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Rape is Okay when you're a Glowing Ball of Alien Life Energy

  • In "The Child" an alien life force impregnates Troi against her will. And Troi is completely okay with that. Even once she found out, she retained all her warm, fuzzy maternal feelings she has for the child it turned into.
    • They took a lot of heat for that one. But maybe we can come up with some justifications:
      • She had a low-level telepathic bond with the creature that let her know, even if only subconsciously, that its intentions were not malicious, so she couldn't stay mad.
      • The Betazoid maternal instinct is so strong that, once the presence of a fetus in the womb activates it, all other emotions fall before it. There might even be a microscopic amount of support for this, based on the fact that the series' only other Betazoid mother is . . . a tad stifling.
    • Also, not every woman who has a baby through rape ends up hating it. After all, it was the rapist that violated her, not the baby. So really, isn't the baby just as deserving of the mother's love as any other child?
      • I think the issue here is that the rapist and the baby were one and the same. Or at least they appeared to be. More or less.
    • She may not have considered it rape; there was no violence involved. *I* would still consider it rape, but she might not.
    • Besides, we're not talking about rape in any realistic sense of the word; it just flew into her torso like a firefly while she was asleep and she became pregnant. You could kinda sorta make a comparison between that and a drugged date rape that the victim doesn't remember, but I think the characters realized that the being didn't have a humanoid enough frame of reference at the time to understand that giving Troi a virgin birth could be morally construed as a form of rape. After all, it impregnated her precisely because it wanted to understand how corporeal beings see the world (and before they learned what Ian actually was, they were treating the situation as a medical mystery rather than a crime - there really wasn't a point in the story where Troi had a chance to be outraged).
    • "I think the characters realized that the being didn't have a humanoid enough frame of reference at the time to understand that giving Troi a virgin birth could be morally construed as a form of rape." I agree ... it's one of those "Totally different types of life don't understand each other" issues.
    • This episode contains one of my favourite unintentionally funny lines: "Last night something I can only describe as a presence entered my body." The writers are bending over backwards to try to make it not sound like a rape.
    • Starfleet officers are trained to take alien mindsets into account. Look at the pilot episode of Deep Space 9... when Sisko encounters the wormhole aliens, they start talking about killing him, are apparently subjecting him to his most traumatic memories, and seem to have very little ability to comprehend anything he talks about. Rather than getting annoyed/frustrated/frightened/angry with them as you might expect from that sort of situation, Sisko remains as calm as possible the entire time, giving them assurances and trying to explain. This is probably how Troi has been trained as well... she'd probably react differently if there had been actual force or violence involved, but instead she rationalizes it as an entirely alien consciousness' way of trying to communicate. You view it as technically rape, she views it as technically opening hailing frequencies.

Trusty Phasers Over Hokey Ancient Resonators? And About Those Romulan Psychics...

  • Gambit. When Tallera turned the psionic resonator on Picard and told him to "Pick up the phaser. See what good it will do," and later the armed security team arrives from the Enterprise, Picard tells them to put down their weapons, but what good would the resonator do if the starfleet officers (or the mercenaries earlier) had shot first? Also why is it that the Vulcans have telepathy while the Romulans do not, when the Romulans are more prone to reading/screwing with peoples minds and this episode seems to establish that they did have telepathy before branching off from the Vulcans?
    • Possibly they still do, but don't use it. Vulcans seen on Enterprise don't use their telepathic abilities until the Syrannite movement gains influence; if they had gone a few thousand more years without interference from outside sources (which the xenophobic Romulans almost certainly did) they may have forgotten they ever existed, especially if the history was altered. Also, consider the fact that Vulcans have such strong emotions that even temporary loss of control can drive them insane. Romulans do not have this handicap; perhaps they turn their psychic abilities inward somehow to give them the control that their hat so desperately demands.
    • In my opinion, there are at least two likely reasons. The first is that Picard wanted no further casualties (particularly from his own team). That seemed to be the obvious thing he was doing. The second (and more opinionated here) is that Picard winning an intellectual victory with the security team complicit in it makes the defeat all the more crushing.
      • While Romulans are an offshoot of the Vulcans, they are not the same species. In fact, there are enough genetic differences to make blood transfusions from one to the other impossible. And other species were mentioned on Gambit that were extinct offshoots of the Romulans. Perhaps the Romulans, in their journey to their new homeworld, encountered and bred with another species. Maybe their telepathy disappeared as a result. That would also account for the ridges Romulans possess.
        • I've always figured it was some interbreeding with Klingons. It would explain why Worf of all people could give a blood transfusion to a Romulan, their forehead ridges, and their seeming differences with Vulcans (lack of psychic powers, advanced mental abilities), though not the seeming lack of greater physical abilities (Vulcans being 3x stronger than humans). It would also make sense within the context of the more brutish Remans, their former alliance with the Klingon Empire, and their eventual falling out with said empire.


Klingon/Romulan "Empire", Yeah Right!

  • Empires: Isn't it weird how the Romulan and Klingon empires seem to consist exclusively of Romulans and Klingons? I mean all we ever see of these "Empires" are their own ships crewed by their members of their own race. We never see planets under their control or members of other races in their ranks, even as slaves. You would think that an empire that has been so long established would have integrated its subjects somewhat better by now. And considering how long these respective empires are supposed to have been in power, you would also assume that some other races would be willing members, and thus allowed to serve with them. Or at the very least we could have seen the Federation encounter non - Klingon or Romulan ships crewed by people who were no less members of one of the empires. Vulcans are in the Federation and they have their own ships. Which brings me to another point: Are the federation style ships specifically earth ships? If the Vulcans have their own style of ship design and their own fleet, one would assume that other Federation members do as well. This would explain why all the Federation ships we see seem to be exclusively crewed by humans. With Federation headquarters and Starfleet Academy located on earth, and the ships crewed by humans, one would assume that the only reason other races are ever seen is some kind of affirmative action program. Maybe all the other races don't really give a damn about the Federation, and just humor the silly humans, while we keep telling ourselves we're the greatest.
    • There are two points here. Firstly, the Klingon and Romulan Empires (and the Cardassian Union, for that matter) don't actually consist of several races under one banner. They are made up of dozens of planets they have colonised. In some cases there may have been intelligent sentients already there, but none of those three groups sound like the kind of people who'd be interested in peaceful cooperation. There are some references to conquered peoples in the Expanded Universe, but that's about it. Also, all the ships we see in the series are military vessels - even if there are subject peoples, it's entirely possible they are not permitted to join the military. As for the second point, it seems that, overwhelmingly, humans are the main volunteers for Starfleet. After all, there is no conscription or social obligation to serve, and it is probable that many or even most member civilizations contribute in some other way than by volunteering their teenagers for the military. There's also mention in at least one episode of an all-Vulcan crew. Perhaps most ships have a predominance of one species, and we only see the human ones.
    • Worf mentions that if the Klingon Empire has truly returned to their old ways that they will land troops on Cardassia and neutralize the ruling government. Given that info it seems that the Klingons HAVE invaded other worlds, but at best the populations are slave workers or even complete nonentities in the Klingon government/military/culture and their world is squeezed for natural resources. Remans apparently featured in some measure during the Dominion War according to Shinzon's backstory possibly in some way similar to all-Vulcan crews in Starfleet, so it's entirely possible subjugate races DO exist even in the military, they just are never integrated with the ruling species. Given TOS had the Federation flagship with just 1/2 an alien on the entire crew, the other species might be behind the times, but not entirely without precedence (and for being authoritarian dictatorships being a mere 100 years behind the utopian Fed ain't entirely terrible).
    • The aforementioned ship would be theUSS Intrepid, and it's the same class as the original Enterprise.
    • DS9 establishes a 24th century Starfleet Vessel with an all-Vulcan crew, the USS T'Kumbra, and the Starship Hera's crew consisted of mostly Vulcans, despite having a human captain.
    • We don't know if the non-Starfleet Vulcan ship(s) are actually ships operating under the banner of the government of Vulcan, or ships that happened to be owned and operated by private or corporate interests on Vulcan. We do see a few human ships that are privately owned--freighters, transports, the like--so it's not impossible that the Vulcan Science Academy or what have you simply send out their own ships sometimes to study things that the Federation hasn't gotten around to yet.
    • Classic Klingons were civilized, swarthy Humanoids. Movie and Net Gen Klingons are Rubber Forehead Aliens savages. Science and Technology are not part of modern Klingon culture. The civilized, swarthy Klingons built all the space-ships and then the Rubber-heads genocided them. tlc
      • The movie Klingons weren't savages, except maybe the younger one in ST V. But everyone in that movie acted like a dick. The problem with that theory (and yes, I know you mean it in jest) is that we saw three swarthy Klingons TURN INTO rubber-headed Klingons. And, while TOS Klingons tend to be fondly remembered as more civilized than their successors, we often saw them fighting very, very dirty, in "Errand of Mercy," "A Private Little War," "The Trouble with Tribbles," and "The Savage Curtain." The rubber-heads usually don't resort to tricks like poison, proxy wars, and ventriloquism, and when they do they tend to be uneasy with behaviors which the TOS Klingons took in stride.
        • TOS Klingons, MORE civilized? According to The Other Wiki, Klingons were conceived as brutish, scheming, and murderous, without any redeeming characteristics, and it wasn't until the first movie that the Klingons are 'evolved' *cough*retconned*cough* into the rubber forehead aliens with a defined language, writing and culture.
      • Fridge Brilliance: The TOS Klingons weren't necessarily more "civilized" (for a certain value of "civilized"), but they were definitely less restrained by honor than their successors. Because they'd been stripped of their proper head-ridges by that engineered virus from Enterprise, they might've believed their honor already sullied beyond redemption by their deformities, so they might as well use every dirty trick in the book. The TOS movies' Klingons hadn't been affected by the virus, and acted more honorably than the ones on the show; by TNG, the virus has been cured, so the former smooth-heads are able to rejoin society and regain honor, thereafter looking and acting like the rubber-foreheads.
        • Between the Klingons first appearances in TOS and their appearances in TNG, they'd had their original homeworld devastated in ST VI and a massive, humiliating defeat at the hands of the Romulans at Khitomer, leading to their decline as an empire and their forging an alliance with the Federation, which probably ended their territorial expansion. This lead to a period of stagnation in the Empire, leading the people to look backward and make a big deal about their past glories -- so scheming, conniving, bullying modern Klingons now pretend to be just like their ancient warrior ancestors, like a bunch of right wing nationalists in, say, Sweden, might latch on to the identity of the Vikings. I mean, aside from Worf and Martok, no Klingons on any series actually practiced what they preached.
    • Deep Space Nine sorts this out a little with the conflict between Kor and Martok. Kor, and the other TOS Klingons represented an era when aristocratic blood was paramount to prestige within the Empire. Martok and presumably other TNG/Deep Space Nine era Klingons represented a time when more common-born warriors had ascended to positions of power within the Empire (Martok was a common soldier who rose from the ranks and gained his own house after being rejected as an officer candidate by Kor). The difference between the TOS Klingons and the TNG/Deep Space Nine ones is likely a difference of class within Klingon culture.
    • THANK you! Huge problem, yes. The Federation has 150 members or something like that and a bunch of prewarp civilizations living within its territory. The Alpha Quadrant seems more or less evenly divided among the Federation, Romulans, Cardassians, and Klingons. (For simplicity's sake let's forget the Ferengi and Breen and one-off species like the Tzenkethi and Son'a for now.) The other three are not ENTIRELY one-species: The Klingons had a few races they'd enslaved in TOS and ENT, but only a handful. The Romulans had the Remans, and the Cardassians had the Bajorans for a while. Still, they've got nothing to resemble the diversity of the Federation. Here are some explanations, but every one is hugely problematic:
      • One: All four powers have the same number of M-Class planets in their territory, more or less, but for some stupid reasons, the ancient humanoids--who knew nothing of how the Quadrant would be divided politically billions of years later--seeded eventual Federation space much more heavily. There would be no reason for them to do so, though.
        • That's assuming each species territory is the same size and contains the same number of Class-M worlds. There is no evidence that either supposition is correct.
      • Two: They all have the same number of M-Class planets and they all had roughly the same number of planets seeded, but for some reason planets in the Federation proved to be much more hospitable to evolving humanoid life than the others. That's going to require a damned big Handwave.
      • Three: Klingon, Romulan, and Cardassian space all used to be as diverse as Federation space, but the Klingons, Romulans, and Cardassians all went on a rampaging genocide and eradicated life on every world they wanted to colonize. But, while all three species did their turns as bad guys, they all wound up as good guys. So our good guys are more evil than the Borg, much more evil than the Dominion, and much, much more evil than the Mirror Universe Terrans? Great. . . .
    • If you want to blame an entire species for what their ancestors did in the past, sure.
        • Perhaps the T Kon, Iconians, or Hur'q races razed Romulan and Klingon space well before. Maybe the reason Federation space has so many populated planets is because that's where the Preservers deposited the beings they tried to save.
      • Four: The Federation has many more M-Class planets than the other three, either because its territory is much more vast or because habitable systems are much more tightly clustered. Either way, that gives the Feds exponentially more resources to draw on than any of their neighbors. They'd be a Quadrant-striding superpower. The problem is that they deal with the Klingons, Romulans, and Cardassians as equals--and I don't mean they're benevolent in time of peace, I mean that when each of those powers wants to fight the Federation they come off every bit as strong as the Federation itself. If this is the solution, the Federation is every bit as great a power in the Alpha Quadrant as the Dominion is in the Gamma Quadrant, meaning that the fraction of the Jem'Hadar fleet the Founders sent to Cardassia before the wormhole got cut off would get swatted aside like a fly by Starfleet. Instead, even with the Klingons' help, the Federation was barely keeping its head above water, and when they learned that Damar had figured out how to bring the main Jem'Hadar fleet through, they were puckering their assholes in terror.
        • The Cardassians specifically appear to not be quite equals to the Federation. They frequently lose engagements to Fed ships (Maquis ships in TNG, the Phoenix taking out a Cardassian warship pretty handily, the Defiant under Thomas Riker). Given Starfleet had fought at least two other major engagements with hostiles (Tzenkethi, and...) and the general drive for peace in the TNG era, relative parity with the Cardassians seems more of divided disinterest more than actual military/political parity.
      • Now I can easily believe that the people who ran the Federation in the first few TNG seasons were such shrinking violets that they could be bested by rivals a fraction of their size, but after the first Borg invasion, the Romulans meddling in the Klingon Civil War, the barely-averted war with Cardassia, the border war with the Klingons, the second Borg invasion, and the Cardassians getting in bed with the Founders, the Federation began throwing around its weight a bit more each time. By the time the war with the Dominion got hot, they were clearly going balls to the wall, yet they were still facing challenges that would only come up if they were just one power among many in their quadrant, no stronger or weaker than the others.
        • This ignores the fifth option of just forcing the subject races to stay on their own planets.
      • Six: Earth, Vulcan, Betazed and K'tari are specifically stated to be Fed members. We assume the other races are Fed members. Suppose Cardassi genocided the Booleans? All the Booleans we see are Fed citizens. Suppose the Booleans we see are refugees who escaped to Fed planets and took citizenship? Suppose Boolean home World is a poisoned desert that Fed ceded to Cardassi? If there be canon that Boolea is a member state of the Fed then apply this system to some other alien species.
          • Maybe. That could be somewhat consistent with what we saw of the Cardassians on Bajor, and of the Remans, whom the Federation had never encountered before Nemesis. But, while that's not as bad as genocide, it's still pretty nasty coming from aliens who are often portrayed in a positive light. Does good old Martok seem like the sort who would keep zillions of people locked up in astronomical ghettoes?
          • Also, how is it that the Klingons, Romulans, and Cardassians are so much stronger than all their neighbors that they're able to dominate them utterly while still being international great powers? In the pre-Federation days as portrayed on Enterprise, the Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites might have hated one another enough so that each would have happily conquered and subjugated the others, but none of them were able to because the others were strong enough to keep them from doing so. So either our corner of the Alpha Quadrant produced many species intelligent enough to become Class II civilizations able to expand to other solar systems, but the other neighborhoods only produced one apiece, which is hardly any more likely than Options 1 and 2. Or else the species on these other planets are intelligent enough to develop advanced societies, but their homeworlds are too resource-poor to allow them to do so. If that's the case, the Klingons, Romulans, and Cardassians are ruling some very economically unimpressive empires. It might not even be worth attempting imperial adventures in these resource-poor planets at all. It would be somewhat comparable to China 110 years ago, when all sorts of imperial powers were biting off spheres of influence, but no one bothered with the resource-poor provinces in the interior like Shaanxi.
            • It's clear from ST:Enterprise that the Vulcans COULD have in fact taken over their region of space, they were just not motivated to do so. Humanity to that point could not have resisted a militant Vulcan, the Tellarites were somewhat more capable but freely admitted that Andorians (currently engaged in hostilities) outclassed them in direct combat, and the Central Command Vulcans were perfectly confident in their belief that they could eliminate the Andorians as a threat. The entirety of the Fed is basically based on the fact the dominant species of the region (the Vulcans) were not expansionistic, which seems to be very rare. In fact, between that and their impression on a war ravaged Earth, that might be the central difference explaining the existence of the Fed Utopia and many other sci-fi operas.
            • The Humans were the more powerful force in Federation territory. Remember, once the Federation gets started, only the Vulcans are shown as being a serious power of those three, and most Federation ships have an all-Human crew. The flagship of the Federation had no non-humans onboard except for Spock, who was a half-human, half-vulcan who disavowed his Vulcan heritage.
        • The TNG episode 'The Empath' dealt with a who was subject to the Klingon Empire's rule.
      • Option two above isn't as far-fetched as it may seem. All manner of astronomical phenomena can impact the habitability of regions of planets (park yourself within thirty light-years of a supernova and see what happens; if the Earth were, that would mean that at the very least the ozone layer would be toast, and that doesn't bode well for life), and then there's the fact that clustering (here, clustering of worlds that happened to favor/disfavor the existence of life) does not preclude randomness.
    • 'Nother option: the Federation is dozens of times larger than any of the other powers in the Alpha/Beta Quadrants. The Klingons, Romulans and Cardassians aren't actually that much larger than the Ferengi and other one-shot races, but because they have strong military cultures they're vastly overpowered for their size; in contrast, because the Federation has a pacifist culture, Starfleet is vastly underpowered for its size. The Federation government is also clearly much looser than the Empires - even the full member worlds aren't really very homogenized, and colonies can go for years without official government contact judging by early TNG - so it probably doesn't have nearly as high a per-capita budget compared to the tightly-managed states around it. A lot of its military power might even be locked down as individual worlds' planetary defence forces (we know that Vulcan still has an independent one, for instance).
    • Perhaps there are numerous species who used to live in Klingon, Cardassian, and/or Romulan territory but escaped to what is now Federation territory instead of letting themselves be conquered.
    • The Federation's treaty to not develop cloaking devices (or install Klingon cloaking devices) in their ships is a massive, massive strategic weakness on their part. They only have two methods of detecting cloaked ships, one involving being within torpedo range (and already knowing the cloaked ship is nearby), and another requiring the cloak ship to pass through "tripwires" that their sensors could easily detect. Frankly, if there were a war, the Romulans could do a ton of damage with basically no risk. Of course, this doesn't explain why the Cardassians were considered such a threat, since they do not have cloaking technology.
      • A Romulan Captain, a person in the know, seemed pretty confident that entering Federation space undetected was IMPOSSIBLE. While hit and runs along the border or the rare super spy efforts might breach borders, it seems any large scale invasion depending on cloak is apparently impossible and those few methods are actually very effective.
  • There is one other possibility that you're all side-stepping. Starfleet's General Order One, better known as the Prime Directive. The Federation is huge in size, but there are all these little worlds that they allow to develop, peacefully, with duck blinds and so on, and they even set aside planets for those people to colonize and mine. The Klingons don't have that rule. Remember that whole bit about a boy being a man when he can wield a knife? It's the same thing to them. They don't believe in the need for a fight to be what the Federation would call fair - remember Organia (Errand of Mercy), Friday's Child, or A Private Little War? Klingons overwhelm primitive societies, use the planets, and colonize. By contrast, the Federation is made up of a group of relatively equal planets, defended fiercely by a fleet of starships from outside aggressors. That's the reason the Federation is on equal footing, despite politically being huge. They claim space that they then blockade and put under Prime Directive controls. The Klingons and the Romulans would never waste time like that. Neither would the Cardies.
  • Guys, you're missing another option. It's not like these groups are the ONLY powers in the galaxy. They're just AS powerful as the Federation. It's just that the Federation is the ONLY power that advocates peaceful cooperation.
  • From Friday's Child: "Their [Klingons'] empire is made up of conquered worlds." We just never see the others.


Now Where'd I Put That Dyson Sphere Key Again?

  • Relics: The whole "hey let's signal the Dyson Sphere to open then grab that ball with both hands and wedge our ship in there rather than, say, signalling it AGAIN" thing kind of bugs me, but seriously, that moment at the end. Sorry, DID YOU JUST TRANSPORT THROUGH A FREAKING SHIELD
    • Didn't they try signaling it again but to no effect? If they didn't, perhaps they were worried about what might happen if they disturbed it further.
    • Per season four's "The Wounded", shields modulate such that a skilled transporter operator familiar with the shield frequencies can beam through. If O'Brian could do it to get aboard the Phoenix, then Scoty can do it to get just about anywhere, especially when you consider the Enterprise was diverting all its shield energy to the sides of the ship, probably disrupting or even eliminating coverage of the the bow and stern.
    • Yep, as per Star Trek Generations, as long as you know the modulation frequency (which these ships would likely share with each other freely) of the shields, then you can beam/shoot through it.
    • You mean did that 24thC ship just beam someone from that 23rdC ship that was built over 60 years ago? I think we can legitimately call this one technology marches on.
      • That makes the most sense out of all these explanations.
      • Any number of feasible explanations are possible, but the problem is that the episode offers none of them. It's like they just forgot that beaming through shields is something you can't do.


We're Fighting Wolf-359 By the Book! Yeah, the Book the Borg Just Stole and Read!

  • Wolf 359: After having the captain of the freaking flagship captured and mind probed for tactical info, including shield frequencies and hull composition, plus all known manuevers, why did the federation set up its defense of earth "by the book"? They got mowed down like kittens vs. a chainsaw. Couldn't you have saved thousands of lives by having the first ship, or even the first 3 ships, abandoned by their crews and have the computers pilot them into the borg ship at warp 9?
    • Snark that. Wolf 359 is an uninhabited star system, right? Lure the Borg cubes deep into the system using decoy emitters to look like your fleet, then nova the damn sun.
      • Warp or even high impulse probably makes such an effort meaningless, and now there is a supernova clearing out the Fed Core worlds...
      • Make a sun in a system 7.8 light years from Earth go nova? Yeah, that's a great idea ::Face Palm::
      • Like all great Borg-smashing plans, this would've worked -once. But I doubt the Borg would've sent the Entire collective (which is impossibly huge and made up of millions of worlds, don't forget) after the fleet at the same time. At most they might destory a good percentage of the Borg in one go.
        • Oh nonsense. I am sick and tired of this masturbatory fantasy that the Borg become invincible against anything they've already encountered. It is canon fact that the Borg are only capable of adapting to ENERGY WEAPONS. Kinetic weapons like simple bullet-firing guns cut right through the Borg's much-vaunted "adaptation". And if the kinetic energy from a bullet can get through, the kinetic energy from an explosion can too.
          • Have they ever been shot with actual bullets? Also, Worf of all people was able to jury rig a defense against holographic bullets in a Fistful of Datas. I would hope the Collective could manage something similar.
          • Yeah, but a race of machines capable of adapting to energy weapons figuring out that 'Hey maybe we should build/upgrade our personal shields to do something about bullets' isn't exactly a stretch either. Also, as far as the original point goes, it's pretty easy to adapt to someone blowing up a sun on your fleet. Namely, DON'T SEND YOUR FLEET NEXT TO A SUN AND THEN WATCH IT EXPLODE.
            • If the Borg were at all capable of adapting to projectile weapons, why haven't they done so already? This idea that Borg can adapt to anything is quickly ceasing to be a legitimate technology and becoming a full-blown superpower. Any technology, no matter how advanced, has limits. The Borg are extremely formidable but they are not invincible. Their ability to adapt to weapons is not magic, it is science. More to the point, we've seen that the Borg's ability to adapt has limits in ST:FC. They were utterly helpless against Picard's holographic tommy gun. They were unable to adapt when Worf sliced a drone's neck open with a bladed weapon. And they were unable to survive the explosion of the Enterprise-E's deflector dish even though the Borg have undoubtedly been exposed to countless explosions in the past. The Borg are not invincible, the Federation is just incompetent.
              • Vulnerability to Picard's holographic tommy gun is consistent with how Borg defenses have been shown to operate. It typically requires a couple of deaths to mediate a full defense. Worf was able to jury rig a defense against a similar attack in a holodeck mishap episode.
            • Beyond the idiotic notion the Borg can adapt to ANY energy weapon - if this were true, then why the hell did they get exploded by 8472 REPEATEDLY? Oh, sorry - did their magical adaptation not work there? Oh, yes - they were using biotechnology... sorry again. How'd they manage to explode that cube in First Contact then? Yeah, even hack Star Trek writers didn't make it an amazing infinite power.
            • Borg ships have shields now? I've never seen any SFX in that regards, it's just energy weapons/torpedos hacking away at thick hull plating. Though I must concur that it was mentioned at one point or another. Then again, one TNG episodes also states that the Klingons joined the Federation (the episode in S2 where Picard needs to get heart surgery).
            • On the adaptability note: The tommy gun on the holodeck was holographic. The bullets were nothing more than a (lethal) holographic projection. Maybe the Borg reactive tech was overloaded with a simultaneous imput of data stating that the drone was assaulted with both kinetic damage and energy damage at the same time from the same source (namely, the bullet). In other words: does not compute, Borg suffers from a catastrophic short circuit.
            • No. The fact that Picard was holding it in the very least suggests it wasn't made of light. Tactile objects are replicated.
            • That simply isn't true. In Star Trek (as opposed to the real world), "holographic" objects do indeed have weight and cohesion, and are made up of (to borrow an abused phrase) "photons and forcefields." This may not make a ton of sense, but it's canon.
      • It only needs to work once to buy the Federation a few more years, and more importantly, keep 99% of their fleet from dying needlessly. Also, the Borg's capacity to adapt has to have an upper limit somewhere, and exploding suns should damn well be above it.
        • Keeps 99% of the fleet intact and wipes out Earth. Talk about destroying the village in order to save it.
        • Quite so - the Borg's ability to adapt seems to become irrelevant when you use sufficient fire power - First Contact and Species 8472 seem to be good examples of raw power trumping the ill defined adapting.
      • Bet this wouldn't've happened if Maj. Samantha Carter was in charge.
        • You blow up just one sun...
      • What good would a few more years have done assuming that the Borg decide to send the entire Collective after you? You might take a few more of them down with you with bigger and badder weapons, but they'd still wipe you out - all indications from the show were that the Federation was sufficiently far enough from the center of the Collective that they could let them have their small victories against one or two cubes, because that's pretty much a drop in the bucket as far as they're concerned.
      • Your entire argument is based on the completely unsourced assumption that blowing up the Borg cube without losing 99% of their fleet in the process would somehow lead to the entire Borg Collective deciding to make an immediate Zerg Rush. What was that word I just italicized?
        • That would be "without".
        • This is actually supported indirectly in Voyager. The Borg were shown to come in force with multiple Cubes against a race that had developed Quantum Slipstream technology (a tech that put them at a dangerous strategic parity with Borg transwarp tech). It appears they are willing to play with their food, (and at the cost a single Cube, the Federation now has dozens of new techs/capabilities/techniques that they wouldn't have gained when they inevitably assimilate them), but once a legit threat materializes they will bring down the hammer.
          • And for an idea of what it would be like if/when the Borg did Zerg rush the Federation, read the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy! Outstanding books.
        • Hey, not so much. The Federation had, to that point, never demonstrated the ability to do more than poke around aboard inactive Borg cubes, and run the hell away from active ones. Had Wolf 359 gone very differently, if say the cube had arrived in-system and gotten halfway through its routine status update before being blown entirely out of space by some new and heretofore unsuspected Federation superweapon, it seems very probable that the next appearance of non-rogue, non-isolate Borg would've been a lot sooner than First Contact.
          Consider it in light of the Collective's interest in assimilating newer and better technology. The way it actually did go, one Borg cube slaughtered forty of Starfleet's finest ships without even breaking a sweat, then proceeded unhindered to Sector 001, and was stopped from assimilating the Federation's homeworld by a security hole which the Enterprise crew was able to exploit only through the blind good fortune of having brought along a better hacker than the Borg had. And then the Collective ignored the Federation pretty much entirely, the special case of Voyager excepted, for the better part of the next decade. That certainly didn't happen because of Starfleet's indomitable military might, and I don't see a better explanation than that the Collective didn't regard the Federation as being worth all that much effort -- hence only sending one cube to Earth. As we see from Voyager's exploration of the Collective's Delta Quadrant activities, it could just as easily have been five cubes or fifty, but it wasn't; apparently, all those other cubes had better things to do. Had Starfleet demonstrated some radically new technological capability at Wolf 359, something capable of one-shotting a vessel which previously they could barely even hope to scratch, it seems virtually certain that the Borg would've regarded the Federation as a much more valuable target, and reacted accordingly.
        • It seems the Borg like to test races with a bunch of if/then steps. If they are uninteresting in the initial encounter, they are likely ignored (probably what happened to the Kazon). If they are interesting, then send a Cube. If it assimilates them, then you have a whole planet or interstellar society that you found interesting enough to bother sending a Cube for. If it fails, then necessity being the mother of invention, you've just driven a society that could stop a Cube into overdrive making all kinds of interesting techs and developing new strategies (just look at how much more capable post DW Starfleet is compared to early TNG), all for the cost of eminently replaceable drones and a single Cube. Now if the species is REALLY feeling their oats and actually develop some Borg busting tech (like Quantum Slipstream) the Collective has been shown to send a dozen Cubes to finish the job, one of the few things Voyager did right by the Borg.
          • ^Basically this. The Borg are very efficient, they don't waste resources if they don't have to use them. With the first encounter with the Enterprise had their scans of the ship shown that the Enterprise was a match for a single Borg Cube, but could not sucessfully defend itself against three Cubes, then than Cube would have waited until two more arrived and then proceeded to assimilate the ship. Likewise with First Contact the Cube there was powerful enough to take on all those federation ships, and was only defeated because Picard got involved and informed everyone of the Borg's key weakness (which you can bet would be fixed on all future Cubes heading to the Alpha Quadrent). No matter the situation, the Borg will only send as many ships as are strictly needed for that situation and no more than that.
      • Also, the whole 'make the sun go nova' plan only works if you have a weapon that can make a star go nova - at the time of the Battle of Wolf 359, there were no indications of the Federation having any technology capable of doing so.
        • Or, for that matter, if the star in question is capable of going nova, which isn't something stars just do (and it's arguably impossible for a red dwarf like Wolf 359 to do so; they're fully convective and can't produce the "hydrogen flash" of a white dwarf going nova).
      • A starship on warp drive too close to a star has very bad effects, or so I seem to recall seeing mentioned in TOS. As to 'immediate mass assimilation', the Borg cube at Wolf 359 was already headed for Earth on a mission to do precisely that -- the Federation literally had nothing left to lose.
        • There's non-canonical literature that talks about stars going nova when ships go to warp too near them, but all such literature is just that: non-canonical. Consider the 'slingshot effect', which requires a ship to travel at warp in very close proximity to a star -- rather closer than one stellar diameter, judging by the photo in the linked article. Presumably, if this had a noticeably bad effect on the star, they'd have found some other place to do it than Sol. :)
        • And I don't think it's reasonable to say that the Federation 'had nothing left to lose'. Sure, all its headquarters are at Earth, plus Starfleet Academy, a couple of major shipyards -- but what about Vulcan? What about Andor? Betazed? Trill? Bajor? What about the Bynars and the Bolians, like Mister Mot? What about the exocomps, and the Horta and all her kin? I'd be thrilled to see what the Federation might become in the wake of the Borg coming, wiping out most of Starfleet, assimilating Earth, Luna, and Mars...and then, satisfied they've picked the ripe low-hanging fruit, leaving. But who'm I kidding? That'll never happen...

 Picard: No, I know Hamlet. And what he said with irony I prefer to say with conviction: 'What a piece of work is man. How noble in reason. How infinite in faculty. In form and moving, how express and admirable. In action, how like an angel; in apprehension, how like a god!'

        • Soren blew up a sun in Generations, which means the Federation is technologically capable (he was using Federation technology). The problem is that a nova expands at the speed of light, and the Borg can move faster than that. If they did nova the sun, the Borg would just warp away.
          • Soren's method of blowing up a sun required stolen Romulan trilitium, which the Federation had never successfully synthesized. Well, there is the trilitium resin from the warp core, but this was probably a pure element version. Who knows? Anyway, while the solar probe was Federation tech, beyond that the materials were either stolen or designed by Soren.
      • You all assume that the "Battle of Wolf 359" actually happened in the Wolf 359 system. Just as the Battle of Trafalgar was actually fought in open water several miles from Cape Trafalgar, the Battle of Wolf 359 is probably so named because it was the nearest star to the battle site, even if that was a light-year or two away. The "Battle of X24, Y13, Z5.7" or whatever just doesn't have the same ring.
        • You can go to memorial of Wolf 359 in Star Trek Online and it is in fact in the system, although there's no good way to gauge the distance from the sun. But it's still far enough away from the star to make destroying it a futile effort since the Borg Cube can simply warp out of the system.
    • Also on the topic of Wolf 359, why did Guinan tell Riker to "let Picard go" when he was assimilated, if that would mean that the time loop that happened back in the late 1800s would have never occured?
      • I'd assume the El-Aurians use some form of the Temporal Prime Directive.
        • ...Or perhaps they're a minor version of the Time Lords of Gallifrey, and Guinan knew that telling Riker to seek the inner peace of letting Picard go was the only way to get him on the correct emotional path to achieve the victory whereby Picard ultimately was saved, and the timeline thus kept whole.
        • Guinan might not have known precisely when the Picard she met came from. It might've been a Picard from sometime over the past three seasons, and she just didn't hear about it because the mission was classified or something, or a Picard from an alternate timeline. Either way, she could've met him and he'd still be dead as a doorknob, and my guess is that she wasn't willing to presume that temporal mechanics would conspire to save him.
    • The problem here seems to be that Admiral Hanson was in severe denial about Locutus having access to Picard's mind. After learning about the plan Troi even said to him, in disbelief, "but if the Borg know everything he knows, then", and he abruptly cut her off with a story about how determined Picard was as a cadet, and how he could never be compromised by the Borg. Had Shelby or Riker been in charge of the Battle of Wolf-359, it might've gone a whole lot better.
    • To answer the question of why the Borg got owned by Species 8472, The Borg gain their resistances by assimilating the technology and people of a race. When the Enterprise first faced a Cube, it cut a nice little chunk out of the ship and pulled it into the cube, where it was analyzed and the details of the Enterprise were assimilated. That's why the Enterprise's photon torpedoes did nothing when the ship was being chased by the Cube before Q sent them back to the Alpha Quadrant. With Species 8472 (and this was explained in the two-parter "Scorpion"), the Borg were unable to assimilate either the beings or the bioships because of their incredible immune systems. Since the Borg couldn't assimilate them, they couldn't adapt to Species 8472's weapons and were easily destroyed.
      • Well, in Q Who we see the Borg adapt to handheld phasers before assimiliating any Federation technology, not to mention how unlikely it is that the section taken from the Enterprise had photon torpedoes or phasers on it (although I guess in the 'Trek universe it's plausible that you could extrapolate everything about a species' technology based on a randomly selected section of ship). While a working knowledge of how a weapon is constructed would make it easier to minimise its effects (although not entierly negate them because that would be stupid; although, having said that, the aforementioned shrugging off photon torpedo hits is also stupid because those things are antimatter warheads and the Borg never seem to be immune to big explosions in the future) it's probably not absolutely necessary in order to formulate a defence of some sort. Making assimilation the only means of adaptation just seems like example of why the Voyager writers shouldn't have been trusted to write the Borg
    • Speaking of Picard -- He'd been throughly brainwashed by the Borg. Sure he apparently got better, but you have know way of knowing he won't snap back at the worst possible time, especially since (as per "First Contact") you haven't even managed to remove all of the Borg implants. On top of -that-, his knowledge and personality are presumably still bouncing around the Borg hive-mind somewhere. And yet he's given his command back as if nothing happened. I know Starfleet is only Mildly Military, but by any reasonable standard Picard would've been gently but -firmly- retired to spend more time with his archeology.
      • Trouble is Starfleet has just lost almost all of it's experienced officer cadre below commodore rank after Wolf 359, and is also about to embark on a massive upgrade (more ships, more people) they cannot afford to lose an experienced officer like Picard at this time. It isn't unbelievable him being kept on, the unbelievable part is none of his senior officers were forcibly promoted to their own commands (and why Sisko wasn't given instant promotion to Captain too). They probably thought just keep him away from the Borg if they come back, send him to watch comets in the Neutral Zone.
      • That's what happens. Borg swing by in First Contact, and where's the flagship? Staring at imaginary Romulans. Plus, he does end up taking some time off work after coming back..


In the Future We Will Not Leave Fingerprints

  • In "The Mind's Eye" the crew were trying to figure out who had altered the transporters. They were naming all the tests they had done, all failing to pinpoint the culprit. What bugs me is, why didn't they dust for fingerprints? I mean, come on. The circuits were handled and Geordi wasn't wearing gloves. I seriously doubt people just go into that panel and handle the circuitry all willy nilly.
    • The people who install them and perform maintenance on them don't wear gloves either. Geordi is pretty high up on the list of personnel who would have a legitimate reason for handling them anyway.
      • It's process of elimination. If only certain people are allowed to touch those circuits, and there are no other fingerprints, then one of those did it. Then, you take that list and match it against the list of people who are the only ones with the expertise to erase the transporter's computer memory, which is only 4 people. And what are the odds that all 4 of them touched those circuits in the time it takes for a fingerprint to degrade completely ( a few days to a few weeks depending on the environment. Even in the most sterile environment, fingerprints break down in a matter of a week or so).
      • ...Or they were wearing gloves. "We found Geordi's fingerprints on there and no one else's." "Well, since Geordi touches them all the damn time, then probably they wore gloves, or belonged to a species without oil on their skin, or something."
    • Or (considering the fact that even in the 21st century we have advanced closed-circuit camera technology), why the heck aren't the transporter rooms being monitored around the clock by a camera?
      • Because the amount of personal and storage space required to effectively watch every room (or even every transporter room) is pretty high. The designers probably laughed at the idea of them being needed, because from their perspective the only people who'd want to interfere with the normal interference of a ship would be enemy raiders, and the sensors could pick them up anyway.
      • You could just set up a small robot to monitor it with a list of everyone authorized to touch these things and make it hard to tamper with. Of course that might be something that would occur to someone more in the 21st century with robots starting to show up more often rather than a late 20th century writer. Besides that did the designers never consider the possibility of sabotage[1].
    • Smeary fingerprints are one of the reasons equipment such as computer keyboards needs to be cleaned regularly in real life. Possibly Starfleet-issue electronics uses futuristic print-retardant coatings on their components to eliminate the need for such drudgery.
    • There has been mention of star ships having automated cleaning systems. You never see any janitors on starships. Given the availability of transporter technology, advanced environmental controls, inertial dampening, gravity manipulation and force fields sophisticated enough to provide accurate force feedback for holograms on the holodeck, its likely some form of "cleaning field" sweeps dirt away and dematerializes it. Maybe its like the sonic showers.


I'd Like to Order One Invincible Ally, to Go

  • In the episode "Elementary My Dear Data", Geordi foolishly told the holodeck to "Create an adversary capable of defeating Data,". And it did. So um, why didn't the Federation say "Create an adversary capable of defeating our current enemy", since the holodeck must have that kind of magic power?
    • Eventually there was the Emergency Command Hologram. He was pretty cool.
    • Well, yeah...but it only has it within the confines of the Enterprise computer system, only if the contest in question is one of intelligence or reasoning ability, and that only in reference to information already stored in the databanks of same...all of which severely limit its utility against the Random Monster of the Week.
      • Yeah, the computer already knew everything about Data, allowing it to figure out exactly what an opponent would need to defeat him. How can it figure out how to oppose a Negative Space Wedgie whose readings are Off The Scale?
        • Still doesn't fly. If the computer created Moriarty, then it knows everything about Moriarty. Therefore it should logically know exactly what's necessary to defeat him.
    • More to the point, this shows the computer can create sentient life if you just ask it.
      • In the episode "Emergence", the computer/holodeck creates (apparently) sentient life and nobody even asked it to
      • Everyone seems to assume that the computer's Moriarity-simulacrum was actually sentient, but nothing (at least in the first of the two episodes dealing with Holo!Moriarity) seems to make that a necessary conclusion; a computer with such demonstrated natural-language processing facility as that one could certainly be excused for inferring that it had been asked not for a simple and ordinary holodeck challenge game, but rather something with a bit more meta-level play -- after all, the request was for an adversary capable of defeating not Sherlock Holmes, Data's character in the holodeck, but Data himself. And for a computer which can directly do as many things in the real world as the Enterprise-D's can, we've seen plenty of times that there aren't any particular security protocols or sanity checks against, say, making a holodeck detective game more interesting by giving the villain character full knowledge of the true nature of his situation, and the ability to understand and directly affect ship systems.
        • Of course, we're also talking about a computer which is shown in 'The Game' to be trivially capable of simulating a working human brain, so maybe assuming sentience on the part of a holodeck character isn't such a stretch...
        • Right, and let's not forget how in "Booby Trap" and "Galaxy's Child", Geordi used the ship's holodeck to simulate a renowned Starfleet engineer Dr. Leah Brahms, which he used to brainstorm engineering problems (perhaps among other things). While the computer greatly exaggerated her sensual nature as per Geordi's specific request, its simulation of her intellectual capacity was apparently so spot-on that Geordi and the Dr. Brahms simulation actually independently reached the same solution to a particular engineering problem as Dr. Brahms had reached in her own private research back on Earth. That the computer can simulate an engineer to the point of solving engineering problems speaks volumes to the computer's capacity to mimic human intelligence. Of course, when he does meet the real Dr. Brahms, the episode turns into a bit of an absurdity, as she is pretty much a complete bitch to the point of criticizing Geordi about every modification he'd made to the ship, including the one that she had already been planning to implement. She was mad at Geordi for coming up with the same solution as she had.
          • The computer actually warned Geordi that any "personality" given to the Dr. Brahms simulation would be based solely on guessing and not an accurate representation of the woman's actual personality. The computer actually did get a lot of things right about her, just not in the particular order that would make the simualtion an exact duplicate of her. Furthermore since it was created from the get-go to assist Geordi in his engine simulations it can be assumed that the computer tried to make her as helpful as possible while the real Dr. Brahms simply doesn't have such an accomidating personality..
            • Well... who knows, she might have been more accommodating in an actual crisis situation; as long as there's no outside problem, she has time to be annoyed at what she perceived as a problem.
      • This was made all the more farcical when just a few episodes later in the same season they had a story about a Starfleet scientist who wanted to disassemble and study Data in order to figure out how to make an artificial intelligence, with everyone apparently forgetting that the Enterprise computer seems to be able to create an artificial intelligence on demand.
        • Which makes it all the more strange as to why Data is "unique". Sentient holograms were a staple of Voyager and would theoretically be a great deal more versatile and one would assume the hard part of an android like Data was the sentience - not the robotic stuff...
          • Data is unique because he's capable of the same degree of sentience in a much smaller package. Moriarty may be a sentient holographic life form, but he needs an entire holodeck matrix (possibly an entire ship's computer) to exist. Data is all that hardware compressed into a human-sized package. It's like the difference between a refrigerator-sized computer from the 70s and a modern laptop.
            • Not really; in a later episode (yes, TNG actually returned to a previous episode's hanging plot line and resolved it, try not to faint) it develops that a briefcase-sized device can contain enough computing power and memory not only to run the programs for Moriarity and his newly created love interest, but also to simulate an entire galaxy for them to explore, and enough battery power to last at least as long as the remainder of the characters' natural lifetimes.
    • The holodeck doesn't have that kind of power. The Data's opponent was created as an intellectual adversary. When Geordi told the computer to create an opponent capable of "defeating" Data he really meant for the computer to create an opponent capable of outsmarting Data.
      • That doesn't make any sense. It wasn't sentient because it was only smart? What I found quite interesting was that this Moriarty seemed much more human than Data. Data would probably fail a Turing-Test.
        • But non-sentient computers can pass a Turing Test, so what does that prove? Sentient or not, Moriarty was designed to perfectly mimic a human being, which Data was purposely not designed to do.
      • No, they can't. The whole point of the Turing Test is that if the machine passes, you void the right to call it non-sentient because passing the Turing Test requires the machine to demonstrate human-like intelligence in a general form. That the computer can simulate convincing characters on the holodeck should properly be interpreted as meaning that each and every one of them, and the main computer, are reasoning beings that can be shut off on the whim of uncaring humans.
        • No, you misunderstand what the Turing Test is. If there were no computers today that could pass a Turing Test then it would be a thought experiment instead of an actual test. A better way to address this is by framing it with the "Chinese room" thought experiment: does a holodeck program that perfectly mimics the nuances of a face-to-face conversation with a human grant the holodeck character understanding or is it just a very good simulation?
        • There are very, very definitely absolutely no computers anywhere in the world as of 2012 that can pass a Turing test or even come close. (Besides, how is it necessary that it has to be possible to pass before something can be considered a "test"?) Meanwhile, the Chinese Room thought experiment is considered logically incoherent by most philosophers (if you're not going to explain how the Room works, the experiment is worthless, among various other problems). If a machine passes a Turing Test, it is thinking. This is what the test is for.
          • Not necessarily. If a machine passes a Turing Test, it could just be doing a great job of appearing to be setient.
          • As is well-said lower down (let's add it here too), passing the Turing Test means all evidence is in favour of sentience. Sure it might later turn out to be be wrong, but the person standing next to you might be a clockwork ninja with a rubber skin, or road signs might all be put up by practical jokers (silly rabbit, Europe isn't a real place!). The reasonable assumption is that other people aren't clockwork and that public information is accurate, though, and therefore basic courtesy is to treat the machine that responds like a thinking creature as though it is a thinking creature.
        • I thought that was an obvious bit of Nightmare Fuel actually, you'll notice that the Federation is actually quite Fantastically Racist against any and all artificial life. Oh, not silicon based life that "evolves" naturally, those guys are perfectly fine. But any created form of life, well, it took Picard talking to Guinan to realize that their plans for Data in "A Measure of a Man" amounted to mass slavery. What scares me the most about that episode is that the JAG, in a court of law, says that the real question is whether Data has a soul. I thought the Federation was secular? It doesn't help that every interaction The Doctor (not that one) had with Starfleet in general in Voyager involved him having to prove, and not easily, that he was a sentient being with rights. And they didn't even rule that he was! The amount of times I've heard "He's just a hologram" gives me a chill. The main Computer of a ship, or most Holograms above a certain level of complexity would easily pass a Turing Test. It's almost as if the Federation tried this, and realizing that all their technology was proven sentient by this test, they designed a harder test. They are very deathist as well, considering the ease with which most of their technology would enable biological immortality. They seem to de-age people on a regular basis.
          • Moving the Goalposts must be hugely tempting to any society capable of creating life-like artificial people. Much of the value of sentience is in its mysterious quality, in our inability to recreated it or control it. Once you build a machine that can pass a Turing test, you would realize just how many tricks you put into it, how much cheating you had to do. If you did manage to pass a Turing test, it would probably seem like you'd do it by tricking people rather than making a really sentient machine, since all the mystery of sentience would be absent. To the person who understands the algorithm which produces the doctor's bedside manner, becoming emotionally attached to the doctor would seem foolish, like trying to give human rights to a fictional character. The doctor isn't a real person; he's a pretend person. That Moriarty was created as a real person was presented as an incomprehensible fluke, something which could not be recreated no matter how many times you ask the computer for another one.
    • You're all forgetting an important question: Why wasn't this request denied by the computer's mortality failsafe? It shouldn't be able to create anything remotely dangerous at all!
      • The computer interpreted Geordi's request to override all failsafes, including that one. You can construct a reasonably logical backstory for this - Geordi got sick of having the computer cancel requests not specifically stated to override (like what happened to O'Brien in Emissary) and told the computer to interpret all his requests to override safety protocols.
    • This is a minor point, but why did Moriarty insist on calling the Enterprise computer Mr. Computer? It was done insistently enough that there was probably a good reason, but I've never been able to figure that reason out. I doubt that Majel Barrett-Roddenberry's voice could have been mistaken for masculine. Moriarty seemed to be aware he was on a ship of some kind, and probably would have been aware of the tradition of applying feminine pronouns to such vessels, so why Mr. Computer?
      • Before the advent of electronics, "Computer" was a job description, not a machine. Either he's unaware that he's not speaking to an actual person, or it's just part of his programming.
      • An in-universe Woolseyism? In the 24th century "Mr" has become gender-neutral, so Moriarty is using correct English as spoken by the holodeck users.
      • It seems likely to me that he doesn't register the fabricated voice as being gendered at all, and goes with "Mr." by default.


Silly Rabbit, Starfleet is for Kids!

  • More serious question: why is it that, the ship is packed with civilian dependents of the crew? In the real world, when you go on a naval vessel, you don't have the crew's children underfoot. They're back on land, at home, writing cheerful letters to Daddy and/or Mommy who's in the Navy. Starfleet is a military organization, the Federation's analog of the US Navy and US Marine Corps. Granted, they are oriented more towards exploration than combat most of the time. But look at how often the Enterprise, in all incarnations, gets shot up. Exploring the galaxy is apparently every bit as dangerous as a combat patrol during the Second World War. So why have all the wives and children underfoot? To drop an anvil on the viewers and make the Federation look peaceful? Sorry, the Enterprise is a battleship in space, and I can't swallow it. Looking at it from the perspective of other spacefaring races, the fact that the Federation's favored way of making first contact is by having a gigantic military vessel that's bristling with death-rays take up "standard orbit" (whatever that may be) around the planet and say "Hey you primitive screw-heads, WAZZUP?" cannot possibly be lost on any objective observer, annoying rug-rats in the Jefferies Tubes notwithstanding; it's not exactly subtle. Did anyone keep any tally of how many of red-shirted ensigns died on board the Enterprise during TNG, out of its total crew? If the Enterprise were a military base, it'd be what the US military calls a "hardship post," which means, no civilian dependents allowed because it's on a constant war footing.
    • Answer: It was Gene's idea. He always maintained that Starfleet really wasn't a military organization, and that it was unreasonable to force the crew to leave their families for years at a time. As you note, this idea just doesn't work in a series where the ship is in danger almost every week. That's why the writers quietly reversed course on this one after TNG ended -- there are no kids on the Enterprise-E or other Starfleet ships we've seen since.
      • More to the point, the Galaxy class starships weren't supposed to be in danger every week. (As noted in "Yesterday's Enterprise", "this is supposed to be a ship of peace.") The ship class was meant for diplomatic missions and the odd exploration or scientific run. The fact that the Enterprise kept running into more disaster than expected was just bad luck. (This still doesn't explain why they knowingly went into battle more than once without leaving the saucer section behind with all the civilians.)
        • Maybe because when you're going into battle you don't want to leave half your weapons behind? It would make sense that they'd offload the civilians at a starbase or something, but no sense at all that they'd be expected to face 100% of a warbird or Cardassian cruiser with 50% of their own firepower.
          • Actually, according to Worf's dialogue in Heart of Glory, the Enterprise is a more effective warship when it is separated from the saucer section.
        • Budget restraints, pure and simple.
      • But they already had Stock Footage of the saucer separation, a throwaway line and two seconds of film would have covered it.
        • Are you going to separate your battle and saucer sections when you have Romulans after you on every side? It's no good separating the suacer if the battle has already caught you off guard.
        • The effects weren't the expensive part; the expensive part was rebuilding the Battle Bridge in the warp section (which was actually a set from the Star Trek movies).
        • Also, Picard stated in a novel that he never liked the idea of leaving the saucer section stranded (it has no warp capability) while going off to fight a threat that was presumably dangerous enough to justify the saucer separating in the first place. As the saucer would likely be easy pickings for whatever took out the much more powerful battle section, the logic holds up.
        • One would think that any sane parent would want to get their kids off the ship after the the first dozen times they all nearly died. It doesn't really matter that it wasn't supposed to be dangerous, since it demonstrably was dangerous.
        • I could never watch a Star Trek Shake on The Next Generation without thinking about the how the children on board being horribly traumatized by having their home violently buffeted at least once a week. Imagine what the ship's parents and teachers have to deal with every time the red alert klaxon sounds.
          • Oh man, and a Star Trek Shake when there could easily be very young children about? I may never look at that the same way again...
        • A bridge is demonstrably dangerous (can collapse). Scissors are demonstrably dangerous (can stab). Living in earthquake country/ tornado country/ hurricane country is demonstrably dangerous. Do people abandon such things? No. Just when the danger is present.
          • The difference is that those things only occasionally actually endanger people. A better example would be a bridge that kept collapsing over and over again, with a few people on the bridge killed and the rest narrowly escaping each time, but parents continuing to drive over it with their kids.
      • Perhaps it's a legacy of the "generation ship" mindset. Earth may have largely bypassed the need for such vessels, between early use of hibernation a la "Space Seed" and the later invention of warp drive, but many Federation species could've established their first colonies using sub-light ships and multi-generation crews. Knowing that vessels crewed by families have successfully explored and settled upon new worlds may give Starfleet's planners a more tolerant (or romanticized?) perspective on the issue.
      • Bafflingly, the kids living on the Enterprise were directly threatened at least twice in the first season alone: first in "Justice", in which Wesley falls into a lawn ornament while playing Frisbee with some kids on an alien planet, the punishment for which was apparently execution; and again in "When the Bough Breaks", in which an alien race kidnaps several kids from the Enterprise. One would think that after these encounters, many of the parents would be of a mind to get back to Earth as quickly as possible and leave the kiddies with Grandma and Grandpa. (Granted, however, much of this was taking place around the same time that much of Starfleet command was being infiltrated by mind-controlling worms, so perhaps Earth was not perceived as particularly safe either.)
        • In second season "Where Silence Has No Lease" Picard and Riker set the Enterprise to self destruct in 20 minutes. They avoid it in the end, but you can imagine all the traumatised parents and kids as they awaited their doom... for 20 minutes.
    • Answer 2: The original premise of TNG was that the Enterprise was a long-range exploratory vessel which was expected to go 20 years between refits. The crew brought their families on board because a) Twenty years without seeing your kids is a bit much, and b) they were raising the crew that would fly the ship back in time for its refit. This premise was quickly forgotten, unfortunately, and the crew ended up just dootzing around local space instead of actually going "where no man has gone before" (except by accident, of course).
    • It strikes me that the Enterprise may be one of the most advanced (if not THE most advanced) starship out there but it really hasn't been designed with all out battle in mind. Look at how easily the shields are knocked down by REAL battle-ships like Birds of Prey. It pushes more importance into other types of technology (Stellar Cartography, for example, does anyone actally know what the heck that's good for, except for predicting how galaxies will look in two million years time?) Sure it has huge weapons, photon torpedoes and phasers and the like, but it's still not exactly... designed with war in mind, I mean look at it. Does that really look like a warship? (Compare the Enterprise D to the Enterprise E, which was better outfitted for battle, to clarify what a star ship that was really designed for big battles looks like).
    • Uh, guys? The Enterprise-D was one of the (at the time) brand new Galaxy-class starships. It was designed to carry families along as the crew explored the galaxy. Clearly, the concept made sense at the time; when the Galaxy-class ships were first commissioned, the Federation wasn't actively at war with anything.
      • Galaxy-class ships weren't the only ones to carry family. Sisko served on the USS Saratoga, and his wife and son lived on the ship too.
    • I think it's a canon statement that the Galaxy class is the most successful starship class in Starfleet history. Still doesn't explain why it's that heavily armed or armored for a diplomatic/explorer vessel. Heck, it can match a Warbird, and that ship is twice in size.
      • Let's not forget the future refit, the "Galaxy-X". That thing one-shotted fully shielded Negh'Vars!
      • It's supposed to be a jack-of-all trades. Capable of fighting a battle, but not necessarily a match for a Warbird. But at the same time, it's capable of being a diplomatic ship, medical relief ship, ambassadorial ship, etc.
        • The original reason for the Enterprise-D carrying entire families was because it wasn't a warship. True, it was heavily armed and shielded, but it was fitted for *exploration*. All early Galaxy-class ships were fitted with science suites up the wazoo, giving all the crew the comforts of a hotel in space over a battleship, and it was just easier to bring families along, and Stellar Cartography is used as a navigational aide. However, after the Borg and eventually the Dominion, the Galaxy-class ship went through a major overhaul, adding extra armor and more powerful shields, as well as two extra type X phaser arrays onto the nacelles, removing the science stations, and cutting the crew down from 1,012 to 400.
      • It might be a canon statement, but it's a pretty silly one. These were ships designed to last 100 years or more, but a third of the initial run was lost in the first 10. And not even in wartime - Yamato was done in by a computer virus, and Enterprise was shot down by an antique!
    • Also, for the record, sixty people died on the Enterprise D in all of its seven years. That works out to slightly under nine people per year.
      • While far lower than what everyone (myself included) expected...it still made me laugh.

  Picard: Congratulations everyone! Only 8 deaths this years! A new record! Diplomacy and discussing trade embargoes has never been safer!

        • Am I the only one that read that in the voice of Stewart's character in American Dad?
      • On the other hand, another Galaxy-class starship (the Yamato) was lost with all hands in Season 2...
      • Sixty people seems low, extremely low, and the link is 404 now. Think about "Genesis"... a population of 1000+ people in confined spaces, all de-evolved into various half-animal monsters, many of which are dangerous predators, some of which require specific environments that don't normally exist in a starship, and we only see one dead crew member? The episode doesn't give a number, but I don't see any way that was resolved without hundred of deaths. And what about the episode where the Borg tractor-beamed a section of hull away? That single incident killed, what, around 20 crew members?
    • There are a lot of valid points here overall, but it seems like the Federation in general has far more risk-tolerant attitudes than late-20th/early 21st century America. Just look at the general reaction to things kids get into that have nothing to do with hostile activity. Also, my impression was always that the Galaxy class was the first to carry families not because it was a particularly non-combat-adapted ship, but because it was big enough to carry all those extra people in comfort and without taxing its supplies. Starfleet seems to be fond of making its "first rate" ships extremely multi-role; both the Constitution and Galaxy are seen doing diplomatic, combat, and exploration missions, as well as carrying high-priority cargoes. As is repeatedly cited on other matters, this reflects nineteenth-century fleets far more than modern navies. In addition, the Galaxy is not really that bad a battleship--the Bird-of-Prey in Generations was only able to take down the Enterprise by using a bug in Geordi's VISOR to read the shield frequencies. It does have two problems, but they are more design oversights than intentional compromises. First, it is a big target--its shape is rather "fat", not really presenting a small profile from any angle. Second, while it is very well-armed, its firing arcs are not designed to concentrate fire in any one direction; it cannot easily throw a large weight of fire forward or "fire a broadside".
      • Those design flaws seem to be reflective of the type of combat the Federation was expecting the ship to face - namely, single threats as opposed to whole fleets. TNG starts with the Federation at peace with the Klingons, the Romulans not having appeared for decades, no knowledge of the Borg and the Ferengi being an unknown species. It really does seem like the product of the need for a peacetime general-use ship more than any attempt to create a true vessel of war.
      • Yeah, we're far less risk tolerant in the early days of the 21st Century than we were even in the Mid-1980s. So what made sense to put on TV then doesn't precisely map to what we consider acceptable now. As to the ship shapes, that was probably intentional. The Federation wants to make peaceful contacts, to spread peace and acceptance. So something big obvious and friendly looking is going to be much more valuable in fulfilling that mission than something that looks like a warship. Park an obvious warship over someone's planet and they are liable to take offense. Whether you approve of the mission goals is up to you, but the Enterprise and Galaxy class design is well suited to that mission goal.
    • Memory Alpha has the answer:

  Regarding the presence of families on starships, Ronald D. Moore commented "Perhaps [still] on some Galaxy-class ships, but I think this was an experiment that failed." (AOL chat, 1997) "I think that the "family friendly" starship notion was an interesting idea, but one that didn't pan out. There was always something awkward about Picard ordering the ship into battle situations with kiddies running through the corridors. And no matter how much lip service we paid to the "our families are part of our strength" concept, it never seemed very smart or very logical to bring the spouse and kids along when you're facing down the Borg, or guarding the Neutral Zone, or plunging the ship into uncharted spatial anomalies." (AOL chat, 1997)

      • Even if having families on board the ship is justified, then why do they even allow children in the stardrive section? Each time they have to separate, there's an evacuation sequence, showing families and children scurrying to get to the saucer. Shouldn't the stardrive section be off limits to everyone except necessary personnel so when they separate the saucer they can do it much quicker?
        • Yes that one does seem like Fridge Logic to me as well, as it is implied that most of the non military amenities (holodecks, ten forward, etc.. ) are located in the saucer. As for the saucer, if memory serves there was a statement by Word of God that saucer separation was originally going to be a regular thing, but was ultimately reduced to limited use for the same reason the show staff came up with the transporters, not because it was too expensive to show the saucer separating (stock footage and all) regularly, but would have taken too much TIME out of the story to show and would have unnecessarily disrupted the flow of the story.


Enlightened, Utopian Society... Minus the Captains

  • Before he was assimilated and Psychologically Damaged or whatever, it seems like Picard was the only human who actually ever measured up to the Federation ideals of humanity. Aside from a blind spot regarding the Borg, Picard was a moral superman (especially compared to Kirk, who was sexist; Sisko, who committed countless crimes against the Romulans, Maquis, etc. to serve his own needs; Janeway, who made too many moral compromises to count; and Archer, who was outright evil on occasion). Where are all the other really good people?
    • Kirk was a product of his time (the 60s), Sisko was a product of Deep Space Nine's Black and Gray Morality (he didn't do this things for his "own ends" - Eddington was a dangerous criminal, and the Romulans being in the war did save billions of lives), Janeway was a product of being in a difficult situation and Archer was a product of shitty writing. What makes Picard different? He was the only one written with Gene's utopia specifically in mind, on a show with a bigger budget and less Executive Meddling than the Original Series. Picard is Star Trek, as envisaged by its creator.
      • Eddington was a dangerous criminal, but the episode made it fairly clear that Sisko was gunning for him for very personal reasons. Besides which, for all his claims of moral superiority, there was basically nothing that Eddington did that Sisko wasn't willing to stoop to, and further. If the Maquis had been recognized as a legitimate organization rather than a terrorist group, Sisko would have been brought up on war crimes along with Eddington.
        • Eddington out and out SAYS that Sisko made it personal and it's pretty clear that Eddington's betrayal was something that Sisko wasn't going to forgive or forget.
        • And at what point did Eddington, or the Maquis, ever set out to endanger the Federation? It's quite clear in the series that Eddington meant everything he said about he and the Maquis having no quarrel with Sisko or with the Federation, but simply wanting the freedom to go their own way, especially after they'd already renounced their Federation citizenship en masse in order to avoid being forcibly resettled when their planets were ceded to the Cardassian Union. The treaty making that concession also stipulated that the Cardassians would respect the autonomy of the Federation exiles, and the Maquis-Cardassian war started when it became clear that that Cardassian promise was worth about as much as...well, as a Cardassian promise. It was only after Dukat brought Sisko and the Federation into that war that the Maquis began targeting Federation assets -- and I've yet to hear anyone offer much of an explanation as to why the Federation was fighting on the side of its current enemy, against people who until very recently had been Federation citizens themselves.
          • I'll give you a short list off the top of my head: Mr. Eddington Sabotaged a joint Bajoran/Federation starbase that had a significant civilian population, assaulted that base's second officer and illegally assumed command, stole Federation equipment that was intended for humanitarian relief, once again assaulted a superior officer, sabotaged a Federation starship, fired on same while it had no deflector shields or ability to defend itself, sent a false distress signal with the intent of firing on yet another federation starship, left that ship and its crew adrift and defenseless, engaged in piracy by attacking merchant vessels to steal their cargo, used that cargo to manufacture chemical weapons, poisoned the biosphere of a foreign planet in a demilitarized zone to displace that entire planet's civilian population, fired on an unarmed civilian ship carrying refugees from the planet he poisoned with chemical weapons, and endangered the already uneasy peace between the United Federation of Planets and the Cardassian Union. I think by any measure, Mr. Eddington was a dangerous criminal who needed to be stopped.
          • Because the Maquis former colonists were endangering many millions/billion with their attitudes. If you think about it the Cardassians did honor their promise. They treated the Maquis as an individual group, not members of the Federation running around in their territory, which would have theoretically violated whatever treaties they had and started up hostilities.
            • That's not much of an explanation. The Maquis were endangering the Federation by defending themselves against Cardassian treaty violations, because the Cardassians chose not to take the view that the Federation was at fault? Which choice, incidentally, doesn't do anything to exonerate the Cardassian abrogation of their treaty obligations to the Maquis; in light of that, it's hard to believe they upheld the Federation treaty out of the goodness of their hearts, rather than the recognition that open war against the Federation would cost them dearly and be of uncertain outcome.
              One might argue (and I think Sisko did once argue) the realpolitik justification that it was necessary to try to prevent an alliance between the Dominion and the Cardassian Union, and that the mostly-successful Maquis resistance left the Union little other option than to sign a treaty with the Dominion; but the Maquis resistance, however successful, amounted to little more than a pinprick compared to the all-out Klingon invasion which at that time was rolling up whole Cardassian star systems and whatever else lay between Gowron's fleets and Cardassia Prime. If the Union needed a powerful ally against anything, it was the existential threat they faced from the Klingons, not the guerrilla warfare they forced upon the Maquis -- not that this would likely be news to Sisko, who not long before had worked alongside Dukat to rescue, by their very fingernails, the entire Cardassian governing council from a Klingon attack intended to capture or kill them en masse.
      • Oh, and speaking of the Maquis -- has it occurred to anyone else that, as with Israeli settlements in Gaza, the establishment of these Federation colonies in contested territory might have been a political maneuver against Cardassia in the first place? Perhaps some high Starfleet admiral in early-mid-TNG days, some time before the first Cardassian war, had the rather cold-blooded thought of putting some Innocent Bystanders in harm's way to see what happened; either on the one hand the territory would be de-facto ceded to the Federation, or on the other hand the Federation would get a bloody shirt to wave, a handily manufactured casus belli in the run-up to what may well have been a widely unpopular conflict driven as much by political intrigue within Starfleet as by any genuine cause of opposition between the two involved parties.
        Of course, as we all know, the first Federation-Cardassian conflict ended with a compromise treaty in which concessions were made by both sides, a result regarded by contemporary political observers as deeply unsatisfying to both parties. In such a situation, perhaps it seemed politically necessary to abandon the civilians who had colonized contested planets to strengthen the Federation's pre-war claim; while this may seem a stunningly cynical allegation against the supposedly idealistic and morally enlightened Federation, it is perhaps not so shocking in light of the fact that the Federation eventually chose to carry out exactly such an abandonment. It's also not such a shocking claim in light of Starfleet's established willingness to callously throw non-combatants into deadly danger -- even the Great Picard blithely dragged a shipful of families including minor children into armed standoffs, booby traps, spatial anomalies, temporal vortices, skirmishes just shy of outright warfare with the Klingons, the Romulans, the Cardassians, the Borg -- hell, at one point everybody on the whole ship was horribly mutated into a monstrously twisted amalgam of human and animal features like something out of H. P. Lovecraft's nightmares, and what's that going to do to a ten-year-old? And it still took years before anyone got the idea that maybe having your kids with you on a combat posting, or a posting that could suddenly become a combat posting at any instant, isn't such a great thing after all!
        And of course that's all just speculation, or at best circumstantial inference without a shred of unequivocal canon evidence to back it up, but it sure would do a great job of explaining how Sisko managed to get away with using massively, internationally illegal chemical weapons to depopulate a Maquis planet, without so much as a hiccup of indigestion from his chain of command. After all, by that point, Starfleet was deeply embroiled in a de-facto alliance with Cardassia against the Maquis, and while the Federation public seems endlessly tolerant of its government's misbehavior, it's possible even that infinitely flexible patience could be strained by a military partnership with a recent enemy against one's own recent fellow citizens. Once Sisko, at Dukat's urging, had put them into the situation, the political admirals would undoubtedly want nothing less than to see it turn into an ugly, deadly, drawn-out struggle, in the way guerrilla wars tend to do; there's little which can turn a polity against a war so quickly as that -- and having all the facts about this little mess come out in the media, in such a hostile domestic political context, very likely could result in some of Starfleet Command's political weathervanes toppling off their high perches for good. Those same political admirals would naturally find nearly any result preferable to that one, hence Sisko's being given carte blanche to do whatever was necessary to put a quick, quiet end to the conflict -- even extending to such hideous acts as using highly toxic engine waste to poison an inhabited planet's biosphere; let's not forget that Eddington used an agent specific to Cardassian physiology, while Sisko indiscriminately slaughtered an entire ecosystem -- which, judging by the outcome, was entirely acceptable to Starfleet's high command, just so long as it didn't make the news.
        I think the next person who starts to tell me about the Federation's evolved sensibilities and Starfleet's high moral standards, I might just have to puke on their shoes.
      • Sisko's obvious pain at some of the moral choices he makes is as much an exploration of the Federation's ideals of humanity as Picard's constant adherence to them. I don't find it particularly negative, like the Black and Gray Morality page seems to suggest, but interesting and powerful.
        • Sorry, are we talking about the same Sisko here? The guy who feels himself in grave moral peril when he's had an extremely indirect hand in the false-flag murder of a Romulan senator with the result that the Romulans enter the war against the Dominion and make a decisive difference -- the same guy who also uses outlawed chemical weapons to depopulate an entire human planet, without the slightest hint of a qualm from either him or his superiors in Starfleet? Even Kira had to ask him to confirm that order! And, yes, Eddington had used chemical weapons first in order to deny the Cardassians a disputed planet, but that's pretty much the backwards of exoneration for what Sisko did; in fact, it's the first Trek episode I ever saw where the plainly shown moral of the story was that the ends really do justify the means, with a hefty dose of "if they do it first, it's okay for us too". It's not the exploration of that theme with which I have a problem; it's the fact that Sisko's actions were presented in a totally uncritical light that sends not just him, but the whole show, shooting past the Moral Event Horizon in my eyes.
        • Both men committed the same crime: ethnically cleansing an entire planet using illegal chemical weapons. Eddington did so to free his people, Sisko did so because Eddington was making him look bad.
        • Its important to note that neither Eddington or Sisko used the sort of chemical weapons that killed on contact. Lines of dialogue make it very clear that their attack will simply make it impossible for Cardassians or Humans to inhabit the affected worlds for several decades. Both populations have time to evacuate, and the Cardassians even are shown to be doing so--Eddington goes so far as to fire on one of the refugee ships as a distraction while he escapes. While its clear that both mens' actions are in fact crimes, these crimes are not on the order of mass murder.


Data Can't Say Can't?

  • Why can't Data use contractions? One of the simplest models of computation, a finite state transducer, is capable of applying the morphological rules of English correctly (although not the syntactic rules, for that you need recursion). The fact that Data can do the unsolved problem of reasonably converting natural language into logical statements, planning what to do based on these and then converting his thoughts back into natural language with not much more error than the average human but can't use contractions is on the scale of saying your computer can solve complex fluid dynamics equations but can't flip a bit.
    • This one was actually dealt with on screen. Doctor Soong created another android, Lore, first. Lore was capable of using contractions and idiom, as well as human emotion. However, since AI Is a Crapshoot, Lore was also evil. Soong shut Lore down and built Data, intentionally limiting his ability to mimic humans because Lore's capacity for evil was due to his being too human.
      • Which makes my 2003 Word spellchecker more advanced than Data in that field, since not only can it use contractions, it has an expandable vocabulary.
    • Lal could use cotractions, so she anvilicioiusly died. There are things with which androids must not meddle. Mwah hah hah!
      • The Uncanny Valley - the people on whatever planet Soong inhabited didn't take to Lore because he unnerved them. Data is obviously a machine, so people accepted him more easily.
    • Like so many other fields in which Data decides on personality quirks and ends up still being clearly robotic (that grey stripe! agh!), this may just be another one of them.
    • Soong was (even by his own admission) a bit eccentric if brillaint. After the failure of Lore (who started out rude, moved on to arrogant, and then outright psychotic and evil) one of the things he decided in the construction of Data was to make him much more polite as part of a very rigid ethics program. Data's speech pattern is a relfection of that, it's formal and until he finishes his human development (a desire also programmed by Soong, even if may never be fully realized) it will remain that way.
      • Of course, he had used contractions before, and occasionally since...
        • Data does indeed use contractions at various points in the series, but we can treat these as mistakes (or Early Installment Weirdness, as the case may be). The fact that he cannot use contractions is indeed raised in dialogue several times ("The Offspring" and "Future Imperfect" come right to mind).
        • Aside from mistakes, Data can use contraction when he's quoting a phrase that uses them.


Wesley Has Won The Game!

  • Concerning The Game. I don't quite have the extreme levels of hatred for Wesley that a lot of people do, but come ON, people, are you seriously trying to tell me that the entire crew of the Enterprise were so weak willed that they could be overpowered by some obviously highly suggestive, creepy psychological game (bearing in mind that this crew includes a captain who's been both Borgified and survived Cardassian interrogation without cracking, a psychologist who can read people's emotions and a freaking Klingon?
    • Oh c'mon, that whole episode's a geek CMOA, starting with Riker totally getting played by the Fanservice Alien of the week, and ending with Wesley and Data saving the day and their captain's face in front of the adversary. It could only have been better if Robin Lefler had been the show's brilliant young ingenue and Wesley her one-shot love interest, instead of the other way around.
    • It wasn't a question of weak will. The game was actively reprogramming their brains. The only reason Wesley doesn't fall is because he figures it out before he ever starts playing--he would have been corrupted just as easily. The real question is why that technology has never been explored again--it's exactly the kind of thing that Romulans and Cardassians are known for.
      • Maybe it was explored more. Wasn't there that episode Mind's Eye which had a character being brainwashed via his VISOR - which goes over the eyes and functions via brainwaves and sensors, just like the Kataran Game?
      • That's an interesting connection. The Romulans used Geordi's visual center to brainwash him, and, being Romulans, they did so by just strapping him to a table and hooking the input feed into his VISOR plugs. The game does pretty much the same thing, except that instead of forcing the effect on its victims, it tricks them into focusing on a happy little game while the same effect's quietly going on in the background.
        • Those were Klingons.
          • You're thinking of Star Trek Generations, where Geordi is tortured and his VISOR bugged by Soran on a Klingon ship. The Romulans were indeed the baddies in The Mind's Eye, and he's out-and-out brainwashed in that one.
    • The thing that bugged me about The Game more than anything is just how crappy the game actually is. Not the episode; the gameplay itself. If this was supposed to be some ridiculous allegory on kids being addicted to videogames, they kinda missed why kids like videogames. Because if you take out the brainwashing, nobody would even bother playing the damn thing.
      • I believe there is a quote somewhere of Jonathan Frakes making a similar point: all this fuss about directing little spheres into cones.
      • This troper thinks it makes much more sense as an allegory for drugs than for video games - after all, if it weren't for the addictive properties and whatever the hell happens when smoking a cigarette, who would smoke? Granted, no drugs to this troper's knowledge can turn people into servants, but then again no games can either.
      • People don't start smoking because it's addictive, they start smoking because it makes you look cool, gives you a nice little head buzz, and relieves stress.
      • Considering that the point of the game was to stick something into something else, which then stimulated the brain's pleasure centers, not to mention how Riker got it in the first place, this troper saw it as a metaphor for something else entirely.
    • I can buy that the game wound up affecting most crew-members because they were introduced to the game by people they trusted; but the ship's counselor? A telepath couldn't detect that things were getting out-of-hand? Count this among the many episodes where Troi's powers are conveniently ignored.
      • Except she was the very first person Riker gave The Game to when he got back.
  • First, The Game was addicting because it stimulated the pleasure centers in your brain.

Second, it did so as soon as you did the first level. Immediate hook. Third, it was probably passed around in a very top-down manner. Riker gave it to Troi first, he didn't just hand them out to begin with. And, as I said, once you try it, you want to keep going right away. So if your friend is like "hey, try this game" you might say, "ok, one level" and then get hooked immediately. SO, given how low Robin was on the hierarchy, she hadn't tried it, and being new and apparently fascinated with whatever work she was doing, she didn't particularly want to, not once she noticed how weird it was that everyone had it constantly. Wesley boarded the ship and the first thing his mom does is nag him about some game? He's not going to try it right away, not until he's met this girl he likes, and from then on they were wrapped up in each other and had each other to talk about the creepy addicting game with. He had an outsiders perspective.


Star Trek: The Next Two and a Half Generations

  • Why do they call the Next Generation, the Next Generation? A generation is thirty years. If the show is set eighty years after Kirk, it should be called the Next Two-And-A-Half Generations.
    • Because it was a generation later (roughly) in Real Life.
      • 'Generation' isn't a term applying only to humans, eg, the Nimitz class carriers use '4th generation' reactor cores, even though it's been a lot fewer than 100 years since the nuclear reactor was invented.
        • But that doesn't work either, because the next generation of ship after the original series was the Excelsior-style ships, which are still in-use during TNG but obviously more-than-a-little old and creaky by that point.
        • And the Ambassador-class represented another full generation of capitol ship between the Excelsior and the Galaxy.
    • Maybe they were thinking of Vulcan generations...
    • A generation is generally considered" thirty years. Obviously they were using the term "next generation" somewhat informally to mean "the next stage in the process".
    • Because The Next Generation sounds better than The Next Two-And-A-Half Generations. Plus, humans live longer in the TNG future, so their generations could be longer than ours.
    • If it's any consolation, the Germans caught on to that and named it Das nächste Jahrhundert (The next century).
    • For that matter, why call it Star Trek? Only twice did they come close to a star, with that special Ferengi shield. They spend most of their time in empty space, should be called "Space Trek" or something.
    • Perhaps because in the Trek 'verse, the human life span is longer than it is in the real world today? Or perhaps because the 'Next Generation' part refers to being the 'next generation' of star trek (the show itself not the in verse characters)?


Non-Sentient Slaves Are the Best Kind!

  • In "The Measure Of A Man", the concluding argument is "We can't mass-produce androids because that would be slavery." But what they were trying to prove is that Data is sentient. Since they never proved that, how could they make the argument that it would be slavery? And if they did prove it at some point (I don't believe they did), why would they need to make the slavery argument?
    • Picard didn't need to prove Data's sentience. All he needed to show that Data's sentience couldn't be disproved.
      As the JAG officer said, "This case has dealt with... questions best left to saints and philosophers. I am neither competent, nor qualified, to answer those. I've got to make a ruling... Is Data a machine? Yes. Is he the property of Starfleet? No.... does Data have a soul? I don't know that he has... But I have got to give him the freedom to explore that question himself..."
      As long as the possibility exists that it is slavery, they will err on the side of caution.
      • How does "slavery" even have any clear meaning when applied to tireless machines who gain fulfillment from work in a society without money?
      • "Gain fulfillment" assumes Sentience which is the whole issue. My kettle is not sentient. If the Federation wants to dissect my kettle or my kettle's daughter, the only moral issue is the evil Government stealing my stuff = £5 tax. My pig is not sentient, neither is her daughter; if the evil Fed government wants to dissect them, the moral issue is £80 tax. My kettle and my pig are things. Treating people like things = slavery. Data and Lal are people, they are NOT things. That's logical, Captain (tlc) Hitchikers' Guide, the sentient animal that WANTED to "gain fulfillment" by being eaten was Nightmare Fuel.
      • Because they would be property and yet fully in possession of free will. Whether they enjoy the work or not, they didn't choose it, and thus, are slaves. Moreover, it's not that it would definitely be slavery, it's just that it could be slavery. And it was a step too far.
    • The very fact that he objected to being dismantled and tried to resign should have been proof that he wasn't just another computer. Even though Data was programmed to obey his commanding officers, he essentially disobeyed them & fought against the legal proceedings out of a sense of self-preservation. He contradicted his programming, demonstrating free will. As was said in the episode, a replicator doesn't ask you to stop if you dismantle it, and the ship's computer doesn't try to resign when it's ordered to self-destruct. Basically, anything that is capable of choice and self-interest is more than mere property.
      • Not really, as a computer could be programmed to object to dismantlement - and self-preservation isn't a sign of sentience anyway. The very first reply on this one answered the question. You don't have to know for sure that Data is sentient, you just have to not know for sure that he isn't.
    • The argument was not about Maddox mass-producing Data, it was about Data's status as the property of Starfleet, and thus his right to resign, aka, to choose. But you know what bothers me here? Data could never be considered the property of Starfleet. As far as I can see, Dr. Noonian Soong created Data of his own volition--Data was not commissioned by Starfleet--and so payed for all the necessary parts himself. If Data was going to be anyone's property, it would be Soong's.
      • But Soong was at the time believed to be dead, and Starfleet ostensibly “found” Data on that planet where he was built, so it is reasonable for them to assume they can own him if he is to be considered a non-sentient machine.
        • A salvage expedition legitimately owns all the things it finds. but Data ain't a thing, he is a person. Owning people is wrong. Fed had already recognized Data as a Citizen, he went to the Academy he was commissioned an officer, he was awarded medals and now the evil Fed wants to cancel his citizenship on a whim. They did the same in DS9, Eddington wanted an illegal search versus Cassidy. Sisko: You can't conduct an illegal search against a Federation Citizen. Eddington: She ceased to be a Federation citizen when she sold medical supplies to the Maquis.
  • What gets me is: shouldn't this all have been resolved years earlier when Data first joined Starfleet? Presumably there's got to be a rule on the books stating that only sentient life forms need apply to Starfleet Academy. By giving him a rank that includes command authority over human and other sentient life forms and the responsibility, in an emergency situation where no one of higher rank is around, to possibly have to make life-or-death decisions for them, aren't they kind of assuming by default that he's sentient himself? If I were a Starfleet ensign, I wouldn't look too kindly on being told, "Here's your commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Toaster. It is an object without true intelligence or self-awareness, a THING owned by Starfleet. Obey its orders without question."
    • But these are just the kinds of strange scenarios created when laws are slow to catch up to society. Famously, in Canada, Emily Murphy was a Senator before women were actually defined under the law as persons. Heck, in the U.S., Victoria Woodhull ran for president a full 48 years before women could vote (ie: they could not vote, but could be voted for). "Measure of a Man" implies that there was some resistance to Data's entry to the Academy; perhaps at that time, they didn't want a protracted legal challenge and passed the buck, but ultimately paid for it later. Note too that we do see a Starfleet officer objecting to serving under Data in "Redemption, Part II."
      • It's still rather surprising that nobody pointed to Data's acceptance into Starfleet and being awarded the rank of Lieutenant Commander as legal precedent for his being legally considered a sentient being by the Federation.
    • Great, now I'm imagining Talkie Toaster on board a ship, constantly asking the crew if they want some sort of toasted bread product.


Somebody Get Worf a Chair!

  • Why do the stations on the back of the bridge have no chairs? Poor Worf always had to stand. I mean everyone had chairs in the original series. The Enterprise-D was supposed to be a luxury ship that could accommodate people's children and yet they can't give everyone a seat?
    • Lack of chairs is nothing, lack of anything regarding a pop-up shield for the window ought to have been a hanging offence (which says nothing about the fact that the ship even 'has' windows, I mean it's not like the people have anything to look at).
    • Nothing to look at? What about the pretty nebulae and space phenomena they encounter on a weekly basis?
      • They're not glass windows, if that's what you mean. They're transparent aluminum alloy, one inch of which was equivalent to 6 inches of plexiglass. Pop-up shields would be a bit superfluous.
    • Presumably he has to stand because his job requires him to be more mobile. As security officer he may have to move around or leave the bridge at any moment to deal with a security situation. On the other hand, Picard's whole job is to sit there and tell other people what to do. You don't need to stand up for that.
      • Which in turn raises the question of why the weapons officer should have anything to do with internal security anyway...
    • Even if it's assumed he'd be standing during an Alert, it's ridiculous that he didn't have a chair to occupy during routine bridge watches. Standing still for too long at a stretch will make a human light-headed -- never a state you'd want your Tactical officer to be in -- or even cause them to pass out, and Enterprise was built for a human crew, long before anyone knew a Klingon would occupy that spot.
  • He finally got one after 7 years, he sits down in Generations. Presumably the luxury of sitting at Tactical is reserved for Commanders...
  • Also, knowing Worf he would consider it an honor to stand while on duty, that's what Warriors do, stand and fight.
  • Actually, while it is true that the tactical station doesn't have a chair, all of the aft stations have fairly comfortable looking seats stored in alcoves underneath the control consoles, but for some reason, they were rarely used. Data can be seen sitting in one in this clip.


Data's Emotional About Emotionlessness?

  • Data claims to have no emotions, but desires to have them. Desire is an emotion, but no one points this out. Maybe if another Enterprise crew member made this argument, Data would stop pursuing something that he already has. Yes, Soong may have programmed him to feel a need to be given more complex human-like emotions later in his life, but it still counts as a state of mind that presumably would be altered by being given an emotion chip. According to my mental dictionary, that would be a good example of an emotional state.
    • Data was programmed with the drive to improve himself. He's decided that his goal is to "be human," and humanity is practically defined by emotion. It's probably less "desire" than ambition, perhaps.
    • Desire is only an emotion if you define it as one.
      • Yeah, I think the writers only defined things like happiness, sadness etc. as emotions. Saying "If I had emotions I would be a superior being to what I am now," and wanting that is more an opinion.
      • And in psychology it's usually not defined as one.
    • It's also been suggested that Data was somehow capable of 'evolving', and that his programming had the capacity to write a subprocess that would induce subtle emotions such as desire. There are even a few examples from the show that might support this, such as him correcting people when they said his name wrong or choosing to disobey his own programming and exercising free will. Then there was that episode where Lore managed to cause Data to feel emotion...
    • Data CLAIMS to have no emotions, yet in many parts of series, he obviously displays them ie his treatment of his cat. Unreliable narrator perhaps?
      • I think that, in areas of humanity that he wasn't able to internalize, he copied the behaviors through which we express our feelings so he could get a better understanding of them through reverse-engineering. Pet ownership was one such example, and the most common. Others include time perception (He flat out said that's what he was doing when he experimented with "A watched pot never boils"), relationships (In that episode where he had a girlfriend he was pretty open about the fact that he was approaching it as an experiment), and possibly reproduction (He's a life form, so his reproductive urge might have been genuine, but it might not have, and certainly his parenting relied on copying behaviors of which he didn't have a deep understanding).
    • In regards to his cat, it's reasonable to assume that the care and ownership of a pet is a fairly large milestone in Data's emotional development, given how much time and effort goes into taking care of Spot. He writes So Bad It's Good poetry about her. While making out with a love interest of the week, he tells her he's thinking of changing Spot's food supplement. And when he asks Worf to take care of her for a couple days, his ridiculously long list of instructions include telling her that she's a nice cat and a good cat. He puts a lot of thought into his interactions with his cat, but actual emotional attachment? I just don't see it. If Spot died one day, I'd imagine he'd take the body to Sickbay for burial/disposal/whatever they do with pets on starships, make a note in his personal log, talk to/accept consolations from his friends, maybe do some research on pet deaths in various cultures, and that's about it.
      • I think Data would "feel" more than that. Remember, he still has that little holo of Tasha, and it's brought up in a few episodes. If he "feels" enough to keep a holoprojection of a dead friend -- as pointed out, Data can perfectly remember every moment he ever spent with her, yet he keeps a physical keepsake of her -- then surely he would remember Spot in a similar way.
    • Desire isn't necessarily an emotion. Imagine an artificial intelligence trying to solve a complex problem, programmed to come up with an answer as close as possible to the perfect solution. It could be said (if it spoke English like Data) to "desire" the solution.
  • One theory circulating around the net (including This Very Wiki) is that he does have emotions but has no physical feedback to provide him with a point of refrence and thus is simply ill-equipped at expressing them. Numerous times in the series he has shown things very similar to bravery (even recieving several commendations for it) annoyance, happiness at the successes and safe returns of his friends, and even sorrow at the loss of his father and daughter. He's also shown deep affection for his crewmates and especially his cat, almost to the point of spoiling her. Concerning Data and his emotions or lack therof it is very much a case of actions speaking louder than words.
    • This can be borne out in "The Next Phase". When reminiscing about Geordi's "death", Data remarks that his neural processors become used to certain kinds of input over time, which are then noticed when absent. He says this about Geordi, noting that he is used to having his "input" after several years working together and, now that it's absent, it will be missed. So in his own roundabout, mechanical way, Data shows that he's capable of missing someone if they're dead or gone.
  • I always thought that he had emotions, but they weren't the same as human emotions. He reacts to events around him more than Spock does, with facial expressions (varying from obvious confusion to interest) and comments. Androids must have something like emotions (let's call it "Emotion.1"), but Data's been too busy searching for human emotion to notice that he has them. Emotion.1 is probably less complex than human emotion, and also less obvious on the outside, but it exists. If another android like him (not uber-human like Lore) were to show up, they could probably relate through their Emotion.1.


Worf's Growing The Beard? Hole-y Viewscreen Walls!

  • This is actually more behind-the-scenes, but are still nagging questions
    • Worf's facial hair is shaped a LOT like a human's it makes me wonder why Michael Dorn didn't grow actual hair and bring down his makeup budget a bit.
      • A fake beard and a little spirit gum does not cost very much in a show with a budget like Star Trek. Besides which, it would mean that Michael Dorn would have to go around like that all the time, and he would look ridiculous. And finally, you try growing a beard like that and see how it works out for you.
      • I did. It looks great, and the hair too.. Difference is, I'm white. Worf has the kind of hair that I doubt Mr. Dorn could grow without a lot of straightener and a bit of peroxide..
        • My guess is Michael Dorn simply didn't want to. Perhaps he thought it would make him too recognizable in public, another theory is that his facial hair simply doesn't grow as smoothly as Worf's possibly being more curly and bushy and the constant upkeep would just be a chore.
        • It doesn't cost very much period. I can go to my local theatrical-supply store and pick up a beard that looks realistic from a foot away, with enough spirit gum to last a year, for less then twenty bucks (retail). It takes five minutes to put on, and less than that to remove. Given the amount of time and money they were throwing at his makeup, this is absolutely negligible.
    • If the front of the Enterprise-D set is just a big hole, how DID they did viewscreen shots, especially ones with a character in them?
      • Green screens? A different set?
      • When they need the viewscreen in the shot, they wheel in its proscenium and raise a bluescreen (probably greenscreen later) behind it. If there aren't any actors interacting with it, they probably just use a stock matte over the transmission video.
    • Was it really necessary to have a big hole in the front of the set, when they could bring in equipment and stuff through the set's doors? There should have been more than enough room for the front camera.
      • It's not just the cameras. There's lighting equipment, for one thing. Plus the director needs to see everything that's going on, which would be difficult if the set were closed off. Makeup people would have to be there to do touchups for the non-human characters (and even the human characters). And there's more than one camera, so they all need room as well.


Temporal Anomaly Goes Up, Temporal Anomaly Goes Down

  • In "All Good Things", if the anomaly is some sort of backwards-traveling collision between time and anti-time, why does the Future Enterprise need to go back to the Devron system to see it form ~10 minutes later when they can't see it the first time? Wouldn't this magical backwards growing anomaly be bigger when they first got there than when it had only just formed?
    • Always bugged me too, it got bigger as it went backwards through time, it should have disappeared the length of time they stayed there, yet it didnt.
    • The best explanation is that is travels backwards *and* forward through time and they initially got there when it was still to small to be seen then when the Futureprise came back it had grown to a detectable size.
    • If you don't mind a bit of cross-fandom handwaving, I believe The Doctor (Doctor Who) summed it up when he said "People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly...timey-wimey...stuff." Time paradoxes don't always make sense.
    • I always thought the anomaly was observed as increasing in size in all three time periods, despite the fact that it's actually growing backwards in time, partly because we can't observe it properly with our limited senses. That may be why they couldn't see the anomaly at first, because it hadn't "started" yet.


Picard's a Lousy Listener

  • In "The Best of Both Worlds" Part II, Guinan tells Riker her relationship with Picard goes "beyond friendship, beyond family", but Picard often says there's little to nothing known about Guinan and her people. What sort of friend does this make Picard?
    • Just one who has an El-Aurian for a friend: their particular hat is listening, which probably makes them very good at subtly deflecting any question about themselves.
    • The love she feels for him is akin to what one might feel for a soul mate, but without any sexual or romantic feelings. Basically, they're friendship soulmates (or whatever you want to call it). Pardon the cornyness.
      • Also given that her people are so very rare he may consider the details of her life and her people no one's damn business but her own. He's simply being confidential and protecting the privacy of his friend.
    • Considering that the El-Aurians were all but exterminated by the Borg, and that their long lifespans would not be conducive to normal relationships outside their own species, it's likely that he simply meant that, although he and Guinan are close, there is almost no information in databases and such about the El-Aurians because of the above factors.
    • Some people don't gauge the level of their friendships by how many Diversity Points it gives them, and thus Guinan's race is immaterial to Picard because he focuses on her as an individual.


Romulans Fail Invasion Planning Forever?

  • In "Unification" there is subplot that Romulans have stolen the Vulcan vessel to carry invasion troops after false statement of reunification. Why, if reunification was successful, there would be Vulcan vessels on Romulus? I mean starfleet could just ask Vulcans if they send any vessel which would be a bit suspicious if they stated that thay hadn't. Also what was the reason of saying Spock that reunification is false instead of just tricking him to the last moment - ok. it was spoiled but see next question? Also what is suspicious in that Romulan inteligence have top-secret informations even if it is 4 digits? Even if it was the time of meeting of second in command of Romulan Empire? I mean - if there was an important talk with vice-president/vice-prime minister (depending on country) I'm sure security would know every detail.
    • I actually liked the Romulans as villains in TNG. In S3 their plotting really takes off. Too bad most of their plans are discovered by blind luck or someone on the Romulan team handling the idiot ball.
    • On another note, maybe if the Romulans stopped being such a totalitarian regime, they could spend a lot more resources in planning succesful raids and invasions. You know, instead of trying to screw over and supress their own population. Or executing a Xanatos Gambit on on of their top admirals to see just how loyal he is. Sure it's useful to find the truly loyal ones and/or get rid of the less loyal ones, but really, it wastes time and makes people paranoid.
    • Am I the only one who kind of hoped during the Deep Space Nine run that the whole Dominion War would lead to the dismantling of the Romulan Neutral zone. If only they spend less time on holodeck capers during the later seasons, and instead focussed more on the war and the allied empires...
    • This troper was more curious about how they were planning on taking over a whole planet with "over 2,000 troops." They might take a few cities with that, but holding them against Federation troops would be a nightmare.
      • They drop photon torpedoes from orbit until the planet surrenders, then the "2,000 troops" beam down to do the paperwork.
      • And then said 2,000 soldiers have the interesting job of holding the planet once the ships are gone.
        • They don't have to hold the entire planet, just strategic locations and individuals. You beam 100 soldiers into the High Council chambers while the Council is in session, scatter the others around to locations like schools, weather/tectonic control stations, and so on, you effectively have a stranglehold on the planet. The Federation wasn't on a war footing at this point, their reflex would have been to attempt diplomacy so as to try and insure the survival of as many Vulcans as possible, and while it was doing that Romulus could reinforce their troops via cloaked transports.


Humanity: As Good as it Gets?

  • This is more a just bugs me about the fans. There seems to be some complaint about the whole humanity now works to better itself thing, thinking it's arrogant. It's apparently even worked itself into the Expanded Universe, in a book featuring the Bozeman's crew. But isn't it just as arrogant or more so to act like you don't need to improve, or to just declare humanity is as good as it will ever get?
    • Perhaps they're referring to the fact that humans often came off as morally superior to other races throughout the series.
    • If you're talking about the magic moneyless economy, the reason people complain about it is that it's completely contrary to human nature. The notion that everyone, not just a handful of saints, is going to wake up one morning and do their boring jobs without pay for some vaguely defined self-improvement or out of morally perfect altruism is silly. Even the Communists, who (at least the true believers among them) claimed to want exactly that sort of society, had to resort to the necessity of paying workers to get them to do their jobs; either that or just forcing them work at gunpoint. Or both.
      • There's actually very little in our behavior that is truly hardwired into us, a moneyless economy is completely against Western civilization's human nurture. If you're comfortable with what you earn now and suddenly your wage is doubled why would it make any less sense to just work 4 hours a day instead of 8, make the same amount of money as you did before with 4 hours extra to do what you really love? And besides, money is only really useful for buying goods and services so if you can make furniture, food and clothing out of thin air then you don't really need money. As for communists, you still need to compensate people for their time and effort (even the most devout communist needs to eat, after all) so you have to pay them. The real problem with communism now is that it's forced upon a population that hasn't been raised with the virtues needed for that kind of society. In the Star Trek universe, people have been raised to think that being the best person they can be is the purpose of life, so if they like engineering, then they'll ultimately find joy in being the best damn engineer they can be instead of cutting corners since "they don't pay me enough!" If they love making music, then they'll be the best damn musician they can be instead of "selling out."
        • The real problem with communism is that it's bad at solving the coordination problem of how to allocate resources (eg how much steel should go into making nails, and how much of that steel into nails of each size. There's a story of a nail-making factory under Communism who were first rewarded on the number of nails they made. So they made a vast number of really little, light ones, which were rather useless for nailing anything bigger than a poster to a wall. So the next year they were rewarded based on the size of the nails, so they made a lot fewer very big ones, so there were a lot less nails to go around in total, plus hard. With prices, the nail manufacturers can compare demand for a given size of nails at a given price, to the cost of making those sorts of nails, and the price guides towards what sort of nail is most profitable - the nail that has the highest value relative to the cost of making it [of course, this is ignoring externalities, but this is a comment on a wiki, not an essay].) If you have replicators and functionally unlimited energy, you don't need a price system.
        • Also consider that with replicator technology and functionally unlimited energy, absolutely everyone on earth can now live like Hugh Hefner, all the time. And it's completely meaningless to do so. The social zeitgeist has changed so much that wealth and power are not enough to get you laid anymore (the driving desire behind everything). People in the trek universe still focus on what people in today's world focus on: achievement. Today, achievement is represented by wealth and influence (social, economic, politicval, etc). In a future where the world runs on a resource based economy and not a monetary economy, nobody has to struggle to survive. Gaining wealth is a waste of time. But people still have a need to achieve something to feel happy. So they educate themselves and take on unpaid professions (because they already have everything they need and probably most things they don't need, but just want) and contribute to human culture. And they will be praised and loved for it by others, like Sisko's dad being a master chef. And for those who want power and responsibility, there's always Starfleet...
      • Money has nothing to do with human nature. And it's not even a matter of "wanting" a moneyless economy. Replicators, unlimited energy and strong A Is would simply end Capitalism. The first two are science-fiction, but automation and computer evolution are continuing to make human labour unnecessary. It used to be primarily blue-collar labour, but now they're coming for white-collar jobs too. The problem arises that we have a system, that requires people to work to make a living, but we're playing musical chairs and take away the jobs one by one. Soon, Star Trek will seem less like a utopia and more like a curse.
      • Sorry, I do consider doing boring or low-status jobs without some sort of tangible reward to be against human nature. The Star Trek universe deals with this by simply not showing the vast majority of jobs. But even the few civilian jobs they mention generally make no sense without tangible reward. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sisko's father owns and is the chef for a restaurant in New Orleans. Why would anyone spend long hours cooking food for random people who walk in without paying? I could see hosting frequent dinner parties for friends as a lifestyle, but not that. What makes even less sense is that the restaurant appears to have human waiters. Who would work as a waiter for altruism? Picard's brother who owns a winery makes a little more sense, but not much. Is the wine just going to random people? And why make wine for random strangers? Again on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Bashir's father was a third-class stevedore on a luxury spaceliner. Who would do that if not for money? And if people can make unlimited possessions for themselves, why doesn't he make his own luxury liner?
      • The argument that replicators and unlimited energy make money unnecessary solves most problems with this issue, but not all. Some things are just inherently limited. Most notably, land. Even with off-world colonization, there are still billions of people and aliens living on Earth in Star Trek. So who gets to decide who lives where, and how much land do they have? And if they want to open their own business, where do they get the land for that? Other things that are inherently limited in the Trek universe include a fine bottle of Chateau Picard 2347, dinner and service at Sisko's Creole Kitchen, and a 1951 mint-condition Willie Mays rookie baseball card.
    • Claiming that some things won't improve is not "arrogant", it's pessimist/cynical/realist (depending on how you view it). Many of the complaints come from people who think that the "negative" things TNG claims to have done away with are fundamental, irremovable parts of human society.
      • The way I always read the complaints it was more fans talking about the claims the TNG crew makes that humanity feels the need to improve themselves, and are capable of doing so is an insult to previous generations.
      • Agreed. If the problem of scarcity is solved, they should credit it to replicators and other technology, not a fundamental change in human nature. As it is, the official story is something like, "After the post-atomic horror, humanity shunned the desire for material possessions and everybody started striving to improve themselves." And the Enterprise crew lorded this over the twentieth-century humans who they rescued from suspended animation.
        • Considering the Federation's stances on capitalism and altruism, and Offenhouse being an unapologetically selfish capitalist, the crew probably saw them (and especially him, as he got the lion's share of the browbeating) the way we'd see a 17th-century witch hunter or an 18th-century slave merchant suddenly transported to the present: he didn't do anything wrong by his own society's standards, but he'd be lucky just to get barely-concealed righteous contempt from modern people. That episode was annoyingly Anvilicious anyway, but the various crews have met enough other people from the past and present that they've treated with respect that we can write off that one as being less a problem with 20th century humans than with one particular kind of 20th century human.
        • The answer to this is clearly sex. Kirk goes around introducing himself as a starship captain and women throw themselves at him. See, the episode Mudds Women where the women wanted husbands with either rank or money. Once they eliminate money, you can live without working and have all your food and lodging needs met, but to get laid, you need a Cool Job. In addition, even in jobs like being a chef, a lot of the scut work would be automated. Chefs probably spend a lot of time inventing new recipes and programming them into the replicators and not much chopping vegetables. In order to weed out slackers, the chef chooses his apprentices from those who work for him as a waiter for a while. They wouldn't have to work long hours. Even these days, there's not really enough work to go around, why do you think the bureaucracy is so top heavy? One hundred years ago each farmer could produce enough food to feed two people, nowadays, one farmer produces enough food to feed 50 people and the job is a lot less labour intensive.
        • I am envisaging the job of garbage man involving sitting on a control sending out little robots to clean out the insides of everones recyclers. The biggest shame would be to have to have the garbage man form the next city send his robot over to help you, ala Robots Wars.
      • The arrogance being talked about comes from the assumption that our generation's problems are the ones that are basic human nature and can't be fixed. Slavery was abolished, duels to the death were replaced by peaceful lawsuits, vendettas and feuds that used to end in bloodshed now just end in getting defriended on Facebook. Those changes aren't equally paced all over the world, but there's a definite upward climb going on. There was a time when ripping apart someone with your bare hands over a scrap of food was just human nature; now it's unthinkably barbaric. We've gone from not batting an eye over racial slavery to decrying unfair hiring practices, we've gone from women being the property of men to worrying about the equivalent pay rate between male and female employees. Those are huge changes in our fundemental way of thinking; we just take it for granted because it happened over many generations. Civilization has been gradually rewriting our definition of human nature over the course of countless centuries. We can debate how realistically Star Trek solves those problems (after all, it's written by present-day people who are just making guesses), but saying that they simply can't be solved at all, when more fundemental social problems have literally become ancient history, is like saying that the process that created the world we live in somehow stops with us.


Tea, Hot... Well Duh!

  • Whenever Captain Picard orders tea from the replicator he has to specify that he wants it hot. Isn't this unnecessary? After all, why would you want tea cold?
    • Well, there is such a thing as iced tea, after all...besides which, your more dedicated hot-drink aficionados do worry about temperature in re: altering the taste. Between this and the 'Earl Grey' thing, Picard's basically meant to be showing off his sipping snobbery.
      • OK, so why does Tom need to declare he wants his tomato soup hot? Don't tell me there's an iced tomato soup in the 24th century...
      • You must be thinking of the famous Klingon Iced Tomato Soup. Heating your soup is for weaklings! (Klingon tomatoes, by the way, are easily distinguished by their wrinkled tops.)
        • And people are just downright weird when it comes to food. this troper is an avid fan of cold pizza, for example, which is not how it's supposed to be served, obviously.
      • So why doesn't Janeway need to say whether she wants her black coffee hot? Is iced coffee outlawed in the 24th century or something?
        • Maybe Janeway has preset her replicator so that the command "coffee" tells it to make it black and hot.
        • It's also how she likes her Vulcans.
    • It's because a person from the southern USA programmed all the Federation's holodecks (and wrote the scripts). Anyone from more temperate climes would not even consider ordering Earl Grey tea cold! (Then again, a proper tea drinker, such as Picard, would not even stoop to calling it tea either - and mostly would have programmed his holodeck to respond appropriately.)
    • Another question is why the replicator doesn't remember that he always drinks the same type of tea and give him that when he asks for just "tea".
      • It's probably a habit he got into long before joining Starfleet. You can program your own home replicators to always make your tea the same way (unless you're Arthur Dent), but every time you go out, you'll run into other systems that don't know your preferences.
      • You would think that when he started service on the Enterprise, that he would just spend five minutes telling the replicator what his idea of a perfect cup of tea is, and then every time after that he could just tap the hotkey labeled "PICARD_TEA_EARL_GREY".
        • True, but tea is a complex thing with a lot of volatile chemicals in it. No two cups are exactly the same, and the chemical reactions ongoing when a fresh cup of tea is made make for the ideal taste of tea. Picard, coming from a family of vintners, would know about subtlety of good tastes, and could be deliberately trying to throw the replicator off just enough to give him that hand-steeped experience. But not too off. You do not want to repeat Mr. Dent's mistake in arguing with a replicator about exactly how you want your tea to taste; then you just confuse it by flooding it with inputs it doesn't know what to do with.
    • Lampshaded in the series finale "All Good Things..." when Data's housekeeper asks Picard what kind of tea he wants. He replies as usual, and she says "Well of course it's going to be hot, how else would tea be made?"
    • It's likely that Picard has his replicator set to recognise the specific command string and will produce a specific temperature of tea, which is different from the Starfleet "default" for Earl Grey.
    • In one of the early episodes, I seem to recall either the tea not being hot, or the replicator asking an inordinately long series of questions regarding how Picard wanted his tea, prompting him to ask for 'Tea, Earl Gray, Hot' specifically, each time.
      • Which would have made Tom snapping at the replicator about his tomato soup a Call Back. Picard probably just got into the habit of saying that and kept it up long after the replicator had learned his personal preferences, just like he continues doing the "Picard Maneuver" long after they got uniforms that didn't need to be tugged down.
    • There was that episode where a Romulan defector ordered water, and the replicator demanded an exact temperature in Celsius. Whoever programmed them must have been really anal about these things.
      • More like the computer could tell he was specificying the exact temperature, but the computer wasn't programmed with a knowledge of Romulan units of measurement, since it was built when the Federation had had no contact with the Romulans in a long time.

Teenage Android Girls Scarier Than the Borg?

  • In the episode, where Data creates his android daughter, why is Picard and Starfleet more scared of her than the Borg?
    • Why do you say they were more scared of her than of the Borg? In all the TNG Borg episodes except "Q Who," when they didn't know what the Borg were, they started looking for ways to kill and/or flee the Borg as soon as they saw one. In VGR they usually didn't have that option, but they puckered their assholes until serious Badass Decay set in. With Lal they did no such thing.
    • This model has demonstrated itself to be capable of presenting a significant danger to a Galaxy-class starship and every man, woman, and child on said ship, while being innovative and responsive. 50% of the encountered copies of this model have been evil. It now is capable of reproduction with minimal equipment and supplies, and you don't really know where the off switch is.
    • Still, with that being said, it was never explained to this troper's satisfaction why Data needs the Captain's permission to procreate, given that no one else on the crew is subject to that requirement.
      • Because Data does not have the smug gene. Kirk, Ryker and Paris all get lots of hot Green Skinned Alien Space Babe action. When Harry Kim gets Green Alien Babe action, Janeway screams and invents fake Space Corps regulations. Suppose they were real Space Corps regulations? Star Fleet operates a eugenics program. Only smug people are allowed to breed. Picard is not smug, so he rejects all the space babes who throw themselves at him.
        • Objectively Data did not need anyone's permission, but people when confronted with an unknown get scared and look to pre-existing structures for guidance and this was a relatively new situation. In this case, as the episode showed, there were two conflicting social models neither of which exactly fitted. One was the construction of powerful autonomous machine, the other was a biological procreation. The episode explored the conflict derived from what happens when those two approaches came into direct conflict.
        • Also part of Picard's concern is that Lal would be taken away from Data based simply on the fact that they were androids and thus not true "people" and that's eactly what happened. Picard is simply being prudent because he's seen how easily Data's rights can be opressed and taken away.
    • Also, think of how people reacted to finding Data's head in the past in "Time's Arrow". Constructed beings though they may be, there's still human emotion to consider -- would you want to have to be in a position to kill your trusted friend's only daughter, even if you know that another could theoretically be built?
    • One more consideration is that Starfleet had wanted to take Data apart for some time to learn how he functioned. Starfleet was reacting as they were concerned that this technological marvel may leave their sphere of influence and fall into the hands of others who would not give any consideration for the entity's life - they'd disassemble the machine, learn its secrets, and possibly weaponize the technology. Data was an upgraded Mk II Soong-type android, the subsequent Mk III was virtually indistinguishable from humans. What could the Romulans or other hostiles do with such a creature? Infiltration, warfare, etc.
      • This sounds like a bit of a WMG to me; not entirely implausible, but not substantiated by evidence from the show either. In fact, Bruce Maddox opposed Data's entry to the academy; if there was some conspiratorial desire to place Data in Starfleet's palm, wouldn't he have eagerly welcomed Data's entry into Starfleet?


Klingons, Who Needs 'Em?

  • In the two-parter "Birthright", Ba'el (a half-Romulan, half-Klingon) says that, from Worf's reaction to her, no Klingon would accept her. Yes, OK, great. Except Worf doesn't live with Klingons. He lives with humans, and other races, in a very accepting federation of planets. If they can tolerate a Klingon security officer, a Cardassian tailor, and a Ferengi barkeep (this episode takes place around Deep Space Nine. Yes, I know it's a Bajoran station, but it's the Federation administering it), and eventually even accept a Romulan officer and a god of their enemy's on their most advanced warship, I'm fairly confident a Romulan/Klingon hybrid will have little problem. But does Worf ever mention this? Nooooo, he just lets them assume he's from the Klingon Empire.
    • Whether the Federation is an alternative or not doesn't change the fact that a Klingon wouldn't accept her. What's he going to say? "You could come with me, live on Earth surrounded by people who either distrust you for your Romulan heritage or assume you to be a psychopath for your Klingon ridges. You'll never see your family again, and since your family's honor has been tarnished by this whole imprisonment fiasco, you can never see the Klingon homeworld anyway. You'll die alone and unloved, billions of miles away from anyone who even cares who you are."
    • Racism aside, her hybrid ancestry makes her a dead giveaway that Klingons had been taken captive. The other young folk he brought back weren't half-Cardassians, so the "castaway" story was sufficient for them, but Ba'el's presence could spill the beans, disgracing and ruining the lives of any Klingon who happens to be related to a Kitomer survivor.
      • Klingons seem to be pretty lax about the whole "never get taken prisoner" thing.
  • And on a semi-related note, didn't Hanson say a Klingon fleet was going to chip in at Wolf 359? We never saw them. Did they see how tough the Borg were on long range sensors and bug out? That's not like them. Did the Borg intercept and destroy them offscreen in a separate battle? They didn't have much time for that sort of thing. Did the Klingons just take a wrong turn?
    • They fought in the battle and lost ships too, we just didn't see them in the debris field. Their involvement were referred to during some of the later episodes, and a Voyager episode had some Klingons who were assimilated at Wolf-359 (let us now ponder the mystery of how they not only survived the Borg cube's destruction, but somehow ended up on a completely different Borg ship in the delta quadrant).
    • Cloaked! The whole time! (ah... yes! cloaked! that's the ticket!)
    • Yeah, I don't know. To use a light-and-heavy argument, if a Klingon, raised among humans and working for a very accepting federation of planets, has trouble accepting her, then how much more trouble will it be for one raised on the Klingon homeworld? (Actual traitors aside, of course.) There might be a few who are willing to accept her, but know how well that would go over with the neighbors.
    • Simple answer: Worf works for the Federation, but has always thought in the back of his mind that one day he'd go back to the Klingon homeworld, maybe when he was old. (Most alternate futures and Star Trek Online show that he did, too.) Would have made it a bit difficult to do with a half-Romulan wife. But I think another above poster has it: Worf's been raised by humans and he still gets pretty damn freaked-out by her being half Romulan, a "pure" Klingon might try and kill her out of hand.

Time for Your Radiation Shot!

  • What's up with Dr. Crusher and her radiation vaccines? Vaccines are for viruses. Radiation is not a virus; it is a physical assault on the body, not a virulent one. Therefore: Dr. Crusher fails Nuclear Physics and Biology forever!
    • That one might make sense, if the word "vaccine" is just a quick shorthand name. She probably injects something that temporarily stops cellular reproduction, so the body cells are way less likely to be mutated (that's why roaches and other insects seem to be immune to radition: the only time their cells divide is when they molt, while humans are constantly growing new cells). Of course, that's probably horrible for your long term health, which is why it only lasts a short while.
      • "That one might make sense, if the word "vaccine" is just a quick shorthand name." Except that doesn't make sense either. Vaccine is a specific medical term and doctors simply DO NOT misuse specific medical terms, not even for reasons of "shorthand". Also, radiation lasts FAR longer than any "drug". An injection that somehow protects against radiation poisoning (laughable as that concept is) would have to be constantly re-applied over and over again, and if the above troper's speculation is accurate, that sounds like something that would be very damaging to the human body (or to any complex lifeform, for that matter).
      • We use the word "vaccine" today to refer to things that aren't techically vaccines - specifically, we refer to "cancer vaccines". And since radiation poisoning is a cancer-inducing mutation, it'd fit the same bill.
      • By TNG's time, "vaccine" is a word that is several hundred years old. The original definition could have been lost.
        • The original definition has been lost now. Vaccine used to refer to the smallpox vaccine specifically, because it was basically nothing more than infecting someone with cow pox, a far more mild disease closely enough related to smallpox that its infection gave the person immunity to the latter. The Latin name for cow pox (from vacca, meaning cow) gave us the term. And now you know the rest of the story.
      • Look how the word "virus" got new meanings before and after computers.
      • And Viewers are Morons. Someone hears the word "vaccine" and thinks "Okay! They won't get radiation poisoning!". It's simple, it's quick, and it gets the job done.
    • Well she couldn't say "Time to take your Rad-X", does she want to get sued?

Shaka, Where Nobody Knows What They're Saying

  • The alien language in Darmok makes no sense whatsoever. We're shown that they can't communicate except in allusions. Of course, this makes us wonder how they can communicate more mundane things. If you need to ask someone to pass the butter, do you have to allude to an epic tale of butter passing? How are they able to communicate enough to construct a spaceship? They clearly have syntax, nouns, verbs, etc., everything you need to communicate without allusions. I think they just wanted to piss the crew of the Enterprise off in some sort of interstellar prank.
    • Actually, it's more realistic to have them communicating in a completely incomprehensible way than to show an alien species whose language uses the same basis as ours (nouns, verbs, etc.)
      • That might be true…if their language didn't have the same basis as ours already. Seriously, they demonstrate in the episode that they have things that the Universal Translator recognizes as nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, etc. If they have all of these words why don't they use them? Once again, I'm convinced they're just trying to piss everyone off.
        • I think it's more that their minds don't work quite the same way as ours. They relate to everything by metaphor and cultural history, with almost no concept of a personal narrative. Maybe it's something that only develops in adolescence, so children can learn things literally but then "harden" into metaphor-speak. Or they've developed roundabout methods of expressing all their knowledge via elaborate metaphors (like "the blazing heart of Gralak beats slow!" "Then stoke it with ten vials from flames of the Fifth Heaven!" might mean "the engine's running out of fuel" "then add ten grams of antimatter"). However they've done it, their way of talking about science and technology would probably come across as completely bizarre to humans.
    • This is ignoring the real giant problem- How the hell do their children learn the stories in the first place?
      • It's quite possible even they don't know the stories, and all they know is that "Aaron and Zebedee at the table" means "Pass the butter". Quite often in real life you hear people using phrases and references where they know the meaning but not the reference. e.g. "Flash in the pan".
      • Or, it could be simply a case of "This is what the Universal Translator makes them sound like." Their language not heard through the Universal Translator might follow a perfectly normal linguisitic system. It could simply be a case of translation error. I mean, try running things back and forth between English and a language like Japanese and Chinese on Babel Fish a few times...
  • I know what you mean. Bugged me too. It was a great episode and a nice attempt to explore something outside the box. But if you think about it, it's utter bullsh*t. A language that doesn't abstract. Useless. Say you've just invented the first transporter. How do you name it? How do you explain its function? You could demonstrate it and your colleagues would say: Bingo, when he pressed the red button. Okay. Now how are they gonna tell somebody, who didn't see it? They come home and tell their spouse: Bingo, when he pressed the red button. That doesn't explain anything. Your spouse would say: Roger, when they didn't know what the f*ck he was talking about.

You have a language where people have to see everything to be able to connect it with their vocabulary.

    • "Steve, when he asked how many men were attacking." - "Um, Dave, when answered: fifteen!"
    • "Stella, when she wanted to sell you a shirt." - "Rachel, when she wanted the green one ... no, excuse me, when she wanted the one on the left."
    • How do you name it? *inventor name* at *invention location*. How do you explain it - [concept of going from one place to another] and not [concept of physically moving]. We humans also call most scientific ideas by their inventors, rather than by a separate noun. Van Allen belts, Heisenberg uncertainty principles, Planck lengths - these could easily be called Van Allen around Earth, Heisenberg of Democritus at Athens, Planck of Democritus at Athens. So that would go "Bingo, when he pressed the red button [2]. Russia at Warsaw and Bohemia, Lepanto at Ionian Sea [3]. This Troper and The Lancer at Current Location [4]. Shaka when the walls are strong [5]. Remember that this is an alien culture with an alien mindset - can you logically explain how you came to understand the concept of "the"? Then how do you expect somebody to be capable of logically explaining the first principles of an alien language? [6] Compare, for example, Chinese, which has no written grammar at all. They have approximately 3000 common characters, and around 50,000 terms in total. Simply by replacing each character by the name of a person or event, you get something which could pretty much pass for Darmok language. The Chinese have no problem making new combinations of characters to describe new physical discoveries, so it would be utterly unreasonable to say the people of Darmok can't do the same. [7]
      • ...Chinese Does Not Work That Way. Actually it has a fairly simple grammar (at least... depending on which Chinese you mean), and Chinese characters don't map to words 1:1, or necessarily map to meanings at all. Chinese forms new words in the same way as other languages.
  • Perhaps our inability to understand how it can work is simply a reflection of how alien it is.
  • How did they ever write all these stories to begin with? I can't say "He lives in the desert," I have to say "Luke Skywalker on Tatooine." That works if you've seen Star Wars and know that Tatooine is a desert planet and Luke Skywalker's homeworld. But when Lucas wrote the script, he couldn't write "Luke's home planet is a desert." He would have had to allude to an earlier desert story, something like "Paul Atreides on Arrakis." But when Herbert wrote Dune, he couldn't just write "Arrakis is a desert planet," he would have had to make reference to an earlier desert story still, and so on, ad infinitum.
    • The same poster as the Planck length poster above - The beginnings of the language would be local dialects - that is to say, local events describing local phenomena. Children in later times would start talking the same way. All you need to form complex language like this is the ability to combine simpler terms. "My home is entirely desert" (Tuareg to the English) + "The entire planet is my home" (Lance Armstrong on the Moon) = "my entire home planet is a desert" (Arrakis, Lance Armstrong as Tuareg to the English on the Moon). And even if they are not capable of our abstract logic (A=B => NOT(A=NOT(B))), it has been mathematically proven that there are logical forms which do not have this kind of logic, but are equally valid.
      • LANCE Armstrong on the Moon? Did I miss something?
    • It seems like graphic depictions of the stories would be an extremely important part of their culture. Probably they have a highly developed visual cognitive ability as well.
    • It could be that the metaphors used in the episode are actually a pidgin version of their language, attempting to convey the idea of, for example, "strangers struggling together and becoming friends" by referencing ancient pieces of literature and cultural tropes.
  • There's a much dumber aspect to this story that people are missing: the Enterprise has some of the stories they're referring to in its database! Troi comes across them while researching the language. Given this:
    • 1) How did the Shaka aliens learn those stories from other cultures in the first place? Obviously the culture that provided the story to the Enterprise computer is capable of communicating with them, so why didn't Starfleet just ask them for help?
    • 2) So the Federation knows some of the stories that they use in their language, are we to believe that nobody made the link until the Enterprise was exposed to the language? And even the Enterprise took hours and hours to make that link?
      • The implication is that these stories belong to several different cultures in the same region of space, rather than solely to the Children of Tama.
  • Data states "The Tamarian ego structure does not allow what we call self-identity." Not only is their method of communication quite unusual, but so too is their very sense of being. So the question of "how do they learn these stories" appears to me to be a bit of a non-starter... perhaps through some kind of race memory or collective unconscious, they simply know them, and not only see them as stories to be told for instructional value but as stories that are constantly being rewritten, re-experienced and relived. I actually think of "Darmok" as a rare episode to actually sell the idea that these aliens are really, well, alien, and that covers a multitude of sins.
  • Part of it is probably that language evolves, and this is an attempt to show language evolving in a very nonconventional way... the communication equivalent of a Starfish Alien, in essence. Meaning they probably had a "normal" language at one time, which is how all these stories got written down originally, but that over time it became more and more self-referential until they communicated near-exclusively in metaphor and reference. Honestly it's becoming less far-fetched all the time. If you disagree, come at me bro. U mad? I know that feel.

Universal Translator Limitations

  • In "Loud As a Whisper" tension is created when the deaf Riva is rendered mute without his telepathic assistants. Data learns the sign language to enable communication. Is the universal translator only good for audio translation, not gestures? This seems like a serious design flaw, that it can't translate a known language...
    • Well unless the universal translator has a built in hologram emitter...


Holographic Water Feels Wet?

  • In one episode, Wesley Crusher gets soaked after falling into a swamp in the holodeck. If all the simulated matter in a holodeck can't exist outside it, then why is Wesley still dripping wet when he comes out?
    • Because that was the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint" and the "rules" for the holodeck were not yet established.
    • Apparently holodecks are capable of replicating foodstuffs, such as water and tea, and simple objects, such as the picture of the Enterprise Moriarty drew in "Elementary Dear Data".
    • "Emergence", the third to last episode of the series, finds characters still holding champagne glasses after a holodeck program ends, despite being given the drinks as part of the simulation. So the series apparently never established "rules" for the holodeck.
    • And don't forget the snowball in "Angel One."
    • I seem to remember somewhere that the hollodeck technology was described as a combination of holographic projections and replicator technology to add a bit of realism to the hollodecks.
    • It must make use of replicator technology, because it would classify as Fridge Horror in my opinion if one eats a huge banquet in the holodeck, yet as soon as they leave the room, all the food disappears. The stomach could not handle that.
    • Honestly, it makes sense to incorporate real water into holodeck programs. If you want to go swimming at a pool on the holodeck, then exit the holodeck and walk back to your quarters, you want to stay feeling refreshed right? You don't want to completely dry out the moment you step out of the holodeck; you want to retain some of that moisture, that fresh feeling. And on a related point: human skin does absorb water--it's the reason your fingers and toes get all pruney when you swim or bathe--so it could also be potentially hazardous for a pruney person to walk out of the holodeck and all that holographic water just instantly disappear.


Equal-Rights Romulans?

  • I seriously can't figure the Romulans out. They're xenophobic and treat everyone else as shoot-them-dead inferiors, and yet a human can live relatively peacefully with them for decades, with the only danger being that the Federation will charge you with treason if they catch you doing it.
    • Because they weren't completely evil in the TNG series. They were xenophobic and very distrusting, but the federation wasn't exactly friendly towards the Romulans either. Given the history between the two sides, the whole thing is kind of understandable. Plus, it was shown from TNG onwards that the Romulans were actually very sensitive, emotional beings and cared deeply for one another -- in fact, they were fairly similar to humans in numerous ways. They wouldn't kill him solely for being human.
    • The Romulans are (or were originally) a thinly-veiled allegory for Red China, just as the Klingons were originally a thinly-veiled allegory for Soviet Russia. One assumes that an American who defected to the Chinese government and was proven trustworthy would be treated relatively well. The same rationale probably applies to Human-Romulan defectors as well.
    • Besides, most of the Romulans the Federation deals with on a regular basis are military/government types. It seems to me that, if the government didn't kill or imprison a human outright, the reactions of your Average Joe Romulan on the street would vary as much as with any culture, from accepting to downright hostile. Civilians might be more accepting of strangers, once they got past the cultural bias that they've grown up with.
  • You mean DeSeve? He made me think of Joe Dresnok. The North Korean government is xenophobic and treats everyone else as shoot-to-kill inferiors, but they've apparently let Dresnok live among them in relative peace for almost fifty years.
    • Indeed, dictatorships usually place high value on defectors since they constitute a walking, talking endorsement of the superiority of their ways.


Where Are All the Androids Hiding?

  • Are Data and his family the only androids in the galaxy? There are at least 5 instances of androids with separate origins in TOS: 'What Are Little Girls Made Of?', 'I, Mudd', Requiem for Methuselah', 'Shore Leave', 'Return to Tomorrow'. Why is it in TNG, Data, his brother(s), his daughter and his 'mother'(???) are the only androids ever mentioned. Artificial Intelligence is a standard of sci-fi. Doesn't this seem a bit inbred?
    • There were other forms of AI, but Star Fleet didn't have the technology to build an adroid as sophisticated as Data.
    • Every other android had a that fatal flaw of being destroyed by illogic. It makes sense that they would not be used.
      • Not quite: Ruk and the other androids in "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" had no such problem (and that's just for starters). Besides, most androids are benign beings whom nobody would set out to destroy with logic, even if they could. Strangely, the Voyager episode "Prototype" actually showed us other A.I. constructed by aliens, which is more than TNG ever did (even making reference to Data in the process).


Silicon Life, It's Like Nothing We've Seen... Oh Wait...

  • In the episode 'Home Soil', the entire crew register shock at the prosprect of an example of intelligent non-organic life. Even Data. Someone please explain to me how an android, built largely out of artificial materials and brought to life by his creator, with a genius-level intelligence of his own, can possibly be shocked by discovering that, hey, guess what guys? Non-organic life can be intelligent!
    • Because it apparently evolved naturally, unlike Data. Still, you wonder why they didn't consider the Horta, that beast discovered in the mining caves by Kirk, which was definitely sentient.
      • Was the Horta sentient? It was intelligent, but I don't think that was the same thing. The thing with the Horta was that it had been believed to be just mindlessly attacking the miners, but was actually merely trying to protect itself and its nest... which is still animal behavior, just understandable and sympathetic animal behavior. I don't think the Horta was upgraded from "monster" to "person", just "monster" to "benign animal". If not, the fact that you can have a baby one as a pet in Star Trek Online is a little disturbing. It also seems to have been something of a one-off... it's shocking that even one species like it exists, two was staggering. Probably once they started getting into double digits of naturally-occurring inorganic lifeforms it would have stopped being surprising.

Free PADD's, Wi-Fi Not Included

  • Star Trek PADDs are pure Fridge Logic. Characters of the cast frequently physically carry PAD Ds around so that they can hand them over for another to read the information and then hand the PADD back exactly as if it were a piece of paper. What has happened to e-mail, encrypted data transmission etc.? Obviously the future is as cursed with incompatible proprietary data formats as today ("Sorry, my PADD runs Windows 2400...").
    • On the other hand, never underestimate the bandwidth of a stationwagon full of disks doing 80mph: it's quite possible that the overall preference there is to use Sneakernet methods to move data around, simply because it can be faster. It also is actually the most secure means of data transmission -- you can't get the file without somebody noticing -- and when was the last time you let somebody read your screen because it was just plain easier than emailing them the link & waiting for them to go to their own computer?
      • I think you're missing the point. Desktop computers aren't portable. Nor is it easier to walk the length of a starship instead of firing off an email on a completely closed intranet (though perhaps Everything Is Online).
    • In one Star Trek novel it's mentioned that away teams take some paper and a pen with them, because you can't use a padd to, say, leave a message attached to a tree.
      • Sure you can, just nail the PADD to the tree. With as many of these things that they throw around, they're clearly expendable....
    • In TOS, Yeoman Rand is constantly handing Kirk a PADD for his signature, which is exactly what FedEx is doing today.
    • Nothing, Technology Marches On.
    • Rule of Cool
    • Rule of Cool + Science Marches On + Zeerust. PADDs look more "sci-fi" then stacks of printouts. However, Picard was seen with PADDs stacked on his ready-room desk, which makes no kind of sense anyway. Keep in mind that when TNG' was airing, the internet was only just getting around to being invented, and Wi-Fi wouldn't even be a glimmer, much less the ubiquitous standard it now is, until most of the way through Star Trek: Voyager's run. Apparently writers have lost some predictive ability since Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. I would also note that PADDs are pure Zeerust in themselves: They may have looked high-tech to an 80's viewer (including me), but in 2012, they have less screen real estate then an iPad or Android tablet, and seem overall less capable. It's the same deal as happened to Kirk's communicator -- a "sci-fi" device that got outstripped by real technology.
      • By contrast, in the Honor Harrington books, characters will sometimes speak of having "(X) megs of paperwork" to get through. That's relatable, being the Antiquated Linguistics of the term "paperwork", mixed with the modern term reflecting the actual method of storage. A reader can probably relate to this, even though the paperless business or military environment has not yet appeared.
  • Don't forget there is the social aspect to consider. Your boss could send the email to the office on the far end of the campus. Or he could stroll over there himself, speak to a dozen people on the way, take the mood of his workplace, make sure people see his face and know that he's around, indulge in local gossip, plus keep an eye on those workers who need keeping an eye on to stop them slacking off. On a Starship, a Captain (and senior officers too) has to consider morale and that means getting out and knowing his ship and crew. Same reason for people underneath, if they are just doing routine stuff and there is no immediate crisis then they can choose to send an email/use the comm system/whatever Starfleet has, or they can take a wander, stretch their legs, make sure their work day was emotionally fulfilling as well as merely productive. Remember the Federation places a high value on people feeling happy and fulfilled in contrast to out strict bean-counting society which just wants stuff done and doesn't care how workers feel.


Universal Lip-Dubbing Translators

  • Loud As A Whisper - so I suppose the universal translator also modifies what people see when lip-reading?
    • Yes, it also automatically figures out the conversion for units, and rounds them so the result isn't something like 5.152362 hours when an alien is giving a length of time.
  • Because no show wants to look like an old kung-fu movie?
  • This episode is one of several that spotlight the absurdities of the UT. Where is it? How does it work? What happens to the sounds produced by a person when they speak in their native language -- does the UT dampen them somehow and dub in a translation in the speaker's own voice? Even if we can accept something like this in a controlled setting like a starship, how does it work on a planet being visited for the first time? The UT is, maybe above all the rest, the single biggest "don't think about this too much" technology in all of Star Trek.
  • Which is why, in any reasonable Sci-Fi setting, a standard language is used, there are no translators, and there would be (a) linguist(s) on board a starship when unknown languages are encountered. The only way translators could be REMOTELY feasible is if they were an implant that interrupted audio and visual signals and altered them for the translation. Geordi's Visor could at least handle the visual element.
    • Translation Convention: "We are meant to assume that the characters are "really" speaking their own native tongue, and it is being translated purely for our benefit". In DS9's "Statistical Probabilities" we hear Weyoun speaking in his native "Dominionese" as well as in English and the lip movements are understandably different.
      • "The only way translators could be REMOTELY feasible is if they were an implant that interrupted audio and visual signals and altered them for the translation." Mass Effect takes this route, with their Translators being a PDA, hidden computer or subdermal implant that translates all audio to the user's native language (the lip-syncing to English is just to avoid Uncanny Valley and in universe their words and lip movements don't match up). The translation is handled by a large team of linguists who are constantly updating and refining the translations which are then sent to the translators in the field. It also has logical drawbacks, as some words can't be translated into some languages because there is no word that fits that definition, and some words are translated into the nearest match even though there is key difference in meanings, and they're useless in the case of first contact into a linguist can study the language to get a good understanding of it. If I recall the Star Trek UT works in a similar way, although it's an external source. As for how it can translate first contact encounters, keep in mind that the Federation is sending out probes to monitor other races, and the UT can figure out how a language works once it gets a large enough sample size for comparison.


Transporter Tailors and the Fountain of Youth

  • Rascals: Four crew members get reverted to childhood, with "a 40% drop in mass" through contact with a Negative Space Wedgie. But their uniforms and clothes still fit them perfectly? Did they get shrunk as part of the transformation?
    • Their uniforms do come out of the transport looking ill-fitting. In the next scene in sick bay, Ro mentions how she wants to be back in her old uniform- they must have replicated child-size uniforms during the credits.
    • There were a lot of problems with that episode. Rather than exploring the implications of a potential fountain of youth via the transporter, the episode dwelled on issues like how Picard's career would have to be put on hold for several years and how Ro had never truly experienced a childhood. As far as anyone could tell, some 50 years had just been added onto Picard's life -- some would tend to view that more as an opportunity. One would expect at least a few geezers from Starfleet command to be lining up for their second shot at life.
      • It's not a true fountain of youth because it was a fluke and can't be easily replicated. Both results (being de-aged back to children and then being restored to "normal") are not only highly dangerous but are one-way trips. Not to mention restoring them used their stored transporter patterns from when they were adults and depending on how the transporter actually works (it's never been very clear) someone may be destroyed and re-created every time they use the thing.


The Borg Hate M.C. Escher

  • They were going to wipe out the Borg with an impossible shape?
    • With a Divide by Zero error. The shape was necessary because the Borg would normally recognize such a mathematical error and cut it off. The image was specifically designed to trick their eyepiece processors into trying to analyze it without ever catching the paradox, which would cause it to keep getting booted up to higher and higher levels of the collective and eventually crash the whole network. It wouldn't have worked, though - Hugh's individuality had a similar effect (as Picard speculated it would), but it only hit the cube that picked him up.
      • Hmm... Try (Resolve Star Fleet mindfuck) // On error (Give up) // End try.
        • But the Borg wouldn't be willing to give up that easily. This is new information that must be absorbed, processed and assimilated into the collective.
    • We saw two other species try similar plans on Voyager. Each managed to take out one cube, but it got no further than that because the Collective realized something was screwed up on those ships and cut them off from the Collective.
  • The Borg have assimilated thousands of worlds and taken their knowledge and technology. None of them had discovered optical illusions yet when assimilated?
  • How come they believed this would work when it seemed to have no effect on Data, who helped come up with the picture in the first place? Data doesn't even have any biological components like a human brain that may help the Borg cope with the paradoxical image, yet he is unaffected. You think that Starfleet would realize that if something doesn't Logic Bomb an android, it probably won't Logic Bomb a race of cyborgs.
    • It was a Borg BLIT.
    • I believe the explanation given was that they would upload the image directly into Hugh's optic implant, making the Borg believe that he'd actually seen the impossible object in reality, which would cause the desired Logic Bomb.
    • Data knows that it's a trap, so he can either not waste time analysing it (he knows it doesn't exist, therefore it holds no lasting interest for honest analysis), or if it has some kind of infectious property, sandbox his visual centres in advance and delete the memory or something. The Borg don't know this.


Best Captain Debate Thread

  • I score Kirk, Sisko, Picard. Janeway, Archer.
    • Sisko occasionally does evil, against the Maquis, but so does Picard and Janeway hates La Résistance worst of all.
  • The best is Captain Spock, the man that trained half of Starfleet, who gave his life to stop Khan, who initiated actual peace talks with the Klingons after Praxis, who commanded the Enterprise in a complex rescue from Klingon space, and then went on to start peace talks with the Romulans which ended in him carrying out a doomed mission to stop a quantum wibbly thing. Sadly lost down a quantumn wibbly thing and Never Seen Again. Worst Captain, let Janeway and Archer have a Thunderdome match to find that out, two idiots enter one idiot leaves!
      • I give it to Sisko. Kirk and Picard are tied for second and are close behind Sisko, occasionally surpassing him on their best days. Janeway and Archer are a considerable distance behind these three, but I still think they're all right. Archer is better than Janeway in my book.
    • How does this belong under Headscratchers? I suppose it is a question...


Tapestry

Now "Tapestry" is a great episode, but one thing has always annoyed me. After Q has given Picard the chance to undo his fateful fight with the Nausicaans, and fast-forwards Picard to his present day, Picard discovers that he's a blueshirt Lieutenant JG. He asks Riker and Troi to let him transfer to Engineering in the hopes that it would lead to command. Let's compare the likelihood of getting to Command by way of the Science and Engineering departments:

TOS:

  • Science officer is Spock. He's also first officer and is left in command all the time. At the beginning of ST II he's captain of the Enterprise and he retains his rank of captain throughout the rest of the film franchise.
  • Engineer is Scotty. He's next in line behind Spock and periodically takes command when Kirk and Spock are both indisposed. Of course, sometimes they pass him over: In "Errand of Mercy" Kirk gave command to Sulu, and in "Menagerie" Spock (who had ousted Kirk temporarily) put some random extra in command. Scotty eventually retires as a captain but never commands a ship, and in his final appearance in in-universe chronology, "Relics," he and Geordi are on the Jenolan, where, in the absence of any non-engineers, they fight over who will not take command. Captain Scotty pulls rank and orders Geordi to sit in the big chair.

TNG:

  • There's no science officer. The closest they have is Data. He's second officer and is seen sitting in the captain's chair all the time. When Riker's off the ship, as in "Peak Performance," he becomes first officer, even though he got passed over for that job in "Best of Both Worlds" when Riker was captain. In "Redemption" he's given temporary command of another ship, and in "Gambit" he's acting captain of the Enterprise. In Nemesis he was going to get promoted to full-time first officer after Riker left, but he got killed instead.
  • In the first season there's a revolving door of chief engineers. At this time Geordi is the helmsman, and it is in this capacity that we get what I believe is the only shot of him in the captain's chair ("Angel One"). In "Peak Performance" Riker promotes Worf over his head as temporary first officer of the Hathaway. In "Best of Both Worlds" he was never considered for first officer despite the fact that Worf, whom he outranks, was. In "Redemption" he gets to be temporary first officer of the Excalibur, no doubt because Worf is otherwise occupied. But in "Gambit," Worf is back and Geordi's best friend picks Worf over him as acting first officer despite the fact that Geordi still outranks him and, what's much worse, that Worf is openly disrespectful and insubordinate, at least as bad as Data's other first officer from "Redemption." The only other time Geordi commands a ship is in "Relics" when he lost the fight not to command the Jenolan to Scotty.
    • In the Gambit example, Worf was the highest ranking full-time bridge officer behind Data. His reasoning (no doubt drawn verbatim from some Starfleet regulation) was likely that Geordi was more valuable in Engineering than on the bridge. Even so, Data is willing to suffer losing Geordi's expertise in Engineering to replace Worf if he doesn't shape up, which is a pretty clear illustration of just how insubordinate he was acting.
    • You forgot about that Voyager episode where he's captain of a Galaxy-class starship. Of course, that's in one of those timelines that never happened.

Deep Space Nine:

  • The science officer is Jadzia. She's left in command of the station fairly regularly and also captains the Defiant for certain missions. At the beginning of Season 6, when the station is occupied, she's Sisko's full-time first officer on the Defiant until Ross transfers Sisko to his staff, at which time Jadzia becomes the captain.
  • The engineer is O'Brien. He's not an officer so perhaps it's unfair to consider him. He's left running Ops on the station for a little while in the pilot, when all the other Starfleet and Bajoran characters are in the Wormhole, but that's it. And he was never in command on TNG, either, by the way.

Voyager:

  • There is no science officer on the Voyager crew. However, we know from Janeway's backstory that she used to be a science officer and that, like Spock, she was promoted to captain and transferred directly from Science to Command.
  • The chief engineer is Torres. I've watched most Voyager episodes at least twice, and I don't remember ever seeing her sit in the captain's chair, which makes her unique among all the Starfleet characters, including the Doctor. Seven and Neelix never took command either, but they were civilians.

ENT:

  • Science was T'Pol and engineering was Tucker. Tucker was originally going to be first officer but once T'Pol came aboard everyone thought better of it: Better a bitch than a blithering idiot. Actually, they both got plenty of time in Archer's chair, and both served as Acting Captain at different points. In "Twilight," both were made captain of the Enterprise by Starfleet, though that episode never happened. Still, T'Pol was senior to Tucker, despite not being in Starfleet for the first three seasons, and holding the same rank as Tucker but junior to him in terms of time served in the fourth.

Blueshirt Picard also suggested that he might want to transfer to Security and get to Command that way. In "The Search" Eddington whined that security officers didn't get to become captains, but that's not true. Sulu was a security officer who became captain of the Excelsior. Worf transferred from Security to Command, and though he never got a permanent command of his own, he was deeply involved in command decisions and responsibilities. Tuvok, same story, except he would have become first officer if Chakotay (whom I believe was in Security before defecting to the Maquis) hadn't been there. Reed was pretty high up on the NX-01 food chain, even forcing Major Hayes to take his orders despite the fact that a major outranks a naval lieutenant.

    • Agreed that Eddington was just whinging with his martyr complex, but in alt-Picard's case it was more that in a 40-odd year(45ish I think BICBW) career he has been promoted precisely twice and just will not take risks. Agreed that Riker and Troi were quick to be dissmissive, but given how he approached them it is understandable (and given that Troi is an empath, allegedly, she probably sensed his panicked urgency and misinterpreted it as some sort of mid-life crisis). If you were a CO you'd probably want a few progress reports from his superiors (and note Alt-Picard has ignored his own chain of command for this request and gone straight to the captain, yeah that'll show you are command material, ignoring the procedures[8]) saying that a never before displayed aptitude has emerged before considering doing anything.


Warbirds

Throughout TNG's run it appeared that the Federation's Galaxy class, the Klingon Vor'cha class, the Romulan D'diederex (sp?) class, and the Cardassian Galor class all appeared to be roughly equal in their capabilities, both in battle and in various non-combat roles. Starfleet makes mostly smaller ships, the Klingons have the birds-of-prey and the old TOS cruisers in service alongside the Vor'chas, and the Cardassians use a different ship some of the time. The Romulans, though, never use anything other than the Warbirds, not in TNG. In Deep Space Nine the only other Romulan ship we see is Vreenak's shuttle, and Nemesis and ST XI show the Romulans having graduated to something even badder. Do they have far more resources to put into shipbuilding than the others? Do they spend the resources on a few large ships instead of many small ones? (Unlikely; they always seem to have more ships in the area than Starfleet and th Klingons do, at least in TNG.) Did the other powers choose to make smaller, weaker ships than their resources allow?

  • In TNG, we saw a Romulan scout ship and a Romulan science ship (both modified from the same studio model).
  • Up until the 2009 film brings them down to normal, the (TNG-era) Romulans seem to be portrayed as the most powerful faction in the Alpha/Beta region. So yes, they probably just have the resources to build more and bigger ships than anyone else. In contrast, we know that Starfleet and the KDF do field underpowered and outdated warships, the one because they don't like war so much and the other because they don't have the money to afford a full fleet of modern vessels.


Clairvoyant Communicators

When a character presses his/her communicator and says something like "Crusher to Picard", it seems like the other character hears this in real time, as it is being said. How does the communicator know who you're talking to before you say their name?

  • Less impressively/buggy, communications all the way from ship-to-ship to the lowly combadge are also psychic about stopping a transmission. Automatic doors are similarly psychic throughout Trek, knowing whether you want to exit, how you are going to exit (right down to slipping through almost-closed doors?), are permitted to go through, and so forth... all before you ever approach them.
  • You press the comm badge and say "Crusher to Picard." The badge hears that, opens the line to Picard, and repeats "Crusher to Picard" on his end. The lag time is minimal because of very fast transmission speeds and because standing there staring at someone who's waiting and not doing anything for a second or two just to be "realistic" and satisfy nitpickers is not good television.

Congratulations! You're Being Demoted!

No Wesley jokes, please: I know the fans all hated him, but in-universe Picard thought highly of him most of the time, and in "Final Mission" certainly meant it as a favor when he arranged for Wesley to enter the Academy after several hundred failures to gain admittance. But whereas in the past Wesley needed to get into the Academy because "Acting Ensign" seemed to offer no career path without the Academy as the next step, once Wesley became a full Ensign and got his red shirt . . . Why would he want to go to the Academy then? Cadets are junior to ensigns. In "Tapestry" and many another, we saw that being promoted to ensign is what happens after you finish the Academy, and even if you don't finish, ensign is still a promotion: Look at what happened to Nog, for instance. So Wesley--who could never get into the Academy when he wanted/needed to but can now that it's become a hindrance to his career path--is going to be reduced in rank, spend years in the Academy, and then be told "Congratulations, Ensign! Now you're back to where you were before you entered the Academy!" No wonder he eventually said "Fuck that noise" and went off to other dimensions instead. But at the time, why would anyone think that demoting him to cadet was a good thing? It seems like something they'd do after he fucked up royally and they had to say "That's it, you're not cut out for commissioned officer duties. Go back to the Academy and learn how to avoid that sort of thing."

    • Actually, from what I understand about Starfleet, Wesley can be a cadet and still hold his Ensign rank. Kirk graduated from Starfleet Academy with the rank of Lieutenant, so it is likely that if Wesley had hung around, he might have been promoted to at least a Lieutenant junior grade when he graduated.
    • Even when he was given his official red shirt, it can be assumed that he was still only acting as an officer with the captain's permission. Maybe the distinction was made that as an "acting" ensign, he was still only doing his duties part-time as long as they didn't interfere with his regular schooling, while as a Red Shirt ensign, it basically became his full-time job until he punches the Academy ticket. Regardless, without an official commission, Wesley's career prospects are at a dead end. As an ensign, he can stand watches at the helm and/or help Data or Geordi out with their special projects du jour, but no one is going to promote a provisional officer over those who've gone through the official career path. So he goes to the Academy, probably with a binder full of glowing letters of recommendation from most of the senior staff, does his four years (which, with his years of hands-on experience, will probably be a breeze), and graduates. Once he does, Picard all but flat out said that he'd request him for a posting on the Enterprise, where he'd probably be in the job he was at before, but on the short list for promotion as soon as humanly feasible. As for his rank while at the Academy, it's likely that his being an ensign wouldn't be recognized outside of the Enterprise, though him being thought highly enough of to have been granted it would surely be worth a few bonus points at the Academy.


Who Needs Counselors When You've Got Bartenders?

  • Is it just me, or does Guinan actually do more counselling than Troi does? Seriously, no one ever brings up their problems with the ship's counselor. That bothers me.
    • "The Loss" confronts this fact, which is one of the few aspects of the episode that does not live up to its title.
    • That's The Bartender for you. It's a Discredited Trope if you ask me; there are two bartenders at my favorite bar whom I know quite well and would even consider friends, but when I go in and let them know I've had a bad day, they might make my drinks a little stronger but they're pretty short on patience for listening to me bitch and moan about it. Still, while you can certainly blame Trek for falling into such an obvious cliche, it's not like they invented it.
  • That's why it's called the Whoopi Epiphany Speech rather than the Marina Epiphany Speech.


I'm Sensing Your Bluff, Imzadi

  • Why wouldn't Troi win at every single poker hand? If she can sense others' feelings (though admittedly, not their exact thoughts), shouldn't she instantly be able to tell when someone is bluffing? She's mentioned several times in the series that lying to her is useless. You'd think the other officers would have barred her from the games.
    • It gets worse. Per "Up the Long Ladder," Geordi can tell whenever anyone is lying. Data could keep track of every card in the deck. The poker games are very much on the honour system.
      • Bluffing in a card game is not quite lying. If I raise you, I don't say "I'll raise you $5 because I've got a full house," I just throw in the chips and let you make of it what you may. They're closely related skills, but they might not be closely related enough for Geordi's lie-detector abilities--which were only brought up the once, despite the fact that they'd surely come in handy from time to time over the course of the series.
    • And if you forget to bring a deck of cards that's opaque to infrared light, Geordi can see everyone's cards, too. Of course, none of this prevents Riker from winning most of the time.
    • Data's able to fix the deck, too; he did it subconsciously in "Cause and Effect." Given that the only above-average player at the table is one of the few who doesn't have any special advantages, the whole thing's a bit credibility straining.
      • Maybe everyone secretly lets him win all the time because they feel sorry for him.
        • Could be. I believe the only time they let a non-regular sit at the table was in "Best of Both Worlds," and she beat him pretty easily. And rubbed it in.
    • The simplest solution is that she has agreed to not use her abilities for her own benefit during the poker games. Whether or not she actually does and just lets the others believe she's falling for bluffs is anyone's guess, but given that on DS9, Doctor Bashir is able to keep from utterly kicking O'Brien's ass at darts with no one the wiser, it's entirely possible for Deanna to do the same.
      • Simplest, but not most convincing. The analogy you give is false because Bashir was in the first place throwing matches so no one would suspect the full range of his talents, and later playing with a handicap (throwing darts from further away to even the odds). Troi is doing neither, and it seems to me that her simply not using her empathy is like you or I voluntarily not using our sense of smell or hearing.
        • You're forgetting that the episode Tin Man established that Betazoids learn to screen out the thoughts of others around them. The inability to do this is specifically stated as the reason Tam Elbrun is psychologically disturbed. He's bombarded by the thoughts of others at all times. All together, this implies the vast majority of Betazoids (and, presumably, half-Betazoids) only sense the emotions and/or thoughts of others when they actively choose to...or, alternately, that they can actively choose NOT to do so.
        • Point taken; likewise, "Dark Page" does seem to indicate that Lwaxana can voluntarily forego her empathic abilities (she is lousy at doing this, but it's clearly possible). There's still no indication Deanna is doing so at the poker table. Wouldn't someone have at least cracked a joke about it?


Troi's Captain Obvious-tendencies when using her empathic abilities being exaggerated

  • This is a problem with the fandom/hatedom, rather than the show itself: why is Troi constantly mentioned as saying the obvious in connection to her empathic abilities ("the aliens that appear to be angry are angry"), when in the actual show most of the time what she says isn't quite obvious, especially not when one considers that having the local empath confirm that the apparent emotion is the actual emotion, and not an act, makes perfect sense?
    • I agree fully.
    • I partially agree. There are certainly enough times when she makes "Captain, he's hiding something" observations when a six-year-old could discern the same, especially in early seasons. I think this is fandom's reaction to the fact that Troi's powers were rarely used consistently or intelligently. Sometimes, she correctly discerns a situation of danger but is ignored by the crew for no good reason ("Samaritan Snare"). Other times, she can't produce anything meaningful on a character who is lying through his teeth ("A Matter of Time"). Sometimes, she is just conspicuously silent or absent when a deceptive character comes on board ("Data's Day"). Worse, Troi's powers too often place her in the passive position of being targeted by, occupied by or sometimes symbolically raped by alien forces ("The Child," "The Survivors," "Clues," "Man of the People," "Eye of the Beholder," Star Trek: Nemesis -- I'm leaving out episodes like "Violations" and "Power Play" in which the same treatment is given to non-empathic characters too, but it all adds up to some pretty misogynistic stuff). In other words, her powers are more often depicted as a liability and an outright security risk than a useful skill. As if throwing up their hands in frustration, the writers in later seasons just tend to ignore her empathic powers altogether.
      • Another thing, I guess, is that most of the crew has very valuable skills which they had to develop, and all Troi's got is a somewhat rare sixth sense. If I were partnered up with a group of deaf people which included a brain surgeon, a mathematician who could do complex calculations in his head faster than a computer, a world-class martial artist, an incredibly talented stunt pilot, someone who could read over 200 languages, and the inventor of a FTL spacecraft, and all I brought to the table was the ability to let them know whenever there was a loud noise, I'd be feeling pretty humble and would prefer not to have a lot of attention called to me.
    • It's also partially a bit of myopia. When she says "He's hiding something", some in the audience snort and go "Well no duh!" Obviously the guy is hiding something or there wouldn't be much of a plot to the episode... these viewers take it for granted that it's as obvious to Picard as it is to them. Also it's a Hate Dumb thing that Troi would say something like "I sense anger" and then just stare blankly at the others as if that was her only contribution. It was usually something more like "I sense anger, a sort of lingering resentment, and it's directed at Mr. Worf" which is a good deal more specific and useful and would usually have Picard turn to Worf and ask what was up.

Spacecraft are a dime a dozen.

  • In the second season episode "Unnatural Selection", the USS Lantree is found adrift, all onboard having died from accelerated aging caused by a pathogen. Once the episode is sorted out, the Enterprise returns to the Lantree and destroys it. Wait a minute... this is an entirely operational spacecraft - just the crew was dead, no damage to the craft. Why not tow it to a nearby starbase to see if they can clean it? Too heavy to tow? Picard and Riker took on remote control over the craft earlier in the episode - program it to fly itself closer to a starbase. Surely they should give a Barium sweep a shot to sterilize the craft. How about those kids back at the research station who caused the issue - they're immune! Once they are old enough to handle it, they could clean the bodies off the craft themselves, maybe work on a cure.
    • Remember that the Miranda class has been in service for eighty years. For all we know, the Lantree was on its last runs and was about to be decommissioned. After all, cleaning it up and then disassembling it would take much longer than just vaporizing it with a torpedo.
      • But it would yield salvageable parts: maybe enough to justify the added effort, maybe not, but no one even ran a cost-benefit analysis. They just said "Get rid of it."
        • Salvageable parts? From an 80-year-old ship? In a society that has REPLICATORS? ... yah, I vote photon torpedo too.
    • This came up in one of the William Shatner novels, however you want to take those. Spock claims that the relative cost of producing starships is so low as to be virtually negligible. In a society where everything short of exotic matter can be converted from energy, a plague ship is better as space-dust than risking exposure by towing it in for decon.
      • Star Trek Online certainly took this and ran with it... starships really are a dime a dozen, and you can transfer to them and modify them largely at will, all you've got to do is pay the energy cost of the replicator usage somehow.
  • Shatnerverse aside, this is something that comes from "ancient" naval traditions. The Lantree was considered a plague ship and needed to be scuttled for safety reasons. Maybe it makes all the sense in the world, maybe it doesn't. But even when ships were highly expensive, it was fairly common to simply commit a mass burial at sea for those dead on a ship stricken with a deadly disease.

Subcutaneous communicators

  • In the third-season episode "Who Watches the Watchers?", Riker and Troi are outfitted with subcutaneous communicators while infiltrating the Mintakan civilization. They can hear the person on the other line inside their head, and the bridge can constantly monitor them. If this technology is available, why doesn't everyone have a subcutaneous communicator? It would certainly be helpful in instances in which someone's captured and their combadge taken away, although I can also see the Big Brother aspect to it.
    • There could be any number of reasons. Maybe the subcutaneous communicators are strictly short-term (the body rejects them after a few weeks/months or something and no one wants to have a horse needle jammed into them every time their communicator dissolves). Maybe their range is limited compared to the regular badge coms. But most likely the crew just found the idea creepy. With today's technology we can implant a chip under your skin that has your entire medical history with all your allergies, all your past injuries, any pre-existing conditions you have, etc. If you got in an accident a hospital could scan the chip and instantly get everything they need to properly treat you. But almost no one ever opts for an RFID chip. There's just something inherently creepy about it.
      • Also, you wouldn't want something going awry with those things while they're in your skin, so for a limited time is the way to go if you have to do it at all.
  • Speak for yourself. The only reason I haven't asked for it yet is because I didn't know it was possible yet.


Alien Childcare issues

  • Granted it's an alien race, but in the episode "Pen Pals" the child Data visits on the volcanic planet has a large door in her room that opens directly to the outside of the house. As a parent this wrankles me. Would you want your very young children to be able to slip out of the house whenever they wanted? Would you want any thief trying to gain entry to your house to try the door on your kid's room? It just doesn't make sense.
    • Hadn't Nikki Cox's parents evacuated? I thought she was alone in the house--In which case there's every possibility in the world that the room wasn't hers, that she would normally not be allowed in there unsupervised. Now of course, that does raise the question why she was left behind when her parents high-tailed it. Or maybe she snuck away from them in the chaos of a mass evacuation and returned home because she knew Data would come for her?
    • We have species on Earth who's young aren't curious about the outside world, and need to be coaxed and/or forced out of the place they spend their childhood. As for the door, I suppose that planet just had a low crime rate, or perhaps that race has a stronger sense of camaraderie. Making the thought of stealing as abhorrent as murder is to us.
    • Or maybe the door leads to a backyard that's adequately secured by a fence or other barrier.


Acme's Disappearing/Reappearing Phaser

  • In "A Matter of Perspective", Riker is accused of firing a phaser at the energy chamber just before transport, destroying the station and killing Dr. Apgar. But he wasn't wearing a phaser when he materialized on the Enterprise's transporter pad.
    • In the early seasons, it was common to see tiny, garage door opener-sized phasers used along with the more traditional models. But even if Riker had a reason to have the garage door opener model during this mission, why didn't he materialize on the Enterprise in his shooting-the-phaser pose? The big plot point was that there was an energy discharge detected during transport, so it's not like Riker could have fired and then hid the phaser immediately afterward. And since you can't exactly move around during transport, if he were guilty, he should have shown up on the Enterprise with weapon in hand.
      • I think part of the point is that the people trying to get a conviction don't care if he's guilty or not, and anything that would countermand their own version of events was going to be written off as "The Federation covering for their officer" or somesuch.

Set Course for the Neutral Zone, Full Reverse!

  • In the first season episode "Angel One," they try to add a little tension to a boring-as-hell episode by constantly repeating that they're needed at the Neutral Zone immediately for some sort of emergency. So they escape from the Bonnie Tyler Lookalike Convention and set course for the Neutral Zone at maximum warp--and it takes them eleven episodes to get there! And when they do show up they neither refer to the events that drew them there before nor even apologize for being late. And of course they say they haven't been in contact with the Romulans for over fifty years. What the hell? Hey writers: Watch your own show!
    • The status of the Romulans in the years between TOS and TNG is a matter on which continuity is extremely weak. We are on one hand told that they were essentially isolationists locked away behind their borders, to the point where the Federation does not know what their technological standing is like. On the other hand, they found time in those years to attack the Federation world Narendra III and do something called "the Norkan Massacre." A Starfleet office named Stefan De Seve managed to even defect during this period of non-contact, which is a neat trick when you think about it. The example you raise shows just how early in TNG this confusion began.
      • Come to think of it, I don't think the period of Romulan isolationism is specifically mentioned in any episode but "The Neutral Zone."

Wacky Ferengi Misogyny

  • What reason would the Ferengi culture have to oppress females? A society of rampant capitalists, and they're wasting time (and losing MONEY) by effectively cutting their customer base in half? Ferengi women with equal rights would be free to make money, and more importantly spend money.
    • removes competitors
      • But it also removes potential investors and buyers. The average wage slave Ferengi could be worried about competition, but the rich ones should be pushing for equality since it'll let them target more people and make more money. To be fair, this ended up happening in Deep Space Nine with Nilva, but even he had to have the simple logic spelled out by Quark.
    • I suppose the most honest answer is that the Ferengi are straw men. A clever and observant critique of capitalism does not play out through them -- just crass obviousness. One might as well ask why they prohibit unions. Unions can be as profitable and as manipulative and exploitative as corporations. However, as far as the sexism goes, one might rationalize that the Ferengi aren't as good capitalists as they think they are. Perhaps the oppression of women pre-existed the rise of mercantile behaviour in Ferengi society, and values never quite "caught up."


The Sets

  • Though Voyager and Enterprise did a little bit better with this, and I understand they have budget constraints, but do the sets always have to look like they are made out of cheap, molded plastic? I would love to see an alternate Trek verse where Starfleet is military, and the sets are built to military quality, using metals and other materials. It would be expensive, but most sets would only have to be built once, and then simply redressed. They would pay for themselves, essentially.
    • Keep in mind that television technology has upgraded several times throughout the show's run. It probably didn't look like cheap molded plastic when it was first airing, because the low definition of TVs at the time would have kept you from seeing that's what it was. It's one of the reasons Star Trek Generations is shot in such dim lighting... by that point they knew the sets looked like crap on a bigger/better screen, and were covering for it until they could replace them.

Blind chance

  • I've always thought it odd how rarely Geordi's VISOR is commented on. You'd think that such a remarkable device -- seemingly as unique as Data is -- would attract a lot of interest. The oddest thing is that even people who've just met him and have no other relevant knowledge (like Martin in "The Masterpiece Society") tend to instantly identify him as blind, rather than asking "what is that you're wearing over your eyes? I recall one novel where a character asks if he wears it for religious reasons.
    • Well, he has something over his eyes. If I saw someone wearing a cloth over their eyes, and they're walking around in public, the first thing I'll assume is that the person is blind because of injuries that s/he doesn't want to show the world. Maybe this is what they assume with Geordi? Plus, this is a military setting, so they're not of the mindset to bug Geordi about his VISOR. If he has problems with it, he'll take care of it himself.
  • This bothers me greatly. The crew seems to rely on Troi to tell them when someone is lying. At the moment, the most accurate lie detectors we have are machines that monitor the temperature and bloodflow in a person's face; this would make Geordi's heat-sensing VISOR a virtual polygraph device. Not to mention that this means he would be able to pick up on other things about people not always readily visible, like sexual arousal, knowing when a female officer is menstruating, or when someone is ill. Yet he seems to be pretty oblivious when it comes to other people; you'd think that having infra-red vision would make him a little more socially-savvy.
  • It often appears, in fact, like the writers forget all about his VISOR much of the time (the aforementioned "The Masterpiece Society" is actually an exception, in which discussion of his VISOR provides both a plot point and some thematic relevance, albeit in what appears to be an anti-abortion aesop). How else can you explain how there are cases like "I Borg," where Geordi actually asks Hugh to show him his eyepiece, and nobody every thinks to comment on the fact that Geordi is a cyborg of sorts as well?
    • I never got the impression that Geordi's VISOR was unique, it's just we never see anyone else who is blind. It could be one of several treatment options for congenital blindness that some people decline because of the sensory confusion of seeing the entire EM spectrum at once. As for being a lie detector or otherwise clued in to people's emotional states, Geordi say it only works on humans. And while he probably can tell what a girl thinks of him just by giving her a quick lookdown, that doesn't mean he knows how to be more charismatic. He freely admits he doesn't know what to say to make women like him.
      • It's never stated that the VISOR is outright unique (indeed, we see something comparable used by Miranda Jones in TOS), but "Encounter at Farpoint" implies that it is at least highly uncommon (Dr. Crusher rhapsodizes about the VISOR like she's never seen its like before). If it is (fairly) unique device, that raises some questions about why Geordi gets one and why they're not standard issue for blind children of the 24th century.
        • Probably most forms of blindness are curable with that level of technology.


Give the Genie what it wants Jean-Luc

  • In the episode Qpid, why didn't Picard get rid of Q by simply allowing it to repay it's debt to him? I mean sure all of Q's suggestions were "immoral" to the stuck up curmudgeon, but he could've asked for things like insights into Borg technology, or maybe something like... say a diary from the Precursor civilization. It really seemed like Picard was wasting a serious opportunity for defense, or research.
    • Probably because he knew Q would mess it up, somehow. Even well-meaning, Q is prone to going overboard.


The problem with Wesley

  • Am I the only one that totally and completely fails to understand the fandom's hatred of Wesley Crusher? I know the argument is supposed to be "the writers made him better than everyone else" but I don't see that. Yes, he does solve some problems others can't, but that is that whole point of having a team. Everyone can come up with answers some other people on the team would never think of. And a crew is a team. I am either missing something here, or it is entirely baseless hatred.
    • I would begin with a point that, given his recent comments, Wil Wheaton would probably not disagree with: Wesley is a bland, unexciting character. If a legitimately fascinating character had been crafted in his place, I think the reaction would have been very different. The fact that Wesley needed to be "shilled" -- characters continually talking about how great he is -- is related to this problem. If he were truly as impressive as everyone seems to think he is, it would be self-evident and we would not need telling.
    • I think nobody objects to those rare episodes like "Pen Pals" which depict Wesley acting as part of a group. That is reasonable, and basically plausible (though Wesley's polymath command of ship operations frequently stretches belief even for a prodigy). The problem is that too often Wesley is depicted as coming up with solutions unilaterally. Here is an example I always point to, from (largely a great episode) "The Enemy." Wesley contributes the idea that lets them contact Geordi on the surface. Okay, so far so good -- in an isolated instance, Wesley offers a workable solution. This is basically plausible, even if it's a bit unlikely Wesley could think of a plan that others (like, um, Data!) could not. But when Geordi comes upon it, he says "Thank you Wesley!" So what are the writers telling us? That's it's not the case that Wesley happened to have a good idea this time -- it is that the crew, staffed by Starfleet's best and brightest, depend on him to do so on a regular basis! This is perhaps the greatest problem with Wesley. Too often, the writers feel the need to diminish everyone around him in order to build him up.
    • It's an interesting thought exercise to imagine the series without Wesley. Would we really lose all that much? Unfortunately, the character was fundamentally misconceived, and not only because of his Mary Sue qualities. I often wondered what the other children on board the ship think about him. He gets to work on the bridge and have a field commission as an ensign, something most people work at for years -- and all because he's so "special." Or could it have something to do with the fact that his mother is the CMO and his father was the captain's best friend? I would cry nepotism on that one.
    • There's also the fact that Wesley adheres to a cliché that was tired long ago... the Tagalong Kid is shoehorned into a cast of adults in some ill-fated attempt to appeal to a younger demographic. This was a mainstay of TV science fiction before Star Trek (see, for instance Rocky Jones, Space Ranger), and it's dishearteningly how straight TNG plays it.


Do not interfere with my children below!

  • What in the world is the Enterprise crew doing even going to the Edo world in "Justice"? Surely the Edo haven't discovered warp drive. And after their initial survey team comes back, and they realize there's a whole lotta lovemaking going down down there, they bring down Wesley to determine if it's an ideal place for children?! Really?!
    • As for the first part of your question, this is a good example of Early Installment Weirdness since the criteria for making first contact are not yet set. If one were inclined to give this awful, awful episode some breaks (and who would?), one might rationalize that just because this society does not possess warp drive does not mean they're not aware of it, and that perhaps they have been visited by warp capable species in the past, which would explain their lack of interest in the transporter.
    • As for the second part, that's especially intriguing. I wonder if it's a trace of the largely lost Roddenberry view of the future as a haven of free love and relaxed sexual mores (he is reputed to have envisioned the future earth as a world of nudists!). Not thinking twice about exposing Wesley and even younger children to a planet of polyamorous nymphomaniacs may be a reflection of that.
    • Warp drive isn't the sole criterion for making contact with a civilization. If the Edo had developed subspace communication they would have found signs of extra-terrestrial life soon enough. Alternately, some other alien race stumbled across the Edo and give them some technology, thereby negating the "cultural contamination" rule of the Prime Directive.
      • The same point was made three posts up. The point to make, I suppose, is that it's not like the episode actually says this. The Edo definitely don't seem to react like they're encountering aliens for the first time, but they're so badly written and acted that it's hard to know for sure.

Vorcha-doh-baghk, Kahless!

  • In "Rightful Heir", Kahless reminds Worf of the vision he had of him when Worf was a child, in the caves of No'Mat. Worf had mentioned the vision to Data earlier that season in "Birthright, Part I", but didn't go into the same level of detail as Kahless did here. If this Kahless is actually a clone... how could he possibly know about Worf's vision?
    • Presumably the monks of Borath gave him that information along with all other programming they gave him (having in turn been told about it by Worf himself). After all, it was their decision to make Kahless appear to Worf (an interesting bit of political calculating in itself).
      • It's possible that they chose Worf as much because he gave them a nice, detailed description of a vision he had that involved Kahless, and then returned to do his praying about when they were ready to reveal the clone, which all added up to a nice bunch of factors that made him suitable. His links to the Federation as well may have been an unintended bonus.

We only follow the Prime Directive when it means we get to kill people

  • In Season 7's "Homeward", Picard refuses to help save the Boraalan civilization, even when the crew is easily capable of doing so unobtrusively. By refusing to violate the Prime Directive in this instance, he knowingly condemns them to death (although Worf's brother, it turns out, beamed them off just in time). But since when is Picard a shining example of strict adherence to the Prime Directive?! By the mid-fourth season, he'd already violated it nine times since taking command of the Enterprise (as Admiral Satie points out in "The Drumhead"). He was willing to break the Prime Directive to stop Wesley from being executed ("Justice"), let Worf off with just a reprimand for killing Duras ("Reunion"), and let his heart be softened by a little girl crying for help on a planet that's destroying itself ("Pen Pals"). To say nothing of the numerous (presumably) non-Federation planets the Enterprise has been instrumental in saving over the years. If ever there was a justifiable reason for breaking the Directive, it's here. What gives Picard the right to serve as judge, jury and executioner in this case?
    • Further to the intricate discussions of the Prime Directive elsewhere on these Headscratchers boards, I would add that this is one episode where the Prime Directive is supposed to seem difficult and unyielding. Strictly speaking Picard does not act as judge, jury or executioner -- only as a bystander. Life on this planet would be destroyed even if nobody were around to see it, and the Prime Directive says not to interfere. As you point out, it's inconsistent, most obviously with 'Pen Pals', but I actually find it refreshing to see, for once, an instance when the crew don't decide to violate their most sacred vow, even when it seems extremely tempting to do so, and indeed, cruel not to.
    • What makes it worse is that that episode and Pen Pals makes it blatantly clear that Starfleet has forgotten the purpose of the Prime Directive, despite still mentioning: to protect pre-interstellar cultures. Forgotten, because where TOS made clear that the Starfleet of the period quite sensibly does not regard a culture ceasing to be as 'natural' or 'healthy' development, and in fact has standing orders for captains to interfere, if as discretely as possible, should a culture be at risk of extermination, TNG's Starfleet apparently has explicit orders not to interfere even then. Now, to the outside observer, what seems most consistent with the spirit of the rule (as noted, in both periods stated to be the protection of other cultures): the TOS approach of mandating extinction-averting interference or the TNG approach of prohibiting the same?
    • It is perhaps worth noting one non-parallel between "Pen Pals" and "Homeward." In the former episode, it was ultimately within the Enterprise's power to completely avert this planetary catastrophe and return things to normal. This seemed to be wholly successful to the point that the planet will no longer need any intervention from Starfleet (which its pre-warp inhabitants never knew about to begin with) and will continue to develop naturally. In "Homeward," this is not the case at all; there is no indication that they can do anything to help the planet (admittedly, they never even seem to think about it). The only possible option is evacuation, which hardly seem possible to do while acting in accordance with the Prime Directive. The mere choice of selecting some people to live and others to die is playing God -- more literally than in most cases (note that Nikolai lists the Boraalan's "Rich spiritual life" as a basis for sparing them). Nikolai picks some people he likes, including a woman he impregnated (what the hell kind of anthropologist is this guy?), which is just the kind of patriarchal act by a "superior" civilization that the Prime Directive is designed to prevent. Then they dump this tiny group of people (too bad they couldn't afford more extras, because this bunch barely looks like enough people to qualify as a village, let alone the healthy gene pool needed to preserve a species) on a quickly-located alien planet where they will have no idea of whether or not a given plant is poisonous. And Nikolai, instead of being put on trial for his crimes (which include sabotaging the Enterprise!), is allowed to go native and stay with them, continuing to impersonate one of their species and further disrupting the "natural development" of their society in all kinds troubling ways, up to and including the introduction of human DNA into their microscopic gene pool! Let's just say that the letter and the spirit of the Prime Directive are both blown to smithereens in this awful episode, and there's plenty of guilt to spread around.
      • The Prime Directive in all kinds of idiotic anyway.
        • No, not at all. The colonial history of our planet would have been much less shameful and destructive had something similar been in place.

A psychology degree does not a starship captain make

  • In "Disaster", Counselor Troi takes command on the bridge, and it's pretty obvious she's completely overwhelmed. Why the heck is she commanding in this situation, and not O'Brien? It's true that O'Brien (as either a lieutenant or a chief petty officer-- God knows which) is lower-ranked than Troi, but so was redshirt Lieutenant Monroe, and she was acting captain on the bridge before being killed. Ensign Ro's incredulous reaction when O'Brien tells her that Troi's the ranking officer around says it all, really. O'Brien is clearly far more qualified to make command decisions than Troi, who hadn't even taken the bridge officers' test yet at this point in the series.
    • Yup. Completely inexplicable. It sure doesn't help that Troi is made extra stupid in the aptly-named "Disaster," too, even infamously asking what a core breach is.
    • It leads to a nice bit of Character Development when she later decides to take the command exam in "Thine Own Self", but that just emphasises that she shouldn't have been in command at the time!
    • Enlisted men (and this is after "Family," so O'Brien is unquestionably an NCO) don't give orders to officers, and generally don't possess the same degree of command training (qualifications aside, Troi is an Academy graduate).
      • Setting aside the overall oddities about O'Brien's rank (those conspicuous Lt. insignia on his uniform, and the fact that he was directly addressed as "Lieutenant" on one or two occasions), his bridge officer credentials are well established -- he served as Ben Maxwell's tactical officer, after all. Even ignoring this, it's not like O'Brien and Troi were the only people on the bridge. Ro and other officers were there. Even if, for some bizarre reason, she is not obligated to do so, Troi should have voluntarily relieved herself for the good of the ship.
        • He served as a tactical officer in time of war, when every able body was needed. He's now serving in peacetime, aboard a ship that is, if anything, OVERstaffed. All this aside, it ignores that O'Brien is the one who points out to the others that Troi is the ranking officer on the bridge. Now, it's almost as if he did that because he was placing a vote of confidence in her over any of the others, perhaps because he knows she's been on Picard's command staff the longest and might have a better idea of what he would do in that situation. Considering that in your ideal situation where Troi backed off and let Ro have command, a good half of the crew (including most of the main characters) would have died, I think we can all be glad that you aren't in a command position.


We'll court-martial you and then take you apart

  • In "Clues", Data has been stonewalling the crew's attempts to find out what really happened to them during the missing day. He states that he's apparently guilty of falsifying the Enterprise's records, interfering with an investigation, and disobeying Picard's orders: "Your duty seems clear."

 Picard: Do you know what a court-martial would mean? Your career in Starfleet would be finished.

Data: I realize that, sir.

Picard: Do you also realize that you would likely be stripped down to the wires to find out what the hell went wrong?

  • Whoa, whoa, whoa! That would be a staggering overreaction on Picard's part. To say nothing of the fact that Picard was Data's defense attorney in the case that decided Data's fundamental human rights! Data has been recognized as a sentient being, and therefore Starfleet has no right to strip him down to the wires. I understand Picard's angry and desperate here, but damn!
    • "Descent, Part II" has a comparable problem when Data unilaterally decides to deactivate Lore. True, rights were only specifically extended to Data and not to similar Soong-type androids, but considering the extent to which Data believes in the spirit of this ruling, it seems incredibly odd to me that Data would just decide to, in essence, murder his brother... especially considering that at that point in the episode, Lore is contained and no longer an immediate threat.
      • Immediate being the operative word. Remember, the first time they encountered Lore, they beamed him out into space and he still showed up again later. Perhaps Data feels that the only way to stop Lore from popping up again is to essentially euthanize him.
        • By "euthanize" you mean "murder"... Lore is not asking for mercy or an end to suffering. Do you really think that a Starfleet officer would sanction executing a humanoid prisoner in the brig, no matter how dangerous they are? The implication is very much that androids are less than people -- it's extremely strange to see Data himself acting like this was so.
        • Human prisoners can't be put back together. Lore is described as "permanently disassembled", but that could simply mean that all his parts are locked down in secure locations on Earth, not destroyed. Data has been both switched off and disassembled without obvious lasting ill effects (what happens to an android's "soul" when the power is turned off is probably a similar question to who comes out at the other end of a transport, but both happen and nobody complains much).
        • What you're describing would be analogous to capturing a dangerous human prisoner, putting them in permanent stasis where they are not per se dead, but will never again have consciousness or agency. As good as dead, in other words. Does that sound like something the Federation would sanction? Is there some reason that Lore is not entitled to a trial for his crimes, incidentally? Do androids not get such things?
        • It does make sense as an alternative to arresting him, prior to a trial. As for actually getting said trial? Probably not, judging by the state of AI rights in the Federation at that time. Hopefully in a few decades when things have warmed up a bit, he will.
        • Think of it this way. Data, as a properly functioning Soong-type android, was barely granted legal rights by Starfleet in a tentative, "we don't really know if he's sentient or not but we're erring on the side of caution" way. But does that ruling cover a malfunctioning Soong-type android? Data could argue that Lore's fundamentally a broken machine, incapable of making his own choices or controlling his own actions, and it's certainly true that Lore is so dangerously superpowered that putting him on trial almost guarantees him an opportunity to break loose and wreak even more havoc. I'd imagine Data did face some legal grilling from Starfleet offscreen, but unilaterally shooting Lore isn't inconsistent with his character. We've seen before that he's willing to kill someone if he thinks there's no legal way of stopping them: he nearly did the same with Fajo in "The Most Toys."
        • I actually find that explanation pretty convincing. It would have been nice, however, to see Data vocalize some of this at the end of the episode, and maybe even express some regret about having to kill his brother, instead of making it all about himself (and the emotion chip). Mind you, "Descent, Part II" is so breathless and clunky that it doesn't give us a Hugh/Geordi reunion scene despite making Hugh's friendship with Geordi a major part of his motivation.
    • You're all applying human laws and morality to this situation. Is it logical to permanently remove the threat Lore poses? Yes. If Soong-type androids are considered a race then Starfleet regulations cannot interfere with their codes of justice. And as for ceasing to be conscious or aware being too extreme a punishment for the Federation to consider, remember that that is exactly what happens when an Emergency Medical Hologram is turned off. The Doctor never complains about ceasing to be when he's deactivated and in fact requested that he be given the ability to do that himself. It's simply a part of what it is like to be an artificial being.
      • As "descendants" of human colonists they are de facto Federation citizens, so Starfleet has every right to interfere. Also, race does not have anything to do with culture, no matter what the script repeatedly says (Star Trek as a franchise has a lot of institutionalised racism, but that's just bad writing).
        • Just because Omicron Theta was settled by humans doesn't mean they were Federation citizens, especially since it was never called a Federation colony. While Data probably could have earned citizenship through his service in Starfleet had he been organic, I don't think it was ever established that his legal status as "not property" went as far as giving him citizenship. And in real life I would agree with your assessment of race and culture, but remember that in Star Trek "race" means "alien being" and thus not only are there biocultural differences to consider but the possibility of Blue and Orange Morality. But even discounting the murkiness of member planet rights vs. Federation law, it may come down to whether or not you can try a malfunctioning android—sentient or otherwise—at all.


You get promoted only for escaping

  • In "Second Chances", Lt. William Riker (who later becomes "Thomas") mentions to Troi that "our" Will Riker got promoted for "exceptional valor during the evacuation of the research station on Nervala IV". Ergo, Thomas completed that mission as well, and the fact of the accidental doubling was the only reason he even existed. Since Thomas was found on Nervala IV, why didn't he get an immediate promotion to lieutenant commander? He hadn't even gotten that promotion on the Gandhi by the time he joined the Maquis.
    • Is it any wonder he went rogue? Tom Riker was egregiously mistreated by all involved. It becomes glaring when you think of him as the equivalent of an officer who spent eight years in a prison camp. He was doing his Starfleet duty to the best of his abilities all of those years and should not only be due to for that promotion but probably several others, not to mention a boatload of back leave, back pay (or the Starfleet equivalent thereof) and the like (Phil Farrand notes as much in his books). It's so bizarre that they think he can just be tossed back into the officer pool: at very least he will need some retraining since his training is almost a decade out of date, and after all those years of solitude anyone, even one of Starfleet's teflon officers, would need protracted psychological examination.
      • And you would think that upon rejoining Starfleet, they'd require him to adjust his biometrics so that the computer can no longer be fooled into thinking he's Commander William Riker! New fingerprints, or something. Or have Will do that upon Thomas leaving. It's no wonder Dukat believed that the Central Command would think Starfleet wanted Thomas to have the Defiant.
      • There's also the last scene when Will gives Tom his trombone, noting that his quarters are full of things that belong to them both. No kidding! Shouldn't Tom get half of his stuff? Maybe even get a say in what he wants and what he doesn't?
        • If he wanted to be a petulant child about it, sure.
    • Will Riker didn't get promoted for "escaping", he got promoted for the years of service he rendered afterwards and the actions he took during those years. Thomas stays at the rank he was at because, you know, he hasn't done anything to earn a promotion. Yes, he survived being stranded, but getting promoted for that is just as silly as the idea of getting promoted for not getting stranded. They probably gave Thomas a bunch of back pay and a crash course to bring him up to speed and let him have his pick of assignments appropriate to his rank. The fact that he hasn't been promoted since then was probably a sign of him simply not being the same sort of dedicated officer Will was anymore, as evidenced by him ditching, joining the Maquis, and stealing a warship. You don't get a Starfleet promotion just for time served, and if Thomas wanted one for that it proves that he didn't deserve it.

Practicing starship combat? When was the last time we fought anyone?

  • In "Peak Performance", Riker says to the Zakdorn strategist, Kolrami, regarding the combat drill: "I think it's a waste of time to test our combat skills-- it's a minor province in the make-up of a starship captain." Picard's also insistent that Starfleet is not a military organization. While I admire Picard and Riker's idealism, those statements are coming dangerously close to naïveté. By this point in the series (late second season), the Enterprise has already been in several combat situations ("Encounter at Farpoint", "The Last Outpost", "The Battle", "The Arsenal of Freedom", "A Matter of Honor", "Samaritan Snare", and most notably "Q Who"-- and those are just the examples I noticed at first glance). In fact, they admit that the only reason they agreed to this drill was because of the Borg encounter in the latter episode. They've also separated the saucer twice. If starship combat's such a "minor province" for a starship captain, how come the Enterprise fights so much? (My guess? Picard and Riker simply don't like certain Zakdorn racial traits, and are reacting negatively to Kolrami on that basis).
    • I suspect that they resent having this simulation forced on them by Starfleet as much as anything -- it is an affront to their professionalism. The very fact that they have amassed a good amount of field combat experience should make the war game irrelevant.
      • What makes the war game irrelevant is that they are pitting one of Star Fleet's best ships, under the command of an alleged tactical genius, against a barely functional wreck being run by a skeleton crew. What does Star Fleet expect to learn from this exercise, exactly? The ship Riker commands isn't even supposed to have warp capability! Is the point to simulate a badly damaged ship fighting a vastly superior enemy? In which case, why is the tactical genius on the superior enemy vessel, and not proving that even a badly damaged ship can win if it's handled right? I call Idiot Plot on the whole episode.
        • Kolrami states something to the effect of "how you fare in a mismatch is what interests Starfleet." This may be a bit of a Hand Wave, but it makes it clear that there is some purpose to this exercise, even if it is a bit mysterious.
        • That's hardly a Hand Wave. The events of Samaritan Snare proved that the Enterprise crew needs to learn to not underestimate less technologically advanced ships. In real life the US Navy staged a war game with a Swedish diesel-electric submarine versus a carrier battle group. Despite being vastly outnumbered and out-teched, the Swedish sub managed to "sink" a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. It's as much an exercise for the crew on the Constellation-class as it is for the Enterprise.
          • It certainly is a Hand Wave insofar as this explanation is not provided by the episode itself, but by you. Convincing, though.
      • Pretty much every decent military, law enforcement agency and rescue agency has regular drills and exercises. The idea is to test your methods without the risk of getting people killed. Considering how poorly Starfleet seems to handle some emergencies it seems more like the organization is simultaneously too bureaucratic and too casual.
  • We see it rarely enough, but the Enterprise does run preparedness drills (we see this in "Lower Decks").

Weaponized recreation

  • In "The Big Goodbye", Wesley comes up with a solution to getting our people out of the holodeck, "but if it doesn't work, the program could abort and everyone inside would vanish." Real people included. Jeez, Louise. It's bad enough when the holodeck's safety routines malfunction, as they so frequently do, but a badly-aborted holodeck program could cause real people to discorporate? One wonders why people don't just play computer games or fight in anbo-jytsu rings for entertainment, or why they don't lure their enemies into the holodecks so they can purposely badly abort a program.
    • Somebody must have killed all the standards councils in the future -- the Holodeck is ludicrously unsafe technology that should definitely not be allowed. You would think, if it screws up, some fail-safe should kick in that makes it shut off, rather than becoming deadly.
    • SF Debris actually made this a plot point in his Unity Saga. Holodecks have to be able to clean up all the shed hair, sweat, blood and any other organic matter left behind when the program ends. He rationalizes it by explaining that it's standard holodeck safety procedure to summon the arch, stand under it and then deactivate the program. It's not that the holodeck is really that unsafe, it's just that there's always a tiny chance if all the redundancies happen to fail and you turn off the holodeck without wearing a commbadge (that's my WMG insertion) or standing under the arch there's a risk you'll be "cleaned up" with the rest of the organic matter. The holodeck designers aren't incompetent, the Enterprise crew just never read the manual.


Data vs. Troi in chess: The ultimate mismatch

  • Troi has absolutely no business beating Data in chess.
    • Data had discovered just that morning that humans will sometimes intentionally lose or disadvantage themselves as a show of courtesy and figured he'd try it out.
    • Perhaps Data has an easy setting.
      • As Tasha discovered.

1) "It is possible to make no mistakes and still lose." 2) Data may restrict his calculations for what would be the optimum move to only a few steps ahead when he plays human opponents, effectively allowing for challenge. 3) Maybe Dr. Soong deliberately introduced a chance for Data to miscalculate when he plays games so that he'd be a little more human.

Here's a conundrum for you

  • Keiran MacDuff has to be the world's worst villain. Nevermind the fact that if the Satarrans had the ability to wipe the memories of the computer and crew (including Data) and insert one of their own among the crew, it makes you wonder why they needed the Enterprise at all. (Which Riker is kind enough to lampshade for us at the end). But MacDuff could have given himself any position aboard the ship. Why did he deliberately make himself first officer and not captain?! For that matter, what was stopping him from replacing the entire Enterprise crew with his fellow Satarrans?
    • Because he wouldn't have the first idea of how to *run* the ship. All he had time for prior to the scan was a basic idea of weapon complement and functionality and uploading his dossier into the computer, he would have no idea how the crew operated - which the memory wipe conveniently left behind in the crew. If he had tried to command the ship, Picard and the others would have quickly relieved him of command, attributing his behavior to an acute case of whatever wiped their minds - Captain's incapacitated, who's next on the chain of command? By being First officer, he could suggest and advise Picard, have complete access to the ship, act as liason to the crew under the guise of reducing work for Picard - keeping the big man free to handle the BIG concerns, and delegate any actual job requirements to Riker, who did them anyways. It would give him time to familiarize himself with the crew and starship and, if necessary, incite a mutiny to get what he needed. Basically, he was the power behind the throne.
      • Great point, I'd never thought of that one before.
      • It's convenient that the first officer on TNG seems to have relatively few actual job duties.
        • That is pretty much the idea of any second-in-command position in any kind of field; they're there to take over if for whatever reason the person above them isn't there to preform those duties.
        • Riker has a lot of day-to-day duties, but they're just usually not highlighted because they're boring. Essentially clerical stuff. It's stuff that the Enterprise can function for a few days without, but not a month... but then the aliens only needed the ship for a day or two.
    • As for why he needed the Enterprise, maybe his race had powerful mind technologies, but not a lot of resources (so could only mind control a few enemies) and basically nothing in the way of conventional weapons to match their enemies.

What's With the Double Standard Q?

  • What is it with the Q Continuum and the need to judge humanity? Do they ever show any interest in judging the Klingons, Cardassians, Romulans or any other species? Then why do they keep going after humans?
    • While Star Trek tends to vacillate wildly between Humans Are Bastards and Humans Are Good (mostly coming out for the latter), the common denominator is some version of Humans Are Special... in this case, especially worthy of notice, good or ill.
    • Maybe there are other Q's involved in judging those species, or maybe they just haven't gotten around to them yet. Or there aren't any Q's as interested in those species as Q is in humanity. Or they do set up "tests" for those species, they just don't do it in such a flashy way like Q does.
    • Let's be fair: We've never seen any indication that any Q aside from John DeLancie's Q has any interest in testing humanity. In any event, the (obviously non-canon) book trilogy Q Continuum may shed some light on the subject for us: The entity known as 0 first got Q into the "testing" thing with the Calamarian and the Tkon Empire. And during the battle between the Q Continuum and 0-and-Associates, Q saved his future wife from 0's attempt to throw a meteor at her by reflexively creating a wormhole right in front of her, causing the asteroid to hit Earth. Later, Q was given charge of fixing up the "miserable little planet" as punishment, which Picard finds a bit hard to believe, to put it mildly.
    • Same poster as above with an alternate theory. Maybe Q does test other species, but because the Star Trek series focuses on the Federation, we don't see these instances.
      • One can further speculate that, since the Q's method of dealing with humanity in "All Good Things" is set to utterly erase its existence using the anti-time anomaly, the species that fail the test will never be seen because they have similarly been "struck from the record."
    • The question really is why there are so many "grievously savage" races around if the punishment is extinction? Surely the Founders, Cardassians, Hirogen, the Douwd (based on the one that killed all 50 billion Husnock in retaliation for one of their ships killing his wife) and many others are more guilty of continuing to do the things humanity stopped doing hundreds of years before. I can't fathom why an omnipotent race would need time to "get around" to try all the other species in the galaxy. The best I can figure is that it was all made up by Q as an elaborate prank on humans.
      • The Q are omnipotent beings (or the next thing to it), so it stands to reason that their motivations may not be entirely clear to we mere mortals. In "Hide and Q," Q implies that humans are on some sort of evolutionary fast track and may some day even outdo the Q; perhaps the test is all the more important because of humanity has a vast potential that other races may not share (Humans Are Special, after all!).
    • Possibly it's not so much humans' capacity for savagery that Q has issues with, but the fact that we combine that capacity with the conviction that we're morally justified in what we do. The various villain races tend to be eminently practical about why they cause harm to other species, whereas humans have a dangerous tendency to make a moral crusade out of their current agenda, that makes compromise far more difficult.
    • Q is a dick. Every other Q we meet is just a different flavor of dick. Next question.


Barclay's Protomorphosis and Hermaphroditism Syndrome

  • In "Genesis," main engineering is full of spider webs and we learn that Barclay is transforming into a spider. It is certainly implied that he was doing the spinning, but (mostly, at least) only female spiders spin webs. Perhaps this might not be true of the ancient spider that Barclay is becoming, but it's fun to speculate. Another thing for Troi to deal with afterwards, perhaps.
    • Mmm. And the syndrome seems to have made Spot pregnant, too, when I was always under the impression that Spot was a guy.
      • Nice theory, but Spot's mysterious gender change happened a bit earlier, in "Forces of Nature."


Eh, a thousand people on board, who cares if we're missing a few?

  • Why doesn't the Enterprise computer immediately inform the crew if a member of its complement is missing? Troi and Riker had to figure out for themselves that Q had abducted Picard in "Q Who", and there were all sorts of unexplained disappearances/reappearances in "Schisms" before the crew caught on and told the computer to monitor them. This seems like a fairly standard security feature to me!
    • I'm certain Q could make the computer neglect to mention Picard has suddenly vanished and it could be that the extradimensional aliens had a similar means of bypassing that security feature.
    • Geordi at one point notes that the computer is notorious for not volunteering information, for a variety of reasons. It may not be constantly monitoring every single person on the ship, among other things. Basically the ship doesn't automatically alert people every time someone leaves the ship because then there'd just be a lot of annoying notifications happening on the bridge.

Spot oddities (Spottities?)

  • Even if we ignore the obvious points of strangeness related to Data's feline friend (he/she switched genders in the seventh season, changed appearances from a longhair to a shorthair (yeah, the first cat is not explicitly identified as Spot)), certain other questions nag about her (let's go with "her") pregnancy. In turn:
    • Data does not know who the father is, but plans to run a DNA analysis of the kittens once they're born. With all of the fancy technology at his disposal, can this really not be done in utero?
      • It probably could, but there's no need to rush. It's not like he's on a deadline for filing for feline child support checks.
    • The idea that Spot can regularly get out of Data's quarters without his knowledge really tests suspension of disbelief. My cat has never gotten out of my apartment once, and I don't live on a starship.
      • Right, you don't live on a starship. Which means your apartment probably doesn't have automatic doors.
    • Data did not spay his cat. Bob Barker would not approve.
      • I'm sure Data would be just crushed that his long-dead idol Bob Barker would disapprove of how he takes care of his own cat.
    • He says there are twelve male cats on the board, implying that any one of them may be the father. So does he mean that there are twelve un-neutered cats on the Enterprise? Why on earth? Is somebody running a kitty mill?
      • It's a post-scarcity society. Unclench.


As an expert I say you should try expressing your homicidal tendencies?

  • Is Troi a real counselor? In Descent Data admits to her that the only emotion he has felt in the episode is anger and pleasure at killing an enemy. Please note that in this episode Data lifted a Borg off the ground by its throat and snapped its neck. So what does Troi do with a physically powerful android that has access to the entire ship? She encourages him to explore his anger.
    • Maybe the "With a stress ball" was implied?
      • Yes, I'm pretty sure Troi could tell that Data was still quite capable of telling the difference between a Borg trying to kill his friends and, you know, his friends. I'm pretty sure she understands that Data is not retarded and will not draw the conclusion that he should run through the ship ax murdering people. Especially since all the emotional experimentation he'd been trying directly before that was on the holodeck, so it was pretty safe to assume she meant "Explore your feelings on the holodeck. Like you've been doing. Just do anger instead of the other stuff."
    • WMG: Troi is the Sith Lord the Jedi spent half the Star Wars prequel trilogy running around to find.
    • I think she was recommending he try constructive means to understand the emotion and integrate it, rather than retreat and hide it until he freaks out.

Holodeck!Stephen Hawking being paralyzed.

  • Why was the Stephen Hawking in Data's poker match still paralyzed? I mean, I know he was played by the real Stephen Hawking, but that doesn't explain it in universe. Steve and the other geniuses seemed to be self aware, so at some point wouldn't Mr. Hawking have said "Hey, thinks for including me, considering me so highly even after centuries of other super smart people, but could I please have the use of my body back?"
    • You'll have to forgive me, but this is one of the oddest complaints I have ever heard. This is a program that Data designed. Hawking only has self-awareness within its parameters, and presumably would never even think of such a thing, since it does not involve playing poker.
      • It isn't really a complaint, just...well, a headscratcher. I mean, the way they reference the apple that fell on Newton's head makes me think they tell stories and talk to each other like real people, not simple drones.
        • Yes, that's what they're programmed to do. Holodeck characters are designed to act like they're self-aware. Only on very rare occasions does that mean they are self-aware.
      • Well, think of it this way. On Futurama, one of the commentaries describes them debating whether or not Hawking's head should appear as it does today, or as it might if he were cured. They decided that the heads all have to appear as the person was when they were most famous (whether or not this makes a ton of sense). The same logic applies to TNG, even when you think of it in in-universe terms (this is a presentation of Hawking, not the man himself, and why would Data think of not interacting with Hawking as he was most famous?)
    • As it is, the episode's presentation of Professor Hawking is still not consistent with how Hawking is in real life. In real life, it takes him an extremely long time to write (and therefore have his computerized voice say) even a single sentence. From That Other Wiki:

  In Hawking's many media appearances, he appears to speak fluently through his synthesiser, but in reality, it is a tedious drawn-out process. Hawking's setup uses a predictive text entry system, which requires only the first few characters in order to auto-complete the word, but as he is only able to use his cheek for data entry, constructing complete sentences takes time. His speeches are prepared in advance, but having a live conversation with him provides insight as to the complexity and work involved. During a TED Conference talk, it took him seven minutes to answer a question.

    • But obviously no one would want to watch a TNG episode in which there's a seven-minute pause between Hawking's poker quips; that'd be your whole episode right there. So, some concessions were made to make the holographic Hawking's condition "better" than in real life.
      • Makes perfect sense: If you were making a computer simulation of Stephen Hawking, you'd proabably make him, well, look like Stephen Hawking. You'd probably also take advantage of the fact it's a simulation to speed up his speech, probably by having the computer make the holo-synthesizer speak directly without going through holo-Hawking at all.


We're an enlightened government! Just don't ask for specifics.

  • Exactly what kind of government does the Federation have in Star Trek? The highest ranking civilians we tend to see are diplomats. Alpha Wiki and the Other Wiki mention a democratic government but in any of the shows have we ever heard about elections, political parties, candidates, legislative bodies or anything else that might suggest representative government?
    • Rarely enough. We meet several UFP presidents, but whether or not there are parties is never revealed. Jaresh-Enyo was the UFP President on DS 9 and we are later told that he left office, but not whether it was through resignation or being voted out. The often-mentioned Federation council is seen a few times (like in Star Trek IV) but its composition is never quite explained. Part of the confusion seems to be that the writers vacillate between the Federation being modeled on the UN and on a modern nation-state, especially the USA (the fact that Jaresh-Inyo can place Earth itself under martial law suggests that Earth's relationship to the Federation may be more analogous to Washington D.C.'s to the USA than the USA's to the UN, for example).
    • The problem with Star Trek and government is that Gene Roddenberry had an idea of an ideal, utopian communist society... and such a thing can't have any details given on it, because if you try to explain how it works, it starts falling apart. The entire concept relied on not being examined, which means that for many years the Federation had less development put into it than the Klingons did. The EU has made a few weak flailings at explaining how things work, and largely wound up with a representative republic. (Almost as if such a concept is actually kind of a good idea.) The Federation Council is made up of representatives of each member world (which are chosen by methods particular to each planet... Andoria apparently has some method of elections, whereas once Bajor joins their elected leader pretty much picks the council member). The Council can create, vote on, and pass resolutions, which the President can presumably veto or endorse. The President does seem to have quite a bit of broad unilateral power in forging alliances and undertaking diplomatic endeavors, however... probably the amount of power a lot of people think the American President has but doesn't necessarily.


The Borg have assimilated hundreds of races! You just never see any of them!

  • Seriously, every Borg drone has a smooth forehead, small round ears (if you can see them), curved eyebrows, is of average height and generally looks like they started as a human rather than any of the humanoid races who don't look like that. We know they've assimilated Klingons, Ferengi, Romulans and presumably lots of Delta Quandrant races. Where are they all?
    • This is discussed on the main Star Trek Headscratchers page.
    • For a quick answer consider that there are different kinds of drones and different races make better specific kinds of drones. So, naturally races with similar biologies are going to fill the same roles more often and since we typically only see certain areas of Borg vessels we're going to see a lot of similar looking drones. Plus Borg remove limbs so any racial indicator that was deemed irrelevant or inefficient would be removed and likely replaced with some implant.


Picard the Celebrity?

  • How well-known and recognizable is Picard? As captain of the flagship, he is surely a public figure of sorts, and I find it hard to believe that "The Best of Both Worlds" could have gone on without his face being plastered over whatever passes for media in the 24th century. Yet in "Gambit," he goes undercover and, luckily, nobody (even the Vulcan operative!) has a clue who he is.
    • Well, if Captain Owen Honors of the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) sat down in a bar would you recognize him? It's the flagship of the US Navy and he was in the news for a scandal (admittedly far less dramatic than something like Wolf 359) and I don't think he'd draw any attention from the average passer-by. Just because we watch Star Trek doesn't mean the "little people" in Star Trek know and care about the characters like we do.
      • The minute Captain Honors comes within a hair's breadth of destroying human civilization, this will be a good analogy.
      • It all depends on how much information the public is given about what happened. Even Jean-Luc's brother didn't seem to know the full story, thinking he was just captured and tortured by the Borg. It's not like Picard was responsible for Wolf 359, any more than any assimilated drone is personally responsible for what it does. The only people who suggest otherwise are Admiral Satie, who is paranoid and is trying to provoke Picard, and Ben Sisko, who was still grieving for his wife who died in that battle. So no, simply being captain of the flagship doesn't make you famous; the only way I think he would get the kind of media exposure you're suggesting is if he were portrayed as a traitor instead of a POW. Also remember that Wolf 359 happened in 2367 and "Gambit" took place in 2370. Picard was surely in the news, but not long enough for people to remember him from the headlines 3 years ago.
      • I don't think one would need to think of Picard as a traitor to be aware of his face and name after the Borg incident. Who wouldn't remember the name and face of the guy who was (under compulsion or otherwise) coming to destroy your civilization? No matter how you slice it, "Gambit" doesn't make a ton of sense, especially that a Vulcan wouldn't see through him -- a Vulcan! They should remember ever face they ever see.


Incapable of Lying?

  • In The Most Toys, Data attempts to use a very lethal disrupter on Fajo, only to be beamed away at the last second. O'Brien detects Data's weapon during transport, and informs Riker it is in a state of discharge. When Riker asks about this, Data tells him that the readings must have been a transport error, but the audience is left to infer that Data intended to kill Fajo, and lied to Riker about it. By most measures, killing Fajo would seem to be an acceptable use of force under the circumstances. Why, then, does a character who has claimed to be incapable of telling lies lie about what seems to be an entirely justified homicide?
    • He doesn't lie. Riker says "that the weapon was in a state of discharge," to which Data responds "Perhaps something occurred during transport." As we saw in "Clues," Data is capable of refusing to answer a question; in "The Most Toys," he deflects the question. So he hasn't actually lied, he's found a loophole and used it.
      • Yes, but the question is, why does he evade the question at all? Perhaps because he does not want people to know that he is capable of deciding to kill. No matter how you slice it, it's a very important character moment.
        • I'm pretty sure it's understood that Data can decide to kill, as it's been necessary for him to use lethal force in his duties as a Starfleet officer. Data's likely more deflecting it because he understands it would be pointless to admit to trying to kill Fajo... Fajo's not dead, Data's rescued, Fajo's going to prison, nothing is really gained by fessing up. It's a moment of both logic and growing humanity to cover up a moment of anger.
    • When was it ever established that Data is incapable of lying? Vulcans understand the necessity of lying when in the performance of duty, so it seems unlikely that an even more logical being wouldn't grasp the concept. Besides, it would be an extraordinary liability taking him to Romulus in "Unification" if some bystander asked him, "New in town, eh? So what brings you here?" and Data would be compelled to say, "We are Federation spies."
      • It was probably in one of the earlier episodes. Speaking of lying, in "Clues" Data lies to the crew for most of the episode, but it turns out Picard had ordered him to do so (the crew, sans Data, had had their memories changed). Data may be incapable of lying, but he's smart enough to find loopholes and abuse them to lie without triggering the subroutine preventing him from lying. If he had to always tell the truth, "Clues" probably would've ended with Data shutting down or trying to kill the crew to follow orders and follow his programming. Telling a machine that can't lie to lie is going to have bad consequences no matter how you slice it.

What Measure is a Cardassian?

  • In "The Wounded", the Enterprise is allegedly "trying everything in its power" to reach Captain Maxwell and the Starship Phoenix before it can destroy the lives of any more Cardassian citizens. Never mind for now that Picard refuses to give the Cardassians the ship's transponder code so they can track its precise location. When the Phoenix is bearing down on a Cardassian warship and a freighter, Picard assents to giving the Cardassians the Phoenix's prefix code to disable the shields, but alas, even unshielded, the Cardassians are no match for Maxwell. Picard then orders an increase in speed to Warp 9-- from the Enterprise's previous speed of WARP 4! Why in the world was he previously flying at below the recommended cruising speed?! Is he really trying his hardest to preserve the peace?! And then when they actually find him and bring him aboard the Enterprise, rather than place him under arrest they let him return to the Phoenix with orders to accompany the Enterprise back to a starbase-- and of course Maxwell takes off. This episode had a hurricane of bad decisions by Picard.
    • I find the speed of Enterprise constantly problematic. Obviously, you don't want to run your engines ragged, but on more occasions then I can count Picard lets the Enterprise waddle along like it's a cruise ship, no matter the circumstances. Hey, Captain? Why are you pissing around at Warp 2 (Ten times the speed of light) when you could be travelling at Warp 9 (One thousand, five hundred and sixteen times the speed of light)? At the former, you'll travel a light year in five weeks; at the latter, six hours. Do you just like taking the scenic route?
      • The point of the Enterprise is that it's literally not about the destination, it's about the journey. Zipping everywhere at warp nine might cause them to miss too many discoveries of scientific value. (In before some wit chortles about how they might miss a few negative space wedgies too. Yeah, those are of scientific value, smartass.) It's not a speedboat whose only purpose is to get from Point A to Point B, it's a mobile laboratory and research facility. In other words, yes, he not only likes taking the scenic route, it is his job to take the scenic route. As to why he's not being more accommodating of the Cardassians, no, he's probably not doing absolutely everything he could... because he doesn't trust the Cardassians. And shouldn't. He's taking what he sees as reasonable but restrained measures so that he avoids falling into a Cardassian trap that could actually be a goad back into war.


Not until Tuesday

  • Why doesn't the computer ever tell the crew that a critical feature such as the tractor beam has been maliciously sabotaged until they have the misfortune to find that out the hard way?
    • Because the first rule of sabotage is to do it in a way that people won't find out immediately.


The infallible autopsy

  • In "Suspicions", Crusher's Ferengi scientist friend supposedly commits suicide, but obviously that's not true. Crusher wants to do an autopsy to prove it, but that would be against his family's wishes. She does it anyway, and finds nothing. Why did she ever resort to that in the first place? Did she forget about all the super-advanced medical equipment that can provide hyper-detailed imaging of the entire body and its internal structure? It's not like she needs a direct look at his organs. We've seen sensors identify scarring from surgical procedures on bone tissue. Are dead people impervious to sensors or something?


Radiation on the Sutherland

  • In "Redemption" Data orders the Sutherland's phasers to be brought on-line. His first officer, Hobson, objects that this will flood three decks with radiation and accuses Data throwing people's lives away. The rest of the episode makes no mention of people having died. It seems to me that if they had, Data himself would have said it when submitting himself for disciplinary action later, but he instead focuses on his having broken orders from Picard. I remember being confused by this plot point when first watching this episode as a child, and it was just as confusing on re-watch recently. So, what's the deal here? Did Data actually kill people in this episode? It seems to me that whether he did or didn't significantly changes both the morality of his actions and the justification of Hobson's objections. And why didn't the episode bother specifying either way? Was it just bad writing, something carelessly dropped during editing, or was it left ambiguous on purpose?

Notes

  1. though considering how apparently easy it is to hack the computer, infiltrate the ship and take over maybe they really didn't
  2. (= what I did)
  3. (= moving two spaces in one turn, without going to a space in between = what happened)
  4. (= naming new event)
  5. (= success)
  6. (Neville at the table (have forgotten what you try to remember), Archer and the Xindi (utterly alien conversation). Booboo in kindergarten about Shaka and Tenagra (learning first lingual concepts), Juspeczyk and Dr. Manhattan on Mars of "the" (explaining something logically which seems obvious to one who doesn't understand, concerning the word "the"), Shaka where the walls have fallen (have failed and cannot undo). Dr. Manhattan to Juspeczyk at Mars (logical creature expecting beliefs of opponent to be logical), Chester A Bum at the end (demanding), Booboo as Neville for Shaka and Tenagra (inability to remember learning lingual concepts)!)
  7. Shaka and Tanagra of China as Gilgamesh of Picard at Darmok. Athenian League at Epidauros, Wikipedia of Shaka and Tanagra of China, Arabian border of Hadrian's Empire, TVTropes of Shaka and Tanagra of China. Starfleet Translator at Urda at Darmok, Shaka and Tenagra, China as Altair in Acre to Darmok. Higgs and Planck as before, China to Shaka and Tenagra, Taegris, his arms wide. Darmok to China, Atalante at speed.
  8. actually in Trek it just might given they seem to promote their most reckless, rudest guys to the top pretty quickly
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