slow at times but not forced) .. a sign of different things ahead.

    Unfortunately, we get the return of Dr Crusher in place of Pulaski, and most of her scenes were boring filler; Wesley is far better without his ma around.

    As for the story itself.. I remember that I loved the whole concept of evolving nanites and how Data was used as a communication conduit. This time around I wasn’t quite so hooked but I’m not sure why exactly - it could be that like a detective story, once you know “who dunnit” (or in this case “what” and “why”), it doesn’t hold quite the same fascination. Nor did the obsessed Stubbs convince - we’ve seen his character too many times before, in one form or another.

    But it’s not a bad start to the “new” Trek, though I’d not go so far as 3 stars - 2.5 seems fair.

    Watching this again, after watching TNG many times over the years, it really struck me how TOS Dr. Stubbs was, and by extension the whole episode. He almost directly pulls the "I'm an Ambassador and you're my bitch" card. He has an almost Harry Mudd flippancy about the whole situation.

    Couple comments regarding older comments:

    CGI: If you're watching the mastered TNG, the space scenes have been redone with CGI, almost always very very well.

    Enterprise angle: yes, the very commonly used lower front starboard shot is not at all a flattering angle. I believe this was used so much because the model was mounted on top (and filmed upside down) because the model was so top heavy.

    Gates McFadden's return: yes she was rather clunky but to be fair she'd been out of character for a year and was probably quite nervous considering the circumstances of her departure and return.

    This episode has my favorite scene in all of TNG series. When Picard is in his captain chair on the bridge and he gives some normal order and suddenly "stars and stripes forever" starts blaring over the ships PA system and Picard yells "WHAT IN HEAVENS NAME!" It's makes me laugh every single time

    I didn't like how Pulaski just disappears without so much as a mention. At least in real life she actually wanted to leave the show but they still should have given her character some kind of sendoff, or at least an explanation. I did like how Dr. Kelso was a jerk in this show too. Wesley almost kills everyone and didn't get so much as a reprimand or even a light scolding. Not so much for his mistake but for failing to report it for so long, but then he never told anyone how long he had known it was his nanites that were causing the problem. Guinan should have dragged him straight to Picard as soon as he told her about it.

    Dr Stubbs was easily my favourite character, except when he caved to Picard’s inane demand that he apologise to the nanites. Stubbs and Worf had the right idea.

    There should have been consequences for Wes’ inventing the nanites, and for how he spoke back to his mother. Being very tired and upset is not really an excuse for that kind of behaviour.

    I miss Dr Pulaski’s brisk no-nonsense approach.

    On the whole, this is one of my favourite TNG episodes. I would take away half a star for Picard’s bizarrely unprofessional concern for the nanites: by his delay in destroying them, he could have killed everyone on board. I would have more respect for him if this reluctance to kill were consistent; but it’s not. When he needs to, he is just like everyone else in being able to find a reason to relax his principles.

    Picard showed where his priorities lay by being far more concerned for the safety of the nanites - which had just attacked Dr Stubbs - than for the well-being of Dr Stubbs himself. One is reminded of his solicitude for the death-dealing Crystalline Structure. It looks as though Picard may be the type of person who loves the human race - and others - in general, but finds some characters in particular very difficult to get on with. Someone with such skewed priorities should not be in charge of the Enterprise.

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