Where Silence Has Lease

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"Where Silence Has Lease"
Star Trek: The Next Generation episode
"Nagilum" appears to the Enterprise bridge crew.
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 2
Directed byWinrich Kolbe
Written byJack B. Sowards
Featured musicRon Jones
Cinematography byEdward R. Brown
Production code128
Original air dateNovember 28, 1988 (1988-11-28)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Child"
Next →
"Elementary, Dear Data"
Star Trek: The Next Generation (season 2)
List of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes

"Where Silence Has Lease" is the second episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 28th episode overall. It was originally released on November 28, 1988 in broadcast syndication. Directed by Winrich Kolbe, it was written by Jack B. Sowards.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Federation starship Enterprise. In this episode, the Enterprise becomes enveloped by a void in space where the crew is tested by a powerful alien presence.


While on a charting mission, the Federation starship Enterprise, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, discovers a zone of pure blackness in space; probes launched into the area simply disappear. As they study it further, the zone expands and soon envelops the Enterprise, leaving them in a black void with sensors reporting complete nothingness outside. Picard orders the ship on a return course, but they find that they cannot escape; they leave a stationary beacon behind them, only to have it reappear ahead of them again.

A Romulan Warbird suddenly decloaks in front of the ship and attacks, and Picard orders the crew to return fire; they destroy the Warbird, but Picard is suspicious of how easily this occurs. The crew then detect what appears to be their sister ship, the USS Yamato, approaching, but it does not respond to hails. Commander Riker and Lt. Worf beam over to search the ship, where they find it empty with various inconsistencies in its construction, including more seemingly impossible physical loops. The Enterprise then detects an exit from the darkness, but cannot lock onto the away team to retrieve them before the opening disappears. The Yamato begins to fade away, but the Enterprise is able to beam Riker and Worf back just in time. More openings appear in the blackness, each closing as soon as the Enterprise approaches them. Picard realizes that they are being manipulated, and orders a full-stop.

Suddenly, an entity with a distorted, almost childlike face appears in the void, calling itself Nagilum. It announces its curiosity about humans and their "limited existence" and would like to test the limits of the human body. It causes Ensign Haskell to experience violent convulsions, and he then falls to the floor dead. Nagilum then states that it wants to know everything about death, asserting that it would take less than half of the Enterprise's crew to complete its experiments. Picard decides to activate the ship's self-destruct sequence rather than to submit to Nagilum's whims. As the crew prepares for their end, Picard is tested again by Nagilum through peculiar behavior displayed by doppelgangers of Counselor Troi and Lt. Commander Data, both of whom question the self-destruct order. After these facsimiles are gone and the countdown nears zero, the void suddenly vanishes, leaving the Enterprise in normal space. Picard orders the ship to move away at high speed, and when he is finally satisfied that they are truly free, cancels the self-destruct sequence. As the Enterprise continues on its mission, Picard is met by the face of Nagilum on his ready-room computer. Nagilum offers its evaluation of humanity, criticizing the species's faults and claiming they have nothing in common with its kind. Picard disagrees, pointing out that their recent encounter shows that both species are curious, a logical statement to which Nagilum concedes before disappearing.


  • The character of Nagilum was originally named "Nagillum", after actor Richard Mulligan, whom TNG Co-Executive Producer Maurice Hurley originally wanted cast in the role. "Nagillum" is "Mulligan" spelled backward.[1]
  • Data states "There is no record of any Federation vessel encountering anything remotely like this" despite the fact Captain Kirk encountered just such an area of blackness in "The Immunity Syndrome", which fits the "old Klingon legend of a gigantic black space creature which was said to devour entire vessels", that Worf recalls perfectly.[2]
  • Riker misidentifies the call letters for the USS Yamato (cf. "Contagion").
  • When Picard is approached by the doppelgangers of Troi and Data, he is listening to one of Erik Satie's compositions, Gymnopédie No. 1 (1888).
  • The title of the episode is from the last stanza of a 1907 poem, The Spell of the Yukon by Robert W. Service.


  1. ^ Gross, Edward; Altman, Mark A. (1991). New Voyages: The Next Generation Guidebook. New York 11554: Image Publishing. p. 58. ISBN 0962750816.
  2. ^ Farrand, Phil (1993). Guide for Next Generation Trekkers. Dell Publishing. p. 160.

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