The day has finally come. A day when a nameless background character who has been with us ever since the start of TNG finally breaks out of being a reoccurring extra and into a character with a name and a purpose. His career, his service and his shoulder would become legendary. His name is Miles O'Brien and he's here to stay!
Unnatural Selection is an episode that sets out to do one thing. Further solidify Pulaski's role as a viable character on the Enterprise. Not a bad idea given my heavy dislike towards her character in the first few episodes of this season. Despite the pandering by the creative teams who try to give Diana Muldaur something to do that doesn't involve just uttering technobabble, this episode does a pretty decent job with her character.
For example, in the first season episode Angel One, Beverly Crusher refused to allow anyone onboard the Enterprise, even when the people they were trying to save were facing execution because of an outbreak onboard the ship that only made you feel ill
. She was willing to let people get executed over getting infected with something that isn't even fatal. Kind of stupid when you consider the fact that the Enterprise has cargo holds, shuttle crafts, environmental suits, and the transporter room which can be use for decontamination. Thankfully in Unnatural Selection, the writers know what Pulaski has at her disposal and they put them to good use. Pulaski takes a shuttle craft with Data in order to study a patient that could infect her with a deadly disease. Good job writers.
In the grand scheme of Star Trek, this episode does prove a bit problematic due to the apparent openness to genetically enhancing humans, an action that will be depicted as strictly forbidden. I guess everyone in this episode didn't get the memo because even though everyone has been cured, they'll no doubt be sent away to a penal colony for two years.... four if the sentence is being carried out by the same admiral.
Even though this episode isn't on any great episode list, it does an important service to Star Trek for not only having writers who are aware of what the crew have at their disposal, but finally upgrading Colm Meaney's extra status into a full fledged character. The character of Miles O'Brien would not only have some great stories in future TNG episodes, but also become a fantastic series regular for Deep Space Nine. And I cannot leave out the fact that having him be a family man is a big bonus too.
Looks like they had a battle with time.