The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Starship Mine

When the Enterprise crew must evacuate the ship for a baryon sweep, the senior staff have nothing better to look forward to than a tedious reception held by a garrulous commander. But when Picard nips back to the ship, he finds that the maintenance crew are actually a group of thieves seeking to steal valuable trilithium resin from the warp core. Can Picard single-handedly protect the Enterprise and stop the thieves?

I was looking forward to this episode. Picard going badass on a criminal group that includes such faces as Tim Russ and Patricia Tallman is just my sort of thing, and I remembered enjoying it as a teenager. Unfortunately, this time round, I was a little disappointed.

Maybe it’s just because I was too tired to be as attentive as I should be, but I didn’t really connect with this episode. Data’s excessive small talk was entertaining, but Picard’s one man stand against the terrorists lacked the excitement and suspense I remembered. Instead, it seemed all too easy somehow – culminating in Picard’s “by the way, I removed the stabiliser when no one was looking, now watch as the enemy ship explodes.”

Character notes

  • Data has written new subroutines specifically enabling him to engage in small talk during awkward silences. The most hilarious part of the episode is Data mimicking Commander Hutchison in order to hone his small talk mannerisms – Brent Spiner is a legend.
  • Even though Picard doesn’t kill Devor directly, he does leave him to die in the baryon sweep. In fact, Picard is quite the killer in this episode.
  • We already knew that Picard loved riding from seeing him on the holodeck. Here we learn that he keeps his own saddle aboard the Enterprise. Listen out for a riff on the Mr Ed theme when Picard and Worf have their “horse”, “of course” exchange at the end of the episode.
  • Picard knows how to do a Vulcan nerve pinch. It’s likely that either he picked it up from his mind meld with Sarek, or Spock taught it to him when they were on Romulus.

Physics and other considerations

  • Baryons are any subatomic particle composed of three quarks, the most common examples being neutrons and protons. Getting rid of all the baryons on the Enterprise would effectively destroy the ship! Presumably the baryon sweep just targets the specific baryons produced by warp travel, which may be more exotic than your common or garden neutrons and protons.
  • This is the first mention of trilithium, a highly unstable substance that can only be used in developing weapons. Trilithium and its explosive properties will feature again heavily in Generations.
  • Geordi’s VISOR can be modified to emit a hypersonic pulse.

Summary – Starship Mine: Picard goes all Die Hard.

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