The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Disaster

When the Enterprise collides with a quantum filament, the ship is badly damaged, and the senior crew are left isolated in different sections. With Troi in command on the bridge, Riker and Data desperately trying to reach engineering, and Picard trapped in a turbolift, will the ship and its crew make it out in one piece?

This is one of those “split up the crew and put them all in awkward situations” episodes, and it does reasonably well at achieving that task. Despite the sheer amount of science bullshit needed to make the plot work, pretty much everyone ends up outside their comfort zone, giving them something other to do than sit in their usual seats and argue about the Prime Directive.

The senior crew

  • Picard is trapped in a turbolift with three children who were getting a tour of the ship as a prize for winning a primary school science fair. Despite some initial awkwardness, Picard actually does remarkably well.
  • Riker and Data leave Ten Forward to head to Engineering, which necessitates using Data’s body to interrupt a live current and just taking his head the rest of the way. Data’s severed head being able to function on its own will be important for the season finale.
  • Troi is the ranking officer on the bridge, but must rely on Ro and O’Brien to tell her what to do. Ro is naturally the voice of pragmatism, but is overruled when Troi finally finds her voice.
  • Geordi and Crusher are trapped in a cargo bay with a burning plasma conduit putting out dangerous radiation. The radiation will also make their cargo unstable – so why wasn’t the cargo itself better shielded?
  • Worf is in Ten Forward looking after casualties with a heavily pregnant Keiko. Naturally, Keiko goes into labour, forcing Worf to be midwife.

Rank and privilege

  • Troi holds the rank of lieutenant commander, which means she outranks Worf and is equal in rank to Data and Geordi. Next season we’ll see her taking the exam to become a full commander, but in the meantime, does she have the training to actually serve as a lieutenant commander on the bridge? Or is this just a “military rank equivalent” for the role of counsellor, similar to how government service jobs have military ranks equivalent to their grade.
  • The ensign at Ops addresses O’Brien as “Sir”, even though O’Brien is not an officer.
  • Who was supposed to be in charge on the bridge if the disaster had not happened? If Troi wasn’t specifically named, then was no one in charge?
  • Troi tries to pretend to know what she’s talking about by comparing the quantum filament to the cosmic string from The Loss. She also has to have many things explained to her for exposition’s sake.
  • Crusher wants Geordi to sing in one of her productions.
  • The antimatter containment fields seem pretty damn important to not having the ship blow up. Shouldn’t there be 3-4 layers of backups for them?

Summary – Disaster: Chief Executive Officer in Charge of Radishes is not a real post. Sorry.

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