TNG Rewatch: 5x05 - "Disaster"

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Trekker4747, Aug 20, 2014.

  1. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    It's a pretty boring, regular, day on the Enterprise when suddenly it comes into contact with a "quantum filament" which is an almost undetectable space phenomenon that Chief O'Brien describes as "the ship coming into contact with a live wire." The effects of the filaments the ship impacts renders the Enterprise dead in space with the crew scattered throughout the ship trying to work through various problems.

    On the bridge: After the lieutenant at the CONN, who had the bridge at the time, is killed after one of the impacts Troi is left in charge of the ship being the ranking officer on deck over the other ensign on the bridge, Chief O'Brien (who's a petty officer/enlisted man) and Ensign Ro who climbs onto the bridge from the disabled turbolift. Emergency bulkheads have deployed, essentially cutting access off from the bridge to the rest of the ship. Troi struggles with making decisions as she's had little command experience and she's confronted with a difficult choice once more information is gained about the ship's condition. The quantum filaments have disrupted the containment fields for the antimatter storage pods. The field strength is dropping and if it reaches a certain point containment will be lost and the ship will explode. Ro thinks they should separate the saucer and flee from the battle section and save as many lives as they can. O'Brien thinks there's a chance that people are still alive in Engineering who can correct the problem but right now the only power available is coming from the saucer. If they detach they'll be leaving the survivors in the battle section behind and without power and the means to correct the problem. Troi agrees with O'Brien and swears to keep the ship intact for as long as possible to give anyone in Engineering a chance to fix the problem with the antimatter containment. She buts heads with Ro constantly over her choice and while the contaiment has a couple of close calls that's able to be corrected from the bridge, ultimately, Troi's gamble pays off; though she admits Ro just as easily could have correct as well.

    In the Jefferies Tube: Riker and Data left Ten-Forward shortly after the accident to make their way to Engineering to re-establish control of the ship; erring on the side of caution that everyone on the bridge and in Engineering is dead. While en-route to Engineering via the Jefferies Tubes Riker and Data become trapped on the other side of a tube bulkhead door after a coolant leak in the tube. Their path is blocked in the tube corridor by an electrical arc. Data proposes he use his body as a capacitor to shut-down the arc. While the electrical charge will disable his body, the higher functions in his head will remain intact. Riker can remove Data's head and then continue to Engineering. They make it to Engineering and see that there is a problem shortly before the containment of the antimatter is lost. Data is able to repair the problem causing the containment field to strengthen.

    In the cargo bay: Before the accident Crusher is in the cargo bay pestering Geordi to audition for her latest production. In the wake of the accident the door out of the room is sealed and a fire erupts behind a panel when Geordi tries to use the manual release. The fire poses a problem as it's letting out doses of dangerous radiation that threatens to ignite some fuel being stored in the cargo bay. Geordi suggests they kill two birds with one stone by opening the cargo bay doors and then lowering the environmental shield. This will decompress the bay which will simultaneously put out the fire and blow out the potentially explosive fuel containers. As long as they hold on Geordi and Beverly will be able to survive the vacuum provided they can re-establish the environment in time. The plan seems to go off well and Geordi and Crusher are able to get out of the cargo bay since the fire in the emergency release compartment is now out.

    In the turboshaft: Picard is taking a group of science-fair winners in the ship's primary school on a tour of the ship (but not to the battle bridge or torpedo bays to kids' disappointment.) The kids are understandably upset and worried after the accident. Picard is able to get one of the kids onto the top of the turbocar to inspect the emergency brakes only to discover one of them is broken. Picard and the children need to climb out of the tubocar and up the turboshaft until they they can open a door to one of the decks. Picard is successfully able to, sort of out of character for him, calm the children down enough by asigning them ranks (using his collar pips.) He names the oldest child his first officer, the next child the "science officer" and the youngest child a specialist in charge of radishes (as radishes were involved the young child's science experiment.) He manages to get the children calm enough to work with him and get them to climb to safety, using a length of cabling taken from the car to use as a safety tether as they climb up the shaft to a door they can open.

    In Ten-Forward: Ten Forward is being used as something of a triage center as Sickbay is blocked off by damage to the ship. After Riker and Data leave for Engineering, Worf is leading the cause with his limited medical experience and training. Helping him is a very pregnant Keiko O'Brien who soon goes into labor. Worf must help Keiko through childbirth but finds the experience frustrating as Keiko's delivery isn't exactly going by the book; and Worf doesn't have the greatest bedside manner. Ultimately Worf is able to successfully deliver a healthy (though one month premature) Molly.

    In the aftermath of the disaster, life slowly returns to normal on the Enterprise and Picard tries again to take the children on a tour of the ship, this time including the battle bridge and torpedo bays on the tour.

    This episode is a lot like that "natural disaster" movie or episode you usually see -most often centering around an earthquake- that puts various characters into various problems common to the type of disaster; and we'll throw a pregnant woman at an inexperienced person for good measure.

    All and all I think the episode comes out pretty good playing with the premise and trope of this type of story and it's interesting to see some of our characters in situations they're not used to. Worf playing midwife is fairly fun and interesting as Keiko's delivery doesn't go "by the book" as he learned it in his first-aid extension courses at the academy and the actress who plays Keiko does a good job, probably depicting one of the more realistic labor pains I've seen on TV.

    The more interesting thing in this episode is waching Picard dealing with the children in the turbocar/shaft. When the series began the captain expressed annoyance and frustration with having a ship with families and children on it as he's not a family man. And, sure, a few years have passed and Picard has obviously lightened a bit from the S1 Picard but, still, it's a recurring theme with him that he's not good with children.... Except when he is. He showed a good relationship with his nephew last season and here he handles the situation with the children pretty well to get them calmed and to work together to save all of them. Some initial hiccups at first, sure, but in the end he really builds a nice relationship with them.

    The bigger focal point of the episode is Troi's struggles with being in command on the bridge given that her career path in Starfleet isn't in command but in medical so she doesn't have a lot of experience with the decision making or anything along those lines. We could argue whether or not she made the right call in her decision making (which mostly falls on her making a bad call. She seems intent to keep the ship together for as long as possible, but when Riker and Data are in Engineering the field strength gets as low as 16% where 15% is the failure point. Seems to me the ship should have been separated by the time it got to 16% or at least the process beginning.) There's some expected head butting between her and Ro, but Troi is able to exert her authority and Ro is at least a good enough officer to not go rogue too much and disobey orders. (The most out of line she gets is using an unauthorized method of restoring power to the Engineering bridge console.)

    The stories with Data/Riker and Crusher/Geordi are mostly B-plots (C and D plots?) as there's really not much development or character exploration in either of those cases as no one is forced by the situation out of their comfort zone.

    This is a pretty good episode and one I quite enjoy, it certainly has flaw and questions but, in the end, it's a good watch.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2014
  2. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    We never find out what Marissa's science project was. F%&k this episode!
     
  3. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    I bet had something to do with luring in quantum filaments.
     
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  4. Tora Ziyal

    Tora Ziyal Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I've always enjoyed this episode. Midwife Worf is hilarious. ("Congratulations, you are fully dilated to ten centimeters. You may now give birth.") And I like that Picard managed to work well with the kids, despite it being way outside his comfort zone.
     
  5. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    "Disaster" is one of the few episodes (it may be the only one) that makes quality use of having families on board.

    I like this one as well.
     
  6. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Love this episode, possibly TNG's best bottle ep.
     
  7. MakeshiftPython

    MakeshiftPython Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It was nice to finally have Picard get over that strange "I don't like children" thing as I never understood the point of it being introduced in the beginning, making it the last remnant of Asshole Picard from the first season to be excised.
     
  8. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I liked that part of his personality. Not everyone is comfortable with children, especially when they're responsible for their safety.

    Besides, I thought Picard became a much bigger asshole later in the series.
     
  9. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    This is a great episode because everyone has something to do. It's not about just one person, but the whole crew working to solve a problem. The only part that didn't work for me was Geordi and Beverly in the cargo bay.

    I love DS9's Civil Defense too, which is very similar to this one.
     
  10. Ithekro

    Ithekro Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    One could almost believe that a human female in labor could kill a fully grown Klingon.
     
  11. Trek Survivor

    Trek Survivor Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yeah, I remember liking this one a great deal. Some good character interaction.
     
  12. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    This episode may be the most extreme example of wrapping everything up in the last few minutes. The crisis is still going full-on, when we suddenly cut to an exterior shot of the Enterprise, and a Captain's Log voice-over saying, basically, "Well, we got out of that mess off camera so we can wrap up the episode, because even the writers didn't know how to end this."

    That seemed to happen a lot on TNG, and it's poor writing.
     
  13. Kevman7987

    Kevman7987 Captain Captain

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    I love the fact that through part of the episode, Riker is carrying Data's (still active) head around. Too bad there is not a scene showing Geordi and Riker "having a catch" with Data's head later.
     
  14. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Michelle Erica Green:
    Which leaves poor Captain Troi, who's written here as unnecessarily stupid, not understanding basic emergency preparedness when one would expect that every Starfleet crewmember would have to know the drills to pass for lieutenant. Having seen Ron Moore's women on Battlestar Galactica, there are some obvious parallels - Starbuck is an evolution from Ro, who's tough as nails here, extremely competent, no tolerance for sissies, but in the end her self-sufficiency is twisted into a failing, while Troi is the dithering ineffectual woman in charge, who keeps looking at the man with more practical experience to back her up. O'Brien is the only member of the bridge crew who comes across really well despite having the most obvious emotional baggage - a pregnant wife missing elsewhere on the ship.
    Yes, Troi's decisions turned out just fine through sheer luck, but I'd far rather serve under a Captain Ro any day.
     
  15. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Yeah, that's a fault with the episode. Dialog and the situation suggests that the ship was pretty heavily damaged by the quantum filament. I can buy them getting the engines and power back on line but seems to me that they'd need a tow or something rather than just going back to normal. (Though Picard does state in the ending log they're heading to a starbase for repairs.)
     
  16. Squiggy

    Squiggy FrozenToad Admiral

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    The Pegasus is always looking for new crew members... whether you want to serve or not.
     
  17. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't know what would have been gained by showing the whole repair process. It would be anti-climactic after the main threats were dealt with.
     
  18. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    +1
     
  19. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    I don't think anyone wants to see the entire repair process but the damage and potential casualties incurred by the ship are mostly shrugged off once the immediate crises for our main characters are over. During the entire episode people are talking like there's a very real possibility that a good number of people are dead. Engineering is vacant when you'd think there'd have been several officers in the area when the disaster happened.

    We see heavy damage in Ten-Forward, Data mentions damage cut-off access to Sickbay and there was enough damage done to the ship that the emergency bulkheads closed off the bridge and closed off Engineering with the isolation door. So it seems like that the crisis deserved more than a, "Welp, that was close! Let's now have a cute moment with the kids! Ha ha ha. Dozensofpeopledied."

    One thing I always wondered is why LaForge and Crusher are initially so intent to leave the cargo bay. Before the fire erupts behind the panel they're under no danger (the fire is putting out dangerous radiation, the radiation threatening to ignite the fuel in the storage tanks.) It seems Geordi never considers the possibility the computer isn't releasing the door for his own good! How does he know there's not a hull breach or damage on the other side of the door that poses a greater threat? Maybe the computer won't release the door because it knows there's a fire, a hull breach or some kind of dangerous damage and it's sealing off the area?
     
  20. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I said out, dammit!
    That's not what I said.

    ^That's what I meant.

    The show goes: DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! Okay, everything's fine now, 'bye!

    There needs to be a scene showing how and why everyone is all right with a bit of a wind-down before the "everything's all right," and a 10-second captain's log voice-over is NOT proper the way to do it.