Monday, August 24, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Contagion"

The Romulans finally show up after their return in “The Neutral Zone,” ywt are not the main villains of the episode. Instead, it is a computer virus from a long dead civilization. Weird how that turns out, no?

The Enterprise comes to the aid of the Yamato, a ship that entered the neutral zone under the assumption it had discover the ancient Iconian civilization with all its mythic ability to appear anywhere in the galaxy. The Yamato is stranded above the planet with major recurring malfunctions. The ship is destroyed right in front of the Enterprise, but not before its infected database is downloaded into the computer. The Enterprise begins suffering the same type of malfunction.

A similarly infected Romulan war bird appears, conveniently trapping a just arrived away on the planet because the shields are raised preventing a beam out. Theaway team discovers the Iconians used technology in order to open portals to different words so they could travel anywhere .in an instant. Picard decides the technology has to be destroyed before it can fall into Romoulan hands. He probably laments this is the neutral zone, so the Federation cannot claim the technology for itself, but this being trek, the instinct the captain always goes with is to blow stuff up.

Data is accidentally infected by the computer program, too. He appears to die, but actually shuts himself down to purge thevirus, then restart his program clean. This technique would also work perfectly for the Enterprise, though no one ever thought about trying it in the seven hours the ship has been deteriorating. Obviously, no one onboard has ever had to CTRl + ALT + DELETE their hard drives before. Does the blue screen of death not exist in the 24th century?

Picard blows up the portal technology, the Enterprise reboots, and for good measure, the technique is shared with the Romulans who also do not use a Microsoft operating system.

“Contagion” is a good episode. Nothing groundbreaking, but a fun adventure. I found it odd how emotionless the crew was to watch the Yamato be destroyed, particularly consider Picard and its captain were supposedly old friends. Trek typically handles death in a casual manner, but you would think watching a thousand people die right before your eyes would have more impact than just being an excuse to go to commercial. Doubly so that it is glossed over there are children on board. But the script does not dwell on that, so neither will I.

The iconian portals will make a reappearance in the fourth season of DS9 when the Jem Hadar attempt to use them to invade the Alpha Quadrant. Worf takes part in a mission to stop them and mentions the events of “Contagion.” Nifty bit of continuity there. The Iconian portals also show up in the novel crossover Gateways. The novels are not canon, however. Probably a good thing, as I believe Archer took part in that series. Very tainted, I imagine.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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