Force of Nature
Some people say you can’t train a cat, but that doesn’t stop Data from trying to outwit Spot. Some people also say that warp drive is destroying a little stretch of the galaxy while others are saying “unh unh, prove it!” A couple of Hekarans, Rabal and Serova, set out to do exactly that which means Starfleet could be moving a lot slower from now on. Force of Nature goes into the Mission Log.
Tags: Alexander Fleming, bio-mimetic gel, cat, climate change, DaiMon Prak, denial, denialism, efficiency, engines, environment, environmental, Ferengi, Force of Nature, global warming, Hekaran, Hekaras Corridor, Hekaras II, Lee Arenberg, Margaret Reed, Michael Corbett, Naren Shankar, Prak, Rabal, Robert Lederman, science, Serova, skepticism, speed limit, Spot, tetryon, The Next Generation, The Next Generation Season 7, TNG, USS Fleming, USS Intrepid, warp 5
What a fascinating concept that main form of high-speed travel throughout the galaxy is actually causing a lot of harm (clearly an attempt at a very current problem). But never fear, in true TNG fashion this will never be brought up again, nor have any consequences once the episode credits roll past.
There’s one quickie mention of the issue in some ep or movie or something… where Starfleet gives Picard permission to use leaded gas just this once… and then he does every time and it’s never brought up again.
Also, if I’m not mistaken, there was some thinking during the design process – though never mentioned on screen – that articulating Voyager’s engines (i.e. how they raise when going to warp) somehow overcame/minimized the effects of the warp engines on surrounding space.
Add that to all the other missed opportunities in Voyager, including bio-neural gel-packs for the computers, a split crew (really went nowhere), quantum torpedoes (that do what differently?), and putting Carel Struycken under a giant Mardi Gras mask.
A lot of that is hard to defend, but you know, sometimes you’ve just got to put Carel Struycken under a giant Mardi Gras mask.
I always thought when they mentioned “go to maximum warp” on Deep Space Nine that it meant “go warp five”. But that is mainly head cannon…
It’s mentioned in 3 or 4 more episodes. Basically anytime they have to go over warp 5 for the rest of season 7
Another good (not that the bar was that high) season seven episode. Shame they are so few and far apart.
Enjoyed this episode a lot. Nice to see Geordi and his beliefs thrown into disarray.
Reminds me of my uncle who worked at petroleum distillery putting lead into the fuel and the impact moving to unleaded had on him. Love Trek when it makes you think.
Computer Voice is back to her wonderful, full self!
So, the Fleming is an entire ship and crew of non-speaking, off-screen extras? Not even a shot on the screen of one dude in a singed uniform thanking Picard. Sheesh! The issue is important, but the delivery is a little on the dull side for my tastes. I would love to have seen this played out over time, with Picard having to make choices based on his inability to routinely travel above Warp 5. That might have brought home a fairly intangible problem. “Climate Change” just hit TX and FL. I get “Climate Change.” This feels a little too out there. But, at least we got another great podcast!
The good news is that everyone here can claim to have been an extra on the Fleming… they just ended up on the cutting room floor.
Story of my life. 🐼
Maybe Geordi’s not a dog OR cat person. He clearly doesn’t dig cats’ independence, and his dog picks wind up being shoe-eating shapeshifters. But maybe something smaller and more manageable…
This episode’s heart is in the right place, but holy cow, does it just not stick the landing here. The issue is introduced so late, and is couched in such obtuse terms, that they can afford no subtlety – none. They’re left with stopping just short of staring down the barrel of the camera and announcing that this is their Very Special Man-Made Climate Change Episode. That’s irritating because it *is* such an important issue, but it’s delivered so artlessly here that it’s kind of shocking. I got more about climate change from this episode of Mission Log than I got out of this episode of Star Trek.
Maybe Force Of Nature can still serve a useful purpose – the Discovery writers’ room can watch it as a cautionary tale of how not to do “messaging” in Star Trek.
As far as the real life issues in the episode (and things mentioned in the podcast) go, it’s Important. Really important. I live near the western-most side of Arkansas, so if Oklahoma has a big earthquake thanks to all their fracking (must…resist…Battlestar…Galactica…jokes), it rattles my place a bit too. My kids have felt earthquakes from the next state over and it brought them up short – they knew something was wrong, but not what. To say nothing of the two massive hurricanes that recently struck the coastal areas of the country. Reframing stuff like that as subspace this or that disguises the actual topic to a degree that does it no favors.
As for Spot’s apparent gender change…we just need to respect Spot’s life choices, and hope he/she doesn’t wander into Worf’s holodeck calisthenics program ever again. One little swing of Skeletor’s axe and you’re a whole different cat…
Did they ever rescue the crew of the Fleming? My mind went into a coma during the “trapped in a thingy rift” part.
I could forgive this episode if it wasn’t so badly put together. It seems to me that the entire problems stems from Serova creating a warp core breach and not from natural space travel. It’s like driving a 1 ton truck up and down a road a thousand times (normal space travel) isn’t the same a dropping a 1000 ton weight onto the road in one go while the engine explodes (warp core breach). Those two scenarios aren’t the same.
And like they say in the episode, these ideas were based of unfounded assumptions… which is NOT scientific proof.
I agree completely. A warp core explosion is not the same as the continued travel through space.
I would like to submit that spot is humanity and whether he is trainable or not is sort of the question that were asking at the end if we are trainable or not and can make those changes for the good of everybody
Forces of Nature? Really? You have got to be kidding me. SF hits a record high of 106 last week while 4 hurricanes were sent by Adonais to warn us of our impending doom.
And sure, there was the usual slog of technobabble, exposition, melodrama,anti climatic (!) commercial breaks. But at last we get to the good stuff that Ken mentioned:
LAFORGE: Maybe I was a little threatened. The thought that warp engines might be doing some kind of damage…
RABAL: I don’t think we can look at space travel the same way anymore. We’re going to have to change.
LAFORGE: I’ve been in Starfleet for a long time. We depend on warp drive. I just don’t know how easy it’s going to be to change.
RABAL: It won’t be easy at all.
Don’t over react. Yes the USA has had a rough month, but coincidence is not science.
And yes we need to take care of Mother Earth. The problem that many of us have is that the solution presented by Politicians is not always the best way to proceed.
I am not sure that is really the Klingon way.
This episode was surreal for me. It slowed things down as if they knew this season would be the last. I liked the interaction between Data and Jordi. And the ending was really heavy because it hits so close to home.
Fascinating how the ongoing conversation of “where did the puppies come from?” should link into this episode, on the subject of Spot’s gender change.
For me, I think it’s perfectly simple; when Worf was babysitting Spot a few episodes ago, he accidentally killed Spot when sharpening his batleth or something. Desperate to replace him with an identical cat before Data found out, he somewhat overlooked the gender…
So, this is Spot2
Great theory 😉
Just a few after listening thoughts.
1- Thanks you fellas for discussing both sides of the climate situation and not getting preachy about it. We had enough preach from the episode. We are facing some real threats in the future, the question is what is the best solution?
2- I will be watching carefully for any instances in the rest of this season and in DS9 Season 2 and beyond for instances of using Warp 6 or above.
Slightly off topic, but Robert Picardo sang the goodbye to the Cassini probe:
I’ve always wanted to see the follow up to this episode where Riker gets pulled over for doing Warp 6.5 in a runabout (though he argues he was only going 5.3 – which matched the flow of traffic).
Data’s cat was a missed opportunity in the series, There should have been an episode where Spot gets out of Data’s quarters, and ends up in a transporter room just when a team is beaming down to a planet.
Now Spot is interfering like crazy in a planet’s delicate ecosystem, and the crew must deal with all the consequences of this simple pet escape.
Should have had Spot go into stasis and wake up 1 million years later having created a new cat/human hybrid…
I believe this is the cartoon Ken was referencing.
My problem with this episode that as an environment message, and particularly climate change, one is that it is promoting a fallacy. I.E. That we have to choose between progress / convenience and protecting the environment.
It’s nonsense and worse I’d say it’s close to pernicious nonsense. The barriers to things like action on climate change are political and involve potential losses in power and money on that part of those who have them to those who don’t. Action on climate change is not something that involves losses in material wealth but is at worst a zero sum game for all of civilisation.
The real story should be how political and social imperatives interfere with rational decision making not the lubriciously oversimplified ideas laid out in this episode. (A well they visited again in the Voyager episode “Thirty Days”, hardly more profitably).
I thought I’d get more traction with this..