Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, December 5, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Twenty-Six "The Neutral Zone"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Twenty-Six "The Neutral Zone"
Production Order: 26
Air Order: 26
Stardate: 41986.0
Original Air Date: May 16, 1988

Riker's Log 41986.0: "The captain is out visiting a starbase, and we found some space junk floating nearby."

The space junk is a satellite that's clearly from Earth, and the bridge crew chats about how it might have gotten way the hell out here.
"The orbit is gonna decay over that planet, and it will crash eventually," says Worf. "You want me to tractor that shit out again?"
"Naw," says Riker. "It's crap. Just leave it."
*clears throat* Hey, Star Trek? That's really not in keeping with the Enterprise's five-year mission to explore stuff. Like, every time you guys detect a mote of space dust two sectors over, you rush to check it out, but you can't take a look while you're just hanging out, waiting for Picard to come back?
Data points out that it's a piece of history, and again, they have time, so Riker caves, and Data and Worf beam over.
Once there, they discover that the little ship's computers have stopped working, but the atmosphere is kind of okay, and Data figures he can download some info from the disk drives.
There's a goofy joke here where Worf tries to step forward into the next chamber, and he walks straight into the door, which has not opened at his approach.
"It's broken," he says, and immediately pulls out his phaser to blast the door open.
But Data has it figured out, and opens the door using the handle.

Inside the next chamber, they find ten upright refrigeration tanks with windows. They clear the frozen condensation from the windows to find two skeletons and an empty chamber, but in the fourth they find a woman.
Wondrous music! Opening credits break!

Back from the break, Worf is wondering if these people were frozen for an extended journey, but Data thinks the computer system would have been better if that were the case. Riker interrupts to say that Picard is ready to leave, so they better get their asses back to the ship.
"Hey, so there are frozen people here," says Data. "And this ship is clearly gonna fail soon, so I think we should beam these three people back to the E in their containers."
"Fine. Whatever. Just do it quickly," Riker responds.
Later, Picard enters the bridge and gives coordinates to Geordi, then demands a staff meeting.
"Ummmm, those coordinates are in The Neutral Zone?" says Geordi.
"Yeah, they are," responds Picard.
Staff meeting: Picard explains to the others that two outposts on the edge of the NZ have been destroyed, and they haven't heard from some others in a month.
"Romulans," growls Worf.
"Yeah, probably," agrees Picard.
Riker points out that they haven't dealt with the Romulans since the Tomed Incident, which was fifty years earlier. (Nothing much is mentioned about this incident here, but it'll come up twice more in TNG, so just for the record: it was an incident between the Romulans and the Federation, cost thousands of lives, and lead to the Treaty of Algeron.)
So, basically, the thought is that the Romulans are spoiling for a fight, and the Federation has decided to send just the E to check it out. They want the E to establish some kind of chit-chat, and hopefully not start any shit.
Picard asks Troi to find out all she can about the Romulans and report back.

Crusher calls Picard to sick bay.
"Okay, so about the frozen people that Data brought back from the capsule...?" she starts.
"Wait, what? What frozen people? What capsule?"
Yeah, this is all shit Picard has missed - Because Romulans - so this is the first he's hearing of it. She explains that Data found frozen people on a derelict capsule, floating in space, and beamed them over. The containers they were in were going to fail, so she defrosted them. Now they're ready to wake up.
She starts telling him about cryonics, a fad in the late twentieth century, where people froze themselves after death, with the hopes of being awakened later. Often the people who sprang for this service had died from things that were incurable at the time, and the idea was to be revived when that incurable thing was curable. The woman they had found died of an embolism. One guy had a heart condition, and the other guy had a bum liver and emphysema.
"Guess their plan worked," says Picard grouchily, hitting his comm badge. "Data, get your shiny metal ass to sick bay."

Data arrives in sick bay.
"Okay," says Picard. "So I'm not mad, but... I'm mad. This is crap timing, Data. Also, these people were already dead. Why would you bring them onboard? Like, even if their ship was falling apart, what more would have happened?"
Okay. Again, Star Trek. Not within your MO to just abandon people.
"I couldn't just leave them," argues Data.
"Yeah, okay," agrees Picard. "Well, they're alive now, so nothing we can do about it." 
He calls Worf to sick bay, just in case things get weird, and Crusher hypos the woman awake.

Picard Sassy Moment: "Welcome to the twenty-fourth century."

When we come back from a commercial break, more senior officers have gathered, and Data is now giving a verbal PowerPoint over what he's found out about these people from the disk drives he uploaded from their ship.
The woman is Clare Raymond, and he says her occupation is listed as "homemaker."
"Must be some kind of construction worker," he says.
They wake her up again.
The first dude is Ralph Offenhouse, and this guy was a financier with a heart condition that Crusher corrected easily.
And they wake him up.
Data says there wasn't a lot of info on the last guy, LQ Sonny Clemonds. But he says that this guy did something with music. Crusher says his body was crap, probably from substance abuse.
"Okay," says Picard. "This is kinda-sorta interesting, but ain't nobody got time for this. I'm going to the bridge. Do what you want with this."

Picard seriously doesn't want to deal with this, so when he gets to the bridge, he orders Riker to take charge of these people and keep them out of his way.
So Riker gathers the formerly frozen people... somewhere on the ship, along with Crusher and Data, to explain things to them.
Riker says they're on the Enterprise, and Offenhouse asks if it's American.
"No, it's United Federation of Planets, and Earth is a member," he replies.
"...whut?' asks Offenhouse. "What year is it?"
"2364," answers Data.
They all look astounded, and Offenhouse is delighted, because his scheme to cheat death has worked. Crusher assures them that they are all in good health now.
"What is that?" asks Clemonds, pointing across the room.
Data looks behind him, but Riker recognizes what Clemonds is confused about. "An android," he smiles.

Poor Clare, man. She's so confused. Crusher explains that she died of an embolism, but she doesn't remember anything about that. Clemonds tells her about cryonics, and about being shipped off into space because some cryonics companies had had some trouble with brownouts defrosting people too early, and being in space was supposed to prevent that from happening.
Clemonds jokes that he figured he might as well give his money to the cryonics people instead of his ex-wives, even though he thought cryonics was "a bunch of hooey."
Like always, when Data encounters a term he doesn't know, he checks his inner dictionary, and starts spouting synonyms to understand. Instead of getting a "Thank you, Data" response, Clemonds just laughs along with him.

Riker asks who would have set up Clare's cryonics if she didn't do it herself. She reckons it was her husband, Donald, who was into fads.
So far, Clare is the only one of this group who isn't a stereotype. Clemonds is a yokel-honkey-musician who uses a lot of slang with a Southern-ish accent. Offenhouse is only concerned with money: when Clemonds mentions other cryonics companies having problems with brownouts, Offenhouse talks about their stocks depleting. Now that he's been awakened almost four hundred years in the future, he's talking about how his own stock in this company "must have split a dozen times."
Data tells him that cryonics was again a fad, and no one had any interest beyond the initial freezings. (Read: your stock is worthless, mofo.)
Now Offenhouse is talking about how he's "provided for" himself, and how he has a substantial portfolio, blah, blah, blah. He demands a phone and a copy of the Wall Street Journal.
Spoilers: Offenhouse is a douche-canoe.
Riker recommends that they go slow.

There's a short scene on the bridge here where Troi tells Picard what she's learned about the Romulans.
- They're kind of bi-polar, jerks one minute, sweethearts the next.
- They're distantly related to the Vulcans, but when the races went their separate ways, they became really different people.
- They're super-curious about humans, and that's probably what's kept the peace.
- They're dicks who believe they're much, much better than everyone else.
- They're not gonna initiate anything. They'll wait for Picard to make a move before they do anything.

Back in the... wherever they are, Data shows Clemonds how to use the food dispensary. He starts out ordering a large meal, then says "fuck it" and orders a martini instead. They all watch in amazement as the drink forms, and Clemonds declares the drink to be fabulous. Lol, wonder how he reacts when he finds out it's fake as fuck.
Anyway, he asks about television and the Braves. Data tells him that nobody really watched tv beyond 2040. (Another Star Trek prediction! Remember that Eugenics War in the 90's?)
"Wow, the future is boring," Clemonds remarks.
Riker is amused.
Picard calls him on the comm panel instead of his badge, and Riker picks up the call for himself and Data to report to the bridge.
"Who was that?" Offenhouse asks.
"Captain," says Riker.
"Great, can you get him down here?" asks Offenhouse. "I need to make some calls about my accounts. The interest alone is probably enough for me to buy this ship!"
Can somebody slap this douche-yacht?
But both Clare and Clemonds are asking to see Picard as well.
On his way out, Clemonds grabs Data by the arm and suggests that later they can get "some low-mileage pit woofies and help them build a memory."

Out in the corridor, Data and Riker chat about their guests.
Data asks Riker about the phrase "low-mileage pit woofie."
"Hell if I know," shrugs Riker.
Yeah, I Googled that shit. You know what pops up? Links to this episode. There's no such slang as "low-mileage pit woofie." But Memory Alpha has graciously translated it as being a NASCAR groupie. Clemonds is hoping that he and his new android friend can get them some tail, which is interesting because Clemonds has no idea that his "robot buddy" is capable of such acts, let alone that he is fully functional and programmed in multiple techniques.
Anyway, Data says they're the most interesting humans he's ever met, and Riker wonders aloud how humans ever made it out of the twenty-first century.
You and me both, Riker. You and me both.

Later, they have a meeting in the ready room with Picard, Geordi and Worf. Worf reports that there are nine outposts in this sector, and he can't get ahold of any of them.
Riker points out that because they haven't met up in fifty years, everyone's info will be out of date, including the Rom's info on the Federation. He thinks that it's because of that out-of-date info that the Roms are picking a fight - to see what the Federation has been up to. It's also his guess that the Roms will be hoping that Starfleet with send it's flagship so they can see how far the Federation has progressed.
"I think we should strike first," he finishes.
Worf agrees (of course), and Data says that if the Roms are hostile, this is a good strategy.
"But what if they're not?" asks Geordi.

Unfortunately, this is when that asshole Offenhouse elects to cut in, using the comm panel. Everyone looks surprised, and Riker guesses that Offenhouse saw him use the comm panel earlier. Instead of being furious at being interrupted, Picard tries to let Offenhouse know gently that they're in the middle of a really important meeting -
- and Offenhouse launches into what can only be described as Full Whiny Bitch Mode.
No, seriously. His voice gets high-pitched and whiny, and he bitches like Veruca Salt before her ass gets dropped into the garbage chute.
"You know, I'm sick and tired of being put off by you and your staff! This is the worst-run ship I have ever been on! You should take some lessons from the QE II. Now that's an efficient operation."

Don't care howwww, he wants it nowwwww!

"Data, what the fuck is a QE II?" Picard asks.
"A cruise ship from the twentieth century," Data replies.
"Is he serious with this shit?" asks Picard. "He's comparing the flagship of the Federation to a cruise ship?"
Yes, Picard. And you know that for the rest of his life, anytime he mentions having been on said flagship, he'll complain about how inefficiently it was run.
Offenhouse continues to bitch into the comm panel while Picard calmly gets up and makes his way to... wherever they are.
One of Offenhouse's things is talking about how much he paid for the cryogenics, like that has anything to do with the Enterprise. He seems to think that doling out money to someone 400 years earlier should have some effect on how he's treated now.
Picard enters and introduces himself. Offenhouse calmly shakes his hand.
"Stay the fuck off the comm panels. That's for official ship's business only."
"Then why doesn't it need an executive key?" demands a smarmy Offenhouse.
Picard gives him this smile that says he'd like to punch him. "Because in the future, we have self-control, you douche-cruise." He pauses. "Don't use those. We're in a dangerous position right now, and I can't have you screwing with things."
Offenhouse gets patronizing. "I'm sure you think your piddly shit is important, but mine is way more important that yours. No offense, but a military career is one for suckers. You are not as important as I am. I need to speak with my lawyer."
Just hit him, dude. Toss his ass in the brig for a while. Feed him to Worf.
Instead, Picard almost laughs.

"Yeah... well... he was part of a super-important firm, and I just know the firm is still around."
You delusional asshole. They probably declared you legally dead hundreds of years ago. They'll have purged your files, and no one will remember who you are.
"Seriously?" asks Picard. "This is about being rich? There's no such thing anymore."
"No," says Offenhouse. "This is about power."
And to prove he's powerful, he cites the fact that instead of being dead, he's here now.
No, mofo. You are here because of a fluke. Multiple coincidences have made it possible for your ship to be barely operating when the E found it, and more coincidences occurred to ensure that your refrigeration chamber didn't fail like the others. You're also here because an android took pity on you. STFU.

Clare starts crying. She misses her kids, is super-confused, and on top of it all, the future involves being locked in a room with this dumb motherfucker and a guy who refers to women as low-mileage pit woofies. The future sucks ass so far. No wonder she's sobbing. Picard calls Troi to come talk to Clare.
Picard heads out. Clemonds asks to speak to "that pretty little doctor of yours."
Offenhouse grabs Picard. "Okay, look. I'm sorry. I didn't mean that. Just... I'm always in control, and I'm always secure in what I'm doing, and right now, I have no control and no security, and that really freaks me out."
"Oh, lookit that, you are human," replies Picard. "I'll see what I can do about your situation, but stay off the freaking comm panels, cool?"
Offenhouse agrees.
A moment later, Picard passes Troi in the corridor. "Dude, help those people get their shit together. I'm losing my damn mind."

Troi stops at a door and rings the little "let me in" chime. Suddenly, Clare is no longer in a random room with the others, but in private quarters. How much time has passed? It seems like the answer is none, as she was on her way to see Clare, but...
Anyway, she goes in and tells Clare that she's the ship's counselor and here to help. Clare calls her "the local shrink," a term she doesn't know.
Clare decides she probably has nothing to lose at this point, and tells Troi that she can't stop thinking about her kids. She's also trying to figure out why her husband would sign her up for cryogenics, then guesses that when she died suddenly, he couldn't handle the idea of her being gone, and had her frozen so that she wasn't really gone completely.

She goes back to her kids again, wondering aloud what became of them - if they got married and had kids. Oh, honey. Why would you think that they don't take a census in the future? Troi sits at the computer and it asks for the kids' names, birthplaces, and dates of birth.

Clemonds goes to sick bay to ask Crusher for drugs. He doesn't have a headache or anything, he wants some uppers and downers, just because.
Crusher politely tells him to fuck off.
"You don't need those things."
"It's not that I need them, it's like a lifestyle."
"That's a big glass of nope, Clemonds."
You know, when she revived him, he asked about "the liver that's about to blow up in my face." She restored him back to perfect health, and he's already setting about fucking back up again.
"Aw, okay. Where can I find the android guy?" he asks.
"You mean Lt-Commander Data? I'll tell him that you're looking for him."
"Much obliged. You're just the perttiest-lookin' doctor I've ever seen."
Her look is one of "WTF is wrong with twentieth-century guys?"

Back in Clare's quarters, they've located her family tree online, and she can see like, ten generations of her family laid out before her.
Fun Fact: when they remastered these episodes a few years ago, they redid the names written in Clare's family tree, and they're all Trek actors and employees with the name Raymond tagged onto the end.

Clare is doing well until she goes back to "everyone I've ever known is dead."
Okay, yes. And you're probably going to keep going back to that, and this process will be a roller-coaster, but if you make that every other thought, you're gonna find the future really, really difficult.
She asks to be left alone.

Data goes to Clemonds' quarters, and Clemonds is all excited to see him. He's bored without tv and the trappings of the twentieth century, so he wants to have a party, and he wants Data to help him plan it. Data agrees.
"Okay, but hang on," he says. "You're adjusting to this better than the others."
"Meh," shrugs Clemonds. "Same dance, different day, ya know? Where can I get a guitar?"
"Replicator," says Data. "I can show you how."
But then Data is called to the bridge, because they're at The Neutral Zone.
Clemonds asks what a Neutral Zone is, and Data replies that it's the buffer between Federation and Romulan space.
Clemonds is suspicious. "Why does that make me nervous?"
Because the show wants you to be nervous about these villains we never see, but which are constantly talked about.
"These Romulans can't come to our party," says Clemond.
"That wouldn't be appropriate," agrees Data.
Oh, but what a lovely, terrible get-together it would be! You know some Romulan would probably shove the heel of his hand up Offenhouse's nasal cavities, and save Picard the trouble.
Dramatic music at the thought of an awkward party! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Okay, we're here at the Neutral Zone, and we're gonna check out these outposts that have gone all radio-silent."

They arrive at the first outpost, and Data reports a complete lack of... everything. There's no evidence of any outpost having been there at all.
So that sucks.

Meanwhile, the frozen trio have met up again in that common room. Offenhouse says there's something weird going on, and he wants to know what, because the ship's crew now seems super-stressed out. Clearly, Stella got her groove back - Offenhouse is now acting like a douche-ship again. He wants to go bust down some self-opening doors and demand to know what the deal is. Clemonds disagrees. Data replicated a guitar for him, and he just wants to play. Offenhouse persists, and Clemonds uses some more idioms that I have never heard before.
"These folks don't need us tellin' 'em where the bear sits," and "they don't need us swimmin' in their soup."
I thought maybe these were made up, like the pit woofies thing - maybe part of Clemonds' character is that he makes up his own idioms? But no. Neither of these is well-known, but they're both bona-fide idioms.
Anyway, Offenhouse gets tired of trying to convince the others, and he stomps off by himself, like a petulant toddler who needs a nap.

Up on the bridge, the ship has come to the second outpost, and again, there is nothing, "like something scooped the whole outpost off the surface."
"I wanna go to red alert!" says Riker.
"Yeah, let's do battle stations!" agrees Worf, because of course he does.
Picard isn't entirely convinced. "Let's call that a firm maybe."
Riker looks disappointed. "Yellow alert?"
Picard agrees.

Offenhouse is wandering around the corridors during yellow alert. He sees someone get off the lift and hops inside. He knows that you talk to stuff on this ship to make it work, so he stands in the lift muttering about how he needs to find Picard.
"Picard is on the main bridge," says the lift helpfully.
"Cool, take me there."
Ugh. Never let assholes from the twentieth century roam your ship unattended.

Worf says the sensors are picking up a disturbance, but he can't get a lock, and there's no visual.
"Cloaked Romulans!" says Riker, who is way more excitable than I thought. "Let's put up our shields, and transfer all of our other power to our weapons system! Photon torpedoes!"
"Riker, stahp!" commands Picard. "You're gonna piddle on the carpet. If we power up weapons, then they will see, and power up their weapons, and before you know it, we'll have ourselves an Intergalactic Cuban Pissing Contest. I wanna talk first."

Everything indicates that the Roms are dropping their cloaking device, and they all know that the best chance to fire on a Romulan ship is when they are decloaking and their shields drop briefly. But nothing happens. Data can't even find them on sensors.
"Damn," says Geordi. "Cloaking device has hella improved."
Offenhouse has entered the bridge and is now standing back by the lift, watching everything unfold.
"I think it was a test," says Picard thoughtfully, "to see if we would fire."
Unfortunately, Offenhouse chooses this time to scream, "Who are "they"!?" from the back of the bridge, and immediately gets himself surrounded by security golds.

But now is when the Romulans opt to decloak for good, and in light of this quasi-historical moment (remember, they only show up every fifty years or so, like a comet), everybody drops what they're doing to stare at the viewscreen, including those security Golds.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard requests that Worf open hailing frequencies, but Worf is agitated.
"Romulans killed my parents at Khitomer, when we were supposed to be allies! They are without honor!"
"Do your fucking job," said Picard calmly.
Worf complies.
Picard hails the Romulans. The Roms are armed, but not firing.
They come onto the viewscreen.
You guys, it's Marc Alaimo!

You remember him, right? No, of course not. Because this was Marc Alaimo last time:

Anyway, this time, he's Tebok. And the Romulans here are posturing dicks.
Picard: "Sooo, you crossed the NZ. This is Federation Territory. This could be seen as an act of aggression."
Thei, Rom second-in-command: "Dude, if we were being aggressive, you'd be dead already."
Tebok: "If we're gonna start a war, let's make sure we got our stories straight."
So then we get to the crux of the thing: they're checking things out in Federation territory because they also have outposts that border the NZ, which were also scooped off the face of the planets they were on.
Worf yells that they still have no right to be in Federation space, and Tebok barks at Picard "Silence your dog, captain."
"Seriously?" asks Picard. "STFU. He has a point."
"You act like we need permission," says Thei. "We don't."
Um, yeah you do. You can't just walk into somebody's house and raid the fridge. Especially if you haven't seen that person in fifty years, and you got into a fist fight the last time you met.

"Do you think we did it?" Picard asks point-blank.
"Too much destruction," Tebok admits. "It wasn't you."
"So who did it?"
The Roms exchange a look.
"They don't fucking know," says Offenhouse, still at the back of the bridge. "They think you might, but they don't want to ask."
"Nobody asked you!" snaps Riker.
"It's true, though," mutters Picard.
"We don't know," Tebok states.
"Okay, look," says Picard. "Why don't we pool resources here? If we get information, we'll share it with you, and vice-versa. The we can all find out who destroyed the outposts."
"An alliance?" asks Tebok, sneering.
"Fuck no," says Picard. "I'm not allied with you pricks. We're just sharing information about a common enemy."

"Okay," says Thei. "But only on this one thing. And only if it's convenient to us. Also, only on the third Tuesday of every month. But only if that Tuesday has a solar eclipse involving the moon of Endor."
"Because you weren't a dick to us about this," intones Tebok, "we'll let you in on a little secret. We've been gone for fifty years because we were busy with other stuff. But we're not busy anymore."

Ugh, God save me from shitty, cliched lines like this, delivered in a measured, threatening way. And then -
Dramatic music! Viewscreen cuts off! Transmission over!
Fucking drama queens.
"I think our lives just became a lot more complicated," murmurs Picard.
Then he remembers that Offenhouse is standing behind him, and orders him off the bridge.

Back in Clare's quarters, Troi has found an image of her great, great, great, great, great grandson. Clare says he's the spitting image of her husband. Troi finds his address and suggests that Clare look him up when she gets back to Earth. Clare hesitates, because she'll be a person "out of time."
Girl, you'll be "out of time" no matter where you go.
Troi says that this guy is family, and Clare agrees.

Later, Picard meets with Offenhouse and Clemonds. He's arranged a transfer for them to the USS Charleston, which is headed for Earth. Offenhouse complains that he has no idea how things will go from here - he doesn't have money or an office, and things have changed so much that he has no idea what to do with himself.
"Try growing as a human being," suggests Picard.
Okay, his response wasn't quite that snarky, but you know that's what he meant.
Clemonds, ever the druggy optimist, cheerfully states that no one knows about all the shit he pulled way back when, so he can start all over again, and be a bigger musical hit than he was before.
He asks Data to be his sidekick.
You know Data is going to decline, but he does admit that the proposal could be interesting.

Picard, Riker and Data return to the bridge, where Geordi informs Picard that the Charleston has added some extended stops to her roster, but if the E tracks over to another starbase, it could cut months off of the journey back to Earth for the trio.
"Yeah," says Picard. "But these people definitely need the extra time to get used to this century before being dropped off back home. Naw, we'll put them on the Charleston."
"Too bad," says Riker. "It's kind of cool having them here, like a blast from the past."
"True, but that's going backward," answers Picard. He sits in his chair next to Riker. "So much to do, still so much to learn."
End on a note that says, "Please watch season two, thanks!"

Annnnd, for the second time in a row, we end up with a story without closure. A scary, unknown villain is introduced, and you think, "Hey, maybe we'll get an arc or a cliffhanger from this," but no. No information is actually delivered by the closing credits. All we know is that the E has somehow satisfactorily saved the day, and all is well.
But it isn't satisfactory. Not at all. The arc/cliffhanger is implied, but not given. So what's the deal?
Well, we know what was up with "Conspiracy." They went round six ways from Sunday on the storyline, then dropped what might have been a great arc because they just wanted one episode.
But here, there was another issue, in the form of the Writers' Guild Strike of 1988. When the script for this episode was still in first draft mode, the strike began, and no one could touch it. Maurice Hurley had just been hired to replace DC Fontana and David Gerrold as head writer, but he had never written sci-fi, wasn't really familiar with Star Trek... and only had a day and a half to turn the story into a teleplay.
The original idea was to do a three-part arc with a season finale cliffhanger. The arc would introduce the new Big Baddie, and strike an alliance between the Federation and Romulan Empire. However, the decision was made to do a one-off episode, no cliffhangers or arcs. The new villain would eventually show up... but not until two-thirds of the way into season two. They presented this episode... then left the audience hanging for sixteen episodes before revealing the Big Baddie who had destroyed the outposts. In terms of real time, they waited a whole year to resolve this episode. (Not as bad as the hand dealt to the Sherlock fandom, but still a crappy move overall.) Did fans of the show even remember that this episode ended unresolved, or that it was connected to that later episode at all? Did the Federation and the Romulans ever find out any more information? Were the outposts ever rebuilt?
So that's our B-plot, unresolved and open-ended.
Let's look at the A-plot.
Our A-plot deals with people revived from cryogenic stasis, and I didn't realize it before (maybe too much time had passed since last viewing), but this A-plot is the same one from Space Seed. You know, the TOS episode where we were introduced to Khan? Yeah, that one. Fortunately, this one ended better, as Data found just a trio of ordinary citizens, rather than Khan and his Merry Band of Twat Waffles.

(Though I do have to ask... why was no one on TNG more careful about this? Khan's take-over of the Enterprise, then later the Defiant was part of Starfleet history, which they would have studied at the Academy, and which Data would have be able to pull out of his memory banks in a hot second. Are you telling me that Riker vaguely remembered an historical account of someone showering fully clothed in The Naked Now, but Data and his positronic brain can't recall that pulling frozen people from a derelict twentieth century Earth ship might be bad news bears?)
So despite the fact that our two guys are straight-up stereotypes, they actually do a pretty good job of representing some of the different reactions a person might have to waking up 400 years in the future. Offenhouse is more obsessed with money than Scrooge McDuck, which is saying something, considering that the latter changes his cold hard cash into gold coins so he can swim in them. But it's revealed that Offenhouse's problem isn't with greed, or even the power he claimed, it's a question of controlling his own destiny. He micromanaged every part of his previous life, and then was taken by surprise when he realized that he could not control his own health in the same way, and died. In an attempt to control his own death, he arranges for his body to be frozen in a fad procedure. His delight at having "beaten death" points to this control, as does his immediate and continued existence that he should get access to things to check on his wealth. He is not interested in how things have changed in the last 400 years. He simply wants to know how he can quickly regain control of his life.

Clemonds is completely the opposite. He's what Spock would call a sensualist, craving women, music and substances to get himself a good time. The admission that he thought cryogenics was crap but did it anyway? The guy's a gambler, and he rolled the dice. Besides, what did he have to lose? If it worked, and he was revived and cured, okay. If it didn't work... well, he was already dead, so no harm, no foul. He was either going to break even, or win. In this case, he won. His go-with-the-flow attitude speaks to the fact that he didn't expect the cryogenics to work, and is eager to start a new life... doing the same old stuff in new ways. He is mostly concerned with freedom - he's perfectly content to be on the Enterprise for the time being, but immediately sets to work planning a party.

Clare seems to be the most confused, but also the most grounded. Out of the three, she's the one who didn't contract for the cryogenics services, and has to have the situation explained to her in more detail. As well as dealing with her sudden death, and the fact that she did not expect on any level to find herself in the future, she must also learn to adapt to life without her family, which seems to be the most important thing in her life. In the end, Clare will probably weather this storm the best of the three, traveling back to Earth to meet her descendants, and quietly adjusting with their help.

Clemonds, if I had to guess, will probably run afoul of some new law that he's unaware of, and he'll get into some trouble, but no more than usual.
Offenhouse will most likely struggle for a while. His typical means of control is gone, which means he'll have to find another. I would imagine that he'll try quite a few means before finding his niche, and not gonna lie, I think that niche might include the Ferengi. The Federation might not do the whole money thing, but the Ferengi certainly do, and their beliefs run parallel to Offenhouse.
These were all actually pretty good characterizations of the kinds of reactions one might have when waking up 400 years in the future. If I was going to add one, it would be the person who is thoroughly excited to be in the future, and not because they "cheated death," but because they're generally open to the new possibilities offered. A bit of a Wes, I guess.

The low-down? This episode was alright, but certainly not fantastic. It would definitely have benefited from some rewrites and polishing, but that wasn't available, so I suppose it might have been much worse. the lack of arcs and cliffhangers was disappointing, as it certainly felt as though that was needed, and the unresolved conflict at the end was truly awful. But I liked the exploration of what happens on the other side of cryogenic stasis, and the struggle to fit into a time where you don't belong.

Red deaths: 0
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
Sassy Yar Moments: 0
Sassy Picard Moments: 1
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 3
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 1
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0

Fun Facts:
- Several references to M*A*S*H were made in this episode, including the number on the Earth satellite (4077), and members of Clare's family tree, which listed M*A*S*H characters (Sherman T Potter, Charles E Winchester, Margaret Houlihan).

- Along with the names of M*A*S*H characters, Clare's original family tree included the names of Muppets, and the first six doctors from Doctor Who.
- Lots of skants in this episode, including a reuse of the one worn by Troi for "Encounter at Farpoint." That's Gene Rod's assistant, Susan Sackett.

- First appearance of the D'deridex-class Romulan Warbird, which would be seen throughout TNG, DS9 and Voyager.
- Worf snaps that his parents were killed by Romulans at Khitomer, when they were supposed to be allies, but that's a continuity snafu. The Klingons and Romulans were never allies. 
- This is the only time that the Romulan uniform is shown with the black sash over the shoulder, and although it isn't confirmed, I think it might be a throw-back to the TOS Roms:

- Associate producer Peter Lauritson was used for the photograph of Clare's living descendant Thomas Raymond.
- The script originally featured Wes. He would have replicated the guitar for Clemonds.

Tesla, who has hair like the Awiens meme kitten.


  1. "Naw," says Riker. "It's crap. Just leave it."

    It's crap that really shouldn't be here, Riker. There's a mystery, but they just blow it off.

    Worf must not have lived in the Starfleet Academy dorms, which use hinged doors with knobs. Anyway, surely their own doors have some sort of manual release in case the power goes out. Then again, maybe not. We've seen characters struggling to pry those flimsy looking sliding doors open.

    I can see why the cryogenics companies went out of business if they were launching satellites with empty tubes. Or, worse, if they were shuttling corpsicles up to the satellites one at a time. That's hella uneconomical.

    Picard commands a ship with a thousand people aboard, including plenty of civilians. He shouldn't have to deal with Crusher's formerly dead patients. I know that the main characters do everything, and Picard probably does as well given LaForge's many assignments, but he could still delegate this stuff to Crusher and his actual ship's counselor, Troi. Hell, these people are getting treated with more respect than Scotty eventually will.

    Also, Jean-Luc, you guys regularly revive people who are technically dead. I mean, I know we'd all prefer to forget "Code of Honor", but still, it was something you'd already done by your third episode.

  2. Clare Raymond was featured in Christopher Bennett's Department of Temporal Investigations novels as having gotten a job as a temporal counselor, helping people who accidentally traveled into the future adjust to it. She was motivated to do so because she didn't have any real applicable skills in the 24th century. She's kind of backward by modern standards (where they're teaching 9-year-olds Calculus and people are constantly quoting Shakespeare from memory), and she struggled adjusting to future society herself. (One incident described is how she was far more squeamish about one of her great-great-whatever grandsons getting married to another man than she was about a different grandson getting married to a space alien.)

    She came to the job not by being a superb counselor but by having hard-won experience. She was professional and respected even by Lucsley, who's a bit of a hardass. I liked it.

  3. "What is that?" asks Clemonds, pointing across the room.

    It's a guy wearing weird makeup. I mean, are we expected to believe Cletus here took one look at Data and recognized he's not human?

    Offenhouse is a douche-canoe.

    I've never seen Peter Mark Richman play a character who wasn't.

    Riker points out that because they haven't met up in fifty years, everyone's info will be out of date, including the Rom's info on the Federation.

    This never made sense to me. Aside from the assumption that the Romulans have no covert intelligence-gathering capability, how hard is it really to monitor what's going on inside the Federation, at least in broad strokes? I mean, I can look up US Navy ship deployment on the Navy's own website, and Starfleet has way worse security.

    "I think we should strike first," he finishes.

    I wonder how many regulations that would break. What the heck is up with Riker this episode?

    "He's comparing the flagship of the Federation to a cruise ship?"

    Offenhouse speaks for quite a few Trek fans, actually.

    Still, does this mean everyone aboard the ship can call Picard directly? Offenhouse is an ass, but he has a point. There should be some buffer between random visitors and the ship's captain. Picard can lecture about self-control all he wants, but his ship has a load of children aboard. Do none of them ever call him, even by mistake? Is there no 24th-century equivalent of butt-dialing? Picard does remember Lwaxana Troi, right?

    And to prove he's powerful, he cites the fact that instead of being dead, he's here now.

    Yeah, but...so is Clare Raymond.

    Picard calls Troi to come talk to Clare.

    Freakin' finally!

    I'd be really surprised if you could sign someone up for cryonics o the spur of the moment after they'd already died in an emergency room. That seems like something that would need to be arranged beforehand.

  4. "Picard is on the main bridge," says the lift helpfully.

    Yup. Starfleet security. It's no wonder their computers are as easily compromised as the Independence Day aliens'.

    and they all know that the best chance to fire on a Romulan ship is when they are decloaking

    At least, that was the case 50 years ago. Remember that meeting you guys had about your intelligence being out of date?

    Also, Worf really needs to work on Security discipline. I'm pretty sure those security goons are there to be alert for intruders on the bridge. Heck, there wasn't even anything distracting on the viewscreen yet when Offenhouse arrived. They should have been too busy pinning him to a wall or shoving him back into the lift to even notice the Romulans decloaking. Argh.

    Sorry. I obviously have Many Opinions about this episode. I had no idea it made me this angry.

    1. Lol, you're not the only one. A lot of fans seem to be annoyed with this episode as well. It makes me wonder how it might have turned out if they'd gotten the opportunity to do rewrites. Does this episode have small problems, or much larger ones? What might have been changed in draft #2? And Riker seemed all over the place and out of character quite a few times as well.

  5. Not much to add - except I always thought Marc Alaimo played Ralph.

    I once saw a fan edit of this episode that removed the A plot and focused on just the Romulan plot.

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