Doctor Paul Stubbs is on the verge of completing the work of his life – an experiment on which he has worked for 20 years. It is also an experiment that can only be run once every two centuries, so getting it right would be good. Sadly, an experiment run by Wesley Crusher has taken on a life of its own. Literally. It could kill the work of Doctor Stubbs. It could also kill everyone on the Enterprise. Season three of Next Gen begins when we put Evolution in the Mission Log.
Tags: binary star, computer, Dr. Paul Stubbs, evolution, experiment, John Philip Sousa, Kavis Alpha, Ken Jenkins, Michael Piller, Michael Wagner, nanite, nanobot, science, The Next Generation, The Next Generation Season 3, TNG, Winrich Kolbe, wunderkind
Couple of thoughts about this episode,
1. can we please start teaching people to tell their commanders when they know what is going wrong?
2. Playing baseball on the holodeck? What a silly idea, I bet we never see someone like a commander of a space station who likes to do that.
Why would we want to tell our CO about a problem? We should definitely just tell them something mysterious and hope they show up because they clearly aren’t doing anything else.
And baseball on a holodeck? Bah, ha ha ha ha ha . . . I hope that that space station commander never has to play against a Vulcan starship captain or anything, because logic.
Fear is powerful. Maybe that Benzite ensign Mendon is still on board Lol
We have baseball to thank for the Michael Piller era of Trek. According to his book Fade In, it was the baseball in this script which formed a connection between Piller and Berman, which culminated in Piller being offered the showrunner job.
that must explain the heavy baseball influence on DS9. Emissary, the game in the holosuite, the baseball on Sisko’s desk…wow, all making sense now!
John and Ken, I loved your discussion of Deanna’s conversation with Dr. Stubbs. You were right, she’s not accustomed to anyone talking back to her . . . but in his defence, she started it. What I am surprised about is that you didn’t mention Beverly’s nurse who didn’t know that she wasn’t supposed to be part of the scene . . . maybe, someday, we’ll get a nurse who does her job, stays out of conversations and food slots that don’t involve her, and we get to see more than once. I dunno . . .
Oh jeez, season 3 already, I’m so behind. Got to make the time.
I adore this episode. It’s not a super-strong story, it’s a little slow-paced, but, well, it’s MAGIC. Growing up, I hated Seasons One and Two of TNG. Sure, I’d make exceptions for Measure of a Man and Q Who, but that was it. The first two seasons looked cheap, the actors couldn’t act, the alien makeup/costumes were terrible, the music was overpowering, the writing was uniformly stupid…and the uniforms were stupid. To me. Back then.
As I grew up, I started to appreciate little moments in the first two seasons: Riker and Minuet. Picard and….MIchelle Phillips. Ugly bags of mostly water. And only recently have I graduated to the opinion that maybe half the episodes of the first two seasons are relatively good and worthy entries in Trek canon. The transition was, in all likelihood, helped along by gradual exposure to TOS Season Three, VOY, ENT, and two recent mostly-unrelated theatrical stunt reels with that dude from Heroes and that chick from Pirates of the Caribbean. No, the other one.
But, as a young’un, “Evolution” was the TRUE start to my favorite TV show that wasn’t The Simpsons. I loved how it took the time to explore the ship, show off the new visuals, and how every character just seemed RIGHT. Meaning that they acted the way they did in later seasons. I came in in Season Six. Hence why One and Two were almost unrecognizable, but Three was A-OK.
TNG Season Three is still my favorite season of any Trek. Lotsa good sci-fi, fantastic guest performers who aren’t just there for their celebrity (no knock against Whoopi), and the great Ron Jones was still there, makin’ with the mysterious music, just not so hard this time. The whole SEASON is magic. And Evolution is the prologue. I would always start my Trek re-marathons with it.
And, over the years, I’ve come to enjoy it more and more as its little details were given extra context. I didn’t know about the Wesley Crusher hate until just a few years ago, so having him screw up and almost destroy the ship made it extra fun to watch, the next time I re-watched it. Seeing Dr. Kelso after discovering and marathonning Scrubs made THAT re-watch extra delightful (and every one since then). And now, hearing you guys pointing out even more lil’ nuggets of goodness – Beverly Crusher’s well-handled re-introduction, a well-written Deanna Troi, the bit about the scientist guy saying nannites are actually perfectly plausible, and the description of the uniform collars as “Mandarin”, which just sounds badass –
I’m certain I’ll enjoy the episode even more than ever next time I revisit it. It’s a unique episode in Trek lore. Meaningful to me probably beyond rational proportionality, but, love isn’t rational, is it? It’s MY pilot.
Just like I consider Trek II-IV the Trilogy and forget the Star Wars prequels. I agree w you. I always wished they had the 3rd season uniforms from the start. Yes S3 is my favorite as well. The slow intro was also nice. More intimate. Time to soak in details.
I have posted a few pics on previous episodes of what guest stars look like now…. this Asian security guard who had several appearances also went uncredited. If anyone can figure out his name that’d be great. This is when he helps Dr Stubbs after the nanites attack!
Ken Jenkins Dr Stubbs
Can I just say that nanobots always freak me out. Maybe I just saw the wrong documentaries or that one episode of Gargoyles, but exponentially replicating machines that could realistically eat the world unsettle me deeply.
I would have to say I think this episode does have more to offer than just “oh, the thing got out of control”, or “don’t be a jerk”. I think it’s core is actually very clearly stated : “you will never face a more formidable adversary than your own potential.” That statement has always hit a chord with me, as it applies to everyone, not just wunderkinden und ubermenschen. That in itself is not so much the show’s message, however, as it is its moral dilemma. How do you deal with that outlook on life? Stubbs chose to suppress and deny his humanity to conquer that adversary, to realize his full potential, and that obsession very nearly destroys both him and the very goal that he sought to achieve. But the real lesson here is for Wesley, who is on the same path of obsessive over-achievement, but seeing how that kind of single-mindedness has worked out for Stubbs, decides in the end that his own humanity, his soul, needs some serious attention too. I think Wesley’s character grows in this episode, and there is a lesson for all of us in our obsessive, achievement-driven society that sadly seems to be on a similar, Stubbsian path to self-destruction in its pursuit of potential.
So I would propose that the message of the show is that striving for achievement is fine, but if we sacrifice our humanity in the process, we will ultimately only destroy ourselves.
OK, that’s not exactly a very original moral, but I thought it was presented in a very clever way.
I think those are great points, Jeff. Thank you for finding even more in there!
I think the note about our humanity being necessary to temper our abilities as we grow more advanced is a very Star Trek theme that shows up throughout all the series.
The way the nanites were created reminded me of the SG1 Replicators…