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Star Trek TNG - Season 7 - Episode 23

Star Trek TNG - 7x23 - Emergence

Originally Aired: 1994-5-9

Synopsis:
The Enterprise develops its own intelligence. [DVD]

My Rating - 0

Fan Rating Average - 4.1

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 34 15 14 7 10 14 7 10 12 8 14

Problems
- Uhh... so... the Enterprise develops an intelligence and even reproduces! And then suddenly just stops? For no reason?

Factoids
- This episode is a candidate for my "Worst Episode of TNG Award".

Remarkable Scenes
- The Enterprise starting to freak out.
- Data holding back a car.

My Review
More filler, this time worse because we've got bad sci fi to go along with it. Throw in the stock holodeck malfunction along with a no consequences plot, among many other things, and we've got ourselves one hell of a cliched episode. Besides the cliche, the science in this episode is really, really bad. I just find it hard to believe the Enterprise could come alive and reproduce, then never do it again, all of which for no reason.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From RichD on 2006-05-03 at 5:23pm:
    What an atrocious, abysmal episode. Lazy writing, uninspired acting, and erratic pacing. The Enterprise gives birth? What is going on? At this point in time in the series, in the 7th season, we should have never, ever been subjected to such a complete waste of time. My goodness. I can only think of one other episode that was worse, Shades of Gray.
  • From -ezm- on 2010-06-02 at 3:25pm:
    Absolutely terrible episode. Bottom 5 for sure. To think that All Good Things would only be 3 episodes later.
  • From Paul on 2010-08-19 at 10:40am:
    I felt violently sick while watching this episode. Not sure if that was related to its intense badness.

    Also interesting to note is the guy that plays the train conductor is also Jeffery Lebowski in 'The Big Lebowski'. I recognised his voice and couldn't work it out for ages ^^
  • From ElGuapo on 2011-12-14 at 2:14pm:
    Another computer turned intelligent episode... At least this one wasn't as bad as the one with the little repair robots that turned self-aware. Still, an awful episode. The only saving grace is the.. wait... I can't think of anything.

    Oh wait.. I know.. maybe the new lifeform will look cool when TNG hi-def comes out in 2012! Right now it looks like the pipe screensaver from Windows 95.

  • From L on 2013-05-09 at 2:27am:
    Very irritating.

    Using a mixed historical holodeck scenario to explore the ship's 'mind' seemed like cheating and cheap production values. I guess they made it justifiable, but it was pretty cheesy as a metaphor.

    Picard saying they have a responsibility to respect the ship as any other living being is just stupid.
    It's a highly crucial tool and a mobile environment that supports the crew's life; its developing intelligence is a serious problem as its desire for individual freedom is in immediate conflict with a desire to keep your environment supporting you and your crew's life. It demonstrated it was willing to kill them all when it started to use life support energy to reach the second star.
    This is no time to be a hippie, an immediate lobotomy is called for!

    I did like how in the end he said that the Enterprise's consciousness was the sum of their experiences and adventures over the years, so in a sense the crew was also the parent of the new life-form. A nice way to think about it.
    But it was still a pretty unrealistic reaction to a ridiculous situation.

    Good parts -
    The analysis of Prospero and Shakespeare in the first scene.
    Data out of the holodeck still with crazy hair and moustache.
    Introducing the concept of consciousness as an emergent function of complexity. If only they had explored it in a better plot.

    I'm sure there's been some ridiculous lines in seven years of The Next Generation, but Troi's
    "I think we should follow that man, that brick might be an important clue.",
    has to be one of the greatest.
  • From Emily on 2014-02-10 at 6:50pm:
    I think for you to truly understand this episode it would be beneficial to have a deeper understanding of The Tempest.

    In some ways I think that the ship’s intelligence, trying to break away from the confines of the ship in to a higher state of being is in many ways comparable to Ariel in The Tempest, a spirit who we are told is imprisoned within a tree (a thing of the earth in which a spirit of the air does not belong).

    Ariel is freed from this chamber by Prospero and in return he obeys him as a servant. Prospero uses Ariel to control the forces of nature (it is worth noting here that the term ‘magick’ in Shakespeare’s time could be used to mean wisdom about natural forces/elements) in order to complete his mission of diplomacy. This is undeniably similar to the relationship between Captain Picard and The Enterprise.

    As the play progresses, Ariel itches more and more for complete freedom from his earthly tasks. Prospero is a man of his word, and eventually releases Ariel once he has done everything Prospero has asked of him.

    Another interesting thing to note about this episode, is that it is very close to the end of TNG. The Tempest was Shakespeare’s last (and arguably best) solo work and a lot of the play parallels Prospero’s magic art to Shakespeare’s art as a play write. At the end of the play (this is the scene shown at the beginning of the episode) Prospero says goodbye to his magic, and indeed the epilogue to the play can be interpreted as Shakespeare’s heart-warming goodbye to the theatre. Perhaps the use of this play is a nod to the fact that the writers would shortly be saying goodbye to TNG.

    I could probably continue to research and write for days about the symbolism in this episode, the use of opposites, the exploration of the psyche, the ‘Brave new world’ and how this all relates to The Tempest and further to humanity.

    However as this is and old article on an old webpage I’m guessing my efforts would amount to very little. I think what I’m saying is that this episode has a lot more to it than what you have taken prima facie and if anyone reading this has decided to just take a look at this episode and The Tempest in maybe a little more depth they will be greatly rewarded by what they find, and furthermore what I have written would have been worthwhile.
  • From Daniel Antil on 2014-08-31 at 5:18am:
    I agree this is one of the worst episodes. It's almost a guarantee that any episode which relies on the holo deck for its storyline is generally insubstantial. There are so many things wrong with this episode:
    1. The holo deck becomes the vehicle for the ship's computer to take over the ship??? It just can't happen!
    2. Data, despite his strength, cannot stop a car from moving forward if he is merely squatting on the ground - it is simple physics - he would need proper leverage and weight balance.
    3. The man who takes the gold brick and puts it into an empty slot in a wall... What does it mean??? There is obviously something symbolic about it, but they don't explain it at all!
    4. The ship creates a life form in the cargo bay??? So many things wrong with that!
    5. When the life form is complete, it simply passes through the ship's hull and flies off into space... Why? Where did it go? And why the heck doesn't the Enterprise follow it??? That should be the primary mission - investigate and keep tabs on a life form the ship created!
    6. After the holo deck turns off, Data, Troy and Worf are still holding drinks in their hands... Drinks they got from the holo deck train.

    That's just a basic list... There are dozens of other flaws in this episode. It's a stinker!
  • From Carolyn on 2015-08-28 at 1:45pm:
    This is one of my favorite episodes. Very creative, funny and thoughtful. I can't believe the reviews I am reading here!
  • From GVT on 2016-08-02 at 3:28am:
    I found Emily's comment very helpful in understanding this episode...thank you Emily. This episode does require a more metaphorical interpretation since, as L mentioned, having starships running around becoming self-aware and doing whatever they choose would spell disaster for the crews of those vessels. I find entertainment in the absurd so I rate this episode a 6...but with insight gained from Emily's post a 7.

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