The Rewatch 179: Disaster

Writer’s Note: You may notice that I skipped episode 178. Recently I lost my grandfather, and right now am not in the right kind of disposition to write a review of an episode about a woman who is grieving her son and uses Data as a way of still having him. One day I will write that review, so I left the number open. Instead, I have chosen for now to move on to episode I can emotionally handle. Without further ado…

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 5.5 Disaster (10/21/1991)
Rating: 4/5
Redshirt Status: 1/1/35

Notable Guest Stars:
Michelle Forbes (Ensign Ro Laren) – This is her second episode as Ms. Ro, and she continues to be a great character, although maybe a bit too antagonistic.

Jana Marie Hupp (Lt. Monroe) – Jana might be better recognized as Mindy Hunter-Farber on Friends.

Erika Flores (Marissa Flores)- Flores is probably mostly known for being Colleen Cooper during the first three seasons of Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman.  Her most recent role was in 2009 on the show House.  It appears that she has retired from acting at this time.

John Christian Graas (Jay Gordon Graas)- Like Flores, he seems to have retired from acting, but not before several television and film credits including Kindergarten Cop with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Also, like Flores, he appeared in Dr. Quinn, only as a guest star in 2 episodes named Charles. He currently (according to IMDB) a member of the Marine Corps.

Rosalind Chao (Keiko O’Brien) – This is her third appearance on TNG that I can remember.  She continues to be a reoccurring character, so this is the last time I’ll mention her as a “Guest” star.   But she’s awesome.

Review:

I love this episode.  I have several problems with it, but I still love it. Its got drama, its got humor, its got both sad and happy moments.  Story wise it is pretty good (outside some elements I will go into later).  This is probably in my favorites list.

As you might imagine with a title like “Disater” the Enterprise is not having a good day.  They come across a rogue filament which slams them around and the ship gets turned upside down.  Not literally but I have the Fresh Prince song stuck in my head a the moment so it just wrote out that way.

We have four basic story points in this episode.

Story Point 1:  Ten Forward.

After the Enterprise is badly damaged and the Sickbay is blocked from people, Everyone gathers in Ten Forward to take care of the injured.  Worf is put in charge because he has taken emergency medic training.  If you have watched Voyager before you know that being the one who took emergency medic training can get you into a lot of awkward places.  Its not different for Worf either.  Keiko O’Brien is helping Worf access and organize the injured and ends up going into Labor.

Worf being a Doulaesque being has to be one of the most hilarious things. 

Story point 2:  Engineering

While Worf is telling Keiko to push, Will and Data are trying to get Engineering to help stabilize the ship.  If you ever wondered what all Data could do as an android, you’ll get it in their segments. He even gets to be a talking head – literally – when he has Will take his head off and attach it to the computers.  Its kind of hilarious, but also a bit Sci-fi that they are able to do it.  It also presents an interesting effects issue.  Brent Spinner’s head could not, of course, be detached so they would have to hide his body.  Green suit I suppose?  One day I plan on owning the DVD and seeing if there is any commentaries on there to see what they did.

Story Point 3:  The Turbolift

The day started out well.  The kids had just had a science fair, and the top three students were given a tour of the ship by the captain himself. Picard has become much better with children (not sure if being around Wesley or if Will actually gave him some tips that helped) but he doesn’t really expect to be trapped in a broken turbo lift.

He ends up having to calm the children and lead them safely to another floor.  All while having a broken leg.  Its interesting to watch and yes, I did sing along with Frère Jacques https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fr%C3%A8re_Jacques as they sung it.  It’s the best French I know.  (my French is really poor).

Story Point 4:  Main Bridge.

Back on main bridge is the main tension of the story.  Our first loss of crew this season happens in this episode as Bridge officer Lt. Monroe.  And this is how we find out that Deanna Troi has a rank of Lt. Commander, and that she is not a bridge officer.  While I love watching Deanna stretch her command muscles a bit (I’m assuming she’s used to commanding the counciling department) this episode makes little sense when they keep acting like she knows absolutely nothing.

Deanna has been to Starfleet Academy.  She is a Lt. Commander.  At this point she should have some command experience, but a basic knowledge of science and the operations of the ship. While I can see her not being as familiar with emergency protocol on the bridge (having not yet qualified as a Bridge Officer or felt the necessity) they make it appear like she knows absolutely nothing.  O’Brien has to explain everything to her.

Also, even if she isn’t a bridge officer, she certainly is on the bridge often enough to pick up some of the operations?  As it seems later in the series, its mainly she hasn’t applied herself to being a bridge officer, not that she is unaware of everything.

But again, its still fun to watch Deanna become Commander Troi.

Story Point 5: The Cargo Bay

This story I almost forgot about till I was searching for the screencap for today’s episode. Beverly and Geordi get to work together to figure out how to not blow up the ship. Plasma fires require smothering, and they also have radiation sensitive materials that can set things off.

Is it super important to the franchise? No. But its a fun little episode putting our crew in positions one normally doesn’t find them in. I recommend watching it just because.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Ron Jarvis & Phillip A. Scorza
  • Directed by Gabrielle Beaumont
  • First appearance of Molly O’Brien, who we get to watch grow up on DS9
  • Deanna’s first appearance of commanding a team.  This will influence her later when she decides to become a bridge officer.
  • The children are all named after their actor’s name. Marissa Flores is played by Erika Flores for example.
  • This brings to light Deanna’s lack of Bridge prowess.  She thinks it over for the rest of the season and in season 7 decides to move forward with becoming a full fledged bridge officer.  I think they should have done this years ago, but I was not old enough to write to them in 1992 and tell them that.  No, do I think, I actually cared about Star Trek then.

Pros

  • Ro Laren
  • Seeing multiple characters being placed in roles that one wouldn’t expect.  The Captain caring for children, the Counceller running the ship, and Worf as a mid-wife.
  • I generally like the idea that they are all trying to solve the problem from various sides.   I think they should have done something like this more often.

Cons:

  • If the production team wanted me to believe that they don’t have Deanna on the bridge to look pretty, they pretty much failed with this episode.  She should not have been as unaware as she was.  And also, at the very least, known that she was the senior officer on Deck.  Although she outranked Monroe too so that makes things questionable again.
  •  

Screencap via CygnusX1.net

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