Mon
Sep 19 2011 12:10pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Contagion”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “Contagion”“Contagion”
Written by Steve Gerber & Beth Woods
Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan
Season 2, Episode 11
Production episode 40272-137
Original air date: March 20, 1989
Stardate: 42609.1

Captain’s Log: The Enterprise responds to an urgent distress call from their sister ship, the U.S.S. Yamato from inside the Romulan Neutral Zone. The Yamato is suffering catastrophic failures all over the ship. Captain Donald Varley went into the Neutral Zone, investigating a legendary ancient species called the Iconians — he found their homeworld, on which technology still remains, but then the ship started falling apart. They’ve already lost an 18-member engineering team.

Riker offers to offload nonessential personnel from the Yamato, but Varley says that that would be premature — an idiotic statement, made more so by the ship blowing up a few minutes later when the magnetic seals on the antimatter decay.

A Romulan ship decloaks half a second later, requesting the Enterprise leave the Neutral Zone. Sub-Commander Taris does not take responsibility for the destruction of the Yamato, but points out that she’d have been within her rights to do so. Picard refuses to leave until he investigates the Yamato’s destruction, at which point Taris cloaks her ship.

Picard reads through Varley’s personal logs. The captain found an artifact that enabled him to figure out the location of the Iconian homeworld, smack in the middle of the Neutral Zone. The Yamato was scanned by a probe that they eventually destroyed. Shortly afterward, they started having the system malfunctions, and asked the Enterprise for help.

Varley expressed concerns that this was a design flaw in Galaxy-class ships, but La Forge eliminates that option in short order, realizing that it was the probe that did the trick. He figures this out about four seconds before the Enterprise arrives at what they think is Iconia, and barely is able to warn them in time, as the Enterprise is suffering from similar malfunctions.

The Iconian probe has inserted a computer program into the Yamato — which came over to the Enterprise when they downloaded their sister ship’s log—that rewrites the ship computer. It’s responsible for the malfunctions that destroyed the Yamato and that are tearing the Enterprise to pieces. (Obviously La Forge hasn’t downloaded the latest version of McAfee...)

Picard, Data, and Worf beam down to Iconia, where they discover the secret of the Iconians: they had gateways that could transport them instantly to other locations on other planets. Realizing that this cannot fall into Romulan hands, Picard plans to destroy the gateways — but the console attacks Data, infecting him with the same program. Worf uses the gateway to return to the Enterprise with the malfunctioning Data, hoping examining him can help La Forge fix the ship.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “Contagion”

Data shuts down so completely, La Forge thinks he’s dead. Then he wakes up, with no memory of anything that happened since the console whammed him. This gives La Forge the idea of doing the same to the Enterprise: shutting it down, purging, and restoring the systems from the protected archives from a point prior to when the Yamato logs were downloaded.

Down on the planet, Picard blows the gateway up so that it’ll stay out of Romulan hands. He escapes through the about-to-explode gateway to the Romulan ship. Taris is peevish, as the autodestruct is on and she can’t turn it off. O’Brien is able to beam Picard out, Riker transmits La Forge’s repair to Taris, and everyone goes on their merry way.

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi points out that Taris is frustrated by her ship malfunctioning, something that is blindingly obvious just by watching her talk. She also more helpfully points out that people on the malfunctioning ship need something to focus their attention away from the ship falling apart around them, and Riker suggests she organize an evacuation of the ship.

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: The entire episode focuses on a computer virus that hits the Yamato and the Enterprise, making everything malfunction on both ships, the former enough to destroy it. I’m guessing this means that Starfleet uses Windows rather than Mac....

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “Contagion”

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf mostly gets to stand around and ask dumb questions so Picard can provide exposition. But apparently he can keep time in his head, which is handy.

If I Only Had a Brain...: Data manages to reconstruct the Iconian language, though his knowledge is imperfect, as he mistakes the operating system for the gateways for manual override. It could happen to anyone.

I’m a Doctor, Not an Escalator: Pulaski is in one scene where she whines about the technology not working, then has to explain a splint to one of her staff. The idea that technology-free medicine isn’t taught at Starfleet Medical is a bit scary, honestly.

The Boy!?: Wes gets his first taste of death on this big a scale, and has trouble dealing with it, talking with Picard about it.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “Contagion”

Welcome Aboard: Carolyn Seymour makes the first of two appearances as a Romulan commander. When the actor was brought back in the sixth season’s “Face of the Enemy,” it was apparently decided to make her a different character in the belief that Taris likely didn’t survive long after this episode. It’s not clear who does more to make Donald Varley unimpressive and incompetent, the writers or actor Thalmus Rasulala, but I’m more than happy to give them all credit.

I Believe I Said That: “Fate—it protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise.”

Riker when they just miss being fired upon by the Romulans.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “Contagion”

Trivial matters: This is the episode that introduces two of Jean-Luc Picard’s affinities: Earl Grey tea and archaeology. Your humble rewatcher was once told by the episode’s co-writer, the late Steve Gerber, that he was inordinately proud of that. Gerber was also the writer of the magnificently subversive Howard the Duck comic book in the 1970s (also the basis of what many considered the worst movie of George Lucas’s career prior to 1999).

The other co-writer, Beth Woods, was the computer tech at Paramount, who allegedly had to explain the concept of computer viruses to Gene Roddenberry in order for him to approve this script.

This is the first time seeing the Yamato for real, after being shown an illusory version of it in “Where Silence Has Lease.”

Another Iconian gateway would show up in the Gamma Quadrant in the Deep Space Nine episode “To the Death,” and Worf’s experiences in this episode would prove useful there. The gateways were also the basis of one of Pocket Books’s multi-series crossovers, 2001’s seven-book Gateways, which included a contribution from your humble rewatcher, the DS9 installment, which was entitled Demons of Air and Darkness, a phrase derived from this episode.

La Forge makes reference to Bruce Maddox from “The Measure of a Man” in this episode.

One of the gateway destinations is Toronto City Hall.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “Contagion”

Make it so. “Tea, Earl Grey, hot.” Whenever you call tech support, the first thing they tell you is to turn it off and turn it back on again. So it’s frustrating to sit and watch this episode, where it takes La Forge most of the hour to think of that solution.

The episode is clumsily written, with too much urgency given to a vague theory, for all that it turns out to be true, wrong-sounding dialogue from Picard (particularly his first line to Varley and his last line to Riker), terminal incompetence from Varley, out-of-the-blue moral relativism from Picard regarding the Iconians, and a solution that may not have been as blindingly obvious in 1989 as it is in 2011, but damn.

There’s also no resolution to the entering of the Neutral Zone by three different ships. In the end, the Enterprise just buggers off, having destroyed property in the Neutral Zone, and the Romulan ship lets him go unconvincingly.

 

Warp factor rating: 4


Keith R.A. DeCandido told the engineering crew’s side of this particular story in one chapter of Many Splendors, a Star Trek: Corps of Engineers story that was reprinted in What’s Past. It’s one of many works of Star Trek fiction in his repertoire. His latest novel is Guilt in Innocence, which is part of “Tales from the Scattered Earth,” a shared-world science fiction concept that he is co-authoring along with Aaron Rosenberg (author of several Corps of Engineers stories), Steve Lockley, Steven Savile, and David Niall Wilson. Find out more about Keith at his website, which is a portal to (among many other things) his Facebook page, his Twitter feed, his blog, and his twice-monthly podcast, Dead Kitchen Radio.

30 comments
Margot Virzana
1. LuvURphleb
You forgot my favorite line: "if it becomes necessary can you provide some rocks to throw at them?" Riker complaining about the system failures under the threat of romulan attack.
When i was a child and mom and i were collecting TNG onVHS i enjoyed this episode because we didnt get a computer until 2001. Now... I think the four rating was generous.
Margot Virzana
2. LuvURphleb
You forgot my favorite line: "if it becomes necessary can you provide some rocks to throw at them?" Riker complaining about the system failures under the threat of romulan attack.
When i was a child and mom and i were collecting TNG onVHS i enjoyed this episode because we didnt get a computer until 2001. Now... I think the four rating was generous.
David Levinson
3. DemetriosX
The solution may not have been blindingly obvious to the public at large in 1989, but it was pretty obvious to people who were familiar with computers. Unfortunately, the latter group may have been a little overrepresented in the show's audience. I know my response was pretty much surprise that they didn't try the actual solution a lot earlier. IIRC, they also had a few problems coming up with the backups and it was almost a matter of luck that they had them at all.
David Stumme
4. grenadier
There's also the issue of an alien computer virus being able to infect multiple operating systems (Starfleet's LCARS and Data's) that it has never seen before. But if Jeff Goldblum can do it with a Mac, then I suppose we can give the Iconians some leeway. ;-)
David Thomson
5. ZetaStriker
Jeff Goldblum was an Iconian! It all makes sense now!
Christopher L. Bennett
6. Christopher L. Bennett
This episode may have the distinction of introducing Picard's love of archaeology and Earl Grey tea, but it also bears the more unfortunate distinction of introducing the horribly overused concept of a "warp core breach" to the Trek universe. Although that's not really the episode's fault; a major plot point in "Contagion" was how staggering unlikely, indeed virtually impossible, it was for all of the ship's safeguards against a breach to fail at once. The nigh-impossibility of the event was their clue that it was the result of some form of external tampering. And that makes sense, because it stands to reason that if you're going to design a vehicle, you'd design it in such a way that it wouldn't be easy to make it blow up and kill everyone aboard it. But later writers just got lazy and started tossing in the phrase "warp core breach" whenever they wanted to put the characters in arbitrary danger, and it got to the point where it seemed like a warp core would breach if you looked at it funny (which made it all the more irresponsible when the crew of Voyager would beam aboard mysterious and potentially dangerous alien technologies and study them only meters away from the warp core).
Christopher L. Bennett
7. Cradok
It was never the core breaches that irked me. Sure, it happened more than you'd hope, but there was often some sort of subspace inversion field or direct colision or whatever, so I can live with that. It was more the fact that once it happened, the sole solution seemed to be 'panic and then explode'. I can remember exactly one instance of the core being ejected during an emergency - as opposed to being used as a weapon or simply for kicks - and that's Day of Honor.

With regards to the Neutral Zone, I always wondered why the Romulans were able to enter at will to threaten or pontificate, but the moment a Federation ship wandered over it was War.
Christopher L. Bennett
8. dav
I always wondered the same thing about the Neutral Zone. Isn't it supposed to be "neutral" territory between Federation and Romulan space? Why isn't the Romulan's presence in the Neutral Zone as equally egregious and the Enterprise's? Never made sense that they acted like they owned the place.
Keith DeCandido
9. krad
Cradok and Dav: Actually, Picard tells Taris that she has no more right to be in the Zone than he does, and Taris avoids answering the question. So yeah, they're both supposed to stay out of it. And generally we only see the Romulans enter in response to a Federation incursion. (See also: "The Defector.")

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Christopher L. Bennett
10. Seryddwr
I seem to be in a minority of one in that I really like this episode. It was show-stoppingly good when it first aired, and even if it hasn't aged as well as some of the other early shows, it moves along at a fair old clip, there are some very choice lines, lots of little cliffhangers at regular intervals, and the SFX are also pretty good for the time, and stand up well even now. One thing that never gets mentioned is the fabulous score for this show - I can recall the glissando string figure at the end of the scene where Picard views Farley's log entries sending shivers down my spine as a kid. Carolyn Seymour is her usual ascerbic self (later the perfect choice for the evil Al in Quantum Leap), Colm Meaney does his thang in the transporter room, and if Thalmus Rasulala is unremarkable as Farley, that's hardly his fault - with only two scenes, one a series of monologues, he's not given much to work with.

The central conceit of the plot - an alien virus finding its way around the Enterprise's computer - is a little weak, but no more so than those in blockbusters like Independence Day as noted above. Similarly the warp core breach on the Yamato: sure, it's extremely unlikely, but that's the whole reason Geordi spends so much time making that very point - it's important for one of the main characters to let us know that a warp core breach is a once-in-a-blue-moon event. (He even has to correct Picard, who avers that it's impossible.)

The episode is 'clumsily written'? Sorry, can't agree. Some of the dialogue is a little clunky, but for every cheesy 'It is maddening to be stopped on the threshold of a dream by one's own ship!', there's a pithy 'In a few minutes, anywhere will be preferable to this room.' The comic moments are also well-judged (unusual for seasons 1 and 2, where the comedy is ordinarily added to the mix with a spade).

As for the denouement (and I admit I'm no computer tech), it's never struck me as so blindingly obvious as to ruin the show. Frankly, I wonder how many classes Geordi took in Starfleet Academy where the instructor said, 'Oh, and by the way, here's how to turn these extraordinarily complex Galaxy-class starship computer cores off in their entirety - a complete systems shutdown, including life support, defence systems, engines, the works. Y'know, just in case you need to rid the system of an alien computer virus or something.' For all we know, it may be that it takes so long for the penny to drop with Geordi because starship computer systems never get turned off. (Q: did this ever happen again in ST:TNG?)

The only bit in the entire show that grates with me is Pulaski giving one of her minions what-for about not knowing what a splint is (for the reasons mentioned above). It's like an author of today not knowing what a pen is for - so our handwriting might not be copperplate, but we can all still write.

Right?
Christopher L. Bennett
11. Christopher L. Bennett
@#8: Yeah, it's a perennial problem -- authors of Trek both onscreen and in tie-ins sometimes lose sight of the difference between the Romulan Neutral Zone and Romulan territory. This goes clear back to "The Deadly Years." What the hell were ten Romulan warships doing in that single small part of the Neutral Zone? By all rights, that's a major military incident and a huge treaty violation, but the episode treated them as if they were simply on routine patrol.

@#10: I wasn't complaining abou tthe use of the warp core breach in this episode. This is the only episode that handled it well. What bugs me is that later writers forgot or ignored the fact that it was explicitly stated to be all but impossible.
Christopher L. Bennett
12. Seryddwr
@11: I take your point. It certainly gets flogged pretty badly later on in various flavours of Star Trek. Part of what bugged me about Star Trek: Insurrection is when the warp core gets ejected for the usual no-good-reason, and nobody on the bridge seems to mind that getting shut of it will leave the Enterprise completely crippled!

Come to think of it, the 'alien virus invading our computer' trope gets done to death too. TNG's 'Masks', or DS9's 'The Forsaken' (IIRC; the one where O'Brien has to build the alien computer program a 'dog house'), anyone?
Christopher L. Bennett
13. Cradok
Well, the Galaxy-class did have a 'backup' warp core which had to be installed and such if the primary were ejected, one could assume that a Soverign-class would have one too, but the smaller Interpid didn't, because they were shafted when the ejected theirs.

O'Brien not doing a purge and reboot in 'The Forsaken' I can forgive. After all, he could barely get the computer to work when everything was going fine, let alone when some alien life form was messing around in it. One has to wonder what happened to Pup when Sisko wiped the computers in 'Call to Arms'.
Christopher L. Bennett
14. Idran
@4: Somewhat off topic, but what's funny about the Independence Day situation is there was actually a scene cut from the movie that mostly explains the computer virus thing; they'd been studying the computer systems of the ship that crashed at Roswell ever since then, and had reverse-engineered the entire operating system enough for Jeff Goldblum to be able to use their research to write the virus.

Now, it is still somewhat of a stretch that the mothership would be using an operating system compatible with one from a scoutship from 50 years earlier, but far less of one, at least.
Christopher L. Bennett
15. Pendard
This episode drags a little but I've always considered it as one of the best of the second season. I liked the Romulan connection and the Iconians. As for the solution to the computer virus, reformatting the hard drive might seem obvious to us, but in the 24th century I bet computers are way more reliable. Nobody has probably had to do that in three hundred years, so they've probably never heard of it.
Christopher L. Bennett
16. ChrisG
Re: @#6 Another malfunction that occurs unfortunately often (at least later in the series) is the "Starboard Power Coupling." Any kind of bump and the starboard power coupling goes down with whatever ill effects are needed for the plot at the moment. This reminds me to keep a count as we go through these.
Christopher L. Bennett
17. JasonD
@14: I actually find it entirely likely that the ID4 aliens' level of technology would have remained pretty static over 50 years. While we as a species have progressed exponentially in the last 100 years, before that we were pretty much at a standstill until the innovation of the steam engine made trains and steamships possible. Our own hyper-fast growth since the Industrial Revolution is so improbable that it boggles the mind, and it's highly likely that an advanced alien race that had probably never seen any real opposition (fueled by the Human Spirit no less) would have spent much time advancing their own tech. Besides, their tech was probably all stolen anyway, being the interplanetary locusts they were made out to be.

@15: Your comment about the reliability of computers in the Trek universe is sorta on the same level as Pulaski having to teach her subordinates about splints. When you never run into the problem anymore, they stop teaching the solution. A lot more people knew how to take care of horses back before there were any cars, for example. I can change a tire, but not a horseshoe, whereas someone from a hundred years ago would watch my attempts to do so and gripe "It's so obvious! I thought you future people were supposed to be smart."

Of course, it could just be an early example of Hollywood being totally clueless about computers, which to this day hasn't gotten any better.
Fredrik Coulter
18. fcoulter
@17: (A major change of topic) Gregory Clark wrote a book dealing directly with the change in society from the Malthusian World (everthing prior to about 1800) and the change that we call The Industrial Revolution. The Book is called A Farewall to Alms, and it posits that the Steam Engine was not the fundamantal change agent that caused The Industrial Revolution. Rather that there was a fundamental change in humanity.

However, rather than buying and reading the book, a course he taught at UCDavis is available for free from iTunes U (http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=405570098). The course was given after the book had been published, and includes corrections to what he had originally written based on other economists research and responses. I thought the course was fascinating, but it does make a lot of historical fiction not work as well. Oh well. A lot of science fiction, especially movies and television, requires a significant suspension of disbelief, too.

I strongly recommend the course if you're interested in history or economics.
Christopher L. Bennett
19. Pendard
@JasonD (#17): Of course you're completely right that it's an example of 1980s Hollywood being clueless about computers. I was just rationalizing it because I'm a Trekkie and that's what we do! :-)
Jenny Thrash
20. Sihaya
Serrydwr @#10: "The only bit in the entire show that grates with me is Pulaski giving one of her minions what-for about not knowing what a splint is (for the reasons mentioned above). It's like an author of today not knowing what a pen is for - so our handwriting might not be copperplate, but we can all still write."

I was actually reading a science article in the newspaper today that says this very phenomenon is happening. The theory may be off, but it's applicable. Martin Rees in the Guardian posits the idea that very little of our current technology is hands on for young kids the way it used to be. As kids, Newton made model windmills and clocks, Darwin collected specimens, and Einstein studied the electric motors in his father's shop. Kids as late as the fifties could take apart clocks, engines, radios, and figure out how they work (and I do remember taking apart mechanical toys as a kid). Modern gadgets, says Rees, are "black boxes," devices that might as well be magical. No kid can figure out how the things work by putting hid hands on it and tinkering with it. All he's likely to do is break it and remain ignorant. So scientific basics aren't hands-on parts of people's everyday lives anymore. I find it interesting that someone claims to be witnessing the phenomenon of folks who are scientifically helpless right now.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/19/britain-needs-schools-for-science?
Keith DeCandido
21. krad
Interesting conversation here. :)

My main issue with the splint thing is that I can think of half a dozen situations a Starfleet away team would get into where they have a medical crisis and no access to technology. Hell, all of the five TV shows had teams in such situations more than once. I can understand civilian medical personnel not necessarily knowing non-technological solutions, but a Starfleet medico would have to know that stuff to do their job....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Christopher L. Bennett
22. Dilsnik
I always rationalized the situation with Dr. Pulaski explaining a splint to one of her staff, that this was a microbiologist, or psychologist, doing a mandatory rotation in sickbay. ; )
Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho
23. ajk
The reason you solve a computer problem now by powercycling is that your computer is designed to be turned off and on frequently. A starship computer that controls everything that happens on that ship gets turned on before shakedown and off just before the breakers get it (unless you get unlucky, as in Voyager's Year of Hell). You would upgrade it by hotswapping software components one by one, but everything else stays on. You never, ever, turn it all off at the same time on purpose. Unless it's your only choice, like here.

So yeah, to this computer geek, it makes good sense. Of course, it shows how little contingency planning Starfleet does that they didn't have a procedure for it in the book.
Christopher L. Bennett
24. Bernice
Is the Iconian computer virus in any way connected to the virus that was going to be planted on the Galaxy-class ships in The Buried Age?
Christopher L. Bennett
25. Nahtmmm
The Iconians were also involved in the excellent giant novel The Devil's Heart.
Christopher L. Bennett
26. Sarge
Anyone who's ever had to wipe the OS-resident partition and start over from scratch knows how time-consuming it is and how much work actualy goes into getting the system back to where you want it after the OS install is done.... you have to restore your browser bookmarks, re-install your drivers, re-install your utilities and apps, etc. But anyone who's ever been an IT tech also knows that there are ways to make this a very easy, automated process, if you're willing to do a lot more work ahead of time to prepare the system for such a contingency. Considering the short time it aparantly took for Geordi to do a wipe-and-restore (mere seconds), the Enterprise must have had a (very fast) system in place. Therefore, Gerodi must have been familiar with the concept, which begs the question: Why in the nine hells didn't he think of the solution earlier? What, was he was distracted by the destruction of the Yamato? Did his visor malfuntion, making him dumber-than-usual? Was he secretly replaced by Folgar's Crystals and nobody noticed? Here's my idea of what was going through Geordi's head this episode.

Geordi: "Hey, we've obviously been infected by a computer virus. Let's see... we could... um... uh... check the warp core? No... that's not it. How about we let the captain, Data and Worf take a ridiculously risky and unnesisary risk by allowing him to use a transporter that could potentialy fail mid-transport instead of using a shuttle, (which has NOT been infected becasue it's computer is a seperate system), bcasue I'm currently an idiot and my head is completely up my ass right now. Using the transporter will very likely kill them all in the process, but lets just ignore that and proceede anyway. Yes, that seems like a resonable and quite acceptable solution, let's try that. Oh, dam, now they are trapped on the planet and we can't beam them back. But we can. Except we can't. Except when we can. What's that? We just needed to push this button here and the main computer will self correct? Oh, dam, why didn't I, the Cheif Engine Ear of this starship, who is supposed to know these things, think of that? Hrm, perhaps I should not have been promoted so quickly. Oh well, let's go see what the Rubber Forehead Alien Of The Week will be next episode."

But you know, if I'm gonna criticise Geordi for incompitence, I certainly can't let Data off the hook. Data should have surmised the problem the minute he heard what was happening on the Yamato. He's a WALKING COMPUTER for christ's sake!! How could he have not guessed that all this was a computer virus? What the hell, Data? You can solve a Sherlock Holmes style mystery, but you can't recognise a virus-infected computer when you see one????

Oh, and Captain Picard? Next time you want to keep dangerous alien technology out of enemy hands, you might want to bother to check if said technology was actualy destroyed instead of just assuming it was becasue it "couldn't have possibly survived." Don't make me come over there and beat you to death with Captain Kirk. You know, the Kirk would couldn't have possibly survived when the Enterpise B went patialy kablooie? You remeber him, right? You know, the Kirk that later showed up being not dead at all?? Am I ringing any bells for you right now?
Justin Devlin
27. EnsignJayburd
@krad, I'm having a bit of cognitive dissonance over the fact that you gave this episode a 4, yet wrote a sequel to it (which I enjoyed, BTW).
Joseph Newton
28. crzydroid
Geordi's solution wasn't akin so much to a reboot as to a system restore, as he had to erase the infected aspects and reinstall from backups. Shutting down systems and wiping them was probably something that was not often done on the ship. And we're also not entirely certain that the systems were all restored in a short amount of time, just that the infected systems (which Geordi had probably been tracking) were wiped. For example, the turbolift software might not have been reinstalled until after they warped out.

Aside from the Yamato captain's other obvious judgment errors and assumptions, I find it a little strange that neither he nor Picard seemingly asked Starfleet permission to go frolicking around the Neutral Zone.
Christopher L. Bennett
29. CaptHarper
I completely agree with Seryddwr. I enjoyed this episode even after all these years. Even today, it remains one of my favorite early TNG episodes. There's a great deal of suspense. As far as Captain Varley, the actor does a pretty good job conveying a captain whose tried to protect the Federation and dies trying, sadly along with his entire crew. Watching the Yamato destroy itself is ironically harder for me today than it was when I was younger. The minor details of the solution to the virus are completely unimportant. Overall a fun and suspenseful episode. A testament to how the writing got much much better as the show progressed. Far from a 4, I'd give it a 7 or an 8.
Christopher L. Bennett
30. Shabataka
Doesn't this gateway scenerio reference a plot device from one or two episodes in the original series? I'm thinking "City on the Edge of Forever" and "All Our Yesterdays" specifically.

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