The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: The Neutral Zone

We’ve made it, the first hurdle has been cleared – season one of TNG is complete. Which means that we have all the joys of season two and Doctor Pulaski to come, but for now we have the season finale. Whilst the majority of the episode is spent teasing the return of the Romulans, a second storyline involves the retrieval of a trio of cryogenically frozen 20th century humans. These humans are particularly stereotypical and annoying, so their presence here is far from welcome.

We’re Back

If we ignore the continuity-breaching conflict with the Romulans a few episodes ago, then apparently the Romulans have withdrawn from conflict with the Federation since the Tomed Incident 50 years ago. Except that since that time, the Romulans have been allies with the Klingons, then betrayed them and attacked the Khitomer Outpost where Worf was born. So, if the Klingons have been allies with both the Romulans and the Federation within the last fifty years, how do the Romulans and Federation have so little intelligence on each other? I’m sure at various points each side could have got some intel from the Klingons.

Choose Three Stereotypings

The three cryogenically frozen humans are as follows:

  • A stay at home wife who has no identity outside of talking about her foolish but lovable husband, and her two sons. She faints at the first sight of Worf and is the only one to get sad about the loss of her contemporaries – bloody emotional women.
  • An entitled financier who is concerned with money and power – unfortunately for him, as money no longer exists, his fortune is gone.
  • An drug-addicted and alcoholic musician who talks like a Southerner and has a soft spot for Data. Crusher describes him as “too afraid to live, too scared to die”, but who’s to say he was trying to kill himself with drugs? He might have just liked how they made him feel.

Other points

  • One from the last episode – how did Data have the clearance to look at all those Starfleet orders, especially without alerting anyone? Is he able to break any cryptography, in addition to his other skills?
  • This episode establishes the Earth year as 2364.
  • Apparently the reason why there are no passwords on things like the ship’s intercom, and presumably no locks on any of the doors, is because everyone is too evolved to abuse those things. Well, that’s fine for the ship’s crew, perhaps, but what about all the aliens and randomers they take aboard who do not share the evolved sensibility of a 24th century human?
  • In the Star Trek universe, TV as entertainment didn’t last beyond 2040. Was this because of World War III, or was it just the rise of Netflix killing broadcast television? People in the 24th century still enjoy books, music and art, so does no one enjoy television or video games? Are those pastimes too crude for the evolved sensibilities of the 24th century, or did they just get upgraded into the holodeck?
  • Apparently there were lots of companies offering cryogenic freezing in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. I don’t remember that myself, but maybe I just didn’t notice? The frozen people were placed in orbiting satellites so that they wouldn’t be affected by events on Earth.
  • Somewhere on the Enterprise there is a replicator large enough to create a guitar. The ones we see on screen are usually only large enough for a plate of food.
  • The mysterious force attacking the Federation and Romulan outposts was intended to be the Borg. In season two, I’ll talk more about continuity with regards to this point.

Summary – The Neutral Zone: Apart from seeing the Romulans again, there’s not much to recommend this episode.

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