TNG: “Unnatural Selection” and “A Matter of Honor”

Date: March 15, 2020

Season 2, Episodes 7 and 8

Setting the Stage: I watched both episodes, via Netflix, yesterday while I had the house mostly to myself. I was out way too late last night and spent most of the day recuperating. I have decided to make more of a commitment to practice social distancing even though I am feeling fine, because it’s not just about me. As an “extroverted extrovert” this is going to be super difficult, please check on your extroverted friends. I am still listening to the Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace soundtrack by the London Symphony Orchestra while I write tonight, it’s a long damn soundtrack.

Favorite Quote from “Unnatural Selection”:

Pulaski, delivering her log:

Scientists believe no experiment is a failure, that even a mistake advances the evolution of understanding.

But all achievement has a price. For one brief glimpse at the mysterious blueprint of human evolution, the men and women off the USS Lantree paid with their lives. Their sacrifice is thus noted in this scientist’s log.

I don’t hate Pulaski as much as I used to, but I don’t really like her either.

“Unnatural Selection” is heading to rendezvous with Star Station India for medical reasons and Picard hopes this will help him evaluate Pulaski. Suddenly there’s a distress call from Lantree but no one responds so they decide to do a remote desktop in and see what’s going on. The three men on the bridge are all dead, apparently from old age. Didn’t we do this already in “The Deadly Years“? They quarantine the ship and head to the Darwin research facility to see if anything is going on there. Unfortunately it’s happening there too.

Kirk from "The Deadly Years" as an elderly man.
Didn’t we do this already?

The lead scientist begs the Enterprise to check out the children who are supposedly unaffected, so they agree to check one at a time. The first is a 12 year old male who doesn’t look like a 12 year old and is likely telepathic. Picard and Pulaski argue about the course of action as they are both passionate about their respective jobs. La Forge suggests a shuttle craft, so Data pilots while Pulaski examines “the child”. He wakes up and communicates to Pulaski telepathically until something happens and Pulaski’s arm is hurt… it’s the first symptom of the disease. O’Brien suggests tracing what happened regarding the transporter and she’s apparently JUST like McCoy and hates the transporter – is this a doctor thing?

"I signed aboard this ship to practice medicine, not to have my atoms scattered back and forth across space by this gadget" - McCoy
Thanks, Pintrest

On the Darwin station we see all of the children are older than they appear and telekinetic, but Pulaski is being super nice to Data. Turns out the antibody of the flu from the Lantree is the cause and it cannot be stopped. Pulaski maintains that the Darwin station should be quarantined forever and Data beams back as he was unaffected. Picard has an idea to use the transporter and DNA from Pulaski via way of her hairbrush and it works. I’m a little teary eyed, actually, and am glad the Darwin station crew has been saved. Unfortunately the Lantree needs to be destroyed and is blown up. Well that was a ride of emotions.

Every time I think it’s something similar to The Original Series, there’s a nice twist. I love the idea of being able to remote into another ship and be able to survey what’s going on without beaming over, but there’s also some hacking that could go on if anyone hostile ever took over another ship. I think they used the remote desktop in Wrath of Khan too, but it was spruced up for this episode. I’m also intrigued by the notion that the children were created rather than engineered, but the episode doesn’t go further into the science of created children.

Here’s the problem with this episode: there’s really nothing new. Pulaski, unlike Crusher, doesn’t do research and doesn’t do much aside act like McCoy. She acts like someone who knows what she knows and doesn’t give a damn about anything she doesn’t. While I admire her passion and zeal, it has no teeth behind it. It’s almost like the writers changed just enough to make it look different on the outside but it’s all just the same on the inside. We’ve already had episodes, like “The Enemy Within“, where the transporter fixed everything, although this time it comes from the newly named transporter chief #372, O’Brien, and not one of the main characters. I like that this episode makes me care about Pulaski, and that she’s nicer to Data, I like the way it’s a spruced up version of a TOS episode with just enough changes, and I think the ending was very well done and appropriate. Those three items aside, however, this episode was just not great. I’ll give a point for each item and a bonus music video that I was reminded of when writing this post.

I included the lyric video for those who can’t listen along.

Favorite Quote from “A Matter of Honor”:

Riker: An emergency transponder?

Worf: Slightly altered to transmit an omnidirectional signal and an emergency call.

Riker: You suspect trouble?

Worf: Simply a security precaution. I want to insure your return to this ship.

Riker: Sentiment, Lieutenant Worf?

Worf: Efficiency, Commander.

Riker: I understand. Thank you.

Riker clearly misreading the situation, and Worf kindly correcting him.

“A Matter of Honor” starts with the Enterprise docking at Star Base 179 where Riker and Wesley go to welcome the four new crew members. Picard and Riker play what I can only describe as “laser tag via TRON” while discussing the officer exchange program and Riker volunteers for an assignment on a Klingon ship. Riker tries to get ready for his assignment by trying Klingon food and drink, which looks absolutely disgusting and would make any Italian grandmother proud at the abundance.

Riker with an assortment of klingon food.
You no eat no meat? It’s okay, I cook lamb.

The new ensign sees something while he is at the computer completing a scan, but doesn’t say anything, and Riker beams aboard the Klingon vessel. The Klingon captain tests Riker’s loyalty but yells at his crew to speak only in Riker’s language, which I believe to be very thoughtful. Riker is challenged by the second officer but beats him up to show he is the Alpha Male and the captain is pleased. Back on the Enterprise they have noticed the substance eating away at their own hull and are trying to figure out what to do while also setting a course to catch up with the Klingon vessel.

Riker notices some of the female crew looking at him and Riker’s sense of humor might just get him into trouble. Both sides acknowledge that they know little of each other. The Klingons have also noticed the substance and the captain reads all of the signs wrong, since he’s super paranoid, and now thinks Riker being on board was a plot to destroy the Klingon ship. Riker refuses to divulge any secrets and the Klingons believe him to be honorable. Riker hands over the emergency transponder to the Klingon captain who winds up being beamed over to the Enterprise’s bridge just long enough for Riker to take command of the Klingon vessel. Riker orders the surrender of the Enterprise so the Enterprise can help with the repairs, but the exchange assignment is ended early. Riker and Worf have a touching conversation and away we go.

A female Klingon saying "but I will have him"
Riker is about to have a lot of fun – or be in a lot of trouble

I absolutely loved this episode. Riker really gets into his assignment making sure to prepare like it was a Study Abroad program. It’s also because he’ll be the first and wants to be the best, but I’ll take it. It’s also a good showing of how old habits die hard and the Klingons are still so weary of the Federation. Riker was totally built for Klingon culture and really the only member of the Enterprise that made a great fit. While I love Worf, he would only have gained the experience of being around his own people and would not have enriched the lives of the Klingons… which is the whole point of an exchange program. Yar would have been the only other person I think would have done well, and maybe a younger Picard. This episode has a plot within a plot within a plot and really helps show how one break in the chain of command, or one mistake in standard operating procedure, can be detrimental to more than just one person. Cultural misunderstandings can happen but we need to learn from them and every time we enter a new work situation we better know the rules.

I also really liked this episode because we got to see and know more about the Klingons. They are such an interesting and hearty race and I still feel like there is so much more to know about them. Their sense of humor and their passion for war is evident of a very military-based culture, but they also seem to have no issue integrating male and female Klingons in their crew. Their captain in this episode may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but he has his moments. I think the real shining star is the Klingon second officer who seems to understand and respect Riker, and isn’t afraid to poke fun and crack a joke or two. The Klingon’s innuendo of how they view sex reminds me of the goblins in Laurell K. Hamilton‘s Merry Gentry series, and that’s all I’ll say about that. Overall I really liked this episode and find it fitting to assign it a ranking of all 9 currently published Merry Gentry novels (A Kiss of Shadows through A Shiver of Light).

A Kiss of Shadows, A Caress of Twilight, Seduced by Moonlight, A stroke of Midnight, Mistral's Kiss, A lick of Frost, Swallowing darkness, Divine Misdemeanors
Missing from this list is A Shiver of Light

TA Out!

Published by njdevil12

I'm just a big city girl living in a not so big city with my fur children and partner.

2 thoughts on “TNG: “Unnatural Selection” and “A Matter of Honor”

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