Sep 25 2012 4:30pm
Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Relics”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Relics“Relics”
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Alexander Singer
Season 6, Episode 4
Production episode 40276-230
Original air date: October 12, 1992
Stardate: 46125.3

Captain’s Log: The Enterprise is responding to a distress signal from the U.S.S. Jenolen, a transport ship that was reported missing in this sector 75 years earlier. Turns out the ship has crashed on a Dyson Sphere—a hollow sphere built around a sun, with a diameter of 200 million miles—that the Enterprise didn’t detect until it got close because of its massive gravitational field interfering with sensors.

Worf finds the Jenolen’s signal on the sphere, Ensign Rager moves into position, and Data finds the ship impacted on the surface. No life signs, but there’s power and life support is working, so Riker leads an away team that includes Worf and La Forge.

La Forge is surprised to find the transporter is still online, and it’s been jury-rigged to keep a pattern in the matter stream in a cycle that has kept the pattern from degrading and power flowing to it indefinitely. La Forge and Riker are impressed by the engineering work, and they realize that someone might be alive in the buffer. La Forge rematerializes the pattern—which reveals itself to be Captain Montgomery Scott.

Scotty was on his way to retirement on the Jenolen when they found the Dyson Sphere. The ship crashed, and only Scotty and Ensign Matt Franklin survived. To Scotty’s dismay, Franklin’s pattern degraded 53%, so he didn’t survive his transporter trick.

There’s a bit of culture shock, as Scotty realizes he’s been gone for 75 years. (The sight of Worf in a Starfleet uniform is particularly jarring.) When they beam back, Scotty immediately notices that the resonance pattern has changed, and Riker asks La Forge to serve as Scotty’s guide to the 24th century.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Relics

La Forge takes him to sickbay, where Crusher heals his wounds, then orders him to get some rest. Scotty would rather follow La Forge to engineering, but he obeys doctor’s orders, and is escorted to quarters by Ensign Kane, where he’s stunned by the size of the cabin. He starts waxing rhapsodic to Kane about the old days—making reference to the events of both “Elaan of Troyius” and “Wolf in the Fold”—but the ensign excuses himself before he can seriously start in on the storytelling.

Scotty eventually tires of sitting in his quarters, and goes to engineering. La Forge says he doesn’t have time for a tour—but Scotty doesn’t want a tour, he wants to work. Unfortunately, Scotty’s 75-year gap in engineering is a problem, and once again Scotty starts reminiscing, this time about the events of “The Naked Time,” and also starts poking around the dilithium chamber and giving La Forge unwanted advice about padding your repair estimates (Scotty’s trade secret, revealed back in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock). He pretty much gets on La Forge’s last nerve, and Scotty finally leaves in a huff after the obligatory I-was-crawling-around-engine-cores-when-your-grandfather-was-in-diapers line.

Naturally, Scotty’s next stop is the bar: he goes into Ten-Forward, and orders a Scotch. However, it’s a syntheholic Scotch, and it tastes wretched to Scotty. Data comes to his rescue, and finds a bottle of actual alcohol, which he pours for the aged engineer. He also tells Scotty about the holodeck, and that’s Scotty’s next stop—clutching the bottle of booze—where he asks for a re-creation of the original Enterprise bridge.

Scotty is overcome, and walks over to his old engineering station, raising a toast to his former crewmates.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Relics

Picard then enters the holodeck, and Scotty asks to share a drink with him. The two reminisce, Scotty about the Enterprise , Picard about his first command, the Stargazer. The weight of the decades seems to be crashing down on Scotty, as he’s 75 years out of date, and isn’t a raw cadet who can learn how to be an engineer all over again. He bitterly shuts the holodeck off, saying it’s time he acted his age.

Later, Picard summons La Forge to his ready room, asking if they’ve had any success accessing the Jenolen’s logs. They haven’t, and Picard suggests having Scotty try to access them, since he’s more familiar with the systems. Initially La Forge fobs off the duty of beaming down with him on one of his engineers, but Picard asks La Forge as a favor to do it himself—he wants Scotty to feel useful again. La Forge understands, and agrees.

After the pair of them beam down, the Enterprise moves toward what appears to be a communications device—it’s an antenna giving off subspace signals. They get there, and they find a portal that Riker figures is the front door to the interior of the Dyson Sphere. “Should we ring the bell?”

The moment Worf opens a channel to the antenna, the Enterprise is hit with a tractor beam. The portal opens, and the ship is pulled into the sphere. Unfortunately, the tractor beam’s resonance frequency is incompatible with the ship’s power systems—even after the beam’s turned off (which happens once they’re inside), the momentum is carrying them forward, and Rager can’t reverse course, as impulse engines are down. They’re heading straight for the sun that the sphere surrounds. They manage to use maneuvering thrusters to turn the ship so that they orbit the sun rather than dive-bomb it.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Relics

On the Jenolen, Scotty and La Forge are working to get at the sensor logs, with little luck. Scotty bitches about how old and useless the ship is (referring mostly to himself), and La Forge points out about all the good things about the old ship and how it’d still be in service today if it hadn’t crashed, and how just because something’s old, doesn’t mean you throw it away (referring mostly to Scotty).

When La Forge tries to contact the Enterprise to get a widget they can try to use to access the logs, there’s no answer (as the ship’s now in the sphere). La Forge suggests trying to get the Jenolen up and running, which Scotty dismisses as daft for about ten reasons, all of which he lists, and then proceeds to go and get started on it, to La Forge’s amusement.

Data scans the interior of the sphere, to discover that it’s been abandoned. The star is unstable, kicking up solar flares. The Enterprise triggered an automated pilot aid that brought people in and out of the sphere, and now they’re stuck with an underpowered ship that is barely holding shields against the unstable sun’s spitting.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Relics

Scotty and La Forge get the Jenolen active. Scotty asks La Forge to take command, even though he’s the senior officer, as Scotty, despite his rank, never wanted to be anything other than an engineer. They follow the Enterprise ion trail to the portal. They trigger the tractor beams—but from a safe distance so the beams won’t snag them. The doors open, and then the beams go off, and the Jenolen flies into the doorway, jamming it open with shields.

The Enterprise flies toward the jammed-open hatch. The Jenolen’s helm control’s shot, so they have to beam La Forge and Scotty off and then destroy the Jenolen in order to get through. They do that (inexplicably beaming the pair out through the shields, which should be impossible), just making it through the hatch, with the two engineers safely back on board.

Later, La Forge is escorting Scotty to the shuttle bay, telling him the story of the events of “Galaxy’s Child” (presumably just the parts about the alien child, leaving out the parts about how incredibly creepy he was). Picard gives Scotty one of the Enterprise shuttles for his own use. He says his goodbyes to the crew, and sets off for whatever new adventures may come his way.

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: Scotty is taken aback by a number of changes, from the resonance frequency in the transporter to the ability to recrystalize dilithium to the change from duotronics to isolinear chips. At one point, La Forge resists a procedure because it goes against the specs—except it turns out that Scotty wrote those specs.

Syntheholics Anonymous: Guinan has a small supply of real booze in Ten-Forward. (I’m betting some of it is Klingon stuff for Worf.) One such is a bottle of Aldebaran Whiskey, which Picard gave her.

If I Only Had a Brain...: Data serves as Scotty’s bartender, providing him with an actual alcoholic beverage as opposed to the standard-issue synthehol, to wit, the Aldebaran Whiskey, which he doesn’t recognize, and so must simply say to Scotty that “it is green.” (This is a callback to one of Scotty’s lines when he gets the Kelvan Tomar drunk in “By Any Other Name.”)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Relics

What Happens on the Holodeck Stays on the Holodeck: Scotty uses the holodeck to re-create the bridge from the original series, and it’s a total fangasm. (The command chair and navigation console were rented from Steve Horch, who had built them for use at conventions. The background consoles were mostly bluescreened from the empty bridge shots in the episodes “This Side of Paradise” and “The Mark of Gideon.” The only one they had to build was the engineering console that Scotty sat at.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Relics

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Scotty is taken aback, to say the least, by a Klingon in a Starfleet uniform. (This is the same man who referred to “those Klingon devils” in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, after all.) In the end, when everyone’s saying goodbye to Scotty, he and Worf just kind of look at each other awkwardly and walk away.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Relics

In the Driver’s Seat: Ensign Rager returns, and she performs an incredibly nifty, and totally unappreciated, bit of piloting, as she flies the big, glunky Enterprise through a rapidly closing hatch at top speed. Seriously, that’s some amazing threading of a needle, and you kinda wish somebody had congratulated the poor woman on basically saving everyone’s ass.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Relics

I Believe I Said That: “I told the captain I would have this diagnostic done in an hour.”

“And how long will it really take you?”

“An hour.”

“Oh, you didn’t tell him how long it would really take, did you?”

Scotty giving La Forge a lesson in being a miracle worker.

Welcome Aboard: Lanei Chapman returns as Ensign Rager, and, of course, the late James Doohan returned to the role he was best known for, making him the fourth original series star to appear on one of the spinoffs (following DeForest Kelley in “Encounter at Farpoint,” Mark Lenard in “Sarek” and “Unification,” and Leonard Nimoy in “Unification” and “Unification II”).

Trivial Matters: Scotty’s line about Jim Kirk himself rescuing him is at odds with the Star Trek Generations prelude, when Scotty was present when Kirk was presumed killed on the Enterprise-B (which was written and produced two years after this episode, but which takes place before it). Ronald D. Moore, who wrote both, has said in interviews that they could hardly not have Scotty in Generations and that they could live with the inconsistency to have a beloved character in that film. And he’s right.

This episode was novelized by Michael Jan Friedman, the third TNG episode to get that treatment, after “Encounter at Farpoint” and “Unification.” In the novel, Friedman expands the role of Ensign Kane, includes the characters of O’Brien and Guinan, has Scotty interacting with holographic versions of the original series cast on the re-creation of the bridge (this was part of the original script, involving bluescreening old footage into the episode, but it had to be cut for budgetary reasons; similar technology would later be used in the Deep Space Nine episode “Trials and Tribble-ations”), and shows the Enterprise crew exploring the interior of the Dyson Sphere.

Further exploration of the Dyson Sphere occurred in the aptly titled TNG novel Dyson Sphere by George Zebrowski & Charles Pellegrino.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Relics

The Dyson Sphere is a real theory, postulated by physicist Freeman Dyson, inspired by Olaf Stapledon’s novel Star Maker, and seen in a number of novels, most popularly Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” series (not to mention the Star Trek novel The Starless World by Gordon Eklund).

While this is Scotty’s only appearance in the 24th century on screen, he’s appeared all over the tie-in fiction. Most notably, he was a regular in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series of eBooks that were published between 2000 and 2007 (most of which have been reprinted in trade paperbacks), and he was the focus of one of the eBooks, The Future Begins by Steve Mollmann & Michael Schuster. Two novels had him as a primary character, Gene DeWeese’s Engines of Destiny and David A. McIntee’s Indistinguishable from Magic. Among his many other appearances are the novels New Frontier: Renaissance by Peter David, Crossover by Michael Jan Friedman, Ship of the Line by Diane Carey, the Vulcan’s Soul trilogy by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz, the various and sundry Kirk-focused books by William Shatner and Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and your humble rewatcher’s A Time for War, a Time for Peace; the comic book stories “Out of Time” by Michael Jan Friedman, Steve Erwin, & Charles Barnett III in Star Trek: The Next Generation Special#2 and “Old Debts” by Kevin Ryan, Ken Save, & Shephard Hendrix in ST:TNG Special#3; the short stories “Ancient History” by Robert J. Mendenhall in Strange New Worlds VI and “Safe Harbors” by Howard Weinstein in Tales of the Dominion War; and many more too numerous to list here.

Make it So: “It is green.” On its own, this comes across as a missed opportunity of a plot, as a Dyson Sphere is very much what Star Trek is all about, and relegating it to a background element seems wasteful of such a wonderful concept.

But who cares? Scotty’s back! And this story services the return of a TOS character far better than “Unification” and “Unification II,” which fell totally apart in the end.

I remember when the episode first aired, two friends of mine—both of whom are professional writers, and both of whom have written Trek fiction—declared the episode a failure specifically because the crew of the Enterprise should’ve been treated Scotty with more reverence. It was a classic case of confusing how a fan would react versus how a character in the setting would react. La Forge’s annoyance with Scotty makes perfect sense. Hell, it’s exactly the way Scotty would have reacted—remember his response in “The Ultimate Computer” to the intrusion of the M-5 into his engine room?

Besides, stories work better when they have somewhere to go. “Relics” isn’t just about Scotty adjusting to the 24th century, it’s also about La Forge adjusting to Scotty. Both engineers have to cross a gulf in this episode, and in the end they work well together. LeVar Burton gets a ton of credit here, as he’s forced to be Doohan’s straight man for most of the episode, but in the end he becomes almost an equal, certainly a colleague, and surely a friend. (That friendship continued to be explored in the tie-in fiction; see above.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Relics

The meat of the episode is the holodeck scene, not just for the loving re-creation of a classic set that we all know and love, but for Scotty’s own self-realizations and for the way Picard draws him out with his own nostalgia for the Stargazer. It’s a beautiful scene, subtly and expertly played by James Doohan and especially Sir Patrick Stewart.

Doohan’s performance here is especially entertaining, because the character of Scotty has always been bombastic and bordering on caricature (often crossing that border), but he makes it work here, as the bombast helps sell the character’s displacement.

This episode is nostalgia done right, a story about letting go of the past, about trying to change with the times, and about adjusting to the new while not forgetting what’s good about the old.


Warp factor rating: 8

Keith R.A. DeCandido had a great time writing Scotty in various Starfleet Corps of Engineers stories and especially in A Time for War, a Time for Peace.

1. critter42
This episode has become even more touching for me in the last decade - the holodeck scene especially. At the beginning of the century I spent the last couple of years of my grandfather's life listening to his sea stories and sharing mine - and I just love the fact that even in the 24th Century you can't get two old salts together without them telling their tales.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
2. Lisamarie
I had the same response, I think - while I completely understood Geordi's irritation, it was a little off-putting to see him act like such a jerk to Scotty, hah. I haven't seen much of the original series, but from what I've heard James Doohan seemed like a very nice person, so maybe that's where it came from. I missed out on some of the nostalgia factor due to that, but it is still fun.

Actually, a few days before we watched this episode (I think it was during Realm of Fear) I started asking my husband transporter questions, like how conscious you are, if you are aware of the passage of time, and "What if somebody just got stuck in it for years and years and their pattern didn't degrade, would they realize they had been in there for a long time?" He just laughed and evaded the question.
3. StrongDreams
I'm going to raise just one of my nits here, as it seems to have applied Trek-wide in this era.

I took Scotty's line in Search for Spock as a humorous throwaway. He's too good an engineer, and too good an officer, to always pad his repair estimates that way. Imagine if Kirk had made some tactical decision that turned out disastrous, because he thought he had to stall the bad guys 4 hours instead of one.

Then the Trek writers turn it into canon and force it down our throats in the most unpleasant unhumorous way they possibly could.

They did the same thing with Kirk's like from Voyage Home that they didn't use money in the future. The TNG writers turned a meet-cute line into a socialist's dream "there is no concept of money in the future" which is both patently absurd and also contradicted numerous times when the writers needed money after all, or at least an economy (rationed transporter credits, latinum, etc.).
4. Uncle Mikey
As fun as it is to see James Doohan doing that voodoo that he do so well, the truth is that this story really fails to be anything other than that. And I disagree that his mere presence is enough to make up for the thinness of the plot.

The story's resolution ultimately depends upon Scotty's ability to coax life out of Jenolen, a ship from his own time. But how much cooler might it have been if Scotty's brilliance had been used to solve some key riddle of the Dyson Sphere itself; if we'd seen more of the Sphere and had the Sphere actually matter to the plot as more than just a catalyst to bring Scotty forward to the 24th Century?

In the end "Relics" is stunt-casting with a paper-thin story pasted on. "Trials and Tribblations" does a vastly better job of actually telling a story while paying homage to the Original Series and its characters -- not that it's perfect, either, but at least there is in fact a STORY there.
Lee VanDyke
5. Cloric
I too wondered how they managed to complete the beam-out with the shields up, but perhaps they were intermittent under such strain, or they knew the correct sheild modulation and adjusted accordingly.

A sadly major flaw in an otherwise wonderful episode.
Joseph Newton
6. crzydroid
The whole episode was a "fangasm" that worked pretty well for me. I still enjoy it, even though I know most of the jokes already. I wonder how well this episode would've been received if it were some unknown character from the past, trying to adjust to being useful in the future. I think that some of these issues could make an interesting story on their own. But the point of the show is to have Scotty, and the familiarity and love for the character helps build the emotional resonance to make this episode good. A lot of credit goes to James Doohan, I think, because he pulls off this role so well.

The first time I saw this, I think I convinced myself that they somehow beamed them off just as the torpedo was striking and so the shields were down, and they got them in that split second window. But it certainly does seem as if they beamed them off before then. Perhaps there is some frequency window trick (akin to O'Brien's trick in "The Wounded") that allowed them to beam through.

@StrongDreams: I would like to think that in that kind of an emergency, Scotty would at least say, "But we don't have four hours, so I'll get it done in one." In any case, it was a joke here, too. I don't think we're supposed to take it as every single estimate Scotty gave was an exaggeration. It wouldn't make much sense in mundane cases ("It'll take me 20 minutes just to plug this cord in, Captain") or in major emergencies ("Khan is attacking, but we can have auxiliary power in 4 hours"). I also thought the delivery was very humorous, and worked with the mood of this episode.
Mike Kelmachter
7. MikeKelm
I enjoyed this episode- it is definitely the way to have a beloved character show up- let the character be themselves, take the lead, and have it be a standalone episode. Scotty is such a great character and I do completely understand how he and Geordi would have some interaction problems. It also comes across as a very believable attitude for someone who suddenly finds themselves 7 decades ahead of where they were seemingly a moment ago- upset, out of place, and sentimental.

I didn't have an issue with Scotty asking if Captain Kirk had rescued him- I seem to recall somewhere along the line him saying in the tie-in fiction that he never really believed Kirk was dead anyways- after all there never was a body.

A fun episode after the somewhat clunker that was the magical Barclay transporter and the Dorian Gray...
Bethany Pratt
8. LiC
Ensign Rager's piloting is one of the big things I remember about this episode, if only because the Enterprise pulls this incredible move that is never pulled again and frankly it seems like it should've been done a lot more frequently, especially in battle sequences. But I suppose that even with inertial dampeners on full, the speed at which that rotation was made would have thrown the crew against the walls and broken every glass of whiskey in Ten-Forward.
9. jlpsquared
I am a little suprised by the 8. As I posted at the last episode, I would have expected a 6, as I give it. That holodeck scene is absolutely delightful, and in the top 3 of all star trek scenes! But it doesn't make up for an absolutely lifeless rest-of-the-episode and a completely out of character Geordi.

On top of that, they just discovered an F-ing DYSONS SPHERE! And the crews reaction is akin to discovering a healthier brand of oatmeal. I mean, if you cut out that holodeck scene, this is a pretty bland episode.
10. Don3Comp
My nomination for I Believe I said that: "U.S.S. Enterprise. No bloody A, B, C, or D!" (Scotty placing his holodeck order with the computer.)

An additional Trivial Matter: a few years before this episode aired, Scotty and Geordi would meet (and clash) in the parody novel "Star Wreck: the Generation Gap." In that book, Scotty admonishes Geordi for not having his jargon manual, which is filled with all the technobabble excuses for being unable to fufill the captain's orders.

As to cannon episodes, I have to admit to thinking that it got a bit silly how many members of the TOS crew ran into Picard. On a plausibility level, "Unification" worked better for me, because Vulcans and Romulans live longer, and it made sense for a Vulcan who had been alive in the 23rd century to live in the 24th as well. In "Relics" the writers had to find a very technobabble-ish excuse to bring back a beloved character.

Having said that, Scotty is indeed a beloved character, and the above nit in no way interfered with my enjoyment of seeing engineers from two different eras clashing (and, once they've made up, talking shop at the end). I also agree that Scotty's displacement was moving. And yes, I too enjoyed seeing the vintage bridge again.
11. thehighwall.com
Without a doubt one of my favorite episodes in all of Star Trek, and I agree with this review to the last.

I agree with Don3Comp^ that running into so many of TOS characters stretches the plausibility factor. But I for one would have traded "Unifications" for this episode any day.
Keith DeCandido
12. krad
Remember, kids, the warp factor rating is the least important part of any Rewatch entry. :-)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
13. sofrina
"here's to ya, lads."
14. jlpsquared
@Krad, regarding comment 12.

"If winning isn't important, than commander, why keep score?"
-Worf, 110010101
15. Cat
Niven's Ringworld novel is *not* about a Dyson sphere, indeed there are no Dyson spheres in his Known Space universe. The Ringworld is literally a ring around a sun with immensely tall walls at two sides and open to space.
Joseph Newton
16. crzydroid
@14: He includes ratings at the behest of the good folks at TOR.
Pirmin Schanne
17. Torvald Nom
Niven's Ringworld novel is *not* about a Dyson sphere, indeed there are no Dyson spheres in his Known Space universe. The Ringworld is literally a ring around a sun with immensely tall walls at two sides and open to space.
From what I can tell from wikipedia, a ring would be the only feasible solid version of a Dyson sphere; so that subsumption looks valid to me.
Bryan Metzger
18. natgreene1
Cat...a Ring is one of the simplest versions Dyson's theoretical artificial constructs around either a natural or artificial sun with the Sphere at the other end of the line.

One of my favorite episodes and the holodeck scene with Scotty in that classic thick Scottish burr, "No bloody A, B, C, or D" is my favorite line.
19. jlpsquared
@17 & 18,

I haven't read Ringworld in years, but I believe the book stated that it is a cheaper version of a Dyson's sphere. I do not recall if the word "Dysons' Sphere" was actually used, and obviously they are not one and the same, but they are conceptually the same idea, one is just vastly more resource intensive.
Alan Courchene
20. Majicou
I can imagine Scotty being a touch disoriented right after re-materializing and forgetting about Kirk's apparent death. On the shields matter, I recall that Moore just came out and said that was an oversight.

The sphere itself really does get short shrift in the episode, but time and budget are what they are. I was all jazzed to read the Dyson Sphere novel, but I remember it feeling less like a TNG novel than a Pellegrino novel that happened to have the TNG characters in it.

I always feel bad for the Enterprise-A. In this episode, Scotty flat-out dismisses it--and after he spent an entire movie complaining about how shoddily constructed it was. Then Shatner went and had it sold off as surplus before being blown up in The Ashes of Eden. And if it was newly constructed in 2286, why in the Samuel Langhorne HELL did Starfleet want to decommission it seven years later? (I know, that's a whole debate.)
Fredrik Coulter
21. fcoulter
From what I remember of what Niven said about "Ringworld," it started when he was thinking about Dyson Spheres and trying to come up with something similar that didn't require artificial gravity.

Dyson Spheres are meant to be a way to capture all of a star's energy, not just the insignificant portion that falls onto a planetary surface. While the common conception of a Dyson Sphere is of a solid piece of engineering, a latice of orbiting structures would also meet the definition if there are enough of them. (They're just not as cool as a solid structure, be it a sphere or just a ribbon.)
Christopher Bennett
22. ChristopherLBennett
"The background consoles were mostly bluescreened from the empty bridge shots in the episodes “This Side of Paradise” and “The Mark of Gideon.”"
Not quite. The shot from "Paradise" was used as the initial establishing shot, and there was also a stock shot of the viewscreen with the helm/nav seats empty, but there wasn't any actual bluescreening. Rather, they built the door alcove and the engineering console, and if you pay attention, you'll see that the camera angle is always strictly limited to that portion when it's facing Scotty. For the reverse angles on Picard, they used an even tighter focus and used the one console they had built to double for a console on the starboard side. It wasn't until "Trials and Tribble-ations" that they actually composited modern-day actors into TOS footage.

Although the bridge sequence was a cool bit of nostalgia (and logistics), it bugs the hell out of me from a character standpoint. Scotty would not ask the holodeck to simulate the bridge! He didn't feel he belonged on the bridge, didn't see it as his home. He would've asked for the engine room instead, no question. But that set wasn't as iconic and would've been harder to rebuild, so they compromised character consistency for the sake of the bit.

Otherwise, I agree that it's missing the point to trash this episode because Geordi didn't go all fanboy over Scotty. Keith's exactly right -- it's unrealistic to assume that the characters within the universe revere the TOS crew the same way we fans do. After all, we only know the 23rd century through a show and movies depicting the Enterprise crew, whereas for the inhabitants of the Trek universe, that would just be a fraction of their world and their history and thus would loom much smaller in their awareness.

I also agree that the Dyson Sphere concept was totally wasted. I mean, this thing holds millions of planets' worth of surface area. You could've built a whole 7-year series around this thing! Instead it's a background element of one episode and is never mentioned again, except in one problematical novel whose most interesting part was the nonfiction essay at the end.

And of course all the portrayals of Dyson Spheres in Trek canon and literature get it wrong by depicting them as solid shells. Dyson's proposal was a cloud of solar collectors completely surrounding a star in order to capture all its energy output. The Dyson Shell, a solid shell with people living inside, is a fictional reinterpretation/misreading of the premise that just wouldn't work, for a variety of reasons. One, it'd be unstable, since the center of mass would be inside the star rather than in orbit. It wouldn't be as progressively unstable as the Ringworld (which, if pushed off-center, would accelerate even further off-center, while a Dyson Shell would just drift), but it would be a moot difference in the long run. Also, a solid shell would trap the stellar wind, and eventually the whole interior would become filled with hot outgassed hydrogen, and I imagine a pressure-cooker (or overfilled-balloon) scenario coming into play unless it had some form of ventilation. Most of all, there's shell theory: the gravity exerted by a uniform spherical shell of mass is zero at any point inside the sphere. The only gravity anyone inside a Dyson Shell would feel would be the star's gravity, so everyone and everything not nailed down would just fall into the sun. The idea of habitable territory on the inner surface of a DS is total BS. Sure, if you spun the sphere you'd get centrifugal weight, but mainly just around the equator, decreasing (and slanting) progressively toward the poles; so in that case you'd be better off building a Ringworld. You could use some kind of short-range artificial gravity plating (and Trek gravity plating inexplicably loses its effect after just a few meters, since people standing directly on top of a starship hull are usually depicted as weightless), but the power expenditure would be insane.

As for the beaming-thr0ugh-shields bit, I'll never understand why people see that as problematical. After all, we're talking about a 24th-century transporter and 23rd-century shields. The Jenolan's shields were probably just too antiquated to block the more advanced and powerful transporter tech of the Enterprise.
23. jlpsquared
18 ChristopherBennet said; "I agree that it's missing the point to trash this episode because Geordi didn't go all fanboy over Scotty. Keith's exactly right -- it's unrealistic to assume that the characters within the universe revere the TOS crew the same way we fans do. "

I do not agree with that interpretation at all. If Geordi was meeting Sulu or Chekov, maybe, but this is Montgomery Scott, chief engineer of the original starship enterprise, his own ships' namesake. Star Trek certainly implied that Scotty was famous and devised alot of warp theory relevant in Geordi's day. Look at his boner for Zephram Cochrane for goodness sakes. I could see his excitment for Cochrane to be a bit more intense, but on the other hand, they went back in time, and he knew he would be there. They bumped into a legend thought dead and the nicest geordi could be was "please let me work"?

Sorry, I am not buying it, it was forced character conflict, and not surprisingly, written by Ron Moore. Now, I love Ron Moore, but you don't need character conflict in every episode, all the time.
Aimee Powalisz
24. longhairedspider
@10 - nice to see someone else who's read Star Wreck!
Kristoff Bergenholm
25. Magentawolf
Regarding the escape, I'm pretty sure the novel gets it right. They have to collapse the shields, beam out before getting crushed, and then blow up the Jenolen.
26. Electone
I always felt there were two characters on TNG that the writers/producers went out of their way (either directly or indirectly) to make the viewing public detest them: Kate Pulaski and Geordi Laforge. Now, it didn't help the Laforge character that he was brought to life through the awful acting skills of LeVar Burton. Let's be honest, Geordi Laforge is basically a jerk and this episode is a prime example of that quality.
27. Bonz
Not a fan of this ep. Pretty much, other than the one with McCoy, the appearances of beloved TOS characters (Kirk, Sarek, Scotty, Rand) in nuTrek seemed to be meant to kill them off, or to make them old, sick, cranky and/or worthless in the new time frame.

So Kirk gets killed by a bridge by some dude seeking a fantasy world, Sarek has the indignity of going Vulcan emotional nuts and to add insult to injury, has a rather unlikeable wife who has replaced the sweet Amanda, and Scotty is irrelevant and an irritant.

Rand comes off as bitchy in the Voyager ep in which she is featured with Sulu. Spock is old, naive and out-of-touch in the two-parter TNG Unification.

I would cringe anytime a beloved character showed up on nuTrek as I knew they'd get the short end of the stick.
Christopher Hatton
28. Xopher
(and Trek gravity plating inexplicably loses its effect after just a few
meters, since people standing directly on top of a starship hull are
usually depicted as weightless)

Well, if they didn't do that they'd have to explain why the ship doesn't accumulate dust and debris on "top." Not to mention the fact that it would be detectable as an Earth-sized mass (if gravimetrics are used to find masses). Not to mention the fact that relativistic effects would cause the gravitied part to shear loose from the ungravitied part, particularly when the ship is moving (because they'd get out of time sync, as satellites do with the ground) - wait, that would happen anyway.

You could retcon this with two plates (floor and ceiling) that induce motion away from the one and toward the other with no actual gravity involved, but that's a) almost as rubber-sciencey as the AG is in the first place and b) a drop in the bucket of the rubber science in the series. Use heavier cable to suspend your disbelief, or just don't watch!
rob mcCathy
29. roblewmac
Bonz agreed and let's not forget the Voyger where they talk about silly old Kirk meeting Devinci. Ya know what? If Jim Kirk meets Devinchi i'd rather watch that than Voyger!
Christopher Bennett
31. ChristopherLBennett
@27: Show me any fictional character who isn't treated just as badly. Fiction is about crisis and conflict, not happy fun times. So of course any TOS character who showed up in a modern Trek series would go through rough times, just like any other character would. Heck, Scotty just got underappreciated. Picard got stabbed in the heart, mind-raped by the Borg, tortured by Gul Madred, and subjected to numerous other threats to life, limb, and sanity.

@28: No, the mass wouldn't have to be Earth-equivalent, because of the inverse square law. It takes an Earth-sized mass to produce 1g at a distance of 6380 kilometers (since the mass behaves as if it's all concentrated at the center of the planet). But in a starship, you'd only be meters from the gravity source, maybe a million times closer, so the equivalent mass would only need to be a millionth of a millionth of the Earth's mass in order to exert 1g at that range.

@29: Kirk claiming to meet Leonardo da Vinci was a reference to "Requiem for Methuselah," in which Flint claimed to have been Leonardo.
rob mcCathy
32. roblewmac
Not really sure if that makes it any better. I mean if it was "untold tales of time travel "I could see "Claimed" If you're talking about Flint Starfleet has a file by the time of Voyger and it needs an upgrade to "More than likely met."
Fredrik Coulter
33. fcoulter
@28: "Well, if they didn't do that they'd have to explain why the ship doesn't accumulate dust and debris on "top.""

In the old days of sailing ships, sailers had to work all the time keeping the ship clean. You made me imagine the army of Federation Sailers assigned to sweep the top of the Enterprise. Have broom, will travel.
34. ChrisG
Jumping forward in time, all your knowledge obsolete, your friends gone, the world changed -- that can be a jarring experience. Too bad they didn't have someone like a counselor around to talk to him.... Seriously, up until the holodeck scene, I thought the crew rather cold and clueless.

I also have to agree with @23 about how they responded to him. How many times have we heard the "your work was required reading at the academy" trope? They would know who he was and treat him with more respect, I think. Scotty's sense of loss and obsolescence could have been tangible and poignant without Geordi acting that way.

While I enjoyed this episode overall, I think it could have been much stronger. Solid caracterization and interesting plot needn't be an either-or proposition; it would have been nice if the interesting premise of the sphere had been exploited for both.
rob mcCathy
35. roblewmac
The ads for this one were pretty awsome though.
33 think of the poor guy who mops the holodeck.
Alan Brown
36. AlanBrown
I enjoyed this episode, although I thought the Dyson Sphere, a fascinating concept, was criminally underused. But as a big Scotty fan, I remember how excited I was to have him come back.
And I never gave a second thought to the transporting through shields issue. After all, so many Trek episodes contain dialog, which when the technobabble gets translated, go something like this:
"The transporter is down, sir."
"What's the problem?"
"Well, if we were able to use it, the plot for this particular episode just wouldn't work."
"Oh, very well, then. When can we expect it to be back on line?"
"I'm sure it will be operational just in time to snatch the away team back to safety before the final credits roll."
rob mcCathy
37. roblewmac
if a transporter beam can keep Scotty alive for 75 years it's pretty powerful and able to get though sheilds.
Michael Burstein
38. mabfan
"Scotty’s line about Jim Kirk himself rescuing him is at odds with the Star Trek Generations prelude, when Scotty was present when Kirk was presumed killed on the Enterprise-B (which was written and produced two years after this episode, but which takes place before it). Ronald D. Moore, who wrote both, has said in interviews that they could hardly not have Scotty in Generations and that they could live with the inconsistency to have a beloved character in that film. And he’s right."

I always assumed that being stuck in the transporter buffer affected Scotty's memory. Remember the look on Riker's face when Scotty mentions Kirk sending the ship to rescue them. I suspect Riker is thinking that he doesn't want to have to be the one to inform Scotty that he forgot about being present at Kirk's (assumed) death.

-- Michael A. Burstein
39. natgreene1
I take it none of you have ever been in the position of meeting a "legend" at work in your field of expertise and felt a little put off? No? Well trust me, it comes off pretty much like Jeordi's reaction. And let us not forget, he is used to being the smartest guy in the room.
Bastiaan Stapel
40. Stapel
If this episode would have been with an unknown character, performed by a good & established actor (thus not Scotty), we wouldn't like it too much, would we? The script consumes quite some minutes on setting Scotty not feeling home, which could have been used for the Dyson Sphere.

But this was with Scotty, so I enjoyed it a lot!
41. Erik Dercf
That man, Scotty, was the warm heart of a heartless episode. Of all the appearances in TNG of TOS characters this one is my favorite. Scotty like the liquor he drinks has a bartender's wisdom he's warming to a harsh truth. The episodes use of the Dyson sphere as a prop that keeps Scotty in play makes sense to me and is fun. The interaction between the characters is lessened by Scotty's quick introsception of being a relic and way out of date. Perhaps the writer bite off more than they could choose perhaps we are bias because Scotty is back. But the message for me is that you are never too old to be useful. Scotty or no Scotty this episode teachs us that.
Phil Parsons
42. Yakko
What KRAD doesn't mention about Ronald Moore's defense of using James Doohan in Generations is that Scotty's and Chekov's parts were originally written for Spock and McCoy. When Nimoy and Kelley both turned down the roles they went to the JV squad. That's why in the opening sequence you have Scotty doing Spock stuff (offering Kirk a theoretical technobabble solution to the emergency) and Chekov doing McCoy stuff (forming a makeshift medical staff by assigning nursing duties to reporters). As far as I'm concerned it is a continuity glitch but one that arose from circumstance rather than inattentive writing.

And I completely agree with KRAD's review - I think "Relics" is head and shoulders above "Unification" and everything was handled beautifully.
43. trekgeezer
There was a scene with Scotty getting some couseling with Troi, but it was cut for time

At the end you see Troi kissing Scotty which seems out ot place, since he had never met her
Adam Whitehead
44. Werthead
I too wondered how they managed to complete the beam-out with the shields up, but perhaps they were intermittent under such strain, or they knew the correct sheild modulation and adjusted accordingly.
I didn't understand why this was a huge problem. The Jenolen's shield frequencies were probably stored in the Enterprise's computer and it would have been trivial to retrieve and use them.
If Geordi was meeting Sulu or Chekov, maybe, but this is Montgomery Scott, chief engineer of the original starship enterprise, his own ships' namesake. Star Trek certainly implied that Scotty was famous and devised alot of warp theory relevant in Geordi's day.
TNG was always a bit inconsistent on how famous the original Enterprise crew were in the TNG time period. In 'The Naked Now' Picard acts like he's never heard of the original Enterprise or Kirk when reading the account of the events of 'The Naked Time', and in 'Unification' Spock is famous from his political and diplomatic work rather than his time on the original Enterprise. Yet by 'Generations' Kirk is famous enough that Riker is able to instantly identify the mission on which he was 'killed'. And by the DS9 tribbles episode, Kirk and the original crew are absolute legends and everyone is a fan of their adventures. Curious.
Elizabeth Heckert
45. silhouettepoms
A few years ago I was watching an episode of Move This House on a Saturday morning. The set up was a recent window and her young daughter were moving from a large, spacious house full of huge furniture into a smaller home for just the two of them, and had to pick and choose which important pieces of furniture to move with them (they couldn't take it all) and how to lay them out in the new house. As the woman was talking in generalities about her late husband, the camera panned across the living room wall ... showing a portrait of "Scotty" in one of the movie uniforms. I was like OMG... this is James Doohan's wife and daughter?? They made no more of it in the episode, if I recall.
Joseph Newton
46. crzydroid
@44: That's interesting about the "The Naked Now" because someone else mentioned it seeming like Picard hadn't heard of the original crew. I never interpreted that way. He reads the incident off the screen like he's never heard of the mission. I didn't think he gave any indication that he hadn't heard of Kirk or the ship (especially since the ship model is on the back wall of the conference lounge).
47. jlpsquared
I agree Crzydroid, I feel like posters are bible scholars all of a sudden on this issue of the crews reaction towards original crew members. Sure, Picard probably doesn't know Kirk's quarters number, but I think the wieght of the evidence is on the side of, "they would probably be pretty thrilled to run into original enterprise members."

Hell, Geordi just about wets his pants when ANYONE comes on board for ANYTHING. I am guessing he would probably act like a puppy around one of Scotties' assistants if he came back from the dead.
rob mcCathy
48. roblewmac
well I can see a lot of diffrent factors being in play for how famous the old crew would be and I don't have answer but here's good questions
1. How complete are captain's logs that make it to Starfleet?
2 How widely read are they? Kirk invented time travel that's big! He met Apallo.
3 McCoy must have written a book on "how to treat Vulcans.
4. That all makes them fairly famous but they were also outlaws who did not like Klingons very much who ran into a ton of Kilinons who "don't look right" so maybe it's been hushed up.
Joseph Newton
49. crzydroid
For the record, my comment wasn't a declaration of any side in the "How Geordi should treat Scotty" debate.
William A.
51. General_Vagueness
re: 10. Don3Comp, I second that nomination.
re: 38. mabfan, it said right in there that Generations was made two years later though-- I do notice that no one actually says he's dead or what happened to him though, which I bet was on purpose to keep it open
re: 48. roblewmac, Voyager establishes he wrote what seems to be a commonly known medical text called Comparative Alien Physiology
To everyone having big reactions to Geordi's reactions, I'll just point out how Scotty told him he wrote the specs for something when they were arguing about it, with the key point here being that Geordi didn't know, so it seems Scotty's reputation didn't preceed him, at least with Geordi. Even if he was famous that would make sense-- everyone doesn't have the same set of people they like or look up to. You could ask a dozen people in any field who else from that field they'd most like to meet and you'd probably get 10-12 different answers.
52. jlpsquared
Again, this is the same Geordi Laforge that followed Cochrane around like a puppy. Which is far more within character.

You people keep defending a bad plot choice by Ron Moore.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
53. Lisamarie

Totally unrelated to 'was Geordi being a jerk or not' debate but I thought this was kind of neat, especially since this episode gets a mention :)

Honestly, I try not to worry to much about these episode to episode quirks - I think Star Trek was mostly episodic so sometimes it's not always as consistent as we would like. I did think Geordi was a little short with him (especially because in general he seems characterized as a nice guy - for instance, he never seems to get that short with Barclay). But yeah, I know I would get irritated too if somebody was horning in on my work, etc. Maybe he was just having a bad day ;)
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
54. Lisamarie
Oh, jlpsquared - I thought your puppy comment was kind of funny. My husband and I have actually outpaced the re-watch a bit, and one word: Aquiel. Hahahahaha. I'm kind of excited to get to the commentary on that one.
55. jlpsquared
@Lisamarie, OHHHH, Aquiel. Now there is an episode I will not be "re-watching" along with Krad! But I also can't wait for his comments.

I really want to clarify my position on the Geordi rude thing. Just like in real life, people act different sometimes at different points in their lives. For example, I do not like Picard in the movie nemesis. He is not at all like the early Captain Picard. That being said, there is no reason to think Picard wouldn't change through the years (like any other person), and considering what he has went through, there is reasonable cause.

My issue with the Geordi rude thing is different. I am very consistent in not liking contrived non-organic plot developments. Can Geordi have a bad day, sure, but it is obvious the only reason he was treating Scotty bad was because Ron Moore needed to have them somewhat at odds for Scotty to come in at the end and save the day. Without the Geordi drama you cannot have that. Generally, R. Moore is awesome, but he has a tendency to over do human drama (BSG, anyone?), and with Geordi it is obvious and does not seem genuine. That is my problem.
Joseph Newton
56. crzydroid
Well, it's not like Geordi has never been rude before when he's been irritated. He outright yelled at the Leah hologram when she was suggesting something he didn't think would work. There are a few more episodes in season 6 where he lets his temper/irritation show. I'm trying to think of other examples before this point. But right, when he's not irritated, in general he's a nice guy.
57. USER
Can't believe fans griped about this one. Regarding "lack of reverence"- La Forge's actions are entirely fitting for an on-duty professional with an important job to do on a timetable. Go to a real world sea or air vessel and see how good-humoured the crew would be towards a meddling old man, no matter how revered he was. Kudos to Ron Moore for omitting the usual BS and delivering a nicely crafted Drama of Obsolescence. I also like the fact that Scotty doesn't learn to change his bias towards Klingons, he can't wait to get away from Worf in the shuttle bay. "Trials and Tribble-ations" was a nice technical achievement but "Relics" is easily the most dramatically compelling and satisfying tie-in to The Original Series ( no offense to Evil Bakula fighting CGI Gorn in the Mirrorverse, er)
William A.
58. General_Vagueness
re: 56. crzydroid, there was "The Enemy", where he's talking with that Romulan (centurion Bachra), who asks why something won't work and he says "because I can't see" with partially gritted teeth and everything
59. Robby The Robot
This has to be one of my absolute favorite episodes of Next Gen. I only wish Scotty could have met Admiral McCoy and Ambassador Spock. Michael Jan Friedman's novel "Crossover" teams them up and I only wish it was a two part episode.
Brickhouse MacLarge
60. Midnightair
Better late than never! @ 27 Bonz. I agree with that comment and observation. At the same time, I felt that "The Undiscovered Country" did justice to the old guard of TOS. I felt that film was a very fitting goodbye to the crew, and they even signed off at the end. They should have left well enough alone though, and not have even brought Kirk in in the next movie ST: Generations to die an ignominious death........
I enjoyed this episode, for what is was worth. I felt that more could have been done SCI-FI wise with the Dyson Sphere, maybe not in this episode, but later episodes. Dyson Spheres are real plot devices that can really capture one's imagination.
Anyway, this episode was "honest". Not irritating like the previous ones, the only gripe being the main cast, excepting Jordi Laforge, really seemed bored and were perfunctory or nonplussed in their performances.
Dante Hopkins
61. DanteHopkins
Blah blah blah about this or that if you want, but this was a magnificent episode. As stated above, a fitting way to pay tribute to TOS, having the beloved Scotty come aboard. I saw this one when it first aired in 1992, and I remember thinking "Wow Scotty is actually in this one!" I totally fangasmed (at twelve years old, no less) and was impressed with how realistic the implications to Scotty coming to the future were portrayed. La Forge's reaction to Scotty in engineering was totally real and understandable, Scotty's sullenness about what he was goint to do going forward, and the wonderful scene on the holodeck with Picard and Scotty.

And most wonderfully, Scotty gets to help save the Enterprise one more time. LeVar Burton and the late great James Doohan were great together, and the lovely Lanei Chapman's Ensign Rager got to do some of the most awesome piloting of the Enterprise in the franchise's history. A great great story, and a proper send-off for one of the most beloved characters in Star Trek.
Brickhouse MacLarge
62. Midnightair
blah blah blah. yes i will blah blah blah as much as i want. this is a public forum, where people leave comments. your comment is no more nor any less important than mine or any others' on this forum. it is comments like that that spoil everything for everybody.
63. RudiMentry
"She flies the big, glunky Enterprise through a rapidly closing hatch at top speed. Seriously, that’s some amazing threading of a needle, and you kinda wish somebody had congratulated the poor woman on basically saving everyone’s ass". This bugged me, too. From the shot of the big door, we go directly to LaForge and Scotty, in the transporter room. No more bridge scenes. I like to think she did get a, "Well done Ensign".
Also, the no passage of time in the transporter, might not gel. Kirk carried on a conversation with Saavik, while beaming(Wrath of Khan), and Lt. Reg Barclay viewed beings in the stream, during transport(Realm of Fear).
But that's being picky. One of my top 10 episodes.
64. aloysius
The main thing I disliked about this episode was the very end. Picard gives Scotty a runabout, and in the final scene we see Scotty being closed up in it. We don't see it launch or zoom away and to me it felt like a missed beat – more like he was being put on ice than given a new starship to play with.
Christopher Bennett
65. ChristopherLBennett
@64: Not even a runabout (since this aired before DS9 premiered, and such a ship would be too big to build full-scale anyway), but just a shuttlecraft.

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