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Star Trek TNG - Season 7 - Episode 19

Star Trek TNG - 7x19 - Genesis

Originally Aired: 1994-3-21

The crew de-evolves into prehistoric beings. [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 5.07

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Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 41 6 11 6 7 11 31 27 21 18 15

- Much of the science in this episode makes little to no sense. Why would a cat de-evolve into an iguana? Or a human (Barclay) into a spider?

- According to Data, there are 12 male cats on board that could have impregnated Spot.
- This episode was directed by Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher). She did a surperb job; though this is the only episode they let her direct!

Remarkable Scenes
- Ogawa pulling cactus thorns out of Riker.
- Barclay's self-diagnosis.
- Worf's "enhanced guidance system" glitching.
- Data describing to Barclay injuries to the crew Spot has inflicted on her previous babysitters.
- Worf and Troi's odd behaviors near one another.
- Barclay with lots of energy.
- Worf's attack on Troi.
- Worf venom attacking Beverly.
- Amphibious Troi.
- Neanderthal Riker.
- Spider Barclay.
- Picard and Data duplicating Troi's pheromones and Picard luring him away from Data.
- Primal Worf.

My Review
This is an extremely entertaining episode. It's a shame the science behind it is a bit questionable. Then again, much of the science of this episode isn't questionable. Data's cure is very innovative. The idea to create a cure based on the natural defenses of a pregnant woman is certainly original. The episode has such a fast and fun pace that by the time it's over, you wonder where the rest of it is. This is a controversial episode because of the bad science involved, but in my opinion the bad science is pretty minimal; compare it to something like Voy: Threshold, or TOS: The Alternative Factor, then you might agree with me that the technical issues of this episode are largely minor. That said, I very much enjoyed this one.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-06-28 at 12:39pm:
    Whether you believe in evolution or not, you'll probably agree that the science in this episode is really bad. This is so in the initial transformations, where cats turn to lizards and humans turn to spiders, but also in the part where everyone returns to normal. How can a brain, like Riker's, shrink in size and then return to its original size while keeping all of the original memories intact? I also question how half the crew did not end up dying from the wild animals running around. Perhaps it was because they were all huddled together in certain areas of the ships, as Data specifies, but I have to believe that a large number still would have died.

    If you can get past the bad science of the episode, you may find the rest entertaining enough to watch, deserving of a 5.
  • From JRPoole on 2008-11-03 at 10:15am:
    Usually episodes that feature truly bad science annoy me to no end, but I'm willing to let it go with this one simple because it's so much fun.

    As the person above noted, the science isn't all that bad with some suspension of disbelief. If we all evolved from a common ancestor in the form of a unicellular organism, you can posit that there are reptilian and even insect DNA fragments lying domant in our genetic codes. Human embryos have gills and tails, for instance. Sure it's a stretch, but the visual effects and makeup were all done well and it's great fun if you don't take it too seriously.

    What I do have a problem with is the idea noted above about everyone returning to normal. It's ridiculous to think that the structual properties of the new bodies and the memories encoded in the now physically changed brains would remain intact. Still, I enjoyed this one throroughly. I'd probably hide this episode if I was introducing someone to TNG, as it is pretty goofy, but it's action-packed and entertaining, so I gave it a 5. They can't all be classics, and all I ask of filler episodes is to be entertaining, and this one definitely delivers.
  • From SS on 2009-01-16 at 10:49pm:
    The science could have been a lot worse. "Introns" really are sections of the genome that do not code for anything and certain sections have indeed been identified as leftovers of our evolutionary past.

    Mammals evolved from reptiles, which evolved from amphibians, so Troi's change works. Ogawa made a good australopithecine, and Riker made a good erectine (although Data identified him as australopithecine, he was much too large to be anything other than Homo). The spider is much harder to justify, as arachnids are not part of humans' evolutionary past, but it made for a good scare.

    There are obviously some major problems that others have identified, but it's all in good fun. This isn't one of my favorite episodes, but for season 7 it's well above average.
  • From Albert on 2009-07-08 at 3:53pm:
    Another rare bad episode in my opinion, I agree with another reviewer that it's mainly the bad science that makes it insulting. Sorry to repeat another comment almost word-for-word, but Riker's brain shrinking seems like it would do permanent damage. Unless they are trying to say something unkind about Riker in this episode.

    Every crew member surely would have suffered permanent brain damage and physical deformities from this illness.

    The primordial version of Worf is the best part of this episode, it makes me wonder if in a first draft he was to be the only on affected, and started to hunt through the ship like the alien in Alien. I would have liked a version like this better.
  • From Keith on 2013-02-02 at 10:54pm:
    Continuity Error

    Troi is in Sick Bay after Worf's attack, then in her quarters when Picard and Data reenter the ship, then back in sSick Bay when Worf is intent on mating with her. Surely Picard and Data did not bring her back to Sick Bay.
  • From TheAnt on 2013-11-05 at 10:38am:
    Biology violated

    This is one questionable episode indeed, but it made in a way that almost make me think that the authors of the script told themselves that 'We've violated physics so many times, and the internal ideas of Star Trek, so we better violate Biology bigtime now in the last part of the series as well."

    When I did see the episode the first time, U initially thought it were some sort of anti-genetic engineering propaganda piece. But the solution which indeed utilized genetic engineering contradicted that idea.
    (So that was one idea I got when still watching this.)

    SS is indeed correct about the introns, but those loose segments left over from our earlier stages of evolution would not combine to make other complete organisms.
    Even so with the extremely bad science the story might still have been able to fly, if they had made a few details more believable.

    Sadly that's not the case, and with one completely deflating ending, that the shot Crusher gave Backlay had started all this. I can only give this episode a weak 4, and those points given only for the horror action elements and SFX such as Barclay as a spider and Neanderthal Riker.
  • From Axel on 2015-03-06 at 10:45pm:
    The science problems don't really bother me as much as some people. If someone watches this episode and thinks, "Wow, I had no idea humans evolved from spiders!" I think that speaks more to the failure of public education than it does Star Trek's handling of evolutionary biology. Besides, most of the transformations are believable, such as Riker, Ogawa and Picard himself. And as mentioned before, it's not as if Star Trek hasn't sometimes fumbled other scientific concepts.

    The acting is what I enjoyed most about this episode. It gave the cast a chance to try some new things, and for the most part I think it was very entertaining. Dorn's performance was a lot of fun; Frakes did a great job playing the smaller-brained devolving hominid; and Schultz got to play Barclay on steroids, which was pretty enjoyable.

    As opposed to DS9 with its story arcs, TNG's 7th season feels like it was just wrapping things up as it went along while also pushing the sci-fi envelope a bit. Some of it worked, some of it didn't. This episode wasn't memorable, but it was fun enough. I'd give it a 6.

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