This is the episode I (unfairly) remembered as "the one I had to fast-forward through on the VHS to get to the good one". I wish I had given it more credit as it's very good.
WORF: Is there any indication that this is the work of an unknown intelligence?
RIKER: This is geology, not malevolence. These planets live fast and die hard. The question is, why?
Riker's response to Worf's speculation is just.... unprofessional. Since Riker has not only encountered god like beings capable of destroying whole worlds at this point (including himself), he's also studied historical missions in Starfleet. I mean, how does one forget about the Doomsday Machine incident where a force of unknown intelligence destroyed many planets and almost destroyed the original Enterprise?
This is exactly what I thought on seeing that scene. how can Riker just dismiss Worf's input so easily. He later tells Wesley that command doesn't get any easier, it certainly doesn't if you treat your fellow professional's in this manner!
Good Wesley development that didn't make me want to gouge out my eyes.
One thing no-one appears to have pointed out in that "Prime Directive Meeting" is Picards strange line - "in a situation like this, we have to be cautious. What we do today, may profoundly affect the future. If we could see every possible outcome...".
He's the Captain of a bloody starship and is probably changing the future on a daily basis. Is he this unsure about every command decision? Hardly the attitude you expect in a leader.
I love the scene with Riker, O'Brien and Data in the transporter room
"O'Brien, take a nap. You didn't see any of this. You're not involved.
"Right, sir. I'll just be standing over here dozing off.