Nov 16 2012 4:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Starship Mine”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Starship Mine“Starship Mine”
Written by Morgan Gendel
Directed by Cliff Bole
Season 6, Episode 18
Production episode 40276-244
Original air date: March 29, 1993
Stardate: 46682.4

Captain’s Log. The Enterprise has arrived at the Remmler Array for a maintenance procedure known as a baryon sweep—it basically wipes away all the space gunk that’s accumulated over five years. Because the sweep is fatal to all organic matter, we open with the ship in a massive flurry of activity as folks prepare to evacuate. After Picard puts out some organizational fires—stasis units for Crusher, opening a transporter for Troi to aid in evac, etc.—he shares a turbolift with Data, who fills the silence with non-relevant conversation. Apparently, he has created a new small-talk subroutine, though Picard feels his current attempts are a little too non-relevant. He suggests that Data talk to Commander Hutchinson on Arkaria Base, who is a master of small talk.

On the bridge, Picard puts out a couple more fires with La Forge and Worf. The latter asks to be excused from Hutchinson’s reception that afternoon, and Picard allows it, wishing he could be similarly excused. La Forge then rushes to ask for the same thing, but Picard refuses, saying he can’t let his entire senior staff off the hook, and Worf beat him to it. Worf actually smiles in triumph.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Starship Mine

Picard briefly talks with Orton on Arkaria, confirming that they’re on schedule, and then he comes out to an empty bridge. He does a final walk ’round the command center, then leaves just as the team from Arkaria arrives to set things up.

At the reception, Hutchinson is proving himself capable of holding a lengthy conversation without saying anything, and Data is taking notes, and proceeds to babble at Crusher and Riker even as Hutchinson (“Call me ’Hutch’!”) is boring the crap out of Picard, La Forge, and Troi. At one point during an endless litany about the bird-watching opportunities on Arkaria, Hutch mentions horses and the trails they have nearby. Picard, clutching to this information like a drowning victim does a life preserver, says he would love to ride, and has just enough time to go back to the Enterprise and retrieve his saddle.

By the time he beams back, gets his saddle, and changes into riding clothes, there are eight minutes left before the sweep starts. While walking to the transporter, he notices an exposed panel with a cut junction. One of the team sneaks up on him—they should be off the ship by now—and threatens him with a laser. Picard manages to subdue him and runs to the transporter, ducking two other members of the team who are still on board, but doesn’t make it before main power goes offline and the sweep starts.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Starship Mine

Back on Arkaria, Data and Hutch continue to compete for the most boring conversationalist at the reception. Riker decides to save everyone by introducing the two and letting them go at it (to the extreme gratitude of Orton, who had fallen into Data’s verbal death spiral). Even as they go on, and on and on and on, La Forge notices something odd under the table with his VISOR. Orton and his aide then whip out their weapons and fire on both La Forge and Hutch, wounding the former and killing the latter.

On the ship, Picard drags his victim, whose name is Devor, to sickbay, and overhears his comm unit. Kelsey, the apparent leader, tries to raise Devor, and sends Kiros to find out what’s taking him so long. Picard asks Devor what’s happening, but he won’t talk. After administering a hypo to render him unconscious, Picard goes to a turbolift—where Kiros gets the drop on him and brings him to engineering.

Picard identifies himself as Mot the barber, acting as helpless as possible. Kelsey is not happy, and sends Kiros to find Devor, who is still missing. Picard then overhears Kelsey talking about a storage unit for trilithium resin, which explains why they’re still on board despite the sweep.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Starship Mine

On the base, Riker tries to figure out how to proceed. Orton’s made no demands, hasn’t communicated with anyone—Data hypothesizes that La Forge upset their timetable and they’re improvising. La Forge also needs medical attention, and Data says they can adjust his VISOR to use as a weapon to render everyone unconscious for a moment. Crusher starts to work on that, since Data fiddling with the VISOR would be suspicious.

Kelsey didn’t have the brains to frisk “Mot,” so he still has the laser he took off Devor, and he uses it to mess up the warp core. In the confusion, and after using the laser on the containment unit, he makes a break for it through the Jefferies tubes. One of the bad guys pursues. Picard reaches a dead end when the baryon sweep starts coming toward him. He goes through the floor to the deck, leaving his jacket behind, which distracts his pursuer long enough for the sweep to get him. (He also leaves his combadge behind for the bad guys to find, so they know he’s an officer, not a barber.)

Picard’s zapping the unit means they won’t be protected from the baryon sweep when it comes through engineering, so they have to leave—with the trilithium, which is horribly unstable. Neil—the tech guy—is intimidated by Kelsey into rigging up a control rod that will allow them to move it safely without it blowing up.

The baryon sweep makes phasers useless, so Picard goes to the best place on the ship for edged weapons: Worf’s quarters. While he gathers up a crossbow and some bolts, he overhears Kelsey telling Kiros that they’re moving the trilithium resin to Ten-Forward, the last part of the ship that’ll get hit by the sweep. Picard gets on the line and urges her not to do that, as it’s unsafe. The exposition fairy then arrives and explains that trilithium resin is a waste product of a ship’s engines that is spectacularly unstable and can be used as a weapon. Kelsey snottily points out that it wouldn’t risk exploding and killing everyone if he hadn’t messed with the unit, and Picard replies that he’d rather blow up the ship and die himself than allow the resin to fall into the hands of terrorists.

Kelsey and Neil head to Ten-Forward, while Picard—having cut the rungs off the ladder on their best route—is in sickbay coming up with cool stuff to put on the tip of the crossbow bolts. He uses one on one of his pursuers, but while kneeling down to take his laser, Kiros once again gets the drop on him. Meanwhile, Kelsey kills Neil, having grown tired of listening to him whine.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Starship Mine

On Arkaria, Crusher’s good to go, but they need a distraction, as the VISOR will emit a burst of light when they activate it for the pulse. So Riker hits Orton, and gets knocked around by his aide, which enables Crusher to activate it. A perimeter alert goes off, indicating that there’s a ship approaching. Crusher hits them with the pulse, and Data, the only one unaffected, grabs the weapons and tries to stop the ship.

As they approach Ten-Forward, Picard plays another card: he identifies himself as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, valuable hostage. But Kelsey isn’t a terrorist, she’s just an arms dealer who stands to make a pretty penny from the resin.

However, Picard has one last trick up his sleeve—he put magnesite strips on the floor of Ten-Forward. Kiros steps on one and is knocked down, and Kelsey and Picard then fight over the laser, a fight that Kelsey wins. She is beamed off to the getaway ship, and Picard then frantically contacts Arkaria to shut off the sweep, which is now moving through Ten-Forward and about to kill him. It’s shut off in the nick of time, and then Picard watches as the getaway ship blows up, thanks to the control rod that he managed to remove from the containment unit not being there anymore.

Afterward, Picard fidgets in sickbay, as nobody can find his saddle. Worf eventually tracks it down in a maintenance locker, and Picard is relieved. And they all have a good laugh over Picard and his horse-riding fetish, and everyone’s totally forgotten about all the dead bodies....

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Starship Mine

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: A baryon sweep is inimical to organic life, but it will get rid of all that gunky buildup that gets in the grout. At least, we should pretend that’s what it is, since actual baryons are protons and neutrons, and are therefore in most, y’know, things. An actual baryon sweep wouldn’t leave much matter behind....

Also apparently warp engines emit trilithium resin as a waste product. I guess it’s supposed to be a residue from dilithium crystals—the dilithium breaking down to single lithium, and then three of them rebonding to form trilithium, maybe?—except those recrystallize, so where does the lithium come from? Ah, well, best not to examine it too closely....

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi is in her regular uniform in the opening, but wears the old purple one-piece outfit for the reception. She also questions the wisdom of Riker causing a distraction by getting punched in the face.

If I Only Had a Brain...: Data takes to small talk like a duck to water, and really puts his nose to the grindstone in making himself the perfect small-talking machine. Er, so to speak.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Starship Mine

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf proves the value of “it never hurts to ask” by getting out of the reception by the simple expedient of being the only person to think of asking Picard. This has the added benefit of giving Michael Dorn a light week after he was in practically every scene in the previous episode. Worf’s fetish for edged weapons proves useful for Picard as well....

I Believe I Said That: “You keep a saddle on board the Enterprise?”

La Forge, incredulous. The question will be repeated later by Worf.

Welcome Aboard: David Spielberg is delightfully awful as Hutchinson, playing beautifully alongside Brent Spiner, and most of the bad guys comport themselves okay, though only two stand out: Patricia Tallman—probably best known in genre circles as Lyta Alexander on Babylon 5, but also a longtime stuntwoman who’s appeared on TNG many times before in that capacity—is excellent as Kiros, the muscle of the group, who is tellingly the only one who ever actually gets the better of Picard; and Tim Russ, making his Trek debut as Devor, and who will play a Klingon on Deep Space Nine, a Starfleet officer in Star Trek Generations, and, of course, have the starring role of Tuvok on Voyager.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Starship Mine

But the episode’s Robert Knepper moment is a repeat: Glenn Morshower, who played Burke in “Peak Performance” and is probably best known as the rock-steady Secret Service Agent Pierce on 24, plays Orton.

Trivial Matters: Picard’s love for horseback riding was established in “Pen Pals.”

Trilithium resin will be used as a weapon by Captain Sisko in the Deep Space Nine episode “For the Uniform.”

Picard uses what looks like a Vulcan nerve pinch on Devor in the episode. Besides the retroactive hilariousness of him using it on a character played by an actor who will go on to play a Vulcan, it also means that apparently Picard picked up on some stuff after his intense mind-meld in “Sarek.”

Screenwriter Morgan Gendel’s original title was “Revolution,” continuing his theme of titling his episodes after Beatles songs (the last being “The Inner Light,” the title of the B-side to “Lady Madonna”), but it was changed because it was too similar to the third-season premiere “Evolution.”

Make it So: “How long can two people talk about nothing?” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s Die Hard on a spaceship! (Which is apparently how Morgan Gendel pitched the episode.) In the wake of that 1988 film, everyone and her sister was doing “Die Hard on a [whatever],” from Under Siege (“…on a sub!”) to Passenger 57 (“…on a plane!”), and this was TNG’s shot at it.

And it mostly works as a diverting little hour. It has some major issues, some in casting—Marie Marshall is less than engaging as Kelsey (she was much better as “Dodger” on Babylon 5), and the usually reliable Glenn Morshower is awful and stilted as Orton—but mostly in the cavalier way death is treated. Lip service is given early on to Picard sparing people’s lives—he doesn’t kill Devor when he has the chance, and he’s unhappy about another bad guy who’s taken by the sweep, but he quickly progresses to the outright murder of Kelsey. Plus, Devor, Kiros, and others he incapacitated were left to be taken by the sweep. On top of that, Hutchinson is killed rather perfunctorily and without any comment—or even notice beyond a single shot of a body under a blanket. Yes, he was annoying, but he deserved a lot better than to be utterly disregarded after he was shot.

Still, it has some wonderful moments, from Picard’s pretending to be the barber (and continuing to be identified as Mot till the end) to Data’s small talk to Picard’s first stop once he’s free being Worf’s quarters to get all the fun weapons to Pat Tallman’s general awesomeness. As long as you treat it like a dumb action movie, it’s fine.


Warp factor rating: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido is not at all ready for it to be Thanksgiving already.

1. StrongDreams
I remember at the time seeing Picard use the Vulcan nerve pinch and immediately thinking of the mind meld with Sarek. It's too bad that didn't come up more often. Picard has had at least three literally life-changing moments (Borg, Kamen, Sarek) and they don't seem to have changed his life much. Wasted opportunities.
2. Lsana
Ah, the sweep that removes all baryon particles. A classic moment in Trek, and one that illustrates the problem of using technobabble: technical terms actually mean something. It's not quite as bad the "crack in the event horizon" or the planet whose temperature was below absolute zero, but still one of my favorites.

Beyond that, I pretty much agree. It was an entertaining enough episode if you enjoy it mindlessly, but one that completely falls apart if you try to think about it.
William Frank
3. scifantasy
Lsana@2: I'm probably preaching to the converted, but if you haven't read Lawrence M. Krauss's The Physics of Star Trek, you need to. He talks about all of that, including the many many times where Trek's writers either came up with a term that really exists (shades of "black star" from the original series, that predated the term "black hole") or used some fact (left-handed neutrinos) as a signal for weirdness that turns out to be normal.
Keith DeCandido
4. krad
It was blindingly obviously watching Enterprise that Brannon Braga never had a clue that deuterium is a real thing.....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Rob Rater
5. Quasarmodo
The first time I watched this ep, when Picard got his crossbow and got on the com, we were ready for him to kick all kinds of ass. Then he took down one person and was immediately taken prisoner again. Oh well.

On a side note, I'm currently working on a system to check out tons and tons of music. I've started at the top of the alphabet, and have dubbed it a "baryon sweep" as the line moves slowly and thoroughly down the artists and bands on my very, very extensive list.
6. Ender's Ghost
I'm glad you pointed out how there was so little reaction to Hutchinson's death. It was a major point for me in this otherwise decent episode. Why did he die and Geordi didn't? The show does this a lot obviously (I mean, it IS Star Trek), but this time it wasn't a Red Shirt or random security guy. It was a character that seemed to be well known and (in a love-to-hate way) loved character, and he gets killed with a phaser with nary a reaction of grief from...anyone. I don't know why it bothered me so much, but it did. If they needed to cut down on his lines or screen time, he could have been badly injured and then kept off camera until the end. Blah.
Christopher Bennett
7. ChristopherLBennett
Keith, I'm with you about the violence and the episode's general callousness toward death. I've always hated it that the writer deliberately contrived a situation that guaranteed the deaths of all the villains. And I hated how cavalier Picard was about it at the end. This is a story that did not belong in Star Trek, that didn't fit the universe or its principles. I resent that it was even made.

I also hated the technobabble contrivance of the trilithium resin. It was always so stupid when they did stories about exotic new explosives or power sources. They've got antimatter! That is the ultimate energy source in the whole bloomin' universe! Nothing could possibly surpass 100 percent conversion of mass to energy. Maybe the idea is that antimatter is more stringently regulated than engine waste, but still, if you're going to break into a Starfleet vessel, why not just steal a photon torpedo while you're there?

There are actually lots of baryons heavier than protons and neutrons -- though they have half-lives of a fraction of a second, so they're not the sort of thing that would accumulate.

According to The TNG Companion, what Picard did to Tim Russ's character was actually a carotid block, a real self-defense technique that can knock a person out by cutting off blood flow to the brain, although it's potentially dangerous to the victim.
8. Lsana
One more nitpick about this episode: Commander Hutchinson is described as "a master of small talk." I'll admit I'm not the most social person in the world, so I may have this wrong, but isn't the point of small talk not to bore the pants off your listeners? Isn't it to be able to keep the party going by talking about inconsequential things that won't offend anyone (so no religion, politics, or Harry Potter shipping) while at the same time keeping the conversation interesting and engaging? I wouldn't describe the late lamented Hutchinson as a "master" but rather as a socially-awkward extrovert. And given how annoying everyone seems to find Hutchinson, why would Picard be encouraging Data to emulate him?


Thanks for the recommendation. That does sound interesting. I'll see if I can find a copy.
9. critter42
@krad - I figured that out in the 3rd episode of Voyager (Parallax) when he called an event horizon an "energy barrier" around a singularity. I didn't watch another VOY episode until they brought on 7 of 9...
Christopher Bennett
10. ChristopherLBennett
@9: To be fair, it's hard to explain an event horizon to a mostly non-physics-savvy TV audience with enough brevity to avoid distracting from the story. And one could perhaps say that "energy barrier" is a valid term for an event horizon, since energy (or mass or information) is unable to pass through it from the inside. So not a barrier made of energy (which doesn't even make sense, really) but a barrier to energy.

And a lot of Voyager's strongest episodes are in seasons 2 & 3, for what it's worth.
Ian Tait
11. Cradok
Most of my objections with this have already been raised, but the 'distraction' always annoyed me. Riker wanders over to one of the guys and decks him, and then everyone just stands there while the other bumbles over and takes control of the situation again. Why not have Data - super strong, super fast, no tells - ready to move on the other guy, instead of going with a convoluted plan. Hell, Data could probably have used the VISOR as a boomerang if he'd wanted.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
12. Lisamarie
Nothing really to add, but I kind of liked Hutchinson and felt bad for him. I also felt they rather glossed over his death.
13. RichF
StrongDreams: You did say "at least three", but I think it's worth speculating that Picard had a fourth life changing effect long before the three you cite. Specifically, being stabbed through the heart. "Tapestry" suggests that it too was literally a life changing event (ignoring comments, including mine, that it might just have been an illusion created by Q).
Joseph Newton
14. crzydroid
I felt bad for Hutch too. Here was a guy that everyone essentially was making fun of, and then he was callously and forgettably killed like that. I don't know why they couldn't have just injured him too.

I'm with Cradok on the "distraction" as well--Riker decides to punch a guy with a weapon when one person has already been killed and another severely injured.

I didn't notice the "Diehard in space" thing before, but now I totally see it in just about every element of this story.

Another Picard life-changing event would be the torture from "Chain of Command."
15. graftonio
Die Hard on a ,” from Under Siege (“…on a sub!”)
Battleship not a Sub.
Mike Kelmachter
16. MikeKelm
I agree that this episode is a bit callous with death and very not trek, but it also just feels forced. The ship needs to have this sweep done to remove the mcguffin number one so it looks shinier, but meanwhile a crew of weapons dealers decides to enter the certain death trap to get mcguffin number two, which apparently blows up at the drop of a hat, proving that they have a really cool hijacking technology, but not that they no diddlysquat about current events or the ship they are boarding, since presumably they could have gotten on the 24th century equivalent of Wikipedia to find out the bald dude is the captain, not the barber.

Also, starfleet security again sucks, as apparently we stopped doing background checks on anyone, since the bad guys can not only infiltrate as a technical crew (nobody notices they aren't the regular guys or do they do this often?) but also take over the cocktail party. You'd think you'd have some security measures in place to prevent starships from getting stolen while everyone is away...

Also, apparently they are incredibly lax about keeping track of people wandering off and on the ship. You'd think that there would be a life sign sweep protocol in place to prevent accidents or something, but apparently that doesn't occur to anyone. At least a transporter operator saying- hey wait a minute- the bald guy just got on the ship and he isn't back yet before the deadly cleaning ray is turned on.

Amd lastly, if you have a Baryon beam that kills everyone but leaves a starship completely in tact, why hasn't anyone weaponized it. Seems like a nifty space pirate thing to do...
17. StrongDreams
that's true, although what I was really getting at is that Picard has lived the lives of 4 people. He basically absorbed Sarek's life, he was forcibly reprogrammed to be Locutus, and he lived 30+ years (subjectively) as Kamen. It's a miracle he isn't insane, suffering a hopelessly split personality. Tapestry was life-changing in a different way ("I guess I don't regret my wonderful life after all"), he rejected that vision of his life after a few minutes.
Mordicai Knode
18. mordicai
Man this little Die Hard episode deserves a 7, I think. It always cracks me up.
19. Jarvisimo
I don't whether it's true, but this episode does feel rather more TOS too (Even if strictly, it isn't). It's a point Zach Handlen made in his AV Club review, that the scan and the blowing up of the ship were:
a weird, kind of silly method to keep Picard, who obviously values life, from going full Kirk. That wouldn't have suited TNG at all, and really, "Mine" isn't a wheelhouse the series should be visiting on a regular basis. The episode serves as a fun diversion, and that's enough.
Also this reminds me of the book, Rogue Saucer, which was rather Die Hard too.
Joe Romano
20. Drunes
I have no recollection of this episode, but I wish I could remember it for one thing Keith said in his review: The exposition fairy then arrives and explains...

I love that!
Mike S2
21. MikeS2
Let me join the chorus in agreeing how unsatisfying the cavalier attitude towards death is. When I first watched it (probably when it first aired, when I would have been 12) I found that the death of Hutch was a real WTF moment. He wasn't a bad guy, just awkward in social situations -- what percent of Trek's viewership can emphasize with that? Other than that I remember liking the episode.

On the rewatch, I think Keith was way to forgiving of the holes and contrivances in the plot. Why is there not more security? Why is there not more safety backups? How did these terrorists get on the ship? How did Picard get back on the ship without a way to get off? Why were terrorists running the reception? Why did the terrorists need to take over the reception at all? If engineering needed to be protected from the sweep, is there any consequence for destroying the field? The woman knows Picard when he says his name, but she's never seen a picture? They mention trilitium is extremely unstable to move, but nothing is done with that again.

And on and on. Since you have to follow the technical contrivances in order to follow the plot at all, when it doesn't add up the episode falls apart.
23. rowanblaze
@13 and 17: I would say that while "Tapestry" might have been life changing, Picard's original "history" of being stabbed was not. It was a natural consequence of the person he was at the time. That is, even if the Naasican incident had not happened, he would still have been the brash young ensign. He could never have been stabbed and still turned out the way he is as Captain of the Enterprise.

The scientific blundering of the Trek writers is risible, but par for the TV Sci-Fi course.
Bastiaan Stapel
24. Stapel
I agree with those who think this episode has too many flaws.

And it simply does not belong within TNG! Yet, I kinda liked it. Just like "A Fistful of Data's". Also nothing close to a proper TNG episode, but still likable.
Christopher Hatton
25. Xopher
To be fair, fewer people knew what a baryon was when this was written. That's no excuse though, especially when it's SO easy for them to make up new particles. I think this is before the "tetryons" were invented for Voyager, but they could have made up some lethalion or killeveryoneicle for the purpose, rather than making everyone who did know go "wait a minute..."
Christopher Hatton
26. Xopher
krad 4: On Sunday, at the Hoboken Clergy Coalition's Community Thanksgiving Service, I asked a priest, several ministers, and a rabbi which book of the Bible is about heavy water.

Only the rabbi got it without being told. That probably means something.
Christopher Bennett
27. ChristopherLBennett
@25: The term "baryon" has been around in physics since 1953. So I don't know why you'd think it was somehow less well-known in 1993 than it is today.
Christopher Hatton
28. Xopher
Because the average person wouldn't know a baryon if you hit them over the head with several billion of them, even today; but SOME people became more curious when the Large Hadron Collider started operating, and in looking up 'hadron' found lots of other stuff.

But they've probably forgotten again by now.

Something being around in physics since 1953 means basically nothing to the average person on the street. I was the only kid in my 5th grade class who knew what a laser was (we still spelled it LASER back then, because we remembered that it's an acronym). It wasn't til they started appearing in SF as weapons that anyone knew the word, and even then they thought it meant "raygun" and back-formed the verb 'to lase'.

Stop a random person on the street and ask them what a lepton is and they'll stare at you blankly. Trust me.
Christopher Bennett
29. ChristopherLBennett
@28: But we're not talking about "the average person on the street." We're talking about the writers and producers of "Starship Mine." At the time, the show's credited science consultant was Naren Shankar, who has multiple degrees in physics and engineering. Not to mention that they still had Rick Sternbach and Michael Okuda on staff as de facto technical consultants, as they had from the beginning. So the makers of the show would've certainly had access to knowledge of what baryons were.

There is a way the lines in the episode could've almost made sense. Geordi said at one point that the goal of the sweep was to get rid of the radiation resulting from the "baryon" accumulation. Now, neutrons are baryons, and free neutrons decay and give off beta radiation. Although if that were the case, they could've just called it a "neutron sweep." I guess that wouldn't have sounded exotic enough, though.
30. Idran
@2: I do think I have to defend "The Royale", since that's something that bugged me forever until I found this out. That wasn't the writers picking a random number and not realizing that it was below absolute zero. The script actually said -291 degrees Fahrenheit, but for some reason both Burton and the Okudagram on the episode said -291 degrees Celsius, and no one noticed until after the fact.
Christopher Hatton
31. Xopher
29: I wasn't talking about the writers. I think they were just underestimating how knowledgeable the fans were, but pointing out that they might not have been underestimating by as much as they would be today. (I could be wrong about that, too, but that's not what you appear to be responding to.)

Now, you could make the argument that TNG fans, even back in the day, weren't the "average person on the street" either, but I wasn't arguing that the WRITERS were ignorant, just that they were cynical.
32. Heather Dunham
Why did the terrorists/arms dealers take over the reception at all? What were their original plans -- to take it over later, apparently. Then what? What on earth did they have to do with the folks on the Enterprise? Taking over the reception just draws attention to their crime. Nobody was supposed to be on the ship anyway, so the thieves get on, do their thing, fly off with their booty, nobody is any the wiser. I really, really, really don't understand the reception hostages at ALL.

Why did the guys at the reception allow Picard to LEAVE? Since we now know that they were involved, and that their ultimate goal was (for whatever reason) to keep everyone there and under guard, why would they let him go? Especially since he said, out loud, (paraphrased) "I am going back to the Enterprise now."

Makes sense if the staff there are not involved with or aware of what's happening on the ship. Makes no sense at all if they are.

And how did Picard get onto the Enterprise? Beamed aboard, right? From the station? Where there was a tech crew manning the controls, who watched him leave, who logged his departure? Who would have wondered why he wasn't back?

And even if the transporter room was temporarily unattended, and Picard beamed himself over, how crappy is security that it wouldn't have registered that someone beamed over when they weren't supposed to?

And while we're at it, that they wouldn't have noticed that the baryon setup crew hadn't returned yet either?

33. JohnC
I'm generally not too much of a stickler for gaps in logic that give an episode a way to get kickstarted or move a plot along - after all it's episodic television and they've got to wrap things up in about 45 minutes... but even I was a bit annoyed with how easy it was for a "cleaning crew" to take over control of a Starship. I wonder why they were going to settle for a few pounds of engine waste rather than plunder the rest of the ship. And yes, call me a neanderthal sexist cretin if you must, but I really loathe the idea of Picard losing a fight to a woman. I guess he did too, since he blew her up just a few seconds later....
34. Sebastian Messiah
@4: "It was blindingly obviously watching Enterprise that Brannon Braga never had a clue that deuterium is a real thing..."

So what else is new? It is clear and obvious by now that neither intelligence not knowledge are required qualities to write for Star Trek. What matters is nailin' that contract with the guy with the money.
35. 't Hoofed
I enjoyed the episode, generally, but I really enjoyed the idea of the baryon sweep. "Sweep's all finished, captain. No more nasty baryons. Here's your, uh, pile of electrons back."
36. Joliet J
I thought the role of the Arkarians at the reception was to lower the station's shields once the escape ship arrived so that Kelsey et al could effect their escape. Their intent was probably to do so discretely without anyone knowing, but they kept their weapons around just in case. Once Geordi noticed them, the "in case" came into effect. Troi sensing their nervousness and uncertainty was a clue that they were probably in over their head.

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