Star Trek: The Next Generation (1989) – Contagion, and The Royale

Captain’s log: stardate 42609.1

Airing on 27 March, 1989, Contagion is a fairly solid story written by Steve Gerber and Beth Woods. In response to a distress call from their sister ship, the U.S.S. Yamato, Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) orders the Enterprise to violate the Romulan Neutral Zone.

Racing towards the ship, the Enterprise downloads the Yamato’s logs to try to make sense of what is happening. Before they can arrive on site, the Yamato is destroyed.

With mentions of a long lost race, which tempts Picard’s archaeology bent, and strange, and increasingly dangerous series of malfunctions now plaguing the Enterprise, the stakes are elevated even higher when the Romulans arrive.

Investigating the leads provided by the Yamato, Picard discovers the truth behind the legend of the Iconians. The climax sees Picard, Worf (Michael Dorn) and Data (Brent Spiner) trapped on the lost and desolate Iconian homeworld unable to return to the Enterprise thanks to the presence of the Romulans.

I like seeing Riker (Jonathan Frakes) handle the Romulans, led by SubCommander Taris (Carolyn Seymour). He goes toe to toe with the Romulans, and still tries to help them when they face danger. Picard also gets a great moment with Taris.

I also really enjoy the fact that Picard got a chance to get off the bridge. That, and sharing more of his love of archaeology! And in this case it helped to save the day, so that’s always good.

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Captain’s log: stardate 42625.4

Picture the Original Series A Piece of the Action, and take out all the enjoyable humour, and add the Next Generation cast, and you have this story, which is probably one of my least favourite episodes. Ever.

Tracy Torme, writing as Keith Mills, penned this episode that aired on 27 March, 1989.

The Enterprise beams aboard a piece of wreckage from an unexplored planet only to discover that it carries a NASA emblem. Beaming down to investigate, Riker, Data and Worf find themselves in a hotel that they can’t check out of.

Exploring the structure, they discover a long dead astronaut, and at his bedside, a terrible, cliched and melodramatic novel, and possibly a way out of the hotel, if they play the story out, which is what the inhabitants of the planet are doing.

The trio assume roles, and work to find a way out of the story, if not the hotel itself.

I still don’t care for this one, no matter how enjoyable Frakes, Dorn and Spiner’s performances are. The episode tries to play up a bit of a mystery, but you can’t buy into it because of the melodramatic sense of storytelling the characters are caught up in.

This episode, much like The Dauphin last week, rather knocks the momentum built up by the previous story and holds season two back from being a strong second year.

The Human Adventure continues Thursday.

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