When Riker is injured whilst undercover on a developing planet, the doctors treating him discover that he is an alien – forcing the Federation to make premature first contact. Whilst Picard is hopeful that the planet – which is on the verge of developing warp drive – is ready to take its place on the galactic stage, it seems clear that not everyone in government will welcome them with open arms.
Although the premise of this episode leads one to think, “well, surely this must have happened before”, First Contact is nonetheless a return to form for season four, and a good examination of what happens when Starfleet actually tries to implement the Prime Directive properly. It’s good to see a planet at around a 20th-21st century level of technology instead of the usual primitive, medieval worlds, and mixing in political and medical show elements only serve to improve the experience.
The Prime Directive
- Given that trained experts were already observing Malcor III, why send Riker down? He doesn’t have any particular qualifications, if we’re honest.
- It’s hard to imagine that the prospect of a surgically altered Federation observer getting caught out by medics hasn’t been considered before – doesn’t the Federation have a risk assessment form? Is the advice just “be very careful”, or are there actual guidelines for how to prevent this eventuality?
- Wouldn’t it be great if Mirasta had become a permanent resident of the Enterprise and a regular on the show? I just really like the idea of the people they pick up on the way actually hanging around for a bit, even if it’s not really the done thing on such an episodic television show.
- Riker bones a Malcorian in exchange for her assistance with his escape. It’s not the first time he’ll enjoy an alien female, and it won’t be the last.
- The doctors on Malcor must be pretty amazing if they can perform successful surgery on a human without any knowledge of their anatomy – and even their drugs have the same effects! Compare this to how the Talosians couldn’t even reconstruct Vina properly way back in The Cage.
- Picard finally cracks open that bottle of Chateau Picard his brother gave him way back in Family.
- The Malcorian chancellor’s job mainly seems to consist of stamping forms. It’s not quite The West Wing, is it?
Summary – First Contact: Not as awesome as the film of the same name, but a solid episode nonetheless.