Series: The Next Generation
Air Date: March 20, 1989
Written by: Steve Gerber and Beth Woods
Directed by: Joseph L Scanlan
The Enterprise infected with an ancient space virus, no one thinks to ask "did you try turning it off and on again?" until Data is infected.
The Neutral Zone is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence. But the Enterprise has to go there again to help out its sister ship, the USS Yomato. Captain Varley says they were out there investigating the Iconians, an ancient race of highly technological beings who were said to have traveled the stars without the aid of starships. While they were there, however, their ship started acting weird and glitchy. They couldn't finish their job until the Enterprise came along to help... but when they do come along, the Yomato succumbs to their computer virus and explodes. And this is why we always update our antivirus.
Not a minute after the destruction of the Yomato, a Romulan ship decloaks. Naturally, Picard asks them if they're responsible for the destruction of the Yomato, but they deny it and say that if they were here to destroy ships, they wouldn't have stopped at just one. After exchanging a few accusations, the Romulans cloak and the Enterprise begins investigating the Yomato's destruction. During this investigation, Picard goes through Captain Varley's personal record. In it, Varley mentions being scanned by an ancient Iconian probe, and it was only after this incident that they started experiencing systems failures. Picard knows exactly what to do.
|Stare at the door for a while.|
Meanwhile, they reach Iconia and a strange, big, blue ball approaches them and starts scanning. They're about to bring it on board, but Geordi notices something wrong. Before he can tell anyone, his communications glitch out and he runs out to the turbolift which also glitches out and tosses him around like a rag doll. He's tossed out onto the bridge and tells Picard to destroy it just in time. After the probe explodes from a torpedo blast, Geordi explains that if it had scanned the Enterprise successfully, there would be no hope of saving the ship.
|Me on the way to ur bridge to destroy ur probe.|
Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, that Romulan ship comes back in the middle of them experiencing technical difficulties. It decloaks and starts to fire torpedoes, but stops short of actually firing them. So, basically, they're having technical difficulties, too. Looks like everyone got the partial virus when they downloaded the Yomato's logs. When Data and Worf get back on the ship using the Iconian gateway, Geordi studies Data. It looks like Data dies because of the virus, but, in fact, he boots back up seconds later and starts restoring himself perfectly. He booted from a restore point, wiping the virus from his system, which Geordi then realizes that's exactly what they should do to the Enterprise.
|"Have you tried turning it off and on again?"|
When Roddenberry was first introduced to this story, he wasn't a big fan of it because he had written in the Star Trek bible that Starfleet's technology is so advanced that nothing could ever go wrong with it. It wasn't until the nature of viruses was explained to him that he finally agreed to produce the episode. And I'm glad he did. It introduces some rich history in the Star Trek universe that can be and will be referred to in later episodes. The Iconian gateways are great device. And there was some pretty great storytelling in this episode around them. A+