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Star Trek TNG - Season 6 - Episode 20

Star Trek TNG - 6x20 - The Chase

Originally Aired: 1993-4-26

Synopsis:
Picard tries to solve a four-billion-year old puzzle. [DVD]

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 6.22

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Problems
None

Factoids
- There are 17 people on board the Enterprise not from Federation worlds.
- Salome Jens, who plays as the humanoid alien projection in this episode, later goes on to play the leader of the Dominion in DS9.

Remarkable Scenes
- Picard's enthusiastic meeting with his old teacher.
- Picard lamenting about having to betray his mentor once again.
- The meeting between Picard and the Cardassian and Klingon captains.
- The Klingon captain challenging Data to a number of ritual challenges.
- The Klingon captain attempting to bribe Data, then retracting his offer when Data points out that it is in fact a bribe.
- Picard's conversation with the Romulan commander in the end.

My Review
A bold episode; why do so many Star Trek aliens look just like humans? Because somebody's been seeding them! A decent episode with a well executed though very strange premise. Unfortunately, this episode which tries hard to be profound, fails largely as the results of this discovery are largely inconsequential. As Picard said, the speech fell on "deaf ears." This isn't necessarily unrealistic but it does make the episode a little more unremarkable, naturally.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From JRPoole on 2008-09-22 at 3:57pm:
    Although the execution sometimes leave a little to be desired, this remains one of my favorite episodes.

    I absolutely love the idea of genetic "seeding" and the idea that all humanoid life comes from an ancient common source. It's perhaps a little bit unrealistic that they all found out at the exact same time, but it's necessary for the plot; I found it a little forced that the Cardassians and Klingons thought there would be a weapon or limitless power source at the end of this chase--why would anybody put this kind of code in our DNA if it was simply a weapon? But I guess their suspicions are in character.

    A few loose ends: what's the deal with the ship that Worf destroyed? Maybe I missed it, but there didn't seem to be an explanation why a minimal phaser blast destroyed the whole ship. Also, while it's plausible that the Klingon captain would destroy all life on the planet after getting the DNA sample, it seems like there would be some sort of repercussions.

    The only person who seems to share Picard's wonder and fascination at the Romulan captain. By this time in the series, the Romulans are becoming the most interesting and well-developed alien race around, and this is no exception. The Klingons and Cardassians hold on to their hatreds, but the Romulans, represented by the captain here anyway, see the bigger picture. Looking back over the next generation, it's a pity the Romulans couldn't have taken a bigger role. They would have made a much more interesting and engaging species to study than the newly-found Ferengi. Maybe that's just my bias talking, as anyone who's read my posts here knows that I loathe the Ferengi and find them to be an embarrassing additon to the series.
  • From Mark McC on 2009-02-09 at 7:23am:
    A strange episode where all races go in search of something that surely must be accepted scientific fact by now.

    We've had Human/Vulcan, Human/Klingon, Betazoid/Human, Klingon/Romulan and Human/Romulan mixed-species characters. There's probably more, since Kirk and Riker seem to consider anyone with two legs and breasts a suitable candidate for mating with!

    With all these successful hybrids, wouldn't scientists have already concluded that the vast majority of bipedal sentient species in the galaxy must share not only common DNA, but also compatible reproductive systems?
  • From Random Guy on 2010-04-30 at 3:34pm:
    Regarding the repercussions bit:

    The guy only killed a bunch of trees on some distant planet. There wasn't any kind of civilization there, nor any animals at all, so it's not as big of a deal as it would appear.
  • From MJ on 2011-02-23 at 6:22pm:
    This episode reminded me of the TOS episode "Bread and Circuses" in which they talked about parallel planet development. I liked how in that episode, and this one, Star Trek tries to give a somewhat plausible (at least in sci-fi) explanation for why there are thousands of beings in the galaxy that are some variation of the Human form. Star Trek is just as anthropomorphic as any sci-fi show (or religion, for that matter), but at least they acknowledge it.

    However, the first time I saw this, I felt a bit as the Klingon captain did: "That's all???" They could've stretched this into a two-parter, adding some more intrigue and action to the chase, and also providing more as to how these original aliens seeded the galaxy. In truth, you actually have the makings of a movie here, certainly a better one than TNG would later field.

    Galen was an interesting character, and shows us another side of Picard. The one thing we've seen Picard excited about in previous episodes is archaeology. It's more than a hobby, it's a passion, and now we learn it's something he had the opportunity to devote his life to. And, his mentor hasn't really forgiven him for not doing so.

    The scenes with Data and the Klingon captain are priceless. I love the part where Data is trying to logically explain why the captain's offer was indeed a bribe, innocently ruining the subtlety of it.
  • From Zaphod on 2011-04-14 at 5:47am:
    Annoying Episode, packed with everything I don't like about Star Trek.
    Here the wise and peaceful Federation guys, there a bunch of insanely stupid and childish aliens not capable of understanding the message of peace and tolerance. Everything we know about these races is thrusted aside and again they are reduced to irrational and aggressive morons not blessed with the superior wisdom and diplomatic skill of the federation. Naturally all suggestions to defuse the situation are made by Picard, the Federation representative.

    And how on earth can that Klingon be so foolish and think that a trial of strength with an android is a good idea?!

    These caricatures remind me of the arrogant and selfish view Europeans had in past centuries, especially in the imperialistic age. Our ancestors back then also honestly believed they were the good guys and their conquers were beneficial for the "savages" they conquered.
    Star Trek seems to preach tolerance and respect for other cultures but the way the Klingons, Cardassians and Romulans are depicted tells me the opposite.
    And why does every peaceful civilization join the f*cking Federation? Why aren't there many more alliances who are not just stupid warmongering caricatures like the Cardassians and why do these Klingon, Cardassian and Romulan boneheads get so much room in Star Trek? Because it gives the audience a feeling of superiority so they can do the same thing Roddenberry did, feel comfortable with the worldview they have and preach about it everytime someone listens without any doubt and the need to ever think again in their lives or to listen to the unimportant stuff other people say. ^^

    And what moron wrote the speech that ancient alien gave them? Didn't sound wise to me, sounded more like an inept preacher trying too hard to reach the poor lost souls of his fold. Really embarrassing.
  • From Robert Koenn on 2011-06-06 at 10:08am:
    I found this episode to be very good and definitely liked the ancient planting of space seed around the galaxy. I told my wife as we watched that was the intent of the riddle right from the beginning and said it reminded me of the theme of 2001 from the perspective of an ancient galactic civilization being the creators of new civilizations. While I still have problems with such militaristic races, particularly the Klingons (how could a race such as that even manage to survive each other and develop technology), it did make sense from how they are portrayed in the series. And I for one liked the morality of the counterpoint of this ancient race hoping we had overcome our war like ways and learned to live peacefully with each other. Even that final point between the Romulan and Picard. Yes it is simplistic but there is a huge portion of the human race that hopes for such a thing even on this rather pathetic human planet with all its' hatred and killing and inequality.
  • From Brendan on 2011-09-15 at 8:17am:
    So would it be a stretch to assume that this ancient civilization evolved to become the Founders of the Dominion. I say that for several reasons.

    1. The alien in this episode is played by the same actress who portrayed the female changeling in DS9 (Salome Jens).

    2. They look kind of similar, not identical, but the again the Founders are changelings.

    3. The Founder mentions to Odo in one episode that they were solids once but then they evolved. Judging by how much time must have passed for life in the entire Alpha Quadrant to evolve, I imagine that would be enough time for this alien race to evolve into the Founders.

    Kind of a cool thing to think about....even if it was never intended to be that way. It does seem like sort of a wink and a nod from DS9's producers in casting Salome Jens as the Founder.
  • From Ggen on 2012-04-20 at 9:00pm:
    This was a most excellent idea that unfortunately was pretty much botched during execution. I really enjoyed the initial scenes with Picard's professor, but although the premise got even more interesting, the actual episode got worse.

    The main problem was that the whole thing felt very contrived and everything just lined up in an all too convenient way, one link after the other, one gratuitous-feeling exposition after the next. Virtually everything said in this episode didn't feel like realistic dialogue, although it was all very convenient for explaining the story.

    I also didn't really care for how it turned into a who's who of TNG: the Cardassians show up (that captain was kind of ridiculous by the way), then the Klingons, then the Romulans... Although it made sense in the context of the story, it also didn't quite feel right...

    I do have to give the episode credit where its due, because the basic idea of a DNA-based computer program was rather original. The "extraterrestrial origins" thing is original for TNG, although not entirely original among scientists/paranormal researchers/ufo buffs, etc (look up "panspermia" and "directed panspermia"). It was certainly a welcome topic, in any case, because it successfully addressed that longstanding nagging question: "Why are almost all aliens in Trek humanoids, some even indistinguishable from humans?"

    - - -

    Then again, although I'm not a biologist, I'm not sure that question is really answered. Introducing basic DNA material into the primordial soup is one thing. But our humanoid appearance also depends on millions of years of unpredictable, blind evolution, complete with countless random factors, environmental changes, etc.

    As far as I understand it, there's really no way to draw a direct line from seeding the genetic material and the eventual outcome, millions of years later, unless you also control or manipulate countless other factors and events.

  • From thaibites on 2012-09-20 at 10:09am:
    This was a very enjoyable episode with good pacing. It had mystery, intrigue, and even a little action.

    I agree with Brendan about the Changelings. I thought the same thing when the Founder appeared to all those gathered on the planet.

  • From Axel on 2015-06-01 at 2:42am:
    I see Zaphod's points about the Federation, but a lot of that gets explored in the DS9 series. There is a lot more moral ambiguity when it comes to Federation policy and the actions of Starfleet in DS9. That's one of the greatest things DS9 brings to the franchise, IMO.

    Also, note that the Romulan commander, at least, appeared to grasp the alien's message and hope that the day may come when there could be peace and tolerance between worlds.

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