Star Trek the Next Generation Episode Review: "Evolution"

by StevenHelmer

A review of the season 3 television episode that first aired in September 1989.

Synopsis: The Enterprise is helping a scientist (Ken Jenkins) complete a once-in-a-lifetime experiment when the vessel begins to suffer a variety of mysterious malfunctions that threaten the success of its mission. The cause of the malfunctions is a science experiment by Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) involving nanites.


I haven't been watching reruns of this series on a regular basis. However, I was running a bit behind at lunch today and, since I didn't have time to pick out a movie to watch, I decided to watch this season 3 episode instead. Overall, I do have to admit it was better than I was expecting it to be.

The thing I liked about this episode was the way Wesley's experiment set up a pretty big dilemma. The nanites are damaging the ship to a point where those on board are in danger. Yet, since they are showing traits of a collective consciousness, a sign they are, in fact, alive, resolving the issue isn't as simple as deactivating the miniature robots.

On top of it, they are disrupting the Enterprise's chances of performing its mission, something that can only happen once every 189 years. This, in itself, created some uncertainty, both because it was unclear whether or not they would succeed and because the scientist, who had given his entire life to the experiment, would cause more problems if he felt he wasn't going to have a chance to complete what he was working for.

The one thing I probably could have done without in this episode was Wesley's internal dilemma about admitting to his mistake. This is mostly because that part of the story was a bit too predictable (of course he is going to tell people what happened) and the episode kind of dragged it out.

I also wasn't a huge fan of the way the episode reintroduced Gates McFadden's Beverly Crusher character after a year's absence by focusing on her being Wesley's mother. If that is such an important thing, then why try to write her off the show to begin with? While I could understand that being of some importance, I would have much rather seen it be only one of several adjustments relating to her return.

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Final Opinion

As I said, this is a decent enough episode, mostly because of the dilemma created by having one major discovery interfering with a potential once-in-a-lifetime discovery. I just wish the episode would have spent more time on that and less on Wesley/Dr. Crusher's personal issues.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 11/17/2015, StevenHelmer
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