The Enterprise receives a distress call from the transport ship Lantree. The help, however, comes to late because the ship's whole crew has died of old age, although none of them actually was old. Picard sets a course for Darwin Station, the Lantree's last stop. The scientists on the station suffer from accelerated aging as well, only their genetically bred children do not have the disease.

In order not to expose the Enterprise to the danger, Pulaski takes a shuttle to examine one of the children. She begins to age rapidly too. It turns out that the children are the actual source of the disease, because their immune system produces an antibody (against a harmless disease of one of the Lantree crewmen) that alters the DNA of every normal human being. Using the transporter and pieces of unaltered DNA, Pulaski and the staff of Darwin Station are cured eventually, whereas the children have to stay in quarantine for their whole lives.

Errors and Explanations

Internet Movie Database

Plot holes

  1. The nature of Darwin Station's experiments violate Federation laws regarding genetics, according to Star Trek canon, yet this problem is never mentioned. The United Federation of Planets allows limited use of genetic engineering to correct existing genetically related medical conditions, as detailed on the entry for Genetic Engineering on Memory Alpha Corey Hines on Wednesday, December 23, 1998 - 11:13 pm: Why does the Darwin Genetic Reserch Lab even exist. Doctor Bashir, I Presume (DS9) states that genetic engineering of any kind is illegal in the Federation. Keith Alan Morgan on Monday, April 19, 1999 - 09:50 am: Corey: I believe it was stated that someone couldn't serve in Starfleet if they have been genetically altered for any reason other than a life saving procedure.

Revealing mistakes

  1. When Enterprise intercepts the USS Lantree, they remote access the ship's functions. But they do not remote pilot the shuttlecraft. Shuttlecraft probably require an onboard pilot for safety reasons.

The Nitpicker's Guide
Next Generation Trekkers
Volume 2

Plot Oversights

  1. Once Pulaski becomes infected, Picard holds a staff meeting and states that she and Data have become the top priorities, and that they can no longer consider the crisis at Darwin Station their most immediate concern. What?! The interior view of Darwin Station shows several scientists at work. These scientists are infected and dying, and Picard tells the crew to focus their energies on rescuing Pulaski and Data? What happened to sacrificing your crew for the good of others? (Perhaps Picard’s approach in this instance reflects how he feels about the scientists at the genetic research facility. The Masterpiece Society certainly gives the impression that the captain has no great love for genetic engineering.) Maybe this is his way of delivering a non verbal rebuke to the scientist for the way their meddling with nature - combined with their failure to consider the possibility of normal illnesses being mutated into something deadly - has triggered the situation.
  2. While we are on the topic of Picard’s shortsightedness in this episode: O'Brien comes up with a plan to restore Pulaksi's health by using the transporter trace. However, they can find no transporter trace for Pulaski, so they abandon that plan. What a minute: lsn’t it likely that at least one of the scientists on the station below would have a transporter trace available? Wouldn't there be some benefit in attempting O'Brien’s procedure on personnel at the research facility? Even if the station had a transporter, it may not be as up to date as the ones on Enterprise (assuming it hadn't been deactivated/dismantled, and the transporter traces deleted, in order to contain the infection).
  3. Desperate to forestall the inevitable, Picard tells Pulaski that he’s going to beam her aboard in suspended animation until they can find a cure. Pulaski says the risk is too great to the ship. Yet, the Darwin Genetic Research Station previously put one of their "children" in suspended animation for a trip to the Enterprise. Why don‘t they start putting people in suspended animation? At least that would give the Enterprise a bit more time. They may not have sufficent resources for this.
  4. Picard must have a great amount of faith that the “transporter cleansing" process will work. He makes no attempt to isolate the transporter pad with a force field. And when Pulaski finally arrives, everyone runs up and starts hugging her and shaking her hand. Any isolation field may have shut down as soon as the transport was successfully completed.

Equipment Oddities

  1. During the first look at the crew of the Lantree, the bridge on the supply ship seems very dark. Data said earlier that all systems were functioning normally, so the lights should be working. Then again, maybe as the crew aged, the bright lights stung their eyes. The mutated infection could have resulted in the crew inadvertantly damaging the ships systems, resulting in the Lantree operating on minimal power.
  2. l can’t believe l missed this! On page 93 of the NextGen Guide, l mentioned that some of the workstations on Darwin Station still use old-fashioned cathode ray tube monitors. It's actually worse than I dreamed. Beside the monitors, it looks like there is an old-fashioned telephone! Either the scientists are traditionalists, they lacked the funds for up to date screens and internal communication systems, or they deliberately used old fashioned equipment for some reason..
  3. It's a fairly minor point, but at the very end of the episode, Riker tells Worf to arm “photon torpedoes," plural. Then the Enterprise fires only one. The other armed torpedos are kept in reserve, in case the first one didn't complete the job.

Continuity And Production Problems

  1. Just after the Enterprise warps to the Lantree's location. Picard stands with his hands folded in front of him. Then the shot changes to a reverse angle, and his right hand rests by his side. His hands could have shifted at the same time that the shot changed.
  2. As Pulaski and Data prepare to depart in a shuttle. a wide shot of the shuttle bay clearly shows that the craft sits to the left of the shuttle bay door. Yet, when the shuttle emerges from the Enterprise, it comes out on the right side of the shuttle bay door (watch the shuttle's shadow). It must have travelled diagonally to reach the door,
  3. The Darwin Genetic Research Station gets a slight rework and is used again for a building on Ohniaka III at the beginning of Descent. This is probably a standard design for Federation planetary installations..

Nit Central

  1. Corey Hines on Wednesday, December 23, 1998 - 11:13 pm: At the beginning of the episode they say they are going to Star Station India to meet with a medical courier for an unspecified reason, then they never bring it up again. What was so important about this courier? Was he finally delivering Dr. Pulaski's medical records to the Enterprise? (Well, that certainly would have been helpful, don't you think?) Starfleet could have arrange for the courier to meet with another ship, due to the Enterprise being indisposed at Gargarin IV.
  2. In The Battle Dr. Crusher says that the Common Cold has been cured, an amazing feat considering that the Common Cold is actually thousands of Rhinoviruses. In this episode Dr. Pulaski refers to Thalusian Flu as a Rhinovirus. If they have a cure for all the Rhinoviruses that fall under the heading Common Cold, then why don't they have a cure for the Rhinovirus called Thalusian Flu? The Rhinovirus that causes Thalusian Flu may be more difficult to deal with than the ones responsible for the common cold.
  3. Why does Dr. Pulaski need to transport one of the children to the ship to scan them? Why not have the scientists scan them on Gagarin IV and transmit the findings to the ship? It is after all a research facility and one would assume that all or most of its resources are for medical purposes. Even if the Enterprise has newer equipment, I believe that all Pulaski did was wave her little medical tricorder over the boy, so just transport one of those down. There was no legitimate need to endanger the ship by transporting the child on board. She wanted to conduct the scan herself, due to her position as an objective outside observer, to eliminate the possibility of mistakes on the part of the scientists.
  4. Why bother transporting the boy back to the Station when the shuttle can just take him there? If they feel the need to transport the boy, why not use the shuttle's transporter? The scientists at the station and the crew of the Lantree were all affected at the same time, but the crew of the Lantree aged faster and died first. Dr. Pulaski is affected and the comment is made that the close confines of the shuttle increased her exposure, and the inference is that the sealed environment of the Lantree also increased the exposure. All of this leads me to the conclusion that the Station must be some kind of open air facility and the virus (or "active immune system") must spread outward and when it hits sealed walls it bounces back to attack the humans en masse, otherwise all affected should age at the same rate. Leaving him in the shuttle till it arrived at the station would have prolonged Pulaski's exposure. In addition, transporting him eliminates the risk of spreading the virus further by allowing him to walk from the landing pad to the station.
  5. It is said that the researchers are returned to normal and that they will stay on Gagarin IV, but isn't the rapid aging virus still present on Gagarin IV? As soon as they return to the planet won't they be affected yet again? (Or at least when they come into contact with the children again?) The transporter isn't a cure for the virus it merely removes all trace of the virus and restores their appearance. Unless they develop some kind of anti-body they will have to go through the transporter process over and over again for as long as they stay on the planet. (Hmmm, since the transporter can restore your appearance does this mean that you have to be a plastic surgeon to operate one? That might explain all the restored appearances at the end of Genesis?) Use of the transporter trace may have boosted the immune system of the scientists.
  6. When they come upon the Lantree at the end they blow it up with a photon torpedo. Why not use the transporter trace idea to take the dead bodies off the ship and send them to their home planets and loved ones for burial? This would be too risky - the crew's transporter traces may have become corrupted, making them useless.
  7. Why doesn't the Enterprise download all of the Lantree's computer files to turn over to Starfleet and maybe send the personal logs to the loved ones? They may not have all the necessary sccess codes. Mcb359 on 3 August, 2018 - 12:33: Pulaski mentions that there was a single entry in the Lantree’s medical log about the First Officer having a cold, so we can presume that there was some off-screen download of most if not all of the Lantree’s logs and files as part of the Enterprise’s investigation.
  8. Wouldn't blowing up the ship leave chunks and pieces of contaminated material or bodies that might infect someone else in the future? Wouldn't the better course of action be to take remote control of the Lantree and fly it into a star? The torpedo impact, and the resulting explosion, may have vaporised the ship and the bodies of everyone on board.
  9. Stephen Mendenhall on Sunday, June 20, 1999 - 12:50 pm: One of the features of the kids is the aggressive immune system - it seeks out and kills other life forms - other than each other, apparently. They could send an unmanned ship to the planet, have the kids beam onto the ship so they'd be the only ones on board. Then they could work on controlling their aggressive immune systems and other matters.What's to stop the kids using to ship to travel to other systems, and spreading the infection throughout known space?
  10. D.K. Henderson on Tuesday, August 17, 1999 - 5:17 am: At the beginning of the episode, when Picard asks Troi her opinion of Pulaski, she says that she has never met a more dedicated physician. I guess Crusher isn't as dedicated. Actually, considering the interest Crusher took in attaining command rank, not to mention how quickly she shrugged off her duties in Sub Rosa, I guess Crusher is a less dedicated physician. Or Pulaski is even more dedicated than Crusher. Mcb359 on 3 August, 2018 - 12:33: Add to that, that Crusher had a husband and has a son, so her priorities, at least for a time before the series started, would have laid with them over her career. Pulaski on the other hand, isn’t married (divorced three times though) and is apparently childless, so has had more time to devote to medicine.
  11. It seems to me that the work done on Darwin station, creating "superior" humans right from the time of conception (or before?) comes a lot closer to what occurred during Kahn's time than what happened to Bashir. Julian's parents were simply trying to correct his genetic defects; I think the fact that he came out of it so much above average was a byproduct. I think they would have been satisfied if Julian had had average intelligence and motor skills. I find it hard to believe that the Federation would be so against correcting birth defects and yet do nothing about the research on Darwin, which was actively trying to supercede the human race with a new one. (The permanent quarantine on Darwin proves that what they were doing was too dangerous.) Maybe the scientists considered the standard techniques for correcting medical defects wern't working.
  12. John A. Lang on Sunday, July 23, 2006 - 9:09 pm: Why didn't Pulaski wear AN ISOLATION SUIT when she was working in the Shuttle? I mean...she's looking for CONTAGIOUS VIRUSES...right? Maybe she's claustrophobic!

The Next Generation Season 2
The Child I Where Silence Has Lease I Elementary, Dear Data I The Outrageous Okona I The Schizoid Man I Loud as a Whisper I Unnatural Selection I A Matter of Honor I The Measure of a Man I The Dauphin I Contagion I The Royale I Time Squared I The Icarus Factor I Pen Pals I Q Who I Samaritan Snare I Up the Long Ladder I Manhunt I The Emissary I Peak Performance I Shades of Gray
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