Disaster (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

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Star Trek: The Next Generation episode
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 5
Directed byGabrielle Beaumont
Story byRon Jarvis
Philip A. Scorza
Teleplay byRonald D. Moore
Featured musicDennis McCarthy
Production code205
Original air dateOctober 21, 1991 (1991-10-21)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Silicon Avatar"
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"The Game"
Star Trek: The Next Generation (season 5)
List of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes

"Disaster" is the fifth episode of the fifth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 105th episode overall. It was originally released on October 21, 1991[1], in broadcast syndication. Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Federation starship Enterprise.


The crew of the Enterprise are undertaking routine tasks when suddenly the ship is struck by some outside force, rendering much of it inoperable and many of the crew isolated without communication to other sections; later the crew discovers the collision was with a fragment of a quantum filament, and after effecting basic repairs, set course back to the nearest starbase for a full overhaul.

Several different sub-plots are followed among the various crew members:

  • The bridge, at the time of the incident, is manned by Counselor Troi (currently the most senior officer as she holds the rank of Lt. Commander), Miles O'Brien and Ensign Ro. They find that the anti-matter containment field in Engineering is rapidly fading. Ro suggests that they split the drive section of the Enterprise off to save those in the saucer section, but O'Brien considers this cold-blooded and Troi rules against it. Instead she suggests a plan to divert a supply of their minimal power reserves to Engineering to the appropriate panel, hoping that someone there would rectify the situation. This is later done by Commander Riker and Lt. Commander Data. Ro apologizes for considering such a hasty action.
  • Riker and Data are in Ten Forward along with Worf and a pregnant Keiko O'Brien at the time of the disaster. With several injuries, Riker assigns Ten Forward as a triage area with Worf and Keiko helping. Riker and Data realize that without functioning turbolifts, it would be faster to travel through the Jeffries' tubes to reach Engineering in order to regain control of the ship rather than to try to make it to the bridge. In Engineering, they find that the computer remains offline, and Data offers to use his own positronic brain to gain basic control of ship systems. Riker discovers the operating panel that indicates the containment field failure, and he and Data quickly set up the proper connections to restore it until regular computer operation is restored.
  • Captain Picard has the dubious honor of giving a guided tour of the ship to three children that won a science fair, a task he has not been looking forward to. They are aboard the turbolift when the accident occurs, and Picard suffers a fractured ankle from the sudden stop. He calms the children down, and to boost their morale, assigns them honorary command roles. With their spirits renewed, Picard and the children start to climb out of the turbolift and up the shaft until they are able to access the lift doors on another floor and climb out safely. Picard comes to appreciate the children and offers to give them another tour once the situation has been resolved.
  • Doctor Crusher and Lieutenant Commander La Forge are in a cargo bay examining a recent supply of thruster fuel. When the disaster strikes, they are trapped in the bay, and find that a plasma fire has erupted in a nearby panel; it is not only letting off potentially lethal radiation affecting them, but also destabilizing the fuel, risking an explosion. They come up with a plan to depressurize the bay, not only dousing the fire due to lack of oxygen, but also removing the fuel during the explosive depressurization. They safely hold on during this process and eventually reseal the bay with fresh air.
  • In Ten Forward as they tend to patients, Keiko starts to feel the onset of childbirth, forcing Worf to help her deliver her child despite having only basic medical training. Though the delivery is tense, Keiko's child, Molly, is delivered safely.

Franchise continuity[edit]

The character Molly O'Brien is born in Ten Forward, and this character is later shown growing up in the spin-off TV show Star Trek:Deep Space Nine (aired 1993-1999) with her parents Miles and Keiko who are stationed there for a few years.[2] The set featured in this episode,"Ten Forward", had been built for Season 2 and was located at Paramount Stage 8 at the studios.[3] The set was designed by Herman Zimmerman, and in the show was normally a place for the crew to relax, hang out together, and eat or have drinks.[4] The set features a space bar (usually staffed by none other than Whoopi Goldberg as the mysterious Guinan) looking out on large windows, and outside it featured a star field, or with use of green-screen special effects, other scenes depending on the location of the Enterprise D.[5]


Zach Handlen of The A.V. Club rated the episode a B+, stating it "tries to do too much, but its ambition does it credit, and when it works, it's very charming".[6] Jeremy Conrad of IGN considered it one of the under-appreciated episodes of Season Five, being "a classic 'disaster movie' set in the Star Trek universe" with some funny moments.[7] Charlie Jane Anders of io9 ranked "Disaster" as the 94th best episode of all the Star Trek series in a 2014 list.[8]

In 2009, Time Magazine rated "Disaster" as one of the top ten moments of Star Trek including both television and film productions.[1] They praise Counselor Troi as a "tough captain", the Ten-forward lounge turned sickbay, and overall an episode that demonstrated Star Trek: The Next Generation was a TV series that could break its "own formula".[1]


  1. ^ a b c Cloud, John (2009-05-08). "10 Best Star Trek Moments". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2019-02-27.
  2. ^ "O'Brien, Molly". StarTrek.com. Retrieved 2019-02-27.
  3. ^ Erdmann, Terry J.; Block, Paula M. (2012-11-16). Star Trek: The Next Generation 365. ABRAMS. ISBN 9781613124000.
  4. ^ Erdmann, Terry J.; Block, Paula M. (2012-11-16). Star Trek: The Next Generation 365. ABRAMS. ISBN 9781613124000.
  5. ^ Erdmann, Terry J.; Block, Paula M. (2012-11-16). Star Trek: The Next Generation 365. ABRAMS. ISBN 9781613124000.
  6. ^ "Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Disaster"/"The Game"". 2011-03-03. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  7. ^ Conrad, Jeremy (2002-11-12). "Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Five". IGN. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-02-22. Retrieved 2016-02-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]