Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Survivors"

4 stars

Air date: 10/9/1989
Written by Michael Wagner
Directed by Les Landau

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"The Survivors" is one of TNG's most unsung gems — a slowly building sci-fi mystery that thinks big while all the time going to painstaking efforts to keep the drama small and intimate. It starts as the mystery of two people and slowly and implacably marches toward a revelation that's haunting and universe-shaking in its exceptionally quiet way.

The Enterprise races to answer a distress call from the colony at Rana IV; when they arrive, they find the world has been completely destroyed by an unknown alien attack. There are no survivors ... except for Kevin and Rishon Uxbridge (John Anderson and Anne Haney), whose house and a few acres of land have survived the complete scorching of the rest of the planet's surface. Why has this elderly couple survived while the rest of the 11,000 colonists perished?

This story belongs to a subgenre that might best be called "Twilight Zone Trek." Strange things are afoot. The Uxbridges say they do not know why they were spared, but Kevin is obviously hiding something. He's adamant that Picard and the Federation simply leave them alone. An unknown, heavily armed, and mean-looking alien vessel appears and attacks the Enterprise. Its actions are erratic. Troi begins hearing a repeating song in her mind that gets louder and louder and will not go away. Her disturbed mental state starts off as a small, percolating problem, but like the rest of the episode, it slowly and steadily builds until her mental anguish pushes her to insanity.

This story is pitch-perfect in tone. The behavior and method of the attacks from the alien vessel hint that its real goal is simply to coax the Enterprise away from Rana. The clues lead us to the inevitable truth that all of this has to do with Kevin and his pacifist stance when the aliens attacked the colony. Why didn't he fight when the rest of the colony was trying to defend itself? All the answers lie in a revelation that is truly one of TNG's more unsettling concepts: Kevin is actually a superbeing called a Douwd, capable of boundless power, but assuming human identity to live with his human wife Rishon. He put the music in Troi's head to keep her from learning the truth: Great power requires great restraint, which Kevin exercised until Rishon was killed in the attack, at which point he lashed out and killed the Husnock — not just the attackers, but the entire race of 50 billion. Kevin's confession is a stunning revelation of frightening power, profound individual guilt, and audacious sci-fi imagination. If you stop and think about a being with cosmic power like that, humanity seems but a speck of insignificance.

For once, there's no humanistic preaching that Picard can possibly make. Concerning a being of such limitless power, Picard simply concludes, "We are not qualified to be your judge." The episode ends with one of Picard's most memorable voice-over logs: "We leave behind a being of extraordinary power and conscience. I'm not sure whether he should be praised or condemned — only that he should be left alone."

Previous episode: The Ensigns of Command
Next episode: Who Watches the Watchers

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89 comments on this review

Dan L again
Fri, Aug 5, 2011, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
I'm looking back at my comments from July 27, 2008. Still feel the same way about the scene with Guinan and Picard. I didn't pass the exam then, but did pass, finally, and was admitted this year. The episode was in my thoughts for the two days where things worked out.

Jammer, you are quite right that "The Survivors" is an unsung gem. To me, the greatest mystery about the episode is why it is unsung.

The acting: The acting was the best it has ever been on TNG (the story somehow gains a bizarre poignancy by the fact that John Anderson and Anne Haney are now both gone). The final scene between Picard and Kevin - the direction, acting, writing, lensing, staging, sound and lighting came together to produce two perfect minutes of television.

The staging: Often it is said that a script's level of ambition counts for little if the level of execution is found wanting. "The Survivors" was an enormously ambitious episode whose execution matched the ambition.

The mystery and build-up of suspense: A mystery is only as good as is how good the placement of clues are throughout the story. Although the ending of course was a "Twilight Zone"-whoa type of ending (one wishes that Rod Serling, who had denigrated the original Star Trek, had been alive to see it, as it was as well-written as anything Serling came up with), when one rewatches the episode, one realizes that it played fair and did not cheat, in much the way "The Sixth Sense" played fair.

The intangibles: The moment where Picard informs the Uxbridges that Troi's mind is gradually being destroyed is followed by Richad's saying, plantively, "Kevin.... no...." in a voice that suggests controlled anger, frustration and fear all at once... so many nice little touches like that. The story was essentially free of contrivances and plot gimmicks, did not have to rely on pyrotechnics to compensate for lacklustre direction (which BBW Pt.1, as great as it was, did).

Great character drama, great action, seeking out new life (something TNG rarely did), thought-provoking... what more could a fan want?

Apparently the answer is "The Inner Light." That episode, although great, was nothing more (and less, i suppose) than a terrific example of audience manipulation and an attempt to manufacture poignancy that should have (and did come from, to some degree) come from the characters, not from the music or the speechifying. In this episode, one could feel the gears grinding. "The Survivors" unfolded so naturally, with such elegance and grace, as to, I am afraid to suggest, be simply too "reserved" to be considered great. And that's a shame. The episode is as fine as ANY hour of TNG.
Thu, Jun 14, 2012, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
How would Wesley know w62 degrees E is without knowing the reckoning point of zero?
Tue, Jul 3, 2012, 4:45am (UTC -5)
What a great website! Thank you! How in the world have I not known about it until now? Oh, it may be because I've been busy re-re-re-watching TNG...

I find Kevin's confession one of the strongest moments on TNG, without it necessarily being a "classic TNG". His pain, his awareness of the illusion he has created, his love... "I killed them all". "We have no law to fit your crime", Picard says, and then I cannot help but for a fraction of a moment think: "this man was robbed of love; whose crime was truly greater?"
Thu, Mar 14, 2013, 11:45am (UTC -5)
Wholehearted concur with Jammer's rating on this one. I always enjoy this episode, it's a nice mystery, some interesting dialog, such as when Worf says to Kevin "It took guile to hold us at bay with a non-functional phaser...I admire guile.". I think all the actors involved did their parts well.
Fri, Mar 15, 2013, 12:24am (UTC -5)

It was "gall" not guile. It's an OCD Trekkie thing.
William B
Wed, Apr 17, 2013, 5:44am (UTC -5)
I like that the exchange between Worf and Kevin about the gall of holding the Starfleet crew up with a non-functioning phaser has been brought up already. But rather than being just a neat bit of dialogue (which is certainly sufficient reason for its existence already), this moment is actually head-spinning once the entire episode has unfurled. Kevin is a superpowered being dedicated to appearing powerless, having used his powers to create an illusion in which he has a nonfunctional phaser which he pretends is functioning to keep the Starfleet crew at bay. It captures the complexity of the situation very well: Kevin Uxbridge the Dowd has the power to do nearly anything, but is devoted to pacifism and to his human identity, and then tries to work within those confines and to use the threat of force which he will not back up. Until, of course, he does.

As with many great episodes, I find it harder to talk about “The Survivors” than I do about “merely good,” or average or weak episodes. Unlike the first two episodes of the season, this is not really a (main cast) character outing, though everyone acts consistently and the episode does give some time both to Worf’s pride; even more so, the episode is devoted to the crew’s in general and Picard’s in particular curiosity. The episode is a great one for Picard’s tenacity and bravery as an investigator and careful observer of psychology; he is several steps ahead of the audience without seeming, at least to me, to make any leaps that are impossible for him to have made (though I admit that I would not be able to make the gambles that he made). And partly because Picard believes what he does, we believe it: that Kevin Uxbridge *means* his pacifism and that despite his bringing the Husnock ship out repeatedly to scare or trick the Enterprise away, he will not kill. The advantage of this structure—spending most of the episode with the Enterprise crew coming closer and closer to Kevin’s secret, and Kevin trying to shoo them away as best he can—is that it helps to underline how much Kevin is a man of peace, how unwilling he is, even *after* his act of genocide, to use force on others even when they become a personal and emotionally devastating nuisance to him.

(That is, except for the force that he uses on Troi—and I think the one potential weak spot in the plot is that Kevin doesn’t remove the music-box block on Troi when the Enterprise seems to leave the system for good, though it seems as if Kevin is not really thinking clearly about how torturous the music-box is for Troi.)

In addition to this, while Kevin knows that the current Rishon is not real and that she’s an illusion, and is partly consoling himself with that lie because it’s the only way he knows how to continue living, he pointedly does not create an idealized version of her: besides not going to fight with the others (and even on that, Rishon seems uncertain as to why she decided to stay with Kevin), she seemingly is as Rishon was, friendly to outsiders, shocked at Kevin’s having hurt a woman on the ship.

All this adds up to a devastating conclusion. When we learn that Kevin Uxbridge committed genocide, wiping tens of billions of people from the universe, we recognize the depths of his guilt and pain. Beings with power far beyond humans’ are seldom portrayed as having pacifist tendencies (though the Organians from the original series come to mind), and humans who get godlike powers almost instantly become corrupted by them (ask Gary Mitchell, or I suppose “Hide and Q” Riker). Here is a seemingly all-powerful alien who voluntarily represses his powers for decades, refuses to use force, is dedicated to pacifism far beyond what we could imagine—and then the consequences of that pacifism is that his wife is dead, and for a moment afterward he loses his conviction long enough to become a mass murderer. He’s a tragic figure, but I think the episode asks us to do as Picard does: to neither condemn him nor praise him; the thing that strikes me watching this is to be glad not to have the kind of power he has, of being able to act in an instant of emotion against everything he believes in and to know for the rest of his days that this emotion came just too late to save his wife.

The episode’s tone, which builds up from an intimate chamber drama, captures in a way this show can every so often, but only rarely (“The Inner Light” comes to mind) the way the whole universe is perceived through the personal—here we see that it works in reverse (a moment of loss of emotional control over a personal injury can make men in positions of power do untold, unimaginable damage).

To be honest, I hadn’t remembered this episode being extraordinary and Jammer’s 4 star rating surprised me, but watching it again and its slow burn story, coming to a gripping conclusion with implications that the episode itself admits (through Picard) are too great to be contemplated and yet are presented, without sentimentality or devoid of their import, it did work very well. Yes, 4 stars seems right.
The Romulans
Sat, May 18, 2013, 2:23am (UTC -5)
I also could not recall this episode as being exceptional, but after watching it recently I can't see where I can take any points away. Every puzzle piece slots together brilliantly. The concept of killing billions of people in an instant is absolutely great. A truly solid piece of science fiction.
Tue, Aug 13, 2013, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
Well, I have to politely disagree with all of you guys.

I didn't love this episode, but didn't hate it either. It's funny, because I don't have many complaints about it. It's just left me feeling a bit apathetic.

The acting was fine, the plot was revealed slowly and the story is pretty cool but at that time I was coming from two terrible TNG seasons, and that hurt my perception of the episode.

Instead of looking at all those good points you mentioned (the responsibility of being super powerful yet a pacifist) all I saw was yet another god-like creature of the week. Q is my favorite among them, but there were oh, so many "Gods" that didn't work after him: The skin of evil, the nebula of energy in "Lonely Among Us", the sentient cube at certain episode which name I can't remember, etc.

When this episode's guy revealed the truth my line of thought was like "Oh, so he's like a God...again. And he killed an entire race I never heard anything about. Ok. Moving on, next episode".

I'll try to keep an open mind and re-watch it sometime later, now that I've become a Trek fan. Back then I wasn't.
Sun, Aug 25, 2013, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
My favorite moment is when Worf goes "Good tea. Nice house."
Sun, Sep 1, 2013, 11:42am (UTC -5)
Are the Douwd a race, or is it just this individual with that name? If it's a race, they would seem to rival the Q; if it's an individual, he would seem to perhaps be a Q.
Nick P.
Fri, Sep 6, 2013, 8:01am (UTC -5)
This is my second favourite episode. I love this one! The acting, the pure sci-fi mystery, the balls to have the number of dead be 50 BILLION instead of the usual trek planet-killer getting 3 million or thereabouts.

I do have one minor quibble. Picard (and most here) say "how could we judge". an @Dustwy above says Kevin lost love, which is the worse crime. I have an answer, killing 50 billion is worse. I realize us trek fans have to be good little liberals and make everything in the universe relative, but I will take a stand and say that killing 50 billion (mostly innocent) is slightly worse than killing one guys love. YES, it is a worse crime. And the crime is called genocide, and we have numerous times in the last century put humans on trial for it. It is wrong, no ifs-ands-or buts. If an arab terrorist accidentally killed a Dowd in a terror attack, is it then morrally acceptable for this dowd to kill every human on Earth? The answer is NO.

But anyways, I took Picards' speech at the end to mean we couldn't punish a god in any meaningful way, not that we can't judge him......

But I was always hoping TNG would have more episodes like this, and "CLUES" from season 4 comes close, but the slow-building sci fi mystery Trek really seemed to die around season 4.
Chris Harrison
Mon, Oct 7, 2013, 11:45am (UTC -5)
I like that someone inserted the phrase 'Lagrange point' into the script. But it seems a waste when it came time to shoot, no one told Frakes how to pronounce it.
Tue, Oct 8, 2013, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
Wow, I guess I'm in the minority here. Yes, it's a good episode. Perhaps even very good. But no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to move it up to "great" status, much less the elevation people here seem to put it at. Why?

- Marina Sirtis cannot act as if in pain. Period. Those scenes were painful to see for us; not because of our empathy for her, but because of how bad the acting is. I realize the music box is a plot point and not easily excised, but it's painful to get through.

- Speaking of which, the musical score went straight to creepy at the end of each Troi in pain scene. We already know it's creepy and linked to the mystery of the Uxbridges. That just seemed too much of overkill.

- The Dowd may seem to be as powerful as the Q, but Kevin's IQ was closer to 20 than 2,005. The fakeness of the Husnock ship, particularly its last scene, was glaringly obvious to me, and would have been glaringly obvious to Picard as well even if he didn't already suspect something was up. Reading the review and comments, I was surprised to see comments that the mystery was perfectly executed. It wasn't! The final Husnock appearance was so bizarre that there's no way Kevin would assume it'd fool anyone. Why allow it to be destroyed so easily after proving it could take on anything the Enterprise could dish out? Why suddenly attack the Uxbridge home 5 minutes after Picard told Kevin that that was the only thing that would cause him to leave? Did Kevin really think Picard was that stupid to not notice something was up?

- Well, maybe he did think that, because the rest of the crew certainly was. Sure, maybe Picard was the only one to catch on. But did everyone else have to act so dumbfounded at every twist in the last act even after A) so many bizarre twists already happened that they should start to expect the unexpected, and B) their captain, who they all trust, clearly expects these unexpected events to occur. And yet Riker and the rest of them continue to be shocked and bewildered at each oddity: the Husnock ship returning, firing on the Uxbridges, being destroyed easily, and the house returning. Doesn't speak much for their intelligence.

- But going back to Kevin for a second. So he has the power to find every single Husnock in the galaxy, but doesn't bother to peak up into orbit for a few seconds to see if his little charade worked? Unlikely.

- While I suppose it's reasonable that Picard would have deduced that the whole thing, including the Husnock ship, was a scam and that there were powerful beings at work. But how did he deduce that Mrs Uxbridge was not only a human, but died as well? There was never a hint of that. At best, there was a sense that she supported her husband completely and didn't take much initiative on her own (Except, of course, that she did take initiative with the first away team). But that's hardly a reason to suspect anything. There are plenty of couples today in which one person is more of the decider and the other is the follower; presumably couples like that exist in the future as well. The Uxbridge's relationship seemed perfectly normal to me, and I didn't see any hint that one was fake. So Picard catching that seems to come out of nowhere.

- Picard's statement wondering if he should be praised or condemned is stupid. What, exactly, should he be praised for? Only exterminating one species? Telling the truth after being goaded and prompted by someone who figured half of it anyway? For feeling guilty about genocide? While we're all glad that he did do those things, none of it is praiseworthy, anymore than thinking it is praiseworthy that I didn't decide to go on a murder spree today. Sounds way too much like a particularly nasty kind of moral relativism to me. Same with Picard saying there is no law to judge him. Maybe there's no ability to judge him, and no way (or authority, perhaps) to punish him, but according to our morals genocide is a pretty awful act, whether committed by a super powered being or not, or committed as an act of "insanity" or not.

Some of those are minor points, yes. And this episode has lots of good points, which I won't reiterate. The mystery (until the end, at least) and Kevin's revelation were well done, and both guest stars did a very good job. But I just don't see this episode as being that much better than the previous two.
Sun, Nov 3, 2013, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
At one point early in the episode, Riker is warned to stop right before he steps on a booby trap. After being trapped, the away team runs across the field to help him. They have a conversation with the colonists and everyone walks all over the yard. Why was Riker the only one trapped and why did everyone assume only one booby trap was there to defend the place?
Thu, Jan 9, 2014, 2:26am (UTC -5)
Huh. I think I figured out why Marina Sirtis' performance sucked. She comes across like a little child rather than a grown adult whose mind was dissolving. Patrick Steward was on point, though.
Mon, Jan 13, 2014, 6:39pm (UTC -5)
I have two main qualms with this episode. First I totally agree with SkepticalMI in that we can and should judge Kevin for his act of genocide. It seems anti-Rodenberry to make such a subjective statement about right and wrong.

Secondly, Kevin says he couldn't help the colonists because he didn't want to kill. However, killing is not the only way to protect people. If it was then what is the point of defensive shielding and maneuvers? Kevin could have done a multitude of acts to prevent the colonists from being killed. Shields, camouflage, cloaking, I can't think of anything else right now but there would be other things a super powerful being could do that wouldn't break his code of pacifism. If Kevin was smart the colonists wouldn't have to know he was behind it either. Kevin did say he tried to lure the Husnock away, but if this is all he could think of then although he is powerful he isn't very imaginative.

On the plus side the acting by "Kevin" especially was great and the step-by-step build up of the mystery was great and this episode definitely got me thinking about morals, guilt and judgment and in that way is very Trek.
Latex Zebra
Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 2:46am (UTC -5)
Watched this last night, could have sworn I heard 15 billion and not 50... Anyway.

Yeah I remember this from the first time it aired and it was a firm favourite. Still a great episode. Like Kobi says it does seem strange given all his power that he couldn't better defend the colony but if he does we don't get our episode.
The Hussnock ship looks like my son made it in class and my other annoyance is them dancing to a music box/thing. Why? Is there not such thing as a music player/Hi Fi in the future...

3/4 for me, not quite a classic but fond memories.
Sun, Mar 30, 2014, 5:14am (UTC -5)
I agree with the rating and really liked this episode. Marina Sirtis' performance was convincing enough to me. She's not the greatest, but she tried.

The points that SkepticalMI brings up are good, but I didn't really think about that while watching the episode. Kevin curiously seemed to lack a way to see the results of his actions. This could make sense if it were not for the fact that he tracked every Husnock across the galaxy. That implies that he had an amazing "vision".

It's true that Kevin's strategies were not very clever. But if they had been super clever, then the Enterprise wouldn't have solved the mystery. The writers didn't have much choice but to make his plans flawed in some way.

I also agree that there was no way for Picard to know that Mrs Uxbridge wasn't real. It might be that he went with his instincts and bluffed to force Kevin to reveal himself. Still, he was very lucky to get it exactly right.

"What, exactly, should he be praised for?" I guess that it's implied that he exterminated an evil and dangerous race. If they were, say, as bad as the Borg then maybe he deserves praise? The only thing we know is that they savagely destroyed one planet, so it's hard to say. That being said, praising genocide seems taking things a bit too far.
Wed, Jul 30, 2014, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
WHY did Picard not get this guy's phone number??
Fri, Aug 29, 2014, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
Anyone have a list of omnipotent (or near-omnipotent) characters in Star Trek (writ large)? I'm almost finished watching all of Star Trek via netflix (started with DS9, then Voyager, Enterprise, TOS, TAS, and finally TNG).

-Q (TNG)
-Kevin Uxbridge (TNG)
-Nagilum (TNG)
-Trelane (TOS)
-Apollo (TOS)

who else?
Fri, Aug 29, 2014, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
Gary Mitchell, Charlie X, the Metrons, the Organians, the Melkots, the Excalbians. The Bajoran prophets.
Y'know Somebody
Sat, Aug 30, 2014, 11:00am (UTC -5)

Was Apollo really even near-omnipotent?

Extremely powerful, yes. But he didn't really have many powers that would qualify him for being even semi omnipotent. Did he?
Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
Thanks guys!

Updated list:
List of omnipotent or "near-omnipotent" characters in the Star Trek universe

Omnipotent / near-omnipotent character (first appearance episode)

-Charlie Evans (Charlie X, S1E2)
-Gary Mitchell (Where No Man Has Gone Before, S1E3 / Second Pilot)
-Trelane (The Squire of Gothos, S1E17)
-Metrons (Arena, S1E18
-Organians (Errand of Mercy, S1E26)
-Apollo (Who Mourns for Adonais?, S2E2)
-Ornithoids ("Catspaw", S2E7)
-The Providers, ("The Gamesters of Triskelion", S2E16)
-Melkot ("Spectre of the Gun", S3E6)

-Q (Encounter at Farpoint, S1E1)
-Nagilum (Where Silence Has Lease, S2E2)
-Kevin Uxbridge (The Survivors, S3E3)

-Bajoran "Prophets" (Emissary, S1E1)

(any others?)
Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
-@Y'know Somebody:

Apollo manifested a giant disembodied hand that literally held the Enterprise in place. He also was an alien with authentic powers that allowed him to successfully pose as a God in ancient Greece.

I'd say that qualifies him as "near omnipotent", at least in the sense I was thinking.

-Regarding the above-posted list, though I may be missing a few in the later series (DS9, Voyager, Enterprise), my sense from just having watched all those episodes was that there were extremely few (perhaps none) near-omnipotent beings in those later series (other than the occasional appearance by Q).
This leads me to conclude that the all-powerful being encounters was mainly a fetish of Gene Roddenberry himself, since they went away after he died.
Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 5:46pm (UTC -5)
(Updated list: Added the being that defended the Edo, and updated the episode title for the Ecalbians)

Omnipotent / near-omnipotent character (first appearance episode)

-Charlie Evans ("Charlie X", S1E2)
-Gary Mitchell ("Where No Man Has Gone Before", S1E3 / Second Pilot)
-Trelane ("The Squire of Gothos", S1E17)
-Metrons ("Arena", S1E18)
-Organians ("Errand of Mercy", S1E26)
-Apollo ("Who Mourns for Adonais?", S2E2)
-Ornithoids ("Catspaw", S2E7)
-The Providers, ("The Gamesters of Triskelion", S2E16)
-Melkot ("Spectre of the Gun", S3E6)
-Excalbians ("The Savage Curtain", S3E22)

-Q ("Encounter at Farpoint", S1E1)
-God-like inter-dimensional aliens protecting Edo ("Justice", S1E7)
-Nagilum ("Where Silence Has Lease", S2E2)
-Kevin Uxbridge ("The Survivors", S3E3)

-Bajoran Prophets / Wormhole Aliens ("Emissary", S1E1)
Thu, Sep 4, 2014, 8:47am (UTC -5)
I kind of felt the Edo "god" was more of a "any sufficiently advanced technology looks like magic" sort of thing. It looked like a space ship.

As to ones you may have missed (just suggestions, not 100% sure if you'd want to count them)....

1) The beings from "If Wishes Were Horses" could manifest dreams as reality.

2) The STV God maybe?

3) Does Kes count? She was able to send VOY 10k lightyears and if she didn't leave the ship she could have destroyed VOY at a sub molecular level...

4) The Caretakers (especially the second one) were pretty overpowered too.
Thu, Sep 4, 2014, 8:55am (UTC -5)
Funny enough, the pilot of every show introduces beings of tremendous power (even if not omnipotent). The beings from the Cage, the Caretakers and the 28th century temporal war fighters are all sufficiently ridiculously more powerful than our crews (as well as Q and the Prophets). And in the case of 3 of those series the beings ended up playing a large role in the show.
Thu, Sep 4, 2014, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
@Robert: Good points.

-I think you're right about the Edo "God". They were highly evolved multi-dimensional beings. Now that I've thought about it, the only powers they demonstrated were the ability to interface with Data and to menacingly approach the Enterprise. That's less demonstrated capability than Apollo, and not really "near-omnipotent".

My main interest was in how often super-powerful god-like characters showed up in the Star Trek series, and the apparent fact that they were more frequent in TOS than later series. Wasn't at first interested in getting into the details of relative abilities of the "near-omnipotent" beings.

That said, it is indeed interesting to think about the variety of super-powerful characters, so let me try to organize my thoughts:

Admittedly there is going to be gray area here. But in general when I think of "near-omnipotent" I am thinking of those characters that have abilities to either:

-manipulate reality (turning one object/lifeform into another instantly, manifesting matter/energy out of nothing, etc. without the use of technology),
-travel through time or over vast distances instantly (and, again, without the use of technology).
-Extra points for immortality

Of course each character is different so we'll get a spectrum. But we can start by categorizing them into groups.

Type A: With the above guidelines a couple of the characters we've seen stand out as obviously qualifying as "near-omnipotent". Q, Trelane, Nagilum, Kevin Uxbridge are all obvious examples: they are each pretty much omnipotent, can travel through and manipulate time and space, are omniscient, and immortal. This was mainly the type I was originally thinking of, though now I see some of those on my list would actually better fit in the below Types.

Type B: A class of characters/races that are less capable or more limited than Type A, but still extremely powerful compared to the "standard" races in star trek (humans, vulcans, romulans, klingons, cardassians etc.). Beings in this category may be telekinetic or able to manipulate reality or manifest objects in real space out of nothing, but are not typically omniscient and are still largely dependent on technology for things like space travel. In this category I'd put characters like Kes (the last time we saw her) since she is extremely telekinetic, but can't teleport or (AFAIK) manifest objects from nothing. Other examples would be Apollo and the Caretakers (perhaps straddling the line between Type A and B), perhaps the Edo God, the dream aliens from "If Wishes were Horses", Charlie X, Gary Mitchell, the "God" from Star Trek V, maybe the "Gorgon" from "And the Children Shall Lead", Maybe Armus the tar-monster that killed Yar, etc.

Type C: would be any beings that cannot really manipulate reality, but have strong telepathic abilities and can use them to control other beings and give the appearance of omnipotence. I'm thinking especially of characters like "Plato's Stepchildren", or the Talosians from "The Cage / The Menagerie".

-Edo God:
Thu, Sep 4, 2014, 3:49pm (UTC -5)
You certainly are correct that the useage dropped in DS9/VOY. I have a hard time thinking of any of them in DS9 after S1 except the prophets... and VOY mainly had Q.

I'll add another for TNG though. John Doe from Transfigurations. Shape shift, fly through space, transportation, healing, etc.
Thu, Sep 4, 2014, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
The Edo god also had the ability to perceive the whereabouts of its "children," and to project its voice across space. Still, nothing it did seems to be of a different order than what Ardra ("Devil's Due") was capable of... or the Enterprise itself, to natives unfamiliar with Federation technology.

Think about that: the Enterprise would have been *on* this list, if it were compiled by certain cultures in the Trekverse.
Fri, Apr 10, 2015, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
An exceptional episode of TNG, and stands up with the best of Trek, sci if in general or, for me, any genre. John Anderson and Anne Haney were fantastic, as was the seamless, careful directing and, generally speaking, the work of the regular cast.

Here I'd take very strong issue with those who denigrated Sirtis' performance. One comment in particular struck me as pointedly I'll-informed - that she behaved like a child. Intense pain Is experienced in the self-same areas of the brain as conscious thought, executive decision making, sensory experience and emotional control. It crowds out, sometimes partially, but sometimes largely, the ability to reason, act normally. or even speak clearly. That's why, for example, a strong headache often makes people very irritable, sensitive to light or sound, etc. Sirtis turned in a great performance here; anyone who may attack her interpretation simply hasn't experienced - or had to care for someone who experienced - pain of a sort and intensity that it debilitates, disorients, and, indeed, causes temporary regression to a child-like state.

Next, Kevin did try to fight with non-lethal means. Recall that he said it just made the Hues-Noch (sp?) angrier, that it didn't "fool them." Therefore, the somewhat transparent tactics he employed against the Enterprise were consistent, insofar as being generally ineffective. Probably just a narrative requirement, but an argument could be made that for someone so powerful, exercising non-lethal means of dissuasion against mere mortals would be like you or I trying to push an egg yolk down a street witn a bulldozer....same thing with overwhelming Troi's tempathic sense.

Great review Jammer!
Mon, Apr 20, 2015, 8:51am (UTC -5)
John Anderson lost his wife shortly before filming "The Survivors". He claimed the episode was one of the most difficult of his career because of its subject matter.

The final scene moved me to tears, in part out of sympathy for Kevin Uxbridge and in part out of sympathy for the actor who played him.

Still, I don't think it's a perfect episode. It's not the kind of mystery where you're kicking yourself in the head at thend for not figuring it out, because there's simply not enough clues given for you to make a guess. The Troi scenes were grating as well.
Sun, May 24, 2015, 11:26am (UTC -5)
Well, I can't disagree more with this score. It's a decent episode, but 4 stars? Hardly.

1.) The whole music-in-Troi's-head subplot was ridiculous. With an away-team on the planet researching how two people and a few acres of land mysteriously survived a planet-wide catastrophe Troi suddenly begins hearing music that just won't stop. Does she report this immediately? No. Does she think "I'm being telepathically manipulated? No. She just dismisses it and tries not to think about it. Is she stupid?! Even when it's to the point of driving her insane enough to cry into the mirror she STILL doesn't tell anybody until Picard flat out confronts her on her obvious problem. I'm sorry, but this just destroys any empathy I have for her in this situation.

2.) Kevin's not exactly the brightest bulb in the box, is he? He tried to fool the Husnock ship and failed. So, what's his plan for the Enterprise? Try to fool them. Genius level thinking there.

3.) If this episode where in the first or second season, Picard would have ended the episode with a monumental condemnation of Kevin's genocide while strutting around like a self-important ass. I'm so glad the crew is no longer acting like insufferable douchebags anymore, but here the writers went too far in the other direction. They're not qualified to be his judges? Yes they damn well are! Maybe the Federation isn't qualified, or capable, of delivering punishment and/or correction on him since he's so powerful, but they can still condemn him for being a genocidal murderer!

That being said, this episode does have some good elements. The acting is top-notch and I greatly applaud the writers for having the guts to have Kevin kill 50,000,000,000 people. It just a shame they ruined it with the moral relativism in Picard's final Captain's Log.

Fri, Jul 17, 2015, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
I made my wife laugh uproariously a few years ago and she's never let me forget it. I'd returned home and described how, in my walk, I'd found a brood of baby ducklings being defended, not so successfully by their mother, against (appropriately named) a murder of crows. She could not keep them all off and one baby was about to succumb when I stepped in. One crow was so engrossed in its "prize" that it didn't see me quickly moving in and, too late, tried to escape. I crushed it, allowing the baby duck to escape. While the other crows fled, they alighted in the trees. And waited. When my wife asked what I did then, I told her that the mother herded her flock into the water where they'd be safe but I still felt bad about what I had done. She attempted to console me and said, hey, hey, humans are part of nature, too, that I had done nothing wrong. She said I had acted with integrity because I traded what I judged as a lesser value to preserve a higher one. While true, I let out a big sigh and replied, no, she didn't understand the nature of my crime. I didn't just kill one crow or a dozen. I killed them all. All crows. Everywhere. Since she's as much of a Star Trek fan as I am, she still laughs out loud whenever we see crows and wryly comments, "Huh. Missed those, did you?"
Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
Genocide is the only answer for war mongering races.
Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
Fortunately, Shoregrey, we have omniscient beings like the Douwd who have perfect knowledge of whether warmongering is a racial trait or an aberration brought on by circumstances.
Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 9:20pm (UTC -5)
Now that I think about it, if DS9's "In the Pale Moonlight" had any balls (and there's some blatant trolling for ya), the plot wouldn't have been about tricking the Romluans into joining the Dominion War... but tricking Kevin Uxbridge. Sure, Picard said he needed to be left alone, but Starfleet can't ignore the strategic asset within their territory. Convince the Dominion that Rana IV is a high-value target until they pester Uxbridge enough that he snuffs them all out. War over.
Diamond Dave
Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
A triumph of pacing and slow-burn revelation as a mystery unfolds in classic style. Wonderful acting as well - except, it must be said, from Marina Sirtis - building to the most shattering conclusion in the series so far. It's a pitch perfect examination of an omnipotent being bounded by conscience and tortured by guilt and regret.

There are also some wonderful little vignettes - Worf's "I admire gall" and "Good tea. Nice house", and Riker's upside-down delivery in the trap of particular note.

Without the Troi subplot - which was an intriguing idea but which was perhaps not perfectly implemented - this would be a slam dunk 4 star. VFX dropped off badly in this episode too. 3.5 stars it is.
Proper from Gunnerkrigg
Fri, Oct 9, 2015, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
I'm a jerk but frankly I like what Kevin did to Troi. About time someone pushed the pushy snoop back a bit.
Jason R.
Tue, Feb 16, 2016, 7:54am (UTC -5)
This is a great episode, but it does require a bit of thinking to appreciate it fully.

This was an omnipotent being who chose to be mortal, who set aside his powers and wanted to grow old and die with someone he loved. We can envision that Kevin would have been reluctant to tap into those powers once he had given them up. He could not be both Kevin Uxbridge, the kind mortal husband and the all-powerful Douwd. These would have been incompatible roles and it's naive to assume that a person could maintain such dual identities. No, for him to take on the role of Kevin Uxbridge, he needed to set aside what he was.

As a being who spent so long keeping those powers bottled up and maintaining his mortal shell, he could not easily just shed that facade, and even fought to maintain it, indulging in what could only be described as self-delusion.

The Douwd could undoubtedly have flung the Husnack ship into the Delta quadrant, or turned its weapons into cotton candy, but Kevin Uxbridge couldn't, or wouldn't, not merely because of his pacifist leanings, but probably because he was at war with himself - unwilling or unable to tap into the powers and the identity that he had chosen to set aside. And his indecision cost him the life of the one he loved. His greatest guilt was not just that he had wiped out an entire race, but that he had the power to save the one he loved and he allowed her to die instead. That's what makes Kevin a real tragic hero. It's that tragedy that I think lies at the heart of the episode.
Sat, Jul 30, 2016, 9:17am (UTC -5)
This episode has one of my favorite lines in all of the many variations of Trek "I do not know if he should be praised or condemned--only that he should be left alone". That is so true it hurts! ****
Jasper Koning
Sun, Oct 16, 2016, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
Funny, I'm rewachting all TNG seasons and after each episode I check these reviews and Den of Geeks. This might be the episode on which you disagree most (so far). I'm somewhere in between.
Tue, Jan 3, 2017, 10:51am (UTC -5)
I always find it hard to watch episodes with nearly omnipotent beings because you need to suspend so much to immerse yourself in the episode. Not that they could exist mind you, but that certain conflicts can even exist to them.

For example, why couldn't Kevin simply move the warship somewhere else? Why couldn't Kevin construct a shield to protect the planet considering he has the means to just make however a strong shield or weapon needed to protect his secret. If he had the ability to destroy all Husnock, would he not also have the ability to re-create all Husnock?

With Q episodes, at least he has problems that he himself do not interfere in. This problem happens directly toward Kevin and its unbelievable that he would simply not do anything.
Fri, Jan 20, 2017, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
You know I find it amazing.....all MOST of you do through EVERY episode on E VERY Trek franchise, is bitch, moan and groan about how, "If I did it, I would have done so and so"....for the love of God then find a backer and write, produce and direct your OWN damn episodes!!!! The rest of us want to simply enjoy what we have and not read your constant WHINING and CRITICISM!!!!!! Some of you have WAY too much time on your hands....and I have named a few in other posts. No wonder most people thing Trek fans are nuts...they have dealt with some of you too often!
Orion Slave Guy
Sun, Feb 19, 2017, 5:20pm (UTC -5)
I agree 100% with the four stars. Fantastic episode. Someone who has never seen this episode is unlikely to be able to figure out the mystery. As someone mentioned, it's like a Twilight Zone episode. Sirtis's performance was way better than normal. I felt bad for the pain the music was causing.

That being said, what was with the trap on the lawn? The odds of anyone visiting were remote, and it's blind luck that someone stepped just on the right spot.
Fri, Apr 14, 2017, 11:53pm (UTC -5)
I have fond memories of watching the first-run broadcast back in 1989. For me, it was the final nail in the coffin of the inconsistently written Picard from seasons 1 and 2. I was blown away when he figured out Kevin Uxbridge's secret ahead of everyone else.

The previous episode (The Ensigns of Command) gave us a good characterization of "diplomat Picard" but The Survivors showed us a captain worthy of the name Star Trek. After watching that first-run broadcast, it had me wondering how Kirk would have done if placed in Picard's shoes.

A great episode that made me sit up and take notice: The series was changing for the better.
Mon, Apr 17, 2017, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
Agreed with the praise given here... very moving and impressive episode. That end scene between Anderson and Stewart always stays with me for awhile.

Two quick subtle things that always impress me:

-When Kevin 'transforms' at the end, each time he does there appears to be a practical, on-set source of very strong light that frames his face before the CGI takes hold. It works really well, combined with the eerie-wind sound FX, and I'm glad they did something different rather than just 'sparklies' taking hold.

-When Rishon is shown to be an illusion, her dissolve goes through stages which includes one that seems to be just an almost 'plastic' form with primitive facial features. Again, not just a simple effect and really evident that extra care and time was taken in so many parts of this episode; someone/many someones were really sweating the details on this one.
Sun, May 14, 2017, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
A huge improvement over last week's effort, though I can't go along with four stars.

You may have read that I'm just starting to rewatch TNG starting with season 3, after having worked my way through all the other series, finishing with the 2005 season of Enterprise. Last week's 'Ensigns of Command', to me, showed how Enterprise at its best outshone TNG at its weakest. Inferior, half-baked writing and dialog, and utterly inept acting from guest stars. 'Survivors' OTOH shows a crucial area where TNG and DS9 outshone ENT (and Voyager): a solid performance from an ensemble cast. In TNG everyone pretty much pulls their weight. Troi might be a weak link at times (BTW as someone with catastrophic tinnitus I can sympathise with her having a noise in her head driving her mad), but even Wesley, who everyone loves to hate, can't really be accused of being a character who didn't work. He was shuffled off for long stretches at a time, but at least he didn't become a non-entity like Mayweather.

Anyway I'm rambling. I think there were substantial problems which kept this from being a classic. As has beeen noted, Kevin could surely have found some method of dealing with the Husnock. As Zg noted, if he had the ability to wipe out 50 billion people just by thinking about it, surely he could have just moved their ship away, or turned their weapons into cauliflowers, or made them just decide to go to Risa instead. And yes, of course Picard is 'qualified' to judge genocide as a crime. A more appropriate statement might have been "We're not capable of doing anything about you."

I'm not sure what I think about the whole Gods mating with humans business. It's certainly well-worn territory: Zeus made a career of it. Aphrodite, too, come to think of it. But this was more of an unpremeditated thing. Kevin,s wandering about being all omnipotent and immortal, and suddenly falls in love with an Earth woman. This would probably be a bit like one of us falling in love with an anteater, but I suppose such things do happen.

I enjoyed this ep. The acting was generally of a high standard, and notwithstanding the few problems I had with it, the writing was leagues ahead of last week's effort. I just remembered one thing which annoyed me a little: Picard's figuring out what was going on, but not letting anyone, even his First Officer, in on it. I suppose it was nescessarily for dramatic purposes, but it seemed odd behaviour on a starship. I suppose you just live with it, the same way nobody in any of these series can ever be bothered explaining things over the com. It's always, "I'm in sickbay, Captain. There's something here you'd better see", or "Riker to Picard. I'm in engineering. There's something here you're going to want to look at". "What is it?" "Oh, it's a stick insect." "I thought so. Number One, stop bothering me with this entomological trivia."
Tue, May 30, 2017, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
An excellent and very powerful episode. It's a well-written, well-acted piece of sci-fi - a slowly building mystery that really grabs the attention.
Still, whenever you have a God-like character, one has to wonder what he could have done, why he killed 50 billion people etc. it introduces a fair bit of conveniences for the writers and doubts in minds of the viewers.
But in this case, it works out as one can believe the quandry Kevin is in, being pacifist but having a hugely guilty conscience. The comparison is with the Organians from "Errand of Mercy" on TOS - who I believe to be among the most powerful God-like figures TOS ever created with morals to support their level of evolution. That Kevin would commit genocide because of lost love is a bit of a stretch for an otherwise purely pacifist.
Just because Kevin is a "God" doesn't mean Picard can't judge/condemn him. He certainly should not be praised.
The resolution of the mystery and how Picard sort of gets it but doesn't let on too much to Riker etc. takes us on a very interesting journey.
I think Troi's acting with the music in her head was well-portrayed as causing her great grief and Worf had some great lines too. A lot of good things about this episode.
The ending with Picard and Kevin is terrific, however I can't get over the writers leaving it with Kevin committing genocide out of rage for the purpose of inducing a terrible guilt.
I think SkepticalIMI makes some very good points (Troi's acting is not one I agree with) about some of the shortcomings in this episode but it's almost clutching at straws.
For me, this is a strong 3.5/4 stars and can see why many would give it 4 stars.
Wed, May 31, 2017, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
Having seen this episode just yesterday (see comment above) and still thinking about it, there are a couple of things I'd like to add.
If an episode makes one think about the creation of such a being as Kevin, with such limitless power - it is as Jammer says "audacious sci-fi imagination". While I honestly believe such a being would not irrationally wipe out a race of 50 billion, it is after all fiction and not an oversight or plot hole by the writers.
The plot is very clever in how Kevin tries to shoo away Picard & co.
Being the geek I can be, I've also checked out some threads comparing the Douwd and Q, Organians etc. including gods from religion and spirituality.
For what this episode has made me think about, I must upgrade my rating to 4 stars. For me, this is the best TNG episode up to this point early in S3.
Sun, Jun 18, 2017, 11:27pm (UTC -5)
I am surprised that so many commmentators here ask what Kevin should be praised for. Don't you understand the bitter irony of Kevin's situation?

Kevin is an extreme pacifist, which is to be applauded. He sticks to his conviction 99.99999% of his life, and only loses his cool in a moment of desperation. If we humans could kill with thoughts like he can, we would long have destroyed the universe. No chance in hell that we'd even exist anymore. Because obviously, his power can only be used destructively: He can kill, but not revive.

So, he is more moral than any human could ever be. Have you never had vicious thoughts against a group? Have you never, in a moment of anger, generalized and thought that ALL people from a certain culture are despicable (because you really, really don't like some aspects of that culture; they go against your convictions and core beliefs)? Sure, we usually correct our thoughts pretty quickly and realize how naive we've been in our generalization. But if we had had the power of Kevin, it might have been too late already... the damage would've been done.

Long story short, Kevin really can't be measured by human standards. Because thoughts are incredibly difficult to control. Much more difficult than actions. But for Kevin, his thoughts BECOME actions, which completely changes the rules.

We don't punish people for thought crimes, we have no laws for that.
Sun, Jun 18, 2017, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
I forgot to say what the irony of Kevin's situation is:

That he may be more "moral" than practically every human, but at the same time committed a crime that is worse than any crime a human ever did.

The extreme Pacifist becomes the biggest mass murderer.
From a human perspective, it's so inappropriate.
Wed, Jul 12, 2017, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
I am quite torn by this episode.
On the one hand I instinctively want to dislike the appearance of yet another immortal super being but on the other hand there was great power in Kevin's confession of genocide.
I agree with Jammer's review and rating and I think the Twilight Zone classification is spot on.
My only beef really is that this is a variation on an over visited theme.
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 4:20am (UTC -5)
I was trying to get my new antenna to pick up FOX so I could watch "Orville" a little earlier this time instead of having to wait until after midnight to watch it online. But I could only get a couple channels, including one that had this episode on (I had the sound off though). I Googled "Riker old couple trap" and figured out after some misses which episode it was. Seeing the 4 star review here, I fired it up on Netflix and started over, and I'm glad I did.

@NickP: I agree that genocide is worse than losing your love.  But we also have to keep in mind that the enemy he was facing was also apparently genocidal.  Killing 50 billion isn't right, but it also may have saved many other Federation colonies and others from annihilation.

I thought it was sort of odd that Picard told Kevin at the end that he was free to leave the ship.  Force of habit, I guess?

I like dgalvan's list of omnipotent beings, and enjoy pondering what would happen if they were pitted against each other.  Could Q kill 50 billion of a race all through the galaxy in an instant?  I suppose maybe so, but I'm not sure.  How, I wonder, would the little boy from "The Twilight Zone" fare in a tournament against all of these?

It is interesting how many times this came up in TOS relative to other series, especially as a percentage of all episodes.

@Lupe: Literal LOL about the stick insect.

@Steven: good points about Kevin being both the most moral being, and greatest mass murderer, at the same time.

I can't quite go 4 stars with this, but 3.5 stars for sure.
Wed, Jan 3, 2018, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
I as well think this is one of the better episodes in the series. One of the things I like about the series is that they don't make boring omnipotent beings. They're all pretty nuanced. Q is basically what you imagine how a man would act if you turned him into a god (pompous above everything else) while Kevin is entirely different, if not even on the opposite side of the spectrum. He just wants to live life, doesn't really want to be what he is, and he sheds it as much as he can to life his life out as a human man to be with the one he loves.

I think people are shortsighted when they question how someone could simply kill an entire race rather than do any number of other things in response to the only being they ever loved being killed (something they could've easily prevent if not for their own personal code they lived by). Imagine any time you ever yelled at anyone who did something really bad.

This guy is a god - for all we know, killing that entire race might have been the godly equivalent of a scream of rage in response to them killing his loved one. Especially since he's able to do it with a single thought. Imagine all the times you wished someone dead? He simply couldn't control himself enough in the wake of what happened to have that one thought, that unfortunately for him, unlike an actual human, he can't take back.

I think Picard's lines at the end are taken exactly with that in mind. To steal another line from something completely different, Primal Fear, when this "soulless" defense attorney tries to explain why he does what he does, he says "I believe in the notion, that people are innocent until proven guilty. I believe in that notion because I choose to believe in the basic goodness of people. I choose to believe that not all crimes are committed by bad people. And I try to understand that some very, very good people do some very bad things." This is the same kind of mindset Picard is displaying at the end, and as others have said, Picard probably understands as well that a god punishing himself with endless grief and regret is more than what humans could do to him anyways.

The mystery component of the episode was pretty solid too. Like someone else said, Picard shows himself a worthy captain as he doesn't just take the hand he's dealt. A ship that keeps up with the Enterprise at ridiculous speeds and seems impossible to defeat suddenly letting off, later being easy to defeat - he wasn't happy with the simple conclusion of the safety of the enterprise but wants to get to the bottom of what's really going on. That's always been Picard at his best in this series and part of why the finale was so incredible.

I agree that the Troi part was maybe unnecessary and a bit much, though I think the music box was an interesting choice, sort of like a "kind" way to keep someone off of their trail while inadvertently torturing them in the process. Who knows - if not for the seriousness of that, Picard may not have been quite as determined to figure out what was going on.

There are certainly some better episodes, but I always find this one very memorable and I'd agree with 4 stars too on it. If choosing a selection of the greatest episodes - let's say 20 across the series, I'd include this.
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 6:23am (UTC -5)
A boring and forgettable episode. The old couple were juat annoying, and obviously dodgy.

However, Troi's performance was brilliant. It was a disturbing scenario and far more interesting than relentlessly questioning a couple of stubborn old gits.
Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 12:21pm (UTC -5)
I find it odd that Picard figures out what's going on, but doesn't tell anyone. It's not necessary for the show to work as a mystery, and there's no in-universe reason to keep the crew in the dark. The other oddness is the music box and its connection to Troy. In that there isn't one, except the music Troy hears is the same as that of the music box and that it starts when Crusher picks it up. It makes me think the plot was somewhat reworked at the last minute. Perhaps Troy and Picard were meant to be the ones on the first away mission instead of Riker and Crusher, but the writers felt it would make the mystery too easy to solve.
Sun, Mar 18, 2018, 12:13am (UTC -5)
I've always loved this episode, despite the magnitude of his actions I think for most of us its probably relatable that if a loved one was killed by a group of people, the majority of us would likely want revenge in that blind anger and hatred so even omnipotent powerful beings in the universe suffer from the same overwhelming emotions we Humans do.

Also I found it quite funny how Picard says "You're free to return to the surface" like Picard could actually do anything to prevent him, I get that Kevin was putting himself in Picard's hands out of a feeling of guilt but had he wanted to return to the surface it's not like Picard could have thrown him in the brig, he could wipe out the Enterprise in one thought.
Sun, Apr 8, 2018, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
Why can't Star Trek ever win? This had potential to be a good episode (not completely nonsensical like most of them). There was real emotion and intrigue! Sadly, it was all based on an idiotic premise. We are supposed to believe that this incredibly powerful being who can wipe out an entire species of advanced beings in a single moment of rage couldn't find a way to simply protect the colonists (or at least his wife) without resorting to genocide? An extreme pacifist who has survived for thousands of years would know how to defend, protect, and avoid. Ridiculous.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Fri, Apr 13, 2018, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
There's a terrible and swift power in the galaxy. And its name? Its name ... is ... dare we speak it?

Tue, Jun 5, 2018, 4:05am (UTC -5)
This is one of the episodes I remember seeing on TV more than 20 years ago.

Troi is annoying in this episode. That bloody music, she's not the only one screaming "make it stop!"
Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 11:33pm (UTC -5)
The best part of this episode comes near the beginning when Troi says 'I'm sorry, I can't be any clearer than that.' Patrick Stewart looks at her with absolute pity in his eyes as if he feels so sorry for Sirtis' pitiful part. It's so hilarious! I cried laughing. And then she spends the rest of the episode with the most ridiculous plot of the show, I couldn't get into the drama. All I could see was the look from Stewart every time she howled about the music in her head.
Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
She is pretty though.
Gul Densho-Ar
Sun, Jul 1, 2018, 12:35pm (UTC -5)
I fail to see this episode doing anything really well. It's not terrible either, I just find it an ok-ish episode that doesn't stand out from the rest of early season 3's yawnburger with mayawnaise menu.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Sat, Sep 22, 2018, 6:25pm (UTC -5)
"If he had the ability to destroy all Husnock, would he not also have the ability to re-create all Husnock?"

Exactly! Is he just trying to not use his powers? It's not like that stopped him from messing with Troi, or rebuilding the house, or dispatching the fake warship. If he feels so guilty about wiping out this species (also I'm glad he said species and not race, that's something Star Trek never seems to get right), then just woosh them back into existence. Maybe he felt that his grief was worth them not being around to kill anyone else?

Aside from that, considering his morality, I can totally believe that if Picard told Kevin go with them for a trial that he would do it and accept whatever consequences were dished out. Though I think I'd have liked it a little better if Picard told Kevin to go back to the planet and never leave, and that he'd put out beacons to keep anyone else away.
William B
Sun, Sep 23, 2018, 3:49pm (UTC -5)
I don't think he does necessarily have the ability to recreate all Husnok. The thing is, I think we're meant to understand that Rishon is on some level "not real," not the real Rishon. I think Uxbridge has similar powers to what most living beings have, just to a much greater degree: it is easier for us to kill someone than to bring that same person back. Possibly Uxbridge would have the power to clone some Husnok or whatever, but it wouldn't be the same ones he killed, nor would it really make up for the magnitude of what he had done.
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
The mystery elements are excellent—the bizarre lone tract of land only thing spared on a wasteland, the mystery music, why the colonists were spared, the mysterious behavior of the marauder, Picard’s intriguing statement he believes the couple are in no danger?!?!?, what is the Uxbrudges’ secret they’re hiding, what was Picard waiting around to see would happen after the marauder destroyed the uxbridges

Fun anecdote thrown in there about Andorians disassembling their ship and hiding it

Lots of jolting surprises like the red alert out of the blue once when Picard in troi quarters and then again when Beverly treating troi. Or the house and land returning after being destroyed by marauder. Or Picard informing Riker there was actually only one survivor ?!?!? Huh? What?!?!?

Terrifying ordeal Troi endured being possibly put in a coma trapped in your body with the maddening music still there. I’d much rather be awake than in that condition

Battlescenes were exciting as marauder attacks enterprise the alien shields were pretty cool too

Liked the touch of Data memorizing information about colonists

The guest actors were great

Almost a 4 star episode but I think the payoff could have been more original

I did like in isolation the idea of superbeing pacifist in a moment of rage at loss of rishon to take revenge on the husbock and Picard realizing living with that guilt everyday is enough punishment

But it felt like a left turn from Where the mystery was heading. Would have liked something more than the house being an illusion and there had actually been a real legitimate reason the Uxbridges were spared rather than saying they really weren’t spared and the house was destroyed
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
I’d give it 3.5 stars. One other thing I’d not given away the source of the music til near the end by revealing it was from Rishon’s music globe
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
My reaction to Kevin confessed to killing the Husnok was quite like Beverly’s... utter shock.

BZ, Dr Crusher didn’t pick up the music box, Data did.

As for Kevin recreating the Husnok? It’s generally far easier to destroy than create. Humans have the power to nuke a city, but not recreate it just like that.
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
"We are supposed to believe that this incredibly powerful being who can wipe out an entire species of advanced beings in a single moment of rage couldn't find a way to simply protect the colonists (or at least his wife) without resorting to genocide?"

He never said he wiped out the Husnock in a single moment though, he said he "went insane" so it's possible it actually took some substantial amount of time and effort on his part. He was an absolute pacifist and determined to avoid causing _any harm at all_ to the attacking Husnock right up to the point his wife was killed, so I could just barely imagine his powers not being up to snuff under the circumstances.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Wed, Feb 6, 2019, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
Good lord this is amazing science fiction
Mon, Mar 18, 2019, 8:21am (UTC -5)
/when I read the synopsis I remembered this episode and groaned a little. Not that it was bad but because it was iconic and I remembered it and felt I didn't need to see it again. Well I watched it of course. Its funny how I remembered a farm house style house that survived and not the more modern looking one.

I enjoyed the suspense of it. It was a little different in that Picard took the role of chief detective and kept his suspicions to himself. this is out of character to the Picard who always asks his bridge crew for ideas and speculation even. Seeing Riker's face when he is left out of Picard's thoughts and reasons for issuing the commands he did was priceless. However I found it in explicable how Picard solved the mystery all on his own. And for that reason I cannot give this a perfect score like Jammer.

Its funny my memory was also wrong about who destroyed the planet and why. I remember it being the crystalline entity and that the guy on the planet struck a deal to be spared...oh I think I know what I am confusing it with....

It was a good premise to have an immortal strong species (like Q?) but as pacifist instead of indifferent to life.

I thought the idea of Troi being vulnerable was a good one. There has to be a downside to all that intrusive thought and emotion reading.

The guest actors were excellent. This was more like an episode of Twilight Zone or Night Gallery. Couldn't you just hear a spooky narrator voice asking "what if you were immortal and found the love of your life, only to be doomed to living forever without her..."

8/10 lower for me due to the non -Trekkian style (although I enjoyed it).
Thu, Jul 25, 2019, 9:35am (UTC -5)
How interesting it would be for the Doud and the Q to interact?

Both are beings with immense power, yet the Doud would have more scruples and restraint than the Q...

As Picard said that he could not judge Kevin....I was half-expecting Q to impishly show up in his Encounter at Farpoint judge regalia, saying “Did someone need my services?” (LOL)
Barium sweep
Sun, Aug 25, 2019, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
The main thing I thought should have been done was Kevin ought to have killed himself in penance. The idea he gets away with genocide does not sit well.
Fri, Sep 27, 2019, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
It just dawned on me whilst watching Psycho for the umpteenth time tonite, Kevin Uxbridge is the car salesman Janet Leigh sells her car to early in the film.
Sun, Sep 29, 2019, 10:22pm (UTC -5)
Love this one.

The guest stars really make the ep: They are perfection. Anderson at the end, with his confession: Excellent! And Haney as Rishon who is not quite Rishon . . . exquisite.

Kevin refuses to kill as a matter of principle, but kills 50 billion when he gets hurt and angry. Scary. Weird! One might expect a little more emotional maturity from an ancient being. Was this his first experience with unexpected, emotionally crippling loss? Maybe so.

There's a kind of fragility that comes with great power, with never knowing failure or loss.

I think in Troi's outward suffering, we are meant to see Kevin's inner suffering - from the loss of Rishon but also from his guilt over his crime, and guilt over not saving Rishon and the others. It plagues him, it is a constant refrain. He tries to find relief by recreating his life with Rishon, but in doing so, he has sprung the trap on himself: she isn't really Rishon, and on Rana, he will live a life of unending loneliness.

He couldn't fake out the Husnok; he couldn't fake out Picard. He's not faking himself out, either. Not really.

What does Picard say: "I do not know if he should be praised or condemned--only that he should be left alone."

And left alone he is: Very, very alone. For eternity.
James G
Sun, Nov 17, 2019, 5:47am (UTC -5)
I've been watching the whole series through from the very first over this last few months, and reached this one today. Some of them I remember watching thirty years ago, some I hadn't seen before. I had never seen this one. Although they're all enjoyable in their own way, I think this is the first one that doesn't provoke a nagging inner voice complaining about some improbable plot device or oversight. This one just flew past. I was utterly immersed. Brilliant.

A couple of thoughts though - did the writers miss a trick by not having Kevin turn out to be a member of the Q Continuum? he seems to possess similar power, being able to snuff out an entire race on a whim provoked by rage. And he has a similar fascination with, or weakness for, humans. That might have been a nice tie in.

And secondly, a similar complaint that I always have about the 'Q' episodes. Doesn't the Federation have a lot to learn from a being like Kevin, or Q? Q can make vessels travel at many times maximum warp speed. Kevin has similar extraordinary power. But Q is treated like the annoying, embarrassing uncle who turns up at an awkward time. Kevin is just left to live out his (endless) life on a remote shell of a planet.

I don't like to think that these individuals are practitioners of "magic", so shouldn't the Federation be urging them to pass on a few secrets? Or at least ask for some sort of help or alliance; imagine what someone like Kevin or Q could do to a fleet of invading Borg cubes given the right motivation.
Top Hat
Sun, Nov 17, 2019, 10:56am (UTC -5)
I guess Kirk got so tired of hearing that humans were so inferior to be of interest that everyone stopped asking after a while.

I suspect that the writers didn't want us to get Q fatigue (as opposed to just plain old superbeing fatigue). I suppose a viewer so inclined could say that Douwd is literally a Q by any other name. But to the extent that rating the individual capacities of godlike beings makes any sense, the Douwd seems a little less powerful than the Q, since the Husnock were able to outdo Kevin's initial defences.
Top Hat
Sun, Nov 17, 2019, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
Or to pun terribly, they didn’t want to play the Q card too often.
Fri, Dec 6, 2019, 2:27am (UTC -5)
With such unlimited power- and one presumes an intellect to match - could he not simply have deweaponised their ships and sent them straight back home to Planet Husnock with a strong warning?
Top Hat
Fri, Dec 6, 2019, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
Uxbridge says "I tried to fool the Husnock as I tried to fool you. It only made them angrier. More cruel." So apparently he is not infallible, and misplayed his cards. And then: "I went insane. My hatred exploded, and in an instant of grief I destroyed the Husnock." He killed them all because he wanted to, not because he didn't have other options, and presumably doesn't have the power to simply undo that act.
William B
Fri, Dec 6, 2019, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
And in particular, Uxbridge was not planning on using *any* "force," even the threat of force. I think his pacifism was so strong that even depowering them directly would seem to violate his extreme, inflexible code -- only deception and illusion were allowed. Threatening them would be right out. The problem is that Uxbridge didn't really anticipate he would fail, and so didn't consider any intermediate options (threatening the Husnock, un-weaponizing them, destroying the particular attacking ship) between extreme pacifism with some deception and overt genocide. If he had known that Rishon would die and how he'd react, of course he would have taken more steps, but he didn't.
Paul C grenier
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 6:19am (UTC -5)
Im not sure if anyone answered this but; Picards clue that Kevin was The only survivor was in a scene when picard has afternoon tea with the Uxbridges. There's a moment when Kevin gets up from his chair after saying something to the effect of. "I expected to die like all the others / rest". Immediately afterwards picard raises an eyebrow. Subtle but effective. Picard has heard a clue but doesn't know what you make of it yet. After all the other pieces start to manifest themselves: Trois suffering and when it started, Kevin being surprised for a second time at the arrival of the enterprise, the warship and its power yet restraint ect...It took me YEARS but I only noticed this subtle bit of acting and dialogue.

A word or two on Marina Sirtis:
I believe Marina Sirtis performance was perfection. She was in great mental anguish and was barely able to hold it together. Her full commitment to the given circumstances was nothing short of breath taking. Her scenes with Sir Patrick Stewart rank in my book as some of the best scenes in the episode. They play well off of each other and they're excellent listeners. She makes excellent physical choices and is so emotionally connected and seasoned that She can go from 0 - 100 in Ann instant. When She heard the door bell, Ratcheted it down to about 60. The underlying suffering was still there but She was putting on a brave face for the captain. She never gets the credit she deserves.
Mon, Mar 16, 2020, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
Watching this episode again, the first scenes upon arrival at the planet with (Will) Crusher at the helm look oddly edited: behind him, there is a ‘Picard’ whose head remains oddly out of shot, and it cuts to Picard and Riker standing so close they’re actually touching shoulders. It cuts back and forth like this, with Riker disappearing and reappearing. When all three finally appear in a shot, Crusher’s hair looks badly cropped, as when someone has been green screened in.

I feel sure that Crusher has been edited into the scene later, but no searches on the usual web sources - and certainly nothing here - confirms it. Am I just seeing things?
Mon, Mar 16, 2020, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
Sorry, I meant (Wes) Crusher

I could try to claim I was thinking of the actor and the character at the same time, but I even spelt Wil with two L’s.... and I don’t usually mix reality and fiction. Just a stupid mistake!
Matt B
Sat, Mar 28, 2020, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
I have to agree with Jammer, this is a 4 star episode. I lot of others have covered the great points, but I’ll just share mine:

- the acting is superb - especially John Anderson. His confession at the end was mind blowing and heart breaking and shocking all at the same time. And how Gates McFadden plays Beverly’s reaction - just amazing.
- the writing & script are on point. It was a slow burn, with only a little clues dropped through out. While there was some action (and the simultaneous phaser and torpedo fire was awesome) it was mostly just talking. But it was so engrossing.

Reading some of the comments here make me sad that people think that immortal & all-powerful = infallible. They are not. While Kevin has immense power, he lacks both will, perfect vision, and perfect decision making. I am sure he did what he thought was best at the time, but he couldn’t predict the future and how life forms would react. And he obviously has emotions, which can override logic. We all know people who are good people but do bad things when they are angry. I think his plot line makes perfect sense.

In the end, one of my top 3 episodes.
Latex Zebra
Mon, May 4, 2020, 9:29am (UTC -5)
We Need To Talk About Kevin...
Fri, Aug 21, 2020, 5:29am (UTC -5)
A quick remark: Although it was only a few days between the reception of the colony's distress call and the events of the episode, how in that time did the Federation not become aware of the immediate extinction of an entire race of interstellar aggressors?
Jason R.
Fri, Aug 21, 2020, 5:40am (UTC -5)
@ Smokey given that the Enterprise did not recognize the reproduction of the Husnack ship and Picard had to be told the attackers were Husnack and explained who the Husnack were, it is safe to infer they were simply unknown to the Federation.

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