Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode Review: The Cost of Living

by StevenHelmer

A review of the season 5 television episode that first aired April 18, 1992.

Synopsis: The Enterprise saves a planet by destroying an inbound asteroid and, a short time later, begins to experience a series of mechanical issues caused by the metal-eating microbes that had called the asteroid their home. Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett) arrives on board the Enterprise because she plans to get married. She causes her normal disruptions but, in particular, creates a rift between Worf (Michael Dorn) and his son, Alexander (Brian Bonsall).


I had a chance to watch this episode late last week, while waiting for my daughter to get home from the homecoming football game. I had seen it before, but couldn't remember much about it. As it turns out, it was an episode I really didn't enjoy.

I think my biggest issue with this particular episode is, like some others, it tries to do too much in too short of an amount of time. The metal-eating microbes had the potential to be interesting. But, because the episode tried to cram them in with everything else, they really never stood a chance.

As a result of that time crunch, there were a number of things that were simply left unexplained. For example, how did the microbes infiltrate the Enterprise's systems without physically eating their way through the outer hull? And, didn't the Enterprise's shields do anything to stop them? Not to mention, the microbes affected life support to the point everyone except Data (Brent Spiner) was knocked unconscious. How did that affect Lwaxana's fiance (Tony Jay).

Also not helping this episode was the focus on Worf and Alexander. I was never a big fan of Alexander to begin with, mostly because the writers liked to use him as a way of embarrassing Worf. And, this episode gave us too much of a bad thing. I probably wouldn't have minded it as much if this were an episode that didn't have much going for it to begin with. But, as I said, the metal-eating microbes had a lot of potential that was lost because of a good chunk of the episode being dedicated to him.

Final Opinion

It's definitely not my favorite episode from this season, largely because the best part of it was cut so much for the much-less-interesting second story.

My Grade: C

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Updated: 10/01/2018, StevenHelmer
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