The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Home Soil

The Enterprise is keen to pay a visit to planet Velara III to observe a terraforming operation, but when the leader of the terraforming team offers a frosty welcome, Picard and Troi suspect that something is up. And when one of the terraformers is killed, Geordi and Data’s investigation leads them to suspect that the culprit is not a human, but a strange new inorganic life form living on the planet’s surface.

Strangely enough, this was actually the first ever episode of TNG I ever saw – I was visiting a friend and it just happened to be on. And it’s actually not a bad episode, embracing as it does classic Star Trek – a bit of a mystery mixed with something uniquely sci-fi. Although this episode is highly reminiscent of The Devil in the Dark, this is TNG’s take on that plot, with lots of crew cooperation, meetings and deliberation, instead of Kirk, Spock and McCoy just forging ahead in their inimitable way. This episode also marks the first time Worf really contributes to a discussion with proper insights and complete sentences, instead of just growling and shouting his way through everything. Unfortunately, in order to maintain karmic balance, this means that Yar gets hardly anything to do.

Sometimes, you can’t stop the ship’s computer from being hacked

  • After the Horta incident of the 23rd century, you’d think that the Federation would be aware that all lifeforms are not carbon-based, and factor this in to their searches for life on alien planets.
  • The Federation has a department called “Terraform Command”, which is presumably in charge of selecting planets for terraforming, sending teams out, and monitoring their progress. It’s amazing that terraforming is ever allowed, since given how abundant and varied life is, surely they can never discount the possibility that life might arise naturally on any given planet, even if it is just bacteria.
  • Given that the aliens were so well able to link with the Enterprise computer (and short of not studying them aboard ship, I’m not sure how even I could have prevented them – perhaps fit out a modular lab on a shuttlecraft or something?), why didn’t they prevent Riker from switching the lights on and off? Since light is so vital to them, you’d think the first thing they would do is bypass is all the switches.

Summary – Home Soil: I’m proud to be an ugly bag of mostly water.

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