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Star Trek TNG - Season 3 - Episode 01

Star Trek TNG - 3x01 - Evolution

Originally Aired: 1989-9-25

A computer breakdown threatens the ship. [DVD]

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 4.53

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 60 1 3 16 23 27 36 20 9 35 3



Remarkable Scenes
- The computer malfunctions were amusing.
- The ship spontaneously playing loud music.
- The experimenter doctor guy: "A brand new era in astrophysics postponed 196 years on account of rain."
- Wesley lashing out at his mother when she pounded him to take it easy.
- Data serving as a conduit for the nanites.
- Dr. Crusher observing Wesley at the end.

My Review
Dr. Crusher's return is refreshing, though I miss Pulaski. I thought Dr. Pulaski was a better character, but they never let her reach her full potential. Experimenter doctor guy's arrogance was annoying at times. Other times it was cool. His interactions with Wesley were especially annoying, but necessary as it served to validate Wesley's concerns about his causing the computer to break down. The nanites becoming intelligent was interesting and it was handled well. My personal favorite little detail is the fact that Wesley was only useful in discovering the problem, not formulating a solution. After all, he is still just a kid. Experimenter doctor guy's confrontation with Counselor Troi was eloquently done as well. But the ending was a little too perfect, rendering the episode largely inconsequential.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From DSOmo on 2007-07-05 at 2:30am:
    - Shortly after discovering that his nanites are missing, Wesley begins setting traps around the ship. In Ten-Forward he sets two traps approximately six feet apart behind the bar. Using this spacing would require thousands and thousands of traps. Does Wesley have thousands of traps to put out, or does he think the nanites like to hang out in bars? ;)
    - When the nanites start pumping poisonous gas into the main bridge, Riker and Picard leave the ready room and join in the coughing with the rest of the bridge crew. Riker then walks up to the environmental controls. The atmosphere on the bridge returns to normal. Is Riker the only person who knew how to do this? Otherwise, everyone would just have sat in their chairs and coughed until they died.
    - Given the attacks on the Enterprise by the nanites, it is difficult to believe that Picard would allow them to take over a bridge officer, especially one with the strength and intelligence of Data. (Worf is the only one who protests)
  • From djb on 2007-12-21 at 5:10am:
    While the science behind the idea of two little nanites created by a student replicating themselves into something capable of taking over a starship computer leaves something to be desired, the main thing that upset me about this episode was the "neutron star" explosion at the end. The astronomy in this episode is just appalling.

    First of all, it should have been called a white dwarf. A neutron star is, I believe, the remnant of a single star going supernova, and is very, very dense, and therefore small. Something like 50,000 times as small as our sun, in diameter. The type of situation in this episode is where a white dwarf is accreting material from a stellar companion. The result of such accretion is a periodic supernova.

    Material expelled by a supernova travels fast, but not as fast as it does in this episode. It might travel up to a tenth the speed of light- about 30,000 Km per second, but that's optimistic. Given the estimation that the white dwarf and its companion are, say, a million km apart, it would take the explosion at least 33 seconds to reach as far as the other star. Also, at its brightest it would be about 5 billion times as bright as the sun, which at that immediate closeness would probably overload the ship's sensors (and shields) and instantly blind anyone looking out a window. What to speak of the effect the emanating heat and radiation would have on the ship and the crew. Marshmallows anyone?

    They could have at least made the supernova look something like a supernova instead of a bomb explosion superimposed on the shot.

    And, of course, there should be no sound to go with it, but we reality sticklers gave up the "no sound in space" argument with Star Trek a long time ago.

    I know it's just a show, but I figure they could have made it look at least somewhat realistic.
  • From JRPoole on 2008-03-12 at 5:35pm:
    Finally a good Wesley episode. I rather like this episode; the scientist is interesting and acted fairly well, Wesley finally gets an episode in which his wunderkind aesthetic sort of falls apart, and the whole package is done well.

    My only beef with this episode is Picard's non-reaction to Wesley's delay in telling him about the nanites. By trying to capture them on his own when he'd already theorized they were causing the problem with the computers, he put the crew and the mission in jeopardy. Picard should have put the smack down on him then and there.
  • From KStrock on 2009-01-31 at 12:30pm:
    When he comes to the bridge, Wes relieves a guy wearing the old style uniform from Seasons 1 & 2.
  • From thaibites on 2010-09-24 at 9:32pm:
    This episode could've been really good if they would've focused more on interacting with the nanites and less on the visiting scientist. I think this episode has helped me focus on why I have a problem with TNG - the episodes are more about people and their emotions and less about scifi. It's kind of like "Soap Opera Trek" instead of Star Trek. The name of the episode is "Evolution", so why concentrate so much on the doctor and so little on the nanites? The nanites are the ones who have evolved so quickly into sentient life. Most of the show should've been the nanites talking through Data, instead of the scientist talking and talking and talking...
    Another disappointing episode out of many disappointing episodes so far. I was hoping for big things from this season 3 opener.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-03-29 at 3:06pm:
    This episode didn't impress me. Nothing I can pinpoint, it just seemed unsatisfying.

    Amazing how Federation scientists are still struggling to replicate the work of Dr. Soong, but Wesley creates a sentient life form accidentally. But then, the same thing happened with the holodeck. Apparently Federation technology has reached a point where sentience will self-generate if just given a chance.
  • From Jeff browning on 2011-09-26 at 1:44pm:
    It is exceedingly strange that you show Problems: None. The scientific problems of the nanites are legion. Just a few:

    1. How they communicate with each other? Data is infected with nanites, yet they continue to communicate with the collective mind. How? Radio? Subspace? Either way, how do devices with components the size of atoms develop transmitters and receivers?

    2. What is the power source? Much is made on star trek concerning power, yet it ignored here? To pull off what the nanites do here would require a great deal of power.

    3. The nanites effectively consume much of Enterprise's computer core. The problems created by this seem minor compared to what would happen in one of our current computers.

    4. Evolution requires mutation. There must be a mechanism for this. Biological reproduction is sufficiently buggy to accommodate evolution. Copying a very simple device would provide no such mechanism.

    5. Evolution also requires a life or death struggle to weed out the fit from the unfit. There is no apparent competition among the nanites to allow for an intelligent selection process, like that provided by biological evolution.

    6. Somehow the nanites repair the Enterprise computer core. How? What raw materials were used? Given that the bulk of the Enterprise's computer has been converted into nanites, do they scrifice themselves to accomplish this?
  • From Ggen on 2012-03-06 at 3:34am:
    Although I didn't much care for the scene in Nanites - and found their identification and targeting of the scientist unrealistic - I thought this episode was rather neat.

    The scientist is an interesting and somewhat complex character - he's both likeable and irritating, arrogant and, with a little help, willing to admit mistakes...and I like the way he's dressed and how he carries himself... it's all appropriately scholarly, somehow...

    More importantly, I like the basic premise. The idea behind the Nanites is deceptively original...the Nanites aren't just an artificial life form, but they are also *self-evolving* - self-creating, in a sense - and microscopic to boot. Any one of those on its own might not be all that interesting, but put them all together and it's sufficiently creative.

    - - -

    Not without a few problems, but with plenty of redeeming features to warrant the fan 6.
  • From Ggen on 2012-03-07 at 8:18pm:

    Problem: Early in the episode Data says "there has not been a systems-wide technological failure on a starship in 79 years..." What about the Season 2 Iconian probe-related problems on board the Yamato? Especially given the outcome, I think that would certainly qualify... Maybe Data meant "spontaneous" technological failure, without identifiable external causes?
  • From Maurice Randle on 2015-12-01 at 9:31pm:
    I thought this was a solid episode, but my main gripe with this particular episode is that of the nanites. I know this is an old show, so iI cut the writers some slack, but considering the current trajectory of modern science/technology, one would think that they would have implemented nanotechnology centuries before the time period of the show and that it would be much more developed than just some school science experiment, but I digress.
  • From lordcheeto on 2017-08-02 at 1:36am:
    Data is no Vulcan, but it is...illogical to conclude that the nanites were intelligent because life support had been attacked.

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