Plot Synopsis: The Enterprise investigates the deaths of the crew of the USS Lantree, all of whom died of old age.
Plot A and B Analysis: The teaser here is short and underwhelming, much like this episode. Picard summons Troi to his ready room to ask her about Dr. Pulaski, and before they get very far the Enterprise receives a distress call from the Lantree, which quickly goes to static. Plot A involves the premature aging of the Lantree crew and one poor sucker from the Enterprise as well, there is no plot B. Riker has the idea to use their view screen to get a look at the bridge and when they do, they find that the crew have all died from accelerated aging. They find out the Lantree had last been to Darwin Station, a genetics lab, so we head back there to find, sure enough, that the geneticists are all gettin’ crazy-old! Dr. Pulaski checks out a super-kid, one of the subjects of their research, only to get the dad-blasted disease herself and now the clock is ticking to find a solution. Pulaski & Data find the disease problem and Picard figures out how to save her. The problem with the plot here is that we don’t really feel any tension because we don’t care about the doctor yet, and she doesn’t exactly help her case here. Even if we did care about her I don’t think it would be enough, you’re just not encouraged to emotionally invest in the plot.
Favorite Scenes: Yeah….none. The closest I can come is at the end when Picard decides to operate the transporter himself. There are a couple of brief moments involving Data that will make you grin slightly also. The only thing that I think is slightly clever is Troi’s reference Picard and Pulaski as having “well-established personalities,” meaning that they’re both stubborn.
Use of Cast/Characters: “And doctor, God knows I’m not one to discourage input, but I would appreciate it if you’d let me finish my sentences once in a while.” That’s Picard laying a little smack down on Dr. Pulaski in this episode. She’d been interrupting him every time he opened his mouth and later she goes after Data too, though toward the end she does say some nice things to him. This episode is one of the chief reasons Pulaski didn’t really catch on with the fans. She just doesn’t come across as likable, and being a pain to popular characters is a pretty dumb move. Picard is present but doesn’t do a lot except put up with Pulaski, until the end. Picard does what excellent captains do: use the transporter himself so only he would bear responsibility if they weren’t able to save Pulaski. It’s a thoughtful move that only an experienced captain would think of, and I like it. Riker is starting to be more useful in this season, it’s his idea to check out the Lantree’s bridge, thus potentially saving them. Other than that he does nothing, though. Data doesn’t have a lot to do until the last half of the episode, where he endears himself to Pulaski, and he does have a couple of cute little moments. Troi is consulted by both Picard and Pulaski, otherwise she has nothing to do. Geordi does very little, Worf does very little and Wes does the least of all. Chief O’Brien comes up with an ingenious way to use the transporter about halfway through the episode, which is nice and makes sense. Unfortunately it’ll be used to cheap effect later in this series and most of the following Star Trek series’ to follow. Patricia Smith as Dr. Kingsley does give a pitch-perfect performance in the short time she’s on screen.
Blu Ray Version: The planet in this episode doesn’t look like any kind of improvement over the DVD version. The film stock here is a little grainier than I’m used to. Take a look at the screen around the 5:13 mark. Not only is Riker on the opposite side of Picard than he was a few seconds ago, but if you look over Wes’ right shoulder you can see that someone left the script sitting on the right armrest of the captain’s chair! Around 17:38 when Pulaski walks behind the sickbay bed, you can see that nobody is under the styrolite cover, since the part covering the feet is completely transparent.
Nitpicks: Five minutes in and Geordi transfers engineer to bridge. Again. And for no reason. That machine that seems to generate the force field in the sick bay is pretty clunky-looking, and incongruous.
Overall Impression: This is one of my least favorite episodes from season two. It’s about as bad as The Outrageous Okona, and just comes across as lame. I couldn’t really bring myself to care about the plot at all and found myself getting bored and waiting until it was over. A lot of this episode is taken up with meetings, the rest with Pulaski whining. There is supposed to be a subtext about the dangers of tinkering with our humanity and trying to make “improvements” so if you can bring yourself to care about that here, kudos. I rate this episode 1.5 out of 5 stars.
Behind the Scenes/Trivia: This episode was heavily rewritten by Maurice Hurley, the head writer. I don’t know if it made this episode worse but I don’t see how it made anything better. This episode has some similarities to the original series episode The Deadly Years which also had the Enterprise crew rapidly aging. Colm Meaney gets a gold uniform and finally a name of sorts in this episode, Chief O’Brien. Still no first name though, that’ll come later. Dr. Pulaski hates the transporter (just like Bones did)–nope, still don’t care about her. This is also the episode that Diana Muldaur made those comments about never wanting to work in sci-fi again because of her prosthetic, as I mentioned on the season two page. I can’t imagine that endeared her to the cast, some of which sat in make-up every day for hours and hours, and at least one of whom wore a prosthetic every episode. This show was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series. This is about the third time they win the hair styling Emmy, the most coveted of them all!
Missable/Unmissable? Missable. Really missable. Miss. This. Episode. So far the second season has had a total of one good episode, but finally with the next one we get something good!