Star Trek: The Next Generation

“The Chase”

3 stars.

Air date: 4/26/1993
Teleplay by Joe Menosky
Story by Ronald D. Moore & Joe Menosky
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

Review Text

Picard's mentor, professor of archaeology Richard Galen (Normal Lloyd), comes aboard the Enterprise and informs the captain that he is on the cusp of completing an archaeological discovery that has profound galactic meaning, though he can't explain exactly what that means. Galen asks Picard to accompany him on the final leg of this quest, but to do so would require Picard to take a year or more off from Starfleet, essentially meaning the end of his command of the Enterprise. (Supposedly, this discovery would happen much faster if Starfleet would dedicate a ship to it, which begs the question of why archaeological discoveries of such alleged profound meaning aren't given adequate resources by the science-centric Starfleet.) Picard declines the invitation, and Galen's response to Picard's refusal is an excessively harsh guilt trip, to say the least.

Not long after, Galen's chartered ship is attacked and Galen is killed, leading Picard to take up the mantle of the cause under that classic motivator, They Killed My Mentor. From here, Picard and the crew go to work on solving the mystery, which Galen had discovered were carefully hidden pieces of an ancient computer program, whose pieces came from encoded DNA patterns from various worlds scattered across the quadrant — a sort of interstellar Da Vinci Code, if you will.

"The Chase" is probably best viewed as an Indiana Jones adventure (minus the action and stunt sequences) employing starships to track down ancient DNA fragments rather than employing planes, boats, and tanks to track down ancient religious artifacts. Instead of globetrotting through Europe and Asia, we warp from star system to star system. Like an Indy adventure, the story hints at a discovery of the utmost profundity while keeping the action focused on moving unpretentiously from A to B; "The Chase" is probably the right title for what this is.

The labyrinthine plot details defy synopsis because (1) I didn't write them down when I watched it, and (2) to describe it in detail is to futilely reduce the story to who goes where and when and with whom while trying to assemble a puzzle that is built from (1) DNA fragments transcribed into a digital code and (2) plenty of exposition. Suffice it to say the Klingons, Cardassians, and Romulans all become involved in the chase, because everyone has their own piece of the puzzle. Given that the puzzle has been waiting for billions of years to be solved, it seems awfully convenient that all pieces by all parties just happen to be in play within the same roughly three-day period. (There might have been a rationale that explained the coincidental timing, but I neither recall nor care what it was.)

The solution requires all the different races to work together to assemble the puzzle to activate the program, which turns out to be a holographic message recorded billions of years ago by a society that seeded the planets throughout the galaxy with their building blocks of life from which all humanoids evolved — which explains why there are so many similar humanoid lifeforms in Star Trek, you see. Their message: We live on in all of you, and you all share something genetically in common with each other. It's a Trekkian message if I've ever heard one. I don't know if this revelation works as science fiction, but it works as an intriguing payoff to an adventure that sustains the hour but will never be mentioned afterward, despite its jaw-dropping implications.

I like but do not revere "The Chase." It is an effective adventure yarn that has a revelation that strives to appear astounding while it's unfolding and yet almost wants to be casually dismissed afterward. You know this is not meant to be taken all that seriously when the Klingon hears the ancient revelation and says: "That's all? If she were not dead, I would kill her!" You almost sense the writers were hedging their bets by including that line after showing their hand. Believe this tale, they seem to say — or if not, then not.

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124 comments on this post

    For shame this is a highlight and TNG classic--4 stars. Loved the epic nature of the mystery, seeing all the familiar Trek races involved, nice action, some great scenes(Data and the Klingon in Ten Forward, the message itself, the contact by the Romulan in the final scene warms the cockles of my heart, Beverly and Picard working together and he looking for advice from her), and not only was the mystery itself intriguing and involving the actual reveal/payoff managed to live up to the build-up which in this day and age of LOST mystery shows delivering disappointing answers to their mysteries is to be applauded by these TNG writers. I also thought the idea--who cares about whether it is scientifically grounded or not--was a clever idea i.e. a message encoded in our very DNA.

    Again a perfect 4 star episode IMO.

    I thought it was fun when I first saw it, but it's kind of a throwaway. The explanation of why all the humanoids look similar is cute, but not terribly thought-provoking.

    But I have to let the grammar nazi in me out--it's "raises the question," not "begs the question."

    I'm right because I am correct.

    For a more thorough rebuttal of the supposed "science" in this episode, try tracking down Tim Lynch's old review of it. He's a biology major, and he makes some very good points about why and how this entire episode doesn't hold up, and in fact seems to involuntarily promote Intelligent Design theories.

    Also, I can't watch this episode anymore without thinking of the German gag dub "Sinnlos im Weltraum", in which Picard's dad (Galen) arrives and begs him to do a moped race. Kind of kills the mood of the episode once you've seen it.

    This episode would have been a classic without the stupid Klingon/Cardassian bickering. Done in a better way, it would have worked. But it was too slapstick.

    The final scene, where the Romulan commander contacts Picard, puts this higher than three stars for me. But it's a shame that they didn't make it a classic.

    I'm always torn about this episode. Like David, I see the implications in the Trek-verse as too profound to write off, but like Jammer, I see that the foundations of such implications are resting on toothpicks (that metaphor may be too mixed to glean...). Anyway, I always enjoy the episode when I watch it and I'm always moved in the end--that being the kernel of hope for a changed interstellar community between the Romulan captain and Picard. Too bad this was so poorly picked up in "Nemesis."

    On balance, I'd probably have to say 3.5*

    Jammer, how could you not mention the final scene with the Romulan contacting Picard?

    I guess the short answer is that I don't always mention everything. In this case, I probably should've, and it can be considered an oversight. So it goes.

    Ridley Scott took this episode, changed some bits in the plot, and released it as a movie called 'Prometheus'. Go figure!! :)

    Keep in mind that Prometheus was written by Damon Lindelof, Star Trek XI's producer, and a well-known TNG fan.

    I enjoyed The Chase, but I can't revisit this episode and not think of Tim Lynch's old review. It really made some good points regarding Intelligent Design vs. the dramatic aspects of the story. Very polarizing.

    In retrospect, though, this was really a way for Joe Menosky and Ron Moore to subtly address the limitations in designing aliens on a weekly TV basis.

    Menosky was apparently inspired by Carl Sagan's "Contact," in which a secret code is hidden in the digits of pi. If anyone was hinting at Intelligent Design, it was Sagan.

    This episode reveals the shortcomings of the weekly television grind. Much as the production is constrained in sets, costumes, makeup, or casting, it's the limitation on the writers that makes good episodes so rare. If they had more weeks to polish "The Chase," they probably would've expanded it into a 2-parter, rather than "Birthright."

    The setup part of the episode may have been good, but the payoff is something that I try to forget ever happened.

    We may be Star Trek fans, but we know this show is fiction. We KNOW the real reason why all humanoids look alike is because there aren't any REAL aliens auditioning for these roles. It's the kind of thing you are able to suspend your disbelief as a viewer and just go with the flow. We didn't need to have the writers point it out to us and then explain it to us in a way that makes even less sense then it did before. It's the same problem I have with the "Affliction/Divergence" two-parter from Enterprise. What does it matter, really?

    This was an episode about us, wasn't it? Anti-racism? I took it to be that anyway. The Romulan part at the end was genius. This was the 1st ep that made me start to REVERE, ST:TNG.

    I love this episode. Generally STTNG would take a middling idea, and pretend it was the most important thing in the universe! Put twice in season 6, we have literally history or science shattering discoveries, and reaction is blah! This is where I miss the hopefull optimistic heavy brass endings from season 1. How awesome would have that ending to "Encounter at Farpoint" fit right here? "Let's see what's out there?" The other episode by the way, was the dysons sphere from "Relics".

    This episode also makes me wonder why some episodes become 2-parters, but other don't. If there are ANY episodes that would have been phenomonal as mid-season 2-parters it would be this and/or Relics. But no, we get "birthright", and "Gambit", and "Chain of Command", which while being a good episode, really should have been a 1-parter.

    Episodes that became two-parters (at least on TNG, and ones that weren't season-ending cliffhangers) are generally such because they had an idea they thought they could stretch, and they realized that because they had to spend a lot of money on sets or whatnot they'd budget the expense over two episodes.

    I remember this episode is fairly interesting. One thing that really gets me is the progenitor is the same actress who plays the female changling in DS9.

    Mayhaps the progenitors eventually evolved into the changlings but the information was lost? Probably not, and coincidence of course, but that would be an interesting tie in between the series.

    Back to this episode. I remember watching it when it aired, and I always felt it was more a sci-fi nod to intelligent design. If all of these humanoid races had shared DNA, that means that the progenitors were the ones who created everything, every race, and the implications of all races eventually coming up with the technology to master the galaxy.

    Interesting concept.

    These episodes were similar to the old 'shaggy stories'.

    I agreed with the Klingon.

    I remember when Voyager's classic episode "Threshold" first aired, I thought Paris' transformation make-up looked a lot like Salome Jens' make-up here, and I thought we were in for a bit of inter-series continuity, with Paris evolving into that species. Instead he turned into a skink. Oh well.

    It was hilarious how the precious artifact here was tossed aside like so much rubble by Picard when the Enterprise crashed in Generations...

    It's well known that Star Trek has a dubious grasp of non-tech science. When it comes to transporting, they cover the basics. They know it's nonsense, but in SF that's possible, so their casual reference to the "Heisenberg Compensators" in one of the episodes made me laugh because it showed that they knew what they were doing.

    When it comes to genetics, they don't grasp the basics. Evolution has always been a one-direction train track for the ST writers. Remember "Dear Doctor" in ST Enterprise, where Phlox invents a new evolution theory by stating that a race it genetically marked for extinction.
    The same problem here.

    But I do like two things: the chase as an adventure and puzzle and the explanation why the Star Trek universe is full of races who just look like one dimensional humans. It's fun when writers think about the complications originating from their own inventions.

    What I didn't like is once again a Federation beyond redemption. It seems to be filled with bureaucrats and apparatchik only interested in transporting things or people from one known place to the other. That's basically their attitude. Make Picard an admiral (do these people know what the meaning of a "flag ship" is?) and let him commandeer ten ships to go on the hunt. After all, this is mind blowing new knowledge. At least the Romulan captain understands at the end.

    In the mean time at Federation headquarters: "Jean Luc, can you transport mediator T'Cuckoo to the next stupid regional conflict between CountryBumpkin Omega Six and TRex Prime? Thanks. Good to have a starship with a complement of 1000+ to provide this commuter service."

    For exploration the 24th is not a good century.

    Ospero and Eduardo -

    Tim Lynch's scientific critique of the episode is empty and very un-scientific, though very typical of belligerent skeptics of intelligent design.

    His basic thrust is that intelligent design is a needless theory because despite the low probability of humanity's exact DNA profile occurring, SOMETHING had to occur and all outcomes were likely to lead to something like man. His analogy is a deck of cards - something of low probability occurs in every hand, if you think about it. Therefore, to say that the statistical unlikelihood of mankind's development argues against evolution and in favor of grand design is, in his words, "a rotten, rotten abuse of statistics."

    Fair enough, if statistics were all there was to it. But biologically speaking, not all outcomes are equal. He leaves that part out. Humans are genetically close enough to chimpanzees that you could change one "card" and get them instead, yet only one of them has anywhere near the computative ability to take over the planet like we have. The evolution of a species physically mentally capable of mastering its physical environment AND building its own, subduing all other species and the entire planet, and pondering the mysteries of the universe at every level - that outcome is NOT some random, scattershot junk hand of cards. It's an ideal combination, more like getting a royal flush.


    Please read some biology books before you write further on evolution, lest you embarrass yourself further with your ignorance.

    I have to say that I thought this episode was not bad, and the first time I saw it I was engaged by the mystery, but it really never quite felt like it "fit" in TNG. I guess it's part of the "mystery" genre of TNG that includes Clues and Suspicions (any others?). That genre already had a feeling of not quite fitting in with the rest of TNG, but something about this one always felt a little off.

    Maybe it just felt a bit too far-fetched that some ancient culture had actually hidden clues to something all across the galaxy (or wherever) but only on planets within the reaches of a couple of species. Also, the clues are 4.5 billion years old, but yet ALL of these species began the hunt for these clues at roughly the same time. And I also found it a bit hard to believe that any of these cultures would really consider destroying a planet and all life on it to hide a clue. I think the imapct of that is glossed over a bit. Finally, what the hell are the odds that 4.5 billion years ago, some form of data was scattered about the universe and today you could put that into a tricorder and see a hologram? You can't even put a Mac-formatted floppy disc into a PC and read the data. I don't have any reasonable belief that a computer could interpret any data from 4.5 billion years ago as 3-D audio-visual data.

    Ultimately, perhaps, the ending was just a bit to Trekkian in it's do-gooder intentions and a bit too meaningless in its "we all come from the same place" message. Yeah? So what? Is that going to have any impact on humanity or any of these other cultures? I doubt it... I'd have to drop this to 1.5 or 2 stars.

    I enjoyed this episode quite a bit, for many reasons.

    1. It quells fans' desire to know why every alien in Star Trek has 2 arms and 2 legs. My girlfriend continually asked that question when she began rewatching TNG with me.

    2. I love the fast-pace excitement of this episode. Each "act" contained a significant plot element, whether it was Galen's ship being destroyed, or when the Enterprise was temporarily disabled by the Cardassians. Like Jammer said, it was very Indiana Jones-like without the stunts).

    3. Seeing all of Trek's major races (Humans, Klingons, Cardassians and Romulans) was a riot. This greatly tickled the inner nerd in me.

    4. It was greatly amusing to see all of the major Trek aliens working together in order to solve this puzzle. *** SPOILER *** If I remember correctly, the only other time where Trek's major aliens worked together was in DS9, when most Alpha Quadrant species banded together to combat the Dominion occupation.

    Quite frankly, the only negative aspect to this episode was the lack of follow-up. Finding out a major piece of DNA evidence that impacts the whole quadrant, and never hearing about it again is a bit odd. Then again, such episodic writing was TNG's motto, and just because everyone shares very similar DNA doesn't mean it improves inter-species relations.

    My rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars

    Yes it has some weaknesses, but at least it does give some kind of explanation as to why in the Trek universe all the aliens look the same... yes, we know it's fiction, but sometimes all the human look-alikes can be frustrating.

    And well, if all plots were scientifically plausible (in terms of the science we know of now) then we wouldn't have a heck of a lot of science fiction now would we? There is a certain suspension of belief required - especially in 45 minute episodes - and this episode, in the end, smooths out that "humanoid" wrinkle for us. I think at least they tried to give us a reason (in trek terms) for that, even if we know that aliens are really portrayed humanoid for much more prosaic budget or dramatic reasons. For "plausible" science fiction, well, there are very thick books and series of books that really put that effort in. I don't know if that's possible on a TV show.

    The only part I really enjoyed was the Klingon captain's interaction with Data.
    The Trek universe has displayed countless lexamples of intelligent life that do not look humanoid. If any of them had solved the puzzle the ancient alien would have looked stupid.

    I agree with most of Tim Lynch's famous critique of the episode, actually, and the main way I get around it is that I think that while big aspects of Trek are clearly meant to be taken as plausible scientific futures, others, to say the least, are not. While the episode may have been partly inspired to answer the longstanding "why does everybody look human(oid)?" question, I think the deeper implication is the answer to a more serious question -- "Why are all the humanoid races in this show ultimately meant to reflect on present-day humanity?" Some episodes of Trek, especially TOS, do try to imagine what alien life might really be like, but for the most part the humanoid alien races on the show are more accurately metaphorical representations of different parts of the human psyche, or different human cultures. In that sense, on some level, yes, it makes sense that they be all related to each other, and that there be some basis for the connection between everyone. It does become a problem in that the episode does eventually suggest that *humans themselves* "evolved" in a guided-evolution intelligent-design way, but even then the original humanoids seem to have evolved through natural process and the deeper meaning here exists only to link humans to other species without actually putting humans on a higher level than them. It's pretty junky as science and its implications are unscientific, even, on that level, but on the mythological level this works very well.

    Basically, this is Indiana Jones, as Jammer notes, and the Ark of the Covenant that is eventually recovered is the very *idea* of connectedness. It's a creation myth, which is half-translated into scientific language to go into the show's language, but has the same function that a lot of creation myths do for us: it gives us a sense of our connectedness to the rest of humanity. The Kurlan Naiskos Russian-doll thing that Galen gives Picard at the episode's beginning changes meaning as we go through the episode; early on, as Picard says, it is about the many people who live within the one person, and at the episode's very end he stares at the smallest of the figures, representing the seed of some primordial species which exists in all the humanoid life forms they have encountered. And I think the episode's moving outward -- from Picard himself to Picard's relationship with his professor mentor, to the humans & Klingons & Cardassians & Romulans to the source of all humanoid life -- is a way of answering, in some ways, the initial challenge Galen poses to Picard. How can Picard live with having given up one "dream" -- of being the foremost archaeologist of his time -- for another? I think the answer is that Picard is not alone; that he, and all humans, and within the show all humanoids, are part of a broader community, and that life does not end with each individual's life. Picard himself cannot live every life he wants to live, but some other person can, and as long as someone does the human race (and humanoid races) are better for it. Thematically, the episode is pretty tight -- Picard and Galen's father-son relationship, and Picard's desire to carry on his own mentor's work after his death so that it not be in vain, ties in with the eventual discovery that the original humanoid race seeded the galaxy so that its own life would not be in vain and would be remembered. That Picard and Galen go back and forth between close connection and angry, even vicious recriminations (mostly from Galen to Picard) sets up the two different kinds of reaction that we see at the episode's end: disgust between the Klingons and Cardassians at the notion of any kinship, and some measure of peace and bonding between Picard and the Romulan commander.

    This makes this one of the show's best episodes at representing the kind of secular mythmaking that Star Trek can do well, at its best -- telling truths about the human condition which religions can communicate (that the one is part of the whole and the whole is part of the one) without requiring theistic belief. To do so, it kind of junks up some of its own science when trying to use the scientific language to get the point across, but you know.

    The end scene with the Romulan really does make me wish that things had gone differently. DS9 didn't do that much with the Romulans except as a plot device and mirror of the Federation's darkness/greyness (in ITPM and IAESL), which is fine, as DS9 already had a lot of races to examine. And Nemesis and Abrams' "Star Trek" basically trashed the implications here; Nemesis tried to examine the possibility of a human/Romulan peace, and (spoilers, I guess) Trek 2009 revisited Spock's attempt at Vulcan/Romulan unification just in order to destroy first future-Romulus and then past-Vulcan. But toward the end of TNG, Unification and this and Face of the Enemy suggest that there was maybe a chance that the Romulans and Federation could come to a new understanding that breaks through the perpetual stalemate the two had; The Pegasus, which reveals that the Federation has some duplicity to match the Romulans', could have led to some greater sympathy on the part of our Starfleet crew for the Romulans' distrust and history, too. Alas.

    Anyway, I think this is still a solid 3.5 stars.

    Fun episode that perhaps asks whether we humans we're seeded by alien cultures? It's nice to see a more scientific episode as the writers can get too much into "soap opera in space" "conflict stories". The weak first act was Piller's fault. He thought Moore's initial script didn't have a believable emotional connection between Galen and Picard. That kind of slowed down this episode, but it still was good.

    The 'explanation' by the ancient humanoid might not hold up to scrutiny, but when I first saw the episode (long time ago, I admit) it seemed to make sense then. And Galen's last words "I was too harsh..." made his death scene that much more moving. But there's one unanswered question that still bugs me years later- if Worf's phaser blast was only strong enough to disable the Yridian ship, why did it explode anyway?

    I didn't find Galen a very sympathetic character at all. He was incredibly manipulative, and his death bed admission to same wasn't moving at all, nor was the death itself.

    Does anyone really join Starfleet in order to become an archaeologist? I can see why there would be classes in it because it would be part of the skillset for an officer on a ship of exploration, but becoming a full time, nothing but archaeologist like Galen was demanding Picard be, both then and now, seems absurd on its face. Between his scheming manipulations and his instantly reasserting himself as professor grilling Picard in the opening scene, I found Galen every bit as obnoxious as Jellico.

    Ugh. I remember that Tim Lynch review and how I lost a chunk of respect for him from it. So rant time! People here mentioned Prometheus and Contact as similar ideas, but to me the most blatant comparison is with the monolith creators in Arthur C Clarke's 2001 series. It's the exact same premise: the first spacefaring race finds no intelligent life out in the universe, and thus seeds the galaxy with a method to develop said intelligence. Arthur C Clarke. About the hardest "science" author in the science fiction realm. Predicted cell phones, GPS, and satellite television broadcasting decades before they happened. Invented the idea of the geostationary satellite. He was also an ardent atheist who gave increasingly silly reasons for why mankind suddenly and without notice ended up immediately giving up religion in his books. And yet, in his most famous series, the central plot is one of, well, Intelligent Design. So if the most science-oriented, most atheistic respected sci-fi writer can get away with it, why can't Trek?

    Oh, but in 2001 it wasn't genetic. Oh, wonk wonk wonk. This is the same series that has riboviloxinucleic acids that make you magically de-age, and where activating introns makes you turn into a spider. Do we really think there was any malice in this plot, any subtle arguments for ID? Of course not. Heck, this episode features DNA that magically fits together to form a shape that also happens to program a holographic image. Lynch seems to think there's a difference between this and technobabble, but there really isn't. Trek uses biology as a magi trick just as often as it uses inverse phase discriminators. No, they really shouldn't. But why is it such a crime here? Given how silly Trek science is, does he really think there was some subtle argument for ID as opposed to just, you know, a story in which as much effort to make it scientifically valid as in Rascals and Genesis.

    So really, Lynch's rant comes down to the fact that he doesn't like ID. Well, yippee. Guess what? The Trek universe, like every fictional universe, is intelligently designed (or unintelligently designed...). Not only that, but Trek has delved into plenty of contentious issues (for real, as opposed to this episode which is only in his imagination), and doesn't exactly provide a great argument either way. Yet Lynch never comments on those. And if he only wants to see shows that reinforce his beliefs, then that represents a pretty limited mind.

    I mean, he still seemed to think the episode was good, but couldn't seem to get past an issue he created in his own mind.

    Oh well, rant off. Like many others, I did enjoy this episode. I think it started off too slowly though, as the scenes with Galen weren't as interesting as the actual mystery and chase. Yeah, disappointed father figure, we've gone down that road a hundred times before. And what's with the Enterprise being conveniently the closest ship to Galen's shuttle when he ended up attacked? And all to have Galen simply say "I was too harsh". I'm not sure if the introduction was made solely to mirror Indiana Jones even more (both Raiders and Last Crusade had Indy trying to finish a quest his father/father figure started). That first act simply seemed to drag on too much, especially compared to the fun of the second half.

    And the payoff, with the Romulan being quietly accepting of the message, was very nicely done. Picard had a rather disappointing few days. First, his mentor rejects him. Then his mentor dies. Then, his attempt at finishing Galen's work is stymied by some annoying little Klingons and Cardassians. And then, after the final revelation, the rest of his colleagues completely reject the final message. So Picard was probably feeling rather down about the whole thing. That little bit of a breakthrough, having the Romulan imply that there is hope for the future, was a pleasant way to end with just a hint of optimism. We followed Picard around on a huge chase, and we too were a bit disappointed in the outcome. But putting this last little morsel in the show made it all better.

    Likewise, it made sense that the Romulan would be the one receptive to the message. After all, they already have cousins in the Federation, so they know what it's like. Also, given the recent underground movement (particularly a defection of a high ranking senator), the idea of a unification movement might be on the minds of any thoughtful Romulan. They're a fun race to think about, given that they were always portrayed as a smarter, more contemplative race than the Klingons or the Cardassians. Given their contemplative side, the idea of a potential peace, or at least truce, movement with the Romulans held a lot of promise. I thoroughly enjoyed The Enemy and The Defector, but I am finding myself enjoying their more conciliatory tone this season as well.

    A fun episode. I guess the Progenitors didn't see the need for a Prime Directive.

    I think this episode is almost too good to just be an episode. It's two-parter or movie worthy imo. And the reveal at the ending should be heard "half way across the galaxy" but it doesn't even get mentioned in the next episode.

    I think another really interesting idea this episode brings up is the ancient, advanced race existing seemingly alone in the galaxy. They searched but couldn't find any other civilizations (life at all?), right? So that's a pretty profound injection into the Star Trek universe! The earliest life forms we know of were alone, not encountering other lifeforms even after becoming advanced enough to travel the galaxy. What is that saying? Earliest known life existed as only one species in the galaxy? But of course, this ancient race didn't seed EVERY race we see in Trek - but if at their time, they were the ONLY lifeforms in the galaxy, whoa! Did non-humanoid life simply come into existence after this ancient humanoid race died out?

    I'm realizing that perhaps we're just finding the proto-humanoid lifeform in the episode. So why didn't they encounter other life, non-humanoid?

    Reminds me of linguistic theory of proto languages, such as proto-Indo European. So Galen found the proto-humanoid! Why couldn't they find any other lifeforms? And of course, what the hell is Q?

    Simply from the standpoint of DNA, this episode contains several glaring flaws:

    1) Why haven't biologists on multiple worlds already figured out that these humanoid species have a common ancestor? After all, they're able to interbreed and create fertile offspring. Nothing says common heritage like makin' babies!

    2) If we did all share common DNA, the evidence of our common ancestor would be seen in that DNA, as it is on all life on earth.

    3) Did the progenitors seed worlds that already had life? If so, then why would the DNA that evolved into humans match all the other DNA on earth?

    4) If the progenitors only seeded worlds that had no life, then there is still no explanation for spacefaring species all looking so similar after having evolved on different worlds. After all, look at all the non-quadruped animal life on earth, from insects to jellyfish to mussels to earthworms to crabs to slugs. There's no reason to assume that the dominant or intelligent life forms on other worlds would have a quadruped form.

    5) And if I may inject one non-DNA based flaw in the plot...why was following Galen going to cost Picard a year of his career, yet after Galen died the puzzle was solved in a matter of (I presume) days? Was Galen holding up progress?

    For point 5, they were using the Enterprise instead of bumming rides around on shuttles, freighters, and transports.

    I have a strong aversion to the payoff in this episode, echoed by others because of the wide spread implications on the Trek universe and its implied alien intelligent design. Normally in Star Trek we can forget that the Trek universe isn't our own, so we can vicariously fly through the galaxy. This squelches that notion. I agree with the Klingon, if she wasn't dead I'd kill her!
    While the episode would explain a lot, like why all denizons of the nearby galaxy are humanoid and how you can get a Vulcan-Human hybrid, putting this implausible scenerio front an center is a loser for me.
    Before seeing it I was thinking it was a two parter...glad I was wrong on that.

    ""why was following Galen going to cost Picard a year of his career, yet after Galen died the puzzle was solved in a matter of (I presume) days? Was Galen holding up progress?""

    Take a look at the map Galen was pointing at, discussing all of their destinations. It was a map of the Galaxy! The sites he was pointing out were spread over a pretty large chunk of what would see, to be the "southern" (on a wall map) Beta Quadrant. Using standard speed/times from Voyager, the distances between the sites Galen was fingering would be far more than a year...more like, optimistically, the better part of a decade, and that's with Voyager, which is a faster vessel than Enterprise, and FAR faster than the shuttles Galen was initially talking about.

    I really want to like this episode; I really do. Because it does have some really good stuff going for it - the Indiana Jones style (like Jammer points out) (and I love the Indiana Jones trilogy - I don't count that abomination known as "Crystal Skull"), the use of various established Trek alien races and the surprisingly pleasing final scene with the Romulan Commander and Picard. But, I just can't bring myself to like "The Chase." Three things absolutely tank this episode.

    First, the science. Okay, some more full disclosure time.... I'm not a science person. Science and math were always my least favorite (and most difficult) subjects in school. I'm very much more a history and literature person - those were my subjects. The thought of me ever being any kind of scientist is laughable. Which is odd considering I'm such of fan of science-fiction (though, to be honest, when push comes to shove, I'm probably more of a fantasy fan than I am of ultra-hardcore scientific sci-fi - which is likely why I find "2001" to be such a damn snooze-fest). The point I'm trying to get at here is that it takes a lot - A LOT! - of bad science for me to take issue with it, or to even notice it honestly. I'm even willing to forgive really bad science if the episode is still enjoyable. I don't watch Star Trek, or any sci-fi, for a physics, or chemistry, or whatever lesson. I watch it to be entertained. So, if the writers what to play fast and loose with real-life science, I'm perfectly okay with that. But, even I have my limits in this department. And this episode crosses them. Could somebody please, for the love of God, tell me why Trek writers seem to have such a hard time understanding the concept of evolution?! So, these Ancient Humanoids seeded countless worlds throughout the galaxy, or least the Alpha Quadrant, with a DNA program that helped guide the evolution of everyone so they would at least vaguely look like them (the Ancient Humanoids)? Dammit, evolution is not a guided process! It's a response to external stimuli that affects a species over the course of countless centuries. What is so hard to understand about that?! Trek writers just can't seem to wrap their brains around it. They either present evolution as something that happens to an individual (VOY: Threshold), something that can be artificially sped up, reversed or otherwise tinkered with (TNG: Genesis) or as something that is being guided to a set place (VOY: Threshold, again, and "The Chase"). It's a response to conditions, nothing more! If ,for whatever possible reason, it became more advantageous for Humans to have a third arm growing out of their tailbone or to have an eyeball on the back of their head, then slowly the Human species would change into that over time - because that's how "natural selection"/survival-of-the-fittest works. If it became more advantageous for Humans to be less intelligent, they would, over the course of many, many millennia develop brains with less surface area. There is no guiding hand overseeing the process. It's all random. Again, why can't they understand this basic concept? Some people have commented about this possibly being a metaphor, or something, for Intelligent Design. I seriously doubt that. It's more likely that the writers are just showcasing their stupidity again. And remember, this is me, the theist (who has criticized TNG rather harshly over religion) who is saying this.

    Second, the payoff. A message about tolerance and mutual respect/understanding? Seriously, could you get any more Trekian cliched?! "That's all?!! If she were not dead, I would kill her." Yeah, right there with you, pal! We just waded through an entire episode for that?! Look, I get it (and completely agree with it!), "we all need to get together and love one another." But we don't need it drilled into our heads all the time. Trek writers must think that Trek fans are the most racist, bigoted fucks on the planet who need to be constantly remained that "Racism is BAD!". Okay, yes, this payoff does lead to the rather nice scene between Picard and his Romulan counterpart (nice because it's somewhat underplayed - not the trusty Trek 2x4 of tolerance to the face - and well acted by both men). But is was scant reward for this story.

    Third, ultimately, leaving aside everything else, what "The Chase" really boils down to is an attempt by the writers to explain away why there are so many Human-looking aliens in the Trek universe. And you know what that is? Nothing but a god-damn insult to my intelligence! I understand why there are so many humanoid races on Trek. It's because "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and the other Trek series are television shows that are operating under a budget (sometimes a very constrained budget). That's why we get so many aliens who look like Humans with funny foreheads. Granted, there's room for improvement (couldn't we get some Andorians or Tellerites thrown in every now and then?) (maybe even some Gorn? - I don't care how corny they look!). But I don't need some stupid in-universe explanation for it! I'm fully capable of suspending disbelief. Would it be nice to see some really alien-looking aliens, like we saw on "Star Trek: The Animated Series"? Sure, it would be very nice. But I am aware that "The Animated Series" was able to show those aliens because.... wait for it.... it was animated! I don't need to be lead around by the hand like this and I resent the writers thinking I have to be. But that's just my opinion. :P

    Oh, and here's noticeable plot-hole - why did the Yridian destroyer explode? We're never given an explanation. But I guess that's not important. It's better to spend our time on pointless scenes like the Klingon Captain getting his ass kicked at Klingon arm-wrestling. You know, if they really wanted to do an arm-wrestling joke they could have gotten Sylvester Stallone to do a cameo. Oh, wow, I just compared "The Chase" unfavorably to the Sylvester Stallone movie "Over the Top." I actually kind of like that movie, but that's not a good sign!


    This is a brilliant concept which is let down somewhat by the limitations of a one-hour TV episode. I absolutely agree with HolographicAndrew that this should have been a movie. It's just a really great science fiction concept, and it could have been one of the best science fiction movies of all time if executed properly. Alas, we got Generations, Insurrection, and Nemesis instead!

    I think Generations wasn't as bad as people say it was. It was missing a plot and a villain worthy of the movie but there were a collection of a lot of great scenes, the Kirk/Picard team up was fun enough, Data got emotions, the Enterprise crashed and Worf got promoted. There were misteps, but it was nowhere near as bad as the bad TOS movies.

    And when they followed it up with First Contact I really thought we were going to end up with a really amazing TNG movie franchise. I will say nothing more on the subject.

    OK, so the Indiana Jones-esque elements to this story are fun. Picard's enthusiasm for archaeology, his relationship with Galen, and the chase elements add up to a good scene setter.

    But it doesn't help that the implications are massive, virtually dwarfing anything that's come before. All of these races share a common heritage! Big stuff... except it's presented in a sub-Sesame Street 'cooperation is good' manner, and cribs The Inner Light for its 'remember us' conclusion, with none of the subtlety and conviction of that episode.

    "That's all?" indeed. 2.5 stars.

    After Galen leaves, Picard says they are en route to a "diplomatic conference". Why the hell are they always headed on some sort of diplomatic mission?! They need to change the opening to say, "To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, when not on our way to a diplomatic crisis, to mediate petty disputes between lesser evolved species".
    It has always annoyed me that they spent so much time looking after wimpy little worlds that can't figure out how to handle their own business.

    "Why the hell are they always headed on some sort of diplomatic mission?!"

    The Enterprise is the flagship of the Federation, and Picard is an accomplished mediator. Also, it would've been much more painful if Picard had said something like "We are en route to investigate a new form of life never witnessed in the Alpha quadrant" only to have that plot derailed, right?

    What's remarkable is that Norman Lloyd who played the professor in this episode, is still alive at age 102!! This guy just might actually survive until the 24th century.

    One thing that's always bothered me about this episode is that Picard says he isn't able to go on the mission with Galen, doesn't offer the Enterprise as transportation, but as soon as Galen dies he's suddenly able to do it. If he's able to commandeer the enterprise at that point then surely he could have done so in the first place. Just wondering...


    That's a good question and one I've often asked myself. My take on this is that once Galen was murdered, the matter was escalated from archaeology to a criminal investigation and then to an interstellar conflict. Since the Enterprise is routinely involved in security missions, this would probably be under its umbrella of operations, especially considering the Enterprise was the closest ship nearby.

    I feel this episode should have come a few seasons earlier.

    Well, darn. I was hoping that if I could find an answer to "Why did that Yridian cruiser explode?", I'd find it in these forums.. But, alas...

    Actually, just found the answer via search (everything that follows is not mine):

    This is covered in the script.

    RIKER : Worf?

    WORF : I don't understand, Commander. The phaser blast was not powerful enough to destroy the ship.

    DATA : The Yridian vessel was overloading its power generators. That, combined with the phaser blast, caused it to explode.

    It seems that the Yridians had been running their "power generators" at above their rated capacity, presumably in an attempt to catch up with the shuttle's top speed. Data only determines this after their shields come down, in the moment before the ship explodes.

    A lot of buildup and nonsense for a revelation that is not only made obvious throughout the episode but was also already established back in TOS. Don't reintroduce a fact established in the previous series and treat it as though it's some profound secret. Next they'll be "revealing" that Romulans and Vulcans have the same forebears so they should really stop hating each other and get along. Maybe I'm just bitter that the lesson in this one is still so incredibly relevant today, but I really didn't like this one.

    0 stars

    Wow Outsider, you're ranking this as bad as "Profit and Lace" just because it uses the same beings used in "The Paradise Syndrome"? I'd hate to see what rating you give DS9's "Trials and Tribulations".

    Anyway, "The Chase" deserves at least four stars for introducing the Kurlan naiskos leading to its zany cameo in Star Trek: Generations.


    I rate it so low because I really didn't care for the delivery of the episode. It's not that they reused the idea that bugs me so much as they acted like they hadn't already established it, and then tried to build it up as some new, profound world-changing revelation, then immediately dismissed it like they knew they had botched the delivery so bad that even viewers who didn't know about it previously weren't going to be affected by it. The squabbling aliens finished killing this one for me, wish Worf had "accidentally" blown them up too, or at least the Cardassians.

    I didn't care for P&L either, but it at least had a few amusing moments, this one was more flat. I haven't watched DS9 but I'm sure the episode's fine, that's the tribble one, isn't it?

    The Kurlan is that nesting doll thing Picard's prof gave him, right? Glad to hear it makes a reappearance, I'm half-convinced Stewart took it home with him after the episode was shot and still has it laying around somewhere.

    Just noticed I spelled my name wrong. Not sure how I managed that but I'm blaming the lack of tactile response on this keyboard.

    @ Outsider65/54,

    While the lore of the ancient race here does resemble the lore of "The Preservers" from TOS, I'm not at all convinced they are meant to directly be the same. We know that The Preservers did seed various worlds, but on the other hand they also left tech behind as well to protect them, which is definitely not the MO of the ancient race shown here. I've never heard anything in Trek to suggest that the major races (Humans, Vulcans, etc.) met with some ancient race who gave them a giant obelisk or some other tech to protect them.

    I think "The Chase" borrows from the same type of origin myth as Paradise Syndrome, but is in effect a reboot of that idea. I would not say it's a given that what we learn here was already established. We certainly were never told that *all* the major races were seeded by the same ancient race. The Preservers did some seeding, but there's never a hint that Humans had anything to do with it. They may be the same, of course, but again I don't think it's a given.

    PS - if you watch DS9 then I can tell you my theory about the race revealed here.

    @Peter G.

    They may not be the same ancient race, but the idea was still already established. The main problem I have with the episode is how badly they botch it. I'd be okay with them trying to re-reveal it as a new idea if they had done it well. They redid the "robot dies from emotions" idea and various other ones and I didn't mind.

    Haven't watched DS9 yet, still working my way through TNG.

    Too preachy, reminiscent of some of the more heavy handed Original episodes- but it's Star Trek - in a whimsical way , nice to know the preachy bits continue to be part of it's DNA.. Wathcing them all for the first time ...


    This was another really good TNG mysteey episode. I loved how it was a very epic story wisely limited to just an hour rather than trying to stretch it into a two parter. Yet it was epic nonetheless with all these recognizable Trek species in a race to claim an ancient prize.
    I loved how the Entire crew was involved unlike a lot of sixth season tng. Menosky crafted some interesting ideas scenes and engrossing hooks--First yridian attacking Galen's ship, mysterious number blocks, someone sets off bio weapon destroying life on a planet, then there's Cardassians, then decloak ing Klingons!?!?!? destroying a planet
    --Curiouser and curiouser. Thumbs up
    Then an ancient puzzle (very cool idea)hidden within the DNA of all these species whoa!l What's going on --absolutely intriguing
    And the writers didn't stop there. They treated us to more intrigue and excitement with the cardassians double cross then picards double cross of them.
    Really liked the payoff to mystery-
    Salome jens is great at these kinds of characters here then later on with her memorable role as the Founder on DS9
    The entire scene with the ancient program running was terrific. The music, the scenery , her speech followed by all the in point reactions i.e. the Klingon being underwhelmed by it all. And the hopeful final scene between Picard and the romulsn was hopeful. I also thought Picard's dealing with having to turn Galen down was perfect and what could have been padding with the Klingon approaching Data in ten forward actually was quite fun

    Only slightly nuanced once in this thread--this story seems like it strongly influenced Odo's back story on DS9. Even the looks of the two races are similar. They could very well have become those Founders in DS9--and the connection would have made the st universe that much stronger as an epic story. That said, I'm perfectly content with how they handled DS9. I guess im feeling regret that this seeding concept didn't bear fruit in later episodes, or movies.


    Nice observation, though I think that TNG's portrayal of the ancient humanoids as altruistic progenitors doesn't mesh well with the Founders' image. It would be cool if the Founders were renegades or isolates who chose to break off from the ancients, which would explain the different philosophies towards "solids" between the two peoples.

    Gah! Heh, ok, if we're green lighting spoiling DS9 then I can just come out and say what I was alluding to earlier in the thread.

    *DS9 SPOILER* (just for good measure)

    Chrome, we don't know how old the message in The Chase is. We do know that the Founders were once solid, and we can imagine that back then they were probably a lot more amicable than they became once they were Changelings. We are also told that the Founders are *very old*, and that the link isn't really good at keeping track of time, to the extent that millions of years could pass and they probably wouldn't notice. Part of why they're always so pissed off is probably because daily running of their empire requires them to leave the link and micromanage stuff on a minute scale of time by their sensibility.

    Offhand, if we were to consider how crazy being metamorphic is compared to being solid, I can't imagine the change took place over a short period of time unless they genetically engineered themselves into that state. Assuming it was natural, which is the Trek standard (corporeal beings evolving into powerful advanced beings, often non-corporeal), it would have needed millions of years at least to happen. Maybe more. Once we think of the history of the Founders as being *that old* any considerations about the attitude of the being in the hologram versus how the Founders are is really moot. It's not going to be the same gang after many millions of years no matter how you cut it.

    On a sci-fi level I love the idea that the race that seeded most of the solids we know advanced to the point where they withdrew into themselves and gave up on material concerns in the universe, only to then be subject to harassment by their 'children'. It reminds me of a principle explained in the book Calculating God, by Sawyer, where an alien states that once civilizations advance to a certain degree it is natural for them to then determine how to upload themselves into, in effect, The Matrix, and live forever in digital form, in a paradise of their choosing. That's not evolution, mind you, but it's the same gist as the Founders discovering paradise and retreating into it forever, only to be majorly pissed when dragged out of it by races trying to bother them.

    Speaking of children, I also see a parallel in the progenitors' decision to seed many words with their 'children' and with the Founders' habit of sending out their children in the galaxy to learn. Sounds like a vaguely similar approach, no?

    @Peter G.

    I don't really see why both what I said and what you said can't be true. In any event, one vision is a skewed version of the other, just as DS9 often shows a darker side to TNG's ideals.

    @ Chrome,

    Yes, they are not incompatible. It's just a little more complex to envision a backstory where the progenitors split into two factions, one of which evolved into the Founders and the other of which...disappeared I guess? I just seems simpler to me to imagine that the progenitors collectively evolved into a more advanced life form, seeing as how they had so many millions of years to do it. I guess I'm not so fond of thinking of them as being just another group of Iconians that up and vanished for no reason. Maybe we could imagine that one group of them became Changelings and the others became non-corporeal like the Organians or something.

    Yeah, it's all possible. It just strikes me as more poetically ironic to consider the Founders as really being *the Founders* of all the races we know, only to end up complacent and miles behind their children in the ethics department.

    @Peter G.

    Well, the problem with progenitors still existing but as shapeshifters, is this line:

    Humanoid: Our civilisation thrived for ages, but what is the life of one race, compared to the vast stretches of cosmic time? We knew that one day we would be gone, that nothing of us would survive.

    So I'm happy to think that the original people who came up with the idea for spreading their DNA around are long gone, and the spreading was the only way a part of them could live on. There's something poetic about it, reminding me what Sung says about his reason for creating Data in "Brothers".

    But let's say there's a group who didn't like the DNA legacy solution and decided to manipulate their genes? Those could be the Founders. Just a theory, anyway. :)

    David (Dec 30, 2016): Norman Lloyd is STILL alive: almost 103!!

    Also, anyone else notice Spiner's southern accent starting to creep in during seasons 6 and 7?? Either that or he had a broken nose or deviated septum or something, and it altered his timbre. It's very frequent and, it seems to me, quite noticeable.

    Ohh a Biology Mayor said humanoid design is improbable!

    Tell you this: He is right, it is quite improbable. Humanoid parallel evolution and intelligent design have extremely small probabilities of actually happening.

    It is, however, hundreds of orders of magnitude more probable than this: faster than light travel, transporter beams, faster than light communication, and most of the science in Star Trek. If you are watching this show, accept that the science depicted is only a dream without much chance of any of it actually happening.

    In other words, enjoy the show for what it is, nitpicking the science will get you nowhere.

    You're the latest in a long line of apologists, Sheldonari. Frankly, I am getting sick of repeating myself. When a science fiction - or any serious fiction - disregards the laws of physics relentlessly, it breaks suspension of disbelief and is a symptom of lazy writing. Telling people to accept it merely causes more of the same lazy writing. YOU may not give a toss, but some of us have higher standards.

    @DLPB that's why I am enjoying The Expanse books and show so much.

    But Star Trek has FTL travel, transporters, and almost all aliens being humanoids since the very beginning.

    In fact, Star Trek is not for me 'physics science fiction', or 'biology science fiction', but 'social sciences science fiction'.

    The basic premise to watch this show for me is: The writers (Roddenberry et al) were deeply aware of European Colonialism, and also were profoundly ashamed of it. So the show is a way to say: imagine a world where Europeans did not obliterate other cultures when they got better ships.

    The Prime Directive is one example of it. It basically forbids what the Spaniards did in Mexico and Peru. Another example is the inter planetary species miscegenation. Spock had a Vulcan father and Human mother. There are Klingon and Human hybrids, Klingon and Romulan hybrids, and possibly more. This makes no sense in science fiction, but it makes a lot of sense in the parallel to colonialism.

    This is where the apology for this episode comes from. This episode fits the parallel social narrative perfectly.

    Very early on "The Chase" announces itself as an Indiana Jones-type episode, which isn't a bad thing. I'm reminded of the DS9 episode "The Sword of Kahless". You know it's going to be an entertaining hour with the good guys and bad guys on some quest.

    Not sure but -- isn't having a reference to a race 4 billion years old earlier than anything else in the Trek canon? Bringing that out in itself makes this somewhat noteworthy. Has Q ever said how long he's been around?

    And the episode plays out like Indiana Jones -- so it's plenty watchable and you get the usual shenanigans between Klingons/Romulans/Cardassians. The Klingon captain was pretty hilarious when he started testing Data's strengths -- guess they had to fill the hour. Whatever race it was that sent the message does look like the Founders from DS9, for what it's worth.

    As for the payoff with the message that all these races are humanoid for a reason, I guess that makes sense although it also makes sense that the Klingons and Cardassians couldn't give a shit. The Romulans have always been portrayed as more cerebral so their captain rings up Picard after the fact.

    3 stars for "The Chase" -- nice little interstellar mystery which should be treated as something with tremendous meaning as it sets the stage for all these races in Trek's canon. But the episode on it's own isn't exceptional by any stretch.

    I saw this one when it originally aired, and did not like it. Now that I've seen it in 2017 in all it's heavenly HD glory, I have to say that I still don't like it. The pacing is too fast. Yeah, I know it's a "race" but too much happens too quickly; this would have been a great two-parter, especially considering the implications of what is going on.

    That ending is the worst part because it's too unbelievable that a DNA algorithm is going to be compatible with a tricorder, let alone reprogram the device to project an image. It would have been better if they had found an ancient projector or something.

    Oh yeah, that Klingon was a caricature.

    1.5 stars

    When I originally saw this in the first run, I thought as many have mentioned that it should have been a two-parter given the scope and the profound implications, and how hurriedly it seemed to wrap up after the buildup. Now, 25 years later(!), I doubt that the writers could have filled two complete episodes and kept it engaging. BIrthright, anyone? It would have ended up being a bloated mess. As it was, at one episode it stayed pretty suspenseful all the way through. So as you're watching it you don't have time to think all too much about how absurd it all is, as many have mentioned above.

    Actually, it seems like this episode is almost a commentary on Roddenberry's utopian ideals by those who took the reins after his death. Here this ancient civilization assumed that only through camaraderie and teamwork could the various species work together to make the "program" work. Instead, it's only through backstabbing, deception, lying in wait, destroying all the life on a planet, blowing up a ship, and killing a professor do they all make it there to the end. In other words, it's as much through conflict as through peace and harmony that advances and discoveries are made. Take that, Gene!

    On that note, can someone explain why the fact that the Klingons are harboring and actually deploying some sort of planet-devouring technology is not worthy of serious concern? I mean, that's practically Death Star-like in its implications. Shouldn't the Klingon captain have been apprehended and brought to trial by the Federation for completely destroying all life on a planet? Although then he wouldn't have been around to utter the wonderful "If she were not dead, I would kill her" line, I suppose.

    And can someone also please provide an in-universe explanation of how anyone could understand what the Progenitor hologram was saying? Clearly, she wasn't speaking English, or any language known to the universal translator. I mean, are we really not supposed to think about that kind of thing? It's like in Face of the Enemy, did the Romulans imagine that Troi was actually speaking Romulan, rather than English that was being translated into Romulan through technology?

    Despite the absurdities, an engaging episode, although it's not more than 3 stars.

    You young people! Nobody mentions the Cardassian commander is played by Linda Thorson of The Avengers tv series.

    Fun and interesting episode, but why didn't Professor Galen simply come on board the Enterprise, tell Picard what he had discovered, and enlisted Picard and the Enterprise to complete his discovery? As he himself indicated, he could have completed the whole thing in a couple of weeks that way. And Picard would have been happy to oblige him.

    The episode itself is fun and enjoyable, but I've read enough of Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne to know that the payoff at the end is unscientific nonsense. The idea that some alien species designed humans to be the way they are completely ignores everything we know about natural selection and the various forms of life on Earth. Quite a shame for Star Trek to get well established science so horribly wrong.

    @ Adam,

    "The idea that some alien species designed humans to be the way they are completely ignores everything we know about natural selection and the various forms of life on Earth. Quite a shame for Star Trek to get well established science so horribly wrong."

    This is incorrect. What the episode says is that the main Alpha Quadrant races all derived from common genetic material, although each evolved in somewhat different ways. There is nothing contradictory about this. Effectively it means that the Alpha races were genetically engineered from a mutual starting point. It *does not* mean that every intelligent race in the galaxy evolved this way. Presumably the progenitor race did, themselves, evolve from basic units.

    What this episode *does* contradict is one that actually came later, which is All Good Things, where Q basically says outright that all life on Earth began in a pool of mud. I guess even this could be reconciled if we were to assert that *all life on Earth* was seeded by the progenitor race, and that not only do humans have genetics in common with Cardassians, but also all Earth species have common characteristics with Cardassian animals as well. I guess that's possible.

    Overall I don't think it's worth it to delve too deeply into a mythological episode like this one looking for nitpicks.

    Not sure why you limit this to the Alpha quadrant. I actually figured they influenced all life in the galaxy. Otherwise Voyager and DS9 would assert that the galaxy happens to be populated with humanoid life in general anyways, independent of the progenitors' meddling. This would of course render the central thesis of the episode meaningless.

    Actually funny enough, other Trek canon isn't incompatible with the hypothesis that the humanoid form is unique to our galaxy. In TOS there were only two extra galactic races encountered - the guys who Spock saw as multi tentacled monsters in their natural states (who took human form) and those plastic pizzas from Operation Annihilate! In TNG the only extra galactic lifeform we met was Kevin Uxbridge, who was basically an energy being who took human form after the fact. And I guess Q, if you presume his race evolved somewhere outside our galaxy.

    @ Jason R.

    I mentioned only Alpha races because (a) we don't know if any other races elsewhere share this code, so I won't assume it, and (b) the DNA from the Alpha races alone was sufficient to complete the puzzle and find the planet, and so I presume that races in the Delta quadrant weren't part of this little puzzle. Maybe they have their own puzzle?

    Also, I think the suggestion isn't that all humanoid life comes from this ancient race, but rather all extremely human-like humanoid life. I think it's sort of a nod to the costume department and how most portrayed races are basically humans with masks on. In TOS and TNG we also meet many races that are literally humans who didn't come from Earth.

    Again, I don't think it bears all that much scrutiny and can be more or less fall under the "we all have something in common" category, which is Trek's premise. There is sci-fi out there involving aliens that are truly alien, but Trek doesn't seem to deal with that. As Kirk put it, "deep down, everyone's human."

    Monumental discovery is made.

    Nothing more is ever said of it, and everyone acts normal the next episode.

    And how is it that everyone is chasing this at the same time? Did the professor have his research stolen so many times and sold so many times to everyone?

    Interesting this episode compared to ID. Seems to me much more like panspermia, a theory not dismissed by Dawkins.

    "The Chase" is like one big hymn to tolerance, brotherhood and xenophilia (Trek's version of multiculturalism). It opens with Picard receiving an artifact in which "individual statues" are "comprised of disparate groups and personalities". Subjective personhood, then, is always a morass of outside influences, and group identities are never as cloistered as they seem. Picard then learns that all the chief "enemy races" in Trek have a "common ancestor" who (fully? partially?) seeded ancient life with genetic code.

    Someone above mentions the fun and quirky novel, "Calculating God", but this episode reminded of "The X Files", which was running aroundabout the same time. Influenced by breakthroughs in DNA mapping and pulpy theories about junk DNA, the idea that humanity was engineered, seeded or coded by aliens was a hot-topic in those days.

    As many above have noted, this episode is pretty great for its first three acts. The scenes with Crusher and Picard hanging out are lovely (their platonic-but-sparkling relationship was underused), as is Data's little arm-wrestling match with the chunky Klingon captain. The final scene, in which Picard and the Romulan captain - Russia and the USA in a sense - attest to common bonds, is also very good.

    It's really just one scene which tarnishes the entire episode, and tarnishes it badly, given its significance. Here Picard beams down onto a horribly phony looking soundstage (J. Frakes, the director, tried to shoot on location, but budget cuts hampered his wishes) and has a silly Mexican standoff with Klingons, Cardassians and Romulans. We then witness a holographic alien "god" delivering a well-meaning but heavy-handed monologue. This would have worked beautifully in TOS, but in the more solemn TNG, it just doesn't work.

    How to fix this episode? Maybe go the Kubrick route. Keep everything abstract and ambiguous. Have the "map" lead to a location in space with a giant, planet sized, solid ball of metal; a monument to the Old Ones' planet. Picard maybe explores this, or discovers something on it, and puts together a theory akin to what the alien hologram in this episode espouses. Picard then gives us a good self-righteous monologue, Stewart sells it with aplomb, but the other aliens reject it. He pleads with them, and they shrug him off. As its just a personal theory, as nothing is confirmed by the aliens themselves, mystery/ambiguity is preserved.

    Incidentally, I plucked this episode randomly to watch, having finished re-watching Season 1 and 2. The musical score in late season TNG really was awful. Season 1 and 2's (and 3's?) scores were sciency and magical, and I'd take their "reeks of 80s Hollywood SF" vibe over what came after. The cinematography is also better in S1 and S2, the Enterprise moodier, and rooms low-lit. I'd even go so far as to say the original spandex uniforms looked better - more sleek and trim, and with nice flourishes on the shoulders - whilst what came later is rather blocky, almost like cardboard.

    In the penultimate scene, we hear Picard saying they stopped to rest and repair the engines after taxing them the "past few days"?

    Anyone see how many light years they travelled in a few days based on that map of the *checks notes* entire galaxy?

    Asking for a friend...on Voyager.


    This was okay but I didn't really get much out of it. It was a pretty big idea that the humanoids all had their primordial DNA seeded by the Odo like shapeshifter. But I wasn't following the DNA "program" that they kept talking about. Was there any other benefit to this episode? Picard seeing a glimpse of a career path not taken. Yawn.

    I liked it, even though the other races were a bit simplistic in their views (again).
    Gets 3 stars from me and the German joke dub "Sinnlos im Weltraum gets 4. :)

    Unengaging stuff.
    I agree with the Klingon Captain.
    Is this contradicting the TOS episode Return to Tomorrow in which our forbears became pure intelligence?

    Anyway this was another total yawn fest with a glimmer of something better when the Romulan Captain contacts Picard at the end.

    Am I the only one who winced at the thought of giving Picard a 12 thousand year old item that belongs in a museum? The thought of something that old getting jostled about every week is just...*facepalm*

    Craig - the artefact given to Picard appears briefly in Generations when Riker and Picard are inspecting the ready room after the crash on Veridian 3. Picard picks it up and it looks intact...but then he puts it back down and beams up, leaving it behind, which is kind of sad!

    I loved the final scene with the Romulan captain contacting Picard. So few words spoken, but there's a great promise in the thought of "one day".

    Also, re: Craig's comment:

    "Am I the only one who winced at the thought of giving Picard a 12 thousand year old item that belongs in a museum? The thought of something that old getting jostled about every week is just...*facepalm* "

    Yes, good lord, I felt uneasy seeing him even touching the thing! Utterly unique historical artefact? Please put that in a museum, not a starship that's gonna be under attack every other episode! Ancient items of inconceivable historical value are not as good at shaky acting as the actors are!

    This comment section may as well serve as the official "Is Norman Lloyd Still Alive" site. Currently he is 105 years old.

    Linda Thorson was cute as a Cardassian. I liked her pigtails and melodic speaking.

    I loled at the conference tension point. "Captain, we really have to get to the conference! We'll miss the PowerPoint slides and we won't get our nametags who will know who we are without the nametags?!" Really, they should know by now to schedule these things during the summer break where nothing ever happens.

    I didn't realize the beings from Alien Nation were the universe's progenitors. Anyway, what are the chances that dozens of independent DNA samples stay intact enough to slot into a jigsaw puzzle four billion years later? None of those suns went nova? Did all of them even exist in the first place? Things were a lot different back then. All of those planets continued to support life? None of their atmospheres were burned off by solar winds or whatever?

    Cardassian vessels look like seafood to me, like shrimp tempura or calamari or something.

    The comments section has prompted me to look up Tim Lynch's review of the episode, and weigh in on intelligent design theory. I'm not an evolutionist/biologist, and I certainly don't believe that intelligent design should be taught as a plausible theory in schools, but I'm still not sure I agree with Tim's criticism of its use in this episode.

    Yes, evolution is the process by which a species survives, and you would expect adaptations to be traits that guaranteed survival in a particular environment. So the reason human beings have evolved a sense of morality, for instance, is that rules beget cooperation, and the ability to intelligently cooperate with one another is a top notch survival mechanism.

    But let's suppose that an ancient alien species had authored some stowed some secret code in the DNA of early life forms in various planets, designed to sit dormant until certain conditions are met, and then to begin asserting itself.

    Tim uses a deck of cards analogy. So what if they stacked the deck? This pre-programming would either work in concert with evolution, tweaking the adaptations along a certain path, or - if the environmental conditions were wrong - it would doom the species to mutating in a non-optimal way. Hence why it's a gamble.

    Why does Geordi say that what he's seeing must be 'authored' rather than random? Well, to go back to the deck of cards, imagine that after shuffling, every card came out in order of number and suit. In other words, a pattern that serves no purpose except to appear to be a pattern tends to point toward intelligent design. The patterns of evolutionary or biological design are *telic*; they are there to achieve an end result within the organism. But if there is an observable pattern within a sequence that does nothing except draw a map of a nearby star system, that rather suggests someone intentionally put it there.

    The only thing I learned from this episode, was that Cardassian's knew about making biscuits.

    I liked this episode until I discovered it used the same climax as the movie, Mission to Mars. The martians also seeded the galaxy with their spawn.

    @mr peepers

    But mission to Mars would have been the one to rip this off not vice versa

    Awful, awful, awful episode. Feels like some of the crap from the season 1-2 era. It starts off good but once it turns into It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World with the Federation, Klingons, Romulans and Cardassians all squabbling over finding the hidden treasure I lost all interest. A few episodes ago the Federation and Cardassians were at war and Picard was brutally tortured. Now they're searching for the palm trees in the shape of a letter W. Why not throw the Ferengi in as well? The retcon/revelation itself was silly but was the least of the problems with this episode.

    Update on Norman Lloyd: He is still alive at age 105.

    I give credit to the writer for the ideas in this one, but I'm afraid I couldn't really buy them. In fact, I disliked the whole premise. I like my sci-fi to be imaginative, but presuming to rewrite the history of the cosmos so that the very existence of life on Earth is redefined is too much. And including one of the most historic moments in the history of the Galaxy into any one episode is overdoing it.

    And besides - we do not owe our form as upright primates with two arms and two legs to the DNA present in the primordial soup. We are descended from creatures that existed since then that look nothing like humans. Google "ancestor of all placental mammals" to see what I mean. We became like we are because of adaptations that arose as a reaction to our environment, it wasn't programmed in from the beginning. Ants, fish, snails and lizards are also descended from the same, first living cells.

    Furthermore I think this episode contains the most monumental technobollocks ever witnessed in the whole Star Trek franchise, when Beverley introduces a bit of dead lichen to her Tricorder, then a now-complete four billion year old computer program rewrites the Tricorder firmware to turn it into a hologram projector. It's absolute, barking nonsense.

    It's a shame that Picard has to be the (potential) foremost archeologist of his time, or whatever Galen implies. Can't we be satisfied with him being a brilliant Starship captain? No need to overcook his character.

    A few mitigating factors on the plus side - the dialogue between the Klingon and Data when they do the arm-wrestling in particular is quite funny.

    But nope, it's frustrating because there's a clever idea in there, but it's badly done. it just needed to be scaled down a bit and made more realistic.

    Just discovered from reading comments above that the Cardassian woman was Linda Thorson! Tara King herself, my favourite Avengers girl.

    Also I recognised the Romulan commander as Maurice Roëves, an actor from my own neck of the woods (the NE of England). I've just found out that he died this year, sorry to see that. I don't think he gives the most natural performance here.

    I've never been convinced that Picard, the archaeology professor's star student took a sudden turn to a Starfleet career. Why didn't THAT figure in Tapestry? The lack of any rudimentary arc development in TNG is a real pain.

    "I've never been convinced that Picard, the archaeology professor's star student took a sudden turn to a Starfleet career. Why didn't THAT figure in Tapestry? The lack of any rudimentary arc development in TNG is a real pain."

    Good point about Tapestry, but Picard's criticism of his blue-shirt self is that he is a man "bereft of passion and imagination". So perhaps he just lost interest in his archaeology.

    In general though, it's perfectly understandable that someone could be really really good at something, but still be better at (or prefer) something else. It's not that Picard was on a track to become an archaeologist, it was probably the equivalent of a minor or secondary degree, he just happened to be really good at it, but still preferred the command track.

    I certainly always felt that this episode was a valiant attempt to base an episode on the discovery and early development of language families via comparative linguistics in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as Alexander above pointed out, and I have always been fond of it for that reason alone.

    It was by the way particularly enjoyable to read the very considered speculation by Murphy, Chrome and Peter G. above about the possibility of some kind of link (no pun intended) to the Founders, which I had never considered (beyond the use of Salome Jens in both cases of course). Would have made a great follow-up DS9 episode.

    Ultimately, I will always have a soft spot for this episode because it at least tried to offer an in-universe explanation for the striking ubiquity of similarity (i.e. humanoids) in Trek. And no, like the Klingon forehead issue, this was of course not necessary (I very much understand why some say addressing such matters creates more problems than leaving well alone); but it was nevertheless an acknowledgement that I liked, much as the universal translator and technobabble are nods to other in-universe problems that I also like mention of.

    Once again, of course, Trek writers prove that they have no grasp whatsoever of evolution, and that is really where this episode falls flat on its face.

    RIP to Norman Lloyd, the actor for Picard's Archaeology professor Richard Galen. He lived a good long life of 106 years, and shocked me when I watched the Hitchcock film 'Sabateur' two years ago for looking oddly familiar in a 1942 film when I'd not seen a ton of films of the era. Not only was he in Star Trek at the age of 79, he was still alive and kicking.

    I love this episode! I don't know why, its just cool and enjoyable, even if they never followed up on it.

    And RIP to Norman Lloyd indeed. I read that he was married for 75 years to his wife, before her death at 98.

    PARAMOUNT: "Gene, we've been getting a lot of letters about the similarity of aliens in TNG"
    GENE R : "What kind of letters?"
    PARAMOUNT: "Oh you know. The usual. How similar they all are to humans - 2 arms, legs, ears, eyes in the right place, nose & mouth, ditto. Average human height"
    GENE R : "Haven't I been telling you I wanted more distinctive aliens, like in Star Wars?"
    PARAMOUNT: "We hear ya. But we don't have revenues from box office takings as Industrial Light & Magic do"
    GENE R : "So what do you want me to do about it?"
    PARAMOUNT: "Well, ideally a story that would explain why all the aliens look like they have a common ancestor"
    GENE R : "If you remember, we submitted a script for Series 3 that did exactly that. 'The Chase' IIRC. You didn't like it"
    PARAMOUNT: "Ok ok. Perhaps time to revisit that, and do something different to pad it out, I don't know... some Picard archaeology?"
    GENE R : "Yes, we could do that. Wait, even better - how about if the extinct ancestor traces a direct line down to Odo in DS9? At least from his humanoid angle?"

    Will this thread continue for a hundred years, two hundred, or, even for four billion years...?


    For what it was, the episode was quite fantastic, besides the slow start, and the very preachy "we are one" speech by the originator. She really did not know her audience :D As someone else said previously, felt more like a TOS episode speech.

    I think the problem in the writing of it was that the Cardassian and Klingon captains were just not characters in and of themselves. They try with the Klingon captain, but he gets exactly one scene where he is anything but a snarling plot device. The Cardassian captain fares no better, acted one-dimensionally by a lady who just looks pissed to have all this goop on her face for such a thankless role.

    The Romulans don't actually show up in the ep until the end... Instead of having Picard agonize over whether to accept the offer they could've like, written these various characters as being integral to the plot and with like, developmental arcs through the story. It would've made the revelation that the four races (and possibly the Vulcans too) were created by this species of Tallosians who shop at JC Penny. Honestly though the actress who makes the speech at the end carries it. I get it. And that's worth a lot in a ST Ep to me.

    This Chase needs a chaser. I nominate this episode to be sequelized in film format.


    You said: [PARAMOUNT: "Gene, we've been getting a lot of letters about the similarity of aliens in TNG"
    GENE R : "What kind of letters?"] I'm not gonna quote all of it

    Gene Roddenberry would have been far too dead by that point in time tho, yknow

    It's a weird episode tonally. There's the tragedy of Professor Galen, and then a It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Galaxy, and then all quake in silence before the Holy Secret of DNA. Weird.

    Started out great then got really stupid and dull.

    Though, Professor Galen's anger towards Picard at Picard refusing to leave the Enterprise seems greatly overdone. Unless Galen is meant to be senile, he couldn't possibly expect Picard to leave command of the ship at all, let alone on little more that a whim.

    @ Silly,

    "Though, Professor Galen's anger towards Picard at Picard refusing to leave the Enterprise seems greatly overdone. Unless Galen is meant to be senile, he couldn't possibly expect Picard to leave command of the ship at all, let alone on little more that a whim."

    You're framing it from Picard's POV; how could someone by upset as him retaining the line of work he set out to do. But you have to think of it from Galen's POV: he probably knows very well that if he goes off alone (a) he will be killed, and (b) the quest itself will fail. Either of these alone would probably be enough to infuriate most people. The scope of Galen's mission could very well be seen as being much more important than most of what the Federation is up to with its fleets. The episode plays very well as a mystery with intrigue and a bit of action, but if we're being literal about the stakes and the potential payoff of the genetic puzzle, Picard probably should have called in every ship in the fleet once he realized what was at issue.

    I disagree with Peter G.'s characterization. I don't think Galen's response was pragmatic or concerned with the success of the mission. It was personal for him.

    Galen is this genius and here he discovers another genius, someone with the potential to become like a Mozart in the field, and he turns his back on him and the chance to carry on that legacy to go work as a manager at a bank.

    And then when Galen comes a second time offering not just greatness, but the opportunity to make both of them legends, Picard still turns him down to work his 9 to 5 job.

    @ Jason R,

    I wasn't excluding there being a personal element between them, but was only addressing whether it's 'appropriate' for someone to be freaking out in this situation. Sure, an eccentric genius might get into a huff if he's blown off, but I was offering a more general explanation that doesn't even require guessing about Galen's inner thoughts about Picard and being let down. Almost anyone being sent off to do a deadly mission alone would be experiencing extreme emotions, it's pretty normal. Galen does have more specific issues at stake too, which are fine, but we don't even need to go that far to 'excuse' his aggressive reaction.

    Galen is being rather unfair to Picard. He's asking him to take a leave of absence, potentially losing his command and setting back his career, just on Galen's insistence that his mission is of the utmost importance. He's demanding blind trust but giving none in return. Had he told Picard what he's actually doing and sworn him to secrecy then maybe he could've persuaded him or at least gotten some assistance, but "I need full commitment before I tell you the mission" is beyond the pale.

    @Jeffrey Jakucyk "Galen is being rather unfair to Picard."
    Agree in essence with this, though I think Galen is actually terrible to Picard. There are few things in life more rancorous than a mentor scorned. It's as if all developing life, career and responsibilities must be sacrificed for this grand academic mission. Who's going pay Picard's college loans off if he quits Starfleet?

    Picard says, "They’re different species, from different planets — there shoul be no compatibility at all."

    Isn’t the fact that some alien species and humans are "compatible" already known, given that Vulcans and humans have produced offspring, and so have Klingons and humans?

    I liked this episode because it finally provided an explanation for the humanoid form. It was worth more than 3 stars simply because of the underlying Federation ethos and the conversation between Picard and the Romulan Commander at the end. Yes, there were some aspects that were too convenient, such as everyone converging on the puzzle at the same time without an exact explanation for why. However, because the Yridians were involved, and we still have no idea who hired them, one could assume that in Galen's archeological travels some people got tipped off.

    To me, the biggest convenience of all is that all of the genetic pieces were basically in the Alpha Quadrant, yet we know from TNG itself that humanoid species are everywhere (i.e. the Borg of the Delta Quadrant, the Cytherians at the Galactic core, etc).

    Nonetheless, I still like this episode, even today. The one part that makes me laugh is when Galen is giving Picard the 12,000 year old artifact. There's a moment when Picard leans on it as he is shaking Galen's hand, and another moment when Galen forcefully puts the lid back on it. In reality, a 12,000 year old artifact made of stone (or pottery?) would be on the verge of disintegrating.

    I give this episode 3.5 stars.

    @Peter G
    >While the lore of the ancient race here does resemble the lore of "The Preservers"...

    I thought it was Sargon from TOS “Return to Tomorrow”.

    Ah, what a rip roaring episode! I say, I did enjoy the Klingon fellow being on the show. I would have enjoyed him being on the crew and replacing mister Wrof. A hearty fellow! And he looks like he enjoys a big plate of meat and potatoes like myself. Do they have potatoes on Kling? If not, I saw the Federation should send over some as a gesture of peace, what! Perhaps they'd send some of those ample Klingon ladies over in return. I would quite enjoy tasting his mum's cookies!

    When the original species woman says "Our civilisation thrived for ages, but what is the life of one race, compared to the vast stretches of cosmic time?", that reminded me of the meaning of the episode "The Inner Light". I actually had to skip viewing "The Inner Light" because it's central theme is too depressing, being reminded that everything, our culture, our civilization, will be lost in the sands of time is just too upsetting to me. What do you think will be left of our civilization in a million years time?

    All it was needed to make this episode really work was a good mystery to be revealed at the end. Unfortunately they couldn't come up with one. Like others said before, it's no secret all humanoids share a common ancestor, and not ancient at all like this episode alludes to, but a fairly recent one, since in many episodes we see humanoids can produce offspring. It's plot convenience but I don't think it's used to tell a good story this time, so it's a tad grating.

    This is the type of open secret writers should handle with more care. I agree with @Nic we really didn't need the show trying to explain to us why aliens are just people in rubber masks. We know why. In meta and in universe. If you're going to talk about it, don't try to turn into a mystery. It's not a mystery at all. As soon as Galen said he had made a grand discovery, I knew exactly what it was. Maybe it was less obvious back in 93 when it came out, it certainly wasn't a mystery for me in 2023.

    I find it rather funny the Progenitors had so little faith in their descendants they felt they needed to spill it out all humanoids are brothers. And of course for plot convenience the humanoids didn't know that, even though we know they know. There are mixed aliens everywhere in this series and they all know about DNA.

    Maybe the episode should've started at the end and then working its moral around the fact aliens fight and despise each other despite the fact they know they share a common ancestor. If ST uses aliens to reflect aspects of humanity, then that would've been a more thought provoking episode.

    I feel like the Klingon at the end going "that's it?!" is a sign the writers knew how painfully obvious the reveal of this episode was. 'Yes we have shown over and over again all humanoid aliens feed on the same nutrients, have mostly the same organs, basically look all the same, can produce fertile offspring and think mostly the same but here, have this episode that pretends we've never shown any of this.'

    Jammer comments the implications of this reveal will never be mentioned afterward, despite its jaw-dropping implications. Well, does it need to be mentioned? It's certainly shown all the time. Before this episode and afterwards. I don't think it needs to be mentioned, it's too obvious to be worthy of a mention. Sorta like this episode. I find it entertaining enough, but as far as its reveal goes, it's unnecessary.


    Wasn't it obvious that @Tidd was documenting Paramount's use of a Ouija board? Do you know how long it took them to have that conversation with Gene, letter by letter? Show some respect.

    "Not sure but -- isn't having a reference to a race 4 billion years old earlier than anything else in the Trek canon? Bringing that out in itself makes this somewhat noteworthy. Has Q ever said how long he's been around?"

    I read a Star Trek story somewhere, not sure where, maybe in one of those "Strange New Worlds" anthologies. (They preceded by many years the existence of a "Strange New Worlds" TV show.) In this particular story, Picard somehow projects himself back in time four billion years and remarkably "arrives" there just as the Female Founder Lady is about to yell "Cut!" after her crew has finished filming her speech for posterity. Picard catches her attention, basically tells her, "Hey, we got your message four billion years in the future" while giving her a thumbs-up, then sends his image back to the twenty-fourth century.

    That was one of the most ridiculous "dramatic" contrivances I've ever read. This episode was somewhat entertaining, but it was not really that good a story. But to whatever degree it was a good episode, that absurd "coda" was totally unnecessary and actually could have "diluted" the episode by removing some of the suspense and innovation from it.

    Jammer: "but will never be mentioned afterward, despite its jaw-dropping implications."

    Discovery: "hold my blood wine."

    The setup for this episode always leaves me with a small annoyance.

    There is this contrived conflict between Picard and the professor because the professor wants Picard to up and leave with him to investigate this groundbreaking archaeological discovery. Picard naturally says no because he doesn't have the luxury of just walking away from his Starfleet position.

    It was a rather ridiculous thing for the Professor to ask for in the first place, given the circumstances.

    But if the professor had confided in Picard what the nature of his discovery was, Picard probably would have authorized allocating the resources of the Enterprise to the investigation.

    The Enterprise is, at least partially, a ship of science. One of the most important archaeological discoveries in centuries would likely qualify as a worthwhile use of the Enterprise. We've seen it assigned to much more banal tasks, so why not?

    The professor outright admitted that he knew a star ship like the Enterprise would make things infinitely easier, bringing the investigation down to weeks instead of months. The writers basically had to come up with a reason for why he didn't just tell Picard everything. So they came up with this contrived conflict between the two of them that literally makes you ask, why come to Picard at all?


    There are a few possible reasons why Galen didn't tell Picard what the nature of his discovery was. The most likely reason he intended to keep it a secret until Picard separated himself was Starfleet was because he didn't want it to become a Starfleet operation. Being the one to bring to light such a magnificent discovery would have been the crowning achievement of his career, and one that he'd been diligently at work for many years to bring to fruition, assuring him great fame and recognition. He may have feared that Starfleet taking over the mission because of its grave importance (like they did) would earn him little more than a footnote in the annals of history. He was only prepared to share the credit with Picard, his former disciple, and no one else.

    Another possibility is that he underestimated its broader importance to people outside of the field of archaeology and never considered that any such people would be inclined to help. He may have known that it had great significance that went well beyond that narrow field of study but he may have felt that way about many of his projects and had probably gotten used to being dismissed by all those other people and has now stubbornly hardened to the belief that they simply wouldn't understand or appreciate his work. But Picard is someone who he knew would immediately see the magnitude of his investigation, being someone he respected and trusted enough to share in the excitement.

    It's such an epic story, told in such a frivolous way ahahaha

    My favourite part is when the Yridian Destroyer is attacking the professor's vehicle, then Picard orders to disable the Yridian vessel, but Worf COMPLETELY OBLITERATES IT because yes, and he is like "oh, that shouldn't have happened...?" and everybody is like "¯\_(ツ)_/¯ meh" and let's move on, because it's just what the writers needed to happen.

    The whole thing was so ridiculous I thought it a ruse by the professor to lure Picard into completing the work.

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