The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Silicon Avatar

When the Crystalline Entity attacks a new Federation colony, the Enterprise decides to track down the mysterious and destructive life form. They are accompanied by Dr Kila Marr, a scientist who has devoted her life to studying the Entity ever since it killed her son. Marr and Data must work together to find the Crystalline Entity, but will Marr’s personal feelings get in the way of doing her job?

The Crystalline Entity is one of those stupid Star Trek things you wish didn’t exist; a throwback to the days when Kirk was chasing after and destroying mysterious space beings left and right. Nonetheless, this is a tolerable episode, if one that loses something in the rewatch. Marr is not an enlightened human; not only is she yet another brusque and antisocial Federation scientist, but she has a deep hatred of the Crystalline Entity that colours her every action. She even mistrusts Data at first, as it was Lore who lured the Entity to the colony where her son was killed. On first viewing, we can hope that her interactions with Data will lead to a bit of a redemption arc for her, but second time around it feels like she’s just using him for her own ends.

Science in the 24th century

  • This episode aired long before the modern use of ‘avatar’ for one’s internet representation.
  • The Crystalline Entity apparently needs to convert matter to energy in order to live, but for some reason, it needs living matter. Why? E=mc2 regardless of whether the atoms involved come from living beings or bits of rock. Maybe Picard could have explained this to the Entity, had it lived.
  • Even though we will never see its like again, who’s to say that this was the only Crystalline Entity? Killing it might have just provoked the others to either retaliate or move into its territory.
  • It was unclear what was going on with the gamma radiation scan. Were they scanning for gamma radiation, or using gamma radiation to scan for other things, namely antiprotons? Also, what was the spike at 10 keV all about? Antiprotons have a mass of 938 MeV.
  • Even though air is limited in the cave, Riker and Data still use their phasers to heat up the rock – not only making the limited space into a baking hot death trap, but presumably causing an oxidising reaction that only used up the oxygen even faster.
  • Why did Riker and Data bother to aim phasers at whoever was breaking into the cave? If it was the Entity, mere hand phasers would do nothing.
  • How was Marr able to lock Data and Geordi out of the Enterprise computer? They should have given her a guest account with limited access rights.

Summary – Silicon Avatar: Riker’s chance of getting laid vanishes within the first five minutes.

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