Evolution (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

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"Evolution"
Star Trek: The Next Generation episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 1
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Teleplay by Michael Piller
Story by
Featured music Ron Jones
Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever
Cinematography by Marvin Rush
Production code 150
Original air date September 25, 1989 (1989-09-25)
Running time 45 minutes (runtime)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Shades of Gray"
Next →
"The Ensigns of Command"
List of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes

"Evolution" is the first episode of the third season of the syndicated American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 49th episode overall, first airing on September 25, 1989.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Federation starship Enterprise. In this episode, escaped nanites threaten the Enterprise as well as its critical research mission.

Plot[edit]

The Federation starship Enterprise, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), approaches the Kavis Alpha binary star system to perform astrophysics research under the guidance of Dr. Paul Stubbs (Ken Jenkins), analyzing the decay of neutronium as a result of a stellar explosion that occurs every 196 years and is due to occur in the next few hours. Stubbs plans to launch a probe, dubbed the Egg, to gather the data, a result of a lifetime's development. Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) has returned to her duties on the Enterprise after a stint at Starfleet Medical and is warmly welcomed by her son, Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton).

As the expected time of the stellar explosion nears, the ship malfunctions in odd ways, and the issue is traced to the computer core. Wesley, who had been working on a project involving microscopic nanites, realizes that he may have inadvertently let two nanites from his experiments loose. The nanites were programmed to find ways to work together and evolve. A scan of the computer core reveals that the nanites have determined a way of replicating themselves and have taken up residence in the computer core. With the computer controls unreliable, the crew and Dr. Stubbs attempt to see if they can remove the nanites from the core. However, Dr. Stubbs shoots the core with a burst of gamma radiation, destroying a large number of the nanites. They retaliate by flooding the bridge with nitrogen dioxide, which the crew overrides. Dr. Stubbs is confined to quarters, but the nanites attempt further revenge by shocking him with electricity. Captain Picard prepares to flood the computer core with gamma radiation to remove the nanites completely, but the android Second Officer Commander Data (Brent Spiner) establishes communication with the nanites and allows them to use his body to speak with Picard. Picard realizes that the nanites are self-aware and conscious and took Dr. Stubbs' actions as hostile, but they want peace. Picard negotiates a deal to send the nanites to Kavis Alpha IV, designating it as their homeworld. The nanites agree and repair the damage to the computer core before they leave it. Dr. Stubbs launches his probe on time and collects numerous volumes of data. Ensign Crusher, who feels responsible for the incident, is counseled by his mother, both of them realizing he is growing up.

Production[edit]

"Evolution" features the first appearance of the new Starfleet uniforms; several cast members had complained about the previous spandex uniforms which led to their replacement with the new Mandarin-collared two-piece wool uniforms. In an appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show shortly before the episode aired, Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard) simply said, "The new uniforms don’t hurt", and reviewer Keith DeCandido later praised the move in his review of the episode.[2]

The new uniforms also led to what fans would refer to as the "Picard Maneuver", where Picard would often tug on the bottom of his shirt with both hands after standing up.[3] Within the series, the Picard Maneuver was a battle strategy utilized by the captain against the Ferengi in the first season episode "The Battle".

Reception[edit]

Writing for The A.V. Club, Zack Handlen compared the episode favorably against the first episode of the previous season, "The Child" (which he considered was the worst episode of that season disregarding "Shades of Gray"[4]). Handlen wrote that he found "Evolution" so much more enjoyable that he was "in danger of overrating it." He liked Ken Jenkins as Dr. Paul Stubbs, who "hits the line between off-puttingly arrogant and vulnerable". However, while he was glad to see the return of Gates McFadden as Beverly Crusher, he was disappointed with Diana Muldaur's absence, stating that "the Pulaski and Picard relationship that was never really fulfilled." He summarized that, "The characters are all where they need to be, my favorite doctor is back, and the show feels like it's ready to take that next step", and graded the episode a "B".[5]

James Hunt of Den of Geek similarly praised Ken Jenkins and the scenes between him and Wesley, as well as the scenes with Beverly and Guinan. However, he felt that the episode could have been stronger had it focused on the character threads and philosophical moments.[6] Keith DeCandido, writing for Tor.com, lauded "the debut of the high-necked, looser uniform jackets", stating that "it’s extremely good to see the crew no longer wearing the unitards", and liked the return of Dr. Crusher and actress McFadden's "superb chemistry" with Wil Wheaton, as well as the off-screen promotions to Worf and La Forge. However, DeCandido did concede the episode felt "unfinished" in that the episode failed to acknowledge how Wesley managed to create an entire species – "it’s fobbed off in a log entry at the end" – and that there were no consequences regarding his actions almost leading to the destruction of the ship.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ""Star Trek: The Next Generation" Evolution (1989) - Full cast and crew". IMDb. n.d. Retrieved August 12, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b DeCandido, Keith (November 3, 2011). "Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: "Evolution"". Tor.com. Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  3. ^ Escamilla, Rebecca (January 20, 2015). "A Fast-Paced Supercut of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' Characters Performing the Shirt-Tugging 'Picard Maneuver'". Laughing Squid. Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  4. ^ Handlen, Zack (July 22, 2010). "Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Shades of Grey"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  5. ^ Handlen, Zack (July 29, 2010). "Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Evolution"/"The Ensigns Of Command"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 5, 2015. 
  6. ^ Hunt, James (February 21, 2014). "Revisiting Star Trek TNG: Evolution". Den of Geek. Retrieved December 5, 2015. 

External links[edit]