Star Trek Reviews

Return to season list

Star Trek TNG - Season 2 - Episode 11

Star Trek TNG - 2x11 - Contagion

Originally Aired: 1989-3-20

Synopsis:
The Enterprise computer is infected. [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 6.82

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 7 7 4 8 12 4 14 41 33 36 21

Problems
- Why did Riker order the helmsman to raise the shields?
- How can one talk during transport?

Factoids
- This is the first episode in which Picard orders "tea, Earl Grey, hot."

Remarkable Scenes
- The destruction of the Yamato.
- Captain Varley's logs.
- Wesley's history lesson regarding the Iconians.
- Picard: "Now that should not have have happened." Regarding the replicator messing up his tea.
- Geordi running to the bridge trying to stop the captain from capturing the probe then almost dying in the turbolift.
- Picard: "Welcome to the bridge, Mr. LaForge."
- The computer electrocutes LaForge then to save him, Data throws him halfway across the room. I love the facial expression on Data's face when he realizes he used too much force. And I love the short dialog between them afterward.
- More away team bickering between Riker and Picard. Riker puts up more of a fight, but so does Picard.
- Riker: "Fate protects fools, little children, and ships named Enterprise."
- Troi: "In another time or place, this could be funny."
- Riker: "If it should become necessary to fight, could you find me some rocks to throw at them?"
- Riker to Taris: "Perhaps we should postpone the war until our more immediate problems are solved."
- Picard, more or less, "Data, decipher this language. Now." Ah Data, Picard's personal away team laptop.
- The look on Riker's face when he says to Troi, "You're jumpy," is great.
- Data's over explanation of how he deciphered the language. Picard, more or less, "Yes, yes, just translate." Poor Data. So under appreciated.
- Data: "I believe this is manual override." (Giant flash of light opening a gateway.) Data: "That was not manual override."
- Brent Spiner's acting as a damaged Data was wonderful.
- Picard has a couple of good "final" lines before his brush with death. "I hope that was not a stutter." Regarding Data. Then "very shortly, anywhere will be preferable to this room."
- Worf just appearing on the bridge.
- Data's resurrection and confusion.
- I love the countdowns in the alien languages (Iconian and Romulan).

My Review
This is an exciting episode right from the beginning. Very short into the episode there is fear of a catastrophic design flaw which is milked for all its worth. Then we get an even bigger implication: Iconian technology is destroying the ship accidentally and at the same time must be kept away from the Romulans to keep them from getting a major tactical advantage. Despite heavy politics and heavy tension, the episode bears great archaeological and cultural tidbits. The revelation that the Iconians might not be conquerors and that they were slaughtered by those fearful of them is fascinating. The discussion about it between Picard, Data, and Worf is apt and interesting. This episode very easily could have scored a 10. I take one point off for no follow up and one point off for the "destroy it all now!" attitude. I understand why Picard made that decision, but that Iconian gateway is a wonderful bit of technology that could have been studied in great detail. Picard just blows it up over political fear. Seems reckless. Nevertheless, a wonderful episode.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From DSOmo on 2007-06-24 at 3:25am:
    - Are computer viruses unknown in the twenty-fourth century? Even unsophisticated, twentieth-century hackers knew about reinitializing a computer system and reloading all the software.
    - Every accomplished programmer understands that computer users need to be protected from accidents. That's why the more user-friendly programs tell you when you are about to do something disastrous. For instance, while trying to delete or overwrite a file, the program will usually ask the user to confirm his or her actions. Doesn't blowing up a substation seem like a fairly serious course of action? Wouldn't the programs make this fairly difficult to accomplish? Obviously not, because all Picard has to do to close the bay doors after launching a probe is tab a button three times.
  • From JRPoole on 2008-01-25 at 1:07pm:
    The talking during transport thing doesn't bother me that much here. It always seems that there is a moment between the transporter beam grabbing hold and the moment when your atoms become converted into energy, and it seems reasonalbe to assume that motor functions could still work during that moment.

    Regardless, I agree with the review here. This is a taughtly constructed, exciting episode and one of the best of the second season.
  • From KStrock on 2009-01-14 at 10:10am:
    I think you should mention that the solution to the entire problem on the Enterprise is ridiculous:

    Tech Support: "Did you try shutting down the computer and restarting it?"

    Really? Just shutting down and restarting? It almost seems like a joke by the writers in a time when PCs were starting to really appear in homes.
  • From rpeh on 2010-08-25 at 9:10am:
    I agree with what's already been said: a very enjoyable episode with a few minor problems.

    The panel on the Iconian console is really annoying. If everything is done through three taps of different colour blocks, that only gives you 27 different functions, and why bother with all the fancy symbols in each block?

    "Shut down and restart" is a bit of a cliche now, but at the time it was probably fair enough.

    The gateway itself reminds me of TOS: The City on the Edge of Forever, and I agree it was a shame it was destroyed. Also, as a big fan of architecture, it seems odd that Picard was so keen to do it.

    Still. I'll give it an 8.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-13 at 5:56pm:
    Definitely an interesting episode, I thought it was a good one.

    - Picard's stated reason for staying in the Neutral Zone - due to the risk of a design flaw - makes no sense. Surely it is more risky to offend the Romulans than worry about a possible design flaw that could manifest at any time, or never. Maybe it was just an excuse and he really just wanted to stay for other reasons.
    - Blue blue blue? A few simple button presses to destroy the base? No wonder the Iconians didn't survive! The Enterprise would have been destroyed many times over if they had such a control system.
    - There is something quite odd about how Picard says "I doubt any Iconians survived this orbital bombardment" right after he beams down into a fully functional and beautifully intact command center.
  • From Inga on 2012-01-01 at 1:37pm:
    Why didn't Picard or that other Captain inform the Starfleet of this discovery? Can a mere starship captain make such a decision himself?
  • From Ggen on 2012-02-24 at 5:16pm:
    This episode starts up with a wicked, satisfyingly frenzied pace. Within the first few minutes we have an exploding Federation Starship, a tense face-off with a Romulan ship, the threat of catastrophic systems failure on the Enterprise, and hints of an ancient civilization with powerful technology.

    But the same thing that makes this episode so riveting also costs it a few points at the very end. In the last few minutes, Data is pronounced dead, Data is pronounced good as new, Picard is held captive on the Romulan ship, Picard smugly escapes via transport, an out of control Romulan ship is about to self-destruct, the Romulan ship is back to normal...

    With so many dramatic turnings and reversals, the ending of this episode feels simply *rushed*. It needed another 20 minutes or so to wrap everything up.

    Small details:

    - Episode very cleverly sneaks in what would otherwise have been gratuitous-feeling exposition about the Iconians by having Wesley bring it up with Picard... to have Wesley ask Picard, as if he was a little kid asking about myths and fairy tales, is of course utterly ridiculous... but the writers cleverly get away with it by making it a false pretense and not Wesley's real reason to talk to the captain.

    - I liked the tortured look on two nameless crewmen's faces as Pulaski first bitches her heart out to some poor soul, and then gives a semi-ironic pep talk about splints and practicing medicine "with your hands." It's as if the writers are giving us someone to sympathize with. "Yes, yes, Pulaski is intolerable, we know... hang in there..."

Prove to me that you are a real person and not a spam robot by typing in the text of this image:

Return to season list