The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Genesis

Whilst Picard and Data are off tracking down a stray torpedo, something strange begins happening aboard the Enterprise. The crew are all slowly but surely transforming into primitive creatures, and, if nothing is done, the Enterprise may soon become less of a starship and more of a zoo.

When I first saw this episode, I cut it some slack because I thought the various transformations were pretty cool. Now that I’m older and wiser, I can safely say that it’s just plain silly. It’s like someone saw The Island of Dr Moreau and thought “yes, I’m having that idea”. After a piss-poor excuse to get Picard and Data off the ship, the episode goes all Timescape with the returning crewmembers seeing that something is amiss and having to save the day. And of course it’s Data who fixes everything, because once again he is not only smarter than the rest of the crew, but also immune to all those pesky things that affect humans. How many times would the Enterprise have been destroyed without him? How many times would the Enterprise have been safer without his malfunctions? You win some, you lose some.

Devolution

  • Picard only just starts to devolve, but is apparently going to become some sort of marmoset or lemur.
  • Riker becomes an australopithicene, and has his brain shrink as a result.
  • Deanna becomes an amphibian.
  • Worf becomes a randy proto-Klingon with venom sacs and an even bonier skull.
  • Barclay becomes a spider.
  • Spot becomes a gecko.
  • Ogawa becomes another proto-human.
  • At least one other crewmember becomes reptilian enough to start shedding their entire skin in one go.

Cats

  • There are twelve male cats on the Enterprise. None of them are neutered, and neither is Spot, which seems irresponsible.
  • How do Spot’s kittens survive? They can’t suckle from their mother because she has turned into a gecko, and even when Data and Picard return to the ship, they don’t bother to feed the kittens. Is this why they are never seen again?
  • Barclay is the only other person who gets along with Spot. What happened to Beverly’s enthusiasm for looking after Spot?

Other points

  • Maybe they only did it for the plot, but Alyssa Ogawa announces her pregnancy in this episode. She and Andrew really move fast.
  • Why does Data have the only computer that isn’t connected to the Enterprise mainframe? There should be backups. DS9 has backups.
  • Did they really need a pregnant woman in order to get a sample of amniotic fluid? If Data had fixed the computer, there must be a pattern for it in the replicator.
  • After their devolution, surely the crew’s brains would be irretrievably damaged? Take Riker for example, whose brain had shrunk to primitive levels. He was essentially lobotomised, so a recovery shouldn’t be possible.
  • Why did the ship’s biofilters not do something about the virus?
  • Why was it so important to recover the torpedo? It would either hit another asteroid and detonate as planned, or, since space is so vast, just drift endlessly and never interact with anything. Was there any real danger, or was it a flimsy excuse to get Picard and Data off the ship?
  • Troi seems concerned that she will have to clear her calendar for Barclay in the coming weeks. Surely all of the crew will want to discuss the trauma of being transformed into animals – if not, there’s something very wrong with them.

Summary – Genesis: The plot itself has devolved into something more primitive.

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