4/7/13

Star Trek: Asterisk "Evolution"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S03E01
Air Date: September 25, 1989
Written by: Michael Piller and Michael Wagner
Directed by: Winrich Kolbe

Premise
Ensign Wesley Crusher, Boy Genius, accidentally releases systems crippling nanites into the ship while Dr. Stubbs is trying to probe a star geyser.

Review
So, Dr. Paul Stubbs wants to study the decay of neutronium expelled at relativistic speeds from a massive stellar explosion in a binary star system in the Kavis Alpha sector and apparently he needs a ride on the Enterprise to do that. That's all well and good, but they can't get there without a Crusher at the helm, so Riker wakes up Wesley who rushes to the bridge and meets Dr. Stubbs for the first time. Stubbs says Picard can launch the probe, which he calls The Egg, and everything seems to be going well until the Enterprise suddenly shakes like a maraca and throws Dr. Stubbs to the other end of the bridge. When it finally stabilizes, Picard asks the computer what went wrong and the computer says "Watchu talkin' 'bout, Picard?"

Dr. Stubbs is taken to sickbay, which is convenient, because now we get to welcome Beverly back to the ship! She mentions she was away for a year, but doesn't mention what happened to Pulaski. Probably because no one really cares. It's also convenient because then Wesley can walk in (instead of calling through the comms) to tell Stubbs that the systems are working now while inadvertently starting the B-plot between him and his mom. Stubbs says he wouldn't want his mother with him out in space, so Beverly becomes concerned that Wesley doesn't want her around. Further, she becomes concerned that Wesley doesn't act like a normal 17-year-old.
Seems normal to me.
Well, after Stubbs and Crusher (which is the name of my Alice in Chains cover band) leave sickbay, Dr. Crusher notices that the replicator has randomly decided to produce a glass of liquid and continue to fill it past overflowing. The ship's malfunctions are getting worse. But Stubbs isn't concerned with that. Along with Wesley, he checks his Egg and finds that everything is in working order. During this scene, though, he and Wesley bond over both being boy geniuses. Well, Stubbs was a boy genius. Now he's an old man genius. He warns Wesley that "You will never come across a greater adversary than your own potential." But his own potential isn't quite as important as a Borg cube which seems to have appeared on sensors, so Wesley rushes to the bridge...

...Only to find out it's another glitch. They raise shields, arm weapons, but there is no actual cube in sight. And then the ship rocks again like it did earlier. Fed up, Picard decides to call a meeting discussing the future of their mission, if there still is one. During the meeting, Geordi shows some images detailing the disintegration of certain ship systems. And then Wesley looks concerned. He knows what's going on. So he sets some traps in 10-Forward and expects not to run into Guinan. When he does, he reveals that he may have let some nanites loose while he was sleeping. But it's just a science experiment, right? Guinan tells him that Frankenstein said the same thing.
The part of Frankenstein will be played today by Wil Wheaton.
Welp, Wesley finds his rogue nanites and confirms that they are, in fact, the cause of what's going wrong with the ship. He admits to his mom in a moment of dramatic matriarchal bonding that he may have made a terrible mistake. In another meeting, Geordi and Dr. Crusher point out that the nanites have evolved and gained sentience. Which is a problem because, now that they're sentient, they can't destroy them in good conscience. Stubbs doesn't care, though. He sees them as machines they can just turn off. So while Data and Wesley are working to connect with the nanites, he kills a huge swath of them with a gamma burst.

The nanites retaliate immediately by releasing poison into the air until they send Stubbs to his quarters. And while Stubbs is in his quarters recalling a baseball game, the nanites directly attack him via electrocution. So now it's a war. Which Picard has experience stopping. Data finally finds a way to communicate with them and says that, if it'll help, he can offer his body for the nanites to inhabit so they and Picard can have a face-to-face confrontation. While the nanites inhabit Data, they explain that they're just looking for material to continue replicating. And then they turn to Stubbs who apologizes for killing a huge swath of them.
"I'm sorry, but I still hate robots."
Well, after this successful meeting, Picard is able to send the nanite civilization to a nearby planet where they can thrive and be their own beings and Stubbs is able to send his Egg out to the binary star system and do all his experimental tests and such. It all works out, but Beverly is still worried about her son. She talks to Guinan, who is also a mother, for a while, but she's no help. And then Wesley walks in with a girl. Oh, look! He has a girlfriend! Maybe he's not so abnormal after all. ...And then Beverly starts worrying about who the girl is. Just like a mother.

Overall Thoughts
This was a pretty good episode on which to open season three. It addresses Beverly being back and in close contact with her son and it addresses how Wesley feels about that. Beyond that, it gives Wesley a like mind to compare himself to and come out a better boy. So, now that those plots are out of the way, we can get back to plots about Commander Grizzly Bear and Baldy. Welcome to Season Three!