The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Emergence

When the Orient Express randomly appears inside Data’s The Tempest holodeck program, it is the first indication that something is amiss aboard the Enterprise. A new intelligence is emerging from the ship’s computer, and the only way the crew can interact with it is via the holodeck. And interact they must, because in all other regards, they’ve lost control of the ship.

This is another episode which I found inoffensive back in the day, but which now seems to lack much of a point. It’s a bit of a last hurrah for two plot devices I never much liked in the first place – mechanical devices becoming sentient, and weird stuff happening on the holodeck. There’s nothing new or remarkable here, just a reminder of how easily both these things can happen – and at the end, no real consequences for anyone, since it’s the end of the series and nothing more will ever happen with this story.

Take me down to Vertiform City

  • If a theta flux distortion is something that can so easily build and destroy the ship, why is not scanned for as a matter of course?
  • Worf shovelling coal to make the ship go faster must be the most stupid metaphor ever. What did it mean? Was this the only way the holograms could interface with the propulsion systems now that the engineer was gone? Was none of them knowing what to do a metaphor for their inability to interface with that system? But it wasn’t like Worf was an AI whose physical actions were expressing some kind of inner computation – he was literally just shovelling coal.
  • Why does the ship send only one taxi after Data? It could have surely generated additional vehicles.
  • Knowing that Cargo Bay 5 had depressurised once, why didn’t Geordi and his team go in there wearing some kind of protective suit?

Summary – Emergence: There should be precautions taken against Federation starships becoming sentient.

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