Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, July 20, 2020

ST:TNG Season Five, Episode Six "The Game"

ST:TNG Season Five, Episode Six "The Game"
Production Order: 6
Air Order: 6
Stardate: 45208.2
Original Air Date: October 28, 1991

We start out on Risa, where Riker is hanging out in his jammies with some chick who is wearing the kind of jammies that you want to be seen in. They're goofing off and playing, and you're supposed to get the feeling that Riker is on vacation and having a good time, and even though we don't have any inkling that the girl, Etana, is evil af, there's something... that makes you wary of her? Maybe it's because the chase game that they're playing is Riker trying to get his communicator back from her, and she chucks it out the window. Seems like he's gonna get mad, but then he doesn't. They tumble onto the bed instead, and I guess he's just... never going back to work? Then she produces this little headset and puts it on him.

"It's a game," she tells him. "Everyone on Risa is playing it."

A thousand previous viewings of this episode: "this girl is a jerk."
One viewing on a laptop, where the screen is close enough that I can see the creepy-ass contacts they put her in: nightmares.

GoatGirl turns on the headset, and Riker can see a holographic playing field in front of him. There's a cone and a disc, and she tells him to concentrate, and put the disc in the cone. He does, and has a tiny orgasm.
"That's your reward," she giggles.

Dramatic music! Opening credits break!

Picard's Log 45208.2: "Lots of housekeeping; Riker is coming back on board from Risa, and we're going to the Phoenix Cluster. It's unexplored, so everybody and their dog is transferring to this ship temporarily to do Science."

Riker enters the bridge, and Picard lays out how hella busy they are: their five weeks in the Phoenix Cluster has been cut to two, because now Starfleet wants them to do a diplomatic mission to Oceanus IV. Picard is putting Riker in charge of scheduling all of these science teams in various labs and with specific equipment.
"Oh, also," he adds, "Wesley Crusher is on vacation from the Academy, and we'll be meeting up with his shuttle soon."
"Cool," says Riker. "We could use another hand around here, seeing as how we're super busy."
Y'all... Picard just said Wes is on vacation, and you're already putting him to work?
(Okay: I asked my Navy hook-up Agent K abut this, and she confirmed that, as a recruit, Riker can absolutely order Wes around if he wants, and Wes has to say yes. Everybody outranks him. It's the military. I guess his choices are: hang out in San Francisco on break, or go see his friends and risk shoveling coal in Engineering.)

Riker goes down to Engineering, which is bustling with Golds trying to get things ready for the Black Friday Sale of Science: too many bodies fighting for the few gadgets on the shelf. La Forge is all over it, but still feeling the burn. He pulls in Ensign Robin Lefler, and talks her up to Riker: she's such a superstar that La Forge has made her a mission specialist.
Riker asks her about sensor arrays, and how many people can use them, and can they have it up and running by the time they get to the Phoenix Cluster? He's impressed by her answers, and she goes back to the task at hand.
Alone-ish, Riker pitches his new MLM to La Forge: he's brought something back from Risa that La Forge just has to try.
"Sounds good," says La Forge. "Can it wait, though? I'm real busy right now."
They agree to catch up later, and Riker leaves.

He goes up to Ten Forward, where Troi is having a moment with a chocolate sundae. It's not even subtle. The sundae is in a dish on a pedestal. They start talking about chocolate, and Troi outlines each step in her sundae-eating ritual.
Time for Riker to pull out his MLM again: "I brought something back from Risa that's better than chocolate."
Troi has interest and time right now, which is good news for Riker.

Y'all, this is the weirdest little ship I've ever seen.
It's the USS Cochrane, an Oberth-class ship, and apparently, we've seen this class before, not only in the third movie, but several times in TNG.
I guess I've just... never noticed it before?
Anyway, that's the ship that brought Wes out here for a visit.

He beams on board with help from O'Brien, and they greet each other warmly before Wes congratulates O'Brien on the birth of his daughter.
It seems that Wes was expecting to be met in the transporter room by his mother, and maybe some others, because he asks where everyone is.
"Senior staff meeting," says O'Brien. "You're supposed to go to your mom's quarters."
Disappointed, Wes asks if it would be okay for him to drop into the Obs Lounge to say hello to the senior staff. That seems like a big ole breach of protocol, but O'Brien checks to see if that would be okay.
"Yeah, I guess," Worf agrees when O'Brien calls.

But when Wes walks into the Obs Lounge, the lights are off. He wanders in, confused, before they all yell "surprise!" and turn the lights on. They do a quick catch-up, and Worf offers cake that he made himself. Data researches whether or not Wes found the surprise fun. Picard talks to him in Latin. Riker asks if Wes wouldn't mind lending a hand with their tight scheduling while he's on board. (At least he asked.) Wes says this is fine, and La Forge tells him to come down to Engineering once he's settled.
Crusher asks Troi what kind of game she was talking about, and Troi tells her to come by her quarters, and the counselor will show her. The MLM is spreading.

There's kind of a fun exchange here where Data walks Wes to his quarters, and Data asks how Wes' first year at the Academy is going. Both admit to struggling with pranks: Data doesn't really get them, and Wes isn't really the type. But Wes admits to getting someone back after they programmed a sonic shower to dump mud on him, and Data gives him a forced "good for you." Then they discuss the sheer awkwardness of Sadie Hawkins dances, which are just kind of awful no matter which century you live in.
"I can't dance," Wes admits.
"Really?" asks Data. "Your mother taught me a while ago. I can teach you, if you want. I have a shit-ton of holodeck programs about dancing."
Yeah, I seem to recall that you also had an agreement with Crusher to not tell anybody about your dance lessons, Data.

A bit later, Wes goes down to Engineering and La Forge sets him up to help out. But then Wes hits a snag: he can't get the computer to do what he wants. Lefler walks by and tells him that the computer gets weird sometimes about that, but he can calibrate it by hand. When he objects that the computer will still have to do it, she walks over with her degree from the School of Hard Knocks and shows him how.
"Law 17," she quotes, "When all else fails, do it yourself."
Wes is amazed when it starts working and he jumps up to introduce himself. He gets a bit starry-eyed, and she laughs, confirming that she knows who he is, then tells him that his neutrinos are drifting, and he better get back to his console. On her way out of Engineering, Lefler checks him out.

Up on the bridge, Data informs a flustered La Forge that two science groups are bickering over who gets to use the thermal imaging array first.
"Like I give a shit," says an impatient La Forge. "Tell them to flip a coin."
"Huh, I'll replicate one."
Which... yeah, I guess you'd have to, as they don't have those anymore. Interesting what phrases seem to have lasted into the 24th century, when the physical object that's attached has not. I like stuff like that.
Crusher pages Data to sick bay.
When he arrives, Crusher tells him that she needs her tricorder reprogrammed a specific way, and that he does it so much faster than she could, and she needs it right away, so he's completely distracted with the tricorder when she shuts him off.
Riker and Troi come in from a lab in the back, and together, they move Data's prone body onto a table. Crusher pops open a panel on the back of his head and shoots a beam into the circuitry.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Wes and Picard are having some Earl Grey (with a nice-ass tea set, too) and having a nice catch-up. Wes admits that he took Picard's advice and met Boothby the gardener at the Academy, and that Boothby gave him a tour of the grounds.
"Who is A.F.?" asks Wes. "Boothby said he caught you carving those initials into his prized elm tree?"
Picard does a series of facial expressions that include wistful smiling and minor cringes. "Someone I knew. But if you meet someone whose initials you want to carve into that tree, tread carefully. I failed organic chemistry because of A.F."
Thank you. More Adventures of Young Dumbass Picard, please.
But now Picard is being paged into sick bay as well, so he gets up and walks into the lair of the Murderous MLM.

Crusher is there, along with La Forge and Riker, and Crusher pulls some BS out of her ass about how Data came in complaining about a servo malfunction, and that honestly makes no sense, because Crusher only deals with meatbags. When Data has a problem, he talks to La Forge. But nobody calls her on it.
(I know, I know. When they were putting Lore together, she was supervising the process in sick bay. She's not completely ignorant of Data's systems and stuff, but honestly, how often does he come to her? Never, he goes to La Forge.)
La Forge pokes around in Data's circuits, and determines that everything is working okay, but the signals are not reaching Data's brain at all. "Like he's in a coma."
Riker, who is in on this MLM crap, protests that Data runs self-diagnostics all the time, so maybe they should check his logs. Oh, and also his quarters.

La Forge and Riker check out Data's quarters, but a frustrated La Forge says there's nothing to indicate what this problem might be.
Sassy Riker Moment: "We could ask his cat."
"You seem stressed," says Riker. "You've been so busy, you could stand to relax a little. I have this game..."
(Unanswered question: how does La Forge play this game? Does it fit over the VISOR? Or would he need to take it off?)

Down in Engineering, Wes compliments Lefler on her knowledge of conduits.
"Law 36: go with what works."
When he presses her about the law thing, she admits that when she learns something new, she makes up a law so she won't forget it. She has 102 so far. She then compliments his own skill level with "they said you were good..."
"How come I think you know more about me than you're letting on?"
"I have friends at the Academy. Sometimes your name comes up." Then she brings up the kid who used the sonic shower to spray Wes with mud: "How did you get the anti-matter regulator to spray chili sauce?"
He seems embarrassed. "There's like... more to that story."
"Uh-huh. And what about your birth mark?"
Damn. Pulling out the big guns.
Law 46: Life isn't always fair.
"Okay: you know a bunch of stuff about me, and I want to know some stuff about you," he proposes. "Ten Forward, 1900 hours. Join me for coffee?"
Smooth, Ex-Lax.
"Nope," she replies. "But I will have dinner with you."

Picard's Log, supplemental: "We finally made it to the Phoenix Cluster. Data still down for the count."

Wes heads back to his mom's quarters and finds Beverly playing that stupid game. She pulls in a sharp intake of breath each time she's rewarded, so her breathing is super uneven.
She's caught off-guard, and takes it off, admitting that the game was for him, but that she couldn't resist.
"Put it on? Try it out?" she insists, pushing it at him.
"Yeah, I'm busy right now. How is Data?"
"Geordi's working on it. He should be fine, though."
"Maybe I should help..."
"No," she says quickly. "You're on vacation. You're already helping."
"Okay. I'm actually late for a dinner date with Robin Lefler from Engineering." He goes to the clothes closet to check out his choices.
"Oh, I know! You could invite her back here, I could replicate some more games, and we can all play together!"
Oof. Her MLM game is not as slick as Riker's. She wants it too bad.
He turns and gives her a look. "Are you fucking kidding me? A date with my mom?"
She tries to cover it by saying she just really wants to spend some time with him while he's here, but how can anything make up for the awkwardness of "bring your date here, and play a game with your mom"? Ugh.
She appears to back off, then tries one more desperate time to put the game on him ("just one quick game!") before moving away and setting the headset down on a table.
He turns back to the closet with a WTF was that? face.

Wes and Lefler meet up in Ten Forward and Wes gets his wish for info: Lefler's parents were specialists in high demand, so she got dragged all over the sector a lot, and learned to depend on herself. After a few minutes, talk turns to the weird game that's going around Engineering. Lefler says pretty much everyone but herself has tried it, and Wes says that his mom has one for him, and has been pushing it hard on him.
"It's just a fad," Lefler reckons. "Some thing from Risa that'll be gone next week. You gonna try it?"
They look over at a Gold at another table that looks like she's dying or something. She's clearly playing the game and ignoring the drink the waiter sets down in front of her.
"I think I want to look at it first," he admits.

They're both immediately down for the sheer nerdiness of this activity, and jump up to rush to an open lab. Which I'm surprised they find, because isn't the ship currently crawling with scientists champing at the bit to get their hands on scientific equipment? Maybe the equipment they're using doesn't have any overlap with the equipment that the others want.
Anyway, they get a copy of the game and hook it up to the equipment and turn it on. Somehow, said equipment acts like eyeballs and an attached brain. And the results are not good.
Each time the player gets the disc into the cone, they get a reward from the pleasure center of the brain. The game is psychotropic. Addicting. And interferes with the higher reasoning functions of the brain.
"Fuck," says Wes. "We have to tell Picard."

Wes rushes up to the bridge, where he finds Picard in the ready room.
After a moment of small talk, he gets to the point: that game floating around the ship? He's run some tests, and he thinks it's addictive, and messing with the higher reasoning functions of the players.
Picard looks disturbed. "Well, that sucks. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I'll start an investigation into it."
He tells Wes that it's good to have him back on board, and Wes leaves.
As soon as the kid is gone, Picard picks up and puts on the game.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

We're taken back into Ten Forward by someone wearing/playing the game. They approach Lefler, who is sitting unnerved at a table by herself. It's no surprise why. Ten Forward was empty at 1900 hours, but now it's full of people who are all sitting around playing the game. The person whose POV we're following turns out to be O'Brien, who asks if Lefler has played this great new game. She fakes a smile and replies that she has.
I'm a little worried here: if O'Brien has one, then Keiko probably does too, and who is watching their kid? Some people seem to be able to play a few levels and put it down, but others appear to be doing nothing but playing. Please, please, please, let the O'Briens be "play a few levels" people.
Wes shows up and hurriedly tells her that he talked to the captain, who is looking into it.
Some random Gold shows up, and asks where their games are.
"We left them in our quarters," Lefler lies.
"You can use mine!"
Shit, these people are pushers. We've officially left the polite side of the MLM now, and rushed forward into "you WILL buy my products!" territory.
They get up to move away from the Gold.
"You wanna know the extra creepy part in all of this?" asks Wes. "There's one person on board that wouldn't have been affected by this thing, and he suddenly became catatonic right before the thing exploded."
"Data," nods Lefler.
They get the hell out of Dodge.

In sick bay, they set up the tricorder to scan Data and get the output up on the readouts. They're able to find a tiny amount of damage that keeps his brain from sending signals to the rest of his body. The cuts in the wiring are really, really precise.
"Only two people on this ship would know where to cut and how in order to do this," says Wes worriedly. "Commander La Forge, and my mother."
"Why would they do that?" asks Lefler.
"Dunno," says Wes. "But with Data out of the way, it leaves everyone open on the ship to get addicted. Which they have. You think this is worse than just "playing for pleasure"? Like there's something bigger going on?"
"Data would be a threat to that," Lefler points out.
"And I think we're the only people left on the ship who are not addicted."

There's a tiny scene here on the bridge with the senior crew. Worf alerts Picard that they're at some rendezvous coordinates and that there's another ship that's on course to meet them. Picard tells the others to go and replicate what they need, and adds that they need to make sure that Wes gets one, too.

Crusher shows up at her quarters with multiple games in her hand, and reinforcements: Worf has followed her in, also armed with games. But what they find makes them smile and leave: Wes and Lefler are on the bed, wearing games, and breathing unevenly. Mission accomplished.
Once they're gone, the games come off, and Lefler excitedly tells Wes that the fake games they made worked. He suggests that they keep them close, just in case.
Lefler has duty in Engineering now (were... were they up all night? Like, 16 hours?), and Wes tells her to get some security code or something. They can't trust anyone now, including Picard.

Upstairs, the E has met up with the approaching ship, and Picard calls the senior staff to the bridge. Worf flips on the viewscreen.
Oh, yay. It's GoatGirl.
"Welcome, Etana," says Picard. (He knows her name?) "The Enterprise has been secured. We await your further instructions."
Has he been in contact with her? How does he know her plans? Did Riker give them to him once he was onboard with the game?

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

When we return, Etana lays out her "further instructions:" Riker is to take a shuttle to another system, and start handing out games there. La Forge and Troi are going to a nearby starbase to start this MLM shit.
"We can also get the game into Starfleet Academy," Picard tells her.
She is pleased, and her people, the Ktarians, commend him.
And now comes the part of the episode where I always seem to zone out. Because I never remember how things go with Etana. I know how it ends-ends, but not the part with Etana. Maybe it's something exciting that I just keep missing!

Wes dodges people in the corridor, standing around, blissed out on game vibes. He escapes into the lift, but then there's Nurse Ogawa, breathing heavily in an uncomfortable way while the game plays her.
"What level are you on?" she asks in a dreamy voice.
"Only ten," he laments. He's not a terrible liar. He does sound genuinely sad about that.
"I'm level 47," she says proudly. "Don't fight it, just let the game play itself."
"Cool," he replies distractedly.

He exits into Engineering. Lefler's at a pool table table console, and as he walks to the other side, he asks if she got those codes.
No answer.
She gives him a blissed-out look, then stands and holds out a game. "It's your turn."
Here come Riker and Worf, also armed with games, and Wes is forced to make a quick get-away, dashing into the corridors.
Riker has the computer throw up a forcefield across the corridor ahead of Wes, and he skids to a halt. But Wes has something else up his sleeve, and fixes a personal site-to-site transporter for himself, beaming into the transporter room. Once he hops off the pad, he scrambles something in his communicator, then drops it in another corridor.
This has made things difficult for La Forge on the bridge, who can't track him, because Wes did something to the security trackers. Picard orders that transporters and shuttle bays be sealed.
"He transported to Transported Room 3," says La Forge. "Deck six."
Picard has deck six corridors closed off with forcefields.
Wes hits a junction with a forcefield, and pauses. Then he pulls out a phaser (was he issued that, or did he loot the armory before going to meet Lefler in Engineering?), and sets it on a ledge along the corridor wall, programming it to shoot at the forcefield at intervals. He takes off down another corridor.

Security Golds discover and report the phaser trick.
There's a cool shot in Engineering of Riker and Worf attempting the find Wes over a pool table console.

"Ooh, unidentified heat source!" yells Worf.
Yep, ya boy is in the Jeffies tubes.
He's not doing too badly, but then the next section he opens reveals Worf!
Back into the junction! Close the tube off!
But Worf is too strong, and pries the door open. Go! Just go!
Nope, here comes Riker.
Trapped like a rat.

They haul him onto the bridge and force him into the Big Chair. He knows what's coming next, and isn't giving up without a fight. Riker holds his head still while Picard delicately places the game on his head, like an Olympic official of old placing a crown of laurel leaves on a victor's head.
Wes has his eyes squeezed shut, so they pry them open.
WTF? That's some 1984 shit right there.

Picard turns it on, and the playing field appears, but Wes refuses to play.
Fuck yo disc.
When he won't put the disc into the cone, a newer, bigger cone appears and swallows the disc for him. Here's your shot of endorphins, motherfucker. Play the game right, and you can have more.
Wes relaxes, and more cones and discs appear.
"That's right," say the senior staff soothingly. "Play the game."

The lights dim.
The lift opens.
Fuck yeah, android!

Data has a hand-held flashlight, which flickers bright-ass light into the faces of each crew member, and Wes, who rips the game off his head.
"Lights!" Data yells.
The lights come back up, and everyone looks dazed as hell.
"Worf, there's a little alien ship nearby," barks Data. "Tractor it, and raise the shields."
There's a moment after he does so, then Worf says the alien ship wants to know why they're being tractored.
"What the hell?" demands Etana, bursting onto the viewscreen.
"Your plan was bad," says Picard. "And you should feel bad."
"Fuck you all!" yells Etana. "Let me go, or I'll fire on you and destroy your ship!"
Picard looks at Worf, who types some things.
"Ooh, yeah," says Worf. "We have big guns, and she has like... a slingshot? But like, a Nerf slingshot."

There's less than two minutes left in the show, so they have to do some mad exposition and wrapping up here: at some point before going back to Engineering, Wes managed to reconnect Data, who then reconfigured the flashlight to flash. It seems that Wes' shenanigans of parkouring all over the ship were mostly to buy Data time to get that figured out. He also set all of the consoles on the ship to flash the same pattern at people to try to catch everyone. It won't though, so they're going to take medical teams around, looking for people to flash in person.
And they're gonna tow Etana's ship to the nearest starbase.
So that's it. That's why I can't ever remember what happens to Etana. Because the answer is... nothing. They figure out that she's trying to take over the ship, then they haul her off to the nearest starbase. No explanation as to why she was trying to take over the Federation, or who she might have been working for. She just goes away.
And that's it for the Ktarians. This was their introduction to the Star Trek universe, and it was... quiet? It was a shrug. Less annoying than the Ferengi, so at least there's that.

Picard's Log 45212.1: "We dropped Etana's ship off, and now we're going to rendezvous with the ship that'll take Wes home."

Wait, what happened to all of that Science they were supposed to be doing? They were only at the Phoenix Cluster for a few hours before this shit went down - are they ditching Wes and going back? Did he really only get a few days off? Time to travel to the E, one day there, plus travel time back?
(Math: begin time for starting out for the Phoenix Cluster is 45208.2, or March 17, 2368 at 4:49 AM. They are going to rendezvous with the USS Merrimac, which will take Wes home, and the current time is 45212.1, or March 18, 2368 at 3:05 PM. Wes was on board for less than 35 hours. He didn't even get to stay for the weekend.)

Wes is packing his things while Lefler playfully pesters him. She pulls out some shiny shorty-shorts that he had in his pack and says she never saw him wearing those - was he afraid someone would see his birthmark?
"I wonder who started that birthmark rumor?" he asks jokingly.
They share a kiss, and it's a pretty long one.
Then they agree to write, and proclaim that they'll miss one another, and then Riker pages him to announce that the Merrimac is there to get him. The hug they share is long too. On his way out, she gives him a book of her laws, so he'll remember.
"Law 103," he suggests. "A couple of lightyears can't keep good friends apart."
Friends? Good FRIENDS? Crusher, did you just cockblock yourself? Cuz you seem real into her, and she to you, but you just called her a friend after a fairly heavy kiss. Then he kisses her again, but on the cheek, and those are some mixed-ass signals.
He leaves, and the E goes... I dunno, back to the Phoenix Cluster maybe.

This episode is a mixed bag for me.
I like Wes and Robin Lefler, and I like how well they play off of each other. I like the conspiracy theory thing, and that this episode was a one-off, and they're like "Wes is back for this episode!" It's another lighter episode, which is helpful, because the next two are heavy. I like Troi's weird sundae-eating ritual, and Wes' cadet uniform with the department color on the top, and the black on the bottom. I love how varied and interesting the shots were. I'm always appreciative of when a director asks "Can we show it from another angle we haven't used before?"

I don't love Etana. She's a gorgeous girl, and her hair is amazing, but holy fuck, THOSE EYES. Nightmare-inducing. I know we'll see Ktarians in DS9 and Voyager, but will they have those eyes? Maybe if they were on a character that I liked.... but man, I'd have to like that character a lot. A LOT. I'm really annoyed that all we see of Etana's great plan is where it falls flat at the end. She probably spent years perfecting that dumb game, and trying to figure out when she could give it to any Starfleet officer, let alone the XO of the fucking flagship, and then... nothing. She has the whole damn ship ready to spread that game among the stars, and someone wakes up the android. Was she working with or for someone, or was she working by herself? What was the endgame? Were the Ktarians ready to go to war with the Federation? Were they looking to run the quadrant? What if they encountered a race whose brains did not work in a fashion similar enough to humans, where the game would not work? I know this show only gets an average of 44 minutes in which to tell a story, but they kind of pulled a Shakespearean comedy here in terms of villains: for a Shakespearean comedy, you can plop a villain on the stage for a few acts, and then thumb your nose at him at the end, because he isn't meant to do anything more that fuck up all of the shit for a while. But, despite being lighter than some other Star Trek fare, this was not a comedy. Her arc ended badly, and we don't even learn about her plan, let alone how she was punished for it. Irritating.
I do not love Wes and Lefler's date night clothes.
His pants were puffy at the top, and fitted down below, and his shoulder pads were too big. Architectural, but in all the wrong ways.
Her outfit was... several pieces all dyed the same orange and layered on top of each other. The top and dress were too dissimilar to go together, and maybe buying different pieces and dying them was a  way to get around a budget constraint, but I would have hated it less had they just created one piece. Also, her shoes and tights were dyed to match her outfit. So matchy. And I hate colored tights. I hate when Troi wears her teal dress and they put those dyed-to-match tights and shoes on her too. Why are they monochromatic blobs? Go through Lwaxana Troi's trunks and steal her shoes. At least they'll be interesting.

So that's "The Game." Some fun stuff, some what-the-hell-was-that, some Wes ruining a good thing for himself and Robin Lefler.

Fun Facts:

- This was the third iteration of this script, which had been kicked around the writers' room since season four. It was finally given to Brannon Braga as a first assignment. Michael Piller felt that Braga's efforts here showed promise.
- The episode was pitched by Susan Sackett and Fred Bronson. Bronson based it on Tetris, which he had on his computer, and which he found mildly addicting.
- Brannon Braga made the story a bit darker than it had originally been, giving it a "Wes comes home, and his family's out to get him" twist.
- The main theme for this episode is "kids addicted to video games," which makes me roll my eyes, especially when you consider that Fred Bronson based it on his own addiction to Tetris. Brannon Braga like the irony that here, the child comes to find the adults addicted.
- This is the second and last time we see Robin Lefler. They were looking to add her to another episode after her work on "Darmok", and decided that it worked nicely to give Wes a girlfriend. Attempts were made to bring Lefler back in other episodes, but scripts were rewritten, or things weren't able to be worked out. On an episode of Late Night, Judd told David Letterman that she was making a cameo as Wesley Crusher's wife in Star Trek: Nemesis, but Wil Wheaton admitted no knowledge of this: "Somehow, I'm not surprised Wesley doesn't know he's married." Wheaton's part was later cut from Nemesis.
- Braga also liked the idea that Wes would have loosened up a bit at the Academy, pulling a couple of pranks.
- Some audience members had trouble with the concept that all of these very smart people - including Picard - would become addicted to this game, but the whole issue there is that each person got the game from someone they trusted.
- When Crusher knocks Data out, Brent Spiner hit the bed so hard that he injured his chin and had to go to the hospital. Upon his return, he was immediately asked to film the scene again.

Director Cory Allen with Spiner and Wheaton

- Wil Wheaton noted that he was Ashley Judd's first kiss.
- The game prop was made from telephone headsets.
- The engineering lab is a reuse of the sick bay lab.
- The Ktarian ship is a reuse of the Zalkonian warship... which was a redress of the Tallarian plague ship.

- First appearance of the Starfleet cadet uniform.
- A matte painting is used to extend a Jeffries tube in this episode.

- Joe Menosky first began including the number 47 in the fourth season, and the writers would slip it in as an in-joke, adding it to LCARS readouts and into dialogue, which I guess I haven't been paying much attention to. Here, it is mentioned when Wes gets in the lift with Nurse Ogawa, who blissfully tells him that she is on level 47 of the game.
- Jonathan Frakes thought the episode was fun, but was disappointed with the final graphics for the game. Apparently, they had been talked up quite a bit, and Frakes was expecting something more sophisticated.
- Writer Marc Scott Zicree was unimpressed with this episode, and Wes in particular: "He falls in love with a girl and they share a chocolate mousse - give me a break." (Is he talking about the sundae scene? Wes and Lefler don't eat chocolate mousse.)

Red deaths: 0
To date: 1
Gold deaths: 0
To date:
Blue deaths: 0
To date:
Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
To date: 
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date:
Sassy Ro Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 
Sassy Riker Moments: 1
To date: 3
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 1 
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date:
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date:
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Keiko Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date:
Sassy Troi Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Guinan Moments:
To Date: 1
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 1
To date: 2
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 8
To date: 14
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 0
To date: 7
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date:
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date:
Picard Maneuvers: 0
To date: 1
Tea, Earl Grey: 2
To date: 2
Mentions of the number 47: 1
To date: 1

Sorry, were you writing this blog?

Monday, July 6, 2020

ST:TNG Season Five, Episode Five "Disaster"

ST:TNG Season Five, Episode Five "Disaster"
Production Order: 5
Air Order: 5
Stardate: 45156.1
Original Air Date: October 21, 1991

Picard's Log 45156.1: "Taking a couple days off between missions and stuff."

The O'Briens are in Ten Forward with Riker, Worf, and Data, and boy, is Keiko pregnant. (Don't worry, I did the math. They got married in essentially May, and this is the following February. I don't give a shit when she got pregnant, but I did want to check that they've been together long enough for her to be that pregnant. This is not a soap opera, where a character gets pregnant during one episode, has the kid during the next, and a week later, the kid is legal age. Miles and Keiko have had plenty of time to make and bake a kid.)
Anyway, they're talking names, which is a thing you should never do until after the birth certificate is filled out, and nobody can give their opinions.
It's a friendly argument. Keiko wants Hiro after her father. Miles wants Michael after his. Riker jokingly offers his own name.
Miles makes his exit, saying he's got a thing on the bridge.

Crusher is down in one of the cargo bays, attempting to talk a reluctant La Forge into joining her musical. After some hassling, he agrees to try it, and gives her a few lines of "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General." He then breaks off, feeling ridiculous, and insists that he cannot sing in front of people. She waves him off and makes a note in her padd that she's just going to give him the role.

On the bridge, Troi introduces Picard to three kids: they're the winners of the primary school science fair, and apparently, the grand prize is a tour of some of the ship with the captain. Marissa keeps her head down. Jay Gordon just smiles. Paterson enthusiastically asks if they can see the battle bridge and torpedo bays.
"No, we're going to see the hydroponics lab and astrophysics," he replies.
Meh. Like, those can be cool, and they're science-y, but I get Paterson wanting to see those other things. Hydroponics is exciting to a select group of people.
Picard and the kids get into the lift just as O'Brien gets out.
Sassy O'Brien Moment to Troi: "Do I feel worse for the captain, or the kids?"

In the lift, Picard tries to make small talk with the kids, and finally lands on asking what they did to win the science fair. Paterson gleefully replies that he planted radishes in some kind of special dirt, "and they came up weird!"

Jay Gordon did a thing with a specific kind of moth.

Death is this kid's favorite topic

Picard is pulling out his very best diplomacy replies, feigning interest. He's actually pretty skilled, so maybe he's really interested.
Marissa isn't able to answer, but not because she's shy.


The lights flicker, and the lift drops abruptly. It's falling.

In Ten Forward, in the cargo bay, on the bridge, the whole ship rocks violently, and the lights go out. Klaxons blare.
The woman in charge on the bridge gets off the floor and sits at the conn, asking for a damage report. She guesses they hit a quantum filament.
O'Brien, at Worf's security console, calls out that life support is down, but switching to back-ups, and both warp and impulse engines are offline.
The guy at Data's station (finally looked it up, it's Ops Management) announces that they're coming up on another filament.
"All decks, brace for impact!" yells the CO.
The ship rocks again, and both she and the guy at Ops are thrown to the floor as the consoles explode.

Dramatic music! Opening credits break!

When we return, the ship is at red alert. O'Brien and Troi are okay, and Troi starts calling for medical teams. No answer. No answer from anyone she tries. Communication is down. Ensign Mandel - the guy at Ops Management - tries to open one of the lifts and determines that that is down as well. They are trapped on the bridge, unless they find the power to beam off. Lt Monroe, the CO, is dead.

Picard is in a living nightmare: trapped in a broken lift with three weeping children. He asks if they're okay, but they don't answer. He tries to rouse the bridge, but no answer again.
Jay Gordon goes to a dark place: "They don't answer because they're dead."
Damn, kid. Second time in the last two minutes that you've mentioned death. I know things have gone to hell in a handbasket quickly, but you're really gonna jump straight to everyone being dead?
Jay Gordon: "We're gonna die, too."
Guess he is.
Picard, annoyed because these kids are not his equipped-for-all-occasions-and-ready-to-take-orders crew, snaps that a rescue team will come get them, and everything will be fine, so they should stop crying.
The kids cry harder.

On the bridge, O'Brien puts out a distress call, but admits to Troi that he can't even tell if they're broadcasting. He'll leave it on auto-repeat just in case, though.
The lift opens. Not the one with Picard and the kids. They're in the one closest to the ready room, at the front of the bridge. This is the lift at the back of the bridge, next to the Engineering station. Ro climbs unsteadily out, and the lift is halfway up the deck, so there's clearly no using it.
She confirms that she's fine and asks what happened. O'Brien fills her in.
"We can't take the lift out," she says. "An emergency bulkhead closed beneath it."
Most def trapped.
They decide to do Isolation Protocol, and Troi, who is standing in for the audience, asks what that is.
"If the ship thinks the filament breached the hull, it will close off bulkheads to contain it," explains O'Brien as he and Ro punch commands into Worf's station. "We need to find out if that's the case, and then open the bulkheads if there's no breach. We can't get out of here unless we open those bulkheads."

"I got sensors," announces Mandel. "Scattered readings of life signs in the saucer section."
"Ten Forward?" asks O'Brien. "My wife's there."
"Dunno," says Mandel. "The scans aren't that specific."
"Drive section?" asks Ro.
"It isn't scanning there," Mandel shrugs.
They look at Troi. But her sensors are about as accurate as the ones on E just now - she's getting vague feelings of people who are alive or hurt, but nothing she can pinpoint.
"Emergency procedures," Ro decides. "Who's the CO?"
They point to Monroe. Oops.
"Counselor Troi is next in line," says O'Brien.
This is news to everyone on the bridge right now, including Troi.
"Ex-squeeze me?" asks Ro.
"She has the rank of lieutenant-commander."
And it's clear that Troi never expected that to mean anything. She probably forgot.

Ro doesn't look pleased, but there it is: besides Troi, they are two ensigns and a non-com.
"Fuck me," breathes Troi. "Okay, um, I need suggestions."
"Emergency procedure alpha two," says O'Brien. "Everything to manual override."
She agrees, and he starts the procedure.
Ro takes this moment in stride. "Stabilize life support, and get intership communication back up?"
Troi agrees to this also, and asks Mandel to help Ro.
So far okay, but she seems weirded out that they keep calling her "sir."

The Enterprise looks hella weird powered fully down.

This is its emo phase

Ten Forward is a mess, because none of those tables and chairs are attached to the deck like in other places. Keiko is lying on the floor, and tells Riker that she's feeling "foggy," but okay. He tells her that they'll get her to sick bay for a check when they can.
Data comes in through the broken Ten Forward door and meets with Riker and Worf to give them the scoop: bulkheads have cut off the bridge, turbolifts are not working, and heavy damage has blocked them off from sick bay. He's telling everyone that wounded should be brought to Ten Forward.
"Well, crap," says Riker. "I think we gotta go with the assumption that everyone on the bridge is dead, and no one is flying the ship."
Okay, that last part is correct: girlfriend is dead in the water.
Riker asks Data if they can get to Engineering to get control of the ship, and Data replies that the only way is through Jeffries tubes. Riker leaves Worf in charge of Ten Forward, and he and Data set off to journey through the bowels of the ship to Engineering.

Down in the cargo bay, Crusher and La Forge have discovered that they are trapped. The door won't open. La Forge says he can get it open manually, and takes a wall panel off. Crusher leans against the wall.
"This wall is really hot!" she yelps.
"Where?" asks La Forge in alarm.
Too late. The panel opening explodes. La Forge is thrown across the room.
Crusher runs to check him, and he says he's fine, but they're pretty much fucked, because something in the wall near the hand actuator for the door was damaged, and now there's a plasma fire. Crusher scans it with her tricorder and remarks that there's a shit ton of radiation coming off of it, and they're gonna get hella poisoned if they don't put it out.
"Not enough drama," says La Forge. "Which is why those barrels are in here. They're full of stuff that's typically stable, but bad times will be had by all when that radiation reaches them."

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

We switch over to the turbolift. The kids have stopped crying, and Picard is trying to get the emergency hatch on the ceiling open, but he isn't tall enough, and he's injured, so he just falls over.
Jay Gordon hasn't talked about death in a while, so he chimes in now to say that they're all going to die.
Picard needs a new plan. What to do when you don't have a reliable crew? Make a new one.
"I'm making you my first officer because you're the oldest," he tells Marissa. He pulls two pips from his jacket (we're doing the Captain's Jacket again this week) and puts them on her collar.
She's pretty psyched, and it gives her a confidence that she lacked earlier.
"You wanna be my science officer? Picard asks Jay Gordon.
He puts another pip on Jay Gordon, who finds this cooler than death, and Paterson gets the remaining pip, as Executive Officer In Charge of Radishes.

Data and Riker: they're now in the Jeffries tubes, crawling. And that deck is textured. I'm sure Data doesn't give two shits, but holy crap, that's gotta be hard on Riker's knees.
He guesses where they are on the ship, and Data confirms: 52 meters to go before they can get out into a corridor.
Psht, that's not gonna happen. The name of this episode is "Disaster," not "Data and Riker Crawl Safely and Breezily To Engineering."
There's an explosion behind them, and Riker calls out that it's a coolant leak.
Crawl faster, boys.
They make it to a panel where Data types in a code, and he closes off the bulkhead behind them.
Riker breathes easily, but Data points out that there's a crackling electricity blocking their way up ahead.
Is... is this Galaxy Quest?

In the cargo bay, Crusher has calculated that they have three or four hours before the radiation does permanent damage, but they'll still need several days of treatment when they get out of there. They also have some time before the crap in the buckets explodes. And La Forge has been trying, but he can't get the transporter to work. They elect to move the buckets to the side of the bay where the radiation is lowest, but they have to do it by hand, because they can't use the anti-grav units with the bay full of radiation.

On the bridge, O'Brien explains quantum filaments to Troi: "It can be hundreds of meters long, but has like, no mass. So it's hard to detect."
"Oh, like a cosmic string?"
"No. That's a completely different phenomenon."
Sometimes I think the writers are screwing with us. "Let's make the ship hit something that sounds like outer space thread. We can't use "cosmic string." Let's call it a quantum filament."
Next week, they'll run into some interstellar twine and be really fucked.
There's a "computer coming online" noise behind them, and Ro slides out from under the Engineering console.
"How'd you do that?" demands O'Brien.
"There was power in the phaser array," Ro explains. "I dumped it into the Engineering console."
O'Brien splutters. "You can't - you can't just - dump raw power from one - that's - that's not correct protocol!"
Ro is annoyed. "We're not going to get anywhere by playing it safe."
Okay, but like, she's right. Should you dump a bunch of raw power from the phaser array into the Engineering console on a regular day? No. But it's kind of like having emergency supplies, and then not using them for an emergency, because what if a bigger emergency occurs? An emergencier emergency? You have to take some weird risks when you're floating dead in space, wondering if everyone else is dead. Cuz you could die, too, while following the correct protocols, which were not necessarily written for this weird-ass circumstance.
O'Brien is pissed, and sets his jaw, but she did get shit up and running, so he's just going to stew and go with it.

"We have impulse power," says Ro, "but there's a weird spike in the containment for warp."
"Shiiiiit," says O'Brien. "Can we do anything from here?"
"Noop," Ro replies.
Troi looks lost, so O'Brien explains it to her and us: when they hit the filament, it was like coming into contact with a live electric wire. It changed the polarity of the anti-matter containment unit. The unit's at 40% containment and falling. When it hits 15% -
"Ship go boom," says Ro.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Data can't shut the electrical current off from the panel he has open. So he and Riker are stuck between a coolant leak and this electrical shit, which he puts at half a million amps.
"Can we interrupt it?" asks Riker. He looks around.
"My body is non-conductive," Data offers. "It would melt my primary couplings, but it shouldn't do anything irreparable."
"Yeah, android or not, I wouldn't ask anybody to do that," Riker says stubbornly.
Okay, remember that two seasons from now. There will be a test.
"Also, if we get to Engineering, I'm gonna need your help with getting things up and running again. I don't have that info."
Data thinks. "My head is protected from power surges. You could easily take it off and carry it with you."
There's a pause.
"Data, that's fucked up."
"I would be okay. All of my head stuff would stay in my head."
Riker thinks. This is the emergenciest emergency, so...

And so, Riker takes off his head.

Jay Gordon climbs on Picard's back, and together, they are able to hoist him onto the roof of the lift.
"Can you see down the sides of the lift, to where there are two clamp-things?"
"Yeah," says Jay Gordon. "But one clamp is broken."
Picard helps him back down, but Picard falls in the process. He addresses his Number One.
"The clamps are part of the emergency system, and they hold the lift in place in case anything happens. But because one is broken, the lift is going to fall. So you have to get your crew out to safety. There's a ladder that runs up the shaft, and you will need to climb it to the next open doorway."
The lift shakes, and the kids jump.
"What about you?" XO Marissa asks.
Picard explains that his ankle is broken, and he will slow their progress. He's giving her an order (though in a calm, collected way).
Damn. He's choosing death. That must suck.
Marissa haltingly tells the boys that they have to climb the shaft, but Paterson objects: he wants to stay with Picard, he doesn't want to take orders, and he doesn't want to play officer anymore.
Picard starts to lose patience - they don't have time to argue. The kids need to get the hell out of there, soon.
Marissa takes a deep breath, then turns and puts her foot down. "The crew is sticking together. Everybody goes, or everybody stays."
Sassy Picard moment: "This is mutiny."

He quickly walks them through taking a control panel off the wall and pulling out yards of optical cabling.

La Forge and Crusher are moving the last of the barrels across the cargo bay, which has to suck, as they're being poisoned at the same time.
"Levels are still going up," says Crusher. "We need to get that fire out."
"We can't," La Forge replies. "It's being fed fuel from the ship's internal systems, which we can't turn off. We have to cut off the oxygen supply." He looks around. "Actually, that's not a terrible idea. What if we open the doors? It'll suck the barrels out into space, and cut off the oxygen."
"Okay, what about us?" she asks. "We grab a hold of something near the door controls?"
They decide to grab onto a ladder that's bolted to the deck.

Keiko is up and helping Worf with injured people when she starts having contractions. Because of course she is.
"This is kind of a bad time," he tells her.
"No shit? I hadn't noticed," she snaps.

In the Obs Lounge, Ro and O'Brien argue about what to do next. The containment field on the anti-matter unit is still dropping, and even though they have about two hours until it's too weak to contain the anti-matter, Ro points out that the power coupling is also failing, so it could actually go at any moment. She thinks they should separate the saucer section and put some distance between themselves and the drive section.
O'Brien is horrified. "What if there are people alive in Drive?"
"There's no evidence that there are," Ro argues.
"What if you were alive in Drive? Would you want the people in Saucer to abandon you?"
"No, but we can't afford to not act, and risk whoever is alive in Saucer!"
Troi thinks. "There's no power in Engineering?"
"Nope," Ro confirms.
"What if we send them some power to turn on a console, so they could fix the problem? They may not even know that there is one."
"We also don't know if there's anyone alive in Engineering to receive the info we'd be sending," Ro argues. "We don't have time to keep talking about this."
Troi makes up her mind. "Chief, send the juice down to Engineering. I think there are people alive in Drive, and I want to give them the chance."
O'Brien leaves to do as Troi decided.
"You may have just brought about our deaths," Ro snaps at Troi.
What, has she been talking to Jay Gordon?
At least Troi seems confident in her decision.

Picard and his motley crew are up on the ladder in the lift shaft, tied together by the optical cabling. Picard tries and fails several times to jumpstart the door directly above the lift. No good.
"We need to climb up to the next deck and try that door," he tells them.
"What if that one doesn't open?" asks Paterson meekly.
"Then we'll be stuck here forever," Jay Gordon replies.
This kid reads Edward Gorey, doesn't he?
There's a creaking below, and they grip the ladder harder. Thundering, the lift falls. Paterson sobs.
"We, um... we need a climbing song," says Picard, trying to lift their spirits. "Is there a song you sing in school?"
Marissa thinks. "The Laughing Vulcan and his Dog?"
Picard admits that he does not know that song, and then, because he's French, the Frenchman suggests the Frenchiest song that ever Frenched: Frere Jacques.
It's 700 years old at this point, so everybody knows it, and that's what they sing, climbing a ladder while tied together, Picard hopping on his one good foot.

There's a really interesting camera angle here, where they positioned the camera
behind the ladder, and did one long shot of each of the characters climbing
 upward in a row, singing.

Worf reports to Keiko that she is doing well, and that things are progressing quickly. He's doing things very by-the-book.
"Has the baby turned?" Keiko asks breathlessly.
He's not sure what this means.
She tells him that the baby's head needs to be down to deliver, and that the baby hadn't turned yet, but Dr Crusher wasn't worried because Keiko still had a month to go. She asks Worf if he's delivered a baby before.
"Yes. No. I mean, a computer-simulated baby via a Starfleet emergency medical training?"
Yeah, holo-baby is not the same.

Down in the cargo bay, Crusher tells La Forge what they're in for vis-a-vis almost suffocating.
"Fifteen seconds of useful orientation, then ten seconds of WTF, then we pass out."
"Once we close the doors again, one of us has to make it to that panel to depressurize the bay." He points across the bay at a wall panel.
Sounds fun.
They grab the ladder, and La Forge hits the button to open the door. Several deep breaths, then he hits the button to drop the shields.
The barrels get sucked out. Crusher almost loses her grip on the ladder. The fire goes out. Carefully, La Forge reaches out to hit the button for the door, and they both stumble drunkenly toward the panel on the wall. La Forge hits the deck. Crusher slaps the panel before dropping to the floor. The bay repressurizes.
Success! I mean, they're still trapped, just... not dying as actively?

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Hey, where are the barrels? Did they not show the back half of the ship because they couldn't figure out how to film the barrels floating behind it? Did they not have a Tiny Barrel Model budget? Okay, I know they had a Tiny Barrel Model budget because they made Tiny Barrel Models for the barrels-getting-sucked-into-space sequence, but was it that they didn't have a Fishing Wire To Hold Up The Tiny Barrel Models in Space budget? Was it 5 pm on a Friday, and the Tiny Barrel Model special fx crew really just want to go home?

On the bridge, Ro is becoming impatient. The containment field has dropped to 20 percent.
Troi is pacing. She starts to ask Ro if she's done the prep to separate the saucer section, but they're interrupted when the power coupling goes. There's a bad moment, then O'Brien is able to patch it.
Ro yells "I told you so!" at Troi.
"Who's the Head Bitch in Charge?" Troi barks back. "You or me?"
Ro, chastised, agrees that Troi is HBIC. Troi sits regally in the Big Chair, not exactly confident, but at least projecting it.

Riker and the Disembodied Head of Data have reached Engineering. They hook up Data to the system in the Jeffries tube, and Data is able to bypass the door to get them in.

I'm really sad that humans in the 24th century don't seem to celebrate Halloween. So many lost opportunities for Data to win costume contests. On the other hand, the last Star Trek Halloween episode was kind of crap, so maybe no big loss?

Anyway, the door opens, and Riker is surprised to see that there's no power on this deck, but some of the monitors are lit up and working.
"Those monitors are being powered by the bridge," Data says. "Maybe there's something they need us to know?"
Riker pushes some buttons. "Holy shit, the containment field's at 18 percent! Do you know how to fix it?"
Data, whose head is still hooked up to the Jeffries tube, calls back that this is something he can't do. "I can do a thing if you connect me!"
He walks Riker through the connection, and there's a bit of physical comedy here where Riker hits the wrong thing.

Sassy Riker Moment: "I'm trying. You need a bigger head."
Data keeps up a running tab of the containment field's failure, but then he's in, made the connection, brought things to a halt. He stabilizes the containment field.

Up on the bridge, O'Brien announces that the containment field is stabilized, and that the containment rate is rising.
Looks like it's time to eat some cROw.
"Sorry," Ro tells Troi quietly. "You were right."
"Yeah, but it could have easily gone the other way," Troi replies graciously.

Picard finally finds a door that will open, and he hauls himself up out of the lift shaft, pulling the kids out with him.

One more check-in.
Worf congratulates Keiko on being dilated to ten centimetres.
"You may now give birth."
Sassy Keiko Moment: "That's what I've been doing!"
This scene has some great Keiko and Worf comedy moments:
Worf: "Well, bearing down is the next stage. It should start at full dilation." Pause. "It has not begun. Why has it not begun?"
Keiko: "I don't know! I don't think it's up to me. It happens what it happens!"
Worf: "My computer simulation was not like this. That delivery was very orderly."
Keiko: "Well, I'm sorry!"
She screams.
Worf: "Did you feel an uncontrollable urge to push?"
Keiko: *enraged nodding*

He's been checking in on what he should via a padd, and now announces that he must encourage her to push, gently but firmly. So he does.
Worf: "Push, Keiko. Push."
Sassy Keiko Moment; "I AM PUSHING!"
Somehow, through this comedy of errors, they manage to deliver a baby (but no afterbirth, because somehow that always gets skipped), not a Hiro or a Michael, but a two-month-old named Molly.

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Heading to the nearest starbase for repairs. Slowly getting back to normal."

The lift near the front of the bridge opens, and Troi exits with the kids.
"You can't stay away from the Big Chair, can you?" Riker teases her.
Sassy Troi Moment: "I don't think I'm cut out to be Captain. First Officer, maybe. I understand there aren't that many qualifications."
Worf and Riker exchange looks. We don't see the face of Ro, who is sitting at the conn, but I imagine she snort-laughed.

Sassy Riker Moment: "Captain Picard to the bridge. PLEASE."
Picard comes out of the ready room, and is genuinely pleased to see the kids.
Marissa tells him that they made him a commemorative plaque, for helping them out of the lift shaft, and for helping them to not be scared.
Paterson announces proudly that he made the back piece, and upon inspection, Picard sees that there are like six holes, made with some kind of wobbly drill.
He thanks them and invites them back later so they can have their tour, which will now include the battle bridge. He starts to take his new, huge plaque into his ready room, and calls over his shoulder "you have the bridge, Number One."
Riker and Marissa: "Aye, sir."
They exchange a smile, and I just noticed that all of the kids are still wearing their pips.


I really like this episode. It's not one that's super memorable, but it's enjoyable nonetheless. I do like that it's a one-off, and that it breaks from the typical fare they usually give us. And I'm into this "characters in situations where you wouldn't expect them"; Worf in a comedic situation, Picard having a good interaction with kids, Crusher problem-solving outside of sick bay, Riker crawling through Jeffries tubes, Data just being a head. 
Mostly what I like here is Troi. She's put in charge and given two bickering subordinates that she must reign in. She wisely asks for suggestions, then makes a decision from them. While O'Brien replies "aye, sir," and does what he's told, Ro fights her at every step. In the end, she wins Ro over by being humble about being correct. What's more, this idea of Troi-in-charge will be visited later, in another episode that I like.
Two continuity issues that I have:
Firstly, La Forge's VISOR seems to provide him with infrared sensors, so why did he not see that the wall was hot when he opened the panel to find the hand actuator for the door? He also didn't say that there was a bunch of radiation coming off of the plasma fire, though I suppose he might have seen it, but Crusher happened to say it first. Am I giving the VISOR too much credit? I feel like we've seen it detect things like heat sources and radiation before this. Did the writers forget, or did they just need to give Crusher more lines? 
Secondly, Troi and the kids exit from the lift at the front of the bridge... the same lift they climbed earlier. If the carriage crashed and was destroyed at the bottom of the shaft, shouldn't that lift be out of commission until they reach a starbase where it could be repaired? Did they have another carriage in storage somewhere on the ship? Did engineers build another? We have no idea how much time has elapsed, but it seems like they'd get the engines working and limp to the nearest starbase as quickly as possible, not leaving enough time to clear the shaft of the destroyed carriage, repair the broken clips, and build a new carriage. (Also related: how do none of these kids have turbolift PTSD?)

Fun Facts:

- This is a bottle show.
- First appearance of Molly O'Brien. I'm kind of amused that Memory Alpha noted that.
- The premise for this episode was pitched by several outside writers, and Jeri Taylor decided to jump on it because it sounded like fun to do a "disaster movie" theme, and because she liked the idea of changing up what kinds of stories they were telling.
- During writing sessions, they were pitching ideas of what could happen to the characters, and Michael Piller left the room. Someone suggested that Riker take off Data's head. Ronald D Moore thought it was hilarious. When Piller returned, Moore suggested it. Piller also thought the idea was hilarious, but figured it would never fly. Moore: "I wrote it and Rick [Berman] never said a word. It's amazing that we got away with it."
- Worf's story came from the need to pit Worf against other kinds of challenges. Michael Dorn was on board because he felt he didn't get to do enough comedy. Moore: "I think he got tired of us beating him up all the time."
- A huge building at NASA developing its own rain and weather patterns inside inspired the writers to add rain to the turboshaft scenes, but it was later nixed because of the difficulties in getting the rain to work in the indoor sets.
- By naval standards, Deanna Troi should not have been the CO. Moore elected to bend the rules for the sake of the story.

- Moore jokingly suggested that they get Shelley Winters to guest star on this episode, which he called "an homage to disaster movies."
- Moore said that he liked the song title "The Laughing Vulcan and His Dog" for the imagery evoked, and denied that it was inspired by Sybok.
- In an early script, the ship is disabled when it collides with an asteroid. But they figured that the more scientific viewers would complain that the damage done to the ship would not match up with "hit by asteroid," so they invented quantum filaments. From the Star Trek Encyclopedia: "We're not entirely sure what a quantum filament is, but we do know it's not a cosmic string."
- The plasma fire effect was achieved by filming hot water and dry ice in a glass tray, then lighting it green.
- The kids don't receive last names in the script, but their full names were on the plaque they give Picard at the end of the episode. The last names given are basically the actors' last names.
- If Erika Flores (Marissa) looks familiar, you may recognize her as being the first Colleen Cooper on "Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman."

- This is the last episode where the saucer separation is mentioned.
- First appearance of the Jeffries tube junction set.
- Though he thought the episode was fun, Michael Piller didn't feel like this one made it into his list of top episodes because there were not enough mystery or sci-fi elements. He was also disappointed with Ro's role here, and wished that she had had some more "wins" on the ship before being put back into a position of having to go on the defensive.
- This dude Samuel Stokes wrote "The Laughing Vulcan and His Dog." It's charming af.

Red deaths: 1
To date: 1
Gold deaths: 0
To date:
Blue deaths: 0
To date:
Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
To date:
Jay Gordon talks about death: 7
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date: 
Sassy Ro Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 
Sassy Riker Moments: 2
To date: 2
Sassy Picard Moments: 1
To date: 1 
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date:
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date:
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 1
To date: 1
Sassy Keiko Moments: 3
To date: 3
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date:
Sassy Troi Moments: 1
To date: 1
Sassy Guinan Moments:
To Date: 1
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 0
To date: 1
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 2
To date: 6
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 1
To date: 7
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date:
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date:
Picard Maneuvers: 1
To date: 1
Tea, Earl Grey: 0
To date:

Boo and Pookie