We made it! Despite some really rough episodes in Season 2 we have made it this far and THIS is where this series really takes off. Lot’s of changes and updates ahead and, while there are still some duds, most of the Episodes going forward are what make this series the legendary one that it has become. This is the season premiere of Star Trek the Next Generation Season Three, first airing on September 25, 1989, This is Evolution.
Stardate 43125.8 Evolution
The Enterprise is hosting a determined scientists who mistakenly releases dangerous nanites aboard the ship. Now the crew must fight for their very survival.
Let’s start with the changes.
First off you will notice the visual aesthetics of the show look…cleaner? It looks as if they are using better cameras and overall the set and costumes are just nicer. Speaking of costumes…
Gone are the horrible onesie collarless pajama uniforms of Season One and Two. Now we have proper collared two- piece Uniforms that will be the mainstay for the rest of the series. Yeah, you may still see the pajamas in the background here and there, but the main crew will be exploring in style! Not only that but the Phasers get a little bit of an upgrade from the dustbuster style to the ‘cobra head’ style.
We have a returning character by the name of Doctor Beverly Crusher! That’s right, Wesley’s mom is back and Doctor ‘grumpy pants’ Pulaski has been reassigned. We actually never find out where she went, she’s just gone and, frankly, I’m okay with that.
Oh and there were some promotions too! Having survived an ENTIRE SEASON as the Chief engineer (remember it was a cursed position) Geordi LaForge is now a Lt Commander and boy has he earned it!
Also, Worf has been upgraded from Lt Junior Grade to straight up Lieutenant! Way to go Worf Son of Mogh!
You’ll also notice a slight improvement to the effects and the filming quality overall in this season, it looks like someone got their budget increased!
Okay, now onto the Second Season Premiere of Star Trek The Next Generation!
The Enterprise is nearing an interstellar event to allow Doctor
Kelso Paul Stubbs, a chance to study a rare solar reaction using a unique ‘egg’ device that contains specialized instruments. When they attempt to launch the egg, the ship goes out of control causing the Enterprise to drift toward dangerous stellar matter and the shields stop responding.
Performing a manual override, the shields are raised just in time but the systems read as normal and there is no reason this should have occurred. Doctor Stubbs reports to sickbay where we see Doctor Crusher has returned! After seeing to Stubbs injuries, Dr. Crusher discovers that the replicator is malfunctioning despite the system’s insistence that nothing is wrong. hmmm.. something is amiss.
Stubbs and Wesley go to check on The Egg and find nothing wrong with it save a few cracks. Soon the Red Alert goes off and Worf detects that The Borg has arrived but they can not locate them. Soon the computer starts reciting chess moves and they realize that this is yet another malfunction.
As Geordi begins investigating the problems, Wesley has an apifiny and starts to search around the ship. Running into Guinan, he confides that the issues may be his fault as he accidently released two experimental nanites into the ship. He doesn’t believe that they could be causing the damage, but he worries that they may have exceeded his expectations.
Wesley returns to his lab where he discovers that the Nanites have…evolved. Telling his mother about it, she calls a staff meeting. Wesley shows the senior staff that the Nanites he mistakenly let loose have evolved into practically a new species and they are currently consuming the computer core. They are attacking the ship and no one knows why. They have a collective intelligence and so, as per the Prime Directive, they can not simply exterminate them. Stubbs, of course, disagrees considering them no more than a virus. Picard order’s Wesley to work with Data and engineering to find a peaceful solution.
Stubbs, of course, screws this all up and fires a gamma beam at where the Nanites are mostly concentrated, killing a large colony of them before anyone can stop him. This immediately causes the the nanites to retaliate, and the ship begins to fight back. This retaliation proves that the Nanites are indeed a living, possibly sentient, entity.
As they work on solutions, the Nanites single out Stubbs and attack him in his quarters. They know who is responsible for their peoples deaths and Stubbs begs Picard for assistance. Picard agrees that the threat is too great and orders their eradication. Before it can occur, Data begins to communicate with them. Finally able to communicate, Picard begins a negotiation with the Nanites. Data volunteers to be a conduit for them to talk and Picard, reluctantly, agrees.
Picard negotiates a treaty and, with the help of the Nanites, they can complete Stubb’s project. Everything, of course, works out in the end and they continue their journey.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
For a season premiere this one is fun. We get a nice reintroduction to the characters, a solid story and really some terrific character development for some key members of the crew.
It is clear from the beginning that this episode’s focus is Doctor Crusher and her son and this is really where the episode shines. Wesley has had no chance to be a kid and this whole past year he has been treated as a Junior Officer. This has caused him to grow up fast and, while he is showing impeccable aptitude as an officer, he has not had a chance to grow as a person.
At one point, Doctor Crusher takes a moment to talk with Picard in his office about this very thing. She is concerned that Wesley isn’t getting a chance to be a kid and she misses his dependence on her. She has missed a year of his life and, while impressed with his upbringing, she feels that he is no longer the boy he was when she left. Picard assures her that he is much like his father Jack Crusher, a kind, responsible and trustworthy man who has proven himself to be a capable officer.
On a side note, I am very glad that Gates McFadden returned to the series. Her portrayal of Doctor Crusher really gels with the rest of the actors and it shows that her chemistry was really a missing component in season two. Thankfully this is the last MAJOR change in the core cast for a while.
We also get to see a new lifeform being created and how people react to such an event. The Enterprise crew are open to the opportunity to welcome a new life while Stubbs, being only focused on his project, sees them as nothing but a pest to be killed. After they finally make contact, Stubbs realizes his mistake and is willing to work with them to assist. This turnaround is a rare bit of character development for even a secondary guest character. Something that really hasn’t happened much so far on the series.
I’ll say, as I was going over the episodes in preparation for writing this season’s reviews I found myself excited about the episodes to come. There are some of my very favorite stories this season and we also get one of the best finales in the form of Best of Both Worlds. This was such a pivotal season for STNG and it is so much fun revisiting this universe to present them to you here on Retro TV Review.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
We learn that Guinan has many children in a conversation with Doctor Crusher.
We get to see what could be the very first Picard Maneuver this episode. No I’m not talking about the one he did in the Stargazer, I’m talking about this:
We finally see more of the other kids on board the ship, something we haven’t seen in a while, and Wesley has a date!
Sadly the Nanites are not officially named and never return to the show despite being given a home of their own on Kavis Alpha IV.
Sadly we don’t see or hear from Doctor Stubbs again. I wonder what could have happened to him? Stubbs is played by Ken Jenkins (for those of you who were wondering about my Dr Kelso joke).
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: The Ensigns of Command
If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.
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Late To The Game 8/4/2019 (originally published 4/20/2018)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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