The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Force of Nature

When the Enterprise starts investigating the loss of a ship in the Hekaras Corridor, they are approached by the inhabitants of the nearby Hekaras II. The Hekarans have gathered evidence that warp drive is ruining the fabric of space, and they are determined to go to any lengths to prove this to the Federation.

I really don’t like this episode. I’ve always admired Star Trek’s efforts to be allegorical, and doing one about technology damaging the environment certainly fits the bill, but at the same time, TV has to be fun. Travelling across the galaxy at high warp is what takes us on adventures. As the New Trek Programme Guide put it, “no one should put a speed limit on their dreams” – and that’s exactly what this episode did. In fact, the best thing about this entire episode is the largely pointless B plot about Data’s cat – and that’s only because I really like cats.

Herding cats

  • This is the first episode in which Spot is referred to as female instead of male. Either Data initially misclassified the sex of his cat, or Spot got into a transporter accident. Which makes me wonder, if you were transgender in the 24th century, could you use the transporter to transition? Not that you’d likely need to, as I’m sure 24th century medicine could easily perform any bodily alterations.
  • Geordi tells the Hekarans that “without warp drive you’d be completely isolated”. Well, yes, but this is true of everyone, since star systems are light-years apart.
  • The Voyager season one technical manual explains that Voyager’s variable geometry pylons ensure that the ship doesn’t have the damaging effect on spacetime of current warp technology. This always gave me a sense of relief – that we could get around the stupid restrictions of this episode.
  • Geordi had been considering getting a cat, but seems to have decided against it after looking after Spot.
  • Cats can actually be clicker-trained, but since they aren’t eager to please in the same way as dogs, they have to be rewarded with treats – full bowls of feline supplement are probably a bit much, though.

Summary – Force of Nature: every fibre of my being cries out against this episode.

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